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totally top three: october 2018

October has been a MONTH, man. Since the end of it is going to be a mess, I started this on the 10th and am now finishing it on November 2nd. 2018 is really blasting by, isn’t it? I’m exhausted.

Crystal and I saw Fall Out Boy live twice this month and the shows were honestly spectacular. We saw them together in November 2007 and then for a variety of reasons (none having anything to do with Fall Out Boy, to be honest, just L I F E) hadn’t seen them again and it was really weird and interesting and exciting to see what ten years can do for a band. We had so much fun it was kind of unbelievable and I came out loving a couple songs that I was sort of meh about previously. (You cannot watch Patrick Stump jam out while doing “American Beauty/American Psycho” and not come out obsessed with it.) I love live music so much, it’s hard to articulate. It was so important to me for so many years and I took my access to it so extremely for granted. These last few months of shows have been massively revitalizing to me and I hope we can do it again soon.



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I hate brushing my teeth! This is literally a thing I have struggled with my entire life. As an adult, I am lucky to 1. know that it’s partially a sensory issue, and 2. have a very good dentist & hygienist who help me take care of my teeth, but also, I just want to be better about it! Generally, if I can get myself started, I can brush fine, but it can be hard to make myself do it twice every single day. (I read that the optimal number is actually three times in two days, but dentists say twice a day because it’s easier and humans are big dumb forgetful animals.) I figured the best thing I could do to improve on it (after YEARS of trying to make myself a twice every day person) was to make sure I was always brushing for two minutes every time I brush. I have a Sonicare which I like a lot AND has a timer, but also can’t handle using every time I brush my teeth (GOD WHO KNEW YOU COULD HAVE SO MANY PROBLEMS WITH SUCH A SIMPLE LIFE FUNCTION) so I bought myself a timer in hopes that it would inspire me to brush for the full two minutes! And when I found one that looks like a rocket, I knew it was meant to be. And you know what? Two minutes is a LONG time. But staring at a lil rocket helps.



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Grady Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism was such a good, fun, creepy read with a really wonderful core of friendship and love. It reminded me of my favorite kind of campy 80s horror movies and also my favorite stories about loyalty. It has a great cast of characters, makes good use of pop culture (without being annoying or feeling phony), and an ending that made me tear up. And definitely a great read for spooky season!


And three to look forward to…


      

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…