MUSIC The Promise, Bruce Springsteen
Haven't we given you enough, Bruce Springsteen? You already took away our Max Weinberg, and now you want to take from us our dollars for the outtakes from Darkness on the Edge of Town? What is with all the bands recently (Weezer, I'm looking at you) who decide to release the tracks from recording sessions they didn't deem good enough to make it on the album back then? Oh, right. Money.
I guess Springsteen didn't want to pull a Michael Jackson and have to wait until he was dead to rake in the cash. Plus, he had a pretty good reason for pulling the songs. Back at the height of the Boss' powers, he got entangled in a dispute with a former manager and found himself barred from the studio. But that didn't stop him (and the band) from ginning up 70 new tracks, only 10 of which made their way onto the album.
Some of these songs you've heard before, as they've been covered by other artists (including Patti Smith and the Pointer Sisters). Most are brand-new. But I guess the real question is, with our nation's ongoing obsession with Conan O'Brien and his late-adopted musical ambitions, couldn't you have included him on the album? You took away his Max, Boss.
- Greatest Hits … So Far, Pink — I understand the concept of a greatest hits album circa 2000, when all we could buy were albums. But now that we can
steal buy single tracks to our hearts' content, what's the point?
- Christmas Album, Glee — Following their recent after-school special on religion, songs that mention the word "God" and various incarnations of Aqua Buddha, is there any way the Gleemos would get away with an entire Christmas album? Internal consistency is all I ask for, people.
- Not Music, Stereolab — FINALLY. A little truth in advertising.
- Pilot Talk II, Curren$y — Remember when you guys were all, "No, Ke$ha can just randomly insert symbols into her name without wider repercussions. That totally won't be a problem." This is all your fault.
Let's get one thing straight: There's a large number of things I hate indiscriminately because they're popular. Miley Cyrus is one. The basic level of personal hygiene accepted by society is another. But I don't dislike Avatar because it's popular. I'm not a fan of it because it's not a very good movie.† You're the things I hate because it's popular.
Yes, yes, 3-D, blah-blah-blah. It's largely thanks to Avatar's box-office-record-smashing performance that studios retroscoped bad movies into terribly flat 3-D (i.e., Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans, and pretty much every non-animated movie), or gave James Cameron a reason to re-re-re-release Titanic. In 3-D, of course.
But who knows? Maybe you like paying $14 for a movie because you get special glasses you can't even keep (and then are guilted into "recycling" for the theater, which just saves them money because they'll re-use them). Maybe you enjoy the thought of having to buy yet another new television to take advantage of features no one really cares about. Maybe you want to re-live the "lush, verdant" world of Pandora (SPOILER ALERT: It's the seabed minus the water. How did no one pick up on this?). Maybe you really do want to see what paper-thin allusions James Cameron can come up with for Avatars 2 and 3.
There had better be more blue-people sex scenes. That's all I'm saying. Smurf porn just ain't cuttin' it anymore. ---
- The Last Airbender — What does M. Night Shyamalan have to do to not be able to make movies anymore? I mean, seriously. I realize we're supposed to forgive Roman Polanski even though he was in Rush Hour 3, but M. Night made Devil. I hope you're proud of yourselves.
- The Kids Are Alright — I know these women are supposed to be all progressive and lesbian and such, but who names a child "Laser"?
- Cats & Dogs: The Revenge ... — Ugh. I'm sorry. Even the title of this movie is too stupid to finish.
- Lottery Ticket — Impoverished black child (Bow Wow, no longer so li'l) wins lottery on a holiday and has to keep it a secret. Uh, dude, ever heard of a safe? Or possibly just shutting the hell up?
- The Extra Man — You know how sometimes you fail as a teacher and have to become an upscale escort? This totally happened to me last week. Only replace the word "teacher" with "writer." And the word "upscale" with "homeless." And the word "escort" with "person."
VIDEOGAMES Assassin's Creed: The Brotherhood
The first Assassin's Creed
game sucked pretty hard. Yeah, it was fun to kill people, but the side missions — and even the assassinations, after a while — got ... tedious. But the good people at Ubisoft heard our plaintive cry, and AC II
was flat-out awesome. They took the problems everyone had with the first game, and *gasp* actually fixed them for the second.
And now it's time for the third iteration.‡‡ Unlike the last game, this one's set largely in one city (Rome), so there's no Shadow of the Colossus-esque 20-minute jaunts out to the half-dozen or so far-flung locales. You can choose between stealth or out-and-out killing spree, not to mention a plethora of side missions.
I don't know what else to tell you, kids. If you're an AC fan, you should get this game. If you're a person who owns a game system, you should get this game. If you're an alien race intent on invading the earth and enslaving all mankind, the secret best spot to land is at -0.39413141312106426, 100.33281326293945 (but you should still get AC:B on your way in). And if you don't see a This Just Out post next week, well, know that I'm in a better place. Playing this game in my apartment.
† And this isn't even in the top 5 reasons why Avatar is awful.
- Donkey Kong Country Returns — Dear Nintendo: If you didn't actually come up with a phrase ("It's on like Donkey Kong"), you don't get to trademark it. Let us have this one.
- Sonic Colors (Wii, DS) — Sega once again tries to resurrect the one series they got right for more than two games. Unsurprisingly, it's a miserable failure.
- Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (PS3, Wii, X360, PC) — Racing games are a lot like Madden. Yes, there's little to no difference in actual gameplay. But new stuff! And the year's different!
- NBA Jam (PS3, X360) — He's on fire! Puts up a brick … Monster jam! Can't buy a bucket! It's old-school NBA Jam with updated graphics, which is really all we asked for. Boomshakalaka!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (PC, PS3, DS, Wii); iCarly 2: iJoin The Click (Wii, DS); Wizards of Waverly Place: Spellbound (DS)
‡‡ Though, in the grand tradition of squeezing out every dollar possible, the developers released a mini animated movie that "bridges the gap" between the second and third game. I mean, imagine how dumb it would be if, say, George Lucas released Star Wars-related material that went between the movies in different media. OH WAIT, HE ALREADY DOES THAT. And no one buys them except über-nerds — and since we're talking Star Wars, those are some double nerds. What I'm trying to say, Ubisoft, is that I'm already $180 in to your franchise. Throw me a bone.