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What I’ve Been Doing 24 June 2013 AND 1 July 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Jul 2nd, 2013 by Dan

Honest Tea's Reach is Impressive

This has nothing to do with what I did this past couple of weeks, but I love this tea. Actually, I did drink a lot of it over the past few weeks…

Whoa, whoops! I forgot to get this up on time! I forgot to even post this yesterday! Been too busy, but we’re back now!

Movies

Brick – I’ve seen the movie before, but I figured I’d watch it as I fell asleep last Saturday. Made it through about half while conscious, but drifted off soon after. It definitely feels like a freshman effort. Hard to believe that Looper is only Rian Johnson’s third film.

Pitch Perfect – Love this movie. It’s so ridiculous, but I dig the music. It was on to fall asleep this past Saturday, but I couldn’t stop watching it to snooze.

TV

Psych – Katie and I were looking for something to just watch one night and we ended up catching the Clue homage and the radio murder one. The show’s a little silly and not very good, but it’s enjoyable enough tv.

Veep – The show’s not as biting or funny to me in its sophomore year, but we’re also not quite done with it. We’ll see how everything manages to come together in the end.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Finally managed to push through the Incan mummy episode. It was…not good. Now I can finally move on!

Music

Two songs. The first is a summer jam: “Collard Greens” by Schoolboy Q feat. Kendrick Lamar. Good times.

Numero dos is “Man” by Neko Case. Another great track.

Books

The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First – Jonah Keri’s profile on the Tampa Bay Rays has been interesting so far, but I’ve still got a ways to go. It was weird how the forward was written by Mark Cuban, considering that he’s, you know, a billionaire and his team is run with plenty of cash.

Video Games

Animal Crossing: New Leaf – My town is doing rather well. We’ve got two new bridges and a new nightclub. Tons of fun!

The Last of Us – Pretty much down to the home stretch of sorts for this game. It’s been brutal and sometimes not very fun, but I’ve really been enjoying how well it tells a story.

Rayman Legends – The challenges remain fun, but I’m ready for the full game to finally come out

Mega Man X – Picked it up on VC because of Nintendo credit Eric gave me. It’s still a solid game, but I end up missing the maneuverability of Zero in his GBA games.

Professional Yakyu Spirits 2013 – Finally got my Carp season underway. I’m doing really well, but the AI is still adjusting to my skill. Can’t wait to get more games in. This version has way better animations than 2012. There was this one diving play at short that had a sweet semi-shovel to second. Very cool stuff.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box – Game…COMPLETE! Finished off the story. Pretty silly and somewhat dumb, but enjoyable enough.

Music of 2012 [F]
Jan 9th, 2013 by Dan

Colorful Dream

They’re not a real band, but I think you get the idea.

The biggest change in 2012 for me was the rise of Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Sure, I still bought plenty of music from Amazon or Google, but an increasing amount of the stuff I picked up came from the individual himself. I mean, why would I expect the Fez soundtrack to occupy a spot in Amazon’s mp3 store? Thanks to Bandcamp, I can just pick it up almost directly from the artist.

2012 also marked the year that genre walls were officially smashed for me. I think the only stuff I can’t really tolerate is noise metal. Just about everything else can penetrate my cold, black heart and move me to sing and dance.

I certainly never would have guessed that I’d be listening to so much hip hop and R&B back when I started this blog in 2008. It was all punk, rock, and ska, but now I cast a much wider net.

Top Artists of 2012

1. The Beatles (409)

This has been a mainstay of every list since the catalog re-release back in 2009. There’s not really much more to say about how incredible this band is so I’ll instead comment on the fact that I listened to them ~1,100 fewer times this year than last. I really spread out my music time this year…

2. The Weeknd (333)

I can’t remember what month it was when I discovered the trio of mixtapes just waiting for me online, but I will say that The Weeknd opened my eyes to R&B in a way I would have thought impossible. Without him I guarantee you that Frank Ocean would not be on this list. Everything about his music is simultaneously sleazy and sexy and so wrong it almost feels right. “High For This”, “Wicked Games”, and “House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls” are all stunners.

3. Sambomaster (サンボマスター) (326)

Another mainstay ever since my Japan trip. My understanding of the lyrics approaches zero, but I feel like I understand everything Takeshi Yamaguchi is trying to say with that heartfelt, almost mournful, sandpapery voice. As cheesy as it sounds, it speaks to my soul, man.

4. Frank Ocean (270)

Think about this: I didn’t get channel ORANGE until November. Everybody’s talking about this record, I know, but allow me to say that Ocean penned and crooned the best album of the year. Nothing tops this in 2012, guys. Nothing.

5. Jonathan Coulton (269)

Some people would have you believe that Coulton is a novelty singer best enjoyed in small doses. Some people are wrong. Coulton’s earlier work may lean on a geeky, nerdy motif, but, like I said last year, Artificial Heart really takes him to a new level.

6. Disasterpiece (240)

I listened to a lot of game sountracks this year thanks to the ubiquity and ease of Bandcamp. Disasterpiece’s moody, quasi-ambient work on Fez proved spooky, lonely, and mournful while also igniting that spark for adventure. It’s all synth-y, but the notes never feel quite right, which is pretty much what Fez is all about.

7. Yoko Kanno (202)

I bet you’re thinking that this is all Cowboy Bebop music. You’d be wrong. Kanno’s work on the jazz tunes in Kids on the Slope opened my eyes to a genre I’d ignored for most of my life. That medley in the culture festival? Pure. Magic.

8. George & Jonathan (184)

One of their tunes was the theme to Polygon’s podcast, The Besties, and the album, Beautiful Lifestyle, struck just the right balance of playful and fun without getting obnoxious.

9. Regina Spektor (152)

I fell for What We Saw from the Cheap Seats as hard as a person could for an album. “All the Rowboats”, “Firewood”, and “How” are all so stunningly beautiful that I want to be listening to them right now…In fact, I think I’ll go put them on.

10. Rodrigo y Gabriela (151)

The first entry that confuses me about being on this list. I still dig their stuff, but I don’t really remember listening to it that much this year.

11. The Civil Wars (136)

I’m really worried about the state of this band now that they’ve canceled their tours. What will I do without Joy Williams’ beautiful voice? I hope they figure it out.

12. Kanye West (129)

The current king of hip hop, as far as I’m concerned. Yeezy goes big. Even though I haven’t loved his collab stuff as much as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, I can’t help but come back to this guy time and time again.

13. Fall Out Boy (126)

So few bands know how to craft a tune as instantly catchy as these guys. Too bad they broke up.

14. Eirik Suhrke (119)

You may be wondering who this guy is. He did the music for Spelunky, a genius take on the Mega Drive soundchip that gives me that extra push to hit retry on the off chance that I get that sweet sax tune in the Ice Caves.

15. Tsunku (つんく♂) (114)

If I had properly tagged my Rhythm Heaven Fever music earlier in the year this number would be much higher. Academically I understand why other people might not love all the music in Rhythm Heaven, but in my heart I can’t understand why any awesome person would hate it.

16. Childish Gambino (113)

Part of that hip hop kick this year. Donald Glover is pretty awesome.

17. Nintendo (98)

You know what? I think that this 98 is supposed to be added to the Tsunku tally above. Hear that, Tsunku? You should be 7th.

17. Jim Guthrie (98)

The composer to the Superbrothers soundtrack knows how to make a sweet groove. Seriously, go check it out.

19. OK Go (97)

“Needing/Getting” will always be a favorite of mine because I’m a hopeless romantic (emphasis on hopeless).

20. Jasper Byrne (95)

The Lone Survivor soundtrack is responsible for this play count. It was equal parts creepy and beautiful and I couldn’t stay away last winter/spring.

21. Alex Cuba (91)

Man, that afro is cool, isn’t it? There’s a clarity and richness to his voice that soothes me and makes me feel funky.

22. Hannibal Buress (88)

Is your name really Hannibal? These plays are thanks to two of my favorite stand-up albums that I got this year. That Buress dude is pretty funny, y’all.

22. Ana Tijoux (88)

Saw her live this year. That was awesome. Her ability to spit rhymes in Spanish is mind boggling to me.

24. Juan Luis Guerra (85)

I wonder what percentage of these come from “Niagara en bicicleta”? (Answer: ~26%)

25. Kendrick Lamar (84)

I picked up good kid, m.A.A.d city at the same time (or close to it) as channel ORANGE and figured that it would definitely win, play-wise. Didn’t quite go like that, but trust that Kendrick Lamar’s rhymes are equally awesome. Definitely check out that disc.

Top 10 Tracks of 2012

1. The Weeknd – “House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls” (23)

It all sounds so drug-addled and sexy, but in a dirty way. This was the first track I heard by The Weeknd and the rest is history.

2. Juan Luis Guerra – “El Niagara en bicicleta” (22)

Quite possibly my favorite song ever? I honestly have no idea how it didn’t make the list last year.

3. George & Jonathan – “Little Marcus” (21)

The aforementioned former theme to The Besties. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and it’s super pleasant. A great little tune.

4. Carla Morrison – “Compartir” (20)

I would have expected “Una salida” to have this spot, but this is also a fantastic love song by a beautiful vocalist. Carla Morrison has this sweet, delicate voice that just breaks your heart while you listen to her. I absolutely love her and this song.

4. Neon Indian – “Polish Girl” (20)

I think I own two Neon Indian songs, but this chillwave track puts me in a spaced out place where I can’t not love it. Put a gun to my head and I wouldn’t be able to describe what makes this song so special, but I think it really does speak for itself.

6. Regina Spektor – “Small Town Moon” (19)

It probably ended up with the most plays by virtue of being the first track on her new album, but “Small Town Moon” is no slouch. It perfectly sets the mood for a thoughtful, beautiful album.

6. George & Jonathan – “Street Monsters” (19)

There’s really no good explanation for how this track got up here. It’s funky and it’s quick and I guess it got lucky compared to the rest of the album.

6. Frank Ocean – “Bad Religion”, “Pilot Jones”, & “Pyramids” (19)

And the list closes out with my three favorite tracks from channel ORANGE. All three of these are perfect in their own way. Be it the soulful poetry of “Bad Religion”, the simple hook of “Pilot Jones”, or that sexy electrofunk of the first half of the epic “Pyramids”, they all land so unbelievably perfectly on my ears that I’m shocked they’re not higher up on the list.

What I’ve Been Doing 17 Dec 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Dec 17th, 2012 by Dan

French cinema, everyone! (Photo courtesy Screened.com)

Went on a date with an art student so I thought it would be most fitting to see a weird, French art flick. It…did not disappoint.

Movies

Holy Motors – There is no real way to summarize every weird thing that happens in this movie, but it’s about a man who gets in a limousine every day and shows up in makeup and costumes in various places, acts out a scene, and then leaves. You got a little bit of everything, but my favorite was the scene where he killed a man, started to make the man look like him, and then that dead man killed him and assumed his role. That’s the kind of movie this was. It was…odd.

TV

Breaking Bad – How great is this show’s table setting? Chekhov’s Ricin, check. Putting Mike out of commission, check. Setting up the Tio meetings, check. Ted Beneke and his trip-prone rug, check. I didn’t even notice until later that the pistol ended up pointing at the lily of the valley in the penultimate episode. Brilliant stuff. Now I need to watch the first half of season 5 somehow.

The Amazing Race – Definitely did not expect the Beekmans to win. So hooked on this show. Can’t wait for the next race in Jan/Feb or whenever it returns.

New Girl – I thought the cranberry in the ear bit was hilarious! Not sure that I’m digging the character that they’ve got Olivia Munn playing, but…it’s Olivia Munn. I can forgive it.

The Mindy Project – I love when Mindy gets people like Ellie Kemper to show up and really play against type. She was really funny in this episode.

Music

Let’s see…I listened to Channel Orange probably every night last week, but maybe you’re all getting sick of Frank Ocean (I don’t know how) so I’m gonna go with Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” off of good kid, m.A.A.d city

Man, I love that opening (also the chorus)

“I am a sinner who’s probably gonna sin again
Lord forgive me, Lord forgive me
Things I don’t understand
Sometimes I need to be alone”

It’s also got a nice, old school type backing track.

Books

A Confederacy of Dunces – Ignatius’ treatise on the factory workers bordered on offensive, but I think that’s supposed to be the point. Still not quite sure where the book is going, but I’m also not that deep into it, I guess. It’s interesting.

The Revolution Was Televised – Pushed through the last few chapters until around 0200 on Saturday. Loved it. If you have any interest in tv and how it’s hit its golden age, this is a great, relatively breezy read.

Video Games

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Still kind of sore about having to start a new game, but I always dig this game. Gotta record a bunch of episodes this week to cover Christmas.

FTL – Actually got fairly far with the Mantis ship. I’m rather proud of myself for that.

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors – Has kind of a Saw/survival horror vibe to it. So far the mysteries are coming in fast and hard and I think I made a questionable decision in abandoning Akane/June, but I think that I need to keep an eye on Snake and Seven and I wanted to check out the Ninth Man (although they didn’t really let me). Very intriguing story, but this is a visual novel, folks, so if you want to try it be prepared to read and only occasionally solve puzzles.

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