Wednesday, January 02, 2008

"Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String" Aside, Dept.

Occasionally, your sobsister realizes that the tenor of this space tends to the bilious and hateful. This realization is occasionally prompted by messages like one I received recently which read, in part, "'Ey, Sobsister, what for you always gotta be hatin' everything, huh?! what for you gotta be hatin'?!" And while it's always nice to hear from my mother, this particular message reminded me that it's been a good, long while since the last time I'd listed things I'd been enjoying. Back then, I'd even used the old "correspondence" dodge as well, which goes to show you the shocking paucity of imagination with which I lead my life.

At any rate and without any further ado, let me list some things I've been enjoying recently in the hopes that you, Gentle Reader, may perhaps avail yourself of them and likewise be transported into a magical realm of pleasure and delight or, barring that, be transported into a state of dull-eyed stupor which would allow me to relieve you of your wallet or billfold.

1) Stop Forgetting To Remember, a graphic novel by Peter Kuper. Kuper, in the thinly-fictionalized guise of cartoonist Walter Kurtz, recalls and recounts early experiences with drugs and sex as his wife carries then delivers their first child. The writing's funny and fast, Kuper's artwork, by turns, dense and detailed, then spare and lyrical. I enjoyed "Kurtz"' reminiscences more than the current-day story of the impact of his child's birth, infancy, and childhood on his world, largely because those later chapters, also concerned with his career's fits and starts, seemed cramped and rushed. A worthwhile read nonetheless.

2) The Subtle Knife, a novel by Philip Pullman. Revisiting this excellent book, the second volume in the His Dark Materials trilogy, after seeing the recent film adaptation of The Golden Compass, the first in the trilogy, reminded me of how much of Pullman's style was lost on the screen and convinced me of how absolutely impossible will be translation of the second and third books to Xtian-friendly film without an evisceration or malformation that would render the story incomprehensible and the effort pointless.

3) Ratatouille, an animated film by Brad Bird for Pixar. A gorgeous film with a touching story and fine voice acting. I'd been wowed by The Incredibles and wondered if Bird could make this story of a rat with a flair for gourmet cookery as engaging and compelling. Suffice to say that he succeeds in a way that'll have you rooting for the stringy disease vectors by film's end.

4) "Did You See the Words", a song by Animal Collective. It's like The Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town". Only more so. The former here, the latter here.

5) Tin Man, a mini-series on the Sci-Fi network. Call it a steampunk retelling of The Wizard of Oz. Featuring a particularly-fine performance by Alan Cumming as Glitch, the man with half a brain, the film cleverly tweaks and adapts elements of the L. Frank Baum/MGM mythos and adapts them to its own ends. A fair amount of debate on the Sci-Fi Network boards on the merits and demerits of Zooey Deschanel as DG, the girl swept into a parallel dimension by a storm. Depends on how you feel about "deadpan". That said, likely the best of Sci-Fi Network's original films.

Well, that's a start, no? Before long, it'll be twittering birds and fluttering butterflies around here. More to come when I, you know, actually like more stuff.

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