Category Archives: Other

What 2011 Will Bring

It’s a little late to make this post now, but I’ve been meaning to get through it. This is what I’m looking forward to this year, in events, albums, games, etc. Continue reading

The Strangulation’s Favorite TV Shows of 2010

I don’t watch TV. I only have a TV to play videogames, and I rarely turn it on to watch Discovery Channel or a movie or when I’m really, really bored I’ll flip through the channels and get even more bored. TV in my country is shit. I do, however watch shows “illegally” from my computer or my PS3. No commercials and no time slots. No good quality, either. And so, here are some of the shows that I’ve enjoyed the most this year. In no order whatsoever.

Community
Community is a recent discovery of mine. I started hearing a lot of great things about it and I decided to give it a try. It’s a great show, it has clever humor combined with a great heart. Season 2 picked it up a lot, and started being a lot more funny and touching. I devoured all of the available episodes in about a week. I love it, can’t wait for it to come back. I might call this the best comedy right now.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Back in September when I went to see Spoon I happened to catch an episode of this show with a friend and we both thought it was hilarious. When I came back, I started watching it and it truly is something else. It’s not a very smart kind of humor, but it gets the job done and they really pay a lot of attention to the details, which is great. The recent seasons haven’t been so good, but the new one is on par with the old ones.

Modern Family
I found it hard to get into this show, but once I did it became really enjoyable. It’s not great, but it’s something fun to watch and relax.

The Sopranos
My brother borrowed me the first seasons of this show and I finally got a chance to see it after all the hype I had heard. It’s good. In fact, it might be some of the best TV I’ve watched. HBO sure knows how to put on great shows. Throughout the whole series, I never felt like any season dropped off the quality or like it got boring. It was always a constant stream of great acting, brilliant writing and clever plots.

Mad Men
Another show that I heard a lot about before. I just started watching it and I have not fallen in love with it, but I can understand why people like it. Gonna have to spend more time with it, I guess.

Top Gear
This is a show that I watch occasionally. I’m not really into cars, but it’s always fun to catch an episode or two once in a while. The guys are always funny and the things they do are incredibly stupid.

The Office
I’ve watched this show since it began and I’ve always found it fun, but the recent seasons have felt like a drag. Just end it, please! It’s still fun to watch, but it’s not the same thing it used to.

Kenny vs. Spenny
A friend introduced me to this show about 2 years ago. I’ve been watching it when I get a chance, it’s a lot of fun. Kenny is an evil genius. Those canadians really are something else. I hear it ended a few days ago, but I haven’t watched the final episode yet.

Diggnation
Not really a TV Show, but I watch this religiously. Fun Fun Fun.

The Totally Rad Show
Another show from the Rev3 family, I have found myself watching these pretty much everyday since they switched to the daily format. I get a lot of recommendations through these guys.

Californication took a break this year, so that’s why it’s not included. Otherwise it’d just be number one, always. It is coming back in about a week, so, excitement!

The Strangulation’s Favorite Things of 2010

There are some things that just don’t fit in any categories for lists. Here are some of those things.

Kindle
I got my Kindle around September and it has become one of my favorite devices. My reading has increased greatly since I got it, because it makes it easier for me to get new books. I just regret not getting the 3G one.

Appstorm
Another thing that happened in September is that I started working as a freelance writer in a little website called Mac.Appstorm (it’s actually not little). My favorite thing about being a writer is that I can call myself a writer and be a douche about it. See, I can be as much of a Hank Moody or a Tucker Max as I want now. It’s like a free pass, you are expected to do those things and behave a certain way while being a payed writer, not just a shitty writer on an unsuccessful personal blog  (like this one).

Seriously though, I love my job. I want to do it forever. I’m thinking of expanding to other blogs next year. It’s been great. And I think I got the job because of my early writings on this blog, which is awesome. Throughout my young life, I have had numerous jobs, and I haven’t enjoyed any of them, until now. This is a “job” that I am excited about and that I truly like and look forward to do. Please don’t fire me, ever.

By the way, I got the domain for this site with my first paycheck, just like it should be done. Now I’ve invested money into my mediocrity.

Bukowski
I started reading Bukowski this year and I almost got through all of his novels. There was a time this year when I was very, very much into him.  But then he got repetitive and a little boring. He has become one of my favorite writers and I truly enjoy his character, but it’s easy to get tired of him and his old man ramblings. Women is now a monumental book in my life. It’s hard to explain, but I felt like it was very honest and like it spoke to me. So did Ham On Rye, but I got a bit bored through it.

Evernote
I had used this service before, but I never found a real functional use for it. This year I found myself in need of it and I started using it again. Now it is the centerpiece of my life (exaggerate much?). It is now the home of my resolutions, lists of various stuff, reminders, quotes, websites, notes, recipes, and just about everything else.  Part of why I love it so much is because I get to use it from the web, my computer and my iPod. Best app ever.

GTD Apps
Because of my job, I get to review and test a lot of new and interesting apps. One of them was an app called Wunderlist, and it is a Getting-Things-Done app. I had heard about these type of apps but I had never used one of them, until I reviewed this one. And since then I have been using it – a lot. It’s amazing how many things I forget to do. This app is a great help for remembering stuff to do.

Arcade Fire Live
Because of where I live (I use this excuse a lot), I don’t get to see many concerts. So, my experience with concerts is not exactly wide, and whenever I see one it is a pretty big experience for me. Well, this one was extra special. I got to see the closing tour date of one of my, if not my favorite band, and it was truly an unforgettable experience. The setlist was great, they gave us “Laïka” as a gift, Regine cried during “In The Backseat”, they played “In The Backseat” and I screamed like a 12 year old girl throughout the whole concert. Great times. I got very, very sick after the concert (medication + beer + 3 AM october cold is never good for the body while you are already sick), but it was worth that and another dozen near-death diseases.

Mexico City
Throughout the summer, I spent some time living in Mexico City, partly working and partly not working. I had a lot of free time to get to know the city and use its public transportation services. I went for a run in some of its popular parks. I got robbed and I returned pretty much empty handed to my hometown. I got lost on a rich neighborhood while listening to Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs on repeat (that was back when it came out). I was driven by a cab driver who literally cried his problems to me while I pretty much ignored him (I didn’t know what to do). It was a different experience. I didn’t spend much time there, but I learned to love the city. When I went back there later in September to see Spoon, I met interesting people and I got lost again. I love that city now. The weather is great, there is plenty to do and there’s a certain ambience to it that I’ve gotten used to. I couldn’t live there, but I love visiting it.

Pavement
Pavement is one of those bands that you hear about over and over again but you never get around to checking out. I’m glad I got to check them out, because I never expected to like them so much. Great stuff.

The Four-Hour Body
This is a book by Tim Ferriss that came out a couple weeks ago. I’ve been a fan of him for a while now, and even though his advice isn’t directed at people like me, I have learned a lot about him. I religiously read his blog and watch his Random podcast with another personality that I admire, Kevin Rose. I’ve been waiting for the release of this book since he first announced it and when it came out I devoured it. It’s interesting. It debunks a lot of long-time beliefs about health and a healthy lifestyle (I am into that sort of things, I am the kind of person that enjoyed Fast Food Nation). It will definitely change a lot about me, like the things I eat and the way I work out, if anything just to see if his theories are right. This guy is a great personality and everyone should learn from him.

The Concerts
This year I got to see more concerts than I’ve ever seen any other year. They weren’t a lot, but they were plenty for me. I got to see Arctic Monkeys, Spoon, Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem. To Arctic Monkeys, I went with a bunch of friends and it was a great, fun experience. Awesome night of debauchery. To Spoon, I went to Mexico City with a friend and it was fun, but the kind of classy fun, not the kind of drunk-insult-puke fun. That concert was great, though, and I got to meet Britt Daniel and Rob Pope before the concert and exchange a few awkward words with them. Then, Arcade happened and I got sick because it was so awesome. Ans to end the year I went alone (sidenote: sad face) to LCD Soundsystem after a couple of friends let me down. It turned out to be a great night, I danced myself clean and I met some cool people. Next year: Bonnaroo?

Switching to Mac
Yep, I made the move and became a douche. It was long overdue, really. I’ve been an Apple fanboy for a while now and I was just waiting to get a Macbook. Then it got stolen and I got another one. My next objective is getting an iPad and one of those new Macbook Airs (those things are sexy!).

Food Mob
Food Mob was a short-lived Rev3 show that got me into cooking. They decided to finish it because they didn’t get the response they expected from it, but hey, neither did I with this blog and I kept it going. I’ll miss you, Food Mob.

The Strangulation
This blog started as a personal project of stuff that I like; at first I thought of it as sort of an archive. I was inspired to start it by Gary Vaynerchuk and his Crush It! book, except that I never expected to make a dime off of it (that’s why I have my freelance projects). Not only did it help me to improve my writing skills and indirectly get a job, it also is an outlet for my lackluster hipster music knowledge, and a way for me to share my opinions with the world. It helps me realize things, but especially, it makes me feel good about myself. It makes me feel productive. Like, I’m contributing something to the world, even if the world doesn’t appreciate it. I hate not feeling productive.

Well, that’s it for a great year. In the next few days: The Strangulation’s Favorite Games and TV Shows!

The Strangulation’s Favorite 10 Movies of 2010

Because of where I live, I don’t get to see a lot of movies that I would like to see but never make it over here. 127 Hours is an example. True Grit is an example. The Social Network, another. However, I usually find a way to see these movies despite them not being available on my area. That is why my list won’t be extensive, and why there may be movies that came out in late ’09 but I didn’t get to see until this year. So, this list is just for funsies and should not be taken seriously by anyone.

10. Kick-Ass
I guess it was because of the hype, but I didn’t really enjoy this movie as much as I thought I would. I still liked it for its premise, but the humor in it was pretty much non-existent for me, and it ended up being just entertaining.

9. Hot Tub Time Machine
A really good comedy, but it doesn’t really do anything new and I found its humor to be lackluster through most of the movie. I think the idea of it was very good and I was entertained by it, but it had potential for much more.

8. Easy A
Emma Stone, in slutty clothes for an hour and a half. No matter how bad this movie was, it was bound to end on this list for that reason. And it actually was quite fun, I enjoyed it.

7. Get Him To The Greek
It didn’t really work that well as a spin off of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and I constantly laughed through it. That Aldous Snow dude is hilarious, especially for his accent and his eccentricity.  And Jonah Hill is always ok.

6. Paranormal Activity 2
Liked the first one. This one is pretty much the same, but with a few additions. I liked that they didn’t really swerve from their original premise, not even because they had more money than the world. Again, entertaining but not perfect.

5. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
I never read the comic, because I don’t read comics (except for web comics), but I heard all the hype it got and I had high expectations for this movie. For the most part, it kept up to them. This was a really, really fun movie, and I was laughing constantly at its own ridiculousness.

4. Toy Story 3
Pixar, bla, nostalgia, bla.  I didn’t cry in it like most of the people I know did, but I did find it touching.

3. The Social Network
Oh, I liked this. When I first heard about it I thought it was the stupidest idea for a movie ever, but it ended up being really, really good. The script was genius. The soundtrack went along with it perfectly. Jesse Eisenberg surpassed expectations that were pretty much non-existent for him. I guess the genius of this movie is more in the fact that everybody expected it to be boring but it ended up being pretty dramatic.

2. Fantastic Mr. Fox
2009, I know, but I didn’t get to see it until this year. Also, it’s sort of an “indie” release, so those never really have a definitive release date. I loved this movie and I’ve watched it about 3 or 4 times. It’s lovely!

1. Inception
Well, no surprises there. In my humble opinion, this movie was perfect. I just re-watched it a couple days ago and it’s even better, as there are many things you don’t notice there the first time around.

Movies I wish I could have seen:

True Grit

127 Hours

I’m Still Here

The Fighter

A Prophet

The Strangulation reviews Call of Duty: Black Ops

I was thinking recently about how I have a category for games but I haven’t actually talked about any games in this blog. The thing is, I don’t play a lot of games, mainly because of money but also because I don’t have a lot of free time. This year I have only bought Red Dead Redemption, Starcraft II, Worms, Fat Princess, Borderlands and The Godfather II. And most of those just because they were on sale. I do, however, rent a lot games or borrow them from friends. Hopefully now that I have a substantial and somewhat steady income I’ll be able to play more games, like the upcoming Gran Turismo 5, Killzone 3 and LBP 2. Also Mass Effect 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Need for Speed and a wheel to play GT5 the proper way.

With that cleared out, now it is time to talk Call of Duty. Continue reading

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco

Talking about Spoon yesterday and how they got Yankee Hotel Foxtrot‘ed before the whole YHF controversy happened reminded me of a movie that I’ve been meaning to watch, but had never found available in Mexico or online. Well, to my surprise I did find a copy of the movie and I ended up watching it last night.

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is both the first song in Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and also the name of the film that documents the recording process of said album. At the time (2001-2), Wilco was already famous within it’s scene and they had 3 full lengths released and were signed to Reprise Records, a subsidiary of Time Warner. And so, the focus of this film is the recording, mixing and controversy of releasing Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, while also documenting the problems that were going on within the band.

The film starts with the recording sessions of the album and it touches on the at-the-time good relationship between Reprise Records and Wilco, apparently Reprise “blindly” gave them a truck of money to finance the initial stage of the album and the band was surprised about it. But through the recording of it some misunderstandings happen between the front man of the band, Jeff Tweedy, and the multi-instrumentalist (who may R.I.P.), Jay Bennett. Jay wanted more control over the album and Tweedy wouldn’t let him have it. Initially the band was supposed to be self-producing the album but they ended up calling Jim O’Rourke to get the job done.

And so with the album done they pitched it to Reprise, who refused to release it as it was because it “didn’t have a single” and the band ended up without a label, but with their record. They finally signed with another Time Warner subsidiary, Nonesuch Records and released the record to great success. Although the success of the record isn’t documented on the film, the search for their new label was, and so are some people commenting how “any label would be happy to have a band like Wilco”. And it was true, hell came down on Reprise as the whole YHF controversy happened, and so did the fact that YHF ended up being the best selling record Wilco ever made, and one of the best of last decade’s. It was like an alarm; how could a band like Wilco end up being ditched by their record label when they made something as awesome and original as YHF? What has the world come to?  and so forth…

And so, the band found a label, but before the release of the album, it started to leak. And like everybody who has a brain and understands how the internet works would, they decided to put it up streaming for free in their website. That was 2001. We’re in 2010 and there are still labels/bands that don’t understand this. But anyway, everything was ponies and rainbows for Wilco, right? Well, not really. The Bennett-Tweedy-O’Rourke controversy scaled up and after the album was done Tweedy fired Jay Bennett, and the band was like “Oh?”. And Bennett was like “He can’t handle my awesomeness, he’s a selfish mo’fucka”. And Tweedy was like “I fired him because… well, shit, I don’t know”. And that’s basically how the film ends.

Now, I can see this film being boring to anyone who doesn’t understand the background or doesn’t care about the music industry, or doesn’t like Wilco, or doesn’t like good music at all. But I found it very interesting. It’s shot in greyscale, which is interesting and adds to the whole drama and obscureness that surrounded the band at the time. It was directed by Sam Jones, who I’ve never heard of, not before this. And there’s also a lot of live footage in it. There’s Tweedy doing “Misunderstood” solo, then the band playing a bunch of songs from YHF, and there’s also footage of the band recording songs from the studio and some early versions of some YHF songs, like this more rocking version of “Kamera” that I liked a lot more than the album version.

And there’s also Jay Bennett’s famous phrase when referring to the recording of “Poor Places”, “Sometimes when you’re playing if you don’t have a sonic landscape behind you, everything turns into a folk song”.

This year the contract between Wilco and Nonesuch Records ended, and the band is planning to release their own label, just like they have done recently with Wilco (The Festival), Wilco (The Album), Wilco (The Song), Wilco (The Burger Joint), Wilco (The Tour) and now Wilco (The Record Label).

Inception

It is sad when evil big corporations take advantage of great art to monetize. That’s sort of what happened with Inception here in Mexico. The two main movie theatre chains had Inception announced on their websites for release on July 23. I checked last weekend. Then on Monday, they both took it down. I thought it was an error in the page, and decided to wait until they fixed it to buy my tickets for the official release. Well, that didn’t happen. People started noticing this and started wondering what the fuck was going on. Rumor has it, they both refused to have this movie in their theatres because Warner was trying to overcharge them for the projection of the movie, and so it was only going to be released in minor independent movie theaters. Now, I won’t go into detail about who I think is to be blamed for this, mainly because it’s a rumor and there’s not a lot of info on it, but in the meantime, I got my tickets to see Inception last night at 10 PM in a minor theater, and I must say this might be my new favorite movie.

I’d never heard of Christopher Nolan until after I saw The Dark Knight. I didn’t even want to see The Dark Knight, all I knew about it was that it was part of a Batman reboot and that reboots usually sucked. At the time I was vacationing in California and the people I was with were very excited about it and decided to go to the midnight release. I thought, “ok, but I don’t think I’ll like it”. Boy, was I wrong. The night we went to see it we had dinner at Ihop and then drove in a hybrid to the theatre while listening to the pop songs of the moment. I remember feeling very american. When we went into the movie I was very sleepy and a bit grumpy about being dragged into another shitty american summer film. Then it started and I had to eat all the shit I had previously given to this movie. When I came back home I went back through all of Nolan’s films. He had become one of my favorite persons on the planet.

When I heard about Inception and that it was completely done by Nolan (writing, producing, directing) I nearly shit my pants. I decided to stay away from anything related from it, trailers, reviews, commercials, comments, buses. And I managed to do it. I went into the movie knowing nothing about it other than that it had something to do with dreams and it was done by Nolan with DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I LOVED this movie. Every moment about it was perfect. If anything, the dialog was a little “meh” at times. But, the story, fuck. It was a mindfuck. It was complicated and very unconventional but somehow they made it very easy to follow. It was so original and weird and awesome! It’s impossible to explain, I doubt I can spoil it for anyone, but all I can say is that this is how you make a movie. Every moment was key, as long as you followed it you were going to understand it easily, but if you drifted away from the movie for a moment it got hard to pick up the plot. I know I missed some moments because I got distracted, and I will have to watch it a few more times to completely understand it, and then another dozen times to enjoy it’s brilliancy!

I can’t imagine how someone could write this, come up with all of this theory about dreams and then all the plot above it all, which while it needed a bit more relevance in it’s final purpose, the details about it were very good and the story of the main character and how the other characters come into play with his destination are awesome. I read this theory about SPOILER: how the whole movie might have all been a dream by DiCaprio’s character, that all the movie and all the characters were all just how DiCaprio’s character interpreted them. It’s definitely possible although the plot is open for a lot of interpretations. That’s how you make a plot! When there’s not just one truth but many possible ways the movie could go or could have been. There might be plot holes, I know I thought some while I as watching the movie but then forgot about them later, but that’s with any good story and you really have to go deep into the plot to dig them out. All I have to say is this is how you make a movie. Entertaining from start to finish, a challenge to your audience that comes with a payoff, and just completely go out of line and do something unexpected and totally original! I also like the whole “Nolan ambience” that is characteristic of him. There’s this thing to the lightning, feeling and the gamma of colors in his movies that make them feel so unique. It’s like an alternative world where everything seems shady. Please don’t change, Nolan.

It still has to stand the test of time, but as it looks like right now, I’m looking at my new favorite movie.