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Recent Book Reviews on BookWyrm
Farce is a little too strong. This is largely an enjoyable read, especially in the early going, and fans of Odenkirk's work in sketch comedy will especially enjoy the way he discusses things like the beginnings of his career, why he favors sketch over improv, and which of his funny friends wrote their favorite sketches. It's affably written and clearly in Odenkirk's voice, if you're familiar with him outside the world of Breaking Bad.
There are many subtle insults delivered as praise throughout (easily missed, and very midwestern), and though he seems to be trying very hard to appear gracious and to present himself as a lucky fool, he takes greater pains to remind you at every turn how much credit he deserves, how many doomed projects should have been made (and would have been amazing), and how many genuine failures were more a result of compromise or lack of interest than any genuine personal failing.
To that point, he does admit many faults, but fails to learn from them, and several times shows himself to be politically immature, culturally unexamined, and merely paying lip service to social conscience. The most glaring example is his ostenisbly sincere apology for failing to hire women writers on Mr. Show, despite a circle of qualified women in their core group of friends, many of whom were hired as performers. He wishes he had hired women and regrets that he can't do anything to correct that mistake now, and you might easily picture him wringing his hat and kicking sheepishly at the dirt. (He's so dadgummed awful sorry!)
But fast forward to the pseudo-reboot of Mr. Show, Netflix's W/Bob & David, and here was his big chance to correct that earlier wrong, the one he wished so earnestly he had an opportunity to do over again. But he doesn't. Odenkirk gushes about the reunited writing staff, naming the same core list of men from the original run of the show, and he is so proud of it. Putting to lie his earlier regret, he couldn't even attempt to conjure a defense.
He repeatedly assures us throughout the book that he doesn't have any "bro" in him, while repeatedly apologizing for making very "bro-y" decisions. The apologies ring hollow, especially when he praises one woman for being "funny 'like a guy,' which is to say she can be critical."
There are other odd moments, like a passage where he confuses the intent of one of David Cross's sketches, clearly lampooning a fringe conservative movement ("sovereign citizens"), as an indictment of a liberal "SJW," and tries to defend the show's use of black face, as well as a begrudging attempt at the end to acknowledge white privilege (because his wife told him he should) that proves he doesn't know what the phrase means.
In the end he does seem to be more a lucky fool than he actually believes himself to be, and his shortcomings are more myopic than malicious. After reading, I still enjoy his work, and really enjoyed the book, but a lot of the shine is gone, and I wish he had really examined and come to terms with his faults.
It's a little embarrassing to confess that I'd never read Vonnegut. That's not true. I read Harrison Bergeron in some sort of enrichment reader in 6th grade. I thought that was pretty great, and the only story I remember fondly from that age outside of an Edgar Allen Poe collection that I probably read until the cover came off, and then read again. Somehow I always expected this book to be some kind of hippie acid trip because the people I knew growing up who read it had black light posters and blew smoke into their iguanas' faces to give them a contact high. I did not expect the book to be about WWII, to play with time the way it did, or to make me cry, not for anything in particular, but just a little catharsis for a moment after the book was finished. The book is lively and readable, and feels at all points as though you've read it before, but can still be utterly disarming, especially when humor gives way to Vonnegut's most humane or damning observations.
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Recent notes on Mastodon
I used to be a Latin teacher and one of my dumb jokes when I was teaching literary devices and the like was, “have you heard the one about the kid who can’t tell metaphors from similes? He never metaphor he didn’t like.”
I just figured out (i.e., read in a book because documentation on the web was failing me) that the h- prefix in hCard in #microformats (now h-card in #microformats2) stands for HTML — i.e., an HTML analogue to vCards — and things are starting to click. #indieweb
I just got a shipping notification that my now 7 month old order from the most prolific artist of all time, #SteveKeene, is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday. Can’t wait to see what I get. And if you don’t know, he’s the person behind Pavement’s Wowee Zowee cover and so much more. This is a good intro. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/curiosities/the-sk-steve-keene-art-book-live-from-subliminal-projects
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