In this week’s newsletter I write about my search for the best Mac Last.fm scrobbling app, Linea Sketch, two Shortcuts I really loved this week, being known as “that AbsolutePunk.net guy,” the new album from FIDLAR, Tarakany!, and listening to stuff from our staff “best of 2018” list. I also run through my usual media diet from the past week, including a lot of depressing (but good!) movies (like Minding the Gap), and give my thoughts on the final two trades in Scott Snyder’s Batman run. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I loved this week and my usual sarcasm.
The supporter Q&A post can be found here.
- All of our “Best of 2018” stuff ran this week. We’ve got all sorts of good stuff:
- I’ve long used the app Simplify on the Mac to put my current playing music in the menu bar. The other nice benefit of the app was that it would scrobble all my plays to Last.fm. However, when I updated to Mojave in September of last year, that functionality stopped working. I still really liked being able to quickly look up and see the name of a song playing (really helpful when listening to a new album for the first time), so I reached out the developer and crossed my fingers this bug would be fixed. It never was. This week I finally decided I wanted to make sure all my listening in 2019 was better recorded so I would have an accurate look at my entire listening habits come 2020. After looking at all the options, I decided the Neptunes is the best of the bunch. It’s a menu bar app (that I can hide in Bartender), but it doesn’t put the song title in the menu bar itself. It does have a widget thing that puts the album artwork on your desktop, but I’ve never been one that enjoys that feature. (I like my desktop clean.) It does, however, have the ability to set a hotkey to show you a little notification for what song/track/album is playing. I set that to “Command + Shift + ?” so if I’m ever curious about what is playing, I can quickly hit that and see. This feels like an ok compromise in order to get Last.fm scrobbling back into my life.
- The Linea Sketch app for the iPad is fantastic. When I first got the Apple Pencil, I used it in Notes and Pixelmator a little bit to get an idea of how it works. It was cool, but this app took everything to a completely new level. This is a must-have app if you have an Apple Pencil. All the template options (graph paper, dotted paper, etc.) and little features make this one of those “oh shit” kind of apps. I don’t know if this will make paper and pencil completely obsolete for me, but I do know the next time I have a feature or something I want to sketch out, I’m going to be giving this a shot before I pull out a notebook. That’s big.
- The Apple Music Wrapped shortcut from Viticci is a must download if you’ve got Apple Music. It’s incredible what he was able to do with the Shortcut app. He’s pushing right up to the limits of what that app is capable of (and pushing past almost everyone’s expectations). On a side note, I loved the little Chorus/AbsolutePunk shoutout in the comments of the Shortcut, as well as his really nice tweet about us linking to it and how he grew up reading AbsolutePunk. It’s weird to see people and writers I read every single day mentioning my website. Even weirder knowing that other writers and podcasters I follow will then see that as well. Worlds colliding and all that. I’ve always felt like what I do, or have done in the past, was kind of separate from all that. Those are the “real” internet writers and bloggers and independents, and I’m just a weird kid that made a punk website that got kinda popular. I’m also coming more to terms with the idea that AbsolutePunk was so big, and so popular, that it may always be what I’m most known for. That time in my life, that website, many of those bands, don’t give me the most positive of memories, so that’s been hard. I love what we’ve done with Chorus, and it feels so much more me, or who I’ve been for a while now, and it’s so much more in line with my view of what a website should look like, and how a community can operate, but a good portion of people that read AbsolutePunk, don’t read Chorus. And to them, I’ll always just be the person that ran a website they liked when they were younger. In an “oh yeah, I used to read AbsolutePunk” kind of way. It’s a strange thing to think about, but as time has passed, I’ve come to terms with it because of how much better I feel every single day running this website. I made a conscious effort to be smaller. To not try and be the biggest. To not need every single eyeball, or try to compete with the biggest publications, and it’s been freeing and rewarding. I may be best known for starting AbsolutePunk.net, but I think I’ll always be most proud of starting Chorus.fm.
- Speaking of Shortcuts, I love this one for opening Twitter links in Tweetbot. A lot of tweets get posted on this website, and I’ll often see one and click through to read the replies/thread/see the poster’s profile. I’m also often not logged into the Twitter website on my device, or get logged out, and launching this Shortcut from the share sheet will take whatever I’m looking at in the browser, and open it in Tweetbot. This is extremely helpful when I want to follow someone or scroll through more of their tweets.
- This was another relatively slow music week for me, but I did use that time to check out some stuff from our End of the Year feature that I hadn’t heard yet. I always like exploring new music and seeing if I missed something special.
- On that note, I enjoyed Craig Manning’s album of the year, Caitlyn Smith’s Starfire. It walks the line between country and pop, but there’s an undeniable knack for storytelling that shines through. I don’t love her voice to the level that Craig does, but the album as a whole is worth checking out, and I’m glad it’s now in my rotation.
- I listened to The All-American Rejects’ Move Along for the first time in a long time this week. It may be the best album with the worst cover art in existence. The album itself holds up for me though, especially the title track. This album captures that 2005 feeling for me.
- The new album from Tarakany!, called The Power of One, is a nice punk album. They’re from Russia and A-F Records put this one out last year, and I missed it, good message, good songs, and if you like punk music it’s worth your time.
- FIDLAR’s new album, Almost Free, comes out at the end of this month (January 25th). I was a big fan of their previous album, which enthralled me with their big raw punk/rock sound wrapped around an infectious melody and a “don’t give a fuck” attitude. The new album turns almost all of those dials up and creates a surprisingly cohesive album that combines Black Keys, Beastie Boys, grunge, punk, and earworm choruses. There’s a couple of songs that don’t really work for me, and it’s the kind of album that you need to be in the mood for when you spin it, but, damn, it’s also really refreshing to just put on something loud, and a little obnoxious, and turn it up. This lived up to my expectations and was easily my most played album of the week. Check out “Can’t You See.”
- I still really like just putting on my Apple Music “station” on the Amazon Echo while playing video games, but I wish it would keep track of play counts so I could remember other songs or things I listened to at the end of the week.
- I absolutely hated The Year of Spectacular Men, and I’ll see anything with Zoey Deutch in it. The movie bored me and the characters felt paper-thin. The direction was ok, but the script made me cringe. If it weren’t so short, I probably would have lobbied to turn it off.
- Minding the Gap was incredible and comes highly recommended. It’s a tough watch at times, but this was so much more effective than Mid90s. I laughed, I cried, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ll be keeping an eye on anything Bing Liu directs or works on in the future. Wow, what a film.
- Beautiful Boy was very well acted and yet the movie as a whole didn’t quite work for me. The musical cues and some of the early switching of timelines was confusing (and unneeded). That said, the movie was profoundly affecting. It hit close to home in a few ways, and it’s really hard not to view it and worry about what you would do as a parent or how you would handle a similar situation. I’m glad I saw it.
- Because apparently we only watched sad movies this week, we finished it up last night with Galveston. This is a very well acted (seriously, Ben Foster is killing it), and very well directed. The script (based on a novel from the creator of True Detective) was not as clever or original as I think the author thought. It’s bleak, it could be considered “slow,” and the ending is depressing. A tough watch, great performances, and Mélanie Laurent directed the hell out of it.
- We’re in the middle of season three of Below Deck now and I can’t put into words how much I hate Rocky. She makes my entire body tense up anytime she is on screen. This show is too good.
- We finished the first season of Friends on our re-watch last night. I can’t wait to get to my favorite season — season four.
- Still lots of Smash Bros. being played. I’ve started to enjoy playing with Corrin and Zero Suit Samus. Hannah hates playing against Zero Suit and gets mad at every combo. She destroys me with Incineroar and I can’t figure out how to time an escape away from his stupid grab and throw.
- After a depressing week of movies, tonight and next week needs to be fun and uplifting shit only.
- I finished Scott Snyder’s run of Batman this week. I enjoyed Superheavy and Bloom enough, but they weren’t my favorite. I know that writers like to change things up a lot, but when there’s someone else in the Batman suit, it never quite feels right to me. I was mostly reading it to get to Bruce coming back, but even then, how they did that … was kinda silly. Even for comic books. Neither of these trades were up at the level of my favorites from Snyder. I was blown away when I first started The Court of Owls and so I was a little sad his run didn’t end as strong as it began. I remained in a Batman mood, especially since it was recommended to me that I’d like Tom King’s work, so I read the entire I Am Gotham trade as well. Since it’s part of the “DC Rebirth” stuff, it’s a nice return to form for Batman. It felt like a good way to ground the character again, and kind of “reset” where he is. I think that’ll be nice to free up some new story ideas. This story did a great job of blending the dark with a little levity, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here. I can see why Tom King’s been praised as a writer; he’s excellent. (Batman reading has meant a new iPad wallpaper too.)
Random and Personal Stuff
- Weight has settled back down to below my goal weight after the holiday escapade. I’ve been averaging about 50 fl oz of water every day over the past few months, so I’m feeling good about that.
- Doing a tux/suit fitting tomorrow with Hannah so we can see what our options are. I want a blue suit, and I’m not confident how I feel about a blue tux (will it feel super outdated and weird in photos in 20 years?), so I want to get an idea of what things look like on me and then decide.
Here are ten songs that I listened to and loved this week. Some may be new, some may be old, but they all found their way into my life during the past seven days.
- The All-American Rejects – Move Along
- Fidlar – Can’t You See
- Allie X – Little Things (Analog Version)
- Caitlyn Smith – East Side Restaurant
- Tarakany! – What I Can Change
- The Lawrence Arms – You Are Here
- 5 Seconds of Summer – Talk Fast
- Lori McKenna – People Get Old
- Betty Who – I Remember
- Lucy Dacus – Addictions
I’ve got some maintenance work to do around the website before I can call it a day, but I hope everyone has a great weekend and is enjoying the start to 2019. Thanks for reading.
Previous editions of this roundup can be found here.