28Feb2007 1810: Tired
I'mma cut this short because I'm tired, cranky, and finding it difficult to type. This is all because of work and our (my) slipping deadlines. The free singles this week are [This Beautiful Republic - Casting Off] (forgettable pop rock), [Adassa - You Got Me] (reggae + club music, possibly the worst combination of genres that could ever assault my earholes), and [K-OS - The Rain] (R&B "baby don't go"). Each one is worth about two stars; I'm sure they are all fantastic examples of their little niches, but these are niches I try not to explore too deeply.
Did I tell you I have to work on Sunday night? Because I do. On Sunday. The weekend. This is the project that absolutely refuses to end.
25Feb2007 1127: A Portrait of the Agent as a Young Man
The Number 23 is the heartwarming tale of a functionally illiterate dogcatcher in his mid-30s whose life is remade through the twin powers of literature and arithmetic. Young Walter Sparrow spent his days reading detective comics instead of studying for school. He dropped out of college after losing his smoking-hot girlfriend to an older and more intelligent suitor. Now friendless, approaching a midlife crisis, and stuck in a job with people who despise him, he views each day as a bland burden.
Everything changes when his wife buys him a book for his birthday, a book titled The Number 23. She read through it in a couple hours while standing at the bookstore (and his son later finishes it in one night), but Walter struggles to master the unfamiliar interplay of words as well as the overarching theme of mathematics. Over the course of several days -- some of which are vacation days from dogcatching, a sign of growth to the initially workaholic Walter -- he becomes more and more engrossed in the story and begins to apply the lessons therein to his everyday life. The movie ends with a touching family moment as the threesome reflects on how close they have become through sharing the novel.
In a post-credits scene it is revealed that Walter's young son, influenced by The Number 23 and his father's love of detective comics, has become a successful federal counter-terrorism agent under the command of Jack Bauer.
This marks the second book-plus-math tale of redemption in the past year, behind the magnificent Stranger Than Fiction. Where Will Ferrell's character started with his knowledge of math and slowly awakened to the broader world, Jim Carrey begins with nothing and is awakened through math. Combined, they illustrate the balance of science and life that could make us all better people.
21Feb2007 1931: La Caprice C'est Chic
Finally! This week's free iTunes singles have a couple (marginal) keepers among them. [Consequence - Callin' Me] is palatable as a rap song, if a bit unintelligible. Something tells me that if I did understand the subject at hand I wouldn't like the song nearly as much. I did hear something about shooting guns at a club...I will assume this artist is a responsible member of a rifle club at his local firing range.
[Angele Debeau - Caprice No. 9 en Do Majeur] is so titled as to create no illusions as to what you are getting. If you are a fan of Caprices one through eight you should probably pick this up. I really don't think I want a Caprice below 84. Featuring an actual Stradivarius! I didn't think they made those any more.
[Pacha Massive - Don't Let Go] would do better to call themselves Panda Massive, but their song is pretty good. There's some reggae in there, but it's not, like, a reggae song. I think it would go pretty well with car cruising at the height of summer. It's not going to break three stars, but I won't mind listening to it every couple of weeks.
17Feb2007 1654: The Mayor of Your Brain, Wrist Control
Show of hands: who out there hasn't been mugged at least once or twice?
Listen to me very carefully. You should not, under any circumstances, see Ghost Rider. Don't pay matinee prices, don't go to cheap seats, don't download it. This movie falls squarely between Daredevil and Incredible Hulk in the C-list Marvel movies. The editing is crap, the dialogue is crap, the fight scenes are crap, and goddamit Nicolas Cage take some goddamn chill pills. During the first (agonizingly overlong) fiery transformation into Ghost Rider I smelled baked ham wafting through the theater.
16Feb2007 1510: Wizards are Pretty Sweet
Last Saturday I had a nice quiet day to devour the latest Harry Dresden paperback, Proven Guilty. I think it's one of the better ones in the series, a series that didn't really find its place until Book 4 anyway. That delayed explosion of awesome makes me unreasonably hopeful that the Harry Dresden TV series will eventually not be quite so lame. It's not a good sign that SciFi is already airing it out of production order; the first episode made was quite reasonably titled Storm Front and probably has niceĆ introductions to all the characters. I say "probably" because it was neither of the first two episodes aired...I'll find out tonight if it was the third.
The big problem with SciFi's Dresden is the appalling lack of magic. This is supposed to be a show about a wizard solving mystical crimes in Chicago, based on a book series about a wizard fighting demons, fairies, and vampires in Chicago; in two episodes we've seen one sigil glow briefly, some people in bad makeup, and two bullets get all Wonder-Womaned on his shield bracelet. And an ill-conceived "Doom Box". I can't even remember if we've seen his ubiquitous staff. I hope it's not a budgetary thing, because they wasted a lot of money giving Bob a body to sneer with when all they needed was a smarmy skull.
It looks like I picked the worst month possible to start reviewing free iTunes tracks. [Borne - The Guide] misses the three-star cutoff by this much, mostly because it is derivative and forgettable. [Darien Brockington - Can We Fall in Love Again] seems like a Valentine's Day concession. If he's super-famous in twenty years we can look back on this song as his big start, but until then I'll stick with Marvin Gaye for R&Bish "baby don't go".
07Feb2007 1803: Musical Time Capsule
This week's featured free iTunes single is [James Morrison - You Give Me Something]. The lyrics go something like "Hello I'm James Morrison and last night I was visited by the ghost of Christmas 70s." I can see a time and place where this song is appropriate, and it's also a time and place with lots of cocaine and feathered hair. At least I think the hair was feathered...this sounds like a hair question. DELETED.
The other free song drifting in a sea of free TV episodes is [Stefano Bollani - Antonia]. iTunes says I've listened to this four times already, but I can't remember a bit of it. I'm actually jumping around inside the track right now and I don't recognize anything. It's some magical combination of notes that actively repels listenation; we must not let this fall into the terrorists' hands. Every time I start it I feel compelled to do something else while it plays. Music to Do Chores By. DELETED.
Not exactly a bumper crop this week.