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.
The Four Seasons
Vivaldi - Gil Shaham & The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
I wanted my own CD recording of "The Four Seasons" for quite some time, but hadn't yet got to it. Then my sister, who had raved and raved about her CD recording of Orpheus' performance, brought it over to my home. I was instantly captivated as I listened to track 10, Allegro non Molto from Winter. I had to have my own copy of the CD. Needless to say, I was soon the owner of my own copy and I've not regretted it even the least bit.
I love it, in fact.
I usually preferred a small ensemble performance over a larger group unless the larger group has insane precision and clarity, both in choral works, and string works. The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra's crisp precision backing Gil Shaham's own amazing accuracy and skill blend together making this a recording that I give a whole-hearted rating of 5.
This is recording of "The Four Seasons" is a must have for any collection. Get it!
The Man Who Knew Too Little
This is another Bill Murray laugh fest! While not quite as funny as 'Groundhog Day', it nevertheless delivered a good chuckle rather often.
On DVD the soundtrack is incredible. I love the title background music a lot. I admit, this was only the sixth DVD to enter my meager collection, so maybe I'm still just not used to the clarity of DVD Dolby AC-3 5.1 sound. This was the first DVD (or movie for that matter) that I purchased over the Internet from Reel.com (of course!).
[Since I first wrote the above paragraph in 1998, my collection has grown and can no longer be called "meager" and I'm not nearly so enamoured with the clarity of Dolby Digital sound that I rave over it. In fact, I've since become rather jaded to it and wouldn't mind improved audio since the compression AC-3 uses is not perfect and is not quite CD quality. I still like the opening credits theme song, though.]
I give this move a 3 1/2. It is worth owning. I will certainly watch it again. And again.