Here’s what I have been doing this month.
1. The Corum series – Michael Moorcock
If you’ve read any Michael Moorcock, then you know the whole Eternal Champion thing, and this is yet another version of that idea, but different in its own ways. Corum is the last of his race, all the rest of whom were slaughtered by the humans (whoops), and over the course of six (short) books, he has to fight various Chaos gods because that is what Michael Moorcock characters usually have to do. The “twist” is that at the end of book 3, Corum meets some gods that are a tier above the whole Chaos/Justice/Balance BS, and they tell him that gods are basically just made-up by people, and that otherwise they are just people themselves, though maybe not human, so Corum shouldn’t really give many fucks about them anyhow. This makes books 4-6, where Corum is sucked into the future as a god himself, the next logical step. Good, fun, not-too-overly-involved fantasy summer reading. Kinda hard to track down in the US right now, like a lot of Moorcock, but worth looking out for.
2. Asura’s Wrath – CyberConnect2 and Capcom
This game needs a true Hinge Problems write-up at some point, but until then, just play it. 90s shonen sci-fi anime with a heavy leaning on Buddhist tropes. As Rudie once said, not quite enough Gurren Lagan, but that is OK too. Yes, it is full of embarrassing anime shit. Yeah, it is just a CD-ROM game with slightly more controls. Who cares? Just let your inner 12 year old play it. It’s cheap as heck now too, which makes how much it isn’t a videogame a lot more tolerable.
3. Upstream Color – Directed by Shane Carruth
Have you watched Primer? You should, it’s good. It’s a sci-fi movie, and really well thought out as one, but instead of being about time-travel in the way that almost every other movie about time-travel is about time-travel, it’s really about two friends learning how much they can be horrible to each other when given the slightest bit of power. Time-travel just happens to be the device by which that happens.
OK, so with that in mind, Upstream Color, the next movie by that director, is as much a movie about an alien symbiotic life form as Primer was about time-travel. It’s actually about how two people can try to overcome their own messed up pasts in an attempt to be in a relationship with each other, and if that can even really work. And it is brutally. painfully honest about how effing hard it can be to actually make that work.
4. Sunbather – Deafheaven
I could probably write a ton about metal, and my own complex relationship with it, but that’s not for here. Basically, all you need to know for this is that over the past few years, American black metal has gone in a lot of weird directions, from the psychedelic and new wave wanderings of Nachtmystium to the “transcendental black metal” of Liturgy, and it drives black metal purists (and yes, black metal has these kinds of people) up a wall. This album will do more of that, but fuck ’em. This album is gorgeous, which isn’t really an adjective that applies to much black metal, but it works here. Yeah, it’s of course depressive as fuck, but almost in a joyfully resigned way. And unlike a lot of black metal, the lyrics are actually worth reading. I don’t know if the album proper is out yet, but it’s up on Spotify so do a thing.
5. For Almost Ever Scooter – The Mice
Cleveland never really had that many “big bands”, those groups that get huge and popular and everyone knows, but that is OK. The bands of Cleveland’s past will probably show up here regularly (there are some treasures there), but we might as well start with The Mice, a mid-80s power pop punk band that only put out two albums before fading away. Their two albums (For Almost Ever and Scooter) were combined into one CD in 2004 by Scat Records and that is pretty much the only material on them out there, though lead singer Bill Fox would release a couple of solo, folk-ish albums in the 90s. What’s here is some damn catchy stuff, with that weird kinda English accent that Ohio bands for some reason pick up sometimes (see also Guided by Voices, and certain songs by the National (their singer is from Cincinnati)). Definitely worth a few listens, and thankfully on Spotify.