03 December 2009

arise, pop culture junkie, arise

Well, hello blog, I didn't see you there. I'm sorry I've been more inattentive than a bad, alcoholic dad who arbitrarily decides he prefers one of his children to another. I've been working pretty hard to get my comic strip off the ground (though I don't know if you could tell that by looking at the artwork), and now that I've kind of got it chugging along (seeing as how it's viewable on blogger, DrunkDuck and Facebook), I think a return to the classic blog is overdue. I'm going to try to write more regularly here, but don't be surprised if I fail miserably in my endeavor with surprising speed.


In an attempt to kick things off with a less ambitious sort of posting, one wherein I spend a little time reacting to bits of media that I feel are worth taking some time to discuss. This is in no particular order of preference, or organized in any way, really. Just as much to help me get my thoughts in order as it is to provide some (hopefully) insightful words about things that are less important than, say, health care reform.

Movies (in the theater)

I haven't gone to see a movie in the theater in nearly two months; the last time, Vanessa and I went to see Zombieland when we were in Utah. Plenty of people have already written more than enough positive things about this television pilot-turned-major motion picture that I would just be restating prior points, so we'll just keep moving on (except to note that I appreciated everyone's respecting of the blackout on the identity of the celebrity cameo. That was a fantastic moment, particularly that it wasn't ruined by spoilers in reviews).

Moving pictures on plastic discs

The director's cut of Watchmen is even better than it was in the theater, Star Trek loses some of its awesomeness when it's not on a 40-foot screen (but is fantastic, nevertheless), Observe and Report is almost funnier at home, and I'm still hooked on How I Met Your Mother. I didn't see that coming, ever. I also didn't know that Will Ferrell's You're Welcome America was ever going to come to DVD. Thank god it did.

 

Music

There's over a month to go before I can even start thinking about assembling my top 5 favorite albums of the year, so everything here is preliminary, but candidates currently in the running include:


Thursday - Common Existence (having consumed their entire back catalog this year - thanks, United Nations - I can safely say that this record is the one of theirs that speaks to me the strongest. It's almost like a work of art, how it blends sounds together, and is so very, very topical. Plus, I'm always in favor of loud and angry. Less so than in the past, but I still enjoy it).


Converge - Axe To Fall (the band that got me into this whole hardcore/abrasive/whatever scene just can't release a bad album. Axe To Fall pretty much kicks the ass of any record that anyone released this year, and 2009 saw the release of new Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, BTBAM and Mastodon. It's not quite as "deep" as the Thursday record, but it kicks it in the face repeatedly).


Booker T. - Potato Hole (I'm going to let my response to the album from earlier in the year speak for itself. Suffice to say, it's only grown on me more and more).


Mastodon - Crack the Skye (Leviathan was mind-boggling because of its ambition and technical precision, Blood Mountain was a step back technically, though it had far greater fidelity to its concept, and Crack the Skye may well be the ultimate Mastodon album, fusing together bizarre ideas from every corner of the band members' brains. And, to continue on a theme, it rocks some pretty serious shit).


Pelican - What We All Come To Need (it's almost like a rule that I have to dislike every other Pelican release. The untitled EP? Fucking amazing. Australasia? Meh. The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw? Oh, I don't know, it only contains the best fucking song they're ever going to write (March to the Sea - extended on the March Into The Sea EP, which is 20 minutes of pure aural bliss). City of Echoes? Better than Australasia, and certainly slick, but it's too even for me. The Fire was ambitious as hell, with emotional peaks and valleys the likes of which few albums have ever matched for me. City of Echoes? I got bored. The new album throws all of that to the curb and frees me to love Pelican once again. I don't know if anyone has tracked such improvement on the guitar from album to album as Trevor and Laurent have. At least not since the heyday of rock).


Michael Giacchino's Star Trek soundtrack (I love Giacchino's music anyway, but this fantastically nerdy tribute to the history of Star Trek was one of the best parts of my favorite movie of the year. It takes a little work, and a familiarity with the audio that's come before - music and sound effects, both - but its secrets are virtually bottomless. I'm not going to make the same mistake I made with Eddie Vedder's Into The Wild soundtrack).


I was bullish on the Animal Collective album when it came out earlier this year, but now I'm not so sure. My interest has rather waned. At least I was big into it at some point, unlike the new Porcupine Tree record, or 21st Century Breakdown, with which I've never been able to connect.


It is worth noting that, were I to break my own rules and open this list up to remasters and rereleases, it's entirely likely that only the Star Trek soundtrack and Axe to Fall would make it onto my list, seeing as how it'd be filled with Beatles remasters and the Ten reissue. Maybe even Paul's Boutique, now that I think about it...


Television
It sure didn't take long for Dollhouse to get canned, did it? It's particularly sad, seeing as how the second season has (thus far) taken the great realizations and energy from the end of season 1 and just kept rolling with it. There were a lot of reviews of the last episode before the hiatus (the one that focused on Sierra, that was directed by Jonathan Frakes) that called it the best episode of the show thus far. It's certainly the best episode of S2, but for my money, "Epitaph One" is still where it's at. But, every episode has been remarkably entertaining and fascinating, which is saying quite a bit for this show that I've grown to adore. I just wish we'd had more time with it, and that Joss hadn't decided to go with Fox again. If he could temper down his imagination somewhat (in terms of budget, that is), I would really love to see what he could do with the creative freedom he'd find with the right cable network (since I don't know what the general experience is with SciFi/SyFy, I'm going to be less than specific here).



Not working nights has actually freed me up to watch some shows during the time they broadcast this year. My Thursday night comedy shows continue to treat me well (I choose them over Fringe, which I really do prefer to watch without commercials), and the freshman show Community has blossomed into the show I'm least likely to miss during the week. I knew from the get-go that it had a strong chance to be good, that it just needed time to find its legs, but I didn't know it'd become fantastically funny. Chevy Chase returned triumphantly to television, Joel McHale became that leading guy everyone kind of knew he was destined to be, and ensemble comedy rules over NBC for two solid hours every week.


I didn't care for the parts of FlashForward that I saw (trying too hard), and really didn't like V one little bit (if I don't like a single character on your show, that's - in the words of Liz Lemon - a dealbreaker). Sorry.


Video games
2009 has been some kind of banner year for awesome. The best Batman game ever made (which might be the equivalent of damning with faint praise, but Arkham Asylum would be a great stealth action game whether or not it had the license to accompany its top-notch design and gameplay), the best Halo game (ODST, or "Halo Without The Flood, and starring several actors from Firefly," did everything right in its story mode, and has already eaten up way too much of my time with Firefight), Brutal Legend (Jack Black being ridiculous and awesome in a world where everything sung about in every heavy metal album actually happened), Dragon Age (despite the fact that I felt like I might've felt while playing WoW at times, BioWare saved their best writing for an original IP. Man, was that ever the right decision), Modern Warfare 2 (not as jaw-droppingly awesome as the first one, it pushed mainstreams video games in a whole new way when the Moscow airport level began), Borderlands (first-person, multiplayer looting? More, please), and a little game called The Beatles: Rock Band (about which I do not need to say a single thing).


And, oh yeah, I guess I don't care about the Wii one little bit anymore (though I do very much want to play Super Mario Galaxy 2 when it releases next year).


That's plenty for today. I'll try to write something that's real, and not simply a list next time.

1 comment:

timd said...

fuck mchale and chase, man. HARMON IS GOD. everything i know about structure, i learned from dan harmon.

watch as he takes a joke/dare and makes a show called LASER FART tragic, compelling, and ultimately extremely satisfying solely through his use of structure:

http://www.channel101.com/shows/show.php?show_id=58