Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Playlist

by Marcus Sakey

Many posts here are carefully considered editorials on topics of importance. This isn't one of them. Sometimes I'm just in the mood to drop a few notes about what day-to-day life looks like right now, what I'm listening to and reading.

Musically, neither of my two new discoveries is actually new. The first is Drive-By Truckers, specifically the album "The Dirty South"; the second is Modest Mouse and "We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank".

I've had the Truckers recommended to me a couple of times, but didn't get around to them till about a month ago. It's southern rock of the grungy and mean school, sung badly and played without finesse but with balls and swagger to spare. And the lyrics are pretty impressive; they're story-based, and they are impassioned, class-conscious, and compelling. Great music to blare while working hard or working out.

As for Modest Mouse, I realize I'm late to the party. I've had the album for awhile, but never got more than a track or two in; if you're not really listening to the lyrics, the sound can be kind of off-putting. But the other night I threw it on headphones while making dinner--chicken chile verde, it was awesome, thanks--and really dug it. Hard for a writer not to love lyrics like "While we're on the subject, can we change the subject now," or "It didn't seem we'd lived enough to even get to die."

On the reading front, I urge you all to pick up a short story collection called STRANGER THINGS HAPPEN, by Kelly Link. This goes double for any aspiring writers. Her prose is unbelievably good--precise, evocative, and spare--but what really knocked me on my ass was the way she taps into and re-channels mythic structure. These stories have a haunting familiarity that worms right into your brain.

On the geek front, the Batman XBox 360 game is awesome. A well-balanced system of play that manages to accomplish an obvious feat many videogames miss, which is just to make you feel freaking cool.

Finally, I'm intrigued by the two episodes I've seen of Flash Forward. It's a great premise: the whole world passes out for two minutes, during which time everyone experiences a vision of the future which may or may not be inevitable. The writing is a touch condescending at times--note to TV writers: we're smart--but that is a frequent problem in the early episodes of a series. And philosophically, they're exploring some interesting ground.

So there you go. As promised, definitely not deep, but that's what my media looks like right now. How about you? I'd honestly love to hear what you're listening to, reading, playing, or watching.


Chris said...

I absolutely love the The Dirty South. That was the first Truckers record I ever picked up, and it is still my favorite. Their newer stuff I don't care for as much, but that one kills me every time. They have a great live DVD from the tour in support of that album as well.

As for my latest music, it's been all about the new KISS album, heh.

Kevin Guilfoile said...

What's smart about FlashForward is that the story arc has a clear end point--next April we'll know if the visions are true or not. In that respect, it's way more novelistic than, Lost, say. I'll forgive Lost some meandering because the writing is tight and the characters are great, but I'll keep watching FastForward because it has this built-in climax and pulls you toward it. It's pretty focused.

"The dashboard melted but we still had the radio..."

Bethany K. Warner said...

I'm with you on the FlashForward story. It does seem very smartly set-up and with a lot at stake for all the characters.

Although, I do wonder, come April, how they will propel the story forward again. Another worldwide blackout seems too easy.

Laura Caldwell said...

Saw Drive By Truckers a few years ago at Telluride Bluegrass Fest. Fuuunnnnn. FlashForward too apocalyptic for me.

Marcus Sakey said...

Honestly, with FlashForward my concern is that they may well not have the first clue what they're really doing. I wasn't a big Lost fan, but I watched a fair bit of the first two seasons, and came to believe that they had no larger plan, none, beyond just always throwing another mystery in front of the audience, and grafting a half-baked story on afterward.

FlashForward could easily go the same way. I hope it doesn't, but they're dealing with such a huge topic that it's hard to imagine what would follow it. I mean, what's more important than knocking out the entire world and providing them a vision of their future? What could do that?

My fear is that the only thing they'll be able to do is go ham-handed metaphysical, and claim that the six months are a fight for our souls. Which would be fine metaphorically, but pretty lame as a broader premise.

Sharon Doering said...

I’ve watched a few episodes of FF as well, but I’ll probably wear out soon. Here’s an interesting link. It’s not a total spoiler, but if you read to the end, you'll get the idea.