I am totally bummed out over some real life drama right now, BUT I wanted to say that if 1) you like the site and 2) are planning to shop at Amazon for Black Friday (or whenever) then you could do us a solid by clicking any of the links in this post before adding stuff to your cart. We get referral money if you buy something after visiting Amazon from one of our links. You don’t have to buy what we link, either, just visiting and buying your own ish after is enough.
So, on that note, here’s two thousand words on stuff that I like that’s probably worth buying if you like things like I like things:
-Do you want music? I’ve actually been striking out on music lately. People I like drop mediocre albums (Pusha T) or albums that don’t grab me (Yelawolf). That new Busta Rhymes & Chris Brown song starts off super tight before descending into garbage. (Andre 3000: “Took a shower, kinda sour ’cause my favorite group ain’t comin with it/ but I’m with ya ’cause you probably goin’ through it, anyway/ but anyhow, when in doubt, went on out and bought it/ ’cause I thought it would be jamming/ but examine all the flawsky-wasky”) But anyway: I just discovered Lianne La Havas thanks to a tip from a friend, and Lost & Found is pretty good. I like her video for “No Room For Doubt”. Here’s her website, which has a link to a free EP. Aesop Rock, DJ Big Wiz, and Rob Sonic are Hail Mary Mallon, and their Are You Gonna Eat That? is pretty good. It sounds like exactly what you’d expect them to produce, but in a good way. Aes has really grown as an emcee, too, from nice to even nicer. (I’ve been listening to these cats since high school. Cripes.) Special shoutout to “Grubstake” for being about an eatery that is basically a block and a half from my crib (if you’re in SF, hit it up. They’ve got meat for days) and also being an ill song. I love that trading verses thing pretty much every time I hear it. This bit especially: “Traded the jalopy for a nickel bag of fake bud/ Wait, what?/ Fake bud!/ Wait, fuck!/ Wake up!/ 9:30, back home, no chick, sober/ Sober?/ Sober./ No shirt?/ Stouffer’s.” Little Dragon’s Ritual Union is by Little Dragon, and therefore good. Here’s the title track, which sounds sort of like a sway looks when that rising… organ? Is that it? Whatever that instrument is. You’ll know it when you hear it. Another video: Brush the Heat.
I like Charlotte Gainsbourg a lot, and her Terrible Angels EP is pretty good. Dig the video for the title track. Have I written about this before? I have. “Terrible Angels” is the song that plays at the dance party just before the end of the world kicks off. When the timer hits 3:15, the bombs drop and the ether begins to release.
Tabi Bonney’s The Summer Years is a fun album produced entirely by Ski Beatz. There’s a few great features from Nicole Wray, too. Remember her? “All In My Grill”? “Make It Hot”? I’d buy a new Missy Elliott album, too. Rappers don’t dance enough any more. All they do is this. Anyway, here’s a video off that Summer Years that makes roller skates look real cool and features all my favorite lady hairstyles. This one features parachutes.
That video actually puts me in mind of Pac Div’s ill song “Fallin’” and their similarly-themed video. That takes me to “Anti-Freeze”, which has a real hard beat. “Peep a nigga’s footwear, now I’m all Italy/ Ricky D flashy nigga, on-point actually, nigga.” That takes me to “Posted”, which is like West Coast crunk, I don’t even know. It sounds like some ill lo-fi Lil Jon joint, really. It’s off The Div, which just dropped a couple weeks ago. It’s ill. Like that video, too. “Who the FUCK are you on the phone with?” That last chick is so bout it.
Finally, Danny Brown and Black Milk’s Black And Brown album (EP?) is pretty solid, but feels real short. I mean, it’s just over twenty minutes long. I dig it, though, and “LOL” goes super hard. “Niggas sent the text, said ‘it’s light on the scale’/ I text back, ‘LOL’”. “If it ain’t about money, TTYL.” Wild ignorant, foul, and funny. I guess that’s Danny in a nutshell, though. “LOL” is the “Bruiser Brigade” of Black and Brown, I figure. Super hot, but real ugly if you actually listen to the lyrics. The #1 rapper you could never play for your mother. (psyche, that’s DMX)
-Are you looking for book books? Or maybe Kindle books? I’m all Kindle at this point, personally. I bought what is now apparently called a Kindle Keyboard at the top of this year and I don’t regret it a bit. It’s light, like a wallet, and super-easy to use. It’s nice to have a dedicated ebook thing, instead of a multipurpose heavy device like an iPad (which I also enjoy, though for different reasons). Anyway, Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need Is Kill was a treat. It sort of spins a video game concept (what if you had infinite lives, like in a video game, but were conscious of that fact?) into a really interesting meditation on war and life and the best ways to kill aliens. The lives thing is executed much better than you’d expect just hearing a summary. Free excerpt over here. (Great title on that book, too.) I haven’t started it yet, but Ryu Mitsuse’s Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights is another book with a great title and hook. I liked the sample I read, I just need to wrap a couple books up first.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend Richard Stark’s stuff. You know the drill already probably, but I’ve read The Hunter probably half a dozen times, and The Outfit has my favorite scene or bit of writing or whatever in any book ever. Here:
The receptionist knew that no one was supposed to come behind the desk. If anyone tried to without permission, she was to push the button on the floor under her desk. But this time she didn’t even think of the button. She reached, instead, for the package. Suddenly, the mailman grabbed her wrist, yanked her from the chair, and hurled her into a corner. She landed heavily on her side, knocking her head against the wall. When she looked up dazed, the mailman had an automatic trained on her. “Can you scream louder than this gun?” he said in a low voice.
She stared at the gun. She couldn’t have screamed if she’d wanted to. She couldn’t even breathe.
The outer door opened and the four men came in, two carrying shotguns, and two machine guns. The girl couldn’t believe it, it was like something in the movies. Gangsters carried machine guns back in 1930. There was no such thing as a machine gun in real life. Machine guns and Walt Disney mice, all make-believe.
The mailman put his gun away under his coat, and removed the mailbag from his shoulder. He took cord from the mail sack and tied the receptionist’s hands and feet. She gaped at him unbelievingly as he tightened the knots. They were in the wrong office, she thought. It might be a television show shooting scenes on location, they must have wanted the office next door and these men had come into the wrong place. It must be a mistake.
The mailman gagged her with a spare handkerchief as one of the other men brought the two musical instrument cases and two briefcases in from the outside hall. The mailman took the briefcases. The men with the machine guns led the way. They all walked down the inner hall and stopped at the door next to the book-keeping room. The mailman opened the door, and all five of them boiled into the room.
This was the room where the alarm buzzer would have rung if the receptionist had remembered to ring it. Four men in brown uniforms wearing pistols and Sam Browne belts, were sitting at a table playing poker. They jumped up when the door burst open, then they all froze. They believed in machine guns.
“They believed in machine guns.” If I could be half as good as that at some point, I could die happy. “Machine guns and Walt Disney mice, all make-believe.”
Got a few more on my list here… Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is great, but you knew that already. Duane Swierczynski’s Fun and Games has a really slow start, but once it starts burning, it explodes like a forest fire. James Sallis’s Drive is a speedy read, and different enough from the movie to be worthwhile all on its own. I wrote about the movie last month.
Colson Whitehead’s Zone One: A Novel is pretty good, though a slow burner. He spends a lot of time building up the world, but that time is split with origin stories (for lack of a better phrase), anecdotes, and some really great imagery. I’m a third into it, I think? And thus far the main line in the book has all taken place in one scene. Very interesting way of writing, but I’m digging it. Last one is David Peace’s Tokyo Year Zero, which Tucker Stone recommended to me. I read the first couple chapters in an airport, and they about knocked me off my feet. It’s very lyrical in style, and puts me in mind of my time in high school studying Everyone’s Favorite Fascist Ezra Pound’s The Cantos, though much less opaque than that work. It’s sort of hard to explain, but it struck me as being very good and extremely enthralling. Hypnosis in text form. Snake-charming from a typewriter.
Oh yeah, speaking of Tucker– his review of Richard Stark’s Butcher’s Moon made me want to read that book even more. I read the first thirteen Parker novels over the course of a few months and then took a break. Butcher’s Moon sounds like a good comeback novel.
-Thinking about buying video games? The story in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is dumb as rocks, but the Spec Ops and multiplayer is just as fun as ever. People like that Batman: Arkham City. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception was a pretty fun ride, with some pretty impressive visuals and action set-pieces. I’ve been thinking a lot about moments in gameplay, those scenes where you aren’t in full control but still a part of the action? Uncharted may well be the best in the business at those. More on that later, maybe. I’m still digesting.
I play an absurd amount of NBA 2K12. I usually play a certain friend online after work each day. I’m up 41 to his 39, but he’s beating me on points, 4774 to 4711. If you figure each game takes 25 minutes (including time-outs, delays, free throws, etc), then… what is that, like thirty-three hours of that game? At the least? That isn’t including my time on MyPlayer and all that. I’m a fan. I worked on an early rev of Saint’s Row: The Third, but I’d love to play the full game. Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is a worthy update to a solid game. I like it a lot better, actually. Being able to spectate online adds a lot. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is a must-have, as far as I’m concerned. Metal Gear is the best franchise.
Also, yo, you can get a PS3 for like two hundred bucks tomorrow. Black Friday 2011 Bundle: LittleBigPlanet 2 Special Edition and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One If you do that, then, I dunno, I owe you a drink or something.