August 20, 2014

The radar is open again

Media of which I have partaken of late...

Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley - O'Malley's follow-up to Scott Pilgrim takes a slightly older protagonist, Katie, still struggling with the fact that things in her life aren't working out exactly as she had planned.

In this case, the protagonist isn't, however, dwelling in a fantasy world as was Mr Pilgrim. Here Katie is a successful chef who is in the middle of putting together her first restaurant of her own while still trying to work at the titular Seconds as the head chef. As things don't go quite as planned at Seconds, Katie finds herself being visited by a house spirit that offers her a chance to change the day's events so that a friendly waitress won't be hurt by an accident in the kitchen. Katie takes advantage of the opportunity and then begins to spend every day living half a life, knowing that - in spite of the spirit's insistence that Katie only gets the singular second chance - she can cheat her way to redoing every single day.

Each morning, however, Katie wakes up in a world that has been changed in very unexpected ways. Her actions begin to have more and more drastic consequences: poisoning the house spirit; growing a second, evil house spirit; and changing her restaurant into something entirely not what she wanted.

O'Malley continues to mine the theme of revisionist history, of living in the now rather than in the past to great effect. This isn't the lengthy tale that Pilgrim is, but it's a far tighter story for that. It doesn't have the same emotional weight, but it's tighter, and it's still really good. Check it out.

Tucker & Dale vs Evil - See, most horror movies have the innocent (or trampy and drunk) college kids killed by the evil, murderous rednecks in the woods. This time, however, the rednecks are really nice people, unsure of themselves, just looking for a nice vacation home in the country, trying to help the nice neighbor kids.

When the kids misunderstand every single sentence from the eponymous Tucker and Dale, the kids end up killing themselves via accidents that continue to make Tucker and Dale look more and more sadistic.

It's not a horror classic, but it's a fun twist with likeable enough characters. Worth a look

Deadpool: Soul Hunter - Funny stuff from the merc with a mouth...

I particularly enjoyed the initial 'filler issue' that happened to lead directly into the second issue. Great use of the silver-age-style with Deadpool filling in for a drunken-no-more-until-Deadpool-comes-along Tony Stark in the Iron Man suit leading to trouble with a demon. Funny stuff...

All-New X-Men: Out of Their Depth & All-New X-Men: Here to Stay - I dig the concept of having the original X-Men, the teen mutants, show up in the present to find themselves terrifically changed - and in ways that horrify their younger selves. The idealism of youth coming up against the phenomenally hard truths of wizened age - especially when you're a comic book hero who sees just about everybody you care about die, change allegiances, nearly die, and fight each other all the times.

The dichotomy between young and old Scott Summers, the horror of young Jean Grey knowing that she will become the Phoenix and be killed, Hank McCoy seeing the blue mess that he will all works really well.

Baseball Myths Debunked - This book doesn't. It's boring.

Punk Rock Jesus - and this one is dumb...don't read it. Read the same author's Joe the Barbarian instead...much better.

Sheezus by Lily Allen - I'll admit that I have a big soft spot for Lily Allen's first CD, Alright, Still. That is a brilliant, fun, witty bit of modern Brit pop, and encapsulation of an era, a rebirth of soul filtered through a very English sensibility. Her second disk, It's Not You, It's Me was a lot more polished and a lot less fun. I didn't dig the high-fashion turn that Allen was taking.

This third disk is somewhere in the middle, full of mocking - but with a bit too much bite and self-defensiveness at times. Not a bad disk at all, but not a great one, either. Worth a listen...

A Letter Home by Neil Young - ultimate in lo-fi...recorded in a straight-to-vinyl booth in Jack White's Nashville record store, Neil YOung has put out an album of covers, songs that he says influenced him. There's some pretty stuff here, but it's full of so many scratches, pops, hisses, and every other artifact of old that it's tough to listen to.

Here's the full album. Check out "Girl From the North Country" at 6:06 for the best track. (By the nature of the length of the disks the booth produces, the songs are no longer than about 3:00 each.)

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