Thursday, May 3, 2012

Favourite and Life Changing Media

Hi all!

During my transition to Google Drive (which is awesome btw), I found a note to myself about life changing media.  It just had two entries, so I'll start with those which I'll leave in italics for, you know, the archives. I'll add some entries too as I firmly believe that media has shaped me a lot, and I don't think I'm alone there:

Recently, I've found myself saying more and more that things are "life changing".  I hope I was truthful in most of these outbursts, but just to clarify - here are the pieces of media that I have found life changing:

Book - Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.  The potential of the human race is often theorized about.  I always hear statements like "Geniuses only use 10% of their brain", but Heinlein describes the potential of what could happen to a human who uses more of their potential.  Michael Valentine Smith is a human raised by martians, so his abilities are unlike anything that has ever been seen before.  He thinks nothing of bringing his automatic bodily functions such as heart rate and breathing down to a level where they are imperceptible.  He makes things vanish which distress him.  Tremendous. *edit - 2/3 of the book is mind-blowingly awesome. The last third has its place, but is definitely not for the faint of... genital? (there's a lot of sex).

Video Game - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.  Without exaggeration, playing this game felt very much like a religious experience.  You do good things, and good things happen to you.  Not that far off what some religions claim to offer their followers. *edit - I played this game twice through on PC, and when I got it on XBOX, I played it through again Totally awesome. The sequel, while not well liked in the media, was good enough for me to play through, and I shudder at the awesomeness that is the current massively multiplayer online role-playing game installation. If I had 24 more hours in a day, I would be playing that game NON-STOP.

These entries still stand up today as my favourites of those types of media. My current favourites of other media exist, but they fall a tiny bit short of being life changing:

Movie: Fight Club. 1999 was a banner year for cinema in my life. It was definitely the year I spent the most time in movie theatres, that's for sure. Star Wars: Episode I was released (I saw it 9 times in theatres and am a fan), the indie Blair Witch Project (proving you didn't need a budget to make a blockbuster), and Fight Club were all released. My group of friends was psyched enough to see Fight Club that we showed up at the theatre a week before it was released, without checking to see if it was even going to be playing. No great loss, as we watched Three Kings instead, but talk about committment! After being completely blown away by it, I returned 6 more times, even dragging my then girlfriend on her only weekend home to see it. When it came out of DVD, my friends and I watched it several nights in a row, until we had completely exhausted the special features (which took a long time, but was extremely worth it to hear the awesome commentary tracks!). I often call Fight Club the movie of my generation, and I don't think that's overstating it. I might be a bit young for it, considering that it was talking to people who were already established in their lives, while I was still living with my parents, but it absolutely spoke to me. I love everything about the movie - the messages, the actors, the direction, the set (locations that were mostly built to be awesome), all amazing.

TV Show: Star Trek: The Next Generation. The first show I can remember waiting for an episode to air, and I can't remember ever being disappointed with the awesomeness. Sure the effects are hokey, and the costumes could be lame (especially early), but it was so darned awesome! When the series was re-released on DVD one season at a time, I found a way to buy each and every season. 99% of the episodes were golden - even the early ones for pure kitsch factor. The morals and values inspired by this show go far beyond what I could ever put into words. Sir-not-pictured-here Wil Wheaton was my absolute least favourite character on the show, but even he has risen to the ranks of supreme awesome with his honesty, candour and amazing code. Check out his recollections on him leaving TNG here. Beautiful.

Album: Billy Joel - An Innocent Man. Honesty in relationships. Not dealing with gossip. Appreciating the good after the bad. Leaving good enough alone. Modern star-crossed lovers. The performer of this album couldn't possibly a mess himself, could he? Separating the art from the artist, this album was completely formative for me. It was the first time I really understood what was being said in songs that were years beyond what I was supposed to understand. I'll always remember and appreciate that, even after I heard about the car crashes, and the drinking, and the failed marriage... I think I need to re-evaluate... Moving on!

Concert: Radiohead - Montreal - In Rainbows Tour. Driving from Halifax to Montreal in one shot is no biggie - it's been done before, and it'll be done again by others, but I consider 2008 my last "hurrah" when it comes to that travelling gig, at least until my yungins are old enough to not stop every hour for potty, snacks and streches. Where was I? So my absolute favourite band is coming within driving distance! Their set was amazing, playing all of the In Rainbows album as well as some personal favourites of mine (the title links to the setlist - a gem of a show). Although it was an outdoor show and it rained a bit, it was incredible from the first to the last. Major highlight was frontman Thom being distracted enough to forget the words by fireworks in the distance. I can't give the show enough credit. Amazing.

Musical Artist: Hawksley Workman. This kinda looks like an honourable mention next to Radiohead, but I gotta give credit where credit is due. While my then-girlfriend and I were living in Ontario, she was working with these cool folks who were listening to this dude named Hawksley Workman. His lyrics are like poetry, and they were pretty cool, but I wasn't absolutely sold until we went to see him live in Halifax at the Marquee. It was a packed show, which surprised me, and the dude was ELECTRIC. After that show, I acquired his stuff, and it was really awesome. I played it over and over again - it makes me laugh, it makes me cry, and most of all it makes me think deep thoughts, which I love doing. I stole Hawksley's music, transplanted my words where his were, and came up with a proposal song for the one who brought Hawksley into my life. It's definitely not all she's done :)

This entry was a lot of fun, and you can have fun too! Is there any media that has shaped who you are, or that you just really like?

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