Sunday, 2 November 2008

Questionable Content and other, non-Bond things

I mentioned last week that I would be watching the new Bond film today and then reviewing it tomorrow or Monday. Unfortunately a combination of sporting commitments, awkward train timings, living in the middle of fucking nowhere and my friends all living in Birmingham (50 minutes train journey away) has meant that I will be spending this fine Saturday evening doing nothing as per fucking usual.

I will watch the bond film at some point, I haven’t set a date yet, but I will get round to it, and when I do, it will be reviewed here. To distract you from the lack of a Bond review I shall tell you about some of the interesting stuff I did this week. A bet you’re looking forward to that aren’t you?

This week I have been on holiday, which for me involves sitting on my arse either watching TV or fucking around on the Internet trying to find some source of entertainment to fill the long lonesome hours. As you can probably gather I don’t really socialise, mostly because I can’t be arsed with the hassle of going into Birmingham to find any friends to socialise with, and because I’m an antisocial git.

So, this week, while surfing the Internet for something to do I came across a pretty looking webcomic. Without realising that it was comic number 1260, I clicked first and started reading. Several hours later I was totally addicted to this webcomic and three days later I was up to date. The webcomic is called Questionable Content and is drawn by the very talented Jeph Jacques, who has a funny name.

The theme is fairly unoriginal; a young adult male (who is probably based on the author) with no luck with women meets a nice girl with whom he falls in love. Another girl then appears; who complicates the issues blah blah blah you know the rest. One hell of a lot of amusing incidence and plot complications later and you are at over 1000 comics with a really strong readership. The same theme can be found in most story-based webcomics out there; sexually repressed nerds tend to write about their fantasies. The thing that sets this comic out from others (mentioning no names – C.A.D) is that the delivery is AWESOME. This guy knows how to tell a joke and still allow a semi-serious slightly parody-based storyline flow. While I admit that some of the jokes are rather predictable, not all that amusing and ever so slightly lost on people who don’t listen to astonishing amounts of Indie music (like the jokes on webcomics based on videogames that are lost on everyone who does not play Xbox for days on end), it was interesting enough to keep this unforgiving cynic reading for 1260 odd strips. Ok so I didn’t exactly have a lot to do with my week, but hell, it kept me entertained.

There are a few rather more interesting and original features of this webcomic, which must be commented on because most webcomics floating the sea of raw sewage that is the Internet has not a scrap of originality and would be best be represented in the aforementioned metaphor as massively oversized shits floating through the semi-viscous gunk with an even more oversized following of flies who buzz around claiming that the shit actually tastes quite good and you should try some. No thanks. Sorry where was I? Ah yes, the original bits of this webcomic. As I have eluded to, instead of banging on about videogames and making very poor gags about them, which generally involve jokes about how applying videogame logic to the real world doesn’t work, with apparently ‘hilarious’ results, Questionable Content is more concerned with various different genres of music and the culture associated with them. It is unclear whether Jeph is as Indie as his lead character, or whether he is parodying the entire thing extremely subtly. I would like to think it is the latter, but I reserve judgment. Another original thing, that occasionally gets a bit strained, is that all of the characters have hopelessly dysfunctional parents who occasionally make appearances to the utter bewilderment of all (me included).

So this week I spent far too much time reading Questionable Content. I also acquired (entirely legally…) the new Metallica album; Death Magnetic, the new Rise Against album; the pretentiously named Appeal to Reason and Rise Against’s previous album; the slightly less pretentiously names The Sufferer and the Witness. While trawling through over 1000 comics I listened to these three, the Rise Against ones because I am seeing them in February and the Metallica one because I wanted to know if it was as good as everyone has been saying, which, much to my surprise, it is.

A few issues with Death Magnetic to start with. Some of the songs are a little samey, they are good to have on in the background, but it does not always stand out to the casual listener. Some songs however very much do stand out, All Nightmare Long, The Unforgiven III and The Judas Kiss for example. One big problem I have with the Unforgiven III is that it sounds nothing like the Unforgiven I and II; the first two, while not being the same song sound very similar, they work when you play number 2 after number 1. Try playing number 3 after the first two and they are clearly different. I don’t claim to be an expert when it comes to music, so I cant put my finger on why they sound different, it’s just a different style. While a damn good song in it’s own right, it does not go with the others and so it seems to be misfiled. It smacks to me of an attempt my Metallica to associate themselves with their past music, distancing themselves from St Anger, which is probably a good thing when you think about it.

Now onto the Rise Against albums. If ever an album could be accused of being anonymous, is it Appeal to Reason. Bar some notable exceptions such as Hero of War, actually pretty much just Hero of War, all the songs sound the same. Individually they are pretty good, some are better than others, but together it is hard to see where there is any diversity at all. The same can be said of the Sufferer and the Witness, but to a lesser extent; Roadside and The Approaching Curve both offer some change in tempo and songs like Ready to Fall, Prayer of a Refugee, Drones and The Good Left Undone strand out much more than any track does in Appeal to Reason. One of the major appeals of Rise Against is that they are very political; they have an agenda and are not afraid to plug it. All their songs are written with some meaning behind them, they are not just spewing out lyrics that sound good but have no really meaning or purpose like many bands do these days (like all the ones you see on MTV on the odd occasion when they actually play music these days). This agenda is still there in Appeal to Reason and long may they continue to write meaningful songs, just a bit more diversity in terms of style next time please boys.

In any case I imagine that they will be just as good in February as they were back in June when I saw them at the Download Festival. Oh sorry, did I not mention that I went to the Download festival this year? Well, I guess I’ll have to end this Blog on a smug note then.

Also, welcome to November.

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