Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

I may have gone one too deep in the David Wong (aka Jason Pargin) canon. Granted, including Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, his canon numbers three. First there was John Dies at the End. That novel was fun and funny and mixed and matched post-modern and horror and comedic genres in a really great way that felt fresh and new to me. Then came the sequel, This Book is Full of Spiders. It was less funny and less fun. It wasn’t bad per se, but quite a comedown from his debut. So now, with his third novel, he’s left the “John” […]

Boronia

Hockey Dad: Boronia

There is nothing more exuberant on this planet than young Australian dudes. Hockey Dad, indeed a couple of teenagers from New South Wales, are what appear to be two skater-surfers who discovered that a simple guitar and drum setup can bring happiness to the masses (or at least the tens who have listened to this record). Granted, every single photo of them seems to contain at least one, if not both, of them flipping the bird in an almost mock-punk posture. But they are far from punk. They are more in the surf pop, fuzzy, sunny laid-back tradition of guys […]

Draught 55

Draught 55

I’ll give you two guesses what street this joint sits on. Ok, I’ll give you no guesses (and I’ll even put the address down at the bottom of this review) and just tell you that it’s in one of those kind of non-descript sections of the city that attracts dudes and ladies looking for a noon-time Thursday beer and burger and groups of said people looking for maybe some Scotch and craft brews in order to unwind at the end of the day. So not necessarily a destination to which folks come from their apartments, but rather an easy and […]

The Last of Us Remastered

The Last of Us Remastered

Look, I don’t play a lot of video games. I’m an adult with a job and a wife and some kids and some other stuff that keeps me from sitting for hours at a time shooting zombies and jumping from ledges and stuff. I’m still only three quarters of the way through Half-Life 2 on the original Xbox for god’s sake. No, I mean like I literally still have the game system hooked up from like 12 years ago and have yet to get through the thing. So it’s pretty damn amazing that I finished this game on my PS4, […]

Love: Season 1

Love: Season 1

I was admittedly digging deep in my Netflix queue in watching this one. Love is not only ungoogleable, it is so deeply entrenched in the tropes of modern cable television that it just kinda hurts. Sort of ugly, funny, but damaged guy falls in love with the beautiful, but deeply damaged, woman. Lots of awkwardness, mostly of a sexual nature (this is Judd Apatow, after all) ensues and everyone cringes and laughs uneasily as little, clearly-written-in-a-writer’s-room vignettes play out, some successfully and others feeling like retreads a few degrees off from other Apatow scenes. I’m just not sure we need […]

Stranger Things

Stranger Things: Season 1

I kept mistakingly calling this show Needful Things. That, of course, is a Stephen King novel from 1991 and a terrible film based on the book from 1993. This is Stranger Things, an awesome show about Dungeons & Dragons and a demon of hell being accidentally unleashed upon a small Indiana town by a telekinetic child.  The two have very little in common plot-wise, but there is certainly a Stephen King-esque quality to this series nevertheless. And there is even a larger Steven (with a ‘v’ and not a ‘ph’) thang that hangs over this throw-backy show in the form of […]

A Doubter's Almanac

A Doubter’s Almanac

This feels like a book that in 2001 would have been as popular as The Corrections. But given what feels like both an oversaturation of the book market with the advent of self-publishing and digital reading and whatever the hell else has gone on in the business and the attention span of the general public being whittled away to nothing greater than 140 characters, books like this just don’t get the ink they would have gotten back then. Add to that what feels like an entire generation of young people who have no interest in reading anything that they can’t read on […]

Camp Cope

Camp Cope: Camp Cope

Jesus, I just want this album on repeat in my head all day long. No, Camp Cope isn’t some horrible MTV rehab show hosted by Bob Forrest, but is instead an all-woman indie rock band from Australia. Three women to be exact, fronted by singer and songwriter, Georgia Maq. And it is her mournful, yet demanding voice that can both coo and howl that drives their incredibly 90s-sounding brand of emo pop punk folk rock. Wow, that’s a lot of adjectives to describe one album. That’s because at times they remind me of fellow Aussie, Ben Lee and then come […]

Vinyl

Vinyl

This is a show whose tagline is “He didn’t see the future. He heard it.” Thing is, after two episodes of Vinyl, we could see the show’s future, and it didn’t look so hot. That despite (or perhaps because of) some really great set design and clearly a lot of thought put into the period 1973 look of the thing. And that’s kind of where the wonder stopped. After all, music is subjective and this particular era of music is something that in this day and age of self-serve digital tunes is super-niche and really only interesting to an aging […]

Big Eyes

Big Eyes

Rating (out of 5): *½ I feel like I was a Tim Burton apologist for years. Well, not an apologist per se, but a fan, I guess. I mean, the man had a pretty incredible run starting with Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure in 1985 and arguably running through 2003’s Big Fish. I could have done without Mars Attacks!, but he really did have a good spate of films over that time. He established a very strong visual identity and playfulness that was there from the get-go. Granted, he went back to the same actors over and over again, turning Johnny Depp into […]

You Come and Go Like a Pop Song

The Bicycle Thief: You Come and Go Like a Pop Song

It feels like just about everything from 2001 that wasn’t 911 was lost to history, including this album. Not that having Bob Forrest from one of my 80s touchstones, Thelonious Monster, at the top of the ticket is exactly going to set the world on fire, but add in future Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist, John Klinghoffer and some random-ass dude from the Geraldine Fibbers and you have something that pretty much like thirty-three dudes on the planet might care about. Now that I’m reading more closely, this album originally debuted in 1999 (with the 2001 release being an updated […]

Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing

LUH: Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing

WU LYF was short-lived, but influential in my everyday life. Not because of their terrific (and only) 2011 album, Go Tell Fire to the Mountain, but because I used some sort of iPhone app to use their track, “L Y F” to create my ringtone. Now every time I get one of those awesome spam calls telling me I’m going to be turned into the IRS unless I call them back, I am reminded of that album’s awesomeness. So here comes the kind of second incarnation of that band — or at least its enigmatic lead singer, Ellery James Roberts, […]

Dos Toros

Dos Toros Taqueria – 54th & Lex

Dos Toros looks every bit the modern taqueria. From their well-hued logo to the rustic, yet modern wood thing going on with their exterior, the brand feels, essentially, like a better version of Chipotle. The thing is, in my opinion, it’s a lot of style over substance. Granted, the whole production line mentality of constructing lunch isn’t a new one, and Dos Toros sticks to this plan, but whole they have they have the look and they have the choose-a-rice, choose-a-meat, choose-your-toppings, choose-your-salsa menu down, you still have to take care to make your food taste like something. For all […]

Togetherness

Togetherness: Seasons 1 & 2

Togetherness sounds like some hippie cult or self-help book, but it’s actually an HBO dramedy by the Duplass brothers that uses the word almost as a slur or a sarcastic cudgel. Because being together can be both an amazingly satisfying experience and a suffocating nightmare. I mean, do those folks in the poster look comfortable to you? The show itself is a mixture of all of this — pretty typical white-guy Duplass stuff — with a dash of comedy (though less than you’d like or deserve) and a whole lot of uncomfortable. I vaguely remember the show Thirtysomething, but this […]

Teens of Denial

Car Seat Headrest: Teens of Denial

I know we don’t really do desert island albums since the advent of the iPod, but let’s just pretend for a sec that I could only bring 10 albums with me when I have somehow predetermined that I’m going to shipwreck on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere. I’d obviously bring In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, but beyond that and maybe one of two Pavement albums and The Monitor the picture becomes kind of fuzzy. But — and I know this is probably just me throwing a little of-the-moment-ism — this Car Seat Headrest album has made a […]

Station Eleven

Station Eleven

Station Eleven is another novel in the long pantheon of post-apocalyptic novels. Granted this one is written in a much brighter and multi-colored way than some of its former brethren. Take The Road, for instance. That shit was bleak. It was gray and hopeless and just plain depressing. But it was gripping and heart-breaking at the same time. This book, while somehow much more upbeat, skimped a little on both sides of the emotional scale. It didn’t make you want to throw yourself into a pit of broken glass and rubbing alcohol, but there wasn’t that overwhelming personal story of […]

London Spy

London Spy

The Brits just seem to love their murders. Child murders, mostly, but sometimes, like in the case of London Spy, they kill off an honest-to-goodness adult. Not to give too much away, but the titular London spy is the dude who ends up dead. Locked in a trunk in his apparent S&M attic dungeon. Surrounded by delightful sex utensils and contraptions in what his boyfriend (for lack of a better term) is discovering for the first time is his predilection for this type of lifestyle. Now I’ve confused you, so let’s back up. Our protagonist in this tale is actually […]

Testerossa

Yoni & Geti: Testarossa

Testarossa is a very specific reference for males of a certain age. So is Countach. I had posters of both on my wall as an adolescent. The Testarossa was on a planet with moons all around it. The Countach just sat there in all its black sleekness. They were cars unattainable and almost alien in their foreignness. Like those cars, this duo has an exotic and vaguely Euro-sounding name, but their music is anything but. Made up of American, Yoni Wolf, from Why? and Chicagoan, David Cohn (aka Serengeti), they form what purports to be a hip-hop group. To call […]