library dvd
La belle et la bête (1946)

So I totally get why this is a movie that has moved many people and entered deep into the subconscious of as many more. The dreamlike sequences, the simplicity, the horror, the refusal to explain anything but the most basic bits of story—it's as fairytale a movie as any put to celluloid. No wonder it's the standard!

But half the stuff that make it powerful are also things that make it problematic. The 5yrold and I just watched it, then we shuffled through all the photos on IMBd and this was her favorite.And that's not getting into the awful relationships in the film. I don't think there's a single one that's #goals!

None of which is to take away from the film's accomplishments, but with so many excellent films to show a child, the why one shows a particular film becomes important.

But, man. Belle's introduction to the castle—I think that'll stick with me.

our dvd
WWJD (2022)

Finally showed it to the 15- and 12yrolds and they thought it was great. Which is great. The movie is funny and I like to think sticky.

Maybe it'll become an occasional Sunday tradition.

(First viewing.)

library dvd
Boss Baby: Family Business (2021)

I love how these films unashamedly embrace cartoon logic. They aren't alltimegreats or anything, but they're fun and they work on several pleasure centers and, really, what's not to like?

If you want to watch Shawshank or Citizen Kane, watch Shawshank or Citizen Kane. If you want to watch heartfelt silliness and pure cartoon madness, try this instead.

our dvd
A Serious Man (2009)

Lady Steed and I tried to have our second viewing of this film about a year ago but the kids returned from the grandparents before we were ten minutes in. But now our film group picked it and so we finally had our second chance and it's great. The shock of the ending, time one, displaced the rest of the experience, but I knew it deserved a secondchance. For one thing, Kohl often mentions its excellence and value as exemplar. But it's also smart and moving and absolutely unwilling to tell you what to think or what to believe or what to take away.

Which I guess is why so many people call the Coens nihilists. But how bad at reading do you have to be to find nihilism, even Larry Gopnik's miserable week?

He said with way more confidence than is reasonable, given he was speaking about a movie who's only clear thesis is no one can know anything.

Dan in Real Life (2007)

This came out fifteen (!) years ago and at the time we were poor and the reviews were lackluster and so it passed us by. But my younger brother loves this movie (which you might not believe from his first impressions) and talks about it regularly. So of course I had to watch it some day. And someday was today.

On first watch, a couple of the beats feel slightly clumsy, but I'm convinced those (mostly teenager bits) would be better on second viewing because I believe the characters more by the end.

I love the set-up though and it could resolve many different ways. We could all write novels solving this problem different ways! What fun!

But perhaps the most remarkable thing about it was the way it handled a large extended family. Lots of trust in the actors and the audience to put the pieces together. And the result is a loving chaos that sings true. You don't see that much in the movies.

While You Were Sleeping (1995)

I saw this with my sisters in theaters long, long ago. At the time, I thought it was pretty so-so as a romantic comedy. But I understand it better now than I did when I was 18. It means something to be that lonely. It all makes sense now, all these years later. I have a lot more sympathy for Sandra Bullock's situation. I believe it now.

Also, in a fun connection to the last movie I associate with my brother, this movie too creates a larger family with simple strokes that's easy to believe in. Not as strictly realistic as in Dan in Real Life but wondrous and true all the same.

Great doublefeature! Thanks for tricking us into watching another, Disney+!

library dvd
The Addams Family (1991)

I haven't seen this in a very long time, possibly since 1991 at the Hitchin' Post, but I've long remembered how much I loved it. (And it's pinball machine is among my favorites.)

And so when it started out like a hamhanded Scissorhands knockoff I was deeply concerned. But it came around. It was funny and fun.

And Christina Ricci deserves all the acclaim we immediately gave her. She holds her own.

I remember reading about her at the time, probably in an Entertainment Weekly at the doctor's office, about how impressed everyone was with her, that she already understood the craft of filmmaking and was expected to be directing at any time. I don't know if her interests evolved or if Hollywood*, but she still has not directed. This makes me a little melancholy.

The film's most jarring moment is the ending credits when MC Hammer's voice suddenly appears. Do you remember this? I did not. Apparently, they even played the video before the movie?? I most certainly do not remember that. If you'd asked me, I'd have said that Hammer was passe by 1991. (Maybe he was but the suits didn't know it?) Anyway. Um. It's not bad or anything, but a strange, strange choice.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022)

Son #2 calls it the best movie we've watched in a loooong time.

But no question it was hilarious. We all laughed from go. And I'm certain it'll only get funnier on rewatches. Will we rewatch? Eventually. I mean---we're a big UHF family, so . . . yeah?

Also, I WILL WATCH THE OSCARS if, as the closing-credits song claims for itself, it "is technically eligible for Oscar consideration," is nominated because that means Al will perform it and that IS EXACTLY WHAT THE OSCARS NEED.

P.S. Has anyone interviewed Madonna yet?

library dvd
Suburbicon (2017)

The first thought anyone has when beginning a movie written by the Coens but directed by someone else (in this case George Clooney) is . . . how did they do? One would think this regardless, but I think regularly about that question as framed here.

Within the Coens' ouevre, I suppose the nearest thing is probably Fargo although this movie has no Marge to make us feel better about the world. It does have moments of sterling humor (Matt Damon on that bike) and the film is extremely Coeny (the biggest help here is probably using the same casting directory; the cast is filled with striking character actors), but I can't think of a movie where our ultimate protagonist is a child. (Well, True Grit, but she's a very grown-up little girl.)

The movie works okay. It has a bifurcated format with the kids being really the only connection (though the beginning of their connection seems strangely forced), but the heightened suburban paranoia (which is a real vibe of late) basically works. I'm not sure it wouldn've have been a better movie had it just stuck with its primary tale, but, overall, it is good.

UPDATE: Originally, there were two scripts.

AMC Bay Street 16
Glass Onion (2022)

I, like Daniel Craig, will keep doing these movies as long as Rian Johnson keeps making them. This was so much fun to watch—and so much fun to watch in the theater with a great audience.

That said, I look forward to watching it again at home with the kids. So smart, so funny, so cutting.

I really want to read that New Yorker profile.....

An Honest Liar (2014)

This class is nearly impossible to get to talk. But the Amazing Randi broke down a couple walls for me and we almost (almost) had a conversation.

Prime Video
CRYO (2022)

Just assume a lotta SPOILER WARNINGs in this review, mkay?

I've been meaning to watch this since before Barrett Burgin argued even harder for my probably liking it. And now I finally have.

Funny thing, my heightened expectations worked against the film at first. I so smugly assumed that I understood how things were unrolling that I was disappointed with some clunky moments. But then, as the film was ending, it did not end. I had days to go, in fact. And slowly I came to realize that I had fallen for the lies of the adversary.

The teeny budget of this film does not show in the sets or props or camerawork. And the actors are skilled, but the budget does reveal itself a few times in some lines that could have used a few more takes. But even with that caveat, I feel no need to complain.

Unless it's at myself I really wish I had watched CRYO before recording the latest episode of Face in Hat (look for 5.4 which has not yet posted as I post this). At least I watched it before the next issue of Irreantum hits! It's not too late to watch it yourself! Irreantum won't drop till the end of December (watch for 19.4)!

Previous films watched












The long strange story of making love to my wife (slash writing a book about celibacy)



So the exciting news is that on December 6, Byuck will be out in a fresh new edition from BCC Press. Check out Matt Page’s latest and greatest cover:

One thing that’s great about working with a company entering its prime rather than a company boarding the windows as you enter (not a knock on Strange Violin, whom I deeply appreciate, but a fact all the same) is that there is marketing. You may have seen some of this if you follow BCC Press on Twitterthe nostalgic playlist—which I am listening to right now as I write this because it is great—and the chance to help build it, for instance—but one thing they’ve been asking me for from go is photos of thme from the Byuck era.

The novel takes place over the 2000–2001 school year and, um, I don’t really have any photographs from that time period. Not really.

Lady Steed and I were wed the summer of 2000 and, outside engagement/wedding photos, there ain’t much of then-Theric (certainly not of me in Provo). But there are a couple, including this amazing photo:

If you have a close eye for detail, you’ll note the following:

Something you can’t tell (and neither can I) is who in the world took this photo. We’re at my parents’ house but what the heck else is going on in this room? I mean—this is the trip in which Lady Steed met my parents! How did anyone put up with us?

Anyway, I was able to deliver that photo to the BCC Press marketing team with this helpful suggestion:

Mm. Ends up smallifying jpgs for Thubstack

Subscribe now

renders that text at the bottom borderline illegible. Just think of it as the pixelated portion.

I started writing Byuck as a play shortly before this photo was taken and my professor told me I wasn’t ready to write it yet. Considering how quickly it rolled out of me 2003–2004, I think she was right.

Being a year older than Dave wasn’t enough. Maybe this photo proves this as well.

Anyway, more sales from me in the near future. I should have a preorderlink to share next week!



A little dystopic fun for everyone


It's reasonable to say that everything here is either dystopian or includes dystopia or contains recipes for dystopia. In one case, a recipe we have already followed. Isn't that fun!


119) What If? 2 by Randall Munroe, finished October 28

This book is so delightful. Like all of Munroe's work. I believe I am a completist.

But how else will you learn that t-rexes and elephants weigh roughly the same? Or that even touching a room-temperature star will kill you?

And constant undercurrent of humor leaves you not quite ready for the big laughs that suddenly appear. (My favorite might by a dry citation for—where were you in 1999?)

But I especially enjoy reading xkcd and family because Randall is clearly a decent human being with a burgeoning curiosity and a love of knowledge that bubbles out into selfless sharing.

I mean, I say "selfless" but he must be loaded by now. Good for you, Randall! You deserve it!

over a week

120) The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber, finished October 28

I keep hearing about The History of Everything which this author cowrote with his friend David Wengrow. As they worked on it, the project grew and grew to multiple projected volumes. Then Graeber died. The project's future is now unknown.

I checked History out from the library when I saw its size (704pp) I knew it was dangerous to try to read it as a library book. This is a book I would need to buy.

So in the meantime, I went back to the library site, intending to put a book or two from each of them on hold. I had plenty of Graeber books to choose from but nothing by Wengrow. This volume was the first to arrive and boy oh boy is it excellent!

Graeber is an anthropologist by training and he has trained his anthropology on the boring nonsense of our own world. And he's brilliant. I wish i had not been a library book because I wanted to mark it up like a madman. One read wasn't enough to completely rejigger my political outlook, but this is an intellectual exploration of the politics I've been looking for. The Millennium will be anarchy.

Speaking of anarchy, I assume it is because Graeber is an anarchist that you can read this book free online.

Among the worthwhile things this book explores will be the purposes of imagination, the damages caused by capitalism, why the future we were promised had to be suppressed, why the third Nolan Batman movie bit rocks, the relationship between language and play, how come grammar books are lies, why it isn't the least surprising police are terrible, how bureaucracy is simply a way of managing violence, and why we like it anyway.

Reading something like this makes me wish I was an academic, that I could spend all my time thinking thoughts with the great thinkers. But in the end, I'm still a storyteller.

This book, incidentally, will also tell you how our stories enforce the power structure even when we don't want them too. Alas.

most of the month

121) Disquiet by Noah Van Sciver, finished November 3

I didn't buy this when it was released because I figured I'd already read most of it. Not so. I'd ready maaaaybe half. Probably less. But "Punks V. Lizards" is too memorable to forget, no matter how many years have passed.

Anyway, it's a solid collection by an excellent artist. But if you're starting off, I recommend something full-length. His shorts are good, but he found mastery in the long.

a week or so

122) Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli by Ben Costa and James Park, finished November 3

When I opened to its first page I was startled and delighted to see the story was in black and white? Could it be possible? I was thrilled!

Ends up it's only some . . . flashbacks? that are in black and white. The rest of the story is good, but I didn't realize how tired I've become of the current crop of color comics for kids.

My favorite aspect of the book is the title characters—a skeleton and a blob and yet so expressive. Even surrounded by other (soulless) skeletons and without his distinctive costume, Rickety can be recognized through subtle touches to his skull. It's terrific.

My 12yrold read all three currently-out volumes before I even picked up the first one (when does he read? I never see him reading?) and wanted to know if the library also had the fourth as, goldarn it, #3 ended in a cliffhanger. The answer, incidentally, is no, but I imagine we'll see it soon.

As for me, I dunno if I'll read on from one. It was entertaining, but I have a lot of books on my to-do list, and I don't know. I just don't know.

Maybe just so we have something to talk about.

And maybe I'll like it more as it rolls on, myself.

under a week

123) 2 A.M. in Little America by Ken Kalfus, finished November 8

First, I disagree that this is a dystopia. It will give you many of the same feelings, but there's no design to this world, no power striving to make some version of perfection that, surprise!, is awful.

No, this is just a distressing realistic imagining of what might happen to us Americans after our country has devolved into a borderless civil war, bloody massacres and constant suspicions—where we run to and how we try to live and how our new host nations are not happy with our presence.

And it's excellent at that. It feels real. It feels plausible.

One thing I don't like about the book is the side effects of how Kalfus represents his main character's trauma. That he has a hard time recognizing people, especially women, fine. I can accept that. But he uses that as an excuse to make everything uncertain. No city or nation is named, few people get names, his dog has a name but it's a placename so we don't get that either. I get that he's trying to make everything on the American side more universal and everything on the not-America side less graspable, but it requires some rhetorical stretches that get too artificial for their own good.

All that aside, I recommend reading it. If we do devolve to war (a less insane prospect by the month) it would be a war apt to awfulness. Perhaps a reflection of that future may give us pause.

how long goes here

124) All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson, finished November 11

This is by family-favorite author of Roller Girl (first reading) and it's similar—girl with an unusual sidelife managing the travails of early adolescence—but it's a very different book all the same, tackling new concerns in new ways.

This time the girl's family works at a Florida renaissance faire and she has decided to leave behind homeschooling for schoolschooling. Things go wrong, she makes mistakes, she grows up, lessons are learned, etc.

I didn't like it as much as Roller Girl (most recent reading) but it's a satisfying read with earned emotional beats. What else are you asking for?

almost twenty days

125) The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin, finished November 16

I didn't know much about this 1971 novel coming into it, except that it's dystopianish. The first half I wasn't sure that was true. But it became true as reality is piled atop reality.

I see a couple low-budget adaptations have been filmed, but post-Dr Strange movies, I think we're ready to really visualize this. I'm not sure it's a good idea, but it can be done.

In short, what if your dreams could recreate reality? What responsibility would this lay upon you? Would you strive to dream intentionally? or not to dream at all?

a week



Previously . . . . :


Like one light to daring heights


The death of Mimi Parker has shook me a bit more than I anticipated. I mean—or course I now regret even more missing Low's last Bay Area show, but it's not like I am a Low completist or even know their work all that well. I love C'mon, and Christmas is deeply important to my annual traditions, but I'm still justabouta buy their latest.

(In a stupid way, they're still one of those 90s monosyllabic l-word bands [Len, Lit, Live, Low, Lush]—although they were the one I never heard on the radio but that I've come to know best—a band whose albums I saw for sale but never took the leap on. I sometimes wonder . . . if I had bought Secret Name a couple decades ago, what else might have been different?)

But I have been listening to them regularly for over a decade now and they were good enough to let me include them in Fearreantum and everything I saw or read endeared them to me as human beings.

And so, while I can't write anything as lovely as what Jacob wrote, I did read and appreciate what he wrote and ever since I've had this song in my head:

But it's a great song and it although it's Alan's part that's stuck in my head, I can feel Mimi haunting the background.

Add that to Jacob's analysis and it is the song for our mourning.

God bless Low, together forever.