where did monday go

1. I feel like I’ve been out of the general loop of things for a few days now; my son was sick for most of last week, and I stayed home with him twice, and between that and having yesterday off, I’ve simply lost track of time and space.  And all I can offer in response is a quote from one of the more haunting tracks on Blackstar:  “Where the fuck did Monday go?”

2.  I don’t like abandoning books; there’s something about the act of giving up that makes me feel guilty in ways that I don’t feel with regards to music, movies, games.  But I gave up on Paula Hawkins’ “Girl On The Train” over the weekend (for reasons I’m still struggling to articulate), and the only reason why I haven’t yet given up on China Mieville’s new novella “This Census Taker” is because it’s very very short, and I could probably finish it on the evening commute.  (I’m very hit or miss with respect to China Mieville – I’ve given several of his books a try and the only one I finished was “The City and the City”; there’s something about his prose that makes my scalp itch, I have to read and re-read every sentence 4 or 5 times because I don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.)

3. Work continues (at a glacially slow pace) on the new album.  I need time to finish lyrics, but I don’t have the time; and when I do carve out the time, I don’t have the inspiration.  Even now, when work is somewhat slow, I’m simply not feeling it.  I’m tempted to sign up for this year’s RPM Challenge just as a way to kick myself in the ass and finish what I started last year.  I do have some friends who have been politely kicking me in the ass, too, but I think I need to stare a deadline in the face and deal with it head-on.

4.  Oh, but distractions continue to haunt me.  For example, the new iOS game, “Swapperoo“, which is maybe the best and most novel use of the match-3 template since Bejeweled.  I’m helplessly addicted and I’m just hoping that’s because it’s brand-new, and that I won’t be playing this until 3 in the morning for the next month.

5.  Some movies of note:  the wife and I finally saw “Ex Machina” over the weekend, and WHOA.  Absolutely fantastic; terrific screenplay, great cast (and it was especially neat to see Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac together in a non-Star Wars context), hauntingly evocative cinematography, incredible soundtrack (co-written by Geoff Barrow, of Portishead fame).  I’m a little troubled by an element of the plot that I’d rather not discuss unless we’re OK talking about spoilers, and I’m not sure that too many people who’ve read this have seen it, so maybe we’ll talk about that in the comments.  But man.  GO SEE THIS MOVIE.  It’s free on Amazon Prime, if you have that, and it’s totally worth it.

And the wife and I also finally got to see the new Star Wars together; it was my second time, her third.  It’s arguably even better the second time, now that I wasn’t distracted by my foreknowledge of spoilers and such.  I think Rey is the best, and I can not fucking wait for Episode 8.

Weekend Recap: The New Year

1. In case you missed it, I wrote up some quick off-the-cuff thoughts about Star Wars: The Force Awakens last night.  Now that I’ve slept on it, I can say with confidence that I still feel the same; it’s a very good Star Wars movie, and as far as rankings go I’d put it in my top 2 along with Empire.  In fairness, that isn’t necessarily saying all that much; the prequels are garbage, and both New Hope and RotJ have moments that we’d all rather forget.  Even if Episode 7 is simply a reboot of Episode 4, it’s really well done, and I feel like it’s OK to be excited for Episode 8 now.

2. My wife had attempted to buy me the Xbox One Elite Controller via Amazon, but even 3 weeks later there was no sign of it shipping any time soon.  As it happens, though, I was running some errands over the weekend and happened to be in a Best Buy and – lo and behold – there were three (3) Elite Controllers just hanging out, ready to be bought.  I bought one.  I had a tough time justifying the expense, especially since the XB1 isn’t my primary console, but.. I mean.. goddamn, once you hold this thing in your hands it makes as strong a case for itself as you can imagine.  It’s pleasantly heavy, the buttons and triggers have a remarkably more pleasing feel, and even if I never use the alternate buttons and back-panel triggers, I’m happy to know they’re there if I change my mind.

2a.  On a related note, I now feel contractually obligated to get back into Halo 5.

3.  I also bought Rock Band 4 for the XB1, and my old drumset and 1 of my 2 guitars still work, so there’s that.  I’m happy to have Rock Band back in my life, but HOLY SHIT the game feels barely half-built at this point.  How is it that in 2016, I can’t program my own setlist?  And the process of re-downloading songs I already own is beyond tedious; thankfully, I only have to do it once.

4.  I’ve read all the David Mitchell novels now, and so I’m back to re-reading Cloud Atlas, which was the first one of his that I’d read.  I didn’t necessarily see what all the fuss was about the first time out; I could certainly recognize his talent as a writer, and I appreciated how each story tied into the next one, but I didn’t really understand the point.  (I also felt similarly about Ghostwritten, his first novel, although the interconnected stories in that novel at least have a vague sort of butterfly-effect thing happening.)  This second time through, however, I’m feeling much more at home with it – and I also recognize many more of the characters from other novels, so that stuff makes it a bit more interesting.  All that aside, I feel like I need to read Bone Clocks again, and immediately.  I know I’m one of the few people on Earth who prefers Bone Clocks to Cloud Atlas, but what can I say?  That book affected me in a deeply profound way that few books ever have before.

5.  I’d been meaning to put up a Music of 2015 post – I even have a draft here, but I’m not particularly happy about it, and in any event all the navel-gazing I was doing about it is probably less interesting than all the other navel-gazing I do here as it is.  So, instead, I’ll cut to the chase and post two Spotify playlists:

 

 

Gut Impressions: Star Wars TFA

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I am kinda procrastinating at the moment (also a little tipsy, but hey) so here are my quick, hopefully non-spoilery Star Wars Thoughts (and some necessary personal context as a prelude):

  1.  For starters, I’m pretty sure that this was the first time I’ve ever gone to the movies by myself.  That’s weird, right?  I just turned 40, and yet this was my first solo movie experience.  Also: it was a Sunday, 10:00am showing, and the theater was basically empty.  I’m so used to watching movies in NYC where you have to be at the theater at least an hour before showtime in order to get a halfway good seat, but here in the burbs I was the first one at the theater by at least 30 minutes.
  2. I’m not a huge Star Wars nerd, at least not to the extent that my wife and our friends are.  Star Wars was certainly a big part of my childhood’s vocabulary, and the Bespin Freeze Chamber was one of my all-time favorite toys, but I was never, like, obsessed with it, and the prequels left an awful, awful taste in my mouth.  My impatience at seeing this new movie was more about knowing that everyone I know had already seen it , and I was missing out on an important cultural event.  And I did want to watch it before the whole movie got spoiled for me.  Speaking of which…
  3. …I did have at least 2 very significant plot points spoiled for me before watching the film, but as it turned out it wasn’t a big deal; both things were telegraphed pretty early on, and I’m not sure either of them were ever intended to be a head-spinning plot twist.
  4. I do understand George Lucas’s reluctance to embracing the new movie, but I also think he’s a fucking asshole for his selling of the franchise to “white slavers”.  It’s not like he didn’t get paid BILLIONS OF DOLLARS for it.  And let’s be honest, here:  the Lucas prequels are borderline unwatchable at this point.  J.J. Abrams had a near-impossible task at making Star Wars meaningful to people again, and he knocked it out of the goddamned park.
  5. The movie is still too fresh in my mind for me to feel like I can be objective enough to “review” it.  Was it the best movie I’ve ever seen?  Not by a long shot.  But did I giggle and ooh and aah and have a goofy smile on my face and did I feel like an 8-year-old kid all over the goddamned place for the entirety of the film’s running time?  Goddamned right I did.  The casting is perfect – I love Rey and Finn to pieces, and I loved seeing the old gang together again, and I legitimately got chills at the final scene.  The cinematography is fucking epic.  The score is fantastic.  J.J. is maybe the only director alive who could pull this particular task off, and – again – he killed it.
  6. It’s OK that it’s basically a re-make of Episode 4; Episode 4 was an origin story about mythic figures, and it makes sense for this new trilogy to touch on familiar feelings, even if it has the potential to go in wildly different directions.  I don’t know if I trust Disney to allow it to go too far out, but Star Wars isn’t necessarily meant to be avant-garde. I do feel that this movie was made with confidence, and that the creative team felt good about the product they were putting out, and if nothing else the box office more than bears that out, and maybe some of these side stories can be a little more daring and risk-taking as a result.
  7. That said, I do worry about Star Wars overdosing – a new trilogy plus all the side-story stuff might get exhausting.  I’m starting to feel that way about the Avengers movies, at any rate.  BUT:  we’re gonna be taking the kid to some of these movies at some point, and I’ll be happy enough to be his guide for those experiences.
  8. It is weird to see a new Star Wars movie as a parent!  I watched this movie all by myself in the theater – 3D, non-IMAX, which to me is the best way to see it (if only because IMAX gives me vertigo) – and all I could think about was watching it with Henry and wondering how he’s going to react to it; anticipating his excitement; preparing for his hiding his eyes in my arms during tense moments (as I did with my father for Temple of Doom).
  9. I said I won’t get spoilery, and I won’t.  But there is a spoiler-y theory floating around that I really like, which I’ll hide behind a link – I really like this idea, and I hope it’s true.
  10. Bottom line:  I can’t wait for Episode 8.  I can’t wait to see this movie again.