Apr 14, 2010

Comic Book Reviews @ The Temple

Pride & Joy by Garth Ennis & John Higgins – This is a quick book, 5 issues or so in length.  About a single father whose past comes back to haunt him.  Cheesy ass way to describe it, but then the opening line “Blood only flows downstream. It’s got nowhere else to go.” is pretty effin cheesy. The book isn’t really, though.  It’s a kind of straightforward book, an ex-criminal has his past threaten his family, and two father-son relationships. It’s well done, though, there are some shocking moments. It ends in the only way it can, which is slightly disappointing.  I feel like I’m not really seeing anything I haven’t seen, or won’t see again.  It’s a well done story, but it’s also a done story. I’m starting to wonder why Garth Ennis is such a genius.  I guess I haven’t read much of him, his punisher was just ok, he has a lot of short lived contributions to big books that I haven’t read, I’ve still yet to get to preacher which I’m pretty excited about. Maybe should read Hellblazer too.  Anyway, it’s good I guess, but it didn’t amaze me or anything.

Alan’s War by Emmanuel Guibert – Took me a while to read this because it’s kind of thick, but it was good. This guy Emmanuel befriends an old WW II vet who lives in France. They have a friendship of some years and Alan tells stories of his time in the war. He came into the war late, never saw any real combat. All the stories are weird little vingettes almost, things mostly you haven’t heard before. None in particular is amazing or worth making a movie about. But they all fit together into a very charming view of the war and the reconstruction. I know it’s weird to call war charming, but that’s only because he didn’t see much real war. His stories are about friends and girls and broken tanks. It’s drawn black and white, fairly simply, but that suites the story and the story teller. You really do get a feeling of this old guy telling you these little stories from 50 years ago. It’s pretty good.

The Filth by Grant Morrison – In the end, this book is not a winner for me. It’s trying to be Watchmen meets Transmetropolitan, both of which I love. So it is an outrageous and over the top future where crazy things happen and its all very violent and sexual. It is also very meta and post modern trying to comment on comics and society and such. Unfortunately, it does not have the extremely weird charm or world-building-solidity of Transmet. And it definitely doesn’t have the quality of Watchmen. There are interesting parts, and the world itself is certainly interesting in places, it’s not all bad or anything. But as a whole, I don’t believe it succeeds in either what it was presumably trying to do or in just pure entertainment value.

Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill – Coool book. This is apparently from a well known suspense novelist named Joe Hill. It’s a story of a family that moves back to their parents home town after their father is killed. Then some spooky shit starts happening. Some sort of ghost in the house, keys that open magical doors and do crazy things. It’s kind of bloody. It’s very very well drawn. It draws you, no pun, into the atmosphere of the story with fantastic skill. I’m kind of amazed how much it felt like a movie or something, being immersed in the atmosphere of this town, Lovecraft. It’s only an introductory few issues, I’m pretty sure I have to get more, I really enjoyed it.

Current Subscriptions Update:

Invincible – Still very good. The events feel smaller though. It’s still building to a big Viltrumite war which is exciting. And they are still drawn beautifully and clever. But reading it month to month is harder when I’m slogging through the in betweens.

Walking Dead – Also still very good. Enough happening book to book that it’s not quite as slow going as Invincible. But I do long for the good ole days when I read the first 2 years in one weekend.  If I didn’t love Robert Kirkman so much, I’d cancel the subscriptions and wait for a trade.

Chew – This book started out super interesting. It’s a world of overbearing food restrictions, and chicken in particular is banned. FDA is a powerful agency, and one agent (Tony Chou) has the super ability of knowing everything about anything he eats. It was such a crazy ass original idea, I was in. It’s starting to wear thin, though. They aren’t all that great so far. I’ll give it a couple/few more issues to decide, maybe it’s warming up to coolness.

Haunt – This one seems like it can’t fail. Kirkman and McFarlane together! It’s just started, the story is a guy possessed by his dead brother, and together they turn into a crazy (rather Spawn-like) badass. Brother worked for some super agency and there are still mysteries to be unraveled, it’s only 5 books in. It has hope, it looks pretty good, I’ll give it it’s first year probably to really sell me.

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

How to Train a Dragon – This movie was really good! It was just pure fun in a very innocent and genuine way. When I first saw the posters for this I thought it looked bad. Another 3D cartoon, everyone likes dragons, gonna suck. But I heard it was really good, so we saw it, and it really was! In a way its a standard story – the boy who doesn’t fit in with his people and makes his dad ashamed, but finds his own way and is a hero. But at the same time, they (well, the book) create a really cool world. Narrow in scope – one town of vikings, but with this very cool variety of dragons that plague them. A totally well developed situation to plunk the audience down into. Sure, the plot doesn’t hold any surprises, although I have no idea why I didn’t see the super obvious dragon/people pairings coming. But outside of that, the movie is just a whole lot of fun. Very cute, very funny, the dragon flying sequences are really cool. If I was a 10 year old boy I’d spend the next week trying to fly my dog around the living room. As it was I took a couple sharp turns driving home. We saw it in 3D, I’d say that’s unnecessary. I had heard it was done well, and just because it’s a cartoon it’s done better than a 2D live action shittily converted. But I wouldn’t say it added much to the movie, I would have been happy to see it in 2D and save a few bucks. So, see it in 2D, or even at home, but definitely see it, it’s great.

Precious – Finally saw this. There’s an awful lot of meta going into this. I know it’s horrendously sad, I know the big sad events, I know monique wins an oscar, I know the young girl is seemingly made for the part. I spent a good portion of the movie not really happy with it. It IS horrendously sad, and for a long time it seems to have no purpose but to beat you down with its sadness. And while, yes, it’s important to know that sadness exists, we shouldn’t hide ourselves from the reality of many peoples’ lives, at the same time I don’t really need to see 2 hours of it, it’s overbearing. But, naturally, the movie is more than that. It’s essentially a kind of rising from the ashes, making yourself better kind of story. Against an impossible life, she tries to make the best of it. It’s nice, and ever so slightly inspirational. You can’t help but wonder how many people are able to make such a recovery, but it’s nice to think it’s possible. In that respect, if the movie is meant to expose us to this reality, it undoes its own work by giving us a fantasy of escape. It’s also largely about mentors and teachers. Certainly if you are someone with that position in life, it will give you a feeling of higher purpose, an ideal to reach for. As for the acting, I was impressed with the young girl, I, very cynical, said to myself that they happened to find a very fat very young, very sad looking girl, presto bingo she plays the part. But to her credit she brings more than that. There is a little more dimension to her than just the abuse, which is certainly important to her story. Monique, too, I thought can’t be that great. And for most of the movie she was just a shitty person. People get points too easily, I think, for being fucking horrendous human beings. But then it became clear she won that oscar for her last scene. I’m not sure she deserves an oscar, but she certainly deserves respect. The movie is still sad, it’s not something you need to see more than once, but it is worth the once.

Fantastic Mr. Fox – Ths movie is pretty cute, but there is something not quite right about it. It’s very charming, the stop motion animation is cute. The story is fun, the voice acting is fun, it’s all very likable. But, it is also pretty boring. It’s not a long movie but it felt like it just kept going. I’m not sure what about it should have been better, on paper it is everything it should be. For some reason it just didn’t click for me. Still very enjoyable, just not awesome.

Street Fighter; The Legend of Chun-Li – Yeah yeah, what do you expect. Some halfway okay choreography held together by the threads of a story in a 20 year old video game with all of 200 words for its plot, 25 words if you only count Chun-Li. I’m surprised by how it takes from the game (her motivation, bison’s organization), but modernizes it a lot. Does away with every good guy from the game, but keeps the bad. Not much to say about it, it’s exactly as you expect. Not totally sure why Michael Clarke Duncan is in it, sadly not surprised to see chris klein or that guy from that cop show playing bison. Everyone else is unknown to me. It’s an okay thing to have on while you are doing other things, I guess. Don’t run or anything, though. It’s definitely not good, it’s just not insulting. This is why netflix needs a “meh” star level.

Where The Wild Things Are – Yikes, this movie is kind of scary. When we all heard this was going to be a movie, we said that’s stupid, there’s not remotely enough there to make a movie. Turns out that was true, it was really just the framework for an entirely different story. Then we saw the trailer, and we were all blown away by the awe and childlike wonder distilled down into a pure form. The movie, sadly, never even approaches the trailer, let alone surpass it. A few mundane things before the main point – the wild things are kind of muppetlike. I understand this choice completely, I would have hated to see them CG, but, they don’t quite work as they are. They look a little too much like big head costumes, like disneyland characters. But I was mostly okay with it. The music is a big part, as featured in the trailer, and I guess it does a decent job. But due to my reaction to the movie as a whole, the music ended up feeling forced and overly indie or wonderous. The movie is actually about a fucked up kid. Not an evil kid, looks like he’s got reasons to be fucked up, dad is gone, mom is busy, he’s sensitive and lonely and sad. Hell, I probably could have been that kid if I didn’t have the parents I had. But, the wild things are just his fantasy framework for dealing with his issues. And he has some serious issues. He seems borderline autistic, honestly, with all the rage and dependency and fantasy involved. The wild things act out aspects of his personality and that makes those characters very unlikable, as most of the aspects of his personality are negative. It’s a very mean movie, it’s a very hurtful movie. I wonder maybe if you are the parent of a troubled child, or if you were one yourself, this movie might bring to life in an utterly unique way how you felt. But I am neither, so the movie was either troubling, or just annoying, which is kind of sad in itself. After writing this, I went and watched the TRS review, and each of those 3 boy connected with this boy in a very direct way. Maybe I’m just not a normal boy, I don’t know, it didn’t resonate with me like it was supposed to.

Ben-Hur – Here’s an epic I really should have seen by now. Until the last 30 minutes, this movie is actually really good. Judah Ben-Hur is a jewish leader of some kind, runs afoul of rome, goes to slavery for a while, gets out, becomes a citizen, wins a big race. All happening during the lifetime of jesus. All of that story I just said is really well done. The movie has a great feeling, acting is pretty solid. Heston sort of has this shatner thing of conveying emotions via dramatic poses, but besides that he’s good. I didn’t like his lady friend, she was too cheesy (though I’m sure it was fine in the 50s), but everyone else was very good. The story itself is very good. Jesus only appears (and never his face) in passing. Things are happening while jesus is happening, it’s not about him. Which is just awesome. There’s no miracles or holy business, things are just happening in that period. The famous chariot race is cool enough, the whole story is cool enough. THEN the last 30 minutes happen. Sigh! It begins at the sermon of the mount, which is actually really good because Judah is bent on revenge and refuses to hear the sermon, which is of course famously about turning the other cheek. I thought this was wonderfully subtle. Then the movie gets worse when the lady friend has to belabor this point to judah and to the audience. Then the movie gets really bad when it starts to focus on the crucifixion. Then the movie gets horrendous when, spoiler alert for a 50 year old movie, judah’s mother and sister are cured of their leprosy by the magical jesus rain after his death.  God dammit! The move was so good until now! And jesus wasn’t magical, he was just historical, things that absolutely could have really happened. But noooo, they had to go and have fantastical jesus pee from heaven wash away their disease. Freaking bullshit! But really quite good besides that. Next up we have to see the prequel – Ten Commandments!


8-bit monsters take over Earth. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Video Game Reviews @ The Temple

Mass Effect 1 – Yes 1. I’m a little behind the times, ok? More than you know, really. I finally get to this, and my computer can just barely play it. It was a pretty obnoxious experience, honestly. It started okay, I even had the settings at a reasonable place. But by the end I had all the graphics completely down and it still crawled. Don’t know what’s up with my computer, it can barely handle flash anymore. In fact, toward the end you have to race your little buggy through an area in 40 seconds. Trouble is, my computer run that race at 1/3 speed, but the countdown happened in real time, it was literally impossible for me. I had to install the game on my work computer JUST to finish the game. Beat Saren there too, can’t imagine that nightmare on this computer. So, to be fair, the experience of this game was harshly colored by my computer. And those last 20 minutes on the work computer were much more fun and a whole hell of a lot prettier. With that true, I didn’t think the game was all that great. It had all the problems I had heard about – stupid elevator travel, mediocre battle system, horrendous moon-buggy missions. But on top of that I wasn’t super into the story. It seems like a cool world, very well developed and fairly original and all that. But I didn’t really care, didn’t care about my companions, didn’t care about side missions. I went out of my way to be evil, which was fine, I guess. The game certainly isn’t bad, but it didn’t have any epic feeling I was hoping for. It didn’t feel like KOTOR, that’s for sure. By all accounts, ME2 fixes all these things and is a magical game. Sadly, this thing will never play that, so I won’t find out for years until I get a new computer. Ohswells!

Apr 6, 2010

8-Bit Dr. Horrible

I’ve been watching this guy develop this project over the past couple months, first releasing just the music. I was under the impression that it was going to be an actual playable game, maybe it’s just a video, I’m not sure. If that’s the case, I might as well post now – AWESOME!

Apr 4, 2010

Book Reviews @ The Temple

Heretics of Dune – Huh, this book is kind of a return to form for Herbert. Book one was this masterpiece of political intrigue, character evolution, rebellion, heroism, coolness. Book 2 was about a hero cult, and avoiding an inevitable future. Book 3 was weird, about joojoo and plotting. Book 4 was about despotism, power, control, humanity, fate; also joojoo. Here we are in book 5 and suddenly nearly all the joojoo is gone (except for the standard joojoo of dune – long lives, guild navigators, face dancers, etc). It is nearly 100% political intrigue. The bene gesserit are back on top, though the tlielaxu are also very powerful. Ix is still a player, the face dancers, the guild, and the church of the tyrant are kind of minor. And now there’s this new force, the honored matres. When the tyrant was deposed, according to his own plan, humanity scattered and therefore saved itself from annihilation. The returnees from The Scattering are wackaloons and super powerful (not to mention super sexy, which is kind of stupid, but oh well). The honored matres want to kill or subjigate everyone, especially the bene gesserit. But the book is just wall to wall scheming. The BG vs the BT vs the HM and the interaction of the minor players among them. It’s kind of hard to read. Especially because I didn’t read, I listened, and sometimes I miss something and god help you if you miss something important. I had to read the wiki one paragraph-per-week to catch myself up on what I just heard. But, it is pretty cool. It’s still nothing like the first book, but it’s a more traditional story without all the magic. And I like that. I’d say the book was too big for its britches, I’m not sure it needed all these pages to tell this story. Sometimes it seemed like it was complicated for its own sake. But the over all arc, if you trimmed 1/3 of the book, was actually quite good. That one group coming to dominance at the end got me totally interested to see what the next book would have.  I have one major complaint about the book - negative 300 degrees Kelvin?!?! At one point a bene tlielaxu is explaining, via narration, that he has an undetectable poison on him because it was kept at something like negative 384K for some amount of time. Excuse me, fuckhead Herbert, you can make up the spice, you can use omniscience, you can invent interstellar travel, you can even make little snails latch on to a man and turn him into a giant fucking sandworm. What you CAN NOT DO is go below ZERO FUCKING DEGREES KELVIN!

Chapterhouse Dune – Wowwww, what a good book! I’m not at all convinced I read these last two 15 years ago. I thought I read them all and it was a steadly decline in quality from the first book to the last. This book is more about plot and intrigue than any of the other books, including the first book. I wouldn’t say its better, the first book was just too revolutionary in its world creation, but this book is fantastic. Heretics left me ready for it, even though heretics wasn’t amazing, and this totally delivered. The factions were awesome, the dynamics were cool, the verbal battles were just perfect. My favorite part in the book is maybe halfway, the conversations between Lucilla and Dama. I was so bummed when that ended rather abruptly, it was just so fucking captivating. That is echoed in the stand off between Odreid and Dama, but isn’t surpassed by it. The book does manage to have more than just plot. It tries to make comments on politics. I’m not sure I agree with its conclusions, but I think the discussion is great. My mind was blown that the Jews have a role in the book. Christianity only peripherally occurs in Dune due to the “Orange Catholic Bible” which seems to have fuck all to do with catholicism.  Islam plays heavily, if only by implication, due to the Fremen and the Tlielaxu. The reflections of islam are strong there, and had been from the first book. But the jews are actual jews! No reflections, no allusions, but actual jews. Jews who have survived these thousands and thousands of years as a culture. Who have learned the art of disappearing into the universe, their religion and culture more of a secret cult at this point. Masters of blending into society, “you could spend your whole life working with one of them and never know they were a jew” And some comments about how some bene gesserit beliefs or customs may have descended from judaism (though they are the ones with the OCB, so maybe it comes through that). They don’t have a big role, though it is a hugely important one in the context of the fiction, but it still shocked me. I was all in for the vocal performances, they were almost perfect. My only problems were one actor pronounced Honored Matres as Honored Maters. And one said SKYtale instead of SIGHtale. I feel like there was another too, I don’t see why they can’t nail down simple pronunciations before they do these things. But all in all it was really good, and I effing love the voice of the Tyrant, it’s so good. The horrible thing about this book is the CLIFFHANGER. It’s not a hard core cliffhanger, like this person is about to die, oh em gee, book ends. But there are some serious and overarching mysteries to be answered, and Herbert died a year after he wrote it! arg! His son has come along and cobbled together two sequels (not to mention all the prequels) based on his father’s notes. But opinion is apparently divided on whether he did a good job or not. I will certainly get to those soon. But we’ll never know, and that is just such a shitty feeling. I want to know who the threat from the scattering is! I want to know if the BG/HM merger works! I want to know what Shiana and Duncan do! And christ I want to know who Daniel and Marty are!!

Hunters of Dune / Sandworms of Dune – I’m starting this review only having read the first book, but they are naturally presented as a pair, so I will finish it after I finish the second. That likely won’t take long, as plot-wise, I am totally into this stuff. Herbert left us with a hell of a set of questions at the end of Chapterhouse, and for most fans those questions lasted 20some years. But for new (and renewed, like me) fans, we have the answers right away. Or at least, one version of the answers. As I mentioned in chapterhouse, we’ll never really know, which is monstrously aggravating. But this is what we have. So this is my first Brian Herbert / Kevin J Anderson book. I bought the prequel (houses harkonnen, atreidies, and corrino) books a long time ago, but never got around to them. I might even own some of the legends of dune series (the very-pre-quels). I thought about going and reading those before these, as there will be a lot of history that it’s probably assumed you know and would certainly be enriching. But I’m a child, and I couldn’t wait to find out what’s up. Whether its right or not, I am just so into this story. It’s an awesome universe, with awesome characters, I sped through Hunters and I’m sure I will through Sandworms. It’s just really sort of cool and exciting story stuff. I will certainly go back and read the legends of dune series (set some 10 or 15k years before the main books), I’ll probably read the house books as well. I see that they have now started on a new trilogy, starting with Paul of Dune, which fills in the gaps between Dune and Dune Messiah. And here we come to the heart of the problem with the writing. There is a short interview with Herbert & Anderson after the Hunters audiobook (which, ps, is awesome, it’s not much, but adding value is always good). In it they explain, without any embarrassment or awkwardness, the difference between their style and Frank Herbert’s, and the difference is subtlety. I was shocked to see 12 years pass between Dune & Dune Messiah. I was even more shocked to see 3500 years pass into God Emperor, and kind of used to it when 1500 passed into Heretics. On top of that, as they point out in the interview, Herbert destroys Rakis in Heretics, and he never shows it. It happens in between chapters. I mean, fuck, it’s called Dune, and Dune is gone! without ceremony or description. But I have really come to appreciate Frank Herbert’s subtlety, I can’t imagine the books without them. Herbert & Anderson come out and flatly state, we don’t like that, we like to see the details. So they go and describe the burning of Arrakis, and now they are writing books to go between Dune & Messiah. I find this kind of annoying and unnecessary. There is nothing there that helps me understand or appreciate better. It’s just more stuff. This might not be a problem if they were just such amazing writers that any story told by them in this universe, even in between stories, is worth it to hear it told. But that’s not really the case. Most of it is fine, it’s not atrocious, I don’t spend a lot of time rolling my eyes. And at this point I am in it for the plot, not the experiment that was God Emperor. But it seems their “fill in the details” really applies across the board. They said they simply had to make the 7th book into two, there was too much. What they seem to have missed is that the first book, and I imagine the second, could have been cut down a whole hell of a lot with some easy editing. Admittedly, it’s not 50%, it’s probably 80%. So I’m sure it’s still 2 books easy, but nonetheless, the book would be better tightened up. They really just repeat themselves so often. I am a couple chapters into Sandworms, and so far I have heard the list of new gholas I think 3 or 4 times. I fucking remember! Jesus! They will say things, and then say them again. Not even that differently, or from a different character, or in a different context. They will virtually repeat themselves for no apparent reason. It’s somewhat maddening. It doesn’t really take away from the books, and I am totally digging them. But I feel like I’m reading amateur writers sometimes. And these are their 8th and 9th books? Oh man, how are their first 3 going to read? I’m a little scared. They’ve got good ideas, they’ve got amazing source material, they just really need to work on their styles, it’s too much. And hey, let the audience guess sometimes, I don’t need to see every single line, just gimme the dots. [time passes] Okay, I’ve read Sandworms now. My comments are nearly identical. On the one hand it is really satisfying to hear the end of the story, I was definitely into it and definitely eager to get back to the book anytime I had to stop. But the same problems remain. I still feel like this could have been cut down by 25%. Sentences just go on for no reason sometimes. Motivations and especially character history are restated again and again. I get that this person had this happen, and that relates directly to this event. I get it! It was a little sad when the book was essentially over, but I had 2 and a half hours left in the audiobook. Most of that wasn’t really necessary. It returns again to this idea that Herbert & Anderson insist on filling in every single little detail. There is so much that can be left out, I can imagine pretty well what happened to all of these characters, but they tell me anyway. It’s frustrating not only that they do it, but that they are so aware that they do it and are completely okay with it. But, some good things: The quotes at the start of each chapter are sometimes really really well done. Often they are just fairly obvious commentary on the coming events, with some overarching moral or theme. But sometimes they tie together widely spaced events in a resonant way that is striking. What is done with and to poor Uwe is poetically tragic. He is really a sad character. The book is essentially a nature vs. nurture argument. And while it’s not exactly real life data, it is an interesting conjecture, especially Paul vs. Paulo. And especially especially with the presumptions applied to the gholas. It reminds me of siblings placed into their roles and left to live up to them, both bad and good. On the other hand, I am left feeling that the whole ghola thing is very limiting. It’s too bad, it’s another thing the authors openly state as a concern, yet seem to completely ignore. It’s all the more annoying that they say Frank Herbert originally brought Duncan back as essentially fan-service. So now we’ve got this plot device that is fundamental to the universe just because fans couldn’t live without Duncan. They say how there is a fear that unlimited life via rebirth reduces our attachment to the character and reduces the impact of threats to them. Well, it does. I can’t be that upset when someone dies, I know perfectly well they will grow another. Though I can imagine that’s not a comfort to someone watching their child die, you can’t help but think they’ll have it back, exactly the same, in a few years. My other big problem with the end game is again a problem with feeling the importance of the characters’ actions. The end has essentially three major confrontations – Murbella’s fleet vs. the machine fleet, shiana/leto vs. the city, and duncan vs. omnius. The guild has a dramatic (if expected) and cavalry-like savior role for murbella, which is great. Leto has sort of his destiny fulfilled, and shiana gets to use scytale’s weapons, okay. But then Duncan does his thing, and neither of the first two mattered. Maybe Murbella would be killed if not for those events, just because of the timing, I guess that matters. But Shiana and Leto could have just stayed in the damn ship and Duncan’s efforts would have produced the same results, it reduces all the importance of the events. Leto especially, I fail to understand why he was even resurrected, all he did is return to his place among the worms, what’s the point?? It’s kind of annoying. This book did sort of solidify my love of the Tyrant, though. Leto II is supposed to be this horrible despot, but I think he is the most interesting and tragic character in the series. He was flawed, I buy that, he lost his humanity. But Duncan has it easy, his destiny was to be a really good guy, make the moral choice, and save the universe. Leto II’s destiny was to be a completely ruthless monster in order to save humanity. How can you retain your connection to your humanity if you have to control and kill your people because that’s the only way you can save it. A much more sympathetic character, to me. The one other thing I notice in this book is what seems to me to be one more inclusion of a major religion in the series. We’ve had slight christianity, significant islam, and direct judaism. I think what happens with Duncan is a direct reflection of buddhism and hinduism. He has lived like 5000 years now through lifetime after lifetime. He has the wisdom of not just thousands of years of memories like any bene gesserit but having actually lived those lives. He is born, lives, dies, and is born again repeatedly learning more about himself and humanity. His ascension to perfection comes from his continuous rebirth. I’ll grant you that I know essentially nothing about these religions, but it seems like continuous rebirths leading to enlightenment has something to do with it. It’s pretty cool. Anyway, I’m done with the series now. As I said, I will probably go back and read some of the prequels, definitely not all. But I don’t have all of them right now, so I’ll probably take a break from this universe. I think this series covered some serious ground. Some of it was plot, some of it was amazing writing, some of it was almost an experiment. It was absolutely worth my time, and there are some really fantastic things in it. Wasn’t perfect, and I certainly have a lot of issues with the Herbert/Anderson side of things, I will always wonder what Frank would have done with the finale. But it was all really pretty good.

What Do We Do Now? – This is kind of a silly one to throw in, but damn it I’m doing it. This is a relationship book by Keith and the Girl. If you aren’t familiar, they are a podcast, and the funniest thing in the world. Now, they aren’t for everyone. They are very “adult” very inappropriate, don’t listen at work, don’t listen if you are sensitive. Don’t listen if you are fat, black, a woman, jewish, chinese, a nerd, a man, gay, or white. Or at least not if you are one of those and uptight about it. They rag on pretty much everything. They do occasionally go too far down the racist/sexist/homophobic rabbit hole. But for the most part they are those negative things in such a way that it is patently ironic and meant to be exactly opposite. People might compare them to shock jocks, Stern or O&A, and I think those people would be doing it in the spirit of a compliment. I happen to hate shock jocks, and I don’t think KATG are, I think they are much funnier and smarter. But, whatever gets you listening. Anyway, they do a podcast, minimum 1 hour a weekday, over 1000 episodes, the highlight of my media consumption nearly every day. Now they wrote a relationship book. “Smart answers to your stupid relationship questions” is the tagline. Most of the answers are common sense. I didn’t learn anything amazing in the book. Nearly always the advice is communicate, and a passive aggressive reflection onto your mate of whatever they are doing that you don’t like. Kind of silly, but always funny. Their personalities don’t nearly come out in written form as they do on the show. And I wonder that it might be even less so for people who aren’t so 1000-episodes-familiar with their voices. Nonetheless I think it is very funny and worth reading for a few laughs. I don’t really expect people to rush out to buy it, but if you feign the slightest hint of interest, I’ll probably buy it for you for your birthday.