odds & ends

I just finished reading Larry McMurtry’s Rhino Ranch, the fifth and final book in the author’s series of novels focusing on the small town of Thalia, Texas. I’ve never read any of McMurtry’s other writings, but I am a huge fan of The Last Picture Show, both the book and the film, so I’ve stuck by these novels. They are decidedly weird. The first book is almost entirely about one character, Sonny Crawford and in the next four, the focus abruptly shifts to another character, Duane Moore, where it stays for the remainder of the books.

The tone in these books veers around wildly from somber (Picture Show) to manic (Texasville), ultimately resting on contemplative in Rhino Ranch. I have to confess, I was genuinely saddened by the inevitably end of Texas oilman Duane Moore. McMurtry has a way of fostering affection for even the most crass and annoying characters. I don’t know if this is a recommendation for Rhino Ranch, but I definitely recommend The Last Picture Show. If you garner enough affection for the characters through that book, it might carry you on through to Rhino Ranch.


According to the ever-reliable TV Guide, Cartoon Network will be airing my favorite new Christmas special this Sunday, December 12th, at 3 PM. If you’ve never seen Olive the Other Reindeer, it’s a beautifully animated cartoon. Based on the children’s book of the same name, the cartoon takes great pains to lovingly adapt illustrator J. Otto Seibold’s paper cut-out pictures into CGI. It’s something that, when you first think about it (two dimensional paper cut-outs in THREE dimensions?) it shouldn’t work… but it does.

Produced by Matt “The Simpsons” Groening, the vocal talent has the same pedigree as the animation- Drew Barrymore voices Olive, the misguided reindeer, and there are vocal turns from Tim Meadows, Peter MacNichol, Ed Asner, Billy West, Michael Stipe, and “Simpsons” mainstay Dan Castellaneta as the villain of the piece.

The special is filled with funny visual gags for savvy viewers and comes highly recommended by me.


I just discovered the wonder and glory of Axe Cop, only about a year after the rest of the world. As someone with a 3 year old with a propensity for making up stories, I love this.


In the interest of equal time, Vincent over at The Robot’s Pajamas offers a dissenting viewpoint on the 1989 Batman novelization that I invite you to check out. As an English teacher, I’d ding him on his book report for not providing good supporting details to his opinions, but the gentleman has a fun website which you may want to check out!

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