BNY still going strong (fought off a lot of purchasing temptation this week)… doesn’t mean I’m not getting anything though (although note April 23rd’s New Comic Book Day yielded me no results… crazy!)
(written on Monday, not posted until today… oops)
Feeling pretty exhausted these days and I need some recoup time. Since I can’t take time off work to blog, I’m taking time off blog to work. I’ve got a few fires burning for next week and beyond, as well as a backlog of things to catch up on in re-reviewing…. here’s a glimpse:
In comics, there’s a big Grant Morrison write-up that’s partially completed, a Deathstroke: The Terminator 1990’s series review, and the early 1980’s The Thing.
In movies I have a John Cusack retrospective encompassing his Say Anything/Grosse Pointe Blank/High Fidelity non-triology, as well as a much delayed review of Horton Hears a Who and most likely an Iron Man review
I’ll be back with some hockey talk, by the looks of it, this time next week round 3 should be decided, as well as some thoughts on Lost and Battlestar’s fourth sesons as well as Dexter season 2.
On the music front, I’ve got a They Might Be Giants kids album I’m going to nose around in and in re-reviews I’ll be exploring some major albums from Bjork, The National, and Neutral Milk Hotel
7-day clock countdown…
Viewed: In theatre
Release Date: April 18, 2008
writer: Jason Segel
director: Nicholas Stoller
People keep calling this a Judd Apatow flick, just as they did with Superbad, even though his role is more in the bankrolling than directly creative. Apatow has become a brand more than a creator. His last film was actually Walk Hard, which he wrote as well as produced, but it’s not considered an “Apatow” film, or at least not in the same stable as 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad and this film. The Apatow brand began with his role as Executive Producer, writer and director on the television comedy-drama Freaks and Geeks, followed by creator credit on the sit-com Undeclared. Both of these shows were cancelled after their first season, but thanks to word-of-mouth and DVD sales, they became genuine cult programming. With the release and subsequent financial and critical blockbuster status of 40-Year-Old Virgin, not only did Apatow suddenly find himself a superstar creator but a man in desire, and in control.
Apatow worked on The Larry Sanders Show, The Ben Stiller Show and number of other projects where he befriended a lot of talented people. Via 40-Year-Old Virgin he turned Steve Carrell from a Daily Show correspondent into a superstar. On Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared he nurtured a stable of young actors, which included both Seth Rogen and Jason Segel, and most of which appear in some nominal way in the movies he produces. With Rogen and Segel, it would seem, he took them under his wing and helped them develop their talent not just as comedic actors but as writers as well. Rogen, with partner Evan Goldberg wrote Superbad and the forthcoming (Apatow-produced) Pineapple Express. When I heard that Jason Segel had written and was starring in an “Apatow movie” I was wary of whether he had the talent (either as a lead or as a writer to pull it off). The Apatow brand is a strong draw, and even though the trailers for Forgetting Sarah Marshall were cute, at best, I wasn’t expecting much.
The Apatow appeal is a sense of naturalism, a sense that the characters on screen aren’t characters but people who act and think and overthink like most people do. The characters in the Apatow stable of television shows and movies are as neurotic and irrational and prone to whims as most real people are. The situations they find themselves in are exaggerated slightly for comedic effect but for the most part they seem plausible, if not familiar. Most of what’s considered the “Apatow stable” are variations on either the romantic comedy or teen comedies. In fact, these films could be the 20-something offspring of John Hugh’s oeuvre of the 1980’s and Woody Allen’s cerebral rom-coms of the 1970’s . Invariably these movies have become the new date movies, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall just about tops them all, in part because it was so unassuming.
For the first time in YEARS I have no new comics this week. I didn’t even go to the shoppe. I thought I had one book, and Aden was already out and about and so she stopped in to pick up our weekly dose, and nope, my book didn’t get released this week. So I had nothing new. It’s happened once or twice where I’ve had next-to-nothing and I usually pick up something, but in the spirit of BNY, I’ve got nothing. Nada. Zip. Nothing new to read this week.
It feels weird.
I was, quite literally, heartbroken by the turn of events last night. I know it’s silly, and quite frankly had the Washington Capitals gone out in six games or had been completely steamrolled by the Philadelphia Flyers last night I wouldn’t be so upset… but Philly were completely outmatched in every respect except goaltending. Biron kept them in the game the entire time, but Washington was in control, dominant and should have been the victor. So what happened?
1) Biron was a spry and immovable. The Caps tossed 42 shots his way, about half of those more than quality scoring chances. Good for him, bad for the Caps.
2) The refs were flipping blind from the halfway point of the second through to the end of the third. They stopped calling anything, letting the teams play, which is great, except for the fact that the second Philly goal was scored as a result of goaltender interference (a Flyer pushed a Cap onto Huet and then pinned them both to the ice while his teammate put the puck in the net.)
3) Stupid penalties. The Caps took a host of dumb penalties, three in the first, and one in OT that cost them the game.
Ovechkin is the most incredible and enthusiastic player on the ice today, and immeasurable joy to watch. Had the Caps won, the second round would have pitted them against the other Pennsylvania team, the Penguins, putting Ovechkin against Malkin and Crosby, which is like going to see the Rolling Stones play a double bill with the Beatles in 1969. It would have been one of the best things for hockey ever! The Caps losing at home when they were the better team of the game, when they were screwed by an awkward goal, when they clearly should have won, well, it was enough to make me weep like a knee to the groin.
The playoffs are a lot dimmer as a result, and I was so upset I couldn’t even watch any of the Calgary/San Jose game 7 (although San Jose killed Calgary which didn’t make me any happier, nor did being right about both Philly and San Jose moving on).
Our match ups for round two find:
v. — I told Aden about my disheartened attitude towards the second round of the playoffs and she said “Now you can always root AGAINST Philly”, which sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, Montreal isn’t looking very good these days and another physical team like Philly is going to put the hurt on them something fierce. Biron is a wall but the finesse players on Montreal might be able to break him down. I see another game 7 for both these teams, Philly once again coming out on top. Bleh.
v. — Aden loves Detroit. She also loves Ryan Smyth and is fond of Joe Sakic. She’s excited for this series, and I have to admit, it should be fun. Detroit should take it in 6 though.
v. I would have been much happier if Pittsburgh were playing Washington, whom they would roll over, or Philly, whose ticket they’ve already punched this year, but no, it’s New York, who is on a mean tear for the cup, and I don’t think they’ll be denied. MA Fleury has no idea what he’s in for with Sean Avery thumping in front of him, and I think the young birds are going to find their experience with Ottawa leaving them ill-prepared. Rangers in 6.
v. — Now that Dallas has dunked the Ducks, I don’t really care about them anymore, nor the Sharks. But someone’s got to win. I think Dallas is making a real run for the cup and will give the Sharks everything they’ve got. It’ll be the Stars in seven, but possibly six.
Albums Loop Guru - The Fountains of Paradise
Quannum - Live on British Radio
Atom and His Package - “Redefining Music”
Source (purchased/given/borrowed/the wife’s): purchased/ purchased/ purchased
Date Purchased: February 2003/200?/200?
Original Review (s): - n/a
Thoughts/Memories/ Remembrances: The Fountains of Paradise — I have four Loop Guru albums, two of which contain some spectacular Indian/African world music and western dance music blends and another which features soundscapes moving along the Brian Eno or John Cage in nature. As with so much of my music, I first heard Loop Guru on CBC’s lamented Brave New Waves, an epic 8-minute song which is at once both meditative and danceable. This album was the last of Loop Guru’s I purchased, and to be honest I don’t remember it at all. The psychedelic front cover and the atrociously laid out back cover (featuring a photo of the band, looking like sophomoric art school students) are beyond uninspiring, Perhaps I was too overwhelmed with other sounds when I purchased this (used, and likely with a half dozen other cds) or perhaps it was just a bitter disappointment when compared to their more engaging past efforts.
Quannum - Live on British Radio — If it wasn’t Brave New Waves then it was probably GAK who introduced me to most of the music I have in my collection, and it was certainly GAK who introduced me to the Quannum collective of hip-hop artists. Hailing from, primarily, Southern California, Quannum is a collective that has rejected the aggressive, socially-destructive, ego-driven nature of modern rap and instead seeks out positivity, seeking to inspire and elevate, with intellectual and challenging lyrics, as well as a general sense of enjoyment. Featuring such artists as Blackalicious, DJ Shadow and Latyrx, the collective formed from a love of crate-digging, and sampling still plays a large role in what they do. Steadily moving forward but still embracing the roots of hip-hop and DJ culture, Quannum appeared as the last bastion of hope for hip-hop when Eminem and company made it seem most dire. This album either came at the recommendation of GAK or was purchased as a “look what I got” object. Ultimately, though, compared to the brilliant 2-disc SoulSides retrospective, or the bulk of Quannum’s studio output, I’ve barely given this “Live on British Radio” compilation much time at all. Just looking at the track listing, though, makes me excited.
“Redefining Music” — back in 2002, unemployed and bored and just starting this whole blogging thing, I was searching searching searching for new music on the internet all the time. One of my favourite places to troll through for hours was Epitonic, where I found a lot of new music and legal mp3s to boot. It was awesome. Before there were music bloggers, tastemakers, podcasts and the mighty Pitchfork, Epitonic allowed people to find their own music, instead of having stuff thrust at them. Most of the hundreds of songs I found there didn’t hold up to repeated listening, but a couple dozen artists kept my interest, one man army Atom and His Package was near the top. His nerd-punk music, topics ranging from inane to insane, was a shot in the ass and predated nerdcore hiphop popularized by MC Chris and Paul Barman by mere days. Atom’s schtick was that he was a one-man act, plugging his guitar into an amp and playing along with his sequenced drumbeats and electronic fidgets. So very punk, so very nerdy. Atom’s day has passed, he hung up his ballcap and glasses a few years back, but we will always have three albums full of memories.
Talking with Toast today about Battlestar Galactica and he hit the nail right on the head when he said that it’s taken it’s background elements (primarily the religious aspects, but also governmental workings) and dropped them center square, distracting from the majority of the relationship-based drama or even the haute tension of the surviving colonists fleeing complete and utter annihilation at the robotic hands of the cylons. The third episode of this final season had a couple good points: SPOILERS
- the conflict within the Cylon’s camp, demystifying though it is, is actually fairly intriguing… the robots are trying to decided whether they’re human or they’re not, whether they can have beliefs or not, soul or no… it’s an interesting conundrum for them, causing a civil war amongst them. The problem with having this as the most intriguing part of the show is it leaves the human characters in stagnation.
- Cally’s depressive/sleep-deprived state was the perfect way to expose “the four” as Cylons, since she’s obviously delusional and having issues telling truth from her own imagination. But the show dealt with her too quickly, leaving a potentially meaty two or three episode arc cold. I mean what if she started roaming around, rambling about “the four” (or three as it were) being Cylons, would anyone believe her? That would be drama worth exploring. It just seemed utterly truncated and disposed of some quality drama way in favour of…well… Starbuck saying “frak” fourteen times in two sentences (and using it as a coital verb) and some tired yippety-yap about political maneuvering. Tired.
To tell you the truth, I missed the first 15 minutes of the last BSG episode due to hockey, and missed some chunks of the remaining flipping between the two. I don’t even remember what game it was. We’ve watched a lot of hockey the past week or so.
1)Caps v. Flyers - Caps kicked some Philly buttocks tonight, and we have a game 7 tomorrow. Still thinking Flyers in 7.
2)Reds v. Preds - Wings won it in six, just like I said.
3)Pens v. Sens - A four game sweep, as predicted, but then even Squawkers McCaw new that and he’s my stepson’s animatronic parrot (wha?)
4)Flames v. Sharks - sharks live in water where fires don’t stay lit. Game 7 tomorrow night and I’m hopeful Calgary can pull it off but the Sharks are a damn fine team, while Calgary is horrendously erratic all season. My updated prediction of 7 games still stands (because it’s all about me and what I think)
5)Habs v. Bruins - I was way off about this saying Montreal in 5, it was Montreal in 7 but with a very difficult 5 and 6.
6)Rangers v. Devils - I was off on this, saying NY over NJ in 7, but it was actually done in 6.
7)Avs v. Wild - I wasn’t even right about the winner in this one… I said Minnesota in 6 when it was actually Colorado, which does actually make me happier.
8)Stars v. Ducks - Again I was expecting the Ducks in 7 but more than happy for the Stars to take it to Jughead (Pronger), Bertuzzi, and Weinermeyer in 6.
I can’t even talk about round 2 until tomorrow is over. Here’s what I hope for in terms of match-ups with predictions:
Habs vs Rangers - NYR 6 games
Pens vs Caps - Pens 5 games
Red Wings vs Flames (fire on fire, yes!) - Wings in 7
Avs vs. Stars - Stars in 7
If I’m going to just hazard a highly speculative guess based on team gumption alone, I’m going to say Stars and Rangers in the Final.
… is back this Thursday at 10pm. Yesss… and according to Wikipedia:
“6 post-strike hours airing beginning April 24 in the United States. This includes a 3-hour finale airing in three parts entitled “There’s No Place Like Home.” The first part will air on Thursday, May 15 10 pm ET, and parts 2 and 3 will air in a 2-hour special airing on May 29, from 9-11 pm ET.”
Another thanks to Toast for the save on season one, episode 12. It was a doozy. Also, Toasty, thanks for the season 2 AVIs which are playing on the awesome new DVD player just fine. Season 2 is shaping up to be much more intriguing than season 1, with Dexter’s body-drop off getting discovered, and his relationship with Rita becoming somewhat… strained. Dexter going to group therapy is an interesting way of exploring his tendencies, and his discovering that he actually has emotions (but really not knowing what to do with them or how to handle him is a nice piece of the puzzle). Had a brief conversation with my mother about the show yesterday and she couldn’t get into it because she couldn’t cheer for a character who is such a monster, which is I think the point I was hoping they’d hit harder in the first season, but are actually tackling nicely now. The fact that Dexter’s now the both celebrated and reviled “Bay Harbor Butcher” allows them to explore the celebration of his brutality, and the revulsion it should cause.
The Andromeda Strain
One of the best “what if” sci-fi movies ever made has been remade into a 4-hour mini-series starring Benjamin Bratt and some other people for A&E (which is, coincidentally, where I saw the film version of The Andromeda Strain for the first time back in the mid-1990s. I still feel really really bad for liking the movie though because they did a bad thing to a monkey in it which breaks me up every time I see it. Hopefully the monkeys are safe in the mini.
The website says the show will air on US Labor Day weekend (May 25th and June 1st, I think, or maybe May 25th and May 26th?). If you miss it, that’s okay, it’s going straight to DVD, to be released on June 3rd. It’s a pretty neat experiment A&E’s trying out, to see if they can bankroll bigger productions, get some word-of-mouth through the TV broadcast and drive sales into the DVD.
More DVD info here and here
Albums Soul Coughing - Ruby Vroom
Death In Vegas - Scorpio Rising
OP8 featuring Lisa Germano - Slush
Source (purchased/given/borrowed/the wife’s): purchased/ purchased/ purchased
Date Purchased: 1996/2002/1998
Original Review (s): - n/a
Thoughts/Memories/ Remembrances: Ruby Vroom - “Screenwriter’s Blues” was the first Soul Coughing track I had ever heard. It was back in 1994 when MuchMusic was still playing videos and supported independent music. It was one afternoon, after school and I just had Much playing in the background. I didn’t catch the title of the song, or the band, but the general sensation of the tune stuck with me for years and years. When two years later I heard a song from Soul Coughing’s second album (Irresistible Bliss), I knew immediately that it was the same band and that I was overwhelmingly responding to them. I bought their then-current album in a snap, spending another year before locating this, their first studio effort. I liked this album quite a bit, although I never listened to it much. I’m still sad that Soul Coughing called it a day, since frontman M. Doughty’s solo work is a little too folky/kitscy/twee/cutesy for my liking and his irreverence isn’t nearly as pronounced. Plus there’s the classic interview paraphrase (which I’ve only ever heard about, but have adopted into my lexicon) featuring drummer Yuval Gabay’s brilliant third-person broken English/Israeli accent: “Yuval styling highly, yes!”
Scorpio Rising - I have a couple Death In Vegas’ albums, but I don’t remember them at all clearly. I think they have their place in the evolution of modern music, a fusion of gothic undertones, electronic overtones, a dash of punk, post-punk and psychedelia. DiV is a duo of, ultimately, dance music producers taking inspiration from a variety of sources, and yet often descending into some dark place. What I’ve liked from them was the dose of catharsis they provide… a bit of evil, but non-threatening. Neither the band nor any specific tracks are meaningful to me, but I remember them helping pass some simple summers. For all their darkness, I they work best in a bright atmosphere. Scorpio Rising was the last of their albums I bought and the one I least remember… there’s probably a reason for that.
Slush - There was a period in my life where I absolutely fixated on everything… a specific girl, a specific director, a specific comic book creator, a specific musician. I really shouldn’t phrase those in the singular though, since there were multiples of each, I was an obsessive plain and simple, and when you combine obsessions, girls and music for instance, it was all pretty embarrassing. One artist who you won’t find me re-reviewing is Tori Amos, whom I was most obsessed about in the 1990s (but there’s a whole other post there). But amongst her obsessed-over-by-Graig peers include Lisa Marr from Cub, Bjork, and, most obscurely, Lisa Germano. I’m not certain I remember accurately what I saw in Germano, but she had a way of being solemnly upbeat, or upbeatly solemn, or darkly irreverent, playing her violin and singing her hushed tunes about… well pain and escaping from pain. I really dug that stuff when I was a teen, but when I heard OP8 on the Brave New Waves, a wildly different trio utilizing a vast variety of atypical instruments in a pop manner, accompanied by Germano, it was the most engaging work of hers I had heard. I had to have it, then I got it, then I loved it for a while, then moved along, fixating on something/one else.
As I do every month, I take a look ahead at comics being solicited for publication in two months’ time. I take a loot at all the items I might have an interest in, or, in some cases, thinks I most definitely have no interest in. DC and Marvel are usually first out the gate, this will be updated as Dark Horse, Image and others get their solicits released.
Viewed: In theatre
Release Date: March 28, 2008
writers: Michael Ian Black and Simon Pegg
director: David Schwimmer
Oh, the hipster’s lament… do they go see a movie starring cerebral-geek favourite Simon Pegg and written by Stella’s dryronic (dry and ironic) Michael Ian Black, or do they steer far clear of it because it’s the inaugural directorial cinematic effort from still-too-popular-to-be-cool Friends star David Schwimmer. To that I say “quit trying so hard.”
Run Fatboy Run is at once contrived and unexpected, a film whose plot is so utterly expected and yet it has so many moments that step it outside of its conventions. Key amongst those is Simon Pegg, taking his own pen to the script and tailoring it to a London setting, and, likely to hims own strength and his pals (co-star Dylan Moran, cameos from Extras‘ Stephen Merchant and Little Britain’s David Walliams) who join him on the film.
Hotflash - on the food moratorium since last report, I’ve been, well, in the not-so-good. I’ve eaten a few french fries and I’ve eaten Swiss Chalet (coincidentally both of those were at the same time, although the french fries were mistakenly brought instead of my potatoes, which were later brought at no charge but… you know… temptation + weak will = fatty). I even had a burger, but it was free, so does that count? I’ve been drinking a lot… well, not a lot, but a lot for me. About two drinks a week. Those drinks, often, have been rye and ginger ale, meaning I’ve been drinking pop, but only ginger ale, so that’s kind of okay right? Maybe not. I blame my sister who left us with a dearth of alcohol before she moved out to BC. I’ve nipped into some salad dressing about three times, and the occasional bit of mayonnaise (well, it’s Miracle Whip Light, which is only marginally less worse). Potato chips have gotten the better of me and enter my diet once every two weeks or so, but I’ve found Old Dutch’s low-salt Rip-L-Chips which have half the sodium content of regular chips, which is, you know, almost better. I have, though, discovered that cheesies (almost all types) have trans fats so they’re off the list. Trans fats only enter my system unawares, so I’ll say yes, I’ve partaken but not intentionally so. Also having trans fats: Ice Cream. I did not know that, but there you go. Avoided! There was an incident with macaroni and cheese that has officially put me off it (thank you). Otherwise, I’m getting healthier, eating more fruits and veg than ever before, although I can unequivocally say that my red meat intake is pretty high right now and that I should really, really watch that.
Hotflash! - I missed all but the last 10 minutes of the second episode of this season’s Battlestar Galactica… and you know, I didn’t really care much. Didn’t look like I missed anything important. We’ll see how episode 3 goes.
Hotflash!! - To tell the truth, I missed BSG because of playoffs hockey. I’ve discovered the joy of having two games running on two different channels concurrently. Every time there’s a stop in play on one, I just flip to the other… unless TSN happens to delay their broadcast because of golf (golf? Yeah, it’s the Masters, but come on, man, this is playoffs hockey!). I’m a monster. That said, I get burnt out on hockey after about 5 hours so most Western division games I don’t finish watching.
Hotflash!!! - Since my predictions last week here are how things are shaping up:
1) Caps v. Flyers — tied 1 game a piece. Still looking pretty splotchy, but I now think the Flyers are looking more cohesive and team-like than the Caps.
2) Red Wings v. Preds — Detroit leads 2 games to 1, but the Preds are giving them a show. Still looks like Wings in 5 or 6 games.
3) Pens v. Sens — Pittsburgh up 3 games to nil. Expect the sweep to conclude tomorrow as predicted. And yes, I’ve been screaming “The Gonch!” a lot.
4) Flames v. Sharks — Calgary surprised everyone with a crawl-from-behind victory in game 3 to lead the series 2 - 1, but the Sharks aren’t going belly up any time soon. We may actually see a Calgary upset, but It’s looking more and more like a 7 game series.
5) Canadiens v. Bruins — though down 2 games to 1, the Bruins are showing signs of life. I still expect it to end in 5 games though. And that hit on Chara from game 1: hilarious
6) Rangers v. Devils — Okay, I lied. I’m way into this series. Not that I want to see the Rangers (currently up 2 games to 1) win, but more that I want to see the Devil lose. There are some great rivalries in the NHL, from Gretzky and Lemieux to Crosby and Ovechkin, but I think Brodeur and Avery is easily the biggest freakshow.
7) Avs v. Wild — I’ve chosen on the side of Colorado, but Minnesota is up 2 - 1 in the series, and despite the Avs pluck, I still don’t think they’re going to make it past 6.
8) Stars v. Ducks — Another match-up I didn’t really think I’d give a damn about, but it’s been sheer joy watching Dallas trounce the (ugh) defending Cup champions 2 games to nil. Surprising, Stars, keep it up.
HOTFLASH!!!! — starting next week, I’m going to try a little schedule with BNY. Mondays will be TV/TVonDVD day, Tuesdays will be Music day, Thursdays will be Movies day, and Friday will be comics day. Wednesday, Saturday and Sundays will be free days to post whatever or not post at all. I’ll try this out but don’t look for it to stick.
HOTFLESH — I’ve caved and I’ve Booked myself in the Face. I hope you’re happy. I’m already regretting it, and I’m just not sure I understand it yet, nor that I have/want to devote much time to it… but good to see some-y’all.
PotFlush! — Aden and I learned on Sunday that, tragically, my Review of Dexter season 1 was incomplete. We were renting the DVDs from the local franchise video outlet, and each of the first two discs contained four episodes, while the third only had three. The fourth disc was labelled “Special Features” so we figured episode 11’s ending to be the cliffhanger. We were wrong… the 12th and final episode was on disc four. Moops. Shit. Season 2 lies in wait.
MOBRUSH!! — I mentioned before that I was running my first RPG campaign this month, and that did actually happen this past Sunday. It’s the first part of a highly adventurous 8-part story that required a hell of a lot of planning. It took a good three weeks to get the structure of it all together, plotting out each chapter, devising the player component and their opposition, and creating a timeline for the overarching story structure. I spent some time training in my GM role and helping our newest player to get comfortable with what we do. I’ve really put a lot of thought into this (at least ten pages worth of notes to start), but I found myself quite unprepared on Saturday for the next-day’s event, scrambling to review the Player Characters, notify the players of any changes needing to be made, and then revise the Non-Player Characters to make them formidable opponents. Then the scripting chores for the first issue were undertaken and with about an hour to spare, I was ready. Nervous as hell, but ready.
The game took a while to get started but once I got into the groove of it, I found it pretty easy. I had some assistance in helping the players to figure out their powers and everyone around the table was having fun with their characters, the concept and each other. Lots of suggestions going on, lots of teamwork and no attitude to speak of. The player’s actions threw off my planning but good, yet I managed to fudge the structure just enough that it worked just as well, if not better than planned. It was over rather quickly for one of our games (about 3 hours long, 90 minutes shorter than common) but it felt like a full event, and everyone seemed pretty satisfied, including myself.
With one part of the 8-segment story out of the way, I’m feeling a bit of relief, in my GM performance, the players’ reactions, and the story itself. It’s come off pretty smoothly, all things considered. I have part 2 in two weeks to plan for, and I’m pretty jazzed to get there.
POTLATCHES — for my birthday I forced Aden to buy me Kids in the Hall tickets at Massey Hall (June 5th). I’m happy, dammit! Onion AV Club interviews the lads (and, I noticed, the guys from
I’ve verging on burning out on reviewing these days, with too much to do, too little help and not enough energy to really sustain a satisfying level of creativity, thoroughness or even intellect. My reviews as of late feel more like going through the motions, even more so like work… highly time consuming, unpaid work.
In mentioning to my good friend GAK of my critical fatigue, he had a few points to note:
I share the thoughts that you and other long-time reviewers have on exhaustion on the volume of backlog or the quality of content. My main issue was that reviewing removed a serious chunk of my ability to appreciate or even like at a reptilian-brainstem level whatever was being reviewed. Like quantifying the impact [thus] minimizing it. The corollary to that is reviewing at its essential core is about saying “hey, this is good, I want others to like it” or “that, there’s potential there, keep an eye on the creator” because sharing what is out there is good for everyone’s soul. But it’s precarious because the burden of expectation can destroy the fragile act of appreciation. I can tell it’s been getting a labour to review certain things on your part, which is ironically timed as your years of exposure is starting to reap massive benefits.
All he says is so incredibly true to my situation, every point of it. There’s not much need to extrapolate upon it because it’s such a economical summary of where my brain is at these days regarding what I do so very often in my spare time. But how did I get here? How did I get to now, where I’m at a level where I think I’m fairly good at what I do and yet so frustrated with the process? There are many people who are getting paid for doing this kind of thing, and I’m not one of them. The problem is, I’m better than a lot of them at it (bad reviewer with prominent exposure makes me very angry), but does that mean I’d feel more comfortable with it all were it a job? I’m not so sure, and mainly because I’m no Roger Ebert. I know that nobody is Ebert except Ebert but if he’s the benchmark then it’s like I’m reaching for God and until I feel that I’m at least one-eight as focussed as Ebert, one-eigth as perceptive, intuitive or witty (all things very hard to learn too) I’m not really ready for the money earning side of it. Money means you’re a professional, and therefore accountable, so it’s really a face climb upwards.
With just over $100 in trade remaining to share, Aden and I left our local comics dispensary with our meager acquisitions… four books all told, two apiece, one of which closes off a mini-series I was reading. I took a gander the the coming week’s purchases already and noticed that two more of my mini-series reads are coming to a close, leaving me with the following books remaining:
Gutsville - 3 issues remain
Serenity: Final Days - 1 issue remains
Pax Romana - 2 issues remain
Transhuman - 3 issues remain
Local - 2 issues remain (1 of which is out next week)
I’ve terminated all my ongoing titles, two of which Aden’s now getting (X-Factor and Brave and the Bold, the latter of which I think she’s stopping at the end of the current story line, which coincidentally also ships next week).
I also have an open storyline from Action Comics, written by Superman movie director Richard Donner, which will be concluded whenever DC gets around to printing the Action Comics Annual (It was supposed to hit in February but obviously was delayed).
So, for the first time in nearly 7 years I don’t have any ongoing books to read, and soon enough most of the stories I’m collecting will be concluded. It’s funny, because I have the opportunity to keep acquiring (without spending money) but I’m still scaling back, way back,
trying to keep more in spirit with Buy Nothing Year.
As I keep track every month of what’s solicited two months hence, I know what I’m missing, but, as I originally stated when I had first conceived of BNY, it’ll be interesting to see what I’m still interested in next year.
Albums Digital Underground - Sons of the P
Supergenius - Star Wars Breakbeats
Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
Source (purchased/given/borrowed/the wife’s): purchased/ purchased/ purchased
Date Purchased: 1993/1998/May 3, 2006
Original Review: - n/a
Thoughts/Memories/ Remembrances:Sons of the P - Digital Underground were a damn fun group, producing a few stellar albums before fading under the weight of “gangsta” rap’s popularity. Most prominently fronted by Humpty Hump, a congested sounding, comedic rhyme-maker who wore glasses and a fake (sometimes gold-plated) nose (not quite “Groucho glasses” but similar idea), Digital Underground were a massive crew that at one time called Tupac and Jay-Z members. This album was a tribute to the classic funk bands of the 70’s, using Funkadelic, Parliament and Sly and The Family Stone samples to create some memorable tracks, but moreover a fantastic album. This album is one of my favourite rap albums ever, and contains “Good Thing We’re Rappin”, which I believe is my favourite song of all time. Sons of the P is a tribute to times past, an exploration of burgeoning fame and a jab at the changing times which would eventually overwhelm the band. I haven’t listened to it in years, but it’s still a favourite.
Star Wars Breakbeats - I think it was GAK all those years ago that alerted me to the existence of Star Wars Breakbeats, a limited-run album from New York-based bedroom producer “Supergenius” (aka Morgan Phillips, now the “Sucklord”). Being the fervent Star Wars geek that I was back then, I promptly made my way to The Other Music website and purchased the album before (as the store feared) Lucasfilm would come crashing down with their cease and desist orders. With the spectre of illicitness hovering over it, not to mention its rarity, this album has always felt like a prized acquisition, a real coup for my collection. Unfortunately, I never actually thought it was all that great. It’s always seemed like a cheesy curiosity which I pull out from time to time, and as my Star Wars fanaticism has waned, so too has the leniency I’ve been giving the record.
He Poos Clouds - I bought this when I was in my “buy anything from the blocks label phase, even though I didn’t really like the first album. Plus, there was all that internet hype that told me this was the awesome album of aught-six I should be sure to have. Oh, yes, I was one of those people. You know the type… the kind of person who had to be on top of what was new, fresh, hot and innovative… especially in the music scene, even more, the local music scene. I didn’t do all the stupid haircuts or the “ironic” whatevers (moustaches, t-shirts), but I did appreciate them until I realized exactly how pathetically hard some people were trying to be a part of it all. The idea of “cliques” and “scenes” has never appealed to me, and I quickly gave up on it. I just tried to enjoy the music instead, but I eventually wound up resenting the musicians for the crowd that they drew, for the people that, well, ruined it by being there for the sole purpose of being seen (”scenesters”). That’s the Final Fantasy crowd, a small group of people desperate to be seen at the ground floor of something that will hopefully grow big enough so that they can say they were there when it was just 20 people really digging that shit man. Problem is, Final Fantasy has always come off as scenester music, “arty” pomp as pretentious as the people who pretend to enjoy it. My distaste for the scene has clouded my judgment of the “Polaris Prize” winning music and I’ve barely given this album a chance.
(airdated - April 4, 2008)
I think my time as a fan of Battlestar Galactica is up. What once was a taut, intelligent, captivating series has turned into something self-indulgent, repetitive and tedious. The show has been a flexible one from the beginning, dealing heavily in politics, religion, war, and matters both philosophical and psychological. A central theme surrounds what it means to be human, what it is to have free will, and that theme started to overwhelm all others midway through the previous season, culminating in the big reveal of four of the five remaining humanoid Cylon models. The first episode of this season, in part, finds those characters, now aware of their hideous true nature, struggling to come to terms with it… just like Boomer had to do three seasons ago. We’ve been there, we’ve done that, why are we rehashing it again?
The religious element of the show, the faith and spirituality of President Roslin which has been guiding the wagon train, much to the suspicious eye of Commander Adama, was bolstered in the third season by prophecies and visions. It was fine that Roslin was a solitary member on cast on the good book crusade, but once Baltar and the Cylons started getting in on the game it became a larger part of the show and genuinely less interesting. As soon as Starbuck started having visions it seemed just an overwhelming and unpalatable addition to her character. The focus on faith has let the writers have any number of deus ex machinas for getting the characters out of jams or to move them forward to more convenient story positions, and maybe it’s my agnostic mind as a viewer but it’s not a welcome replacement for the social/political/ethical dialogue that the show had proved so capable of exploring.
The third season ended with the tedious Trial of Dr. Baltar, proving that not every sub-genre of dramatic storytelling can translate well into the show, and now that Baltar is, effectively, Jesus to the few who have become loyal to his devious teachings, his character is in a dramatic, and unfavourable transition. This season’s first episode presents Baltar as conflicted between his usual ways (derision of others, superiority complex, self-preservation) and a sense of spirituality, which by the end he truly seems to embrace, and not as a self-serving poseur. For his steadfastness as the show’s irredeemable character, this is by far the most illogical of all of the shows progressions (and to my vague memories, in least fitting with the conclusion of the third series).
It seems that now even the show is running out of time that it is not in a race to get to the end. They seem to be meandering through their storylines (the preview for the second episode looks chock full of utter predictability), and the shows writers have lost the capability of handling their characters, in large part because they’ve already done so much to them that doing anything more seems completely over the top — when Tigh shoots Adama early in the episode, it’s a complete snore, knowing that Adama’s already been shot by a Cylon masquerading as a crew member. There’s really nothing left that you can do to this shrinking band of characters that has much believability to it (as believable as you can get for a science-fiction show anyways). Surviving blown up shuttles, or crash landings on planets, or cancer, or getting shot, or imprisonment, or stripped of rank and on and on really means nothing since it’s all happened already. Adding more characters to the show would be a really cheap way of keeping it fresh, so the show just needs to step ahead in its chronology and get to a point where we can believe that whatever is happening affects almost everyone and not just the few.
I’m giving the show another two episodes to try and hook me before I call it quits and just wait for the DVDs, so I can fast forward through all the triteness and get to the meat that the producers seem to be avoiding.
Ah, the 82 games are done and the real hockey season begins… in spring… it’s kind of wrong, but whatever. We’ve got two more months of hot hockey action and best of all I can spend all kinds of time looking at stats and watching games not pay a single penny for it… it’s all free.
Like last year, I’ll be calling my teams, who I’m rooting for and who can just got to aich-eee-double-hockeysticks.
(the first team listed in each is who I’m rooting for, and the numerical ranking is my level of interest in each of the series)
1) v. : With my main team (the Isles) and my back-up team (the Leafs) tanking out the season, I’m uber excited about my back-up back-up team, the Washington Capitals’ journey from last place in the conference to 3rd overall. Ovechkin is just a joy to watch. Unfortunately they’re playing those thugs from Pennsylvania. While have had a pretty good run this year with some nice acquisitions at the beginning of the season, they’re still thugs and I’m not too keen on seeing them advance. I bet this one goes 7 games and it’s truly and either way decision.
2) v. : Aden’s favourite team (Detroit) has been on an utter tear this year, losing all of 21 decisions. As long as they don’t repeat their 9-game no-win streak from earlier this year, they should have a pretty easy ride. I don’t expect Nashville to give ‘em much trouble. Wings in 5 games, 6 tops.
3) v. : my how the tables have turned. The Pens faced the Sens last year in the first round and the young pups had their tail feathers plucked and handed back to them by the steamrolling team from our nation’s capital. Given how awful the Sens have been this year, and how fantastic Pittsburgh has played, I’m expecting an easy 4-game sweep. And I get to say “The Gonch” everytime a commentator says Gonchar’s name. Cause that never gets tired!
4) v. : those pesky Sharks have had a phenomenal season while the Flames have struggled through it, although coming out well enough in the end. They’re a fun team to watch when they get it together, so I implore the flames to get it together. I still expect the Sharks to trample them in six games though.
5) v. : An original six match up. I don’t know why, but I’m kind of happy to see Montreal become a force to be reckoned with.. I guess it gives hope to the other three suffering original sixers that they too can turn things around. Boston’s already doing it, Chicago’s gotten way better and Toronto… well, they’re hopeless. There’s no point in hating Montreal anymore. They’re not a competitor for Toronto anymore… Anywho, Montreal has had Boston’s ticket all year, and I expect no less this time around. Montreal in 4 game (maybe 5).
6) 7) 8) Three games I don’t care too much about at all:
v. - yawn. Rangers in seven. I hope. Depends on how strong the Devils trap holds up. Thankfully, Lundqvist has been having a pretty good season, so he can almost match Brodeur this year.
v. : I’d probably like to see Colorado win more because of Sakic and Smyth, but Minnesota is the new New Jersey, having effectively mastered the trap. Yawn. Minnesota in 6.
v. : good grief… please, Dallas, please kick those annoying freak Ducks out in the first round. Please? Still, I bet the Ducks take it, seven games. Ana-holes.
Early round 2 prognostications
Montreal Canadiens v. New York Rangers (another original six masher - Montreal in 6)
Washington Capitals v. Pittsburgh Penguins (oh, this would be a dream… Ovechkin v. Crosby & Malkin = amazingly good hockey - Pens in 5)
Detroit Red Wings v. Anaheim Ducks (the Ducks are just trouble - either Ducks in 6 or Detroit in 7)
San Jose Sharks v. Minnesota Wild (wow, dull - Sharks in 6,maybe even 5)
Source (purchased/given/borrowed/the wife’s): purchased
Date Purchased: July 2007
Original Review: N/A
Thoughts/Memories/ Remembrances: I remember seeing advertisements for The Tick in the comics I bought when I started visiting a local comics shoppe in 1991. “Ninjas,” the Tick said, “I hate ninjas”, as he trudged across the panel with a dozen men in black suits about half his size futilely attacking him, Tick obviously feeling none of their attack thanks to his nigh-invulnerability. That panel from the ad for NEC’s mail-order service has stuck with me to this day, I didn’t actually read an issue of The Tick until 2 years later when Chroma Tick #1 came out (reprinting the first issue but in color). I recall enjoying it, and yet, for some reason, that’s the only comic starring the Tick I’d purchased for some time.
I managed to let the cartoon bypass me, having only ever watched a handful of episodes from it’s original Fox airings, and it really wasn’t until the Patrick Warburton-fueled live-action series that I developed a deep appreciation for the character… something the Tick comic lovers and/or cartoon lovers tell me is blasphemy. Within the past year and a half, I’ve managed to read the first of three trade paperbacks of the Tick, a result of the merging of collections with the wife, and watched the DVDs of The Tick (seasons 1 and 2). My appreciation for the big blue bug is at an all-time high. Looking at the order form in the back of the 20th Anniversary Special Edition (June 2007) and I realize I’ve barely tapped the Tick’s comic book repertoire, a solution that was fixed by acquiring these first two Karma Tornado collections at the 2007 San Diego Comic Con. One geekdom obsession translated to another since I knew these were written by Venture Brothers co-creator Chris McCulloch (under the pseudonym Jackson Publick).
ITEM! - It’s been a weird three months of not buying anything, but the buying of nothing (which has not actually been the buying of nothing at all, but buying of some things specifically, and the still acquiring of stuff via non-out-of-pocket means) has been a definite boon to debt repayment. As of yesterday I’m in 4-digit territory in my debt, and the span between what we have an what we owe gets greater with each passing tax return and pay cheque. It’s a damn good feeling. I’m still on target for an end-of-July $0 balance on all debt which makes me feel so good, I wish it were tomorrow. It’s like the old Christmas anticipation when I was a kid, you just can’t wait.
ITEM! - Taxes. Taxes have been done and are all up to date for both the wife and I. Now a married man, it’s the first time I’ve ever done “joint” taxes and, well, it’s pretty simple actually. Unless you’re partner is earning less than $9K (appx)/yr, you’re basically filing individually anyway, only just one of you get to claim Ontario credits and the kids. The fact that the little guy splits his time between us and his dad, it’s caused a bit of a headache figuring out how with Aden’s ex how to optimize the money he gets in return for his RESP but we’re working on it. That little guy should have a nice chunk of money to go to school with when we’re finished with him.
ITEM! - RRSPs and taxes. Our financial/banking adviser has mentioned getting an RRSP line-of-credit to buy RRSP’s to top up contributions every year. I didn’t really understand what she meant, but I was monkeying with some numbers last night and figured it out. Basically, the more RRSPs you contribute (to your limit, of course) the more is deducted from your net income. But you’re still paying taxes on your gross income, the spread is that much greater meaning you bet more back. Now, using a line of credit may seem kind of silly, going into debt to contribute to your RRSP, but figure it this way… if you take $5000 out of your LOC and add it to your RRSP, you’re going to be paying, say, 9% interest on that $5K. But with that additional $5K you get a bigger boost to your tax return (depending on how much you’ve already contributed I’ve figured it to average around 30% of what you put in… ) so 30% of $5K comes back to you on tax return (or $1500). So if you put that $1500 right back onto your LOC you’re only having to pay back $3500, so you get an instant win of $1500. But that’s not all, since although it’s 9% interest you’re paying over, say, one year it takes for you to pay it back, you’re actually getting the benefit of $5000 at your RRSP interest rate, accrued for many years to come. Of course, taking out a chunk of debt to lower taxes and increase your future savings seems a little odd and it can impact your daily/monthly/annual budgeting, so think about whether you can afford to pay back your debt before you use it.
ITEM! - more money saving measures! Bike to work, and then bike home again. It’s exercise and saves on transit costs. Aden and I butted heads with the host of Maxed Out about tokens vs transit passes, not realizing that we could claim transit passes on our taxes (foolish us), and so we purchased the monthly pass for February and March. But now that spring is here (ahahaha, riiight) we’re getting back on the horse, so to speak. Our bikes sitting in work’s basement storage all Winter were quickly prepped for our first ride home last night, but we weren’t prepped at all. The weatherman said it was supposed to be cloudy with temperatures around 13 degrees yesterday, he said nothing about 65 KM/h headwinds or hail for christmas’ sake. I mean, it felt damn good to ride again, but my poor windburned face and fingers (not to mention that the windchill was around -10). This morning’s ride down, not nearly as windy, but cold cold cold. The things we do to save a few (hundred) bucks… not to mention shedding those inactive winter pounds. I’m not expecting the fatigue to really hit me until tomorrow.
Albums Subtle - Wishingbone
Novillero - The Brindleford Follies
Swell - Too Many Days Without Thinking
Source (purchased/given/borrowed/the wife’s): purchased/ purchased/ review copy
Date Purchased: May 3, 2006/2002/1997
Original Review: Too Many Days Without Thinking - “Entertaining, amusing, thought-provoking, psychotic - all describe the music that Swell produces… inventive music that’s ultimately been lacking in today’s mainstream marked [sic] of mundane and thoughtless copycat crap. The best album I’ve heard this year!” - The Argus, March 18, 1997.
Thoughts/Memories/ Remembrances: Wishingbone - Back in the day when I was a hip-hop kid (not that I really ever got into the whole baggy clothes and break-stepping thing) nothing excited me more than a remix album or ep. That same enthusiasm stretched into the realm of electronica, trip hop and other new musics, as, I guess, nothing keeps a song fresh like completely retooling it. The other great thing about remix albums/eps was there tended to be some new b-side material that didn’t quite make it to album either seen as out of step with the album’s theme or just somewhat incomplete. Wishingbone is in the spirit of a remix album, but more of a half-release, a companion piece to Subtle’s first major release A New White. The CD/DVD set (with the DVD containing the 15-minute video spanning three tracks) was acquired and shelved roughly within the same period of time as I recall it not being as engaging as I’d hoped and I’d always meant to spend some time with it and A New White to really hear if and how it does actually compliment it (alas, my consumptive habits have prevented this). Oh, and now it would seem the DVD’s gone missing.
Thoughts/Memories/ Remembrances:The Brindleford Follies - At the turn of the century/millennium, Canadian “supergroups” started cropping up, the biggest of which being the New Pornographers in Vancouver and Broken Social Scene in Toronto. It may be a stretch to say but in Winnepeg it’s Novillero. In 1999/2000 when they came together it was from the ashes of lounge group Transonic and acts like Duotang and Waking Eyes. When I first heard about Novillero (on CBC Radio, no doubt, a few months after this album’s release I recall) I knew I had to seek it out. I was a big Duotang fan and to hear Rod Slaughter sing with more than just bass and drums accompanying him excited me. The album, however, let me down, and I never did fully digest it, leaving it to collect dust until their second album, Aim Right For The Holes In Their Lives, came out in 2005, when I decided to revisit it once again. It didn’t compare at all to the powerful and energetic second album, where their sound completely shifted gears, but I found it more listenable than I had remembered.
Thoughts/Memories/ Remembrances:Too Many Days Without Thinking - Unlike the prior two cds mentioned above, I’ve driven this Swell album — my first — into the ground, and still it holds up. I received it as a review comp from Beggar’s Banquet in 1997 whilst working at the university newspaper and it instantly made a fan of me. I’ve been following Swell, perhaps not devotedly, but enthusiastically ever since, collecting all the major back catalogue releases and pouncing on any new albums. Swell is the one band that I’ve never met another fan of, and it constantly amazes me that nobody I’ve ever met has heard of them. Their releases come out quietly without much fanfare, and I’ve yet to be truly disappointed with one. But this album is my perennial favourite, perhaps just because it was my first, but I also think it’s their most accessible album, each song something special.