Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanks 2017

     On Thanksgiving last year, the country was on the cusp of a momentous change.  Things have not particularly calmed down since then (do they ever, really?), and however you feel that change has paid off for the country, you'd have to agree that things have not exactly become easier or brighter.  But one of the ways we get through it is by finding things we're thankful for, too.  As on Thanksgivings' past, here are a few small things I'm thankful for, that offer sheer enjoyment, but also a deeper perspective on things we take for granted.

All the President's Men by Carl Benrstein and Bob Woodward - As an account of Watergate by the two journalists who broke the story, it's not exactly a light read, nor an escape from the real world.  Adapted into a riveting movie, the book illuminates just how much bigger the story was than the actual break in at the Democratic National Convention headquarters.  Most astonishing is just how deep President Nixon's rabbit hole of corruption went and the lengths he and his people would go to destroy their enemies, both real and imagined.  It happened in the 1970s, but it's still (or once again) a timely read and, ironically, a hopeful one.  Watergate, which felt every bit as cataclysmic as our own era's problems feel now, did change our country forever.  But if we survived that, maybe we can survive a lot more than we think we can. 

Channel Zero: No End House - Comprising the second season of the SyFy Channel's anthology horror series overseen by off-beat horror writer Nick Antosca, this takes the frame of the creaky old scary story standby, the haunted house, and builds something new out of it.  A small group of college-agers are lured by urban myth and social media into a mysterious, intermittently appearing and disappearing house.  Braving its increasingly terrifying rooms, they find that the true danger comes after they leave . . . or think they have.  Creepy, weird and psychologically insightful, this draws its fear from its characters and their relationships and, in a growing pool of TV horror anthologies, puts Channel Zero as the top of the heap.

Cinemaps by Andrew DeGraff and A.D. Jameson - A follow up to DeGraff's Plotted: A Literary Atlas, which provides maps for and commentary on several literary works, this does the same for thirty-five different movies.  You could spend plenty of time pouring over the intricate maps themselves, especially in such clever forms as the multiple time-period representation for Back to the Future, but the perceptive essays that accompany the maps draw insightful new thematic elements out of well-trodden and often-analyzed classics (The Empire Strikes Back and Alien are two particular stand outs).

     Have happy Thanksgiving and take a free, bonus turkey joke while you're at it.