Movies and Reading of Late

I’ve been watching a lot of movies, and reading a little too.

First, movies:

Death of a President is just weird. Weird, and interesting, and basically all about race post-9-11. Race as in skin color, and race as in hurrying to find someone to punish. I am surprised the film has been released in the US. I am unsurprised to find a lot of Americans angry about it without knowing what it’s even about. I betcha the Bush family is very weirded out by this, though. IT was sad, though perhaps on purpose, that the White House speech writer got Kim Jong-Il’s name wrong. (Kim Il-Jong? Huh?)

007: Casino Royale is pretty good. Not as good as some people led me to believe, but certainly alright as far as Bond films grow. I think I’m starting to understand why Bond appeals so much to men of my father’s generation. And I don’t think it’s anything to do with the electronic gadgets and gizmos.

The West Wing, Season 2: I don’t know if I want to watch Season 3. I’ve enjoyed it so far, mostly, but a friend said it got weird from Season 3 onward, and I can see it doing so. Watching the show is a little weird: it’s like propaganda for the White House, for the Democratic Party, and I just don’t know why I respond to it. I mean, I know why I do: the myth of the Great Man, the Visionary Leader, is something deeply ingrained in us humans. I just don’t know why this specifically American brand of the myth resonates for me as it does.

Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson. This one is rich with all kinds of language, with future imaginings of a Caribbean-based far-future society; I’m not as far in as I thought I’d be — grading essays and exams slowed me down — but I am thoroughly enjoying it so far. I love the sound of the language, and find myself reading it semi-aloud in my head. (Unlike visual stuff, I can imagine sound pretty well.) Lots of cool stuff in this one, and I’m looking forward to the arrival of the other books of Nalo’s I ordered from her site.

Hunger by Lan Samantha Chang. I’m about halfway through this slim volume, picked up on a whim from the Fast Used Books pile on’s site. So far, I’d say every story has been, on some level, a ghost story of some kind. Ghosts as memory, literal ghosts, recountings of ghost stories, metaphorically and literaly haunted people… it’s not wordy, not long, but very textured, and, I think, mosty well-written, though it has a little more craftiness than I wholly trust, somehow. Some part of me wants to say it’s a little Iowa, I’m not sure why. I think something about how every character is inexplicable to the core, but every character’s inexplicablity is perfectly drawn. There aren’t really any flat characters in the book, maybe that’s my problem. Or maybe it’s a strength, I don’t know. Anyway, I like the book.

Fantasy, Fall 2006: There’s been some discussion as to what it means when I say I don’t like fantasy, particularly in the comments section of this post by Ben. Actually, I just don’t like elves, or sorcerers, or anything that could have shown up in a standard D&D game. I don’t like reading stories that remind me of anything I may have DMed in the past. That’s all. Plus, I just distrust any story in which magic is used. It too often either unbalances things so the heroes win (of course), or is used to advance some half-thought-out moral/ethical theory of balance on the part of the author. That, and I find the old tropes just show up in ways that don’t blow me away, I guess. (The old tropes never did much for me in the first place, except when I was really young, except suggest that cosmologies radically different from the one I’d been brought up to believe were imaginable. Which is something, but not so very much as one might think. A cosmic cow or cosmic egg isn’t more real than the firmament holding back water.)

All that said, I have to say I enjoyed a lot of the stories in this issue. “No elves,” as the old ad read for I don’t know what RPG game that used to advertise in Dragon Magazine, back in the day. I’m not going to dig it out and say which stories got me and didn’t, but there was a higher like-to-dislike ratio here than in some other major genre mags I’ve read, and I was surprised to find work by three Australian writers in it, too! Speaking of Aussies, I did quite enjoy the Kaaron Warren story, though I had trouble imagining a dentist who kisses all her patients. Anyway, it’s quarterly and I have three more coming on my subscription, but I have to say — I found it easy to plow through this magazine. I think the page size has something to do with it. Anyway, good mag. I can imagine myself renewing, maybe. We’ll see.

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