061) Bad Kitty for President by Nick Bruel, finished November 27

The Bad Kitty books are about a hundred thirty pages, heavily illustrated, smart, funny. This one teaches about presidential elections and it's a bit uncomfortably on the nose at times for a four-year-old book. Also, I'm so charmed that Bruel is able to talk to a cat for so many pages and never lose me.

one day


061) The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, finished November 26

When this book went on sale, there was a signed version on bn.com that was less than the same book unsigned on Amazon. I asked McCloud on Twitter and (etc) but no response. So I bought the B&N version. Then, a couple months later, they canceled my order. Still don't know what that was about.

I ended up returning to my original plan and picked it up from a local comic shop (this one this time). I was with a kid and he read his comic and I read 20+ pages of mine as we ate the best known gelato. Then I tried to pretend like I didn't just buy a giant book for myself right before Christmas so I stashed it on my nightstand and didn't touch it for about a year.

When I picked it up again, I just started over.

And then read it through.

As I intend to do again.

Scott McCloud has just proved he is not merely a theorist.

This is a beautiful book about the difficulty in balancing a life of art and a life of human relationships, and it does it with tools I've never before seen applied to the question. It's nuanced and ambiguous and beautiful and sad and happy. Upon finishing it, all I wanted to do was create and to kiss.

Which aren't, in the end, all that different.

Highly recommended.
depending on how you count, either twelve months or two, three days


059) Thurber by Burton Bernstein, finished November 21

I don't think any one writer has had a larger effect on what I think writing is and how it should function than James Thurber. Which is why I've just finished this 696-page block.

The text is problematic and it's easy for me to see why it made some of Thurber's family and friends angry, as well as why modern readers sometimes find is unreadable. Bernstein gets fixated on lesser topics like whether or not adolescent writings yet smell of genius or young Thurber's prolonged virginity. But I find these things easy to excuse because I loved living my hero's life. I flew through the early years. Once he hit success, I slowed down quite a bit, and he certainly doesn't always come off like a winner. Sometimes the pages-long quotations from letters is great and sometimes I wish Bernstein would have edited his sources a bit more.

Regardless, the book never became a chore, a thing I Just Have to Finish. I always was happy when I picked it up, even when his life was falling apart or he was disappointing me. The people you love will disappoint you. Certainly Thurber had something to say about that.

I don't know if I should recommend the book or not. If you want to read a biography of Thurber, there are other options. (Here are one and two.) Bernstein's came first which makes it important, but not necessarily best. Which is best? I don't know. If another one comes to me, I'll read it, but for now, it's been too too long since I've simply read the man himself. Whether I'll start with an old favorite or something I've only recently acquired, I don't know, but 2017 is not far away.
at least eighteen months possibly three years


058) The Complete Peanuts 1997 to 1998 by Charles M. Schulz, finished November 19

Rerun's on the cover of this volume, and rightly so. He has emerged as a vibrant and full character, consistently funny and honestly sweet. This entire collection is filled with an artist still at the peak of innovation. Andy and Olaf travelling the country hasn't quite figured itself out yet, but you can see it happening. Snoopy as a Valley Forge soldier, given another ten years of Peanuts, might well have become as iconic as the WWI Flying Ace.

Amazing. Forty-eight years and still going strong.

One of the truly great American originals.

a month

Previously in 2016


How are Theric's ethic's doing?


At the beginning of 2016 I declared my intention to only read books I had already begun before the calendar turned. The number of books I've read this year is vastly down, so I decided to investigate what I've been finishing. (Note that this list is not entirely fair as a large number of pages I've read this year are from Don Quixote which I started before 2016 and have still not finished because it is insanely long. So blame Cervantes for the low number. The real question is have I been largely obeying the rules with the 59 books already finished?

Let's start with the intended category, shall we?

Books started before Jan 1, 2016
||||| ||

Hoo. That . . . is bad. Worse than I anticipated when I sat down to examine the ol' data.

Of course, you'll recall I set up a few exceptions for myself. Let's look at those.

Books (in series I'm reading) or (checked out from library before year began)
||||| |||||

This exception existed, yes, because I had checked a couple books out at the end of December, but mainly because I wanted to keep reading Sue Grafton and the Complete Peanuts. And continue I did. I read six of one and two of the other.

I had also intended to reread and finish iZombie and Rachel Rising with this exception. That I did not do.

Did not do because I was not jonesing as much for comics as expected. Largely because of the next prepared excuse:

Recently published books that I'm meant to review or similar (Mormon/eisnerexcuse/senttome/localwriter)
||||| ||||| ||||| ||||| ||

Lot of comics in here. And, as I've felt in previous years, books I feel obligated to read anre taking up too much of my time. I need to read fewer of these, maybe. Though I did certainly enjoy the Eisner Excuse, included here for frankly cheaty reasons.

The other prepared excuse was

Books I can't get out of being lent

I didn't finish any of those. Started one. Have a few lying around. Yeah.

Two additional excuses presented themselves which I feel should be allowed:

Audiobooks from roadtrips
||||| |

Read as part of my job

Which leaves only

Rules broken
||||| |||||

Mostly poetry here. Nothing I truly regret. A couple books I'm very glad I read. Sure, I'm still hundreds of pages away from finishing Quixote or my Shakespeare biography (and I haven't even touched Middlemarch or Dunham---both of which are great, but I've pretty much given up reading on my Nook), but I've spent a lot of time with these still-working-on books and have made progress and hey, so what if I only read sixty-some books this year? It's not about numbers, right? Right.

I do want, next year, to read less online and spend more time in paper. I hope that happens. Feel free to hassle me.

Happy reading.


The Ninja Warrior Megadolphin Svithe


A year and a half ago, we aimed sacrament meeting straight at the kids; the meeting was a big success and we've been meaning to do it again ever since. I finally got around to putting one together today and it was another big success. I think doing one the week after the Primary Program should become a tradition. (That's how we did it this time and making it a regular thing was suggested to me and I like to think I'm the sort of person that accepts good ideas.)

One talk was mostly traditional, though aimed at kids. The second talk involved paper and crayons and a penguin and a reindeer hat. The third talk was our high councilor standing on the ground in front of the stand and talking to the kids about hands, using a Mickey Mouse glove and every other kind of glove imaginable as props. He had intended to ask the kids to sit on the front row, but the second speaker already did that for him.

Great job, speakers!

This is a reproduction of my introduction to the meeting.

Hey, kids. I hope you all remembered from last week when I was in Primary to bring coloring books and Cheerios this week for your parents and the other adults around you, because this sacrament meeting is for you and they might get bored bored bored. So we need to keep them quite. Hopefully you won't have to take them out.

But before we get started, can I tell just one sentence to the grownups? I'll be quick.

Hi, adults. In 1953, the Church sent a letter to all the wards telling them that kids should be attending sacrament meeting. And so we should be making sure sacrament meeting has stuff for kids as well as for adults. And I think you'll all agree that in the years since then, we've done so good that sacrament meeting is pretty much 100% for kids now. Not.

Check out my tie. Up here---I think it's supposed to be a hippopotamus, but it looks more like a naked rat. Then there's a crocodile or a gharial or something. Then a dolphin. Then a--let's skip this one. Then a turtle. Okay. What's this?

Right. An orca. Also known as a killer whale. Also known as a blackfish. Also known as a ninja warrior megadolphin.

I don't know how much you know about orcas, but they live in families, much like us, and they learn things from their families just like we do.

For instance, orcas eat seals, but they way they eat seals varies depending on how they were taught. Some orcas slide up onto the beach and grab a seal in their mouth and shake it back and forth like rrararararararrraaraa. While meanwhile, if you lived in another pod---that's what orca families are called---maybe you would have learned to swim under a seal and hit it with your tail, eighty feet in the air: phwi phwi phwi phwi phwi phwi phwi phwi phwi phwi phwi phwi phwi phwi phwi phwi pwissshhhh! That's like if you took our church and put it on another church then put it on another church then put it on another church. That's high. That seal might have broken bones or he might be fine but he is stunned and he's just lying there wondering what happened while you swim up and eat him. Delicious.

Like orcas, you're growing up in a family and you're coming here to church and what you know and who you are depends on what you learn now. So today we're going to hear from some older orcas....

previous svithe


So I read a book. Who even cares at this point?


057) Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, finished November 17

My Vonnegut book this year was supposed to be Welcome to the Monkeyhouse since I had already started it. (Or thought I had. "Starting it" apparently only meant putting a bookmark in it. I did read a few of the stories, but it remains unfinished.) But because I'm teaching Sh5 for the first time this year (rather than just having it be a summer assignment), I figured it was time to reread it. Unlike last time, this time I absolutely loved it. I think it is, as of now, my favorite Vonnegut novel. I found it terribly moving, which I did not expect. Maybe the rest of the world was right after all....

The lesson here of course is everytime you reread, you're reading a different because because you are a different reader. For someone who reads for breadth, like myself, it's a nice reminder.
say a week


056) Paco by Nathan Thatcher, finished November 3

I was sent this to review and although I enjoyed it immensely, I took a long time to get through it and have yet to do more then sketch out some ideas for the review (which will likely appear on AMV).

I am ashamed.

In the meantime, if you have interest in modern orchestral music, electronic music, persecution of Mormons in Spain in the 1990s, Kraftwerk, sudden trips, or music about Lehi, this is the book for you.

over six months


055) The Complete Peanuts 1995-1996 by Charles M. Schulz, finished October 18

When I was in junior high school, I cut my favorite comic of the day from the newspaper and collected them. Some days I couldn't choose just one.

Those comics I kept in the bottom drawer of my desk (it had been my grandmother's when she taught school) and revisited them frequently. They are deeply ingrained. They are ur-texts to my soul. Which is why, when the years of Complete Peanuts that coincided with my junior high years passed by and I didn't see Joe Agate, I had an existential crisis. Had I imagined this key Peanuts storyline?

The answer is no. But it didn't actually arrive until after I graduated from high school. That a storyline (a week long!) had sunk so deeply (I've imagined including it in a collection of short stories vital to understanding Theric) that I thought it was a childhood memory, is very striking.

I clearly had long needed Charlie Brown as Hero.

More than half this book I have probably never seen before as they were first published while I was a missionary.

Soon, there will be no unread Peanuts in this world. That's a little sad. But I'm looking forward to starting over from the beginning.
under a month


054) "K" Is for Killer by Sue Grafton, finished October 17

I'm glad I crafted out an exception for these books, because I'm enjoying them very much. One genre, one protag, a dozen different stories told. Well, eleven, so far. You know what I mean.
probably two or three weeks

Previously in 2016


Preseason Oscar Game, 2016


I discontinued the Preseason Oscar Game after 2010 because I had never had that many participants and because, ah, I always won. Which is boring.

Anyway, I'm bringing it back this year because I believe the time is ripe to waste time thinking too hard about movies we may or may not have even seen yet.

After you read the rules (or before! hey! why not!), click on over to http://bit.ly/funwithflicks and play away.

This year's winner will get a prize. Specifically, a sweet decades-old paperback that I think you will enjoy. Perhaps because of its appalling cover suitable for framing. (If you don't want one more physical thing around your house, or if shipping is prohibitively expensive, we can come up with a digital substitute.)


1. Your goal is to predict that a movie will be nominated in a particular category (not that it will win).

2. You may only make one nomination per award.

3. You may nominate a movie in only one category. If you nominate a movie in more than one category, only the first will count. (In other words, you can't choose My Mommy Ate Your Mommy for Best Picture and Best Director and Best Actress and Best Art Direction. If you do, only the Best Picture guess will count. Because it came first.)

4. The winner will be the person who makes the most correct nomination guesses.

4a. If I can't recognize what you typed as the title of a nominated film, type better next time. Geez.

5. In the event of a tie, the tied player who submitted first will win.

6. Some categories require the name of a person or a song in addition to the movie title.

6a. These categories can receive half a point even if incorrect. For instance, if you thought Steele Tiger would be nominated as Best Actor for his work in Oh Yeah, but he was nominated instead for his role in Never Saw It Coming, you will receive half a point. Similarly, if instead of Tiger, Harvey Mottre is nominated for Best Actor for his work in Bully Boy, half a point. But! if Mottre is nominated for Oh Yeah and Tiger is nommed for Never Saw It Coming, you still only get half a point. You were wrong after all.

7. All entries must be submitted to http://bit.ly/funwithflicks by the last minute of November (California time). Part of the Preseason Fun™ is the impossibility of having seen every movie eligible.

8. You may research your answers anywhere you like. Lots more chatter online these days than when this game was last played.

9. If you work as a film reviewer, festival programmer, are an Academy member, or are otherwise given unequal access to films, you may still play but you get a -10% hit as handicap.

10. You do not have to take a stab at each category to qualify. But, obviously, the more complete your survey, the better chance you have of winning.

11. After the real nominations come out next year, I will do the math and announce the winner.

11a. I will at the same time delete everyone's contact information and make all submissions public. If you would like your contact information to remain, note that in the contact-info field.

12. The winner will get a cool prize.

13. So please beat me so I can give it to someone this year. (I am, it bears repeating, undefeated.)

Note: I inputted my guesses already today, while information on the race is less available than it will be in coming weeks. It's my way of being a good host.


2016's third-quarter movies


In theaters:

The Lobster (2015): This was a good movie, but I can't say I "liked" it. I don't know who I would recommend it to. I suppose if you liked the trailer, that's a good sign. Maybe know that you will recoil in horror about as much as you laugh out loud. And you will do both. I love the absurdity of it. I love the understatedness of it. I love that the world is internally consistent without making sense. I liked the use of long shots with an unmoving camera, the use of stillness and quiet. But I don't know that I liked it. The film will certainly give you something to talk about. Have any of you seen it?

Batman: The Killing Joke (2016): Gluh. The novel is not one of my favorite Batman stories to start with (never give the Joker an origin; I'm tired of evil freaks), but the film's prologue turns the fridging of Barbara Gordon from something problematic to something grotesque. Mark Hammill's performance was great, but Kevin Conroy---it was hard to believe it was him. Largely the film left me mystified, and when the audience laughed, I couldn't always tell if they were laughing with the film or at the film. At least I got in free.....

Ghostbusters (2016): Look: I'm no great lover of the original. Does it have perhaps the greatest bass line in film history? Yes. Other than that, whatever. It's okay. This movie is better than okay. It's not great (in part because of some of the ways it's beholden to the original such as the appearance of the ghosts), but it has some amazing jokes and the four leads are killer. Mostly, the callbacks to the original films work, and it feels enough freedom to be its own film rather than utterly beholden to cinema past. It's fitting in of digs on the internet-hate (slash misogyny) leveled at the film during its making vary in subtleties, but work. Overall, a film worth watching. My biggest complaint was the villain's lack of charisma. That bit of casting underwhelmed.

Ghostbusters (2016): The Big O wanted to see this and Lady Steed cleared it so he and I went together. Which was tough as by the time we had a Tuesday available, the film had almost disappeared from theaters. Already! I've read some opinion on why the film was a flop and it seems to me that there are three main considerations: 1) the trolls may have succeeded in making the atmosphere around the film too toxic for people to be able wash off; 2) the film cost too much as it just isn't the sort of film to make a billion dollars; 3) darn zeitgeist is looking a different direction this summer. That said, on second viewing, I enjoyed the movie even more. Maybe I didn't laugh as much as the jokes, but the humor throughout was more present for me. I love the five main characters and enjoy spending time with them. On the other had, I still don't like the villain (largely because I don't think he's well nor consistently developed) and both the villain and the Ghostbusters can/can't do things depending on the needs of the plot. But that failing is one this film shares with its predecessors. And the filmmaking holistic is better in this film. The camera and the editing and the sounds are part of the fun in a way they aren't in the originals. So I think: Good movie. Deserves a sequel. Just be more frugal in making it this time.

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016): This film may have some flaws, but they are minor and overwhelmed by the beauty and emotion inherent in every scene. Laika makes AMAZING movies. They are astonishing to look at---overwhelming---and chock full of honest emotions. And they tend to get better upon rewatching. I would not be surprised if the small complaints I have (which are much like those I had with Paranorman) diminished each time I watch. Go see this movie. Keep them making more.

At home:

A Town Called Panic (2009): You know the game where you sit in a circle and everyone takes turns telling part of a story and half the kids are just trying to make it more insane than the last? This is like that only it totally totally works.

The Girl from Nowhere (2012): This is essentially a Hitchcock film with a too-old male lead and a too-young female lead and the supernatural philosophy of Vertigo or Marnie cranked up to where it's no fun anymore---even a little boring. Plus, it looks like it was shot on video or too many fps or something. Given the obvious budget restraints, it doesn't look too bad, but it doesn't look that great either. Another way to think about it is as a horror film that forgot to be scary. Or a May-December that forgot it isn't a daddy-daughter date. So, you know.... I decided to watch this because I'm experimenting with watching films double-speed (or nearly) and that seems easier to do with subtitles; this was the first of Amazon's foreign-language recommendations I didn't recognize. Voila.

The 400 Blows (1959): I knew nothing about this going in---not even that the title is an example of the problems of translation. Watching some commentaries explains to me why people love it---and I agree with these analyses---but I can't see it becoming a personal favorite or anything. I'll watch more Truffaut, but this is more interesting to me as a historical document than anything else. I am glad, however, to learn that the point, critics say, is that life isn't fair, and not that that was an accidental side effect of some other desired effect.

Airplane! (1980): As I'm not a fan of this film's descendants, I've never felt a great need to see the sire. But, you know, it is a classic etc etc so I finally got around to it. And I liked it! It was funny! The jokes mostly worked! I love how rarely it broke character and how many jokes were accomplished with the camera and editing. In other words, it's a film comedy. And that's not done enough.

Hot Fuzz (2007): AMAZING. One of the greatest comedies I've ever seen. Everything about this film plays into its heightened satire of action films---over-the-top, mad, genius. The conspiracy was nothing like I expected. And perhaps I should mention that the violence was . . . um, grotesque. I'd been warned. Best cop comedy ever? What's the competition? Because I'm going with yes.

Mood Indigo (2013): This was an amazing film to watch. It's like---being dropped inside a PES world. It's a surreal love story---and it does surreal right. So much surreal art is cheap and woowoo instead of mattering. But making a film like this required an enormous amount of work---and it shows. Is it a great movie? I don't know. But it was beautiful to watch and moving. And I bet if I knew French, the wordplay would have been delightful as well. As it was, definitely not a film to watch on doubletime---reading the subtitles barely leaves room to enjoy the beauty of the world. Submerse thyself.

Wild Tales (2014): I loved this movie! Each story is bonkers in its own special way. For a while I thought this was a sequence of warnings against anger. But in a couple of stories, the anger is redemptive. But the don't proceed from least redemptive to most redemptive. It's not that simple. There's also the question in a film like this of how do you end? I'm happy to say that this wild, wild film ended in the best way possible. It's fun and awesome and horrifying and beautiful and upsetting and charming and, unquestionably, must-see. Such great acting. Such smart direction. So many crazy different directions.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010): This movie is still amazing. It's amazing that something so "gimmicky" can age so well. I think it's because the so-called gimmicks are in service of the story and not just a sequence of clever non sequiters. Of all the bigger-budget movies audiences failed to support, this one may hurt the worst.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970): This film has the grammatical structure of a nightmare and makes about as much sense---which is to say not much, rationally, and almost a great deal, emotionally. It's the story of a girl becoming a woman and confused with images plain, beautiful, and horrific getting to all the sex and death. The story is only of tangential interest, and the film swings into the absurd, the bizarre, the surreal. It's a vampire story and a hypocrisy story and and incest story and so forth. Perhaps the film is suggesting that part of growing up is discovering all the evil in the world, and then making decisions as to which evils we will accept and which we will rebel against. I dunno. I did enjoy watching it. Of all the '70s European films that have this general look, this is the one I've enjoyed the most.

Best in Show (2000): Even watching this bit by bit over a week, it's funny. The part I always remember first, however, is an outtake. Sadly I can't find it online to share with you. It's the scene with the balloons.

Four Lions (2010): Watch this film. It's a strange experience. It's a farce about suicide bombers. In a quasi-mockumentary style (using much of the cinematic vocabulary without actually being a mockumentary), we get to know our hapless jihadists and come to like them. Yet, simultaneously, we are repelled by them. It's safer to laugh at Michael Scott because for all his failings, he's not trying to kill people. This makes the experience of watching the film one of pingpong between laughter and horror. One thing this film does well is make the jihadists reasonable in the sense of imaginable. It's not that hard to see how they, having started down this road, just keep going. We've all done this. Just thank God that road didn't take us to murder.

Field of Dreams (1989): We watched it this year because O really wanted to. I think it was even better this time. I can't believe this movie was ever made. Such an easy thing to screw up that I have to call it risky even if it wasn't expensive. O told me he was about to cry during James Earl Jones's monologue. I cried the rest of the way.

Maverick (1994): My kids and I enjoy a bit of poker and this is my favorite poker movie that I thought could be kid-friendly (a bit more kissing than I remembered, but the scene I was most concerned about was tamer than I remembered). The film is tight and fun and smart. It's aged well. I can even forgive it its full-act flashback which usually drives me batty. William Goldman is a great writer. And the cast was terrific and executed his words so well--- Plus, I think the kids finally understand what I've been trying to tell them about tells.

The Sting (1973): It's been ~26 years since I first/last saw The Sting and so it had its surprises (oe of which is that the moment I remembered best, I remembered wrong). But sadly, the misunderstanding that let me to not get the full measure of surprise happened to me again. I realized instantly that I had misunderstood again and thus this was the misunderstanding that caused me to understand more than I should. This is hard to talk about without giving away spoilers. Suffice it to say it's good. And I'm bummed the Big O misunderstood in the same way. At least Lady Steed got the full measure of being blown away. I think the other two have no idea hardly what happened, even with out occasional pauses for clarification. Hoo. Parental warning though: that early burlesque scene is pretty burlesquey. You can FF it without consequences to the plot.

Ocean's Eleven (2001): This movie is perfect. It hits its beats with confidence and moves forward with boldness. Consider how it lets music play over unheard dialogue. The movie is just cool. Everything about it is great. Fewer stripper minutes than The Sting, but as much language. But we've now taught our children about the caper film. Let's call it a wash.

The Avengers (2012): I loved this movie first time. It's still fun but, like a lot of the Marvel movies, upon rewatching the seams show. My recommendation to myself is watch them one time each. I'm a little nervous because I told the boys the next one we can watch will be Guardians---and I liked that one too!

Amélie (2001): I bought this film on dvd well over a decade ago and count it as one of my favorites, but this is the first time I've watched it since the first time I watched it and I watched it streaming. Maybe DVD is dead? I really need to watch the film more so I can ignore the subtitles and just settle in and watch Audrey Tautou's face which is one of the great miracles of cinema. One thing I admire about this film but which I think I was less aware of in the past, is that it doesn't flinch away from the dark side. It might not let some of those darknesses fully develop, but it never pretends they aren't there. And it doesn't pretend the world cannot be beautiful notwithstanding. Thank you, Amélie.

Freaky Friday (1976): It's still fun to watch, especially with kids, and it's still the best movie from my birth year I've seen (which is no kind statement as to my film education), but my main takeaway is that Barbara Harris was grossly underemployed by Hollywood. She's so great. And she's a year older than me in this movie and looking great. If you're reading this, Ms Harris, it's not too late to give us one more.

Candleshoe (1977): Well, it's not as tightly constructed as it felt when I was a kid, but it's still fun---to watch with my own kids at least---and it has some moments of true pleasure (eg Niven's characters, the waltz scene, the final train-station scene) that outweigh the least sensible bits (worst conman ever?).


Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015): Look: A good M:I movie is a great action movie. The set pieces in this film are incredible. The cast is great. My only complaint is that Luther's a little two amazing for the world's rules, but overall this is a topnotch M:I film. And at the current rate, Tom Cruise will be 60 when they film the next. Amazing.

Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015): Think about how amazing it is that a wordless seven-minutes-per-episode cartoon show was able to ratchet it up to feature length keeping intact both its wordlessness and basic worldview. Amazing. Aardman is amazing. The movie is funny and sweet and true to its heritage.

Anomalisa (2015): I should have known Kaufman wouldn't write a movie for puppets that could have been done as effectively with live people. However, for some reason I thought that it would be puppets just to be puppets. I'm happy to say that's not so. Stop-motion was the right choice. And it's a good movie. I was surprised I didn't feel betrayed by the reveal at the end, as it was structured much like a cheap trick, but the film had prepared me for it and so it felt fitting and true.

Stand by Me (1986): I'd never seen it before. Didn't know the cast. Didn't really know anything besides it was based on a Stephen King story I hadn't read and had something to do with growing up. Now I have seen it. And I see why it's so beloved. I was moved, certainly. It's beautiful yet difficult. It features two of the best cryings I've ever seen on screen and they were both acted by kids! I sense this one will stick with me.....

Forbidden Planet (1956): I enjoyed this movie much more than I expected. I haven't watched a lot of old science-fiction movies and so whenever I do watch one that's supposed to be good, I can always be surprised. Of course, one charming thing about old sf is how desperately wrong it gets things, but who cares so long as it tells a good story with true characters and has something to say? This one repurposes The Tempest in interesting ways with some worth-thinking-about philosophy casually tossed in.

The Invisible Boy (1957): First I was surprised that Forbidden Planet was in color---then I got to be surprised its, rm, sequel was black and white. Parts of this movie were genuinely hilarious. The structure was disjointed. It tries to capitalize on Robbie the Robot's popularity, then wants him to be both a hero and a villain. The whole thing is bonkers. But except for some drawn out nonsense at the end, I still had a lot of fun.

Mad Max (1979): I had a lot of fun with this movie, terrible parenting notwithstanding. George Miller's definitely gotten better, but this is a ride, no doubt.

The Passion of Martin (1991): I can see why people saw this and wanted to help Alexander Payne get into features. It's very funny yet dark and surprising. It deals with near-taboo subjects (stalking, rape) and even though there's not a character to really care about, I still cared about the film. In other words, it's pretty much an Alexander Payne film. I haven't seen all of those, but I would choose Election if I were making a comparison.

Goodfellas (1990): Except The Aviator (and maybe Cape Fear---I can't remember which one I saw), I haven't seen anything he's directed. In fact, I haven't seen many gangster movies at all. I can see why this one's a classic. It's bold and chancy---the play with the camera in that final restaurant scene! It's also at times distressingly violent. It certainly doesn't make me want to sign up for any secret combinations, I'll tell you that. Also: did Ray Liotta get eyeliner tattoos? Why does he always look like that? (One last thing: Goodfeathers nailed the narration.)

Previous films watched





Some more of those paper things


053) Girl & Flame by Melissa Reddish, finished DATE

This was sent to me to review. But I've been slow about such things at late. It's taken me a while to get through this slim volume, but this is hardly my most egregious act of slowness....

Here's the gist: A flame destroys a house, killing the Girl's father and brother and lover. All she is left with is a bit of the flame that becomes her companion.

So yes: this is a work of surrealism. With, you know, some postmodern touches and stuff. Which means I am obliged to say what I always say in these situations: this stuff is way more fun to write than to read. This is still true. But it refers more to the novella as a whole than to each individual page.

Most of the--let's call them chapters of this novella are about a page long. The publisher made some strange design decisions (notably inconsistent font sizes to make things fit nicer---coincidentally my only real regret re The Fob Bible), but generally, these bitesize portions of this strange world are really just right. Rather like prose poems along a common theme.

There are many things I could say about this book, but what most interests me is its classic take on same-sex friendship. the novel seems to suggest that the Girl and the equally female Flame end up with a closer relationship than the Girl ever had---or could possibly have had---with her father or her brother or her lover. Ultimately, it's her friendship with another woman that is most fulfilling.

Classically of course, this idea is ancient. Most of my top-of-the-head examples are male (David and Jonathan, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, 19th-century Mormons), but hey---what about Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn? I mean---before they started kissing?

Anyway, the book has some interesting things to say about female friendship. And it has some rather beautiful moments at the end. Is it worth reading? Well, depends. I love this kind of thing in film, but when it comes to reading, I'ld still rather write.
at least two months


052) The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl, Part Two by Scott Hales, finished September 29
051) The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl, Part One by Scott Hales, finished September 29

I don't want to say to much about these before they're released, but they are great (scroll to the bottom and read for yourself)---funny and resonant---and I'm glad they'll be in paper form.

One sales pitch might be: This is like Letters to a Young Mormon only in funny pictures.
one day


050) The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Susie Conklin and Sue Birtwistle, finished September 28

Lent to me by a mother via her student (also this: which I doubt I will do more than skim, but which is filled with fascinating info).

The Making of covers the creation of the seminal 1995 BBC P&P from initiation to postproduction. I'll admit I did just skim much of it as I can't hold onto the book for long and have limited interest in certain portions of preproduction, but I did enjoy very much reading about, for instance, the script and the actors and the food.

As with any book of the type, the reader's enjoyment is largely determined by the quality of the pictures. Good pictures, ergo good book. This was a good book.
one day


049) Only What's Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts by Chip Kidd, finished September 24

This is a beautiful book, made with love and a close eye. I only wish it could be larger and have more pages. But then it probably would have been too expensive to receive for Christmas.

The book is filled with perfectly executed photographs by Geoff Spear stretching from before Peanuts to the very end. Largely focused on the strips, but including all sorts of paraphernalia well beyond the expected Met Life ads and paperback collections.

Reading this book is much like taking a visit to the museum except you can take nine months to walk through it.

I wish we had a coffee table or somesuch to leave this on so I could easily pick it up and look at just one page and not feel on a quest to read one page after another until reaching the end. Which was fine, but not the best way to experience a book like this.
nine months less one day


048) J is for Judgment by Sue Grafton, finished September 16

At time this felt like a bit of a drag. Time for a break from Ms Millhone, I'm afraid. I never quite cared about this mystery. But, that said, I am very interested in our PI's newly developing family situation. And I love how this series is paced more like a giant novel than a series of sequels.

I'm fond of this world called Santa Teresa. I'll be back. I just think I want to carry around some nonfiction for a while. You understand.
twenty-two days

Previously in 2016


Books I read that you could read and
then we'd have something in common


046) Jumpers by Tom Stoppard, finished September 6

More than the other Stoppard plays I've read so far, Jumpers seems very much of its time, from its explanation in the stage directions of "a television set remotely-controlled by an electronic portable switch" and excitement about the existential questions raised by men on the moon, It's also wordy in similar but nonidentical ways to, say, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern---this time the philosophy is less about people working out real life and more about a philosopher working out philosophy. And yet---

I still liked it. I will still be reading more Stoppard in the future. I will still teach him. Times are good and Zeno proves that God is doing okay.
while subbing and otherwise waiting


046) Dark Watch and other Mormon-American stories by Williams Morris, finished September 5

I had read most (all?) of the stories before so I hadn't been in a big rush to pick it up, but I did and I enjoyed it and found a couple I hadn't read (didn't remember?) which were also striking.

A recurring theme as the stories move into the future is imagining an underground Mormonism in unfriendly cultures.

I have a lot more to say about this book, but I need more time to plot it out---and I haven't decided where to publish it yet either, so, you know, time.
about a month and a half


044) Pariah Missouri: The Promised Land by Andres Salazar and Jose Pescador, finished August 29

See what I have to say here.


043) Pariah Missouri: Answering the Call by Andres Salazar and Jose Pescador, finished August 28

See what I have to say here.


042) "I" is for Innocent by Sue Grafton, finished August 25

One of the best ones yet!

Previously in 2016


At this rate, even with cheats,
I won't finish have the usual
number of books.

Thanks a lot, plan.


041) The Devil Is Due in Dreary by David Parkin and Allan Jefferson, finished August 19

This was given to me by Parkin at Comic-Con and we went to dinner together later and talked more about sundry related topics.

I intend to write a longer look at the book for Motley Vision, so when that link works, you'll know I've succeeded.

In the meantime, this.

two days


040) No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, finished August 1

Finally finished my final audiobook from the Comic-Con trip. And it was as good as I expected. The reader was excellent (it's almost like the Coen's cast actors to match some of his characters). It goes on longer than the movie (which is coming to Prime soon and therefore I'm looking forward to rewatching), but that's okay. It does what only novels can do. It gets into thoughts and symbols etc. The nature of audiobooks is such that when you zone out for ten seconds, that part of the book is just gone, never to return. And so it goes. (At least I didn't have to deal with McCarthy's punctuation.) But instead of rereading it, I think I'll go to Blood Meridian next....
eleven days


039) Lady Killer by Jamie S. Rich & Joelle Jones & Laura Allred, finished July 30

Eisner Exception

Wow! What a bloodbath! Even with its '50s gloss, this is pretty horrific stuff. This first volume doesn't let us get inside the protag, but it promises that we'll get inside her soon. I hope so. Although fun in its way, it's a bit soulless.

under a week


038) Tribute to Sparky, finished July 25

Every time we've been to the Charles M. Schulz Museum I've spent some time in the gift shop with this volume. I read all the strips and one-panels comics artists made honoring Schulz back when he died in 2000 and they choked me up then. This is the first time I've read the book all the way through. It's also the first time I've cried in a museum gift shop. Tears on my cheeks and everything.

I think we need a couple centuries to figure out how important Charles Schulz was to human culture. But this book gives a hint.
long enough to embarrass fellow shoppers

Previously in 2016