YouTube Show of the Month: Co-Optitude
In their new YouTube show, Felicia Day and her brother Ryon try to play two-player, co-op video games. I say try because this show truly shows one of the greatest joys of playing co-op video games: completely screwing with the person you’re supposed to be helping. There is so much joyous profanity and accidental friendly fire in these episodes. They make me laugh quite an incredible lot. Plus the fact that they’re siblings makes Felicia’s and Ryon’s interactions just that much more hilariously bickering. Here’s my favorite episode so far, where they try desperately to play the “Goof Troop” video game:
Album of the Month: Superior Complaints by Locust Street Taxi
The latest album from our very own Orange Fool Nathan Geyer’s band! As usual it is full of quirky, funny, ska/jazz/funk/reggae/country-infused songs. This time they did a very careful job of partnering with some excellent producers and technicians, and so the production quality is through the roof. It sounds quite amazing. My favorite tracks include the brassy, swinging “Dear Carbon Nanotubes”; the straight-up reggae of “Midnight Snack (in Africa)”; and the frighteningly-accurate late-1980s R&B tribute “Swantown Inn” (complete with bonus rap interlude).
Game of the Month: Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards
A funny competitive card game wherein you try to make spells by combining the various spell-component cards in your hands to comedic and damaging effects. The titles of the spells end up often being squarely in the potty-humor realm, and the illustrations are of the gross-out variety a-la Ren & Stimpy et al. It’s completely juvenile, but it is a lot of fun, especially when you’ve got five or six people playing simultaneously. A game lasts until only one wizard hasn’t been killed, but an ingenious play mechanic lets the “dead” characters draw cards from a special “dead wizard deck” each round until the current game ends, and then use those cards in the next game. Sometimes they’re very useful! It is fast-paced and ridiculous, and I thoroughly enjoy playing it.
Album of the Month: Nanobots by They Might Be Giants
Still as prolific as ever, They Might Be Giants have put out another “adult” album. This one has one of the strongest starts of any album; the series of the first nine songs is absolutely top-notch. That might seem like a lot of songs; many albums only have 10-12 songs total. This is They Might Be Giants, though, so there are actually about 25 songs on the album. The middle section flounders a bit, with a series of short songs that aren’t quite self-contained, but aren’t quite in the “Fingertips” style. The final stretch is much stronger, with songs like “Replicants” and “Icky.” It’s one of the better “adult” efforts by TMBG in the 21st Century.
Movie of the Month: Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of James Bond
A fascinating documentary that chronicles the behind-the-scenes, making-of antics of the James Bond series, including Ian Fleming himself, Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, the undying specter of Kevin McClory, George Lazenby’s insane meltdown, the bizarre twist that kept Pierce Brosnan from becoming Bond for almost 10 years, and much more. This documentary has a trick of inserting footage from the Bond films when talking about real-world events. For example, when talking about the lawyers getting involved in the Broccoli/Saltzman turmoil it intercuts with Bond footage of various boardroom meetings and people passing papers around. It’s a very clever technique. I knew most of the information contained in this documentary already, but seeing it all in one place in chronological order is a treat. Plus, this has perhaps the greatest opening of any Bond movie ever: the six-gun sniper shot. So badass. You’ll see.
Link of the Month: michaelkeaton.net
This site is NOT run by Michael Keaton. It is by the creator of Pictures for Sad Children, and is a weird and surreal comic with interspersed “found footage” videos. It is frikkin’ hilarious, and of very dubious legality.
Album of the Month: On High by Gavin Guss
Gavin Guss continues his mastery of bubblegum/power pop/rock with On High which was released back in 2012 but I’m just now getting to. Catchy as hell in a very relaxed way, these are songs with hooks that seem just effortlessly put together. Guss’s music has a certain sense of inevitability about it; of course it sounds this way, because this is the way it sounds the best and most natural. Not terribly surprising or ground-breaking, but damned if I don’t want to just keep on listening to it.
TV Show of the Month: Get A Life: The Complete Series
This show, much like Twin Peaks, makes me really wonder how the hell it ever got on the air. It is an incredibly weird, mean, and hilarious parody of the traditional TV sitcom. It’s about Chris Elliott, an unapologetic and unsympathetic man-child who still lives with his parents (his father is played by his actual father). Bizarre and surreal adventures ensue, and Chris actually dies at the end of 12 of the episodes. And somehow this completely off-the-wall show got 2 seasons under its belt! I love it, and it has finally been released on DVD. As it actually says on the back of the DVD box, “It’s like a nightmare come true!”
Link of the Month: Bandcamp Fan Pages
Bandcamp is already the best place for musicians to sell their music online. Now they have done something that is so unbelievably cool that it makes it the best place for you to buy music online as well. Now when you setup a Bandcamp Fan Page and then purchase any music on the site, that song/album gets added to the collection on your page. Not only that, but you get added to the pages of artists and albums that you’ve purchased as a supporter! You can follow your friends’ collections, and look at people who have similar collections to find new music that you might also like. It’s a fascinating philosophy that actually incentivises people to pay for music so they can show it off as part of their collection and be shown off as a supporter. You can read more on the Bandcamp Blog. And you can find me and my collection here: bandcamp.com/saucecore
Album of the Month: The Glass Notes: As the Building Crumbles
The Glass Notes is the latest band to be fronted by Seattle music mainstay Robb Benson (of Dear John Letters, Dept. of Energy, and Nevada Bachelors). And this one rocks. The Glass Notes is a foursome that creates very earnest, fun, straight-ahead rock music. It’s catchy as hell and features things like vocal harmonies and actual, honest-to-god guitar solos. There’s something endearingly old-fashioned but at the same time refreshingly original about the sound. I dig it. So can you!
Streaming Radio of the Month: Jet City Stream
This is a streaming radio station that plays only local music. From Bellingham down to Olympia and back up the other side of the Puget Sound. But they don’t just play current music; they play the whole recorded history of the area, and any and all genres, from The Sonics to Blue Scholars to Neko Case. It’s run by a former bigwig of “The End” and a former bigwig of “The Mountain.” Their website is slick and professional and easily-navigable, and their stream is robust and clean. It’s fun to hear all these songs that you know and realize just how much great music came out of the area, much more than just the grunge years (though they also of course are featured). And also to hear people I know pop up on the stream periodically! I highly encourage all of my musical friends to head to the station (it’s run out of the old Rainier Beer building in Seattle) and submit your musics! Dominate this stream! Also, here’s a news story about it by KOMO news, featuring The Glass Notes!
Tweeter of the Month: Rob Delaney @robdelaney
A comedian who had a banner 2012 and became more famous for his twitwit than his comedy routines. His tweets about the 2012 election got more hits than those from the candidates themselves. I especially enjoy the personas he takes on, like the “Cool Dad” and the “420NO” anti-pot activist:
#Teens: Hitting a pot pipe tonight won’t get you “high.” It’ll put you 6 feet under. #420NO
Album of the Month: Five Letters from Far Away by Julia Massey & The Five Finger Discount
The third full-length album from JM+FFD is another stunner, full of some of their most epically spacey songs yet, and some of their most rockin’. It is going to be released this Friday 1/4/13. Wait… if it hasn’t been released yet, how can it by my Album of the Month? Because I was given a PREVIEW COPY last week! That’s right, I got my grubby mittens on the album before it was released to the general public. And Carrie & I have been listening to it basically non-stop. You can listen to a 5-song preview yourself at the JM+FFD Bandcamp site, but you’re gonna hafta wait until Friday before you can get it for reals. And it is worth the wait.
Game of the Month: Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d you steal our garbage?!!
Even putting aside that this is perhaps the greatest title of a video game ever, this is a very funny game. It seemed somehow familiar to me, too, but I couldn’t put my finger on it for a little while. Then it hit me: the gameplay is based heavily on Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link! The story was plotted by Pendleton Ward (creator of Adventure Time) himself, and some of the dialogue is a hoot; there is a section where you’re trying to locate Princess Bubblegum’s missing pantyhose, and you talk to a marshmallow kid who then goes on and on through several screens of dialogue about how disturbing it is that you’re talking to a kid about pantyhose and now he’s gonna grow up crazy because of it. Also, Finn calls pantyhose “gam buckets” at one point.
Link of the Month: My Wish List
‘Tis the season to give me lots of presents! #shameless
Album of the Month: One Christmas At a Time by Jonathan Coulton & John Roderick
Jonathan Coulton (of Jonathan Coulton fame) and John Roderick (of The Long Winters fame) set out to collaborate on an album of traditional Christmas albums. They quickly found this boring, and were more entertained by the jokes they were coming up with than the traditional songs. So they made those jokes into all-new Christmas songs and recorded them instead. The results is a delightfully daffy while still very mucially polished collection of songs about relatives ruining Christmas and wanting an Atari 2600. There’s a very accurate, old-school country song about Christmas in jail (it reminds me a lot of a Three Ninjas song) and an hilarious song about the dangers of celebrating Christmas based on past experiences, or projecting the current Christmas into next year’s. Very funny and very catchy stuff. Get it!
Movie of the Month: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
An unconventional Christmas movie, Rare Exports is an extremely straight-faced parody of arctic monster movies (like John Carpenter’s The Thing). Some wealthy American is digging up a mountain in Lapland because he’s certain that it is actually the world’s biggest burial mound. A young boy in the nearby village does some research and comes up with a theory about what (or who) is buried there that turns out to be surprisingly accurate. The results are darkly comedic, with a surprising third-act reveal, and the epilogue is delightful (and explains why the film is called Rare Exports).
Link of the Month: Broodhollow
The creator of the now-ended SciFi webcomic Starslip (aka Starslip Crisis, aka Starshift Crisis) and current purveyor of Chainsawsuit has just started up a Cthuhlu-style webcomic. It’s in its early stages; only a handful of strips have been published so far, so it’s easy to go back and read from the beginning. I’m curious as to what is gonna happen.
Game of the Month: Pocket Planes
From the makers of Tiny Tower come Pocket Planes, another bullshit economic simulator of the kind I can’t seem to resist. This one is more complicated and therefore more intellectually stimulating than Tiny Tower, but isn’t nearly as goofy or cute. A fair trade-off. My only complaint is an arbitrary Experience Point cap on the number of airports you can have open at any one time. It seems weird; if I have enough money, why do I have to wait to XP up before I can open another airport?
TV Show of the Month: Eureka: Season Five
The final season of a rather uneven but almost always entertaining show on the SyFy network was easily one of its best. The limited number of episodes forced the show to focus and distill its own essence. It still contains some of the worst bullshit science this side of the original Star Trek, but its goofy fun is infectious. Plus Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day both play prominent roles throughout the season and they’re just a hoot.