Gimme 5 (aka the best of everything so far in 2018)

It’s the time of year when established media outlets and blog boys alike put out their “Best ____ of 2018 so far” lists. Ya know I’m no different. However, I don’t make money off of my last name dot com, so I don’t need 50 different lists to appease my advertisers. I limited myself to five of each. If you don’t see your favorite album/film/goldfish, it was probably 6th on my list. Or I haven’t encountered it yet.

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Gimme 5: albums from the first half of 2018

One Stone by Trixie Mattel (self-released) March
A drag queen superstar goes against making EDM club music in favor of earnest Americana. Must listens are “Little Sister” and “Red Side of the Moon.”

Clean by Soccer Mommy (Fat Possum) March
The cream of the crop when it comes to college-aged people mastering their feelings with a guitar. Must listens are “Your Dog” and “Scorpio Rising.”

Saved by Now, Now (Trans-) May
These high school besties turned pop power duo didn’t disappoint after it took five years to make this album.  Must listens are “SGL” and “Holy Water.”

Nightstand by Tancred (Polyvinyl) June
Jess Abbott could have written the soundtrack to any angsty teen movie from the late-90s. Must listens are “Apple Tree Girl” and “Underwear.”

Verdugo by Richard Edwards (Joyful Noise) June
The result happens when your life and health go to shit but so you write two albums – the bummer one and this one. Must listens are “A Woman Who Can’t Say No” and “Olive Oyl.”

 

Gimme 5: books from the first half of 2018

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara (Ecco)
Before RuPaul made drag mainstream, there was the queer community of NYC in the late ’80s struggling to find acceptance. This is their story. [My interview with the author can be found here.]

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (Grove)
Modern-day Nigerian folklore crossed with a sincere coming-of-age story is perhaps the best way to describe this novel.

Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley (MCD)
Essays about topics ranging from porn to volcanoes to personal musing. Expect to laugh, cry, and dry heave.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder (Hogarth)
A woman in the midst of an existential crisis mixed with a cocktail of depression and anxiety has a sexual relationship with a merman. Or does she?

Florida by Lauren Groff (Riverhead)
A collection from one of the best writers out there. She explores different characteristics of the state through time and location with such emotional precision. [My interview with the author can be found here.]

 

Gimme 5: returning TV shows from the first half of 2018

The Americans (FX)
A final season about Cold War Russian spies in America that wasn’t watched or respected by nearly enough people. Standout episode: “START.”

Atlanta (FX)
Completely different, yet somehow exactly the same from the first season. Auteur television perfected. Standout episode: “Teddy Perkins.”

Brockmire (IFC)
Baseball is America’s pastime. Hank Azaria is America’s future. Minor league baseball has never been so fun. And that’s saying something considering how fun MiLB is already. Standout episode: “Knuckleball.”

Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix)
It never takes itself too seriously and is lighthearted and hefty throughout. Sometimes even in the same scene. Standout episode: “Suspicious Objects.”

Westworld (HBO)
Well, well, well. If there was a show I turned sour on, it’s this one. Still, I can’t stop thinking about it week in and week out. Standout episode: “Kiksuya.”

 

Gimme 5: new TV shows from the first half of 2018

Barry (HBO)
Bill Hader proves he’s more than a funny man in this dark hitman comedy. 

The End of the F*ing World (Netflix)
Two disturbed teens go on a dangerous roadtrip across England that is filled with drugs, sex, and murder.

Queer Eye (Netflix)
Five men so fabulous a second season came out less than half a year later.

The Looming Tower (Hulu)
Problematic, sure, but an honest retelling of America’s darkest hour.

Killing Eve (BBC America)
A twisty murder mystery that avoids the typical tropes and has stand out performances lead by Sandra Oh.

 

Gimme 5: films from the first half of 2018

A Quiet Place by John Krasinski, Bryan Woods and Scott Beck (Paramount)
It took 90 minutes to explore the themes The Walking Dead still hasn’t figured out.

Black Panther by Ryan Coogler(Marvel)
The best(?) superhero flick since The Dark Knight. Wakanda forever.

Isle of Dogs by Wes Anderson(Fox Searchlight)
The film auteur returns to stop motion and surpassed all expectation.

Love, Simon by Greg Berlanti, Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger(20th Century Fox)
Queer stories are more important than ever; especially for teens.

You Were Never Really Here by Lynne Ramsay (Amazon Studios)
Joaquin Phoenix returns to form and might as well be nominated for Best Actor right now.

 

Gimme 5: podcasts from the first half of 2018

Keep It with Ira Madison, Karen Brown, Louis Vitrell (Crooked Media)
Pop culture commentary with a political twist.

Homophilia with Dave Holes and Matt McConkey (Earwolf)
One of the best podcasts on queer culture other than Nancy.

Nancy with Tobin Low and Kathy (WNYC)
Speaking of Nancy. The best podcast from 2017 is back and better than ever!

Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo (CBC)
Canadian true crime about indigenous women. More light needs to be shed on this.

I Think You’re Interesting with Todd VanDerWerff (Vox)
One of my favorite critics chatting with people he thinks is interesting. VDW has great views on culture and is a must read.

New shows to watch in September 2016

Ahhh. While you’re getting exciting over crappy Pumpkin Spice Lattes and the one good Pumpkin beer coming out way too early, I’m getting excited over new television. Of course, there are some heavy hitters returning, but I came up with too many new shows to check out. I tried to get a variety of shows so that everyone can find something they like.

Below you will find shows that critics are already falling in love with, offbeat shows that might not make it (but hopefully do), as well as shows that can be called “cozy,” “fun,” or “cute.” These are the shows critics might not love, but the general public will enjoy.

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The sophomore slump of ‘Daredevil’ is still better than most of television

The first season of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix was one of my favorite new shows last year. It was dark and gritty, but more importantly, it was a good representation of an important canon comic hero with enough interpretation to make it feel fresh.

The second season, which comes after Marvel’s better Netflix series – Jessica Jones – is still good. But it’s not as good as the first season, and it comes nowhere close to JJ.

Here are the pros and cons of the second season of the blind vigilante’s show.

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Favorite new TV shows of 2015

Wow. This has been a year filled with extraordinary debuts. Some of them were expected – like a spinoff from one of the best dramas ever – and some of them weren’t – a techno-thriller that debuted on a network known for campy sitcoms – but all of them were stellar. What’s scary is that I haven’t even seen remotely close to all of them. I debated putting HBO’s miniseries Show Me a Hero on here, but decided to only include continuing series. Similarly, The Jinx was left off because it is a docu-series, and I only wanted fictional shows. However, I wanted to give them a shout out for captivating my attention.

Here we go:

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‘Gaurdians of the Galaxy’ reviewed

Marvel films aren’t the best superhero films, and sometimes they’re not even the most entertaining superhero films. But there is a certain aura around them that makes them appeal to the masses. Fanboys get the inside jokes and obscure references to comics that the average viewer might not pick up on; however, they generally are likable enough for the masses to enjoy.

'Guardians of the Galaxy'Guardians of the Galaxy had a lot of hype leading up to it. Chris Pratt is an extremely nice, funny guy who kills it as Andy on Parks and Recreation, but there was concern about how he’d do as a lead in a Marvel film. The good news is, that this isn’t a typical Marvel film. (In certain regards.) It’s has a witty comedic undertone that Iron Man tries to have, but has to pull away from because he is the central Avenger. Guardians is filled with losers from the galaxy who will never really save Earth. In fact, aside from the opening scene, Earth isn’t really mentioned all that much.

Pratt does an amazing job on his own, and if one thing lacks, it’s the emotional backgrounds given to the characters, including his leading Peter Quill. We’re told, but barely showed, why we should care about these losers becoming winners. A few loved ones died and a raccoon was genetically modified. It takes it away from being a great film, but your average viewer who is in it for graphics and action won’t notice, or care if they do notice.

What Guardians does right is that it doesn’t try to fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe too much. It is its own entity that feels more like Star Wars than it does Avengers. It’s a ragtag bunch of aliens trying to do some good in outer space. It doesn’t even feel like Thor, which has become problematic because the Norse god is involved heavily with humans. It definitely is splitting hairs calling this a space opera and not a superhero film, but that’s what it is.

What works in the film is especially the interaction between the group. It helps carry the film when plot holes pop up (like why doesn’t Groot come help Drax at one point midway through the film?). One of the highlights of the film centers on a prison break where the quartet show off all of their skills. It is a turning point in the film that really showcases how the group can work together.

If you’re a diehard Marvel film fan, this one will jump to the top of your favorites list. If you’re wishy-washy about superhero films, this one should definitely be a good one for you to try and like them again.

Favorites of 2012: comic books

Over the course of December, I’ll present a series of my own end of 2012 lists. Unlike many, I won’t give you a best of list because that’s no fun. Instead I’ll give you lists of my favorite things from 2012. Because let’s face it: the best stuff isn’t always what you love the most.

My favorite comics of 2012:

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