Recent Media April 2024 Edition

A few things that found their way in front of my eyeballs of late.

Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters. Apple TV+. I'm as surprised as you are that this was actually rather good as Godzilla things go. Kurt Russell was great in it, Wyatt Russell was also great doing a pretty good impression of his Dad.

Gravity. Yeah, the George Clooney Sandra Bullock movie. First re-watch since I saw it at the movie theater when it first came out. Made all the more entertaining because of a group of young kids shouting profanity down the front (I remember my first beer as well) who got kicked out to rapturous applause. Anyway, yeah this holds up extremely well. Fantastic movie. Perhaps the most George Clooney that ever George Clooney'd? That would probably be Oceans 13 mind.

Life. Because why watch one sci-fi thing, when you could watch two? Hiroyuki Sanada is great, Rebecca Ferguson is great. Ryan Reynolds and Jake Whatshisface were also present. But this movie dear reader, while not getting great reviews, is excellent. I would watch it again right now.

Constellation. Apple TV+. Because why watch two sci-fi things, when… well, you get the idea. Apple TV+, while not having the catalogue of Netflix, has had some fantastic tv shows of late. This one is no exception. An accident on the ISS forces (some/all) of the astronauts to return to Earth. Sort of. Great cinematography, this show looks like a million dollars. I'd love to live in their house in Hamburg. Noomi Rapace is great in this. And grumpy Jonathan Banks is grumpy. "Mamma"…"Alice" when you get to that episode you'll know what I'm talking about. Would like to see a second season.

Stephen King – Billy Summers. This book was a delight. An assassin out for one last job. A coming of age story. And two novels in one cleverly handled. I've been a fan of King's since I was a teenager and always forget what a great story teller he can be.

3 Body Problem. Netflix. What happened was, I'd learned people who read the books weren't impressed by the TV adaptation? And yet the premise sounded great, and the trailer sucked me in. So I went in cold. And it was glorious. To the point where I've now bought the first book in the trilogy and I'm a quarter through it. Fantastic story.

This Is Us. Netflix. My wife and I started watching this on live terrestrial TV when it first came out and kinda forgot about it somewhere around season two ish. So we watched it from the beginning to the end. It gets a lot of flack for being trauma porn & needing to teach a life lesson every episode. But I dunno, as guilty pleasures go, this was pretty good.

Röyksopp – Profound Mysteries III. I've become somewhat obsessed with this album and have played it to death this week. It's playing right now in fact. Give it a listen if you haven't already.

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The Darkness Before The Light

It rained almost all day yesterday, dark and overcast with the temps barely getting above needing-a-jacket level. More rain overnight with a thunderstorm that woke me from a bizarre dream about toothbrushes. The dark clouds have rolled in again. Dark enough that we need the lights on in the house at lunchtime.

Previously I'd worry about the rain. We bought an old house a few years ago and had some bad luck with water damage after a particularly bad monsoon season. Now we have a new roof, new upstairs balcony, fancy patio door. Rain all you want Phoenix, now I couldn't care less.

Desert dwellers love days like these, for we know what's coming soon enough. This time Thursday it will be 20 degrees warmer. And the inevitable test of whether we can make it through April without having the air conditioning on in the house.

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Friday

Spent a bit of time hacking on lastweekly today to rip out Twitter integration. It's been busted since Elon broke the API last year; that and I'm not really that interested in Twitter these days. Slowly replacing all that with WordPress integration so the weekly cron job will now post last.fm stats here automagically instead.

It's that time of the year where we get our Olive trees sprayed to prevent the fruit from growing. Dear reader, why would anyone ever do that? The trees look pretty, but the actual olives themselves are a bit of a pain in the ass. They fall on the driveway and if you step on them they stain the concrete and then you walk that lovely olive splatter into the house. Plus they're a Pigeon magnet and no one wants to host a Pigeon party.

Because there are more TV shows to watch than hours left in my life, I decided to add yet one more watching project to the list. As you do. Last night was the start of the big X-Files re-watch extravaganza. All 11 seasons of it. One episode down, 217 left to go!

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On Just Missing Gary Numan

You know how there are artists from your youth that, for one reason or another, you just haven't seen live? Gary Numan is one such artist.

I played his records to death in my bedroom as a kid. He released a live box set called Living Ornaments '79 and '80 that I played over and over and over. I still listen to it, albeit on Spotify these days, in fact it's in my top five most listened to albums.

Because I live in a cave I didn't really pay attention to his 2024 tour schedule that closely. I think I saw he was playing with Ministry and there was some talk of separate break away solo shows? Or something.

Last week I REALLY paid attention because I saw he was playing at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix in April. That's next month, but really, how popular could he be in Phoenix eh? Could it be after all these years?

No. No it couldn't. For the show is completely sold out. Snooze you most certainly lose. I just have to hope that 2024 is not the year he retires. Boo.

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Recent Media March 2024 Edition

A few things that found their way in front of my eyeballs of late.

Maggie Moore(s). You know how you're sitting on a plane and being nosy looking at what the bloke in front of you is watching on his screen? I see this movie playing with Tina Fey, John Hamm as a Police Chief, and Nate from Ted Lasso! So I find it and watch it. And it's just a fun black comedy that I loved. Don't be put off by the lukewarm reviews.

Wonka. This was an absolute delight. Timothée Chalamet an excellent choice to play the title character. Fun songs, visually impressive, an all round good time.

Peaky Blinders season one. I might be one of the few left on the planet who hadn't watched this. The Peaky Blinders were a street gang based in Birmingham, England, operating in the early 1900s. Cillian Murphy excellent as head of the family Tommy Shelby. And you can inject Sam Neill's Northern Irish accent into my veins. Six seasons all told, I can't wait to get started on season two.

Beastie Boys Story. Mike D and Ad-Rock on stage in Brooklyn telling the story of the Beastie Boys. As a huge fan I loved every second of this. I learned a lot about their early years as a hardcore band before taking a chance with rap. How the band evolved from the Fight For Your Right years is an impressive tale. They're both so engaging, I could have listened to them all night. Of course it prompted a Beastie Boys listen fest.

Poor Things. I don't remember ever walking out of a theater going what the hell did we just watch?, but in a very good way. Give all the awards to Emma Stone who is truly excellent in this movie. A visual masterpiece, the cinematography is breathtaking. If you kinda squint it's a retelling of Frankenstein's Monster maybe. Every scene has something to make you feel just a little uncomfortable. 10/10 bravo.

The Creator. Set in a future with AI and robots. Except the robots are kinda human and drink tea and smoke, and stuff. AI is outlawed in the US after a nuclear bomb drops on LA. So all the AI'ing happens in Asia. Where the US is just allowed to bomb all the time because AI bad. The locations are superb, and the special effects are second to none. It's a fun ride if at times it doesn't make lot of sense.

Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster. I'd watched A Year And A Half In The Life… back in the early 90s on VHS documenting the making of the Black album. Completely missed their second foray into similar territory in 2004. Fascinating look behind the scenes of Jason Newstead leaving, James Hetfield going into rehab for almost a year, and their subsequent hiring of Robert Trujillo. I've had an on and off relationship with Metallica over the years, but I'm a sucker for any and all behind the scenes documentaries about bands in general. This one is great.

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Music Walking Videos

I love music videos that are just cool walkabouts, don't you? A few of my favorites then.

VNV Nation – When Is The Future?

Bruce Springsteen – Streets Of Philadelphia

The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony

And Of course. Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy

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And Now A Little Something From The Old Country

What happened was, I got on a plane today and flew across the pond.

Every Time I See You Falling

If you're thinking to yourself, that doesn't look like a great seat, you'd be right. I had king of all elbows to my left. And argues with girlfriend on FaceTime to my right. It was a long flight.

But here I am standing sitting in England again. Where it all started.

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A Toast, Then, To RSS

Molly White, in her excellent review of Chris Dixon's Read Write Own book, made me laugh. Over the years the reports of RSS' death have been greatly exaggerated. And yet people still trot that line out.

Attempts to create alternatives have all failed, he says, before going on to describe several projects that are very much still in use, such as the RSS and ActivityPub protocols, or federated social media projects like Mastodon. RSS is dead, he repeats endlessly throughout the book.

It's profoundly weird to read RSS's obituary as a person who checks her very-much-still-alive feed reader several times a day to get everything from cryptocurrency news to dinner ideas, and who rarely encounters a website that doesn't provide a functional feed.

Good heavens reader. The tech you're using to read this very post is . Bummer.

RSS then, fully alive and well in 2024, powering the podcast industry, and keeping the independent publishing flame alive.

I'm reminded of a great post from Giles Turnbull a couple years back on what using RSS feels like:

This post was prompted by a conversation with a 20-something colleague, who had never heard of RSS. I shared the link to aboutfeeds.com, but after reading it my colleague was still baffled. "I don't understand," they said. "Why would you use something like this?" This post is an attempt to answer that question.

It's a really good read. And he's right when he says it's better than the endless scroll of social media.

The only way of moving through hundreds of items on a social media feed is to scroll through everything. Maybe it feels faster, but I don't think it really is faster, because it numbs your brain to input. Your thumb keeps scrolling, but your eyes stop taking things in.

Indeed.

If you're reading this, you already know the virtues of RSS, and nothing here is news to you.

RSS is dead! Long live RSS.

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On Finding New Music

I was really happy to learn about the Search Engine podcast. It's hosted by P. J. Vogt – one of the guys behind the also quite good and yet defunct Reply All. Each week he attempts to answer a question. And they're a lot of fun.

In catching up with episodes from last year the "how am I supposed to find new music now that I'm old and irrelevant?" one caught my eye.

Interesting hearing how you form an emotional attachment to music in your teens and early twenties. By the time you hit your thirties it's harder for new things to stick, and you gravitate more to the things that made up the soundtrack to your youth. And it's true, I find myself still listening to those formative years a lot.

I didn't agree 100% with the narrative that it's hard to discover new music these days. In many ways I think it's a lot easier than it ever was. That's probably worthy of a post in and of itself actually. The kids these days have no idea how easy they've got it.

In 2006 I discovered last.fm. Keeping track of everything I listen to was immediately appealing to me and something I continue to this day. But it was so much more than that. It was one of the early social sites. You had neighbors. Like minded individuals who shared the same taste in music. Being nosy about what they had listened to was all part of the fun. last.fm also had one of the first recommendation engines giving users their first introduction to a lot of new bands. It changed the game somewhat.

Fast forward to 2024 and I've been fully invested in the music streaming lifestyle for a number of years now. Spotify is actually pretty good with recommendations. The 'Discover Weekly' playlist comes out every Monday which I've found to be a goldmine. Also if you're listening to a band there will be an insta-playlist generated called, say, 'Depeche Mode Radio' made up of bands that are similar. Taking what last.fm pioneered and raising it a level.

So I'd say we've got it pretty good if you know where to look. It sure beats taping Radio One in my bedroom on a Sunday Evening as a 14 year old. Good heavens, remember when the radio actually played good music?

As a closing side note, PJ thinks he's old. He's 37. Oh you Millennials.

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