Monday, November 23, 2015

Fiver Episode IX: The Force Goes Shopping

For this episode of Fiver, I'm going to do something a bit different and veer away from strictly making music recommendations. November has somehow been a busy month so far, full of a cornucopia of goodies to pontificate on and review. Here are the following consumer goodies that have inspired me to write this month's blog post:

1. Chrome Storm Cobra 2.0 Jacket (Chrome Industries)

Do you know what the first thing I did with this lightweight Chrome Storm Cobra 2.0 water-resistant jacket when I got it? Go for a bike ride in the ever-present Portland rain? Nope! I put this sucker on and held my arm under the running faucet in my kitchen, watching in wonder like a moon-eyed Neanderthal as the water beaded off my sheltered arm like wicked, wicked magic. And magic this jacket is, as it keeps you not only dry in rain-drenched situations, but moderately warm as well. The only two drawbacks this coat possess are a stiff hood visor that constantly taps you in the back of the head when the hood is down, and the soft, plush material that acts like a built-in lower-face shield when the jacket is fully zipped up does soak-up a noticeable amount of  raindrops and moisture. These two gripes aside, the bombproof Storm Cobra 2.0 rain resistant jacket is all the shield your upper body needs against the elements.

2. Bose SoundLink Bluetooth III Portable Speaker (bose.com)

So, let's say you live in an old apartment building that was built around the turn of the last century, and when the company that currently owns the building did their upgrades, they installed those little wall-mounted heaters in each room of your apartment instead of installing a furnace for the entire building. Then let's say that every winter, you're holed-up in your bedroom making what you and your significant other call the "warm room," and in this room you take your meals, watch TV on you MacBook and occasionally sleep. But what do you do when your MacBook's speakers up at maximum volume are drowned-out by the wall-mounted heater keeping you nominally warm? You buy yourself one of these Bose SoundLink Bluetooth III Portable Speaker systems, that's what you do. Warm and bass-y in the low end and never tin-y in the higher registers, this clutch-sized speaker packs quite a sonic punch. A bit spendy at nearly $200, but well worth it when huddling around a space heater while watching re-runs of Friends.

3. adidas Matchcourt Skate Shoes (adidas.com)

If the current crop of next season's skate shoes are any indication, the mid-90's rubber toe bumper guard is back with a vengeance. Vans, DC and HUF each have their version of this toe cap technological-ness, but damn if adidas' Matchcourt entry (or should I say "re-entry," since this shoe is a callback to one of the company's earlier endeavors) isn't head-and-shoulders above the pack. I mean, look at these lugs! The profile alone on the mid-top version has me saving my paychecks and mining my home for things to sell on eBay. The Matchcourt will come in an array of colors, but gimme those sweet black and white kicks! I can't think of better shoes to gaze at while listening to the following record recommendation...

4. Secret Shine Untouched Vinyl LP Reissue (Saint Marie Records)

Secret Shine were the venerable and legendary Sarah Records' lone shoegaze outfit, yet they still fit in comfortable well with the label's well-established roster of twee-pop perpetrators (The Field Mice, The Orchids, Heavenly, et al.) Untouched was, up until the band's 2004 reunion, Secret Shine's singular album. Eight songs deep, Untouched rivaled much of the output by the 1990's dreampop scene's underdog outfits (Moose, The Telescopes, Chapterhouse), bristling with shimmering washes of guitar, echoing bass notes and urgently angelic vocals. The Saint Marie Records reissue polishes up the masters a bit and presents the whole shebang on mesmerizing-as-it-spins white and purple swirled vinyl. Get your copy for $25 directly from Saint Marie while they last.

5. The Return of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Kickstarter)

We'll end on a high note here with the best news a television-raised nerd could possibly receive: Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back! Well, sort of. Having acquired the rights to the show, Shout! Factory (the home entertainment arm of Rhino) has handed the reigns back to series creator Joel Hodgson with instructions to go fourth and create new episodes of his legendary bad movie ball-busting television show. Retooled for the 21st Century, the series is slated to star Nerdist alum Jonah Ray, Queen of Nerds Felicia Day and in the get of all gets, Patton Oswalt as TV's Son of TV's Frank! Of course this whole shebang hinges of getting the proper funding via Kickstarter (which, as of this writing is nearing its modest millions-of-dollars-in-single-digits price tag) for a full season run, but given the ravenous fan base this show's output from over 20 years ago boasts, I don't think Hodgson and company will be having any problems continuing to circulate the tapes. Now, for my obligatory personal favorite MST3K line: "Mitchell! Pardon me. Mitchell!"

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