Posts categorized “Of the Month”

Friday, 1 May 2015

“Of the Month” May 2015

TV Show of the Month:
daredevil
Daredevil

Hot-damn, this is how you do Daredevil. This show is dark. Dark. Horrible things happen to good people. Routinely. The heroes are mostly powerless, and lose more than they win (for the most part). The villain is a complex, developed character. Lies, betrayals, good ol’ Catholic guilt, and bloody, bloody beatings. All the performances are just spot-on, especially Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin. He’s like a gigantic tea kettle that is constantly in danger of boiling over, but at the same time is genuinely shy and uncomfortable around other people, and especially in public. Even though at times it is a grueling experience, it is an amazing show.

Album of the Month:

They Might Be Giants: Glean

They Might Be Giants have a new non-children’s album! And it’s very strong. The worst songs on this album drop only to the level of “average TMBG songs,” which still put them light-years ahead of most any other songs in existence. And the best songs are absolutely stellar. My favorite is “End of the Rope,” which has a very cool, almost-spy vibe to it and a wonderful lyric cadence. Also fantastic are “Madam, I Challenge You to A Duel” and “Hate the Villanelle” (which is actually a 100% correct villanelle, a very strict poetic form). But really all 15 songs are good stuff.

Documentary of the Month:
atarigameoverxbox
Atari: Game Over

A fascinating urban legend among nerdy circles is the tragic tale of the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial video game for the Atari 2600. A huge bomb, it was critically and commercially panned, and Atari was stuck with warehouses full of unsold cartridges. Legend says they were unceremoniously buried in a landfill in New Mexico. The whole tale is symbolic of the home video game crash of the early 1980s, which wouldn’t be rescued until the NES hit the scene. This documentary is part historical—tracing the rise-and-fall of Atari and the 2600’s place in nerd history, as well as the personal history of the programmer who actually created the E.T. video game—and part mystery. Did this landfill event actually happen? Can it be found? There is a surprising amount of build-up and suspense!

Categories: Of the Month.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

“Of the Month” April 2015

Video Game of the Month:
GoogleMpacmaps
Google Maps Pac-Man

Wha-what!? Starting yesterday, if you’re in Google Maps and you zoom in to a certain magnification, a little box appears next to the “Google Earth” box. It’s very important that you click that box. When you do, the streets you’re viewing will suddenly become overlayed with dots… ghosts will appear… and you’ll be able to play Pac-Man on those streets!

Pac-Man on Capitol Hill!

Pac-Man on Capitol Hill!


I should probably mention that this is NOT an April Fool’s Prank! This really happened!

Album of the Month:
threenisadness
Three Ninjas: The Sadness Will Last Forever

Three Ninjas releases his second full-length old-school country album, and it’s even better than the first (Alcohol & Isolation)! It’s old-timey depressing country songs about drinking and lost loves and horrible lives. There are a couple of cover songs mixed in amongst the originals, but Three Ninjas’s songwriting skills in this genre are so honed that I’d bet you wouldn’t be able to tell me which ones they are (unless you happened to have heard of them already). The music craft has been even more finely-tuned from his previous outings. I don’t wanna call it “polished” because that implies a certain slickness and dullness whereas this album has a very skillful rawness. A “realness” I guess I should say. Listen; it’s good.

TV Show of the Month:
YUAM0041
Yo Gabba Gabba!

This is my 17-month-old daughter’s favorite TV show. Sure, it’s a very-little-kids’ show, but Yo Gabba Gabba has a pedigree and a spirit that is sorely lacking from most very-little-kids’ shows. What other show in this genre has musical performances from the likes of Weezer, The Flaming Lips, Erykah Badu, Cornelius, The Shins, and The Roots (just to name a very few), most of which perform original songs written just for this show! Yo Gabba Gabba also has a wry self-awareness of its own ridiculousness that I especially appreciate, particularly with the over-the-top cheerfulness of the host, DJ Lance Rock. Watch (if you can find it) the episode co-starring Jack Black and tell me that I’m wrong. And then watch the “DJ Lance’s Super Music & Toy Room” episode and just marvel at the epic awesomeness that keeps pouring from the screen. TRUST ME.

Categories: Of the Month.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

“Of the Month” March 2015

Instagrammer of the Month:
sleevebucks
Sleevebucks

Someone takes those cardboard coffee cup sleeves that have been emblazoned with the Starbucks mermaid logo, and using just a pen or two transforms them into something completely different. It’s cute fun.

Video Game of the Month:
skyward
Skywayrd

A very addicting non-musical rhythm game for Android where you control a pair of discs that circle each other as you try to scale a randomly-generated, never-ending tower. There are various formations that you can unlock as you score more and more, and tiles that you can touch (or fail to avoid) that can change the speed, distance, and direction of the discs’ rotation to try to throw off your rhythm. Deceptively simple, and surprisingly pretty.
15 - 1 15 - 2

TV Show of the Month:
danger5
Danger 5

Do you remember Italian Spiderman? One of my very-favorite things in the last decade? Well, some idiots in Australia gave the people who made Italian Spiderman some money to make a TV show. And I love them for it. Danger 5 is a fascinating show that takes place during World War II but looks like it was filmed in the 1960s on an absurdly low budget. The plots are all ridiculous Saturday-morning plots (example: the Nazis have stolen dinosaurs from the jungle in Antarctica and surgically put crystals in their heads to remotely control them) but with an almost-disturbing level of casual violence and undercurrent of 60s-style misogyny. Like Italian Spiderman, everything about Danger 5 reeks of over-the-top ridiculousness and below-the-basement budget. And for no explicable reason the entire aesthetic of the 2nd season switches from excessive 1960s to excessive 1980s. And it is glorious. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like it’s available on DVD except from Australia, but the 1st season is on Netflix!

Categories: Of the Month.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

“Of the Month” February 2015

Musician of the Month:
iKillCameron
I Kill Cameron

Self-described as “Acoustic/Crust Pop/Folk Punk” and “folk punk on the ukulele,” I Kill Cameron is the delightfully expressive, fun, and self-aware ukulele-and-vocal music of Phoebe Zayas-Defiance. This music is earnestly humorous, and Phoebe’s expressive voice coupled with the small-scale, woman+ukulele production creates a rather personal, intimate feeling (even in the songs that feature a full back-up band) that can also get enjoyably raucous and explosive, and it’s hard not to be gladdened by the peppy ukulele. I Kill Cameron boasts song titles like “Carl Sagan Would Love Your Eyes,” “Sorry My Dairy Allergy Inconveniences You,” and “Our Love is an Arcade Game & I Just Ran Out of Quarters.” This music also makes a great spiritual counterpart to Joshua Stephens‘s style of expressive folk-punk.

Movie of the Month:
MidnightVeil
Prom Queen’s Midnight Veil

I suppose I should put “movie” in quotes like that because, even though it’s an hour long, Midnight Veil is more a loosely-connected string of music videos rather than a full-length movie. Prom Queen is a musical project of Celene “Leeni” Ramadan, and it the kind of darkly-lush 1960s music that would be perfectly at home in a David Lynch movie. In keeping with the music, these videos all painstakingly recreate the look at feel of the 1960s, from the costumes to the cars to the hair. They run the gamut of genres, from darkly gothic to sadly domestic to high-kitch SciFi. The attention to detail is uncanny, even down to the 1960s-style film stock, and the videos feature such Western Washington landmarks as Dick’s Drive-In, Gasworks Park, and XXX Root Beer in Issaquah. This is the kind of sultry music that you can drown in, and the Midnight Veil movie dovetails nicely with my well-established love of the 1960s Spy genre. Really well-done, and really enjoyable.

Don’t believe me? You can actually watch the whole thing for FREE on the YouTubes!

TV Show of the Month:
81Ci21tyhpL._SY679_
Z Nation: Season 1

I think people may overlook or dismiss this show because it was made by The Asylum and aired only on SyFy network. Maybe they think it’s just trying to cash-in on the success of The Walking Dead. But Z Nation is really its own beast, and is really unlike almost anything else I’ve seen on TV. For one thing, it’s a great deal of fun. Not for the characters, certainly; what they go through is rather hellish. But it’s all done with a wink and a nod and some very wry twists of humor that make the whole thing very enjoyable. I really appreciate how the creators of the show also seem willing to try anything. We get some inventive zombie iterations in this show, including (but not limited to) zombies coated in oil, zombies caught up in a tornado (yes, just like the sharks), radioactive zombies in a nuclear power plant, a zombie bear, a zombie high on marijuana, and that’s just to name a few. The show is also one of the only ones where there is really no sense of security for any of the characters. Z Nation goes out of its way to show that anyone can die at any time. You can’t take it too seriously at any point, but it’s just a lot of fun. Bonus: one of my friends gets eaten in episode 3!

Credit where credit is due (arrow added by me for emphasis).

Credit where credit is due (arrow added by me for emphasis).

Categories: Of the Month.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

“Of the (Half) Month” January 2015

Video Game of the Month:
CapnToad Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
A delightful action/puzzle game with an old-fashioned, block-based layout and controllable camera angles. Starring Captain Toad from the Mario Galaxy Series of games, you work your way through a series of small(ish) tableaus, collecting as much treasure as you can before snagging the star, the goal of the level. Toad can’t jump (his explorer’s backpack is too heavy). About all he can do is run around avoiding enemies and tugging stuff outta the ground (like in Super Mario Bros 2). It’s great, simple fun.

Album of the Month:
HootHootsThe Hoot Hoots: Colorpunch
The Hoot Hoots are a Seattle mainstay. They’ve opened for Julia Massey & The Jesus Rehab and vise-versa countless times. They’re good, fun, colorful rock with a playful, comedic bent. This album is some catchy, catchy schtuff.

Movie of the Month:
CAtWSotm Captain America: The Winter Soldier
A tight, tense, political thriller that somehow takes place in the same universe as Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy. Read my full review here!

Categories: Of the Month.

Monday, 1 December 2014

“Of the Month” December 2014

Link of the Month:
Amazon Wishlist
My Amazon Wish List!

That’s right! You think in this, the most wonderful time of the year, that I’d waste my one-and-only link of the month on something selfless? EFF THAT! I want you to click on this link and buy crap for me! Crass commercialism EFF-TEE-DUBYA, baby! Mwa-ha-ha-haaaaaaaa!

Holiday Special of the Month:
PnSxMas
The Paul and Storm Nondenominational Perennial Holiday Special – Part One

An animated holiday special written and performed by comedy musical duo Paul and Storm, with animation by those guys who did Homestar Runner? Hmmm… yeah, that does sound good to me. It’s a special about Cyber Monday and its surprisingly Jamaican mascot, Cyber-Mon. And the villain is a small business owner (voiced by Matt Chapman of Strong Bad fame) who does a delightful riff on the “Miser” songs from “The Year Without a Santa Claus.” What’s that? Why, yes, of course you can watch it right here:

And speaking of Paul and Storm and the holidays…

Album of the Month:
PaulNStormItMightBeChristmas
Paul and Storm: It Might Be Xmas

You see, folks, WAY back in 2009 Paul and Storm did something rather remarkable. For 8 consecutive days they released an original holiday song in the style of They Might Be Giants. And, boy howdy, did they ever nail it. These are the most TMBG-ish songs out there. You can hear specific TMBG song influences in each P&S-penned tune, and it really helps that they can do an absolutely uncanny impression of John Flansburgh. And, blessedly, they learned a thing from TMBG about keeping the songs short and sweet. They get in, state their business, and get out. It’s funny and frighteningly accurate holiday fun.

Categories: Christmas, Of the Month.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

“Of the Month” November 2014

Album of the Month:
Cover of ALITE Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount: A.L.I.T.E.
IT HASN’T EVEN COME OUT YET!!! I’ll update this more when the album is released, but I’ve heard about 90% of it and UPDATE! The Album Has Been Released! You can git it here:
http://juliamassey.bandcamp.com/album/a-l-i-t-e

It is awexome and there is a song for my daughter in it! Here is the video!

The album is being released on Saturday. JOIN ME THERE!

Video Game(s) of the Month:
Tie Fighter X-Wing & Tie Fighter
I very fondly remember back in the early/mid 1990s playing a tonne of these video games in Ryan Roullard’s mom’s basement on the MS-DOS computer down there. And now, finally, you can play them again (PC only). These two games are the best flight simulators I have ever played, and probably my favorite-ever games that take place in the Star Wars universe. There’s something weirdly fun about adjusting shields, shifting where you put your ship’s power (divert all shields to blasters now! and the like), and blasting the hell out of your enemies’ ships. The controls are natural and the 3-D radar is extremely intuitive. It feels like you’re dogfighting in the Star Wars movies.

Tabletop Game of the Month:
bw-dice Bravest Warriors Co-Operative Dice Game
A very funny game in which your team must defeat various obstacles by rolling the right combination of die. Yes, team. This is a co-operative game: either you all win (by scoring enough victory points or by using up all the event cards), or you all lose! It keeps with the spirit of the Bravest Warriors webseries by being delightfully nonsensical yet still very easy to follow. Let’s play (once I get my own set for Christmas).

Categories: Of the Month.