Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Train in Chicago

During this year's Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, I'm highlighting things more people should know about. For the most part, I'll be ignoring the most popular and widely known items (and sometimes my personal favorites) in order to promote the unfamiliar and underappreciated.

Double Hockey Stick Edition!
Why am I forcing myself to do twice as much work? Heck if I know.


FILM
Das Leben Der Anderen (The Lives of Others)
In East Berlin, before the fall of the Wall, a secret service agent conducts surveillance on individuals thought to have Western sentiments. But, just as his observations cause him to be increasingly drawn into their stories, you'll be increasingly drawn into his. A phenomenal film.
The Lookout
I had to get at least one Joseph Gordon-Levitt film in, and this might be my favorite role of his. Working as a night janitor at a bank after an accident leaves him with both physical ailments and a poor memory, he is recruited by a small gang to act as lookout as they rob the place. But when he tries to back out of the deal, the gang has other plans. A fantastic depiction of someone dealing with a traumatic brain injury,1 with a great turn by Jeff Daniels as his blind roommate.
TELEVISION
Last Comic Standing
Not a great show, I admit, but how many season-long competition shows are?2 Besides, I likes me some stand-up comedy.
Leverage
This one is so unfamiliar even I've never seen it. No, really. (In my defense, it is in my Netflix queue.) So, how does a show I've never seen make this list? Simple: My friend's wife is one of the writers. And with high-tech crooks attempting to steal from the wealthy and corrupt, it sounds like my type of show. You should watch it. (And so should I.)
GAME
Last Night On Earth
Surprisingly, my only zombie recommendation for the month. You choose your role: hero, or leader of the unending zombie horde. Heroes must coordinate to share supplies and fight for survival; the walking dead just get to keep going for the jugular.3 With various hero roles and end-game scenarios to choose from, a board with different possible layouts, and an array of cards to shift the balance, you can play these epic battles again and again long into the night. (Plays best with 2-5 players, and has multiple expansions.)
Lost Cities
By playing an expedition's cards in numeric order, you can make your way toward up to five different lost cities. But make your decisions wisely: Judicious play (and luck) can compound your success, but if an expedition fails to make much ground, you'll rack up negative points. A simple yet fun family game for 2 players.
MUSIC
The Levellers
A lively English band with both punk and traditional influences, the Levellers have always sounded somewhat Celtic to me, I suspect because of all the excellent fiddlin'. They may not be Celtic, but they are a blast. Have a listen.
Lenni Jabour
Frankly, I'll be astonished if even one of you has ever heard of her. I stumbled across a song of hers on some odd compilation 15 years ago, and sought out her first, self-titled album. It was just seven tracks of her and her piano, but it was brilliant. Her more recent stuff doesn't have quite the same feel, but I'll always be a fan.
LITERATURE
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
Christopher Moore is easily one of the funniest authors working today, and this is his finest work. It chronicles what Jesus may have done in all that time he wasn't in the Bible. You know, the first 30 years of his life. No matter your beliefs, this is a must read.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Most people focus on the disturbing love affair between Humbert Humbert and young Lolita, but the real story here is Vladimir Nabokov's love affair with the English language. Hauntingly brilliant. No matter your level of squeamishness, a must read.

Lo and behold, we've reached the end at last. But if you have a suggestion for me, let 'er rip.


1 He researched the role extensively to ensure he wouldn't be playing a caricature. You'll note he didn't show nearly the same dedication for G.I.Joe: Rise of the Cobra.
2 My guess is two. And even that might be stretching it.
3 Or perhaps the cerebellum.

16 comments:

  1. Um, this is probably a bad thing, but I'm not familiar with any of the shows, books, music or games you listed here... eek!

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    1. Oh, it's not a bad thing. It's a great thing! Think of all the wonderful new discoveries you can now make! I may be a little biased, but I say start with Lamb.

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  2. I love Leverage!! I only recently started watching it but it quickly became a must watch show in my house. Thanks to Netflix for helping me get caught up...

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    1. And I shall have to do the same, with Netflix as my guide. Now, if only I can find the time to do so, with the second half of the alphabet still staring me in the face. (I probably shouldn't have given the letters eyes to stare at me with. It's disconcerting.)

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  3. Lolita is one of my favourite books and I totally agree, it is Nabokov's love letter to english. A stunning and beautiful book.

    I loved Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Brick, I must check out The Lookout. He's a great actor.

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    1. JGL is one of my favorites. Great in Brick, 50/50, 10 Things I Hate About You, and pretty much everything else in between (G.I. Joe and Halloween H20 not withstanding).

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  4. Yes, the "L" is that train system in Chicago - my home town. As far as your recommendations, I have to see "The Lookout." I'm hoping it's on Netflix.

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    1. No worries; it is on Netflix. But alas, not on streaming. I hate that. (What? I have to wait 1-2 days, and then walk all the way to my mailbox?! What a rip.)

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  5. Thank you for reminding me of a treasure I already have and just need to go find...I began reading Lamb forever ago...I shall dig it up again...maybe that is where I'll find some laughter.

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    1. I hope that does it for you, or at least sets you on the path to laughter via some chuckles and light guffaws.

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  6. You'll like Leverage. Wild you know one of the writers.

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    1. Glad to hear it. Specifically, I'm looking forward to an episode where characters are named after two friends of mine -- incidentally, the two friends who introduced me to my wife.

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  7. Wow--I'm only familiar with the books, and I've only read ONE of those--I agree about Lolita--it is BEAUTIFULLY written. And one of the few cases i can think of where I adore a book with a dispicable MC.

    I have put Levelers on my Netflix list, too, and both musical entries look good.

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    1. Only two great books with despicable MCs come to mind for me, and I've already mentioned the other back at C: A Confederacy of Dunces.

      Yet, perhaps as interesting is that I enjoy all three incarnations of Lolita I'm familiar with, but for different reasons: book (the writing), 1962 film (Peter Sellers' Quilty), 1997 film (Jeremy Irons' Humbert).

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  8. Christopher Moore is a genius. I love his books.

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