Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years Is the Pick of the Week

I’ve been blogging now for a little over ten years. I started back in 2004 when my wife and I spent a year living in Strasbourg, France. Initially, it was solely a journal of my experience abroad. I invited a few friends and family that I thought might enjoy reading about my adventures, but mostly kept it private. Eventually I got bored writing about baguettes and started writing pop-culture reviews. At first that was just for fun, a way to kill some time while my wife was at work, but over time I got serious about it.

If you ever read a book about how to be a writer one of the first lessons will be to find your voice. Through time and lots of blogging I came to realize I had a very personal voice. I am most comfortable and I do my best writing when I’m opening up, telling very intimate stories about my own self. Whether writing reviews, or pontificating about the state of the music industry, or discussing this week’s upcoming DVD releases, I almost always work in tales about myself. It is, perhaps, a very egocentric way of writing, but it’s what works for me.

Realizing this and then thinking about the last ten years of blogging, there’s this recognition that I’ve put a large chunk of myself out there in the wind. The entire world, or at least those with an Internet connection can read all of my articles and entries and probably find out a lot more about me than any person who isn’t my wife really ought to know. Sometimes I think about historians of the future and what they’ll think of us. They’ll have enormous amounts of data to sort through. We upload and share billions upon billions of photos, videos, cat memes, tweets, and very personal, very intimate details of every single moment of our lives.

I wonder what that says about us. About me.

Similar to this is how we now consume our media. Home video revolutionized the ways and means of which we watch films and television. No longer do I have to go to the theatre to see a movie, or wait until runs on TV, I can simply rent it from Redbox or download it from Amazon or stream it on Netflix. The VCR (then DVR) allowed us to record our favorite programming and watch it at our leisure. Now with digital technology nearly every show, ever film, ever bit of video is now being captured by someone and is available for our viewing pleasure anytime we want it. That’s kind of incredible.

Austin City Limits has been presenting live performances from some of the very best musical artists for decades. The show is a national treasure. But for years you could only watch it if your local PBS station happened to show it and you happened to be home. Home video recorders helped with this but you still had to remember to record it. Now PBS makes recent shows available on streaming devices and you can no doubt find many of the old episodes on various torrent sites, but its still incredibly cool that they are regularly releasing shows from their archives to the DVD and CD formats. This ensures the very best quality and creates an incredible history that we will be able to enjoy for years to come.

This new set picks out some of the very best performances from the last 40 years of Austin City Limits. Choosing which artists and performances to include must have been a daunting task and it’s impossible to please everyone. For my mind there are some good choices (Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Jimmy Ray Vaughan) some logical ones to improve your sales (Foo Fighters, Alabama Shakes) and some outright lousy ones (Jeff Bridges.) But arguing about these things is half the fun.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

The Strain: The Complete First Season: I really enjoyed Guillermo del Toro’s vampire book trilogy and was pretty excited to see it get a TV series. Unfortunately the reviews have not been too kind and the little bit I’ve seen looks way over the top. I’ll still get around to watching it, though it will take awhile as my wife will in no way want to watch, and she’ll get mad at me if I try to put it on while my daughter is awake.

A Charlie Brown Christmas: The classic holiday special got remastered and as a bonus they’ve tossed in It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown.

Justified: The Complete Fifth Season: What started out as an entertaining, if inconsequential little crime drama has turned into one of the better shows on TV right now. Or at least it was, I’m still a season or two behind so I can’t say if the new ones keep up that statement, but I’m ready to find out.

The Hundred Foot Journey: Directed by Lasse Hallstrom and starring Helen Mirren (which is enough to get me interested on its own), this film about a French chef who starts a war with a nearby Indian restaurant and it looks just delightful.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: I’ve not seen any of these new Apes movies as Tim Burton’s try at the genre made me swear them off, but there’s been enough hype that I’ll eventually give them a try.

The Simpsons: The Seventeenth Season: I’ve stopped paying attention to the Simpsons these days but I’m still annoyed at the snail’s pace these DVD sets are coming out at.

Mat Brewster

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