It occurs to me that since I'm nominated in the Best Entertainment/Cultural Blog category at the Canadian Blogging Awards (and you've gone and voted, right?) that I really ought to do a little of that cultural and entertainment writing that I am apparently famed for. So here are a few quick hits.
1. I'm currently reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. While I've been a fan of Gaiman since the first issue of his classic Sandman series, his last few books have left me feeling awfully flat. Even his collection of short stories didn't do it for me, and I've always thought short fiction was Gaiman's strong point and not full novels. So I was beginning to wonder if I had just out grown him.
But The Graveyard Book is marvelous. Clever, funny and scary without ever having to go over the top to prove that something bad is happening. The opening chapter where Bod's parents and sister are murdered by a man named Jack with a knife is deeply disturbing, but never graphic. And that's a hard trick to pull off.
Then you have a chapter like "The Hounds of God" which offers a new take on werewolves and ghouls, that's both funny and, again, kind of scary.
As I said, I'm only half way through, so it could still go off the rails. But so far it's the Gaiman I loved back in the 90s, which is good news.
2. On the movie front, I finally caught Zach and Miri Make a Porno. And I'm beginning to wonder if I'm done with Kevin Smith. It had it's moments (the anal sex scene was utterly predictable and gross, yet still got the biggest laughs of the evening).
I think the problem is that Smith is really, desperately trying to interject more Heart in his movies. The last quarter of the movie was about Zach and Miri's feelings. The same thing happened with Clerks II and you were going to like all the Heart in Jersey Girl even if he had to tie you down and ram it down your throat.
And they're all likable enough movies. But Smith still hasn't mastered mixing his insane humour with humanity and making it really interesting. He came close with Chasing Amy, but it's been wobbly going ever since then. His days of being shocking and cutting edge clever are over and done with.
It's a funny enough movie, I guess, but it's definitely a rental.
3. Twilight - Ahahahahaha - no, I haven't seen it and you will have to prod me to the theatre with a gun in my back to make me. Furthermore, might I add, if your lead vampire does not drink human blood, have fangs, can walk around in the daylight without bursting into flames and is not affected by stakes to the heart, crosses or garlic, then you have created a character that is something other than a vampire. Some clever wag online suggested they be called VINO's (Vampire In Name Only). I can go for that.
I do, however, really want to see Let The Right One In, which sounds really creepy and clever and has been getting fantastic reviews. Of course, it's subtitled from the Swedish, so the odds of it playing up here are fairly remote.
4. On the TV front, I think the show I'm liking best into this season is Chuck. Yeah, it came out last year, but they've really hit their stride this season. Monday wrapped up the "Chuck's ex-girlfriend is back and is a spy" trilogy, which lots of crosses, double-crosses and triple-crosses while cheekily acknowledging that some of this stuff is deeply silly. But there's always good, instantly quotable dialogue (This week's - "Unleash the Casey". Last week's was "Tastes like high school" a nice double meaning after one character drank too many wine coolers).
It's funny, clever and deeply geeky. Which means its in trouble rating wise, but here's hoping it lasts, unlike poor, doomed Pushing Daises which was always far too quirky and amusing for network TV. Knight Rider continues to air while Daisies is dead. TV is the land of great injustice.
5. As for new shows, the only one I'm making an effort to keep up with is Fringe. This is a doomed effort, I'm sure. There are shows where you can miss an episode and you're fine. It feels like if I'm late coming back to the channel after a commercial break, I'm hopelessly behind on Fringe. Plus, it looks like they're trying to do some mutant, hybrid epic Mythology; some kind of bizarre crossing of The X-Files with Lost.
So why keep watching it? First, the writers are clearly on drugs and hitting as many deeply weird science websites as they can find. This week's episode with hallucinogenic frogs is actually fairly pedestrian compared to others. But you get the feeling that there's a writers room with a bunch of stoned, nutjob MIT drop-outs sitting around and cackling over the latest bit of weirdness they've found.
But mainly I keep watching for Dr. Walter Bishop (give John Noble an Emmy right now for Best Supporting Actor. I demand it), who is mad. He was probably mad before he spent 18 years in an inane asylum, but he's delightfully mad now. He's a character I literally wait with anticipation to see what he's going to say next, because you never know what it might be.
I almost pity the rest of the actors on the show. They're all kind of drab and marginally interesting compared to Walter.
There, is that enough culture and entertainment for the time being?
1. Tickle Cove Pond - Great Big Sea
2. In your eyes (live) - Peter Gabriel*
3. Death by chocolate - Sia
4. Fish in the jailhouse - Tom Waits
5. Mrs. Robinson - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies