Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reading/Watching/Etc.


READING:

In the Peanut Gallery with Mystery Science Theater 3000: Essays on Film, Fandom, Technology and the Culture of Riffing
Yeah, I'm still slogging through this, which I don't mean to sound negative because I'm quite enjoying it. But it's dense and scholarly (really!) and sometimes after reading at work all day, my brain's not prepared to tackle anything that asks too much of me once I get home. Now that I'm going to two Cinematic Titanic shows this fall, though, I think I'll be approaching this with renewed vigor.

Louis C.K.'s USO Blog (a series dating back to May '09)
There was an hour-long episode of Louie a few weeks ago that was so awesome, it managed to stand out amidst an entire season of outstandingness. After the show aired, he posted a link in his Twitter feed back to this series of blog posts he cobbled together after he'd returned from a USO tour in Iraq/Afghanistan a few years ago -- if you've seen the episode, you'll see where he got some of the inspirations for "Duckling." (I wish the episode were posted on the FX website, but alas, it's not up there for viewing, otherwise I'd link to it here.)

"How to Land Your Kid in Therapy" and "How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans" in the July/August 2011 issue of The Atlantic
I fall behind on The Atlantic more often than I should (so much to read!), but I make time every summer for the Ideas Issue because there's always lots of good brain chow in there for me to mull over. These two articles were my favorites in this year's edition.

Jay Mohr's Real Housewives of New Jersey blog
My secret shame. Well, not really. I'm not a big reality TV person, but the New Jersey housewives are my semi-guilty pleasure -- the other franchises don't really do it for me (Beverly Hills being the exception, because they're so rich and disconnected from reality that it's more like watching Dallas than a "reality" show), but these people remind me of people I know around here. Essentially, they're just rednecks that live in fancy houses. I mean, seriously -- an entire episode this season was devoted to them going to a cabin in the sticks where they did nothing but ride four-wheelers, shoot guns off the front porch, and get plastered. Take away the accent and swap it with one of ours, and they'd blend right in.

Anyway, the comedian Jay Mohr is (somewhat inexplicably) a huge RHONJ (yes, it merits its own shorthand) fan, and this year Bravo (the network that airs the show) gave him space to write about it each week. I don't know if they're at all funny to anyone unfamiliar with the show, but if you do watch it, his entries will crack you up.


WATCHING:

Cougar Town, season 2
This show is so much better than its title would have you believe. Really. Not that it's, like, the greatest show on TV or anything, but the ensemble cast is really funny together, the stories are silly but entertaining, and it reminds me of those frothy procedural shows on the USA network that don't ask much of you, but that you can watch for four hours straight without losing interest.

Exporting Raymond
A documentary about the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond and his efforts to launch a Russian version of the show. It's not the weightiest doc in the world, but the inevitable culture clashes between the creative types were amusing ("this Raymond, in Russian culture he is like, how you say, a wussy man").

Doctor Who
The second half of the newest season started up a few weeks ago...it's cool to see it's finally catching on in America. Well, catching on a little, at least -- I don't think it's a household name just yet.

WWII in HD
If you get the chance to see this sometime, watch it. (I rented it from Netflix, but it still replays on the History Channel from time to time, too.) I loved it -- seeing things in color instead of black and white gives it so much more immediacy and impact, and the way they frame the miniseries around a dozen or so recurring people makes it really engaging. I wish this had been around back when I was in high school, I think I would've gotten a lot more out of our WWII unit in history class if we'd had something like this to soak up.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
I read the first of these books a few years ago and have always meant to go back and read the rest -- just haven't found the time yet. Finding this show has pushed the books back up toward the top of my to-read list -- it's beautifully done. The cast is wonderful, and it left me half-tempted to book a plane ticket to Botswana.


ETC.:

Listening to: Join Us by They Might Be Giants, Dirty Radio by Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside.

Making: crocheted baby hats, which has been a great way to use up some bits & pieces of yarn. Plus, I like anything that I can finish in a couple of hours, it suits my current attention span nicely. Next up: gotta start a couple of baby blankets, as a few of my friends have buns in their ovens.

Acquired: an iPod Touch, after my trusty old Creative mp3 player kicked the bucket (2005-2011, R.I.P.). I wasn't totally hip on hopping on the Apple bandwagon, but generally, I'm liking it so far -- the controls are taking some getting used to, and there are some things I think my old player did better (sometimes, less is more), but it's fun being able to go on the internet on it and being able to download games & crap might be fun, too. Next up: contemplating a new laptop purchase, as mine is almost seven years old and in addition to some structural issues (the missing "v" key that fat Toivo broke off that time he jumped on it, the CD/DVD tray door falling off occasionally), it's starting to have some runtime issues, too. Ever since we got new computers at work last winter, it's gotten jarring to go home at night and watch mine slowly start up and limp along. The back-to-school sales are all ending pretty soon, so if I don't decide quickly, I'll probably just hold off for another year. I hate to spend the money, but on the other hand, I guess I've gotten my money's worth out of this one by now...

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