The Road…h

…movie was pretty good, but not as good as the book.

And I know, I know people always say that. But in this case it really is true.

I liked it (the movie) but it just didn’t have the same effect on me as the book, you know. I think it has something to do with the language. Cormac McCarthy’s voice is so…particular, so evocative. I’m not sure it can be captured well in film. It is captured quite well in the audio book version of the novel. Same goes for previous novels such as All The Pretty Horses and No Country for Old man. Although I have to say that I think the Coen brothers did a very good job of translating Cormac McCarthy’s voice and style and asthetic to film. In fact, it was spot on  as far as I’m concerned. I was so sure it would be too, when I heard that they were making NCFOM into a movie. They just seemed like the perfect fit. Which of course is why that movie won so many awards.

I’d had similar hopes when I learned that it was going to be directed by John Hillcoat because of a movie he directed entitled The Proposition, which was an amazing albeit very brutal movie, but I wasn’t as sure as I was about the Coen brothers doing NCFOM. In fact, so certain was I that the brothers Coen would make a great movie out of that novel that I actually argued it’s merits with someone who had seen it and didn’t think it was all that good even before I’d seen it. Of course, I later saw it and felt entirely justified in my stance.

It’s funny because I wasn’t as enthralled with NCFOM when it first came out. I remember liking it but thinking it was just kind of a Cormac McCarthy-esque thriller, you know. That was partly because it didn’t impress me the way All the Pretty Horses, the first Cormac McCarthy novel I ever read, had. And there’d been a lot of build up, waiting for it to come out. It has been about seven years since he last novel, Cities of the Plain, kind of let down as the third installment of the Border Trilogy, which started with ATPH followed by The Crossing. Point being I was anxious to read something  new by McCarthy. And even though NCFOM was quite an improvement, I found it a little disappointing. And who knew  how long I’d have to wait until the man’s next novel.

Turned out not that long. The Road was published the next year. I had no idea it was coming out. I just remember opening a box of new book at the library where I work and seeing this book with a glossy black cover with the title, The Road, in a muted brown color, and Cormac McCarthy’s name in an even more muted gray color. It was like discovering something you’d always wished for but hadn’t had the chance to yet. My heart began to beat faster. My hands shook a little. For a second I was sure that I was imaginging it, hallucinating. But I wasn’t.

I began reading The Road immediately. And I know that people say this a lot but I literally could not put it down. And as soon as I finished it I began reading it again right then. As soon as I was able I ran out and bought a hardcover copy, because I wanted to have a first edition. If only there was some way to get it signed.

I knew instinctively that it was a great book, a superb novel, and there was no doubt that it would win some literary prize. And I was right. I won The Pulitzer and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, as well as being nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Being selected as an Oprah Book didn’t hurt none either.

Perhaps the movie version never had a chance to live up to my expectations.

But don’t think I’m ragging the movie. Because I’m not. It was excellent. And there were some moments in that book that literally made my heart race. And Viggio Mortensen was the perefect cast for the father, as were all the character castings. The kid who plaed The Boy, Kodi Smit-McPhee, was excellent. But perhaps the most stunning performance came from Robert Duvall, who plays the feeble old man that they (The Man and The Boy) encounter and take a meall with, mostly because of The Boy’s insistence.

Still, I’m not sure I’d automaticlly recomend this movie. It is not for the average movie goer. Most people aren’t going to want to see this movie; no feel good fare it be. Which is why during Thanksgiving I purposely refrained from talking about it when the subject of movies came up. I’d learned my lesson after reading the book, when I was talking aboug books at some family gathering and mentioned the novel — I got a response like a tumbleweed blowing through a ghost town pretty much.

GenX superpowers activate!

If I could have any superpower it would be a melding of a photographic memory with the ability to instantly transform any given information into a useful means. A sort of Rain Man – McGyver dude!

Not sure what the outfit would look like exactly but it definitely wouldn’t be from Kmart because Kmart sucks! And of course, no capes! Edna knows her business and I’m not going to second guess her. Although without a cape a flourishing exit just isn’t quite the same, now is it. In any case, it will be flattering to the physique and buoyant yet classically understated. Plus, it will have a special pocket for my iPod. Oh…and a  glow in the dark chest log and neck collar trim.

2 GenX thinkers have new books out

Malcolm Gladwell (b. 1963) and Steven Levitt (b. 1967 [same year as me, which of course makes me feel like a loser, because what have I done, right?]) both have new books out.

Both are GenXer and both are innovative thinkers. Indicative of the GenX mindset they think quite differently than most others in their respective fields, which is why they are so successful.

Gladwell’s book , What the Dog Saw, is a collection of his essays from The New Yorker where he has worked as a journalist since 1996 according to his wikipedia page. I’ve only glimpsed the intro to this book but am very eager to read it. Loved The Tipping Point and Outliers especially. Blink is interesting but I’m still not sure I entirely buy into the premise. (ah, ever the skeptical GenXer, even in regards to one of my own — yeah, I wish I could consider MG a peer. HA!)

Levitt’s new book, SuperFreakenomics (nice little play on the Rick James song there) is the follow up to his his first book, Freakenomics (2005), which he co-authored with journalist Stephen J. Dubner (b.1963), also a GenXer. Levitt and Dubner turn economis on it’s head by applying the economic thought process or whatever you call it to non-traditional subject matter, from drug dealing to global warming — often to much criticism as well as praise. But they wouldn’t be a GenXers if they didn’t ruffle a few feathers in such a traditional field. Levitt’s economic take on things is fascinating, and he has the uncanny ability to remove all emotional/more predjudice from his researh, which perhaps sounds like a a  “not good” thing but it seems essential to this particular kind “pure thinking,” (whatever tha means, right) the results of which can be mucked up later with barnacles of emotion and sentimentality and morality — junk like that. I’ve just started SuperFreakenomics but am already ready to drink the Kool Aid a second time. Glug glug glub. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. And you will too!

New featured blog….

…comes via JenX67 (as if I even had to say it — all bow down to the goddes off all things Generation X).

And thank God too, right. About time.

I know, I know! I change my featured blog about as often as I change the sheets, that is if I was the one who changed the sheets — wifey does that, and quite regularly too. But I’m just saying, if I was the one doing the changing it wouldn’t be often and thus the joke would work. Still, I change my underwear quite regularly, you know, when I think of it.

Anyhoo…

The new blog is called The Slacker Factor, and looks to be very promising. Be sure to check out the About section because JenX67 was spot on when she said that the authors bios are quite clever.

I for one am quite please to know that their are other GenXers out their who are not only are not ashamed of their slackerdom (eh?) but embrace it even proudly flaunt it.

GenX in recession

What is a recent Washington Post article (which I was hipped to by The Gen X Files blog) saying about GenXer attitudes in light of the current recession?

They’re antsy and edgy, tired of waiting for promotion opportunities at work as their elders put off retirement.

Huh. Doesn’t sound all that different than before the recession or during the last recession or before that one too. But there is something that’s different compared to when GenX workers were the age that Millennials are now. And that is this:

A good number of them are just waiting for the economy to pick up so they can hop to the next job, find something more fulfilling and get what they think they deserve. Oh, and they want work-life balance, too.

That’s right. Screw loyalty! To any company anyway. Because we’ve learned the hard way that such loyalty will get you nothing in the end.

I learned it long before I entered the work force, when I was witness to General Motors attempts to force my father out of his job as an engineer before he was ready. He worked for GM for 35 years but that mattered little because it was cheaper to higher a younger person who would work for less.  I say attempts because my old man is stubborn as hell and he wouldn’t budge until he got a good retirement package, even when they demoted him to a basically a data entry clerk. Of course, years later GM reneged on their deal to provide health coverage to my father and mother for the rest of their lives.

I learned it again when, in my first foray into the corporate world, I (along with others) was booted in order to balance a budget. Of course, it wasn’t put that way but it didn’t need to be said.

More recently, I learned that there is no loyalty in the economic world when CitiCard arbitrarily hiked my APR from 12.24% to 17.99%. No real reason was given for this increase, although later I was reminded of the bill that goes into effect in Feb. 2010 that cracks down on the credit card companies; they’re all uping their rates before that law goes into effect. Fuckers! And it didn’t matter that I’d had a CitiCard for 17 years, that I’ve always paid my bill on time, that my wife also has a CitiCard, that our mortgage is through CitiBank or Citigroup or whatever the fuck they call themselves. And this is a company that was given government bailout funds.

But enough ranting. Because this whole situation has me wondering. What will come of GenXers being put out of work and not being afford the oppor5tunity to return to the same level again. Perhaps a resurgence in creative endeavors, not just technology-driven but in terms of  art and Literature, music and movies, poetry etc. Certainly family cohesiveness will become stronger. Which is to say, as the article notes, Generation X is tought, resiliant, creative, and we’ve been here before. So bring it!

King or Coupland?

Which do I read first?

Stephen King’s new novel, Under the Dome?

or

Douglas Coupland‘s new novel, Generation A?

How to choose? How to choose?

The King novel is over a 1,00o pages but I don’t really find that very daunting. In fact, I’m quiet undaunted by it, very much eager to read it. Perhaps because the plot is similar to The Simpon’s Movie — small town in Maine gets trapped under invisible forcefield dome and chaos and conflict ensue. Also reminds me a little of The Stand, my favorite King book. Perhaps because they are both, in their ways, about societal collapse, a theme that has intersted me, well, ever since I can remember really. I’ve always suspected that has, at least in part, something to do with growing up under the threat of nuclear annihilation via a conflict between Russia and the United States. That and seeing Night of the Living Dead when I was pretty young.

Of course, King is a Boomer but I think his work has been important to Generation X. It has been to me anyway. Maybe he’s of significant to Boomers, I don’t really know and don’t really care. It’s arguable whether his work is “serious” or can be labeled “Literature.” In fact there was a time when I refused to even consider the possibility that he was anything but a pulp horror writer, a good one to be sure but nothing more legit than that. But I’ve since fallen off that high horse. There’s stuff of King’s that I like and King stuff  that I don’t like. Salem’s Lot, The Shining, The Stand, Misery — I like. Tommyknockers, Dolores Claiborne, Duma Key — not so much.

Still, my anticipation for the Coupland novel has been greater and existed longer. Not just because it is Coupland, although unlike with King I will read anything Coupland produces. Speaking of which, some of the reviews I’ve read about Generation A have been mixed at best, which is why I stopped reading them. In any case, I like the set up of Generation A, which is also in a way about societal collapse. All the bees have died, or so it seems.

I’ve begun Under the Dome so for now I will stick with it. But I’m willing to chuck it if it ceases to tickle my fancy. As I’ve gotten older (41 and counting) I’ve lost my patience for books that don’t “do it for me.” I’m not wasting the time.

Also, Coupland’s from Canada and I’m an American dammit. And there’s nothing more American than Stephen King-eque carange not to mention odd phrases like “happy crappy.”

More Brit GenX TV

I hadn’t realized before but hulu does that amazon thing where they suggest other shows you might like based on whatever show you happen to be watching. Same way amazon does with books, although I have to say I often find amazon’s suggestions suspect, at least for my taste. Anyhoo… one of the suggestions associated with Green Wing, a show that I’m still watching obsessively, is Spaced,  a half-hour comedy. (Do the call them sit-coms in England?) And I figured, oy, why not give it a go, then.

[this is where the video of the first episode of Spaced via hulu.com would appear if I could just get it to work – dammit!]

Glad I did.

Spaced is about two twenty-something Londoners. Tim (Simon Pegg aka Shaun from Shaun of the Dead) and Daisy (Jessica Stevenson, who has a bit role in Shaun as Yvonne) who both suddenly find themselves in need of new lodgings and decide to pose a professional couple so that they can rent a nice flat, clearly an allusion to the 70s sit-com Three’s Company.

The show is chock-full of pop culture references, especially TV and movies. And, a la Scrubs, it employs fantasy sequences to great effect (or is it affect?). Also like Scrubs it is a single-camera show, but I don’t know how unique that is to British TV.

Other GenX-ieties  include: Tim is a skateboarding graphic artist who wants to work for a comic book company but is currently working part-time at a comic book shop; while Daisy is a journalist who is on the dole.

Simon Pegg does much of the writing and the director is Edgar Wright, who collaborated with Pegg to make Shaun of the Dead. Also, Nick Frost, who plays Shaun’s best friend Ed in the romantic-comedy-zombie flick plays Tim’s best friend, Mike, who is described as a “weapons expert.” Much of what appears in Shaun of the Dead was first portrayed in Spaced. Some of it practically verbatim.

Another treat for me is that the character of Brian, the quirky, twitchy, semi-reclusive artist who lives upstairs from Tim and Daisy, who is played by Mark Heap, the actor that portrays the wonderfully pompous Dr. Alan Staythem in Green Wing.  Clearly Heap has a talent for infusing his characters with all kind of interesting traits and foibles that make them a little creepy and endearing at the same time, no small accomplishment.

At this point I can’t say which show I like better. It’s difficult to decided. Green Wing has way more swearing and sexual references. But Spaced has loads more pop culture stuff. In the end it hardly matters. What I can say is that I’d like to own both shows on DVD. I think Spaced is available for Region 1 where as Green Wing still is not.

In any case, both shows are more than valid GenX vehicles. Spaced is about younger GenXers, of the kind featured in Douglas Coupland’s novel, Generation X. While Green Wing is about older GenXers who have matriculated into the workforce.

And both shows are funny and sarcastic and surreal and ultimately very touching and human.

[Smack!] Take that happy shiny people

Barbara Ehrenreich, author of “Nickel and Dimed,” is not by age a GenXer, but her new book, “Bright-Sided: How the relentless promotion of positive thinking has underminded America,” will no doubt strike a chord with many a GenXer. It did for me anyway.

BrightSided

As soon as I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it, because one of my pet peeves is overly-optimistic people. Now, I’m sure that there will be those who brand Ehrenreich (as well as myself) bitter or angry or “negative” as is the popular slander, but that’s not the case. The opposite of “positive,” as it is jammed down our throats today, is not despair and “negativism” it is rational and realistic. Because there is a fine line between being optimistic and being naive, and the people Ehrenreich takes to task employ “postive thinking” facsism to the point of self-delusion. I’m talking people like the creepy ever-grinning Joel Osteen and the Rhonda Byrne, author of “The Secret,” (ALERT! ALETER!: a version of The Secrete for teens is being published).

Ehrenreich traces the roots of “postive thinking” facism back to something called New Thought, which was a reaction to strict Calvinist attitudes of the time, throug  Norman Vincent Peele and his PT Manifestor, “The Power of Positive Thinking” who really popularized the movement, up to the current day PT Gurus and iconslike Depok Chopra and Oprah Winfrey (query: why do both of their names sound like a horrible-taste vegeatable?)

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being optimistic but with out a healty dose of rationality and realism and yes even pessimis it just bullshit it can lead to such things as the recent economic collapse. The cult of PT has so permiated corporate culture that within it those who would dare to point out a problem or suggest that things are anything but peachy keen may suffer ostricization or even firing, which is what happened to the guy that worked for Lehman Brothers who tried to tell the President/Ceo whatever-the-hell his title was that the realeastate market was going to be problem and that they needed to change their business model. Two year after the dude was canned Lehman Brothers went busto and former Pres/Ceo still doesn’t seem to get it.

And why should the jackasses bother to change, to be the competent, rational and thoughtful leaders that once headed up corporations, when the gov’t will bail their asses out when they fail miserably? Hell, I’d walking around smiling all the time too if I knew if that any mistake I made would not only get me canned but might actually earn me a raise. But I’m still no donning that stupid Osteen mullet; I did my time in the 80s fashion hell, thank you very much, and I’ve not intention on returning to it.

GenX Brit TV

I have been obsessively watching and re-watching this BBC tv show entitled Green Wing, which I stumbled across on hulu.com.Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Brit GenX TV“, posted with vodpod

It is an absurdest send up of hospital-based soap operas. Kind of like a British version of Scrubs, covering much of the same ground, except without the Scrubs signature “fantasy sequences.” Green Wing’s absurd element are played off as real, which in some ways makes them even funnier. Both shows are adept at mixing affecting (or is it effecting?) drama with hilarious and often over-the-top humor. Scrubs has more pop-culture references but Green Wing clearly had more leeway with language — the F-bomb gets dropped regularly, plus words like cock and cunt and all those cool Brit curses, like bloody and bollocks etc. In any case, if you’re a fan of Scrubs you may enjoy Green Wing as well.

Green Wing ran for only two seasons, like The Office, with 9 episodes each season, the very last episode running and hour and half. And it was an award winning show apparently, that was much praised. Of course, had it been an American TV show it would have been extended several more season, probably until it got old and stale, even though actors would be making obscene amounts of money per episode. I kind of like this form of programing. It allows for more ideas to get developed, and keeps shows from getting stale and turning into little more than advertising delivery devices. Although, I can’t but wish that there was more to Green Wing. But then you know you’ve done some right when viewers want more. Good fiction is the same way.

Also like Scrubs, Green Wing is definitely a GenX show. I don’t know if the whole GenX thing is even a topic of interest over there in Britian, but just watch on episode and you’ll see what I mean.

The story-line follows Dr. Caroline Todd (the female, British version of the bumbling but lovable J.D from Scrubs) as she begins her new post at the hospital in question. But this show is rarely if ever about medicine or hospital work, unlike Scrubs, which actually strives to get the medical aspects correct. And Caroline quickly finds her affections toggling between Mac, the young talented surgeon with the a lion’s main of blonde hair, and Guy, the brash anesthestist, who can be equally charming and repuslive. The love story is credible if predictable. But what really makes the show is the cast of supporting characters, whose story lines are no less interesting, and often even more hilarious, especially the spastic Senior Cunsultant Radiologits, Dr. Alan Staythem. Mark Heap who plays the stuttering, sputtering, spastic Alan is incredible. And some of the sex scene played between him and the Joanna Claw character or some of the funniest I ever seen portrayed anywhere.

Much of my argument for Green Wing being a GenX show is instinctive. It just feels like one. It has an Xer sensibility. Particularly in that it is mainly about a group of friends, and not a family as most tradition sitcoms are. The humor is often of the caustic, sarcastig insulting variety, and contains an inherent underlying sense of affection for the object of the jibes.

I could not ascertain the creator Victoria Pile’s age but I’d be willing to guess that she falls within or very near the GenX age range. The actress who plays the main character, Dr. Caroline Todd, certainly is. Tamsin  Greig is 42, born in 1967, same as me. Also:

Julian-Rhind Tutt (great name btw) who plays Mac, was born in 1966

Stephan Mangan, who plays Guy, was born in 1972

Michelle Gomez, who plays Sue White, one of the most insanely hilarious portrayals of a clearly unstable person, was born in 1968

Etc.

If I could buy this show on DVD I would, but it isn’t availble (yet only I hope) on region 1 format, which the U.S. falls into. I’m hoping in the near future it will be.