Mediography: My Life In Films/TV/Books

I have rarely lived up to the title of this blog. The title is supposed to reflect in part my love of film and I usually stay out of discussing that. Hell, I have a second blog for that. Well, here is an experiment. So let’s see where this goes. There will be overlap with my other entries of course but that’s ok.

BLACK

The first movie I saw was Lady and the Tramp. I’m not 100% certain of this fact, I wasn’t really old enough to remember my first movie after wall, but the dates fit so fine. Besides, don’t I want my first movie to be a great one?

Disney dominates the early years. The obvious films. Mary Poppins. Snow White. Lady and the Tramp. It doesn’t matter what religion I claim, Mickey Mouse is the thing I truly worshipped in this era. I will come to know all the cartoons.

The theater really comes on line in 1988 with three movies. Bambi, which I prefer in the early scenes. Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which contains both images of my dreams and one shot from my nightmares which 25 years later still gets me. Then there is Oliver and Company, the film that will capture my heart fullest. It won’t hit video for another eight years sadly.

The next two years will really bring everything on line. The summer of 1989 yielded the fruits of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Peter Pan along with The Karate Kid Part III which makes zero sense. Years later I will see the big film of the year, Batman, and be baffled by it. It will also bring Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure on video. There is also a moment my mother finds endlessly funny: the fact that Ghostbusters II scared me. Five year olds aren’t exactly brave, ok?

1989 also has the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I am profoundly addicted to the Turtles and thus race to see the first movie. In fact that will be the theme of 1990: the first year where things I love in one medium show up in another. The awful in retrospect Jetsons movie and the still rather lovely animation of DuckTales the Movie hold me. July 13 brought The Jungle Book back to theaters and my sister into my life.

The pace speeds up. 1991 brings Nicktoons, of which Doug will be my favorite, and the second Turtles movie. It also brings The Rocketeer, a riotous movie that serves as my first entry into pulp fiction. White Fang gives me an early love of adventure. An American Tail: Fievel Goes West will excite me to no end even though it opens the same day as Beauty and the Beast, a film I realize was a masterpiece. I liked product as a kid, I fear.

To this point, my books are largely tie-ins as they will be for several more years. The names Todd Strasser and A.L. Singer will hold far too much sway. However there are cracks in that armor which my mother despises and will eventually humiliate me for. I love the writings of Louis Sachar whose comedic work kills me. Judy Blume’s Fudge books also send me screaming with delight. I’m oddly compelled by Bruce Coville, my intro to sci-fi. Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, and FoxTrot thrill me in this time. 23 years later Garfield has been exposed as the corporate crap it is but the other two never leave my rotation.

Tv and movies take on new importance the next year as my parents separate. In 1992 I fall in love with Saved By The Bell, even buying novels dealing with the characters. Cartoons at this point are starting to fade in importance save for the forbidden joys of the Simpsons and Aladdin. Encino Man and The Mighty Ducks entrance me. Home Improvement and Full House crack me up at home.

I first develop my love for Mark Twain due to the real ease of The Adventures of Huck Finn, a film I later realize was both lesser than the original book and on some levels a bit better. The Baby-Sitters Club will grab me in this time, confusingly but it does. The Turtles show up on screen but in a mark of how fast things move, I don’t bother to see them. I skip Jurassic Park and The Nightmare Before Christmas out of fear but rereleases will fix that for both classics. In 1993, trash like Dennis the Menace, Rookie of the Year and the Beverly Hilbillies enthrall me. I have no taste.

1994 marks an early moment at the movies where my disorder evidences itself as I ditch a friend at Ace Ventura to see Blank Check. 20 years on the guilt of the decision scars me even if I’m not sure which if any was any good. The Mighty Ducks 2, The Santa Clause, Angels in The Outfield, and The Lion King cement my love of Disney. Sadly the big movie of the year is The Flintstones. I regret everything before the year is out.

By 1995, I’ve moved to Arkansas and am starting to become an adult. Sure I’m eager to see Casper but I see Dumb and Dumber and love it. I’ll really love Apollo 13. Clueless hits me hard. I have my first hate with A Kid in King Arthur’s Court. I start to sour on Saved by the Bell and Full House, which I won’t finish. I read incessantly but only Coville and Roald Dahl stay with me. For Dahl I love him so much I refuse to see Matilda though I might’ve dug it. Baby-Sitter’s Club ends here, though not before I see the film. The year ends with the epicness of Toy Story. Calvin and Hobbes, which I have loved for four years, ends with 1995. My love never will.

I spend the first 6 months of 1996 addicted to both The Great Brain series and Friends. I devour anything by John Grisham as well as Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. My sci-fi love kicks on with the discovery of The X-Files. The summer brings Phenomenon which at the time interests me more than Independence Day. My love of Tom Hanks carries over to his directorial debut That Thing You Do. However, am I growing cynical? The Nutty Professor feels below me and Space Jam will infuriate me. Black Sheep angers me even though I loved Tommy Boy. However, my love of Jim Carrey combined with a great script and a dark sense of humor give me a greater respect for The Cable Guy than most.

As my life grows darker in 1997, a year which ends with a death sentence, I come fully online. Sure I will overpraise Liar Liar, but I also discover the Star Wars films and such serious work as Good Will Hunting. I have discussed this era in much depth. There is no need to do much more.

1998 must be seen as dominated by the need to escape. I spend this year watching every X-Files ep as it hits in the lead up to the movie which I like but won’t say I consider high art. Every new Star Wars book is an event. As a reader, I have discovered screenplays and I buy every single one I can. Marvel Books enter my life now. Star Trek has been there for some time but takes on new significance. I am not exposing myself to art, aside from the occasional film like Boogie Nights or Pleasantville.

Then things really take flight in 1999. As I come back on line, there are such joys as the novels of John Irving which I devour. I soak up my series, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Marvel. I flirt with Douglas Adams but that’s all it’ll ever be. I find a great love for the poet Dante in this age. On film, I gleefully watch a new Star Wars film but the other film to really grab me in this year is a far lower key drama, October Sky. Both the movie and source book hold my attention rapt. Only Toy Story 2 and eventually Magnolia will come close.

In the fall of that year, three things happen that set the mood for the next year. The Marvel novels end, though they will reemerge in fits and starts for the next decade. The Star Wars books transition for assorted stories throughout a 20 year period to a single focused story called The New Jedi Order. I also discover Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which I become addicted to at once. I will spend the next years partaking heavily of the latter two as well as the continual presence of Trek. It will be another year until there are any real shifts to come.

The Left Behind books regrettably are what do this, sending me plunging to a period rich in Christian fiction.  Some, like the works of Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti, I won’t regret while the majority I do. I’m deep in James Patterson at 17, appropriately. I also love Stephen King while continuing through Irving. Harry Potter factors in this year. Film is limited in this war to finding the works of Kevin Smith, American Pie, and at year’s end Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings.

For the next period, things start ending. I’ve already crossed peak Smith with only Clerks 2 to look forward to. The X-Files ends on a whimper in 2002. Buffy ends the next year as does K-12. The New Jedi Order and Left Behind follow in the fall of 2003 and spring 2004 respectively. Lord of the Rings closes out in the fall of 2003. When Friends ends in 2004, I don’t even notice it. These are fandoms I will never engage with as fully ever again.

Instead I am a new person. I start trying in vain in the fall of 2002 to see every Oscar movie as I will to this day. Lost in Translation will move me deeply. So too Anchorman and Mean Girls. I start reading comics in spring 2002. Spider-Man dominates in this period and will until when I know not. I lose interest in Daredevil relatively quick though every time I read him I enjoy his book. The Avengers loom heavy in this time. Comic book movies started in 2000. They too have yet to stop.

2005-2006 are a fallow time dominated by a few lights. Print is mostly college work though I get giddy over the Infinite Crisis novel. TV is dominated by The Daily Show, the rebirth of Family Guy, and the dawn of The Office. Comics consume my life, though only Civil War stands out. Get Fuzzy reigns in this time, a fact that makes the strip’s collapse angering. Perals Before Swine starts to grab me and never lets go. The movies are an obsession though only rarely am I blown away as by Shaun of the Dead in late ’04, Hero, The 40 Year Old Virgin, or Christopher Nolan’s back to back genius of Batman Begins and The Prestige. There is also the end of the Star Wars saga, which even then I know won’t be it.

2007 will be an entry but I think of several works. I think of Transformers as summing up this time: endurable but loud, painful and unpleasant. There are some joys. Grindhouse. Knocked Up/Superbad. Hot Fuzz. The Simpsons Movie gives me a nice final time with the show. Then at year’s end, I hit a cliff in the form of the writer’s strike. Suddenly even this joy goes quiet for a time. There are comics as always but a year’s end One More Day flips me off at my lowest moment. Hate. Spider-Man was rather cruel to me in ’07, especially with the third movie. I Am Legend feels right.

Then things start up nicely in 2008. Starting with the awesome Cloverfield, record year for movies gets going. There are the biggies. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is born that year and of course The Dark Knight. But even the films people don’t like happy me such as Indiana Jones 4 and The X-Files 2. The dollar theater will inspire so many chances in me with films like Sex Drive and Punisher: War Zone whose director I will eventually interview. Sure I realize I’m done with Kevin Smith for good this year and the less said about the Star Wars entry the better. But a good time.

In 2009 and 2010, film and comics reign with virtually no TV aside from The Office. My work schedule won’t allow it. But oh what great ones. The Hurt Locker. Inglourious Basterds. Avatar. Scott Pilgrim vs The World. The King’s Speech. The Social Network. Even Paranormal Activity. The comics are a nonstop ride through serialized thrills.

Then in 2011-2012 everything changes. The MCU hits full blast, sure. Harry Potter ends on film. The Office concludes. But everything is dominated by something and someone new. This era is not the era of media. It is her era. I can’t describe it any other way.

I don’t know what I’ll look back and say defined this era in media me. But I wonder. This has been my mediography.

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