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Late September Status Report

My pop culture consumption has slowed considerably over the past few weeks, what with school in full swing and swimming lessons running once again plus football games (my son is in the marching band this year) and the Popcorn Festival. Obviously, I haven't been talking about what I've managed to consume so I thought I'd do some quick hits here...

FOUR SIXTHS

I finally bought a copy of the 4th volume of Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four run, which is titled "Three" because one of the FF dies within. Now this is a story I've known the outcome of for quite a while but that didn't change how much I enjoyed these issues. Hickman's character work is strong, not just with the FF but others who are pulled into the story, from the arrogance and confident flirting of Namor to the enigmatic Galactus and the fearful but dangerous Doom. The issue where Ben Grimm takes the potion the kids of the Future Foundation created to help him return to human form was funny and touching yet also worked to put him in jeopardy as the one who could die. In fact, Hickman does a credible job putting all the FF members in peril as the story races towards its conclusion. The subsequent issue features a wordless story about the reactions to the death and a heartfelt conversation between Spider-Man and Franklin Richards. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that fabulous art of Steve Epting and the coloring of Paul Mounts.

Immediately before and immediately after reading the FF trade, I read the 2nd and 3rd volumes of The Sixth Gun by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, which cover issues #7 to #17. I read the first trade early in 2011 (I think) so it took a few pages to get reacquainted with the characters and situation. Once I did, I was hooked and even more so than with the first six issues. I think that once you get past introducing the characters and the world of a story, it becomes easier to build out from there, not only in ideas and locations and plot twists but also in adding depth to the characters. Gord Cantrell and Becky Montcrief are front and center in volume 3 and their interactions with dead family members (yes, you read that right) are quite affecting. Equally affecting was the story of the giant mummy, Asher Cobb, which was fantastically drawn by guest-artist Tyler Crook. Speaking of artists, Brian Hurtt draws the type of panels I could stare at for many minutes without getting bored. I can now safely say The Sixth Gun is one of my favorite current comics.

EVEN MORE NUMBERS

In the last month, I've managed to read only two books cover-to-cover, started a third that I had to abandon, and finally finished one that I've been reading off and on for six months.

Zadie Smith's NW was the first book all year that I've abandoned and it wasn't because I didn't like it. I was reading it at a glacial pace and was not going to get it finished in time to meet its due date at the library...and I had 6 other books out from the library as well as 8 unread books stacked within reach from where I type these entries. Something had to give, so I returned everything and for now will concentrate on my own backlog.

Jonathan Tropper's One Last Thing Before I Go was funny and engaging, though perhaps not as much as his previous novel. Other than that, I don't have much to say about it.

I'd planned a whole post titled "A Bob Mould Moment" which would talk about the reissued Sugar records and new solo album on Merge and his recent memoir See A Little Light. I still haven't picked up those three albums yet, however, so I can only talk about the memoir. Mould was in one of the biggest underground bands of the 80s (Hüsker Dü), had a moment in the early 90s with Sugar, came out of the closet, and got heavily involved in electronic dance music, all of which is covered here. It's a very interesting read and I was able to use Spotify to hear much of the music he talked about in the book, having missed Hüsker Dü the first time around. I have a thing for music memoirs and this definitely scratches that itch.

I started Moby-Dick back in March for my paper on The Wire but in the process of working on it my advisor and I realized I had enough material without needing to go in depth with Melville, so I stopped reading it. I picked it back up in the summer off and on, even taking a month between chapters at one point, but I ramped up my reading in the last week and have finally finished it. All along I found much to admire and I am very glad I read it. I do wish I had read it in a class, so I could have discussed it along the way, but that wasn't in the cards.

SCREENY

I went to see The Master last night. I am still thinking about what I saw. It was fascinating but I don't know that I could give it a grade or say whether I loved it or liked it or merely understood what it was trying to do without actually understanding all of it. Or something to that effect. Bottom line - if you like movies with linear plot and everything tied up, you will not like this movie (many of my fellow viewers last night fall into that category). If you're okay with entrancing images and arresting performances that don't do either of those two things, you should definitely see this.

The Emmys are on as I type this. Every year I go in thinking that I'll watch the whole telecast but I inevitably give up or at least watch more of the football game or do things like listen to music and type blog posts while it's on in the background. So, yeah.

I am excited for the new TV season to start up, even though I was just reminded on Twitter that Treme started back up tonight (I'll have to set the DVR for the re-air). I'm still behind on the summer shows like Louie and Doctor Who and Children's Hospital, though the last episode of that show I saw ("The Return of the Young Billionaire") was maybe the best episode of the current season with lots of jokes and most of the cast involved in a funny story.

I also started watching old episodes of Cheers on Netflix, starting with the very first season. It's amazing how funny that show was from the beginning. I've stalled in the last week or so but plan to get back to it when I have a chance.

STREAMY

I mentioned Spotify earlier and have to admit that I've been listening to music through it more than I have the music on my computer. It's a convenient way to listen to things I haven't heard like Blur albums as opposed to compilations and Talking Heads and and and. It's also a convenient way to hear the new stuff too; there have been so many releases this month I want and haven't begun to scratch the surface on buying them but I have at least heard Bob Mould, Ben Folds Five, Bob Dylan, Band of Horses, Stars, The Avett Brothers, and Dinosaur Jr.

On the non-streaming side, I really really like the Divine Fits record. Go buy it.

Okay, that should do it. Thanks for sticking with me!

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