I’ve been AWOL the past week or so, and my computer was in for repairs, so this is a bit late…
A couple classics. If you have a Blu-Ray player I insist that you find Jaws. It’s probably the first time I realized how different Blu-Ray looks. Even my kids noticed and remarked upon the difference. My five-year-old son says Jaws is his favorite movie now. Not bad for an almost forty-year old movie.
Born Yesterday: Judy Holliday’s career was truncated, if not destroyed, by the Red Scare. She isn’t known for much besides this movie, and it’s possible that she couldn’t play anything else, but that was enough, because she created an archetype. Everyone from Marilyn Monroe to early Julia Roberts is indebted to her performance as a not-as-dumb-as-she looks girlfriend of a magnate in D.C. William Holden and Broderick Crawford are in the movie too, but you won’t notice them.
I’ll be quick, because there’s been a bunch. Mumford and Son’s Babel is good, if predictable, and its strengths are also the harbinger of the band’s limits (quiet-LOUD dynamics, an earnestness that threatens to harden into cant).
Mirage Rock by Band of Horses is a pleasant surprise, if ultimately forgettable.
The new albums by Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective suck, because those bands suck and I hate them and even if I finally liked one of their albums I would never admit it because their earlier work sucks so hard.
Is anyone else awed and possibly dismayed that the two nineties bands that are still seemingly vital (besides Radiohead and The Foo Fighters, I guess) are Green Day and No Doubt? Did anyone see that coming?
Find and read the short stories of Brian Evenson. Fugue State and Windeye, especially. He’s been compared to Peter Straub in that he is ultimately a writer of fantasy and horror, but I think the comparisons to Robert Coover and Donald Barthelme are more apt. Funny, very readable, and scary. All the while the meta-tricks and tautological loop-di-loops are profound.
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon: One of the things I constantly knock up against in my own writing is the word-count limits imposed by most magazines, whether online or print-based. It’s frustrating, but whittling down my stories have never failed to make them tighter and better. It’s obvious from this book that no one is imposing word-limits of Michael Chabon anymore. When does that happen? After a Pulitzer? Anyway, all the eggshells that all of the critics are walking on about this book cannot hide these simple facts: there is no real propulsion driving this novel, there are no real stakes, and, most frustratingly, the combustible style Michael Chabon is known for has been used as a smokescreen for what is, simply, a collection of diffuse, fragmented, not-very-good-ideas. And here’s the worst part: the style is so in your face, so thick, that it sounds less like Michael Chabon than a bad undergraduate’s fawning impersonation of Michael Chabon.
Elementary will probably be worth watching, if only for Jonny Lee Miller. I still prefer Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes, but why not New York City, and Lucy Lui as Watson? Besides Dracula, Scrooge, and James Bond, Sherlock Holmes is probably the sturdiest character we’ve been given in the past two hundred years, and it’s nice to have himm back in two new incarnations.
Tuesday night on Fox–Ben and Kate, The Mindy Project, New Girl—is funny and makes my week better.
Librivox is a free service that gets volunteers to read books in the public domain, which I can then download and listen to while I run and clean the house. I’ve polished off a bunch of Dickens and Hardy, and now I’m listening to Middlemarch. It’s sketchy sometimes—these are not professional readers, and at times not even native English speakers, and I sometimes I wonder if they are in fact prisoners on some weird work-release program because why would you volunteer to do this?—but it’s free.
Oh, and the Reds lost to the Giants. I’ll never watch baseball again. Until next April.