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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…


      

totally top three: april 2018

All I did this month was listen to music! Let’s talk about some!

The universe conspired this month and “Spell It Out” from You Me At Six’s Night People ended up on one of Crystal’s Spotify Daily Mixes and I just happened to be with her in the car while she was listening to it and it was absolute instant obsession — I think I listened to it at least a half-dozen times immediately — and the rest of the album is also pretty good. This is another band that comes up in Rock Sound’s Guess the Band and I know they’ve been around forever and apparently I should have like, looked them up sooner. Tracks to Check: “Spell It Out” & “Night People” & “Make Your Move”

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I had heard about Waterparks kind of a lot earlier this year, but had never felt particularly compelled to check them out until the video for “Blonde” ended up crossing my YouTube recommendations and it was fun enough to be intriguing. I like this album because even though it’s pretty cohesive, you also kind of don’t know what’s coming next track-to-track and I always love bands who are willing to just write the songs they want to write and go with it. Tracks to Check: “Blonde” & “Tantrum” & “Crybaby”

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You know, I’ve spent a lot of time in my life yelling wildly yelling about ~The Algorithm~ but the more I use Spotify, the more I believe it’s the only technology that truly understands me because it keeps jamming incredible songs from bands I’ve never heard of into my Discover Weekly playlist and if it did not, I would have never heard of Bear Ghost and a portion of the Ludo-shaped hole in my heart would not be filled. Blasterpiece is sooooooooooo goooooooooooood and exactly the perfect mix of fun and weird that I needed in my life. Tracks to Check: “Necromancin Dancin” & “Funkle Phil” & “All at Once”


And three to look forward to…


      

totally top three: march 2018

Reggie & the Full Effect, 41 – James Dewees is a super talented, super nice dude who makes so much music sometimes it’s hard to keep up with him. Reggie & the Full Effect is my favorite of his efforts and the albums just keep getting better. If you’ve never listened to one, you’re in for kind of a trip: he moves through a variety of genres and styles and it’s just really fun and eclectic. Tracks to Check: “Broke Down” & “Heartbreak” & “You’ve Got Secrets”

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Hanes Ecosmart fleece hoodies – If you’re in the market for a good, non-heavyweight hoodie for this dreary spring most of the US is having, I can’t recommend this one enough. They’re just nice, well-made, affordable solid color pullover hoodies that come in a nice selection of colors, hold up to washing, and are just really way more comfortable than most hoodies I’ve ever owned. (Bonus: If you’re already on Amazon buying a hoodie, you should also buy one of these kind of weird hoodie tunics which are the softest damn things on earth and come in a HUGE size range. I bought all three colors and can’t stop wearing them.)

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Everything Sucks gave me an entire Saturday of nostalgia and music I love and friendship and smart, goofy teenagers being queer and dramatic and funny and creative and loyal and fun. Crystal is the same graduating class as the freshmen on the show and I was just three years behind so it was especially surreal watching, like, my contemporaries and knowing that I would shortly be in high school, being quietly queer and slowly making a group of friends I loved with the same kind of dweeby ferocity and it’s just really refreshing to watch a story about a fairly diverse group of teenagers where everyone mostly has an okay time!


And three to look forward to…