Chris Neary is a producer for On the Media.
OTM Staff Picks Volume 20
Stuff we like, sent through tubes to you.
Monday, August 13, 2012 - 10:58 AM
Here are some of our favorites things. (For this week, at least).
I’ve never been one to seek out anime films, but I recently watched the Japanese animated film Summer Wars as part of “a movies in the park” series, and I was really pleasantly surprised. The movie takes place in both the real world and the computer simulated virtual world of OZ—a sort of all-in-one social network that also houses the world’s financial and military infrastructures, among other things. Someone hacks into OZ and chaos ensues. The film was both humorous and suspenseful, and I highly recommend it to other avoiders of anime
These two picks reflecting my escapist leanings, exacerbated by these lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer:
First: The Quantum Thief, the first in what’s intended to be a science fiction trilogy by Hannu Rajaniemi. Its protagonist is a post-human con man and thief in a post-human universe. Everyone is augmented, uploadable and vulnerable to malignant forces. Death is conditional…and everything is really confusing. It’s a roller coaster ride into the reductio ad absurdum of what’s around the bend. full of cinematic characters. (Though if it were actually made into a movie, it would need a little more exposition.) Greatly looking forward to part two, The Fractal Prince, in September.
Second: “Easy Money.” Championed by Martin Scorsese, this is the film he would have made if he were Swedish. It’s a Swedish Noir/Thriller, gripping and bloody, centered on the downfall of a poor business student masquerading as a rich boy about town, lured by the promise of heaps of cash. It’s sustained tension that feels almost like a Swedish message -- you’re so relaxed when it’s over.
My staff pick this week is the batting cage at the Astoria Sports Complex. I am really hoping that for next week my staff pick can be the ability to lift my arms again.
Andrew Bynum is an NBA center who got traded late last week from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Philadelphia 76ers. I'm a Sixers fan, and Bynum is a good player. So I'm happy on that front. I'm also happy because Bynum, compared to his peers, is evidently a little odd. To be sure, if you're a professional athlete, you don't have veer far off normal to be perceived as eccentric. But, according to this Sports Illustrated profile, Bynum easily clears that bar.
In addition to being an amateur radio producer, I am also an amateur musician. Sure, I like weird, inaccessible and unpopular music, but I’m also a huge fan of dance music. I was really into the French electro jams that were popular a few years ago, so I thought it would be fun to learn how to make music that sounds like that. Thank heavens for the internet, which showed me how to make fat distorted synths, just like Justice (mad props for the Goblin sample in that tune). For the four people who enjoy this kind of thing, my staff pick this week is a tutorial on how to make Justice-style synths in Reason. Now I just need to figure out how to make that slap-bass sound…
A few months ago my friend Andy called and left me a voicemail to tell me that something strange had just happened. He’s a longtime public school teacher in Los Angeles with a student body that’s primarily Latino, with a smaller percentage of African-Americans. While his seniors were working on a research project he put on some background music which happened to be an old mix of soul music that I’d made him years ago. All was going well, he told me, until one song captured the class’ attention - someone asked him who was signing, Andy didn’t know and the song ended with 30 Latino teenagers - smartphones out - trying to Shazam and then buy a 46-year-old song. No Headstone On My Grave is a song by the inimitable Esther Williams and it’s a class-stopper. Try it out on a 17 year-old in your life and see if it takes: