The 2017 Annual Greed List!

Thanks to some psychiatric problems, I am almost terminally late with my Annual Greed List – the large (and, yes, uncut) list of things I desire for Christmas. Why do I do this? If you’re really interested, here’s a brief history of the Greed List.

The briefer version, however, is that I think “What you want” is a reflection of “Who you are” at this moment – your music, your hobbies, your fandoms, help define who you are as a person.  I find it fascinating as a history, watching how what I’ve desired has mutated – for example, the list used to be heavy on physical Things, which then changed slowly into digital objects as MP3s and iTunes became big, and now as I’m renting a lot of digital stuff nowadays I’m back to wanting Things again.

(And it allows me to chronicle strange bumps in my desires; for example, last year’s list contained not one single book. Why? Was it because I stopped loving books?  No!  It’s because I just got off a book tour for Fix, and I was so overflowing with books that I needed to run down my pile.  Now I’m back to only a garbage truck-sized heap of books, and I need more.)

Yet while I guess I could just shove my Amazon Wishlist at you and run, why bother?  I want you to know who I am in this moment, and so I not only list what I want, but explain why I want it.

So.  Here’s what I’d like for this Star Wars-infused holiday season.

Review My Books.
I have officially written four books:

If you haven’t bought them yet, obviously buying them is a good thing for me.  (Start with Flex and work your way down.)  But if you have, and you haven’t left a review somewhere – whether that’s at Amazon, Goodreads, or Barnes and Noble –

Well, every review helps shape the retailers’ recommendation engines, and enough reviews (even negative ones) makes it far more likely that Amazon or Barnes and Noble will recommend that author’s book to someone else.  So even if it’s a two-star review of “Got bored, walked away,” well, actually, that helps.

So you wanna get me a gift that costs you nothing aside from five minutes of time?  If you’ve read my book, rate my book somewhere.  Which you can do for literally any other author you like, because guess what – it helps them!

Watchmen (Annotated Edition) $33.99
My all-time favorite graphic novel is Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.  I’d liked comics before Alan Moore came along, but I’d always thought of them as goofy and dispensable, not really capable of carrying deep emotional weight.

(Which is different from saying they can’t inspire emotion – I mean, I genuinely still tear up every time I read  Muhammad Ali fighting Superman, because that is one kick-ass comic – but I wouldn’t call Muhammad Ali fighting space warriors out to invade Planet Earth deep or anything.)

Anyway, Watchmen was the first comic I read where I could read it again and find more detail.  There are hidden depths to Watchmen that only really turn up the third or fourth time you read it – and it’s not a perfect comic, because some aspects of it have not aged well, but it was the perfect comic for me in that moment, if you can make that distinction.  It took superheroes and fused them with literary fiction in a way where wait, hold on, how do you blend genuine complex emotion with crimefighting?

(Even if Watchmen’s ultimate answer is that you really don’t.  Beating up criminals in alleyways isn’t a healthy profession, and it doesn’t do much.)

Anyway, I know little about this book except it claims to annotate Watchmen in-depth, and I am there for that.  It’s released tomorrow.  But it ships in time for Christmas.

Baby Driver (Blu-Ray) $19.96
This movie was, honestly, a disappointment for me when I saw it – it was a slam-bang car-chase movie from one of my favorite directors, and but all the best action moments (which were spectacular) were spoiled in the trailers.  It was tightly-plotted, as I’d expect, and it was beautifully shot, but in the end I thought it was a bit overrated.

So why is it here?

Because Edgar Wright’s other films – Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, World’s End, Scott Pilgrim – have gotten better on each rewatching, because he has lots of little moments you miss the first time around.  His films are like clockwork watches, every bit fitting neatly into the plot, and they’re also comfort watching.

So I’ll probably like this more the more I see it.  At least if past experience is anything to go by.

Final Fantasy XV for PS4 ($39.99)
Interestingly, this was on last year’s list and I didn’t get it and I’m still interested.  Is it that great a game?

No.  But it’s the only game on this year’s list, even though I’m a videogame addict.  It’s been a dry year for the kinds of games I like – which is to say, big meandery RPGs where you can fight but you can also go on fishing side quests or explore caves or just see the sights.  And considering I finished up the South Park RPG in about two weeks because it was really enjoyable but too shallow, Final Fantasy’s reviews from my friends indicate that yeah, I need some of its meandering in my life to help relax again.

So here it is!  Surprisingly high on the list for a game series I’m not traditionally into.  But I’m told that FF XV – yes, the fifteenth in the series – is unlike the other ones.  So let’s see.

Odyssey, by Emily Wilson (and Homer), $29.99
This translation’s been all kinds of hotness in my Twitter-circle, because it’s a modern, feminist translation of Homer’s Odyssey.  And good translations are hard to do, because they’re not just “swap foreign words for English ones” – you have to consider context and how culture changes.

My favorite translation of all time is Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf, where he condenses several lines of ancient English into a single word.  Because Beowulf starts with the ancient “HEAR YE, HEAR YE, LISTEN ATTENTIVELY TO THE GREAT TALE I AM ABOUT TO TELL,” and Seamus went, “Wait, nobody talks like that.  What do modern people say when they want to alert someone that they’ve got a tale where shit’s about to go down?”

The first word of his Beowulf translation: “So.”

Beautiful.

I read an interview with Emily where she essentially said, “It’s fascinating how every other translation turns ‘house slaves’ into ‘maids’ and ‘butlers,’ like they’re just hired men instead of kidnapped people.”  People apparently keep trying to translate out the complexities and contradictions of the original text instead of leaving them in, and I’d like to see this more complex version of the Odyssey.

Westworld: The Complete First Season (Blu-Ray) $27.99
My Dad asked me if he’d like Westworld.  I wish I could tell him.

The problem is, he’s watching it in a very different way than I did.

I watched Westworld week-by-week as it premiered, and in those weeks I read hundreds of fan theories, listened to podcasts that dissected every detail.  I obsessed over this show, to the point where when the season ending came I had five predictions and I nailed four of them because the show played fair and rewarded diligent watching.

And so for my Dad, who’d probably mildly binge-watch it in a couple of weeks and not have every episode presaged by thorough anticipation, well… I don’t know if it’s any good when watched like that.

In any case, this Blu-Ray comes with tons of behind-the-scenes extra documentaries, and that’s the meat of it for me.  I’ve rewatched the show twice through my HBO subscription.

I’ll probably watch it again.

Louis Riel: A Comic-Book Biography, by Chester Brown $12.99
So here’s a weirdie book: before this book, Chester Brown was an indie comic book artist who mostly drew bizarre horror comics about dicks.  His most famous work, Yummy Fur, was a surrealist work where a happy clown woke up one morning to find that Ronald Reagan’s from a parallel dimension filled with shit was now attached to the end of his penis.

…you wouldn’t think a comic could get weirder from there, but it did.

And then for no reason he wrote a very sober comic biography of Louis Riel, Canadian leader and rebel, which was by all accounts dead serious but became a Canadian bestseller and a classic work of biography.

I wonder what happens when people liked that and go read his other works.

Anyway, I liked his Yummy Fur stuff (and also his autobiographical defense of why he pays for prostitutes instead of having romantic relationships), and yet I’ve never read his most acclaimed work.  So that’d be nice to get under the stocking: a book without Ronald Reagan’s head on a dick.

Merry Christmas!

There Will Be Blood (Blu-Ray) $8.00
Despite this list, I’m terrible at making lists.  Ask me my top five favorite movies, and I freeze.  Over the years I’ve come to say Star Wars, The Godfather, Galaxy Quest, Fight Club, Princess Bride, but I’m not really sure if they’re my top five, they’re just five movies I like a lot.

There Will Be Blood is, I have decided, in my top 5.

It’s a slow movie about an oil baron, and what I love about it is that you see everything that Daniel Plainview does, both the good and the evil – mostly evil, because, well, there will be blood – and yet you can still debate exactly what he’s thinking in the moment.  The movie’s a lot like real life in that you can watch literally all he does and still not be sure why he did it.  Is Daniel Plainview a brutal man with genuinely tender moments, or is he manipulative all the way down?  It’s hard to say because he’s not introspective, either, and he doesn’t talk when he doesn’t have to.

It’s also a gorgeous movie, and would look great on my television.

Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve And/Or Ruin Everything, by Zach Weinersmith ($18.99)
Fun fact: The first ever review of my now-dead webcomic Home on the Strange came from Zach Weinersmith, who hated it and couldn’t understand why anyone was paying attention to it.  I’ve held a mild grudge ever since.

But unfortunately, not only was he right (that first strip wasn’t particularly great), but he and his partner are also one of the best webcomics in the business right now, with SMBC routinely putting out thoughtful, scientific, philosophical, and genuinely funny takes on modern life.  And now they’ve got a book out discussing ten modern technologies, which is good for a guy who writes science fiction.

It’s probably funny, too.  Damn them.

Through The Habitrails, by Jeff Nicholson $14.95
An unfortunate casualty of an ex-girlfriend I lent this to who failed to return it post-breakup, this is a terrifying graphic novel that deals with one man’s depressive look at his cubicle-farm job, and how he slowly breaks down.  It’s written in a fantasy style, so there’s grotesque elements as you see people literally dying at the job, but it’s also weirdly triumphant in the end.

I haven’t read it since that breakup six years ago.  I’d like to see it again.

Barry Lyndon (Blu-Ray, Criterion) $22.97
Barry Lyndon is perhaps the most Kubrick of Stanley Kubrick’s movies, which is to say it’s ridiculously obsessive and glacially slow.  It’s an 18th century drama, and Kubrick insisted on filming it all by natural light – so when they’re inside, he had to develop special lens to be able to film workable stock through candlelight.

Criterion, the publishing company, does amazing behind-the-scenes extras and restorations, so having this to look at would be marvelous.  Like Westworld, it’s mostly about the documentaries.  Because Kubrick was craaaaazy.

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Juglore
    Dec 13, 2017

    You kind of disappeared from fetlife. I had to leave livejournal. I came to see if you are okay. Glad you are still here.

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