Just read: 'Batman: The Long Halloween,' 'Batman: Dark Victory' & related stories

Just read: 'Batman: The Long Halloween,' 'Batman: Dark Victory' & related stories

This is why I wanted to start reading comic books. The Long Halloween and Dark Victory are widely regarded as two of the best Batman collections ever -- the former is considered by some to be the finest story you can buy in trade paperback format, and the latter is generally a consensus top-10-ish choice -- and I knew this going into these stories. But, given that I haven't been reading comics for very long at all, I wasn't sure if I'd grasp the gravity of these titles on first reading. I figured that maybe I'd enjoy them, but come to appreciate them more after reading several more Batman books down the road.

I'm sure this is true; I'm sure I'll love The Long Halloween and Dark Victory even more when I read them over and over in the future. Because I'm already very sure that I'm going to keep these books for an extremely long time. Right after I watched Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, I had a relatively recurring itch to start reading Batman comics again; I wasn't sure why that happened, but after reading these two books, I understand it now. I was looking for Batman stories that would satisfy me in the same way Christopher Nolan's trilogy of movies did. Nolan puts you in the world of Batman in a way no other filmmaker ever has; you're not just rooting for the hero, but you're in the shoes of all his supporting characters, too. From Alfred to Lucius Fox to all the enemies Batman faces, to Catwoman, Ra's and Talia Al Ghul and Bane, the Dark Knight films leave everyone from the most casual to the most diehard Batman fans happy in the story they just experienced. 

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Just read: Aziz Ansari's 'Modern Romance'

Just read: Aziz Ansari's 'Modern Romance'

Well, I'm putting this under my "just read" moniker but... I have to admit that I didn't actually read this book. Aziz Ansari read it to me and I listened. A while ago, I realized that I stopped listening to books on Audible (after having gone through a few late last year) and that I'd amassed something like nine credits without paying attention. So I canceled my subscription and used up all my credits on one specific type of book:

  1. Aziz Ansari - Modern Romance (read by Aziz Ansari)
  2. Tina Fey - Bossypants (read by Tina Fey)
  3. Neil Patrick Harris - Choose Your Own Autobiography (read by Neil Patrick Harris)
  4. B.J. Novak - One More Thing (read by B.J. Novak)
  5. Nick Offerman - Paddle Your Own Canoe (read by Nick Offerman)
  6. Nick Offerman - Gumption (read by Nick Offerman)
  7. Amy Poehler - Yes Please (read by Amy Poehler)
  8. Rainn Wilson - Bassoon King (read by Rainn Wilson)

I theorized that listening to books by funny people, read by those funny people, would be not just funny, but funnier than reading their books on the printed page in my own little voice in the back of my head. So far, this idea has a perfect, 100 percent hit rate (currently one book in). Listening to Aziz Ansari read Modern Romance was enjoyable and funny, as expected -- and beyond the surface level enjoyment, hearing an author read their own work lets you notice emphases, pauses, etc., where the author wants you to notice them, which affects the way you digest their work (in a positive way, IMO). 

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Modern Baseball: Still with us the whole way

Modern Baseball: Still with us the whole way

A friend of mine recently asked me for a recommendation on an up-and-coming pop-punk-ish band for her to check out. There are no shortage of pop-punk-ish bands, duh, but this came with a specific context. Being 26 years old now -- and my friend is slightly older -- finding a band in that genre that also keeps pace with your interests / hopes / desires / worries / general mindset becomes a fair challenge. 

I'm a Modern Baseball fan, but their first two albums struck me at a specific angle. Their appeal was rooted more in the past than the present, and I viewed the band in a semi-nostalgic light even at first listen. The first time I saw Modern Baseball play, at Run For Cover's CMJ showcase a few years back, they were laughing on stage at how bonkers the crowd was going as they played "The Weekend." That moment is a bit frozen in time to me; I saw a band that seemed genuinely curious about what the heck was going on. Why do so many people know these words? Do all of these people own our album? Wait, where are we? Etc, etc...

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PUP is the punk band we need rn

PUP is the punk band we need rn

PUP is a great band to me. They play that type of rowdy-sounding punk rock that is inherently dirty and crunchy, historically confined to basements and other forms of cramped venues which are required by law to have a mysterious layer of grime on the floor, usually performed through amps that are loud enough that guitar distortion becomes its own instrument, and prone to having cans of cheap beer thrown into the air at any given moment. Listening to them reminds me of watching The Menzingers play at The Atlantic in Gainesville, or seeing Red City Radio play at Fest, or being with Less Than Jake when they do weird stuff like play on a boat in the Hudson River that is too crowded and you fear for drunk young people being flung overboard.

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Just read: 'Batman: Year One' & 'Batman: The Man Who Laughs'

Just read: 'Batman: Year One' & 'Batman: The Man Who Laughs'

As I wrote recently, I decided to get into comics by reading Batman stories in chronological order at first. I went the way of trade paperbacks, which are the heftier books that collect quite a few issues of one or multiple characters, rather than seeking out individual issues or going the route of a digital subscription and reading individual issues that way. The first trade I read was Frank Miller and David Mazucchelli's Batman: Year One, which is the definitive modern-day telling of Bruce Wayne's origin story; I moved from there to Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke's Batman: The Man Who Laughs, which introduces the Joker, who obviously has a rich history as Batman's most compelling and sinister villain. 

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Movie rec: 'Chef'

Movie rec: 'Chef'

Katie and I watched Chef over the weekend, and it was the most enjoyable film I've watched in a while. It's a feel-good story, doesn't take itself too seriously, pretty consistently funny, and there are many scenes devoted to watching people cook very delicious-looking food. You will have three primary urges while watching it: You'll want to make a grilled cheese, and when you make it it'll disappoint you, then you'll want to book a plane ticket to New Orleans, then you'll want to go outside and find a place that serves Cuban sandwiches.

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Podcast rec: Celebration Rock with Steven Hyden

Podcast rec: Celebration Rock with Steven Hyden

I subscribed to Steven Hyden's new podcast, Celebration Rock, when he had Modern Baseball on the show a while back to talk about their new album and life at large. At the time, I'd just watched the documentary that Modern Baseball had released, and Hyden's interview with the band was an interesting follow-up that shed some more light on some of the topics that short documentary touched on. 

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Foxing - 'Dealer'

Foxing - 'Dealer'

Here's an album that I've already recommended multiple times on Encore, and an album that I won't be able to recommend enough this fall. Foxing streamed Dealer late last week on WIRED, which is a pretty odd place to premiere an indie-rock record but I suppose if you're not being wacky in your premieres these days, you're not doing it right.

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The World Is A Beautiful Place - 'Harmlessness'

The World Is A Beautiful Place - 'Harmlessness'

This record is ambitious but not pretentious, sprawling yet purposeful, persistent in its quest to destroy the previous genre associations of the band that wrote it. The World Is... isn't an emo band anymore, but a band that is creative and capable enough to expand into quite a few different subsections of modern rock music. 

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Frank Turner - 'Positive Songs for Negative People'

Frank Turner - 'Positive Songs for Negative People'

The balance Turner struck on England Keep My Bones and Love Ire & Song comes back in a great way on Positive Songs for Negative People, his latest effort.

We have to move on, we have to become better, we have to live our lives in the way we want to live them, and we can't wait any longer to start doing these things to the best of our abilities. Turner makes you believe it.

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Productivity: Todoist and OneNote Make A Fine Pair

Productivity: Todoist and OneNote Make A Fine Pair

My two main productivity apps are Todoist for Mac and iPhone and Microsoft's OneNote for the same platforms. I've found these two apps to make a nice pair in my daily job at DIRECTV, as well as for my side projects (running Bad Timing Records, writing for AbsolutePunk, and any personal work / life things I need to manage as well). 

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