Friday, July 21, 2006

Mid-year report

I know it's well on into July, but just thought I'd pass along my pics for my favorite books, movies and albums of the year so far...

Books: I've read Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter With Kansas", Philip K. Dick's "A Scanner Darkly", J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." But the only book I've read this year that came out this year is ...

Douglas Coupland's "JPod." I haven't finished reading it yet, but it's a quick summer read. The events are goofy and some of the literary tricks (spilling out Pi onto about 40 pages, appearing as himself in the book) are the equivalent of Wilco's incorporating minutes of static into "Less Than You Think." Still, Coupland nails cubicle worker drone camaraderie better than most novelists. Even though "JPod" is as filling as air crisps, Coupland keeps the pacing light and engaging. I didn't want to put it down, which should count for something when determining the quality of a book.

I gotta say that so far, the summer was woefully underwhelming. I'm going out with a guy tonight and he asked if I saw Superman Returns. Though the movie wasn't horrible, I almost begged him not to pick that movie. Just can't take sitting through that again. Pirates I knew wasn't going to be good, so I wasn't let down. That said, count me in line for the third.
Now, for the top pics so far...

4. Tell Me Do You Miss Me: A great documentary about the now-disbanded Luna.

3. Wordplay: superb documentary, even though it has its share of New York Times ass-kissing moments. As engaging as Spellbound and the gay couple in this movie should give any alienated gay geek boy hope in finding his Mr. Right in the look and fashion-obsessed world that is mainstream gay culture.

2. V For Vendetta: Is Natalie Portman the next female action star? Not nearly as revolutionary as social critics pen it to be, V For Vendetta, like Sin City the year before, threw a Molotov cocktail into cineplexes. One of the few movies I'd consider purchasing.

1. United 93: Hotel Rwanda was the last movie that shook me up as much as United 93. Director Paul Greengrass goes as far to recruit Ben Sliney, who was the real-life FAA operations manager on September 11, 2001 to retell the story of what probably happened on United 93. Greengrass tells the story the only way this story could be told: through a calm, detached eye, using hundreds of pages of transcripts and interviews from family members.

I realize that we need more movies showing what's really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. I do realize that with upcoming September 11-themed movies, this problem won't go away. Still, September 11, like Pearl Harbor, like the Cold War, was an event that separated "pre" and "post." Pre-World War II, post Cold War, post September 11, in 91 minutes, United 93 once again puts us in that day, where the unimaginable was unfolding before our eyes.


3. Destroyer: Destroyer's Rubies - Dan Bejar's manic energy hinted in the more abstract songs from The New Pornographers is toned down a bit on this release. Still, it's a huge album that rewards patient listeners.

2. Ghostface Killah: Fishscale - The rap game is not kind to the 25-and-older crowd. That said, it was awesome to see an elder statesman mop the competition on this release.

1. Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood - I may not have liked this as much as Blacklisted and it's not as revolutionary as Destroyer or Sufjan Stevens' Illinoise, but Fox Confessor is my favorite album of the year.


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