Today, beautiful today, marks the first day of my return to more regular part-time work hours. No more excessive pre-Christmas shifts, no more 7am unlocking of automatic doors to be the Magazines Bitch because I’m nice and fill in for people when they ask. Just one evening and one weekend day chaque semaine, and occasionally an extra day if I’m feeling generous. Which means I can return to THINKING FOR MYSELF! And this includes BLOGGING. And reading, obviously.
So let’s get ourselves caught up. What things – books, music, movies, the usual suspects, duh – have tickled my fancy over the last couple of months as I lay in WordPress stasis?
– Scott Pilgrim (Bryan Lee O’Malley / Edgar Wright)
– Room (Emma Donoghue)
– Voltaire (in general)
– /\/\ /\ Y /\ (M.I.A.)
– Arrested Development
And other stuff too, but for now these are focal points, I suppose.
ESPECIALLY SCOTT PILGRIM.
If you haven’t watched the movie, please go beg/borrow/steal it from somewhere IRL or on the Internet and FIX THIS. Because it is actually hilarious, so… a-maaaaa-zing and various other positive descriptors that may or may not be stolen from the movie itself. The storyline is ridiculous/epic, the visual effects are stunning (apparently the film’s in one of the longlisty things for the SFX Oscar) and the music/acting/EVERYTHING are all badass. Even Michael Cera goes a bit beyond his usual typecast quiet-indie-boy thing. I watched it THREE TIMES in one night a week ago. Three different commentaries, and it was still awesome every time.
And can I return to the brilliance of the soundtrack? It’s not quite the Indie 101 Mixtape that the Twilight soundtracks have been – Eclipse‘s OST was amazing, and redeemed the atrocity that was the movie somewhat – but it may be even better. I would pretty much call it flawless, with no tracks pulling down the overall sound of the album. Deciding to put Metric‘s original version of Black Sheep on the OST instead of the version performed by The Clash At Demonhead in the film was a good call, I feel, because as much as Brie Larson is amazing, she just isn’t Emily Haines, and the instrumentation in the TCAD version is a little lacking. But putting on the Sex Bob-Omb versions of their songs was definitely necessary (although the special edition album does include the Beck originals and they are arguably better… but still. SBO for life)
This has just been movie excitement so far, you’ll notice. But the original Scott Pilgrim-ness (Plumtree song titles aside) comes from the Bryan Lee O’Malley graphic novels. And they kick so much ass that it’s hard to deal. There are six of them, and you should buy them and read them all. The characters are more interesting in written/drawn form, I think, mostly due to there being more space and scope for development on the page than with limited screen time. Scott himself is a much cooler character in the graphic novels, for the most part, and you get more insight into supporting characters that the movie alone doesn’t show.
It’s becoming an obsessive thing. I’m probably going to be cosplaying as Ramona Flowers at Wellington Armageddon. BECAUSE I CAN. And because she’s my hair-soul-twin, AND on that note, it gives me a good excuse to keep my hair interesting until then.
But enough with the Pilgrimage. Onto other things of Significance.
If you recall, many moons ago I stated an ambition to Read Important Books That Win Things And Stuff. My most recent addition to that list has been Room, by Emma Donoghue, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize this year. And by this year, I mean last year. Damn January. It’s an amazing book, with one of the most interesting narrators I’ve encountered recently – I have to say, novelists who manage to convincingly pull off the mind of a ‘different’ child for the duration of a novel impress me no end (case in point – Oskar in Jonathan Safran Foer‘s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). Giving away the plot would be mean, so instead I will just say GO READ IT. It nearly won the Booker for good reason. Now I just have to track down a copy of The Finkler Question…
Next on the list – VOLTAIRE. He was one of those musicians (well a jack of all trades, really) that I knew of, knew I ought to listen to and investigate, but never quite got around to it. But I finally did investigate him, a few months ago, and have been doing more significant reconnaissance in the last couple of weeks. He may be the current king of the goth scene, but that doesn’t mean you should be expecting traditional ‘goth’ sounds à la The Cure’s more sombre and less New Wave moments. It’s macabre, rather than depressing, and I for one take great delight in this particular facet of supposed goth music.
Plus Brian Viglione drums on one of his records. SOLD to the girl who thought about flying to San Francisco for New Years in order to see the Dresden Dolls play. I mean, what?
Basically, go listen to him, and I very much doubt that you’ll regret it. There are Balkan influences, and moments of mariachi-esque glory and every song I’ve heard so far has definitely gotten a tick in the ‘good’ column.
Today’s the 10th of January, which means that it’s only ELEVEN DAYS until the Big Day Out here in Auckland-town. And this means M.I.A. Hell. Fucking. Yeah. I’ve seen her once before, at Coachella 2009, and she was one of my favourite performers of the whole festival. Which was three days long and basically had the best line-up ever, as far as I was concerned. One thing that IS perplexing me regarding her BDO showings is that she played the main stage at Coachella (and that’s a stage/crowd BDO-goers can’t even fathom in size, really. I mean, it’s HUGE.) and is only playing the Boiler Room at BDO. It takes an extremely good reason for me to enter the Boiler Room at all, but M.I.A. is more than enough to persuade me in, even if she should really be taking her rightful place on one of the blue or orange stages. I’ve only gotten my hands on her latest album, Maya – or /\/\ /\ Y /\ if you want to style it correctly – quite recently, but it’s already being spun with alarming frequency. I think overall I might still prefer Kala, but there are tracks on the new record that I adore – Born Free andXXXO probably being my favourites for the moment. Even if XXXO does have that awkward twitter/iPhone line.
And finally, another item in the ‘I know I should like it but let me get around to it’ files – I have finally watched a decent chunk of Arrested Development. And it’s just as fantastic as everyone has always made it out to be, and I really need to further my viewing and embrace it entirely. Jason Bateman’s awesome, Portia de Rossi is an obvious combo of attractive and badass, and both Alia Shawkat and Michael Cera are SO. ADORABLE.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have books to read and movies to watch. In case you’re interested, my current book pile includes
– Alias Grace
The Hobbit (I JUST HAVE TO GET IT FINISHED)
The Summer Book
– Kafka On The Shore
– Three Vampire Tales (includes Dracula, Carmilla and The Vampyre)
I’m going to TRY to finish all of them before summer’s up, but we’ll see how that goes. If I vow to do so, I’ll be more gutted if I don’t manage it, so instead I will merely promise a valiant effort.