BBB (Beach Books on a Bus) and SMOAT (Summer Movies on a Train) are still rolling along, although last week might have seemed like a slight deviation from what the alleged mission statement of the dual programs purport to be (something something trashy genre paperbacks something mindless blockbusters something). In fact a little mini-theme unto itself accidentally developed: Political Satire Week.
First I should perhaps remind everyone that I have been tightening my belt and curtailing my purchases of non-essential items such as books. (Though on some level, with Borders currently having liquidation sales, this kind of kills me.) This means that I am working my way down through a diminishing pile of reading material accumulated over the previous months, some of which was specifically intended for BBB but not with a fanatical amount of planning to account for X number of commuting hours until Labor Day. Thus, in order to pace myself, I’ve been a bit more open to reading what’s actually stacked on top of the bookshelf rather than running out to buy another opening volume of a Dragonlance trilogy. I bought quite a few beachy paperbacks the last time I was at the used book store, and I also bought a book called Boomsday which I might not have picked up unassisted but which was brought to me by the little guy as he perused the shelves on his own. I can only assume he was drawn to the bright primary colors of the jacket’s design elements; all I know is when my son hands me a book and says “Here, Daddy, wanna buy this one?” it is very hard for me to say no (especially when said book costs all of a couple bucks and more than covered by my balance of store credit, to boot). So Boomsday came home with a load of BBB, which just about qualifies at this point as “close enough”.
It’s also pretty funny, and while the overriding vibe of BBB tends to be light sci-fi and fantasy escapism and so on, comedy has its place, too. The book is written by Christopher Buckley, the same guy who brought the world Thank You For Smoking, and Boomsday also skewers the world of public relations and media saturation and so forth, while also mocking the Social Security program, hard politics and presidential runs, and the generational divides in America. It’s set in the near future so it can exaggerate a few trends for comedic effect (although this does backfire a tiny bit, when people insult each other with insinuations of Osama Bin Laden being on their speed dial – how could Buckley have known in 2007 that Bin Laden would be killed in 2011 and no one in 2020-whatever would be talking about him in the present tense anymore?) and it’s not exactly uplifting in either subject matter or apparent conclusions about human nature, but it is over-the-top enough to have made me chuckle under my breath a few times.
Still and all, you might think I would be exceedingly eager to counterbalance the thought-provoking rigors of such a book with a Friday flick along the lines of Hellboy II: The Golden Army. And you would be bang-on right. But, coincidentally, last week heralded a brand new month, which meant certain changes I had made to my Netflix account of late finally went into effect. So although I sent Bull Durham (aka Holy Sweet Honus Wagner How Had I Never Seen This Fantastic Movie Before) back the prior weekend, I did not receive a new disc in exchange because I am now on the 2-movies-out-at-a-time plan, rather than 3. As of Friday my train-bound viewing choices were Date Night (which I intend to watch with my wife just as soon as we have something resembling a free evening together) and In The Loop. And as has been exhaustively documented I am a sucker for thematic consistency, so I went with the indie flick satirizing international politics and build-ups to manufactured wars. Which, again, kind of a bummer when something is funny because it’s true but the truths are so inherently awful. But I laughed, a lot, very nearly passing into the territory of “weird guy laughing out loud on the train” that I strive to avoid.
And all of that was of course just the entertainment backdrop to another week commuting to within spitting distance of D.C. and working for a government contractor, all while the debt ceiling compromise was coming into final, ultra-ugly view and the subsequent fallout. I like political satire as much as the next guy, probably a little more to be honest, but I have a feeling that PSW might prove to be a very infrequent programming theme. There are various things I could willingly allow myself to o.d. on, but I’m reasonably sure that shouldn’t be one of them.