But not a single giant strawberry: More short reviews

One hundred words or fewer, words of one or two letters don’t count. This time with a strong West Coast flava, focused on local products: movies, TV, and kooky theology.

Dexter
Dexter (Showtime, avail. on demand)
This fall, posters appeared on the subway advertising Dexter, “a man who takes life. Seriously.” Michael C. Hall plays the serial killer with the Heart Of Gold, killing bad dudes who have somehow evaded The System. Before I saw the show, I thought this was a silly, audience-love-me idea, but what makes this series great (aside from the voice over and copious amounts of blood) is Dexter’s detachment from everyone around him, not just the people he’s killing. Into this emptiness, we plunge, supplying our own feelings for a man perplexed by emotions. Dexter, like us, just wants to be normal. But how can happiness be possible when you don’t feel anything?
–Wendy West

Forty Guns
Forty Guns, dir. Samuel Fuller (1957)
Even if you hate westerns, you’ll find a lot to love in Forty Guns. From the opening shots of Barbara Stanwyck riding at the head of her band of outlaws, the movie’s theme song, “High Riding Woman with a Whip,” dominating the scene, you know you’re not in John Wayne country. From these hints of S&M to the homoerotics of Barry Sullivan and his cowboy brothers bathing side-by-side in whiskey barrels, there are perverse touches throughout that will have you sitting up and taking notice. You’ll be singing the theme and saying lines like, “He put that bullet right where he wanted it,” for years to come.
–Tim Wager

CSA
C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, dir. Kevin Willmott (2004)
This faux documentary details our national history since the Civil War … which the South won. So stylistically convincing it could verge on boring if the “events” weren’t so chilling. Includes the history of Jefferson Davis’s national presidency, plus Lincoln’s escape to Canada in blackface via Tubman’s underground railroad. Best part: the ad breaks demonstrating products — some real, some invented — reflecting what Americans might be browsing today without abolition: the Slave Home Shopping Network, a stylish electronic “shackle” bracelet to prevent runaways, and drugs you can get — from your veterinarian — to keep your slaves submissive and “happy.” Incredibly disturbing, especially when you learn that “Coon Chicken Inn” was a real Seattle restaurant and “N****rhair” a real brand of tobacco, but fascinating (especially for American historians!).
–Stephanie Wells

Amy Sedaris
I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris (Warner Books, 2006)
Say you have a party. Say you serve a cheese ball that only goes half-eaten. What do you do?

a) Throw it out.
b) Put it in the fridge and snack on it the next day.
c) Re-form it, re-roll it in nuts, and serve it at your next party. No one will know the difference!

If you’re Amy Sedaris, the obvious answer is “c.” Her guide to entertaining is full of advice both facetious and entirely serious, but as the cheese example shows, it’s funniest when the reader can’t tell which is which.

Jam-packed with photos and drawings of and by Sedaris, I Like You is an elaborate art project — more Cindy Sherman than Martha Stewart — and a party in itself.

Cheese ball?
–Rachel Berkowitz

Satan God
Good and evil
Every cause needs a villain. For Christianity, when it’s not homosexuals or abortion-rights activists, it’s Lucifer. In a recent poll, more Americans said they believed in Satan than not. So what exactly does this semi-god spend his time doing? Walking the earth, tricking people into giving over to the “dark side.”

Questions: since the “all-loving” God sentences millions of people a year to eternal damnation, doesn’t it seem that the Devil’s dance card would be full? When would Satan find the time to walk around tricking us into stealing ten bucks or sodomizing? Wouldn’t that make him a terrible manager of hell? Perhaps what makes him so evil is his shunning of the Protestant work ethic.

If it’s true that we’re judged by the company we keep, shouldn’t God be bummed about all the killing done in his name, especially compared to two or three committed in the Devil’s? I’m sorry, I forgot: God acts in mysterious ways.

Devil: thumbs up; God: thumbs down.
–Scott Godfrey

4 responses to “But not a single giant strawberry: More short reviews”

  1. Lisa Tremain says:

    Dear GreatWhatsit Editorial Board:

    Keep those post titles comin’!

  2. Vega$ or bust says:

    This fancy Vega$ hotel has a TV in the bathroom, which is pretty much as good as it gets. In the tub last nite, while flipping around, I came upon a comedian riffing on just what you’re talking about, Scott: why don’t people pay more attention to Satan? How come, at awards shows, you never hear someone say, “I’d like to thank the man downstairs…”

  3. Mark says:

    It’s funny because I’m wearing a shirt right now that says, “Satan hates me”.

    It’s not funny that I’m wearing the shirt, it’s funny because it’s not true.

    Satan actually loves me a lot.

  4. bryan says:

    there’s an old hippie dude who hangs around washington square who wears funny t-shirts under his threadbare blazer. one of them says, “what would satan do?”