Saturday, April 30, 2011

Best of the Week - Last Week of April

I'm sorry, but I have been unable to find the time update my post and my pop-culture consumption has also been lackluster mostly because what is going on over here.

However, I felt the need to update on my best ofs over the past few weeks:

Best Movie I saw: None. I have not watched a movie besides the dreadful Jonah Hex I caught early this morning on HBO. Instead I felt I would mention my new favorite show so far that I'm sure everyone has been watching: The Game of Thrones series on HBO.
Surprisingly, I have not read any of the books. They have been recommended to me in the past, but I felt like I already am a nerd and I didn't need a new nerdy project. After watching two episodes of the series, I may have a summer reading project to begin. I will wait to until the series is finished and then probably inhale the books. The TV show shows a lot of promise and you can tell the care that is going in to the show to bring the books to life. I'm sure the true fans will always gripe, since that is the cross us dorks must bear, but really this is an impressive endeavor and I look forward to seeing where this goes.

Best TV show I saw: Parks and Recreations continues to be the funniest show on TV. The characters have really come into their own and in the last 3 weeks each character has really had their moment to shine. From Ron Swanson's burger cook off, to April and Andy's surprise wedding, I look forward to this each week.
I also really enjoyed the Booster Gold episode of Smallville. I thought it was one of the better, more light-hearted episodes in a long time and realized Geoff Johns should have been writing this series for a while now.

Best thing I read: Yes, I've still been reading, but there has been one book that has consumed me over the past 3 weeks. It is called House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. This brick of a novel is more an experience than a reading something. Although, I can't actually recommend it blindly to just anyone, there are certain people that I think may love this book. The books is a novel about a 30 year LA party kid who finds a book written by an old man. So that book that I read is really that man's book which is the story about a fictitious movie about a house that has seems to have a passage to a ever-changing, vast black void/passage into another world (or maybe hell). The main story is about what happens to the family that lives in that house and the movie they made documenting the explorations of that dimension. So the book is written in one font with footnotes by the old man (Zambrano), with other footnotes/observations by the kid that found that book (Johnny Truant).
Really the book is about the story within a story within a story and the asides they take and the structure of the novel is like nothing I've ever read. Again, I cannot recommend this because I wouldn't call this an entertaining read, but for anyone into taking on a post-modern project, I think this book mostly succeeds. But at 700 pages deep pages (the amount of words per page on this book is usually much more than a normal book, except in certain sections which are apparent) this is not an easy, summer read.

I also enjoyed a comedy called Everything is going to Kill Everybody by Robert Brockway which was a humorous look at all the diseases, natural disasters and nanobots scientists are creating which will 'most likely' lend a hand into the human race's eventual extinction. It had a very light manner when discussing everything, but over all this is for people that enjoy being afraid about waking up and living their lives. Also, it had just a tad too many dick jokes for my preference. But, overall it was a fun, educational and light read for any science geeks out there.

Best thing I heard: Last week I went to New Orleans, and every band on the street, music in a club and even the songs I had already heard coming out of a jukebox in a bar sounded better than any other song I've heard in some time. From the old jazz band I heard at the Spotted Cat on Frenchman Street, to the funk-based band across the street, to the awesome violin and guitar duet playing on the street to walking into Molly's to hear some old school Faith No More coming out of the Juke Box, I was quite happy in my four days there. Possibly too happy since all I did was walk around the streets, listening to music and eating great food and drinking great drinks that I forgot to do much sight-seeing or take any tours. Oh well, that means I'll just have to go back.

The Batman Complex

I love fake trailers when they are done right. This is one of them:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Best of the Week - First Week of April

I almost didn't write anything this week because it was a bad week both personally as well as pop-culturally. But for the sake of completion:
Best TV show I saw: We are still in the rerun season, so for the second week in a row The United States of Tara has to take this crown. It was a very good episode with new cast member Eddie Izzard being a welcome addition, but this mostly wins be default since everything else I watched was kind of blah

Best movie I saw:
I watched no movies this week. I did, however see parts of two that I did enjoy: The Joneses was a cute premise about people that move into the suburbs flashing their nice cars and gadgets who are really getting paid by the companies to make their neighbors jealous that they don't have the picture phone or nice new car. It stars David Duchovney and Demi Moore as said couple.
The second movie I saw a piece of was a documentary on Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and his attempt make the album Smile called Beautiful Dreamer.

Best thing I read: A graphic novel called I Kill Giants. It follows a young teenage girl that escapes into her fantasies so she doesn't have to face her the harsh reality of what is going on in her family. It had great Manga-style black and white artwork and some great heart in the core of Joe Kelly's writing

I also read: Patton Oswalt's pseudo-biography Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. I heard him talk on Bill Simmons' podcast and this book really piqued my interest. However, I was quite disappointed with this book. I didn't laugh much and there were some chapters that I guess were supposed to be comedy bits, but I just didn't get them.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Best of the Week - Fourth Week of March

I've been super busy this week so this should be a short update since I did not see much TV/movies this week of note.

Best TV show I saw: I always enjoy my Showtime shows and the season premieres of both Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara were decent. I especially love Toni Collette in Tara because the woman is effortless in her acting.

Best movie I saw: The only movie I can even remember watching a piece of was seeing athe first 30 minutes or so of Ghostbusters on Nick at Nite last night. I was laughing at scenes I've seen 100 times. It really may be Bill Murray's best work. Every piece of dialogue is simply perfect with his deadpan delivery. I highly recommend everyone rewatch this if it's been a while.

Best thing I read: I read a lot this week again and the best of the bunch that I read was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Funny enough, this is the second time I read this book, but during my reread I only really remembered the first fifty pages or so. This is my newest book for my book club, but I have a ton of books I want to read on my own so I knocked it out in two days. This is a sad, but uplifting book whose narrator is a fifteen year old English kid that has some sort of developmental problem. They never fully say what that issue is but since he has tons of systems and ways of seeing the world, is super organized and is a math genius we can assume he's got some sort of Autism or Asberger's. Since he is the narrator, the author does a fantastic job of letting the reader see through the eyes of someone that sees the world in such a simple black and white way. There is only good and bad, and if you lie you are bad. The writing is super-simplistic (even more simplistic than yours truly) with tons of run-on sentences and explanations of what he is doing and why.
I do not want to ruin the plot to this book at all since what happens is not really the point. It is more about how this kid sees the world.

I also read: On Writing by Stephen King is his non-fiction account of himself and his writing. It isn't an autobiography, although the first 100 pages or so are how he started writing and stories about writing his early stories as a teenager. He always wanted to write and he was always sending magazines his stories. He tells how he was rejected a billion times and it only made him work harder.
The second part of the book describes his process. He explains how he is strict in his schedule and recommends anyone serious about writing to carve away some time to just do it. He even gives some exercises in how to write and how to edit.
The third part discusses his accident in 1999 where he was hit by a truck and almost killed. He happened to be writing On Writing when this happened and since this is a non-fiction book, he decided to exercise his demons about the trauma this accident has caused him. Longtime King readers know this story very well since he mentions it a lot in prefaces as well as incorporating a bit of it in his novels.
Overall, this book is a great insight into how one of the best selling authors of all times does his job. Anyone interested in writing (whether it be the process or wants to be a writer themselves) should definitely read this book. After all, just hearing how King threw away the first 50 pages to Carrie and the only reason he came back was because his wife decided to pull those pages out of the garbage and then told him he may have something here is something I'm sure anyone that is unsure of their work can understand.
Also, this book really humanizes the Master of Horror and shows his fans and his detractors what a good guy he actually is.
I also read: Ultimate Comics Avengers - A fun little book about a different look at the Marvel Universe. This series tries to make a world where Super Heroes exist, but they are more human people and they are around in present day society. They are able to take classic characters and stories and update them for today's audience. For example: this story tells the origin of the Captain America villain the Red Skull. In regular continuity the Red Skull was a Nazi crazy man that is still alive today. In the Ultimate world, we find out the Red Skull was Captain America's unborn son when he was frozen in a block of ice during World War II. Since the government couldn't redo the Super Soldier program that created Captain America, they took the child from birth and brought him up in a government complex. The kid trained to be the peak of physical specimen and then turned on his 'captors' and became an international terrorist. Now, 65 years later, he meets his father in battle. It was a good little story.

Best thing I heard: I listened to two WTF Podcast with the comedian Marc Maron. I listened to both interviews with Joe Rogan and Michael Showalter. I have listened to at least 15 of the WTF podcasts and his abrasive style has grown on me. After listening to some, I understand more of why he does the show. It is a) to get people on the show that he has had issues with in the past and confront them/apologize for his past abrasiveness and b) to work out a lot of the crazy inner demons this stand-up comic seems to possess. Maybe it's because I've listened to a bunch now and like his style more because of it, but I enjoyed these two podcasts and they were the best thing I heard this week.