Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015

Episode 35 - Critical Darlings

Randy wanted things that were in the critical and awards conversation for Best of 2014.
  • Joe chose Richard Linklater's "Boyhood"
  • Amy selected The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Aaaand, instead of our normal "Whatcha liking lately?" we each discussed something we really liked in 2014 and are looking forward to in 2015.

From 2014
For 2015
  • Amy - "Avengers: Age of Ultron" - movie
  • Randy - U2 on tour 
  • Joe - "The Queen of the Desert" - movie, sadly lacking drag queens

Show notes

Intro Music: "On My Way" by Sutton Foster and cast from the "Violet" Original Cast Recording
Exit Music: "Deep Blue" by Arcade Fire

On the next episode

Joe asked for first efforts, so Amy recycled a pick from the "12 Picks of Christmas" and chose Nicole Holofcener's "Walking & Talking." Randy went with It Girl Gillian Flynn's debut novel Sharp Objects.

Where to find the podcast itself and us

Listen at Podomatic

Subscribe and rate us at iTunes 

We are also available on the Stitcher app.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Joe's Films of 2014, #10-1

Here we are, folks, the end of the road for my write-up of the films I saw in 2014. Revenge, blood-sucking Detroiters and Austin barbecue for everyone after the jump.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Joe's Films of 2014, #20-11

Or as I call it, the almost the best of the year, but not quite there. And remember, in some cases you could move these up by 5 or down by 5 and I'd be happy; there's a lot of good work in 2014 and sometimes my ranking of one movie over another is purely by momentary preference and could be different next year if you ask me again. So let's check out time loops, Swedish punk and superhero conspiracies after the jump.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Joe's Films of 2014, #30-21

Ah, now we start moving into films I can recommend without reservation.  There some science fiction here, some action, some family comedy and also a musical horror movie.  This in some ways was the hardest part of the list to order, since there's good work here though nothing that is that close to making the top of the list.   So get your metal claws on after the jump.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Joe's Films of 2014, #43-31

2014 is a bit of an odd year in film.  For the first half, I was convinced this was a down year with very little offer, but then releases (and we’re not even talking Oscar season stuff) started to trickle out and catch my eye and in the end, I think this was a very, very good year with a lot of standout films.  With that said, join me after the jump for the best and worst of 2014.*

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Hugo and Nebula Novel Project #2: 1955


Hugo Winner: They'd Rather Be Right

Nebula Winner: None Awarded

Hey, remember when I started this project and I was all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about working my way through the winners over the years?  This book almost derailed the entire thing.

They'd Rather Be Right (serialized in 1954 in Astounding Science Fiction, published as a novel in 1957), written by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley, may be one of the oddest examples of an award winner you'll run across.  Usually, you can make some justification for a book or movie wining an award, based on other people having different tastes or wanting to make a point with their votes or some such reasoning.  But with this book...jeez, it's just not good and everyone seems to agree on this.  It's a mystery all over the place why this middling piece of early '50s psychobabble won the award and it's universally regarded as the worst novel to win the Hugo.

The book's problems (and a short plot description involves scientists creating a supercomputer that can improve people's minds to the point where they suddenly are immortal and telepathic and the effect this has on society, and that's about all you need to know about that plot) can be boiled down to:

  • Stock characters that are wooden to the point of being useful only for making furniture out of.
  • Dialogue that is less conversation than diatribe.
  • The worst excesses of '40s and '50s science fiction's obsession with psychiatry being able to solve the world's problem.  Even Asimov could barely pull it off with psychohistory, and these guys are not Asimov.
  • Writing of male and female characters that is sexist towards both sides, which is almost a neat trick.

Really, it's just plain a bad novel and took me forever to get through.  It's completely out of print and should probably stay that way.

Random Technobabble: Not technobabble this time around, just an example of the terrible writing:
"Then a broken, almost sobbing, sigh escaped him, inadvertently. 'There is nothing so terrible as a mob of enraged human beings,' he murmured."

What Should Have Won in 1955:  Still no runner-ups in 1955 for the Hugo voting, but almost anything else published that year should have won.   Leaving aside the fantasy novels (1955 was the year The Magician's Nephew and Return of the King came out), there's a bevy of good choices:

  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Jack Finney
  • Earthlight, Arthur C. Clarke
  • October Country, Ray Bradbury

Any of those could have won and no one would say boo.  This is a terrible, terrible winner and I'm glad I never have to deal with it again.

My Hugo Novel Rankings So Far:

  1. The Demolished Man (1953)
  2. They'd Rather be Right (1955)

Next Time: The 1956 winner, Robert Heinlen's The Double Star.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Episode 33 - Second Place Is First Loser

Amy had the theme for this time around and asked for "runners up."
  • Joe chose the 1980 novel Mockingbird, which just missed winning the Nebula Award
  • Randy chose the film Fish Tank, which got the Jury prize at Cannes in 2009

Show notes

Intro Music: "Hello Mary Lou" by Ricky Nelson
Exit Music: "Life's a Bitch" by Nas
  • Amy watched the first two episodes of "The Librarians." She has ISSUES with it.
  • Joe's recommending lots of movies, including The Obvious Child, I Am Santa Claus, Ida, and Jason X. He's eclectic, our Joe. 
  • Randy recommends Citizenfour - the documentary about Edward Snowden
  • Christian Kane is 68.5 inches tall. Rebecca Romijn is 71. We swear it looks like more. She's clearly not afraid to wear heels around him.
  • The "Academy ratio" is actually 1.375:1. (Which is pretty much 4:3, like Joseph said.) Here's a fun graphic comparing different film aspect ratios.
  • The menu project from the New York Public Library:
  • Minoru Yamasaki was the architect for the original World Trade Center.
  • NYC famous building geography time:
    • The Chrysler building is at the intersection of 42nd St and Lexington. 
    • The Empire State Building is at 5th Ave and West 34th Street
    • Rockefeller Center is between 5th and 6th avenues and stretches from 48th to 51st Street
  • Traveler vs gypsy - both are problematic terms now, but let's try to untangle it a bit:
    • Traveler can mean:  
      • tramp n.(now dial.); a gypsy; (OED)
    • Gypsy can mean:
      • a member of a traditionally itinerant people who originated in northern India and now live chiefly in south and southwest Asia, Europe, and North America (M-W)
      However, both terms have been used pejoratively in the past to indicate itinerant people who sustain themselves running minor con games. You also have Scottish Travelers, who are like the Romany but Highlanders in origin. And Irish Travellers, well, you get the idea. But then there are the Irish Travellers now in the US and they're their own thing entirely. All of this is to say, it's more than can be covered in show notes. Go read a book about it or something.
  • Some music from Fish Tank we talked about but didn't put in the podcast:
    Bobby Womack's "California Dreamin'"

Eric B & Rakim's "Juice (Know the Ledge)"

On the next episode

Randy wanted critic picks for 2014, so Joe's chosen Richard Linklater's Boyhood and Amy's selected The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters.

Where to find the podcast itself and us

Listen at Podomatic

Subscribe and rate us at iTunes 

We are also available on the Stitcher app.

Our Twitters: