Weekend Reads: Mad Max, Little Richard, Peel Sessions, Ghost in the Shell

Recommended weekend reading material for May 16, 2020.

Every week, I compile a list of interesting, thought-provoking, and enjoyable articles, blog posts, and reviews. I hope they provide you with some good weekend reading material.

When you watch Mad Max: Fury Road, it seems like a miracle that such a movie was ever made in the first place (and that dozens of people didn’t die making it). That becomes even more apparent while reading this oral history of the film’s troubled production.

Five years after “Fury Road” was released, I asked 20 of its key players what making it was like. Though its post-apocalyptic plot is deceptively simple — road warrior Max (Tom Hardy) and the fierce driver Furiosa (Charlize Theron) must race across the desert to escape the vengeful Immortan Joe and his fleet of kamikaze War Boys — filming the movie was anything but easy.

Via Kottke.

Little Richard, whose flamboyant and charismatic style laid the foundation for rock n’ roll, died last week at the age of 87.

Starting with “Tutti Frutti” in 1956, Little Richard cut a series of unstoppable hits — “Long Tall Sally” and “Rip It Up” that same year, “Lucille” in 1957, and “Good Golly Miss Molly” in 1958 — driven by his simple, pumping piano, gospel-influenced vocal exclamations and sexually charged (often gibberish) lyrics.

A blogger named Dave Strickson has put together a massive (and growing) list of Peel Sessions that are currently available on YouTube. Some of the artists featured include Adam and the Ants, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Broadcast, Cocteau Twins, Echo & The Bunnymen, Mogwai, Pet Shop Boys, and The Cure. Via Treble.

Mark Hamill, Mr. Luke Skywalker himself, discusses his guest appearance in What We Do in the Shadows and Star Wars fandom.

I don’t know when, over the period of time, fandom became so contentious. But people are really opinionated, and you can’t help but be opinionated yourself, because you’ve lived with the character so long. So whether it was on Episode VIIVIII or IX, I’d have disagreements, and I would say to whoever it was, “Well, I don’t know if that’s right.” But everyone shares the same goal: you want to make the best movie you can.

The world’s last Blockbuster Video has found a way to survive, and even thrive, in the midst of a pandemic.

The store hasn’t really slowed down since, although people have started renting less-terrifying movies. “At first it was Outbreak, Contagion, and any pandemic movie out there, but now it’s pretty much everything,” she said. “Someone rented the entire Indiana Jones series, others are getting classics like Somewhere in Time, and I think that’s kind of the beauty of our store. They probably could’ve found the movie they’re looking for [on a streaming service], but they don’t have to: they can come here, and we’ve got it.”

Via NextDraft.

The good people at Love Thy Nerd have compiled a list of bingeable shows that restore our faith in humanity. I’m glad to see that The Expanse made the cut:

What makes the show worth watching, however, is the crew of the Rocinante and their faith in one another despite their deep-seated differences. It is that commitment to one another that motivates the crew of the Roci both to fight for peace and to see the good in other people even when they don’t deserve it.

Speaking of bingeable shows, Emily VanDerWerff argues that now is the perfect time to watch Joss Whedon’s Angel.

Angel is a series that stands out because it saw its own shortcomings and kept trying to change them. From its willingness to keep reinventing itself in the name of improved quality to the ways its creators’ larger fears about propping up blood-sucking corporations become baked into the very text, it is a show that somehow never stops feeling relevant, even though it ended in 2004.

If you’re a fan of role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, then you know the value of a good set of dice. And dice are getting fancier all the time.

[A]long with a massive renaissance in tabletop RPGs, there’s been a huge surge in boutique dice making. I first noticed it at Gen Con in 2015, when I stumbled upon the team from Artisan Dice. There at the nation’s largest tabletop gaming convention was a display of products unlike anything that I’d ever seen before, including dice made from old Jack Daniel’s whiskey casks and laser-inscribed sets made from animal horn. One of the most expensive was cut from solid titanium and ran $344 plus shipping.

In light of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder, my friend Maralee has written a powerful column on the need to discuss racism with our kids.

Maybe the topic seems too heavy to address with your kids. Maybe you aren’t sure what to say. Maybe it doesn’t seem like it concerns you. Maybe you don’t live in a part of the country with an overtly racist past or where your kids regularly encounter people of other races or where racism still feels like a reality today. Maybe this doesn’t seem like your problem.

I’ve been a fan of the Ghost in the Shell anime franchise for a long time but unfortunately, the latest installment — Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 (now streaming on Netflix) — is a real disappointment.

Ever since the 1995 movie, the Ghost in the Shell franchise — based on Masamune Shirow’s original manga — has been an exemplar of heady, thought-provoking anime that puts as much emphasis on interesting ideas as it does thrilling action. But the franchise’s latest installment, Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045, feels like, well, an empty shell devoid of everything that makes a Ghost in the Shell title worth watching.

Following SAC_2045, I began rewatching the first season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002), and it still holds up pretty well after nearly two decades. (I’ve written more about Stand Alone Complex in my anime primer.)

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