Pitching Tents 04: Fatherhood

In this, the month of dads and grads, we are happy to bring back Pitching Tents. Inspired by Father’s Day, which was a week ago if you haven’t been calendar watching lately, we decided to come up with the best movies about fatherhood that haven’t been made. And that’s a tricky one, given that there seem to be only a few types of dad movies: the ones where he has to get his save his family, the ones where he has to reconnect with his family, and the ones where his family have to reconnect with him. Which of these types did we tend to favor? Listen and find out!

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Short Playing Record

Tony Molina – Dissed And Dismissed

Considering summer officially starts this weekend, I think we can agree that 2014 has been pretty crappy at producing “summer albums”.  Sure, there have been some quality albums that have come out in the months leading up to summer, like that Lykke Li record or the newest Sharon Van Etten.  But considering I’m not looking to sprinkle my summer nights with the sounds of women earnestly singing about their doomed relationships, I’ve put those ones on the backburner for now.  Then there’s that new Parquet Courts album, which might be a good summer album if it wasn’t for the fact that much like the last Parquet Courts album, there’s one track on it I love and then a bunch that I’m merely fine with.  So it’s been a nice little surprise discovering this pop-infused sideproject from hardcore vet Tony Molina, which came out in March but feels like prime listenin’ for this time of year.

Now, the only problem with labeling Dissed And Dismissed as a “summer album” is that it’s 11 minutes long, which begs the question of whether this even qualifies as an album at all.  I mean it’s probably shorter than most EP’s, although its track count of 12 songs could also make a case for it’s credentials as an album.  But regardless of whatever Dissed and Dismissed is, it’s really easy to listen to over and over again.  At first, I found it a little hard to get into the rhythm of these songs (all of which run somewhere between 42 seconds and a minute and a half), since it kinda seems like once each song gets going, it’s immediately over.  But I think that “leave them wanting more” approach undoubtedly works in Dissed And Dissmissed‘s favor, as it keeps you grasping for each little tasty nugget it gives you.

And apart from the whole “is this even an album?” schtick that Dissed And Dismissed has going on, I’m mostly enamored by it having a sound that’s firmly placed in the middle of my musical sweet spot.  As I said earlier, Molina has been doing stuff in a bunch of San Francisco hardcore bands that I haven’t heard of, but this is more reminiscent of a louder take on power-pop.  A lot of the time, it reminds me of Pinkerton-era Weezer, which is more than welcome considering Weezer have spent far too little of their career sounding like Pinkerton-era Weezer.  There are also a bunch of sweet Thin Lizzy licks that Molina likes to throw in every once in a while, which makes for an “album” that kicks some ass while also getting stuck in your head at incredibly brief intervals.

Favorite Tracks: “Change My Ways”, “Don’t Come Back”, “The Way Things Are”

Minnesota Nooice

Fargo – Season 1

I had a realization the other day when I was discussing with Sean the importance of a crucial icescraper that ties together this new Fargo TV series and the movie it’s based on — and it’s that I’ve seen the movie Fargo a lot.  Like probably much more than your average cinephile/Coen Brothers fan (they’re pretty much the same thing at this point).  This would probably have to do with the fact that the Fargo movie managed to mix together three of my favorite things: dark comedy, film noir, and the great state of Minnesota.  The latter has to do with basically all of my extended family hailing from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, which lent itself to a very unique tone and atmosphere that hasn’t been justly replicated in film or television since.  Of course, that’s all changed now that this Fargo TV series (don’t worry it’s been blessed by the Coen’s who serve as producers), since the show serves as a respectful counterpart to the movie while also brilliantly carving out it’s own frigid, bloodstained universe. Continue reading

Eight is Enough

Mario Kart 8

What better way to mark my return to the blogosphere than with a dear old friend by my side? Mario Kart has delighted and flustered young slurpee-swilling gamers for over 22 years and even in its eighth installment, has yet to hit a road block. Rarely a series that takes any leaps of faith from game-to-game, Mario Kart instead makes minor tweaks and adjustments to a series that was essentially perfected from day one. Though I hadn’t seriously played an installment in a while there were features in MK8 that I simply couldn’t resist. The polished graphics, anti-gravity, playing as Bowser’s little shits, getting all the items all at once? As a Wii U owner this was something I had to have, and there’s been no regrets.

My initial reaction to MK8 was taking in the graphics. The game has never looked better in a fresh coat of Wii U paint and I especially took pleasure in revisiting the past stages retooled for the new game. After this I took notice of the challenge. The challenge of the game on its highest difficulty can be infuriating at first but rewarding later. Getting to know the courses and the art of drifting are key essentials to success and after practicing those I started to enjoy the hard mode. What’s even more interesting is how the game seems to actually be harder when playing on a lower difficulty with friends. I don’t know if there’s more venom when playing alongside your “friends” but it certainly adds a more chaotic, unpredictable slant to the courses. I love playing the game both single-player and with friends and am glad you can go through “story mode” in either form.

As far as I know, the Koopa Kids are the newest additions in the character department. I prefer to play as Lemmy, considering he’s the least disgusting, but for the most part none of them are particularly memorable. I’m not sure what’s new in the vehicle selection but I’m a fan of the variety and customization. My fav combo is to play as Yoshi riding the Yoshi-Cycle, there’s something eerily satisfying about riding a motorcycle that has your face on it. The weapons are as solid as ever, though I’m particularly a fan of the ability to receive every item at once. So much chaos. So much anger. So much fun.

My biggest complaint is the complaint I have with all Mario Kart games. Too short. It’s easy to beat the game in a single night if you’re competitive. I’d love more unlockable stages but I suppose that’s what downloadable content is for… Bastards. Speaking of stages, “Battle Mode” is a real disapointment. If I recall, previous installments featured stages specifically for battling friends but this time it’s just the same stages you use for races. If it isn’t hard enough to find the other character it’s too time consuming and lacks the tension and overall satisfaction. That aside, there’s plenty to like about this game. If you like to compete with friends, or just compete alone because all of your friends are dead, this is the game for you!

The People’s Albums: #34 No Strings Attached

If I’m being honest, this is not the first time I’d heard this album.  Though I can at least say that for the purposes of this post was the first time I listened to this album on purpose.  You see, I had a younger sister growing up in the early ‘00s, and though she may have been a few years younger than ‘N Sync’s main teenage demographic, she most certainly had this album, and listened to it a lot.  Granted, I mostly just overheard this album’s bouncy and boisterous reverberations echoing from my sister’s room next door, but I’m still man enough to admit that me and No Strings Attached aren’t complete strangers.

Album: No Strings Attached
Artist: ‘N Sync
Release Date: March 21, 2000
Copies Sold In The U.S.: 12.7 Million Continue reading

Tomorrow Never Blows

Edge Of Tomorrow

Sean offered me the assignment of reviewing this movie, since he reasoned that I never get to review big budget action movies like this one.  But looking back, I was the one who reviewed Gravity, so it hasn’t been that long.  Edge Of Tomorrow, the latest sci-fi Tom Cruise vehicle, is similar to Gravity in that it’s one of the few big budget spectaculars from the last few years that isn’t a super hero sequel or based on some existing franchise — and thus didn’t quite make me feel like I was just giving my money away to some money-making juggernaut when I purchased my ticket.  But it’s also similar to Gravity in that it’s just a really well-made piece of pop entertainment.

As I said, Edge Of Tomorrow isn’t a franchise movie (yet), but it is based on the less generically-titled Japanese novel, All You Need Is Kill.  Basically Tom Cruise plays a military officer who’s too much of a pussy to actually face combat, until Brendan Gleason gets annoyed by him and forces him into this epic battle against an alien entity that has recently crash-landed on Earth.  The story never really states how far in the future the story takes place, but it seems to be set just far enough from now that we’re using sweet robot suits to fight military battles.  Anyways, Tom Cruise ends up stuck in a total “Groundhog Day” situation as he finds himself living the day of this battle over and over again, with each incarnation of the battle ending in global annihilation.  Then Tom Cruise (I’m not gonna look up his character’s name) runs into a badass super soldier played by Emily Blunt, and it turns out she’s been through the same thing Tom Cruise is going through and wants to help him finally figure out how to win this doomed battle.

There are a lot of other elements going on in Edge Of Tomorrow that I could try to explain, but I’ll just leave that for the nerds to argue over.  Although I suppose that’s one thing that’s kind of neat about this movie.  It obviously has it’s own unique mythology, but at the same time it’s basic enough that someone like me can easily get in to it and have a good time.  And even though the film does have a very gritty feel to it that’s reminiscent of the (I’m just gonna assume) much worse film Battle: Los Angeles, it’s interests are always in keeping the audience entertained.  The way it does this is often by keeping the tone surprisingly light and playful, but also knowing when to raise the stakes and let the machine-gun bullets fly.

Also, I really liked the way this movie used Tom Cruise.  At this point, it’s a given that the man is one of the most magnetic movie stars of his generation, and it seems like a lot of his roles in the past few years have played up his more superhuman qualities.  Edge Of Tomorrow however, plays nicely against Cruise’s screen persona by making him a pretty big wimp at first, and then making him seem literally about as human as possible by making him die on screen over and over again.  And to be honest, there’s something kind of morbidly delightful about getting to watch the most charismatic man in Hollywood get squashed, shot, and blown-up over and over again.

Emily Blunt’s also pretty good in it, even though it’s hard to imagine any future in which the most decorated soldier in the military is a pretty lady.  But whatever, considering that this last week or so has reminded us all how shitty women are still treated in American society, I have a really hard time knocking a movie for making its true hero a badass heroine.  So yeah, this movie was a nice surprise, and especially when the rest of this summer movie season is starting to look like some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland that we’ll keep having to relive over and over again with each passing week.

T3 79: Bottom 10 Disaster Movies

Did you guys see Louie this week? I guess it was something we knew was coming, but can you believe, just conceptually, that a show about a comedian living in New York would ever get to the point of showing a harrowing hurricane rescue? That’s a pretty special show, and we’re all lucky to be able to enjoy it. But don’t get it twisted, we paid our dues. We paid by having to sit through some of the worst disaster movies ever made, all so we could make a list. Sometimes we even overpaid, I’m looking at you Michael Bay.

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