Movie Adaptations

With the death of J.D. Salinger, speculation about The Catcher in the Rye being adapted as a movie is inevitable.  So that got me thinking about movie adaptations that I would be excited about, but secretly dread because of the probability that they would be bad.

That led to a list of ten possible adaptations that will never live up to the hype I would assign them in my brain.  That, in turn, led to another list, this time of ten movie adaptations that have already been made, and are already disappointing.  But I didn’t want to be completely negative, so I’ll finish with a list of ten movie adaptations that, in my opinion, really knocked it out of the park, and in some cases, surpassed whatever they were based on.  I’m sure I’m forgetting some here; let me know if there is anything too obvious.  Also, for the most part, I tried to include only examples where I’m familiar with both the movie and the source material (exceptions are noted).

Movie adaptations by which I will inevitably, someday, be disappointed:

10) A Confederacy of Dunces

Apparently Harold Ramis tried to turn this into a movie back in 1982, with John Belushi in the lead role, but then Belushi died.  That might have actually been pretty good.  Ignatius Reilly is such a weird, delightful character that I can’t really imagine anyone pulling him off.  The most recent talk has been about Will Ferrell donning a fat suit to play him.  Eh.

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9) Then We Came to the End

As far as I know no one is planning to turn this into a movie, but it just seems like the kind of thing that someone might try.  For some reason, I picture John C. McGinley, the guy that plays Dr. Cox on Scrubs, getting cast as Tom Mota.  And I am aghast at that possibility.

8 ) Lost

Again, no concrete plans in place.  But I guarantee there will be a movie at some point. Disney is already talking about the future of Lost as a brand. But what would the movie be?  I’m guessing the television finale will give us a pretty definitive ending to the current set of characters’ story.  And I can’t imagine a prequel would be all that interesting.  So, what happens?  A new plane crashes on the island?

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The (Last) Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien

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Some might say that The Tonight Show, in its mythical, beloved form, ended years ago, when Jay Leno bashed it down into a formulaic, unfunny pulp.  But at the very least, I think we can all agree that going forward The Tonight Show no longer really exists.  The brand is sullied.  No one cares anymore.  And probably because I’m not old, and I never watched Johnny Carson, I don’t really care all that much, either.  It never meant anything to me, really.  The scene has splintered, and while some bemoan the loss of a cultural institution, all I know is that now I can watch Letterman, Stewart, Colbert, maybe even a bit of Kimmel or Ferguson or Fallon here and there.  And in a little more than seven months, I’ll probably be able to watch Conan again.  I have a computer.  I have a DVR.  The more the merrier, guys.

That doesn’t mean that what happened to Conan was fair.  Considering that NBC has seemingly done everything possible to undermine his ability to produce a successful show, I think he’s handled himself well throughout this.  And so has Leno, in his own way; I mean, I think he’s kind of a scumbag, but I wasn’t going to watch him anyway.  He’s portraying himself as a victim, and his is audience is still on his side.  I have no doubt he’ll pull ratings that are higher than what Conan was getting prior to all of this mess.  But his audience will just keep getting older, and advertisers won’t want to advertise for them, and the death of traditional late night television will be accelerated even more.  Oh, NBC.

Anyway, I thought I would do another not-at-all-live live blog with my thoughts during the last night of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.  Also known as probably the last night of late night television as we once knew it.  I’ll put in some Hulu clips if they get posted; since NBC has continued to somewhat bafflingly put this stuff online, I have to assume they will continue to do so.  I’ll also disperse a few photos I took throughout.

Update: Not surprisingly, NBC has taken the videos below off of Hulu.  I’m leaving the dead remnants up, though, because it seems appropriate.

11:35 – Our last time hearing this theme song, I would imagine; NBC surely owns it.  My favorite Conan opening was the Late Night one where he was running around New York and eventually jumped into the river.  He comes out to a standing ovation and Johanna and I both feel very sad.

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Video Games, 2000-2009

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By no means am I a big gamer.  There are probably great games from this decade that I’ve never even heard of, let alone played.  And I know for a fact that there are great games out there that I haven’t played; I currently have a stack next to my TV of unopened games that includes the well-reviewed Left 4 Dead 2, Fallout 3, and Assassin’s Creed 2.  I should also include the caveat that I’m not a big sports game person, or a huge first-person shooter fan, as evidenced by the fact that there is no Halo to be found here.  But in the imperfect spirit of my lists, here are my 20 favorite video games of the decade (along with the year of release and the console on which I spent the most time playing them):

20) Crackdown (2007, Xbox 360)

This game seems like an afterthought, and sort of was.  I’m guessing that it’s most remembered for being the game that came with an access code for the Halo 3 beta.  But it’s a game that I find myself coming back to on Saturday afternoons when I’m bored and just feel like throwing cars and jumping over buildings.  Great arcade-y fun, and the orb collecting is completely addictive.

19) Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2 (2009, Xbox 360)

I guess, according to this list, this is my favorite first-person shooter of the decade.  The levels in this game are much more varied than most shooters; it sort of reminds me of my favorite FPS of last decade, GoldenEye 007.  That’s also the reason that I picked this over the original Modern Warfare. Even though I don’t really play video games online (probably the main draw of this title), I didn’t mind that the single player story was pretty short.  There are so many great games coming out lately that I don’t have time for all of these 30-hour epics.

18) Wii Sports (2006, Wii)

I don’t really play the Wii that often.  Most people that own them seem to stop using them after a while.  But when I do revisit the system, this is what I want to play.  And everyone who plays this game for the first time wants to go buy a Wii.  The most brilliant system and game bundling since the NES and Super Mario Brothers.

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The Golden Globes, 2010

Ah, The Golden Globes, a time for dressing up and drinking single malt Scotch.

Johanna and I were on a big delay for the event, due to other activities, and also due to the fact that we wanted to be able to fast-forward through all of the commercials.  Just as we were sitting down to start it I got a text from my friend Mike that, while ruining one of the winners for me, gave me the idea of (not really live) live-blogging the event.  So thanks, Mike!  Here are my thoughts, along with exciting updates about my winner-picking competition with Johanna (all times listed are Eastern Time Zone, and not when I actually watched it; not only did we start it late, I had to pause it every ten minutes or so to try to find the mouse that we keep hearing in our kitchen).

8:00-8:04 – A nice open from Ricky Gervais.  Even if I weren’t such a big fan of his I would applaud his selection as host.  He’s exactly what these things need, someone who has no interests to protect and no problem poking fun.  His jokes seem to be hitting with the audience, but it’s almost like it’s canned laughter or something, because the wide shots of the big stars up front aren’t revealing too many smiles.  Maybe the laughter is coming from the people in the back.  Hollywood, as always, taking itself too seriously.

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Songs, 2000-2009

I debated how to best represent the decade in music in list form.  Eventually, I decided on songs over albums; it seemed more fitting in the era of iTunes.

This list shows that my musical tastes, like my politics, are pretty middle-of-the-road. I like the most mainstream and accessible indie rock and I’m a sucker for the occasional pop song.

I should also point out that I think this might be longer than anything I wrote in college.  It’s entirely possible that the length of this will make it completely unreadable.  But whatever, brevity has never been my strong suit.  Here they are, my 150 favorite songs of the decade (music videos when I was able to easily find one that I liked that allowed embedding):

150) Cannibal Ox – “Iron Galaxy” (2001)

This album has such a singular sound that it’s weird hearing Vast Aire rapping over any other production.  I think that’s why I could never really get into Look Mom…No Hands.  The Vast Aire verse at the end of this song is sort of the end of the golden age of underground hip hop for me, a topic that will definitely be more thoroughly discussed if I ever do a list of my favorite songs of the 90s.

149) Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros – “Johnny Appleseed” (2001)

The best part of John from Cincinnati.  Almost makes me want to check out the rest of Joe Strummer’s post-Clash career.

148) Air – “Universal Traveller” (2004)

The only song from Talkie Walkie that holds up for me.  Really the only Air song that I listen to on a regular basis.  Pops up on the occasional Rick Steves podcast, so that’s a plus.

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Extremely helpful online reviews

One of my favorite things about online shopping is the reviews.  It’s nice to have other consumers like myself share their experiences with a product that I’m thinking of purchasing.  It’s also fun to read reviews written by people that have very little conception of how the internet works, are confused about how a product is supposed to be used, or just have a funny way of talking that doesn’t translate well to writing.  I thought I would share these as I come across them.  Keep in mind that some of them might not be funny to anyone but me; I’ve found that to be the case with a lot of things in life.

Here’s one I found tonight while looking for a coat rack from Target:

3 stars

Color was too dark – NOT cherry December 6, 2009 Reviewer:  GatorGirl (Kansas City)

The rack is sturdy and I like the design, but the color was not cherry. It was much darker. Almost black. Fortunately, it is usually covered with coats.

Was this review helpful to you?

Why yes, it was helpful by making me laugh.  There is really nothing wrong with GatorGirl’s review.  It actually would be good to know that the wood color was not as advertised if you really want all your woods to match.  The last line just cracked me up for some reason.

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