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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Open Thread: A Book, A Movie, And A Song II

I opted for a Mariner’s theme this round.

While always interested in your books, movies and songs…..this is an Open Thread.



Birds of Prey, by Wilbur Smith. The first of a trilogy from within the Courtney series (Monsoon and Blue Horizon completing the trilogy), Birds of Prey follows the high seas adventures of Sir Francis Courtney during the late 18th century naval war between the English and the Dutch. The Courtney series currently consists of 13 novels spanning over 200 years…Birds of Prey, Monsoon, and Blue Horizon are my personal favorites. These books came to mind last week when John mentioned his affection for Historical Fiction. Wilbur Smith is an adept (and prolific) storyteller. I have found his works to be entertaining page turners, and I recommend the above mentioned novels (and the first 2 books of his Egyptian series) to any fan of the genre.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a movie based on events from several novels from Patrick O’Brian’s brilliant Aubrey-Maturin series. The film takes place in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars as the British HMS Surprise attempts to capture the French ship Acheron. I felt the movie fairly true to the novels and was well pleased with the end result. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a visual feast and should be entertaining even to those without previous knowledge of the characters. The film stars Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey and Paul Bettany as Dr. Maturin.


The Mariner’s Revenge Song by The Decemberists is an obvious fit for the theme. The song is a long narrative of seafaring vengeance accompanied by an eclectic array of instruments that add a quirky and infectious charm. Enjoy!




  1. fogiv

    Mariner’s theme, eh?


    I spent many a night camped on the beaches of Kohala coast, reading Stuart Holmes Coleman’s inspirational Eddie Would Go until it was to dark to see.  Fresh Ono cooked over the fire.  Some of the best times of my life.

    EDDIE WOULD GO is the only biography of one of Hawaii’s greatest heroes. Eddie Aikau was a humble man who was larger than life. As a surfer, he rode the biggest waves in the world; as a lifeguard, he saved hundreds of lives from the North Shore’s treacherous waters; and as a a proud Hawaiian, he sacrificed his life to save his fellow sailors aboard the voyaging canoe Hokule’a.

    But more than a biography of a courageous waterman, Stuart Coleman’s EDDIE WOULD GO also tells the story of modern Hawai’i and Eddie’s role in the Hawaiian Renaissance during the 1970’s. The book is based on numerous interviews with family and friends, along with Hawai’i’s leading watermen and scholars, and Coleman weaves together their memories in an exciting and informative story. By exploring his legendary life and legacy, this book will show why Eddie has become such an enduring icon in Hawai’i and the surfing world.


    What else?  


    Couldn’t find a decent live vid, so here’s the studio version of a great sea chanty (w/ Octopus bartender) called The Plank (by the Devil Makes Three):

    Runner-up:  Sorta close to the Mariner theme (there’s some rowing on lakes involved).  Sufjan Stevens, after being talked onto a cold, windy roof in Ohio, does a very haunting cover of the The Innocence Mission’s The Lakes of Canada:

  2. DTOzone



    The Alienist by Caleb Carr.

    I had to read it in 1997 for my 12th grade Drama class and absolutely loved it…felt like I was reading an episode of Law & Order, set one hundred years ago;

    It’s New York, 1896, and there is a serial killer going around killing boys and leaving their mutilated bodies near the water in various places. The main character is a New York Times criminal reporter, who joins his friends, a psychiatrist and a feminist looking for be the first female police officer on an investigation to discover who the muderer is. In the process, the reader is exposed to the corrupt police department and the establishments desire to keep the status quo and sweep the murders under the rug, as they are of poor immigrant boys whoring themselves for money.

    A supporting character is the NYC Police Commissioner, who would rise to the Presidency later…Theodore Roosevelt.

    That book was, for me, a turning point. It was the third novel I was forced to read for school and actually enjoyed (the first two being The Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby) and it was upon reading The Alienist that I went from dredding having to read to actually enjoying reading. Since then, reading has been one of my favorite things to do. I place the blame on Ms. Harley, 12th grade English teacher at Commack High School in 1997 for making me an avid reader.



    It’s my second year in college, ok, and I go with three of my friends to see Go…inspired to do so by No Doubt’s song from the movie. It was a warm spring and I was suffering from extreme depression.

    The movie follows a group of Los Angelinos who work at a supermarket and whose lives are intertwined around Christmas. Ronna, played by Sarah Polley, needs some extra money because she’s facing eviction, so she takes the shift of her co-worker Simon, played by Desmond Askew, so he can go to Las Vegas with his pals, played by Taye Diggs, Breckin Meyer and I forget the other guy. Simon steals his drug dealer’s credit card and goes all out with it in Vegas. Meanwhile Ronna meets two people at the supermarket, gay soap opera actors, played by Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf who, unknown to Ronna, are trying to bust Simon’s drug dealer, Todd, played by Timothy Olymphant who I believe should’ve been recognized with awards for his role. Ronna, sensing a chance to make extra money, decides to go make the drug deal, get the drugs from a suspicious Todd, and give them to the actors, who are at the house of the dude who busted them are making them go undercover, William Fitchner and his wife playred by Jane Krakowski. They end up there for Christmas dinner at which time they’re propositioned for a business deal.

    During all this, Ronna discovers she is being played and, well, it all goes downhil from there.

    In the middle of all this is Claire, played by Katie Holmes, who despite acting all innocent and cutsy amongst the drugs, sex and guns, ends up making out with the drug dealer on the stairs toward the end.


    Policy of Truth- Depeche Mode.

    Back to 1997, while reading The Alienist, my group was in another class; my video production class, was assigned to make a music video. We choose the song Policy of Truth by Depeche Mode and did a very artsy video that consisted numerous shots of me singing the song, one of me standing on the roof of a Queens shopping mall late a night with the Manhattan skyline behind me, wearing a pleather-looking trenchcoat with dracula collar and strands of my hair over my face blowing in the wind, another of me dressed with an elaboate headpiece that was meant to make me look like a tribal king, but instead that looked like a cross between a  Las Vegas showgirl and Elvira, and another of me back in the trenchcoat with some sort of gaudy cape-looking thing billowing behind me and sometimes through my arms superimposed over a shot of the Long Island Expressway with the cars sped up to 50x fast.

    Why do I love the song? Oh, it’s that guitar riff, the ironic message that sometimes lying is better than sticking to the truth; “You will always wonder how it could’ve been if you only lied”, “You’ll see your problems mulitply when you continually decide to faithfully pursue the Policy of Truth” and it’s that refrain; “Never again is what you swore the time before” and how the refrain is repeated over and over again as the song closes (this was the part with the billowing cape in our little video)

    Got an A on that btw.

  3. HappyinVT

    I think the last movie I saw at the theater was Angels & Demons.  Before that it was The DaVinci Code. (notice a pattern?)  I bought, among others, The Last King of Scotland.  Watched about 40 minutes and haven’t watched the rest yet.  It was good but nothing seems to hold my interest.  I’ve had overdue library books because I swear I’m going to get around to reading them.  Someday.  I’ve bought books, and well, I’ve started a few but…  Some of them have been really good, too, but I just don’t feel like picking them back up.  Shoot, I bought a rip roarin’ bodice ripper and fell asleep while reading it.

    About the only nautical-themed anything I can say I enjoyed was the Horatio Hornblower series on A&E back before A&E discovered reality shows.

    One of my favorite songs…

  4. HappyinVT

    in between innings of the WS game.  I need to watch the whole thing when I’m not distracted because what I saw was wonderful.  I’m embarrassed to say I tossed a plastic jar at the kitty to get her to quit disturbing the scene toward the end of the movie.

  5. I’ve been going through some photos to find ones to frame and put on the walls. This one was taken at a bird sanctuary in Pigeon Forge, TN. He’s a long way from home.

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