With the start of school I generally notice a decline in media consumption (class notes and project outlines take time!) but I like to think this month was quality over quantity.
Boxtrolls (2014) I went into this knowing very little and was soooooooo happy with it! I loved Coraline and this had a similarly balanced tone of light and dark that you don’t usually see from other family-oriented studios. Casting Hollywood names usually ends up being distracting for me but that wasn’t the case here. I can’t recommend this film enough.
20 Feet From Stardom (2013) The premise sounded promising (following the lives of back-up singers) but those they focused seemed to share a very similar story: they loved what we did but tried to break out and couldn’t quite reach the levels that we expected. Maybe it’s an appropriate sampling of the industry, but the end result was repetitive and in a depressing way.
Garfunkel and Oates (Season 1) I think the easy way to talk about this show is to compare it Flight of the Conchords but I think the basic premise of following two struggling musicians is really as far as the similarities go. Their music and the show has this angler fish quality where it dazzles you with bright lights to distract you from the biting reality.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Season 1) I’m a latecomer to the show and it’s a lot of fun. As a fan of The Lonely Island, I’m glad they built a series around the sort of character that Andy Samberg pulls off best.
Doctor Who (Season 8) I’ve been a believer in the 12th Doctor from the start and the season is still really working for me. The prickly Doctor is a nice change of pace from Tennant and Smith but the character’s interest in the unknown and sense of wonder has remained (two of my favourite traits).
Neuromancer by William Gibson (Complete) I think I better appreciated this book after doing a bit of research on its relevance. I took for granted how many of the ideas that are common place today were really introduced in this book and I really wouldn’t have known given how engrained I am in the current state of society. Even if you’re not interested in reading it for its impact on society’s understanding of technology’s potential influence, it’s a great crime novel with intrigue and action.
The Once and Future King by T. H. White (Page 35 of 638) Clearly I’ve just started the book but I’m so excited for this! Mike Mignola mentioned this collection of Arthurian tales in one of his Hellboy collections and I’d never really considered where those stories came from! It’s already taking me back to my weekends watching Sword in the Stone.
Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Velhmann and Kerascoët (Complete) PLEASE HELP ME FIND MORE BOOKS LIKE THIS! I loved the artwork and the casual nature in which it handled the darker parts of the human condition. It felt like a mix of Disney-like naivety, Studio Ghibli wonder (with a touch of danger), and George R. R. Martin’s ability to just straight-up kill anyone. It’s not for a younger audience but anyone who is old enough to read this definitely should. And again, if you have recommendations based on this book then please share.
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Complete) It appears I’m on a dark kick this month but I frighten easily so I could only read each of these stories during the daytime. The artwork and her approach to sequential art is wonderfully balanced and it all just adds to the tension. Plus she’s a fellow Canadian so that’s cool!
Hug Machine by Scott Campbell (Complete) This is a super new release and it’s so fun to read. The premise is great and Campbell’s work is always so fun to look at. There’s a lot of variety in his compositions and each page is a new treat.
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts and Christian Robinson (Complete) I picked up the book based on Robinson’s artwork and the story not only rhymed but had a great message! I was kinda expecting it to be about how size doesn’t matter (and in a bigger sense it is) but the story of Sally McCabe and how she affects her school is so much more than that.
Super Smash Bros. Demo (Nintendo 3DS) I wasn’t sure if I was going to pick this up next month as I wasn’t sure how it would handle on a portable platform but this game is already so much fun! I’m looking forward to playing the other new characters as Megaman and Villager are already super fun. I don’t know if you can play with friends or how that stuff works yet but I’ll share my code if I can figure this stuff all out. Any suggestions?
And that’s it! I feel like these quasi reviews are just “oh I really like it!” but it’s how I feel. There’s genuinely so many great things out there to see and experience!
Hey my collected curiosities set is now available online at the Gallery Nucleus shop! It’s a limited series but I don’t know how quickly they’re selling so I trust your judgement if you want to snag a set.
And so concludes our summer as we look back on the August that was and think “Why don’t I live in a more temperate climate?”
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) In a time when Warner Bros. has chosen a humourless, desaturated world to set their characters in, I’m glad this film exists. Between this and Captain America, I’ve come away from two Marvel movies this summer that thoroughly satisfied as a film and did so in (moderately) different ways.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Ha just kidding. I read enough reviews to glean two things: that there was way too much April O’Neil and not nearly enough turtles (maybe that counts as two sides of the same coin?) Maybe they thought we couldn’t handle the crazy world of the turtles but then I turn your attention to the only film I actually did see this month. Oh well. There’s always…
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Season 2) This really is a great series and if you haven’t gotten into it, but love the turtles and their world, then I definitely think it’s worth checking out. I mean they’re setting up Bebop & Rocksteady! And Baxter Fly! So good.
Sherlock (Season 3) This season seemed to get a bunch of grief and I don’t really understand why. It’s about as fanfic-ish and light on good female characters as season 2. If anything, I think this season has the strongest episode 2 of all three trilogies thus far so I’d say it’s a strong contender!
Doctor Who (Seasons 7 & 8) I’m immediately on board with the twelfth Doctor.
An Adventure in Space and Time (2013) TV movies count as TV as opposed to a movie, right? Well whatever. So this was a fun look at the making of Doctor Who, no matter how accurate it is (and I’ll admit I don’t know how true-to-life it actually is). Seeing Brian Cox’s Canadian accent was worth the price of admission.
Dirty Power by Fartbarf (2014) I really can’t categorize this record and that’s probably what I like most about it. IF you have a suggestion for something to check out based on this trio, please send it my way.
Neuromancer by William Gibson (Page 137/310) I picked up this book based off of Stuff to Blow Your Mind's summer reading list (2013) and I didn't realize it would combine two of my favourite genres: sci-fi and noir! Maybe it's less noir and more crime thriller? I dunno. Anyway, there's a character that I've decided looks like Garnet from Stephen Universe and it’s making it quite the enjoyable read.
Hellboy Library Edition (Volume 5) by Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Dave Stewart, and Clem Robins (Complete) With only one volume left, I’m really trying to savour this. What’s impressed me about the final is that it feels like it’s the appropriate scale, and calls back to the entire series. No surprise here but it’s fantastic.
No Man’s Land by Blexbolex (Complete) I’m not nearly smart enough for this book but I loved every minute of it. Each image is a masterwork of its own right and yet the sum is still greater than its parts. The whole presentation was wonderfully unique and I’m looking to find more like this that push medium.
Slayground by Darwyn Cooke (Complete) I really love this series. It’s set in a time, and inspired by books, that were a little less balanced when it came to female roles, but beyond that I really have little to complain about. The artwork is beautiful (I think meeting Darwyn Cooke would be one of the few instances where I’d get starstruck) and the no-nonsense/aggressive Parker is so removed from my own MO that it’s fun to read.
Batman Haunted Knight by Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale, Gregory Wright, and Todd Klein (Complete) I don’t know what it was but the first two of three stories didn’t do it for me. The last MORE than made up for it, but maybe I just need to give them another shot. Thoughts?
Anyway, that’s a wrap on August. See you in September!
Light Grey Art Lab’s online shop is up and zines are now available! There are so many great artists so check them out here!
And I think there are only 10 of my zines left so if you’re interested then they’re right here (sorry that they’re so expensive but it turns out printers charge based on page count and I couldn’t condense the game into fewer than 40).
(also credit to the photographer at LGAL for snapping these pics of my zine!)
Dang this summer is flying by! I think slowing down to document all that you accomplish helps remind you that things are happening. So with that, let’s look at all the ways I procrastinated from work in July!
I Know That Voice (2013) I’ve been meaning to see this ever since watching In A World… a couple of months back. Thanks to those who suggested this! I highly recommend it to anyone who likes animation for television and all that goes into it and, like the best documentaries, it was equal parts interesting and entertaining.
Mortified Nation (2013) So then Netflix recommended this doc and it was also a good time at the movies. The basic premise of Mortified is that it’s a curated performance of people reading diary entries from their youth. The documentary presents a good balance of behind-the-scenes and actually showing some of the readings (which is a great choice). If anyone has been to a live show then let me know as I’m keen to find tickets when I’m in San Fran in September (if the stars align).
The Grand Seduction (2013) I saw this on the whim of the company I was with. They were hoping for a “thoroughly charming” experience and it was exactly that. It was equal parts adorable, romantic (both in the loving and idyllic sense), and suuuuuuuper Canadian.
Crazy for You The Stratford Festival (2014) Probably the coolest birthday gift I got this year. This play was so much fun! I went in knowing very little but it is almost exactly what I used to picture the theatre to be like when I was a kid (lots of dance numbers, singing, large groups of people hooting and hollering). The Stratford Festival put on a great production.
Bob’s Burgers (Seasons 1 & 2) I’ve now finished season 1 and am making my way through the weirdly short season 2. It’s fun and I just learned of an Archer crossover so that’s DEFINITELY going to be watched soon.
Adventure Time (Season 6) You don’t need me to tell you how great this show is but HOW GREAT IS THIS SHOW!?! I just saw Something Big and…whoa. I know some people don’t like the sporadic and frantic nature of episodes like this but I think there’s a charm to this sort of directing.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Seasons 1 & 2) So what started as research for a few projects has become a genuine love for this show! If you were a fan of the “Cowabunga” era of TMNT back in the early nineties then I highly recommend this. It wonderfully builds on the foundation of my childhood and feels like it was the show I watched as a kid (as opposed to going back to the original episodes and seeing how…different it was from what I remember). Anyway, I really like this interpretation and all I ask is that you don’t let some of the reeeeeeeeeally ugly human designs turn you off (I promise it’s a small price to pay).
Chrono Jigga by 2 Mello (2013) This was a friend’s recommendation after seeing the Cuckoo for Chrono Trigger series I did a few months back. I’d highly recommend downloading and donating if you like either of the two major components.
…For the Whole World to See by Death (1974) I know there’s a documentary out there (thoughts? recommended?) but I actually picked up this album after hearing a track on The Strombo Show (a weekly radio show here in Canada that I ALSO recommend if you’re into the spirit of radio). I’m only 3 or 4 plays through so far so I don’t have much to add.
I make a lot of playlists and one I had going when I was in London had a lot of Bloc Party on it so I figured I’d include that as well.
Silent Alarm by Bloc Party (2005) I got into the band with their first album and I think it’s their most balanced record. While it’s not always my first choice when I’m in the mood for them, it’s my go-to if I can’t decide.
A Weekend in the City by Bloc Party (2007) I didn’t like this album at first. It’s a lot slower than Silent Alarm but I now really enjoy that. Each song feels like a date but at different stages of a relationship so there’s continuity yet variety.
Intimacy by Bloc Party (2008) I didn’t like this album at first. If A Weekend in the City is the soft side of the band, and Silent Alarm is in the middle, then Intimacy is the other end of the pendulum’s swing. In contrast to their second record it felt way too aggressive, but now I love it. It’s definitely for a certain mood (one that I can’t articulate) but it’s since grown on me.
Four by Bloc Party (2012) I don’t like this album.
The Shining by Stephen King (abandoned) I very rarely quit books but I just couldn’t get into this. After reflection and discussion I’ve decided it’s because I couldn’t get behind Jack or Wendy as characters and it was becoming a chore. I really thought it would be the horror that would turn me off but I was half way through and it certainly wasn’t that. I feel so guilty about quitting this.
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh (Complete) I was loaned this gem as a cheer-me-up after failing to complete The Shining and it was just the thing I needed. While the heavy chapters felt a little jarring and her procrastinating mechanisms are everything I fear in the world, I still laughed a lot of ugly laughs. Reeeeeeeal ugly.
Fables The Deluxe Edition Book One by Bill Willingham, Lan Medina, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, and Craig Hamilton (Complete) My bestie loaned me this and it was a great read! The artwork was beautifully contemporary while still feeling a little Silver Age. The concept is a lot of fun and I can’t wait to get deeper into the series.
Batman: Mad Love and Other Stories by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm (Complete) I admit I never fully appreciated the animated series during its run but going back I’m finding it thoroughly shaped my understanding of the Batman universe. Because of that, this was a natural choice. These storeis are great examples of how to be mature and sexy without exploitation, or violent without gore. Take note, New 52.
Destination X by John Martz (complete) Never have I finished a comic and then immediately started it again. I read through this thrice in the first sitting and twice more since (it’s not that big of a deal as it’s wonderfully concise). I couldn’t put my finger on what the tone was until the back cover referenced The Twilight Zone and it all fell into place. Plus John is a fellow Ontarian so YAY CANADA!
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (Nintendo 3DS) I’m really glad I played through the game but I couldn’t figure out why it was taking me so long to finish. I now know: once I was about 75% complete the game I realized nothing new had been introduced since the first quarter. I understand there’s a lot of game in here but it would’ve been great if they could’ve mixed things up a little more throughout. If you’ve played through the first two locations, you’ve basically got it covered.
I try to live in the present as best I can but dang if I’m not super stoked for August! Guardians of the Galaxy! The insanity that is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! It’s going to be nuts. Farewell, July!
Hey it’s the end of June so it’s time to reflect upon all of the things I did to distract myself from responsibilities!
The World’s End (2013) I love this trilogy, I really do, but for the longest time I couldn’t pinpoint what stood out as odd about the final instalment. After this viewing I realized what it was: the lead doesn’t change for the better. Gary King is the same character from start to finish and it just felt out of place compared to the natural development of Shaun and Nicholas through their films.
Hot Fuzz (2007) Clearly I was in the mood for blood and ice cream after The World’s End. This was only the second time I’d seen this so my thoughts on the character arcs aren’t swayed by frequency of viewing. Anyway, Edgar Wright could direct his way out of a Transformers movie so these are the tiniest of qualms.
The Fault in Our Stars (2014) So this was seen at the request of friends who had read the book (unlike me). Without knowing all the nuance of the source material I was still soooooooooo sad. Why would anyone go to see such a sad movie? Why do people read such sad books? Gaaaaaaaaaaaah.
Her (2013) I watched this on a plane as I figured it didn’t need to be seen on a big screen. I was right. I was also right to think that the film would sit with me for days as I’m still thinking about it. Confession time: I often mix up Spike Jonze and Spike Lee when discussing directors.
The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable by Punchdrunk (2013) If you live in London and can somehow snag tickets before its July 6th finale, I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH HOW MUCH YOU SHOULD GO AND EXPERIENCE THIS. I’d never experienced promenade theatre before but it was truly fantastic. The premise and reaction I had to it was very similar to Majora’s Mask, which I feel is both completely on point and not even close. If anyone knows of a production like this in southern Ontario then please let me know.
Game of Thrones(Season Four) After finishing the season I thiiiiiiiiink I may try to tackle book 5. Of course the show is fantastic but I still feel like I’m only getting as much out of it as I do because I’ve read the books. I dunno.
The Yogi Bear Show (Seasons 1 & 2) I love when work gives me the excuse to watch classic TV. While I always enjoy a good HB production, I now find I’m watching the show equally for the craftsmanship and technical achievements as I am for the gags and plot.
Beedle-Am Bam by The Vaudevillain (2013) Earlier this month I went with a few friends to a street music festival and this set stole the whole show. The crowd around them was having as much fun as the performers and I picked up their latest record the next day. Go check out a few tracks and if you like the sound then you’ll definitely dig the whole album.
Eternal Champ by Sweet Valley (2012) I’m clearly late to this game but I really dug this! Of course the Ocarina of Time samples didn’t hurt but there’s a beauty here beyond the recognisable elements.
Ultraviolence by Lana Del Rey (2014) I usually buy an album just before I do any traveling so that it can be a sort of soundtrack to the trip. This was the case for my adventures in London and it was weirdly appropriate when people watching while waiting for the tube. I can’t decide if the album is genuinely sad or if the sorrow comes from the inability to feel that sadness.
The Shining by Stephen King (page 223/659) I’m clearly stalling on getting through this as I’m a scaredy-cat. It hasn’t even gotten to the scary bits yet and I’m already terrified.
Gotham by Gaslight by Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola, P. Craig Russell, David Hornung, and Eduardo Barreto. (Complete) The first story was great and the sequel was fine, but didn’t stick with me as much as I would’ve liked. I’m always inclined to like Mignola’s work so maybe that factored in. This isn’t necessarily the sort of Batman story that I gravitate towards so I’m hard-pressed to recommend it.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (Nintendo 3DS) I’m about half way through the game and never played the Gamecube version. I love point-and-click adventures and I really like how much personality Luigi has. This is the level of terror I can handle and I’m enjoying every minute of it!