Five Cool Things and Logan

Batman, Battlestar Galactica, Bruce Springsteen, and more are all cool things I discovered this week.
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It's been a busy week in the Brewster home.  Work has been absolutely insane. keeping my days mostly pop-culture free.  The wife and I have also been trying to reduce the amount of screen time my daughter gets so we’ve been filling our evenings more with games and craft projects rather than TV shows and movies.  Still, I found some cools things to talk about so lets get started.  

Bruce Springsteen - Passaic, NJ (09/20/78)

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Bruce Springsteen is a monster in concert.  His shows with the famed E-Street Band are legendary for their length and intensity.  Springsteen has always understood that showmanship is just as an important part of a concert as the music and he often plays both the carnival barker and the rock god at his performances.

This show comes in the middle of his legendary Darkness on the Edge of Town tour, which is generally considered the best run of Springsteen’s storied career.  The band is absolutely on fire throughout.  You can download the show over at my blog (yep, I’m pimping my personal site - but if Five Cool Things is supposed to be about what’s making me happy in a given week then surely the music I spend so much energy blogging about will periodically show up).  Pay close attention to “Jungleland” with an especially magical solo from Clarence Clemons and intense version of “Rosalita”.

Battlestar Galactica - “33”

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Over the Christmas holidays I found a really great deal on the complete Blu-ray collection of Battlestar Galactica through the British version of Amazon (the collapse of the Pound has really made shopping across the sea worthwhile).  I’ve just started rewatching the series and am once again blown away by how good it is.

“33” was the first season’s opening episode (after the spectacular mini-series that started things off) and it's pretty amazing how bold a choice they made right from the start.  The episode begins right in the middle of an intense battle between the humans and Cylons.  The fleet makes a jump only to be attacked again every 33 minutes.  Fighters are launched in order to push back the Cylons long enough for the fleet to make another jump.  Round and round it goes for days on end.  The episode does a great job of showing just how exhausting and desperate this endless cycle is.  Amongst all the fighting comes a great many wonderful little character moments as well.  It's an outstanding episode and an incredible way to get things started.

Inferno

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I can’t exactly say that I am a fan of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon books nor the movies based on them, and yet I can’t stop myself from both reading and watching them just the same.  Brown is a hokey writer who fills his novels with some pretty ridiculous exposition and some downright false history, but there is something really rather fun about Langdon puzzling out ancient mysteries to save the world.  

With the film version of Inferno, they made the decision to tone down some of the anagrams and puzzle solving to amp up the action a bit.  This is a wise cinematic choice as the lengthy exposition scenes pretty much kills any momentum The Davinci Code had, but I found myself getting nostalgic for Tom Hanks spouting arcane historical facts with dubious amounts of truth in them at random periods.

The real attraction to Inferno and the reason I’m willing to call it "cool" is that it's set in Florence, Italy, which is an astonishingly beautiful city.  Howard fills the frames with numerous wide shots with the city’s famous architecture and grandeur.  He puts his characters in the midst of Florence’s many spectacular museums whisking them by some of the greatest works of art in the world.  It's not a great film by any means but it has a certain charm and those shots of Florence make it all worth while.

Batman - Hush

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Batman is a billionaire playboy with lots of cool toys, but underneath it all, he's still just a regular human without any super powers.  Because of this, Batman is often portrayed as a super cool detective.  He wanders the streets of Gotham looking for clues and interviewing witnesses.  I'm a sucker for detective stories of all stripes and I especially enjoy this aspect of the Caped Crusader.

Jeph Loeb understands this aspect of the character and has written some of the best Batman books out there.  I just finished his long series Hush and it's a good one.  In it, a mysterious super villain is using a vast collection of Batman's rogues gallery to lead him on a complicated journey.  Batman uses his detective skills (and his fists) to figure out who is behind all the mayhem and solve the mystery. 

Besides a pretty hefty list of rogues, Loeb also throws in Superman, a couple of Robins, Huntress, and even a bit or romance with Catwoman.  But despite the calvacade of characters, he never loses sight of the story and some interesting development for his hero.  Couple this with some really stylish art from Jim Lee and Hush comes out as one of the very best Batman stories ever written.

And one cool thing from Gordon S. Miller:

Andrea Boccarusso plays 50 AC/DC Riffs 

I had intended to make Logan my one cool thing after seeing it last night, but while scrolling through my Facebook feed, someone at Teamrock.com drew my attention to Italian musician Andrea Boccarusso, who earlier this week posted this amazing video of himself playing 50 AC/DC riffs.  And not only does he play Angus Young's parts, but for most of the riffs, he accompanies himself by playing Malcolm's rhythm guitar parts.  Even if you don't like AC/DC (though I'm not sure how that's possible), it's an impressive feat to behold.  

Logan

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Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine a whopping nine times now.  He's been in all of the X-Men films series, except Deadpool, which includes the original trilogy, the First Class prequels, and now three stand-alone Wolverine films.  It's a great character and Jackman has really made him come alive on screen even if the films have not always been great.  The stand-alone films have especially suffered from poor decisions on the filmmaker's part, but I've always enjoyed Jackman's portrayal. Logan is supposed to be his final performance as the character and from the reviews it sounds like it's a good one.  [Editor's Note: It is.]

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