September 11th, 2010

Mortal wound

A Concert/A Book/Then Movie

Last Saturday, I saw Green Day at Shoreline, and it was an amazingly awesome show. Bigger and better than when I saw them last year! Especially since this time I actually knew the songs from 21st Century Breakdown. Billie Joe does still love asking the audience to repeat, "Heeeeeey-ooooooooh," thirty thousand times, but he varied the call-and-response a few times near the end. They did do a little classic-rock medley in the middle of "Shout," but they also did a longer one on its own, playing bits of "Iron Man" and "Highway to Hell" and "Sweet Child o' Mine," as if to pay homage to all their influences and heroes. "King for a Day" included even more ridiculous costume changes this time.

The most noticeable difference—besides the set design, with an ever-changing cityscape of lights, and the pyrotechnics—was the increased audience participation. Billie Joe was pulling people up onstage all damn night, and—whereas last year, the only person he pulled up was a hot redhead—he did not just pull up a bunch of hot chicks. He pulled up some dude who hugged him with such joy before jumping off the stage. During "East Jesus Nowhere," he pulled up an old lady to bless him. They sprayed the audience with water, and then shot rolls of toilet paper into the crowd. And then T-shirts. At one point, he asked everyone to come up onstage, so...they did. There were like two dozen people on the stage, crowding around Billie Joe and Mike and Tre, and they didn't look bothered or annoyed at all. Thankfully, everyone was pretty respectful. During "Shout," Billie Joe went around playing everyone's instrument as the costumed characters did the "I want you to know" bit, and then he asked an audience member to come up and sing it, and she was great, even jumping at the right time for the fireworks to go off. He brought some girl up to sing a chorus with him. And he took a long time to choose the special person who would sing "Longview," and she did, and she had the time of her life, and then she stage-dove, and Billie Joe told her to get back up because he wasn't finished with her, and then he gave her a guitar.

The whole show was filled with so much love, especially since they were back home, after all. There were many references to the Bay Area, and they played a surprising amount of old material. They played half of Dookie, including non-singles like "Burnout" and—possibly by request—"Coming Clean," but not "Welcome to Paradise," sadly. They even played "Paper Lanterns"! And "2000 Light Years Away." They played less of 21st Century Breakdown than I expected (but then again, last time, they played the whole thing), but they did do a lovely rendition of "Last Night on Earth" that began acoustically.

They played for two-and-a-half goddamn hours, and then they still gave us a half-hour encore, and the energy never let up. I couldn't believe we got a show like that for only twenty bucks.

Last night, I finished An Artificial Night, the third Toby Daye novel by Seanan McGuire (seanan_mcguire), winner of the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Whereas the first book was a Chandleresque noir and the second was a locked-room sci-fi mystery, this book is a fantasy thriller. I continue to marvel at how different each book is, tonally and structurally.

By now, Toby's world is fairly well established, and we have a cast of recurring characters that can both get into trouble and help Toby out of trouble. This adventure sees Toby trying to track down a slew of kidnapped children, but, unlike the first two books, this one isn't a mystery. It's established pretty early on that the culprit is Blind Michael, who has apparently been mentioned before but I never caught it. It turns out the boogeyman is real, and Toby has to venture into his realm to recover the kids and punch him in the face and stuff. The problem is there are a shit-ton of rules involved. Because that is how Faerie rolls, after all. Toby has to rely on her wits, at least when she's not being knocked out or poisoned, which happens frequently because Blind Michael has hunters at his disposal: the middle of the book is pretty much a long chase scene, and it's very exciting. ("Oh shit, it's the Hunters!" I would exclaim out loud frequently.)

The book takes some unexpected turns, and it leads to a totally badass climax. Toby begins the book wishing she didn't have to be the hero, but someone has to be. And we're right there with her as she figures it out, grumbling all the way. Have some more coffee, Toby. You've got a lot more heroic adventures ahead of you.

Today, I took Seanan to see Resident Evil: Afterlife to celebrate her Campbell Award. We saw it in 2-D, but, boy, did they ever shoot that movie in 3-D, because shit is flying at the screen all the damn time. It was rather distracting how obviously they were catering to the 3-D crowd.

My Resident Evil marathon in July resulted in my determining the franchise to be at a solid B+, which meant that this movie had to rate a B+ somehow. I'd agree with Seanan that it's better than the third but not as good as the second (or first, which I really liked). It's good entertainment, for sure, and even though there's a heavy overuse of slow-motion and bullet-time (without actually using the spinny camera, just the whizzy bullet effects), each movie has at least one moment where Milla Jovovich engages in some sort of amazing badassery that brings it up to a B+, and this one is no exception. Although it is surprisingly low on really good setpieces, and the zombie-killing seems kind of rote at points, lacking the tension and horror of the first two movies. Also, for some reason, there is absolutely no threat of infection in this movie, which is sort of annoying for a zombie movie.

Regardless, Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter look hot while shooting guns, so I was pleased. I also really enjoy how franchise-y these movies are, with every movie setting up the next one, as if there's never any doubt that this series will continue on and on until Alice is shooting zombies from her rocket-powered wheelchair.