Friday, March 12, 2010

Pop Culture Roundup

I'm currently reading Turtles All the Way Down, the new book from Gordon Atkinson, aka Real Live Preacher. This is different from his last book, as it was self-published. Not only that, but he invited blog readers to join him in choosing and editing the essays that would be included. This book can almost be read as a daily devotional - that's how well I think he writes. It's one of those where I maybe read one or two of his essays a day (and most are only 1-2 pages long), and I feel content; I feel full. Essay topics are what might be expected from RLP: faith, the Bible, church, fatherhood, some fictional stories. He truly is an incredible writer.

We went to see Alice in Wonderland this past week. In this version, Alice is a teenager who falls down the rabbit hole yet again. She meets up with the usual characters, who are counting on her to do battle with the Jabberwocky in order to vanquish the Red Queen. I think I like Helena Bonham Carter in pretty much any role that I've seen her play, and she's having some fun as a deluded, power-hungry, desperate Queen. Johnny Depp is also good, but I didn't experience him as the scene-stealer that others may have expected him to be. The whole thing is shot in Tim Burton's style, which is dark and a mixture of visually stunning and strange. The story is one where Alice finds herself going from one world to another where there are societal expectations and unquestioned authority and rules, and the only ones willing or able to question them are considered mad. I've been meaning to read the books for years, and this movie helped give me another push to do it.

Lately I've been on both a Weezer and Black Keys kick. With Weezer it's mostly been Make Believe, but I've been thinking about picking up Raditude as well. They have that "nerd rock" vibe going for them, where Cuomo sings about insecurity, wondering about the girl who likes him, and, of course, "Beverly Hills," all with occasionally crunchy guitars, and I've been in a "crunchy guitar" mood lately. I'm also partial to the "Blue Album." The Keys' style has plenty of crunch, and it took me a while to come around to their Attack & Release album, which features Danger Mouse as a producer. I don't care for some of the synth stuff that shows up, but after another listen this past week I realized that there was a lot of greatness that I ignored before. So now, I think I can call it my favorite of theirs.

Okay. So as a father, I am subjected to an incredible amount of childrens' programming on TV. There are some shows that I don't mind (Sid the Science Kid, Sesame Street, Handy Manny), there are other shows that I loathe (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Barney). But one show that I get legitimately excited about is Phineas and Ferb. This is a cartoon about two boys who pass the days of summer vacation by doing things like building roller coasters, opening a restaurant, holding a monster truck rally, or traveling through time. Their sister, Candice, is constantly trying to get them busted, and their pet platypus, Perry, is a secret agent constantly foiling the plots of the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz. All of these subplots always interweave in silly, surprising ways, and the humor has some appeal for both children and adults.

Here's the opening credits: