Yeah, I realize that’s two weeks, but I didn’t get a post in last week, so it’s big update time sorta. I’m winding down the summer (in fact, I go back to work on Monday) and while I can say I have accomplished my podcasting and writing goals (for the most part), there was a lot of “Oh man, I have to read this!” going on these last couple of weeks. So I’ve whipped through a number of books, which is great considering today was Free Comic Book Day and I added to my piles. Not by a ton, mind you, but I am putting a moratorium on any extra buying until the end of October when the Baltimore Comic-Con rolls around. I’m hoping I’ll get to go–I plan on heading up there, but also know that the dreaded Delta Variant could put a kibosh on those plans.
On the bright side, I am fewer than ten movies away from ditching the Netflix DVD subscription. So yay.
But that’s October. What can I look at right now? Here’s a rundown of what I’ve been consuming so far in August …
Bully: A documentary from the early 2010s that focuses on bullying in schools and just how brutal it can get. There’s some very poignant stuff in here, and while it does directly address the issue, which was becoming an epidemic around that time, its conclusion has the feel of one of those assemblies that travel from school to school and wind up making everyone in the auditorium–even the bullies–cry. And then, everything returns to normal. Bully works best when it lets the audience see what’s going on for ourselves, and gives us a pretty good snapshot of how school administrators have failed students over the years. On the fence: can probably skip.
Permanent Vacation: Jim Jarmusch’s first film (studeent film, I believe?), which is basically a guy walking around New York City in the early 1980s. I see it reflected in a movie that would come out 10 years later, RIchard Linklater’s Slacker, and Jarmusch definitely captures the atmosphere of the dirty, bankrupt, hard New York of that era. But you deflinitely have to be in the mood for it, as it’s definitely wrapped up in its own style and tone. If you’re a fan of definitive arthouse/independent cinema and haven’t already seen it? Watch. A casual fan/not an indie film fan? Skip.
Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold: Morgan Spurlock decides to show us how the sausage is made when it comes to product placement and marketing in movies by getting a number of big name corporations to be sponsors of this documentary about product placement and marketing in movies. When Spurlock gets into that sausage-making, it’s a fascinating documentary. But his shtick can get a little tiring. Still, if you can find it, it’s worth a Watch.
Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All Time Vol 1: Midnight Madness: This may get its own podcast episode, as there are three parts (six hours of documentaries!), but I wanted to include it here just to say that this is a blast. This first volume is all about the cult classics that were B movies shown at midnight (hence the title) like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It includes interviews with directors, producers, and actors, and is so much fun. You can get it on Kanopy, so it’s a must Watch.
Various issues of Hex: I know I should keep better track of the numbers, but I found four or five of the books in my LCS’ bins last week and grabbed them, then decided to just read through my whole run. I’m actually really liking the book, and I plan on seeing what else I can find and then maybe to a whole-series eval. Keep and finish the run.
Trade Paperbacks/Graphic Novels
Essential X-Men Volume 5: My trip through the X-Men hits 1984-1985 and includes both “Life-Death” chapters as well as the X-Men and Alpha Flight miniseries. I feel like I’m really at the height of the Claremont era here, and these stories–while quite verbose–are really worth the read. Most surprising for me has been how much I am enjoying John Romita Jr.’s artwork, especially since I was not the biggest fan of his when he returned to Uncanny X-Men in the early 1990s (right around issue #300). Keep.
Star Trek: Debt of Honor: IDW reprinted this like they did the adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I ordered this way before I got it digitally, and so that means I spent money on something I already had, but it was worth it. Chris Claremont writes and Adam Hughes provides artwork, and both really get the characters and the feel of Star Trek correct. Taking place post-Voyage Home, this is about how Kirk is closing the book on an “unsolved” or at least unresolved mission of his from years before. I think it’s available digitally, so I’d look for it if you can’t find the IDW reprint at your LCS. Keep.
Dig. by A.S. King: One of three on this list that I chose from our school library, this is the story of five disparate cousins who are the grandchildren of a real estate developer in Pennsylvania, a man who made his fortune off of selling his potato farm. King provides us with some supernatural events and very quirky characters, and a plot about getting them all “back together” in a sense that takes quite a while to get going, although once you are past the first part and all of our charcters have been introduced, it really picks up. Read.
Dream Country by Shannon Gibney. A multi-generational story about people in and from Liberia. Gibney is a vivid writer who digs deep into the history of Libera to give us a nuanced story about immingrants, colonialization, families, and power dynamics. I think I learned more about Liberia and its culture than I ever have beyond the three facts I learned in junior high school. Read.
Educated by Tara Westover. A memoir of growing up in a strict fundamentalist family whose father was so distrusting of the government that he forced his wife and children to live completely off the grid and then turned a blind eye to abuse. It’s harrowing in places but if you are interested in the way that controlling groups or religions work, you really need to read it. REad.
If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson. A teen romance about a boy from Jamaica and a girl from the Upper West Side, both of whom go to a fancy private school in New York City. It was a really quick read but feels more like the first part of a larger story. If you’re interested in teen romance, give it a try. If not, Skip.
Overcoming Speechlessness by Alice Walker. More of a very lengthy essay than a book, this is a look at her experiences in Rwanda, the Congo, and Palestine, relating what she observed and offering opinions on what needs to be done. We reviewed this book for use in history or English classes and it got the “use excerpts/small groups” opinion. Overall, it was good, but not absolutely required reading. Maybe REad.