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 […]



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: 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 […]


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 […]

This is Where I Leave You

This Is Where I Leave You

Rating (out of 5): **½ Oh the joy of a good ensemble cast. It always feels to me like they’re trying to re-create St. Elmo’s Fire or Diner or something when they get all these great, compelling actors onto the same set. Or, in this case, Parenthood. But not Parenthood. The idea is, essentially, throw a bunch of interesting people into the same room and something interesting will happen. The issue is, it tends to always be the same something. The same family drama, the same tension, the same feel of a group of people who may be terrific actors […]

Les Revenants

Les Revenants [The Returned]: Seasons 1 & 2

For those of you easily offended by subtitles, you can stop reading here. Because, folks, this show is completely and totally in French. The only English in the whole series is the name of the restaurant and pub in the weird mountainside town of which all of our characters are citizens — live and dead. The main conceit here is that this isolated town, which is built down-river from a large dam had a giant flood 30 years back, which killed a large chunk of the town. Apparently a town filled with some sketchy-ass characters who eat women’s stomachs and […]

Three Days in April

Three Days in April

I’m a bit of a non-purest when it comes to my reading habits of late. I feel like I used to only choose difficult books that looked impressive while I read them on the subway. I’m not sure if my branching-out was a result of moving to a Kindle (thus shielding me from people’s judgements), a shift in my tolerance for the non-stories of the typical post-modern novel or perhaps it was the realization that reading is supposed to be en escapist endeavor. It’s supposed to be enjoyable, not difficult. I mean, maybe sometimes. Just not all of the time. […]

The Life of Pablo

Kanye West: The Life of Pablo

Oh Kanye. You silly, silly, self-important man. Kanye is one of the few musicians I had the opportunity to interact with on a deeper level when working at Island Def Jam many years ago. At that point Kanye was merely a producer for affiliated Roc-a-fella Records, had released one single, “Through the Wire,” and was working on his first LP, The College Dropout. I was an interactive producer for the folks who built all of IDJ’s websites and as such sat on a call with Kanye as he ripped off his vision for his first site. It was pure insanity. […]


Flaked: Season 1

I’m not sure how Netflix’s marketing algorithm works. And I use algorithm as a kind of snarky and/or confused term about why some of their shows get fanfare or banner ads or even a mention on one of my many podcasts, but then shows like Flaked — a show starring one of the more out-there dude, Will Arnett, in the past handful of years — gets absolutely nothing. I didn’t even realize it was a thing until I saw it in the feature spot on my Netflix feed. I saw Will in hist shorts on what looked like a Southern […]