The American Way of Death Revisited – Cannonball Read #10

The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford.  Gleefully sarcastic muckraking expose of the American funeral industrial complex.

I have read books that scared me, made me laugh or made me cry. This is the only book I have ever read that gave me a panic attack.

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Pride & Prejudice & Zombies – Cannonball Read #5

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies – by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

The premise of this book is incredibly hipsterific. Pride and Prejudice with zombies!  Awesome! Elizabeth Bennett, expert zombie killer? How cool will that be?

Not very.

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Sonic Fyre Episode 4

Someday we really need to find a way to turn one of these podcasts around in less than a month. This podcast was originally recorded in the second week of December 2009. It was then burned to a series of wax records, placed in a steamer trunk and covered in concrete, thrown from the Golden Gate Bridge, buried in Pacific sediment, fossilized, left to sit for a geographic age, excavated by paleontologists, exhibited in the National Museum, and then stolen and placed on the Internet for your amusement. Enjoy.

>> 00:30 Benediction and movies talk. Fantastic Mr Fox. Sherlock Holmes pre-watching jitters. Everyone hates Avatar without ever seeing it.
>> 08:17 Books. Fyre talks about the Cannonball Read. Rob saw Twilight, which was based on a book.
>> 13:14 Recapping events at Ümloud.
>> 20:14 Games of the month. We talk TF2 and the Dante’s Inferno demo. Fyre tries to be Hater of the Week. Analog gaming is briefly mentioned.
>> 43:25 Rob talks about Madden NFL 2010 for ten Goddamned minutes straight. Rob earns the Hater and Lover of the Week titles simultaneously.
>> Music for this episode is “Fakeout” by Derek K. Miller

SonicFyre-Episode-4 MP3 57:52 70.4 MB

Sunshine – Cannonball Read #3

Sunshine by Robin McKinley. To quote Neil Gaiman “It’s not quite SF, and it’s not really horror, and only kind of a love story, and it’s all three while still being solidly Fantastique.”

Robin McKinley in my favorite author. There is no runner up, there is no debate. Since I first read The Hero and the Crown when I was about 14 I have devoured everything she has written. Sunshine not only did not disappoint, it blew my mind. Most of McKinley’s work is classified as Young Adult and this was her first book that was written for adult audiences. Not to say that adults can’t enjoy YA books, it’s my favorite genre, but this was her first book that was targeted directly at grown ups and featuring more material verging on an R-rating as well as being a more challenging read. I didn’t know that when I picked it up but I knew it before I was 20 pages in.

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Why I haven’t been reading…

…and how I’m going to change it in three easy steps!!

I am behind on the Cannonball Read. The challenge is something like two and a half months old and I am supposedly on book three of fifty two.

Frankly, the holidays sucked and I gave in to the anxiety and the stress. But I’m not letting you down!! I’ve got two more books under my belt, reviews pending, a third in progress and two more queued up and ready to roll.

Here’s my plan –

Step 1) Read book

Step 2) Review book

Step 3) GOTO Step 1

With your faith and support, I can complete the Cannonball read!! Especially once I get off my duff and get the pages in.


Not Quite a Review: Avatar

I’m a bit giddy with the prospect of using more than one sentence to talk about a film, so excuse me if things are slightly fragmented.

It took an hour or so for me to get into the right frame of mind to enjoy Avatar. Once I stopped worrying about the narrative in any way, things really clicked for me. The cliché-a-minute plot and ham-handed politics receded into the background and I just let the pictures and noise wash over me. The best analogy to the experience that I can think of on short notice is The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. The story gets you from room to room, spectacle to spectacle and is otherwise disposable. There is no event in the plot that is not foreshadowed at least 30 minutes in advance; no matter how violent events may become they are never confusing and rarely even remotely surprising. I enjoyed Avatar much more as an amusement park ride than as a piece of cinema.

To that end, seeing it in 3D IMAX was certainly the way to go, as I imagine it upped the “constantly exploding in your face” factor a great deal. Like some folks, I had a bit of a headache after the show; maybe I’m not made for that brand of 3D, which had me seeing double every now and then. Maybe I’m not made to watch 3D for two and a half hours. Who knows?

Spoilery thoughts after the break.

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Film Century 1.5

I’d been worried that December would be a crunch, but we’re heading into that final stretch with a strong head of steam and only a couple more movies to thrash.

Dec. 4 Red Cliff – Impossibly luscious but with an odd quality of being not-quite-there, like a cinematic version of Megan Fox. 129/150
Dec. 5 The Nightmare Before Christmas – So what’s St. Patrick’s Town, some kind of green-beer brewery full of belligerent leprechauns? 130/150
Dec. 6 Identity – For all you budding Shyamalans out there, a quick primer on twists: a good twist recontextualizes past events in a way that’s suprising, entertaining, and still makes sense. 131/150
Dec. 7 Four Christmases – American studio filmmaking is based around the fact that the lower you aim, the more likely you are to hit your target. 132/150

Stardust – Cannonball Read #2

Stardust by Neil Gaiman.  Fantasy, Nouveau Fairytale.

Well, I love me some modern takes on the fairy tale and I love me some Neil Gaiman (Sandman is tha bomb!!!!) so this seemed a prefect choice. More tellingly, I love the movie based on this book. I thought I was set up to love this book but it left me lukewarm.

The book follows Tristran Thorn as he leaves the village of Wall on a quest to win his one true love’s heart. He has marvelous adventures in the land of Faerie and, it being a fairy tale, he wins through to his goal! This is all you really need to know before you read this book in terms of plot. Gaiman’s genius for unique characters is in full effect as he populates both Wall and Faerie with memorable personalities and conceptions of magic.

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Film Century 1.5

Nov. 11 Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto – Having been raised on a steady diet of Shogun and Seven Samurai, I’m gonna go ahead and pretend this is Toshiro Mifune’s autobiography. 118/150
Nov. 12 Bart Got a Room – I tried writing a script for a romantic comedy where the protagonist quickly realizes that his quirky best friend who is not-at-all-secretly in love with him would be a good match and they get together without any antics or confusion, but it turned out to only be 5 minutes long, so we get stuff like this. 119/150
Nov. 13 A Christmas Carol – Startlingly expressive in its quiet moments, it eventually drowns them out with needless roller coaster antics. 120/150
Nov. 15 Ghost World – Where do teenagers get the idea that being a sarcastic, judgmental bitchass makes them more grown up? 121/150
Nov. 17 Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple – Cranks the combat, chivalry, and cinematic misogyny from the first film up to 11. 122/150
Nov. 24 Barbarella – Say what you will about Altamont, but at least it put an end to this sort of thing. 123/150