Reading and Watching, April 2014

Ohhhh, it’s been a while. I’ve spent the last few months either onstage or writing sketch comedy instead of writing about Doctor Who. Which is healthy, I think. I do have a couple of Who-related posts I’m drafting, just for fun, as well as a music project I’m really excited about. Right now I’m thinking the music thing will not be hosted here, but I’ll post pointers to it from here at the very least. So to the two people who are still subscribed to this site in some way: I’m still alive, for now, and still writing, for now, and there’s stuff in the works.

To tide you over, and maybe push that costume down the page (it’s not growing on me — hopefully I just need to see it in action), here are some short notes on the stuff I’ve been consuming over the past few months.

Let’s start with comics, just because. I’m super excited about Saga, the latest acclaimed series from Bryan K. Vaughan (who wrote Ex Machina and Runaways, which I liked, and Y: The Last Man, which I generally didn’t) and Fiona Staples. The art is fantastic, and the story is wonderfully all over the place, centering on two soldiers on opposing sides of a war who fall in love and have a baby and are running for their lives. The “all over the place” part is that the fantasy world they’re in is the most freewheeling, imaginative one I’ve seen in a long time. Android noblemen with TVs for heads, amphibious tabloid reporters, feline lie detectors, just the right amount of magic, plus a ghost babysitter who’s minus a pelvis and legs. Done right, this kind of no-rules fantasy world is the most fun you can have in fiction, and so far this series has me hooked. Meanwhile I’m souring on superheroes. I picked up an issue of She-Hulk just because the art was cute, but I’m not sure it’s worth $3-$4 a month. And Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman…I’m trying, but let’s be honest, it’s really Brian Azzarello’s Greek Gods, Oh, and Some Amazon Without a Personality. I’m giving it till the end of the third volume to get better and then I’m cutting my golden lasso loose.

Bookwise, I’ve got about ten going at once, which is even easier to do with a Kindle than it was with real books. The last one I finished was Grasshopper Jungle by an Andrew Smith who didn’t write “Full Circle.” Instead he wrote the apocalypse as told by Kurt Vonnegut after an all-night William S. Burroughs bender, which is a terrible description, so forget it. It’s actually also one of a handful of books I’ve read that pretty much nails what it’s like to be a bisexual guy, not just the interior conflicts but also the effect it has on your relationships and the way you feel about yourself. It’s good shit. I liked it. I’m just starting Under the Skin, which I might or might not finish before I see the movie.

Speaking of movies, I finally gave Sucker Punch a chance and was pleasantly surprised. I don’t think it’s great art, but I agree with Philip Sandifer that it’s way better than the cheesecakey cover would make it appear. I’m not and hope never to be in the business of deciding whether something is feminist or not, but if you are, you might find it’s not a no-brainer.

Then I watched Scarface, certainly not a feminist movie. I don’t know if it’s great art — again, I think probably not — but it was fun to watch. Pacino’s quite good, though his Cuban accent seemed kinda cartoony most of the time; I kept trying to squint and imagine an actual Cuban in the role. It doesn’t help that he’s so famous, because every time a gangster crosses him you just want to reach out and slap them and go, “This is Al Pacino, doofus! If you’re not on his side by the end of the scene, you’re dead meat!” And poor Manny. I knew he was doomed, but at least he lasted longer than I expected.

TVwise I’m trying (so, so late) to get into Community. The first episode was okay. I’ve heard you have to get through the first season before it starts to get really great. Why do you hear that so often? It’s not like it’s impossible to be great out of the gate — Arrested Development did it, Dead Like Me did it, the new Battlestar Galactica, even the new Doctor Who. Which brings us to my Who viewing, which mainly has been the Fourth Doctor snoozefest Underworld, and the First Doctor’s regeneration story, The Tenth Planet. I’d never seen the latter before, though I’d read the novelisation. It’s way more Troughtonesque than Hartnellish. It’s pretty good for the time. The Cybermen are super weird in it, and while the ways in which they’re weird are often laughable, they could do worse than being that weird again.

3 comments

  1. Jerome · April 4

    Yay for Saga! It certainly is overflowing with creativity. I’ve just been reading the collections from the library, which reminds me that it’s time for me to check out the third one.

    You ever read Locke and Key? The art’s not my favorite, especially at the beginning, and you have to accept that it’s going to follow horror logic, but there are some pretty compelling ideas in there. I’m a little sad the tv show didn’t pan out.

    • encyclops · April 4

      I’ve read enough Locke and Key to know I’m interested in reading more, but not enough to be hooked yet. :) I keep forgetting to look into the right place to start — what would you recommend?

  2. Jerome · April 4

    The series was completed after 30-something issues, so it’s worth starting from the beginning. It went pretty quickly for me. On the horror logic front, that definitely applies most strongly at the very end of the series, and that wasn’t my favorite part. But the lead-up is good.