Posts categorized “Of the Month”

Monday, 5 December 2016

“Of the Month” December 2016

Album Of the Month:
sharonjones
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings: It’s a Holiday Soul Party

Perhaps the most accurately-named album of all time. It is a soul party. It’s got groove. From top to bottom, it is yes. Just listen to this version of “Silent Night:”

Not enough people make music like this anymore, and it’s a damned shame.

Movie of the Month:
krampus
Krampus

You think you get a heart-warming holiday movie in 2016? Nopes! You get a horror movie about the consequences of giving up on generosity and the spirit of giving. *Cough.* It’s also a pretty funny movie at times, much in the spirit of a Joe Dante film. The low budget starts to be evident once the titular villain steps out of the shadows (where he is very effective) and you get a good look at him, but this is a great & fun horror comedy.

Website of the Month:
thelifeyoucansave
The Life You Can Save

You think you can’t afford to give? Are you reading this in your own home on a computer? In front of a fully-decorated Christmas tree? Perhaps with a flat-screen, high-definition TV in the same room? Then you can afford it. Don’t be a selfish asshole this holiday season; give to strangers who need it much more than you do. And as bad as things are likely to get in this country in the next four years, keep in mind that compared to much of the world we all might as well be eating caviar off of solid gold spoons. The great thing about The Life You Can Save is that it vets charities for you to find the most effective ones where your dollar goes the farthest and does the most possible help. Just frikkin’ do it.

Categories: Of the Month.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

“Of the Month” November 2016

Movie of the Month:
the-little-prince-movie-poster
The Little Prince

A very beautiful film, and an excellent blend of different animation techniques. It tells not only (most of) the story of the original Le Petit Prince novella, but it also creates a framing story and in a weird way a sequel. A surprisingly delightful and very moving and mature story about the joys of childhood, dealing with loss, and the importance of memory.

Show of the Month:
other-space
Other Space

Imagine if some of the creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000 decided to make a wacky sci-fi sitcom, and the picture in your brain would probably look a lot like Other Space. And that’s no coincidence, since both Joel Hodgson (Joel of MST3K) and Trace Beaulieu (Crow & Dr. Forrester of MST3K) are involved in Other Space. It also has excellent comedic performances from Milana Vayntrub (best known as Lily in those AT&T commercials) and Karan Soni, best known as cabbie Dopinder from Deadpool. Other Space is about a bunch of incompetent weirdos trapped in a parallel universe. Unfortunately it is only 8 episodes long and more episodes look unlikely.

Instagrammer of the Month:
taste-of-streep
Taste of Streep

Take photos of Meryls Streep. Use uncanny skill to combine them seamlessly with photos of food. Voila: Taste of Streep. It makes me laugh a lot.

Categories: 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:

tumblr_oa9zkptdke1rpqkdto1_500
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.