TV

Best of 2016: Music & TV

In the age of social media (read: barrier-less entry to digital publication), our end-of-year world is overran with a bevy of bovine best-of lists that subjectively say nothing about music or art. I have often considered forgoing the practice. But truth be told I am a man of traditions and patterns. Since 2010 I have been making such subjective lists and cannot turn back now.

But I do promise to simplify.

This year, I’m talking just music and TV. (If you find yourself curious about the books I’ve read this year, however, follow me on Goodreads (Goodreads is still a thing, right?)).

Top 5 Records

2016 was a weird year for mainstream music. Rock was fueled primarily by mega-bands from previous decades (Blink 182, Green Day, Metallica), hip-hop spent its social currency on Kanye West drama, and pop-music decided to just wait it out for a new Taylor Swift album. Beyonce, I suppose, did something interesting with pop music, but there isn’t much else to hear. Where mainstream music failed, indie-music (used here as a sweeping genre) and new independent artists (across all indie-music genres) soared.

Almost weekly, there was a new artist or band or group making waves. Car Seat Headrest, Big Thief, Julien Baker, Margaret Glaspy, Kevin Morby, Nice As Fuck, to name a few at top of mind.

With Apple Music and Spotify and Amazon Music and now Pandora Unlimited — streaming services becoming commonplace for the listener — there’s little excuse to miss out on all this great new music. But these tools don’t make keeping up any less overwhelming. In fact, having access to everything, I find, makes it worse. At the end of the day, you have to find what works for you — those albums that connect from start to finish and demand repeat listens — and fit in the other stuff when you can.

So what are my favorites from the year? There are many reasons that the following list of albums stood out to me as “favorites” (originality, longevity, boldness) but the best metric is this: I refused to delete their files from my phone. (more…)

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The X-Files Revival Review: Paranormally Normal Expectations

Let’s get this out of the way: I’m an X-Phile, through and through.

As the name would suggest, X-Philes are a rare breed of entertainment consumers who swear allegiance to the TV show The X-Files. With 201 episodes, we have spent at least 201 hours of our lives watching Mulder and Scully ask the big questions and chase the big, scary monsters. Personally, I’ve seen the original series three-times through, with favorite episodes re-watched here or there, and of course, multiple viewings of the two movies. Realistically, let’s call it 700 hours of my life dedicated to finding Mulder’s stupid sister. Let us not mention The Philosophy of The X-Files book, or the Season 10 comic book series. I also bought the IDM board game.

There’s a simpler word for what I am. It’s called a nerd, and I understand that.

The truth… is that we X-Philes absorbed any and all X-Files we could get, because when the series ended in 2001, the show was over. That was it. Gone. Dunzo. Poof. Like the proof Mulder could never quite attain, The X-Files disappeared, almost as if it were never really there. And remember, TV shows didn’t come back from the dead back then. When they ended, they ended. When they were cancelled, they cancelled. So, we X-Philes became our special class of nerds, quietly holding onto the spooky, nostalgic memories of something that would never exist again.

Until it existed again.

And The X-Files came back. And now my board game, comics and books look less like collector’s items, and more like an obvious case of dork.

The-X-Files-10x03-1

Read my full review on The Farsighted blog: Part One and Part Two

Kevin’s Ultra Hip (Hella Sick) Summer Book Club

Recently, I made a pact with my brain. That over summer I would spend more time reading than Netflixing. Netflix, my best fake friend, is a great tool for relaxing, especially after a 23 credit semester, say, by me. And, oh, I wanted to veg-out on Netflix more than my hipster neighbor wanted rollerblades. But I made a pact, and pacts are serious.

Previous post-semester breaks have included many veg-out TV series marathons (8 seasons of 24 and 9 seasons of How I Met Your Mother come to mind). To be Frank, I’ve still been enjoying Netflix in moderate occasions: a Sherlock episode here, a Comedy Bang-Bang there. But moderate is where I’m trying to keep it.  It’s time to take a break from marathon Netflix summers and, instead, marathon some books.

And the readings have been excellent so far.

If you are looking for some great books to read, then please, read these. We can talk about them together and start a cool kid reading club. Maybe you’ve read a few. Maybe you’ll have a little catching up to do. Maybe you can pick and choose. Either way, join my club. It will be ultra hip and hella sick. We’ll watch The Pagemaster together at the end of summer, and it will be fun.

Kevin’s Ultra Hip (Hella Sick) Summer Book Club

 The_Stand_cover1. The Stand by Stephen King – Completed

I just finished this one the other night, and I had never felt so accomplished. 1200 breathtaking pages. Technically though, it’s sort of cheating. I started the book back in December. The Stand is super long, and I had to wait till my semester was over to read most of it. But it was worth it! Also, Hollywood making a big budget movie. You could be ahead of the curve! (more…)

Pinterest, The Musical

The internet is pretty busy these days. (Hey! Over here. Stay with me.) There’s a fierce battle of eyeball real estate going on; somehow, I won you over to my blog. I promise to be quick.

Have you noticed attention spans weakening at a frightening pace? I’m as bad as anyone. Lately, I’ve felt less like Greek Homer and more like Springfield Homer.

SIDE NOTE: I may or may not have just spent 20 minutes on Youtube watching old Simpsons videos.

The internet is just absolute madness: eons and eons of digital stimuli. Remember not knowing the answer to things? That was awkward. What once took a lifetime of information to collect, can now be searched and understood in less than five tweet-seconds.

But I can’t help but wonder about the negative long-term effects of all this big data and short segmented behavior. If things keep going the way they are (and one can only assume it will) humans may just become the most annoying creatures of all time. A Keurig will even be too slow. Maybe that’s why, in the movies, when people discover how to travel through time, they always escape the future and prefer the past. Terminator, obviously, just wants to chill.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a worthy case study and is my favorite example of short-term focus. (more…)

How I Met Your Coffee Maker

*Kids, back in 2013 when your mom and I moved to Rochester, I had to immediately address a problem of epic proportions. So big, in fact, that the word “epic” is indeed applicable, but not entirely accurate. Rather, let’s use a better word. Let’s call it “legendary.”

The problem, kids, was the how the hell I would make my morning coffee.

See, we got rid of everything when we moved—everything that wouldn’t fit in the car. And in a blind rage of yard sales and give aways, my french press was lost and forgotten in the hubbub. As we drove across the continent, stopping at gas stations for dollar “coffee,” I prayed for a brighter future. A bolder future. An acidic future. One that involved coffee.

You know, the one.

Season 1

But I’m getting ahead of myself. It all started in Idaho when I was in my early twenties. I worked at a Natural Foods store in Coeur d’Alene where local roasters would come to teach—as monks enlighten—and they would also come to replenish their store bins. It was through these vendors (Doma, Evans Bros, and Equal Exchange) that I learned to sip, spit, and smell my coffee.

And coffee became more than just a warm liquidated caffeine which instigated BMs. Coffee became everything. I had learned the secrets of the bean. I began to taste subtle notes. I researched and learned growing and roasting techniques. My lips began to automatically scowl at shelves with Folgers and hands holding Starbucks.

I preached about Fair Trade and just wages (annoying everyone I talked to).

Before long, I couldn’t depend on work coffee. I had to make the “plunge” and buy a home maker, something my coffee monk friends would approve of. The french press, of course. It was a single cup beauty, and she served it hot, gritty, and frighteningly strong. (more…)

Proof My Life is a Movie and That I’m On To You

My favorite all-time movie is The Truman Show. I think its Jim Carrey’s finest hour on screen (Eternal Sunshine, of course, is a very close second). As a child (1998!), I remember exiting the movie theatre convinced that my life was one big TV show and everybody was in on it. There has since surfaced a mental delusion called Truman Syndrome or The Truman Show Delusion where people believe their lives are really staged plays, TV shows, or films.

I’m proud to say that I am not a sufferer of Truman Syndrome. However, I am on to you bastards. Some strange things have been happening this last week, and the only logical explanation is that I’m trapped inside a hilarious, yet tragically poignant, reality television program and/or movie. (more…)