I finally finished Middlemarch!
(also, some other books)


082) Beyond the Light by Ryan Shoemaker, finished September 17

Ryan sent me his collection back in May and I've been reading it off and on. I have mixed feelings about his stuff. His funny stuff is hit/miss for me (the shorter the missier) and his serious stuff largely involves taking awful people and letting them be awful. I do prefer ones with a hint of redemption ("Great Heights") or that are willing to be surreal without succumbing to the silly ("Lost in Furniture Land"---which [absurdism aside] is almost an identical tale to "Great Heights" and follows it immediately in the book, which is a strange editing choice...). I appreciate the craft of his awful people behaving awfully stories, but sometimes the push credulity ("Our Students"---although this story might just push my buttons because it takes place at a high school; Ryan has it out for high school, both students and teachers).

One thing I find interesting about Ryan's CV is how he ... I don't want to say recycles, although that's not unfair, but how he revisits works, like Magritte painting rocks in the air over and over and over. I don't just mean publishing the same story in two places---that's great and more outlets should be willing to do that. Nor do I mean really liking the name Hector.

The sort of recycling (I'm going for it) is "Brigham Kimball: Mormon Missionary Extraordinaire" also appearing as "Parley Young: One Mormon Life"---a longer (and, in my opinion, better) version of the same. (The two version appear to have been published just months apart.) Or taking "Bing," originally published in Irreantum, and giving it a new title ("Beyond the Lights"), sending it successfully through Santa Monica Review's slushpile and republishing it. (Full disclosure: Ryan told SMR that it had been previously published.) Again, I don't have problems with these reuses, but in neither case is the first-publisher-under-an-alternate-title cited in the Acknowledgments. Which seems a bit weird to me.

I'm intending to write a longer review exploring the good and the hmm about Beyond the Light for AML, but that largely depends on my health and catching up on all my other responsibilities that have slipped while I've been sick.
almost four months


083) Space Cat Meets Mars by Ruthven Todd, finished September 22

This ... I dunno if I'm accurate here (and I returned the first two to the library), but this felt slighter. Perhaps it's just because there's less intentionality on the part of our heroes. They went to the Moon on purpose. They went to Venus on purpose. Then they're captured by an asteroid's gravity and have some mechanical problems and making an emergency stopover on Mars. That sounds good, but....
I like the faux pre-Apollo science of these books, but Mars is pretty far to walk for a gallon of gas. I dunno.

Anyway, Flyball meets the last Martian cat and she's coming back to Earth (via the moon) with them, after which they'll get busy, but the whole thing felt shorter and lesser. Charming, but insubstantial. In comparison, I mean. I'm not claiming the first couple are great literature or anything. But I liked them.
two days


084) Invisible Gifts by Maw Shein Win, finished September 24

I intend to write a longer review of this (I hope for Whale Road Review) so I'll hold off for now.
perhaps fourth months but actually two separated bursts


085) Middlemarch by George Eliot, finished September 29

I began Middlemarch long, long ago. And I loved it from the very beginning. But then the main character made a very upsetting decision at the end of book one and I ... just set it down.

I picked it up again when our ward Relief Society book group (ambitiously) picked it to read earlier this year, so I read along with Lady Steed.

No one finished it in the month. Well, like two people did. So book group discussed the first four books only. But Lady Steed and I kept reading and we both finished it this week.

After book one, the idea of a "main character" seems almost laughable. Its subtitle is "A Study of Provincial Life" and it truly does take us through and around an entire town. The characters we spend the most time with connect, but every spot and soul of Middlemarch is fair game.

However, with the last two paragraphs of the novel, we are thrown a reference that (with one exception) we haven't heard since the prelude. And it is the prelude and those final paragraphs that make Dorothea---that first-book main character---the heart of the entire novel. Her goodness drives hope and possibility; her strength is what makes us believe humanity should yet continue.

Dorothea is a complicated character but she's motivated by a pure goodness that makes her one of my favorite characters in fiction. I love her because I cannot be her.

Other characters I more clearly see myself in. For a few pages, I was certain Casaubon and I were the same person. (Happily, we are not.) And Bulstrode's justifications for his sins rang much, much too true.

My failures are much like Lydgate's, but I'm in a better marriage. (Fun fact: Occasionally I give my students an essay prompt originally part of the 2011 test that includes a passage from Middlemarch; all but two or three of the best readers always misinterpret it, and believe that Lydgate is abusive and cruel towards his wife. I don't know if this is a comment merely on my students' reading ability or if it somehow revealing of modern entitlement....)

In short, Eliot understands people. I loved Silas Marner and I love this too. It's a loving look at humanity while clawing its criticisms deep. If we're unhappy with Dorothea's fate, it's not because of any failure of hers. And she is happy. But in a better world, she, a woman, could have been everything we know she could have been.

I understand why people read and reread this book. It feels borderline irresponsible to not. But no doubt decades will pass before I return. And I will be different then and I will understand it in new ways.

I'll see you then.

[Final note: Although I'm generally skeptical of narrators waxing philosophic, I would never deny Eliot that freedom.]
possibly over five years



Not so many movies in September 2018


Murder by Death (1976)

First, it's remarkable how closely Clue follows this template and that I can't remember having heard of them together before. I found the film because it's a Neil Simon I hadn't heard before and he, well, he just died.

The gimmick is the worlds greatest detectives---a Sam Spade, a British Nick & Nora, a Miss Marples, a Hercule Poirot, a Charlie Chan---are pulled together into a gloomy country estate and there ends up being a murder to be solved. The greatest thing about this movie has to be its cast: David Niven, Alec Guiness, Maggie Smith, Elsa Lanchester---it goes on and on. Peter Sellers as the Chinese detective is grating now, but it makes some logical sense as, I imagine, Charlie Chan was probably always done in yellowface. Though I'm not sure the movie is really mocking that....

Some very funny moments, a very meta ending, a scene that lets Guiness shine---worth watching once, to be sure. I doubt I'll feel much need to revisit it.

The Little Hours (2017)

First, I know very little about the Decameron. Mostly that it exists and when it came to exist and how niftily early that date is. I have no idea how this movie is as an adaptation.

Second, although I know little about 1970s Italian exploitation films, I could see the references starting right from the opening credits. And so the eventual sex and witchery should not have surprised me. Probably it would not have earlier in the film, but the deadpan, modern comedic phrasing of the film, pushed me far away from exploitation expectations.

The trailer, in other words, is honest.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) x2

This is a movie I love and have seen many times---though not recently, and not since Sullivan's Travels. So it was fun to see with that in mind and notice echoes such as the theater scene.

One nice thing about watching it twice back to back* was, for viewing two, now all the music was back in my head and I could sing along.

Other small observations and questions:

What's with all the butterflies?

I'd noticed the Greek-ruins column before, but in the restaurant, there is a Greek bust. Homer?

When the cyclops says the word "psychology," he emphasizes it in a way to make one imagine he might be about to say cyclops. I don't think I'd noticed that before.

The clips of movie they see in the theater feel so familiar to me now I was sure I had seen the film. Not so.

Such a great movie.

The Lost Express (1925)

I read about Helen Holmes and the The Hazards of Helen series in The New Yorker and I've been meaning to check her out ever since.

The plot was about a half-baked as expected (and some weird cultural things that have changed a bit in the last century), but I'm only disappointed that this feature did not include anything truly crazy/amazing in the stunts department. C'mon, Helen!

A Boy and His Dog (1975)

This movie made a splash in science-fiction circles a bit before I was born, but most folks don't remember it anymore---like Andromeda Strain it was lost in the wave of films that followed over the next ten years (Star Wars, E.T., Mad Max, etc). These days, I think, those who have heard of it would think: weird, (I mean, Harlan Ellison so obviously weird), weird sex, weird violence, postapocalyptic, too weird.

I'm basing this on what my impression is. Which largely comes from the back of VHS boxes.

They were pretty much telling the truth.

We're in a post-nuclear desert. People are scrounging about looking for canned food to survive on and women to rape to death: "Hell! They didn't have to cut her! She could have been used two or three more times!"

If you weren't already expecting ugliness, you should now.

The film offers two plots. The first is a classic love story: they fight and bicker but rely on one another and sacrifice all else for each other. That's the boy and his dog---a hyperintelligent "police dog." The second is another type of love story, a redemption story. Boy meets girl who shows him a new sort of life and together they make that life. This story is boy and actual girl.

They can't both end happily ever after.

Art + Belief (2019?)

We went to the New Parkway which had been rented out by the Bay Area Mormon Arts Council to see the nearly-done version of this film submitted to Sundance. It was much more complete than the version we had seen before, but it also lost a few of the nuances I liked.

(Incidentally, I haven't decided whether or not to reach out, but Nathan Florence? Matt Black? if you see this, the narration needs an edit. I would be willing to volunteer my time. If you haven't heard from me yet it's because I don't know your timeline and I'm busy and I just haven't decided if I can commit. [Or I've lost track of time and am on to other things.] But I'm good at this. I could help.)

Anyway, the turnout was good, the film was good. I really hope that it becomes something Mormon artists watch and share with each other. We need to stop believing, each of us, that we are the first and that there is no tradition and that we have to blaze a new trail alone. I hope this film helps Mormon artists find their community.

Which is one of the reasons, I think, the Q&A featured multiple questions about artistic women of the time. We are all hungry to know that we are not alone, that others have come before. This film can be that. Hopefully it can be that for many.

One Man's Treasure (2009)

Since Son2 and I watched this in January, he showed it to Son3 and tonight they showed it to Son1. Although it is a bit cheesy, sure, it's a fun ride and a fair look at being a missionary that's less likely to traumatize, say, than, say, this.

The bits that I curl a nostril at don't matter so much. The boys like it and the elders and sisters are real people and this is something worth doing someday. That's enough.

Not every movie has to move the artform forward.

Previous films watched

jan feb mar apr may jun jul&aug sep oct nov dec







Hella comics and the biggest Mormon book ... ever?


074) My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris, finished August 29

Drawn entirely in ballpoint pens (Bic-style) with the occasional colored pencil and seemingly on notebook paper complete with blue lines and binderholes and metal coiling, this is supposed to be a sequence of notebooks by an elementary-school girl. She's a helluvanartist for her age, let me say.

This is multilayered comics on the level of Chris Ware or Duncan the Wonder Dog. Although it begs us to ask how autobiographical it is, I'll avoid that topic. There's enough without it. We have monster movies/magazines; we have childhood cruelty; we have mob violence; we have all kinds of sex; we have family dynamics; we have the Holocaust; we have a mysterious murder; we have questions of sexuality; we have human duality; we have fine art---

All these pieces click together nicely. It might be hard to imagine all those things coming together without becoming either maudlin or oppressive, but no: Ferris shows real skill in balancing all this stuff. It's a heavy read, but not at all unpleasant. The only awful thing about it is the likely wait we have in front of us before the story will continue.

two weeks or so


075) The Customer Is Always Wrong by Mimi Pond, finished August 30

Another enormous comic book! This one is a much quicker read, but it's remarkable how much they have in common. This takes place in the late Seventies rather than the late Sixties, but Madge is about ten years older than Karen, so I suppose they're still contemporaries.

We're in a different American city now (Oakland rather than Chicago) but we still get to see much of the seedy underbelly---only now we're a bit more involved as our protagonist is an adult.

Madge is working at a cafe, saving her money so she can move to New York and pursue her dreams of being a cartoonist. Her boss is Lazlo (imagine Scott McCloud in a trilby), a well meaning would-be poet. Everyone is doing alcohol and/or coke and/or speed and/or "Persian" and/or mj and/or tobacco and/or heroin and/or methodone etc etc etc. It's not a life I'm interested in, but Pond's look is kind without being romantic and truthful without being vindictive.

Although it's born of her actual experiences, Pond's ficionalization is very satisfying as fiction. The story is well organized and structured. It's a great piece of writing and it works well as a novel.
two days


076) Bandette: Stealers Keepers! by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, finished August 30

This picks up where volume one dropped off and provides a satisfying conclusion. There is a third volume, but it seems likely that it will take a new direction. I hope so as this volume, while wonderful, couldn't match the bright delight of newness we encountered in volume one.

All I really really want to do now is show my kids Charade....


077) You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld, finished September 6
078) Baking With Kafka by Tom Gauld, finished September 7
079) Mooncop by Tom Gauld, finished September 7
080) Goliath by Tom Gauld, finished September 7

The first two volumes are collections of his short comics, mostly originally published in the Guardian as part of his literary series. They're good. They have the heightened starkness of Jason and the deadpan intelligence of Edward Gorey.

The latter two are booklength narratives that excel in quiet. Silence is one of the great powers of comics, and Gauld has almost weaponized it. These odes to loneliness, to being an outsider, to calm consideration---they're peaceful even when they are wrought.

I'm fond of his work.
evening, day, afternoon, afternoon (respectively


081) Educated by Tara Westover, finished September 12

I can't think of a "Mormon book" that's made this big of a splash. Maybe ever. Amazon's top recommendation? President Obama gave it a recommendation? That never happened to Scholar of Moab.... So I suppose I was in some sense obliged to pick it up. But if Lynsey hadn't read it as part of an online book club, I would have just kept waiting for it to show up in a Little Free Library.

I think my favorite aspect of the book is how Westover made transparent her efforts to be accurate in writing the story of her childhood onward. Footnotes that lay out the variances in different character's memories give the book an honest sheen that most memoirs simply do not have for me.

One of my instinctive reactions is similar to how I reacted to Elna Baker's memoir: I'm frustrated by how a character who is growing seems to have no access to intelligent faithful Mormons in their moments of need. At BYU (and in Manhattan) there are numerous concourses of such people, yet they're just not there. In Baker's case, she seemed to avoid Mormons when she was shaky; Westover, on the other hand, having had such a "conservative" upbringing had already drawn her to people who were likely to tell her unhelpful things. Given the ties she had to cut, however, it's hard to imagine there were many pathways where the Church did not become collateral damage.

The writing itself is simple, clean, and readable. I don't know how natural it is for her to write this way, but she and her team put together some wonderful prose.

On a personal note, this book hit close to home. I don't know anyone quite like her family, but she's local to me. Franklin County is next door to Bear Lake County---the Bear River runs right past her homestead. The nearest town was the same town Napoleon Dynamite lives in (although Westover kindly refers to it by a historical name), and we all know how much I identify with that bit of Idahoiana.

The greatest bit of Idaho she accomplishes, however, is the dialect. I often want to write Idaho, but I can't get the words to sound right. Tara Westover nails it. That's just how my family talks.

It's also heartbreaking to see how cut off our corner of Idaho is from the rest of the world. My own hometown, when I enter it, looks essentially identical to its appearance when I left, thirty-one years ago. A healthy town changes in three decades. You feel nostalgia for what was. My nostalgia is for what does not have the economic health to grow and change. Although I never met any hardcore fans of the apocalypse and was never treated by homeopathics, it fits; it makes sense.

So I think my primary feeling is one of shared tragedy, although mine is far less violent. And I thank her for sharing.
about two weeks





Logan Lucky (2017)

We ended June watching Ocean's 8 and Ocean's Eleven and the first hour of this movie. Finished in July. Hello, July!

One interesting thing is that it has a final-act introduction of an investigator ala Ocean's 8. I don't know if it is inherently better or worse, but it's not as strong as the rest of the movie---opposite problem of Ocean's 8. I do like the misdirection and the clever bit of twisting around at the end. The accents made it hard to understand everything that was said. Lady Steed liked the movie a lot more than I did (I'm still undecided) and is wanting to watch it again to try and decipher some pieces now that we know how it ends.

Some things definitely weren't answered. For instance, did the white gang leader get a payout? If not, why not? What about Joe Bang's brothers? I'm guessing now, but I'm not clear. Maybe only if Joe gives them some?

Maybe there's a bunch of explanatory stuff on Quora or Reddit I can seek out....

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Holds up. Caught a minor continuity error and it's much more bittersweet having seen Infinity War, but it's still charming and fun and smart. Comparing Cate Blanchett here to Ocean's 8 just emphasizes how wasted she was there.

Although Black Panther is a strong contender, for my money, this is the best score Marvel's done to date.

The Disaster Artist (2017)

So no, I have not seen The Room. But I enjoyed this movie immensely just on the knowledge I have. I like how it balanced being able to laugh at people while still making us empathize with them.

It's really terrific. We laughed a lot. And we felt some pain. I'm happy to report the most painful moment in the film (for me) was not factual, but it's a good example of why sticking straight with facts isn't always the most truthful option.

The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

I missed big chunks of this because I was doing some parenting (appropriate). Although immensely enjoyable, this is by no means a favorite Batman film of mine. However, the Nolan and Burton films do not have any lines half so hilarious as the best lines of this film. Really. Some of the best one-liners in recent history.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

I like so much about this movie, but it's not better than the first movie and doesn't do all that much that's new. Although Michelle Pfeiffer looks great and I would buy her toy as seen in the credits.

It was awesome, though, the audience's reaction to THAT post-credits sequence. That was great.

Finding Dory (2016)

I missed half or more, but my impressions are the same. Good with great moments, inferior to Nemo.

Sorry to Bother You (2018)

What a great movie! And I love this new trend of Oakland starring in movies. I guess I need to go see Blindspotting next.

The film is as smart and strange and clever as its trailer promised. Actually, more so. The problem with the film is that it's got so many clever pieces it sometimes forgets about the shape of the film as a whole. Or, in other words, it's twenty-some minutes too long and has a hard time finding its ending. It took me ten minutes after leaving the theater to realize it was the correct ending, but that may be because the ending took too long coming.

Also, there's a practical effect (the mere existence of which I appreciate) which reminds me of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. And makes me realize why digital has become so pervasive. But I'm still glad it's practical. I think it's more effective than digital would be.

One way to think of this movie---much of it, not all---is Idiocracy but in the present day.

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)

I was moved throughout. I don't really remember MisteRogers' Neighborhood that well, but because I get weepy every time he shows up on my social-media feeds, I'm sure he made a big impact on me. And I know enough about him to know that he was a swell guy. But WYBMN gives the most sweeping look at him I've ever encountered. And it's wonderful.

We took my parents and sister with us and they also left full of admiration for the man. Whoever it was that suggested this film be shown in LDS wards to teach ministering was right.

But also, we should all watch it, as humans, to become better with children, and to calm our own urges to interrupt.

The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)

Fred MacMurray is so good at stuff like this, it's impossible to understand how Double Indemnity even exists.

This film is aging just fine. My kids enjoyed it immensely. Its over-the-top slapstick that never gets old, if done well, and some of the jokes seem at least as sharp now as they ever could have in 1961: "I'm an American! See it? My credit cards!" (The absent-minded professor, however, it seems to me, should never be trusted with credit cards. Egad.)

In short, worth revisiting and passing down to the next generation.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

I've been wanting to see this movie since it was first announced stateside and I've probably checked it out of the library at least six times, but only now did we finally watch it. And: wow.

First, the art was as lovely as I expected, but there was an unexpected effect to the simply composed art. My eyes felt relaxed. Watching films can be so taxing, but this movie allowed my eyes to settle into the whitespace and simple lines and natural compositions. They could relax.

But the film itself is not simple. It kept complicating as it betrayed my expectations. It's not a quiet or easy film. In a way, it would have been easier had my kids not watched it, but now it has left them with some heady themes to grapple with. That must be good.

It's a beautiful film, even when it is displaying ugliness. And it is a warm film even when it is wading through disappointment or error or deceit. People make mistakes. We can still love them. Or, at least, not hate them.

Incidentally, if you're liking to give a film a rich Mormon reading, try this on for size. You'll have plenty to consider.

Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

I had a curious reaction to this, my third viewing. On the one hand, the film felt overlong. On the other hand, all those moments that made it overlong felt layered with symbols I had never seen before. Falling phalluses, Calcifer becoming Donne's flea. And because of its length, I had time to really think about all the Miyazaki elements that recur again and again and to consider what they are doing here, this time: amorphous black creatures, cascading feathers, magical old women, flying humans, pseudo-Victoriana, flying machines, smoke and steam, beautiful androgynous men.

Both those lists can go on and on, of course. Miyazaki is a true auteur in the sense that all his work is part of one great whole.

And that whole is so great it's rather difficult to hold onto it all at once.

Dunkirk (2017)

Such an amazing movie. Amazing. I've already praised Mark Rylance who deserves special recognition in a film where everyone is excellent. This time though, let's give a nod to Hans Zimmer whose score melds so perfectly with the sound design. Sometimes it's not clear if that's orchestra or footsteps, orchestra or warship. And that pulsing uncertainty helps us feel for the soldiers.

Also, if I haven't already mentioned it already, props to the editing. This film wouldn't work without exquisite editing and that's what we have. Swish it around with the sound and we're unsettled at all times but clarity is also available around the corner. For instance the cut near the ends that seems like a dream sequence but is not. That's the result of careful coordination between seeing and hearing, knowing the history of film and understanding the film you're building.

It's a remarkable work of art.

Also worth pointing out: Lady Steed, who was utterly uninterested in this film until we saw Darkest Hour, was moved. Stunned, really, for about an hour after it ended. We haven't seen Shape of Water yet, but she's appalled it beat out Dunkirk for Best Picture.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

Nonstop action, yes. Less tech but a tricky use of the classic face. The two female leads could have been more dissimilar for legibility. That would have been nice.

The politics of superagents is complicated and troubling, of course, and the MI film address that. The use of the CIA here was a hard thumb. But it was the throwaway lines about a fictional president that I found most unsettling this goround. Fictional presidents have always been an average president. But one outlier can change the nature of "average" quite a bit.

Tom Cruise is again well. At the beginning of the film, he looked my age. The film sure did a number on him though....

Porco Rosso (1992)

I wanted to revisit this on Kohl's recommendation. I had a fever as I watched it so who knows if I saw it accurately, but it doesn't make my top-five Miyazaki films.

It came out two years after TaleSpin and there are some remarkable similarities. I wonder if Miyazaki ever saw Disney Afternoon--?

Your Name. (2016)

What an amaaazing movie! I was expecting to be amazed and so, of course, at first, I was not. I liked the way it set up the situation. Then I was confused. This happened a lot. In part because this is many more kinds of movie than I expected. It kept changing on me, even restructuring the world as I understood it, which is a dangerous thing to do. Few better ways to turn your audience against you, of course, unless you are earning an extraordinary amount of respect.

One trick, I realize, is that changing the rules should explain something that previously had not made sense. You give people one card, you can take away five. It's magic and misdirection.

One of the big surprises is that, for a movie about teenagers, this film has a much broader-than-usual sense of how long life really is. And it manages to nod to many tropes while becoming something truly new.

My Neighbro Totoro (1988)

I don't think I can argue there is a movie made that is objectively "better" than Totoro. Of course, I also think that there as a certain category, GREAT, in which better/worse judgments hold no meaning, so all I'm really saying is that Totoro is a GREAT movie. But it's true: Totoro is a GREAT movie.

I wasn't watching very closely the first half, coming in permanently at the rain scene, but what other movie could make me cry is pain and sorrow and joy in such rapid succession?

It's such an honest movie, and it won't let us forget what it is to be children. Which I, for one, seem to have made a life goal.

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

I had always assumed Young Frankenstein was based on the first two Universal films, but then I read a story that said the first three and especially #3. Having finally watched Son of Frankenstein, it is certainly true.

First, although this Igor looks nothing like that Igor, this is the first time that name makes a debut and this assistant (played by Bela Legosi) is the first to play a truly major role.

Second, the Inspector finally made a distinct appearance. And I was shocked how almost directly lifted he is. My kids laughed at some of the same moments that they've never seen in Young Frankenstein but which are funny here as well, in a less exaggerated appearance.

Third, the plot is pretty dang similar. And this is the first, best I know, to address the name confusion.

As a movie, it's not bad. The creature is less sympathetic, but he's not the antagonist either. He's almost an afterthought in his own movie. HIs death is the most gruesome and the most seeming-difficult to bounce back from, but hey! He's done it before! Now: on to Ghost of Frankenstein.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The new print was beautiful.

Although I was too sick to be sitting for a three-hour movie, I think I can still say it improves with each viewing.

And now I'm back to seeing it more times in theaters than without. I'm not sure I'll be motivated to watch it without again.

9 to 5 (1980)

I finally felt the need to see this because a sequel's been announced. We're talking a forty-year gap, which is crazy, but I thought I might as well finally watch it.

Of course, I know plenty about it, but it didn't play out just as I expected. But with charming leads, that hardly matters. I was along for the ride.

The biggest surprise is now ... moderate the Dabney Coleman character is. I'm not making excuses for him, but I assumed that for a man to count as a notable cad in 1980 he would have to be much worse than the fellow here. Honestly, he's just a couple steps beyond what I would expect normal 1980 office boss to be. So good on those women for being fully aware of how lousy he is.

The Saratov Approach (2013)

It took me a while to finally see this, but now I have. And I liked it. It relied on a couple techniques I don't like, but used them well. I don't know how "accurate to the real events" it might be, but I don't care that much. I really liked the solution to the problem, which was aesthetic and apparently, the movie wants me to believe, what really happened. So that's great.

I'm still not sure, however, what the title means. I think it was just to make us imagine it was based on a Robert Ludlum novel....

Everybody Street (2013)

The Big O will be watching this film sometime this year as part of his photography class. The syllabus made it sound outre enough that we decided to prescreen it. Lady Steed found it beyond the pale. I thought it was fine. I think this largely comes of how much more time I spend at a high school than she does.

The film brought in quite a few photographers, but ultimately it was a little tired because of its New York fetishism. According to Everything Street, the only place in the world street photography can really be done is in New York City. I'm so over that attitude. Get over yourself, New York. Geez.

NOTE: I'm not sure why I included Finding Dory but not Son of Flubber (1963) or Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1992) when I probably watched/heard as much of them. Such are life's little mysteries.

Previous films watched

jan feb mar apr may jun jul&aug sep oct nov dec







Unfinished Books:
Fascinating 19th-century American Women


Mrs. Sherlock Holmes was advertised to me by my library's website. As I was at the time a bit bored in my Devil in the White City reread (a book that utterly enraptured me the first time through), I put it on hold to arrive as school ended. This move was also influenced by why I was doing the reread: Lady Steed's book group was reading Devil and one of the members had complained to us how the book treated females. One female architect who was driven insane, and most of the other women ended up murdered and melted down. Not exactly a great work of inspiring feminism. A crackerjack female detective roughly contemporary to Devil sounded like just the thing.

The book arrived and, unfortunately, I went on a poetry4567813 and comics123910111214151617181920 tear. So even though we ended up having the book for nine weeks --- practically the entire summer --- I never cracked it open. Sad face.

The second book, Trials of a Scold, was in some ways even more promising. A muckraker before there were muckrakers, a satirist in a young country, a woman without a clear place in society who decided to become a creature of letters, and who pissed off the rich and powerful in the process. She was eventually found guilty of being a "scold" using an old bit of English common law some lawyer dug up just to try and shut her up.

Unfortunatly, the book is a chronological mess and was tough to read. She's poor and unpublished then in the next paragraph she's famous and just off being convicted of being a scold. It's hard to follow and in the end, I decided the library could just have the book back. Let me know when the movie arrives. Sad face.


Space Cat! Mormon missionaries! Batman! Eldritch gods!


069) Space Cat Visits Venus by Ruthven Todd, finished August 19

Just as enjoyable as the first although, now that we are below the obstructuve clouds of Venus, Todd is happy to let his imagination run wild. HOWEVER, my mileage varied a bit. As our heroes were surrounded by sentient plants, I was hella creeped out because it does not take much in the way of willful plants to send me back to the world of Scott Smith's The Ruins.

My kids have started reading these books now too and they're digging them. On to Mars!
one day


070) Served: A Missionary Comic Anthology edited by Theric Jepson & Mike Laughead & al., finished August 22

Yes, I've been working on this for almost two years, but this is the first time I've read the whole things straight through (including one story I hadn't seen yet in its entirety). My pneumonia worries me that I didn't do the best job proofreading (I left some of the most difficult pages for later), but even reading backwards, I laughed and cried. So that bodes well.


071) Precious Rascals by Anthony Holden, finished August 24

The last time I read this, I hid it away. I wanted my kids to read it but I also didn't want them to destroy it. Someone they found it and it's been travelling from hands to hands about the house for a while now and it's still in surprisingly good shape. And, good news, it holds up to rereading.
three days


072) The Peanuts' Guide To Life by Charles M. Schulz (sort of), finished August 25

My mother-in-law gave me this book for my birthday from her box o' presents. You can tell it's older because it has an introduction by Bill Cosby. (Cosby and another EdD, apparently to help make sure the intro would be as boring and soulless as possible?) The new edition was given a new introduction.

These Hallmark-published giftbooks are a weird breed. A couple comics, then a lot of sentences and images ripped from their original moorings to become a "Guide to Life."

I guess it's, you know, cute. And in the tradition of Happiness Is a Warm Puppy, but srsly. Don't you have the stamina to read a volume of the Complete? Give that a try!


073) Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham by Mike Mignola et al., finished August 28

Mike Mignola and his team have crossed Batman with Lovecraftian Mythos and come up with something that delivers on both counts. We start at the mountains of madness and we meet our first villain from the gallery, ol' Cobblepot who, naturally, has taken up living with the penguins. Mr Freeze is also there. Eventually we will meet Poison Ivy in a radically new interpretation, Killer Croc (ditto), Harvey Dent. Ra's and Talia are much the same.

One thing I quite liked was having all three Robins (Dick, Jason, Tim) at the same time.

Anyway, eldritch horrors are coming to Gotham and only Bruce Wayne is in position to stop them. Luckily he has Etrigan to help him, but otherwise, it's pretty much just Batman.

There's lots of good Greatest Detective stuff in the mix here, which is nice given otherwise it's a lot of supernatural whatsit---it helps the balance.

Overall, it's a pretty unsettling story, but clean and short and reasonably satisfying. I'm surprised it manages so much so well in so short a space. I think it could have been even better at 150% the length, but no complaints. Good stuff.
one sitting