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Monday, July 25, 2016

Nirvana -- In Utero


8/10

In Utero is, in some people's opinion, a masterpiece, and in other's "Not as good as Nevermind." Opinions are also divided on exactly when Generation X gave way to the birth of the Millennials, and that segue was terrible.
After giving this generational topic plenty of thought, and noticing key differences in myself, and those several years younger than me, I think I can define this great line. Yes, I am still making fun of Underoath. I will never stop. Sorry.
If you grew up with Internet in at least your high-school classrooms, or had not yet begun college by 9/11, I think it is safe to say you are a Millennial. Everyone is different, and everyone can't just be lumped into a group, but as the generations go, I think those are the two determining events.
My school not only had no Internet during my entire stay there, but when I started college, classes were scheduled by phone. Yes, phone. Not cell phone. Just phone. If you had a rotary, this process was a living hell. While my family did acquire Internet during my final years of high school, it was more an oddity that allowed me to read video game reviews, and look at pornographic photos that took a good five minutes just to load down to the boobs. Only a truly patient man could sit and wait for the full package. You were better off taking a gander at the Playboy the kid with irresponsible parents brought to school every month (just make sure you didn't touch the pages!), or putting the TV on a lower station and hoping the Spice Channel would bleed through. Now, inquisitive latchkey kids can watch HD porn on their cellphones on the walk home from school.
I am sorry to use such a crass example, but methods of satisfying teenage curiosity is really the best way to describe this generation gap. If you wanted to know something between the mid 70's to mid-90's, you hoped you could either find a book about it, luck into a TV show talking about it, or ask someone in your class you hoped just wasn't making things up about it. There was no instant access of information. While older Millennials might recall having to do this in their early childhoods, a Gen X'er generally had to do this their entire adolescence to college and beyond. Speaking of which...if you had a Facebook account before graduating college...there is a good chance you are a Millennial.
It turns out, growing up with an easy access to information makes your mindset and thinking patterns a lot different from those of us who didn't...maybe it's why the Millennials are so damned positive all the time. I hate you guys.
This leads us to 9/11. Those of us who came of age before this happened grew up thinking that such a thing could not happen. It was nuclear destruction at the hand of The Soviets, or bust. Not so with Millennials--by the time they were in college, 9/11 had already happened, and they were subsequently more able to accept such things as a part of life.
The thing is, Gen X'ers, while we think about the late 70's-90's in a lovely golden Spielbergian haze, grew up under constant threat of nuclear annihilation. My elementary school routinely had us run desk drills, whereupon we would practice diving beneath them in case of a Ruski attack. Our schools were built with fallout shelters. And then that attack never came. We grew up under an unrealized attack, then when that bomb defused, thought life would be rosy forever-after (look at the stuff we did in the 90's, and particularly right at the change of the Millennium...it's like we expected to be in for an endless summer!). The end of the Cold War promised us a lifetime of peace, and when those damn planes hit the towers, we, as adults realized that dream was a lie. The Millennials never had that dream. Their childhoods were interrupted by a horrific day of unimaginable terror, and they grew up learning how to make the best of things, knowing the worst could always happen, because when they were kids, it literally did (though I guess it beat total nuclear destruction).
These are the key differences between Generation X'ers and Millennials: Our American Dream, painted Thomas Kinkade style for us by our Baby Boomer parents, and reinforced by the falling of the Iron Curtain and the disassembly of the USSR, is a lie we struggle to move past, while attempting to also navigate the strange minefield of modern digital technology. Millennials (in general) have no or a different expectation of this dream, and feel like they can make instead whatever life they want out of what they are given, utilizing the seemingly limitless technological tools at their fingertips...did I mention that I hate you guys?
There's a review somewhere in here...
There are two factors that could cause someone to say they like In Utero more than Nevermind:
1. They genuinely prefer In Utero, enjoying abrasive noise over stronger songwriting.
2. They are trying to look cool.
Yes, in the 23 years since In Utero was released, people have been trying to look cool by saying that they like it more than Nevermind. The members of Nirvana are included in this group. including Kurt Cobain, who did the very Gen X thing of making something inadvertently popular, then immediately attempting to make something that would be less popular as a reaction.
Cobain and co. interpreted Nevermind's overwhelming success as a sign that they had aimed too broadly and not focused on their more intrinsic qualities. Selling more than 10 million copies of an album is not very punk.
Thankfully, Cobain was such a once-in-a-generation artist, he couldn't release a bad album, even when he was being purposefully alienating. On the other hand, on an (impurely, as music opinions are subjective) objective level, In Utero is not as good as Nevermind.
How can I say such a thing?
Simple.
Can anyone honestly say that "Frances Farmer.,.", "Very Ape," "Milk It," and "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" are as good as anything on Nevermind? I can't.
In Utero features, but not exclusively, a lot of harsh guitar distortion, and Cobain wailing like a banshee. The album was produced by Steve Albini, who, despite a reputation that is essentially based entirely on producing this one pretty good album, has produced some of my least favorite records by my favorite bands (Zao, for instance). Steve wanted the album to have as few commercial prospects as possible, to the degree that the band later had the album's obvious singles, "Heart-Shaped Box" and "All Apologies" re-worked by someone else. I'm sorry, it is really Steve Albini of me to slag Steve Albini (And Steve, I loved the Steve Taylor EP that you recorded late last year...maybe even more than their full length. Forget all that other stuff I said...except about Zao, that really was a letdown).
In Utero is still a solid album, though, anchored by the two previously-mentioned singles, which send out lines to the albums three other single-esque tracks, "Rape Me,"  "Dumb." and "Pennyroyal Tea." Plenty of the more aggressive, noisier songs are quite good, as well, especially "Scentless Apprentice," which features one of Dave Grohl's most enjoyably primal beats.

But of course, the two major standouts here are "Heart-Shaped Box" and "All Apologies." The video for the latter is one of Nirvana's most famous, and for me it is most memorable, behind only "Nevermind." With that said, anyone who pretends that they know what its about, with its esoteric religious imagery and meat ladies, is a dirty, dirty liar. I have to admit to being hit with a huge nostalgia wave here. My conservative Christian mother didn't mind Nirvana in the car, but she was no fan of MTV. My go to for "stuff my mom doesn't like me watching," was the Sanders' house next door. This was the home of three of my older cousins, all males. With the Sanders', I watched Baywatch, Rambo, Beavis and Butthead, and music videos. This was also where I, a Nintendo kid, played Sega video games (the Sanders' had a Master System, Genesis, and Sega CD), and having all these old neurons firing in my head these last few weeks has awakened cravings for the sounds and atmosphere of that particular period so badly, I just bought a Sega CD on E-Bay. I am serious. I am also almost finished with this review. Sorry...

I feel like I'll go further into "All Apologies" in the next and final Nirvana review, but this mantra-like song is what, along with his early death, placed Cobain among the hall of music sages. "All and all is all we are," floats him into some Bob Marley territory. And it's time for this review to float away. Up next, Unplugged.

1993 DGC
1. Serve the Servants 3:36
2. Scentless Apprentice 3:48
3. Heart-Shaped Box 4:41
4. Rape Me 2:50
5. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle 4:09
6. Dumb 2:32
7. Very Ape 1:56
8. Milk It 3:55
9. Pennyroyal Tea 3:37
10. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter 4:51
11. tourette's 1:35
12. All Apologies 3:51

Monday, July 18, 2016

Nirvana -- Nevermind


10/10

My favorite Nirvana story goes a little something like this:
One day my good friend Leblanc and I are riding to youth group in his mom's car. We pick up one of his friends and he gets in and holds up a bag.
"I've got something for you," he says.
"What?" we ask.
"Nevermind." he says.
"What do you mean, never mind? Are you not going to give it to us now?"
"No. I am going to give it to you. Nevermind."
"Wait, what? Are you going to give it to us or what?"
He holds it out. "Here. Nevermind."
"Why are you holding it out if you don't want us to take it?!"
"No! Nirvana. Nevermind."
"Oh, cool. ...So we can still have it, right?
That true-life Abbott and Costello routine brought to you by a pre-ubiquitous Internet early 90's.
That leads us right back into the last post's discussion. It's not really a discussion, though, because I am the only one who is talking.
My friend and I both liked Nirvana, having seen the video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on MTV. Some stereotypical Gen X'ers would rather adamantly remind you, gentle reader, that "In my day, MTV actually played videos (It was Music Television)," by this Gen x'er would like to go a step further, and remind that not only did MTV play videos, but for many of us, was our main exposure to new music. Before radio stations in South Louisiana were frequently blasting out Nirvana, MTV was showing their videos on national television, and those of us in junior high, high school, and college were watching.

I remember conversations between my cousin Amber and I on the way to school about this video directly after it first aired (yes, physical, non-electronic conversations!!!). Of course we thought it was awesome. Who under the age of 30 didn't? It is awesome. It contains so much incredible 90's Gen X flavor:
You have the completely apathetic crowd and disinterested (tattooed) cheerleaders with anarchy symbols on their uniforms (of course I had crushes on them). You have the yellow-tinted, impressionistic lighting. The lack of focus on the band members themselves (according to the video's director on a Nirvana DVD commentary, Cobain was the least vain artist he ever worked with). The throwaway shots to the weird, carnivalesque janitor dancing with his broom. And (chronologically) last, you have the seated teens getting up and surging forward in discontented riot.
I've seen this video and heard this song a million times over the last 25 years, and it's still awesome. And this is just Nevermind's first song.
Being first exposed to this song on television is a distinctly pre-Millennial experience. Those of us Generation X and older watched it when it happened. The Millennials watched it on Youtube or on retrospectives. However, I am realizing that I am not here to bury the Millennials, but to contextualize their experience. I know a lot of Millennials who love Nirvana. For them, Nirvana is more deified, with the myth and legend of Nirvana taking precedence, whereas those of us alive and aware of what was going on have a more complex relationship with the band. Living through it, Nirvana seemed more an embodiment of the times than some incredible, historically invincible band. As a late-period Gen X'er, I think the relationship I have to Bob Marley's music is similar to Millennials relationship to Nirvana. I was born around the time Marley's final, non-posthumous album was released, and my Baby Boomer hippie mother played Marley frequently throughout my childhood. I loved his music, and I still love his music, but it means something different to my mother than it does to me. For me, it's legendary, a still image, music that makes me feel good. I imagine, though, that my mother connects to it on a deeper, more experiential level.
Millennials have a running gag, which you can easily view in the Youtube comments (a favorite Millennial hangout) of any Nirvana video. That gag can be boiled down to: "I saw this girl in the hall today with a Nirvana shirt on. I asked her what her favorite Nirvana song was. She said, "What are you talking about?" and walked away. SMH." Millennial band, Underoath, whom I have mocked mercilessly for years, even though I personally purchased their final two albums after inheriting my Millennial wife's to that point complete Underoath collection, frequently wear Nirvana shirts. I suspect they do this because they think Nirvana is cool. But I don't think the disaffected apathy that connected me and millions of others to Nirvana in the early 90's registers with them--I think their sheer enthusiasm in regard to Nirvana reveals their ages just as well as their Facebook accounts do.
Hey, Nevermind is a great album. I've got a great deal left to say about Gen X and Millennials, but I've got two more reviews to say it. Let's get to this 49-minute masterpiece.
Completely ignoring it's genre and subject matter, Nevermind checks off my "Great Album" boxes: (time for another colon break!)
A perfectly paced diversity of tempos. Variety in sound. A genuine emotional arc. Kinetic energy.
Not ignoring its genre and subject matter, Nevermind is essentially perfect.
Nevermind begins with the kick in the pants of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," summing up the album, the band, and on a really general level, a generation, with the lyric

I found it hard, it was hard to find/Oh well, whatever, nevermind

But what I REALLY like is the quiet atmosphere of the verses, with Cobain minimalistically picking out two chorus effect-laden notes, as the bass and drums drive steady, before the atmosphere explodes in the choruses and fully blossomsin the guitar solo bridge.
I love how "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is immediately followed by the steady, no-nonsense Bloom, and the slower, even more atmospheric "Come as You Are," which takes Cobain's use of a chorus effects pedal (which makes his guitar sound like it's underwater) to the maximum (the video director certainly agreed, making water a key visual component)

And there you have it, boom, boom, boom, three timeless singles one after the other, and the album has just started. Nevermind then wisely does what any album beginning with three popular singles should--immediately follow them with a fast-paced rager, a role "Breed" embodies perfectly. And then it's single time once more.
"Lithium" highlights Nevermind's quiet-to-loud dynamic better than perhaps any Nirvana track, and I must admit, with all my raging junior-high chemicals boiling around, gave me the most emotion back in the day. Day in my back. Get off my lawn. I'm not gonna crack. ...Let's just quickly hit every song.
"Polly" is the softest one Nirvana recorded, yet it is suitably dark, especially the faux-misogynistic lyrics. "Territorial Pissings" is the loud, violent counterpoint to "Polly." "Drain You" finds the balance between both, and it's got a great atmospheric, brooding bridge. If you haven't got the memo yet, I am, and have always been a fan of atmosphere. The mid-tempo "Lounge Act" gives the feeling that some impending end is coming. "Stay Away" is one last shot of aggression. "On a Plain" is the final calm before the storm, a false sense of security, and a great listen. "Something in the Way" is the slow, brooding storm, mostly guitar, a cello, and Cobain's desperate voice singing of dark isolation. After the generationally inclusive start of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," it's fitting that Nevermind ends with Cobain, bleak and alone.

1991 DGC
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit 5:01
2. In Bloom 4:14
3. Come as You Are 3:39
4. Breed 3:03
5. Lithium 4:17
6. Polly 2:57
7. Territorial Pissings 2:22
8. Drain You 3:43
9. Lounge Act 2:36
10. Stay Away 3:32
11. On a Plain 3:16
12. Something in the Way 3:46

Monday, July 11, 2016

Nirvana -- Bleach


7/10

According to the date ranges on this sociological study (and Wikipedia, too), I am a member of Generation X, though I already knew that because
A. I have identified with this sub-group and its prevailing attitudes my entire life.
B. I have experienced most of the cultural touchstones of that subgroup.
C. I felt incredibly powerful "get-off-my lawn" sentiments toward all of the millennials who suddenly burst on the scene from some cave somewhere fully grown circa 2004, with their Underoath and The Killers t-shirts, and their overuse of the terms "amazing" and "scene."
Most apt for this review, though, I can remember a time in music before Nirvana existed, and also that that time, even right before Nirvana' emergence in 1989, was not bad.
The 80's produced plenty of awesome albums, with two of my favorite rock bands, Echo and the Bunnymen and U2 (unarguably a rock band in the 80's) putting out nearly ten great ones collectively between only the two of them.
Music wasn't dead, and rock-and-roll certainly wasn't dead, but Nirvana certainly did come along and offer something different.
But what?
I'll try to explain that over the next four reviews, but to distill it early on, I think it's more of an attitude than anything. You can bring this right back to generational conflict, between the previous generation, The Baby Boomers (born between WWII and the early sixties, Generation X (my generation), and those dang millennials (born between the mid 80's and the first George W Bush Administration).
Nirvana is often described as sounding the death knell for hair metal. Hair Metal is a very image-focused genre, with band members often wearing tights and ridiculously coiffed, oversize hairstyles. The music often seemed to focus on technical displays, such as guitar solos, and very shallow subject matter, generally getting laid, trying to get laid, and being awesome. From many band members retrospective autobiographies, it appears that, with the aid of their music, getting laid was never much of a problem (though the whole "being awesome" thing is arguable).
Hair Metal is the logical endpoint for the Baby Boomers. Boomers as a whole, are known for being the very self-focused generation that attempted to "find themselves," at perilous cost, as the next generation, X, are often referred to as "latchkey kids," or kids who had to raise themselves while their parents were out doing that. What's more self-focused than dolling yourself up, getting on a stage in front of everyone, and trying to show everyone how awesome you are?
So you have the Boomers, who mainly care about themselves, and skipping ahead, you have the Millennials, who if you haven't yet heard through the social media outlets they have utilized throughout their existence, care about absolutely EVERYTHING. In the middle of that, you have the X'ers, who as reputation would have it, don't care about anything. That's not necessarily true, and yet it is true in a way that is difficult to put into words. Apathy is a word that gets tossed at Generation X a lot, but the truth of it is, X just doesn't care about the attention. X has less faith in the power of institutions, and the power of humanity in general, which can lead to cynicism at worst. and a profound sense of realism at best.
Millennials think they can save the world with a tweet. Baby Boomers don't care as much about the rest of the world, as much as they care about saving themselves if they can just get a little more.
We (X) don't see much sense in either point of view. History shows that something as mundane as a tweet is not going to stop India from nuking Pakistan. Putting just a little bit more money in your 401K isn't going to stop the world from ending, either. If this sounds cynical, so be it. It's also true.
This point of view doesn't lend itself to taking the stage after spending half the day bathing in hairspray and stuffing yourself into a neon spandex bodysuit to sing songs to screaming ladies who will fight each other to get backstage with you after the show.. It lends itself to wearing baggy clothes that don't draw any attention, while your hair falls nondescript over your face, as you try, somehow, to articulate the complex feelings detailed above. That's what Nirvana did.
That's also why "grunge" is a difficult qualifier.
Bleach, Nirvana's first album, sounds "grungy" because Nirvana's record label expected their bands to sound that way (Cobain later claimed he was repressing his more, uh...distinctive natures while recording this album). Grunge, though, doesn't really mean anything. It's kind of dark rock music, full of angst, and barely-if-at-all concealed anger. Speaking of barely-if-at-all concealed anger:
Not wanting to be in the spotlight is one of the key characteristics of Gen X, directly contrasting with the "Hey, look what I did" of Baby Boomers' popular art, and the Millennials rather unfortunate social media feeds. It's also, unfortunately, why we are on the whole not as successful as our predecessors, or successors. I can't even articulate how frustrating it's been to live my life thinking "Nah, that won't work. Might as well not even try," only to see the kids immediately following me enthusiastically, and confidently saying, "This will work, and I will do it!" and succeeding! Had Kurt Cobain been born twenty years later, I don't think he would have ever committed suicide. He'd be on his tenth album, and have a damn organic, gluten-free vegetarian restaurant on the side (which, naturally, would have somehow cured his debilitating stomach pains). Ugh. I can't stand you guys, and it's only because I am jealous of your success and confidence. Why do you always think everything is going to be okay? Why do you think that you can do anything that you can set your mind to? Don't you know that you can't trust the man, and that dreams don't really come true? YOU THINK YOU CAN DO THESE THINGS, NEMO, BUT YOU CAN'T!!!
Okay, now that I've purged that from my system (I'm lying, I haven't), back to Nirvana's 1989 debut, Bleach.
Bleach doesn't sound much like Nirvana's other albums, but neither do Nirvana's other albums. Bleach certainly contains a more primordial sound, sometimes even akin to metal.
I'm not even about to comment on Seattle's late 80's grunge scene, being from rural South Louisiana. My only exposure to bands from that time period with that descriptor are Nirvana (and from the early 90's, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, etc.) because that was the only music of that sort available to me. I also won't act like I am cooler than the majority of Nirvana fans who were first introduced to Nirvana through their second album, Nevermind, because I was introduced to Nirvana through Nevermind. I don't have any late 80's "grunge" to compare this to. I only have the rest of Nirvana's discography, and compared to that, Bleach is fuzzier, rawer. "thuddier," and a lot less memorable, with less reliance on hooks, and less sophisticated drumming. It also has a metal influence their other albums don't have. Track six, "Paper Cuts," might as well be a Metallica song from the same year.
There's a certain heaviness here that Nirvana never dropped, but that is certainly more pronounced on Bleach--hard rock vocals Cobain himself refers to as "screaming," and a generally sluggish tempo, which goes along with the totally-a-word-I-don't-care-what-you-say-spellcheck descriptor "thuddier.". And it's fun. Don't forget about that part. Fun, but not particularly memorable.
One song does rise above the fray, and that is "About a Girl," which hints at Nirvana's later development, with a bit more depth in the guitar tone, and a definite hook (and a guitar solo, which some people forget Nirvana had, even on this album). It's no wonder this song made the cut on the MTV Unplugged album the band released five years later. It has staying power.
And so does Nirvana.
To be continued (bailiwick and all)...


1989 Sub Pop
1. Blew 2:55
2. Floyd the Barber 2:18
3. About a Girl 2:48
4. School 2:42
5. Love Buzz 3:35
6. Paper Cuts 4:06
7. Negative Creep 2:56
8. Scoff 4:10
9. Swap Meet 3:03
10. Mr. Moustache 3:24
11. Sifting 5:22

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Generational Divide


It has been way too long since my last post, and I hate to watch my page visits shrink, but the past couple weeks' inactivity has been unavoidable.
My life has somehow become even busier, with traveling, a new computer system unveiling at work, and foot surgery all derailing my plans for consistent bogging...not to mention the other three blogs I am attempting to run pulling at my attentions. However, another factor in the publishing lull has delayed my posts more than all other factors combined.
A few weeks ago, I began writing drafts for Nicsperiment reviews of Nirvana's short discography. Rather unexpectedly, the reviews quickly morphed into an exploration into my standing as a member of Generation X, the emergence of Millennials, and the shadow of the Baby Boomers. In other words, things got complicated. My review for Nirvana's debut album, Bleach, could have easily been one paragraph...but now it is significantly longer than that...and growing.
So coming over the next few days and weeks, and most likely encapsulating the entire month of July:
Four Nirvana album reviews that read more like an overly long sociology report.
You're welcome, The Internet (which didn't exist in a public capacity when I was growing up...but more on that to come!)!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Nicsperiment's 2016 Summer Break Movie and TV Show Mini-Reviews















It's been too long since I've done one of these, and with 2016 halfway through tomorrow night, it's time to take account of everything I've seen. Also, for some reason, this set of reviews begins with a bunch of 9/10's. I don't know how that happened. Also, did I need two commas in that second-to-last sentence?

10 Cloverfield Lane -- 9/10
Balls out psychological suspense in a completely unpredictable film--it's a film that can go anywhere at any moment and essentially does (Ed. note, yes, that's what "completely unpredictable" means). Can't wait for more films in the Cloverfield series.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi -- 9/10
It's a shame that critics let politics get in the way of a film that doesn't. This is a noble dedication to the brave men who fought and died that night, and easily the best thing Michael Bay has done since The Rock was released 20 years ago.

The Americans: Season 4 -- 9/10
More slow burn intensity from the best TV show of the 10's.

The Angry Birds Movie -- 6/10
Drug along on family night, I was prepared to completely hate this, but beyond all of its juvenile antics are some very clever lines, i.e., "I don't think these Pigs are kosher.

The Big Short -- 9/10
Cuts between fictionalized drama and documentary to make last decade's stock market crash easily understandable...and sensationally entertaining.

Bates Motel: Season 4 -- 9/10
Bates finally becomes the great show fans always knew it could be, with focus shifting entirely to the central conflict of Bates vs Bates, and away from silly side-plots. Awards shows are popularity contests, else Farmiga and Highmore clean up this winter.

Captain America: Civil War -- 7/10
Speaking of "winter" and "central conflict," the plot of this overstuffed superhero film just doesn't work, relegating Captain America to a supporting player in his own film, and as someone who can lie to and hurt his friends instead of the moral "do what's right at all costs" First Avenger.

Central Intelligence -- 5/10
One of the most average movies I've ever seen: not bad, not good, not that funny, not that exciting, reasonably entertaining, but completely forgettable.

Deadpool -- 7/10
Not as revolutionary as its marketing department would have you believe, but a lot of fun. It makes the most out of its small budget with a couple of great set-pieces and a career-defining turn by Ryan Reynolds.

Ex Machina -- 8/10
(Starting with the same word again) Not quite the straight up masterpiece that its first 20 minutes promise, but certainly one of the best movies ever made on artificial intelligence. Can we please stop making smart robots before this really happens?

Green Room -- 10/10
Man, these reviews are feeding into each other nicely because this is absolutely a masterpiece, a violent masterclass in "trapped in a room" filmmaking. If this doesn't blast into cult status post-Yelchin's unfortunate demise, the world isn't fair...wait, crap.

The Jungle Book -- 5/10
Personality and emotion-free journey into one of the most beautifully realized CGI worlds ever created. They should have started the film when Mowgli was a baby, instead of diving in after everything that would connect you to the character has already happened.

The Nice Guys -- 9/10
Hollywood doesn't make low-key, non-CGI infected action movies like this anymore...except this one. The chemistry between Crowe and Gosling is magnificent, as they hang out, joke, try to solve mysteries, and get into scrapes and all kinds of mischief--PLEASE MAKE ANOTHER ONE OF THESE, WARNER BROS!!!

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story: Season 1 -- 9/10
A staggering work, capable of incredible empathy, and a nice redemption for showrunner, Ryan Murphy. The only thing keeping it from perfection is a single scene that (perhaps accidentally) implies that the prosecution stumbled into getting O.J. to try on the gloves because of a spurned sexual encounter between the two lead prosecutors.

Sicario -- 4/10
I just watched this overrated movie, and I can't think of anything to tell you about it. That/s about the most damning thing I can say, beside perhaps, "this movie killed my parents."

Spotlight -- 9/10
I love the metaphorical title here, as this true-story film shines a light on the Catholic Church's priest pedophile cover-ups of the last half-century. Its just-the-facts tone may lack artistry, but its clear storytelling and respect for the subject material more than make up for that.

The Visit -- 8/10
The first decent movie M Night Shyamalan has made in well over a decade. It's a ton of fun, scary...and maybe...just maybe...there's a twist.

X-Men: Apocalypse -- 8/10
Man, I am feeling at odds with the critics a lot these days...maybe these new millennial reviewers want something different from a movie than I do? I love Bryan Singer's X-Men movies, and he brings the same feelings of fun and teamwork (along with smoothly conveying the loneliness and isolation the mutants always feel below the surface) that he's brought to all of his X-Men entries to Apocalypse.

The Witch - 9/10
A low key, pitch-black horror film that isn't afraid to get as dark as it wants to be, yet is subtle throughout much of its run...til that crow starts feeding. Not a film for those who lack patience--this movie takes its time as it builds its suffocating atmosphere...this has been a good decade for horror films.

Zootopia -- 7/10
If you can get past its heavy-handed "we're all the same and carnivores don't even have to eat herbivores" moralizing, this is a fun little movie, with a great, diverse score by Michael Giacchino.




Monday, June 27, 2016

Launching Today: Dreamcast Reviews!

I really like to blog about things only three or four other people care about, and that is why, today, June 27, 2016, I have started Dreamcast Reviews, a blog dedicated to 1999-2001's Sega's Dreamcast. I have made it a point this decade to blog about the media that is important to me. Dreamcast certainly is...it's awesome!!!
This summer, I'll be focusing on a series of review face-offs between Dreamcast fighting gamesr, and the first is between the highly esteemed Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike and Street Fighter Alpha 3.
So to the three other people who care about this: I hope you some how stumble upon this website.
Go, Google, Go!

http://dreamcastreviews.blogspot.com/2016/06/street-fighter-iii-3rd-strike-vs-street.html



Saturday, June 25, 2016

For Some Reason I Have Started Yet Another Blog


It's Saturday, and that means it's time for me to start another blog. This time it is dedicated to the one and only Sega Dreamcast, which had the greatest run of any video game system that was only produced for two years. I posted a tribute to the Dreamcast here over five years ago, and my fondness has only grown since then. Hey, why not make a blog?
Launching on Monday, June 27th. it's the Dreamnaysium...or Hall of Dreams...or just Dreamcast Reviews...or something. I haven't made the final call yet, but whatever it's named, it's coming on Monday.