Sunday, July 10, 2022

Seven Days in May | Week of 3 July 2022

What I've Been Listening To

I'm still listening to the same Ocean Blue album from last week, but this week I started a new Echo and the Bunnymen album: Reverberation. It was a surprise.

As much as I love Echo from younger days, I wasn't familiar with their career after around 1987, including that lead singer Ian McCulloch left the band for several years. While he was out, the remaining members recorded Reverberation with new singer Noel Burke. Burke's voice is intentionally different from McCulloch's, so it caught me off guard when I started the album, but he has a cool, gothic quality of his own. And it still has Will Sergeant on guitar, so there's some continuity there. 

I like the album and would have listened to more from the group; it's just jarring that they called themselves Echo and the Bunnymen. I get why from a marketing point of view; but it raised questions for me about when is it okay for a band to retain its name after a lineup change. Is the band a collection of specific, particular individuals? Or is it like a corporation that keeps going under its legal name regardless of who's in it? Are some members more exchangeable than others? 

What I've Been Reading

I made progress on the couple of novels I'm currently reading, but the only book I actually finished this week was Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, Volume 1. After David Petersen finished his Mouse Guard saga (or the first couple of volumes in the trilogy anyway; I forget the exact timing), he brought together some of his favorite cartoonists for an anthology of stories set in the Mouse Guard world. 

Petersen wrote and drew a framing sequence about a storytelling contest in a tavern, which is an effective, simple frame to put these stories in. I like how it gets around the question of whether or not the stories are canonical since the rules of the contest are that each story has to contain some element of falsehood as well as an element of truth. Like with any anthology, I didn't love each story equally, but I love how curated the collection feels. Petersen clearly invited artists whom he liked and respected and several of them are favorites of mine, too: people like Mark Smylie, Guy Davis, Ted Naifeh, Jeremy Bastian, to name just a few.

What I've Been Watching

The second season of Rutherford Falls dropped all at once, but it was only eight episodes and I binged through them in a couple of days. The first season came out around the same time as Reservation Dogs, another comedy show focusing on American Indian characters. It was impossible not to compare them and I loved Reservation Dogs while enjoying Rutherford Falls a bit less. 

Reservation Dogs is about life on the reservation as seen through the eyes of a group of teenaged friends who've been through a recent tragedy. It's hilarious, but also eye-opening and heart-breaking. The first season of Rutherford Falls tells its story mostly from the perspective of its white lead character, Nathan Rutherford, played by Ed Helms. It's still trying to do the honorable work of giving its audience insight to the lives of American Indian characters, but it's Nathan who's holding the spotlight on these lives and the issues important to them. It's a well-meaning show, but Reservation Dogs is better (and funnier).

Rutherford Falls Season 2 makes a couple of needed adjustments, starting with decentralizing Nathan himself. It does this very intentionally and organically, which is great. Nathan learned some things in Season 1 that put him into listening mode rather than always trying to make himself understood. I love that growth as much as I love that it gives some of the other characters a chance to do more. 

Most of the time that works. I love non-binary character Bobbie Yang who gets a major plot arc this season. I also feel like we get to know Michael Greyeyes' Terry Thomas better this season. He went from being a nicely layered villain (or at least antagonist) in the first season to being just a plain ol' complex character in the second. Unfortunately, the one character that's not working for me is the other lead (besides Nathan), Reagan Wells. I enjoyed her in the first season when she was a history nerd trying unsuccessfully to get a cultural center going, but this season she's achieved most of her goals and is annoyingly perfect. She needs some new flaws to make her fun and interesting again.

I'm enjoying the show and think it's headed in the right direction, but I'm really looking forward to the second season of Reservation Dogs starting next month even more.

I finished Obi-Wan Kenobi and didn't love it. I actually don't have a lot to say about it. Without spoiling anything, I'll just say that I enjoyed seeing some familiar characters and the action was all pretty good. But the story was unnecessarily convoluted. Characters seemed to be making decisions not because they were smart or even made sense, but based on what surprise revelations or other cool moments they would eventually lead to.

What I've Been Recording

Planetary Union Network
took the week off for US Independence Day, so we'll be having a double episode next week to catch up. The only other podcast I was on this week was an After Dinner Lounge episode of After Lunch. This time, highlights of the rambling conversation included Henry David Thoreau's Walden, the history of the Nerd Lunch podcast, Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury, and Paper Girls by Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang.

What I've Been Thinking About

Our Fourth of July holiday was pretty low key this year. My parents and one of my brothers came over and we grilled some steaks, but that was pretty much it. I've never been super celebratory about the Fourth, but was feeling it even less than usual this year. I love the ideas that my country was founded on, but we've never figured out how to make them reality and we still have so much work to do. I'm optimistic that we can do it. It's just that this year's anniversary came so very closely after some disappointing setbacks.

1 comment:

Zeke said...

Musical group "ownership" seems to be a quite varied thing. Line-ups change and there are noticeable changes in style as bands evolve. I think really noticeable when a band changes vocalist since they are something I quite often associate with a particular band.

There seems to be no hard and fast rule for who owns the name of the band until there are legal papers and partnerships drawn up and formalized. And all too often there is legal wrangling when some musician (usually a founder) has left and doesn't want the band's name used anymore for albums or touring. (I seem to recall a bit of this with Roger Waters and Pink Floyd back in the 1980s.)


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