Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sex, Shakespeare, and the Human Brain

It's been an eclectic week or so in entertainment for me, so it's killing me that I haven't had time to ramble about each diversion that lit up my days. This will be the speed dating version of actual posts, on just a few of my favourite things ... this week.

Sex and the City. It's not a great movie, to tell the truth, but it was so much fun to have a movie event to look forward to that was so unabashedly girly. I mean, I've stood in line for enough Lord of the Rings films, thank you very much. If you like the HBO show, it's 2 1/2 hours of that, and a mostly satisfying way to catch up with the gang.

Bard on the Beach. Every major city I've lived in has a version of this, but Vancouver's has the most beautiful setting, overlooking the water and mountains. This particular version of Twelfth Night was the goofiest Shakespeare I've ever seen - it's not often I'm reminded of Spamalot when watching the Bard - but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm looking forward to CBC's version of Othello too. I don't think my Shakespeare nerddom has made an appearance on this blog yet, but there you go. That F.M. Salter Award in Shakespeare Studies hasn't gone to waste. Much.

Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind. I'd love to do a review of this book, but I have other reviews piling up and who am I kidding? But it's an entertaining book about the brain. How improbable is that? It's a far more convincing argument for evolution over creation than anything Richard Dawkins dreamed of writing, and had me nodding about the infuriating ways our minds work - a kluge is an inelegant, cobbled-together solution. Author Gary Marcus actually gives tips on how to overcome the liminations of our minds, too - common sense stuff that's not so common, like considering other alternatives, not making important decisions when tired or distracted, to consciously weigh benefits against costs, and to be rational. The tips may not be funny or ground-breaking, but they offer some hope of outwitting our inner kluge at the end of a book that is both funny and ground-breaking.