Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jesus, Initially

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.

Here's what I have...

Harold and Maude
Harold is obsessed with death. He drives a hearse, attends funerals, and fakes his suicide in increasingly elaborate ways (to the detriment of his mother, and to the young women she keeps trying to set him up with). He and 79-year-old Maude (the fantastic Ruth Gordon) are drawn to each other by their mutual interest in death, but it’s through her carefree attitude and love for life that Harold finally learns to live. It may chronicle a May-December romance, but I’d watch this dark comedy any time of year.
Herman's Head
In truth, I don’t remember much about this show beyond that I liked it, and that the opposing aspects of Herman’s psyche were personified (by actual persons!) whenever he had a thought. (Oh yeah, it also starred Lisa Simpson Yeardley Smith and Moe Szyslak Hank Azaria). Yet, despite its bizarre premise (and the fact that it aired on Fox), it somehow lasted 3 seasons and 72 episodes, more than every other show I’ve highlighted so far this month.
Kind of like chess, but without the board. Ants move around the edge of the hive; spiders move exactly three spaces per turn; grasshoppers jump over other tiles; beetles can climb on top. You win by completely surrounding your opponent’s queen, while protecting yours from the same fate. An excellent abstract strategy game for two players.1
The Hold Steady
Craig Finn doesn’t look like your typical lead singer. He doesn’t sound like one either. In fact, more often than not, his singing sounds more like talking than singing. But combine his lyrical storytelling (about drugs and relationships and redemption and the like) with some fantastic classic rock-inspired orchestration, and this Brooklyn-based indie rock band shines.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
This is like the Inception of books, only not in a way that will appeal to a mainstream audience. In this tome by Mark Z. Danielewski, a young man (Johnny Truant) presents a manuscript by a dead man (Zampanò) describing a video by a missing man (Will Navidson) about the inexplicable mysteries surrounding his new house (which may or may not have actually existed). Each narrator gets his own font, Truant gives his own story in the footnotes, and his editors sometimes chime in, too. And oh, the footnotes; this book has footnotes within footnotes within footnotes.2 It gets more and more difficult to read (physically), as the narrator(s) — and the book itself — spiral into madness.

Well, that’s nearly all I have for you today. But I can’t leave without once again sharing my own short animation beginning with the letter H: The Hunt.

Okay, now that’s all I have. Huzzah!

1 Although, without a board, it’s not nearly as satisfying to sweep all the pieces away in anger when you lose.
2 Within footnotes.3
3 Within footnotes.4
4 In fact, some pages are nothing but footnotes, in different sizes, placements, directions, etc. You might not believe it, but I, Footnote Grandmaster and Three-Time Reigning Champion, overdosed on them.
5 Alas, this is not a list of the eggs your family hid over the weekend. But I do have a tip on how to avoid having your home reek of utter rottenness in a month’s time: Move.


  1. "Harold & Maude" is one of my favorite movies of all times. I love Ruth Gordon!

    1. I'm in complete agreement. Ruth Gordon is fantastic, and steals every scene she's in (as well as a few other things).

  2. I remember Herman's Head. This one was good. Not sure if still good, may not have aged well. that happened with the show Get a Life. Great when I was younger, not so much now.

    1. It'll be hard to tell if it aged well, since it's not on DVD as far as I can tell, but I suspect it aged better than Get a Life. Or maybe I just think that because I've never thought much of Chris Elliott.

  3. Man that was a Helluva post... Harold and Maude and Herman...

    Happy... to the challenge "H" is for Harmonious!
    Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
    A to Z Co-Host
    My New Book:
    Retro-Zombie: Art and Words

    1. Thanks, R-Z. I try. Sometimes I even succeed!

  4. fabulous animation...very captivating

    1. Thanks, Jaimee! It often captivates me, too (and I'm the one who made it!)

  5. I loved Harold and Maude the first time I watched and am proud to say I have turned several people on to it. House Of Leaves sounds interesting, I may have to check it out. And the video...that was SOOOO cool! How did you do it?

    1. Thanks, Chuck! Back in 2000, I made it using something called Maya -- the same 3D animation software Pixar used until they built their own. (I also used Photoshop for the textures and images, and Finale for the music.) Let me just say, it took a reeeeeeeeally long time.

  6. Well, I couldn't pass up this post when I saw Harold & Maude--one of my MOST favorite movies of all time! And then you go and top it off with The Hunt! (The Hunt is my VERY most favorite short film by people I actually [virtually] know!)

    1. Ooh, The Hunt tops Harold and Maude? Whether or not that's what you meant, that's what I'm going to pretend you meant. I'm flattered.

  7. Music for "H"
    The Head and the Heart
    Hot Fuzz Fantastic - a local CT band. I went to school with these guys, and the album is fantastic

    AND I heartily agree on The Hold Steady. Stay Positive is a genius album

    Movies for H
    The Hudsucker Proxy - One of my favorite Coen Brothers movies, and Tim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh are amazing.
    Hard Boiled(Lat sau san taam) - Hyper Violent and action-packed, Chow Yun Fat is amazing in this film and the companion movie that I will list when we get to "K"
    Hackers - I know that the internet and hacking probably looked very little like how it's portrayed in this movie, but I absolutely love this movie.

    1. Ol' Waring Hudsucker was a close #2 for this list:Fight on, fight on, dear old Muncie!

      With Hard Boiled, you gotta love any movie whose penultimate scene is a gunfight in a hospital. It's K companion is top-notch, too (though I'll be going a different route).

      But as for Hackers... no, that's not at all what hacking was like. (Umm.... er.... I mean, I assume that's not at all what it was like. Phew, good save.)