Spring Movie Season 2009

Apparently, Spring is in the air, and thus its time for me to declare which upcoming movies of the season have caught my eye. Last time out, I listed a total of 17 films that I wanted to see in that period, most of which were actually 2008 releases. Of those 17, I ended up seeing 11 of them, with one movie’s release date being pushed back to this Friday, and another that was pushed back to Friday, so I only skipped out on four I listed. I’ll catch Defiance when it comes out on blu-ray, might still make it out to Monsters vs Aliens (only on 3D though), and think Duplicity is probably worth watching, but will probably wait on that too.

This season will be the last in awhile where I can go to movies at will, and even then, the end of the season could be touch and go. As such, I’m trying to be pickier with my choices. Ultimately, this isn’t the worst thing in the world, given that many of the movies I’ve gone to recently featured various projection problems (scratched prints, poorly framed projection, not projected brightly enough, bad sound), whereas my home set-up has only gotten better.
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10 Memorable Episodes of ER

This week, the question that has surrounded NBC’s venerable medical drama ER for years will be put to rest. That question, of course, being “that show is still on?” Unbelievably (and probably unnecessarily) ER lasted 15 seasons, bursting on the scene in 1994, helping shape network TV drama in the process. I was a huge fan of the show when it debuted, and it remained one of my favourites for years to come. But, like many people who followed the show, I eventually dropped out. I gave up near the beginning of season twelve, deciding that a show that had none of the lead actors left from its first season (Noah Wyle left at the end of the eleventh season) no longer bore any resemblance to the show I once enjoyed. And, really, after a decade, I’d seen all I needed to see (although I did tune a couple weeks ago to see the return of Wyle, Eriq La Salle, Julianna Margulies, and that George Clooney guy).

So obviously this list is by no means definitive, although I’m fairly confident that few fans would rank episodes from the final four seasons amongst the show’s very best (even if they may have been pretty good). Moreover, I’m working completely from memory here, so it’s entirely possible that I’m missing some great episodes. Which is why this titled “10 Memorable Episodes of ER”, rather than “The Top 10 Episodes of ER”. I watched these episodes as they aired, some again on reruns, and have rewatched the first five seasons (the Clooney years) on DVD (I’ll probably keep buying and watching the series on DVD until I no longer enjoy it, which I suspect will be earlier than when I first stopped watching it). So my methodology is a little spotty, but, hey, if I remember an episode, it necessarily qualifies as “memorable” right?

Oh, and by “memorable”, I mean “memorably great”, not “Freefall” memorable (AKA “Romano v. Helicopter II: The Revengening”, AKA when the show jumped the shark). Because now that it’s over, let’s not remember all the reasons it faded into obscurity, and rather celebrate one of the truly great network dramas in the history of television.

The list, arranged chronologically…
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My Blu-ray Collection

As I did with my record collection, I’m posting my blu-ray collection for your perusal. My reasons for doing this are the same: to have a digital record of what I have, to show off my stuff, to give you the opportunity to judge me from the comfort of your own home, etc. So if you ever want to have a look at what I have (like if you were thinking of getting me a gift, perchance), look for the link on the sidebar (next to my record collection and Amazon wishlist).

Now when we talk about blu-ray, the big question people have is whether or not it’s worth it. And my answer is: that depends. If you have a big enough TV, capable of receiving high definition signals, and care about visual quality, then ABSOLUTELY blu-ray is worth it. I’m in love with it; finding even crappy movies to be watchable simply to look at the improved visual clarity (I’m sure that will wear off after a bit though as the experience becomes more normative, as it did with the jump from standard definition television to high def). But, when I first got my blu-ray player, it was hooked up to a 36-inch, CRT TV capable of a maximum of 1080i. It still looked good, but didn’t blow me away like it did when we got our 46-inch, LCD, 1080p TV.

Now, when I say “care about visual quality”, I don’t necessarily mean “only enjoy flashy movies”. Even quieter, less visually-oriented films look better on BRD, with richer colours, deeper blacks, and greater clarity. But, if you’re the sort of person who is just as happy to watch a movie on your laptop as on the big screen, the improvement might not mean anything to you (or I suppose you have really bad vision).

With my collection, I’m trying not to re-buy my entire DVD collection, in part because not every BRD was digitally remastered very well and in part because I’ve discovered that I own plenty of movies that I don’t rewatch very often (if at all). That was fine when I had more disposable income and received discounts on movies, but not a practice I want to replicate with this new format, especially since it’s a lot more expensive, and probably will remain so for awhile.

Anyway, on to the collection (note that in cases where multiple versions of the title have been released, the version pictured is the version I have)…

Click here to view my Family Films on Blu-ray Collection
Click here to view my TV on Blu-ray Collection
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List: The 15 Most Influential Albums of My Life

This is a meme making the rounds at Facebook (I guess now that everyone is done writing 25 random things about themselves, they need something else to write about). The idea behind it is thus:
“Think of 15 albums, CDs, LPs that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life, dug into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the wazzoo, literally socked you in the gut, is what I mean.”

Okay, first off: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR AN ALBUM TO LITERALLY SOCK YOU IN THE GUT!!! Contrary to popular opinion, the term LITERALLY does not mean “a term used to express exaggeration”, it actually means the exact opposite, in that it is to be used to distinguish reality from exaggeration (or figurative speech). But, getting back on topic, this is a topic I’ve thought about in the past to use as a blog post, as I’ve seen interviews in some music magazine (maybe Spin?) where they interview musicians asking what albums changed their lives.

Of course, those interviews are generally more interesting because: A) famous people are more interesting than random bloggers (at least that’s what US Weekly tells me), and B) as musicians, they’re probably talking about albums that convinced them to become musicians and influenced their style of music. Whereas for the rest of us, we’re talking about albums that maybe helped you through a break-up/taught you about the mysteries of love/first got you laid. In my case, these 15 albums helped shape my life as a fan of music, making me the audiophile I am today. Allow me to tell you why…
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March Recommendations

Welcome to a new feature for this blog where I give quick recommendations from assorted pop culture categories of things I’m currently into. These things may or may not be current, but are things that I’m currently enjoying (or have recently enjoyed) that I think you (the reader) might enjoy as well. Provided that you enjoy things that are awesome.

In the past, I’d write reviews of things that I wanted to recommend, but I don’t have as much time to write those reviews as I used to, so instead of deciding how good something is, or weighing pros and cons, and all those things a responsible reviewer does, I’m just gonna come right out and say “I like these things. They are worthwhile”, which is basically what anyone is looking for when reading a review anyway. And because blogging can (and should) be a two-way street, please feel free to leave a comment with any recommendations you’d think I’d be into.
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