Skinny Dip, Carl Hiaasen
This 512-page novel is a fast read that unfolds like a movie, painting a vivid picture of crime and adventure in South Florida. The story itself isn’t deep — Chaz Perrone offs his wife in an effort to cover up his ineptitude, but even at that he is a failure. However, the story’s moral comes from Hiaasen’s description of the desecration of the Everglades and the human nitwits who plunder and pillage the native environment for their own financial and political gain. He does all this using descriptive phrases such as “psychotic gopher,” characters including a hairy goon who steals fentanyl patches from incapacitated nursing home residents, and a hoard of animals from mating alligators to incontinent lap dogs. Hiaasen produces one of the blurbs of praise on the book jacket for Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror, which though it is slightly late in the season is next on my reading list.
Feist, The Reminder
Those who have seen one of the latest in the ranks of catchy iPod commercials will recogniz Feist’s big band-meets banjo dance number “1234” seemingly stolen from some trendy, ironic British musical. This album is the breakout solo for the Canadian songstress who also has worked with another of my similarly recommended groups, Kings of Convenience on their 2004 release Riot on an Empty Street. The Reminder is split about half and half with songs as equally catchy as “1234” and sinuously, delicately beautiful ballads. It’s an album that will enjoy placement in your collection as one that oft receives play.
As of late, the genius of Judd Apatow has become a verb. When a comedy is falling flat Hollywooders are making the call to “Judd it up.” It’s an effort to capitalize on the brand of dead-pan, awkwardly sarcastic humor that has been found to appeal tremendously to those who have grown tired of the sit-coms, canned laugh tracks and politically correct punch lines designed to appeal to the mass market. Apatow has been the mastermind behind recent greats including “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” “The 40-Year Old Virgin,” “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” “Knocked Up,” “Superbad,” and “Juno” and “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” both now in theaters. You’ll also find his work on television’s long-since cancelled “Freaks and Geeks” and “The Critic.” This year has me looking forward to the release of several upcoming films with Apatow as producer. “Drillbit Taylor” stars Owen Wilson. Seth Rogen, Apatow and Evan Goldberg (also a writer on “Superbad”) jointly wrote “Pineapple Express,” which features Bill Hader and Gary Cole of “Office Space” (Lumbergh) among others. “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” brings more Apatow alumni including Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd, while “Step Brothers” partners the producer with writers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. 2009 promises the re-teaming of Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (both from “Superbad) with Jack Black in “Year One.” Ah to be a fly on the wall.
All that Apatow talk naturally brings me here to www.funnyordie.com. Created by Will Ferrell, Adam McCay and Christ Henchy this online comedy site is the home of the greatly famed skit “The Landlord.” It’s all homegrown comedy created from the minds of some of Hollywood’s finest and some of the greater world at general’s up and coming current nobodies. Next time you’ve got some time to waste (and a fast Internet connection) go on a video binge. And if you’re one of the 462 million Americans who still hasn’t seen “The Landlord,” make sure to remedy that situation first.
— By Sarah Kucharski