Read it and Weep
Summary: Read it and Weep is a good podcast about bad books, movies, and TV. Each week 2.5 comedians and a guest make fun of things like Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, Dear John by Nicholas Sparks, Going Rogue by Sarah Palin, and anything Keanu Reeves has been in.
In the future everything will be better. Increased wealth from asteroid mining, increased access to information through brain implants, and increased fun with space water parks. That is, unless you're a woman or non-white. Then the future pretty much sucks for you. The second half of "Live Free or Die" continues John Ringo's meandering manifesto about the free market economy, and continues his themes of racism and sexism. A book of nearly a million pages, and not once is there a conversation between two women, err, sex objects. Africa, Asia, and the Middle East are completely destroyed by a form of biological warfare that only kills people who don't look like John Ringo. It's pretty bleak. Fortunately, the surviving conservative white men have a dandy old time with their business ventures and giant laser beams. Life is good, if you're the 1%. We welcome back Science Fiction Expert and all around good dude, David Barr Kirtley who tells us what the SF world thinks of Mr. Ringo's book.
First contact was peaceful. Then something went horribly wrong: a book that seemed like it was about the effects of meeting aliens turned out to be a really boring book about doing business in space interspersed with horrible sexism. John Ringo's book introduces a near future earth where aliens have created a gate allowing ships from other galaxies to pop into and out of earth's orbit. The aliens that do so are either Randian capitalists or filthy communist aliens. When an extraordinary earthling discovers that aliens are willing to buy maple syrup (because it makes them trip balls) he quickly becomes rich enough to live out all kinds of capitalist fantasies. Intergalactic trading, asteroid mining, and telling government officials to piss off. This libertarian wet dream isn't all fun and games. In fact, it's 0% fun and only 1% games. Lots of people get killed but they aren't white so the main character doesn't care. There are only two female characters in the first half of this book and one's only described as "stacked" while the other is a murderer. The future is bleak.
The time: the past. Or is it? The setting: a cave man village. And a desert. And a space island. The hero: Yor. That last one I'm actually certain of. Yor is a beautiful blond man who can do it all: kill a dinosaur, save a village, marry two women at the same time. Beyond that, I'm not really certain of anything that happened. Yor (the movie) is as horrible as Yor (the character) is awesome. It's a train wreck. The fun part (aside from Yor's abs) is watching this cave man navigate in a confusing world. How will he handle discoveries about his past? How will he handle his wife's jealousy of his other wife? How will he handle finding out that he's not in the past, he's in the future and most of civilization has died off from nuclear war which somehow caused dinosaurs to come back? Joining us to disect this tragedy is Gabriel Rutledge, the awesome touring comedian who you may recognize from Comedy.tv and Comedy Central's Live At Gotham. He's also got a very entertaining podcast in which him and his wife overshare.
Yor: The Hunter from the Future Review
Live from Portland, OR it's the Shark Spectacular, featuring reviews of Deep Blue Sea, Jaws: The Revenge, and Shark Tale. It's three epically bad shark tastes that taste great together! Joining us at the lovely Action/Adventure Theater was Stephen Humphrey, the editor of the Portland Mercury. At this show we unveiled our brand new Space Shark t-shirt which you should buy immediately.
A mysterious manuscript has surfaced in Peru. No, it's not the 8th Harry Potter book, it's some kind of religious text written by the ancient Mayans. Does it give us insight into this lost culture? Does it predict the end of the world? Nope and nope. It's the first written example of long-winded hippies. The Mayans wrote their ancient text, inexplicably, in Aramaic, the language of movies about Jesus. It's broken down into 9 "insights" that range from "be nice to each other" to 1960s psycho babble about power dynamics in relationships to claims that vegetables are more nutritious if we love them harder. The Celestine Prophecy follows a couple of interchangeable characters as they search for these insights and measure each other's energy. Every once in a while the Peruvian government shows up and kills people. If this book actually existed, it would be completely uninteresting. But it doesn't. Instead, this is a book about people reading a philosophical work and agreeing with it to each other. It's so boring, there's only one reason anybody would read it... because a hot chick asked them to (or in our case, a guy asked us to read it so he wouldn't have to and could still talk to his hot chick about it). We're here to help.
One day you wake up in a serene island village. You don't have to work, the taxis are clean and prompt, the food is good, and they play chess with humans. Sounds awesome, right? The only catch is you can never leave because if you try, a weather balloon will kick your ass. That's the predicament of #6, our hero, who retired from being a spy only to be kidnapped and held prisoner on an improbably expensive torture-island. In each episode #6 makes a pathetic attempt to escape while refusing to sell out his country to a rotating group of interrogators. The Prisoner is chock full of 1906s awesomeness from satire of the press to psychedelic drugs and outfits to fear of computers. Although everybody on the panel liked the show at least a little, our requested guest Stephen has the especially difficult task of making fun of one of his favorite shows of all time. It's delightful and weird, just like he is.
Holy crap, you guys. Where did we put that continent? We had it just a few minutes ago. Remember, the one with the Spanish inquisition, sexually aggressive sea-weed, giant crab fights, and a Sarlacc Pit Monster? Yeah, that one. I think we misplaced it. Fortunately, a group of scoundrels traveling by tramp steamer across the mid Atlantic is bound to run into it. After they abandon ship during a hurricane only to un-adandon ship hours later. After half the crew mutinies and then dies trying to leave the ship. After their cargo of water-sensitive explosives gets soaking wet and doesn't blow up. Life is about the journey, not the destination, so that was as good as it's gonna get. Once the scoundrels find the lost continent, they immediately try to lose it again. But only after a top-heavy lady helps them overthrow a 12-year-old puppet dictator. Confused? Me too. It's true what they say, they just don't make 'em like this any more. Why would they? Thanks to Nancy for sponsoring!
There is a planet in a distant solar system called Krull. It seems to have 12 residents including a giant spider lady, a cyclops, a magician, a kid, a couple old people, and a young king. And yet, The Beast wants to take it over. Maybe to mine it for its main resources: loneliness and sets made out of foam. Krull is a light saber in the stone epic, following the story of Prince Colwyn who gets promoted to king after his whole family is slaughtered on his wedding day. His army has only swords and the enemy has laser guns, so it seems like they're doomed but then an old man from the hills tells him about the Glaive, a magical spikey frisbee that can only be wielded by a true king. Then a road trip movie ensues as Colwyn meets some wacky characters and tries to find a castle that teleports every morning. He does get there and kills the beast (Kill the beast! Kill the beast!) and it turns out his wife can control fire with her mind, and boom. Everything is happy in the kingdom. Except that it's still a shit hole and nobody would ever want to govern it. Thanks to Blair for sponsoring this episode!
Avenging hasn't always been exclusively the power of 2012 CG super heroes. For a while, it was done by people with cheesy accents and hard-to-follow plot lines. In 1998, a big budget adaption of the 1960s TV show The New Avengers was almost released, but then at the last minute it was cut from two hours to 90 minutes and pushed back into late summer and more abandoned into theaters than actually released. Unsurprisingly, it didn't do very well. Despite having such fun actors as Sean Connery, Uma Thurman, and, with a grand total of one line, Eddie Izzard, the film is dismal. It's quirky without being funny, is thrilleresque without being thrilling and is British without seeming smart. Thankfully, it's short enough that we have plenty of time to go off on tangents about polar bears, super heroes, and the economics of bear costumes.
It's rare to hear Alex admit he likes something, even when it's genuinely good. But for something of questionable quality like over-hyped Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen, it's almost like he's been replaced by a physically similar but altogether alien podcast host. Galchen's book follows Dr. Leo who is convinced his wife has disappeared and been replaced by a nearly identical copy. The replacement is just different enough that he can't stand it so he sets off on a journey around the globe trying to find his actual wife. He falls in with a secretive group that claims to control the weather. He eats Hungarian pastries. Lots of quirky things happen. Nothing gets solved. This week's question for the Facebook page: Do you do it with the dog in the room?
Before watching this show, the only thing I knew about Australia was that the toilets work backwards. Now I can add a second piece of knowledge: kangaroos are magic. Skippy is a 1960s kids show from Australia designed to teach kids to respect animals by showing them a kangaroo that fly in a helicopter, fight bad guys, understand English, carry morphine, and bet on horse races. The show is set in a fictitious national park and focuses on the park ranger's family, a kangaroo, and a blond girl nobody hits on. It's charming in small doses, but we had to watch 12 episodes in a row and very few shows can survive that dosage. The show is also painfully episodic. Nothing is happening, something happens that threatens Skippy or Sonny, one of them goes for help, everything works out. We use that knowledge to create our own episodes of Skippy. We also discuss possible remakes, kangaroo genitals, famous Australians, and no-stir peanut butter. Our sponsor today is the co-host of a podcast about religious topics by two ex-Catholics: meatmutant.com.
There's only one movie that Mystery Science Theater 3k said was too bad even for them. Fortunately for them, they never had to watch the inevitable film adaptation of of Fifty Shades of Grey. Like our other experiences with movies commonly considered to be the worst, Manos was surprisingly fun. Somewhere in the Texas desert, a family of amateur actors stumbles on a hand-themed sorority with a meth-head-butler and a guy with a mustache who orders everybody around. After some arguing and a brief chase scene, mustache forces the meth head and the male actor to switch places. Thus is Manos: The Hands of Hands. We try to determine our own fate by discussing our love for, and the tragedy of, Torgo. Never has a minor character so stolen the show as this loveable sader. We also try to summarize the movie in under 10 words and fantasize about a Downton Abbey / Manos mash-up.
If there's one nice thing to say about Fifty Shades of Grey it's that it has a happy ending. The two characters who have nothing in common (except for a burning feeling in their junk) do not end up together. For that one page, there is something to celebrate. Unfortunately it took us another 500 pages of them not breaking up before we could get there. So for another episode we stumble through the gross, uncomfortable, inane sex and sex talk of Christian Grey and Anna Steel. There's a glider flight, some more stalking, somebody hits somebody with a belt. I don't remember. But it was boring. I can tell you that. Thanks to Drew and Jen who sent us a cleaned up version of part of the book that we read for all the kids in the audience.
There are a few sentences I never thought I'd hear myself utter. "I'm not really in the mood for ice cream." "I'm so glad to hear you're a fan, Mr. President." And most importantly, "This book is worse than Twilight." Fifty Shades of Grey began its life as Twilight erotic fan fic. And at some point, the author decided it should be a book of its own. So she changed the names, took out the vampires, and streamlined it into pure porno. Even that's not fair, because sometimes porno has plot and character development, which this book doesn't. Also, pornography treats women better. Anastasia Steele is a 21 year-old clumsy virgin. By chance she meets Christian Grey, a 27 year-old sexual predator and business magnate who wants to make her his sex slave. Since he's the first attractive man to be nice to her, Ana thinks this is an okay way to be treated. While they're determining the parameters of their BDSM relationship, they have lots of vanilla (which is a delicious flavor) sex. And then they talk about the sex they had or are going to have next. Then they have some sex. And then they talk about it. Turns out, it's the worst. To get some perspective, we bring back Sarah Wendell, she of the book about romance novels. Even she couldn't get through this one. That should tell you something.