♬ A film-watch together with youuuuuu ♬


The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

I saw the movie once, shortly after it arrived on vhs, on the egregiously joyful recommendation of a friend, and I did not like it. How much of this is the movie's fault is hard to say. I am, at times, a traditionalist. The Muppets playing characters other than themselves bothered me. I didn't like that Kermit and Piggy had girl-pig and boy-frog kids.

And I think I was particularly upset that the movie existed. I was still in mourning over the loss of Jim Henson and it just didn't seem right.

Add to all this that I was a moody teenager and perhaps it was inevitable that I would need to dislike a cheerful recommendation. Who can say.

Anyway. Haven't seen it since. Until tonight. December 5, 2020.

For a long time, I assumed people who loved this movie had just happened to see it young enough or at just-the-right-moment enough to overlook its flaws. But the last couple years I've been noticing that the love and respect was too broad to explain away so easily. It was time to watch it.

I meant to make this happen last year, but it didn't. Maybe it was good to wait. The Muppet Christmas Carol-is-good people not only were singing this year, but the made it official with a solidly written essay which even Guillermo Del Toro endorsed.

When I finally sat down to read it, it caught my attention right away and never let go.

And now, having rewatched it, I endorse it.

Michael Caine, for one thing, is a marvel. I think he was one of my complaints first go-round, but his choices and mere presence---the tears in his eyes---are so powerful. I teared up so many times---often in sync with him.

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is, I won't mind if this becomes a tradition.

The Sadist (1963)

I forget exactly how I bumped into the real-life story this is based on earlier this week, but it eventually led me to this film---the first made on their story, which would go on to inspire such films as Kalifornia and Natural Born Killers which, if you have not seen the same 90s films I have not seen, you have not seen.

Anyway, I was intrigued so I gave it a watch. And you know what? It's pretty good!

I was immediately struck by the similarities with Psycho. I had the dates mixed up in my mind, and I was trying to decide how certain I was that Hitchcock had seen this film as I watched. It starts with the psychological explanation, rather tha ends with it. It mostly takes place in rural California (here, just two locations, and one for the bulk of the film). I thought it was about to try and switch our allegiance from the nice people to the evil people, but it didn't go that far. And the first murder, even though we see it coming from miles away, it shockingly brutal in its split-second.

The acting was pretty good for a cheap picture. The old teacher, the female teacher, and the female criminal were terrific (though I'm not sure the criminal was that great an actress---she just did well what she was asked. The other leads are good enough, though the sadist himself is all kinds of B-movie melodramtic. He has moments of greatness but if all the acting was like his this would have been a very silly movie indeed. (The cops were terrible.)

If you're into this sort of thing, I think you'll like this entry. (But don't take it from me! Here's Joe Dante!)

Me, I'm just stoked it tried to do something interesting with baseball. I think I may be collecting movies that try to do something interesting with baseball.

Fun fact! To save money, they used real ammunition!

Up (2009)

The family started watching this while I was still in a faculty meeting so I missed, oh, the first twenty minutes maybe? Which is a shame because the beginning of Up includes one of the greatest short sequences in film history.

But, weirdly, I'm kind of glad I missed it. I don't think I've seen the film through since I saw it at Pixar before it came out (though I have seen that opening many times). And while I liked it, the bulk of the movie with its silly bird and its silly dog and its flamboyant Hollywood villain just seemed ... less, compared to the power of the opening.

Missing that masterly opening means I was able to just watch the rest of the film without making the comparison afresh. And it's a pretty great movie, the rest of Up. The score is brilliant, the shape of the story is fun, the measuring out of revelations and subsequent growth of the characters moves.

What's not to like?

Are there any other movies, part of which is so great, that we forget the rest of the film is also good?

Incidentally, maybe it's just because it's December and because I just read a nice essay on it, but don't you find this, thematically, sibling to It's a Wonderful Life?

our dvd
Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas (2014)

Wow this is bad.

It's based on both the movie (which I know well) and the Broadway musical (which I am vaguely aware exists) but reimaged as a stopmotion tv special, twice as long as a normal special and half as good.

Have you ever read a Little Golden Book based on a Disney movie? You know the specific way in which those are bad? That's a pretty good approximation for what is wrong here.

Amazon Prime
Get Out (2017)

So this is my ... third time seeing this movie? (Yes: one and two.)

In my mind, over the last 2½ years since I last saw it, I have come to view it as a true modern masterpiece. This time didn't change my mind, but (thanks to exposure) I'm starting to notice a lot of details that are pretty projectory now that I know the story. Like a poster in Ruth's bedroom that says Chris is dead. And hella bits o' dialogue. And I hadn't realized that our friend LaKeith Stanfield was the fellow upducted in scene one. I would watch him in anything.

Anothing thing I hadn't picked up on is that the film includes a scene of monolouging---it's so well incorporated I didn't even notice until the third viewing!

Anyway, I guess my point is: Well constructed film!

classroom dvd
A Raisin in the Sun (2008) × 2

This was one of the last high-profile, big-event tv movies before tv movie was more or less just subsumed into "movie"; except for cheesy holiday movies, does the distinction even exist anymore? I'm honesty not sure it does.
The other big thing about this movie was the serious acting debut of the erstwhile P. Diddy. He aquits himself well here. He doesn't have the gravitas of the other actors surrounding him who are truly excellent, but he imitates good acting very well indeed. (Although the classic made-for-tv smile to close the picture was a bit embarrassing.)

John Stamos in his brief role gets the same criticism. The rest of the cast is exemplary.

That said, and maybe this was made using the legendary unfilmed screenplay, but I like the play as written better. Specifically, I prefer the constraint of sticking to the apartment. Only hearing about a racist grocer or wealthy employers is better than seeing them because, then, when John Stamos's white face suddenly appears onscreen (in an appropriately funky way) it should be as startling as possible. And anything that dilutes that moment strikes me as an error.

library dvd
BlacKkKlansman (2018)

This was a strange movie to watch.

It's an absolute pleasure, a delight. Well made and fun. Propulsive and thrilling and funny.

And never, at any moment, can you forget that it is real. Not just that it is a true story, but that it is now. And none of the reminders is heavyhanded because, well, it's just words that people actually say, isn't it? On the street, on Twitter, from the White House.

The 2017 footage clipped in at the end, for punctuation, is painful and brought up the tears.

It's a picture of hope---and a picture that reminds you that hope will never be enough and action must never end.

What a film.

Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)

Let's see. The songs are bad. The Ghost of Christmas Present arrived before the Ghost of Christmas Past for no apparent reason (switched reels?). And they don't seem to be aware of what makes Mr. Magoo funny. (Although, to be fair, I've never seen a Mr. Magoo that was much for funny. Maybe he just never is?)
On the bright side, some of the character design was pretty great. Specifically, the way Belle walked and the generic but still effective Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

The bookmarking conceit is Magoo is playing Scrooge on Broadway (I guess to excuse a popular cartoon character playing a rank bastard?) but except for occasional breaks for clapping, nothing about the film makes sense as a stage play.

Also, why is Gerald McBoing-Boing playing Tiny Tim? Especially without his sound effects? Is it that difficult to make some original character design for prime-time television?

I suppose I'll give it a break for being the first anitmated Christmas tv special but I'm not watching it next year.

our dvd
Elf (2003)

In my mind, I had already slotted Elf for the third slot, but it had a good year!

Home Alone (1990)

It wasn't my idea to watch this movie and I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but give Chris Columbus his due---he has made one good movie.

I didn't need Schitt's Creek to tell me how great Catherine O'Hare is, but I'm not sure I ever really realized before just how much she emotionally anchors this movie. She makes the movie work.

But something else I noticed, certainly for the first time, is how much of a Christmas movie this is. And not just because it takes place over Christmas and has feel-good pro-family vibes. For instance, Kevin ordeal ends on the morning of the third day. And not one but two characters have stigmata---but only the honest bleeder gets to play savior.

What got me thinking about the christological stuff was the sudden realization that this film is a bizarro hero's journey. Kevin stays home but the world leaaves him. And, when the come back, he is a new and changed person.

I guess the lesson is a well crafted movie can can always provide new pleasures.

Noelle (2020)

The nondiegetic songs really got on my nerves and there were a couple minor stumbles with pacing, but no movie part of this year's Christmas series has made me cry so much.

And I think maybe we've figured out how to hybrid live action and obvious cg finally? In a cartoony sort of way, I mean? I think the reindeer wroked, is what I mean? I'm curious, if we watch it again, if growing nostalgia will cement my opinion of it or if it's flaws will deepen into cracks. I suspect the former, but time will tell!

Anyway, if we still have access to it next year I want to rewatch it simply because my daughter turned to me at a pivotal moment and said, "She can't be Santa! She's a girl!" I'ld rather she not see that as a barrier, you know?

our dvd
Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Lately I keep watching movies in terms of references and referents. For instance, I'm pretty sure the new Addams Family movie and maybe Napoleon Dynamite draw on Edward Scissorhands.

And it draws on Whale's Frankenstein more that I'd realized before. That final fight is straight from the mill, just defamiliarized as the identity of the monster changes midbattle.

And so on.

Anyway. We forced the kids to watch it as a Christmas movie and they liked it even though they all said it looked too scary to even attempt. Took some persuading but Mom and Dad were right again.

Amazon Prime
Babes in Toyland (1934)

It appears online as often as March of the Wooden Soldiers as this title but Wikipedia makes me believe this is the better title for the full film. Feel free to disagree.

In possibly related news, only the colorizes version seems to stream for free. Don't know what THAT's about.

Although it was a fun watch, I certainly didn't like it enough to make it any sort of tradition. That said, it does have AMAZING sequences like this:

Don't try this today. Disney'll be down your esophagus so fast with more lawyers than you knew could breathe is such a tight space.

Amazon Prime
A Simple Favor (2018)

Lady Steed and I saw the trailer for this in front of something else, I think. Anyway, it was a killer trailer and we were shocked we'd never heard of such a recent looks-good movie. Good cast, good director, etc. So we added it to our watchlist but then didn't think too much about it. But then it kept reappearing on the BW/DR twitter stream making me think it must actually be good.

Anway, we've finally seen it and: it is good.

It really marks the boxes: Does it have appealing leads? Yes. Does it keep you guessing? Yes. Does it use form as well as content to keep that guessing going? It sure does!

Anyway, is it a missing-persons movie? Is it a psychopath movie? Is it a murder-mystery movie? Is it a con-game movie?


Amazon Prime
Midsommar (2019)

So, first of all, it was all I was promised and more. And the shocking ending wasn't the shock I was anticipating. That shock came over and over and over throughout the two-and-a-half-hour runtime! No, the real shock was the protagonist's catharsis! That's right! The big shock was catharsis! And, even more shocking, like catharsis generally, it was pretty beautiful! Crazy.

Anyway, Lady Steed very much regrets watching it. The expected shocks were gruesome. Incredibly gruesome. Most gruesome she's ever seen, she says, and certainly up there for me. And yet. The context---especially for the first grue---is so different from where we've been led to expect such things.

Part of this is the midnight sun. Although a couple scenes take place after dark, generally it's noon all the time---the brightness and greenness and liveliness make the whole horror concept defamiliarized. Normally, you would expect this sort of horrible thing to be relegated to primitives in darkest southeast Asia or the Amazon. Or maybe in a dark forest peopled by wacky Puritans.

But enough of that. It's a good movie. But: CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.

(Incidentally, anyone know what the Swedes think of it?)

Amazon Prime
The Farewell (2019)

I knew the story yet somehow I still thought it would be ... funnier? Funny moments, sure, but not a funny film. Warm and lovely and true and lived-in but not funny.

I also didn't expect so much deliberate artiness. The birds are a good example. I didn't know it would be that kind of film. And it was possible to forget for long stretches that it was, but it most certainly was. It's a film that wants to reward you if you rewatch a fifth time.

I suppose I should also maybe admit that although it was good and I admired it, it wasn't the knock-me-down-and-clean-me-up-with-a-dust-mop experience I'd anticipated.

All of which is to say I had massive expectations---massive and much to specific. Let that be a lesson to us all.

And if I see it again, knowing what to expect, I'll do much better, thank you.

Fshare TV
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

After a year of begging, son #2 was finally granted his turn to see the Holy Grail. It was tricky because pandemic and mother won't let son #3 see it but bedtimes are askew etc etc.

Anyway, it's good. The police thing which I disliked the most on first viewing grows on me as time continues.

our dvd
Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Now that I know Cyd Charisse recorded the music that Debbie Reynolds seems to sing for Cyd Charisse, it's not that hard to tell when we're hearing which voice---even though I don't really know Cyd Charisse's non-Lena voice.

It's interesting, as I age, that the scene that bored me when I first fell in love with this movie ("Broadway Rhythm") does not more me anymore. It still seems a trifle long and out of place, but I don't really mind. I enjoy it. And I've started looking at the extras and sets in new ways. Fun stuff.

Familiarity breeds familiarity, as it ends up.

Incidentally, speaking of familiarity, as "Moses Supposes" was running, I got to wondering what the most seen dance routine of all time might be. It would likely be from a much watched movie, but the routine would be the most-watched excerpt from that film. Seems likely something from Singin' in the Rain will fit that bill. And while "Moses Supposes" is terrific, "Surely Make 'em Laugh" is more watched without the movie?

But as I thought about it, I think the most likely candidated from Singin' in the Rain is "Singin' in the Rain." So that's my guess.

That said, now that we're deep into the YouTube era it's entirely possible that an outside candidate like the Nicholas Brothers may eventually win the day. But this is something we can never actually know.

(For what it's worth, the baby, this being her first viewing, upon the end of the film, immediately asked to see "Make 'em Laugh" a second time, followed by "Singin' in the Rain.")

Amazon Prime
The Court Jester (1955)

Whenever I watch Singin' in the Rain I then want to watch more Donald O'Connor movies and then I always think of The Court Jester which I have heard is a favorite of many childhoods after which I either remember or in the process of looking it up rediscover that no no no that's not Donald O'Connor, that's Danny Kaye!

Anyway, it was expiring on Prime at midnight so I thought what the heck. Maybe the kids would like this too.

(It got some laughs.)

Anyway, it's gleefully ludicrous in several ways including musical and Technicolor extravaganza and midcetunry costume. It was pretty fun though, even without a childhood nostalgia for it. Plus, there was plenty to enjoy. Lines from Shakespeare. Bits that I recognized from later movies (example). Endless cliches delightedly embraced. Baby birthmarks. Tonguetwistery dialogue. And a young Mrs Banks whom I have only before known as a blonde mother.

In short, it's a giant pile of stupid toppling forward but the fellow holding it manages to keep running fast enough to stay under.

Previous films watched










Two more books with two hours to spare


114) You're My Hero, Charlie Brown! by Charles M. Schulz, finished December 31

This is a paperback collection of Sundays---the copyrights listed run from 1958 to 1961. Unfortunately, I don't want to put the book on the scanner and risk breaking its back so you'll just have to imagine what I'm saying, but I want to talk about one thing I really love about these more deliberate mass-market, mid-century paperbacks.

So each spread is on Sunday strip. But no title (PEANUTS) and the individual panels are scattered across the two pages. But not randomly---quite pleasingly---and the panel borders are fluid in a way you might associate more with peak Calvin and Hobbes. It appears Schulz added additional lines so the landscapes slip out past the panel borders. And there are purely decorative lines which make the white space feel designed rather than empty.

This collection is a peak example of what's best about these books. You can find one, if you look.

about ten days


115) S is for Silence by Sue Grafton, finished December 31

I said in R that Grafton seemed to be trying new things and I was hopeful she'd continue. I'm pleased to report she is continuing.

Here she's experimenting with the form that's served her well this entire time. Kinsey Millhone writes her adventures herself and there has been strict attention to that point-of-view restriction. But chapter one of S is a thirty-four-year-old flashback. And more flashbacks of the same age appear throughout the story.

The first one seems to make sense as a possible Kinsey-recreation, but many of them just come off as pure violations of the assumption Kinsey wrote all these words. I would be outraged at this cheating except that this might be the most exciting Kinsey novel so far.

So all I really want to say is props to Sue for not just floating a river of gravy and continuing to push herself.

(Although I suppose I should admit here that the final resolution was an action-packed sequence quite similar to some novel-enders we've seen before. But hey! Don't break everything at once, right?)

under ten days



Lost Songs: "101 Dalmatians"


This was among a stack of record storybooks my siblings and I inherited from some older cousins and it was one of the better ones. We listened to it so much that when my parents picked up the movie on VHS, it was disorienting not to have the theme song in the movie!

It's still a song I sing with some regularity---it's certainly in the internal jukebox and it's ready to drop at any time.

I just heard the song again at a website I bumped into thanks to some link hopping earlier in the day (did you know Mickey's Christmas Carol started life as a record?); the first bit of nostalgia I chose to look for was this record. I listened to the first minute or so then skipped ahead to the songs (it also features a version of "Cruella de Ville").

Anyway, I don't have much else to say about it. The song starts around the 5:30 mark.


After posting the above, I went and started moseying around and started finding other vital childhood documents, perhaps including the most vital from-a-record-storybook song of them all, "Carrot Stew."

Not only is this still in the jukebox, it has become a my-own-family standard. Any time a liquid food features carrots: "Carrot Stew." Any time we read one of our two copies of this Little Golden Book: "Carrot Stew." Any time a three-syllable noun phrase requires special emphasis: "Carrot Stew."

It's a banger.

And don't miss other fine numbers such as the Lion's I-want song---really, the whole thing's worth a listen. You probably have a copy of Tawny Scrawny around your house already (and if not, you should).


These books we read. What are they for?


109) Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville, finished December 15

I picked up this nice lil fancy copy of Bartleby some years ago---I think for free? It's a 1997 edition with a bunch of photographs of old Wall Street and a clear acetate dustjacket. Striking book.

Still, really, Bartleby is a longish short story, even in a book with photos and larger type more or less qualifies it for the list.

Like any reading American, I've been aware of Bartleby as long as I can remember and I know Bartleby's famous line. I didn't know, however, how uncanny the book would be. It felt more like reading Arthur Conan Doyle or Edgar Allen Poe than Moby Dick, honestly. I kept expecting a deliberate turn into the weird.

And I didn't know how it ended! In retrospect, I don't know how else it could have ended, but I had no idea.

In short, I really liked it. And I don't regret my exhaustion today, starting it so late and finishing it all at once.

It's a perfect little thing.

over midnight

110) Take It Easy, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz, finished December 19
This was a weird one in that there was a real attempt at curation but it resulted in weird chunks of stories and themes in unbalanced sizes. Not the finest introduction to Peanuts in my opinion.
nine days
111) The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill, finished December 19

My one two third adult read! This time it was the daughter's turn, having missed the first two reads.

This reading began because, after reading to her and saying prayer, she asks me to tell her stories. For months it's been stories about Bitty and Betty and Booty (if I'd known they would franchise, I would have spent more time on the names), but lately she's taken to asking for stories of when I was little. And, one day, she asked about books I liked as a kid and The Hotel Cat came up. It had recently returned from a lending to a nearby nine-year-old and thus was out anyway. Plus, the new Pogo was not just comics---a bunch of essays and stuff---and she wasn't digging it. So The Hotel Cat moved in.

For a while, we were reading a chapter a night, but then we missed a night or she couldn't make it through a chapter or this or that. It didn't matter much. I don't think she was much invested in the story. She mostly cared about identifying the cats as they appeared in illustrations.

I, however, was quite invested in the story. I got weepy when Tom was fully welcomed by the other cats. And, my 2011 protest notwithstanding, I think there must be some terrible unidentified loneliness at my core.

maybe three weeks
112) Snoopy and His Sopwith Camel by Charles M. Schulz, finished December 20

I get why people like these books (Happiness Is a Warm Puppy being the first): brightly colored pages, the "good parts" excised from the rest of what makes Peanuts Peanuts, doesn't take long to read...but I would rather read The Complete again, myself.
one bedtime
113) R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton, finished December 22

This was an interesting one for a couple reasons. First, the title is purely metaphorical. But second, and more intriguingly, this is a crime novel but is it still a mystery novel?

I suspect Grafton set herself an artistic challenge with R---namely to reveal the mystery upfront and then attempt to still build suspense and excitement, etc. We're not in any doubt who the bad guy is or what he's done. That's all been explained early on.

And then, if all that weren't weird enough, Kinsey is barely an active character in this volume. She gets swept up and becomes a prop in someone else's hijinks. She only has one bit of sleuthing to do.

Her lack of agency in the main plot is balanced by the introduction of a new (and more suitable) romantic plotline, but this second-fiddle status wouldn't work book after book. 

Anyway, it was a fun read. Quite different. I'm looking forward to seeing if Grafton continues with her experimentation.

a small number of weeks



We have always lived in the end of the world


103) By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman, finished November 27

I'm a longtime fan of the film Bullwhip Griffin, one of the more interesting of the live-action Disney family films from the '60s and '70s and it didn't take me long to realize this novel was the inspiration. It had been placed in my hands by son #3 upon the completion of the second magic book and I was willing to try something new. His recommendations had been solid so far.

This book also was terrific. It didn't take me long to realize the movie had taken some liberalities and so I was able to let the book just be its own thing. And it is! No wonder it's still in print! No wonder it was granted new illustrations (by Brett Helquist, no less)!

Even, to my surprise, the final pages had an emotional impact.

So yeah. If you're looking for a wild and amusing Gold Rush novel, you could certainly read this one. (Plus, it's barely 200 pages.)

two months


104)  The End of the World by Don Hertzfeldt, finished November 28

Since I last read this book it has become such a valuable collector's thingey that it's been rereleased in a new edition which may be better, but I own the original, dammit, and I like it well enough.

Once again, this book is inspiring me to make me own. Will I? Dunno. Too many other projects that make more sense to pursue, but maybe?

Anyway, I like it.

 one sitting

105) Snoopy by Charles M. Schulz, finished December 10

First published in 1955, but not including anything from the original, rounder versions of the characters (though a couple of the strips still have a shorter-nosed Snoopy). A bit strange to read because it included individual strips from longer stories we'd recently read in other collections. The child often wanted to find the rest of the story early in the book but they were not there.

Delightful collection, though! Easily a dozen tshirts I would buy!

longer than you would think

106)  We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, finished December 10
(First, if you get the version with Jonathan Lethem's intro, save it till after you've read the book. It's worth reading but leave it alone! Read the book first!)

I love the novella as a form. We don't use it enough. It is the perfect length and a startling number of my favorite books are novellas.

Anyway, this is Shirley Jackson at her best. Smart and interior and dark and clear-eyes. But besides, say, "The Lottery," other comparisons that passed through my mind as I read include mother! and a weird sense of redemption.

In short, this is a haunted-house story without any ghosts. All the haunting is done by the living. That's all you need.

And every moment is prefect and unsettling.

a couple weeks or so

107) Grace Like Water by Merrijane Rice, finished December 12

I was sent this book by the author to review on Motley Vision which, sadly, is no longer a thing to do. I do intend to write some sort of more substantial review than you'll find here but where to send it is still uncertain.

Anyway, Rice wrote this in connection with Come, Follow Me when it was a New Testament year (ie, last year). This happens regularly. Really great works come out just after they would be most useful. Then, four years roll around, and it gets lost and insufficiently promoted just when people would be most interested. I anticipate this happening again to this fine volume of poetry.

Rice wrote at least a poem a week and thus her work follows the New Testament all the way through, with roughly equal distribution of poems to pages of scripture.

It has a solid variety of takes from the more literal to the most metaphorical, from the lived to the imagined, while remaining broadly accessible.

Set yourself a reminder now to buy one December 2022.

(Note: this is the first book from the Mormon Lit Lab which I recommend supporting.)

a hair over two months


108) The Lost 116 Pages: Reconstructing the Book of Mormon's Missing Stories by Dan Bradley, finished December 13

I was pretty exited to hear about this book. The idea that you could, using historical documents and the rest of the Book of Mormon, the missing pages sounds like an academic thriller for sure. I was skeptical that there was really enough information to fill a nearly 300-page book, but I was open to laugh at whatever I couldn't appreciate.

Then I started reading. I had been tempted to skip the first third of the book which is mostly nineteenth-century history---the translation, the losing of the plates, etc---and move right into the reconstructions, but I made myself start at the beginning and I instantly was glad. I'm a fairly well read Latter-day Saint. I think I know the basics of my Church history. But every page was filled with explosive (and documented) facts that I had missed. I'll share just one here:

There were more than 116 pages.

Hit me up if you want to know more. Or just buy the book.

When lockdown started one of the first things I did was buy a book for each of my parents as part of my attempt to keep them home. This is the volume I purchased for my father. No one takes as much pure pleasure from just rereading the Book of Mormon as my dad and I figured he would dig the wild facts I was discovering.

Coincidentally, my youngest brother had also recently purchased the book and it gave us all something to talk about.

The first third ends up being the most entertaining---the more academic reconstructions are also fun and exciting, but you will have to put the book down now and then to recuperate---watch a sitcom or something.

Largely this is because the the lost pages, by Bradley's estimation, are hella Jewish and so it requires learning a lot of Old Testament stuff from a new angle as well. I love that but it was a lot to pack in my brain. I'm forgotten all my favorite stuff and, alas, there aren't three months set aside in Sunday School to talk about the scripture we don't have. Would be fun if there were!

Anyway, I enjoyed this book immensely. Almost every claim which I began by thinking was ludicrous I ended thinking was probable or at least reasonable.

He'll give you an entirely new ache for the lost pages.

almost a year



Dexter: season four


I don't  usually write about tv. For a lot of reasons. 1) I don't really watch that much. 2) I'm hardly a completist. 3) I'm already writing too many words on books and movies and Mormon art. 4) Tv is a burden---so much time required and more being required all the time. Perhaps someday I'll regret not having a record of tv like I do of movies and books, but what's life without some regret. Surely I need more.

Anyway, I'm writing about Dexter season four for a few reasons. First, I recently read the original novel and liked it. Second, I had liked the first season when it appeared on CBS during the writers strike. Third, when this season was new, everyone constantly spoke of John Lithgow's excellent (and terrifying) performance. Fourth, like the novel, I happened upon the dvds in a Little Free Library.

Also like the book, it's been sitting in my classroom for a few years waiting for my attention. Somehow, time alone during covid campus in my empty classroom seemed like a good time to first read the book then watch the dvds during my lunches. Time well spent. (Though interrupted by other movies and other tv shows and a slewton of news reading.)

John Lithgow is as wonderful as advertised.

But, while I enjoyed the show overall, I did find a number of things annoying. The soap opera nonsense ---with the office romance, for instance. The bad policing (in more than one sense). And the talking-to-dad thing got old. It's a fine device, but they rely on it too much. And, perhaps most disappointing, Dexter's kills. I'm not sure what I would prefer, because the minimal violence is really my preference, but one of the best things about the novel was how important the kills were to Dexter---and they weren't the show's hammer-to-the-skull quick either, they were slow dissections, keeping the victim alive as long as possible, as Dexter tries to understand his compulsion. It would be horrible to watch and I would not enjoy it, but without that slowness the kills didn't have much meaning or purpose, imo.

Anyway, none of that is what led to me writing this post.

One of the annoyances to me early on was the relationship with Rita. Although I liked what they were attempting, it took most of the season for me to start believing in it. At that point, I was riveted, genuinely interested in what next steps they might take. This became, by far, the most exitting part of the season those last couple episodes---more than the live-saving or the life-ending.

And then

* * S * P * O * I * L * E * R * * A * L * E * R * T * *
* * S * P * O * I * L * E * R * * A * L * E * R * T * *
* * S * P * O * I * L * E * R * * A * L * E * R * T * *

Rita's murdered. Just like that. In the final moments of the season.

I went to Wikipedia and read plot recaps for the remaining seasons and, as I've mulled over it the last couple days, I've realized that this murder was a worse storytelling decision than I first realized.

My initial reaction was sadness because I had finally come to love Rita and was hoping for things to work as well as possible.

Then I was annoyed because what the hell.

Then I rolled my eyes when I realized she'd been fridged.

And then I became angry because she wasn't even fridged. Rita was not murdered so Dexter's character could develop. Rita was murdered so Dexter's character would not develop.

And that. That pissed me off.