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totally top five 2018: the other stuff

I started this post the same way I start most of them: with too many words and a lot of unnecessary information, but I got tired about halfway through because it’s been a hard month and enthusiasm meter is on E. And that bummed me out! Because I consider myself an enthusiast and I don’t like when that’s taken from me!

So instead of dwelling or letting this post feel like a chore, I’m going to make it (kind of) short on words and (pretty) long on stuff.


crys & ash at panic in mpls being rained on with confetti ash screaming while being rained on by panic! at the disco confetti
ash and crys with the members of ludo


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totally top five 2k18: listening

2018 really reignited my fire for finding new music to listen to and also reinvigorated my interest in bands who I already liked who also happened to have new albums being released. It also sent Crystal and I all over the Midwest to revisit our first true love live music, which was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

Anyway! Again, in no particular order:


Fall Out Boy’s Mania is really, really great and one of my most listened albums (and my most listened artist according to Spotify) of 2018. I like that Fall Out Boy has never seemed afraid to just write the songs they want to write regardless of what’s expected of them and that they keep producing music that is both really enjoyable and also meaningful and moving, regardless of whether you fall into their target demographic. They also continue to grow as musicians; they put on a hell of a live show. (We went twice! I cried! There was a lot of pyro!) and I can’t wait to see what they do next. Favorites: “Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea” (Patrick Stump sing-yelling “résistance” is… life-changing.) & “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T” & “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)” & “Church” & “Heaven’s Gate” & “Champion” (Which makes me cry more often than I should admit.) & Okay, stopping because I’m going to end up listing the entire album.


Don Broco’s Technology is another album I fell for early on in 2018 and while I tapered off on my listening, it’s one I kept coming back to again when I thought about music I had really loved last year. A solid, well-produced, well-performed alt rock/post-hardcore effort that sounds best while blared loudly in a car with the windows down. There is some really memorable guitar work on this album that gets stuck in my head and some nice synth work that plays complement better than I would have expected. They’re also the first band to get me to buy Warped Tour tickets. We ended up giving them away, but we did buy them! Also, they make real weird music videos. Favorites: “T-Shirt Song” & “Come Out to LA” & “Pretty” & “Everybody” & “¥” & Something to Drink” & “Blood in the Water”


Reggie and the Full Effect’s 41 is so, so, so good and it’s killing me that I haven’t seen James Dewees touring on it yet because the show I went to in 2009 is still one of the best and most fun I’ve ever seen. Reggie’s albums are always sort of a stylistic adventure and I think 41 is probably the most cohesive yet. It feels like an album made for adults who still have feelings and if I’ve had a favorite emotional breakdown while rolling around on the floor in front of my turntable, it would definitely be the one I had to this album. Also, like all Reggie albums, it’s also dance-y as hell. Also-also, “Your drywall skills are fucking aces / Not even elective / You smell bullshit from twenty paces/ Skills so damn effective” has got to be one of the most specifically complimentary lines I’ve ever heard in a song. Favorites: Broke Down” & “Heartbreak” & “Karate School” & “The Horrible Year” & “Maggie” & “Off Delaware”


I found Dead!’s The Golden Age of Not Even Trying very early on in 2018 through a mix of The Algorithm and also seeing a random comment on Instagram saying that if we were missing My Chemical Romance (Am I ever not?) this would be a good listen and both the album and that random Instagram commenter were right! (The Algorithm knows me. I am one with The Algorithm.) This is another solid alt rock effort with some really great, punchy guitar and K-I-L-L-E-R bass work and some really clever, lovely lyrics — I am extremely partial to “Are you always this extroverted? / I’d like to ask if I could learn it / If you’ve got knuckles to drag / Then I’ve got bones to sweep / Any port in a storm / Can you hear me?” and I think about it A LOT. Favorites: “The Golden Age of Not Even Trying” & “Jessica” & “Off White Paint” & “You’re So Cheap” & “W9” & “Any Port” & Youth Screams & Fades”


I had sort of… forgotten that Panic! at the Disco was still making music until the Spotify algorithm shoved “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time” at me in late 2017 and I got re-interested and also dragged Crystal into it, kicking and screaming that she still loved Ryan Ross too much to listen to the new stuff. Pray for the Wicked is sooooooooo good. And so bright and clever and dance-y and FUN. Brendon Urie’s voice is a gift. And I am so glad that I dragged Crystal into it and she impulse bought us floor seats for the first leg of the tour because, wow. W-O-W. What a damn show. The album is a great whole and also great picked out song by song and I wish I was rich enough to just follow Panic’s tour around the world for the rest of my life. Also, I don’t know how I lived without the the delivery of “dying” in the third and fourth “when you’re dying in LA” in the chorus of “Dying in LA” for 33 entire years. Favorites: “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” & “High Hopes” & “Roaring 20s” & “Dancing’s Not a Crime” & “King of the Clouds” & “Dying in LA”


Honorable Mentions

bear ghost, blasterpiece   waterparks, entertainment   phantom thread score

ohhms, the fool   royal blood, how did we get so dark?   ghost, prequelle


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totally top five 2018: reading

I made it another year reviewing all the books I read on Goodreads! Maybe this year I’ll 1. get better at reviewing and 2. read more dang books?!

And now in no particular order!


Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End ripped my heart out in all the best ways. It has a simple, genius concept that’s executed clearly without lengthy dragging explanations. It drops the reader in and expects them to accept the world as-is and then makes them fall in love with rich, engaging, charming characters and get attached to them, all the while knowing exactly how the story is going to end. Despite yelling the title at myself every time I felt even a tiny little glow of hope in my ribs, I was still absolutely devastated in the end and loved every second of it.


Janet E. Cameron’s Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World is a coming-of-age story that stays with its protagonist a lot longer than most, which I found both refreshing and really satisfying. I like the way time and place shape the story and that Stephen is struggling with more than one aspect of his identity. I like that even though it reaches extremely dark places, it never feels hopeless or like it’s enjoying the character’s suffering. There’s stronger writing here than I was expecting and some places where I knew the words would stick around for a long time. Really lovely.


Grady Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism seemed like a fun, throwback book when I bought it, but it ended up being a lot more: scary and creepy and immersive and frustrating (I hate when you’re in the head of a character that other people don’t believe! It makes me furious and it was executed SO WELL here.) and also really lovely and moving and sweet. The heart of this book is a deep, living friendship between two girls and even with a great plot and pitch-perfect pop cultural references (that never feel cheap!) that friendship is what carries the story each step of the way. There’s some really great, grotesque imagery in here and I loved the multimedia elements, but most of all I loved that it had a really satisfying ending that never lost sight of the girls at its center.


S.J. Goslee’s Whatever was super, super fun and charming and smart and funny and had tons of great, teenager-y dialogue and goofy, teenager-y shenanigans to really get absorbed in. Also there is really fun, charming, awkward flirting! And characters who really like each other! And have interesting voices! All of the characters here are really engaging and the story as a whole is really what I most enjoy when reading YA, my most frequent genre of choice: teenagers who are figuring shit out, navigating rough spots, and still having a pretty good time.


K. Ancrum’s The Wicker King wins the award for Book That Made Me Yell At My Wife the Most because she hasn’t read it yet, but also won’t let me talk to her about it because she doesn’t want to be spoiled and I want, SO BADLY, to talk about it! This book is so freaking beautiful and dense and interesting and painful and god, I don’t know how to articulate it. I love the characters and the weirdness and the relationships and the imagery and the visual components and the really intense, almost brutal relationship at the center of it. This book was so unpredictable and unexpected for me. Also, it has one of the best author’s notes I’ve ever read. I feel like stumbling across this book at Wild Rumpus while being mildly intimidated by a free-roaming fluffy chicken was a tiny little moment of magic in 2018 and I am so grateful for it.


Honorable Mentions

natasha washington, calling calling calling me   carrie fisher, the princess diarist   simon james green, noah can't even


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totally top five 2018: watching

After talking about my favorite stuff all year, it’s finally time to round it all up, so here we go!

In no particular order!


Big Mouth made me laugh more than probably anything I’ve watched in a long time. I think it’s so good at being gross and funny and relatable and I stand by the assertion that like, okay, maybe kids shouldn’t watch it, but kids should definitely watch it. I can’t imagine how much less messed up I would be if I’d had something like this as a youth. But also, it’s just funny. And the voice acting is great. And I really love the stylized characters and especially the hormone monsters! Both seasons are great and it manages to never really feel mean, despite it being about the absolutely cruelest age.


One Day at a Time wins the award for show that made me feel the best about being alive in 2018. These are wonderful, realistic, relatable, gentle characters who grow and learn and change, who are brave and funny and well-developed. It’s a show about a contemporary family that doesn’t feel too real, but also never feels phony. I love these characters so so much and I am so glad it’s coming back for another season.


Hereditary got a lot of hype around its release and it made me nervous to watch because that usually just leads to disappointment, but this time it didn’t! This was a great watch with lots of rich details and brutal, but not excessive gore (I spent most of my life as a big horror movie person, so your mileage may vary there.) and a genuinely compelling narrative at its center. Everyone in this is VERY good, but Toni Collette is BEYOND good. SO much of the movie is carried on her acting that it’s kind of hard to believe that it works all the way to the credits. This is definitely a horror movie, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a scary movie. There are a couple of great jump scares, but it’s really a dark story about family that still manages to pay off as horror. It’s also WEIRD AS HELL, which is something I wish we all got more of in movies.


I LOVE The Good Place so so so so so so much. It’s the only show we keep up with (Until Brooklyn Nine-Nine starts up tomorrow!) and it’s just so good and so funny and fun and charming and GOOD. Characters who grow and change and learn and develop as the world around them is constantly shifting and throwing away everything they think they know or understand. I like every character, even the bad guys, and I can’t get over Manny Jacinto’s absolutely sculpted from marble beautiful face delivering some of the fucking funniest lines I’ve ever heard on tv. He is somehow the clown and the straight man? It’s magic. The whole show is magic, really, and I am so glad I got into it this year!


I watched Castle Rock on a complete whim and ended up loving it sooooooo much. Gorgeous cinematography, like a million actors that I love, Sissy Spacek!, Bill Skarsgård’s brutal, beautiful face and his impossibly skillful and subtle emoting, André Holland’s pitch-perfect brilliance, and a wonderful, weird, fun intertwining story with unexpected twists that pan out in unexpected and continually interesting ways. I cannot wait to see more of this universe, especially with the word that they’re planning a more anthological series which will cross back with characters we already know.


Honorable Mentions

      


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totally top five 2k17: stuff & things

We’ve made it all the way! And like, on time! I’m so amped about actually finishing something I wanted to do that I could spit.

So as always, to say goodbye to the year, here’s my Totally Top Five Stuff & Things for 2017!

I can’t remember where I even heard about the Sonos speakers for the first time, but I had bought and returned like, three Bluetooth speakers early in 2017 because the sound on all of the (HIGHLY RATED) speakers was genuinely atrocious. We have a Bose Soundlink Mini II in our bedroom that we love, but now that we have a house with a relatively open concept, I wanted to be able to flood the entire space with sound and boy, does the Sonos Play:1 do pretty much exactly what I want. (So much so that I ordered another one for our kitchen and am about to order a third to add to the front sunroom-y area of our living room. Thankfully we don’t have neighbors on that side of our house…) It links directly to the internet and your music services/libraries and though the app can be finicky, controlling the whole system is easy and fairly intuitive. Also setup is EXTREMELY easy and the sound is awesome.

My perfume hoarding continued in 2017 and I ended up with three new scents that I L-O-V-E.

Elizabeth & James Nirvana Bourbon – This is really sexy and warm and spicy and smoky and wearing it makes me feel cool in a chic, punky, obnoxious kind of way, like I should be smoking a cigarette and glaring at people outside a gross club while an opening band I don’t really like is finishing their set. I haven’t been impressed with any of the other Elizabeth & James scents, so I am continually surprised by how much I really love this one.

Ralph Lauren Woman – Woman is very floral and very pretty and maybe a little matronly, but in a pleasant way. It reminds me of Ralph Lauren Romance, but grown-up and a little less complicated. (Romance was the first expensive perfume I ever wore! My mom bought it for me while we were school shopping for my first year of high school. Awww.) Wearing this makes me feel a little put-together and a little more successful than I actually am.

Chanel Coromandel – Buying this perfume was an EVENT, let me tell you. I had a sample I RATIONED because the Exclusifs de Chanel are BANANAS expensive and I wasn’t sure I’d ever talk myself into buying one. But then my sample ran out. And I literally opened the Chanel website constantly to stare longingly at the perfume until Crystal was finally like, ORDER THE DAMN PERFUME. And I did. And I LOVE IT still. It’s a very Adult perfume and it just smells super good and not like anything else I’ve ever worn. It makes me feel way more chic and stylish than I will ever be, like I maybe own a really expensive winter coat. Also, never forget that Coco Chanel was a Nazi and that the company is now owned by a Jewish family.

Probably the best thing I’ve done for myself this year is journaling. I don’t think the journaling is actually all that good/impressive/helpful, but it has taught me that I actually am capable of building a good daily habit, something that once seemed absolutely out of the realm of reality for me.

Most days my journaling, which I do in this is just a list of things I did with maybe a thought or two about how I felt. It’s boring and I’m not sure that I’ll even care much about revisiting it as I pass by in the coming years, but sitting down each night no matter how tired and cranky and ready for bed I am and just jotting those things down has really taught me that I can force myself to do things that I don’t necessarily enjoy doing, but want to do.

I also do this daily journal thing and this couple Q&A with Crystal every night because I guess I need to record my every thought somewhere other than Twitter.

Also, in an attempt to deal with my various mental health and emotional issues, I even started just journaling sometimes when I have bad feelings! Or good feelings! Or when I need to just talk something out with myself. And it is helping me so, so much, I can’t believe it. (I like the large, lined Moleskine for this, since it fits nicely in my bag but still gives me a good amount of page to cover.) And if you also have problems with managing your feelings (or maybe you just want to talk to yourself on paper!) I cannot recommend trying it out.

My skincare obsession actually increased in 2017, so much so that I think I bought and used more skincare than I did make-up, which is WILD.

Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Cream For Nails – This is SUCH a snooty and unnecessary thing to spend money on probably, but it also makes me feel like a beautiful, luxurious widow who maybe poisoned her wealthy husband and is now finally free to spend her time as she wishes every time I slather it on before bed. I use this on my elbows and my hands, focusing heavily on my nails and cuticles, and it takes the TINIEST amount. It has a weird sticky texture and it takes a little while to sink in all the way, but once it does, your skin and nails look and feel amazing. And it’s cut down on how many hangnails I get!

Bite Beauty Agave Lip Balm – I change my mind about lip balms more frequently than I change my clothes, to be honest, so you should probably expect to have a new one on this list every single year, but for most of 2017 I was aggressively loyal to this one and since I’m still using it exclusively, feel pretty good about it. This is a thick lip balm (It kind of feels like rubbing a stiff glue stick on your mouth…) but it isn’t gloppy or shiny or sticky, just nice and smooth and matte and long-lasting. Also, I like it so much that when I lost one, I immediately went and bought a new one instead of using the other balm I had in my bag.

Ren V-Cense Revitalising Night Cream – This is probably the most expensive moisturizer I’ve ever used (I didn’t realize HOW expensive until right now because I’ve only ever bought it during the 20% off sale, MY GOD THAT IS EXPENSIVE.) but I’ve become kind of aggressively dependent on it because no matter what else I do face-wise, if I just wash my face and slap this stuff on at night I wake up with soft, perfectly-moisturized skin that looks refreshed and more even than it did before I went to sleep. This stuff is straight-up MAGIC.

Crystal bought me the 10.5″ iPad Pro early in 2017 because I liked using her larger one, but found the strain on my left hand to be almost unbearable after only about 20 minutes with it (And like, what is the use of an iPad if I can’t hold it while I use it?) and it’s been great, especially since we spend a lot of time travelling. I didn’t think I’d ever really be an iPad person, but I love Procreate for lettering and making graphics and Penultimate, which I sometimes even use to journal!


Honorable Mentions

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Prismatic Amethyst | Bitmoji | Nars Powermatte Lip Pigment


Previously

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