Peter Greenaway’s film feels like an opera. It even features some operatic singing, but more to the point, its pleasures are more sensual than story driven. It’s not an easy film to watch, and may not inspire you to cook, but it is beautifully disturbing and meticulously crafted. Starring Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon in their primes, ˆThe Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover,” will haunt you for a long time.
Fill out our LISTENER SURVEY!!! If you listen to our episode on Babette’s Feast, you will understand why Jesse felt compelled to create a recipe for something called “Boulet du Mouton”. We don’t want to spoil it exactly, but Babette might say “Il a fait du mensonge une vérité.” Jesse INVENTED this recipe, although it has… Continue reading Boulet du Mouton
Axel Gabriel’s 1986 Danish film deservingly makes many people’s Foodie Top 10s, and we can see why. We LOVE this film, which not only shows some high level delicious cooking, but tells a parable of destiny, thwarted desire, and the balance of simplicity and hedonism with a gentle and incisive eye. The UMBs discuss whether it’s a comedy, tragedy, or something else.
The UMBers sit down with Monica Eng, co-host of the podcast Chewing, to discuss our upcoming “Foodie Films” series. Monica and Jesse educate Chris about the Jibarito sandwich, and Monica impresses us by having seen 7 out of 7 of the works in this series.
We are almost one year old! Our first episode, on Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, launched almost exactly a year ago, and we are so excited to be heading into Season Two of Upper Middle Brow. This season we’re kicking things off a little differently, with a tour of “Foodie Films,” beginning with Gabriel Axel’s Babette’s Feast, followed shortly thereafter by Peter Greenaway’s harrowing The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover. We’ll talk to Monica Eng of the Chewing podcast and listen to some classic audio podcasts. We’ll keep it literary and connect with some old classics (Dickens, Austen, and Flaubert), and finally look at ways that authors examine (critically) their own cultures.
The UMBs have ANOTHER thorough conversation about the novel’s sexual politics, and Mandella’s low key homophobia, asking whether the protagonist’s biases serve some narrative purposes, or simply reveal the author’s own biases. We marvel at the sparse internality, and Haldeman’s ability to poetically reveal just enough about Mandella’s emotional state. And, we decide that Larry Niven is good.
The Forever War is widely regarded as an analogy for America’s involvement in Vietnam, and an anti-war novel, but we’re not so sure it’s firmly anti-war. Perhaps more anti-military. But that said, Haldeman’s protagonist doesn’t consider the apparently antagonistic aliens, the Taurans, to be the real Enemy. The UMBs are blown away by the ideation and certain moments of prose, but raise doubts about the one-way nature of the structure
Rick Deckard spends much of the second half pondering Rachael Rosen’s girlish legs, and his growing feelings of empathy to the Androids, before deciding to go after the remaining three. Does his empathy make it harder for him to do his appointed grisly task? Maybe? Both UMBs wonder if Dick’s ideas were too big for the scope of this book, even though it has its virtues.
Fill out our LISTENER SURVEY!! Dick’s famous novel begins… weird. And the weirdness continues. Dick orients his readers to a world in which fallout is everywhere, most animals have died, many humans have left Earth for colony planets, and androids (or andys) do much of the manual labor. The UMBs are both blown away by… Continue reading Episode 32: “Keeping up with the Jetsons,” or Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Part I
Chris and Jesse are in the same meatspace in Maine, but still talking about cyberspace in…space. As the two microphone jockeys wrap up William Gibson’s Neuromancer, we do TWO close readings (one for and one against Gibson’s chops), talk about how this book created something completely new, and discuss if that fact is why Neuromancer had shown longevity and resilience, despite some issues of craft.
Our friend Lindsay Lajoie saw that we were considering William Gibson’s Neuromancer on the podcast, and admitted on her Instagram that it’s one of the very few books she attempted and could get through. Lindsay joins us for a mini-sode, and we pick apart her reaction, and try to convince her it’s worth another go.
Dukes and Bagg return to William Gibson’s groundbreaking 1984 novel, that popularized the cyberpunk genre. The reviews are mixed. There are moments of brilliance, but does the young Gibson’s drive to “put a hook on every page” lead to more confusion than clarity?
As students, parents, and teachers happily (or wrenchingly) return to school, we invite our resident education specialist, Justin Reich, to talk about stories with teachers. We identify many examples of bad teachers and bad teaching in fiction, and while film and TV often present sympathetic teacher protagonists, we wonder if the Great American Teacher novel is yet to be written.
Whitehead’s neo-noir crashes to a climax, but does it stick the landing? In the end, the Dukes and Bagg wonder if the weight of the the author’s allegory overloads the elevator car laden with plot and character. The lads continue to marvel at Whitehead’s sentences, and sheer originality and ambition of this remarkable novel.
Thanks to everybody who joined our first ever live event last night. Here are the results for our next series (after we finish Neuromancer, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and The Forever War). We’ll publish the audio from last night’s event in our podcast feed in the coming weeks. See below for our plan… Continue reading Draft Results!!