Monthly Archives: December 2017

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Black Mirror Season 4, discussed.

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I’m on today’s episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour, weighing in on the new season of Netflix’s cautionary-tale tech anthology Black Mirror. One thing I should’ve said had there been time is just how much the open format of the show contributes to its ability to build tension. Two of my favorites among the six new episodes are “U.S.S. Callister,” which runs a nearly feature-length 76 minutes, and “Metalhead,” which clocks in at around 40 minutes—not even long enough to fill a network hour.

Anyway, I was happy as always to join Linda and Glen, and especially glad to get to speak with Brittany Luse, whom I had not met previously. You can hear the episode here, or on whatever smart device you’ve got. Or both. I mean, we’re all cuffed to our digital appendages now, despite the warnings of Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker. Continue reading

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Elf Quest: Bright, reviewed.

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The alarming lesson of Netflix’s new Will Smith-toplined, David Ayer-directed human-&-orc buddy cop thriller Bright is that I am, apparently, not Too Old For This Shit.

Only someone who didn’t see xXx: The Return of Xander Cage or The Fate of the Furious could proclaim this this worst movie of 2017. Let’s be reasonable, now.

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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