This is shaping up to be a really good month, music-wise. Starting with 33 tracks, I felt like I only needed to cut two out for this playlist. And, while, yes, I'm a bit OCD about doing five-song sets with one song to take me out (so you'll typically see 16, 21, 26 or 31 tracks), there honestly weren't any songs I was l wasn't happy to include. Here's what's in store for you:
1. PS I Love You: Sentimental Dishes, Death Dreams on Paper Bag Records
2. Apollo Ghosts: What Are Your Influences, Landmark on You've Changed Records
3. Higgins: Easy Thing, Straight A's on Serious Business Records
4. Boy: This Is the Beginning, Mutual Friends on Gronland Records
5. Cheers Elephant: Falling Out, Like Wind Blows Fire, self-released
6. Ane Brun: Do You Remember (with First Aid Kit), It All Starts With One on [PIAS] America
7. Airiel: Flashlight Tag, Kid Games EP on Shelflife Records
8. Sea of Bees: Broke, Orangefarben on Team Love
9. Hope for Agoldensummer: Daniel Bloom, Life Inside the Body on Mazarine Records
10. Island Twins: Lying in State, Island Twins, self-released
11. Father John Misty: Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings, Fear Fun on Sub Pop
12. Orpheum Bell: Poor Laetitia, The Old Sister's Home, self-released
13. The Spinto Band: Take It, Shy Pursuit on Spintonic Recordings
14. Alice and Michi: Dedication, Strange Bloom on Kenji Records
15. Ramona Falls: Spore, Prophet on Barsuk Records
16. Nick Waterhouse: Some Place, Time's All Gone on Innovative Leisure
17. Old Bricks: Anthem, City Lights on Grip Tapes
18. Daughn Gibson: In the Beginning, All Hell on White Denim/Milestone Records
19. S. Carey: Two Angles, Hoyas EP on Jagjaguwar
20. Dead Mellotron: Stranger, Glitter on Sonic Cathedral Recordings
21. Royal Headache: Girls, Royal Headache on What's Your Rupture
22. Siddhartha: The Fire Next Time, If It Die on Neurotic Yell Records
23. Beach House: Myth, Bloom on Sub Pop
24. Jenny Berkel: Love Is a Stone, Here on a Wire, self-released
25. Sean Bones: Here Now, Buzzards Boy on Solid Gold
26. The Cribs: Chi-Town, In the Belly of the Brazen Bull on Wichita Recordings
27. jj: Beautiful Life, jj n° 4 on Secretly Canadian/Sincerely Yours
28. The Spring Standards: Only Skin, yellow/gold on Parachute Shooter Records
29. The Driftwood Singers: I Don't Live Here Anymore, I Don't Live Here Anymore on Trailer Fire Records
30. The Young: Livin' Free, Dub Egg on Matador
31. Reptar: Orifice Origami, Body Faucet on Vagrant Records
First, as should be apparent by now, I love love love the new Beach House track. I could listen to it for hours and not get bored:
Love this song and the video featuring Aubrey Plaza only makes it better:
Great new song from jj:
This song just burrows under your skin and makes you want to move. I think it's the drums. I know I want to hear more from Ane Brun:
This is off Beach House's new album, which'll be out in two weeks. I'm looking forward to it. It's produced by the same guy who produced their last album, Teen Dream, (and whose bona fides include production work for Blonde Redhead, TV on the Radio, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Architecture in Helsinki, Delorean, Islands, Cold Cave and many others) so I'm hopeful that it'll be as good if not better than their last release. This track is very, very, very promising.
It's sort of like Infinite Jest (the movie). Once it's over, I just want to replay it. Wonderful dreampop.
Yeah, I know. I’m a bit behind on my podcast posts. They’ve been a bit late getting up, but now as of 4/16, we’re all caught up. Last I checked, they were all on the website, though the most recent one (from yesterday) wasn’t on iTunes yet (though ought to be sometime today). I’ll post the tracklists from #s 92 and 93 under cuts, but in brief:
- I had a lot of fun with #92. One of my favorite things to do when assembling a playlist is to get songs to transition seamlessly into one another. This can be done any number of ways, but is mostly through lingering fade-ins/fade-outs. My absolute favorite, though, is when the first song ends on one note and the second song starts on that note. I was able to accomplish this twice in #92 (between Yukon Blonde/Zeus and then again between Conduits/Young Prisms).
- #93 is a bit weirder and perhaps more challenging with some of the music, but I still like it. Last week sometime, John Darnielle had nice things to say about Midtown Dickens on Twitter, one of the bands I included in #93. I noted that he was one of their 100-something followers. Then they retweeted my podcast announcement a few days ago. So there’s a chance, however small, that John Darnielle might 1) have seen it and 2) listened to my podcast. Unlikely, but not impossible.
( Podcast #93 tracklistCollapse )
- Diamond Rugs: Gimme a Beer, Diamond Rugs on Partisan Records
- Moonface: Teary Eyes and Bloody Lips, With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery on Jagjaguwar
- Theresa Andersson: Hold on to Me, Street Parade on Basin Street
- Leigh Marble: Walk, Where the Knives Meet Between the Rows on Laughing Stock Records
- Tic Tic Boom!: For Feeling, Before the Sun Rises EP, self-released
- Terrible Feelings: Intruders, Shadows on Deranged Records
- The Waco Brothers and Paul Burch: Great Chicago Fire, Great Chicago Fire on Bloodshot Records
- Sweet Billy Pilgrim: Brugada, Crown & Treaty on EMI
- CFCF: Exercise #3 (Building), Exercises on Paper Bag Records
- Lushlife: Big Sur, Plateau Vision on Western Vinyl
- Suckers: Turn on the Sunshine, Candy Salad on Frenchkiss
- Susurrus Station: Play the Fool, Antinomie on Aio Records
- Twin Trip: Heavy Load, Twin Trip on Flower Records
- Horse Feathers: Fit Against the Country, Cynic's New Year on Kill Rock Stars
- Johnny Bertram and the Golden Bicycles: Miracle, Neon City on Esperanza Plantation
- Bryan Scary: Ballroom Kid, Daffy's Elixir on Paper Garden Records/Lavaslope Records
- Stars in Coma: Dismantle Your Heart, Midnight Puzzle on KinGem Records
- Mystery Pills: The Glass Traditions, Mystery Pills EP, self-released
- Brendan Benson: Bad for Me, What Kind of World on Readymade Records
- Finn Riggins: Benchwarmers, Benchwarmers EP on Tender Loving Empire
- Torche: Kicking, Harmonicraft on Volcom Entertainment
- The Dandy Warhols: Sad Vacation, This Machine on The End Records
- Electric Guest: American Daydream, Mondo on Downtown Records
- Coke Weed: Magpie, Nice Dreams, self-released
- The Forty Nineteens: Turn It Around, No Expiration Date on Heyday Records
- Toro Y Moi: Dead Pontoon, June 2009 on Carpark
A preview for this most recent podcast:
- Confessions, St. Augustine (trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin): This had been sitting on my shelf for a long time and it was only recently that I got around to reading it. Interesting read, and much more so in the first nine books than in 10-12, when he gets into riffing on Genesis in what feels like an entirely separate work, tacked onto the end. Of course, I didn't think anything he said was terribly convincing, but he was certainly a very smart guy and way, way, way smarter than I would have been had I been a contemporary of his. His biography was certainly touching, even if I thought that he was barking up the wrong tree. I'm certainly envious of his conviction and the comfort he finds in his faith, since both of those things are completely unreachable for me.
One thing that took me by complete surprise was in Book XII.16 and XII.28, where allows for what amounts to reader-response criticism in biblical exegesis. Groovy!
- Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton: I finished this literally minutes before AdB took the stage in Meany Hall for a talk on the self-same topic/book. I've been a de Botton fan since reading How Proust Can Change Your Life over a decade ago. I thought this was a really gives a really good leg-up to the atheist movement, in terms of where it goes after just declaring one's atheism. And his main point is that religions get a lot of things right, even if they're completely wrong about their One Big Idea: they're great at building and fostering communities, educating people, forgiveness, art, contemplation, etc. I think his hope is that this can kickstart some conversations about building more meaningful secular communities. I don't know if that's likely, but it's certainly a noble idea.
- "The Cask of Amontillado," Edgar Allan Poe: A friend of mine was writing a paper on this for a college course, so I reread it to be able to talk with her about her paper. Still a great story about the slippery nature of revenge.
- Habibi, Craig Thompson: Not as good as Blankets. But very pretty. Thompson does some absolutely gorgeous stuff with Arabic script. Some of it is pretty breathtaking.
- The Three Paradoxes, Paul Hornschemeier: I know I said I was going to read more word-books. AND I AM I SWEAR. But I wanted some lighter reading, especially after the St. Augustine (and other things I'm in the middle of). Words and I just weren't jibing toward the end of the month, so I read all of the Paul Hornschemeier I own. This one was pretty good. It's all about stasis and difficulty moving on. Pretty cool was the ways in which PH uses different styles of cartooning to nest stories and memories in the main narrative.
- Mother, Come Home, Paul Hornschemeier: Holy crap. Deva-fucking-stating. But good. VERY good. It's not spoiling too much to say that this is about the ways in which a man and his son deal with the death of their wife/mother. But holy crap. Absolutely brilliant and heart-wrenching. Have something more uplifting to read once you finish this one, ok?
- Life With Mr. Dangerous, Paul Hornschemeier: This will do the trick, in fact. A story about a young woman dealing with being single. It ends on an upbeat note. A lot of people compare PH to Chris Ware, which is an unfair comparison, I think. Really the only similarities are in their coloring (they both prefer solid colors) and that they're both from the Chicago area. The similarities end there, in my mind.
- It's a Gift: I think this is the first W.C. Fields movie I've ever seen. It was all right. I think it's a bit out of character for him, too, from what I know about his on-screen persona (in that he's not quite as irascible as I'd been led to believe). He also had a few really funny physical comedy bits, which I really wasn't expecting.
- Downton Abbey Seasons 1&2: If you aren't Down with Downton, I feel bad for you, son. I'm sure you've seen me yammering about this on Twitter and FB. It's a fucking fantastic show, on par with The Wire (yeah, it's that good). The characters are nuanced and interesting and heartbreaking. Everyone has a story, too, which is a pretty impressive feat for a show with over a dozen featured characters and so far only, what, 14 episodes? As I think I said elsewhere, the thing that's special about the show is that it features characters in an unjustly stratified world demonstrating what class really is. There are some tear-jerkingly good moments when those things happen.
- OSS 117: Lost in Rio: I still haven't seen The Artist, but I've now seen both OSS 117 movies. This is the funnier of the two, by far, which is rare for a comedy sequel (seriously -- how many comedy sequels can you name that are funnier than the originals?).
- Wristcutters: A Love Story: Decent. Moody. Reminded me a lot of the atmosphere in Six-String Samurai. Tom Waits has a good cameo in it.
- Bob Le Flambeur: Pretty good. I can sort of see where the Ocean's 11 movies get their inspiration (though everything goes horribly wrong in BLF).
- Army of Shadows: Another Melville film (did you know he took his nom de guerre from the same place where I got mine? I didn't!). This one was brutal and great. All about the French Resistance and done in a very non-sentimental, in-your-face way. A pretty controversial film when it came out, since it was released in the wake of 1968 and the Algerian uprising (and it's trivially easy to draw parallels there). Of the Melville movies I watched this month, this was the best by far.
- Le Cercle Rouge: Another good Melville film. A heist film, and I love a good heist film. They're apparently doing a remake with Orlando Bloom. I bet it doesn't end the same way, though kudos if it does.
- Waste Land: Holy crap. This was amazing. Like, it starts off and you don't think it's going to be much. The premise is pretty simple. Vik Muniz, a Brazilian artist living in America, returns to Brazil to live among the trashpickers of Jardim Gramacho, which is the main landfill for Rio de Janeiro His goal is to recruit some of the trashpickers to help him make pictures using trash from the landfill. And you start to think, "Ok, yeah. He's just going to breeze in and breeze out and use these folks for his art, enchant them for a while and then they're going to go back to their horrible lives." And that concern gets voiced by Vik's girlfriend. But that's not what happens. At all. The people he recruits are all genuinely touched by the art they help to create (which is portraits of themselves, often in poses from famous paintings). Vik helps them auction their stuff off and gets them a considerable amount of money which their union leader -- one of the most engaging people in the film -- uses to help build up their library and improve living conditions. I think this documentary had me in tears toward the end. It was really gorgeous and moving. I wish they had kept the original title, though: Lixo Extraordinário (which I think translates to Extraordinary Waste/Garbage). It really is amazing what Muniz and the rest of the artists do. Watch this.
- Alphaville: I think this is my first Godard film. It was all right. Alpha 60 has a creepy voice.
- How to Get Ahead in Advertising: Meh. It was ok.
- Young@Heart: Another really touching documentary. This one's about a group of older folks who sing modern songs in a choir. You'll never hear a more touching rendition of "Forever Young" or "Nothing Compares 2 U" than you'll hear in this movie. I'm not kidding.
- How I Met Your Mother, Seasons 2–6: Guilty pleasure. I mainlined it. It's pretty much The Neil Patrick Harris Show.
- The Killing, Season 1: I'd heard good things about this, so I watched the first season (only 12 episodes) last week. It's one more thing (in a long, long, list) that Takes Place In Seattle, But Is Filmed In Vancouver. It's a decent enough murder mystery (think Twin Peaks, but remove the quirk and supernatural elements) and it gets some things about Seattle right, namely that this is a place colored in green, blue and gray. But they get a lot of things amusingly wrong, notably in how people dress and how much it rains. It rains WAY too hard and often in this show. Also at one point, a character goes to a bed and breakfast in Tacoma. HA. You wouldn't go to a B&B in Tacoma. I'm not even sure Tacoma HAS an B&Bs. The cinematography, especially in the first two episodes, is pretty stunning. And they have some very good aerial B-roll (it's fun to pause and go "Hey! That's my Trader Joe's!" when they, like, have B-roll of the Ship Canal as it runs through Ballard.
- The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie: First Buñuel movie I've seen. Meh. Rich people can't eat dinner because weird shit keeps happening.
- The Hollywoof Complex: Watched this at the recommendation of pauldeman2pt0. It was good, but sad. And not sad in the way that, say, Young@Heart was sad at times (it's about old people -- you can do the math). This was more pathetic. It's pretty much how parents without much good sense are talked into bringing their kids to Hollywood and are then summarily drained of their money by the class of people in Hollywood who exist solely to falsely pump up the hopes of would-be stars.Very few of the children profiled get anything resembling success, much less steady work.
- That Obscure Object of Desire: I liked this better than TDCotB, but I was still pretty meh about it. It took me a while to notice that they were using two different women for the same part. And I'm still not quite sure why.
- Being Elmo: Wow. Great documentary. All about Kevin Crash, the guy behind Elmo. Very touching. A few moments moved me to tears and it reminded me of how great Sesame Street is and how sorely Jim Henson is missed.
- Dr. Bronner's Soapbox: I was on a documentary kick and I wanted to know more about the crazy soap dude. He was indeed crazy, but he makes pretty good soap, it turns out. One of his sons is a complete sweetheart and the company seems to be pretty cool to their employees.
- My Left Foot: Never saw this before. Had it on in the background Saturday morning. It was all right, though Daniel Day Lewis was incredible. They appear to have whitewashed Christy Brown's relationship with his last wife, which is pretty unfortunate (she was apparently an abusive asshole and that's completely ignored).
- Cookie's Fortune: Meh. Decent ensemble cast. Julianne Moore was adorable.
- Act of Valor: Shitty, as you might imagine. It's a movie about Navy SEALS that uses active SEALS as actors. So the script and delivery were wooden (the villains were actual actors and decent in comparison). There was one scene with the SEAL I'll call Captain Beardy (since they didn't use any of their names) that was decent. But it was mostly awful. EXCEPT: the first mission was pretty neat. The appeal of the movie was that it's supposed to show how they work, which is pretty interesting. And the first mission is a hostage extraction in the jungle, so it was neat to see the tactics they'd use in such a situation. But the next major action sequence was just your run-of-the-mill firefight, which we've all seen a zillion times before.
- Friends with Kids: This was all right. It had an all-star cast (Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Chris O'Dowd [covering up his Irish accent with an American one with reasonable success], Jon Hamm, Jon Hamm's wife) and it should have been better than it was, but it was still ok.
- The Hunger Games: Eh. Decent movie. Implausible concept. Like, really? Your idea of keeping colonies under control is to summarily piss 11/12 of them once a year by ritually slaughtering their children? And this seems like a good idea how?
As I think I noted in my last podcast post, I had a lot of music in reserve for March because I had an abundance of February music and a lot of stuff that came out on 2/28 I left for the March podcast.
But then I started off March with, like, 64 tracks for the month. And when I listened to the first 32, there was really only one I wanted to get rid of (and this works well for my current setup of sets of 5 with a song at the tail end of the podcast).
So, yes. I broke the 2 hour barrier with this podcast. Woo! A lot of good stuff in it as well.
1. Team Me: Show Me, To the Treetops on Propellor Recordings
2. Erin Passmore: Downtown, Downtown EP on Hidden Pony
3. Kaiser Chiefs: Little Shocks, Start the Revolution Without Me on Fictional/Universal Music Group
4. Denison Witmer: Brooklyn With Your Highest Wall, The Ones Who Wait on Asthmatic Kitty
5. England in 1819: Air That We Once Breathed, Alma, self-released
6. Sourpatch: Cynthia Ann, Stagger and Fade on HHBTM Records
7. School of Seven Bells: The Night, Ghostory on Vagrant Records
8. Elika: No One Gets Lost, Always the Light on Saint Marie Records
9. Sophia Knapp: Close to Me, Into the Waves on Drag City
10. Fort Lean: Sunsick, Sunsick 7" on Neon Gold/Black Bell
11. The Elkcloner: Crossfire, The Elkcloner on Musebox Records
12. Baby Eagle & The Proud Mothers: Brave Women, Bone Soldiers on You've Changed Records
13. Dirty Three: Rising Below, Toward the Low Sun on Drag City
14. Bowerbirds: Tuck the Darkness In, The Clearing on Dead Oceans
15. Parakeet: Tomorrow, Tomorrow 7", self-released
16. Eux Autres: Right Again, Sun Is Sunk on Bon Mots Records
17. Dunes: Vertical Walk, Noctiluca on Post Present Medium
18. Jay Farrar/ Yim Yames/ Anders Parker/Will Johnson: Old LA, New Multitudes: A Tribute to Woody Guthrie on Rounder Records
19. Good Old War: Calling Me Names, Come Back As Rain on Sargent House
20. The Mary Onettes: Love's Taking Strange Ways, Love Forever on Labrador
21. Cygnets: Teenager, Dark Days, self-released
22. Lissy Trullie: It's Only You, Isn't It, Lissy Trullie on Downtown Records
23. Gabriel & The Hounds: The World Unfolds, Kiss Full of Teeth on Communion
24. Eric Chenaux: Amazing Backgrounds, Guitar & Voice on Constellation
25. Juston Stens: Edge of the Moon, Trash or Treasure, self-released
26. Memoryhouse: The Kids Were Wrong, The Slideshow Effect on Sub Pop
27. Plants and Animals: Lightshow, The End of That on Secret City Records
28. Mike O'Neill: Henry, Wild Lines on Zunior
29. Y La Bamba: Squawk, Court the Storm on Tender Loving Empire
30. Jonathan Segel: (Ever and) Always, All Attractions on Magnetic
31. First Person Shootr: You New Web, Mobility for Gods on Lefse Records
Some catchy Norwegian indie pop that came out last year in Europe but was just released here:
First single off the new School of Seven Bells album (whom I still think aren't as good as they were when the other sister was in the band, but they make up for it by double-tracking the one that's left). Still, this is a pretty good song:
Memoryhouse makes me think of a laid-back Rilo Kiley:
And this Dirty Three track makes me think of a drunk Penguin Cafe Orchestra:
( Click to see my (now not-so) secret shameCollapse )
So I'll be tackling more of that pile this month. I hope.
- The Future of an Illusion, by Sigmund Freud: Eh. It was all right. I think Freud's right about a number of things, but he's a little too mired in his own pet theories (calling religion a neurosis and a longing for a father figure seemed a bit much, though religion-as-wish-fulfillment doesn't seem all that far from the mark) and he dwells a bit too much on what religion was than what religion is. I think this is the only Freud I've read apart from Dora, like, ten years ago. Honestly, I picked it up because I was looking for short books to take with me on my recent trip to San Diego (I like to take short books when I travel, as they allow for more variety [and accomplishment!] on a plane trip) and I didn't finish it before I got home. So I finished it later that week.
- Pride of Baghdad, by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon: knut_hamson suggested this to me when we were in a book store while he was visiting in January. Quick read and a surprisingly effective story for how short it is and how quickly it moves. It's all about the lions who escaped from the Baghdad Zoo in 2003 (don't click the link if you don't want to know how the story ends). Very good.
- Chronicle: I watched this because it was Yet Another Movie Set In Seattle. Except it wasn't. It was Vancouver (AGAIN). :( Still, it was a good superhero movie that was good in all of the ways that Watchmen (the comic book—I've not seen the movie, nor am I inclined to, given what I know of how it departs from the book vis-à-vis the MacGuffin and the ending) was good, in the ways that it casts a different light on superpowers and what being a superhero means.
- Haywire: A big, dumb, fun movie. Went to see this with doogiedownunder, since it was likely one of the last not-a-dad-yet things he got to do before he was a dad (SPOILER ALERT: HE IS NOW A DAD). The acting from whatsherface (the ultimate fighter lady) was wooden, but they played that into a strength, just making her no-nonsense and cold. But her fighting scenes were top-notch. Also, it was fun to see Ewan MacGregor as a Bad Guy. They left the ending open for a sequel and I would gladly watch a sequel to this movie.
- The Pit: Watched at the recommendation of pauldeman2pt. A very interesting look into the world of the commodities trader. Not really a group of people you think a lot about, but an interesting group.
- Smiley Face: I think I watched this on a weekend when I just wanted to zone out. As far stoner movies go, it was actually pretty good (not quite as good as, like, Half Baked, but still moderately funny. Anna Faris really committed to the role of stoned slacker.
- OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies: Watched this without realizing until the end that it was the same folks as The Artist (which I still haven't seen). A lot of fun and I've got the next one in this series queued up for this month.
- Year of the Dog: I really like Molly Shannon, even though her SNL material hasn't really aged well. A decent movie on the things we do to find fulfillment in life.
- The Virgin Suicides: Never saw this before, believe it or not. I thought it was rather well done (and further proof that the only place for Sofia Coppola is behind the camera). Also, the Air soundtrack didn't hurt at all.
- Sometimes a Great Notion: Eh. I guess the title says it: sometimes a great notion. Paul Newman was good though (but really, when isn't he?).
- Harlan Ellison: Dreams With Sharp Teeth: I've never read any Harlan Ellison before, and I really couldn't tell you what he's written (even after watching this), but he seems like an interesting guy?
- Last Train Home: An interesting documentary about the lives of Chinese factory workers.
- Arrested Development, complete series: Yeah, yeah, I know. Late to the game. Well, only kinda. I watched the first season when it first aired, but then forgot to start watching the second season, so I never got into it. A very, very good series—though not as wonderful as everyone says it is. Really, David Cross has all the best lines. Well, and Ron Howard.
- Bedazzled: The 1967 Peter Cook/Dudley Moore version (not the awful 2000 Brendan Fraser version). A lot of fun. I kind of want to watch more Cook/Moore stuff now.
- How I Met Your Mother, Season 1: Late to this one as well (though not as late as with Arrested Development). I needed something new to watch during my lunch breaks and this series came highly recommended. I still don't like shows that incorporate laugh tracks, but this tends to be a bit more smartly written than most American sitcoms.
- How to Be a Serial Killer: Meh. Mildly entertaining at times, but mostly just meh. Not really all that much to say about it.
- The Lady Eve: It was fun to watch Barbara Stanwyck completely toy with Henry Fonda.
- Jack Goes Boating: I can't resist a movie with Philip Seymour Hoffman, especially when he's playing a complete schlub. A pretty good directorial debut from PSH.
- Night of the Living Dead: The 1968 version, not the 1990 remake. Pretty good, though a bit tame by today's (rather high) zombie standards. Still, I will note that it's a solid establishing movie in the genre (not only for its enduring zombie tropes, but also for being a reasonably socially conscious movie) and that the zombies are, at least in theory if not appearance, more frightening than most of the brain-dead amblers typically encountered in recent zombie movies, since they appear to be able to problem-solve much better and faster.
- The Nutty Professor: The 1963 Jerry Lewis version, not the 1996 Eddie Murphy version. I had it on my list because I'd never seen it before. Eh. It was actually all right and I was happy to hear Jerry Lewis sing a decent rendition of "We've Got a World That Swings" (though my favorite version will always be the B-side on They Might Be Giants's "S~E~X~X~Y" single).
- Toy Story 3: OK, SO I AM LATE TO THE PARTY ON A LOT OF THINGS, ALL RIGHT? This really was the best of the three (which is, as far as trilogies are concerned has only been done once before with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusad). And, yes, I totally teared up at the end (though not as much as I teared up while watching Up, which is still the best thing Pixar has ever done). It was an awfully sweet movie.
- Solitary Man: Michael Douglas plays an self-involved asshole once more. I put it in my queue because it has Jesse Eisenberg in it, and I like him.
- Humble Pie: This was all right. It was one of those suggestions that Netflix made for me, since it noted that I liked, like, "quirky independent comedies" or something. William Baldwin is doing his best Alec Baldwin impersonation in it.
- Happythankyoumoreplease: This was all right and pretty much mandatory since I've been mainlining HIMYM and it stars (and was written by) Josh Radnor. It was all right.
- Mansfield Park: Though I know that they took liberties with this adaptation, MP seems like a Jane Austen book I might actually like? I don't know. I know I didn't really like P&P or Persuasion. I'll read it one day, I'm sure.
- Biloxi Blues: Pretty good. I'm not the hugest Neil Simon fan, but both Matthew Broderick and Christopher Walken gave great performances.
- Happy-Go-Lucky: Likely suggested because I watch so much British TV on Netflix. I found the lead annoyingly upbeat.
- Blue Collar: Richard Pryor gives a really good dramatic performance in this. A movie quite apropos for the current economic climate as it depicts the ways in which those in power manipulate the working classes against one another.
- Silver Streak: A lot of fun. I don't think I can be unhappy watching one of the Wilder/Pryor movies.
- Ronin: I had forgotten that I'd seen this before. But as soon as DeNiro was scoping out the café in the beginning, I recognized that I had. I watched it again nevertheless, because it's a great movie.
- Frenzy: This was all right, but by no means was it great Hitchcock. I do rather like playing the Spot Alfred Hitchcock's Cameo game.
- Searching for Bobby Fischer: Very, very good, with excellent performances from both Ben Kingsley and Laurence Fishburne.
- Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: Holy crap, was this movie good. Incredible ensemble cast and pretty much everyone got a really juicy, moving monologue. Without a doubt, though, Spencer Tracy stole the fucking show. If I recall correctly, he died only 17 days after they finished shooting the movie (and was in poor health throughout the filming). What an awesome note to end one's career on. If you haven't yet watched this movie, you need to. While it's a bit ham-fisted on the race issue (i.e., they makes Sidney Poitier's character into an absolute saint of a man with absolutely no faults whatsoever), the journey that Hepburn's and Tracy's characters make is pretty moving and absolutely relevant to the current marriage equality debate.
- Manhattan Murder Mystery: Good, but not great Woody Allen. I think what I liked most about it is that you're allowed for about half the film to think that Diane Keaton's character is over-reacting before you dive down into a real murder mystery (OOPS SPOILERS).
My podcast is now a nonagenarian! And, so far as I can tell, it's still in its right mind!
February was surprisingly full of good music. Like, the songs in this podcast? Only go up to the 27th or so (I think the one exception is the Amy Ray [and, YES, it's that Amy Ray: AN INDIGO GIRL, and the song ROCKS -- no kidding] song which is going to be released on the 28th). I've still got a decent number of songs from the 28th that I'm going to sneak into the March 1st podcast.
1. Amy Ray: Glow, Lung of Love on Daemon Records
2. Wild Nothing: Nowhere, Nowhere 7" on Captured Tracks
3. Burning Hearts: Burn, Burn, Burn, Extinctions on Shelflife Records
4. Damon Moon and the Whispering Drifters: Loose Ends, Lungs, Dirt, and Dreams on Adair Park Recordings
5. Oy Vey: The Brooklyn Side, Recession Girls, self-released
6. Winter Pills: Rogue Highway, All My Lovely Goners on Signature Sounds
7. Dirty Ghosts: Shout It In, Metal Moon on Last Gang Records
8. Damien Jurado: Nothing Is the News, Maraqopa on Secretly Canadian
9. Rosie Thomas: Where Was I, With Love on Studio Litho
10. Terry Malts: Tumble Down, Killing Time on Slumberland
11. Field Music: (I Keeping Thinking About) A New Thing, Plumb on Memphis Industries
12. Ariane Moffatt: In Your Body, MA on Audiogram
13. Christopher Paul Stelling: Mourning Train to Memphis, Songs of Praise & Scorn on Mecca Lecca Recording Co.
14. Perfume Genius: All Waters, Put Your Back N 2 It on Matador
15. Zebra & Snake: Empty Love Song, Sweetest Treasure EP on 100% Records
16. Shearwater: Breaking the Yearling, Animal Joy on Sub Pop
17. Sick Friend: The Draft Dodger, The Draft Dodger on Bird & Flag
18. Leland Sundries: Apparition, The Foundry EP on L'Echiquier Records
19. Barna Howard: Promise, I Won't Laugh, Barna Howard on Mama Bird Recording Co.
20. Sara Radle: The Pins, Same Sun Shines on Jeez Louise
21. Sleigh Bells: Comeback Kid, Reign of Terror on Mom & Pop Music
22. Cursive: The Sun and Moon, I Am Gemini on Saddle Creek
23. Guy Capecelatro III: Girlfriends, North for the Winter on Dromedary Records
24. Lambchop: If Not I'll Just Die, Mr. M on Merge Records
25. Beach Fossils: Shallow, Shallow 7" on Captured Tracks
26. Unicycle Loves You: Sun Comes Out (And I Don't Care), Failure on Mecca Lecca Recording Co.
Now, I know that down here I generally post a few videos of songs from the podcast as a preview. I'm not doing that this time. Because to do so would detract from my main message which is that Field Music's Plumb is incredible and you need to listen to it. Now.
It's unlike anything I've heard in recent memory, but brings to mind XTC and The Beatles as it does a kind of pastichey, math-rocky, proggy sort of thing in just a scant 35 minutes. Catchy, interesting and sounds like nothing more than it sounds like itself, which is pretty much a ticket to winning my admiration.
What I've heard of their previous music is very good too and they're one of the few bands that I've played on my podcast where I am going to make a concerted effort to get to know their music much better (apart from bands I play whom I already know -- though, honestly, there are usually only a handful each podcast: most of the music I play is from artists I've never heard of prior to finding their music or am not terribly familiar with, even if I do know their names).
Oh, are you still reading? Perhaps you missed my directive above. I'll reiterate: go listen to Field Music's Plumb now.
I'll note that it's also available on Spotify, for those of you in the States (along with the rest of their back catalogue).
I have to say I was on the fence about putting it in my queue to begin with: I really don't like shows that include audience laughter (like we can't tell when a joke is funny?), but it does have Doogie Howser and Willow and That Guy From Freaks and Geeks (and so far I've seen two other F&G (well, G really) cameos: Samm Levine and Martin Starr) and a lot of people I know and whose opinions I respect like the show, so I decided to give it a shot. Went on a mini-marathon after work this evening and am now 11 episodes in.
Clearly NPH is the highlight of the show, though a lot of the jokes are just lazy American sitcom writing. Not bad, certainly, and I'll stick with it. I will say, however, that any show that features Belle and Sebastian, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The Pretenders, Nada Surf and Pavement (and not just any Pavement song, but "Major Leagues," which might be my favorite Pavement song, were I forced to choose) in its soundtrack to the first half of its first season at least has good taste.
Looking at songs from future seasons, it appears I'll also get to hear The Replacements
(several times), Guided by Voices (also several times), The Decemberists, Peter Bjorn and John, Wilco, Spoon, I'm From Barcelona, Radiohead, AC Newman, Grizzly Bear, Jon Brion (?!??!?!!!!?!??!?!), Real Estate, My Morning Jacket and quite a few others.
Yes, I am unnaturally excited about Jon Brion. If John Darnielle is my generation's Bob Dylan, Jon Brion is our Brian Wilson. Or maybe even Lennon/McCartney. The man simply cannot write an unpretty song.
( Evidence to support my fevered love for all things Jon Brion under the cut.Collapse )
But then Edith went and outnastied BOTH of them in the final scene. STONE COLD.
I've been watching it slowly, since I pretty much only watch it when I'm on my elliptical (as that's a good 40+ minutes where I'm not going to be distracted by my smartphone or laptop) and I can give it my full attention. I've been slacking a bit on the elliptical recently, but I'm trying to get back into the habit of nightly workouts with the promise of more Downton Abbey each time I hop on.
But, seriously? The Dowager Countess is awesome. I didn't think I was going to like her, but she had this great moment in a swivel chair in the fourth episode, followed later by some of the snootiest medical one-upsmanship I've ever seen.
As I've mentioned to a few of you, I decided to watch it when both melisser and Patton Oswalt profusely recommended it, as I figured that for two such different people to like the same thing with an equal intensity, it must be a very good thing indeed. You can add my effusive recommendation to that list as well. Watch this show.
1. Ben Kweller: Mean to Me, Go Fly a Kite on The Noise Company
Some music from this one:
As always --
I was searching YouTube tonight for, like, lectures on Emerson's Divinity School Address (I'm going to reread it in the near future and I have a hard time falling asleep in a silent room, so I was looking for something both to lull me to sleep as well as to get me in the mood for Emerson.
When the results popped up, though, I saw something I'd not seen before:
That's right. Not only is YouTube doing closed captions now (which it has been for a while), but it's now *indexing* them so videos can show up in your search results just by having relevant words spoken in them, rather than relevant words in the title, description or tags (which is what was searched before, I believe). And you can start watching the video at the point in the video when your search terms appear. This is kind of huge.
One thing I'll note is that they probably need to do a better job of differentiating between different classes of search terms: in my first search, I had "the divinity school address emerson" as my search string, and it was pulling up hits with both "emerson" and "the" -- I got slightly more appropriate results when I took out the definite article (appeared to be focusing on "emerson" and "divinity").
Really cool, nevertheless, and given YouTube's history, it's probably only going to get better.
For those who are interested in what I have queued up, you can see the spreadsheet here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/c
As always, I'm open to suggestions people have about movies. I'm pretty movie-dumb, so what you see there is combination of me mining a bunch of Best-of lists, some suggestions from friends and relying on Netflix's suggestions (which tend to be pretty spot-on, but I have rated 1,353 movies, so their magic algorithm knows me pretty well and can predict pretty accurately how much I'll like a movie).
Instant Watcher pulls the expiration date in all of the metadata it gets from Netflix, no matter the expiration. It's just that it only keeps a month's worth of expiring titles on its Expiring Titles page. But if you go to a movie's page (say The Battleship Potemkin), you can see the movie's expiration date. In this case, it's 11/1/2013.
I think you can see where this is going.
I'm now 40-something entries into a spreadsheet I'm keeping on Google docs where I list titles alongside their expiration date, so I can then sort by expiration date and then, as I'm browsing for things to watch in Netflix, know which I should prioritize.
This initial setup is a hassle, but maintenance should be relatively straightforward. When I add movies, I can just look up their info and pop it into the spreadsheet. And when I watch movies, I can delete those rows from the spreadsheet.
I watched Diner in December (among the myriad other things). It was all right, but didn't really hold my attention.
And I saw both the new Mission: Impossible movie and Haywire in theaters last month. They were both a lot of fun. I mostly watched MI for Simon Pegg and I saw Haywire on a whim and was pleasantly surprised. Very tight story with great fight scenes. It felt like they were leaving things open for a sequel, and I'm hoping I'm right about that.
This year, I'm making the effort to try to read non-comic books again (since I think the majority of the books I read last year were comics). My goal was to have a 1:1 ratio. I didn't make it this month. Oh well.
1. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi: Ok, so I know that this book has been critically acclaimed and all and recommended to me by any number of people, but I have to say I was sort of "meh" about it. I mean, it wasn't bad, but in terms of autobiographical graphic novels, it didn't pack anywhere the emotional punch of, like, Alison Bechdel's Fun Home or Craig Thompson's Blankets (or even any of Jeffrey Brown's comics). It was certainly interesting, in that it gave me a view into a world I knew very little about (viz. Ayatollah-era Iran), but I don't know. It just sort of lacked a compelling narrative arc for me (and not that Satrapi or any other memoirist owes it to me to live her life according to a narrative arc) and when I reached the end of the book, my immediate impression was "That's it?" I suppose that's how life is, though. I've got Embroideries as well, so it's likely I'll read that in the coming months.
2. What Is God?, by Jacob Needleman:
( Ok, this got long. Cutting for courtesy, not because I want to hide anything from sensitive theistic eyes -- theists might even find some common ground with me here.Collapse )
3. The Comic Book Holocaust, by Johnny Ryan: A silly book of parodies of, like, the entire comics world Garfield to the Wizard of Id to McSweeneys to Persepolis to Alan Moore to virtually every Marvel superhero. Vulgar and crass. Perfect bathroom reading.
4. Why Read Moby-Dick?, by Nathaniel Philbrick: Picked this up at, like, a 60% discount at the MLA bookroom (using knut_hamson's badge to sneak me in. I was curious as to what Philbrick saw in the book and while it wasn't a particularly novel reading of the book, I thought he hit on a lot of the important reasons to read M-D.
5. Axe Cop 1, by Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle: HOLY CRAP THIS IS SO GOOD. Guys, you have no idea. Well, maybe you do. So, the writer, Malachai, is a five year-old. Let me repeat that. THE WRITER IS FIVE YEARS OLD. And you guys know (or remember) how five year old logic works (namely that it defies adult logic). His older brother (by 24 years) started drawing pictures to go along with the characters Malachai was making up and piecing together things Malachai said to make narratives. And it's just AWESOME. Here's the first episode in animated form:
Like I said: SO GOOD. The first volume alternates between strips and a column called "Ask Axe Cop" where Ethan poses questions that readers have submitted to the website to Malachai and illustrates the responses:
Again: SO GOOD.
6. Hark! A Vagrant, by Kate Beaton: Good, though uneven. Some of the strips were laugh-out-loud funny, while others were just smirk-worthy.
7. Axe Cop 2: Bad Guy Earth, by Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle: A collection of three issues of the comic that form a longer story (that of Bad Guy Earth). Not to be found on the website, FYI. In color, too (as opposed to the first collection, which was just black and white). Very pretty coloring job. And also very awesome.
8. Impossible Loves, by Erin McNellis: I think this might be a first for my reading list: a book by a friend (I went to college with Erin). It's a collection of essays from her blog, with a particular focus on Simone Weil and Georges Bataille (the former of whom I'm now somewhat interested in reading, thanks to Erin's essays), but also Grizzly Man and Burning Man. I quite enjoyed it.
9. Happy Birthday, Wanda June, by Kurt Vonnegut: Another book down in my quest to Read All the Vonnegut. His only extant play (to my knowledge). Ehhhh. It did have me chuckle a few times, so it wasn't all bad. But Vonnegut's just better at prose.
10. Werewolves of Montpelier, by Jason: A story about friendship, love, ennui and werewolves. I love Jason, and this didn't change that.
11. Isle of 100,000 Graves, by Vehlmann and Jason: One of Jason's few collaborations. A story about lost fathers, hidden treasures and capital punishment. Good stuff.
12. Daredevil: Yellow, by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale: I don't read a lot of Marvel Comics (well, I don't read a lot of superhero comics, and when I do, I stick to those whose stories I'm already very familiar with, like Batman and Superman), so since I heard good things about the Loeb/Sale color series (Daredevil: Yellow, Hulk: Gray and Spiderman: Blue), I figured they'd be a good place to start (since they're self-contained narratives). I was kinda meh about this one, though. The art was only so-so (there was one panel where Daredevil's dad is throwing a punch in the boxing ring where the foreshortening of his punching arm makes it look unnaturally shorter than his other arm, and that just bugged me), though the coloring was certainly very effective. I didn't find the story all that compelling either, though Purple Man was a cool supervillain.
I didn't watch nearly as much this month. That's probably a good thing.
1. Man on Wire: A gorgeous movie. You really should see it if you haven't. I loved particularly that even though the setting for the event was the Twin Towers that they never even alluded to 9/11.
2. Archer, Season 1: Rewatched this with knut_hamson when he was visiting, since he'd never seen it before. Just as funny as before. I think I made a convert out of him.
3. The Killing: One of the few Kubrick movies I hadn't yet seen (what I have left: Fear and Desire, Killer's Kiss, Paths of Glory, Eyes Wide Shut and his shorts: Day of the Fight, Flying Padre and The Seafarers). It was pretty good. It struck me as what Tarantino was trying to do in Reservoir Dogs
4. Brief Encounter: What a terrifically sad movie.
5. 30 Rock, Seasons 3–5: Still funny as all get-out. I'm really enjoying the current season, now that I'm all caught up.
6. Ball of Fire: Pleasant enough. I really enjoyed the stereotypes of academics they used.
7. Big Fan: Because I like Patton Oswalt. This movie went places I didn't expect it to, but I wasn't at all disappointed.
8. Portlandia, Season 1: Ugh. Mostly unfunny. The cameos were really the only bright spot for me. I've started watching the first few episodes of the second season and it's marginally better (and Carrie Brownstein is funnier than Fred Armisen). Maybe it's because I know people like their characters, who aren't terribly far from the parodies that it just doesn't strike me as all that funny? Like, these are all jokes I've made in my head before.
9. Bart Got a Room: Stupid teenage prom movie with decent performances by William H. Macy (cast inexplicably as a Jew, as well as Cheryl Hines, who I just can't see as Jewish, given that I think of her primarily as Cheryl David, who is a complete shikse) and Alia Shawkat (better known as Maeby Fünke).
10. My Führer: German movie about a Jewish director hired to give Hitler acting lessons. Perhaps my favorite portrayal of Hitler thus far, as it makes him into an insecure, whiny brat.
11. The Right Stuff: Woo, space! It was all right. Nothing to write home about.
12. Melvin Goes to Dinner: In the genre of Movies With "Dinner" in Their Titles, this is far superior to My Dinner With Andre (which is one of my least favorite movies of all time). Chock-full of cameos (David Cross, Jenna Fischer, Bob Odenkirk [who directed], Jack Black, Kristen Wiig, and others), a decent story about four people whose lives are strangely interconnected.
13. Jekyll: A A Steven Moffat series from a few years ago that works as a sequel to the original Robert Louis Stevenson work (which exists in the universe of the show, but as a fictionalized account of a real series of events). Very good, but what else would you expect from Moffat? I wish there would be a second series, but this seems unlikely. The highlight of the show is James Nesbitt whose transformation from Jackman (the Jekyll character) to Hyde is nothing short of amazing. While there's some subtle makeup going on (Hyde is younger [fewer wrinkles], has slightly darker hair and eyes and a slightly different hairline), most of the change is purely in how Nesbit carries himself and his expressions. But there's never any doubt as to whether you're seeing Jekyll or Hyde on the screen. He's that good.
14. Slacker: A This was ok. I appreciated it for what it was (a series of tangents of people's lives). Reminded me in some ways of the Wandering Rocks chapter of Ulysses (and I'm sure I'm not the first one to point that out).
15. The Last Word: A Another movie that I found by Netflix's suggestion. Interesting story (love story centering on a guy who ghostwrites suicide notes for people and his relationship with the sister of one of his clients who, of course, doesn't know what he does for a living). Features a surprisingly good performance from Ray Romano, of all people.
16. The Dirty Dozen: A A lot of fun. Telly Savalas was creeptastic. Lee Marvin was badass. As was Charles Bronson. Yet another movie where I could say "Oh. So that's where Tarantino got his idea for [movie]." In this case, Inglourious Basterds.
17. Naked Lunch: A I liveblogged my experience of this movie in caps-lock over on Facebook:
* Why is that bug so giant? And why doe it have a giant asshole on its back? And why is it talking out of its asshole to Robocop? How does the bug know English?
* AAHHH TALKING ASSHOLE BUG IS BACK AND NOW HE IS ALSO A TYPEWRITER
* ROBOCOP DID YOU JUST KILL THAT CENTIPEDE WITH YOUR HALITOSIS?
* OK SO CLEARLY THE POINT OF THIS FILM IS THAT TYPEWRITERS ARE WEIRD AND NOT TO BE TRUSTED
* UH OH. THEY JUST BROKE BILBO'S TYPEWRITER. I BET HE'S GOING TO PUT THE PRECIOUS ON AND KILL EVERYONE WITH STING.
* WHY WAS THAT CORNCOB BLEEDING
My takeaway from it was twofold: 1) typewriters are not to be trusted, because they will turn into talking asshole insect monsters and 2) there are at least two things wrong with that title.
18. Michael Palin: New Europe: A Another of Palin's travel series. I liked this one, though I still think the best one was his first one (where he travels around the world in 80s days). This was perhaps his most political one, as he visited nations that had been behind the Iron Curtain and that entered into the discussion quite often. He even got to meet with Lech Walesa!
19. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid: A Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I wanted to like this more than I did, since it did have Bob Dylan in it. But it just wasn't all that good. I am interested, though, in watching the director's cut, since I hear it's better.
20. Hyperdrive: A A passable British series about Britain in the space age. I watched it because it had Nick Frost and Miranda Hart in it, and I think they're both great. But it just wasn't consistently funny. Paterson Joseph has a good recurring role in it and Stephen Mangan steals the show in the last episode.
21. Fawlty Towers: A Believe it or not, I don't think I'd ever watched this series all the way through. I'd mostly just caught the occasional rerun on PBS growing up. So, yes, finally watched all of them. Great show, especially "The Germans." That one was masterful.
There'll be another one around the first of next month (probably later in the evening or the following morning, since I'm out of town right now and will be traveling Tuesday). But for now, there is this one (in case you haven't heard it already):
1. Standard Fare: Suitcase, Out of Sight, Out of Town on Melodic Records
2. Porcelain Raft: Put Me to Sleep, Strange Weekend on Secretly Canadian
3. Evan Voytas: Can't Let Anybody Know Who You Are, Feel Me on Dovecote
4. Buxton: Boy of Nine, Nothing Here Seems Strange on New West Records
5. Imperial Teen: Runaway, Feel the Sound on Merge
6. Hospitality: Friends of Friends, Hospitality on Merge
7. Doug Jerebine: Ashes and Matches, Doug Jerebine Is Jesse Harper on Drag City
8. Exdetectives: The Lawn, Take My Forever on Post Planetary
9. Elephant Micah: If I Were a Surfer, Louder Than Thou on Product of Palmyra
10. Harriet: I Slept WIth All Your Mothers, Tell the Right Story EP, self-released
11. Grabbel and the Final Cut: The Finest Thing, Get Your Feet Back on the Ground EP on Captured Tracks
12. Frankie Rose: Know Me, Interstellar on Slumberland Records/Memphis Industries
13. Trailer Trash Tracys: Dies in 55, Ester on Domino Record Co.
14. Grimes: Oblivion, Visions on Arbutus
15. Rags & Ribbons: Even Matter, The Glass Masses, self-released
16. Cloud Nothings: Stay Useless, Attack on Memory on Carpark
17. pacificUV: Funny Girl, Weekends on Mazarine
18. Night Genes: Cyber Me, Like the Blood, self-released
19. Buried Beds: Ivory Towers, Small Stories EP on Admiral Byrd
20. Nada Surf: When I Was Young, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy on Barsuk Records
21. The Darcys: Josie, Aja on Arts & Crafts Records
A nice driving track from Cloud Nothings that sounds a little like if the Strokes were influenced by some early-to-mid 90s pop-punk bands. Great chorus on this one.
Solid track from Frankie Rose (formerly of Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls and Crystal Stilts)
Buxton do something vaguely beard-rocky. There is a banjo, too.
New Nada Surf track. They still bring excellence.
Bang bang bang bang bang BANG
BANG BANG BANG
Thud thud thud
Tap tap tap tap tap
TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP
The petal from Flower. Then we could fly around and restore ruined landscapes.
And, PS-3 owners here? If you haven't played Flower? You're doing yourself a disservice. Download and play. One of my favorite games of all time.
I don't know if they're Chihuly or not, though it wouldn't surprise me since you can hardly sneeze in Tacoma without getting some snot on a Chihuly piece. Still, it would've been cool to get bar mitzvahed between two giant glass flames.
Of course, I tried to do it. Because COME ON, IT'S QI. And if you haven't been watching QI, YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE NOT TO (also, it is the best panel show in the history of panel shows, HANDS DOWN).
I'm rather proud of my results (which I've posted below beneath the cut, along with the actual answers). I got them all more or less correct (and sometimes was even more specific about the place than the official answer was), even though I think I've only been to a handful (Trafalgar Square, Heathrow and Edinburgh, though none of that helped me when looking at the pictures).
Also, I have no idea what is up with the table borders. When I try them out elsewhere, they work just fine. Livejournal seems intent on breaking my borders though. WHATEVS.
( Cut for spoilers.Collapse )
BUT I DIDN'T GET A GOODIE BAG SO I AM SAD. :'(
Now, don't get me wrong: they were lovely people (from what little I knew them -- it was mostly the occasional smalltalk between us when we passed each other outside), but they had two small children (one infant and one toddler) and they could be LOUD and STOMPY (well, I imagine that was mostly the toddler, that last bit). And occasionally there would be very loud THUDS on my ceiling (their floor) as they did god-knows-what.
I figured they would move out in the near future (when they moved in, they only had the one kid). Their flat doesn't have any more square footage than mine does, so far as I know (or if it does, it's not significantly more), and those of you who have been to my place know that it's a cozy two-bedroom situation down here in mine. And it's perfectly all right for one person. And it would be cozy with two people (probably better they be partners than roommates). It could be feasible to be a young couple and have a kid in here, but two would be pushing it.
But I was just checking my mail now and I saw (their mailbox had its flap open such that the return addresses of whatever mail was in there was at eye-level for me -- I wasn't snooping through their mail) that they had change of address letters from the USPS. And then I remembered I hadn't seen their car in a few days. Then I noticed that a window that they had had a curtain in to block out light no longer had that curtain. And when I walked over to a window where the blinds were open, I saw there was nobody inside.
So, anyhow, hooray! I imagine this means I'll have at least a week or two of relative quiet. I hope my new upstairs neighbor(s) is/are nice and relatively quiet and unstompy.
I've got a canister of hot chocolate (well, drinking chocolate, but that's just a prissy name for it) that I've been working my way through and you need milk (or a milk substitute) to make it. So I've been buying soy milk for those times every few weeks when I want hot chocolate, since 1) I like the taste of soy milk and 2) it keeps longer than real milk.
But tonight as I was grocery shopping (this was what occasioned my putting on pants today, for those wondering what I was talking about over on Facebook), I thought to myself, "Self. You usually get vanilla soy milk, and that's fine. But what if—just what if—this time you bought yourself some chocolate soy milk and you used THAT to make your hot chocolate." And then I responded, "Holy crap, Self. You're fucking awesome. That is a rad idea. Thank you! I'm totally sleeping with you tonight! Hell, you might even get lucky!" And then I attempted to give myself bedroom eyes, but then I just looked like a tired person with crossed eyes. Fooey.
And but so yes! As I've settled down to record my podcast, I made myself a mug of my hot chocolate with chocolate soy milk as the base liquid AND, LO, IT IS GOOD. SO GOOD. YOU GUYS. YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW. It is perhaps the most chocolatey hot chocolate I've ever hot chocolated. I imagine you could get similar results by using chocolate milk, but see above re: My Milk Policy (i.e., EW, GROSS). But this method of sneaking MOAR CHOCOLATE into your hot chocolate? Totally awesome and delicious.
The highlight, though, was getting to see the BMW i8, which is just futuristic in a Tron-like way and gorgeous to behold. I'm sure the windshield-touchscreen-computer stuff they had going on was sci-fi (or is it?), but I was nevertheless amused that in the world where a car that won't be on the streets until 2013 was also the world where spies were still using iOS 4 on their iPhones (as revealed by the push notifications they got when they texted one another).
If you haven't been reading Axe Cop already, you are missing out. You might even be, dare I say it, incomplete as a person.
The premise is simple: a five year old spins stories about a policeman with an ax; his 29 year old brother draws the comics.
So combine the overactive, logic-defying narrative stylings of a child with the artistic abilities of an adult and you have the greatest superhero comic of all time.
There is also an advice column, which is FANTASTIC:
AXE COP FOREVER.
FUCK YEAH WEATHER
THIS IS A JOB FOR SCIENCE. So please do The Science below, so we can know What Science Says About This.
Cinnamon raisin bagels are ...
ETA: Since this is the sort of hot-button issue sure to spur debate, I would ask that you please do The Science before reading or contributing to the comments of this post.
I have a vague memory of being placed into my crib when I was very young, but it's unclear to me if that's a real memory or just a thought that's bubbled up over the years (since you don't really have many memories, if any at all, of your age before 3).
My first concrete memory is having my cartoons interrupted to announce the Challenger explosion.
One take video, people. And dance moves (and fashion sense) that really only somebody like Robyn could get away with.
It's really the "boom-badoom-boom boom-badoom-boom" part that's the hook of this song (especially how the syncopated bass beats behind it give it a sense of release after the intense four-on-the-floor beats in the measures before it) and what stays in my head long after the song is over.
There's a lot of interesting stuff coming out this month: some from familiar names (Guided by Voices, The Big Pink, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, Cotton Mather) and a lot of unfamiliar names (at least to me -- maybe not to you?).
Anyhow, here's what I got my ears around for this podcast:
My absolute favorite song from this one is the Dare Dukes song, which is, I don't know ... banjo pop?
Very catchy and ear-wormy.
Other good ones:
Some awesome power-pop from Cotton Mather. They recently remastered their 1997 album Kontik and this is one of the tracks from it:
You'll dig it if you like The Beatles (or The Posies or XTC). Though they really do have a Beatles thing going on (with a Rickenbacker guitar and a bass-fiddle style bass). Great stuff, though.
Some dark, rootsy stuff from Laura Gibson:
More poppiness, this time a bit more experimental (from Paul Brill):
I didn't do too badly on the reading front, though I did slide back into reading mostly comics (though I am in the middle of several word-books that I am actually making progress in). I don't really feel guilty about making 2011 The Year of Comics. Before this year, I'd only ever read them here and there and didn't have much literacy about the subject. Now I know a whole lot more and have discovered a ton of stuff that I really like. Another thing I've noticed is that I tend to read women more often when I'm reading comics. I'm not sure why that is -- maybe because the images help to personalize it more for me? I don't know. Anyhow, onward!
1. The Salon, by Nick Bertozzi. I've had this one for a while, but only got around to reading it this month (I took it with me to San Diego for Thanksgiving, but didn't get to it on that trip). It's set in Paris in 1907 and is a mystery (namely, where to Gaugin go? and who is decapitating all these dudes?) starring Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Picasso, Georges Braque, Erik Satie and others. A lot of fun, and done in a varying palette of two-toned panels. Worth it for this panel alone:
2. The Walking Dead, Vol. 14, by Robert Kirkamn, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn. More of the same. I really like this series (which is, I think, the only ongoing series I'm reading. Much like the show, you really can't take any characters for granted: Kirkman has nothing against taking them out or maiming them. Brutal stuff, but interesting and good.
3. The Book of Leviathan, by Peter Blegvad. If I recall correctly, fountaingirl is fond of this one. It was a good, quick read. I don't think I had realized it was a comic strip. One of the few good ones out there (since most of them are complete shit). All about a baby named Eli and his cat companion and the mysterious inner world of the baby.
4. Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E., by Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonem. A recommendation from owl_of_minerva, since I noted to her that I didn't really have much in the way of Marvel titles nor was I terribly fond of superhero comics. She suggested this as a remedy for both, since it's a sendup of the superhero genre. It was all right (though the art is stupendous), though I probably would have found it funnier if I read more superhero comics. Still, enjoyable enough.
5. Britten and Brülightly, by Hannah Berry. A really, really good debut from a young woman in the UK. A murder mystery done up in a drab watercolor palette of blues and grays. Features one of the more unique sidekicks I've ever seen (won't spoil it). A really engaging mystery, too. It could totally work as a movie.
6. Soldiers of God, by Kelly Clancy. Probably the best thing I read last month. I picked it up on a tip from one of the blogs I read for music for my podcast, believe it or not (Large Hearted Boy, who shares my interests of music, books and comics). It's the story of two women -- one in the Rust Belt, one in Turkmenistan -- and the boys they know (who become men) and go off to fight in the same war. Heartbreakingly good and idiosyncratic in its style. I can't recommend it highly enough.
7. The Walking Dead, Vol. 15, by Robert Kirkamn, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn I'm now caught up with the trade paperbacks in this series. Just for the sake of my own sanity in being able to shelve things, that's where I'm going to stay: no getting the single comics for me, thanks.
8. True Porn: An Anthology, edited by Kelli Nelson and Robyn Chapman. Picked this up at a recent Half Price Books run, mostly because it had comics from a few of my absolute favorites (Jeffery Brown and Ivan Brunetti). They're all autobiographical stories about the writers' sex lives (interpreted as everything from what you might imagine to things like a monologue that one of them gave in an acting class to things like, say, a first kiss). Pretty good.
THERE WILL BE NON-PICTURE BOOKS NEXT MONTH I PROMISE.
( Damn. I watched a LOT this month. I'll put the rest of this under a cut.Collapse )
I think that's probably a record for one month.
For Chanukahbirthday, my parents got me a monthly subscription to coffee from Ritual. I got the first bag of it Saturday, but didn't get a chance to dig into it until yesterday.
I already knew I liked Ritual after having tried a cup at their storefront in San Francisco as well as a few more cups at Tougo (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite coffee shops in Seattle). And I purchased some Ritual beans at Tougo last week from Honduras, and they're very good. The taste descriptors for those beans are "peach cobbler, Bartlett pear, sugarcane." And, eh, I guess. I get some fruitiness from it and a slight smokiness on the tail end.
But my first shipment on the subscription plan was a pound of coffee from Colombia. And, damn. Generally, the taste descriptors give a general sense of what to expect (berries, fruitiness, roastiness, etc.), but this one was (at least partially) spot on: "strawberry, vanilla, papaya." And, lord, do you taste strawberries in this cup.
So far I've only brewed my Ritual in my Clever coffee dripper, but I like it so much as a method that I'm hard-pressed to find a reason to go back to my Hario V60 other than just morbid curiosity. But maybe morbid curiosity is enough?
In other news, I think I've COMPLETELY crossed the Rubicon of coffee-fandom. As melisser might recall (since I believe I discovered this while yammering back and forth in a Facebook wall post she made about specialty Moleskines), there are tasting journals for coffee geeks. I held off, though. I was strong; I didn't order any (EVEN THOUGH, OH JEEZ, IT'S JUST $10 FOR 3 OF THEM AND HOW COULD I PASS UP A DEAL LIKE THAT?!?!?!).
But then I stopped at the Olympia Coffee Roasting Co. to pick up some coffee for my folks (since I spent the unChristmas weekend at their place, and they had the journals right there at the register.
Friends, I was powerless to resist. POWERLESS.
So, now I have my little coffee journal so I can write down my memories of all the different coffees I drink (well, at least the next 31).
Side project of Robert Schneider from The Apples in Stereo, so there's no way I couldn't include it. Good garagey fuzz-pop.
I wasn't sure about this one, as it sounds like it's trying pretty hard to be Interpol, but the song winds up being good anyhow.
Track from the new band of one of the former Mighty Lemon Drops. Good, synthy Britpop that sounds like it could have been recorded ca. 1993.
Some melodic noise rock/dream pop/shoegaze from a Japanese band. Interesting stuff.
I *really* like the Clever, and it's pretty much becoming my go-to method of coffee brewing at home. Here's what I really dig about it:
1) It's bigger in volume than the V60, so I can add all of my water in one pour (in the V60, I was having to do three rounds of pouring to get ~16 oz. of coffee). So it takes less time.
2) It allows my coffee to steep (whereas with a ceramic dripper, the coffee just drips through as soon as gravity allows it). So it's got the richness of coffee from a French press, but none of the sediment, all while maintaining the clean notes you get from a drip-through pourover method. BEST OF BOTH WORLDS.
3) It's CHEAP (seriously, you can get one for, like, $20 -- and if you have a thermometer and kitchen scale [which are handy to have anyhow], a kettle [which I imagine most everyone has] and a burr grinder [optional, yes, but you'll get much better coffee than from blades], you're set).
So, the thing that makes it cool is that the bottom of the dripper is attached to a small stopper. When sitting normally, the stopper plugs a hole in the bottom and you can fill the Clever with any liquid and it's not going to leak out. When you place the Clever on something with a smaller circumference than its base (so, like, your coffee mug or a carafe), the bottom pushes up, lifting the stopper out of the hole, allowing liquid to pass through. And then when you lift it off, the stopper returns and the dripping stops. Great success!
Here's a short video showing it in action:
If you're interested (as I am) in getting really coffee-geeky, there's a longer video here of a guy going more in depth about technique.
But anyhow, yes. Quality coffee can be yours for not very much money and without very much technique (just some attention to detail). Clever Coffee Dripper for the win.
And even though I think both the IC and VB are myths, I have little patience for fellow atheists who are scripturally illiterate. If you want to talk about this stuff, you need to at least have your terms right.
I'll keep reading, I think, because Žižek is at least amusing and thought-provoking, but happening upon that tidbit has made me pretty disappointed.
1. City of Glass: The Graphic Novel, by Paul Auster, adapted by Paul Karasik, art by David Mazzucchelli. This was fun. I'd read The New York Trilogy several years ago and this was a unique take on it. Was pleased to see that David Mazzuchhelli (of Asterios Polyp fame) did the art for it.
2. The Symposium, by Plato (trans. Michael Joyce). No idea how good this translation is (are there any major issues with this one, classicists?), but it was readable enough. I think (go figure) I liked Aristophanes's speech the best, though the Alcibiades bit was pretty sad and moving (despite his drunkenness).
3. All Star Superman, Vol. 2, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. A great conclusion to the first volume.
4. Preacher: Ancient History, by Garth Ennis, Steve Pugh, Carlos Ezquerra and Richard Case. Plugging away at the next volume of this one. It was all right. I put the series aside for a bit since this volume was just back-stories for four of the ancillary characters and not advancing the main plot any.
5. The Walking Dead, Vol. 11, by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn.
6. The Walking Dead, Vol. 12, by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn.
7. The Walking Dead, Vol. 13, by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn. Still great. I've got volume 14 on the way and 15 pre-ordered for its release on 12/27.
8. Don't, by ???. Picked this up in San Francisco at the 826 Valencia store. It's a book of manners by an overly fussy man in the early 20th century. Good bathroom reading and fun for both the moments where I rolled my eyes and when I nodded in vigorous agreement.
9. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut. Part of my ongoing project to (re-)read all of my Vonnegut (that is to say, all of Vonnegut). I didn't really like this one the first time I read it over a decade ago. I liked it more this time, but the ending felt a bit abrupt to me and fell somewhat flat. Its no Slaughterhouse Five, that's for sure, but it's all right.
10. The Little Man, Chester Brown. A collection of Brown's shorter comics from the first decade or so of his comics career. Of varying quality, as you'd expect, but on the whole good.
11. I Never Liked You, Chester Brown. Autobiographical comic from Brown detailing his relationship(s) with childhood friends/girlfriends. Interesting to read after having read his most recent book (which details in pretty dry detail his experiences with prostitutes). He does, indeed, seem a bit robotic and emotionally muted as his friends Seth and Joe Matt talk about him, even in childhood. Good stuff if you're into that sort of thing.
1. Tower Heist. I had higher hopes for this movie. I like heist movies (and/or con men movies: Ocean's Eleven (the not-Rat Pack one) and The Sting are two of my favorite movies of all time): when done right, they can be a lot of fun. And this had actors that I thought might be fun in a heist movie (Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick, Eddie Murphy). And I'm a sucker for Alan Alda. I mean, that voice. Anyhow. It just let me down. There were plot holes galore. The most glaring one is this: Gabourey Sidibe at one point offers a man guarding a room some cake that she's spiked with a sleeping drug, which he turns down because he's allergic to chocolate [she then knocks him unconscious]. But then a few minutes later when she shows up, she's shown with remnants of chocolate cake on her face. So, not only is it just a generally unfunny OH HEY LOOK, FATTIE LIKES FOOD SO MUCH THAT SHE ATE DRUGGED CAKE joke, but also OH HEY LOOK, MAJOR PLOT HOLE: SHE SHOULD BE ASLEEP BECAUSE SHE JUST ATE DRUGGED CAKE. I can't recall being as disappointed in a movie as I was at that one. :(
2. Pale Flower. A Yakuza movie about gambling. Didn't really resonate for me.
3. That Mitchell and Webb Look, Series 4. Great. Of course. The final sketch in the last episode was surprisingly touching (though also a bit of a planned joke since earlier in the series, they had a sketch where they talked about the final episode of Black Adder Goes Forth, which is known for its rather solemn ending.
While the sadness is part of the joke, it's still impressive in how moving they can be, even in jest.
4. Once Upon a Time in the West. A great western. I loved both Charles Bronson as the good guy and Henry Fonda as the bad guy. Frank is menacing as hell, and I don't know that he'd be half as scary if he weren't played by somebody like Fonda.
5. Robocop. I'd never seen this before, believe it or not. I liked that both Leland Palmer AND Albert Rosenfield were in it. Because that's how I think of them (and not as Ray Wise and Miguel Ferrer). I liked that it was relatively short and un-fancy. If Robocop were made today, it would've been 30 minutes longer and had more drawn-out fight scenes.
6. Thumbs Up, Seasons 1 and 2. A web series on Netflix I stumbled onto. Documentary series that shows artist David Choe and his friend getting around the country (in the first season) and going from Tijuana to North Pole, Alaska (second season) using only free methods of travel: primarily riding the rails and hitchhiking. Only 9 episodes, so I watched them all one night (they're like 22 minutes apiece). I think I liked this series for the same reason I like watching documentaries about graffiti: it's a lifestyle that is completely foreign to me in about every way imaginable.
7. The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Heartbreaking. There's, like, no other word for it. Johnston is a very gifted songwriter suffering from a host of mental illnesses and they've obviously taken their toll on him mentally and physically. He's doing a lot more touring these past few years than he had in the past and he's enjoying increased relative success since the movie coming out in 2006. But so far as I know, he's still living with his parents who are both in their 80s by now (I think -- he's 50, so maybe their 70s?). I worry about what's going to happen when they're not around or not able to help him care for himself. I imagine that people in his vast network of friends and supporters will step up, but I still worry, you know?
1. Jonathan Coulton: Sucker Punch, Artificial Heart, self-released
2. Bear & Moose: I'm Back, Bear/Moose, self-released
3. Abbie Barrett and The Last Date: Draw Me In, The Triples: Volume 1, self-released
4. 200 Years: Solar System, 200 Years on Drag City
5. Luke Roberts: Unspotted Clothes, Big Bells and Dime Songs on Thrill Jockey
6. The Jezabels: Try Colour, Prisoner on Mom + Pop Records
7. Jennifer O'Connor: Running Start, I Want What You Want on Kiam Records
8. Keep Shelly in Athens: DIY, Our Own Dream EP on Forest Family
9. Al Tuck: Slapping the Make on You, Under Your Shadow on New Scotland Records
10. Cass McCombs: The Same Thing, Humor Risk on Domino Records
11. ARMS: Fleeced, Summer Skills, self-released
12. Built Like Alaska: Antique Love, In Troubled Times on Future Farmer
13. Atlas Sound: Terra Incognita, Parallax on 4AD
14. Quilt: Penobska Oakwalk, Quilt on Mexican Summer
15. Kurt Vile: The Creature, So Outta Reach EP on Matador
16. Oneohtrix Point Never: Replica, Replica on Software/Mexican Summer
This one was pretty good. Here are a few of the standout tracks:
( Under a cut since this will be a much longer post if I don't.Collapse )
I held back a bit with my November podcasts, since I wasn't seeing very much music in October/November for December (I tend to have most of the music I'm going to use in a podcast at least a month in advance: e.g., I have 26 January tracks already and 9 February tracks), since December tends to be a bit of a slower month for new releases.
Holding back paid off, though. While I still don't have many tracks that will have come out in December (16 in all and they're all going to be in the 12/15 podcast, sans any that get cut when I arrange the final playlist), I got to get back to my new habit of longer, 90-minute podcasts with this one (and likely with the next one as well).
1. Jukebox the Ghost: The Stars, Everything Under the Sun on Yep Roc
2. The R's: Call of the Ice, De Flora et Fauna on Nat Geo Music
3. Sunbears!: Give Love a Try, You Will Live Forever on New Granada Records
4. Kramies: Coal Miners Executive Club, The European EP on Hidden Shoal Records
5. Races: Big Broom, Big Broom EP on Frenchkiss Records
6. Fucked Up: I Hate Summer, self-released
7. Fonda: Better Days, Better Days EP on Minty Fresh Records
8. Gregory Scott Slay: Keep It Secret, Horsethief Beats on Communicating Vessels
9. Owen: I Believe, Ghost Town on Polyvinyl Records
10. Pterodactyl: School Glue, Spills Out on Brah
11. Los Campesinos!: By Your Hand, Hello Sadness on Arts & Crafts
12. The Dø: Slippery Slope, Both Ways Open Jaws on Cinq7/Wagram Records
13. Tycho: Hours, Dive on Ghostly International
14. Mandolin Orange: Haste Make, Haste Make / Hard Hearted Stranger on Redeye Label
15. Honheehonhee: A. Is for Animal, Shouts, self-released
16. Toy Bombs: Prairie Eye, Will Work for Free, self-released
17. Caveman: Old Friend, Coco Beware on Original Recordings Group
18. J Mascis: I've Been Thinking, Circles 7" on Sub Pop
19. Kris Orlowski: Way You Are, Warsaw EP, self-released
20. Treefight for Sunlight: Facing the Sun, A Collection of Vibrations for Your Skull on Friendly Fire Recordings
21. Korallreven: As Young as Yesterday, An Album of Korallreven on Acéphale/Hybris
This one was a lot of fun to do. I had some really good transitions between songs (if memory serves, I was rather fond of the one between the Los Campesinos! song and the song by The Dø) and a lot of great material to work with (including the last minute addition of the new Fucked Up song that they just released on 11/28). Here's some of the top stuff:
This track had me at hello. It starts off sounding like Zappa and then the meat of the song reminds me of The Apples in Stereo, two of my favorite things. Happy poppy little thing.
The vocalist reminds me of Tim Booth from James. Or maybe a little bit of Bono when he's not being bombastic and annoying. Atmospheric and driving.
Not everyone's cup of tea, I'm imagining, but there's something about all the drum work going on and the chorus that just sticks in your mind.
Some fun pop. Nothing more. But much more sunshiney than it probably is for you (for values of "you" north of the equator).
My favorite track of this one is clearly this song by Phantogram from their new EP:
Shades of School of Seven Bells. Or maybe an upbeat Portishead? I don't know, but I cannot get enough of this song.
Other good songs:
Has kind of a Smiths sound to it.
Heavily orchestrated pop, a bit like Arcade Fire.
1. House of Holes: A Book of Raunch, by Nicholson Baker: Loved this. It was pure, absurd filth. The only other book I'd read by Baker was his book Human Smoke, which is about the pacifist movement in WWII. Quite the change-up, this. I've got half a dozen of his other novels now queued up for reading in the near-to-not-so-near future.
1. Contagion: Saw this in the theaters. Wasn't quite sure what to make of it then, and I'm still not now. I liked the sort of no-nonsense approach it took and that the science seemed very, well, real and boring. It was just sort of there, as a movie, you know? Like, I guess my reaction to it is conditioned by god-knows-how-many other much more Hollywood virus movies, which this feels like a departure from. I guess its even-handedness and mature treatment of the subject didn't excite me like your typical thriller does, even though I really appreciated Soderbergh's attempt at a realistic portrait of what such an outbreak might look like.
2. Gavin and Stacey: I watched the first season of this and rather liked it (as that was all that was available on Netflix Streaming). I'm going to have to track down the other seasons. Then again, I like anything with Rob Brydon.
3. Saxondale: Watched both seasons of this. A Steve Coogan comedy about an aging ex-roadie-cum-exterminator. Quite good, though the second season is the stronger of the two.
4. Michael Palin: Sahara: This was OK. Not as good as his first two travel specials, but the landscape is a lot less varied and his travel a lot less hectic, so that tempers the mood a bit. Interesting, though, to see the variety in the Sahara -- more than one might expect, if one has not been to the Sahara.
5. Bomb It: A documentary about graffiti, but on an international scale. I've been drawn to these sorts of documentaries and I can't quite account for it. Perhaps it's because it allows me to decode a bit something that has always just seemed so foreign to me.
6. New Guy: Dark indie comedy about starting a new job. Not very funny and just sort of weird.
7. Frank Zappa: Apostrophe (')/Over-Nite Sensation: Documentary about the making of these two albums that feels very much like the sort of thing made for VH1 Classic, you know? Enjoyable and interesting enough. I had it on while I was working out one night.
See? Positively anemic. October was a bit better:
1. Cats Are Weird, by Jeffrey Smith: Bought this because I'm a completist and I really like Jeffrey Smith. Wouldn't recommend unless you're a completist too, unless you also really like cats. It was mostly just him drawing his cats doing catty things. *shrug*
2. Bottomless Belly Button, by Dash Shaw: Picked this up a few months ago, intrigued by its heft (it's a rather thick book) as well as by the apparent nonchalance with which all of the human characters seem to interact with a frog-person who appears (at a glance) to be part of their family (the frog-person bit gets explained in the book). A pretty decent three-generation dysfunctional family saga with no uplifting resolution or anything.
3. Mercy, by J.M. DeMatteis and Paul Johnson: Picked this one up because the artwork was stunning and I liked DeMatteis's Moonshadow, which I read earlier this year. An interesting take on the concept of mercy (personified in the comic and experienced by a bitter, 50-something coma patient).
4. All-Star Superman, Vol. 1, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely: Wow. Very good. The storyline is engaging and human and the art is fantastic. This is my favorite panel:
And, yes, it's that way (slightly slanted) in the comic. I think I like it because it reminds me of Jimmy Corrigan.
5. Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis: I've been struck, recently, by a desire to try to understand why intelligent people believe religious claims (since I truly cannot wrap my head around it—as a reminder, it's not that I don't believe; it's that I can't believe). So I figured this was as good a place as any to start, since Lewis is (despite what you might think of him) an intelligent guy. Forgetting for a moment Lewis's being a giant douche (sexist, homophobic and he even calls masturbation a sin, which is just silly), I just can't get on board with him.
He takes the argument from morality, which I don't buy, since I think biology, anthropology, psychology and sociology give us plenty of good reasons for grounding our morality that don't invoke the supernatural (and for what it's worth, I'm ok with there being no universal Fixed Constant for our morality, even though that can open the door to moral relativism: that's where I think biology comes in—that we may have our morality hard-wired). Suffice it to say, a God of the Gaps is not a convincing argument either to me or to any serious theologian: just because we cannot fully explain a natural cause for our morality (though folks like Sam Harris are trying) doesn't mean the cause is supernatural.
Beyond that, this is where you come across his Trilemma, which is about as unconvincing as Pascal's Wager, since it doesn't account for possibilities other than those which Lewis sets out to prove his own point. To wit:
- Jesus might have been mistaken, not necessarily insane;
- Jesus's words might have been altered by those who came after him (since, after all, none of the writers of the Gospels ever heard him directly and as we all saw earlier this year with that altered MLK quotation it's trivially easy for one's words to be altered and disseminated as fact, even when everyone along the way has the best of intentions);
- Jesus might never have made any of the supernatural claims he is purported to have made and this all may have been legend that sprung up after his death (think George Washington and the cherry tree);
- Jesus may not ever have existed, or might have been a mashup of several different itinerant religious dudes in Palestine at the time.
I guess in a weird way, I'm looking for more than just understanding. I mean, I understand his reasons, even if I think they're short-sighted. I think I'm looking to be convinced. And not that I think I ever could be, but it seems important for me to at least see what has convinced the smartest believers, even though I'm almost positive that I won't find any of it convincing. *shrug*
6. Misquoting Jesus, by Bart Ehrman: I've had this on my shelf for a while and started reading it once a few years ago. Picked it back up and used it as bathroom reading mostly. I'm of two minds about it.
I really like Ehrman: he's a very lucid writer and he really knows his stuff (he grew up Evangelical and was trained in the Evangelical tradition—it was as he learned Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, etc. and started reading the texts in the original and learning about the numerous versions of texts there are, and the wide gaps between many of them that he lost his faith [I think he's now technically an agnostic, but don't quote me on that—I know he's no longer a Christian, at least]).
But the book is written mostly for a popular audience, so he doesn't delve into the depth of scholarship I would've liked to have seen (I wanted more first-hand evidence, as well as a deeper discussion of the various arguments from other scholars supporting particular readings). Still, though, I really appreciate it for what it does well: namely introduce not just show the reader that the Bible has a difficult and at times irreconcilable textual history, but also show off textual studies as a field.
1. The Walking Dead: I finished watching last season a few weeks ago when the first season went streaming on Netflix. I had missed the last two episodes, so I felt compelled to catch up before the new seasons started. Good stuff. As per usual, AMC knows how to find great shows (cf. Breaking Bad, Mad Men and the departed and missed Rubicon).
2. Black Adder: Finished watching the series (today actually, but that was just one episode, so I feel like counting it in October. Good stuff, though the whole hyperbolic simile thing that Atkinson does wears a bit thin at times. The final episode was as great as everyone has said it is (this was my first time through the 3rd and 4th seasons—I'd seen the first two in their entirety before).
3. The Palm Beach Story: Preston Sturges screwball comedy. Enjoyable enough.
4. Unfaithfully Yours: Another Preston Sturges screwball. Interesting movie. Very dark for a screwball comedy and Rex Harrison is by turns sinister and bungling, often within moments of one another.
5. The Cameraman's Revenge & Other Tales: Stop-motion animation from Wladyslaw Starewicz. Interesting stuff, even though not really my cup of tea. What he was able to do with dead bugs is pretty astounding.
6. The Birth of a Nation: Fucking racist crap.
7. Man with the Movie Camera: Really interesting stuff. Experimental film with no plot or actors: just vignettes of daily life in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. Didn't really veer either into propaganda or critique, which was refreshing. And the soundtrack by the Alloy Orchestra made it extra engaging.
8. Hukkle: Another movie without a plot, per se. Silent(ish) insofar as there's not a whole lot of speech. Just people moving around their Hungarian town. And some sort of murder mystery that was never entirely clear to me (though I figured out what was going on).
9. Broken Blossoms: Racist, but in a more forgivable way. Lillian Gish was pretty phenomenal as well.
10. Vampyr: Didn't really engage me all that much. Not as good as other vampire movies.
11. October: Propaganda! Albeit slightly stylized propaganda, so it was at least interesting to watch.
12. The Bicycle Thief: Pretty good. A very relevant movie for our present situation.
13. Infamy: Another movie about graffiti. This one humanized the artists a bit more, which I appreciated
14. Ivan the Terrible: Pretty good. I liked it better than October (and a LOT more than Alexander Nevsky). Can't say I'm much of an Eisenstein fan given the movies I watched this month. I liked the story of a leader who becomes unhinged and murderous being told in Stalinist Russia. I have to give Eisenstein that he had balls. But it was a tad overacted (I mean, CHRIST, it was like he told all of the actors to open their eyes AS WIDE AS FUCKING POSSIBLE AT ALL TIMES).
15. Alexander Nevsky: Pretty blatant wartime propaganda (Russians fighting the Germans, Nevsky pontificating on having to defend Russia, etc.). Not terribly interesting stuff.
16. Nosferatur: Better than Vampyr. It had a weird synthy, modern soundtrack, which I kind of dug, though I know a lot of people do not.
17. Pale Flower: I'm not really big into yakuza films, I'm finding out. This was all right, but I couldn't get into it terribly much and didn't quite understand the characters' motivations.
18. Adam's Rib: Another great Hepburn/Tracy film. I can totally see why they were so popular. As I think I've said before, I like Katharine Hepburn more and more the more of her I see. Surprisingly progressive film for 1949.
19. 50/50: Wow. Saw this in the theater a few days ago and was pretty blown away. Both Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are phenomenal (of course, Rogen is just reliving a fictionalized version of his life). I don't know how realistic it all is vis-a-vis cancer/illness, but it felt remarkably present. And I was nearly in tears for the last 20-30 minutes of the movie.
See? I did much better in October. :D
Wait a minute, Amazon. Are you telling me that you built a time machine ... out of a delivery truck?
1) They're all rapping.
2) T-Rex and Utahraptor saying "Wikky wikky" in unison in the second to last panel.
3) That T-Rex's undying love for "Shoop" shows up once more in the final panel.
1) The World Series is going on?
2) Who is the other team?
I think this will give as clear a picture as anything to those sports fans on my friends list how completely separate from my life sports are.