Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Random Thoughts & Cannonball Read #25

So it's been a while, huh? It's not that I haven't been reading, it's just that I got really tired of blogging about what I'm reading...particularly since so much of it is so very similar. Instead of talking about books, I think I'm going to talk a little about TV and other miscellaneous stuff. 'Cause I love TV.

1. Band of Brothers: I watched the entire mini-series when they replayed it on HBO, and I have to say it's one of the best things I've seen on television since Deadwood. The acting, the scripting, the effects, the cinematography, the pacing--everything about it was completely gripping. Damian Lewis (whom I have liked a lot ever since the prematurely cancelled Life) was perfect, and every other actor in the series was spot-on. There wasn't a single person involved that I could point to and say "Oh, he was overacting" or "He seemed like he wasn't on the same level as everyone else." The whole thing was so well put together. It actually drove me to see out the book Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose (Cannonball Read 2 #25)--which showed me just how great the adaptation was. The testimony from the actual soldiers was clearly the main source of material, which is probably why the show felt so authentic. It was amazing to me that anyone at all managed to survive in those kinds of circumstances, let alone thrive and come back to their regular lives in the States to function as normal parts of society. Flabbergasting, really. I highly recommend that anyone who hasn't seen this show go out and get hold of a copy immediately--it's only 10 episodes, and well worth the 10 hours of your time.

2. The Pacific: On a related note, I've started watching HBO's new WWII show. I'm only one episode in, and frankly thus far I'm a little disappointed. Instead of beginning with training, we're given a short and somewhat cliched exposure to a few of the main characters and then are thrown directly into battle. There's been almost no chance to learn the characters' names or anything about them, which I don't like. However, I also understand that due to the nature of the historical fact--the Marines were basically thrown into battle in short time because they were the only group ready for immediate deployment--this is an accurate portrayal. I'm hoping that as time goes by I'll be able to enjoy the show on its own merits rather than constantly comparing it to Band of Brothers.

3. Boardwalk Empire: This one hasn't started yet, and isn't due until fall, but I'm already really excited. HBO seems to have a knack for period dramas, and when you combine the 20s and gangsters and Steve Buscemi, I feel like it will be very difficult to go wrong. I'm also pleased to see Michael Pitt getting some work, since he's put in great performances everywhere I've seen him, even if the movie itself was crap (i.e. Murder by Numbers).

4. Life: This new Discovery Channel mini-series is what HD was designed for. To be honest, they should have just called it "Look at This Neat Nature Shit We Filmed" since the show isn't really composed all that well and I could certainly live without the Oprah narration. Still, nature's amazing and really, I'm all for watching animals do weird things or be adorable or whatever.

5. Justified: I'm not sure how I feel about this new FX show yet. I am always happy to see Timothy Olyphant, particularly if he's wearing a cowboy hat and shooting people. However, I'm not entirely sure whether I actually buy the premise or the characters. I think the neo-Nazi leader and his hapless sidekicks have potential, and I also like slightly-wacky-husband-shooter chick. I think this show may take a little time to find its groove. Luckily, as long as they continue to give me some Olyphant every week, I'll keep watching.

6. USA Network: I am not sure who is handling programming at USA, but whomever it is deserves a bonus and a hot fudge sundae. For the past few years, they have been putting out some really great new shows--Psych, Burn Notice, and most recently White Collar) and putting them on television during those times during the year when all other new programming is on hiatus (summer and December/January). They've done some great work, and their whole "Characters Welcome" advertising campaign is pretty great. If you don't watch any of these shows, you should check them out. They're fun, not too serious, and completely entertaining.

7. Jeopardy!: It's still on, and I still kick ass at it.

Miscellany A: I got some little bongo drums and have been rocking the hell out of them. Nothing relieves the stress of a long day at the salt mine like pulling out the drums, cranking the iTunes to 11 and banging away along with the Village People's "Go West" or The Band's "Get Up Jake".

Miscellany B: My dear friend Bundt Cake had her baby this past weekend. I'm not sure I like the fact that my college friends are now doing the whole "baby" thing (it seems this whole marriage adulthood thing is not going away any time soon) but I also find that it's really really fun to buy baby clothes. This could become a bad habit...

Miscellany C: I now have somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 Stephen King books. Luckily, I think I'm finally going to be in a position to get to Ikea and buy a nice new shelf. Then I'll have space to organize all my King books and all my Sookie books instead of having them piled everywhere like some kind of tornado-stricken lending library.

Miscellany D: My mother and I have been working on tracking some of the family genealogy. Turns out we have a relative we can track all the way back to 1700. His grandson was a member of George Washington's personal guard. Also, it turns out I'm part Welsh/Cornish, which I didn't know. We're tracking Pop's service record to try and figure out which ships he served on during WWII. (See above for recent interest in WWII.) Apparently Pop didn't talk about the war at all, though my great uncle told us a story about how the ship Pop was on got sunk, and the Navy sent Pop's seabag they'd fished out of the wreckage home to great-grandma--implying he'd been killed in the sinking--only to discover like 2 weeks later that he'd be evacuated to Australia for a ruptured appendix and hadn't even been on the ship when it sank. I'd be very interested to know which ship that was, since fewer ships than you'd think actually were sunk during the war. Maybe I'm missing a disaster book!

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