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.
The second half of Ender's Game is less good than the first. Instead of playing laser tag in space, Ender exterminates an entire race of sentient beings, then gets all preachy about it. The kids who wrote political comments on message boards are given supreme leadership of the world. There are dirigibles. It's the future, and people ride in freaking dirigibles! Despite the strange turns the story took, we focus on what's really important: the psychological impacts of all this killing on a child. And when it comes to children murdering people, there's only one person to talk to. You may remember Lisa from our review of The Hunger Games where she dispensed some great insight into the mass-murdering child brain.
Ender's Game is a sponsored topic by an anonymous fan who hates the book. That makes him a better hater than us, since we had a tough time finding things not to like about genius kids playing laser tag in space. Still, we do our best to find the hate. Allison Fields from Catwoman is on hand to speculate about a future where polar bears give back rubs along with actual science fiction writer and future overload David Barr Kirtley. Honestly, we hadn't felt this good after a reading assignment since The Hunger Games... which also featured kids killing each other... hmmm... well, that's disturbing.
If you look in the attic, you'll find flowers. It's true. But more interestingly, you'll also find four children who are locked in there being slowly poisoned by their mom. You see, Mom used to be married to her uncle and instead of hobbled British aristocrats, that marriage created adorable, well adjusted blond children. Grandpa the millionaire correctly identifies this marriage as weird and gross and disowns the lot of them. No big deal until Uncle Creepo dies mysteriously and Mom wants to win her father's love back so she can be rich. Grandpa will only love Mom again if the kids pretend they don't exist, so they hide in the attic and suck at escaping. Eventually, he dies and puts Mom back in the will as long as she promises not to have any kids from her previous marriage. That's when the kids notice their food tastes more like arsenic than it used to. It's a pretty creepy concept, but the 80s horror movie passed through so many creative hands, it lands just south of coherent. Most importantly, the sexual tension between the kids is unsettling. Oh, and mom somehow gets strangled to death by a wedding dress.
First the good news: The second half of this witch-book had actual magic in it. It also had the end of the book, which meant we could stop reading. The bad news is the book was still pretty boring. There was an extended scene involving balancing a colander on some scissors and asking it yes or no questions. Colanders, as would be expected, are terrible conversationalists. Still, joining us is the ever-delightful Amanda Leinbaugh from Skepchick who is able to unleash her grad-student know-how all over the scientific inaccuracies of this book. Plus you get a real-live witch trial. Jen, once again, Merry Christmas from Drew. He's an awesome guy. Drew, no refunds.
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane follows intrepid Harvard grad student Connie Goodwin as she looks for a magic spell book from colonial America... very slowly. We're halfway through this novel and so far Connie thinks the book might exist. Somewhere. Maybe. Basically, if you were a fan of the first 10 pages of Harry Potter before anything good happened, and hoped that it would take roughly 6 hours to read through, you'll love this. For anyone else, it turns out this is the perfect book to take a nap to. Joining us is Mike, a real-live history grad student who does his best to class up the podcast with some academic rigor. Nick returns to the show and gives us insight into waffle cones, book-induced Lasik, and how many baths Demi Moore took when she was a Puritan. Also, there might be witches afoot. Expect the amount of cackling to go up exponentially.
It turns out all you need to do to become Santa is to kill the current Santa. To stay Santa, you just need to trick a frigid high school principal into marrying you. Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is a crappy father. But after mostly ruining Christmas, he has the chance to redeem himself by putting on the suit of Santa Clause, whom he recently murdered. Suddenly, he finds himself bound by a contract he didn't see to permanently become King Christmas himself. Several elves (disguised as crappy child actors) explain all of this to him and all his problems as a father disappear. Eight years later, in "The Santa Clause II", we learn about another clause of this totally-not-legally-binding contract: he needs to get married. Fortunately, he's able to use his santa-magic to make it seem like there's chemistry between him and Elizabeth Mitchell from "Lost". And something about an evil toy-santa dictator. I've forgotten. Like most Christmas movies, everything is about the children and Christmas is saved. Unlike most Christmas movies, these both have lots of reindeer farting.
As is typical with terrible books, the movie adaptation of Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer is an improvement on its source material. They significantly toned down the baby-dating, wife-swamping aspects of the book and focused on pretty visuals like a wedding in the woods and an island off Brazil. Breaking Dawn Part 1 follows Bella Swan (the constipated Kristen Stewart) as she turns from an annoying teenager into a sex-crazed teenager, then into a pregnant skeleton, and finally into a pair of vampire eyes. During this transition, her ex-boyfriend/kiss-rapist Jacob Black (the triangular Taylor Lautner) leaves his pack of dog-people and puppy guards Bella until he sees the demon baby and decides (in a totally non-creepy way) that he must be it's body guard forever. The movie succeeds in being less crazy and even has a couple of manufactured near-action sequences that make it more entertaining that the book. But if you're looking for a movie without K Stew and Robert Nipple Hair in it, you'll have to go somewhere else.
Wow. Stephanie Meyer is all about the creepy in this book. Every step of the way something new and disgusting happens. I am almost convinced at this point that the whole Twilight saga was a big joke on the fans. Bella's pregnancy is killing her from the inside, but Edward's mind reading ability lets them know that the alien baby loves them both. Since his plans to trade Bella's monogamy for an abortion didn't pan out, Edward Cullen focuses on making Bella and the alien baby healthier by having them drink human blood. Not to be outdone, Jacob drives to Seattle to find love. When that brilliant plan doesn't pan out, he returns just in time for Bella to give birth. Edward chews through the placenta and Jacob falls in love with the newborn. Which is grosser? You decide. Wife swapping, baby dating, placenta chewing, Bella's personality. It's a multi-way race for most disgusting thing Stephanie Meyer has ever come up with. Oh, and Bella gets turned into a vampire and the pacing gets even worse.
"Breaking Dawn" is the final book in the Twilight saga by Stephanie Meyer. Unlike the other books, which focused on Bella and Edward moping around and being all emo about nothing, Meyer opts for batshit crazy this time around. For the first quarter of the book, "Breaking Dawn" follows the wedding nuptials of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. They tell Bella's parents, Alice dresses them up all fancy, they both say "I do" and then! And then! And then the moment we've been waiting four books for... they bone! And just like every other climatic moment in the series, Bella passes out for most of it. The rest of this section is a confusing mess of Bella getting beaten up by Edward during sex, Bella getting pregnant with an alien baby, and then Bella getting beaten up by the alien baby. If Twilight has one message, it's that Bella needs to be hurt. Most of this podcast is us just trying to understand all this grossness, only to find that the next section is worse. Much much worse.
Reviewing Wild Animus did something strange to us. For the first time, a book was so bad, we actually felt bad for the author. Then we remembered we had to sit through 10 hours of nonsensical, acid washed audiobook. And we were angry. Then we noticed that Rich Shapero only had 32 fans on Facebook. And we felt bad again. Then we remembered he's giving the book away for free and it makes a good doorstop. So we felt better. Wild Animus follows the journey of bat-shit crazy kid with a bit too much charisma for his own good. He seduces a young woman while attending school at UC Berkeley and convinces her to work full time as a waitress and give him all the money she makes so he can climb dangerous mountains in Alaska while high on acid and dressed like a sheep. For hundreds of pages, he dances around the mountain in his wool helmet, popping LSD like they were survival rations. All the while, he tries to write a terrible book about wolves and sheep named, you guessed it, Wild Animus. Finally, nobody is changed and everybody is exactly the same and the book ends. They don't teach you this in school, but it's important to remember. Don't do drugs because it might make you think the book you wrote about sheep is good enough to publish. And it's not.
In mixed company, it is unwise to mention that holiday specials are less than perfect. Everybody has their nostalgia-blinders on and can't admit the simple truth: It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is slow and weird. To soften that blow, we also reviewed to other "classic" Halloween Specials. One from Home Improvement and one from Scooby Doo. What all three of these specials have in common is that nobody knows the true meaning of Halloween. While modern costume designers have decided "slutty" is the heart of the holiday, Scooby Doo (and his partner Scooby Dum) think it's got more to do with stop jewel thieves. For Tim Alan, Halloween is about scaring children, getting revenge on your son's ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend, and making tasteless jokes about Abe Lincoln. For Charlie Brown and his pals, Halloween is about recycling tired material from a comic strip and taking acid-trip-inspired breaks to watch a dog fight a war against invisible French people. Whatever you think the meaning of Halloween is, we hope you find it this year.
Back in 2001, before there was a Twilight series, there was another set of vampire books, this one focusing on blood suckers in the deep south. Since Stephanie Meyer hadn't yet ruined the genre, this series focused on the things vampires ought to do, have sex with people and drink their blood. Dead Until Dark is the first book in that series, and bloody sex is pretty much the only thing that happens. Vampires drink people blood, people drink vampire blood, vampires drink Japanese bottled blood, and everybody has sex with everybody else. All the while, there is a serial killer running around murdering waitresses. It's like a classic whodunit, if nobody really cared who dun it, but instead focused on fucking and exsanguinating each other.
Welcome back, students. Did you finish Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger? No? Well, let us tell you about it. He walks around New York and hates everything. So we do the only thing we can do, we talk about the stuff he hates and about New York. For the former, we play Hatin' Caulfield where discuss people who need a running start to talk, making out in taxis, and Jello cups. For the latter, we brought in Avery Monsen, coauthor of the book I Feel Relatively Neutral About New York. He tells us about ducks, whores, and pizza. We also discuss this amazing video of a monkey riding a bicycle with pants on. Monkeys with pants!
J.D. Salinger captured the angst of his age. Unfortunately, he created a whole new angst for generations of high schoolers that came after. Just like Mrs. Randolph did when I was in 12th grade, the fans forced us to read Catcher in the Rye. You'd think reading a good book would disrupt the normal flow of this podcast, but it really doesn't. Alex finds something not to like and picks fights with the guest. Chris and Ezra are funny and smart but nobody can remember which is which. A guest who is smart is forced to discuss taints. It's really a very standard episode, just with a better text book.
We bring back Amy from the Glee episode and the four of us watch the new Breaking Dawn trailer. There are weddings. There is monster baby pregnancy. There are jean shorts. Like it or not, we'll be there when the movie comes out. The trailer we watched is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1OHXR63a38