In a mania which has its inception in a Facebook group chat, you will now be updated on everything I’ve been consuming in the past like five months. I can’t believe it’s November already; somewhere in the contract for my job must have been a hidden clause about entering the Twilight Zone and warping through dimensions at the most stressful, 30-hour work weekend pace possible. The brief will be in bullet form, because the deputy likes dots, and I no longer understand things not in business deliverable form. If I could make this an Excel spreadsheet or type “memorandum” at the top, I would.
- I wrote a post reviewing the Horrible Crowes’ debut Elsie, and tumblr deleted it.. It’s a stellar breakup album, mostly because Brian Fallon (of Gaslight Anthem fame) learned to ur-emote and slowly doles out glimpses of what living his feeling-drenched life. There’s a moment where having the post-breakup crush is equated to spiritual emancipation in classic Brian Fallon “I’m going to borrow from other songs now” style: “If you should go there before I do/God’s gonna trouble the water/I’ve got a crush on you.” Fallon always seems to parry and riposte the threat oversincerity; there are no moments of hyperbole, although his songwriting is sometimes tired. To save it all, though, their cover of Concrete Blonde’s “Joey” is fucking flattening. I listen to on repeat for sad times.
- Walker’s going to regret spurring me to post: I’ve recently discovered how Fall Out Boy’s debut full-length Take This to Your Grave is all-killer no-filler. There is not a bad song on the album, and it reminds me why I got into pop-punk to start: in the earnestness of young men tuning in drop D and making trivial problems seem like world-shattering crises in song, there is buried a shard of a trying time in every human’s life: being a nascent teenager and trying to make sure you’re cool. Songs like “Saturday” perfectly capture late November weekends for me. At that point in a typical high school year, I had finished cross country, so I didn’t have anything to do, and every Saturday was some strange promise of freedom: “all these open doors were open ended.” Since work has loomed over my tiny little world like a voracious Galactus, I have started turning to relics of my high school years to remember that life is basically just a cycle of stressful things, and it is often a relief to hardcore-dance and put your fist in the air to statements like “I’m eighteen going on extinct.” I’m almost 23, but I’m a little emo kid at heart. “I read about the afterlife, but I never really lived.” It’s a manifesto for being young and whiny and probably, in the large scheme of things, melodramatic and totally unaware that girls not talking to you on instant messenger is definitely something from which you bounce back. Throughout time, though, our troubles are all the same, and the sense that I conquered being a teenager helps me get through deposition review.
- Quick run-through of old bands that I am discovering, and key tracks: Small Towns Burn a Little Slower, “Rx (Drive);” Alexisonfire, “Happiness by the Kilowatt;” Bouncing Souls, “Todd’s Song.” The lattermost is pretty sad, and I can’t figure out why I listen to so many songs about suicide, but it hits like a brick: “I’ll see you when we all come home.” Pop-punk kick much (this is why I never post; everything I listen to doesn’t sound like something you guys would like)?
- I fucking love Three Days of the Condor.
- A lot of my non-work time has been sunk in Dark Souls, the spiritual successor to 2009’s masterpiece of brutally cerebral video game design, Demon’s Souls. From Software, the developer, attained a fair amount of praise and infamy for making Demon’s Souls so difficult. The 2009 game was a prototypical role-playing piece: a deep fog encased the kingdom of Boletaria, driving its inhabitants insane and swallowing its rulers in a prurient rush of greed for the souls of others. The game was punishingly hard: you couldn’t pause; the game’s currency (souls) was used for everything from leveling up to repairing equipment, and the requirements for upgrading your stats were usurious; dying caused you to lose all progress in a level as well as any souls accumulated and put you in “soul form” at half health; there were a scant few non-playable characters (NPCs); and the bosses were twisted works of fantasy that were a joy to behold and a frustrating hell against which to struggle. The world is devoid of hope, and the only tutelage you receive toward success is the combined experience of millions of deaths. The boss music is often unsettling. Dark Souls is really a rehash of the same concepts, but with intriguing level design. The story is less compelling, but the sheer volume of creatively designed enemies makes up for it. I will probably follow this up with an entire post, because I’m doing a terrible job of conveying how influential Demon’s Souls was on my appreciation for video games as an art form.
- Books on tap: In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson and the sixth and final trade of Akira.
Anyway, that’s what’s been on my plate. As with Demon’s Souls, I’ll probably follow each of these up with a real post, but until then, feel free to explore and ask me questions about why I like this stuff! Please!