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What We’ve Been Reading
Clint’s Reading List
Saboteur – Ha Jin
There’s a man who literally spreads hepatitis in this, merely to seek revenge against a few cops. Jin is writing in English, a conscious choice because of his Chinese origin and home, and the cultural differences between the two nations. Chairman Mao being shit on by pigeons, word combinations like “streaky pork” that just flow off of the tongue, and a marriage that isn’t so meaningful to our protagonist. The overall feel of the story is so tight, there’s no loose air in here, and it’s fascinating to read.
What We’ve Been Watching
Star Trek: The Original Series – Very few things in our history are as charming and palatable as Gene Roddenberry’s classic television series. There’s emotionless aliens with pointy ears, green women, and a pansexual captain that uses his double-fists-of-fury that knock people out quickly. There’s little but crazy fun in this series, even the bad episodes are fun to watch (seriously, look up “A Piece of the Action” on YouTube) and all of the show brings back your childhood nostalgia in a wonderful way.
Salem’s Lot – Television movies are fun, yeah? This is a corny bit of small-screen cinema, one of the Stephen King classics, that still manages to have some scares. Small children with fangs floating outside your window, a vampire that was surely terrifying in the 70’s but these days calls to mind Peter from What We Do in the Shadows. These hallmarks are so key to how we’ve developed vampire philosophy in modern American cinema, and when even The Simpsons pays homage to this television film you know that something has stuck in the public mind.
Kong: Skull Island – The latest incarnation of the Kong franchise, and what studios hope will be the extended Kaiju Movie Universe, is a ton of fun and spectacle. Characters are a little thin, but thanks to the talent of some great performances, they make the most of what they are given. All of that is acceptable, however, because the real star of the film is the titular character: Kong. His portrayal in this film is a little different than some of his past iterations, standing a little more on the intelligent protector side of things, and it works to set him apart. Of course, as mentioned above, the studio was no doubt hoping this film would be a success and thankfully it seemed to do well enough that a Godzilla vs. Kong film seems likely, if not inevitable.
Louis CK: 2017 – The newest Netflix stand-up special from comedian Louis CK does not disappoint. It’s gonna be hard to review this special without comparing it to the other big Netflix special released recently by Chappelle, but it’s a comparison that I think warrants conversation. Whereas Chappelle at times seemed a little out of time with references and style, Louis excels at continuing to stay relevant and on the pulse. They even cover some of the same ground, and Louis just seems to expertly maneuver where Chappelle sometimes stumbled. That being said, I think the comparison is a little unfair with Chappelle having not released a special in years, and CK releasing them almost yearly, or bi-annually. That being said, CK’s special is definitely worth checking out, at least until we get the next season of his FX comedy series.
What We’ve Been Listening to:
Clint’s Listening List
Theatre of Tomorrow – Do you like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits? Any familiarity with old-school radio serials? There’s a good chance, you’re reading this site. This podcast is based around science fiction serials, brief seasons that bring a new story each time. I’m a fan of the first and third seasons and both shorts. This is a relatively new podcast, an up-and-comer, and I think it has the chops to be something bigger later on.
The Canon – It’s back, yo. I don’t think it’s what it once was, with Devin gone the bite is gone, but it’s still an enjoyable listen. Amy Nicholson remains clever and poignant, even if she’s right for the wrong reasons. Paul Scheer makes a great first guest on the reintroduction, the guy is always fun and charming. Even the choice of film, Ghostbusters, is softballing it in there (not unlike the easier films they picked to debate early in the show’s original run). All of this is great but…something’s missing, and it’s the chemistry between the two main characters. I understand why Devin left and I understand him losing his public respect. I don’t disagree, but I want to see him emerge from the shadows and…well, bring his grating personality back to the limelight.
Limetown – I’m a sucker for these Serial-type podcasts, investigations into mystery. While nothing is beating The Black Tapes and TANIS for me thus far, Limetown is a fun story. It revolves around a town of 300 people, most of them researchers and neurosurgeons who are working on a new project surrounding the human brain. Overnight they all disappear, save one man hailed as a brilliant scientist that is found burned at the stake. I’m only a little way in but part of the reason I leapt to start this podcast was my discovery that the 8 episode season is, apparently, a contained story. That’s exciting to me, I haven’t started something I’ll never see the end of. I enjoy the format and while the host can be a bit dry the show is well-produced and keeps you intrigued.
Within the Wires – This is a series of “relaxation tapes” that…well, it’s pretty disturbing and weird. I was without a shoulder for a bit, I did some deep breathing, for a bit I was a bug, there’s a lot of oddities within this podcast if you dive all the way in and fully participate and that’s no surprise, it’s from the producers of Welcome to Night Vale. This is one of the most enticing new podcasts I’ve found (and I give a lot of them at least one episode). I’ve binged a few of these and I’m planning on hammering through the rest when I have the time. I’m still not 100% sure what’s happening with this one, but it’s sucked me in and I love it.