Posts categorized “Of the Month”

Thursday, 1 September 2016

“Of the Month” September 2016

TV Show of the Month:
stranger-things-200
Stranger Things

Yes, there is a lot of hype about this show, and a metric tonne has been written about how much of an homage it is to different 1980s pop culture like Steven Spielberg and Steven King and some other Stevens, probably. The thing is, it’s good. It’s not just a nostalgia trip (though it certainly is that). It’s really good. They’re making a season 2 soon. I’m glad about that. It already has a title.

Stranger Me?

Stranger Me?

Seriously, though, if for some reason you’re a dumbass and have avoided watching this show because it’s so hyped and popular, shut your hipster hole and go binge it. It’s really good.

Comic Book of the Month:
squirrel
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol 3: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now

After the soft reboot of Marvel’s massive “Secret Wars” event, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl comic started with a new #1 issue (“Our second #1 in 12 months” the cover proudly exclaimed). This collects the first 6 issues after “Secret Wars” and sees Squirrel Girls as part of an Avengers squad. But the bulk of the story revolves around her being accidentally sent back in time to the 1960s and fighting an earlier version of Doctor Doom who has also gone back in time to the 1960s. It’s absolutely delightful and hilarious. And just so very nerdy. In a climactic scene Squirrel Girl gives secret instructions to a friend by saying a string of C++ code out loud, knowing that the friend is a computer science major and can translate it. This run by Ryan North and Erica Henderson is one of the greatest comic book runs of the past couple of years, up there with Ms. Marvel.

Tweeter of the Month:
figgled
Dee @figgled

Dee is from Melbourne. She is funny. Don’t just take my word for it: John Stamos said so too, once.

Categories: Of the Month.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

“Of the Month” August 2016

Link of the Month:
jbrew
Sweet dreams and goals and objectives and demands

I don’t know why, but for some reason things like this make me laugh harder than almost anything else. I’m talking side-holding, tears-streaming-down-my-face laughter. This website uses a predictive text program (like what phones use to try to predict the next word you’ll want to use when you’re texting) to create original compositions. Things like phony quotes from Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson:

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There are also some great phony Yelp reviews and some absolutely awesome IMDB violence advisory warnings, like:

The main character is shot pointblank in the face with a very intense violence of language such as “damn”, “goddamn”, “hell”, “bastard”, “nuts” and “jesus christ jesus thank god holy pudding” and then we see the aftermath of the dinosaur attack.

I think my favorite of them all, though, is the phony synopsis for a non-existent episode of Batman: The Animated Series, which includes such gems as:

Batman isn’t paid to destroy crime corners. He is actually attracted to the crimes and also The Penguin. The Penguin begins to fall in love with guns and with gangs all over Gotham. Batman is destroyed. Batman must join The Penguin. He loves him a criminal.

And:

The Penguin makes things worse by killing Batman. He has happened to Batman and he is visibly criminal. Batman isn’t still around. Batman is in a cloud. The Penguin finds that he is astounded by killing the man who loves him most. He feels responsible for the death of Gotham’s prominent Batman. He loves the man that Batman isn’t.

The Joker also receives an award for outstanding music and combat.

Seriously. You can’t believe how hard this stuff, all of it, makes me laugh. Unbelievable.

Book of the Month:
Warlock Holmes
Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G.S. Denning

I’m shocked that I’ve never heard this premise before: Sherlock Holmes is not a good detective. He solves crimes because he’s a wizard. And if you’ve ever read any of the original Holmes oeuvre, you’ll know that sometimes Holmes seems to pull the solutions right out of his ass. This book explains how: Magic. Dark magic, usually. Watson, narrating as always, has the job of trying to justify Holmes’s feats of magic as feats of detective work. It’s very confidently written, and though some anachronisms slip through now and again, the feeling is all vintage Holmes, stirred liberally with the supernatural (Scotland Yard’s Inspector Lestrade is actually a Nosferatu-style vampire, for example). Bonus: it’s funny. The mix of proper Victorian behavior with Holmes’s evident madness and overall (excluding magic) incompetence is delightful. It’s a fun, fast read.

TV Show of the Month:
Voltron_poster_final
Voltron: Legendary Defender

A reimagining of the original Voltron anime series, Legendary Defender is done by the same team that created Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. And it feels like it. Voltron has the same uncanny way as those shows to be able to mix high drama and suspense with wacky, slapsticky comedy… and somehow have it all work, and work well, without undercutting either the comedy or the drama. I honestly don’t know how they do it. This Voltron has sharply-drawn, iconic (if not particularly deep) characters, exciting visuals, and builds a really solid heart so that come the (cliffhanger) end of the 1st season, you really do care about this team and their mission. It’s good, though it seems like it ends just as it’s really getting started. Thankfully a 2nd season should not be too far behind.

Categories: Of the Month.

Friday, 1 July 2016

“Of the Month” July 2016

Video Game of the Month:
yoshisWoollyWorld
Yoshi’s Woolly World

This game is frikkin’ adorable, and it’s actually a good bit of fun to play. It’s got a good balance of puzzle-solving and platforming action, and in fact it can be played either way (you can storm the levels and just go for the goal, or you can methodically choose to pry out every last secret from each level). The graphics are 👍👍👌. It keeps surprising me in delightful ways, like how rivers of lava are represented by knitted red-and-orange scarves being dragged across the ground. I also enjoy when the yarn aesthetic becomes important to play, like when you create a Chain Chomp by wrapping yarn around an empty wireframe. GOOD GAMES.

Movie of the Month:
deadpool
Deadpool

IT’S FUNNY, ALRIGHT!? F**K OFF! Seriously, I don’t know when I’ve laughed this hard in a movie theater. It holds up pretty well on repeat viewings; though the initial shock-value laughs are much diminished, the movie has an infectious energy and surprising charm. Ryan Reynolds nails the character. Just flawless. My only very-minor quibble is that I wish there had been more of a personality difference between the (presumably sane) pre-transformation Wade Wilson and the absolutely-nutty, post-transformation Deadpool. But that is a minor quibble in an otherwise excellent piece of entertainment.

Tweeter of the Month:
Devlen_Goaway
@Devlen_Goaway

Devlen_Goaway is a very funny and occasionally bitter tweeter who styles himself “Moon Mayor” and frequently ruminates on how he would run things on the Moon were he to be made Moon Mayor:


He is currently creating series of excellent tweets from Ronald Reagan and George Washington, wherein they yell nonsense at their wives:


Plus he tweets just generally funny stuffs:


Oh, and he also makes some truly bizarre Star Trek videos at his Youtube channel, Head Injury Productions:

Categories: Of the Month.

Friday, 3 June 2016

“Of the Month” June 2016

Book of the Month:
alif-the-unseen
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

My second “Of the Month” in a row for G. Willow Wilson! I think that might be a first. Anyway, yes, apart from writing amazing comic books, Ms. Wilson also wrote this novel, an urban sci-fi/fantasy mashup that takes computer programming and djinn and wraps them up in a fascinating yarn that is ultimately about the importance and power of language. It’s rather fast-paced and its unnamed middle-eastern city setting is exceedingly well-drawn. Ms. Wilson certainly has a gift for descriptive prose. It’s like a cross between William Gibson and Neil Gaiman (particularly in one thrilling sequence where coding a program becomes an hallucinogenic vision trip). I wish the protagonist were just a bit more likeable, though; he tends to get pissy and mean when he’s under stress, and he’s under stress pretty much the whole entire book. Overall an excellent read.

Musicians of the Month:
aivisurasshu
Aivi & Surasshu

An amazing duo made up of two composers: an organic girl named Aivi and a machine boy named Surasshu. They make beautiful, lush compositions with classical instruments and chiptunes interwoven. They’ve written an album, but also music for video games as well as music (and songs) for Steven Universe! Yes, much of the mind-blowingly-awesome compositions from Steven Universe came from Aivi and Surasshu. So give them a listen, fo’ realsz.

TV Show of the Month:
puffin rock
Puffin Rock

When you have a toddler, you end up watching a bunch of TV aimed for the toddler market. A bunch of it is, let’s face it, crap. So when you find a great show, it’s like finding a diamond in the rough. Puffin Rock is an Irish-made cartoon about a small island off the coast of Ireland populated by shrews, seagulls, seals, crabs, and (of course) puffins. And it’s frikkin’ gorgeous. Seriously, this series has some of the best artwork I’ve seen in a cartoon. It’s like Little Golden Book come to life. And the characters are rather charming (their little Irish lilts do help quite a bit), especially main character Oona and her little brother Baba, who is undeniably one of the cutest cartoon characters in existence. The stories are light and breezy and never hit you too hard over the head with a moral or message. It’s fun. And oh-so-pretty.

Plus it’s narrated by Roy (Chris O’Dowd) from BBC’s The IT Crowd. Seriously. So that’s just a hoot. He gets flustered and tongue-tied sometimes, and sometimes even tries to interact with the characters and influence them in spite of the fact that they clearly cannot hear him. It’s some of the more enjoyable narration I can think of.

Puffin Rock is only available on Netflix in the states, but it’s worth it to seek it out if you have wee ones.

Categories: Of the Month.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

“Of the Month” May 2016

Album of the Month:
tacocat_lost-time
Lost Time by Tacocat

It’s no real secret that one of my favorite genres of music is mid-late 90s female-led power pop/rock. One of my favorite all-time musicians and songwriters is Kay Hanley (of Letters to Cleo fame). Veruca Salt’s “Eight Arms to Hold You” is one of my favorite albums. So it should be really no surprise that I’m totally digging on local Seattle band Tacocat right now, seeing as how they’re basically the heir to this sound infused with a healthy dose of 90s Olympia Riot Grrrl. Their songs are catchy, catchy, catchy, with lots of interesting influences from the 60s, punk of the 70s, and of course the grunge of the 90s. Also, they’re big nerds. “Lost Time” is a reference to UFO abductions, and the first song on the album is called “Dana Katherine Skully” after the main character of The X-Files. Also, they wrote the new theme song to the Powerpuff Girls revival that’s currently airing on Cartoon Network. Nerds. Here:

Movie of the Month:
star-wars_the-force-awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Spectacular.
Wait, I didn’t do that right.

SPECTACULAR!

There, that’s better. I mean, come on. It’s so, so, so much fun.

Comic Book of the Month:
msmarvel
Ms. Marvel

G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel is a great comic book about the fun and angst of being a superhero (not to mention being a teenager, a girl, a muslim-American, and a nerd to boot). What’s so great about it is that it never gets bogged down by any one thing. It’s zippy and funny and genuine, but also really weird and cartoony and embraces all of its weirdness in a charming matter-of-fact way. The Marvel universe is full of almost-constant bizarre happenings. A Norse god disrupting your school dance isn’t really that out of the ordinary (and certainly nothing to get freaked out about). Protagonist Kamala is a refreshing bit of brightness in an all-too-often-gloomy genre. She doesn’t know exactly what she’s doing; she only knows she wants to help people. Ms. Marvel is the best comic book to come out in the last five years. This omnibus collection doesn’t come out until this Autumn, but I’m very much looking forward to it.

Categories: Of the Month.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

“Of the Month” April 2016

Album of the Month:
hella_personal_film_festival
Open Mike Eagle & Paul White: Hella Personal Film Festival

This album is ungodly catchy. Paul white’s production is astonishingly eclectic, bouncing from full-on, straight-up jazz to darker, juicy electronic beats. Mike’s vocals are as on-point as ever, full of dark comedy and wry, biting humor, liberally sprinkled with nerdy references and self-deprecation. All at once familiar and comforting (it is Mike being Mike after all) and delightfully surprising. This is BY FAR the best album of 2016, and lemme tell you: it’s gonna be a jaw-dropping shocker if anything tops it.

Here, watch this video for “Check 2 Check”

Video Game of the Month:
miitomo
Miitomo

Nintendo’s first foray into mobile gaming is almost a parody of social media. You play as your Mii (a self-designed cartoony avatar), and you answer questions it asks of you and then you get to listen to the answers your friends gave. You can comment on answers. But also by doing so you get virtual moneys that you can use to buy outfits for your Mii, and there are some minigames you can play (of the drop-your-Mii-in-a-pachinko-machine variety) for various prizes. It’s all rather charming and silly, though you can learn a surprising amount of insight into your friends based on how they answer questions!

And if you have the app, you can look at this QR code and be my frieeeeeeend!

It's me Mii!

It’s me Mii!

Movie of the Month:
Pee-wees-Big-Holiday_poster_goldposter_com_2
Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday

A new Pee-Wee movie after (almost) 30 years? Don’t go into this movie expecting a rip-roaring, laugh-a-minute redefinition of comedy. That ain’t this movie’s bag. Big Holiday is a surprisingly gentle and pleasant ride, with gentle touches of comedy that make you smile more than laugh. Everything is restrained and, well, just so darned pleasant. It just breezes by. There are some great gags, like a balloon gag towards the back third that is funny not for what is happening but for just how long it keeps happening. The greatest bits, though, are about the incredibly intense bromance that Pee-Wee strikes up with actor Joe Manganiello (playing himself), and several slow-motion dream sequences that sometimes are inexplicably in Spanish. Big Holiday is a very childlike—but not childish—movie. I enjoyed it.

Categories: Of the Month.

Friday, 4 March 2016

“Of the Month” March 2016

Stage Show of the Month:
Fools Play presents: Improv & Dragons
Fools Play Presents: Improv & Dragons

I’m in a new show this month; it’s very excite! In this new show, the Fools (including me) create improvised comedy inspired by transcripts of real Dungeons & Dragons sessions! Every fantasy trope available is skewered by the Fools. Even better, the rivalries and dynamics between players of D&D are also fodder for improvised hijinks. Fools Play Improv & Dragons performs four nights in March! Please roll a twenty-sided die and consult the following table:
• Thursday March 10 at 7:00 pm
• Thursday March 17 at 7:00 pm
• Thursday March 24 at 7:00 pm
• Thursday March 31 at 7:00 pm
Catch the show at the at Tacoma Actors Repertory Theatre (TART) In the Tacoma Armory (enter on the backside of the building, through the chain link fence) at 715 S. 11th Street Tacoma, WA 98405.

Tweeter of the Month:
kids write jokes
Kids Write Jokes

One of my favorite things in all the world is the masterful alternate logic used by very young kids when they write jokes. This twitter account compiles the best un-used kid jokes that are submitted to a joke website. They’re all real, and they’re all by kids. Some samples:

Tabletop Game of the Month:
patchwork
Patchwork

Patchwork is a two-person-only board game wherein both players are trying to create their own quilt from a communal supply of differently-shaped quilt pieces. It’s kind of like Tetris in that you have to figure out how best to build your quilt so that future pieces will fit. But since you’re both working from the same pool, there is a surprising depth of strategy. One of the few games I know where it’s not uncommon to end with negative points, but still win!

Categories: Fools Play, Of the Month.