today's favorite media, part I

Album

I wrote a note to myself about Ingrid Michaelson’s Be OK a probable long time ago (considering it was released in 2008). I’ve been slowly rebuilding a corrupted iTunes library for quite some time now, and along with re-adding all of my old music, I’ve been including some stuff that I never got around to acquiring. This is one such album.

I’ve recently changed crazy-meds. Between slowing and stopping that which I’ve been taking for three years, ramping up to a therapeutic dose of the new stuff, and the inevitable interactions between the two, I’ve been pretty scattered upstairs.

The title track is Michaelson’s “Be OK”, and it just makes me feel good. Not only is it a cheery, upbeat song that would enlighten my ennui anyway, but its admittedly simple lyrics are very resonative.

Book

I haven’t read a book in too long, and I just wrote this review of Ship of the Line by Diane Carey, so I’m skipping this one.

Film

Oh, similarly I haven’t seen a film in a while—not since MoviePass became all janky. (No, Molly, you can’t cancel your subscription!) If though, I think about the films I saw with MoviePass, and which ones stuck around in my brainpan longer than others, I have to laud Upgrade.

First of all, don’t click that link and read the synopsis. Read other stuff about it, sure. Read about it making 3.575 times its budget at the box office. Read about its South by Southwest award. Even read the lead so you know what sort of film you’re getting yourself into. Do NOT, however, read the synopsis. Understand?

I love AIs in sci-fi. Data (from Star Trek), Helios (from Deus Ex), VIKI (from I, Robot), ARIIA (from Eagle Eye), Samaritan (from Person of Interest), GLaDOS (from both Portals), Dreadnought (from the eponymous Star Trek: Voyager episode), KITT (from Knight Rider), Mr Smith (from The Sarah Jane Adventures), Carl Swangee (from Penny Arcade’s Automata), and WOW this list will just keep going. You get the idea.

On the face of things, Upgrade is just another entertaining sci-fi film with an AI. However, you know that thing that half of all characters (and certainly most-if-not-all AIs) are forbidden from doing? That thing? Yeah, it happens in Upgrade and I WANT MORE. You watch it and tell me if you disagree.

TV series

I’m watching a few shows nowadays. With the family I’m watching the perennially-satisfying NCIS. On my own, I’ve been watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Manifest, some season-one Dark Matter, and the surprisingly-not-awful FBI (which has Dick Wolf at the helm, so that’s probably a big factor in its favor). With Rebecca, I’ve been watching the new DuckTales, Final Space, and probably the best contender for TV that keeps popping into my brain unbidden: The Expanse—we’re a few episodes into the second season.

The characters are pretty good, the cinematography and effects are stellar, but the story is just a black hole that sucks you in and prevents you from ever leaving. If I had the time, I’d go back and re-watch season one to try and pick up all the things I’m certain went over my head the first time. My metaphor du jour is stories as tapestries. Some stories have the density of fishnet; that’s fine, DuckTales certainly isn’t a contender for most-intricate plot of the decade, but it’s still fantastically enjoyable. The Expanse is a Kevlar-dense plot. I’m usually happy to accept plots as they are presented; I don’t think deeper than they’re given. With The Expanse though, I can’t help but keep imagining what’s going on after the episode is over and the laptop is closed.

Video game

Angelbiscuit and I bought a PlayStation 4 for my birthday in early 2016. Along with it, we bought Fallout 4, excited to play.

I dove right in and befriended every single NPC and faction into whom I stumbled. I progressed the main plot, I did lots of side quests, and I begrudgingly built settlements for Preston Garvey. On my first play-through, I actually wound up taking every faction as far along in the story as I could without committing to any one faction. However, because I’d spent virtual blood, sweat, and tears for all of these people, I couldn’t bring myself to side with one over another. I quit playing for a little while, and then family moved in, my dad died, I bought a house, etc. You know, the usual.

I finally got back into playing in March when Hatman came to visit. He helped me create a new pair of characters (below; I went with the woman, whom I named Scarlet), and I’ve been taking her through the game, intentionally focusing on the Institute plot line at the expense of the others. She’s a gun-nut, preferring rifles and pistols, though we have an automatic shotgun for when things get a little too in-her-face. She’s also an asshole: if there’s an option to choose a “sarcastic” dialogue option, she’s going for it. It’s caused a few problems along the way, but I’m enjoying the hell outta it.


Film by “Capture The Uncapturable”, 27 January 2011 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

reviewsDaniel C. Hodges