life without movies is not worth living

Related to this post, here are the DVDs I elected to keep with me in Louisiana, putting the others I own in storage:

  • The 4th and 5th seasons of Northern Exposure. I have the first 3, but these 2 are the peak of the show, IMO. Although I know people who claimed the character of Mike Monroe was the shark-jump moment, I don’t agree with that. He was only a single-season character; Joel going native was clearly the shark jump.
  • Both seasons of Pushing Daisies. Sigh.
  • All 3 seasons of Dexter; the 4th season will no doubt eventually join it.
  • Lawrence of Arabia, tied with
  • The Fall, for Favorite Movie Ever.
  • Firefly & Serenity. Gorram it.
  • Aeon Flux. The complete animated series (including the Liquid Television shorts), not the terrible movie that was sort of based on it.
  • The 1st season of Fringe; ditto for the 2nd when it comes out.
  • The 1st season of True Blood, ditto as above.
  • Twin Peaks, the Definitive Gold Box Edition. It came with extras and postcards and an ad for David Lynch’s coffee, which I am scared to drink.
  • All the Harry Potter movies to date, except the first 2, when Dan Rad was too young for even a pervert like me to leer at.
  • All the Hayao Miyazake films I own: My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. I haven’t even seen Ponyo, Y/N?
  • The most recent Star Trek movie. GEEK.
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what i’ve been reading & watching lately: collapse, helvetica, pushing daisies

I thought finally replacing my telvision might slow me down, but 5 minutes after I hooked it up I was like “Oh yeah… teevee actually kind of sucks. Think I’ll read for a while.”

collapse

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond

I had a couple people tell me they didn’t think this was that great, or as good as Guns, Germs, and Steel. But I really enjoyed it, although the last chapter isn’t as interesting overall as the rest of the book. Diamond examines some failed societies, past and present (Rwanda, the Greenland Norse, Easter Island) and examines what led to their downfall. He believes all failed societies did/do so because of some very basic factors, including overpopulation and deforestation. Then he contrasts them with some socities that have succeeded (Japan, Iceland, the Greenland Inuit), even though they face/faced the same problems.

I never thought of overpopulation as a contributing factor to Rwanda’s 1994 genocide — Diamond doesn’t ignore the ethnic hatred between Hutu and Tutsi, but he likens it to the powder in the keg, while overpopulation was the match that set it off — but he makes a convincing case. The only other African nation as populous is neighboring Burundi, which also experienced violence at the same time. It also explains why, in the absence of Tutsi, Hutus slaughtered each other.

Incidentally, Jared Diamond was one of the commentators on last night’s Earth 2100, and a lot of the topics he was discussing were right out of this book. So if you watched it — and if you did, I hope you slept better than I did — and you found what he had to say interesting, you might want to think about picking up this book.

I was skeptical that a documentary about a typeface could be interesting, but it really was! I liked that it followed a sort of linear timeline, starting out with the post-WWII modernists who invented/popularized Helvetica; moving on to the PoMo hippies who hated it (“It was like my mom nagging me to clean my room!”) and shows the increasingly fragmented kinds of hand-drawn typefaces they liked to use; then ending with the designers of my own generation, who have gone back to Helvetica, but who use it in a more unorthodox, cheeky style than the original Modernists.

Full disclosure: I love Helvetica (especially the lowercase a and e), and use it for almost all my labeling. But for signs I tend to use Copperplate Gothic Bold, because it has a sort of 19th century one room schoolhouse feel to it. And I work in a school.

pushing-daisies-s2-2

ABC decided to air the last 3 episodes of Pushing Daisies on Saturday nights, starting last Saturday. Watching it was like casual sex with an ex-boyfriend with whom you’d had a difficult break-up and were starting to move on from: pleasurable, but painful in a ripping-open-wounds-that-had-just-started-to-heal way.

Yes, I just compared Pushing Daisies to sex. My dorkiness knows no boundaries.

Coincidentally, I should be getting the first disc of Wonderfalls from Netflix today!

what i’ve been reading & watching lately: nope, still haven’t bought a new television edition

the_gunslingerThe Gunslinger by Stephen King

I vowed years ago never to start reading this until it was all published. King wrote the books so far apart, I was afraid he’d never finish it. Apparently I’m not alone in that; in the forward he describes getting a lot of DUDE WE THOUGHT YOU’D CROAK AND NEVER FINISH THE DARK TOWER!!! letters after getting hit by that van. I believe he even said at one point that he wasn’t sure how or if he would end it, and I didn’t want to invest time in something that petered out halfway through. It’s been wrapped up for a few years now, but I just got around to it.

King started writing this — or at least thinking about — while still in college. It contains a lot of the awful phrases and scenarios that pollute early King writing: People shitting their pants for no particular reason; fear described as making the skin on (male) character’s testicles crawl. (Seriously, what was his obsession with that terrible phrase? He used it at least once in every book from Salem’s Lot to The Tommyknockers.) But other than that, the prose is actually a lot cleaner than most of his early work, reminiscent of some of the best writing he did in the ’90s. Which does make me wonder how much it was re-worked for the revised edition.

I liked it enough to keep reading the series. I always like the work he set in alternate realities (and which, if you read carefully, all seem to be either the same place — The Talisman’s “Territories” — or at least parallel universes of each other). I like seeing yet another (I’m assuming) incarnation of Randall Flagg. And I’ve always been in interested in the fusion of the western with a seemingly disparate genre like fantasy.

This arrived from Netflix just a couple of weeks after I finished reading the book. Although Krakauer certainly isn’t shy about saying that he, personally, admires Chris McCandless, he still manages to be more or less neutral and leave the reader to make their own mind up about it. Screenwriter/director Sean Penn doesn’t do the same here, and he strains a little hard to turn McCandless into some kind of Christ-like figure. But the movie overall is saved from heavyhandedness by some incredible perfomances — Emile Hirsch, of course; but also Catherine Keener and Hal Holbrook were uh-mazing. The voiceovers get a little ponderous, but showing how Chris came to live the kind of life he did probably would have doubled the running time, so I can forgive it.

pushing-daisies-season-1

This isn’t from Netflix, I bought this, because I know I’ll want to watch it over and over again. I’ll be buying the 2nd season as soon as it’s available. I hope it includes the episodes that were filmed but that ABC never aired. I love this show, but watching the DVDs makes me want to go out in the street and punch the first person I see while yelling IT’S YOUR FAULT THIS WAS CANCELLED! YOU WERE TOO BUSY WATCHING DANCING WITH THE STARS TO WATCH THIS!!! Seriously, America: Your taste in television sucks.

Also, holy shit, how did I never notice how totally smoking hott Lee Pace was? I mean, I thought he was cute in a sort of mopey way, but umm:

lee-pace

YEAH, I WOULD FUCKING WRECK THAT.

So, Wonderfalls, Y/N? I thought the premise sounded stoopit when I heard about it back in the day. But really, is it any stupider than guy can bring dead things back to life with a touch, for no particular reason, except only for a minute or something else will die in its place, and he can never touch them again or they die forever, so he uses this to solve crimes, and he brings his childhood sweetheart back from the dead, and oh yeah also he bakes pies from dead fruit. Which he he brings back to life.

good, because i simply did not have it in me to go through another futile petition campaign with fox

Fringe got its back 9 picked up.

Shit, that reminds me: I totally forgot about the season premiere of Pushing Daisies and watched Bones instead. Oh well, ABC has full eps on their website, right? I can’t even remember what happened last season. Something about Pee-Wee Herman’s ability to smell death, and did Swoosie Kurtz turn out to be Chuck’s mom?