A Quick Tour Through My Paltry Vinyl Collection

Ah, Vinyl; the Bitcoin of the hipster. Remember when you were on the brink of extinction, only to be resurrected by a bunch of pasty fellas sporting ironic mustaches and unironic superiority complexes? I do, mainly because every time I walk into a Barnes & Noble I see the pile of new $50 vinyl reissues get larger and larger like the world’s most overpriced tumor.

“Ok, we see where this is going, you don’t like the resurgence of vinyl. Stop being such a d*ck.”

Actually you’re wrong; I love vinyl… I just like making fun of its comeback even more. In fact, I even have my own little collection right here at home, do you want to see it?!

“No”  

Too bad!

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Meditations: Leonard Leauge

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I regret making this.

Ok, I think it’s been long enough… i’m just going to say it. Are you ready? Alright, here we go…. (inhale)… the Justice League movie sucked.

Granted, it wasn’t as bad as Batman vs Superman or Suicide Squad, but the there’s no denying that the two hours of pedestrian acting, obnoxious CGI, and weird story decisions that made up the movie could suck a golfball through a straw. That’s not even mentioning the fact that the film underperformed at the box office, which I guess isn’t correct on my part because I just now mentioned it.

It’s all a damn shame too, because I genuinely enjoyed Wonder Woman.

Despite all this though, Justice League give me something that I would never in a million years expect it would give me; a newfound love and appreciation for the works of Leonard Cohen. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.

It all started when I went and saw the film with a few friends during my first few days back home for Thanksgiving break. Ironically, while the film is a bit of a dumpster fire, I do remember it having a very well crafted opening credits sequence. A montage of how nations around the world dealt with the tragic (yet ultimately meaningless) death of Superman, the sequence did a good job of painting a world that had lost its protector (but it’s OK he comes right back about halfway through the movie). While the imagery of black flags bearing Superman’s insignia and a sad looking Ben Affleck were powerful, what really makes it all work is a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” by Norwegian pop artist Sigrid.

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Batman and Flash watch as their box office and Rotten Tomatoes score plummet.

It’s one of the better covers I’ve ever heard, and I was humming the tune long after the film was over. I actually at first believed that the cover was an original song by a talented and clever up and coming pop artist. Once I went to check her out Spotify however, the weird Norwegian pop that started playing quickly reminded me that I still live in the modern music industry.

It wasn’t until I watched Red Letter Media’s Justice League Half in The Bag Episode that I found out who actually wrote the song. During the review, host Mike Stoklasa, mentions off hand that he knew he was in for a bad time time when the opening credits of the film were accompanied by a  crappy Leonard Cohen cover.From there, things made a lot of more sense, and I immediately went digging for the original version.

Up until that point, I had only really known Leonard Cohen as the hallelujah guy who “probably died or something”. Once I finally got a chance to pick through his discography and read up on the man. It took only a few days for me to quickly fall in love with the man and his discography. His songs were contemplative, thoughtful, and could genuinely make me feel really emotional times. Cohen’s low and almost conversational vocals and silky smooth classical guitar playing was a hypotonic combination, and during those first few days I remember listening to songs like “Suzanne” “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” and “Who by Fire” on almost near constant repeat.

Then there are those lyrics… those sweet, sweet leonard cohen lyrics.

Those were the reasons and that was New York. We were running for the money and the flesh, and that was called love for the workers in song, probably still is for those of them left,” you don’t get that anywhere else.

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The man himself.

The timing was also pretty good, as I was already going through the obligatory college freshman folk/americana singer songwriter phase, so adding Mr. Cohen to my Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, and Warren Zevon filled playlists was a very natural choice.

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Aquaman is still lame.

The whole thing has me a little frustrated if I’m being honest. It made me realize how narrow minded I can be when it comes to music, which can be a little problematic considering that I pride myself on being a music aficionado. I could name you every Pink Floyd or Beatles song, but somehow it took watching a lame superhero movie for me to come to appreciate the discography of one of the great american songwriters. It’s a little embarrassing actually.

So what’s the moral here? Same old crap really: have an open mind, try new things, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket  blah blah blah…

But in all seriousness though, you would do well to keep your ears open. Who knows, maybe the opening credits of Fifty Shades Freed will be just as life changing.

 

 

Off the Rails

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Courtesy of ItaliaRail

The following is a free form, stream of consciousness type of article style that i’m trying out. You have been warned.

Right now, I’m sitting in the darkness of a train car with my fingers crossed that the WiFi will work. In a few minutes, I’ll begin the five-ish hour journey back to Chicago from a Model United Nations conference in St. Louis. By the look on the faces of my club buddies, I can tell that this is going to be a pretty quiet and sleepy ride home.

I’m ok with that… In fact, I’m thankful for it. Like most college students, I have a lot of sh*t to do, and a long train ride seems like the ideal place to do it. By this point I’m passing on top of a bridge overlooking the whole of the city. Compared to the Chicago variant that I’ve grown up with, the St. Louis skyline feels a lot more humble, but still looks beautiful under the crimson light of the setting sun.

I’ve never actually been to St. Louis before. I mean, I’ve driven through it several times, but have never stopped to appreciate it. Much like its skyline, the city itself feels like Chicago’s more low-key cousin. Instead of the Sears Tower there’s the Arch, which in my mind has always seemed like an odd juxtaposition to the rest of the town, which for some reason keeps reminding me of a much larger and nicer version of Elgin.

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Meditations: Let’s Scrutinize Some Netflix Original Movies

 

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Jack Black stars in The Polka King. Photo courtesy of Variety.com

Name a Netflix movie off of the top of your head. I’ll wait. It’s hard right? While series like Stranger Things and Making a Murderer have become household names, trying to think of a memorable Netflix original movie is like trying to name one of the non-Beyonce members of Destiny’s Child.

This is a real shame considering that a lot of Netflix original films are very weird, enjoyable, and genuinely half decent films that are often better than they have any damn right to be. There’s a good amount of variety between most of the films, and you get this sense that Netflix were a lot more willing to give the  people behind them more creative freedom than their big budget counterparts.

In order to best describe this, I want you to picture the world of cinema as the european continent. All of the well known, big budget blockbusters and oscar contenders are like the equally well known western european countries like England and France, in that they’re cream of the crop, tried and true, and beloved by all. Netflix movies dwell a bit more to the north east, and are more akin to your Estonia’s and your Latvia’s; feisty little guys with rougher, smellier exteriors that hide hearts of gold.

So now that this introduction has gone well beyond the 200 word mark, let’s actually discuss some of the Netflix original films that I saw within the past few weeks-ish. Also, i’m not going to talk about Bright because I haven’t seen it and it looks stupid.

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Meditations: John Adams Strikes Again

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Look into my eyes and tell me that John Adams isn’t our sexiest president. Photo courtesy of  HBO.com

Picture yourself in the palace of Versailles in France during the revolutionary war. An ornate carriage makes its way through the gold plated gates and into a large stable. The side door opens, and onto the precisely crafted brick road walks a plain looking figure that would spark a feel of deja vu in anyone who has seen Big Fat Liar.

He looks tired, and by the way he walks you can tell that his shoes barely fit. His triquarter hat and wig hangs awkwardly to the side while his vest and and coat do their best to stop the advance of a ravenous beer gut.

Greeting our friend is a man ten or so years his senior with some very distinct looking circular glasses. Pleasantries are past over in favor of business, as our hero is eager to sit down and get to work after a long harrowing journey across the sea.

His colleague stops him mid sentence, and breaks the news that most of the work our man had intended to get done during the trip had already been finished while he was traveling. Although you can’t hear it, you can almost feel a sad trombone go off in the background.

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Prepare Thineself, Mortal, For It Is Star Wars Season

 

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Rey’s light saber is super big now Photo courtesy of imdb.com

Call me a plebeian. Call me a shameless consumer. Call me just another small cog in the corporate machine. I’ll take all of it, really. I don’t care. What am I referring to? The only thing worth referring too of course; this year’s new addition to the Star Wars film catalog, The Last Jedi.  

I don’t hide my shamelessness. When Disney announced a few years back that it would be releasing Star Wars films until the end of time itself, I was as happy as Luke Sky-walker during that one scene in Empire Strikes Back where he unknowingly makes out with his sister.

While some had concerns that Disney, the franchise’s new owner, would strip the property of all of its cool stuff and replace it with musical numbers and cars voiced by Owen Wilson, I had faith that the extra galactic spider people that secretly ran the company would handle this most sacred of franchises with the care and finesse of a sloth climbing down from a tree.  

And for the most part, they really have. The company’s first two entries; The Force Awakens, and Rogue One, were both for the most part both very well made and well received films, and judging by the trailers, it looks like The Last Jedi is going to maintain that same level of quality.

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Meditations: Vice Principals And A Tiny Problem With HBO

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Vice Principals can be viewed in its entirety through HBO. Photo courtesy of HBO.com

Like it or not, you can’t deny that HBO is currently the top dog in the world of premium cable these days. By giving us too many beloved shows to count, as well as the ability to watch White House Down while hungover at 2pm on a Sunday, the channel has earned the love and respect of essentially everyone on the planet who isn’t that one friend of yours who only has Cinemax.

Between Westworld, Veep, The Sopranos and of course the blood and sex soaked juggernaut Game of Thrones, the Network is one of the few that can actually accurately say that it has something for everyone.  In fact, I would say the only thing really wrong with HBO right now is that it has too much good stuff.

What do I mean by that? Well, do you fellas remember the show Vinyl (2015) at all? Neither does anybody else. Set in the 70s, the show focused on a chain smoking record label executive as he hangs out with a guy pretending to be Bod Diddley for an hour. It wasn’t half bad, and with Scorsese at the helm, it could have been something really special. It was quickly overshadowed however by shows that were frankly just a lot better than itself, and after a ho-hum first season, the show basically disappeared off of the map.

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I Should Really Talk About This Radio Show I’ve Had For Like Two Weeks

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Photo courtesy of The Telegraph

This may surprise some of you, but these blogs aren’t my only means of dispensing garbage throughout the campus.

If you follow me on social media, you may have seen my long dormant Twitter suddenly reawaken with weirdly incoherent and rambling tweets about something called “The Longplay”. Well don’t worry folks, those aren’t the ramblings of a madman; they’re poor attempts at plugs for my now three week old radio show “The Longplay”.

“But Jonah,” you say, your wide, infantile eyes locked with mine; “your blog is bad enough, so why on earth would I use the finite amount of precious seconds I am allowed in this life to subject my ears to whatever dribble may come cascading out of the airwaves?”

First of all, thank you.

Second, let me talk about the show a bit here, and then you can decide if you want to commit or not. Does that sound fair?

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23 Unorthodox Ways To Spend Your Thanksgiving Break

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The classic Thanksgiving dinner. Photo courtesy of Delish.com 

And now for something completely different.

Thanksgiving break is a magical time for the students of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Those two long days off that we are granted for this holiest of holidays are for many an opportunity to finally return home after several months of intense studies and reconnect with their families.

This break is also an exciting time for families of freshmen in particular, who get to see that wide eyed and enthusiastic little kid they dropped off at the beginning of the semester return as an unrecognisable bearded freak.

Sometimes though, this break can be very overwhelming to those who want to get the most out of their time away from the shackles of this intellectual prison. The thought of even losing a minute of their finite break shakes them down to their very core.

So, out of the goodness of my heart; I have compiled a list of not one, not two, but 23 unorthodox ways of spending Thanksgiving break. Fair warning though traveler, for some of the items on this list may be seen by some as “purposefully silly” and they “shouldn’t be taken too seriously because they’re jokes”… Continue reading “23 Unorthodox Ways To Spend Your Thanksgiving Break”

Meditations: Wiseau vs Welles

kane-borgesCitizen Kane chronicles a man’s quest to show everybody a large picture of himself.  Photo courtesy of  openculture.com.

The other day I got curious and asked Google what the greatest film of all time was. The search engine responded by vomiting up a bunch of top ten lists from various sites with official sounding names. After looking at well over three of them, I concluded that the title belonged to the 1941 Orson Welles classic, Citizen Kane.

The film appeared in top or very high spots in all of the lists I looked at, but the real teller is the fact that a shot from a film is the featured image on the Wikipedia article called “List of Films Considered the Best”.

While my confidence in these lists isn’t very high due to a worrying lack of Owen Wilson-led romantic comedies in their top spots, for the purposes of this article I will disregard this troubling detail.

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