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totally top three: october 2019

October 2019 was, without a doubt, one of the worst months of my entire life! My mom had a heart attack, heart surgery, some accompanying strokes, was in a medically induced coma for a while, and only just got home after three weeks in the hospital. She’s doing much better, thankfully, and she’s home now, but because the hospital she was in is two hours from us, it was a much more complicated and exhausting situation than even the average medical emergency we’ve experienced and I am grateful for every possible reason that it’s over. May November be kinder? Please?


I started reading this just as before my mom’s emergency started and it was an immensely welcome distraction while dealing with hospital stuff and waiting waiting waiting and also any time my brain started to spiral into thoughts I couldn’t control. I’m sure this whole series will show up on my end of year list, so I won’t say too much, but the fact that I could get lost in this, even in the midst of some of the worst days of my life and that it could offer me some substantial relief from my own thoughts is genuinely a testament to its immersive world and engaging characters.


We saw Ghost live in Minneapolis this month and OH MY GOD, what a freakin’ show! Theatrics! Goofy stage banter! Pyrotechnics! Guitar solos! Masked, ~anonymous musicians! A sinister pope playing the saxophone! A keytar! Fog! A packed audience chanting ominously to Satan! Fans in costumes! The weirdest, most random, mixed-up audience I’ve ever been part of! Drunk older women coming up to tell me how much they love my Get Bent tank top! I super recommend going to see them if you get the chance at any point, even if you don’t think it’s your thing. This show was just bonkers and I will definitely get out to the see them again as soon as humanly possible.


We’re in St. Louis right now and it’s beautiful here. I am all about this good Fall Shit and I am soaking it the hell in every second that we’re here. Fall came and went in about a week in Williston and I am sure we’ll return to frigid misery, so I will take what Missouri will give me and say thank you.


And three to look forward to…

a beautiful day in the neighborhood   last christmas   knives out

totally top three: september 2019

For the first time in almost two years, I completely spaced that these posts are a thing I do! Just absolutely blacked it out like it was redacted by the CIA, so I did part of this on my phone while Crystal drove us toward Minneapolis and the rest very, very early today! Apologies for… any remaining mess.


As I’ve probably mentioned a hundred-thousand times before, I have a LOT of trouble absorbing information aurally, so I’ve – frustratingly, tbh! – never been able to get into podcasts. But I kept seeing people talk about My Brother, My Brother, and Me and just generally excitedly recommending all of the McElroy endeavors, so I tried it out and it’s 1. hysterical, and 2. so much easier to listen to than I expected and Crystal and I have been listening to it a lot! (Well, like, one or two a week. YMMV on “a lot”. I know you people are insatiable when it comes to podcasts.) I still don’t know which one is which or whose voice belongs to who, but that’s really fine and I figure after enough time I’ll probably get it and in the meantime I laugh a lot and also extremely love listening to them laugh at each other. What finally convinced me to try listening was this animatic someone did about decorative fettucine. Perhaps it will convince you also if you don’t already listen!


A guy I follow on Instagram (He did merch at a show Crys and I went to and was extremely nice and friendly!) mentioned he was going out on tour with the KVB later this month, so I did as I almost always do when people talk about music in any capacity and went to check them out. I listened through their entire discography and was super into it! I am especially into their most recent album Only Now Forever, especially that eponymous song, “On My Skin,” and “Afterglow,” but the album as a whole is just really solid. It’s that sort of dreamy and ethereal synth pop shoegaze thing, which has been extremely my musical wheelhouse lately and I’m glad to have another discography to add to my playlist and a new “Fans Also Like” section to explore on Spotify.


Because Crystal and I have a long, long, looooong history with Supernatural and because it’s about to go into its final season, we decided to try to catch up so we could watch it in (roughly) real time as it airs. It hasn’t gone exactly to plan — we’re nine episodes into season 13 — but it has been pretty fun! I can’t say that I’ve ever thought of Supernatural as GOOD, per se, even when it was my favorite show, but it has always been a pretty okay time. The characters get both a little better and a little worse each year, but I’ve really fallen for some of the recurring characters (Rowena! Jack! Crowley, obviously! Castiel, sometimes to often!) and have really, really loved the reintroduction of Mary Winchester. If you could go back to 2006 and tell me that this goofy show I was obsessed with would get FIFTEEN SEASONS, I would have laughed in your face. What a wild ride, man.


And three to look forward to…

the addams family   stephen chbosky, imaginary friend   big mouth season 3

totally top three: august 2019

August was… below average. Here’s to September and a lurking, early fall and this stuff I managed to like despite circumstances conspiring against me.


Through whatever algorithmic magic occurred this month, I finally heard a Billie Eilish song and it was pretty good! So then I listened to When We all Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?! And that was really good! And, were I still compelled to tweet with the frequency and volume I once did, I would have tweeted ‘i finally listened to billie eilish and i enjoyed it am i young again now’ because through the alchemical magic of pop culture, I did kind of feel young! I like “bad guy” A LOT because of the dramatic tempo change (One of my musical weaknesses!) and “you should see me in a crown” is extremely good and I got pretty appropriately obsessed with “my strange addiction” and I love the unsettling opening of “all the good girls go to hell” and its echo-y chorus too. “bury a friend” is also a jam and “listen before i go” is lovely. I really like the layering and reverb and bass drop stuff here and I love that it never feels like it’s hiding either her lyrics or voice. The kids are alright.


Speaking of kids, we watched Rim of the World which was less awful than I expected from McG and actually a very good time. I love when kids get to save the world! And I love and am terrified of aliens! And these had an actually pretty interesting design that didn’t feel like I’d seen it a thousand times (Humanoid aliens are boring!) even if the CGI was lackluster. The kids in this are really funny and charming and smart, especially considering they aren’t working with the greatest script ever produced, and I really appreciated that solving problems always came down to working together and doing the thing that needed to be done, even in the face of extreme fear. It also made me extremely homesick for southern California, despite the apocalyptic alien invasion.


I joke with Crystal all the time that when I conceptually attached myself to Ryland Blackinton way back in 2008 when he was with Cobra Starship (and I made a custom shirt for our three night tour following trip that said ‘RYLAND IS GOD’ on the back…) I really hung my hat on the right guy. He works a lot and every time he shares something new he worked on, I end up loving it. The newest is Goldroom’s Everybody’s Lonely EP which is extremely good, both chill and dance-able, and so far ceaselessly repeatable. Please immediately go listen to “U” and see if you’re capable of holding still when the bass comes in. The highest compliment I can give this EP is that it somehow sounds like electronic music from every decade from the 70s on, including a few we haven’t actually lived through yet. And I’d really like to rollerskate to it.


And five to look forward to…

it: chapter 2   julian winters, how to be remy cameron   villains   shaun hamill, a cosmology of monsters   3 from hell

totally top 3: july 2019

July is over already. July! I know time gets faster as you get older because of like, relativity, but SHEESH, 2019 is just blasting by. I’m not ready for 2020. I didn’t even like typing that. Yikes.


Spider-Man: Far From Home was SO MUCH more fun than I expected it to be and also had a decent plot and satisfying emotional payoff and also Jake Gyllenhaal is… so beautiful. It’s UPSETTING, honestly. Gosh. The teenaged characters in this are also just really charming across the board and I like that they act like idiots and talk like idiots because that’s what being a teenager is like! (But you know, like if human speech had an editor, right? So it’s never TOO real because that would be… unbelievably boring. Same as adults, obviously.) The adult presence is also great (Marissa Tomei and Martin Starr in particular. And JB Smoove popping into scenes to be hilarious was also great.) and I got very emotional during Happy and Peter’s conversation on the jet. Every time I watch a Marvel movie, I assume it’ll be the one that finally makes me lose interest, but they keep being fun and easy to watch, so I just keep coming back.


Stranger Things (SPOILERS!) season three was so, so fun and satisfying and I cried,,, so much, Jesus. I cried. SO MUCH!! I cried… more than I could have ever anticipated!!! I cried at Alexei! I cried at Billy! I cried at Hopper! I cried at the entire three months later sequence!!!!!!! I just cried! I CRIED SO MUCH!!!!!!!!! It was so fun and so stressful and so funny and charming and I wanted Robin to be a lesbian SO BAD and then SHE FUCKIN’ WAS!!!!!!!!!!! And watching Joe Keery’s beautiful, talented face work through the emotions of that admission fuckin’ ruled!!!!! All of these kids are just, so much better at acting than I will ever be at… literally anything. It was also really exciting and gory and gross, which is great, and just. “It’s not my fault you don’t like girls.” !!!! MAN!! What a freakin’ EXPERIENCE!! We loved this so much that we started re-watching the series from the beginning and we almost never do that! (Sorry for all the exclamation marks and incoherency, but it’s not like you didn’t know who you were dealing with here.)


I had no freaking idea that I was going to L-O-V-E Tuca & Bertie so much. I love the theme song; I love the characters; I love the animation; I love the fucking weird-ass parameters of the universe; I love the theme song; I love the phenomenal interstitials between scenes; I love Birdie; I love Tuca; I love Speckle; I love that it’s gross and that it feels effortlessly weird; I love the theme song!! It is so fun and so funny and so wonderfully reflective of ride-or-die friendship. Also, I did NOT expect my marriage to be extremely represented on tv by heterosexual bird people, but 2019 is truly wild that way. (That argument about Speckle needing it to be his turn to freak out… HOO BOY.) This’ll be one I revisit for sure and Netflix is dumb as hell for not ordering a second season.


And five to look forward to…

scary stories to tell in the dark   katie henry, let's call it a doomsday   slipknot, we are not your kind   james brandon, ziggy, stardust, and me   where'd you go, bernadette

totally top 3: june 2019


Holy crap did I love Good Omens. I read the book in college (200…4? I think) and loved it and have spent the ensuing years recommending it to lots and lots of people. A solid adaptation FULL!! of all the queer angel-demon love I could have dreamed of. I will miss the internet obsessively fan re-casting the story every few years and I maintain that they CERTAINLY could have casted it less white-ly, but we liked it enough to almost immediately watch the entire thing a second time anyway. I thought the narrative and the dialogue did a good job pulling the funny charm from the book into a visual medium and I thought the visuals and placemaking and costuming were ultimately very cool. I also thought it did a nice job of breaking the book up into episodes, though I could have watched a thousand more minutes of Aziraphale and Crowley begrudgingly becoming friends. I will be haunted by “You go to too fast for me, Crowley” for the rest of my life and I will love it.


I didn’t know anything about Drew Magary’s The Hike before I bought it (I have probably made it clear that I don’t ever know anything about what I read before I read it and yet I cannot stop repeating myself.) and even if I had, I don’t think I could have accurately imagined the off-the-charts level of weirdness in here. The writing in this is really solid and, as previously mentioned, really reflective of the passage of time and changes in the narrator. Ben is a solid narrator, but the stars here are really the secondary characters and the general bizarre nature of the story. The willingness to lean in to the strangeness of the premise and follow through with it was really refreshing and reminded me a lot of Unicorn Store, actually, and I thought the ending was similarly satisfying.


We were able to squeeze a viewing of Rocketman into a quick trip to the cities in June and I am SO GLAD. It was so big and fun and moving — making it a big fantasy musical was brilliant and fun and so fitting for Elton John’s music — and I ended up crying like, five times which I hadn’t really expected?? Taron Egerton is so, so, sooooooo unbelievably good. He makes acting look like it’s just having feelings on camera, right there all over his beautiful face, and he really drags you through them with him in the most satisfying way. Also, I had no idea Jamie Bell was in this before he popped up on screen and I kind of yelped in the theater and terrified all of the middle-aged couples that were there with us. As always, a beautiful, talented bitch. The “Your Song” bit is so good — two extremely talented actors just meaningfully, facially emoting at each other over a song I already loved so much — and I’m just going to think about it forever and ever.


And three to look forward to…

stranger things season 3   rory power, wilder girls   spider-man: far from home