Author: rnhaas

1985, Music

Stella (1985) by Yello

What the hell do I do with this? If you’re my age, or within 10 years of me either way, I suspect, you’ve seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. And if you haven’t seen it, you’ve likely seen another movie “Oh Yeah” was in. Wikipedia tells me it’s an “’80s cliche” at this point, so I …

2019, Podcasts

Against the Rules (2019)

I have yet to actually read a Michael Lewis book. (I know, I know.) But if his first podcast is any indication, I will probably enjoy them. This is a fascinating podcast about “the decline of the referee in American society”. I don’t agree with everything in it, and I think there’s a lot that …

2019, Movies

Russian Doll (2019)

So let me try to tell you as little as possible: this is a funny show with lots of pathos that deftly balances dark comedy with strong performances of people with metal health problems. If any of that interests you, see this without learning anything else about it. Ideally, if you can even avoid knowing …

2017, Books, Non-Fiction

Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite (2017) by Jake Bernstein

I think tax avoidance/evasion is the second most important issue of our time. So I wanted to be able to recommend this book highly. Alas, I can’t unequivocally recommend it, though I would say it’s worth reading if you are unaware, as I am, of a better book on the subject. (I’m sure it’s out …

2019, TV

The Confession Killer (2019)

This is a frustrating, maddening and infuriating true crime miniseries about Henry Lee Lucas, a serial killer convicted of 11 murders, who has confessed to many more. At this point I will say that if you enjoy true crime, you should watch this miniseries. If you enjoy Netflix true crime documentaries that make you extremely …

2017, Music

Far From Over (2017) by ViJay Iyer Sextet

This is my second Vijay Iyer record, the other one I’ve heard was a trio record which was obviously not as full band as this one. That makes him one of the 21st century jazz artists I’m actually paying attention to, because my popular music podcast has me ignoring jazz basically altogether at the moment.

1980, Music

Un peu de l’âme des bandits (1980) by Aqsak Maboul

Somehow, despite being familiar with the work of two of the guests on this record, and having listened to at least a couple Rock in Opposition albums, I had never heard of this band before. How is that possible?

1980, Music

The Age of Plastic (1980) by Buggles

This band and this record are known for one thing, their highly symbolic if not quite prophetic hit “Video Killed the Radio Star”. Funnily enough it had already been released by a former band member but we don’t know that version because there are no female backing vocals. Well, guess what? The rest of this …

1975, Music

The First Minute of a New Day (1975) by Gil Scott-Heron, Brian Jackson and the Midnight Band

This is only my second experience of Scott-Heron, so I don’t know enough about the history, but it seems like this is (mostly) a somewhat radical departure from his earlier work. That’s in part because there is a large band here now, rather than just a trio (or nobody) backing Scott-Heron.

1970, Music

Moondance (1970) by Van Morrison

When I was young I associated Van Morrison only with “Brown Eyed Girl”. As my high school best friend might have put it, “Brown Eyed Girl” was a “12 year old girl song” and I basically ignored Van Morrison, despite liking some of his other songs I heard on classic rock radio, until I finally …

1985, Movies

A Chorus Line (1985, directed by Richard Attenborough)

I don’t really know what to do here: I’ve never seen the stage show, as musicals aren’t really my thing, and there are lots of people who will tell you the movie is inferior to the show. On the other hand, I understand why the show was a big deal, because I watched this movie.

2010, Music

Operation Paralysis (2010) by The Dillinger Escape Plan

Despite my familiarity with this band – I’ve listened to all of their Puciato albums now that I’ve heard this one, as well as their debut, and I’ve seen them live – I always have the same experience when I listen to one of their (Puciato) records: I like it less than the ones that …

2017, TV

Alias Grace (2017, Mary Harron)

This is a Canadian mini series with great pedigree, a Margaret Atwood novel adapted by Sarah Polley and directed by Mary Harron. I’m not sure Canadian television gets much more prestigious than this. (Also, Paul Gross is in it. But of course he is.) Those are some weighty expectations which, fortunately, I was not really …

2015, Movies

A Christmas Horror Story (2015, Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan)

This should really be called Christmas Horror Stories as it’s sort of an omnibus film, featuring four different stories, which take place in the same town but not in the same universe. That sounds confusing, doesn’t, it? SPOILERS

2019, Movies

The Laundromat (2019, Steven Soderbergh)

This is a bizarre, episodic and extremely stagey attempt to make the Panama Papers scandal more accessible and therefore of greater concern to the average American. It is a giant mess and only sporadic laughs and an excellent cast keep – and the film’s noble intentions – keep me from panning it. SPOILERS

2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Movies

Riley’s Best Films of the 2010s

I am an avid movie watcher. I have seen something like 5,000 movies in my life as well as countless hours of movie-quality TV. But my pace has slowed somewhat in the last decade, as life has gotten in the way. Moreover, because I see so few movies in theatres outside of my annual TIFF …

1999, Music

Kaleidoscope (1999) by Kelis

I remember when I first heard “Caught Out There”. I didn’t swear at the time, but imagine it was the polite equivalent of “What the fuck?!?” And I’m sorry to say that was basically the last time I thought about Kelis (whose name I thought was pronounced “Kell Es”). And listening to this record, that …

1989, Music

Gutter Ballet (1989) by Savatage

I find myself stuck with a lot of progressive metal, especially ’90s progressive metal. I often find that it’s either too metal for the description – not a bad thing in and of itself – or too proggy and not metal enough. Apparently I’m nitpicky about this but I believe there is a happy medium …

1974, Music

Red Queen to Gryphon Three (1974)

Are the wrinkles on the forehead of the character on the cover meant to to at least somewhat allude to Gentle Giant? Because that’s the first thing I think of when I see the cover and the thought enters my head that this might be somewhere in the world of Gentle Giant.

1974, Music

The Civil Surface (1974) by Egg

Here I am coming at yet another band backwards. This time, it’s even worse, because this album was made by Egg after they had broken up, to basically tie up loose ends or something. So, um, it’s probably not the best place to start.