Review – A Perfect Circle’s EAT THE ELEPHANT

The Thirteenth Step is probably one of my favorite albums of all time. I could take or leave the rest of A Perfect Circle’s discography, I haven’t listened to their third album since around the time it came out. Thirteenth is incredible and strange and haunting and beautiful and ultimately mysterious. There’s no way that new APC music would stand up. Can’t say I ever really wanted more.
My initial reaction to the first new APC tunes they released were: “Yes that is a song.” 100% sarcastic and indifferent to it. I knew I wanted something more but I wasn’t sure what that was. I decided to find out what I wanted, or rather what it was I loved about Thirteenth.
I did so without revisiting the album, not at first. I wanted to see if I could find out what it was from memory. What I discovered was I liked how it seemed to transport me, take me away. There is something otherworldly about Thirteenth and that is infinitely attractive to me. The weird odd mysterious nature of it engulfs me. Something that none of the other albums do.
Including the recently released, EAT THE ELEPHANT. I appreciate the title and abhor the cover.
As I stated above, the few songs I listened to ahead of the album’s release did not inspire any sort of confidence but hearing those songs in context of the album make them a lot better. It’s not a bad album. I’ve been listening to it a lot more than I thought I would. The first couple listens were difficult because the first four songs are one block, they feel like they belong together and then there’s an abrupt jarring album killing change with the fifth song. Which worsens with the following track. The album is ten times better with those two removed from the playlist.
So my advice is to just delete “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish” (track 5) and “TalkTalk” (track 6) that way the album keeps a more tighter sound. And a much more satisfying runtime of about 48 minutes.
Overall, it’s a chill album on its own merits and I don’t have anything negative to say about it besides the bit about the cover. I’ve enjoyed thinking about it in regards to Thirteenth but I’m not sure I’ll be listening to it fifteen years from now like Thirteenth.
I wonder what my life will look like in fifteen years…

Review – Tokyo Ghost

Back in 2006-2008, I was heavy into weekly comics. I was making decent money and not doing an abundance of drugs, nor was I faced with any real responsibilities. So it wasn’t anything to drop more than $60 a week on comics. Around this time, Marvel was doing the ‘Dark Reign’ banner books, one of which was a new Punisher series written by Rick Remender. I remember seeing the name and thinking “that’s a cool name”, upon opening the book I was instantly hooked. I loved every second of that run, yes even the Franken-Castle bits. That was actually my favorite. It was only recently I became aware of the hate for that story. Before Rick completed his run, I was pulled away from comics—that’s a story for another time. The point is, I never forgot his name and a handful of years ago I came across a couple of his Image books, notably Black Science which is a benchmark for comics. It is incredible. I dare you to not get hooked.
I finally got around to reading Tokyo Ghost last month and I savored it. Soaked in the art across the 8×12 large hardcover that is absolutely perfect. This is a big story. Very stylish and cinematic. The first couple issues are dripping with this humor that I wasn’t expecting but quickly the real emotional hooks of the relationship between Debbie Decay and Led Dent stuck themselves into me.
It’s a story about dependency, whether that is on technology or other people or power or anything else. It’s all present here. I really related to a lot of it. Rick does a great job of putting in things in his stories that are relatable but I think this is the one that hit me the hardest.
The art by Sean Gordon Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth is nothing short of incredible. It pulls you in and doesn’t let go. There are car chases and sword fights and everything anyone could ever want. It’s really something to behold. You just have to look at the covers to get a glimpse of the style that is all over this book.
I have been paying attention to Hollingsworth for some time now and it’s really impressive the depth of his skillset. I’m not an artist, I don’t pretend to know what he actually does, it’s apparent that there’s a lot that goes into his coloring. Just comparing this book to Seven to Eternity (another fine Rick Remender product) really displays a lot. He is able to lift these books to heights I’m not sure they’d achieve without him.
So I’d like to thank Frank Castle for putting me onto Rick Remender and I’d like to thank Rick for putting me onto some of the greatest artists working in comics today. If we’re in a golden age of television then it’s a fucking platinum age of comics.
Read Tokyo Ghost, it’s not just flash and noise, sure it has that but there’s also a point. Sharing art is the meaning of life. Tokyo Ghost starts with a needle drop, what more could you ask for?

How about getting it for 50% off at comiXology?
Here’s the first half collected (issues 1-5) for $3.99.
The complete deluxe set for 59% off!
Or individual issues for $.99 each.

SALE ENDS TODAY, JULY 2nd. The sale includes all of Rick Remender’s books for Image. Black Science is a universe hopping thrill ride! Seven to Eternity is a brilliant take on the alternate world fantasy adventure. It’s almost guaranteed to not go where you expect. But I actually recommend buying Seven to Eternity in physical means because the art is otherworldly. Jerome Opeña is a master and this is his finest work to date. Every issue is stunning and more stunning than the last.
I literally can’t say enough good things about this.

Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate nor do I receive any cut of anything you spend on these fine books. I just really fucking love them and want other people to read them!

Review – The Crossing episodes 7 through 11

I’ve said pretty much all there is to say about this show. Actually, no I’ve said more than should be said about it. Three episodes from the end was when there were actually stakes in place. So that’s eight hours of TV with no stakes— it just existed. You’d be better off watching a squirrel for any amount of time. There’s more excitement and urgency in that.
I have enjoyed the process of reviewing the show, even if I’m only talking to myself about it. It’s been a very good lesson about stakes and throughlines in stories. If there’s one thing my in progress novel is lacking is clear stakes which is a direct result of the problems I’ve had with the throughline of the story, something I’ve only just really hammered into place.
The Crossing is about 6-7 episodes too long. If they trimmed it down to a four part miniseries, I think it could have been great. Most of the storylines are resolved at the end here and there’s not a huge opening for more stories. But that could just be that they beat the care right out of me.
I have watched worse things and I really did enjoy Steve Zahn’s character. It’s upsetting that there wasn’t more on that level. I wish the show lived up to the really striking logo/title image. Just once would have been enough.

Review – The Crossing episode 6

I don’t hate this show but I am at the point where I cringe every time I sit down to watch it. It’s bad but I’ve watched 3 seasons of Agents of Shield… There are things I like, a lot. For example, Steve Zahn’s character is great and there’s some depth there. It’s just used incorrectly.
This episode like the previous one is mostly a flashback. Yeah I don’t know why they are doing it either. This time it’s about Zahn’s back story which is far more interesting than I expected. I wish everything fired on the level that the Sheriff does. He’s the only thing keeping me interested.
The premise is strong, it’s just not executed well at all. All these people come from the future to escape enslavement and they are okay with being enslaved here? It doesn’t make much sense. It would take a certain kind of person to go along with the time travel thing and so far I haven’t seen anyone in the group of refugees that comes close to being that kind of personality.
These past two episodes have been so focused on the past that it really illuminates the lack of a real engine for this show. I have no real sense of what these people are running from or what they thought would happen once they came to this time. Did they just jump in the portal or whatever because there was nothing else? Did they want to come here only to live out the rest of their lives?
The highlight of the episode and the whole show is the Sheriff. The shit he pulls at the end is greaaaaaaaaaaatttttttttt and surprising and if they fuck up this cliffhanger I’m going to be so pissed.
(Sidebar, The show has been canceled, as expected. The rest of the season will air, there’s only a few more to go. And I will continue this adventure of reviewing this show.)

Review- The Crossing episode 5

I thought the previous review was short…
The synopsis for this episode is:
“A TERRIFYING TRUTH ABOUT THE MIGRATION IS REVEALED” (I used caps because this is serious)
I watched the whole episode and I did not find the terrifying truth nor was anything “revealed”, they elaborated on things that we knew and didn’t need to see. The filler episode thinks it’s vital!
I don’t know what the point of this show is anymore.

Review- The Crossing episode 4

Yes, this was an episode of television.
And to think I was really feeling the first two episodes, I wrongfully thought it would at the very least stay on that level.
It would have worked so much better to handle the main stories (Sheriff, Refugees as whole, and Lead Homeland Security Agent) every episode with ONE, ONLY ONE, of the D-list and lower stories at a time, per episode. Because having them all going at once is awful. You mow the yard, not blades of grass, and okay you might stop to grab the frisbee that Suzy left behind or the gaggle of rocks that Josiah stacked up but you’re still mowing the WHOLE yard.
This is one of those shows that feels like it’s one step from the lady on Dude Where’s My Car, you know the lady at the fast food window?
AN’ DEN?
A sheriff came.
AN’ DEN?
He was sad.
AN’ DEN?
But he’s Silly Steve Zahn.
AN’ DEN?
So he’s not sad for long.
AN’ DEN?
People washed ashore.
AN’ DEN?
They from the future?
AN’ DEN?
Everyone splits up and does things.
AN’ DEN?
Aren’t you bored?

The end of the episode was the best part. I saw it coming but it was still good.
I’m weak.
Onto the next!

Review- The Crossing episode 3

The highlight of the episode is Georgina Haig (FRINGE).
Okay, review over.
…Oh all right…
My notes while watching this one started out very optimistic and quickly went off the rails. The second episode really pulled me in and this one kicked me the hell out. There are so many things going on in this episode. It’d be like reading a book where every page is a different character.
EVERY PAGE.
I’m hoping this is just one of those episodes that comes along because things have to be set up or opened but as a singular episode… yikes. I mean they tried to put it all together. All the separate stories sort of converge around the halfway mark but then it gets worse. Some how. There’s literally no time to even register what or how I’m supposed to take away or feel from any given moment.
A lot of the episode features the sheriff with his young son who has come to visit. The kid clearly states early on what he wants and the father doesn’t let him have it and somehow the kid seems to have a good day. I guess that’s possible but it bugged me how the kid says “I thought we were gonna go fishing. I want to go fishing.” And the father says, “We will later, I promise.” Does later mean tomorrow? Because they never go fishing. They get ice cream and then it gets to be night and then the kid is kidnapped because we need a cliffhanger, okay.
It all could have been avoided if the father just did what the kid wanted. But then there wouldn’t be an episode…
Oh and there’s this really horrible neck breaking “stunt.” One character grabs another by the throat and snaps his neck, brutally twists it all the way around. Except there’s a hard cut in the middle. So she has him by the throat and twists. Hard cut. And he’s facing the other way now to make it “appear” like it went all the way around.
Please be better. There were a lot of these harsh cuts that just make me wince and turn away from the TV. Which is upsetting since there was a really decent car chase in the previous episode.
My eyes hurt just thinking about it.

Review- The Crossing episode 2

After the pilot, I had this idea that it would take a couple episodes to really feel like the show is moving and building on itself. I was wrong.
I try to be cautious about these things especially when it’s a new show, it’s hard to judge something off of one episode and now having watched two I can say that yes I am invested in this. This episode starts with a glimpse of the future and that glimpse continues throughout. It’s a story that does a great job of mirroring and also hinting and teasing things in the main story.
This is a show about family and I really like that they spent the pilot going hard at the plot but then peeled back the more important layers in the followup. This has a lot of heart and emotion. Throughout the episode I kept finding myself surprised and hooked by the level of compassion and emotion present.
I love the aerial transition scenes. For some reason I feel really sucked in at those moments. They do a good job of making it all seem real.
I’m not saying this is the best show on TV currently but for a small show that I’m sure won’t last beyond a second season— if it gets a renewal at all. These kinds of things tend not to last, especially on ABC. But it’s one of those things that you have to know going in.
The last ten minutes of the episode were great because I kept thinking the show would end and it would keep going. There were so many moments that would have worked as great cliffhangers and yet they didn’t use any of the ones I expected. It wasn’t just one time that I was surprised that the show kept going and showed what came next.
It’s really impressive how the show is able to keep a pretty brisk pace and also allow for time to feel the emotions of it all.
Then I watched the third episode…

A kind of communion: my review of Mr Robot season 3 (mild spoilers)

I fucking love this show. The first season has a great, focused narrative and that’s what I think everyone missed about the second season but also there was too much deferring of gratification in the sophomore year. There’s a big question that isn’t exactly answered until the third season and I can see how that’s a problem. However, this show is clearly written on the multi-season scale. Each season isn’t meant to tell a complete story like say The Leftovers or any of the many anthology series’s that exist today. This is a long form narrative, like Lost.
I enjoyed the second season, a lot. The second half of the season opener is gorgeous. That first scene with Freedom Tower firm in the background, the music and the oddness of it all. That scene is season 2 for me. It encompasses everything that would follow, a little off kilter, a little smooth but all captivating. My favorite thing about season 2 is Dom, who is portrayed by Grace Gummer. There is so much depth to her, it’s entrancing. I love her strength and her weakness and how each are played against each other and in unison. With season 3, the most striking change to the show from season 2 to 3 is how it seems like everyone is given so much more to work with. Dom’s journey through the season is memorable, I’m equally terrified and excited to see what the future holds for her.
Season 3 is a sort of return to form, in that we find ourselves facing down the barrel of another nail-biting narrative, filled with juicy reversals and chewy revelations. Just when you think they aren’t ever going to tell us anything about Whiterose, a handful of scraps falls from the high table. It’s not much but it’s enough. At least for the moment, I think we’ll get more next season. Especially since it’ll probably be about the extremely fascinating and weird mystery that came up this season.
The scene in which Angela is sitting on the floor in front of the TV is haunting. And when she “explains” to Darlene is even more so. That’s going to stick in my brain for a long time.
At the start of this season, I was convinced that answers were a lifetime away and that the show just wouldn’t be understandable because everyone is constantly mysterious and after completing it, I feel the opposite. This season feels like the midpoint of the story. The faucet of answers has been turned on, ever so slightly and answers are trickling out or at least a semblance of understanding.
The main driving force behind me wanting to write about Mr Robot is what happens in 8th episode of the season, it’s a reprieve. It’s one of the “standalone” episodes of the season, which is a really great addition to the storytelling bag on the show. In keeping to my mild spoilers promise, I’ll only tell you that there’s some Back to the Future here. Elliot goes to see the movie (no not via time travel). I loved how characters within the show explain the movie, in different ways because it means something different to them. That’s the goal. To reach people on a level where it means something different to each person. The way it’s portrayed in the show is beautiful, I got a little choked up.
Sam Esmail, creator of the show, is a huge fan and it seems to me he wears his fan hat more than he wears his director or writer hat. There are so many hints and nods and references throughout Mr Robot to other shows and films and not in the typical pop culture reference manner. This isn’t like Buffy where people crack jokes that are both for the show and for the audience. This is communion with the audience. Scenes callback to classic scenes in classic films, there’s a scene in season 3 that made me think of the beginning of The Matrix when they come for Neo at work and Morpheus guides him out of the building. It’s never done in a way that is distracting or meant to steal or rip-off other things, it’s a subtle nod to the audience. Hey, have you seen _? It’s more like discussing your favorite films with a stranger or a best friend than anything else. I could list all the ones I’ve found within the show but that takes the fun out of it. It’s more fun if you find Waldo for yourself. I’m sure I’ve missed more than I’ve found, seeing as I didn’t realize there was a Blade Runner nod in the second season until it was pointed out for me.
In this digital age, where everyone wants to partake in a community on Kickstarter or Patreon, it’s really refreshing to have this kinship with a creator. It’s more meaningful. I feel like I’m watching it with someone even when I’m alone. And it makes re-watching the show every year a deeply rewarding experience.

Review- The Crossing episode 1

I came across this show via a fifteen second Youtube ad, that doesn’t sound like a lot but it was more than enough. The logo is intriguing and the ad was an extension of this. And it said “FROM THE NETWORK THAT BROUGHT YOU LOST” and I am a sucker, hook line and sucker. However that does come with baggage because I am a LOST nerd and I’ve been burned by clones a few times (that’s not a complaint, I’ve enjoyed tearing apart some clones). Though it has been some time. Promptly, I purchased the season from Amazon primarily because of its bargain price. Six bucks tells me that it is a short season so even if it’s no good I haven’t sunk much time into it.
THE CROSSING is about a group of refugees that mysteriously wash up ashore but there is not a ship, somehow they have traveled from the future escaping a mysterious war.
The opening shot of the pilot is underwater, bodies rising. It’s a really great tease. There are links to TWIN PEAKS because of the setting and the first main plot point takes place on a beach.
This show could easily fall into mystery for the sake of mystery and to be honest I think I would be okay with that. I do love LOST after all. I did really enjoy how one of my first questions was “Why is Steve Zahn the lead here?” and the first episode does a decent job of at least giving me some idea as to why he was chosen. I’m already invested because he is not just the typical small town sheriff that we’ve all seen a hundred times over. At first glance, you will underestimate him and that’s something the character and the show has already used to great effect.
Overall, it’s not something that I would call “must-watch” but based on the pilot alone, I’m very into it. I just hope they lean more towards TWIN PEAKS than the other obvious comparison of X-MEN. Though if it can straddle that line for a couple seasons I’d be happy and satisfied with that.

2017 in review – Five books I enjoyed the hell out of

One of my goals for my reading year of 2017 was to read more new releases and I read 6 books that were released in 2017. It was a big year of content consumption. I read 35 books and here are five that I really loved.

A Life In Parts by Bryan Cranston
A truly lovely book, it grew my respect and admiration for the man and provided quite a bit of inspiration. It was really valuable to get a look inside an actor’s process. A quick read that is absolutely something I plan to revisit eventually. I highly recommend it.

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
This is a captivating novel. It really blurs genres in a way that I haven’t seen before just thinking about it a little bit makes me want to read it all again. I’m looking forward to reading more by her, I have Shining Girls in my next up pile.

Cibola Burn by James SA Corey
This is the fourth in the long running Expanse series, for which the TV show is based, and it’s my absolute favorite besides the first installment. The stakes are higher, or at least they seem to be. I felt like there wasn’t a character or section that I was dreading unlike in previous books. It held me tighter than the second or third books did and that’s what I want. Hold me by the fucking throat and don’t let go. This series is really special to me because I can and do fall right into this mammoth novels which is quite the feat since I don’t really read a lot of longer works.

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
READ THIS BOOK. The book is as great and as lovely as the cover is. It’s violent and shocking but in just the right way. It’s unforgettable and brilliant. Kat Howard deserves all of the success. She’s great. You should preorder her new book too! Unless you don’t like things that are great.

Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
This book blew my mind, truly and completely. I’ve never been one that was ever drawn to Westerns and I thought this was more fantasy than Western, I guess it is but it really doesn’t matter because it’s a perfect book. I can’t wait to read the sequel and the rest of the series.

Three out of the five here are by women which sort of lead me to the idea I have for my 2018 reading. I’m not buying any books by straight white men this year. Okay that’s sort of a lie because I have one preordered but that’s it. If I want to be a stronger writer I have to read more than just the straight white male perspective.

This is the final of my reflective pieces on media consumption for 2017. Thank you for reading and following along.