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totally top three: september 2018

September is when I really start to become a person again (Spring and Summer are for normies. You heard me!!) and it’s been nice to watch the weather changing and decorating for the ~Falloween~ season and just generally enjoying the maybe fifteen days of truly pleasant weather I’ll get to experience until the next fifteen which occur sometime in May. Anyway! Becoming a person again generally means I become more able to watch things and enjoy them! Which is great!

I LOVED Castle Rock! I didn’t really expect to and really just went into the first episode curious (like most things) because I’d seen someone mention it on Twitter and ended up feeling really hooked in a non-manipulative way. (Nothing makes me quit shit faster than a cliffhanger!) I just wanted to know more about the characters and see that Castle Rock mythos exploited and man, did I end up enjoying it. Bill Skarsgård is… a babe. A brutal, giant-eyeballed, beautiful babe. André Holland is really good and nuanced and I have loved Melanie Lynskey since But I’m a Cheerleader and I was so excited to see lots of other people I’ve loved pop up as well. The cinematography is really beautiful and the placemaking is exceptional, making every location feel really alive and unique. Also, Sissy Spacek is fucking amazing. Really very interested in seeing where this one goes next.



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Dolly Parton & Sia’s new recording of Dolly’s “Here I Am” which they recorded for the Dumplin’ soundtrack (a book I loved and a movie I cannot wait to watch!) and which is absolutely so beautiful and tender and lovely that I can barely believe it.



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I feel like a lot of people went into Sierra Burgess Is a Loser thinking it was going to be like, super fun? Or similar to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and all I keep thinking is that none of those people were fat enough or weird enough in high school. A lot of this reflected my high school experience (and in ways I wasn’t expecting which was kind of interesting) even though I was way, way fatter than Sierra Burgess. She’s preemptively cruel in ways that I recognized and leans into her weirdness in a way that felt really true. But I also think people who didn’t think it was fun are wrong! Her friendship and exchanges with Daniel are fantastic and some of the brutal awkwardness let itself veer hard into the comedy of the moment which is always a great relief. It felt like an 80s movie with technology in a lot of great ways. And! It had my favorite trope of teachers calling out their asshole students in ways that both other students and teachers would probably kill to have happen in real life. Frankly, if you weren’t fat and bullied in high school, I don’t know that I’m particularly interested in your opinion of it anyway. Also, people forgive male characters for way worse deeds, so maybe let’s examine what’s going on there while we’re at it?


And three to look forward to…


      

totally top three: august 2018

August was okay! We did a lot of driving and watched some live music and saw Lake Michigan! It smelled bad and made me homesick for the Pacific Ocean!

Crystal opened Netflix and put on Adventures in Public School one night while I was being difficult about picking something to watch (This is not unusual. I am a difficult person and apparently no longer have an appetite for like, any TV or movies at all. It sucks.) and I was EXTREMELY skeptical as it started, but I’ve been in love with Judy Greer since I was like 13 and saw her in Jawbreaker so I got interested and then Daniel Doheny is so freaking charming that I was hooked. This has a pretty weird premise and I liked the space that gave the story to do some weird stuff with characters and their behavior. (There’s a text conversation at one point that I laughed at so hard I had to pause.) It was just very fun and sweet and charming. And it also has a very cute ending!



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I’ve been struggling with attention and interest lately, not really wanting to watch or read anything, and it’s making me vaguely miserable, mostly because watching and reading shit have always been my favorite things in the entire world and feeling like I just cannot do them feels like being stripped of a big chunk of my life. To fill the spaces where I don’t want to just sit with my thoughts (Which is… never. I never want to just sit with my thoughts. There are too many of them and most of them are very stupid.) I’ve been putting on something soothing (Usually a YouTube video of someone cleaning their house because being alive in 2018 is honestly dumb.) and then I play Disney Emoji Blitz. I’m not a game person really (I am not competitive and don’t really have the fortitude to fake it.) but the easy rhythm of flicking cute little Disney character emojis into groups over and over again is mindless and some days, just about the only thing I can handle. 2018, man.



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We watched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before almost as soon as people started talking about it on Twitter because we love romantic comedies! And because we want to support stories that center POC! And because the couple of gifs I saw seemed super cute! And the whole thing! Was! So! Cute! Lots of characters who are very likable and gentle and funny and like, good human beings! And funny dialogue and charming flirtations and very good chemistry and just a nice, well-rounded, well-paced romance! I had read one of Jenny Han’s other book series (The Summer I Turned Pretty) and had disliked it so much that I felt very hesitant about this, but whether it’s just a series I would like or if the translation to screen made it better, it was super fun and charming and I’m so glad we watched! And I can’t wait for the sequel where Lara Jean and Peter’s respective dad and mom get married and they reunite at the wedding after a rough (Only because of a misunderstanding!) break-up. Thanks, Netlfix!


And three to look forward to…


      

totally top three: july 2018

July was kind of a weird month for me with lots of going and doing and very little time to chill and take in new things. I barely even made time to read, which is the easiest thing to make time for in my life! But I still liked some stuff!

Pray for the Wicked is so, so, so good and I wasn’t really expecting it, even though I was excited to hear it. (I’m a firm believer that life is best lived with low expectations! Disappointment is worse than surprise! Don’t be cynical, be chill!) It’s a nice follow-up to Death of a Bachelor and the songs were amazing live. I won’t say too much since I’m pretty sure this one will end up on my year-end list, but what an album of jamz, man. Tracks to Check: “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” & “Roaring 20s” & “Dying in LA”



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It took me a while to read Rebecca Stead’s First Light but thankfully that isn’t the book’s fault, I’ve just been terrible at follow-through this year. This was a conceptually great story with characters it was easy to care about and follow, even in the more high-concept side of the story. As I said in my review, I’m not a scifi/fantasy person generally, but I would definitely read more of this universe, which I think is a great sign.



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Crystal and I have dedicated our summer (and our October…) to live music because we have missed it so, so much since we moved to the middle of nowhere. We saw The Used in May which was an excellent show in an incredible venue and in July we saw Panic! at the Disco and Coheed and Cambria, both in Minneapolis in wildly different venues. Coheed and Cambria were spectacular even 11 years after I saw them the last time, with an incredible stage setup and lighting package, and Claudio Sanchez’s absolutely mesmerizing… everything. It was a big, awesome show put on by really talented musicians for fans who were so extremely into it and I’m so glad we went.

We bought the Panic tickets on a whim and it was ABSOLUTELY the best thing we’ve done so far this year. (We actually ended up not going to Warped Tour because we’re old, which I do not regret at all which I was worried about, so that’s good.) It was SUCH an unbelievably good show with great sound and some of the most spectacular showmanship I’ve ever seen. Fire and sparkles and lasers and smoke and a flying piano and Brendon Urie’s golden voice, which he likes to show off as much as possible to the audience’s very vocal delight. We danced and sang along for TWO ENTIRE HOURS, twenty-eight songs, which is just absolutely insane to imagine doing night after night. What a damn show. We’ve got more live music to come before winter sets in (KNOCK ON WOOD FINGERS CROSSED) and I can’t wait!


And three to look forward to…


      


Panic! at the Disco photo is by Jake Chamseddine & technically Crystal and I are both in it!

totally top three: june 2018

Everything is so, so awful, so I escaped into gay love stories this month! Coping methods are what they are, man. (Also, queer joy is radical.)

Netflix’s Alex Strangelove was very charming and very sweet and pretty funny with likable characters that I super enjoyed spending time with. I was a little bored with the root of Alex’s repression (and repression in general, some people don’t figure it out ’til later on and that’s FINE, it doesn’t always have to be about trauma) but overall this was a really fun, really joyful gay romcom. Daniel Doheny was very good and I loved seeing Jesse James Keitel’s character Sidney be really unapologetically visible in the face of Dell’s dumb straight boy ranting. Fun and sweet!



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I had been very eagerly awaiting Love, Simon since I read the book way back when and had loved it pretty thoroughly and I think it translated really well to screen and was a fun, sweet watch. It was lovely to see so many characters of color and teenagers just being teenagers and also to see dumb, shitty bullies get told off and punished by an adult in a really satisfying way. Everyone was really great in this — I particularly loved the parents and teachers — and I was particularly impressed with Clark Moore’s Ethan who, in a movie made even five years ago, would have been a one-note joke.



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Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World was a gift from the Amazon algorithm, recommended to me based on the probably pretty high volume of queer books I both peruse and buy. I really liked the writing in this one and Stephen’s inner monologue and the secondary characters we get to spend time with. I also especially liked seeing it take place in an semi-unfamiliar place and time, the 80s in Nova Scotia, and the fact that it is a real coming-of-age story, following Stephen for a good long while. This one is less happy than the the stories I tend to love (and beware if you’re particularly sensitive to violence) but it is really hopeful and kinder than a lot of books set in similar times and places. It reminded me some of Marie Sexton’s Trailer Trash, which I loved a LOT, so now I’ll probably think of them as a little gay small town 80s American-Canadian set.


And three to look forward to…


      

totally top three: may 2018

I laughed a lot this month, let’s talk about it!

I was really, really excited about John Mulaney’s new Netflix special Kid Gorgeous at Radio City and that’s usually a bad omen for me because being excited about something often leads me to having accidentally high expectations and I do not handle having expectations well at all. But Mulaney totally delivered and I laughed a lot a lot and was just generally delighted. It also has the most beautiful stage setup I have ever seen for a stand-up set and I’d kind of just like to stare at it a lot forever which is sort of weird, but great.



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Crystal and I caught up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Speechless this month and they’re just such good, funny, smart, charming shows that I kind of get overwhelmed by them both. It’s nice to watch sitcoms that are consistently funny and don’t waste their time or energy on jokes that punch down. I’m also super glad that both are coming back next year!



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Ali Wong’s new special Hard Knock Wife is so so so soooooo funny. Her jokes are great and really well-paced, but what really sets her apart is her delivery. She says things in ways that I never expect and she commits 1000% to everything she does and it all made me laugh so hard that my stomach hurt afterward. I also love that no matter how outlandish or “gross” her jokes might get, they never feel like she’s trying to be ~edgy or outrageous; it feels like she’s talking to you the way she’d joke around with her friends and that makes the show feel really special.


And three to look forward to…