Unsolicited Endorsements: XII

Because sometimes you just want friends to tell you about cool things… the Brew House team offers up its weekly mix of author-supported goodness.

Music genre : Love Rap

Eye Know by De La Soul and Set Adrift on Memory Bliss by P.M. Dawn

Love rap is maybe my favorite subgenre of what is probably my favorite genre. You get songs with wonderful R&B hooks and self-proclaimed thugs showcasing what they consider their softer side but is really just their lusty side. Sometimes this can lead to unintentional hilarity.

Example A: “Wanna Get To Know You”  by G-Unit.  The chorus starts with someone crooning “I Wanna Get to Know You.” He then proceeds to say, “I really wanna fuck you.”

When done right, the hip-hop love song is beautiful. De La Soul and P.M. Dawn both made classics with “Eye Know” and “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss.” They are genuine, not overwrought, not gangster at all. They’re about love rather than lust. And really, they just sound good. — Mark Dent


Book: “Self-Help” by Lorrie Moore

I first came across Lorrie Moore’s work in a Creative Fiction class in my senior year of college. We read selections from “Self-Help,” a collection of short stories penned in the early 1980s as part of Moore’s Master’s Thesis at Cornell. At the time, I found Moore’s stories dry, not because they were too academic or Ivy League or sophisticated, but because they seemed sad and grey and drab.

Then I graduated from school. I worked bad hours for low pay. I left Kansas for New York, made more money and worked better hours. But I never got any younger. Maybe Lorrie Moore’s words were what real life was like.

As I’ve read and re-read every story in the slim volume, I’ve found “Self-Help” livelier and more true to life each time through. “Self-Help” is witty, sad, even-keeled and static. The stories don’t always feel good, but they always make sense. — Asher Fusco


Random movie: “Gattaca”

Late last Sunday, as the New York Giants were laying waste to the all-powerful Packers, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was handing out awards on another swath of network television.

The Golden Globes: one more overstuffed awards show in a trophy season that seems to span the calendar. Short of being a fashion junkie, there seem to be few legitimate reasons to care about any of it.

But this year, I was surprisingly fascinated by the Globeys. I still didn’t watch. But it did crystallize a thought that had been festering for a few weeks. Man, movies sure did suck this year.

Perhaps this is confirmation bias. Of the five movies nominated for “Best Motion Picture: Drama”, I only saw one: “Moneyball.” And it was about as “meh” as a neighborhood Olive Garden or the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The others: The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, The Ides of March and War Horse. In short, none of the these movies SEEMED good. We’ll concede that there’s probably some undetermined quality in there somewhere. But if you’re looking for something better, we have a random offering that you’ve probably never seen — or never cared to.

Gattaca was released in 1997, and it opened at No. 5 at the box office behind I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Devil’s Advocate, Kiss the Girls and Seven Years in Tibet. It racked up a reported $12.5 million at the box office, nearly a third of its entire budget.

I can’t say for certain why it bombed. In fact, critics loved it. (Quick aside: I first discovered it during college, while I was a cable-less 20-year-old who subsisted on a half-broken television and a cheap DVD player).

It stars Ethan Hawke —still one of the most underappreciated actors alive — and Jude Law, back before “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” made him a momentary Hollywood heavy bag.

From Roger Ebert’s review:

“Its hero is a man who challenges the system. Vincent (Ethan Hawke) was born in the old-fashioned way, and his genetic tests show he has bad eyesight, heart problems and a life expectancy of about 30 years. He is an “In-Valid,” and works as a cleaner in a space center.

Vincent does not accept his fate. He never has. As a child, he had swimming contests with his brother Anton (Loren Dean), who has all the right scores but needs to be saved from drowning.

“Now Vincent dreams of becoming a crew member on an expedition to one of the moons of Saturn. Using an illegal DNA broker, he makes a deal with a man named Jerome (Jude Law), who has the right genes but was paralyzed in an accident. Jerome will provide him with blood, urine samples and an identity. In a sense, they’ll both go into space.”

So… there you have it, the film equivalent of a 10-dollar bill in your pocket, found money, and something to watch instead of the next awards show. — Rustin Dodd

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