Hopscotch - Julio Cortázar

A dark, seedy, erotic Choose Your Own Adventure.


To strangle the little faubourienne you have turned into your whore, turn to page 235!

To smoke clove cigarettes and discuss people who haven't read Mauriac, turn to page 431!



Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! - Richard Feynman

I like Math, and because a lot of Math people like physics, someone I knew recommended me a few hard and soft physics books to get me interested.

I was on board until I got to this one. Most of it is obnoxiously arrogant. The rest is psychotic. The chapter "You Just Ask Them" - where he rants about how women are "worthless bitches" and deserve to be abused and should have sex with him whether they want to or not - reads like the unapologetic confession of a serial killer after the police start discovering bodies.

And, it turns out, Feynman was so aggressively sexually abusive towards his students - even by the standards of the 60s and 70s - that he inspired numerous protests.

I want to make something abundantly clear: If you like this or think that it's clever, you are a person with serious mental health issues, and you are possibly dangerous to yourself and others. You need to seek professional help from a psychologist.



The Sopranos - All Seasons

I imagine that at most meetings that happen at HBO, someone ends up writing "Darker and Edgier" on a whiteboard, and then underlines in three or four times for emphasis, and then says, "Did you even read my email? I asked for darker and edgier."

This is the most overrated show of all time. The first season was okay, except the by-the-numbers mafia plot and that characters were mostly stolen from things Scorsese and others had done years or decades earlier.

After season one's story arc, about a quarter of the episodes were bottom-tier soap opera, and three quarters were gimmicky one-offs ("Imagine a mafioso at an X! What a incongruous situation for a mobster to be in lol!!"). Imagine Mr. Ed but instead of a horse it's a psychologist and instead of Wilbur it's a bunch of characters stolen from much better stories. Except that, once in a while, Mr. Ed's jokes would actually land.

Even worse than the show was the theme song, which is the bottom of the barrel of white guys ripping of old blues. It's the soundtrack to the life of a middle manager who wears jean jackets and flannel on casual Fridays, and has a blonde ponytail, and snorts coke, and asks you to recommend him an ashram as a thinly-veiled pretence for recommending you his favourite ashram. He says he likes the song because it reminds him of how he likes to live his life: intensely.



Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 2 - The Battle for Doldrey (2012)

I didn't think the first one was that good, but I thought it had potential. This one was boring, stupid, and was weighted down with subplots that did nothing to drive the story forward. I wouldn't recommend any of these movies, but if you're really set on watching them, at least do yourself a favour and miss this one.



After Life (2019)

The ads were full of comedians and jokes, so I assumed it was a sitcom. It turns out it's a depressing drama about a man who is suicidal and takes heroin, which feels like a dirty trick because I would never, in a million years, watch something like that knowing what it was beforehand. It kind of seems like the sort of pointless, easy drama that's written to win an Oscar, but it can't even do that because it's a TV show.



Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 3 - The Advent (2013)

After hours of waiting for this series to get better, part three offers a really good plot twist, and great artwork. Then, out of nowhere, a tentacle rape scene. I wish I'd never wasted my time.



Get Smart - All Seasons

I had fond memories watching reruns of this as a child and I caught a couple episodes at 2:00 AM when working a graveyard shift a few years ago. It seemed funny and inoffensive so I decided to watch the series through.

Wow is this show racist! I don't mean standards-of-the-day racist. I watch a lot of old-timey sitcoms and this one is unusual. Mchale's Navy used a racial slur almost every single episode, and still managed to be a lot less racist than this. Even Love Thy Neighbour had a faint pretence of give and take. This is mocking and smug, like one of those cartoons from the 30s. It's a shame, because the non-race episode are often pretty good, but there's a certain point where I just can't enjoy it knowing what kind of people are behind it.

(too busy this weekend for links, sorry. enjoy these queued up posts and see you next week)


Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)

My least favourite type of music, by far, is 00s indie rock. I would rather have the sides of my head gouged out than hear extremely privileged white kids whine about their girl problems and pass cringey affectations off as quirky. And here we have, just as the trend was thankfully ending, a movie about a quirky indie rock singer with girl problems.

The nicest and most objective thing I can write about this movie is that when you sit down and think about it, it's not nearly as bad as Hitler.



Grimm's Household Tales - Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm

The most famous collection of fairy tales, but a long way from being the best. The stories and their messages are weird and unbalanced - not just by the standards of the day - and there are also a couple of antisemitic stories that spoil the whole thing.

When I point something like that out, someone inevitably makes a "it was normal back then" argument, but I've never seen antisemitic stories in any other old folk tale collections and, according to one of the world's top experts, Maria Tatar, no other German collection from the 19th century has any similar stories. Besides that, story books like this are one of the first things to define what normal means for people, and should be held to a very high standard. I'd bet you bottom dollar that most people involved in implementing the Holocaust were introduced to the existence of Jews through this very book. A stain on the genre. A piece of garbage that's best left forgotten.