Jack Kerouac, The Subterraneans:
Truman Capote infamously called On The Road "typing, not writing," but that's not really fair or true. This book, however, *is* typing. It's stream of consciousness like Kerouac wanted to do his own final chapter of Ulysses, but it's just a bunch of speed-fuelled slop about Jack hanging around with hipsters and a romance with a black girl. Thank God it's short. One character is supposed to be William Gaddis, but I couldn't make anything of that.
Jack Kerouac, Tristessa: This is better because it's not stream of consciousness, but not *much* better. It's Kerouac doing drugs in Mexico with someone I thought was William S Burroughs, but he isn't, and having a relationship with the title girl. Whoo. Probably the last Kerouac I'll ever read.
Mega Man: The NES original, from 1987 and featuring an unrecognizable character on the box. I replayed it on NESticle because I'd only played it once, maybe 22 years ago. It sucks. It's an irritatingly difficult 40 minute obstacle course where every single jump and shot in the game needs to be perfect or your ass is grass. The weapons are lame except Elec Man's lightning, the boss fights are awful slugfests and there are two moments in the game that rival the Grim Reaper in Castlevania for near impossibility. No nostalgia here, folks--I could barely enjoy a moment of this, except the look and music of Bomb Man's stage.
North: The 1994 Elijah Wood debacle best remembered for inspiring Ebert to write an infamous zero star review where he kind of flipped out with hate. It's just another one of those lame 90s kids movies full of antics, bumbling adults and general cartoonishness. No funny jokes whatsoever. All I'm going to remember is the review and the fact that the cast contains both Jussie Smollett and Phil Hartman's psycho harpie wife who killed him. I'm not making that up!
The Red Shoes: The dance sequence halfway through holds up, but the backstage drama involving the teacher and the choreographer is...uh, kinda plain? Is it just me? Something was kind of missing here--I think I walked in to this expecting it to be (ugh) Black Swan or something. I mean, it's better than that obviously but the whole "triangle" in the film isn't that great.
The Lighthouse: Robert Eggers, who made The VVitch, now goes b&w and makes Willem Dafoe, channelling the sea captain from The Simpsons, tortures Robert Pattinson in your average psychological-physical "madness"-type way for two hours. Not unwatchable but not terribly surprising either. And it most resembles The Babadook--the hero would have drowned in torture long before the movie was over.
The Fury: Brian De Palma directed this 1978 mess, which has the same premise as Scanners (government villains trying to capture dangerous telepathics), but bigger stars, a bigger budget, and more time to finish a good movie than Scanners...and yet Scanners isn't just the better movie, but it's actually more coherent. This veers from gory sci-fi horror to romantic teen melodrama to goofy action comedy setpieces involving Kirk Douglas (whose death, caused by him rolling off a rooftop because he is saddened by his son's demise, is even sillier than John Cassavetes exploding at the end of the film.) De Palma has made worse films, but I don't know if anything else he made was ever this *ridiculous*.
The Sum Of All Fears: I hereby nominate this as the most badly dated film post-2000. Tom Clancy's 800-page book was eviscerated to make the first post-9/11 terrorism thriller but the film has lame generic villains, only manages any tension in parts of its climax and barely seems to care at all about a nuke going off at the Super Bowl. No eemotional resonance whatsoever--this makes 24 look like Brian's Song.
Hated: GG Allin And The Murder Junkies: Todd Phillips made this 50-minute documentary as a student thing right before Allin died in 1993; I watched on Youtube, which didn't censor Allin pooping all over himself, or Allin close-up eating a hotdog out of a #####'s ass, then gagging hot dog ass chunks all over himself. This isn't that great--Allin proves, every time I see or hear about him, that he can't hold my attention very long, like most freaks.
Good Boys: This is funny enough, but not explosively funny--Booksmart was a better Superbad knockoff. The jokes are a lot more random and unrealistic than those movies, too. I guess that's fine--the funniest bit involves an anti-bullying squad. The black kid is funnier than the other two.
Testament: 1983 post-nuke tearjerker often listed as one of the most depressing films ever made, with poor Jane Alexander gradually watching most of her town and family sadly die of radiation poisoning. Aside from one very lame moment involving kissing a priest near the end, it is a pretty damn sad film, although it isn't too much more than a glorified TV movie. Usually mentioned in the same breath with the far more widely seen The Day After, this is surely better than that.
The Arcade Fire, The Suburbs: Possibly their best, probably because they managed to diversify their sound enough to make the 64 minutes of romantic-anthemic big-sound overkill more bearable than Neon Bible. It's a bit like calling Tanx the best T.Rex album. Most reviews singled out "Suburban War" as the highlight; I didn't get that one, preferring "City With No Children," "Month Of May" and Regine's Depeche Mode song near the end. It's no megaclassic; not since Wilco's Summerteeth have I felt more overstuffed from anthems, but I heard that album when I was 22.
Van Det Graaf Generator, The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other: It's full of stretched out pieces like the debut that are less "prog" than backdrops for P. Hammill's melodramatic vocal ravings, but the pastoral hippie vibe of that debut has been replaced with mostly darkness and that fat heavy lumbering organ sound that EVERY prog band went for in 1970. I only like the pretty "Refugees" at all; bits and pieces of the largely amelodic rest of this work but only bits, and I'll likely never listen to it again.
The Flaming Lips, Oczy Mlody: This starts off beautifully--the title track and "How?" wonderfully evoke 80s nocturnal synthscapes, making you think this will be a logical followup from The Terror, which was 70s synths. Then...you realize that the entire middle stretch is an unmemorable mess of drum machines, found sounds and synth brapps; all I can remember is the brapp in "Do Glowy," and one song is the worst Radiohead wannabe I've ever heard. Thank God Miley Cyley shows up at the end to save it!
Queen, A Day At The Races: I have a feeling I won't like these guys much from here on out. They just seem to be using Big Operatic Production to hide average or forgettable melodies, like "Tie Your Mother Down" which is the same dirty glam romp shuffle that every other mid 70s shock rock band did. "Somebody To Love" is good, but of course it is, it's a freakin Beatles melody! The rest you can have.
The Beach Boys, Holland: Adequate early 1970s adult pop that points towards...Dennis Wilson's solo album, actually--"Only With You" turned up on that disc! "Sail On Sailor," "Trader Joe" abd "Funky Pretty" are the best and that's what most people think anyway. There's also Brian's loopy EP bonus, which got stuck in my head just from the sheer electronic weirdness of it all.
The Kinks, Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One:. The weakest of their classic era, this is probably just remembered for the title track and the recording industry bashing lyrics. The actual songs...err, well I am glad to hear "This Time Tomorrow" and "Powerman" and, uh, "Lola" again. Thank God I never bought the CD!
NP: Elvis Costello - "King Horse"