Monday, February 19, 2018

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Sharpie Exploration Continues...

Our explorations of Fotolk after session 3.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Space Trance for Gaming, Relaxation

This is a great mix if you want to set a "vaguely Eighties but somehow futuristic" mood. This reminds me of a more dance-able Stranger Things soundtrack. For gaming background, this brings to mind science fiction, espionage, or any mysterious sort of adventure (I like it for a "fantasy with anachronistic music"thing). A very solid two hours.

The Last Jedi

It's week two of my "see a movie once a week in 2018" project. Somehow, I did not rush out to see The Last Jedi right when it came out. Even more weird, I never did see Rogue One in the theater - killed a streak I'd been on since 1977 with that omission. Anyway, there's no need for me to "review" The Last Jedi. I just wanted to put in my two cents that I liked it. There was a lot of hate for the prequels, and I personally think the fans of George Lucas turned on him. That being said, Disney has proven itself a responsible and creative successor to the franchise, and I'm fully supportive of it. Can't wait to see where it goes. I will say this - I'm getting a bit tired of seeing my childhood heroes die. But I guess we don't really have any left. Also, what a beautiful swan song for Carrie Fisher. Her "spacewalk" was a highlight for me. I'm very grateful to Star Wars. It's been with me my whole life. The first one came out when I was in kindergarten. So I went to see Star Wars films as a little boy; when my boy was little I took him to see Star Wars films (the prequels) and now my son and I are both men and we're going to see Star Wars films. The price for continuance of these stories is that we have to see the natural processes of life affect the original characters, just as those processes have affected us. I can't think about Star Wars without thinking about my own life. The two will always be intertwined. What's next week's movie? I have no idea.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

New Wave Mix Tapes

I've been on a wave of 1980s nostalgia lately in terms of music. I never listened to much new wave music back in the day - not exclusively, anyway. With a few exceptions, my musical tastes at the time were misguided. Today, I'm catching up on these (to me) long last classics. There are a lot of mixes out there, but this one from Generic Male DJs is the best I've come across. With 30+ volumes, you can listen for days on end. This channel has been a good companion lately. Expected hits and obscure singles are both here.

Friday, January 5, 2018

From the Vault: Sound-System

I love Watermelon Man and the other tracks on Herbie Hancock's first album - that's just straight-up classic bluesy jazz. Growing up in the 1980s, though, my intro to Hancock was his work with the Rockit Band. I didn't hate it, but I didn't own any records. Iconic hits like this one were just part of the overall background music of my coming-of-age. Lately, I've felt a lot of 80s-nostalgia, so I pulled Sound-System out of ye olde record collection. It's the second of those "Rockit" albums, and won a Grammy, for what that's worth. If you want to hear the 1980s you could do a lot worse. Likely you won't remember any specific tracks here except perhaps for Hardrock - and yet this record will feel familiar. Standout track for me is the title track, placed last on the record. It's about six minutes of dyed-in-the-wool electronic r&b. It sounds like it would stand in perfectly as the soundtrack for Fletch or Beverly Hills Cop. This record was released in 1984 and sounds like it (in a good way). If you're in the mood for that sort of thing, it's worth a listen.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Darkest Hour

Looking back on 2017, I'm fairly certain I didn't see a single movie in the theaters. I could be wrong, but I don't think so. This year I'm making up for it, and if I can afford to, I plan to see one movie a week in 2018. I also plan to share my impressions here. So here goes the first one.

My first choice did not disappoint - Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. I've always been fascinated with Churchill, but I don't know a whole lot about his overall career. This movie did not educate me in that regard - the whole thing takes place over a few weeks, the first few weeks of Churchill's role as Prime Minister. Germany seems poised to menace Britain and there was serious talk in high places about negotiating some sort of peace treaty with Hitler. We know that Churchill emboldened the nation to fight. There was never any serious talk about surrender to Germany once Churchill was firmly at the helm.

Two things about this movie struck me. Gary Oldman is just phenomenal. I mean, I think most of us already know that. I didn't even realize this was Gary Oldman in the trailers, and I kept constantly forgetting throughout the movie. It goes way beyond his physical transformation. The other thing that hit me is that so many times in history, the fate of nations can sometimes be in the hand of one man. I believe that if Winston Churchill had not been elected Prime Minister, the British people would be speaking German today.

I've heard several critiques of this movie, including "bad lighting," and "bad makeup" and "slow narrative." I disagree with those entirely. The lighting and pace helps establish a grim mood. And if the "bad makeup" refers to Oldman's, I - well, just see for yourself. It's a great movie for anyone who likes history, especially World War II, or for those who appreciate stories of underdogs and courage of conviction in the face of scorn. Highly recommended.