was a tumultuous year, aptly titled and subtitled Get It: Twenty-Doz by a soon to be praised list-topper. I had my
ups, my downs, my all-around, and other typical idioms found in American
retrospection, but through it all, I’d say it was a damn fine year. I started
this blog, actually finished some projects, made some great friends, and came
to terms with some heavy existential bullshit that, had I not took the time to
make a fool of myself online, I might have never unearthed. So, without further
ado, let’s take a look at the media and folks that subconsciously shaped and
directed my gray, pulpy mass.
Moms – Menomena
Like Modest Mouse did for me when I was fourteen, this album came with the right tunes, the right themes, and at the exact right time. Some albums do this; they arrive when they’re needed and, if not for their timing, would remain unappreciated or unknown. Moms struck a chord with me. It’s brutally honest emotional out-pour, a recollection of fragmented familial development, each song a moral question in depravity, an uproar of suppressed memory, but not blurred and cheesed with overt poeticism and minor chords. This is an upbeat expression of sorrows, encapsulated by the band in a subtle affirmation of continual growth.
Yellow and Green – Baroness
Baroness already occupies a special place in my double-bass drum heart. They were they band that introduced me to a subsect of metal yet discovered, i.e., anything that isn’t Avenged Sevenfold played through blown out speakers in a high school weight room. Their first two LPs, Red and Blue each played to their aesthetic, subversive thematics with a mythological backdrop, wholly aided by stellar album art created by lead vocalist John Baizley. The band is known for powerful and throaty harmonics, backed by some busy but very intent guitar, so when news came out that their next effort would be a double album with very little “metal” content, fans were wary, and rightfully so. Here was a band that had carved out a very distinct niche in a chaotic and diverse genre, essentially cutting ties with their prior successes in the name of artistic integrity. A spiritually invigorating prospect, but not necessarily a guaranteed home run. That said, the band nailed it...for me, at least. I was met more gorgeous album art--a double-wide!--and two albums worth of brooding, psychedelic, dynamic rock-and-goddamn-roll. Yellow and Green isn't metal. No, it's rock-and-roll. When's the last time you said that aloud without a touch of sarcasm?
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
I barely feel ready to write anything about Moby Dick. The book is wholly unique, twenty-five percent is the actual narrative alluded to and alive in popular culture, the other seventy-five is the philosophy and 1850s-era hard science of whales and whaling. Some say the majority of the book is superfluous knowledge, an exhalation of an excited Melville. The whaling and whale concepts, I believe, are vital to the narrative. They supercharge every moment, the details involve you, transport you as close as possible to the narrative, but primarily, they communicate the sublime and infinite depth of all things. The book is big, it feels big, and by the end, the book is a real quantum conundrum, multitudes and multitudes larger than its physical and intellectual manifestation.
Oh, hella good jokes too. Side-splitting whaling humor. Get on it.
Jernigan – David Gates
Jernigan is a lazy downward spiral. The protagonist (guess his name) his wife recently dead, is in the midst of a love affair with cheap gin, a half-assed battle to maybesortakinda connect with his son, and a fling with a woman on the forefront of a small survivalist movement. From then on, Gates just lets the pieces play themselves. Sounds exhausting, eh? It would be, if not for Jernigan’s dashing sarcasm, fueled by a tragic cynicism buried deep. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, but each will never be mutually exclusive.
The Walking Dead
I can hardly believe a licensed adventure game was the first video game to ever make me cry. The key? Good writing imbued within the primary gameplay systems. In The Walking Dead, the player takes control of escaped convict Lee Everett during the beginning of the, yeah I know, zombie apocalypse. But hey, zombies are a great excuse for extreme human interaction. You’ll split plenty of skulls, no doubt, but the real narrative nuggets are in the characters. Near the very beginning, Lee meets an orphaned young girl, Clementine. The two form a bond over the five episodes unequaled by any other game in my personal history. This is accomplished through the primary gameplay system of subversive choice. In the many extreme situations presented to the player, important decisions will need to be made within a span of a few seconds. The consequences of these choices have little impact on the finality of the game, but the illusion of agency is executed so well, that each decision forces the player to invest themselves with each character in very intimate ways only possible via an interactive medium. If you feel tears budding at the end, congrats, you're still human.
Spec Ops: The Line
I don’t want to say too much about this game. That might spoil its intent. I will say the game plays the Heart of Darkness card, and not in subtle manner. That said, it utilizes such a narrative vehicle to best suit the interactive medium. About halfway through, I became disturbed with the gameplay, with the violence. I paused to ask myself, “Is this killing?” Never before has modern third-person shooter made me stop and think about the medium itself. Props to Brendan Keogh for writing a wonderful critical interpretation, Killing is Harmless. Games are changing, folks.
This game needs to be in here for the presentation and soundtrack alone. Here’s the trailer. Go pick it up. Available on Steam for between five to ten bucks these days. I haven't finished it yet, but I'm a sucker for aesthetics. GET. ON. THAT.
My Brother My Brother and Me
An advice show for the modern era, My Brother My Brother and Me (MBMBAM for the layman) is three brothers, the McElroys, responding to questions sent in by listeners or scraped from the bottom of the crusty “Yahoo Answers” barrel. So, so, crusty. The brothers respond with funnies and tummy-tumbling truths. Oh, and they coined the phrase “Get It: Twenty-Doz.” Well, brothers, consider Twenty-Doz GOT.