Aaron's PicksBooks, Music, and Movies
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Welcome to Aaron's Picks!
This is my chance to share some of the things I enjoy with the rest of the world, books I love to read and reread, music I enjoy listening to, and movies I love to watch.
There are three sections to this page. I highlight one item from each category. If you want to browse all the items in a category (books, music, or movies), scroll down to the category and click in the link right above the highlighted selection.
Since this web page is generated dynamically from a database, each time you visit, a selection from each category is randomly chosen as the highlighted item.
Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" is a science fiction classic in my opinion, one of the great works of the genre. Perhaps that's why it is the winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards. I give the book a full five-star rating. It is an amazing and intense read.
I met the author, Orson Scott Card, briefly just after he finished giving a writing seminar in Southern Utah several years back, where he autographed my own paperback copy. If only I'd known he would be there I might have purchased a hardcover copy for him to sign.
Beware that "Ender's Game" does contain some language and several graphically violent scenes. However, unlike many books and movies where violence is gratuitous, the scenes in this book are integral to the story and development of the characters, and presented minimally to achive this purpose. And the main character's reactions to the situations includes regret at the necessity of his own violent behavior. This, I think, is a vital element if a story honestly deals with violence and seeks not to glorify it or make it part of the adventure. My hat is off to Mr. Card in this regard, for the towering power of the story overshadows and justifies what in another story I would regard as vile and unacceptable.
One of the traits of Orson Scott Card's writing is his astounding ability to make you believe his characters are smart, intelligent, and in the case of Ender Wiggin saga, even geniuses. So often I read a novel where the author spends some time trying to tell me that such-and-such a character is smart and I then read on and find that I just can't believe that a smart person would do and behave as they do later on in the novel. Card succeeds with room to spare. He convinces me his characters are smart by what they do and think. He doesn't have to bother telling me that they are intelligent.
"Ender's Game" is the first, and probably the fastest paced of the four novels that make up the Ender Wiggin saga, but that does not necessarily make it the best.
I give "Ender's Game" a full 5 rating. This books is definitely a must-have title for any serious science fiction fan's library.
Heart of the Heartland
I first heard the name Peter Ostroushko while conversing on the telephone with my wonderfully talented mother. She was excited about a new CD she had just received, "Heart of the Heartland". She let me sample a bit over the telephone. It was a little bit like listening to a 33,600 bps. RealAudio stream with additional background noise. That is to say, it was horrible sound quality. (Can you tell that I despise modem-speed sound streaming technologies for listening to music? Give me a 128 bit MP3 (or even better, a VBR OGG Vorbis (see http://www.vorbis.com) audio file I can download then listen to anytime!) Even so, I heard enough to intrigue me!
A week or more later, as I departed from a visit to my parents' house, I snagged the CD from the kitchen table and asked if I could borrow it. Once home, I popped into my CD player and cranked up the volume. Delicious! I liked it instantly. I knew that I would be buying this CD. I especially like track 3, "Puppy Belly Dance", a lively fiddle of a song!
Sure enough, I did buy it. Over the Internet, of course! (It isn't often that the local music stores have what I want in stock at a good price these days.) Don't tell Amazon.com this, but I bought it at Music Boulevard (which subsequently merged with CDNOW). The prices were the same at Amazon.com and at Music Boulevard, but Music Boulvard`'s shipping blew Amazon.com's away.
So what's the low-down overall? Buy it! You'll love it! (Unless your tastes are different than mine, of course. *grin*)
The Sound of Music
Julie Andrews & Christopher Plummer
You cannot imagine my wonder and delight as I first watched the THX digitally masterd DVD edition of Rodgers and Hammerstein's masterpiece, The Sound of Music. The music I've loved since a child was magnificent, from the first instrumental opening followed by Julie Andrews' superb performance of title track The Sound of Music, to one of my favorites, Favorite Things. The DVD edition brought clarity and color to the small screen that made it seem much larger.
Yes, I love this musical. And yes, I'm a sucker for good musicals. Still, this movie has a story and spirit behind it that works in synergy with the powerful music. It is moving. It is marvelous. I love it. What more can I say? It gets the top rating, a 5.