Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Death and The Wire: "The Buys" and "Old Cases"

The first four episodes have, among other things, forced me to really evaluate how I think about the count (which is important, because if you're wrong with the count they'll fuck you up) of bodies going forward.  This was somewhat relevant during the second episode, where we see a medical examiner about to cut open a dead body.  Since said body has no impact on the narrative or on the storytelling, I'm not counting it.  I am, however, counting someone we don't see die on-screen, but whose death and manner of dying ripple outward and illuminate many aspects of many characters.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My shoes are gone; my life, spent

R.E.M. called it quits today.  In all likelihood they called it quits a little earlier than today, but today is the day they decided to let everyone know.

It's hard to say I'm exactly surprised.  I'm not one of the ones who think that they truly ceased to be when Bill Berry left the band; certainly I think they were different, but R.E.M. was a band that went through a metamorphosis between every album; the size of the change was different each time, but there was always a change.  I think any group that's together that long has to do that to survive, but they were doing it almost from the beginning.

R.E.M. was my favorite band for many years.  They still may be.  By nature I'm not someone who is comfortable picking favorites.  I like R.E.M., the Pet Shop Boys, and Bruce Springsteen, and I think calling any one of the three of those things better than the others is an exercise in futility; they provide different things, at different times.  I read James Ellroy and Terry Pratchett and I read them at different times for different reasons and don't see much point in trying to rank them.  A hammer is a shitty wrench, but that doesn't mean it isn't useful.

What I can say is that R.E.M., primarily their catalogue from Fables up through Automatic, provided the soundtrack to my adolescence and early adulthood.  Lifes Rich Pageant was the album I would play to begin the many trips I took between North Carolina and Illinois.  I can summon nearly any song to instant recollection if I think about it.  I learned to play guitar with the song books for Out of Time and Automatic for the People.  I am one of the many people whose life was saved by the beautiful simplicity of "Everybody Hurts."

R.E.M. formed in 1980, the year I was born.  I always saw a kind of symmetry in that.  I don't know the exact date they formed off the top of my head, but I do know that now it's going to be a matter of months before I've been around longer than the band was.

To Michael, Mike, Peter and Bill: thanks for the music you made.  Live well and be happy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Why the new Spider-Man is awesome

Around the time of the first X-Men movie, more than 10 years ago, Marvel Comics realized that, while the movie might do well enough to get people to go into a comic book shop and pick up an X-Men comic, they really had no comic that would be readily accessible to such a person.  This isn't a problem for movies based on novels, since if you watch the Lord of the Rings movies you can walk into a bookstore and hey, there are the books.  Easy.  Comics, given their serial nature, are a different beast; even if no one has a Batman or Spider-Man or X-Men story to tell that month, there's still going to tell it to get that book on the shelves, leading to the accretion of impenetrable story chunks that have built up like coral.  In the year 2000, if someone saw that movie, there was no equivalent comic they could really sell that person; I don't have any idea off the top of my head what the X-Men were doing in the year 2000, but it was probably unreadable to a layman.

Marvel solved this problem with the creation of the Ultimate Universe, which was billed as a universe where writers could tell stories that weren't related to the main Marvel universe in anything but name.  The flagship title was Ultimate Spider-Man, written by Brian Michael Bendis; the Ultimate X-Men book followed soon after, and these books carved out a little niche for themselves despite fan skepticism.  I loved the X-Men book when I first read it, but now I find it to be nearly unreadable, and the rotating team of writers means the book never really established a core vision; it was either too closely aping the main universe stuff, or it was being out-there and edgy for the sake of being edgy.  Ultimate Spider-Man, however, is a quality title, and has been in the hands of Bendis from the beginning, although the art duties have changed hands a few times.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why I'm shirty about this NPR story

I posted yesterday about an NPR story about Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck and because I'm a pedantic little fussbudget it's still sort of bouncing around in my skull.  Since this blog is largely an exercise in getting those voices out I feel the need to go on at a little more length.

Death and The Wire: "The Target" and "The Detail"

Beginning, middle and end: the three classical parts of a story.  Also, the points of the first episode of The Wire where we see a dead body.  I had not actually thought about this when I conceived of this series but it certainly seems to be some kind of a sign from the internet gods that I was meant to write about corpses.

Thanks, internet gods.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A little critical thought would have killed you?

NPR's Morning Edition had a story about author Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck, leading off the story by saying, "It's not all that often that you hear of a writer who can illustrate his own books."

I certainly can't think of any.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Evolving minute by minute

I had kind of a bad weekend, not really because of any sort of external factors but because I was in a bad head space, for lack of a less hippie-ish term.  I was in a place where I needed to be cheered up and, as even a cursory perusal of the subjects my blog seems to be covering would reveal, I have not been experiencing a lot of cheery media.  Fortunately, however, I do have a solution for this.  It's a TV show I was trying to write about before, but that post turned into a post about the giant robot genre in general, rather than one show in specific.  The show in question?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Death and The Wire: Introduction

A lot of people die over the course of Ed Burns' and David Simon's The Wire, called by many, myself included, the best TV show ever.  At some point I had the idea of going through the show and cataloging just how many people actually died over the course of the series' five season run, which never came to fruition because what point would there be in doing so if I couldn't post it on the internet.  As I have never been accused of being cheerful or upbeat anything I wrote about the show would necessarily have been a little morbid anyway, so why not just go whole hog with it, right?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Breaking my Promise

I said no political stuff but given the trajectory of my thoughts most days I should have known that would ultimately be unsustainable.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A genre mostly concerned with shouting and punching

I feel like I would be misrepresenting myself on the Internet if I went five posts without talking about either video games or anime, and since everyone is always scrupulously honest in cyberspace I shall do so.  I could fulfill both requirements in the same post if I wanted to talk about Super Robot Wars, (alternate link) I will eschew the nerdy home run that post would be in favor of the modestly dorky line drive of a post about giant robots.