An album that faithfully conveys the feelings and spirit of the never named Vietnam veteran returning home with a varied collection of soul, gospel, funk, R&B, and pop that can only be categorized as Marvin Gaye.
Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #6/100 My Rating:
Marvin Gaye had to fight for this one.
Tired of having Motown dictate his creative direction, Gaye wanted to create an album that was more personal and less hit-oriented. Barry Gordon wasn’t having it, but after threatening to never record again, Gordon allowed Gay to have full creative direction.
This is a masterpiece of an album: nine songs that freely float into one another, recall motifs of previous tracks, and the most interesting story arc in concept album story telling. Following an African-American, Vietnam veteran after his return from war, the subject matter risks being too preachy, but by having an actual character as the vessel to experience everything, the album becomes a prescient bit of social consciousness. Instead of being hung up on politics, we get to experience and FEEL this unnamed protagonist’s plight.
“Don’t punish me with brutality,
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what’s going on.”
The moment you’ve been waiting for finally comes 4/5ths through the movie, but it all seems too late and anti-climatic.
American Film Institutes Ranking: #98/100 Academy Awards: Nominated for several: best picture, actor, screenplay, director, supporting actor. Won for supporting actor (Gene Hackman), Director (Clint Eastwood) and Picture. My Rating:
I’m okay with Westerns. My favorite book of all time happens to be a Western (Lonesome Dove). Older generations who display the red,white and blue at every door and buy cars made only in Detroit view Westerns as a quintessential American representation. The West represents the idyllic egalitarian society with no centralized government and each small community creating their own standards for law and acceptable behavior — no need for big government here!
It all works out for you as long as you are the swashbuckling cowboy and not one of the the characters regelated to the edges such as women, children, seniors, and those not willing to be violent. Unforgiven continues with this deconstruction of the Western narrative, focusing on a protagonist that isn’t glistening with moral righteousness while showing the real toll of vigilante justice. So while Unforgiven is certainly a Western, it tries to butt up against the glorification of the genre.
My problem is that in the process of flipping the script, you lose connection with the characters leaving a resolution that is ultimately unsatisfying.
American Film Institute Ranking: #17/100 Academy Awards: Nominated for four (Best Actor, Actress, Adapted Screenplay and Director) winning Best Actor for Humphrey Bogart (his only Academy Award). Director: John Houston My Rating:
“How can we put Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in close proximity for a couple hours and let them work their magic?”
Enter the adapted screenplay by James Agee (who also wrote a top 100 book of all time “A Death in the Family” which I review here). The African Queen is an interesting movie just from the set up alone: about 90% of the movie involves the two main characters floating down a river in a steam boat with the entire focal point on their relationship. There is some window dressing to get them there, but none of it matters. What is important is that Humphrey and Katharine are stuck together and have to work through their differences. This movie explores the classic motif of mismatched lovers using stereotypical traits that are diametrically opposed (messy vs. clean, prude vs. crude, etc.). Thankfully, we have two power houses of Hollywood that end up pushing this ridiculous script along and somehow make a successful go at it.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #80/100 Developer: Hal Laboratory Rating:
I have a soft spot for the puzzle genre in video games. I think it’s video gaming at its best: no story nor plot, just some basic mechanics that completely twist your brain. I admire people who can turn a few simple rules into extremely engrossing mind riddles while inducing an effort headache as you try and solve them.
This is the Adventures of Lolo in a nutshell: couple of blocks, couple of buttons and couple of enemies, but put all together an extremely enjoyable game. There is a little bit of a backstory, as you play as Lolo trying to save Lala who has been kidnapped by the evil Eggers (view the above image if you need the emotional coloring). Lolo then has to go through 50 rooms of puzzles to save his princess.
Sydlexia Ranking for top SNES games: #81/100 Developer: Konami Rating:
I was a Tiny Toon fan when I was a child; every day after school it was on, and not until I reached middle school did I make the jump to Dragon Ball Z on Toonami. My favorite episode is easily where they danced to old-school songs for a whole episode. Tiny Toons was always weird, popcultured, and cerebral, taking advantage of breaking the fourth wall to interact in a way different than other cartoons at the time.
So I guess no different than today, it is important to monetize anything we enjoy and video games seem to be an easy way to do that.
Sydlexia Ranking of Top SNES Games: #90/100 My Rating:
This game might be the foundation for my worst video game memory and source of why I sometimes say “Yipchawww” in social settings. Let me get the former off my chest, and why I retrospectively still take two stars off the rating.
You didn’t always beat the video game you owned in the 90s. With the lack of save features, it was not unusual to have a stack of games you played, owned, and never beat. This wasn’t always because you got bored with it; some games were just impossible to beat or were variable in their rewards. This meant anytime you go to those ending credits, you did something.
I had just defeated the emperor of the empire, and in my triumphant moment, I had 30 extra lives stockpiled. I couldn’t believe I had gotten to the end of the game with this many extra lives. I was on video game accomplishment high.
“It was funny, too,how lonesome a person could be in a crowded house.” Mick.
It’s always the books about the human spirit that endure. There is no need to worry about setting or plot as the things people dealt with then are the same things we deal with now. It’s like when James Baldwin said “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.”
Carson McCuller wrote “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” at the age of 23. It was an immediate hit and was the first of many of her works to focus on loneliness and isolation. She herself was not in good health and would die at the age of 50 after living a life of strokes and health complications. It’s hard not to think that these personal, life experiences weren’t the catalyst for many of her novels.
This book checks off many of my personal-taste preferences: vignette chapters from each character’s perspective, the setting of a small town in the rural south and a focus on characters and not necessarily plot. While this might not move the needle for other readers, there is plenty to love about the temporary world McCuller builds in small-town Georgia.