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totally top three: march 2020

Ho-ho-holy shit what a fucking month! I know there was like, absolutely no way to anticipate what 2020 would be like, but like, good god damn, what the hell, you know? Whooeee.

Here is some stuff that I managed to enjoy despite of or in fact possibly because I’m not currently leaving my house very often and don’t like, have much to do besides work and consume media, just like before except now I waste less time getting dressed and I’m always with my dog. I hope this finds you safe and healthy and as sane as you can be. <3


I had a great time plowing through Roni Simunovic’s Little Warlord which was just fast and fun and easy to read and sweet and satisfying. I said in my review that it’s like if mob movies were made for someone other than white guys and I stand behind that almost a month later. There are a lot of really likable characters in this and a lot of gentleness for a universe that could just have easily disposed of it entirely. Glad I found this when I did.


The highest compliment I can give I Am Not Okay With This is that we haven’t finished it yet, despite there being only a single season, because we like it so much and didn’t want to rush through and then just be out of it. Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Olef, and Sofia Bryant are all really great and I love the place-making and especially the set-dressing, the way everything feels a little out of date and the only difference between it being in a good way or a bad way is how the characters compose themselves around it. I love the music a lot and the dialogue is fantastic and the second highest compliment I can give it is that Crystal and I have both paused it to scream about how much it sounds like something I would write, which is narcissistic probably, but also true.


We also started watching Letterkenny, which we have also been savoring as slowly as possible and which we also pause to scream about constantly, but for entirely different reasons, the first of which is that we live in in like, American Letterkenny Lite (though the people of Letterkenny are consistently better people than I’ve ever experienced here) and the second of which is that every fucking thing about it is weird and hysterical in a perfect way. If you had told me in February that I would sometimes pause a sitcom about Canadian hicks to yell about the way they’ve staged a particular shot for Maximum Art, I would have scoffed. It’s also really funny to watch something that’s really stylized and goofy and feel weirdly represented and safe as a queer person. Everyone is so good at embodying these really weird, extreme characters and they all seem like they’re just committing every second they’re on screen. Every thing that comes out of Jared Keeso’s mouth is the funniest thing I’ve heard in my life. It’s also masterful at knowing exactly how hard to push a repetitive joke so that it always sails through the funny-too much-funny again-hysterical track every freaking time. I finally upgraded to ad-free Hulu to be able to watch this without interruption: I six-extra-dollars-a-month love it.


And three to look forward to…

grady hendrix, the southern book club's guide to slaying vampires   pokey lafarge, rock bottom rhapsody   promising young woman

totally top three: february 2020

I turned 35 this month! That’s pretty cool! I spent absolutely the entire month doing nothing but watching hockey! But here we are anyway!


I somehow missed the Mitski train when everyone went buck wild for Be the Cowboy last year, but because The Algorithm, as always, serves me well, I got served a bunch of her stuff whenever Orville Peck’s Pony finishes and I started paying attention. I’ve listened to most of her stuff now and I like it all, but Bury Me at Makeout Creek is the standout for me. I’m obsessed with “Townie” (the vocal warbles!) and “Jobless Monday” (sounds like Clara Rockmore!) and “Drunk Walk Home” (that big angry instrumental crescendo!) and the album as a whole just works and feels super soniccally and emotionally resonant.


I have such good luck with the algorithm, seriously, and I think serpentwithfeet is going to be my algorithmic find of the year. This album is so beautiful, musically and lyrically, haunting and thoughtful and romantic and so god damn artful I kind of lose my mind. Spotify gave me “whisper” and I immediately listened to the entire album and got obsessed with “mourning song” and “wrong tree” and “seedless” and “waft” and “slow syrup” which contains the lyrics “when you made a chorus of your painful things / didn’t know it was a song you hated to sing” and “I longed for the rapture between your knees / you need the calm, I need the world to end inside of me” which just absolutely knocked me on my ass in the best way.


I watch hockey now! Well, okay, I watch hockey again, but I’ve spent enough time rambling about my ~sports history~ on Twitter to do that here, so instead: I watch hockey now! A lot of it. Like, at least a half-dozen games a week, but usually way more. I follow seven teams and not all of them because they’re hot. My attention span has just been deeply non-existent lately and instead of trying to force myself to watch something and then getting frustrated when I can’t get through it, I just put hockey on which is both exciting and soothing simultaneously. I can look away and do something else and still follow commentary audibly and because I am not competitive and always hope that both teams have fun, I don’t get stressed out about it the way I think way too many sports fans do. It’s been so so so fun and will be genuinely sad when the season is over.


And three to look forward to…

roswell, new mexico season 2   one day at a time season 4   the hunt

totally top three: january 2020

2020 is a futuristic-ass looking year, isn’t it? Will I ever get used to it? Will I ever stop accidentally typing 2002 instead? Who knows!


Harry Styles’ Fine Line is so lovely and so artful and delicate and poppy and fun and emotive and I was so looking forward to it and so glad to not only not be disappointed, but to be deeply impressed and MOVED. I’m particularly fond of “Adore You” and “Cherry” and “To Be So Lonely” and “She,” and “Canyon Moon,” and okay, really, not going to list the entire album, but I am really into the whole thing. This is just a lovely cohesive experience that’s very repeatable.


Though I don’t consider myself a sports person, as surely I have mentioned before like the obnoxious pain in the ass I am, I’m not not-interested in sports and have often gone through phases of getting really into watching hockey and/or baseball depending on my ~mood and the season. This winter, Crystal and I have gotten pretty into hockey compilations on YouTube (I love injuries and fights. I know what this says about me. Hush.) and because of that, the algorithm served us a Bardown Quiz and we kind of fell in love. Everyone who shows up for the quizzes is a delight and we like the dumb inter-office competition and the yelling. The other Bardown videos are great too, but nothing tops the quizzes.


Orville Peck’s Pony is absolutely going to be on my top five of 2020 because I listened to it at least once every day in January. AT! LEAST! ONCE! A! DAY! FOR! A! WHOLE! MONTH! And I am not even a little tired of it yet. ORVILLE PECK SOUNDS LIKE QUEER “I LOVE YOU BECAUSE”/”I WILL BE HOME AGAIN” ELVIS MADE AN ALBUM IN TWIN PEAKS. If that doesn’t sell you… Well. This probably isn’t the album for you, I guess!

a tweet from ash which reads orville peck's kansas (remembers me now) makes me feel like i'm slowly bleeding out from a knife wound in a seedy small town honky tonk bathroom, but in a way where i've made peace with both my fate and my misdeeds and welcome the relief of the coming darkness


And three to look forward to…

nada surf, never not together   birds of prey   green day, father of all motherfuckers

totally top three: december 2019

Crystal went to Florida without me this month and in her absence I read several books, listened to a metric fuckton of music, watched a couple of movies, and some TV. I’ve never been so productive in my life.


I’ve been watching Good Mythical Morning daily for a while now and sporadically for a real, real long time before that and while I think Rhett and Link are funny (even when they aren’t retching and/or hiccuping convulsively) I genuinely had no idea what to expect from Buddy System, so while it was out from behind the YouTube Red paywall, I sat down in my bachelorhood and watched all of the first season and had a great time! I must admit to a moment of visceral bewilderment so strong that I had to pause when it moved from the GMM format opening and then had them step out from behind the desk, but it was weirdly effective. I really liked that this leaned way into the sense of weirdness I get from their humor and that it was just happily, balls-out goofy. As I am sure I’ve said before, I hate musicals with very few exceptions and I think comedy songs are mostly bad, but I had a remarkably good time with these, especially “So Dang Dark” and “Power Nap” and “Tough Decisions”. I like that they both commit so wholly to their bits and Link’s straight delivery of every absurd thing he said sent me into hysterics. I also watched and liked season two a lot, but this is long enough already, yes? (“I Like What I Like” and “Naked” are the stand-out songs this time, but “Kings of Bellevue Estates” made me actually legit laugh out loud because it was just extremely spot-on as a parody. Okay really, shutting up now!!)


Here is my first opinion: people who post on the internet about how they don’t like the things people post on the internet are the worst and shouldn’t be allowed to access the internet. My second opinion: if you can’t summon any interest in hearing about the things your friends like… why do you have friends? My third opinion: the Spotify wrapped infographics are fun and I’m glad people share them! How can I be adequately obsessed with you as a person if I don’t know what pop culture you’re obsessed with?! Also, mine rules, specifically, because I have an excellent and varied taste in music. I thought the decade thing was pretty interesting this year although mostly useless to me because I listen to Spotify at work and when people are agitating me, I listen to a playlist I have called “Soothe” on repeat and it’s just Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “Great Pumpkin Waltz” and “Thanksgiving Theme” so those have been my top two songs like, four years running and that was my artist of the decade too. Otherwise 2019 was very spot-on for the stuff I listened to and loved the most and it has me AMPED for my Totally Top Five this year.


I liked Late Night so much! Mindy Kaling is so, so charming and funny and I liked SO MUCH that even when the circumstances of the story pushed Molly into a really awkward moment that could have been played as deeply humiliating and for laughs, it instead leaned toward more regular human behavior. I like that the story didn’t demand that Molly change and become ~one of the guys~ in order to succeed or survive and that her success came directly from her personal experience, talent, and willingness to stand up for herself and her ideas. Emma Thompson was GREAT and I ended up liking the guys as the plot let them develop too, especially Tom, obviously, because I am a sucker, though I stand by my opinion that the SPOILER shoulder kiss at the end was a bad choice because of COURSE they would end up together, it didn’t need to be made TEXTUAL. Anyway, I laughed a lot AND had a nice time emotionally and I don’t really need anything else to have a good time with a movie, so I’d say it was a very solid watch.


And three to look forward to…

amy spaulding, we used to be friends   kesha, high road   gretel & hansel

totally top three: november 2019

November has been so, so good. Not just compared to the painful shitshow of October, but just like, genuinely! Even though it was also super stressful! What a wonderful and hideous mixed bag life can be!


I didn’t know how I would feel about Lords of Chaos going in — I probably know about… 300 times more about Norwegian Black Metal than the average moviegoer — and I wasn’t totally sure what I thought after, but I sure have thought about it a lot. This was both a story I already knew and a subject I am vaguely interested in and I was worried I might be too concerned with The Truth to just watch it as a movie, but that ended up not being an issue because everyone is so good in it that I just sort of disappeared into it. I ended up having a lot of feelings I didn’t expect and though I think I wish it had focused more on the relationship between Euronymous and his band before Dead’s death, I obviously get why we got the timeline we did. I was surprised at how beautifully this was shot and also how absurdly funny it was in places and also how much the ending got to me emotionally even knowing what was coming. It’s not going to be for everyone and I think selling it as a “horror-thriller” is not only incorrect, but gross. This is a music biopic tragedy set in a subculture that looks absolutely nonsensical, even to people familiar with it, and it does that well.


Cavetown, Lemon Boy – I have accepted that I exist only at the whims of the algorithm so I should know by now that when it serves me a song that I really like, I shouldn’t wait six months to listen to the album that the song is on, but that’s exactly what happened with Cavetown. “Lemon Boy” showed up at some point early this year and I loved it and have listened to it and put it on my giant master list of songs I like but I didn’t listen to the album until earlier this month after “Pigeon” popped up for me and I loved it too. The album is solid and pretty and kind of achy in places I wasn’t expecting which I always loooooove. In addition to the aforementioned tunes, I am also obsessed with “Green” and “It’s U” and “Taking Care of Things” and “10 Feet Tall” and “888,” but the whole album is genuinely great.


Like so many other people on the internet, I have been playing Cat Condo because it is a soothing and simple distraction in a chaotic world. There’s not much to say about it other than the cats are extremely cute and I really like being able to come and go without any commitment to sit and tap unless I want to because the game keeps generating cats in my absence. What a time to be alive.


And three to look forward to…

little women   my chemical romance at the shrine   star wars: rise of skywalker