in recent years

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totally top 3: may 2019


I absolutely loved Claire North’s, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. Like I said in my review, once I realized what I was reading, I wasn’t sure that I would like it, but even when it made me feel a little dumb, I enjoyed it. Harry is just an incredibly interesting narrator to hang around with, both because of what he is and also because of the dry way he relays his observations of the world around him. Though he’s never effusive, you can feel these wonderful tremors of joy and anxiety and fear and possibility with just the subtlest change to the narrative voice. Wonderful writing and world-building and a great, simmering queer subtext, and the wonderful line, “He enjoyed toying with me, and, in my way, I enjoyed being toyed with.” — one of the absolutely horniest things I’ve ever read.


I’ve been listening to Phantom Planet’s “BALISONG” and Big Data’s “Put Me to Work” on repeat a LOT all month long. “BALISONG” has this great chugging rhythm and Alex Greenwald’s hypnotic voice rising and falling in all kinds of interesting ways and it’s got me extremely hyped for a full-scale comeback. “Put Me to Work” is fucking great, extremely dance-y and perfectly current while also feeling a little flashback-y like all good synth music. Also, who doesn’t love a shout-y sing-a-long chorus?


I waited a long time to watch Call Me By Your Name because despite my Genuine! Best! Efforts! I am a jerk who sometimes ends up turned off of things because the hype has overwhelmed me! I don’t think it was necessary this time, but man, was it worth the wait anyway. What a lovely piece of moviemaking and storytelling. I’ve been trying to articulate a lot of things about it both as a movie I liked and as a Piece of Queer Media (especially a compare and contrast with Brokeback Mountain, oh man. There are even shirt parallels!) but mostly I keep being grateful (which says something really fucking shameful about pop culture) that this felt like a movie about a gay relationship that I was just able to enjoy as a romance because no one died a horrible death and the heartbreak was just nice regular heartbreak. Progress!?!??! Also, what a lovely story about family, too. (Shoutout to Reid, the tattoo artist I saw a couple of weeks ago who said it “really fucked him up” because I hadn’t seen it yet and couldn’t have a conversation about it, but you know what? Fucking same, dude.)


And three to look forward to…

late night   simon james green, alex in wonderland   the dead don't die

totally top three: april 2019

The end-ish of this month has been ROUGH because I got sick like a dumb idiot and also because I have to go in for my semi-annual endometrial probing and I also have other stuff scheduled and I don’t handle having plans very well? I prefer to be free and I will assume that this is just my nature as a pisces, since one of the other things I find myself obsessed with in 2019 is astrology even though I don’t believe in it at all. What an adventure being alive is!

I did at least manage to like some stuff this month, so that’s cool!


I thought Unicorn Store was incredibly sweet and charming and also it made me cry a little bit, but in a nice, moved way, which is always great. Brie Larson is a national treasure who I already love a lot and Mamoudou Athie is a wonderful new addition to my list of People to Be Obsessed With. I liked that this just leaned into its premise and let it play out as weird as it wanted to without sacrificing any of its characters’ humanity. Samuel L. Jackson was also great as always and man, what a wardrobe!


I didn’t actually know anything about Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive when I finally started reading it 10,000 years after the hype died down and though I don’t think it mattered much enjoyment-wise, I do think I would have been extremely fucked up by the expectation that it might be anything like Gone Girl because it just… Is not at all that kind of book and I don’t know what marketing person decided to fucking, die on that hill. This is some of the best writing I’ve read in a long, long time and a really complicated, interesting narrator to spend time with and I am so glad I read it and happy to never read it again.


Lizzo is a babe, a talent, a hero, an idol, an inspiration and Cuz I Love You is joyful and fun and energetic and beautiful and I am so glad I’m alive on earth at the same time as her. I can’t imagine telling a young version of myself about Lizzo’s entire existence and I am so envious of and happy for young people right now. Favorites: “Cuz I Love You” & “Like a Girl” & “Jerome” & “Better In Color”


And three to look forward to…

avengers: endgame   frank iero and the future violents, barriers   tom ryan, keep this to yourself

totally top three: february 2019


I really, really L-O-V-E-D The Haunting of Hill House and though I know it’s like, deeply uncool now to admit that spoilers matter to you, I am so glad that I managed to go in with really only my knowledge of 1999’s The Haunting (a mostly terrible, but extremely gay movie I saw in theaters) because waiting for each new moment was really satisfying and stressful and made the tension the show was building extra delightful. I was amazed at how quickly I was really invested in the characters and also how much I liked things that I am normally bored by in media (mostly those constraintless timelines and try-hard dialogue). It’s yet another series I am left hoping will stand as-is and another where I won’t seek out anyone’s opinions about it because they’ll mostly be boring, which is a sign that I really liked the show. If the thought of an adult man in front of a cake makes me weep, well. That’s how I like it.


I didn’t listen to a lot of new music in February (instead inexplicably deciding to relive my childhood by revisiting the Beatles’ catalog? The White Album still rules tbh.) but I did manage to listen to Two Feet’s 20 Something Fuck which I think is extremely solid, if short. The algorithm served me “I Feel Like I’m Drowning” way back (I posted it as a ~jam to my Instagram story in June, I think) and I’m glad that the whole album has a similar sound and energy. This is very much summer music for me and I need that right now because BOY AM I SICK OF WINTER. I’m very into the aforementioned “I Feel Like I’m Drowning” but also love “Hurt People” and “You Say” and “Back of My Mind”.


Crystal and I finally watched Baby Driver after a like two hour fight with my dad’s DirecTV login because we are truly millennials but thankfully it was extremely worth it. I really loved the characters and the acting (Fuck Kevin Spacey, obviously.) and the CAR CHASES! Set in daylight! The sign of a good car movie is how bad I want to drive fast afterward and I have to say the people of North Dakota are lucky that I am old and scared of winter driving or I would have immediately been out there raising hell. The music was great even though it’s clear that Edgar Wright thinks his taste in music is ~extremely cool~ and I loved the sound mixing (even though the whining they put in when Baby had his headphones out was TORTURE because of my intermittent tinnitus) and ASL. Also I accidentally came out of it extremely attracted to Ansel Elgort which is mildly upsetting.


And five to look forward to…

now apocalypse   the weight of the stars   greta   queenie   captain marvel

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


Previously

2K12 | 2K13 | 2K14 | 2K15 | 2K16 | 2K17

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


Previously

2K12 | 2K13 | 2K14 | 2K15 | 2K16 | 2K17