I started blogging thinking that this is where I would review whatever media I felt like ranting about. It quickly changed direction. So this is my online diary. Comments are welcome.
Apparently this has been a bad year for movies and music. Okay. I'll buy that. But what if I offered some of my favorites of this year so far? Sound good? You got it dude.
I'll start with music. Music is easy for me, because I like everything (except Florida Georgia Line). One of my favorite albums this year is Sturgill Simpson's A Sailor's Guide to Earth. I really liked Simpson's previous album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, and had been anticipating this release. I was pleasantly surprised when the opening song of this record, "Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)," rolled from a sweet wailing tribute into a swinging alt-county bop. Most of the rest of the album continues in this fashion. Sometimes, while listening, you could swear it was written decades ago. Perhaps it's Simpson's vocals, or the "Free Bird-esque" lap steel solos in songs like, "Sea Stories" and "Brace for Impact." A soulful country cover of Nirvana's "In Bloom" is a nice gem embedded in the middle of the tracklist. Overall I like the album. With the exception of a couple of songs, I feel like it's best listened to as a whole. I absolutely recommend giving this one a listen.
Here are a few other ear worms I've liked this year:
There were plenty of movies that I really liked this year. I have a habit of completely disagreeing with critics. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Ghostbusters. BvS only scored 27% on Rotten Tomatoes with critics, while audiences seemed to like it much better. Ghostbusters had the opposite outcome scoring a 74% with critics, but much lower with audiences. I liked them both, and of course they weren't the only ones I liked, but they stand out because of the social media backlash they received.
<rant>I'm a big-time DC comic fan, but I wouldn't be upset to see DC/Warner Bros. put the brakes on their cinematic universe. It's not that I don't enjoy their movies, because I very much do, but I don't like wading through the sea of negativity surrounding every one of their releases. Besides, they're making exceptional television shows (live action & animated). It would be nice to see them put more focus and money towards those projects, and maybe bring some big characters to the TV universe. I could offer my thoughts on why so many people dislike the DC movies, but that would start a fight, and I already told you I don't like wading through the negativity. I'll suggest this, read more comics if you don't like what you see on screen. You might just come across some source material.</rant>
I'll leave you with a couple of reading materials from this year. The first is a novel by sci-fi writer, Pierce Brown, called Morning Star. It's the final book in his Red Rising trilogy. I can't go into the premise of the series much without giving away the best parts. I'll say this, you will love and hate the main characters at one time or another. You won't likely relate to them much, because of the sci-fi aspect, but you will find yourself on their side. The world building happens rapidly in this series, so try to keep up. You'll follow Darrow through all three books, and learn things about his world at the same time he does. The storytelling is captivating, and the language is intriguing. Overall the series is an easy and fast read. Please don't let that deter you from reading this series. Also, don't let children read this. Teens, okay. Kids, NO! Book 1, Red Rising, will captivate you and leave you wanting more. Book 2, Golden Son, progresses the story, as it should. Book 3... Morning Star is the best final chapter to any series I've ever read.
The second is an ongoing comic series called, Injustice: Gods Among Us. It began in 2013 as a prequel to a well-received video game of the same title. I like the series because it explores the, "what if" side of having super heroes around. What if they decided to take over the world? What if they considered themselves above the law? What if they considered themselves to BE the law? What if Batman thought all that was a bad idea?
The series has had several different runners, artists, and writers. Those are things you can see in the material, but the direction of the story has always seemed to stay the same. At least as far as I can tell. You know, I just remembered that I wrote a post about this series back in September 2013. Yep. I'm still reading it, and I still love it. It's a dark series a lot of the time. I like that. So, if Batman fighting the Justice League is your bag, then you've gotta check this one out. If you hate it you can always blame me. Then come back here and tell me all about it. But I bet you won't hate all of it.
So there you go. A small sample of things I really liked so far this year. I have a confession to make. When I was thinking about music I had a whole bunch of stuff in mind... but it all came out last year. So, maybe there's something to the idea that this year hasn't been great for music. Not to mention the incredible losses the music community has had this year alone. The movies weren't as hard, because honestly, I go into a movie expecting to like it. I'm not going to waste my $10 on something I'm sure I'll hate.
I should really do more of these. I enjoy writing them. Can anybody help me figure out a way to can become a productive writer?
Phantom Vibration Syndrome Part 2
I wanted to touch on this topic again and tell you what I've been working on. Since I blogged about the phantom vibrations that you feel because of your mobile phone I have been reading a lot more. I have read a couple of books, lots of comics and plenty of current events. The more important thing is that I got my creative swing back.
It's true. I'm playing my guitar more and letting myself get consumed in a melody. I've attempted to cook some things I had never cooked before. I'm writing again. I'm currently working on a short story that I'm really excited to share with everybody. (When it's ready, of course.) I've spent a lot of time with friends and family, and you know, I've missed you guys. But I'm most excited about developing a comic book. This is something I've always wanted to do, and I have a really great team of folks working with me. I can bundle a lot of creativity into this one project. I'm writing and learning the art of inking. I'm researching a lot of content as well as directing the project. There is so much to do that it will keep me busy for months. We are shooting for a March release of issue 1. That will be around the time of the 2014 Planet Comicon in Kansas City, MO, although we will not be participating in the con.
My point is this. We should all rediscover something that we've lost touch with. Especially if we are good at that "something." Or if it is a thing we enjoy immensely. I'm aiming for happiness in my life. And it's definitely working for me. What are your goals? I'd like to know.
Phantom Vibration Syndrome
This is one of the most interesting things that I have read recently. I was browsing some news sites when I came across this article on NPR. Now, I'm not one to believe in things like phantom vibrations, but I have felt them myself. You know, that funny little itch you get around your pocket region? The 'Phantom Buzz', as on reader described it. This will happen even if your phone isn't in your pocket. I had experienced it, but I had never even heard of Phantom Vibration Syndrome.
After I read the article I decided to give it a try. Leave my phone alone for an hour. (Okay, what really happened was I forgot to grab it before Ashley and I left for the grocery store.) What I found out was that I didn't need it. I didn't even miss it. And even knowing that the thing wasn't there I still pocket checked it a couple of times. Surely this is something others of you have experienced. After a little bit of thought I decided that this actually translates to much of the technology that we surround ourselves with. For example; we have over 300 channels with DirecTv, but there's nothing to watch. I have 1,769 songs on my iPod and I'm tired of listening to the same old songs. The list could go on and on to include the likes of Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Kindle. The point is that we are losing our interest in things at a rate that has never been seen before. The drive to discover something great has been replaced with the drive to be one of the millions to "Like" something.
A few weeks ago I wrote that I wanted to find some local bookstores. I want to find a place that still has that old familiar smell of paper in it. My new goal, because my search has been hugely unsuccessful in St. Joseph, is to turn off my devices (yes, even my Kindle and iPhone) and immerse myself in something I have lost connection with. I will probably read a book. A real book, and I'm open to suggestions by the way. I might/will play my guitar more. I'd like to paint again. (That was always fun.) I want to build a desk using black pipe and scrap wood. I'm thinking about taking piano lessons. I could prepare a meal that I have never cooked before. There are so many possibilities that it makes me a little giddy. I know, I know, "you could do those things even without shutting down your devices", but that misses the point. I want to rediscover me. And I want to find out what I really love and enjoy without social media and the internet telling me what's trending.
I discovered reading and writing for fun when I was in the 4th grade and I haven't been able to stop. I discovered my musical talent when I was 12 and started a band with my brother and my best friends. I have been on a journey of discovery that has shaped and molded my tastes for music, reading, writing, art, food and extracurricular activities since I was a high school freshman. And I'm not quite finished, so come along.