There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.
Halt and Catch Fire is an interesting way to take the temperature of our current television climate. It is a very, very good show, with all of the hallmarks of a prestige cable drama, and yet it’s nobody’s favorite. Still, we’ve been covering Halt and Catch Fire since the first season, and Marisa has always found something about it that spoke to her personally, so she decided to write about the individual episodes as it heads into its final stretch. Read her reaction to the previous episode, “Goodwill?” here.
Endings are hard. I know it seems like everyone is leaving.
Joe left, with nothing but his own “Dear Haley” letter to say goodbye. But then again, was Joe ever really, fully anywhere? Does he even have an essential self, or is he like a liquid that changes his shape to fit into his surroundings?
Joanie left. And sure, it feels like it was really easy for her to go. She was so confident, arguing with your mom every step of the way about how this is certainly, definitely the right decision for her. But maybe you should take a moment and think about how hard she works at making it look effortless. Maybe, if you stare hard enough, it’ll look like you’re the one who’s more sure of herself.
For the impending end of 2017, some of our writers are going back and talking about beloved songs from this year, especially from artists not covered on our podcast.
Sportsalcohol.com has had a complicated relationship to Lorde, to put it nicely. (“Why would a reviewer make the point of saying someone’s not a genius?”/”Well, I just don’t use that word lightly.”) But every pop singer out there, it seems, has a way of breaking through one of our steely exteriors. This year, while Miley managed to charm Jesse, Lorde’s “Green Light” earwormed its way into my cold, rockist heart.
Which is not to say the song is perfect. Far from it. “Green Light” gets the 2017 Whiplash Award for going from one of the year’s worst lyrics to one of the best. “She thinks you love the beach, you’re such a damn liar,” stops me cold every time, and in a bad way. There’s no nice way of putting it: It’s just dumb. It’s petty. It’s something a sixth-grader would say. And the line sticks out abrasively; the beginning of the verse rhymes, and it seems like “liar” should rhyme with something for consistency, and it…just doesn’t. I don’t want to be the AABB-poetry-police, but I would’ve cut Lorde some slack if she forced that line in there to rhyme with something, but actually there’s no stylistic reason for it to exist. The next time she does a verse, it’s just two lines, not four, and they (mostly) rhyme.
But if you can get past the beach grievances, you are rewarded. “Those great whites they have big teeth, and they’ll bite you,” is actually a very clever way of talking about the dangers of little white lies. It’s the best shark lyric since “When they say great white sharks, they mean the kind with big, black cars,” in the Hold Steady’s “Banging Camp.”
I know a song is not just the sum of its lyrics, but, in the beginning, you don’t have much else besides a quiet piano buffering those words. But after the sharks are released, the song builds to a can’t-help-but-dance moment where I finally see Lorde living up to her reputation. It can’t slow down for a chorus, just a refrain: “I’m waiting for it. That green light. I want it.” (Genius.com says specifically that’s not a Gatsby reference, but, whether Lorde knows it or not, it is.) It’s meant to be shouted. You can jump up and point your finger at the singer when you hear it. Or you can just groove to it in your own little world, like the (tragically too beautiful for this world) Twitter feed @armiedancingto once illustrated.
I listen to “Green Light” with my 2-year-old. The call-and-response chorus is repetitive enough that she can sing it, too. We both jump up and down like Armie Hammer. Then she falls onto a pillow we keep on the floor and sticks her legs up in the air, and I grab them and spin her around like a break dancer. There are very few songs that bring us both the same kind of joy. I guess creating something like that does take a certain kind of genius.
For the impending end of 2017, some of our writers are going back and talking about beloved songs from this year, especially from artists not covered on our upcoming podcast.
We covered The National in our music podcast, but I didn’t get a chance to say this: I haven’t listened to Sleep Well Beast all that much. It’s not that I haven’t loaded it up and hit the play button. But, four songs in, I get to “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness,” and I can’t get past it. I need at least three listens before I’m able to move on. It is, without a doubt, the best song by The National.
Perhaps that’s because it’s also the most song by The National. It’s all there from the beginning, but the song slowly, confidently lets them build: The beat, the piano, that angular guitar riff. There are horns. I’m a sucker for rock songs with horns (though oddly enough I never had a ska phase). But the horns aren’t blaring, they’re just lifting up the melody. There are voices, too, and not just Matt Berninger’s. They help the song move from the low rumblings of lonely secrets to the higher, soaring talks with God.
I used to have a theory that the best album titles were really just phrases you hear all the time, but taken out of everyday context. I still mostly believe that there will never be an album title better than Northern State’s Can I Keep This Pen? (When I heard that Limp Bizkit had an album called Results May Vary, I was like, goddamn them, that’s good.) I never really thought that applied to lyrics until I heard Berninger’s exasperated, “I can’t explain it any other way.” How many times have I said that, and how come it never sounded so beautiful?
So, 2017 begins to wind down. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, buddy. But, as the year comes to a close, we launch—with apologies to Liz Lemon—out year end wrap-wrap-wrap-up. And, as with all things, we begin with an examination of facial hair, fever dreams, and superheroes. How do Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok and Zack Snyder/Joss Whedon’s Justice League fit into the pantheon of the gods: the MCU and DCEU? More importantly, how do they stack up against this year’s other comics output, namely Logan, Wonder Woman, and Spider-Man: Homecoming? We discuss:
Which 2017 comic movie has the best villain?
“Immigrant Song” needle-drop: perfectly cheesy, or cheesily perfect?
Would You Rather: The Dark Lord Dormammu or Malekith the Dark Elf?
How long should Ben Affleck continue to play Batman: forever or infinity?
And, because you rely on us to go there, we do spend an awful lot of time talking about what’s going on with Henry Cavill’s face.
We are now up to SIX (6) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:
In the very first season of Halt and Catch Fire, we learn that Joe took notice of Gordon because of something he’d written in Byte magazine: “Computers aren’t the thing. They’re the thing that gets us to the thing.” (Now, having spent four seasons with Gordon, I can picture his exact tone as he wrote that.) The series mirrors Gordon’s quote, in that it’s also not necessarily interested in The Thing. As I said before, it’s more likely to skip over The Thing entirely in favor of what emotional work has to be done after The Thing in order to get through it and go onto the next Thing.
Halt and Catch Fire is an interesting way to take the temperature of our current television climate. It is a very, very good show, with all of the hallmarks of a prestige cable drama, and yet it’s nobody’s favorite. Still, we’ve been covering Halt and Catch Fire since the first season, and Marisa has always found something about it that spoke to her personally, so she decided to write about the individual episodes as it heads into its final stretch. Read her reaction to the previous episode, “Nowhere Man,” here.
For most of us, our lives orbit around two loci: The place where we show our public selves, and the place where we get to be who we really are . Most often, those two places are work and home—but that’s not always the case, especially on Halt and Catch Fire. Cameron is unable to separate her work from who she is, for example, so her code follows her wherever she goes. Her public place is in Joe’s apartment, where she’s performing the part of Good Girlfriend; her Airstream is where, mostly alone, she gets to be the real Cameron and admit to herself that she’s not really as “sick of tech” as she claims.
By now, you are well aware of the fact that we have a podcast. (If not, we’re doing a bad job—but, hey! We have a podcast. You should totally check it out.) But have you ever thought to yourself, “Hey, how does one create a podcast?” Or “What even is a podcast?” then SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Rob has an event for you. He’s giving a talk on the ins, the outs, and the what-have-yous of podcasting as part of Sharatoga Tech Talks in Saratoga Springs, NY.
Rob’s talk is entitled, “I Made a Podcast so It Can’t Be That Hard: Someone Who Knows Slightly More About Podcasting Than You Explains the Journey from Recording to Distribution.” I think that tells you all you really need to know about it. He’ll be sharing a bill with techies talking about Jira API, Kotlin, craft beer design in upstate New York, and Go (“A Modern Language with Classic Roots”). And if the sound of the word “Jira” is enough to make a little shudder of revulsion go down your spine, rest assured that it all goes down in a venue with some classic video games (Rampage!), so you can always retreat into that.
Sharatoga Tech Talks featuring Rob
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Sinclair Saratoga Springs
17 Maple Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Hors d’oeuvres and video games start at 5:30 PM,
presentations start at 6 PM sharp on the second floor
If you do this and become a world-famous podcaster, remember the little podcast that started you off.
I really wish I were doing another Gordon-focused reaction. I could easily live inside his little slice of the episode, in a world where he went out and saw Sneakers four times in the theater—because of course he did—and is still down for another viewing at home. I’m sure having a neurological illness makes it easier to justify doing what makes you happy, but he doesn’t: He just likes what he likes. I’d love to spend time discussing how, to Gordon, swing dancing and roller derby are the same thing, because they basically are; they both turn out to be fads with no longevity, and Gordon doesn’t buy in to fads because he’s committed to staying uncool.
But instead of living the normcore life with Gordon, I think I have to talk about Donna.
Halt and Catch Fire is an interesting way to take the temperature of our current television climate. It is a very, very good show, with all of the hallmarks of a prestige cable drama, and yet it’s nobody’s favorite. Still, we’ve been covering Halt and Catch Fire since the first season, and Marisa has always found something about it that spoke to her personally, so she decided to write about the individual episodes as it heads into its final stretch. Read her reaction to the first three episodes here.
Last time, I talked about how impressed I was with Halt and Catch Fire‘s ability to play with your expectations, setting up a Big Conflict, then pushing it off to the side in favor of something else. The title of this episode, “Tonya and Nancy,” promises much. Yet the big event that’s referenced barely makes a blip on the characters’ lives: Joanie actively tries to not watch the Olympics, while Joe and Gordon plan to view it at a small party that gets eclipsed by Cameron’s dramatic re-entrance into civilized society. (Hopefully Gordon and Anna Chlumsky’s Katie continue to watch, because I am HERE for that relationship, especially now that we know how bad at pool Gordon is. Although the series currently takes place the year of My Girl 2, which gives me weird, meta-concerns where I wonder if Katie knows about the My Girl movies. ) Tanya (Sasha Morfaw), Donna’s recently promoted employee, laments over a sushi lunch that her name will forever be entwined someone named Gillooly.