Friday, July 27, 2012

Pop Culture Roundup

I recently read Still: Thoughts on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner, a pseudo-memoir about going through a faith crisis. I'm hoping to write a full review of it, so I won't say too much now.

We went to see The Dark Knight Rises last Thursday at midnight...which I guess is really Friday morning. Anyway, in the third and final Nolan installment, the ruthless mercenary Bane arrives in Gotham to terrorize. But before all of that really gets going, we catch up with many of the other characters eight years after the events of The Dark Knight: Bruce Wayne has retired Batman and has become a recluse, his body still feeling the effects of what happened. People still believe Batman to be responsible for Harvey Dent's death, yet at the same time the lie that Batman and Commissioner Gordon vowed to keep has done wonders for the containment of organized crime. Bane showing up upsets all of that, of course, the results even more catastrophic than what The Joker attempted in the previous film. The ending, which I promise not to spoil here, is as well-done as one would hope it could be. I had a few gripes, mainly not always being able to understand Bane when he talked, and sometimes longer dialogue and explanations seemed to weigh things down. But as third movies in trilogies go, this was a strong effort.

We ordered WWE Money in the Bank this past Sunday night. This pay-per-view features two matches where a briefcase containing a contract for a World championship title match is hung from the ceiling, and the only way to win is to fend off your opponents long enough to climb a ladder and retrieve it. Dolph Ziggler, who's been overdue to be bumped up to the next level, won one of them, while John Cena, ever the dependable superhero, won the other in what looked like a bit of a botch when the suitcase's handles snapped off in his hands. It also featured the latest match between CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, who put on another great show together. They also booked a few matches on the fly with no build...I remember the days when all matches were announced and built up before the PPV. Sigh. Overall, it was a solid show.

I've finished the first two seasons of Mad Men, and am still enjoying it, caveats regarding the portrayal of sexism and double standards apply. I'm still calling this my new Sopranos, as I can see certain parallels between the characters and certain situations they get themselves into. Just, you know, without all the killing. Don Draper goes to great lengths sometimes to keep himself walled off from the world around him, even as he's interacting with others. So far, the only person to whom he really seems to open up is the widow of the man whose identity he stole. And even then, that relationship is based on his paying her hush money. The way he interacts with Betty is actually a bit infuriating to me, and I was actually glad to see him kicked out of the house for a good portion of the second season. But now as the Drapers face a new pregnancy--which certainly doesn't guarantee to bring them any closer--we'll see how willing Don is to really be a rededicated husband and father.

I've been enjoying some new music lately. First among them is the duo known as Sleigh Bells, an electronic/rock hybrid featuring strong beats, crunchy guitars, and the melodic voice of Alexis Krauss. Here's "Comeback Kid:"

And I apparently have a thing about various kinds of bells at the moment, because I've also been listening to Broken Bells, which is James Mercer of The Shins and Danger Mouse. Here's "The High Road:"