Friday, July 01, 2011

Pop Culture Roundup

I'm reading a book called Driftless by David Rhodes, about a tiny Wisconsin town's collection of characters as they interact with one another. As I've read, I've waited for some overarching story to emerge, yet after a while it became clear that the overarching story is the entire town: how the characters support one another, live with each other, bump into each other for better or worse in a place that hardly anyone purposely travels to except out of necessity. In that sense, the feel of the book is very much like living in such a place - those small towns where everybody knows everybody, where people try to stay afloat or are too rooted to move or are living a type of fatalism or are longing to escape. Whatever their demeanor or motivation, here they all are together, to some degree stuck with each other, with lots of little beginnings and endings weaving in and out of each other, much like life itself.

We watched The King's Speech this week, starring Colin Firth as Prince Albert, the eventual King George VI, who suffers from a stutter that makes public speaking nearly impossible. With the aid of failed actor and amateur speech pathologist Lionel, he tries to overcome this defect. The impending of WWII makes this all the more urgent, as George must give a speech to the British people to reassure them in such a troubling time. Firth is excellent as George, Geoffrey Rush equally so as friend/foil Lionel. Helena Bonham Carter is also particularly strong as George's wife's actually a bit strange yet pleasant to see her in a relatively "normal" role, as I'm so used to seeing her in Bellatrix LeStrange/Marla Singer/Tim-Burton-movie-character-type roles. It was a good film with an ending that is triumphant, yet that portrays that triumph as occurring in the midst of a struggle that will be with the lead character his whole life.

We also saw Cars 2 this week; it was Coffeeson's first movie theater experience. The movie itself finds Lightning McQueen, now one of the most successful Piston Cup race cars ever, competing in the inaugural World Grand Prix against champion cars from around the world. McQueen's top rival is Italian Indy car Francesco Bernoulli, voiced exuberantly by John Turturro. Meanwhile, Mater finds himself assisting international spy Finn McMissile (voiced by MIchael Caine...and of course he's an Aston Martin) in foiling a plot by some evil cars to sabotage the race. Eddie Izzard and Bruce Campbell were other notable new voices for me. The movie wasn't the character-driven plot of the first; instead it was a more straightforward action film that brings Mater more to the forefront. It was still fun, it just wasn't the carefully-balanced sort of story that Pixar usually produces.

The fourth season of True Blood began this past Sunday, with Sookie discovering that the fairy world to which she escaped wasn't all it was cracked up to be. When she left (escaped) that world to return home, she discovered that she'd been gone for over a year even though it'd only seemed like a moment. As a result, she discovers--and in some cases, has yet to discover--that a lot has changed. For instance, Bill is the new king of Louisiana, meaning that he's the vampire in charge of that state according to their hierarchy. Also, Lafayette is just beginning to discover his mystical side thanks to his witch boyfriend, Tara has begun a whole new life elsewhere, and Jason is a full-fledged police officer now. All this episode really did was set up where the characters are as the season starts. the people with whom I watched were disappointed with the lack of action, but I understood that it merely told us what everyone is up to. And the "one year later" aspect of it was a nice touch, I helped to distance the characters from the happenings of the last season and hit "reset" on some things.

Brant Hansen, formerly of Letters from Kamp Krusty and more recently of Brant's Blog, has resigned from his current radio position. Hopefully he starts a new blog after he lands in his new position.

CM Punk is probably one of my current favorites in WWE. He gave a promo this past Monday on RAW that reinforced that for me: