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21Aug2014 2000: Down Home

Today on Monty's Behind the Curve: I binged through the first season of Fargo and yeah, that's a pretty good show. The standout is definitely Allison Tolman, playing Molly Solverson, because Molly Solversdottir was apparently one step too far. Although largely snowbound in Minnesota like its predecessor, it does take a little time to show some "actual" Fargo:

That's pretty close! I don't know what those particular tall buildings are, but a mostly flat skyline and 1900s brick is closer than I expected Hollywood to get. That screenshot shows where FX missed a trick, though. They invented a suprememly-authentic Chinese restaurant to serve entire fried fishes to mobsters, but you won't find Chinese downtown that isn't a buffet. Fargo instead has a surfeit of sushi restaurants: stand-alone sushi restaurants, strip-mall sushi restaurants, sushi restaurants that used to be steakhouses. If production had been six months later they might have stumbled into some local color.

[Sadistik - Cult Leader] is on theme today, kicking off with a rhyme about "Minnesota / the coldest part", and proceeds through a rap composed of 90% pop culture references. At a minute forty it feels more like the rap breakdown in a pop song than a full song in itself. His diction is clear and he almost doesn't talk about shooting people so I'll feel a little bad when I delete it.

Goody, [Fear of Men - Descent (Radio Edit)] gives me more Camera Obscura to listen to. There's nothing notable about this song in particular, but we should all be thankful that we'll never run out of Cranberries.

[Monomyth - Patsy] comes from the album Saturnalia Regalia!, which should give you some indication of its aspirations. White guys "woo wooooo" their way through a listless pop song, like an early Beatles tune that nobody wants to remember.

The annoyingly-named [Sebastian Mikael - 4 U] hides a dark secret -- YouTube lists a "feat". Rick Ross comes in for a couple verses and thugs up an otherwise fluffy love song. 4U demonstrates that obvious autotune has infiltrated every corner of the radio, to the point that even a guy that can obviously sing a decent R&B song throws it on as a stylistic touch.

13Aug2014 1900: Korra

Google informs me that apparently I've never discussed Legend of Korra on this site? I'm not sure how that could be, as I was obviously into the show before Guild Wars 2 came out, which is like infinity ago. Legend of Korra is the sequel to The (Good) Last Airbender, holding down the unenviable position of "the most adult show on the Spongebob Network". It's had its ups and its downs (season 2 is mostly down), but the big news is that it's been pulled from Nick television entirely and further episodes are all streaming online. I wouldn't recommend starting with season 3, of course. The top-notch character work does depend on getting to know them from the beginning. You should try to acquire (ahem) season 1 and if my arm was twisted I guess you could watch season 2 just for completion's sake. But season 3 has been magnificent front to back. I feel comfortable saying it's the best cartoon on the air right now, and it's in the rarefied company of "shows I still watch". Right next to bummer-fests like Game of Thrones and The Leftovers. Sometimes you wanna watch a lady shoot fireballs from her feet, y'know?

Sometimes the sordid tales happen outside the show.

[Slow Club - Complete Surrender] is an interpretation of [Offspring - Self Esteem] by The Like. Smoky girl-band pop from a time before I was born and every two decades thereafter.

[My Goodness - Cold Feet Killer] has one mission: to rock you. They are clean, precise, well-executed rock and they know it. Sometimes I get caught up in formula and sometimes the formula is so perfectly fulfilled that I get caught up in the song. This is the latter. I question only the wisdom of making this a single to sell the band.

If you ever wanted a white Lionel Richie, here you go: [How To Dress Well - Repeat Pleasure].

Oh good! It's been weeks since I got to be disappointed by a "feat" tag. [Clean Bandit - Dust Clears feat. Noonie Bao] is here to fill that void in my hate...but I can't hate it. Some dude kicks off some bleeps and bloops and tries to get the dance floor moving, and then just when I'm about to write it off GLaDOS shows up and does a verse. Or maybe Noonie Bao is another one of those Vocaloids that should be taking over the music industry. The song morphs into an unintentionally hilarious exemplar of dance music and it's going to make me laugh every time, kind of like 11h30.

If you ever wanted a white Chris Isaak, here you go: [Cloud Boat - Carmine].

06Aug2014 1900: Sky Rockets in Flight

By now I think we can all agree that we've seen Guardians of the Galaxy. I was going to link the IMDB page there but they've gone and added auto-playing video ads at the top and fuck that. I had sky-high hopes of this finally being a spiritual successor to The Fifth Element, but on that scale it only scores about a Third Element. For all the wacky stuff going on, it's inoffensively wacky stuff that doesn't quite equate hyperdrive with a stewardess' orgasm.

I was not prepared for the movie to be so universally loved, however. Apparently just saying the word "Marvel" can drive people to theaters, because stats like this on what used to be a C-tier comic are kind of scary. Straight-up, maximum two people cared about seeing GotG in a movie, and I'm guessing both of them are in the movie. This might as well be original content, a total spec script, for all the world cares about the "IP" on display. Is that the lesson Hollywood is going to learn? That giving a motivated writer and a creative director the largest of budgets can result in something terra-shattering? I posit that that is not the lesson they will learn. No, Marvel will say something like "our rich and deep history makes even the least-known of our catalog an intimidating entertainment presence". No. If all it takes to make a great movie is gestating the content for forty years, then The Man Who Killed Don Quixote should be an unparalleled masterpiece by now.

Plus, GotG is reopening old wounds, as exemplified in this post:

Where were all you sons of bitches ten years ago?

[Parquet Courts - Bodies Made Of] doesn't sugar-coat things. Their dissonant rock-and-roll humor a la Flaming Lips comes right out and says you're made of slugs and guts. After dissing your body for a couple minutes they go on an extended outro noodling for another full minute.

[Shabazz Palaces - Forerunner Foray] is rap. Its disaffected tone and smooth beat make for a somewhat pleasant experience, but they never quite go full Digable Planets and never quite have anything important to say.

For a hot second, I thought [White Lung - Face Down] could be [NOFX - We Threw Gasoline On The Fire and Now We Have Stumps for Arms and No Eyebrows], but that initial drone gave way to pop-punk in double time. The 90s kid in me rejoices to hear an echo of that era of ska/punk. It's just barely too long to serve for a Tony Hawk level but I'll overlook that one little detail.

[Twin Peaks - I Found a New Way] is full of intelligible words and a simple narrative, so why the fuck do they get to use the name "Twin Peaks"? Total dick move, band. Leave that name to the experimental country-prog-rock outfit that runs all their lyrics through Google Translate a few times.