Wot I’m watchin’ #1

Have you ever thought “my word, I am brilliant – I have just absolutely the best taste in television and music, and should really actively attract the attention of others so I can display so!” well you’re in luck, cause if you haven’t. I have – and I’ll be making you consume my opinions via the power of mind control (and eye-reading).

Star Trek: The Next Generation neeeeerrrrrrrrrrrd!

First up is the brilliant Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s like coke to dr pepper, tomato to your tomato, old testament to your new testament – relatively the same as it’s competitor but you feel significantly more at ease with the liberal attitude displayed in the latter.

Star Trek was always a show I had been peripherally aware of growing up as a stud nerd, it was set in space, it wasn’t ashamed of itself, it was happy to go on for four episodes in a row about Holodeck misadventures (Riker and the holo-girlfriend, Picard and his detective days). Suffice to say it was relatively high-level sci-fi – which at the age of ten, trying to avoid the next episode of Gon’ Huntin’, was dessert to my eyes. However went put up against the likes of Stargate or Firefly I knew I would take that fast-hitting action any day of the week.

Picard's the man

To my surprise though I’ve recently found myself entranced in the adventures of the Enterprise. Once you grind past the teeth-gnashing first few epsiodes (so so so cheesy) it becomes so addictive. The ethics, and morals displayed within the show feel so far ahead of it’s time (late 80s, early 90s) – LGBT, gender, and socio-economic issues are frequently challenged over the seasons, and in fact are done so to a level I’d consider incredibly progressive (even by Twitter standards!).

While certain episodes can go on occasionally, the cast polishes away any spots, as they have so much depth both in terms of acting ability, and character development. My personal favourite is the Android – Data, who constantly strives to be more human and yet constantly displays more human, and empathetic than even his most virtuous of companions.

Overall I’m halfway through the fifth of seven seasons (that’s like 100 x 45 minute episodes…) and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. Seasons 3, 4, and so far 5 have definitely been the best. season 1 takes about half a season to let you warm up to the characters, and get past the shoddy scenarios encountered early on. However a string of character developments sees season 2 truly plummet. If you’re into sci-fi, give it a go!

Samurai Champloo

I actually started watching this show today, I was bored and looking for something to do and decided to flick this on. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched anime, and to be honest I was a little apprehensive. It’s not that I dislike anime, I think in a 1 to 1 comparison with Western TV shows, anime probably makes me laugher and think deeper than the West. However, I battle to enjoy any TV at all because it feels like too passive of an experience to me – so to then watch animated TV I feel even lazier. I believe any medium, no matter the form of its expression can move people equally – but it’s hard to not let slight feelings of idiocy creep in when you’re in your mid 20s watching “cartoons” (which is such an insult to the medium).

Samurai Champloo

It is to my utmost pleasure that I announce that this cartoon is thoroughly brilliant – it’s funny, energetic, very well drawn, and readers…stick with me readers……THE SOUNDTRACK IS SO GOOD. I had first been told of this show more than a year ago when I was at a LAN party and some guy put on some sweet chill hip-hop vibes – the tracks he was playing were created by Nujabes, a DJ who had also produced the songs for Samurai Champloo – to my woeful ignorance then (and everyday up until this day) I wouldn’t watch the show, until today!

It’s probably too early to declare outright brilliance series wide, but in the first few episodes it’s been nothing short. I don’t think it’s fair to point to anything in particular as the one winning feature of the show thus far, it’s really the full experience of Samurai Champloo – the writing, art style, soundtrack, direction – everything is clearly well thought out, and to be honest I would expect nothing less from the man (Shinichirō Watanabe) who created my favourite anime show – Cowboy Bebop. If you’ve ever thought about giving an animated show ago that isn’t Adventure Time – then why not try Samurai Champloo?

Kroll Show

I remember seeing posters for this in the New York subway and the show had some pretty funny taglines – however, travelling wasn’t conducive to catching new TV shows so it wasn’t until I was bored looking for a new show last month that I actually watched it. There’s definitely a few great series of sketches – my personal favourites are Wheels Ontario, and Dr. Armond, but my main criticism of Kroll Show is it’s hit-to-miss ratio. Every sketch show has one of these – and while I think Kroll Show definitely exceeds the level of which to entertain – it’s not something I’d go around the streets yelling about. It’ll keep you laughing, but it probably won’t make any “best shows ever” list.

This Week in Music #24 – Alternative Hip Hop

Good evening everyone, or should I say morning, afternoon, dusk, dawn, etc. Well it doens’t matter, I was trying to establish some personalisation which would relate you (the reader) to me (the author), however as it’s purely a false pretense due to the temporal dissonance of asynchronatic mediums such as text I’ll continue without such attempts (just kidding I love you [Database.READER'S NAME]).

So it’s been about a month since my last music post, and there really has been a common musical genre of my post-University life, and that genre has been alternative hip hop, it started with my love of WeFunk Radio which goes back to about 2010, WeFunk introduced me to The Pharcyde, and from there it’s been an exploratory time for me musically. Hip hop is so diverse, and while I like some hardcore rap from time to time (primarily limited to KRS-One, Killer Mike), I’ve never been able to wander far from alternative hip hop as the smooth jazz, funky, and bluesy beats roll with a lovely icing of tasty rhymes. I could (and would enjoy) writing about chill / alternative hip hop for hours, there’s endless albums full of great songs – but don’t limit yourself to just the singles, most albums by A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, Jurassic 5 are filled with track after track of brilliance.

Anyway I think that was quite enough of a preamble, let’s play some music.

A Tribe Called Quest - Check The Rhime

A Tribe Called Quest have been hogging my play time more than any other artist in the last month the albums Midnight Mauraders, and The Low End Theory are just both fantastic, both are over-flowing with smooth rhymes and silkier beats.

Brand Nubian – Allah and Justice

This track is the kind of song where I have to slow jam off the train onto the platform, it’s just so groovy, that bass line just drones – and then the lyrics are just so uplifting. I haven’t listened  to enough Brand Nubian, I’ve pretty much exclusively listened to In God We Trust, but watch this space as I have a feeling you’ll be hearing more from them here.

MF Doom - Arabic Gum

I have to thank my friend and flatmate Antony for putting me onto this absolutely brilliant album by MF Doom, it’s called Metal Fingers Presents: Special Herbs, The Box Set Vol. 0 – 9, and it contains about an hour and a half of the coolest breaks and beats, a must listen for any fan of hip-hop grove. Seriously, chuck it on this weekend while you’re cleaning your room / doing the laundry – you’ll definitely thank me.

Digable Planets - La Femme Fetal

Groove, social consciousness, pro-choic politics - Digable Planets give you that deep insight. Love this track, and the album Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space)


The Getup – What If?

I know this track breaks the alternative hip hop vibe with some super funky upbeat disco groove, but I heard it on the aforementioned WeFunk radio today and just could not stop grooving away at my desk, it’s rare that I’ll go back and listen to a track on repeat on that site as there’s just so much brilliance to be consumed that you’ve got to keep going.

So there you have it everyone, hope you enjoyed this week, that last track in particular is just so catchy. As usual, keep well!

Consume, Consume, Consume

Despite the enjoyment experienced, I sometimes feel that certain pursuits I undertake are a waste of time. Video games in particular are quite hard to justify, there’s a (gradually diminishing) reputation that this form of entertainment is pointless and just for boys (and while walk-behind-an-old-British-soldier-staring-at-his-bum-and-then-shoot-the-bad-man games certainly do appeal to a certain demographic, it’s far from the only game genre available for easy consumption). For me though it often comes back to the somewhat existentialist thought of, well if nothing matters then why not enjoy life in the manner in which I see fit?

Now, I think there’s a lot to this claim – I truly think that each person should be able to seek pleasure in their own manner, undisturbed from others. I think it’s truly a shame when someone tries to diminish someone else’s interests, and it is patently hard to combat this – do you play the (publicly conceived) arsehole and tell them to f*** off? or do you meekly allow societal pressure to sway your personal enjoyment?

But at the same time should we not thrust forward seeking to educate ourselves? We live in probably the greatest time period thus far, I mean how often do we (in the New Zealand) have to worry about widespread famine, roaming marauders, and access to healthcare? (I know this does affect a lot of people, but this sits outside the scope of this post). I know it sounds ridiculous, but last year I was reading a book on philosophy (it was basically philosophy for kids) and there was one quote I came across from Socrates:

No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.

Now while Socrates here appears to be talking literally about physicality and fitness, I think this has strong applicability to the vitality of the mind.  How is a life lived, if not in the pursuit of knowledge? Seriously, why exist to merely participate in the passing of time, and drawing of breath? I don’t think you have to be a scholar in life, but I think one should attempt ceaselessly to learn, it doesn’t have to be literary, it doesn’t have to have “real life applicability” but why not read the plaque on that bench you sit on, why not look above shoulder height when you walk down Queen street, why not question the things you see?”

Learning is definitely hard, I don’t consider myself to be particularly creative, and my concentration levels in areas of self-improvement leave a lot to be desired, but I’m going to keep trying.

I’ll take pleasure from the strategy I implement in a fantasy world created by 10 nerds in a basement, I’ll smile at the wanky art I fail to interpret in the Art Museum, and most importantly I’ll always try share any information as passionately to listeners, as when I received it from some generous soul.

Knowledge Of Self is like life after death
With that you never worry about your last breath