Welcome to The Morning Read.

What a week last week was.

My Internet went down on Monday, the first time that's happened to me in this house, and the first time I've had any trouble with AT&T U-Verse at all.  They weren't able to fix it until Wednesday afternoon, and it took several different repairmen to do the trick.  The rest of the week was spent off-balance and catching up.  I will be the first to admit it… I am a total crackhead when it comes to Internet access, and when denied it, I am out of step and out of sorts.

Thankfully, I still feel like I was able to get a lot done.  There are a number of TV interviews I've done with folks like Colin Farrell, Natalie Portman, Peter Weir, Ed Harris, Ivan Reitman, Seth Rogen, and more set to share with you, and I'm gearing up for Team HitFix's 2011 attack on Sundance, and I feel like it's already an aggressive screening schedule this month, like the holidays are over and it's time to hit the ground running.

I bookmarked a ton of things while I've been catching up, and I want to try to share as many of them as possible with you this morning, so let's jump right into it.

I was offline, for example, when the news about the altered version of Huckleberry Finn broke last week, and I was flabbergasted when I got back online to see people actually trying to argue in favor of this.  Madness.  It would be wrong in a hypothetical sense no matter what the book is, but in this case, with this specific book, it's not just wrong, it's crazy.  I would argue that trying to remove the word "nigger" from Huckleberry Finn is one of the most cowardly, offensive acts anyone could commit against a work of art.  That book is a brilliant look at a difficult time in American history, and the journey that Huck makes is one from ignorance to enlightenment.  If he doesn't use that word, there's no journey.  Period.  The word "slave" is not the same thing.  There is no equivalent word.  And I have to admit, I'm tired of reading people tap-dance around it by typing out "the n-word," as well.  If you can't have an adult conversation about language, you may not be an actual adult.  Ultimately, all of the arguments about this boil down, in my mind, to one sentence from the original article that started all this hubbub.  "Race matters in these books. It's a matter of how you express that in the 21st century."  That's what Alan Gribben, a Twain scholar, says about his new edition, which will also replace the use of the word "Injun."  How he can make that staement baffles me.  Huckleberry Finn was not written in the 21st century.  It is not about the 21st century.  Who cares how the language in the book reflects attitudes in the 21st century?  What business does that perspective have in Mark Twain's book?  It's so wrong-headed that it exhausts me.

In the meantime, while Gribben paints a moustache on the Mona LIsa, let's have a little fun with charged words in a different context with the most adorable NSFW video of the day:

 



I've never been quite so charmed by somebody blasting me with profanity before.

I've always thought of greyhounds as very high strung.  This article, though, has almost got me ready to start talking to my wife about rescuing one this year for my sons.  I never realized quite how short a straw the breed drew overall.

The TIFF Bell Lightbox is the beautiful new headquarters for film culture that was just opened in Toronto, and so far, their programming has been a nonstop parade of great.  If you're in Toronto and you have kids, you cannot do better for them than to buy a pass for the whole family to the "Back To The '80s" Saturday matinee series that Todd Brown of Twitch is programming.  "Gremlins," "The Dark Crystal," "Back To The Future," "Time Bandits," and, yes, "The Goonies," among others.  Todd was inspired by his nine-year-old son's reaction to a few of the films at home, and I'll bet the series is going to be a blast.

Hmm.  I notice not as many people have retweeted this.  I get it, though.  That's not nearly as much fun as the whole "OH MY GOD THE WORLD IS ENDING" creepiness of a few reports in a different context.

I swear to God… the world is more "Star Trek" every day:



Speaking of which, I don't really get the whole Lady Gaga thing, but I approve of this sort of wackadoo use of technology.  Digital camera sunglasses are absolutely ridiculous.  Nobody needs them.  And that's exactly why I'm delighted that they will exist.

Another example.  I love the use of something as cutting edge as the Phantom camera, the highest-end slow-motion camera so far, to shoot something as old-fashioned as a flash bulb.  Check it out:



slow burn from frazerchurchill on Vimeo.


Edgar Wright pointed that out, and I guess that was done by the operators of the Phantom for "Scott Pilgrim."  Very cool.

If you'd like to hear Oliver Stone, Baz Luhrmann, and Michael Mann talking about technology like 3D and Blu-ray, it appears to have been one of the highlights from the CES last week.  Here's an edited version of the discussion, where Luhrmann hints that he might shoot "The Great Gatsby" in 3D.  As they're rehearsing right now, Luhrmann says he's "blocking the film for 3D."  Considering how he uses 2D, I'm having trouble imagining that, and that alone makes me sort of curious to see him do it:

 

 

And if that doesn't convince you that the future is now, how about the idea that Roger Deakins may never shoot film again?

Or how about the idea of Chan-wook Park shooting an entire film on his iPhone?

I could spend the whole day just being amazed by things I see people doing with tech, especially when it's in service of new sorts of storytelling like this:

 

 

Or I could just be impressed that technology allows me to read a moment-by-moment review of "Transformers 2" by the Hulk.  Read that sentence again.  Bask in it.  That just happened.  You're welcome.

This is a twisted interview with the very funny Eugene Mirman.  He's been doing press for "Bob's Burgers" that includes the very strange and funny interview with our own Dan Fienberg that ran over the weekend.

Oh. My.

Want to see an absolutely incredible piece of indie animation?

 

Meet Buck from TeamCerf on Vimeo.

 

Told you so.

This could be the worst thing that's ever happened to Scientology.

I had no idea Tati considered making a film with the Sparks, of all things.  Crazy.

I only just saw this for the first time.  This entire site is fried gold.

My favorite part of this entire top ten list is how at the end, it just bluntly says "Comments are closed."  That's like throwing the mic at the stage, flipping the audience the bird while grabbing your dick, and walking out through the club.  Well played.

And speaking of that sort of attitude, I laughed out loud about five times in George Roush's round-up of Hollywood's New Year Resolutions.

We're going to have some cool fun "Green Hornet" coverage coming up, but I have to say, the work David Strick did is really nice.

One of the types of writing on film we don't see enough of is what Glenn Kenny did here with "Somewhere," when someone digs into one aspect of a film that they've been chewing on, in a format that's nothing like a formal review.  Great read, and I think he makes some very clear-eyed observations on Sophia Coppola's approach to sexuality in the film.

The cutaways to Yoda really sell this one for me:

 

And finally, Patton Oswalt picked his 100 favorite film moments, and I love the way this is formatted.

So, anyway, all of that was stuff I had on my mind over the last week, which was just sort of frazzled and hectic.  But this week?  This week will be better.

How do I know?  Well, for one thing, this week begins with the publication of a short story I wrote called "The Interview."  I've linked to a number of stories over at the site Popcorn Fiction here at the Morning Read, and today, it's my story you'll find there.  I'm pleased to be part of a very distinguished rogue's gallery of writers who have contributed to that site, and I hope you enjoy the story if you take the time to check it out.

And finally, this coming Saturday, my family returns home.  I'm going to hold my wife and kids in my arms for the first time since September.  And that means that no matter what else happens, this is the best week possible.

The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Except when it doesn't.