What I’m Reading/Watching (12/2006-12/2007)

This post contains a list of books I’ve been reading recently. Starting December 2006. November 2005 is an arbitrary cutoff point. I’m still finishing some things on my previous Sept 2004 to Oct 2005 reading list or my Nov 2005 to Nov 2006 Reading List , so definitely check that out as well. See also my Best of 2006 for a scoop about favorites.

A few remarks. I’m reading several books at a time, and to be honest, sometimes I don’t read all of them depending on the content or my interest. Usually however, it’s been a matter of attention span and what other projects I’ve been doing. Also, you might want to check my favorite novels, and my Amazon.com wishlist. Also here’s an annotated photo of my bookshelf Also, I haven’t read most of these books, but I’ve been setting up Amazon lists of classic Texas novels (100 novels and counting). You also might enjoy reading my Amazon list of Unforgettable Forgettable Novels. I’ve also started adding my book inventory to librarything.com (although I’m allowed to input only 200 titles). At the bottom of this page you will find a list of movies I’ve been watching.

What I’m Reading

  1. 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley. Great explanation of why the novel genre is relevant in the 21st century. Jane Smiley writes not with scholarly rigor but an artisan’s practical eye. Nonetheless, she indicates a historical awareness of what her predecessors have done with the novel and what the novel is capable of. Her short essays about 100 novels are nothing special (though they are interesting to read). I’m writing a longer essay based on this book, so this is all I’ll say for now.
  2. Gentle Degenerates by Marco Vassi
  3. Fiction and Interaction: How Clicking a Mouse Can Make You a Part of a Fictional World , Phd Thesis by Jill Walker, a masterful analysis of hypertext and interactive fiction. You can download it for free as a PDF.
  4. End of Sex, personal memoir by George Leonard about his sex life. Cerebral and engaging.
  5. Tropic of Cancer, By Henry Miller.
  6. Paris Trout by Pete Dexter. Award-winning plot-driven book about crime, the South and race relations. This is not normally my kind of book, but it’s an expertly told tale.
  7. Changing Stages: A View of British and American Theatre in the 20th Century by Richard Eyre; great and fascinating critical survey of 20th century theatre.
  8. Color is the Suffering of Light by Melissa Green. Poetic memoir by accomplished poet.
  9. Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things by Gilbert Sorrentino.
  10. XSLT 2.0 Programmer’s Reference by Michael Kay. Teaching myself XSLT with this book.
  11. Solomon Scandals (unpublished) by David Rothman. Unpublished political intrigue novel by Teleread editor.
  12. Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. My reading was rudely interrupted by the breaking of my ebookwise ebook reader. I want an ebook device…and I want it bad!
  13. If on a Winter’s Day a Traveler by Italo Calvino. Second time. As delightful as I remembered it.
  14. Chinese Ghost Stories for Adults by P’u Sung-Ling (tr. Tom Ma). Great lusty stories.
  15. What Video Games have to teach us about learning and literacy by James Paul Gee. Interestingly, this famous book has a lot of insights into reading as well.
  16. Memoirs of the Great and the Good by Alistair Cooke. Can’t get enough of these droll portrait essays. Love the one about Wodehouse! He admits that everything he knew about butlers came from reading the newspapers!
  17. Flowering Tree and other Oral Tales of India by A.K. Ramanujan Great lusty stories (in India)
  18. Truth Book by Joy Castro. Poetic memoir about her turbulent childhood. Written by college friend. I’ll post a review later.
  19. Information Architecture for the WWW by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld. Earlier editions were great; I am enjoying this version as well.
  20. We Can Still be Friends by Kelly Cherry. Relationship puzzle told by each of the various participants. I’m liking this a lot so far.
  21. Book of Illusions by Paul Auster (book on tape read by the author).
  22. Madman and the Nun (and other plays) by Stanislaw Witkiewicz.
  23. The Siren and other Stories by Dino Buzzati. After finding one collection by Buzzati last year to be the best book I’ve read in the last 5 years, I was excited to find my city library possessed another copy. I’ve been zipping through this story collection and finding every bit as interesting as the other collection. Update: It looks like the US will be reprinting another anthology called Catastrophe . Looks like this will be the year for people to rediscover Buzzati. AFT!
  24. Love Lyrics by Bhartrhari, Amaru, and Bilhana. Amazing translations of Sanskrit poetry from the 4th to 7th century. (News flash: I’m a gigantic fan of Sanskrit literature! After seeing that Amazon.com had not a single review of any of their new Clay Sanskrit library titles, I wrote the publisher and begged for some review copies. I’ll be posting longer reviews soon.
  25. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. I’m a big fan of space elevators, and I want to like this trilogy (and full intend to read it from start to finish), but I find the writing style absolutely wooden.
  26. Aesop Fables (on my Sony Reader). Forgot how fresh they are.
  27. Complete Peanuts by Charles Schultz. New editions reprint Peanuts cartoons in full, with each volume consisting of 2 years. Started. I grew up with Peanuts; I forgot how visually zany Peanuts was in its early days.
  28. Writing was Everything. Alfred Kazin . Approachable essays about literature and criticism. Read the mp3 interview with Kazin on Wired for Books. By the way, after listening to this delightful interview, I went to half.com and bought 6 volumes of his works for less than $20!
  29. Dirty Jokes and Beer by Drew Carey. Celebrity book by favorite comedian that actually is more daring than it appears. Here’s an interview with him at Reason Magazine. What’s refreshing is how nonseriously he takes the whole prospect of writing a book.
  30. Women in the Dunes, by Kobo Abe. A surprisingly interesting work. Update: Despite the early promise, this book put me to sleep and was a labor to finish. Not recommended.
  31. Various books by James Paul Gee about reading and videogames, none of which I was able to finish.
  32. Hard Sell: Evolution of a Viagra Salesman by Jamie Reidy. Entertaining first person account of a young pharmaceutical salesman.
  33. Seven Nights by Borges. Fascinating literary essays about classical literature. Borges writes with a personal touch (such as his essay on nightmares). Part of the book is just scholarly showing off, but reading it is such pleasure.
  34. Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang. Excellent and well-told history tale. Although a lot of the material is secondary, Chang unearths diaries from a Nazi and letters from other Westerns in the foreigner’s zone of the city.
  35. Good Man of Nanjing, Diaries of John Rabe. Rabe is the sympathetic Nazi depicted in Chang’s book. This book contains his diaries during the horrifying days of the Nanjing massacre.
  36. What Ten Young Men Did by Dandin. Sanskrit classic tale of ten sons and a king. Interesting reading so far.
  37. Art of Love, by Ovid, tr. Rolfe Humphries. Update: I upgraded to the David Malouf translation. This is terrific and fun.
  38. Good Faith, Jane Smiley; middle class drama about a realtor.
  39. Assault of Reason, Al Gore
  40. Heroides by Ovid.
  41. Good Man of Nanking by John Rabe
  42. Charisma Campaign, Jack Matthews
  43. Failure to Connect. Jane Healey.

What I’m Watching

  1. Sleep with Me, dir by Rory Kelly
  2. I’ll take you there, dir Adrienne Shelly. Charming character study by now-deceased actress Adrienne Shelly. There was one scene thrown in merely to suggest danger, but generally the story made sense, even with the reversal near the end. There is no moral at the end, except that you can’t make assumptions about why relationships failed or why they would never work. I loved this minor film; there were zany unxpected moments and I liked how the crazy girl at the start suddenly turned out to be not-so-crazy and had a family and a background which were complex–though not far-fetched. Also, a hilarious film.
  3. Personal VelocityA slow-moving stories of woman encountering important moments in their lives. Well-told, Good zany filmmaking. I just love the tricks, flashbacks and small scale of these stories. The middle story about the female editor is hilarious, and the last one is the most disturbing; how do you help a complete stranger? How quickly do you drop your guard? Written and directed by Arthur Millers’ daughter.
  4. The Chase It’s helpful to speak of this film and Albee’s Who’s Afraid in the same breath; Amidsts the drunken anarchy and licentiousness, both films produced in an era where mainstream society is overreacting to the rebellious behavior of protesting college students. It seems to be a conservative lament about the laxness of people’s freespiritedness. And even though George W. Bush probably was one of the carousers at the time, if he watched it today he would certainly identify with the sternness of Marlo Brando’s sheriff. (So is Albee a member of this counterreaction?–wait, I haven’t thought this through). There are echoes of current events (the bigoted southerner, the Lee Harvey Oswald getting shot in public, lawless deputies, mobs out of control).The last hour was riveting and surprising. I always call a movie excellent when at certain points in the film I think to myself, “I have absolutely no idea what could happen next.” The only thing foreordained was a tragic outcome. Dialog sounds very much like a play; we could have lost lots of the crowd dialogue without much harm; also, you’d think these people have nothing to do but hang around the town square 24 hours a day. The interconnections of the plot were interesting, though all the flat characters seemed to do nothing but carouse and throw things.
  5. City of God I loved this film, though not for the social commentary. There were orgies of blood and a fascinating with the gangster lifestyle (the Brazilian version of Goodfellas or to be more age-specific, Menace 2 Society or Boyz in the Hood). Like Scorcese, the film had tricky narratives and funny characterizations of tough people. I appreciated how the film depicted quickly the ensemble of drug kingpins and smalltime crooks. The most amazing thing was that although the kingpins were pure evil, everybody knew each other in this egalitarian City of God slums. Ultimately, the story was less about the horrors of drugdealing than the interactions between people in the slums. Also recommended: a documentary included on the DVD about the life of teenage drug dealers (which a movie friend of mine described as “better than the film itself” and I agreed).
  6. Kitchen Stories Quite simply the most boring film I have ever seen. I almost kept it on, watching it in complete amazement.
  7. Oasis written/directed by Chang Dong Lee. This Korean film (a combination of Of Mice and Men and Romeo & Juliet) stayed with me longer than the other films on this list. At times gross and offensive, this story will make the viewer squeamish at watching two people with physical deformities deal with a relationship. But in the first 5 minutes, I was successfully inside the main guy’s head (inside his universe where everything seemed incomprehensible and complex). It actually made perfect sense that this retarded man would go to the family of the man he accidentally killed and offer a gift as a kind of apology. His companion–a woman affected by cerebral palsy–seemed an unlikely match for him, but it really makes you think about how everybody–not just the smart and beautiful–need human companionship, for better or worse. There is one beautiful moment–where we see the world through the girl’s eyes, and the haphazard movements of reflected light on the wall appear to her as fascinating images of doves trying to escape–It was a brief moment, but one that made me say, “Wow!” The relationship has a tragic dimension, and yet it enriches the lives of both of them. Parts of the film doesn’t work for me; there are plausibility problems, and at times the pace is simply off. But while watching the film I found myself comparing it to the uncomfortable naturalism of Bergman in Scenes from a Marriage or Zepherelli’s Romeo & Juliet. Like Zepherelli’s film, this film is ultimately one about two families–and how they cannot see the life-affirming qualities of this couple’s relationship. And that is a tragedy.
  8. Secretary, a funny frivolous work though the ending seemed a little so pat. Frankly I found it surprising, though by now I’m sure James Spader is sick of those kinky roles.
  9. Goodbye Lenin, written/directed by Wolfgang Becker. Riveting story about the rapid changes overtaking an East German family during the fall of the Berlin Wall. It starts with an absurd premise (that a sick mother has a heart attack and cannot deal with the shock of her government falling so rapidly) and plays with it. At point the premise stretches plausibility, but the filmmaking is clever, hilarious and almost surreal. Having lived in two East Europe countries, I know how nostalgia lives on–years, even decades later. My university students in Albania said they just adored the Young Pioneers songs they had to sing, and Ukrainians were selling Communist memorabilia at street markets all the time (this sense of profiting off the near past may be hard for Americans to fathom). There are great surreal moments (including one on the street–which I will not reveal here), and absurd fake news broadcasts. And near the end, there is a plot twist that I never could have expected. This movie always keeps you on your toes. Great filmmaking.
  10. On Golden Pond, a mildly cloying work about an old couple spending their retirement together. More of a character-based thing than plot, the outdoor visuals are entrancing (though the background music was extremely annoying). This is a case where they should have let the ambient sounds (and silence) be the soundtrack; it was a big mistake (that won the Sound Editors an Oscar apparently). Also, Jane Fonda (nominated for Best Supporting Actress) gives one of the most wretched acting performances in her career. Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn (on the other hand) were great, especially Henry Fonda’s prickliness; in one crucial scene near the end, the wife’s response was so poignant and heartfelt and genuine I almost wanted to cry. The scene–scary as it was–even had its own kind of humor amidst the couple’s recognition of their mortality.
  11. Rambling Rose. A nice relaxing picture by Calder Willingham that tackles a lot of unusual subjects: sexuality, charity, feminism, compassion and loss of innocence. Ultimately it didn’t go anywhere and was slightly sentimental, but it was good-hearted and full of energy. The scandalous bedroom scene between the boy and the Laura Dern character was beautifully and sensitively portrayed; Dern’s “change of heart” (when she realizes what she has done) is poignantly and successfully done. I love the movie for this scene alone. That’s what acting is about!
  12. 3rd Rock from the Sun. Let the record show that I have been watching 4 boxed sets of this smashingingly funny TV series without letup. I like how it manages to be highbrow and lowbrow at the same time.
  13. Pan of Labyrinth I liked the atmosphere, but the juxtaposition of historical violence with fantasy escape didn’t work for me. I found the political drama & violence extremely dull. Maybe I just find the violence hard to endure (fuddy duddy that I am). The movie worked best when it focused on the girl, worst when it tried to portray political conflict in a realistic (albeit sadistic) way. The film’s message (that real life political violence is more vicious than fantasy world violence) didn’t amount to much; and besides, it implies that cinematic depiction of violence is realistic–which it certainly is not. The film might have worked if there was more suggestions of violence, less depictions of it. The girl wouldn’t see most of these scenes anyway, and right from the start, it is established that the girl’s perspective is the main narrative thread driving the show. Parts of the melodrama were predictable and even cliche; in the first 2 minutes, when I saw the pregnant woman, I was busy predicting how long the movie would go on before she died giving birth. Still, a brave ending, one I never could have predicted.
  14. Election dir. by Alexander Payne. (Second time) Loved it a lot more this second time. From first viewing , I remember vividly the election speeches (that lesbian’s speech will go down in cinematic history), but to be honest, I remembered very little of the plot–except that Reese was a bitch.Election doesn’t buy into the notion that young people are more innocent (and more ethical) than adults, nor does it paint adults as benefiting from their maturity. People are just the way they are, although occasionally they veer off into the wrong path (out of some longing to pursue some impossible dream or to intervene to correct some injustice). The film sympathizes with people’s weakness when they do this.The film warns against judging other people (lest oneself be judged). Often one doesn’t understand the other person’s motives or situation.
    I like how the film is neutral about whether the brainy girl or the jock would have made the better president (in fact, the lesbian’s message that the election doesn’t really matter is probably closer to the truth). When Reese’s character feels sorry for the teacher (because she knows he’s in a deadend job), it’s ironic, because we see her ambition and her inability to see the value of being a teacher.A great moment: The Matthew Broderick character had been a successful teacher for ten years (with little rewards except the Attaboys), and yet when he commits a petty act, he is crucified. That ain’t right. Great moment: when the lesbian is suspended, her parents tell her she’s being punished by being sent to an all girls Catholic school. You can feel her inner joy. Another moment: Broderick is on the phone talking to his “mistress.” He’s been trying to reach her all day; he keeps leaving messages. He’s calling from a payphone outside the locker. Half the screen is some aisle where students are walking past; the other half are empty urinals (as though to undermine Broderick’s plea that the infidelity was in fact true love and not merely some biological impulse). (Compare to Personal Velocity, which was a fave from last year. Velocity is more earnest, but same snappy style, same moral explorations).
  15. Shape of Things. dir by Neil LaBute. Perhaps I am not giving this movie a fair shake (I watched it on TV where there were commercials every 5 minutes), but I found the dialogue inspid, the characters aimless and random. The worst film I’d seen in a long time. Actually, not as bad as Kitchen Stories (you can’t top that).
  16. Asoka. Actually I did not watch the film, but checked it out of the library with the intent to watch it. But never did. First, it was 150 minutes; who has time for that nowadays? Second, those lavish epics; who needs them. I may check this out again though. Update: This is a montrosity of a film. Manipulative, style instead of substance and incoherent plot development and character. This might have made a better film if the story wasn’t simply a series of bloodbaths; leaders have only one motive: to kill. It is not true that war epics (even anti-war epics) can’t involve personal stories (look at Kurosawa’s Ran for example). Evil Asoka was what he was called at the time; the problem lay in the implausibility of an intinerant prince turning into a savage at the “whim of a hat”.
  17. Trouble in Paradise by Ernst Lubitch. Classic 1930’s comedy about a gigolo and his lover. Lots of laughs and witty dialogue.
  18. Not just the Best of the Larry Sanders Show–boxed set of hilarious 1990s TV series. A fine series. An incomplete (and incompetent) edition.
  19. Entourage. HBO comedy series about the friends surrounding a movie star.
  20. Seoul Train–harrowing documentary about North Korean refugees stuck in China
  21. Angel Season 3 &4, directed by Joss Whedon; although some of the plots seem to be throwaway, the story arcs are ambitious and definitely deliver. The Jasmine episodes have been particularly dramatic and exciting. I haven’t decided whether this is great drama or storytelling, but the cliffhangers work well. I’ve always been impressed by how the writing team populates the Buffyverse. Of all the seasons I’ve watched so far, Season 4 is the most impressive.
  22. Bernie Mac (TV Show) Instead of watching DVDs, I’ve been watching lots of brilliant sitcoms of this show. Bernie Mac is front and center of a family-oriented show where the children (and adults) are scheming to get ahead of the other family members. This show features outstanding writing; it is pleasantly satirical, and yet there are poignant moments (which are not overdone). The story frame and back story have been carefully thought out to accommodate both serious plots and hilarious ones. I love the voiceover offering the occasional editorial interruptions. Leaving aside the fact that it centers around a celebrity (looking at prime TV show, you’d assume that half of all Americans were celebrity), this story has broad appeal and yes a moral message. But it also has one thing many shows does not: a heart. How ironic that comedies can sometimes delve into serious subjects–and I’m not talking about killing vampires.
  23. Funny Girl starring Barbra Streisand. I wanted to love this, and perhaps the staged version worked well and provided a better ironic sense toward the subject, but the film seemed overdone and overwritten. The real problem, I think, lay in the script. It had incidents and some clever moments, but the emotional condiments just didn’t seem genuine; also it lacked genuinely funny moments. Omar Sharif just seemed too nice, too gentle to be a huckster. Streisand seemed too naive; I find it hard to believe an actress wouldn’t see through his charades. I might have bought into it if the husband seemed wittier and a little more heartless.
  24. Species. A laughably bad film. I enjoyed hating it.
  25. United 93 . I love this film (I compare the first half to Apollo 13). But I wanted to mention one DVD extra where the actors meet the family members of the deceased people they were supposed to play. It was sad and lovely at the same time. Family members really opened up, and actors got an intimate look of how a loss affects a person. Interestingly, the documentary is much more life-affirming and gentle than the film itself. More of my thoughts.
  26. Apollo 13. I’ve watched this film 3 times already, but I just wanted to mention I watched it 3 more times in this year alone! Every time I watch it, I find a new detail to love.
  27. Spellbound. A fun documentary about spelling bees directed by a JHU classmate Jeff Blitz. Youthful competitions are always fascinating, if only because the adults that their outcomes are less important than people’s effort to compete.
  28. Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix. Surprisingly, this was an awful film. It was heavy and focused too much on fighting rather than character development and plot. I dozed off three times during the film. Rowling and company would be well-advised to catch up on Buffy/Angel episodes and see how saving the world can become a dull pursuit if it takes too long and without a sense of humor. Dolores Umbridge was well-cast, but the role needed more ambiguity; she was unabashedly evil (unlike Snapes, who we always wondered about). The problem with this film is not the material itself but the high expectations given to the series by the time it was written. I loved 1, thought 2 was mediocre, 3 was spectacular. 4 was definitely the worst of the lot, but the series overall has held up. Postscript: my 6 year old nephew saw the film on opening weekend; I can’t imagine how he’d like this; it was too complex and full of special effects and subplots.
  29. (random observation). I just wanted to note that in the last two or three months I have watched hardly anything –although I have watched TV and caught up on old Angel episodes. As of August 16, I’m at a breaking point and have a long list of films I’d like to see. Film seems so overwrought these days–contrast that with Bernie Mac episodes or New Adventures of old Christine, which are utterly brilliant. Film is all about the actors; why do we need the cinematic effects other than the relatively low tech ones? I ache for simple films with simple effects. I am determined to watch a lot of silent films too.
  30. Prairie Home Companion (Altman) . I started watching this, and realized that it felt like Nashville all over again. It’s one of those movies –probably great–that I simply had no urge to watch in its entirety.
  31. Little Dieter Learns how to fly (Werner Herzog). Pseudo-documentary about German-American who was a prison of war in Laos and North Vietnam. Compelling story about a fascinating personality.
  32. Angel, Season 5. Yes, I’ve finally finished the series! Commentaries later.
  33. Matchstick Men, Ridley Scott. Plot-oriented scam movie, with a few holes. (If the psychiatrist was in on the caper, why did we need Nick Cage to ask him to call his wife about the child?). Leave aside the plot details; enjoy the subjective viewpoint of a man who is borderline crazy.
  34. A Boy Named Charlie Brown, by Bill Melendez, a surprisingly stylish film (and its spelling bee sequence must have provided the inspiration for the Spellbound documentary). Fave moments: when Charlie Brown looks down on his feet after losing the spelling bee in existential silence, Lucy turns off the TV in disgust. 5 seconds later, she turns it back on again, showing Charlie Brown in the same miserable condition. Other highlights: Lucy’s slideshow about C.B.’s faults, and how Linus remarks in the end, “have you noticed that the world didn’t come to an end after you lost?”
  35. Au Hasard Balthazar dir Robert Bresson. A somewhat incoherent and startling depiction of French rural life, a girl’s coming of age and proud virtue. This film might be a masterpiece, but it loses points for not really engaging me. The juxtaposition of merciless and sorrowful and hopeless is hard to watch, and the film of staying silent about events–just depicting them happening without explanation or reaction. After watching it, I feel sadness without really knowing why this film makes me so.
  36. Star Trek Undiscovered Country. I miss my routine of watching Star Trek (and haven’t gotten into Babylon Five or Battlestar Galactica), so I wanted to get my fix. A fun adventure about post-glasnost accommodation with the enemy. Fun if you are already familiar with the characters.
  37. Muskrat Lovely. Wacky documentary about a Maryland beauty pageant. This document wasn’t particularly remarkable; the director seems to think that anything with comely 17 year old girls featured in it deserves a documentary. The main technique seems to be switching between gruesome scenes about muskrats (and how to skin/eat them) and scantily dressed teenagers. Sorry, a documentary needs to do more than that.
  38. Rounders, starring Matt Damon
  39. Double Life of Veronique, dir Kieslowski, starring Irene Jacob. mediocre contrived psychological fairy tale. Luscious cinematography, and Jacob is spellbinding–but make no mistakes–the film sucks! (compare to the way Scarlett Johansen seduced the audience in Lost in Translation). If you accept that the film is about gestures and glances and sighs and dreams, I guess the film is a success. Despite the film’s sexual aspects, in fact, it’s very much like a fairy tale for adults. not quite logical, not quite realistic, very much wish fulfillment. (also, very very slow). I smiled and blushed on multiple occasions, seduced by the beauty of the girl and her expressions, her joy, her sadness (but the Director of Photography used way too many color filters!).
  40. Documentary shorts by Kieslowski. The Double Life of Veronique threw in three short documentary films: Factory, Hospital, Railway Station from his early period. Factory was a bit humdrum, but Hospital and Railway Stations were gripping, poignant and artistic. Lesson learned: always watch those extras!
  41. Please Vote for Me, a lovely documentary about primary school students in China who have an election for classroom monitor. A warm and poignant film–much better than Spellbound which is the only thing I can compare it to. Weijun Chen did a great job of capturing the energy and the antsiness of a Chinese school. Despite the political overtones, the film has universal and even nonpolitical appeal. Too bad the chinese government won’t let it be shown. Easily the best film I’d seen all year.
  42. Good Boy, another laughably bad Sunday afternoon film for children. I swear, I sometimes watch bad films just to read Ebert’s denunication of them afterwards.
  43. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Fun but silly time-travel adventure. The story is told simply and well. All they need to do when in a pickle is to imagine themselves traveling into the past to fix the problem. Voila! Everything is perfect.
  44. Tao of Steve, written by sisters Jenniphyr and Greer Goodman. Semi-interesting and chatty romantic comedy about an amorous man who finally falls in love. The events are too cute and judgmental (no real attempt to defend his philosophical outlook), but still snappy dialogue. Still, parts of the film rang true: sharing rides, kindergarten teacher, going camping with a girl you’re hot for (that sounds dangerous!).
  45. 3rd Rock from the Sun, 5th season. Not as snappy as the wildly funny 4th season, but still great fun.