Friday, January 25, 2008

Pop Culture Roundup

This past Monday on my day off, I barely did anything. In fact, besides eat and eventually switch on wrestling, I read The Year I Got Everything I Wanted by Cameron Conant in its entirety. I've had a thing for spiritual memoir the past few years, so I picked it up on a whim. Conant tells the story of the year he turned 28, a year when he moved from Grand Rapids to Nashville for a girl with whom he was smitten but who didn't seem to return the sentiment. The relationship falls apart unsurprisingly and he quits the job she'd helped him get and that he hates, and along the way he has a great deal of questions about relationships: to God, to others, to himself. Falling into a deep despair, he makes the decision to backpack through Europe for three months as his way of hitting restart. Conant uses the book of Ecclesiastes as his main reference for his reflections, which feature not only his struggles but also a slow spiritual awakening that takes place in the midst of it. While I thought the book started a little slow and clunky, by the end he's sharing deep, honest insights about where he was at that point in his life.

Last night I watched Smokin' Aces, which I thought I'd like more than I did. With a cast that includes some of my favorites-Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman-in a mob movie, I thought it'd be a proven winner in my book. Piven plays a Vegas magician who has turned state's evidence against the Mafia, so a whole slew of hitmen and women show up to collect on the contract on his head. Some of the gun battles are over the top (one involves a chainsaw...seriously...) and we get a couple characters who just won't die to build suspense as to whether they are or not. There's a plot twist that they telegraph several times leading up to the payoff, and Reynolds ends up being the only likeable character at the end. It wasn't my favorite of its type, but it did okay.

This past week on The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the group begins trying to hunt down the other guys from Cyberdyne who may have helped build Skynet. Sarah ends up tracking down and subsequently dating one of them, who as it turns out has already developed a computer that can "think." Meanwhile, another guy from Cyberdyne actually helps put new skin on a Terminator that somehow followed the Connors...but I don't think I've paid full attention to how that happened, or why he'd been in a junk heap. There are a few funny moments where Cameron tries to speak teenage girl lingo, and John finally shows glimpses that he's destined to turn into the rebel leader. There's a running voiceover from Sarah tying the building of Skynet to the building of the A-bomb. The Terminator movies were always about humans thinking they'd done a good thing until they realized they'd done a bad thing, so it makes sense that they went there. I keep waiting for a cameo from the psychologist who shows up in all the movies.

Over the Rhine. I get it now.

Around the web, here's a library shelving game.