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100 things to do in 1000 days; #34: Watch 20 [21, apparently] great old movies.

With the completion of The Godfather III, this is DONE. And you can’t say I was easy on myself. There were fun movies and short movies, but also three-hour-long, tedious, infuriating trilogies, and when movies came in groups, I watched them all (see: The Alien Movies, The Back to the Future Movies, the aforementioned Godfather Atrocities). I loved some, liked some, and hated some, and I feel like I’ve expanded my cultural knowledge. This item’s a keeper – I think I’ll have it again on my next list.

100 things to do in 1000 days; #65/75: Watch all of Spaced.

DIMNote: This series has inspired, and hired, a LOT of awesome artists, so do yourself a favour and run a quick Google search to see some amazing stuff. Seriously, Spaced is like the giving tree of cartoon porn (eyeball porn, I mean, not genital porn, although you could probably find some of that, too).

I shall begin with the traditional:

Ok. So.

I’ve liked Simon Pegg since 2006. I know this, because it was in the fall of my first semester at university that I was introduced to a little show called Doctor Who by a woman in my philosophy class with exquisite taste in TV (thanks to her also for Firefly, Stargate, and MST3K. Seriously, I owe her my sanity. Or lack thereof. It doesn’t matter. Moving on.) And in the seventh episode (The Long Game) of this strange new series, a man with bleached blonde hair played a character called “the editor” in an otherwise not-very-remarkable episode. I had never seen him before, but he made such an impression on me in that small role, that I immediately went out and watched everything of his I could get my hands on. Which wasn’t all that much, to be honest. But still. I watched Run, Fatboy, Run for you, Simon! And as the years went on, I’ve never forgotten my love for Simon Pegg, and his turn as Tim in Spaced is just as memorable, if a bit more endearing. Then I found out that he held a bit of twine for the Bloggess, and, well…perfection.

Anyway, about Spaced.

Two series in two days! Helps that they’re only 7 episodes each.

It took a while to grow on me, I’ll admit. I was a good half way through season 1 and still writing notes to myself like, “Well, I still love Simon Pegg. But Daisy is annoying me, and other than FEAR PAIN AGGRESSION, I literally did not laugh once until episode 4. Let’s see where this goes.”

Well, Daisy got a lot less annoying with the addition of her dog, and the last few episodes of the first season were quite good. And mid-way through season 2, I found myself writing, “Aw, Daisy’s the best.” Well, that was a turnaround. I don’t know if it was that I was getting familiar with the characters and sense of humour, or whether the show legitimately became about 200% better in season 2, but I’m a full-on fan now. Now, it’s not even in the same league as Black Books, which I still can’t even think about without cackling like a loon (STRIPPING THE CHICKEN!), but when I realized I was on the last episode, I was genuinely sad. I like these characters, and I want to spend more time with them. I can’t wait to watch all the special features on my DVD.

So yes. Yes, I think season 2 was better than season 1, and I think Tim and Daisy are adorable together. I’m sorry for being such a plebeian North American. And you’re all invited to bite me.

Favourite episodes:

  • Chaos
  • Ends
  • Help (The only time I found the clubber remotely bearable.)
  • Gone
  • Leaves (The last episode was excellent. Lovely and *spectacular* and low-key. And I have such a soft spot for dogs, so thank god they (er, spoiler?) never killed Colin.)

Least favourite episodes:

  • The first three only had moments, but maybe I’ll like them better on rewatch
  • Dissolution (I couldn’t really deal with Dissolution’s end, because Martha was too sad, and that gorgeous and thoughtful cake was too wasted, but the stuff surrounding it was good.)

The Big Sleep – Review – **

big sleepI think this might be the first book I’ve reviewed for the CBR that I haven’t actually enjoyed.* At all. And I was really hoping to, as I’m a huge fan of the mystery genre, Chistie and Doyle in particular.

Unfortunately, while the main mystery was somewhat intriguing, there wasn’t really much else for me to enjoy. I found it boring, and most of the similes laughable (the bad kind). The prose wasn’t good or original or magical enough to make the lack of any enjoyable or interesting characters worth suffering through.

But most of all, I didn’t like, nor was I interested in, any of the characters – Philip Marlowe was a dick (the bad kind), his client was a crank, his colleagues were personality-free, and the women. Oh, the women. There were three somewhat major female characters in The Big Sleep  and not one of them was portrayed in an even slightly favourable light. I know a lot of classics from, well, any era prior to this one are written by and for the good old Boy’s Club, but there’s a difference between not having any interest in, or understanding of, women, and outright hate of them. Good grief, I’ve never read so much disdain in the description of a woman’s tiny, glistening, shark-like teeth before.

(And given all these other problems, I wasn’t feeling too keen on letting things like, “she had an intelligent Jewess face,” pass, regardless of the accepted cultural norms during Raymond Chandler’s tenure on Earth.)

Minutes before I finished the book I felt a huge wave of relief: 15 pages left to read and then I am free of Raymond Chandler’s miserable world with horrible people in it, forever.

I want to make it clear that I have no problem with the noir genre or grim material in general; but there has to be something in there for me, and I just found this book incredibly off-putting. I would also like to note that I am aware this was Chandler’s first novel, and would be happy to give The Long Goodbye or similar a chance if anyone would like to suggest an improvement in his later works.

I would also like to clarify that I am not dumping on those who consider this a classic. I’ve talked to live human people who are of this opinion, people I consider intelligent, and I guess your enjoyment of this book, more than some others, must depend on your circle of experience. For some people, Chandler’s descriptions might read as brilliantly, uncomfortably true, but for me…let’s just say I have never in my life met anyone who remotely resembled Carmen Sternwood, and I have a hard time even imagining anyone like her existing outside of either a mental institution, or a school for the developmentally disabled.

Some of it was quite funny, though. Even on purpose!

Cannonball Read: 43/52

(Cannonball Read V: 4/36)

*I mean, Accidental Billionaires was terrible, but at least it was entertaining. Survivor in Death and Aristotle and Poetic Justice were also pretty bad, though.

100 things to do in 1000 days; #34/49: Watch Requiem for a Dream.

Good lord, what an unpleasant movie. Ellen Burstyn was phenomenal, I kind of wanted to slap Jared Leto just for that accent, and a lot of the shots were very artistic, but wow.

Oh, and also, now I know where that iconic trailer music comes from.

requiem_for_a_dream

100 things to do in 1000 days; #65/66: Watch Terriers.

So. Terriers. As a self-described TV fanatic who supplements her habit with a considerable dose of online discussion, recaps, and trivia, I had heard a lot about Terriers before deciding to settle down an actually watch it. Terriers was one of those well-beloved but little-watched shows that were given one season and an unsuccessful “Save The Show” campaign to make their mark on the television landscape.

I love a well-acted drama and a well-told story, but I think, in the case of TV, I tend to wait until a heavy dramatic series has finished its run before actually watching it through. Same with books – I refuse to read Game of Thrones until the series is complete. So although I consider myself a TV fan, I haven’t seen Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy, Boardwalk Empire, Friday Night Lights, Deadwood, The Shield, Game of Thrones (now it just looks like I’m a pretender to the throne! I swear I’m not – let me list all the TV I DO watch! You will be amazed! And, somehow, I will still wind up ashamed…), or a dozen other critically acclaimed shows that the television connoisseur must watch if she wants to keep her reputation. Also, while watching TV, much like while reading, I tend to get overly invested in characters and situations. I find it much more fun this way – what’s the point in NOT allowing yourself to get all absorbed a story? What’s the point (especially when watching drama) if you’re NOT going to care about what happens? You may as well spend your time doing something productive.

I’m like Abed – I like liking things.

But when you let yourself care and get carried away with fiction, it can be draining. I need to have a certain amount of a specific type of energy stored up within myself if I’m going to be immersed in the worlds of The Wire or Six Feet Under.

I watched Terriers in two bursts – the first 6 episodes a few weeks ago, and the last 7 episodes a couple days ago, both times sitting at my computer for about 5 straight hours.

The acting is phenomenal. Donal Logue as Hank Dolworth, especially, blew me away. The long- and short- term arcs were well-planned. The series is beautifully shot. I loved Hank, I cared about Britt and Katie, the cases of the week were mostly effectively portrayed. But I don’t think I really liked the show. I’m not sure I’ll ever watch it again. I’m not really sure why – at one point, while writing this, I was prepared to say “Terriers is overrated” and have done with it. But that’s not really true. All the praise heaped on the show – I can’t argue with any of it. I’m glad the show exists, I don’t begrudge anyone’s enjoyment of it (in contrast, I DO begrudge people’s enjoyment of Two and Half Men). And it’s not as though I hate thinking about a show after I turn the TV (or computer) off. Maybe I just didn’t find it as funny as many who watched seemed to – so maybe there wasn’t enough lightness there to balance out the bleak worldview and messy, minor victories. I didn’t find some of the plot twists as clever and unexpected as many did – and I’m not being haughty; you can’t fool everyone all the time, and I’m usually not especially great at guessing good twists advance, so maybe my brain just works in a similar way as the writers’*. Maybe it just didn’t gel with my personality, I don’t know. I’m not sure I would recommend the show – it’s certainly worth checking out for the reasons listed above, but personally, watching it gave me very little joy.

 

UPCOMING SPOILERS

 

SPOILERS SOON

 

* SPOILERS AHEAD: For what it’s worth, Jason’s death shocked the hell out of me, and the reveal of the real rapist was very effective in playing with crime TV conventions and audience expectations.

100 things to do in 1000 days; #34/36: Watch The Godfather.

Some blasphemy – I thought it was ok. Well acted, interesting, good score, visually gorgeous, not all that special. Feel free to begin the stoning.

godfather