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The End of the World’s Greatest Hits

Last week at this time, I was fearing impossible scenarios that could arise from Chicago’s hosting of the NATO summit. That’s not surprising for me: the apocalypse seems to be a common theme in the entertainment I consume.

I started to think about all the different end-of-the-world things I enjoy and put together a starter list for your armageddon-themed entertainment. This list is in no way meant to be exhaustive–if you have additions, let me know!

MUSIC

Time Zone “World Destruction”
Afrika Bambaataa and John Lydon teamed up to list the reasons why we’re all pretty much fucked.

“Mother Nature is gonna work against you / Nothing in your power that you can do.”

Kaboom:

Morrissey “Everyday is Like Sunday”

“Armageddon – come armageddon! Come, armageddon! Come!”

To paraphrase: “Bring it, bitch!”

Iron Maiden “2 Minutes to Midnight”

Legendary metallers synchronize their watches with the Doomsday Clock:

BOOKS

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Forget the Will Smith movie–this desperate, lonely, nailbiter about a vampire apocalypse is a quick and unforgettable read. George Romero even acknowledged its influence on Night of the Living Dead (I’m getting to that one in a few).

If books aren’t your thing, the movie looks like this:

World War Z by Max Brooks

Brilliant idea–take a zombie apocalypse and have the story told, oral history-style, by its survivors. Brooks took the concept from Studs Terkel’s The Good War.

The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand isn’t perfect, and it’s not even King’s best book (I prefer It and Carrie). However, the post-superflu world King created–and the good vs. evil story he tells–are as good as post-apocalyptic fiction gets.

MOVIES

12 Monkeys

In all seriousness, this is my favorite movie ever. Terry Gilliam directed this sci-fi masterpiece that brings together a world-ending virus, time travel, Bruce Willis, an early Brad Pitt performance, and monkeys.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Not far behind 12 Monkeys is my love for this 1978 remake of the 1956 horror film (which itself was based on a book). I’ve been told that this movie’s one big allegory, and I couldn’t give less of a shit about that. The bottom line is that this is a tense, creepy, flick with knockout performances from Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, and Leonard Nimoy.

Spoiler warning: this is the end of the movie. It’s awesome.

28 Weeks Later

I prefer this to its predecessor, 28 Days Later. The best of the modern-day zombie movies, in my opinion:

Night of the Living Dead

There is nothing–nothing–I can say about this b&w classic that hasn’t already been said.

Fail Safe (1964)

The television play remake in ’00 was pretty great, too, but this version resonates more. It’s the U.S. vs. Russia, during one of the Cold War’s most tense peaks:

Testament

I remember watching this one with my parents when it came out–generally the same time when the world was buzzing about The Day After. Testament takes a sobering, more personal, look at the devastating aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. No embeds allowed; click here to see one of the film’s early distressing moments.

COMIC BOOKS 

Kamandi

Jack Kirby’s Kamandi tells the story of “The Last Boy on Earth,” living in a post-apocalyptic (the Great Disaster) world. Every page during Kirby’s run screams of invention and insanity, as the titular boy finds his way in a world run by highly-evolved animals.  The first 20 issues are collected here.

Also recommended: The Walking Dead, Y: the Last Man, Wasteland, Deathlok.

At some point down the road, I’ll cover Dystopia’s Greatest Hits (another favorite of mine).

Dystopia 2012: The Hunger Games vs. The Lorax

Two of 2012’s big releases, The Hunger Games and The Lorax, happen to be dystopian features based on well-read stories.

Vs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though they target very different audiences, both movies have a lot in common. To help you determine which is more worthy of your time, I offer the following direct comparisons:

GOVERNMENT

The Hunger Games
The government forces two children from each district to fight each other until one survivor is left standing

The Lorax
The government has its citizens under constant surveillance

Winner: The Hunger Games

_____

THE ENVIRONMENT

The Hunger Games
Teenaged combatants fight in a synthetic environment

The Lorax
Entire environment is synthetic

Winner: The Lorax

_____

SOURCE MATERIAL

The Hunger Games
Based on a young adult novel

The Lorax
Based on a children’s book

Winner: The Hunger Games

_____

EYE CANDY

The Hunger Games
The female lead and the boys who love her are all very good looking

The Lorax
Main character is cute to look at, though it has Danny DeVito’s voice

Winner: The Hunger Games

_____

MENTORSHIP

The Hunger Games
Mature voice of experience provided by Woody Harrelson

The Lorax
Mature voice of experience provided by Betty White

Winner: The Lorax

_____

IN CONCLUSION

The Hunger Games wins. On a related note, the book totally lives up to the hype. The trilogy spirals down after that, however. Quit while you’re ahead.

Kevin Guilfoile-Podcast Interview 1/25/12

This week’s podcast finds me talking with author and humorist Kevin Guilfoile, whose last two books, Cast of Shadows and The Thousand, are can’t-put-‘em-down, provocative, ready-for-Hollywood, thrillers.

During the length of the show, we talk about the writing process, publishing, the Gilmore Girls, Chicago culture, parenting, baseball (Kevin worked for both the Astros and Pirates), and the late Wesley Willis (Rock over London, Rock on Chicago!). If that’s not enough enticement, listen to find out what Kevin calls “the most self indulgent, narcissistic, place on earth” (hint: you’ve probably been there).

I loved talking with him–hope you enjoy listening!

And seriously, if you have an idea for the show’s name I’m all ears.

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