Tags: sam-who-likes-nothing


Sam Who Likes Nothing - Overrated


A wonderfully catty list by several current authors of 'great' books they consider overrated.  Three of my least favorites of all time are featured heavily: Ulysses, The Catcher in the Rye, and Gravity's Rainbow.

Best insult: "The absolute worst, the gassiest, most morally and aesthetically bankrupt, the most earnestly and emptily studied and worshipped … that's an easy one. Ezra Pound."

Sam Who Likes Nothing - The Kids Are All Right

Bottom line?  In what is supposedly the great breakthrough gay/lesbian movie that's going to show us that gay and lesbian marriage is just the same as heterosexual marriage, the lesbian characters have more straight sex than gay.


This could have been a great flick, just like It's Complicated could have been a great flick.  But that would have required honest writing rather than contrived drama, and a focus on whether or not the flick was about the kids (who are all right) or their moms.  Instead we get the usual Hollywood overreach, and an affair even more unlikely than Frances McDormand's with Kate Beckinsale in Cholodenko's other almost good flick, Laurel Canyon.

I was also very interested to learn that straight men don't like Blue, one of the masterpieces in the pop music canon.

Sam-Who-Likes-Nothing - The Last King of Scotland


If you like great acting, Forest Whitaker's portrayal of Idi Amin is wonderful.  He won an Academy Award for it.  Otherwise The Last King of Scotland is another movie about the third world from an asshole white person's perspective.  I mean, are we really supposed to pity the white jerk who knocks up the black woman (who dies because of it), and gets the black doctor who helped him killed, simply because he got tortured a bit?  He at least escaped.

Oh, the irony!

Sam-Who-Likes-Nothing - Consider Phlebas


I should have liked this book.  I thought I'd like it.  The Culture is a very cool construct, and Iain Banks is a talented writer with or without the middle initial.

But I didn't like the book.  For a number of reasons.

My biggest problem was my dislike of the protagonist.  I'm sure I wasn't supposed to like him, as the protag is fighting on the wrong side, but still, the book is an adventure story.  If I don't like the protag, I'm not going to care whether he wins or loses.  And if I don't care whether the protag wins or loses, why am I reading an adventure story?  Especially one that's twice as long as typical adventure fiction?  It didn't help when the protag blasted his way out of a refugee ship killing unknowable numbers of innocents in the process without blinking an eye, either, especially as the character wasn't portrayed as particularly bloodthirsty anywhere else in the book.

I've read three books by Banks now.  I really enjoyed parts of all of them, but none of them really satisfied me.  Each one was just too detached for my taste.  The worlds are marvelous, the writing generally superb, but ultimately?  Meh.


Sam-Who-Likes-Nothing - The Sportswriter

Pretentious.  Pompous.  Overwritten.


At least the first five pages.  I couldn't get into Richard Ford's The Sportswriter any farther .

I used to like literature.  I did.  I was a lit major in college.  Read everything I could get my hands on.  Didn't like all of it, obviously, or I wouldn't be the reader I am today, but I liked a lot.  Faulkner.  Austen.  Flaubert.  Twain.

But there is something so patronizing about most modern literature.  I'd rather read Conan, and I'm not much of a Conan fan.  Take this sentence from the second page of the book:

"Why, you might ask, would a man give up a promising literary career--there were some good notices--to become a sportswriter?"

That's the modern literary worldview in a nutshell.  How could anything possibly compete with the wonderfulness of a literary career?  Really.  Personally, I can think of many reasons why a man might give up a promising literary career (or a woman, but that's an entirely separate complaint about this sort of writing - note that Ford didn't write, "...would someone give up a promising literary career..."  he's only addressing men). 

The modern literary type can't imagine anything as sublime as literature.  Which is the problem right there.

It's a failure of imagination.


Sam-Who-Likes-Nothing - Civilization IV

I have played far too much of this game recently, but I doubt I'll play any more.  It's just not fun.    Being dragged from the back of a car by my hair would be more fun.  Being able to do nothing while wave after wave of barbarians attack, often with better technology, may be closer to actual history, but it ain't fun.  I sense the design is better for multiplayer mode, but playing solo, which is what I tend to do, is too difficult at any but the easiest levels, and too often simply tedious then.

Back to CIV II, one of the greatest games ever. 

Sam-Who-Likes-Nothing - District 9

This should have been great.  Man, what an idea.  I mean think of the cool science fiction fun you could have with shipwrecked aliens on Earth, and they breed, so Earth ghettoizes them, and then, really, what are you going to do when they start competing with an overcrowded earth for resources?  Very, very cool.

But no.  That's not where District 9 runs with it.  Instead we have to belabor an already obvious metaphor by sticking the aliens in an already apartheid South Africa, and all the humans have to be venal brutal militarists, and the hero is an oblivious moron who's as racist as everyone else till he has a catharsis for no reason at all at the end of the movie and helps the aliens get away.  Oh, and the Blair Witch thing at the beginning and the end was really, really annoying.  What, you're not a good enough writer to work the exposition into the story?

But it was SF, and some of it was pretty cool, especially the smart alien.

Sam-Who-Likes-Nothing - Elf

Why is it so many American holiday and children's movies have endings that reek of false sentimentality?  I have nothing against sentimentality - I weep at the end of It's a Wonderful Life and A Charlie Brown Christmas.  But those are movies where most of the people involved actually believed in the sentiment they created.  The people who made Elf and the Jim Carrey version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas don't.

And it shows.

I thought the first half was hilarious.  I love crazy Will Ferrell.  But then they had to have the message, and reform the scrooge figure, and it was all just going through the motions without any of the spontaneous sweetness of the beginning.  It was false, and it was dull, and it showed.

Bah, humbug.