Thursday, December 3, 2020

My Top 10 Underrated CD Tracks

I have been meaning to write about music in the past couple of weeks because one of the things that the pandemic made me forget, was to just blast really good music into my ears. I have been closed at home for months now, and music is my companion, my soundtrack, and seeing that I am not going anywhere, I just forgot to sometimes plug in my ears and stop the noise from coming in. At home, the noise is the news, so most definitely I needed a break. In an attempt to stop staring at the screen and just be with my thoughts and with my favorite artists, instead of discovering new things, I went back to my old favorite CDs. 

Some of these did have music videos, but they were still fell into the background instead of being picked up by the masses. However, if they do not have a music video, they barely reach anyone but the super fans, and that is why I really wanted to make this list. This time, instead of composing long descriptions as to why I love these songs, I will let them just speak for themselves. I hope you will check out the albums they are from, as well as more great hidden tracks among these wonderful and famous artists. Trust me, sometimes it is not the ones that are picked up by the masses that are the actual hits, and I think it is important that we help out our musicians in these hard times. 

We wouldn't be here and be able to combat insanity, was it not for these artists. So thank you for these songs and your never ending commitment to this art! Have a great time listening to my selection!

10) "Spiralling" by Keane
Album: Perfect Symmetry, Released: 2008

9) "Under the Sheets" by Ellie Goulding
Album: Lights, Released: 2010

8) "Running If You Call My Name" by HAIM
Album: Days Are Gone, Released: 2013

7) "Unspoken" by Hurts
Album: Happiness, Released: 2010

6) "Landscape" by Florence and The Machine
Album: Ceremonials, Released: 2011

5) "In Your Pocket" by Maroon 5
Album: V, Released: 2014


4) "Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet" by Fall Out Boy
Album: Folie à Deux, Released: 2008

3) "Physical" by St. Lucia
Album: Matter, Released: 2016


2) "Colourless Colour" by La Roux
Album: La Roux, Released: 2009


1) "She Way Out" by The 1975
Album: The 1975, Released: 2013


Sharing music with people is one of the hardest things in life. We do all take it as a personal failure when someone does not like the songs that we do. And we also wait for the other to discover things that have shaped us in an attempt to show them the "real" us. I remember back in high school I hid the songs I listened to because I thought I wasn't "cool enough". Now I date someone who just likes music and has no particular preferences and it allowed me to grow into the person I am, someone who loves to have a soundtrack to their life, and I love to sing and play my ukulele and not give a f*&k anymore what anyone thinks. 

In a blog post about The 1975 over a year ago I wrote about the song you can see here in the first place, but I want to quote myself because what I wrote can be said about any of the songs here: "Do you have a song, that reminds you of someone and every time you hear it you just cannot shake that time machine that takes you back? ... did you ever have a song that survived that person? [...] And even today, the song lives on for me, and I no longer think of everyone when I listen to it, that is how powerful their music is to me. Each line of the lyrics created the details of someone's face in my head, and they faded, as I grew and my heart evolved and the song came with me." Indeed, sometimes we do not revisit old songs because of the memories they bring with them. Here I would like to challenge you to go back just the same, to 2003, 2010 or 2014, because there are treasures there to be discovered. And these 10 are just the beginning!

Until the next item on my list!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

What"s Next On My List? Soapdish

 This year there was not much to see at the movies, as everything has been closed since February. I was looking forward to some things coming out, but instead I want back to some that deserve another look. Either because they are good or because they did not age well at all... let's see where this one falls, shall we?

Soapdish (1991)


Montana Moorehead (Cathy Moriarty) wants to become the main star of the soap opera that she was a role in, so she teams up with producer David Barnes (Robert Downey Jr.) to make the life of the leading actress Celeste Talbert (Sally Field) a living hell. They cast her former partner Jeffrey Anderson (Kevin Kline) as well as her niece Lori (Elisabeth Shue), both of whom she did not want on the show. As events unfold, turns out that real life is juicier than the plot of the soap...

I saw this movie a long time ago, on TV, and already then I was shocked by all the famous people they got in this cast, with young Teri Hatcher and Paul Johansson, followed by veteran successful actresses like Whoopi Goldberg and Carrie Fisher, to mention a few, aside from the leads I wrote about in the summary. I have a tendency to be scared about movies that collect big names, because they always end up in a plot-less disaster. Thankfully, not everyone was as famous as they are now in this movie, but looking at it now, it is an all-star cast. That said, story-wise I loved the twists and turns and how, really, it was all just a big soap opera. It was funny and ridiculous, a perfectly fine 90s comedy. In terms of aging... I think this movie deserves a second watch, because it did age well. The story is unique in its exection and in the world in tries to portray. It is both a parody of telenovela soap operas, as well as a parody of the life of big stars. Just because someone has money and awards, it does not make them happy. And the movie also has a silly moral lesson of teaching everyone to stop lying and be honest to one another. 

Watch it? Yes, because you are bound to beat everyone the next time you play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, as he stared with Elisabeth Shue, and you can now link her to the Avengers as well as the Star Wars universe.  It is a harmless entertaining movie with a great cast, fun story and a couple of twists. It aged well and it is definitely going to stay a favorite of mine, as each time I watch it I discover something new.

Until the next item on my list!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

What's Next On My List? The Karate Kid

This year there was not much to see at the movies, as everything has been closed since February. I was looking forward to some things coming out, but instead I want back to some that deserve another look. Either because they are good or because they did not age well at all... let's see where this one falls, shall we?

Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) moves with his mom and little brother move to Reseda, Los Angeles, to start a whole new life. But Daniel has a hard time fitting into his new school and ends up making enemies out of a group of boys who practice karate after school. As he himself discover karate, thanks to the help of Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), he decides to enter the local karate championship and ends up defeating his bully, Johnny (William Zabka).

I grew up with this movie but had not seen the whole thing for a very long time. Me and my sister decided to watch it and well... it's not a good movie :D I am sorry, but it is two hours that has at best a 30 minute finale worth watching. The movie felt like it had one big scene that was repeated over and over again, with some drunk PTSD from Mr. Miyagi: Daniel has an argument with Johnny, they try to fight, then Ali (Elizabeth Shue) tells them to stop and calls Johnny names and we start all over again until the tournament. Sometimes Cobra Kai beats up Daniel, sometimes it is Mr. Miyagi who beats up Cobra Kai for Daniel. Really, other than the sadness of Mr. Miyagi's past, the whole movie got lost... and I can tell you that I understand more about it after watching the first two seasons of the show Cobra Kai (2018) that actually helped me understand what this movie was probably about... I am going to guess that the lesson to be learned is proper balance within one's life, however, the movie was about the underdog and you want to root for him. But it is very hard, because Daniel shows very little personality. If he stood out as the Jersey boy, maybe, but as funny as it was that the new show wanted to show us that maybe there are two sides to every story, I already felt that way just watching the movie. 

Watch it? Well, no. If you are here you probably searched for anything to do with season 3 of Cobra Kai, and I can tell you that if there is anything you need from the movies is presented in flashbacks in the show. Yes, these movies laid the groundwork for the show, which very smartly keeps putting the two sides of the same coin in front of each other, but it lacks Elizabeth Shue! GET ALI BACK FOR THE NEXT SEASONS!!!

Until the next item on my list!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

What's Next On My List? (Games) Among Us

 I do not think this game needs to be presented to anyone. It is now the source of an endless wave os memes and hundreds of people have downloaded it or bought it over the course of summer. I am among those who have watched endless hours of stream of my favorite youtubers playing this delightful game, which was followed by me and my partner buying the game on steam and having played for over 10 hours now.

Among Us (2018)

The Gameplay: "The goal of the Crewmates is to identify the Impostors, eliminate them, and complete tasks around the map; the Impostors' goal is to covertly sabotage and kill the Crewmates before they complete all of their tasks. Players suspected to be Impostors may be eliminated via a plurality vote, which any player may initiate at any time. Crewmates win if all Impostors are eliminated or all tasks are completed; Imposters win if there is an equal number of Impostors and Crewmates, or if a critical sabotage goes unresolved." [Source: wikipedia, because I cannot phrase it better.]

As I have said, this game needs no introduction, so why am I writing about it now? Because I really want to recommend it. If you feel that maybe this game is overrated, it is not. There are two main ways you can play, in a public or a private room. When it comes to the public one, it is hard sometimes to find a good group, most people quit a room after they get killed, but I would advise for you to find harder levels, the bigger maps, as the people there are usually in for a longer game. You do need to practice a lot for those, but you can discover them in freeplay. Coming back to the game, just another note, it is better to have one killer unless there are 8-10 people playing. With seven the game ends way too fast. (Also, if you up the cooldown for the kill, it makes it a longer game and harder for the impostors). But the chat function is fun with strangers as you don't know them well enough to detect lies anyways. And that leads us to the second way you could play, with your friends with open discussion (like through discord or a facebook call). I love to play this game with both versions, as I like to mess with my friends as much as feeling that bit of fear over whether or not these strangers in hazmat suits are gonna come for me. I could actually talk about the game for hours, the adorable characters, the colors, the fun maps, the easy but entertaining tasks, along with the fun features for the impostor... there is so much goodness in this very wholesome game - aside from the murder part - that instead of detailing it I would just recommend you all check it out and trust the buzz online!

This year had a lot of downsides and I find that people are looking for continuous good news out there, and I think this game was re-discovered at the right time. The game came out in 2018, and there was a plan to make a second one, but the team issued a letter saying they will work on improving this one, and I think that was the perfect choice on their part. 

So go and get it, play, have fun, enjoy one of the few gems of 2020.

Until the next item on my list!

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

What's Next On My List? (Games) Assassin's Creed Unity

As you might have seen from the games I covered so far, I am a huge fan of this series and I wanted to quickly talk about this game in particular, as I have only played it this year (you know, the pandemic and quarantine and all) and I am glad I waited this long. I think a lot more games need a second review, once it is remastered, simply because a lot of people worked on giving you a fantastic experience (and just because executives jump the process and want to ship games early to cash in on various seasons and gaming conventions), they should not be forgotten. Aside from a good time away from reality, I do want to write about this game to thank all the people behind it because this is a great game out there that deserved a second look, and as far as I could tell from comments under the original score on youtube, a lot more people agree with me. 

Assassin's Creed Unity (2014)

The story: From the first minute of the game, you as a gamer are destroyed to your core, you minute you realize that the assassin you killed at the end of AC Rogue, was the father of the main character of this game. Knowing then the weight of your actions, you head in to deal with the trauma you cause our young hero. I wanted to point out the beginning because I found it genius. We then meet young-adult Arno Dorian, who was brought up by the father of his childhood best friend, Elise. In his story, he decides to seek out the people who set him up for the murder of the man who raised him. The latter was a Templar, while in Arno boils the blood of the Assassins. They take him in and give him the tools to stop a larger plot by the Templars, which included finding the murderer he was seeking, however, his revenge comes at a much larger cost. 

Mini-Bosses: There were some twists and turns, and overall I feel that the mini boss fights actually got me more intrigued in the game than the final boss. But I did like that the game messed with me and surprised me. I also loved how Elise came into the story as Arno was investigating. Best thing about it was that Paris had several very different districts, and you could feel you were entering a new place, and each enemy acted according to their social status in each district. Thus, it never felt repetitive, and that was the best thing about it. Let alone the side missions, the fact that every sequence had its one beginning-middle-end really added to the depth of the overall story.
The Boss Fight: After being tricked it was really satisfying to get this bad guy and destroy his legacy. The only thing that made me mad was that he was using the sword we saw at the very beginning of the game, but time wise, the opening was soooo far from the rest of the story, that I needed a minute to remember why that sword (a piece of Eden) was important to begin with. And once you get it... well, there were better weapons in the game. Nonetheless, the stage is constructed perfectly for you to succeed at killing the main bad guy, so it was more of a puzzle that needed solving rather than a big fight. But with the pace of the game, I did not mind that at all. 
DLC "Dead King": This was the chapter that was most reminiscent of the AC storyline, as it included the motherf*ckin' Apple of Eden. I'll be honest here, I liked that it was not forced into the main story, but it was not forgotten. The reason the Templars need you to play with the assassins through the Helix is to find the Apple, so it is fitting that it was added, but the DLC was really its own chapter and it was a beautifully done chapter. The misty felling of the Franciade with the ruins of the cathedral and the windmill on a slight hill... pure beauty. I did shit my pants in the catacombs because once you are down there it is very hard to get out, so you need to make sure you use your collectibles very smartly. I did find myself going through a lot of dead bodies to make sure that I get through the catacombs alright. But I really loved the hidden items, not to mention that since it was Sequence 13, you already have the skills to make it through successfully through the stage. 
Side missions: This game came with a lot of extra content, it was the first of its kind within the franchise, I also like that each AC game had something different (from boats, to renovations, to assassin missions and so on). So I appreciated a bit of nuance, especially because the murder investigations were not only made with a lot of historical accuracy (my favorite thing about the game), but it also fit with Arno's persona. You are, on the one hand, from the beginning, just a good guy stranded between a family that showed him love and compassion, but were Templars. On the other hand, the assassin's took him in no question, simply because his father belonged to the brotherhood. Arno, despite losing father figures, was accepted with open arms into any of the two orders, but forged his own path. As a result, the story allowed for the investigations, for assassin missions and also helping people on the street (which was really my favorite thing!). And then finally we have you Player, the one controlling Arno through the Helix from the comfort of your own home. Abstergo has now managed to get literally anyone to get them information, but a group of assassin's are guiding you. Well... the Helix side missions were one of the best things in this game. You can tell that the makers of the game asked themselves: What do you think of when you think of Paris? Notre Dame, Eiffel tower? OK, but how to include both if the story is set at the time of the French Revolution? Well, through mistakes in the Helix. I think it was genius and running from Nazis on the Eiffel tower was the biggest excitement I had all year. 

What didn't work? This game, when it first came out. But the remastered version is just beautiful, it took my breathe away and I did not want to stop playing it. And that is why I am writing this review. I can tell you in advance that those who never played it because of initial reviews missed out on a fantastic game. 
What worked? First, the story. I wanted to get the killer, I wanted to clear my name, I wanted to become a better assassin. I liked that there were outfits you could collect, but putting together your own assassin hood, hidden blade, chest and boots was a very smart idea. Especially the belt had a bunch of functions that came in handy at different stages of the game. And then the collectibles: I wanted to get all the chests (I liked that there were a lot of items that were hidden to me) and I had to really go looking and exploring Paris, not just go to a certain place on the map. I loved the different difficulties in the districts (which up until now only defined the Templar bases you had to get back). I also loved that Arno was a separate story, just like Shay. They can't all be Desmond's ancestors, and there is no need for it either. I was thinking about what else I could bring up, but I don't want to talk about it more, I want people to play it! Of course, this was also the first to offer a real co-op option that adds to the story, without it the game can reach a maximum of 55% completion. It is hard to find people who still play this, but not impossible, so let's help each other complete the game!

Make sure you check it out, because it is terribly underrated. And if you like playing co-op games, you will not be disappointed.

Until the next item on my list!