In the past several days, stuck in a town I barely know how to navigate with nary a chair upon which to sit (let alone more interesting pieces of furniture, such as, say, a computer), I've spent most of my time watching movies and reading. I went a little crazy both at Blockbuster, with their pre-viewed DVD sales, and at Barnes & Noble. Below you will find the details of my media adventure in bullet points, a format I love so dearly.

  • I'm reading A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. I'm about halfway through after a little less than a week. It's very engaging (although this is coming from someone who got a 36 on the science portion of the ACT and who took AP Physics for the fun of it; however, let it be known that I have since ended my relationship with scientific pursuits, choosing instead to focus on the liberal arts). It's also incredibly accessible--I find myself underlining and dog-earing the analogies because they make so much sense. I wish I had read this book in high school. I strongly recommend it to anyone and everyone, whether they have any scientific interest or not.
  • I read Unlikely, a graphic novel by Jeff Brown. Take a second to notice that it has not found its way onto my "Required Reading 2006" list. Here's why:
    • It's poorly drawn. I'm not even talking about the representational aspect of the art; it's hard to discern the characters from the background. It's also hard to tell the characters apart. The two leads, Allisyn and Jeff, are interchangeable save Jeff's omnipresent stubble.
    • The drawing style is consistent throughout, and it always portrays something "realistic". To me, this indicates that the narration is 3rd person, and the effect is surprisingly distant given the personal nature of the subject (the author losing his virginity). That was probably his intention; however, I would have liked a more introspective look.
    • The speech bubbles are illogically placed. Often the response is to the left of the panel and the question is to the right. This makes no sense given the way we read in English (and thus tend to think of temporal linearity). In my opinion, this oversight is just plain stupid; no comic/graphic novel artist should make this mistake.
    • There's no innovation. Now, it's not necessary for something to be innovative for me to like it, but it would have helped in this case. Every single page has a six-panel layout, all roughly the same size, all with the same perspective, more or less. Blah.

  • I read 32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics by Adrian Tomine. Love Adrian Tomine.
  • I watched Adaptation. This is a fantastic movie. Go watch it now.
  • I watched Manderlay. I don't know why I keep subjecting myself to Lars von Trier when it's obvious that I don't like him. Alex said something once about how he likes to watch movies he hates in order to find out why they didn't work. I think I'm the same way. Lars von Trier is so goddamn manipulative. Anyway, on the continuum from "put yourself on suicide watch" to "downright joyful", the von Trier movies I've seen rank thusly: Dancer in the Dark, Dogville, Breaking the Waves Manderlay. (Note: the Alex Principle explains why I have a lot more to say about the things I don't like than the things I do.) I find Bryce Dallas Howard to be really grating in the way she delivers a lot of the lines; I think if her interpretation of Grace were a real person, I'd hate her.
  • I watched Shopgirl. I was looking forward to this because I love Jason Schwartzman. I think he's an amazing actor--so natural, so clever. The movie is paused in a few spots for some inexplicable narration. It was clumsy and unnecessary; I think Steve Martin was just really proud of the sentences he composed and wanted to make sure that everyone heard them. And as far as the sentences? They were meh. Nothing original or witty. I won't spoil it, but I thought the events surrounding the ending were pretty frustrating.
  • I'm trying to watch Last Days by Gus van Sant. I absolutely hated Elephant, but I thought I'd give van Sant another chance. He really loves long takes with dollies that follow someone as they walk. Dear Mr. van Sant: I like Italian Neorealism and the principles behind it. I really do. However: please stop.
  • I also bought Brokeback Mountain, Syriana (seen it), Me and You and Everyone We Know (seen it: ))<>(( ), Munich, Lost in Translation, Match Point, and Dogville (seen it).

Every once in a while I question why I decided to name this blog "Prolix", since so many of my posts are just one-liners. It's posts like this that reassure me that I do have a lot to say, even though it's almost never poignant or relevant.

Hm. I'm just now reminded that I submitted a couple sample moview reviews to a local newspaper for consideration for the "Popcorn Panel" they're thinking of starting. That was two weeks ago and I haven't heard back yet. I'm starting to think they don't want me. Sniff.

In my reading queue:

  • Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
  • Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour: an Introduction by J.D. Salinger
  • Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
  • Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes, and the Reinvention of the American Grown-Up by Christopher Noxon

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