Keep Yourself Warm – A Placeholder

Dear friends and family, Romans and countrymen, treasured occasional readers of DAE:

Greetings from an unfortified bunker on the north side of Columbus, Ohio – where, in terms of the varied entertainment options it seems I’ve been long curating in unconscious, grimly ironic preparation for this exact moment, hey, it’s 1984 every day (or 1994, or 2004)…though time has largely lost all meaning otherwise. An introvert who apparently gets what he didn’t realize he was asking for and then some, I now spend 98.9% of my time alone and indoors, and haven’t had an in-person conversation longer than the two or three words I say to the masked lady at the Burger King drive-thru in months. After three days of contentious protests downtown, there is currently a citywide curfew in place for Columbus from 10pm to 6am. I hope this dispatch finds you well.

Continue reading “Keep Yourself Warm – A Placeholder”

My Top 20 Albums of 2019 + Supplemental Lists

Introduction

Welcome, patient reader, to yet another self-indulgent, anticlimactic celebration of some of the best albums the realms of “Extreme Metal”, “Indie Rock”, and “Other” had to offer in 2019, now that the page on that year has been definitively turned. I’m glad you’re here. The following post does not/cannot include every great album 2019 produced, since, to maintain my precious sanity, I steadfastly refuse to listen to everything I could. Much of what I do try also kinda sucks. I dunno. More new music is available now than at any point in my life, but with considerably less general buzz around it, not to mention fewer reliable resources with which to uncover it. Every new release is not by rights worthy of inclusion in my personal collection, let alone these countdowns, but the ones that are have something in common. Continue reading “My Top 20 Albums of 2019 + Supplemental Lists”

Neil Peart: An Appreciation

“Against the run of the mill / Swimming against the stream.”

“We break the surface tension with our wild kinetic dreams…”

“So much style without substance / So much stuff without style…”

“It’s hard to recognize the real thing / It comes along once in a while.”

-from “Grand Designs” by Rush (1985)

We all fantasize about meeting our heroes some day, no matter what cautions conventional wisdom might offer to the contrary. For but one example, I used to have literal recurring dreams about meeting Neil Peart, renowned drummer and lyricist for the band Rush, though with his shocking death last week from brain cancer at the age of 67, those long-standing desires have now sadly crossed over into the realm of permanent fantasy. Neil didn’t do meet and greet sessions, either before or after shows. He tried for a little while at the beginning, but found it simply wasn’t his thing. When Rush’s breathtaking run ended on their own terms in 2015, the band was as or more popular than they’d been in decades, and forty years of continuity is a heck of a long time to deny your fans the access they crave. But Neil and his admiration society had an understanding. Despite acclimation far and wide as one of a handful of the best drummers in the history of rock and roll – for, at the end of the day, he was surely the most influential – Neil was a humble, mild-mannered, and famously private person. Adulation on any level made him uncomfortable, and adoring throngs arguably don’t come any more vocal or vociferous than Rush fans. Continue reading “Neil Peart: An Appreciation”

Movie review: “Knives Out” (2019)

“That’s some heavy duty conjecture…”

“It’s funny, [NAME REDACTED]. You skipped the funeral, but you’re early for the will reading.”

Movie review etiquette strongly advises I not reveal the killer whose identity lies at the heart of Knives Out, Rian Johnson’s delightful update for impatient, attention-addled contemporary audiences of the time-worn but still effective Agatha Christie “locked room” style of mystery. This is far easier said than done, since, in a fairly stunning twist that proves to be only the first of many the film will lob at us like a loaded ball machine ready for tennis practice, the culprit is actually identified around the halfway mark, yet the stately country manor house remains so conspicuously full of colorful, highly motivated suspects otherwise. Who among this snooty, sniping, self-interested rabble honestly couldn’t be a potential villain, and might they yet eventually still seize their moment, even with matters ostensibly settled? Continue reading “Movie review: “Knives Out” (2019)”

Movie review: “Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” (2019)

“Oh, dear! My first laser fight!”

What does Star Wars mean to you? Is it or has it become an indelible part of your life, and, if so, how long ago/for how long? How far back do your memories go? Did you somehow snag the cardboard IOU placeholder display from Kenner as a kid, promising a quartet of otherwise missing in action action figures that weird but enchanted first Christmas, a time so very long ago (1977), in a galaxy comparatively far, far away? Did you go to sleep each night of your childhood beneath a Return of the Jedi comforter, in a matching bedroom suit? Did you play Episode One Racer for the Nintendo 64 each night until your exasperated parents ordered you to bed? Did you build Lego set after Lego set, or play with the ancient diecast Micro Collection, or spend your weekends haunting Old Republic MMORPG servers? Did you ever argue passionately with some (other) idiot on the internet about midichlorians, or the scourge of creeping Disney-fication, or the enervating fiction that Greedo ever shot first? Do you care? Continue reading “Movie review: “Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” (2019)”

Movie review: “Joker” (2019)

“Do I look like the kind of clown that can start a movement?”

Temper your effusive praise of Todd Phillips’ Joker for a moment and ponder what its $1 billion box office take (and counting) might have to say about the world in which we live and your place as an audience member within it. “The times maketh the man,” goes the wise, old, unattributable quote. Or did I mean to say, “the clothes”? For The Joker, maniacal ancient scourge of Gotham City, both catalysts apply. Every new wave of filmgoers seems to get the Joker it deserves somehow, be they glib, if sinister, inveterate pranksters in the animated mold of Mark Hamill or, applying a slightly sliding scale, Cesar Romero, ugly, enigmatic loose cannons as in the late Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning portrayal, or, to an obnoxiously lesser degree, whatever the trashy nu-metal hell Jared Leto was trying to accomplish, or slick, cruel, strutting peacocks like Jack Nicholson’s 1989 paradigm shifter. No matter how committed or complete the performance, in the end they are still just especially vivid aspects of an unknowable greater whole. Continue reading “Movie review: “Joker” (2019)”

Dispatches from the 11th Annual “Shock Around the Clock” 24-hour Horror Marathon

Drexel Theater, Columbus, OH – October 12-13, 2019

“I may seem scary, but I have the heart of a small child…I keep it in a jar on my desk.”

-Robert Bloch, as quoted by Stephen King

There is always something cool going on in this town. 

After several years of unproductive hemming and hawing, including missed opportunities beyond my reckoning, 2019 marked my maiden voyage as an attendee of the annual “Shock Around The Clock” horror movie marathon. I couldn’t be happier I finally decided to take the plunge. Celebrating its eleventh year at Columbus, Ohio’s historic Drexel Theater, SATC takes place each October in a single, continuous session starting at noon on the Saturday of Ohio State football’s bye week and ending at or around noon of the next day. Well over 200 bores, ghouls, and children of the night piled into the Drexel and peacefully cohabitated for a festive day of sights, sounds, smells, and screams fit to thrill the living and wake the dead (if we weren’t already at capacity). Continue reading “Dispatches from the 11th Annual “Shock Around the Clock” 24-hour Horror Marathon”