Friday, April 15, 2016

This Week in Neat-O

:: Jon Benjamin (whom I'll always love as the voice of Bob Belcher, because seriously, I just don't dig Archer) put out an album of himself playing jazz piano, despite not knowing how to play the piano. Here's a playlist of some tracks via YouTube. Although, honestly, the best part for me was that I kept cracking up and my wife couldn't figure out why. "Because he can't play the piano," I said. "Oh, is it supposed to be bad? I honestly can't tell the difference." So sincere, too. Just cracked me up. She hates jazz. Well, some married people have religious differences.

:: My body doesn’t need a cure: Sizeism, classism and the big-business hustle of the clean-eating industry

:: Climate Change Is Going To Hurt Us In A Lot Of Weird Ways

:: 6 Ways US Elections Look Insane To Non-US Citizens

:: Loving the Doctor Strange teaser. Still not thrilled about the casting, but Marvel's earned my trust by now.

:: This is actually the best explanation I've read for why millennials support Sanders more than Clinton.

:: 5 Things I Learned Making The Biggest Flop In Game History. Always fascinated by the history of Atari.

:: The trailer for The Neon Demon, which I very much want to see. Hell, here's the UK trailer.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway star as a newlywed couple who go to spend some time at the lake after their wedding. But after a short time, she starts to act strange and remote, having to remind herself of who she is and suddenly afraid to have sex with her husband. It's a very tense movie, and though it is ultimately a supernatural movie, most of the horror in this film comes from the confusion that you feel when you spend a lot of time alone with a person and they turn out to not be the person you thought they were. The way the film plays off of that tension really messes with your head, using subtleties of sound and space as much as the confident performances of the actors to dramatize the way a wedge can be driven between people. I don't know if it totally comes together, but the journey to the ending is quite strong, and the lack of answers doesn't bother me because the real drama is about the couple and how uncertainty itself tears them apart. ***1/2

HAUNTER (2013)
Abigail Breslin plays a ghost who has become aware that she and her family are dead and trapped in a routine, living the last day of their lives over and over again. It's sort of a reverse-haunting story, as the trappings of a haunting happen to her, but it turns out she's actually being "haunted" by someone who's alive, and it turns out her death and the experiences of this living girl have a lot in common. From there, it becomes mainly a mystery film, as she tries to solve her own deaths and the deaths of other girls over the years, and it isn't quite as inventive as it wants to be. It's not bad, but after a clever first act, it settles for being something like a Lois Duncan novel. I don't want to make it sound like a letdown, because it's not a bad movie at all, but it doesn't really elevate itself above the level of being an unconventional-but-straightforward ghost story. If you like that kind of thing, it is much, much more enjoyable than your average Lifetime movie. ***

Cheeser, a young mouse, is inspired by Buck Rogers comics to build a rocket and fly to the moon with the other mice to see if it's really made of cheese. Good animation (this is from MGM's Harman-Ising Happy Harmonies series), but it's not really cohesive, and the ending just peters out. **1/2

A Pink Panther cartoon, with the Panther heading to a psychedelic bookstore where the physics get all heady. Fantastic backgrounds. ***

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

12 Albums

Jumping off of something Roger did on his blog. It's from Facebook and it goes like this: Copy this and paste in your status update, list 12 albums that have stayed with you, but only 1 per band/artist. Don’t take too long and don’t think too hard… No compilations.

It's weird how my brain has sort of let go of a lot of the catalogs of trivia I've had up there for a long time, so this will really be a list of albums that have stayed with me even despite bouts of depression and memory-killing medications...

1. Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys. As I've said many times, the final album I'd ever want to hear in my life. Ever since high school, this has been something of an emotional guardian for me.

2. Volume One, Traveling Wilburys. Another one that's just always been there for me, and one that gives me great comfort going back to. When I first listened to it, in junior high, I'd never really listened to the principles very much. That was one of the worst times in my life--parents divorcing, the loss of all my friends, having to move out of the only home I remembered--and that album brought me some of my only moments of joy.

3. Dare to Be Stupid, "Weird Al" Yankovic. To the surprise of none of you, I imagine. I've talked a lot about this one, too.

4. Songs in the Attic, Billy Joel. My favorite-ever live album, featuring energetic, mostly superior versions of some of my favorite of his early songs.

5. Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf. Maybe my second favorite album of all time. I like rock that thinks its opera about teenage angst.

6. Station to Station, David Bowie. He had better albums, but I think is actually my personal fave. "Word on a Wing" just makes me soar.

7. Boys for Pele, Tori Amos. You might not know this, but I was all about Tori Amos in the early and mid-90s.

8. Forever Changes, Love. Psychedelic rock that never fails to knock my socks off. Ambitious and sweeping, but also confident and intimate.

9. Music from "The Elder", KISS. I know this album is widely hated, but this is exactly the kind of weird, orchestral, art-damaged rock music that I love. I listened to this thing over and over and over again while watching Becca play Ocarina of Time back in the late 90s, and to me it's just the perfect soundtrack to epic fantasy.

10. Songs of Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen. The kind of soft-but-emotionally-harrowing baroque folk-rock that really moves me. Like a darker Fairport Convention.

11. What's Going On, Marvin Gaye. God, I love soul music, and the sincere social consciousness of the album is truly moving.

12. Live Through This, Hole. The only grunge album I really dug at the time grunge was actually popular.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Muppet Monday

Literally just because I saw a rabbit outside the apartment today and he or she was pretty darn majestic.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Song of the Week: "I Can Be Afraid of Anything"

I just sort of randomly came across this when reading about 2015 music. This is a band called The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die from their album Harmless. I'd never heard of them before. I heard them referred to as "maximalist rock" and "post-rock," two terms I have literally never heard, so this is new territory for me. (The Wikipedia page on post-rock is kind of interesting; I've heard of a number of the bands mentioned, but barely listened to them; definitely not the music I've been following, but it's interesting to explore a genre I'm unfamiliar with.) I love the build on this song, and the lyrics resonate with me, particularly "I really did dig my own hole... I'm climbing out" and especially "Being this age always seemed so far away." I feel like I've been doing a bit better lately, and this one made me feel like it's okay to not be there yet, as long as I'm making my way towards it. Anyway, a nice one for a Sunday afternoon, waiting for dough to rise, enjoying the pie I made this morning. The world seems okay right now.