Arts Wrap: January 2012


Okay, I know  I've said I'm going to start during recurring posts on various topics numerous  times ("That's America to Me", politics, feminism, etc) but for real, let's do this. I've been a spotty blogger for the past four months or so and I'm tired of it. Even though so few people read what I write, it's a way of helping me feel productive and it's a small, small  way for me to leave a mark on the world.

Forgive me while I get all sad on you, but unless history books write about you, history will only remember you by what you've written. Even if what I jot down is inconsequential, I like to think of my writing as bread crumbs left along the path of . . . well, who knows, but they're there.

One thing I'd like to start doing is a monthly post dedicated to the arts. Mormons are taught to seek after things that are "virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy." And I figure seeking doesn't amount to much unless it turns into sharing, right? :) So here we go, the best of the best of January 2012.


Book--Fiction: Beatrice and Virgil 

The world went beserk for Life of Pi  and waited achingly for Martel's next book. The wait was long--nearly a decade. Beatrice and Virgil  was not what people were expecting. 

It has been maligned as the worst book of the decade and praised as a masterpiece. (It's hard to write about the Holocaust and not  have the critical response be polarizing.) In my opinion, the latter is true. Beatrice and Virgil  was one of the most haunting, creative, and beautiful books I have ever read. 

At just over 200 pages long, it's more of a novella than a novel, but it's the only book in my life where--upon turning the final page--I went back to the first and started again.


Book--Non-Fiction: Who Cooked the Last Supper? The Women's History of the World

The biology of woman in fact holds the key to the story of the human race. Although generally unsung, female monthly menstruation was the evolutionary adaptation that preserved the human species from extinction and ensure its survival and success.

Female oestrus in the higher primates is a highly inefficient mechanism. Chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans come on heat rarely, and produce one infant every five or six years. This puts the whole species dangerously at risk of extinction, and the great apes today survived only in small numbers and in the most favorable environments. With twelve chances of conceiving in every year, instead of one every five years, the human female has a reproductive capacity sixty times higher than that of her primate sisters. Menstruation, not hunting, was the great evolutionary leap forward. It was through a female adaptation, not a male one, that "man" throve, multiplied, and conquered the globe.

Moral of the story? Quit hating on your period and read this book. And, having been written by a British woman, you can expect all sorts of dry, subtle, dirty humor along the way to pepper things up (including a chapter entitled "The Rise of the Phallus"--seriously, you gotta read this).


Television: Alcatraz and New Girl

New Girl is proof that you don't need a laugh track for laughs (for the love, television producers, CAN WE BE OVER THAT????) In a television world where mockumentaries reign supreme (The Office, Modern Family, etc), New Girl  is a breath of fresh air. Or maybe that's just Ms. Deschanel. Hard to tell.

Alcatraz  is proof that J.J. Abrams still has it goin' on. Like Stacy's mom, only creepier.


Film: The Artist and Five Broken Cameras

If you're one of those people who makes a Calvin blech face at the thought of a silent, black-and-white movie, get over yourself and see The Artist. You're not too cool for it, I promise.

As for Five Broken Cameras:

I will forever be grateful to the Sundance Film Festival for screening Slingshot Hip Hop in 2008. Seeing that documentary is what first got me interested in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. It was then that I first started thinking about studying Arabic.

Who would've thought that I'd return to the Festival four years later to watch another documentary on the same issue? Only this time, I didn't need the subtitles.


Music: Walk off the Earth's cover of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know"

Five people, one guitar, magic. (Check out the original video of the song, too--it's very, very cool.)


Dance: The Great Chinese Circus' performance of Swan Lake


Comedy: Utah drivers; Kristen Bell's sloth story

Journalism: Nick Kristof, Daniel C. Peterson, Andrew Malone

"Where Are The Romney Republicans?" by Nick Kristof for the New York Times

“Much of the current conservative movement is characterized by this sort of historical amnesia and symbolic parricide, which seeks to undo key aspects of the Republican legacy such as Reagan’s elimination of corporate tax loopholes, Nixon’s environmental and labor safety programs, and a variety of G.O.P. achievements in civil rights, civil liberties, and good government reforms,” Kabaservice writes. “In the long view of history, it is really today’s conservatives who are ‘Republicans in name only.’”

"Gingrich Is Wrong; Palestinians Are Not 'Invented'" by Daniel C. Peterson for the Deseret News

There are, I think, relatively few politically conservative American Arabists. But I'm one, and I reject Mr. Gingrich's declaration that Palestinians are merely an "invented people." His claim is not only needlessly provocative and inflammatory (in a region that scarcely needs inflaming) but false.

In one small village I visited, 18 farmers had committed suicide after being sucked into GM debts. In some cases, women have taken over farms from their dead husbands - only to kill themselves as well. 

Latta Ramesh, 38, drank insecticide after her crops failed - two years after her husband disappeared when the GM debts became too much. She left her ten-year-old son, Rashan, in the care of relatives. 'He cries when he thinks of his mother,' said the dead woman's aunt, sitting listlessly in shade near the fields.

Village after village, families told how they had fallen into debt after being persuaded to buy GM seeds instead of traditional cotton seeds. The price difference is staggering: £10 for 100 grams of GM seed, compared with less than £10 for 1,000 times more traditional seeds.

But GM salesmen and government officials had promised farmers that these were 'magic seeds' - with better crops that would be free from parasites and insects.  Indeed, in a bid to promote the uptake of GM seeds, traditional varieties were banned from many government seed banks. 

The authorities had a vested interest in promoting this new biotechnology. Desperate to escape the grinding poverty of the post-independence years, the Indian government had agreed to allow new bio-tech giants, such as the U.S. market-leader Monsanto, to sell their new seed creations.


That's enough for this month! If you're a-hankerin' for more, spend some time perusing a website I recently came across called Artswrap. StumbleUpon is also a great way to find wonderful things if you use it right (I prefer it to Pinterest). If you find anything great ever, please share!


  1. I have a major girl crush on Kristen Bell. And that Swan Lake dance is amazing!!

  2. Oh my gosh, I LOVE this feature! Yes, please continue to do this every month.

  3. Thank you SO much for this, Kristi! I loved it! Man, Swan Lake was amazing! And European ballerinas think they can dance. Ha!


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