Since I follow The Onion's AV Club on Facebook, I see their Q&A feature pop up in my feed on a regular basis. They're the sort of writing prompts I can't resist and I'm not going to let the fact that I'm not technically (meaning "in any sense") in the AV Club prevent me from offering up my answers to their questions. 

This is the second one I've done. Here's the first. There are going to be more, so let that be your warning.

"What non-2016 book did you finally get around to reading this year?"

More than I can list, but the one that stood out was Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye. So many classics have disappointed me when I finally got around to reading/listening to/seeing them. So many of my favorite writers cite Chandler as an influence that I was a concerned that there'd be no way he could live up to expectations.

He lived up to expectations. Reading Raymond Chandler is just flat-out fun. His writing is taut without being Cormac McCarthy-ish minimalist, he's a genius when it comes to figurative language, and creates memorable, breathing characters. I'm not at all sure that the plot held together, but I didn't care. I felt a sense of regret when I finished The Long Goodbye because I didn't want to leave it, and that's about the best thing I can say about any book.

What one piece of pop culture most reminds you of the inherent goodness of humanity?

Terry Pratchett's Small Gods is not his most famous book (that would be Good Omens, co-written with Neil Gaiman) and it may not be his best (probably Night Watch), but it's the one that I turn to when I need to be reminded that people can be good.

It's a beautiful, funny story. Pratchett was an absolute master at delivering a message in such a way that you never felt you were being preached to. The humanity of the one single man in the face of both a church and a god which had abandoned any pretext of existing for any purpose other than their own should come across as heavy handed, but instead it's charming. And then there's the coda, which is as graceful a landing as any book I've ever read has managed. 

"What song always gives you goosebumps, no matter how many times you’ve heard it?"

Easiest question on this list: The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now." The proto-shoegaze guitar with that signature tremolo gets me every. single. time. Thanks to Soho using a sample of that guitar on their song "Hippychick," I always hold my breath waiting for the drums to come it: Will it be The Smiths (yay!) or Soho (not yay)?  

I know this is probably something that no one should ever say out loud about The Smiths, but I really wish there was a version of this song without Morrissey on it. There's nothing wrong with his lyrics or vocals, but the instrumental track is just so perfect that vocals dull the impact a little. I could just put "How Soon Is Now" on repeat, put on some headphones, and I'd have all the music I'd ever really need.

"Is there a supposed defining “masterpiece” in a genre or by an artist you love that you actually hate?"

I don't get the film version of The Shining at all. It just feels like a slow, dull two hours that I forget as soon as I've seen it. I wouldn't say I hate it, but I just don't get it.

For real hatred, I'd have to go with Anais Nin's Henry and June. The first time I picked it up, I made it through one chapter, tossed it across the room, and took a shower. It's not just that I find Nin's point of view so ugly; it's that she seems to be so very pleased with herself. 

You know that guy, don't you? That guy who goes around telling you about how he does horrible things to other people, but he thinks he's the hero of the story? That could maybe make for a decent novel, but it makes for a profoundly ugly memoir.

What's your favorite movie poster?



Yes, that's right. It reads "Two Men Two Machines Too Wild!

Yes, that's right. It reads "Two Men Two Machines Too Wild!

Robot Jox accomplishes what all movie posters seek to do: It writes checks that the movie doesn't even come close to cashing. The poster has everything you could ever want to see in a film (and by "you," I mean "me in my 20's"): Explosions, flying futuristic wedges, burning post-apocalyptic towns, and giant robots. Not just giant robots, but giant robots squared off to do battle!

If you've seen the film, you understand just how wide the gap between the poster and the film is. For everyone else, I'll just sum it up with one phrase: "Stop motion animation." It's almost as if the entire budget for the film was used to make this awesome poster and nothing was left for CGI, so they just used Play-doh to make the robots.

A movie poster that makes me want to see a movie is a success and this one succeeds in ways that no poster since has ever managed.