Regular commenter Mr. Offutt has “awarded” me the “Seriously Cute” blog award. I think we all know neither me nor this blog is “cute” in any way. In lieu of the stupid graphic badge with its “cute” puppy, here’s a picture of my kind of cute dog:
Anyway, the criteria for participating is pretty easy. According to Mr. Offutt, “To accept the award I have to list five books, films, or tv programs that I’ve read, watched, or followed in the last 12 months.”
So what the hell, let’s do this thing.
FILMS: I haven’t watched a movie in the theater in 12 months, so let’s just go over the last five movies I’ve watched on Netflix.
- Get Low: This was more dramatic and sad than they made it sound in the commercials and previews. I thought when they said “a real life tall tale” it would be like “Big Fish” but it was pretty straightforward. Anyway, it’s a good bittersweet movie about a man looking for redemption.
- Quantum of Solace: I didn’t really like Casino Royale (2006) so I put off watching this for a while until through Netflix (largely the Instant) I watched all of the non-Roger Moore Bond movies. (Roger Moore sucks. I’m just saying.) Anyway, this wasn’t as bad as I thought. You don’t get Q and lots of neat gadgets but that does bring it closer to the original “Dr. No” and “From Russia With Love.” I just wished they could have stopped the chase scenes (by car, foot, boat, and plane!) for a few minutes to let Daniel Craig actually do some real spying. In those instances when he wasn’t chasing/being chased he was pretty good.
- I’m Reed Fish: This was an OK coming-of-age “Garden State”-type movie until they got to the meta device of the movie really being a movie made by Reed Fish and his friends. That confused the crap out of me, especially at the end because you had the actresses playing his girlfriends and then his real girlfriends (who of course are really actresses, so the other ones are actresses playing actresses…) and I had no fucking idea which one he wound up with.
- Big Fan: I really enjoyed this movie about a crazy sports fan (Patton Oswalt) who gets beaten up by the star linebacker of his favorite team, the New York (Football) Giants and then has to decide whether to put the good of his team above his own well-being. Meanwhile the rivalry between him and a Philadelphia Eagles fan (Michael Rappaport) escalates. As I Tweeted, it was a good reminder that there’s not much difference between sports fans who paint their faces and geeks who dress up with pointy ears. I’m just saying.
- April Fool’s Day: Mr. Pagel called this “The Best Slasher Movie” so I watched it and thought it was a good twist on the slasher movie formula.
- The Twilight Zone: Syfy was running their semi-annual TZ marathon on 4th of July weekend so I watched some episodes. The cool thing is that Netflix streams the complete original series so when Syfy is showing one I don’t like (like the stupid schmaltzy Ray Bradbury-penned one) I can turn on some I like better. I also own the complete DVD set but it’s easier with the Netflix than juggling the DVD. Anyway, you watch the Twilight Zone and it soon becomes clear that every blockbuster movie of today from Inception to Avatar to Toy Story has already been done by Rod Serling. Any idea you can come up with and Rod & Company probably already did it back in the early 60s.
- American Dad: I didn’t watch this show when it first started airing because I assumed it would just be “Family Guy” rehashed. Then I caught a few episodes on Adult Swim and realized it’s not really. For one thing they don’t use the “cutaway gags” like Family Guy does. So while it’s largely the same humor it doesn’t feel the same. It’s kind of the “Futurama” to Family Guy’s The Simpsons or the Colbert Report to the Daily Show.
- Futurama: Since I mentioned it already, the new season is airing on Comedy Central. It’s a real chore for me to remember this, so I hope they have it On Demand for when I miss something. I’d get TiVO but the subscription fees seem kind of pointless for the number of shows I actually watch. Anyway, maybe the new episodes aren’t quite as great as some of the old ones, but it’s still better than whatever reality junk is on.
- Archer: I remember Mr. Pagel mentioning this show and they had the first season on Netflix Instant so I watched it. It’s pretty funny. Kind of like American Dad crossed with “The Office” in that it’s about a spy but at least a lot of the first season seemed to take place in and around the office. What always bugs me though is can’t this Jon Benjamin guy do more than one voice? Archer, Bob’s Burgers, and Carl on Family Guy all sound the exact same and it bugs the crap out of me. I’m just saying.
- Robot Chicken: Another blogger turned me on to this show a couple years ago. I caught a few episodes every now and then on Adult Swim when they reran them around midnight but later I bought the complete series on DVD. Basically if you like the humor of Family Guy and American Dad and you played with toys from the ’80s then this a great show. It’s a series of skits using stop-motion animation most of which reference old toys and TV shows like “what if Inspector Gadget used spare parts from Cyberdyne and became a Terminator?” or “what if Transformers could get cancer?” It’s hard to really describe it. Anyway, if you have it On Demand or something, check out a few episodes, they’re only 11 minutes long.
BOOKS: I should probably check Goodreads to remember the last five books I read.
- Grifter’s Game by Lawrence Block. If you like noir-type books or movies or playing LA Noire on the PS3 then this is a good book. I got it for like $3 from a Bargain Books sale because I’d been reading a lot of Raymond Chandler so this seemed like the logical extension of that. It’s kind of like Chandler only Block uses more sex and cussing–my kind of author!
- Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler: Mr. Ethan Cooper said this was his favorite Chandler book so I decided to read it. When my crappy library didn’t have it in stock I read a whole big book of Chandler short stories, three of which he used elements of for this book. Trying to describe the story would be kind of pointless. So again if you like noir-type stuff then go with the master.
- Great American Novel by Philip Roth: What I really liked was this was a baseball novel that was very unbaseball novelly. What does that mean? It means it wasn’t all schmaltzy like “Field of Dreams” or some Mitch Albom crap. It’s about a team of non-lovable losers who in 1943 have to play every game on the road because the government takes over their field. But since it’s Philip Roth it involves sex and politics and fun stuff like that.
- Bright’s Passage by Josh Ritter: I read this only because I have a few Josh Ritter albums so I wanted to see if he could really write a book. It’s pretty good for presumably a first novel, but it’s not great either. He needed a better editor. Basically if you liked Cold Mountain then you might like it.
- Expendable by James Alan Gardner: This is the first of a Canadian series of SF books. Gardner isn’t a great writer, but he’s decent enough. I really like the universe of this story, where ugly people are sent down to unexplored planets because no one else will give a shit if they die. There’s also the idea of this “League of Peoples” who are advanced aliens presiding over the universe. If you commit a murder or even act negligently to accidentally kill someone the League has you put down, which makes for interesting situations. I’ve read the entire series, most of which are good, although the ones taking place on Earth aren’t as good.
There you go. I’m supposed to pass it on. I don’t feel like creating a bunch of links, so everyone I tagged last time can tag themselves this time.