A book: Positively Fifth Street by James McManus
True, first-person account of the author flying to Vegas and covering both the rise of women poker players at the year’s biggest tournament and the obscene murder trial of those who killed the brother of that casino’s owner. And the author makes the final table of the big tournament as he befriends the casino’s owner as her brother’s cold-hearted murderers try to cheat justice. And he has insight into addiction, family, and criminal psychology. And it’s surprisingly touching. And it’s funny. And …
A CD: Liars by Liars
Liars fans are hard to find, but I am one of them. I was hypnotically drawn to their challenging krautrock concept album Drum’s Not Dead, finding it exceedingly rewarding with the help of a little patience. But this album is as straightforward as its title. Stomping rockers mingle with danceable drum beats that occasionally sound like Beck, and it all has plenty of distortion. It feels like the band finally stepped out of a German recording studio and rediscovered a raucous New York bar.
A TV Show: Life
It’s not the most amazing show, but I can’t stomach most of what’s on TV, especially the big networks. On the surface, it sounds like yet another investigative crime drama where the person you’d least expect ends up being the murderer. That part is fairly accurate, but the lead actor Damian Lewis brings wit and mystery to an LA cop who has returned to the force after being falsely imprisoned for 12 years. Unlike most crime dramas, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and still makes you feel for Lewis’ character.
A Movie: Eastern Promises
David Cronenberg is known for pushing limits, especially when it comes to violence. If you’re looking for blood, this film won’t disappoint. But the limits that make this the best movie I’ve seen all year are the ones its characters can’t pull themselves away from. The beautiful cinematography and magnificently realistic acting make every scene, whether it’s in a restaurant, hospital, or bathhouse (especially bathhouse), extremely tense. It’s effortlessly subtle and emotional while still being bloody as hell.