My earliest memory of music is probably my mom’s Thriller album. I remember the vinyl jacket – Michael Jackson clad in black & white just glowing and laying back casually, looking like coolest guy I’d ever seen. At 34, my memory isn’t what it used to be, so there may be earlier memories buried deep down in my subconscious and forgotten dreams, but when you think about it, in 1983, what album mattered more than Thriller? So it’s no surprise that it may be my first memorable music memory, if you will.
This nostalgia got me to thinking about how my music listening has evolved over the years. Here’s a visual tour through the evolution. I’ll limit words to just the captions and headings. Let’s call it a “Music Map.” (Credit to coworker Sheila L for the name)
1983 – 1987: A Thrilling Start
This image is roughly what I remember: circular nobs in front, plastic dust cover, faux wood body, and boxy speakers with that soft cushiony cover over the speakers.
In 2008 I wrote a college paper titled, “The Backlash Against Violence in Video Games.” At the time, the latest Grand Theft Auto title has just been released and some of the best-selling video games came from “shooter” franchises like Call of Duty, Gears of War, and Metal Gear Solid. In fact, according to NPD (via BitgGamer), four of the top five games sold on the Xbox 360 were heavy on gun violence. So, just as with movies and other media, it was an era when violent content moved the needle on unit sales.
As a child of the 80s and 90s, I bore witness to the tail end of the so-called Golden Age of broadcast TV, when sitcoms, cop dramas, and (later) reality TV ruled the free airwaves. These shows routinely garnered sky-high ratings at a time when original cable shows were still far inferior in quality and certainly viewership.
But a strange thing happened once the new millennium turned. Some of the most creative minds in television—future pioneers such as David Simon (The Wire), David Chase (The Sopranos), Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad) and Matthew Weiner (Mad Men)—started looking beyond the traditional formulaic TV formats and looked to films for inspiration. Instead of creating 24 essentially standalone episodes of a show spread out over 6 months, these and other early pioneers began creating what essentially amounted to 13-hour movies that rewarded careful viewing and attention to detail. And here’s the thing, even the most viewed shows’ ratings paled in comparison to some of the astronomical numbers of broadcast TV’s salad days. And I think TV is all the better for it. Once cable gained traction and writers were able to flee the FCC’s broadcast strictures, I believe a new Golden Age emerged, an age where quality trumps viewership numbers. So without further ado, here is my list of my top 10 TV series since 2000. Ranked. No copping out behind, “No, I can’t rank them,” blah blah blah.
1. The Wire (HBO, 2002 – 2007) – This show turned the cop show formula on its head. An unfiltered look at villainous heroes and heroic villains. Possibly the greatest anti-hero in TV history (Omar Little). Small characters routinely had big moments—a true ensemble cast. Rewarded careful watching. Underrated humor that helped soften some of the harder moments. For my money, I put season 4, which looked at a broken education system and the kids struggling within it, against any season of any show in the history of TV.
Last night, my wife and I curled up on the couch and watched the first two episodes—both directed by David Fincher of Se7en and Social Network fame—of Netflix’s second original series, House of Cards, which debuted Friday night and was developed by independent production company Media Rights Capital. The episodes had quality acting, atmosphere aplenty, and political intrigue that was thicker than grandma’s homemade slow-cooked chili. But with 11 episodes still to go in the 13-episode arc, I cannot provide a full review.
But what I can do, if I so desire, is watch the remaining 11 episodes on my couch (or anywhere else I can get an Internet connection, for that matter) in a half-day-long marathon tomorrow and provide a full series review by early next week.
Attention PlayStation devotees, the date you’ve all been waiting for can finally be circled on your Crash Bandicoot-themed calendars. According to the Wall Street Journal (via The Verge), Sony will announce the PS3’s successor during a special event on February 20th at 6 PM. Details are scarce, but a Sony rep did tweet out an abstract teaser video with all kinds of Tron-like lasers and shit intended to, um, well just see for yourself. Maybe the PS4 is in there somewhere:
Source: YouTube via
I don’t know how many of you know about Minecraft video game (imagine a world built on a platform of pixelated, blocky 8-bit people and places), but even if you don’t, these cookies are pure awesomeness:
– Via ‘Life at Khan Academy’s’ Tumblr via Twitter
Hundreds is a new multi-touch puzzler available for iPhone and iPad. It combines a slick too-cool-for-school minimalist design with true multi-touch-based gameplay, a relative rarity in app gaming.
The objective is simple on the surface. You press on the various gray circles and the numbers within them increase until you release the press. The total(s) must add up to 100 to proceed to next round, hence the game’s name. The challenge is, the circles must never touch each other or any of the various objects that are introduced to foil your quest for 100. Even more notably, you can press four or more circles at once to increase the rate at which you hit 100. But watch out, it’s easy to lose track of your surroundings and get got by a wayward obstacle.
Earlier this week, Lucasfilm announced that Star Trek director J.J. Abrams would be helming the next entry in the Star Wars franchise, which is scheduled for release in 2015.
Now I’m no Trekkie or Star Wars über fanboy, but when I first read the announcement I was flabbergasted. Star Trek and Star Wars mixing? It was like the Sharks and Jets joining forces, Coke and Pepsi merging, or a Michigan-Ohio State lovefest. Just unnatural. Utter treason!
Going to keep this post light, with one major exception.
Ok, so I love me some Locos Tacos from Taco Bell. For those who don’t know, it’s a taco with a classic Nacho Cheese Doritos’ shell. Yum. And guess what? They’re gonna make a Cool Ranch flavored version! – Via BuzzFeed’s Twitter
Sir Paul McCartney, one of my living idols, is such a young soul — I love the way he uses technology. He’s already using Twitter’s Vine video app. See if you can name the song yourself: http://vine.co/v/bJjdTLBnwx1 (Hint: It’s from Band on the Run)
For the ladies: I remember’s 1994’s classic Diet Coke break commercial, and now 18 years later they are reviving it with a twist and it has become a viral sensation. – Via Mashable’s Twitter post
In news that surprised few, earlier today Apple announced (via The Verge) a new 128 GB model of its 4th generation iPad. The new model will be available on February 5 and it will cost $799 (Wi-fi only) and $929 (Wi-fi + LTE).
Let that last number sink in for a moment: $929. The price is not that significant on its own since Apple has never been known as a value brand. No, the real significance lies in another number: $999. That is the price of an entry-level MacBook Air—a full-on premium laptop. Matter of fact, BestBuy and Amazon had that same MacBook Air model on sale for $799 just this last weekend. Apple is not only going after the entire laptop industry with its iPad guns blazing, it’s seemingly turning those same guns on itself.
Let the Civil War Begin