Saturday, March 18

Stuff I've been enjoying (in a totally unpretentious and childlike way)

So this is just me wanting to share my enthusiasm for some stuff I've been getting into lately. My personal life has been in the shitter lately, but this stuff has been not only keeping me upbeat and sane and such, but thinking, probably foolishly, that life. is. good. This kind of listing for the benefit of one's soul (and the few others who read what that particular soul writes) is basically something I've seen Nick Hornby do in the pages of The Believer (whom I'm actually now listed, in the March 2006 issue--at newsstands now!--under the title of "General Assistance".) Hornby, "Jimby", in all honesty, it's really pretty similar.

Somewhere a 20 year-old dreadlocked wundergurl writer is frowning.

But irregardless! On with the list!

1) Sons & Daughters, TV show on ABC, executively produced by Lorne Michaels (SNL). Right off the bat, I must say: this new series is simply outstanding. I've watched four or so episodes now, and each one seems, to continue with the baseball metaphor, to knock it out of the park. The humor is subtle, often LOL funny, and full of unexpected catch-you-offguard moments. Centered around dysfunctional American family life (think Arrested Development Season 1 without quite as much zaniness), there is much fuel for this fire. However where I think S&D might surpass AD is in S&D's shocking and grotesque moment of honesty and seriousness that hits you right in the heart at the end of every show. It's the punch that makes you realize that this is more than TV; this is a little bit of them, a little bit of someone we all know, a little bit of us. This kind of ambition is simply ballsy as hell for a network sitcom, and I applaud it entirely.

2) The Office, TV show on NBC. This show took a while to get started up, and, admittedly, I was one of the TV snobs to throw it onto the heap before giving more than a perfunctory glance at a trailer. Much to my surprise (and happiness), this show has turned out to be on par with the original BBC in so much as wit, but more importantly, heart.

(Sidenote: Trev, you're right the fuck on about lauding it on your blog. And if you those plicks on your message boards assault your taste with proclamations of that "The BBC one is better!" or "Martin Freeman--I would suck his wanker!", send them my way. I'll take of them for ya.)

Steve Carrell fucking deserves the Golden Globe or whatever he won for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. He's taken some getting used to, but now that I am, he's become, for me, this crazy little misguided guy tugging at everyone's lapels, trying as hard as he can to get them to like him. They've really nailed the human element down here. Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant should be impressed alone with the fact that NBC didn't totally fuck up their idea and simply astounded that it's actually more than a worthy rendition--it's, dare I say, becoming a classic. It's crazy, I know, but these two shows alone have me practically giddy about American television comedy. Wow.

3) The Zombies "Odyssey and Oracle" (1967), music. This album (from the same band who brought you that classic "The Time of the Season") I came across randomly thanks to my friend ex-merchgirl A Sri Lankan in Boston Sam, an avid Zombie fan. I'm not even going to lie about it--I downloaded this album because I saw her Zombies written all over her MySpace. Yes, I get my music from searching the MySpaces of others. (There I said it.) That said, it's a great album from start to finish for the heart-stuck-in-your-throat hopeless romantic (like myself) in all of us. If you liked my recommendation of Ghosty, check these guys out. This is what Ghosty was listening to when they were sleeping--or maybe more likely, while their mothers were sleeping. In the wombs of their mothers. For those of you who need more than just my personal thumbs-up, if you like 1960s Brit-pop with a white-boy soul/R&B feel and a flourish of the contemporary Wes Anderson soundtrack-esque weirdness (The Zombies' "The Way I Feel Inside" was prominently featured in The Life Aquatic), then do yourself a favor and check this album out. It's a classic, and called as such by others much more qualified than I.

4) Books. Books! I'll get to this at a later date--promise.

A still from a recent episode of Sons & Daughters, Tuesdays at 9 on ABC. And yes, that's the "O-face" guy from Office Space. And no, I'm not getting paid to talk about their show. Seriously.


Benny said...

-You gave so much more space to TV than to books. Minus 6784 points.

-The Zombies are lovely. Plus 4 points. (Heh.)

-You made me two years younger than I am. Plus 6780 points.

-I caught you having comment-sex with Robb. 0 points. (I'm still undecided about that one.)

That should even you out, right? Right.

Can't wait to hear all about those books, darling!



James said...

The thing about books is, when they move you, you almost expect it. Or rather, when they fail to move you, you're disappointed. With TV, it's pleasant surprise after surprise; I don't expect anything from it.

The Zombies have shot up, in three days or so of time, to the number two slot of my (just behind Ryan Adams and above Belle & Sebastian and Pavement. Thing is, I don't even like Ryan Adams that much. I must I left my computer on playing his tracks and then I went out of town or something.)

The books post was complete at the time of this posting, but I didn't want to enundate everyone with forty thousand words and three posts to read. When that happens, everyone reads just the title and then imagines for themselves what I did. And comments? What comments? They're practically non-existant when you multi-post.

And about comment-sex with Robb, just you wait til I'm his houseguest next weekend. It'll be a veritable instant comment orgy--one of Caligulian proportions. Or at least, Rick Jamesian.

Harry the Hire said...

I used to read at least a book a week throughout my twenties, but since I started teaching literature four years ago I've read about four novels. Why is that?

I only read plays now: lots and lots of them. Maybe it is because you can read a play in real time (i.e. the time it takes to see a performance). I'm growing more and more impatient and lazy as I age.

The last book of fiction that I read, not including the books I do with my students, was Tim Winton's Dirt Music. He's a great Australian writer and he surfs, too.

I am awaiting your book highlights too. I might even do the Amazon thing.

James said...

Your plight does not seem to be an uncommon one, Li. I think there's something about one's job that causes them to want to stay away from it outside of the 9-5. Something about mixing business and pleasure, pleasure and pain, etc. This makes it particularly hard for me to employ myself as an "artist". Any time I get close to something as a means of supporting me, I get bored and uninspired, and then feel frustrated pressure because I'm bored and uninspired.

I am, as I've often stated before, horribly underread for a writer. But now that I'm currently out of school (returning in the fall), I've found myself reading more lately--averaging maybe a book every two weeks.

Now that you mention it, I don't think I've ever read a book by an Australian writer. The closest thing I've come is a book written about it by a fiction prof I had in college. I loved the guy, but I couldn't get halfway through his book. It wasn't very much like him, which is to say it was kind of boring.

Harry the Hire said...

I'm glad you've commented on my blog. It means I don't have to keep shuttling through Benny's blog to reach other people's. I dolike her blog, but if she reads her stats she'll think I'm stalking her when in fact, at the moment, she is like my conduit to the outsided world.

I could just put a link to you in, but that would make my life too easy wouldn't it?

jenneral said...

It's hard to comment on books, isn't it? So whoever commented first on this entry can shove it. :) I've read quite a bit since I've been in Japan, but for some reason I never feel compelled to plug my favorite books on my LJ. Perhaps that's because I've read so many moving books that simply good ones fail to impress me much. Right now, though, I'm reading Borges' Ficciones. Something I never thought I'd like, and now I find myself quite awed by it. It's not exactly moving but is certainly the most thought-provoking thing I've read in years.

Ditto on The Office, of course. Although, the last two episodes were not up to par, I think. I've unfortunately been really sucked in by Lost, too, although it's certainly not as subtle or well-done as some of these other shows. Right now I watch a lot of downloaded TV because I have no other access to "home" culture and because I have little else to do after work. It'll be interesting to see what shows I continue to watch when I return to the States.

I'm checking out The Zombies... and not just because of the name. :) I hope you aren't lying when you say it's good. Lately I've felt so detached from music that it's starting to become depressing. Normally, music has to be playing practically at all times in my house... but I haven't been listening to it AT ALL. :/

Anonymous said...

irregarless isn't a word.

Anonymous said...

there should be a 'd' in there

Anonymous said...

ok, ok, it's a word, but says "use regardless", so nah

James said...

I think you'll really like them, Jenn! And if you don't, don't bother telling me. As far as I'm concerned, in this world there are only two types of people: people who like The Zombies and people who I don't know dislike The Zombies.

And Ev, I think you've managed to successfully defeat your own argument.

James said...

Oh, and Light, life is about the journey, not the destination--particularly when that destination is Yellow Redneck Blues.

Benny said...

I prefer to think of myself as pleasantly stalked. Robb admitted to it in one of his first posts. And apparently someone from The Office of the President at a California university is reaching me through Jimby here. You'd best believe I check my stats. Poland, and all those 18-letter city names therein, is the most exotic spot on my list.

I'm also getting a lot of Unknown Country listings. That person is no fun.

I've been reading plays, too. I read Lorca while doing my laundry. It's true. lies about my taste, or I would post a chart on my blog. I don't want people thinking I salivate over The Smiths. Bleh.

Shoving it (and that's not to say liking it),


Benny said...

PS, Poland: case in point: Szczecin, Zachodniopomorskie.

Imagine if that was your word verification.

Harry the Hire said...


Now I feel stalked.

If it were laundry you were doing while reading Lorca then I hope you were reading Blood Wedding, that would be fitting wouldn't it?

James: "life is about the journey, not the destination" isn't that the P&O cruise motto? I never picked you as a cruise ship kind of guy. More of an 'on the road' type.

James said...

I love Sitemeter, Benny. How else would I know that in the last day I had a reader in Singapore andSaudi Arabia? Who cares that they spent a total of zero (0) minutes perusing--I'm international, baby.

Light: It could very well be, but you're right on the money about me being an "On the Road" type. Just ask my dog: Kerouac.

Benny said...

I like to see what people search for that makes them end up on my blog. Ususally it's Samantha Brown-related.

Now I'm very tired. I'll stop while I'm ahead. ;-)

Yawns and regards,


Trevor said...


The words that keep me from checking out Sons and Daughters are the following: "from executive producer Lorne Michaels".

But I'll give it a chance on your suggestion. I promise...

As for The Office...ugh, I liked it before it was cool, and now that it is I must abandon it. There's a great show on ABC about some houeswives, who are desperate, apparently. I believe it's called According To Jim, and features Jim Belushi. Should be fun.

(suddenly I recall the Mr. Show skit about how sarcasm doesn't come off well when written...)

Benny said...

Jimby, I got my first Gibraltar today! Oh My Gawsh!

James said...

I think you'd like it, Trev. And I know how it is to like something before it catches on and then have everyone else jump on the bandwagon (forcing you, of course, to jump off). You're talking to a kid who used to wear Dave Matthews Band t-shirts. In middle school.

Benny, at the expense of sounding ignorant: What's a Gibraltar? If it's an award given for blogging excellence I want one too. Imagine the ooh's and aah's I'd get when prospective employers see that on my CV.

Harry the Hire said...

I've told myself I'll read Kerouac
when I learn to spell his name properly without sneaking a look.

I'm safe this time.

I've always put Kerouac in the Paulo Coelho box (and not just because there's another name I struggle to spell without a peek somewhere else.)

The people who recommended 'On The Road' to me in the past were always the kind of people to whom I'd never have approved a bank loan, should I have turned out by some enormous stretch of the imagination to be a conservative bank manager.

This may sound like a round-a-bout compliment, but despite all the wanton drug abuse and sexual dissolution that characterised my youth I'm not a big fan of these subjects except, of course, when it comes to the Don.

However, in my imaginary bank-managerial position I feel quite certain that you would instantly be approved a six-figure loan, so I'm prepared to take the plunge and try to read On the Road again (I did try to read it at 21) should I ever actually start reading fiction again in this life, that is.

Trevor said...

Speaking of "did I say I hated it? Because now I love it!", I have to say my early rants against My Name is Earl were way off base. Sure, Jason Lee is still a shitty actor, but he's perfect for the show, and Jamie Pressly is one of those rare things these days: a hot actress who can be funny.

And Ethan Suplee as Earl's brother...hilarious. Now I'm hooked on the show.

So I guess sometimes I could be wrong (but I doubt it)

James said...

Six figures, Light--that's it?

Trev, as usual, you're right on about your network TV sitcoms. My Name is Earl's Jaime Pressly is a stone fox. And a stone fox from Kinston, North Carolina, ya'll!

She plays ignorant press-on nails trailer trash hottie so well I find myself strangely attracted to her...

Benny said...

I take issue with Jamies who spell their name Jaime. The three-packs-a-day voice doesn't help, either, Jimby-Hornby...

James said...

Well, B, I think her tractor's sexy.