Sunday, December 13, 2015

Favorite Television of 2015

High Art
Mad Men

Phenomenal

Nathan For You
Rick and Morty
Broad City

Very Good
Wet Hot American Summer
Community
Inside Amy Schumer
Game of Thrones
Fargo
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Gravity Falls
Justified
Wolf Hall
Silicon Valley
Review
Portlandia

Good
Veep
Parks & Recreation
Mozart in the Jungle
Kroll Show
Homeland
Catastrophe

Recommended with Reservations
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
W/ Bob & David
The Man in the High Castle
The Mindy Project
Master of None
Difficult People
The Americans
Last Man on Earth

Intend to Start or Finish

Hannibal
Better Call Saul
You're the Worst
BoJack Horseman
Bob's Burgers
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Thanks, Scott! Now on Hulu)





Thursday, December 10, 2015

Scottcast

"Maybe that's how whales do behave," "it's easy to remember Margot Robbie in a bathtub for any number of reasons," and many more bon mots and precise insights that only Scott can provide.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Classic Pat

Last night we had a fire, hot toddies, turned on all the Christmas lights and watched Die Hard.   Having a Die Hard marathon in Scott's basement was a delicious swizzle of bizarre and enjoyable, crowned by Pat instantly knowing the answer to the mystery of Die Hard 3: Chester A. Arthur.



Be safe in Turkey, Pat!  PS are reindeer as scary as horses?



Friday, November 20, 2015

It's Zoo-Sized!

Sunday, Steph and I had a double-feature of a WashU student production of Molière's The Misanthrope, or the Cantankerous Lover and Anomalisa from Charlie Kaufman.  They fit really snugly together as portraits of how men can turn into miserable bastards, by two nearly opposite routes.    

Alceste is the protagonist-fool of The Misanthrope, a man who holds his friends and enemies up to absurd, Platonic standards, and castigates anyone who disappoints him, which is everyone.  He impotently rages against the imperfections in society with nearly identical speeches to ones I made in college.  Steph was often the audience for these screeds and thought it was pretty funny that Moliere captured that nearly 400 years ago.  In an essay, Rousseau wrote about how good the play was even if the audience should agree with Alceste.  This is a lovely bit of art criticism, in my humble opinion.





Michael Stone, the main character of Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson's stop-motion dark comedy, Anomalisa (read Scott's excellent review right now please and thank you) self-medicates his way through a boring, predictable life where everyone might as well be the same person, as far as he is concerned.  He certainly doesn't treat anyone from cabbie to wife to waitress with an ounce of warmth, until he has a breakdown and meets a woman he sees with fresh eyes, Lisa.  He is genuinely dazzled by her (while under the influence of several martinis and some prescription drugs) but in the cold light of morning, he sees flaws and commonalities in her that transform her into just another clone human.  When it is finally time for Michael to give the presentation, Kaufman reveals how he became this man apart.

Michael teaches customer service representatives how to be better at their job, which mostly involves improved ways to sell your kindness to earn your corporation an extra buck.  He advocates treating all people the same, as if they were your friend, and says smiling costs you nothing.  By treating each human with the exact same hollow kindness, he has descended into a hell where each person is just an interaction to be tolerated until finished.  Neither he or Alceste give a whit for the dynamic range of human variation and their lack of curiosity damns them to lose friends and influence no one, except as a cautionary tale.  

Both pieces were terrifically funny satires of angry men and I, prone as I am to apoplectic tirades*, sure need the reminder.  Be cool, my babies.

*sounds like an oxymoronic phrase, but these are my patented rants that start off with speechless indignation before rapidly accelerating belly-aching, like you started a car in fifth gear going downhill

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Carly>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Taylor

Carly Rae Jepsen has released 3 of my top 10 favorite songs of the year so far. 

Working with my boy Blood Orange on this one:



Try not to be happy:




This one is my favorite, it sounds like she hired M83 to produce it:


Monday, June 29, 2015

Second Quarterly

Built to Spill is the disappointment of the young year, with My Morning Jacket second.   I guess that's what I get for liking jam bands.  Gotta accept a lower batting average for the viiiiiiiiiiibe

Braids is weirdly approachable---unnerving after their previous work and because it is emo as balls.

Jamie xx's album came and did not disappoint--a sponge bath for the brain.

I haven't seen many movies these last few months.  Fury Road was the most fun I've had at the movies in years and Jurassic World felt like an alien reproduction the whole time, like there's an AP Meta narrative going on.  But when you cast BDH, you've already sort of thrown in the towel on acting.

Community ended its sixth season without its trademark zippiness.  With the extra six minutes Yahoo! affords it, we still got less laughs than the 22-minute Mr. Toad's Wild Ride of the past, but a good deal of expert pathos and character-building.   The skits at the end of each episode were often the funniest and punchiest writing. If you stopped watching, at least give the penultimate wedding episode a try.  It is the season's best-- funny, bold and Garrett.

Game of Thrones was 90% great and 10% shitty Dorne-storyline...making for their best season yet.  The Americans continued their downhill slide in Season 3 and I think I'm hopping off.  Inside Amy Schumer is pretty damn great, as was Silicon Valley.  I didn't dig Veep quite as much--Patton Oswalt continues getting weird, distracting guest parts.

Wolf Hall was mesmerizing and Thomas Cromwell was played note-perfect.  Mark Rylance deserves some serious hardware.

New on the podcast front (the only subject to which I have any expertise these days) is SPONTANEANATION with Paul F. Tompkins, which is astoundingly good long-form improv storytelling, showcasing The Notorious PFT in all his GODMODE glory and a rotating cast of brilliant improv vets.

WOMP It Up! is a spinoff podcast from Comedy Bang Bang and features the two greatest characters the show has ever created: Marissa Wompler (Jessica St. Clair) and Charlotte Listler (Lennon Parham) and it is absurdly fun.

The Adventure Zone continues to be the podcast I most look forward to and I am not ashamed.

ps Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is really good so far!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Shallow Rewards



Chris Ott is the best and most essential music and cultural critic going.  If there was any justice in the world, the New York Times would scoop him up and pay him 100K+ to set things right and put people in their place, but they're too middlebrow to stand up to their full potential stature.  As such, he works a day job and puts out a bunch of stuff on his own dime, since he cashed out of Pitchfork before it became a money-hungry caricature of itself ('05ish.)

i might have a problem

Broad Broad City Bitch!

Amy Schumer Sexually Harassed Me Once and it is My Proudest Memory

Queen

Friday, April 24, 2015

Promise me you will watch this



Seriously, wait for it.  The victim of the fro-yo incident is even better than Fey and Carlock could have cooked up.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

1st Quarterly!

2015 is doing just fine so far.  What a can-do year!  We've got two (maybe 3??? Embrace the mystery!) of the original four horsemen engaged, as well as my brother Tim. What a banner year for the young ladies of America. Lucky lasses!

Here are a bunch of tangents that would probably make an interesting curve of maths
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt is so goddamn lovable.  Titus is the greatest new character TV has seen is a few years.  There are definitely still some growing pains, and less finesse than 30 Rock by a mile, but it is worth it for the glory of Titus.



Steph and I are catching up on The Americans (recommended, not required (yet)), so I haven't caught Better Call Saul but will after the semester ends.

Saying goodbye to Parks &Rec was sad, but it was time.  Community is still fresh and forging boldly ahead, so climb back aboard and you won't be disappointed, I guarantee it.

Kroll Show was a brilliant universe and Broad City just keeps getting better.  Seriously wtf happened to Comedy Central?

Last Man on Earth has some definite promise, but is more interesting for the fully-realized world of lost humanity than the humor.

Sufjan released an incredibly heartfelt new album, Carrie & Lowell.  I admit preference for Seven Swans Sufjan Stevens, so take it with a grain, but this album is just an amazing step into the soul of a man wrestling with grief, and it captures something rare and communicates it so truly: fresh grief often feels most like a tender hollowness, like you've realized you were a paper-thin vessel all along and you can't bear anything more to be taken out of this beautiful world.  He confers this with his usual ineffable grace, and the results feel like a journey you're happy to share, like you're accompanying your friend to releases ashes from the Bridge of the Gods on a perfect June day.

We've also got nice new releases from the Decemberists, Belle & Sebastian, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie.  I love how fresh and assured all four sounded.  Perhaps none had outstanding songs you'll treasure forever, but all were akin to visiting old friends and finding them just as warm and true as ever.  Oh and Jamie xx's new album will rule all.

The Mountain Goats- Beat the Champ has moments of the truly great speed-freak story-telling of Darnielle and he's delving into a subject that he loves deeply.  But there are also detours into jazz and atonal and borderline easy-listening piano composition that seem meant to lend complexity to the inner lives of his wrestlers, but only detracts and robs them of their true weight.  He's gone to the well too often with his slow, soft delivery and it just doesn't produce the same results he achieves with velocity.  The richness of the lives of blue-collar pro wrestlers doesn't need an Instagram filter.  Its pretty and gritty and dire on its own, and he knows it better than most.  Give us the turnbuckles dive, give us the drama and trust we'll find the subtext ourselves.

Decemberists- Growing pains have subsided and we get this- a wonderfully mature album, full of the wistfulness they've always done so well but minus the distracting McSweeney's narratives.  Instrumentation back from the groggy detour to resemble the subtle brilliance of his Tarkio work.  Which, in case you've forgotten, is a very good thing.



Belle & Sebastian: Fun stuff; like the Decemberists', in that nothing is quite as theatrical or memorable as the past, but lovely to hear fresh new work from them, especially with such pulse.

Mark Ronson: very fun album with lyrics by The Michael Chabon.  Don't get turned off by the early Msytikal-tries-to-be-James-Brown fail, the rest of it is goofy-uplifting disco-funk stuff with vintage Stevie Wonder harmonica to give it an oddly reassuring historic heft. Uptown Funk is the favorite single of the year so far.

Sleater-Kinney: gosh, I wish I liked it more.  Seeing them in April, hopefully it translates better.

Haven't had the opportunity to see many movies yet (continuing education is a bitch) but I can report that Jupiter Ascending was actually great fun, and a truly disturbing allegory for our time of debt-harvesting corporations farming humanity for life-force. Wheeeee!

I'll check in again soon but let me know what I'm missing!

ps
Kyle Kinane's new standup album is great and up on Spotify now

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Goodbye Harris and Jerome

I was bummed all of yesterday after hearing Harris Wittels died.  His name may autocorrect to Witless, though he was any but! (Worst sentence I've ever written, but Harris would have liked it.)  Harris was a creative force between Parks & Rec, writing some of the best episodes, and was one of the finest real-person guests ever on Comedy Bang Bang.  He had a 3-episode arc with Adam Scott and Chelsea Peretti called "Farts and Procreation" that you absolutely should listen to.  The name is a red herring, it was a particularly inspired and antagonistic improv story he and Adam Scott invented, each trying to pull the rug out from under the other.  He had a very unique comic voice- it was slow, deliberate, unshowy, weird, and truly imaginative.  Harris was the anti-hack.  In a medium where the loudest voices often drown out their quiet counterparts, he had an amazing knack for slipping in punches.  He had seemingly no ego- he didn't need the laugh, and you couldn't shame him, so he allowed the comedy to go to deep and strange places.

He also wrote Humblebrag, which is a tremendous take-down of Twitter culture the perfect airplane or beach read.

We also lost Jerome Kersey, which super-blows.  One of the all-time great Blazers and cornerstones for our golden era team.  My first hobby and obsession was following the NBA, all because of that team.  My latent nerd devotion to detail and hero-worship came to light as I watched he, Drexler, Cliff & Co. play absurdly high-level team basketball.  I would pretend to be him in the backyard.  Jerome Kersey played beautiful basketball.  It was worth losing in '99 to the Spurs; he deserved a ring.

We also lost Kevin Duckworth recently, and that was caused a similar black-cloud.  It might have been less because I thought it was a weird anomaly, just one of those things.  I'm not really ready to start losing those guys.  They played grown-man basketball and did the city proud.  I'll never love a team more.

Steph got me a collection of those Dairy Queen Blazers' glasses from the early 90's, with the great cartoon players. They recently brought them back for the current Blazers, and I think this is the first team that really deserves them since Drexler left.  I love how these guys play, and wish I got more games.  Can't wait for the playoffs.

The first ritual that has really worked in a long time was pouring one out for Harris, Jerome and Kevin last night.  Wild turkey in the snow.  I felt so much better, instantly at peace.  I hope they are, too.

So ends the only blog post on the internet that co-mourns a niche comedian and two Trail Blazers.  Thanks for reading, it felt good to get off my chest. By the by, Portland's very own Agalloch, metal vets of nearly twenty years, make excellent Viking funeral music, if you have any ghosts you need to lay to sleep:

Monday, February 09, 2015

Favorite Singles of 2014


I'm finally fed up with the lack of scale of Top X lists, in that they don't provide the amount of space between 'finishers,' so I'm going to practice setting auction values for our fantasy league up-coming this fall.  With a budget of $200, this is how I'd go about assembling my roster of 2014's radio singles from the flooded market.


11. Paramore "Ain't It Fun" ($1) Very fun, fine power pop.

10. Calvin Harris "Summer" I'm only human. ($2)

9  FKA Twigs "Two Weeks" Love the production so much. ($3)

 8.  Sam Smith "Stay With Me" Dude can sing.  Too bad I'll be hearing it mashed-up with Tom Petty "Won't Back Down" forevermore. ($6)

7. Ariana Grande "Break Free"  I get that she's an automaton.  A damnably good one.  It is pretty refreshing to hear a girl who can actually sing after the yearly standard-lowering has brought us Demi, Selena, Katy, etc. etc. ($10)

6. Tove Lo "Habits" Steph was on this before anyone.  Queasy fun. ($12)

5. Nick Jonas "Jealous" Hate away! ($18)

4. Charli XCX "Boom Clap" Unfortunately she has to keep dumbing herself down for radio hits, but it is worth it, for her and everyone.  Dumb Charli>>>>Smart Katy ($25)

3. Jessie Ware "Say You Love Me" Really hoping she pulls off the Adele/Sam Smith Trans-Atlantic crossover.  ($35)

2.  Coldplay "A Sky Full of Stars" (William Wallace's FREEEEEEEEDOM except from GOOP.) This honestly is a strangely healing song and Martin's sappiness seems extraordinarily well-earned, at last. ($40)

1. Jessie Ware "Tough Love" Unreal. ($50)

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Favorite Podcasts of 2014

5. The Duncan Trussell Family Hour ($10)
4. The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project ($30)
3. The Adventure Zone ($45)
2. Mike and Tom Eat Snacks ($50)
1. Harmontown ($65)

/$200

While I'm at it, you should absolutely listen to Scott on the Criterion Collection's podcasts. I subscribe on Android with the Player FM app and listen at 1.5x, like I do all my podcasts, which makes Scott sound like the most eloquent cokehead you've ever met.  I've found him on these 11:

 Episodes 155153, 152151, 150, 149, 148, 147, 146, 145, 141

The newest, Port of Shadows, was a fantastic discussion that brought a ton of historical context to the film, including the phenomenal factoid that the Vichy government blamed the French defeat in WWII on this film.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Favorite Films of 2014



16. Captain America: The Winter Soldier $1
15. Life Partners $1
14. Obvious Child $1
13. Bird People $2
12. Edge of Tomorrow $3
11. X-Men: Days of Future Past $4

10. Guardians of the Galaxy $5
9. Boyhood $6
8. Blue Ruin $7
7. Listen Up Phillip $10
6. The Trip to Italy $14

5. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) $16
4. Only Lovers Left Alive $20
3. Inherent Vice $30
2. Muppets Most Wanted $38
1. Grand Budapest Hotel $42

/$200 

Addendum as always is that I don't see all that many movies and usually just try to see those I think I'll like.  I hope you've already checked it out, but if not you should visit Scott's list for an infinitely more refined and erudite list and encapsulation of the year in film.

Steph also liked Elizabeth Moss and Mark Duplass' The One I Love, but for some reason I was too restless for a movie that night.  But I enjoy Duplass and Elizabeth Moss is my favorite actor of the moment, so I know I will get to it sooner rather than later. This is Where I Leave You and Happy Christmas were disappointing.  I still want to see They Came Together with Poehler and Rudd, and was too busy for Interstellar, which I feel pretty bad about.

*I liked They Came Together.  Goofy farce with a few really great moments.  So excited for the Wet Hot American Summer  show to get started.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Favorite 2014 Comedy: Albums and Specials

Good
16. Chad Daniels- Natural Selection $1
15. Jim Gaffigan- Obsessed $1
14. Mark Normand- Still Got It $1
13. Nick Offerman- American Ham $2
12. Cameron Esposito- Same Sex Symbol $3
11. Bob Odenkirk- Amateur Hour $5

Very Good
10. Ted Alexandro- I Did It $8
9. Hannibal Buress- Live in Chicago $9
8. Nick Vatterot- For Amusement Only $10
7. Hari Kondabolu- Waiting For 2042 $11
6. Max Silvestri- King Piglet $12

Great
5. Dan St. Germain- Bad at the Good Times $17
4. Chris Gethard- My Comedy Album (seen live) $18
3. Patton Oswalt- Comedy Plus Tragedy Equals Time $19
2. Sarah Silverman- We Are Miracles $20

All-Timer
1. Chelsea Peretti- One of the Greats $63