Sunday, July 30, 2006

The masters of the subtle schools are controversial, polymath

Watching: "Deadwood" continues to astound, naturally. "MI-5," which while not as compelling as some of our finest American cable dramas, has nonetheless sucked me into its vortex and I watch avidly. Especially after that second season ending shocker. (Oh my god! He shot Harry! You bastard!) A new show on my list, "The Office" (BBC version --- I have yet to see the American knockoff), is one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the small screen. Ricky Gervais, the co-creator, co-writer and star, is brilliant. His fatuous grin, the way his eyes flicker toward the cameras in a clueless, ostensibly "knowing" moment of collusion with his nonexistent sympathizers as he nervously straightens his tie, his obtuse, foot-in-mouth comments and speedy "recoveries" --- all priceless. If there were Horribly Inflated Entertainment Salary Justice, Gervais would make millions and be a superstar, and Larry the Cable Guy would be... well, dead, I suppose.

Reading: I devoured Greg Rucka's debut novel Keeper, about the bodyguard Atticus Kodiak. I enjoy his comics writing, so figured I must like his prose as well. I was not mistaken; for a debut, this is a remarkably taut and well-paced thriller that kept the pages turning. I already ordered the sequel. I've just begun Post Captain, the second book in Patrick O'Brian's nautical series. Still listening to Shelley's Frankenstein on CD in my car, but heading for the finale pretty soon. I find myself now less critical of the rather clueless doctor's rather iffy decisions than I was when I first read this. I used to think he was hugely at fault and owed the poor monster a mate, but I guess his arguments against it do make sense. Oh, and at a bookstore I picked up for about $4 a TPB of the first ten issues of the Fantastic Four from 1962 to 1963. I have no interest in this title at all, but for four measly bucks I figured I'd get some insight into Marvel's baby steps into the field. Great Ganesh, but Stan Lee wrote some execrable crap. I mean truly appalling writing. Poor word choices, bad diction, stupid plots, shoddy characterization, ridiculous dialogue... the whole nine yards. Oh, there's a lot of imagination and originality here, too, I suppose. But mostly just really, really bad writing.

Listening: A bunch of R.E.M. Daniel Johnston (I got the double album of songs performed by him and covers of the same titles by big names like Tom Waits, Flaming Lips, eels, Bright Eyes, Beck, Death Cab, etc). Good stuff. And... ugh... Pearl Jam. Yes, I've said here that they're boring, and they mostly are. But some horrible beast possessed me and in a moment of weakness I bought their two-disc greatest hits package (for only ten bucks!). There are about eight fine songs on it, including "Daughter," "Wishlist," and "Betterman," among others.

Stealing: Tom the Dog's sidebar rubrics.

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