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?
Not Off the Line
My hope for this year was to create as much content as possible. I'm sluggishly building a new website for my blog, I have a homepage built for the upcoming Entry Level Geek Show podcast my uncle Sam and I are doing, I've been making music with my band, The Coterie, and I started doing a podcast of my past blogs. Where I'm lacking is in writing. I have stories floating around inside my noggin and they're screaming at me to let them out.
Sometimes I see writing as a giant obstacle, because I type amazingly slow. You would think, "How does someone who does all their work on the computer type so slow?" And you would be justified in wondering. That fact about me truly does hinder my creativity. I'll be on a roll, and because it takes me so long to get it typed out, I might lose a thought, or I'll see that thought on the page and realize it isn't as cool as it was in my mind. It's for this reason that I have scraps of paper and half-empty notebooks all over my house. I can write it down a lot faster than I can type it, but I never seem to get back to those story ideas. I almost wish I had a personal assistant to type all my things, but the reality is, I should just get better at transposing all of my notes. Ah well, at least I'm thinking about it, right?
The thing that got me thinking about all of this was a story note I forgot about in my Evernote account. I'll post it here:
Story Idea (<-- Now that's a proper title)
In a future that is super compartmentalized. So much so that people only interact through media. There is a movement beginning to emerge from the shadow. It is something so bizarre that leaders and politicians are fighting to stop it. But it comes from something ancient within us. Togetherness.
Nobody wants to be alone. And now there’s a generation that will change the shape of humanity in the future. How will we change? Can the future be what almost every person has dreamed?
Okay, so you can see that the idea wasn't even very good. I'm sure it's one of those idea that I woke up with from a dream, and used my phone to record the thought. Because, you know, I can text faster than I can type. (Also a fact. It's sad. So sad.) However, because of this note, I started to remember the details of the idea I had for this story. It just took a few lines for my brain to kick in and think, "yeah, I remember this." It's kinda like that scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire where Dumbledore is pulling the memories from his mind and placing them in the pensieve. That's how my brain works. A little reminder, and BAM! – back to story drafting mode.
So, at least I have my ideas written down. I'll get something started. It's far too worth it for me to keep writing. Maybe once my website is built I'll post some stories I have finished there. Who knows. It may be a little while before I'm finished with that project too.
No Offense Needed
I was just sitting here at my desk after finishing my lunch of a delicious split pea soup, and decided to click the shuffle button on my iTunes playlist titled, "Classical." And well, let me tell ya, I am never unmoved by great music. Regardless of genre. It could be because I'm a big soft teddy bear, but I think in this case it's because the suite (Clair de lune) makes me think of my dad. Also, it made me think about my upcoming wedding. I'm going to be very real right now. I just want the wedding to be everything Ashley has ever wanted it to be. I could literally be happy to not make any decisions about it at all, as long as it was everything she wanted. And I genuinely mean that. I know a lot of people would probably think, "that's a cop-out", but it's not. I know I'll have to make some decisions, and hopefully they're great ones for the sake of my fiancée and our guests.
It got me thinking about something I saw just after Christmas that kind of upset me a little. (Basically, I let a troll on the internet get to me.) You see, I proposed to Ashley on Christmas. According to the internet troll on Facebook, that was unoriginal. As a matter of fact, I'll post what I read. (This was not from the person whose page I saw it on. He simply re-posted, and I acted irrationally and unfriended him. Sorry.)
"The biggest problem I have with proposing on Christmas is that it's unoriginal. It's just so incredibly lame. Same goes for New Year's Eve. It's just foolish and self-centered to do it on days that should be about family and friends, not your relationship. It's a cliché wrapped in a cliché wrapped in a metaphor for yout sh***y, unoriginal, uninspiring love story that will culminate withe you getting down on a knee in the living room, leaving most of the family members in attendance with a look on their face that says, "Look at this f***in' guy.""
If you're wondering, yes, I edited the expletives. I wanted to address this though. You can't just throw a blanket over something like this and call it cliché. (Actually you can, but I wanna complain about it, so meh.) I don't agree with anything this fella was saying, and I actually felt a little sorry for him. Here's the thing: I (and by 'I', I mean we) have had an extremely tough year. In 2013 we were all still so numb from Dad's death that we really couldn't enjoy our holidays. I'm thrilled that this year was different. Ashley and I gave the family something to smile about and to look forward to. Sounds to me like we were able to give something special to our family and friends. It wasn't just about us.
The other thing is how this dude called it unoriginal and uninspiring. That's great. (I get the idea that this person is really lonely.) See, I'd been planning to propose for about a year. I knew last Christmas that I definitely wanted to marry her, (eat your hearts out boys, she's mine) but the only issue for me was, when? I had a few really cool and totally original ideas, but let's face it, it's all been done before. So, I didn't do something that would have gone viral on YouTube. I didn't fly her all around the world just to ask for her hand at our last destination. I didn't hide secret messages that lead her on a scavenger hunt to find her ring and myself waiting for her to say yes. (Not saying those are bad ideas.) Instead of extravagant I played Santa at out family Christmas get together. I made sure all the presents were passed out. Then, I got down on a knee and asked the woman I love to be my wife. I did it in front of my family. I wasn't trying to take all the attention. I was trying to give my girlfriend the very best Christmas gift I could. She deserves so much more for all the things she's done for me in the past couple of years. I want her to be my family. Oh, and ask anybody who was there if it was annoying. They'll tell you the truth. All I know is that it was about love, not my relationship. Love for my family, love for my lady, and love for the things to come. And you know what? Ashley thought it was absolutely perfect. #winning.
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.