Monday, September 28, 2009

Lists and Reviews... I Beg Your Indulgence...

Greetings, one and all!

Well, almost all... it happens every once in a while... someone out there gets him/herself into a position where he/she is unworthy of my greetings... to him/her I would only say this: please see to it that sometime in the next few days, you make a small, tax-deductible purchase of one of the following gifts on the "Make Things Right with Dave Again List" below and send it to me, preferably overnight shipping... or hand-deliver it, along with a poem (iambic pentameter is acceptable) expressing your deepest of heartfelt regrets over the unfortunate occasion of your wronging me...

Make Things Right with Dave Again List: Fall 2009 Edition
* One (or more) of the remastered Beatles albums
* Band of Brothers DVD set
* New "spinner" rims for my soon-to-be hip Hyundai Elantra
* A week-long golfing vacation at a resort in Palm Springs
* A new iPod or iTouch (the more expensive the gadget, the greater the forgiveness, for a limited time only, restrictions apply, see store for details)
* A foot massage. In fact, make it two...
* A six-pack of "swift kicks to the groin"
* Free gasoline for a year
* A small chest full of gold bullion
* Laugh at my next 20 jokes, regardless how lame and/or unfunny they are.
* A pastrami sandwich from Katz's NY Deli

Hey, wait a minute... how did the item about "kicks to the groin" get on the list? My list has been hacked! Of all the nerve! Oh, you just wait until I find out who did this to me. You will pay, alright! You will pay dearly! [Dave seethes and pouts, convinced that it accentuates his smoldering good looks... but really, he's just lame.]

OK, moving right along...

It's been over a month since I last dabbled in "classic sci-fi cinema" with my underwhelming viewing experience surrounding 2001: A Space Odyssey. At that time, I decided to keep my sci-fi viewing to this side of Aliens. But today, I decided to shrug my shoulders and dive back in, this time viewing Ridley Scott's 1982 classic, Blade Runner, a movie I'd never seen before.

Unlike 2001, I could get my brain around Bladerunner. If you haven't seen it, here's a quick summary: A corporation has developed synthetic humans, each generation getting more and more human-like. Cue the "glitch" that causes the latest generation to rebel, and cue the government effort to track down and destroy all the synthetics. Harrison Ford plays a "blade runner," who is tasked with tracking down a half-dozen of these synthetics who have returned to earth in an effort to find a way to extend their lives beyond the built-in "fail safe" lifespan of four years that they were given when they were created.

Again, I'm not much of a sci-fi fan... I know that fantasy and sci-fi are lumped together, which I suppose makes sense... but I love fantasy and have little patience for sci-fi, and I can't really put my finger on it. In any case, I got a kick out of the "distant future" that was portrayed - especially since the date given for the future was 2019, a mere ten years away... the film had all the stereotypical future-noir cliches of the early eighties... the constant rain, the flickering neon, the hovercars, the steam inexplicably rising from every gutter and sidewalk crack, the beams of light randomly shining through the blinds... and the best part, the cheesy synth-heavy soundtrack. Also present in heavy doses were examples of the bizarre mix of advanced technology and 1980's technology. In one scene, Ford slides a photograph into a VCR-type machine, and the "computer" then allows him to zoom in, through a door in the background of the picture, and then look around inside the room in the back of the photograph, seeing who was there in the house when the pic was taken. Keep in mind, this person is not visible in the actual photo, but the computer is somehow able to look around the corners in the photo and see who's there...

In any case, my impressions were "meh". Yeah, I know, it's a classic. Maybe it's just my general antipathy and borderline-mockery for the genre in general, or maybe it's just that it seemed universally poor in both production and presentation when compared to today's sci-fi ("For it's time, it was great!" that sort of thing), I don't know. The acting was corny, the narration lame... there was some good action in it, however, and Daryl Hannah played a creepy-cool kind of character. Bottom line, I'll file it under "glad I watched it, but I likely won't watch it again." I guess when it comes to sci-fi, I'll stick with noobie-fare like The Fifth Element and Riddick.

Shellie is having a give-away over at her blog... she's giving away a CD by a band called Radiohead, and to enter you have to email her with your list of your 5 favorite music albums, with a brief explanation of why they are your top 5. I've been meaning to do this anyway, so I decided to enter. Found something out... it's hard to decide on just 5!

Here are my top 5, with explanations, as brief as I can make them.

Dave's Top 5 Albums, as of This Moment (Subject To Change at a Moment's Notice)
1. Facedown by Matt Redman

I've always been a fan of Redman - It pleases me to know there's someone out there that worships God as full-on as Matt Redman does. I'm happy for God in that respect. Matt's a terrific musician, who has produced some of the most memorable praise/worship music of the past decade and a half. If you are a Christian, no doubt you know - and have sung - many of his songs, perhaps without even realizing it. In any case, Facedown blows me away. Every track does something for me - it brings me to a place I neither can nor want to describe - it's just too personal. I'm kind of a stats-hound - I take "rating songs" very seriously for some reason... very rarely do I grant a song a "5 star" rating - too many variables have to be perfect (lyrics, composition, craft, vocals, musicianship, feel, etc.), and this album has 5 such perfect songs (IMHO): Seeing You, Gifted Response, Pure Light, Facedown and Mission's Flame. The rest of the album is solid as well, with only 2 tracks that I feel are merely "above average"... for this combination of factors, Facedown tops my list.

2. Joshua Tree by U2

Like Depeche Mode, U2 has put out many terrific albums, with many terrific songs, but there have always been, in my eyes, as many mediocre tracks on the albums as there are standout songs (for both bands). The only exception to this rule, as far as U2 is concerned, is Joshua Tree, which contains many epic, dare I say "seminal" songs. The only song on the album I have little love for is Trip Through Your Wires, which I find annoying, and honestly, with Bullet the Blue Sky, I need to be in the right mood to appreciate that one, otherwise I advance past it when the opening drumbeat starts. My favorite track changes, depending on the mood I'm in when I contemplate it, which is always a good sign, I think. At this moment, I'd tag Running to Standstill, but ask me tomorrow and who knows? Terrific album, great music, often-fascinating lyrics.

3. The Beautiful Letdown by Switchfoot

This album achieves the near-impossible: it contains not only two of my favorite songs of all time, but if I were to compile a list of greatest songs ever written, these two would be way up there as well, any artist, any genre, period. Sounds ridiculous, considering the kind of light-weight "christian" teen-skate-band vibe of most of their early work, eh? Well, be that as it may, Dare You To Move and This Is Your Life never, ever fail to inspire and encourage me. Everyone has a select couple songs that manage to cut through and touch them no matter what they are going through in life - these two songs do that for me. The rest of the album is solid, with a mix of above-average and average songs, but this album will always place high on my chart, if for no other reason than those two amazing songs.

4. One Day Remains by Alter Bridge

I've defended Creed in this blog before, and I stand by that assessment. I like their music, I don't care who mocks me for it. They moved from obscurity to fame to scandal to break-up long before I'd even heard of them. In fact, Alter Bridge formed out of the wreckage and released this, their first album, before I'd heard of them as well. Maybe that's why I like both Creed and Alter Bridge - I never got caught up in their rise and fall, etc. and could simply enjoy their music. This album is a rarity on my iPod, in that it is there, in it's entirety. Most albums, I give them a listen or two, take mental note of the good/great songs and delete the ones I don't care for, since for some reason, it grates on me to have sub-par songs taking up space on my iPod. As a result, I have very few complete albums on my iPod. I will listen to - and sing along with - every single track on this album, Broken Wings, Burn It Down and Metalingus edging out the rest to rise to the top.

5. Jars of Clay by Jars of Clay

Jars of Clay has released a number of albums, most of which I have very little interest in. Their 1995 debut album, on the other hand, is every track awesome. Debut albums have the advantage, in most cases. Often, a decade or more of a struggling band's best material can be gathered, rehearsed, fine-tuned and assembled into a debut album, that is not under any completion pressure. It's almost a "greatest hits" type of album for most bands, chronicling the best of their early days, before people have heard of them. Certainly not in every case, but most certainly in Jars of Clay's case. This is another album I have in its entirety on my iPod, and that I can listen to in any order. Distinct sounds, wonderful musically, multi-layered lyrically, with a solid, encouraging, positive feel and undercurrent. As with many bands with terrific debut albums, they were under the stardom-fueled pressure to quickly produce subsequent albums. The results have, unfortunately, been nowhere near as good.

So that's my Top 5 list, as of now. Honorable mentions go to: Coming Up To Breathe by Mercy Me, Offerings by Third Day, Dead Man's Party by Oingo Boingo, The Best of Muse by Muse, Revival in Belfast by Robin Mark and The Nu Nation Project by Kirk Franklin.

Sheesh, that took longer to crank out than I had anticipated... I've probably trespassed upon your patience enough for one day, so I should pull the plug and save the rest of my hot air for tomorrow. Until then, remember, a lack of movie quotes is not necessarily a bad thing...


havah said...

Apparently I couldn't afford to be on your bad side. :p Except for maybe that six pack, which, incidentally, I thought was being requested for you to then unleash on the victim -- I mean villain -- of your choice.

Well, fantasy is more romantic and less techno than sci-fi. Which I guess means you're a romantic then, huh? :D I haven't seen Blade Runner either, and I probably won't. I have this weird habit of not watching movies everyone raves about. Not that you were raving...I mean everyone else was...Ugh! You know what I mean.

I haven't heard the Redman album, but "Joshua Tree" and "The Beautiful Letdown" would be at the top of my list too if I had one. Funny...those two songs on the Switchfoot album are my favourites too. I haven't heard your #4 and #5 albums...but "Coming Up to Breathe" and "Offerings" are right up there too.

*gasp* No quotes? Nooo...I'm aiming for 400, Dave. Don't let me down! hehehe


David Wagner said...

Well, perhaps you can buy Facedown with your Quote Contest winnings!

Sorry no quotes tonight... I ran out...

I am going to kick it up a notch as far as the themes, however... I have ideas... MUAHAHAHA!!!!!

havah said...

Evil ideas by the sounds of it! I'm game! :D

logankstewart said...

Ha, I just bought Blade Runner at a used DVD sale the other day. I've only seen it once, but I liked it well enough to spend $2 on it for a movie that I may watch again some day.

I like Matt Redman's stuff, but I don't own a Redman album. All of the songs I've heard from him are on some sort of Worship collection cd, but the man knows how to praise God.

I have to disagree with the Jars of Clay statement. I love the band. Much of their subsequent albums are a little more polished than Jars of Clay, and none nearly as good, but most are still fantastic albums, in my humble opinion.

Crystal said...

Facedown is, in my opinion, the best Matt Redman CD. Same goes for the Jars of Clay album. I like their newer stuff, but nothing they have released is better than their first album.

I own all the Creed albums, but I don't have the Alter Bridge. I will definitely have to download it from iTunes.

Abbie said...

Hey Dave,
I really like that switchfoot album and Facedown. Plus, in your honorable mentions, Revival in Belfast is awesome! Very good music indeed. Glad you submitted to Shellie's contest! It was cool to see what your taste in music is :)

Go Havah Go!!!

Meg said...

Ah, Blade Runner. That was one of my mom's favorite movies when I was growing up. I've seen it far too many times.

I'll have to check out those other albums you mentioned. I used to love Switchfoot. Joshua Tree is one of the best cds ever. I had the Jars of Clay tape back in the day and played it until the little black tapey stuff unwound and fell out. I liked all their older albums, but the newer stuff, not so much.

Avari said...

Omg Dave. I too love the first Jars of Clay album. Haven't heard much of their others (I'm sure there's a good reason for that, as you mentioned). Not only do I think it is a great album, but I was 5 years old when it came out and I have vast memories of being with my Mom and Vye while my mother was listening to it. For some reason, all the music my mom listened to with us kids when I was little is like ingrained in my head with memories that always seem good because, you know everything seems so much better when you are little. So even if the music isn't that great, but it brings up great memories, I just love it so much more. Anyway yeah, I really like the album because of the memories that come with it. Can't believe you like it too.

Paula Titus said...

Very funny top list. Nut! :)

Your musical taste is exquisite!

Those puppies are so sweet. :)

kingphatcow said...

don't you think the NEW Alter Bridge album rocks just a little bit harder than the first one?

Shellie (Layers of Thought) said...

David -
Thanks for the mention.
I know you do no like Radiohead from your latest post but could you email me your list. It would be great to post it with the others. Any you could give the CD away - if you win to someone who does.
And you never know our next giveaway could be a "Band of Brothers". :)
layers of thought {@} gmail {dot} com

David Wagner said...

Josh: The new Alter Bridge album is admittedly awesome (listening to it now, actually), but I think it has a handful of top notch songs, and some mediocre ones, whereas the first album I think is more consistent, as a whole. I think thats why I prefer the debut album to Blackbird.