A quick New Years post catching up on recent media consumption.
The best new book I read last year (and completed recent-ish) was NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. It was the book of the month for the Sword & Laser podcast for… October? Anyway, I haven’t read along with them more than a time or two, but decided to try this one out. NOS4A2 is a savagely great horror book. I’ll fight the impulse to compare it to a Stephen King book and just say that it is thoroughly terrific. And the Audible version, read by Kate Mulgrew, just amplifies the thrill of reading this book. Do not hesitate to read this book if you get a chance.
I haven’t seen too many recent movies and don’t really have one to recommend. I certainly recommend that you do not watch “Matrix Resurrections.” I know that not everyone has as positive a response to the last two (prior this mess) Matrix movies as I do, but whatever you think of “Reloaded” and “Revolutions”, this movie is far, far worse. Dumpster. Fire. I may conduct an autopsy on just why this movie is so bad at some point, but that would mean I’d have to watch it again. So don’t hold your breath.
I recently finished Lattitude by Nicholas Crane, the former president of the Royal Geographic Society about the 18th Century expedition to measure the distance of one degree of latitude at the equator to determine whether Newton was right about the shape of the earth. Turns out that the earth, like your humble scrivener here, is wider at the middle than top or bottom. Chalk up another one for Sir Issac. Sorry if that spoils it for you. It’s well-written and researched, it seems. The Audible narration is fine, though I have to admit that his somewhat… emphasized pronunciations of French and Spanish names made it very difficult for me to track who was who. I’m sure I would have struggled in any case. It’s a quick read and I’d recommend it for anyone who’s interested in the history of science.
I still haven’t watched the new “Dune” movie. Not sure why.
I watched “Too Dead to Die” or whatever the new Bond is called. I’ll probably write a separate piece about that.
We’ve been watching season one of “The Great” on Hulu and truly enjoying it. The writing, performances, sets, costumes… all of the very highest order. Top, as they say, notch.
At the recommendations of the D&D group, we’ve started watching “Hawkeye” on Disney+. I wasn’t particularly motivated to watch it. Hawkeye was — I’m not telling you anything you don’t know — the least interesting Avenger. Homeboy Jeremy Renner has never really dazzled in the few things I’ve seen him appear in. But this show is pretty damned good. Hailee Steinfeld, who I think I wrote at the time, was the most outstanding actor in “True Grit”, a Cohen Brothers movie with Jeff Bridges in the title role, is funny and quirky. She draws you in completely differently from her “True Grit” or “Dickenson” performances. Check it out.
Not new, but streaming music that I keep returning to: “Groove Salad Classic” and “Lush”, two channels on the excellent SomaFM service. “Groove Salad Classic” is downbeat, ambient, spacey but with percussion. “Lush” is all-female… well, let me use their description: “Sensuous and mellow female vocals, many with an electronic influence.” Mostly artists I don’t know but sets the right tone when I’m in the mood.
I haven’t really been listening to any new podcasts, but I have been getting more recent enjoyment from “99% Invisible”, “Waking Up with Sam Harris” and “Total Party Kill.” All podcasts I’ve listened to for years but that I tended to skip half the time or more. All three have been in heavy rotation over the holidays.
One quick story and I’ll get out of here:
Right after the New Year, we had to get our youngest back to campus at UC Santa Cruz to move back into his dorm. When we showed up to move his stuff, there was a huge line of people out front. I’d noticed, driving up the steep one lane roads that there was more traffic than usual heading back the other way. WTF? My son went to investigate. It turned out that the line was for a COVID testing clinic at a building adjacent to his dorm. We had no problems getting his stuff back into his room.
That’s not the story.
While waiting for my son to return with the TF to explain the W, I noticed a hipster dude in line, masked up like everyone, with a slim book in his hand. It was a red hardback. No dust cover. I could just make out, on the spine, the words FUZZY ROACH. That took me aback. Is that the name of the book? “Fuzzy Roach”? Is it “Fuzzy” by someone named Roach? Is it “Roach” by someone named Fuzzy? No idea.
Then, driving back home after dropping off the kid, I was listening to 99PI and I heard my man Roman Mars talking to an author with a penchant for footnotes in her books. The author? Mary Roach. Her new book? “Fuzzy1”.
Stay sane, or failing that, safe.
1 The book is actually called “Fuzz something something subtitle”. Not “Fuzzy,” just “Fuzz.” I misremembered the title. I really just added this comment rather than simply correcting the text above as a salute to footnotes.