Five Things I Am Into Right Now, July 2012

Yeah, last month I complained about the heat, but I had NO idea what I was talking about when I wrote that. (Naive little man.)

July has been painful here, and besides the heat the weed pollen levels have been off the charts, making my allergies go crazy. Seriously, I awake each morning with red puffy eyes because of it. I look like Rocky Balboa screaming to be cut.

Anyway, through red eyes, here is my list for this month (I apologize in advance for the amount of superheroes in this installment):

Summer Blockbusters

This has been a phenomenal summer for blockbusters; the ones that have found success definitely deserve it. From The Avengers to Brave to The Amazing Spider-Man, each of these films are well-written, well-directed, and, well, just plain good. When was the last time we had a summer that knocked it this perfectly out of the ballpark? I keep thinking back to the summer of Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade but that was decades ago.

What I have enjoyed the most are the things that have surprised me about the summer blockbusters. For example (with links to previous articles):

  • Spider-Man was more about Peter Parker and a character piece than a straight-up action adventure.
  • Brave wasn’t an adventure, it was a family comedy!
  • Prometheus was an Alien prequel. No, it wasn’t… Well, it kind of was…
  • The Avengers fixed the Hulk!

If The Dark Knight Rises is the masterpiece everyone thinks it will be, this year might become the bar for future summers. Enjoy it moviegoers, it might be a generation before we get this again.

Rewatching Red Dwarf

Now I have no idea when I will be able to see the new season of Red Dwarf (I wrote about my inappropriate love of the series here recently) and how, but I’m going to be an optimist for a change about this. I’ve begun rewatching the entire series, so far I am up to the middle of the second season.

One of the things I always found fascinating about the series (Besides its incredibly dark premise), is how fluid everything can be in the production and writing style. The first few seasons, are very much a closed-set character study. There are only a few locations and there are only a few characters (with brief appearances of others). While in later seasons you see locations grow as they visit planets and other ships (and shrink with the loss of the Dwarf), new characters added, old character return from the dead. By season 8, it is almost a straight-up sitcom with straight men playing off the humorous antics of our heroes.

Because of all of this, it is probably one of the most creative ventures I have ever seen on TV, but it is not for the type of watcher who likes consistency. This is not Lost or Battlestar Galactica, for example.

Smeg.

Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

Over the years video games have become quite the hobby for me. While some I find truly inspiring because of their ability to tell a good story (I wrote about my love of the Final Fantasy series here), others, frankly, are great at just turning one’s brain off.

Lego games can always turn my brain off.

And with my brain, this can be like a vacation! It is a wonderful way to relax and I can’t get this from listening to music or reading a book. So I have played most of the Lego games (own a majority of them too), and have played each to 100 percent. There are no surprises in the games for me now, except the occasional laugh out loud when they surprise me with a joke. I know how to find all of the extras, figure out the puzzles. There is no mystery.

My brain is off.

One thing I do find fascinating about the new game (besides the thrill of playing as all of the Justice League), is how much more of an effort was put into this game than the previous installments. This is more than the fact we have voices for the characters, the environment, the landscape, the overarching plot; it’s almost, dare I say it, like a real video game.

It really makes me intrigued to see what their Lord of the Rings is like this autumn. I mean, if they could do something this different and new with their Batman series, what will they do with Middle Earth and its Oscar-winning films?

Preparing for The Dark Knight Rises

Let’s stick with superheroes for a bit (and, yes, I prefer it as one word not two). Christopher Nolan’s films are majestic, they are driven by characters and realistic motives and settings.

Now I grew up with Michael Keaton as Batman, and while I love the first film he did as the character, Batman Returns was the start of a long, sad fall to the final smack on the floor, which was seeing Arnold as Mr. Freeze dancing. It’s hard to disconnect the first great film from the rest sadly.

Yet, with Christopher Nolan’s series, there is a unity, the only difficulty I have is disconnecting it from the comic book series. I want to see this Batman take on other villains besides the ones we have seen and will see in the new movie. But that is not to be. In Christopher Nolan’s series there are no more adventures against the Joker, we don’t meet the Riddler, Mad Hatter, or the Penguin. That makes me sad.

I mean, if you really think about it, how long can Bruce Wayne realistically be the Batman? I mean, if he starts at say 26, maybe twenty years in the most? I can’t see a human being able to have the reflexes needed beyond his mid-forties to pull it off. Or is it sacrilegious to say that?

Sorry, but he isn’t Superman.

Anyway, in preparation of this final film, I have been rewatching the last two… and doing my best to avoid spoilers. (I should have a review up on it next Monday.)

New Music By Returning Artists

Maybe it is something in the air, or everyone wants to get everything they can out the door before the Mayan Death day (12/21/12… which is also my tenth anniversary by the way), but old favorites of mine are returning in droves.

  • New Aimee Mann (4 years since last CD)
  • The return of Beth Orton (6 years)
  • Dave Matthews Band (3 years)
  • Fiona Apple (7 years)
  • And the surprise entry- Ben Folds Five! (13 years)

That’s not including new music by Fun. (which I was following before they became megastars), Glen Hansard, and Rufus Wainwright.

So far for me the big winner is Fiona Apple’s new CD, I can’t get enough of those songs. It’s hypnotic, it’s powerful, it’s moving (and so magically creative); but it is definitely not for background listening. It demands your attention.

When it comes to the upcoming CDs, I look forward to seeing which version of Ben Folds Five we get with their new CD (my fingers crossed for the their first album’s style), and Beth Orton has always been one of my favorites (She is a poetic goddess. Period.).

Now if we can just convince The Sundays to emerge out of retirement this will be the perfect year.

Seriously, what are they doing with their time? It’s been 15 years!

If you liked reading my article, why not check out some of my books? I had two novels published in the last few years, My Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my amazon.com author page here. Thanks for reading!

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