Yule Complete Me: Presenting (the second half of) My 12th Annual Christmas Mixtape, Noel Means Noel

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As usual, there were some painful cuts right at the end. I just had to get “Mistress for Christmas” on, even though I used it in (I think) 2011, to honor Malcolm Young of AC/DC. And “Every Day Is Christmas (When I’m Lovin’ You),” even though I used it in 2012, to honor Charles Bradley. That unconscionable folk song about a ski instructor whose notion of consent is such that you hope he perished in an avalanche, but not before being forced to eat his own arm while waiting in vain to be rescued, will just have to wait until the lucky 13th installment. I thought it important to keep each side to no more than, well, an hour.
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The Carol From the Black Lagoon: The Shape of Water, reviewed.

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Good news: Guillermo Del Toro’s new movie is the best one he’s made in English! Even if it doesn’t kick quite as much undead ass as Blade II. Here’s my NPR review.

I’m on The Canon, Debating His Girl Friday v The Philadelphia Story with my pal Amy Nicholson!

IMG_0083“Your assignment will be Spy magazine’s greatest achievement: Tracy Lord. Big game hunting in Africa, fox hunting in Pennsylvania. Married on impulse. Divorced in a rage. And always unapproachable by the press. The unapproachable Miss Lord… The Philadelphia Story!”

I was so certain that recording an episode of The Canon with my friend Amy Nicholson, pitting one Problematic 1940 Divorced Cary Grant movie against another, would require me to perform an impression of Henry Daniell as Spy publisher Sidney Kidd that I might’ve ripped the audio of the scene into my iPhone and rehearsed it during my drive to Earwolf HQ in Hollywood a few weeks ago. In the end, I forgot to break out the imitation I’d practiced to carefully, because Amy is just as brilliant in conversation as she is in prose. So the fact that she spared you all my, um, acting is not the best reason to be grateful for her insight and eloquence, but it’s a reason.

You can listen to our debate here.
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Yulemixed Messages: Presenting (the first half of) My 12th Annual Christmas Mixtape, Noel Means Noel

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I started making these goofy holiday-themed mixtapes in 2006, inspired by the yule-mixologist Andy Cirzan‘s annual appearances on the great WBEZ radio show and podcast Sound Opinions. I was honored to interview Andy for a Washington Post piece about my mixtape several years later, and to appear with him on a Minnesota Public Radio segment that I’m glad to tell you did not involve Garrison Keillor in any way.

So I’ve been collecting and compiling weird old Christmas-themed recordings for a long time now, but I didn’t buy a turntable until the latter part of 2016. I’d refused to even entertain the possibility of joining the vinyl resurgence, because I knew my discipline would crumble and I’d feel compelled to drain my banking account re-buying dozens of my favorite albums in the most expensive, space-consuming, fragile, and heavy music-distribution format ever conceived, with the possible exception of the wax cylinder. Which is exactly what happened. I have four working turntables in my apartment at this moment. Four. If I had any reasonable estimate of how many LPs there are, I would be too embarrassed to share that number with you.
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Merciless Flight: STC’s Twelfth Night, reviewed.

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Twelfth Night is my favorite Shakespeare play. The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Ethan McSweeny-directed production is cleverly staged on a set made to resemble an airport, but it left me cold. In my Washington City Paper review, I try to unpack why. Continue reading

You Got to Have a Mother Box For Me: Justice League, reviewed.

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Early in Justice League, while director Zack Snyder abuses yet another Leonard Cohen song, we see a glimpse of a Metropolis Post front page with a headline about vanishing heroes that puts Kal-El in the middle of a triptych with Prince and David Bowie. It feels like a joke from Men in Black (another comic book-derived movie) 20 years ago. Anyway, it’s good to see that Metropolis is still a two-paper town.

Here’s my review of Justice League, where I did not really have room to complain that J.K. Simmons, the J. Jonah Jameson of Sam Raimi’s no-longer-canonical Spider-Man trilogy, is now Commissioner Gordon, which feels like double-dipping, or that Gordon has once again been demoted to empty trenchcoat after being a vibrant, fully-developed character in Christopher Nolan’s no-longer-canonical Dark Knight trilogy. These movies, man.

Apprentice v Apprentice: Vicuña & The American Epilogue, reviewed.

CSH_3795 copyMy Washington City Paper review of Jon Robin Baitz’s already-anachronistic Trump satire Vicuña, which is getting a lavish second production at Mosaic Theatre after premiering in Los Angeles last year, is here.