When do people stop saying they have a favorite band? I think it happens sometime after college, when you realize that the images you’ve spent your whole life crafting don’t mean much to anyone besides you. More than that, we realize that we don’t have to pin our colors to just one tribe. Much like we stop worrying too much about who our “best friend” is in adulthood, so do we stop defining ourselves so heavily through our music. At age 31, I don’t know if I could name a favorite band. The White Stripes, Arcade Fire, They Might Be Giants, all of those bands are more than just something to enjoy. They are part of who I am. So it is with the music that speaks to all of us. But when I was in college I knew exactly who my favorite band was.
If you’ve been with me since the early days, way back in 2010-2011, you might remember a little feature I ran called “Re-Lost.” At the time the intent was to go through the entire series of Lost and to give bi-weekly recaps of every episode. I only ever made it as far as the end of season one, mostly due to exhaustion and the realization that I didn’t have a lot to add to what has to be the most heavily commented-upon show of my lifetime. But after rewatching the first season of the show for the third time while I wrote those recaps, I went ahead and continued my rewatch. Not all at once, mind you. I would go in dribs and drabs, burning through a few episodes then setting it aside for a while. I’m now about two or three episodes into season five on this, my third viewing of my favorite TV drama.
It’s a common misconception that playing a lot of games means you are good at them. There are obviously some games that only pay off with experience, where knowing the rules will surely give you an advantage. There are some that you know well enough to have a fighting chance, even if you don’t win all that often. But we also all have “kryptonite” games. Those are the games that we always lose. They might be a constant source of heartbreak, where we always find a wait to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They might be games where we just cannot wrap our head around how to win. But one thing is for sure: we almost always lose them. We all have that list of games, but here are mine.
When I became a fan of U2, it was still cool to do so. Something happened in the past decade that made them one of the most divisive bands out there. Maybe it has something to do with Bono’s constant presence, their clear desire to be viewed as important, or the fact that much of the most successful rock of the past decade can be traced back to them. The response to Songs Of Innocence has centered almost totally around its delivery method, when it suddenly appeared in the cloud drive of every iTunes user. For those who hate U2, it was just one more reason to do so. I’m a devoted fan, and I was even a little skeptical. My skepticism is because I never warmed up to No Line On The Horizon, the only other album they’ve released since How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb in 2004. I gave it a lot of chances, but ultimately I found it kind of fuzzy and overwrought, long on sonic ideas but short on actual content.
Since I’ve been in the hobby, I don’t think there’s been an event quite like the 2009 release of the 3rd edition of Space Hulk. There was a lot about it that we may never see again. It was before every classic from the 1980s was getting a major reprint, before Kickstarter created dozens of miniatures games that cost over $100. It was wholly unexpected and at that point arguably the biggest hobby board game release ever. And for the hobbyist sector, it had a bizarre and far-reaching response within the online community. A concerted effort by the game’s fans pushed the game into the BGG Top Ten, which evidently alerted Games Workshop to the presence of fan material on the website and resulted in a spate of C&D letters. Hundreds of users protested by adjusting their rating Space Hulk a “1,” which prompted a backlash-backlash of people who now rated the game a “10” on principle. It was staggering in its absurdity, and was exacerbated by the fact that Space Hulk vanished from store shelves in a matter of weeks, scooped up by scalpers and eager fans who hadn’t seen the game at retail in 15 years. It was assumed it would be years before another edition was produced, until just last week when Games Workshop announced an expanded version of the 3rd edition.
One of the many joys of family is the ritual of passing stories to the next generation. Everyone has stories. Maybe they’re cultural ones, like fairy tales or fables. Maybe they have religious significance like the Bible stories I heard as a child and that I share with my own kids. Maybe they’re just family stories that are fun because you know everyone involved.