What We’ve Been Reading
Clint’s Reading List
Skeleton Crew – Stephen King
I’m on a King kick, can’t you tell? This is an absolutely wonderful collection of short fiction. I enjoy the man’s novels, the epic sprawl and dense character development, but there’s just something special about his short fiction. He doesn’t always nail it but when he does there’s fireworks. This contains my favorite of his short stories and, in my opinion, the finest thing he’s ever written – The Jaunt. It’s a perfectly paced sci-fi/horror story that builds with this mounting sense of dread. It could not end better, with the finale being both inevitable and unsettling. The rest of the collection is wonderful and I actually recommend the audiobook on Audible if you can get it, Paul Giamatti reading The Wedding Gig is pretty fantastic (and I wasn’t huge on that story when I read it but his read….damn, great stuff). He also reads The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands and that’s a great one as well.
American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar – Harvey Pekar
This one is kind of a fun mess. Pekar is an indulgent, awkward individual who could care less what anyone thinks of him. Seriously, how many people do you know who truly don’t care what the world thinks of them? Anyway, the entirety of his novel is spread over different artists, each doing little snapshots of his life. His short stories approach literary sensation, with it not even coming across as a drama but more akin to Forrest Gump in a graphic novel format. I honestly don’t know how but I really am on this one, but I’m glad I read it. Fascinating bit of fiction in a really eclectic set of artwork styles.
What We’ve Been Watching
IT – The 1990 version of the film, televised on ABC and later rented from video stores like crazy, is not so much a great adaptation as it is a discomforting one. Taking a 1000 page novel (or somewhere there-abouts, it’s lengthy as all hell) and turning it into a 3 hour visual affair means that sub-plots are going to be left out, plot holes will run rampant, and visuals that work on-page are going to get lost in translation. This is what pretty much goes down, but it’s Tim Curry’s performance, really capturing King’s vision of Pennywise, that sells this film. He’s creepy, he’s funny, and at times he’s terrifying (at least he was when I was like 5 and 6, not so much now). This doesn’t hold up, but what it did do was contrast really interestingly with the trailer for the upcoming second attempt at adapting IT. I’m really looking forward to getting a couple of two and a half hour films that give the sprawling story more room to breath and this just built my hype back up in an intense way.
Rogue One – Of course I bought this on release day. There was no way I was missing this. I’ve gone on and on about the film, but this blu-ray release is fantastic. It looks gorgeous and crisp, and the smaller-screen format really helps the CGI Tarkin/Leia additions to the film (on the big screen it’s far more obvious they’re created, rather than real). The real strange things here are the extras. A movie that had such a trouble production, with large amounts of reshoots, would have to have deleted scenes and alternate endings, maybe a commentary…right? Nope, you’ll find none of that here. Disney has included all promotional material instead, with the clips and extras being more fluff pieces surrounding the fun production and small character spotlights. There’s a brief Vader bit that I have to admit I enjoyed the hell out of because, well you know, Vader. Still, it looks great and it sounds great and even though they’re fluff the extras are really interesting watches and do let you in on a lot of the production of the film. It’s a solid release and I’m sure Disney will be releasing another edition later in the year, just to get you to buy both.
Tombstone – This 1993 Western has gained a bit of a following since its release, and for good reason. Turns out, everyone you’ve ever loved is in this: Kurt Russell, Bill Paxton, Sam Elliot, Billy Zane. Billy Zane is in this. Billy Bob-Thornton shows up to get slapped in the face a couple times to much satisfaction. But the real star of this film, besides mustaches, is Val Kilmer. Playing Doc Holiday, Val Kilmer gives one of the best performances of his career. The charisma, charm, and confidence that radiates from his role is captivating and worth the price of admission alone.
Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America – Daryl Davis is a black musician who travels the States, performing, and befriending members of the KKK. The logline was enough to capture my attention. What the rest of the documentary explores is what exactly these genuine friendships entail, what they accomplish, and whether or not those relationships are worth it.
Mister Sprinkles – In the mid-2000’s, Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab created a sketch comedy show that aired on VH1 with an interesting premise that was ahead of its time. Every episode feature 5 skits, and at the end of each episode, the audience would be able to go online and vote for the sketches they liked the best, and would see continuations of those sketches on the next weeks episode. One of those returning sketches was an animated segment called “Mister Sprinkles” that followed a Cat in the Hat analog in the modern day. Voiced by Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, Mister Sprinkles navigates the world of children who no longer need him on rainy days, and of course things quickly spiral out of control. In true Harmon/Roiland style, the skit is equal parts hilarious, dark, cynical, and hopeful. Also, The Dark Knight Rises totally ripped it off. Check it out below:
What We’re Listening To
Christopher’s Listen List
S-Town – Lastly, is the new hotness if podcasts can be considered new or hotness. S-Town is the spiritual follow-up to 2014 podcast smash, Serial. S-Town follows journalist Brian Reed as he is invited by an outgoing, possibly unstable, Alabama man to investigate a possible murder and cover-up. It’s a juicy premise, that very quickly morphs in to something so much deeper and more complex. And despite being non-fiction, the story is so tightly and expertly told, with incredibly complicated and colorful characters. The less you know going in to this one the better, but you’re in for a helluva experience.