2012 Media Intake

Books:

Flood by Stephen Baxter, Science Fiction, 488 pages, finished on 1/3/12
This is, as much as most of Baxter’s near-term science fiction, pretty bleak stuff. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the heck out of it and plan to read the sequel, Ark, in 2012, as well.
Seed by Rob Ziegler, Science Fiction, 339 pages, finished on 1/5/12
I had a real love-hate relationship with this book. At first, I was put off by all the exotica (I’m a big fan of what John Scalzi calls the school of “the new comprehensible” science fiction), but the story did find its feet. However, I kept getting yanked out of it by misused homonyms (“peddled” when they meant “pedaled” and so on), and a lot of one-letter-off typos that changed the meanings of words. Because of this, I’m actually pretty reluctant to buy anything else from Nightshade Books. The world Ziegler has created is interesting in and of itself, but without much in the way of historical context to explain why the world has become the way it is. Characters are pretty cardboard, too — you have the starving-but-noble refugee, the PTSD-riddled Secret Service agent, the smug gang warlord, and the scientist-as-a-general.
Selection Event by Wayne Wightman, Science Fiction, 290 pages, finished on 1/5/12
I can’t believe I tore through this in a day.
Wool by Hugh Howey, Science Fiction, 70 pages, finished on 1/6/12
Wool 2: Proper Gauge by Hugh Howey, Science Fiction, 106 pages, finished on 1/7/12
Wool 3: Casting Off by Hugh Howey, Science Fiction, 120 pages, finished on 1/7/12
Wool 4: The Unraveling by Hugh Howey, Science Fiction, 166 pages, finished on 1/8/12
My first run-in with Wool started with an “eh-it’s-just-a-buck” purchase of the first in the series, and I was instantly and completely hooked, as you can see from the progress through the first four of the series. The fifth installment is due on February 1, 2012. Thank god.
The Ware Tetralogy by Rudy Rucker, Science Fiction, 704 pages, finished on 1/29/12
Partial re-read. Partial? Yeah, I’ve read the first three of the four books prior to picking it up. Rucker remains just as surreal now as he did in the 90’s when I read these books. And this one took me awhile as Edwin was born just a few days into my digging into this sucker.
Wool 5: The Stranded by Hugh Howey, Science Fiction, 100 pages, finished on 1/30/12
The fifth installment of the Wool series. Still fun, great ending that sets up the sixth installment quite nicely.
Ark by Stephen Baxter, Science Fiction, 416 pages, finished on 2/1/12
The “alongside” sequel to Flood, and as usual, Baxter shovels up a big load of pathos. And not only is it a bit of a downer, but it stretches credibility as well — given the harder-science of the prequel, Ark seems less likely. Sure, we can kinda figure out the Alcubierre warp drive math, but building one is a near-impossibility. So our protagonists building one when the world’s flooding and the waters are starting to make their way up the slopes of the Rockies? I can only suspend so much disbelief.
The Tranquility Alternative by Allen Steele, Science Fiction, 309 pages, finished on 2/5/12.
Paper. Re-read. An alternate history of the space program, in which it starts in 1944 and comes to a close (for the U.S. at least) in 1995. A look at how things could have been very different. Okay. Not great.
Little Machines by Paul McAuley, Science Fiction, 350 pages, finished on 2/6/12.
A collection of short stories that I found to be quite good. The closing story, “Cross Roads Blues” which involves time travel, Ike Turner (never directly named such) as the protagonist, and blues genius Robert Johnson in a role not unlike that of Martin Luther King, Jr. Loved it.
Solaris Rising edited by Ian Whates, Science Fiction, 448 pages, finished on 2/13/12
The previous collections of short stories in the Solaris series were pretty good. I just could not deal with about half of the stories in this edition and basically skimmed them. There were a few notable stories, but as a whole, it was about 50% meh.
The Quiet War by Paul Macauley, Science Fiction, 405 pages, finished on 3/5/12
Four. Hundred. And. Five. Pages. And every one of them was a trudge. Blah.
The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli, Philosophy, 232 pages, finished on 3/8/12
I seemed to be the only college graduate in the United States who hadn’t read this. It was time to rectify that.
American Gods, 10th Anniversary Edition by Neil Gaiman, Fantasy, 538 pages, finished on 3/27/12
Not counting this as a re-read, due to it being 12000 words longer than the original edition.
The Power of Unpopular by Erika Napoletano, Business, 224 pages, finished on 4/17/12
One of the better and more inspiring books on building your business. Recommended for every entrepreneur.
Goliath by Scott Westerfield, Science Fiction, 576 pages, finished on 4/22/12
I started reading this series two years ago while on my honeymoon in Jamaica. One of the more interesting worlds developed in the genre. Great fun, and a satisfying conclusion to the series.
Tau Zero by Poul Anderson, Science Fiction, 190 pages, finished on 4/30/12
I frequently find myself having a difficult time, when reading sci-fi classics, in dealing with the fucked-up mores that one often sees. The misogyny that reared up in this book frequently annoyed the crap out of me. That said, it was an entertaining read, even if the conclusion felt a little rushed/contrived.
Half Way Home by Hugh Howey, Science Fiction, 191 pages, finished on 5/6/12
Okay, but nowhere near the quality of Howey’s WOOL series.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, Fiction, 362 pages, finished on 5/20/12
An okay book, but unlike most people (apparently), I didn’t connect with it emotionally.
The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow by Cory Doctorow, Blend, 136 pages, finished on 5/26/12
Mix of short stories, plus an interview. Not bad.
With a Little Help by Cory Doctorow, Science Fiction, 364 pages, finished on 6/1/12
Short stories. I tore through it, as I always seem to do with Doctorow’s stuff.
Redshirts by John Scalzi, Science Fiction, 320 pages, finished on 6/10/12
Good, but not at all what I was expecting from Scalzi. One of his few that I don’t foresee re-reading.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, Memoirs, 319 pages, finished on 6/23/12
Jenny is one fucking hilarious writer. Every time I read it, her story of the giant metal rooster reduces me to laughing so hard I nearly pee. It’s in here.
REAMDE by Neal Stephenson, Science Fiction, 1056 pages, finished on 7/31/12
Wow. So, I struggled to finish his previous book, Anathem. This one was a fucking slog and a half. And man, I knew it wasn’t going anywhere interesting by the time I had 200 pages left. And I was right. But I finished it. And I hated it. I am seriously going to take a pause and decide whether or not to buy his books going forward. This was a sad, sad experience for me.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Science Fiction, 384 pages, finished on 8/4/12
I read this to see what the hype was about. Honestly, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the book, but at least the protagonist didn’t fit the usual helpless-female-teenager role. I did move on in the series since it was an easy read, to see what happened.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Science Fiction, 391 pages, finished on 8/6/12
Just okay.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, Science Fiction, 400 pages, finished on 8/6/12
An okay end, I guess.
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson, Science Fiction, 416 pages, finished on 8/11/12.Okay. I didn’t think it was absolutely fantastic, but it was an enjoyable read.
2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America by Albert Brooks, Science Fiction, 384 pages, finished on 8/16/12
This book actually bugged me. Yes, I can see it being a possible future, but man…nothing interesting really happens. It’s like reading Newsweek from 2030.
1632 by Eric Flint, Science Fiction, 608 pages, finished on 8/21/12
Re-read.I enjoy this series because it’s such a goofy concept. West Virginia coal mining town gets knocked back in time to the middle of the Thirty Years’ War, and located in central Germany. Obviously, everything changes.
1633 by Eric Flint and David Weber, Science Fiction, 688 pages, finished on 8/27/12
Re-read. The sequel to 1632, a bit more hefty, and still interesting.
1634: The Galileo Affair by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis, Science Fiction, 688 pages, finished on 9/6/12
Not bad, but not great. Pretty much a whole new cast of characters and they don’t live and breathe like the characters in the two preceding novels.
1634: The Ram Rebellion by Eric Flint and Virginia DeMarce, Science Fiction, 720 pages, finished on 10/5/12
Oh god, what a trudge. You can probably skip this book.
The Rapture of the Nerds by Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow, Science Fiction, 352 pages, finished on 10/13/12
After all the hype, I was kinda underwhelmed by this. Which is sad, because they’re two of my favorite authors.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe by Charles Yu, Science Fiction, 256 pages, finished on 11/5/12
A heck of a novel idea and a fun read.
The Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven, Science Fiction, 416 pages, finished on 11/14/12
A really nifty idea, and a fun read. About 75% of the way through, it became clear that this was a setup for a sequel. Turns out it’s the first in a trilogy, and I’ll definitely be reading the rest of it.
Midst Toil and Tribulation by David Weber, Science Fiction, 608 pages, finished on 12/09/12
Book 6 in the Safehold series, and the war is getting really ugly. I enjoyed it, of course, and I am dying for the next one to come out.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Fiction, 208 pages, finished on 12/17/12
A literary classic. And one that could do with a reboot. I suggest Chuck Palahniuk get the job.
The Postmortal by Drew Magary, Fiction, 384 pages, finished on 12/24/12
Interesting book, strong emotional ending. I highly recommend this one.

Movies:

Horrible Bosses, 98 minutes, 1/7/12
I LOL’ed quite a bit during this one. It wasn’t Hangover-level funny, but it was still good. Kevin Spacey did a great job as a ginormous douchebag, Jennifer Aniston was awesome as the “CRAZY FUCKING BITCH.” Might not watch it again, but it wasn’t a waste of my time, either.
The Princess Bride, 98 minutes, 1/7/12
Re-watch. A classic.
Coming to America, 116 minutes, 1/8/12
Re-watch. Also a classic.
Sherlock Holmes (2009), 128 minutes, 2/20/12
Good gritty backgrounds, okay fight scenes. Okay, but won’t likely re-watch.
Shooter, 124 minutes, 2/22/12
Re-watch. File this one under “don’t make me think, okay?”
Bridesmaids, 125 minutes, 2/23/12
Not as hilarious as everyone claimed it would be.
The Dark Knight, 152 minutes, 2/25/12
Re-watch.
Battle: Los Angeles, 116 minutes, 2/29/12
Wow, what a fucking waste of time. Plot? Who needs it?
Rules of Engagement, 128 minutes, 3/3/12
Re-watch. Doesn’t hold up as well, especially in light of more modern war atrocities.
Rango, 107 minutes, 3/9/12
Hilarious. Was not expecting to like this as much as I did.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 103 minutes, 3/11/12
Holy crap, how did it take me so long to see this movie? So damn good. Will definitely re-watch.
How to Train Your Dragon, 95 minutes, 3/15/12
Holy crap, I forgot I was watching a Dreamworks movie. Lots of heart, great work animating Shadow. Definitely worth watching again. And again.
Bad Boys 2, 147 minutes, 3/16/12
Re-watch. Nowhere near as awesome as the first one in the series, but good when there’s nothing else on.
The Fellowship of the Ring (Special Edition DVD), 208 minutes,3/18/12
This was preparation for the Hobbit movie coming out this summer.
The Two Towers (Special Edition DVD), 223 minutes, 3/21/12
See above.
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, 121 minutes, 3/31/12
It is amazing a.) what passed for cinema in the 1980’s, b.) what is on at 3 a.m. when you’re dealing with a fussy baby, and c.) that they had the hubris to put “The Adventure Begins” in the title.
Being Elmo, 76 minutes, 3/31/12
A short documentary and maybe my favorite movie of the year to this point. Holy cow, that the tale of one Muppet and the person behind him could be so compelling was very eye-opening.
The Tale of Despereux, 93 minutes, 3/31/12
Meh. Not great. Not horrible, either. I probably won’t remember this movie in five years.
The Return of the King (Special Edition DVD), 251 minutes, 4/1/12
See comments re: previous two in the series.
The Book of Eli, 118 minutes, 4/1/12
Thin on plot. No thinking required. Unlikely to ever view again. Spoiler: Braille.
Suckerpunch, 110 minutes, 4/7/12
When I said that it was “the first movie written, directed, and produced by 13-year old boys” I was trying to be funny. My wife believed me. That’s how crazy bad this movie is. The soundtrack, however, is awesome. And the visuals are pretty decent.
Hugo, 126 minutes, 4/15/12
This was so not what I was expecting from the movie, but I still really enjoyed it. I’d love to revisit this one again sometime and see if I have the same reaction to it.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, 110 minutes, 4/22/12
Extraordinarily stupid! No brain required!
Contagion, 106 minutes, 4/29/12
Get off the bus at Lake and Lyndale! Because there won’t be anyone around! Yeah. Good movie; I liked the realism of the science, and that it actually took 100+ days for anything to move toward resolution. Not too bad.
The Social Network, 120 minutes, 5/6/12
Just in case you thought Mark Zuckerberg was a decent dude. I realize that a lot of what was shown here was for dramatic effect, but man. A really interesting look inside the creation of Facebook.
Cars 2, 106 minutes, 5/6/12
I really hated the first one, which is hard for me to say about a Pixar movie, but meh. I actually disliked Cars 2 even more than the original.
The Avengers, 143 minutes, 5/19/12
Finally, a comic book movie that didn’t try to take itself too seriously, but also didn’t go over-the-top (like the original Batman movies). Great action, great laughs, and the best-ever scene at the end of the closing credits of any Marvel movie.
Drive, 100 minutes, 5/27Great movie, beautiful cinematography. Loved it. Not sure if it’s re-watchable.
The Muppets, 103 minutes, 5/27Fun, but almost felt like it was trying too hard.
X-Men: First Class, 132 minutes, 5/30Good fun. Loved it. Rare to see an origin story that’s that compelling.
Hot Fuzz, 121 minutes, 6/23
It’s no Shaun of the Dead, but it’s still awesome.
Thor, 115 minutes, 7/1
It’s a good thing I didn’t see this before I saw the Avengers, otherwise I might not have gone to the latter.
Uncle Buck, 100 minutes, 7/4An 80’s classic that I’d never seen from beginning to end — just in snippets on broadcast TV.
Captain America: The First Avenger, 124 minutes, 7/29Better than Thor, but still just meh.
Back to School, 96 minutes, 8/12
Re-watch. An 80’s classic. Dangerfield = awesome.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, 112 minutes, 9/3
We watched this when Green Zone turned into a piece of shit. This was great.
The Hunger Games, 142 minutes, 9/11
I watched this while watching the kid. There was nothing else on TV worth watching. Seriously.
Beverly Hills Cop, 105 minutes, 9/22
Re-watch. A classic.
Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story, 102 minutes, 9/30A documentary. Interesting.
The Avengers, 143 minutes, 10/1
Rewatch of DVD.
Smokey and the Bandit, 96 minutes, 10/7
Was this movie actually considered funny? Because it was fucking stupid.
The Matrix, 136 minutes, 10/7
A re-watch. Holds up okay, but not great.
Lilo & Stitch, 85 minutes, 10/27
A re-watch. I’d argue that this is one of Disney’s best movies from a visual perspective.
Juno, 96 minutes, 11/3
Not sure what all the hype was about.
Rudy, 114 minutes, 11/3
Re-watch. Also a classic.
Brave, 93 minutes, 11/16
Pixar is king.
Argo, 120 minutes, 11/17
One of my few in-theatre viewings this year. Great movie.
The Amazing Spider-Man, 136 minutes, 11/26
Much more fun than the Tobey Maguire bullshit. I enjoyed this one a lot.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, 101 minutes, 12/1
Holy crap what a great movie.
Trekkies, 86 minutes, 12/2
Cringe-worthy.
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, 113 minutes, 12/3
The best of the original/non-reboot movies.
Tron: Legacy, 125 minutes, 12/7
Visual feast, thin on plot.
21 Jump Street, 109 minutes, 12/7
I fucking laughed my ass off at this one.
Ted (Unrated), 113 minutes, 12/14
Other than Ted having Peter Griffin’s voice, this too, was hilarious.
Kuffs, 102 minutes, 12/15
Re-watch of a bad 90’s movie.
The Dark Knight Rises, 165 minutes, 12/20
A satisfying ending to the trilogy, and a decent setup for Gordon-Levitt to take over the lead role.

TV:

Archer
Burn Notice
The Voice
Friday Night Lights
The Pacific
Game of Thrones
The League

Video Games:

Draw Something (iOS)
Angry Birds Space (iOS)
Scramble with Friends (iOS)
Letterpress (iOS)
Battlefield 3 (PS3)