monday mixtape haterism

May 6th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

monday mixtape haterism from brothers on 8tracks Radio.

Eight songs here, which should play in random order. The list:
-Curren$y – Armoire feat. Young Roddy & Trademark – The Stoned Immaculate
-Aesop Rock – Getaway Car feat. Cage, Breeze Brewin – None Shall Pass
-B-Rock & The Bizz – My Baby Daddy
-Angel Haze – Realest – Reservation
-Copywrite – Light’s Out feat. Catalyst – The Jerk
-Johnson & Jonson – Hold On John – Johnson & Jonson
-The Alchemist – Flight Confirmation feat. Danny Brown & Schoolboy Q – Russian Roulette
-Joell Ortiz – Nissan, Honda, Chevy

I spend a lot of time listening to the same ol’ songs. I have a little iPod Nano I use for music, an eight gig joint, and I tend to keep it stocked with favorites, albums I want to revisit, and new mixtapes or albums. The downside is that after a day or two, I realized I know everything on the iPod by heart, so if my mood changes and I want to hear a certain sound, my choice is to either listen to something hot that I’ve temporarily played out or to just deal with it.

So I changed things up. I made a smart playlist in iTunes, told it to populate randomly, and gave it a size limit of five gigs, so I could still have a few favorites loaded up. I’ve got something like sixteen thousand songs, but only a fraction of that stays in heavy rotation. This is a way to correct my course and rediscover things I forgot.

This mixtape is a semi-random selection of eight songs from my 5 GB playlist. I pretty much flicked down the iTunes list and grabbed the first ten songs that caught my eye, and then pared it down to remove dupes. It’s tilted highly in favor of rap (no surprise), but also toward the past five years, which was a legitimate surprise. I don’t listen to a lot of ’80s rap, but I love joints from the ’90s and early ’00s. That’s not represented here, I don’t think. I am pleased at the diversity of styles, prestige, and content here, though.

Aesop Rock’s “Getaway Car” has one of my most favorite beats ever, and Aes Riggedy Rock, Cage, and Breeze Brewin go in so hard, and the Camp Lo sample is disgusting. It’s ugly, a mean mug of a sample that’s just the best thing ever this morning. I’ll show up for Breeze anyway, but it’s lovely this song is so ill in general.

“My Baby Daddy” was the jam when I was a kid. I guess I was 14 or 15, but that song goes now just as much as it did then. Maybe you had to be there, like with “Ya mama smokes crack rock!” “Mama, please stop, ’cause they pickin’ on me!” Be careful out there, tho — a lot of people think it was JT Money (including my iTunes, for some reason), because of his single “Who Dat.” “My Baby Daddy”‘s music video is super ’90s too.

Here’s the answer song from Anquette:

I always liked answer or sequel songs. “No Scrubs” vs “No Pigeons,” or how Beanie Sigel’s “In The Club” came out of Jay-Z’s “Do It Again.”

Copy’s “Light’s Out,” featuring Catalyst, has one of my favorite aspects of rap music: when the beat drops out at the end and the rapper just keeps going. Copywrite is nice — “if it ain’t MHz or Weathermen it’s a piece of shit!” — but Catalyst getting those extra few seconds is spectacular. I know it’s calculated or whatever, but it feels like just unbridled creativity spilling out. It makes the raps better, even if they’re just aight, and I’ll never stop loving it. I react to it like I reacted to Canibus kicking 100 bars in a row.

Johnson & Jonson (bka Blu & Mainframe)’s “Hold On John” actually has an iller sample than “Getaway Car.” It’s a perfect pairing of sample, tone, and subject matter. It should go without saying, but Joell Ortiz can spit, too.

True story: I had this big plan this year to go full freelance. I’ve been doing freelance since 2003, and it’s mostly been a side gig to a day job, or a way to help pay my student loans. It’s never been enough to live on, and I’m starting to feel like I might have missed that window, thanks to a combination of bad timing, comfort, and… probably pride. Definitely pride.

ComicsAlliance closing caught me by surprise, because it’s one of a couple things I took entirely for granted when drafting this big plan. I sort of assumed that the site, and the money, would be there while I looked for more. I placed a few singular pieces elsewhere around the internet (I placed five pieces at four outlets that were new to me), but nobody’s biting for what I’m best at or a regular gig. And now CA is gone, so I don’t even have the homebase I was hoping to hang onto while I tried to branch out.

I’m pretty discouraged. I hadn’t realized quite how much until late last week, long after the praise online had died down and I had a chance to think about it. I utterly hate when plans bend and warp, especially when I felt like I had a chance to hit the mark. On top of that, I apparently alienated a few close friends by writing about comics, the money was never great (it was more than welcome, don’t get me wrong — I’m still very grateful for the chance and the checks), and my difficulty elsewhere has me thinking like… “Is it worth it?”

I dunno. I’m still processing. I think I was too ambitious, maybe, but also too focused, in terms of what I can write about. But I’ve spent enough of my time feeling bad. Now it’s time to do something else.

Once a week, for as long as I can hold out (months, looking at what I’ve got banked and planned), I’m going to post a new piece at stories.iamdavidbrothers.com. I’m thinking of alternating fiction and non-fiction, but don’t hold me to it. The first story’s about Karen. I hope you dig it and come back on Friday for the next one.

Thanks for reading.

The Following‘s first season ended last week. I’ll have a longer post later, I think, but here’s a short review of the last episode:

Open thread. What’re you reading/watching/hearing/enjoying?

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international record player’s anthem

October 23rd, 2011 Posted by david brothers

The Damon Albarn Appreciation Society is an ongoing series of observations, conversations, and thoughts about music. This is the eleventh, and has been converted from a quick email to a friend into a post that is considerably longer. I listen to a lot of music, and this is just a snapshot of where I’m at right now.

Minutes from previous meetings of the Society: The Beatles – “Eleanor Rigby”, Tupac – Makaveli, Blur – 13 (with Graeme McMillan), Blur – Think Tank (with Graeme McMillan), Black Thought x Rakim: “Hip-Hop, you the love of my life”, Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), On why I buy vinyl sometimes, on songs about places, Mellowhype’s Blackendwhite, a general post on punk

Graeme McMillan, bka “One Of My Favorite People On Or Off The Internet,” sent me a link to “Allez” from French artist Camille’s latest CD, Ilo Veyou. I was talking about how much I liked Charlotte Gainsbourg’s Terrible Angels EP, particularly this song:

I’ve liked Gainsbourg since someone (Sean Witzke, probably) introduced me to IRM last year. I think he recommended it after I heard and enjoyed the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack? I dunno, it’s irrelevant I guess. “I like her, here are some boring words on how I found her.”

What I like about “Terrible Angels” is that it evokes a very specific mental image for me. The throbbing sound of the melody (is that the word? the electronic throb and buzz) and the snap of the snare play off each other, and it all ends up sounding like a dance single that’s just slightly out of pitch. The lyrics run counter to the snare, too–“I want release from absolution” is delivered as something between a moan and exhortation. “Terrible Angels” sounds like this:

It sounds like the soundtrack to the dance party at the end of the world, as conceived by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.

I really like pretty much any song that has an “Oh-I” or “Oh-why” or “Oh-anything” part, really, like TLC’s “Creep” or Blur’s “Tender”. “Oh my baby… oh my bayabeh… oh why… oh my…”

I like “Allez” a lot, too, and it’s pretty easy to like, isn’t it? I’ve been really fond of rounds (typoed that as “found of rounds” at first, hey hey hey) since I was a kid, and I like how this one builds in on itself. It’s weird, too–she’s putting on a voice, right? She sounds younger, but also more growly than she usually does. Maybe it’s the backmasking that shows up later in the song. It definitely makes me want to check out her full-length record Ilo Veyou, which drops physically on Tuesday and hopefully digitally, too. But probably not? Amazon has them listed as Imports, which is a new one by me.

I liked Camille’s Le Fil and Le Sac Des Filles, but I’m not sure which I like more. Maybe Le Sac, because the first two tracks (“1, 2, 3” and “Paris”) are really strong. I’ll have to listen to both again to figure it out for sure, but Camille was a really good recommendation on Graeme’s part.

I like her voice a lot, though it’s a little tough to put my finger on why. She has that throaty lounge singer sound, a little bit, and the fact that it’s in French gives it a whole nother level of appeal, like a classy diva sort of thing.

Have you heard Soko? Another French singer:

I first heard Soko on a remix of this song that Cee-Lo did for a mixtape. I like her voice more than the music, I’m pretty sure. Cee-Lo’s version is sort of in the same vein as “Fuck You,” but I like it a lot more, actually. It’s more fun to sing and listen to. “Fuck You” has that edgy feeling or whatever, but this feels a lot more solid, despite being a hodge-podge. In fact, his Stray Bullets mixtape? Better than the album Fuck You was on. Whatever it was called.

I also love dueling love songs like that, too, with both the boy and the girl on the same track. It changes the tone without breaking the tone, if that makes sense. It adds texture.

I’ve been listening to The Kinks off and on. I don’t have a lot to say yet, but I’ve listened to Village Green, Low Budget, and Something Else. Something Else didn’t make much of an impression after a couple spins, but Low Budget was instantly great. It’s sorta melancholy, but still poppy, if those aren’t mutually exclusive. You can bop to it while Ray Davies sings about how much it sucks to not have any money.

Maybe it’s really corny, but the two superhero songs on Low Budget (“Catch Me Now I’m Falling” and “Superman”) are both really good songs and well considered metaphors. And relevant to today, I’d say, but I feel like songs about economic unhappiness are pretty evergreen. There’s something about “Catch Me Now I’m Falling” in particular. It doesn’t feel like it’s about America so much as Captain America–a single person. It’s one man asking for help. And to get a little comic book-y about it, Captain America has theoretically always represented not America, but the American Dream. He’s an ideal. He’s the kind, possibly fictional, side of the empire, and now he needs help, but he’s gotta beg for it. I dunno, there’s half of something there. There’s also a connection in Aesop Rock’s “Commencement at the Obedience Academy”: “Point: I guess I could spare a splash for a couple of heads/Counterpoint: During my famine I never got broke your bread.”

Low Budget is much more my speed, as far as The Kinks goes, I think. It doesn’t feel as Faux Beatles as Village Green feels. Which isn’t necessarily a criticism, because I do like Village Green quite a bit. But the two albums sound very different, and I like Low Budget a lot more.

David Bowie: I’m still learning. I like The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars a lot, though. I’ve heard Aladdin Sane once through thus far and it’s… okay? Not as good as Ziggy. Luckily, a friend sent me a Bowie manual, so I expect that to change soon as I explore more of his catalog. Bowie feels like one of those people I should like. I’ve got a fistful of friends who swear by him.

Esperanza Spalding’s Chamber Music Society is really good. Esperanza Spaulding won the best new artist or best new album Grammy over Bieber this year, which caused a flood of Twitter hate. The anti-hype got my attention, I checked out the album when Amazon dropped it down to five bucks. It puts me in mind of Kassin+2 and some of the more Brazilian-influenced jazz/samba on the Lupin the Third soundtracks by Yuji Ohno.

I like jazz, but I’m far from an expert. I know the greatest hits, right? Past that is a smoky haze of trumpets and unknown singers. I do really, seriously enjoy the Lupin the Third soundtracks by Yuji Ohno, though. I mean, sure, it’s the soundtrack to a cartoon, whatever, but they’re really well put together and feature diverse influences and sounds. Like “Lupin III Samba Temperado”. The arrangement is just fantastic, and it feels like a complete song by the time you hit two minutes in, but then it just keeps building.

Ohno makes great music to write to, too. I bought a fistful of his CDs from a game store in like 05, maybe ’03, and I kept them on my computers ever since. I’ve probably written hundreds of thousands of words to this guy’s sound. He’s got such a diverse catalog, though I guess all of it can be called “jazzy,” that I never get bored queuing up that playlist.

The Brazilian influence on his work is really obvious. He’s got a bunch of bossa nova numbers, several more songs that feature Portuguese titles or lyrics, and a lot of samba-ready tunes. He’s probably responsible for opening my ears to that diverse Brazilian sound. I like pretty much all of it, unsurprisingly. There’s crooning, there’s hard drums, there’s booty shake dutty wine beats, and more. Fantastic stuff.

Keeping it in Brazil, I really dig The +2’s. It’s a cool concept for a group, where one person takes the lead and the title per project. I own and regularly spin Kassin+2’s Futurismo, and I need to go ahead and buy Sincerely Hot and Music Typewriter considering how much I like them. I’ve been putting it off for whatever reason–my own wackness, probably.

I discovered The+2’s via the cartoon Michiko e Hatchin, a Japanese joint that is custom built for me (girls, Brazil, and crime) but still hasn’t managed to get a stateside release. Kassin did the soundtrack for that one by himself, and it’s a doozy. Like this joint, from the strip club episode:

It’s “Papo Cafajeste,” and it goes so hard. Tight flow, great thump, and it’s comfortably situated in a long line of songs that use gun sounds to great effect. Bone and Pac’s “Thug Luv” is still king, though. The soundtrack is full of bangers. It’s another good one to write to, very headnod-inducing.

I didn’t intend this when I started writing, but I guess I’m in an international phase. A lot of France, a lot of Brazil, some Brazil/Japan fusion, and a bit of the UK. It just sort of happened, I figure. I have some vinyl coming tomorrow, Blu’s Jesus. It’s this noodly, experimental, strangely mixed rap album that’s still straight out of Los Angeles. I’ve been meaning to write about Blu for weeks now, ever since his NoYork! officially leaked (my drafts say I started writing about it on 09/26), and I figure getting jesus on vinyl will kickstart another Blu phase. Matter of fact, I just saw that Blu & Exile’s Below the Heavens, one of my favorite joints, is hitting vinyl later this year. So that’s a definite.

I like “My Sunshine” off NoYork!:

My Sunshine | Blu feat Nia Andrews from aaronisnotcool on Vimeo.

This is more or less how I listen to music, though. I spin from trend to trend and back again.

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The Cipher 04/20/11: “Disco Dynamite”

April 20th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

it’s dynamite

created: I get out ahead of things until I hit that point where I’m suddenly not. I’m gonna try to double my output soon, I think. More of more than ever before.

-I like Tonci Zonjic’s work a lot.

-a new weekly feature on digital comics to buy

been broke before, all i’m saying’s get dough

consumed: Sore throat’s gone! But my voice is still kinda raaaaaaaaspy. (yo, I totally forgot that David Banner was in this joint. The old Banner, too, back before he turned himself into a sex symbol!)

This interview with David Simon is excellent. Reading this guy always makes me want to do more and do better, and hurt whoever deserves it. He’s dead-on about everything he says, too, from newspapers to how America is more than willing to eat its young.

-Sometimes you just read this stuff and get depressed, like the train is already off the tracks, sailing down the cliff, and we’re just waiting for the impact.

-Soundtracks… I’m listening to Blu right now, so bump this while you read. I’ll be listening to DJ Quik before this post is done, so put this joint he did with Kurupt on.

-Actually, bump that last one first so that I can talk about it.

-“9x Outta 10” is absurd rap, with this brutal beat and sample haunting Kurupt’s sideways verse. And then Quik fades in, Kurupt fades out, and then it stops–

-But it’s gonna start again, where it started at, ended up, and restart again. Get your mind in the right position before it start again.

-I can’t tell you how much I love Kurupt’s performance on this song. Quik came through in a huge way with the beat, creating a beat that’s simultaneously classic boom-bap (ignore the sample, and just listen–it ain’t that complicated) and like a dirty, grimey version of early Kanye, but Kurupt’s delivery is just… it’s not all over the place. He’s too good for that and everything lands where it’s supposed to be. But he breaks from how rap songs usually get broken up and completely changes how the song sounds. You can’t drop a regular verse on this track after this, and I don’t even really want the instrumental for a ringtone (yes I do).

-Kurupt came with that tongue-twister Jenga skyscraper flow, just pulling out blocks and putting them where you wouldn’t expect them to go. The chorus blends into the verse, Quik’s verse is part of Kurupt’s verse, and the sample bleeds and bends until it’s not even words any more, it’s just music.

-Two things: that shot of Kurupt breathing out smoke is incredible. “Don’t talk to me no more about no motherfucking money.”

-Quik and Kurupt are west coast legends. I’ve been a fan for years. Longer for Kurupt, I think, ’cause I liked Tha Dogg Pound a whole lot.

-More on drinkin’ smokin’ straight west coastin’:

-I bought two albums today. One was DJ Quik’s The Book of David, which I’ll come back to in a bit. I’m listening to Blu’s Her Favorite Colo(u)r right now, the other album I bought, and it’s got about ten minutes left. I haven’t listened to Quik’s record yet, but I liked Blu’s joint back when it dropped for free, unmastered, in 2009.

-I’ve tried to put what I like about Blu down on paper before, but trying again couldn’t hurt, right?

-I just got distracted for like ten minutes trying to ID the piano from Blu’s “Pardon”. It’s from Curtis Mayfield’s We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue”. He chopped up Mayfield’s vocals (that’s Mayfield going “Pardon me brother”) and sped up the music.

-Blu’s whole sound is really interesting to me, and that brief burst of sample digging kinda illustrates why. He’s not particularly lyrical (like “I’m lyrical miracle dropping bombs like spherical dirigibles”). He comes across as genuine in his rhymes, like a normal dude who just likes to make music and is talented enough to have a national platform.

-His beats tend to be these relaxed, soulful joints that I really dig. He’s not really about pumping out hits. Every rap song out right now sounds like Lex Luger produced it. Luger is dope, but that’s wack. Blu’s a nice corrective. You can just vibe out to his music, put it on in the background, and get your bougie smart-art cat on.

-And when it comes to songs that have some knock… well, listen to “Disco Dynamite” again. He can do that, too. I’m assuming him and Mainframe co-produced that joint, and maybe I’m wrong, but that beat is undeniable. It’s not as “What did the shotgun say to the head?” as Kurupt and Quik’s “9x Outta 10”, but it’s a definite headnodder. He’s got that Raekwon Juggernaut flow, just kicking rhymes.

-Also the girl(s) at 2:00 and 2:05.

-Quik’s album just came up on iTunes.

-Versatility is nice. You could definitely put Blu in a lane if you wanted to, maybe because of his movie and music samples, but he knows how to pull in these disparate influences and sources and create something new. Some of his songs positively meander. He’ll drop a verse, let the sample breathe for a minute, drop another verse, and out. A minute or more of no vocals, and the beat just riding out. I like that a whole lot.

-DJ Quik I have less to say about, but I dig him a lot, probably for similar. If you put a Quik album and a Dr. Dre album in front of me… I’m gonna grab the Quik record. Dre is dope when he tries, but his perfectionism and stage fright basically make him a dude who has coasted for at least ten years now. Quik has consistently put out dope tracks for everyone from 8Ball & MJG to himself to Tupac. You can be a genius producer, but if you never bother to produce, why should I care?

-Quik’s name is David, too, so that’s bonus points right there.

-Quik didn’t ever really fit into the West Coast sound. He wasn’t G-Funk enough for the mid ’90s and he didn’t have that hypnotic Dr. Dre knock of the late ’90s into the ’00s. But he’s versatile, too. “Do Today” just came up on iTunes and it goes. Apparently it’s got part of The Family’s “Screams of Passion” in it, and it’s definitely got that ’80s synth funk pop sound. Quik’s dope with the keyboards, really.

-Quik was an alternative to Warren G, Battlecat, and Dre, but never took that hard turn toward New York that Alchemist did. I don’t think he ever had that underground, Dilated Peoples/Hiero/Murs sound, either. He’s always been his own dude. Someone with a better sense of history than me could probably tell it better.

-I bought Portal 2. What’s up with not having a body in first person games? You pick up and hold things constantly, but never see your arms. You run around and jump, but never see your legs. I don’t think the water even splashes when you move through it.

-It’s this weird uncanny valley thing, and it keeps me from getting engrossed in the game. It’s a reminder that it’s fake, like some schmuck in a comic book mugging at the camera or saying something like, “We’re not in a comic book, Captain America! Life doesn’t work like that!”

-Angie Wang is a dope artist and I swear she finds the best games. She’s working on a book for First Second right now. When it’s announced and ships, buy it.

-Play that one. I’m finding a strange amount of enjoyment in these arty/non-violent games. It forces me to mentally shift gears, so that it’s not about competition so much as the experience in and of itself.

-Achievements, trophies… all that stuff is stupid. I reject being a completionist or proving my worth. I’m all about the experience now. Scores don’t matter. Rankings don’t matter. I don’t care. Is it fun? Am I interested? If I spend five minutes with it, will those five minutes keep my attention?

-These little art games tickle a part of my brain that rarely gets tickled when I play games, whether for pleasure or for work. They’re nice.

-A bit more about music…

-Jim Jones, “Everybody Jones.”

-This song goes.

-The beat is hot, and while Jimmy does more or less his regular flow (“We Fly High,” “Pop Champagne,” “Get Like Me”), he’s pulling that ’90s jiggy swag into 2011 more or less intact. This whole joint is just “Capo got stuff and girls like him. Harlem!” It’s a shopping list set to music, the 2011 equivalent of a poster of a Porsche on a teenager’s wall.

-Jones’s swag has been interesting lately, though. Him and Dipset had that whole pink Polo thing on lock, but at some point, probably shortly after Dipset broke up, they got into that rock star style. Skull & crossbones, wallet chains, properly fitted jeans (which is tough, for real), kick game vicious, chains back to ’90s size but either solo or in absurd numbers… the swagger is definitely black, for lack of a better word, but at the same time, it isn’t. Rock star rapper swag.

-The neon green and purple that Jones is sporting is fresh, too. It pops against his otherwise regular clothes. I couldn’t pull it off, but I’m definitely down to swagger jack some of his normal style.

-I bought another album, though it was the other day. Exile & Free The Robots’ LA Series 10.

-It’s a vinyl project, so it probably loses a little in the translation to mp3. Exile did one side, four songs that combine to form one long song, while Free the Robots did the other side. It’s not really a collaboration. It’s the tenth in a series of records about LA.

-I don’t want to say too much about it, because I think I want to do an Albarn post on it, but I dig it a whole lot. Both sides are good, but Exile’s wins by a mile.

-The thing about Exile’s half is that all the words I want to use it describe it are negative. His songs sound like the aftertaste of poison on your girlfriend’s lips after your last kiss or like looking at a broken, rotting building feels.

-I mean that in a good way, is the thing.

-“There was a hole here. It’s gone now” music.

-Even the track titles… “Distopian Utopia,” “PCP Laced Beedies,” “Love for Sell/Bots have feelings,” and “Dawn of the Nothing.” All of that feels wrong, like a body that’s about half as warm as it should be.

-Exile made this little four song sequence that crawls up under your skin and whispers in your ear while you sleep. I’m really glad I bought this joint. It’s music to think about.

-It sounds like parts of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira feels, and that’s already got a mean soundtrack (here and here) that’ll sit in your hindbrain.

-Exile worked with Blu on the Below the Heavens LP. I recommend that joint.

-Gonna ride out to some Blu this week, I think. I’m looking forward to No York, his next full-length of original material.

TheExplaNation from Johnson Barnes on Vimeo.

a new shooting star, falling off the roof

David: Hellblazer 278, Hulk 32, Thunderbolts 156
Gavin: vivaaaaaaa las vegas

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The Cipher 02/09/11: “you can’t get what you want, but you can get me”

February 9th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

ready to give up so i seek the old earth

created: I’ve seen a few posts over the past couple weeks about the role of criticism and negative reviews online. I dunno–I feel like the only thing that matters is the work. Criticism, reviews, all of that stuff is just toppings. Eat it or don’t, find pleasure or pain in it, but you shouldn’t really try to place rules on it or minimize it. You don’t like it, but somebody else does, and honestly, somebody really needs to be there to say that Grimm Fairy Tales Inferno looks and reads terribly (it does, I checked). Long story short, I hate reading posts that are about posts. And look what I just did! Onward:

You should’ve read Zeb Wells’s run on New Mutants. It’s cool, though: you can pick up New Mutants, Vol. 1: Return of Legion for cheap. I’m not too fond of John Rauch’s color work on the series (everything seems sort of washed out/overbright, like Pete Pantazis over Ed Benes on JLA a couple years back), but the rest of it’s solid.

There are five different ways to buy Marvel digital comics. There should be, at most, two. I think the strongest strategy, once they get it straightened out, will be Marvel DCU + Marvel Comics on Chrome. Not perfect, but a good step.

who explained working hard may help you maintain

consumed: iTunes is doing this thing where it only plays several albums I’ve heard in a row, and then something I haven’t listened to in months. I dunno how to feel about that, but it was nice to hear that Johnson & Jonson again. Blu & Mainframe are ill. Here’s “Disco DYNAMITE”:

-That breakdown at 1:50 is the sort of thing I listen to rap for. In comics, it’s like if the CMY dropped out of the CMYK, the lettering went translucent, and the panel borders faded away. (Also the girl at 2:05.)

-An interesting thing about that album is that they did it under fake names for their fake names. Blu, Mainframe, and their guests took on a Johnson alias (Don, Magic, Jack). There’s no real rhyme or reason to it. They shout out their real fake names during the album, they shout out their fake fake names… it’s just an interesting gimmick. It’s meaningless, maybe, but the sort of thing I dig. I think it’d be interesting to take established personas and flip them for a new project. “I act like a dick, so hence the name Johnson.”

“Hold On John” is nice, too. That boy Blu has range. He needs to drop an album yesterday. I’d put ten on it, first day. I’ll end up getting his Amnesia EP next week, too.

-Blu, Blur, what’s the difference I ask you?

-I sat down with the Catherine demo and was STUNNED to find that it isn’t even really an RPG. It’s a puzzle platformer/dating sim/texting game. It isn’t exactly like Intelligent Qube, which I loved, but it’s similar enough that I’m honestly thinking about importing a game for the first time since whatever that last Fire Pro Wrestling was on PS2. Essentially, you have to scale a maze. You can push and pull blocks left/right/forward/backward or create new blocks. You have to navigate to the top of the stage to escape whatever’s chasing you. I like it. I like it a lot. Importing is probably a bit much (Play-Asia is talking about 90 bucks shipped), so I’m just gonna have to deal until E3 and hopefully an announcement for a US release. There’s a ton of English text in the game, though, so fingers crossed, minna-san.

Matt Seneca wrote about Grant Morrison and Jim Lee’s Wildcats. I don’t know if I agree with all the specifics of his post, but I do agree that it’s by far the most interesting book Morrison and Lee have done in the past ten years. I tried to wrap my head around it in ’09. I like seeing how we have the same or opposite opinions on certain things. We both had the same reaction to the psychedelic superhero sex.

-I wonder if that scene was supposed to be a Steranko thing, with the pulling in of various styles and influences to make comics that run counter to what you think they should be? Maybe so, maybe no. I’d kill to see Lee on a book where he can cut loose, though. I’ve got high hopes for Dark Knight: Boy Wonder with Frank Miller. Guaranteed to be hands down the most interesting Batman book all year, and probably the most entertaining.

-Speak of the devil, and you will see the weird way everyone draws his radar–Tim Callahan and Ryan Lindsay on Frank Miller’s Daredevil. Next week is Ann Nocenti. To say that I’m on pins and needles would be an understatement. Callahan is good at his job. The Aphrodite/Athena thing–I never picked up on that, and I’ve read all these comics back to front and back again.

-Big KRIT is ill, and he’s got a four song EP with live instruments and an R&B band out now. It costs four bucks. I bought it.

Aw, sugar, you just gone and wrote the dumbest thing in your whole life.

-MTVGeek interviewed Gareb Shamus. Spurgeon suggested skipping it, and I agree. It’s full of garbage marketing speak and shamelessness. But first, read this excerpt:

“And when it comes to ex-employees, you’ve got to understand that they’re ex-employees: they’re people who have just lost their jobs. And it’s very unfortunate, but unfortunately you’ve got to take what they say with a grain of salt. You’ve got to understand where it’s coming from. It doesn’t diminish their contribution to what we’ve done, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t appreciate their hard work – but when you look at the landscape of comic books today, a lot of these people wouldn’t even be working in this business if it wasn’t for Wizard giving them their first start.

So, when you look at a lot of the people saying those things about us, if it wasn’t for us transplanting them from where they existed – from jobs that weren’t even in comic books, where they were in school and looking for their first opportunity – they might not even be in comics now. So in a sense, I’m really happy – we’ve been able to influence so many different outlets out there, and we gave a lot of people out there a chance to be involved in this industry.”

“Don’t listen to these people. We fired them, and they wouldn’t be anything without us, so how dare they say word one?” Scum.

Jared Lewis shows off his thirty characters. See what procrastinating gets you? I’d been meaning to email him for weeks (seriously, since November) about this project to get some commentary-type interview going, but he went and did it himself before I could get off my lazy butt. Click through, check it out.

-Jared and Sean are talking Art Adams and Sean’s ’80s hair fetish over at Supervillain, too. Worth reading.

-Also worth reading: Mike Mignola talking about buildings.

Sequential Tart catches up with Faith Erin Hicks. I like her work, but haven’t read enough of it. Something else I need to fix this year. And hey, look at that–Zombies Calling is four bucks and The War at Ellsmere is five on ComiXology. I’m down with those prices.

-I wanted Nobuo Nakagawa’s Jigoku this weekend. A friend gave me the Criterion months ago and I finally made time. Watching subbed movies is tough for me–I’m used to being able to multitask and write while I watch movies and stuff, and you can’t do that when you have to read. I usually do it on the weekends or between projects. Anyway, trailer:

-It was probably very edgy for its time, but in nowadays, it’s actually kind of boring, up to and until the point the setting shifts to Hell. I mean, honestly. Anyway, I was talking to my friend while and after watching it, which I don’t usually do (death to liveblogs, enjoy things while they happen instead of trying to document them), and here’s a few lines from our conversation:

dub> “stand in a circle in front of this video of fire”
dub> japanese hell is awful
dub> i do like how ironic all the punishments are
dub> it’s like how the Spectre comic used to be
Esco> the best thing is that there is no message other than “Hell sucks, don’t go there”
dub> haha yeah
dub> “if you witness an accident… say something about it”
dub> “unless a dude who is clearly the devil kills your wife first”
dub> man is it just me or is this guy innocent of everything?
dub> “You are guilty of getting depressed when your fiancee died! TO HELL WITH YOU!”

-The thing about the Eight Hells is that apparently people just yell at you in between being dismembered and set on fire or chasing babies. Sometimes the yelling is just your name, and other times, it’s people shouting revelations about the past at you. And that’s the story of why there’s a surprise almost retroactive incest toward the end when a guy finds out one of his love interests is secretly his sister. Not even half-sister. Just straight up sister. His mom was like “I’m not sayin I’m number one–uh, I’m sorry, I LIED.”

This Black History tumblr is probably my favorite website.

-I ventured back into the badlands of TCJ.com to read a two part Geoff Johns interview with Nathan Wilson. Part One and Part Two. He says a lot of things I thought were pretty interesting, whether in terms of how he approaches comics, the difference in approaches between him and Grant Morrison, or even competition in comics writing.

-Gonna karaoke this weekend. Looking forward to it.

to learn to overcome the heartaches and pain

David: ha ha ha
Esther: For sure: Batgirl 18, Batman and Robin 20, Birds of Prey 9, Knight and Squire 5
Possible: The Brave and the Bold 4, Red Robin 20
Gavin: Batman And Robin 20, Justice League Generation Lost 19, Knight & Squire 5, Carnage 3, (maybe) Casanova Gula 2, Deadpool Team-Up 885, Heroes For Hire 3, Incredible Hulks 622, New Avengers 9,Power Man And Iron Fist 1, Punisher MAX 10, Secret Warriors 24, (maybe), Ultimate Comics Avengers vs New Ultimates 1, Ultimate Comics Captain America 2

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