Saturday, October 31, 2009

Old Faves, New Ways

My pop culture consumption this last week has been mainly focused on some old favorites being presented in new ways, or at least ways new to me.

Two weeks ago I picked up JLA/Avengers at the sale at the comics shop. This softcover collects the mini-series from 2003-04 by Kurt Busiek and George Perez, which I didn't read the first time around and don't really remember existing (it must have come out when I wasn't paying close attention to comics). I am a big fan of both Busiek and Perez and they did not disappoint here. One standard of the super-hero crossover is a fight between the sets of heroes and it's not one that I'm too fond of. That said, there is a reason for it to happen in this book but it also doesn't go on forever. In fact, there is an alternate reality wherein the JLA had a crossover with the Avengers every year and not the JSA. Fun and cool moments abound in a shifting reality and shifting rosters for both teams. Perez really pulls out the stops with his "camera angles" and singular super-hero prowess. It seems that this is the last DC/Marvel crossover for the forseeable future (and maybe ever); if so, they went out on a high note.

Tuesday saw the release of a new R.E.M. album, Live at the Olympia, which presents highlights from a five night run of rehearsals they did in 2007...and invited the public to. At the start of the double CD, Mike Mills announces "this is not a show" and Michael Stipe refers to the whole experience as an "experiment in terror." Their impetus for the shows was to rehearse new material they were going to record and indeed, you can hear 9 of the 11 songs from Accelerate (one in a different form) as well as 2 that didn't make the record (I really like the change of pace that is "On The Fly"). The rest of the songs span the breadth of their career and many are from Chronic Town and Reckoning, two albums I've still never gotten around to picking up. After hearing "Second Guessing" and "Harborcoat" I know I need to rectify that fact. The band sounds great and bangs out classics like "So. Central Rain" and "Cuyahoga" and "Pretty Persuasion" as well as should have been classics like "New Test Leper"(New Adventures in Hi-Fi seems to be forgotten these days). It's also a testament to their solid songcraft that the new songs don't seem out of place with the rest. I have a feeling I'm going to be listening to a lot of their music over the next month or two.

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