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2008-02-29 - 11:01 a.m.

It just won't stop being February, will it?

As the month stubbornly persists, I take this time to visit two items that were on everybody's Best Of lists for 2007.

Number one: Panda Bear.

As instructed by the overlords, I downloaded the entire Person Pitch album to enjoy as a whole listening experience.

I can't say I am disappointed. It's not a song-oriented album, it's what they used to call a headphones album, full of intimate intricacies and hushed, slow peels of sound. Nice for drifting off to sleep.

Number two: King of Kong.

This is quite an amazing little movie. It accomplishes a lot in just a bit over an hour.

It introduces viewers like me, who know nothing of video games, to a fascinating subculture of "classic arcade gamers," who are just as dorky as you would imagine.

Because of said dorkiness, the film allows the audience to revel in a feeling of detached superiority (hey, I have to grab my detached superiority where I can find it these days) while at the same time, eliciting a sense of awe and grudging respect to these gamers who are obviously really smart, dedicated, and persistent.

And in terms of dramatic tension, the three lead "characters" are perfect: the creepy reigning Donkey Kong champ, Billy Mitchell, who is not quite a villain, but whose hubris and perfectly blow-dried hair just make you wanna smack him; Steve Wiebe, the upsetter, who comes across as a very sweet perpetual underdog (as his friend remarks, "I've seen him cry more than any other guy I know."); and Walter Day, the self-appointed official referee for arcade gamers, who glows with an even-kieled, gentle fairness and serves as the perfect Derek Smalls-like intermediary between the champ and the challenger.

(It is noteworthy that Walter Day is a TM devotee--he reminds me very much of the serious TM-ers I've met over my lifetime.)

The drama that unfolds is as compelling as any Bourne flick or Maysles documentary.

While I understand that the subject matter is not as important or life-changing as the topics that drove the Oscar-nominated docs this year, I am surprised that this didn't at least get a nod.

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