Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What? Rob? Here?

Dear Internet,

I missed you, baby. I'm coming back now and never going away again. (Maybe.)

It's been a while since I blogged, and I really have nothing prepared today--but, if no one posts today then whose blog will Anonymous comment on??? So, you know, this is a public service.

In light of my desperation, today's blog follows in the tradition of previous desperation posts. Media I Have Consumed!

Catching Fire , by Suzanne Collins
I read The Hunger Games in one day, up on the sixth floor of the Tanner Building while I was supposed to be studying for a finance exam. I was not, as you can see, the typical MBA student.

I've been postponing reading Catching Fire because I just wasn't expecting it to be as good as its predecessor. I don't like love triangles (and there appeared to be a major one) and my assumptions about the plot were that it was going to be repetitive--a retread of Book One. I'm happy to say that I was very wrong on the latter worry, and the love triangle was mostly painless.

In fact, I think that Catching Fire can be used as an example of How To Write a Sequel. The author managed to capture the tone and feel of the first book perfectly, and managed to keep the plot elements that readers loved (the games, the preparations, etc) but their inclusion was necessary, inevitable and different, not fan service.

Wives and Daughters
We have recently acquired a modern miracle in the form of a NetFlix Wii DVD. (I don't know the product's real name.) The disk lets you access hundreds of movies on demand. And, more fun, the selection is based on NetFlix's guesses about your movie preferences. It's been fun (read: bizarre) to see what an algorithm assumes I like.

One of the movies it suggested (based on my wife's preferences, I hope) is Wives And Daughters, a mid-nineteenth century movie that I want to call a Regency but which probably isn't. The story is basically this: there are daughters and wives, and the main character is really cute. I don't really know much more about it, despite it being eight hours long. My wife liked it. I was in the same room, but probably paying attention to something else.

All the President's Men

One thing I find interesting about this movie (also a NetFlix Wii find) is that it is incredibly lean--there's absolutely no fluff. Every scene and every line is important.

I think the thing I love the most about it is that they don't dumb anything down. There's no significant exposition, and they spend very little time explaining things to the audience. They expect you to sit still and pay attention. It's a convoluted and complex mystery, and the writers throw you in headfirst. It's refreshing.

I've always thought the ending was a little abrupt. It's the only part of the movie that I'm not sold on. But, just like there's very little exposition, there's very little (or no) denoument. I don't necessarily dislike the ending, but it's jarring.

The Neverending Story
This was also a gift from NetFlix. I hadn't seen it since I was probably seven years old. And, if you're wondering if it holds up years later, the answer is an unequivocal, unwavering: HOLY CRAP WHAT IS THIS WEIRD THING?

RiffTrax: Twilight and New Moon
RiffTrax, if you're unaware, is made by the people who did Mystery Science Theater. (If you're unaware of MST, it was a TV program that showed old crappy movies, and three characters watched the movie and mocked it. It's a classic of awesome awesomeness.) After MST was cancelled (due mainly to being unable to afford the rights to use movies), the writers got together and started RiffTrax. They record an audio commentary that you listen to while watching a regular DVD. And, because this avoids copyright issues, they are free to make fun of any bad movie, not just old crappy public domain ones.

That was a long introduction to a short review: RiffTrax offers audio commentaries for Twilight and New Moon, and they're howlingly funny. Downloading a commentary only cost $3.99. You need to do this. Tonight.

American Idol
As you know, I like American Idol. In particular, I like guessing who will win/lose. Hopefully you also know that Tristi Pinkston and I have a blog where we talk about this. We're nerds. (Her more than me, though.)

Currently, I'm ahead of her in the predictions by two points. Depending on how merciful we're being, however, she's ahead of me by three. Consequently, we're not being very merciful.

Natalie Merchant, Leave Your Sleep
My favorite artist of all time (well, maybe besides the Beatles) is Natalie Merchant. You may recall her as the lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs in the 1980s. You might also recall her from her highly acclaimed 90s albums, Tigerlily and Ophelia. You likely won't recall her from the 2000s, because she started getting weird. I still totally, completely love her.

And then this CD came out. It's her very distinct folksy style, but the songs are all based on childrens' poems, some old and some modern. The combination is very weird. All the lyrics are things that only kids would like (one extreme example being Ebeneezer Bleazer's Ice Cream Store) but kids wouldn't like the music. In other words, there's no audience for this.

Except me, I guess, because I like it. I don't love it, but I like it.

Band of Skulls, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey
I discovered Band of Skulls a year ago on indie radio in Minnesota, and instantly fell in ooey-gooey love with them. And then one of their songs was included on the New Moon soundtrack, so a million pre-teen girls are also in love with them. Sad.

Even so, the music is awesome.

So, that's been my media consumption for the past few weeks. Tune in next week where I might actually blog for real!

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At 5/11/2010 10:20 PM, Blogger Heather said...

I love "Wives and Daughters" - but that is not surprising since I am a woman who loves most 19th century British fiction.

I love even more another BBC adaptation of an Elizabeth Gaskell novel called "North and South."

Whenever I recommend "N&S" people think I am talking about the fabulous 80's TV mini-series starring Patrick Swayze.

At 5/11/2010 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 5/12/2010 1:31 AM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I'm a bigger nerd than Rob! Ka-ching!

I also loved "Wives and Daughters" - saw it for the second time this last week, as well as both versions of "North and South," which star incredibly good-looking men, although they are very different from each other.

At 5/12/2010 1:33 AM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

Oh, wow - self-editing time. I love both versions of "North and South." I did not, however, watch them both for the second time this last week, as I did "Wives and Daughters."

At 5/12/2010 1:01 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

I just finished Hunger Games over a trip and I just didn't love it like everyone else here has. I felt like the main character was just too wishy-washy with her feelings (and rather strong on other things) and of course, I felt let down at the cliffhanger ending. (I hear there's another one at the end of Catching Fire.) I can't decide whether i want to read the 2nd one or not. Is Pita any more interesting?

If you like Natalie Merchant and Band of Skulls, you'd fit right in over at Kulturblog. =P I agree, her latest album is weird. Pleasant enough background music, though.

It's run by mostly LDS people, but has a focus on entertainment (including Lost, American Idol - I want to spell it Idle - and all sorts of music stuff) I rarely like the music everyone over there raves on. Guess I'm not "hipster" enough.

At 5/12/2010 2:18 PM, Blogger Krista said...

I just watched Wives and Daughters at a friend's house a couple weeks ago. I loved the MC, very cute.

That princess from Never Ending Story creeped me out, but people say our puppy looks like that dragon thing.

LOVED Mystery Science Theater. Hilarious. Happy memories from my newlywed days. I'll have to check out RiffTrax.

Natalie Merchant was my fave in college. Haven't heard anything of hers since Tigerlily.

Thanks for sharing!

At 5/13/2010 11:49 AM, Blogger Anna said...

Yet another Wives and Daughters fan. I watched part of it for the third time yesterday. Of course, the 3 movies watching times has spanned for over a year.

North and South BBC version was very good too. :)

At 5/13/2010 1:56 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

I am surprised at all the Wives and Daughters fans. I'd assumed this was a fairly obscure show that no one watched. I was mistaken.

Jon, I visit Kulturblog about once a week (generally to keep up on their American Idol blogs).

At 5/14/2010 2:42 AM, Blogger Matthew Buckley said...

Netflix also has Fawlty Towers, the IT Crowd, League of Gentlemen, Little Britain, and other British comedy goodness available to watch instantly.

At 5/17/2010 3:22 PM, Blogger Hillary said...

Loved Loved Loved "Wives and Daughters", and own "North and South"- Gaskell's version!


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