The Clientele, one of my absolute favourite bands, announced the release of a new album, their first in six years, complete with accompanying single, music video, and tour in the fall. Hype levels are off the charts, even if said tour is bereft of Canadian dates.
What the hell is going on in the NHL playoffs?! The Leafs break their 19-year first-round curse, the upstart Kraken knock out the champs, and the Panthers come back from being down 3 games to 1 to send the greatest regular season team in league history packing for the summer. Utter madness.
Watchlist roulette: Warrior (guaranteed to make your dad cry), The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (I can 100% see why Schrader loves Ozu), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (this is a comedy about American exceptionalism, right?), and Wedding Crashers (totally sociopathic, do not recommend).
The new John Mulaney special Baby J is funny, yes, but also a little more caustic and prickly and weary. Cocaine continues to be a hell of a drug.
The great Patrick Willems on the no-plot-just-vibes pleasures of Tenet.
Sometimes I recommend American contemporary classical music by a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, because no person is just one thing. I keep half-remembering John Luther Adams' Become Ocean, an awesome, roiling 45-minute orchestral piece, but by listing it here, I have commemorated it, so no need to worry that I'll ever forget it again.
Steph and I played a lot of Overcooked 2 this past weekend. Like, a lot. You know what? Fun game! It 100% deserves a spot in your local multiplayer rotation. I also watched her play Paper Mario: The Origami King a bunch. Paper Mario games are consistently pretty weird and funny, so watching along is fun in and of itself.
RIP Harry Belafonte. RIP Gordon Lightfoot.
From Matthew Ogle's Pome, “Correction” by A.R. Ammons:
The burdens of the world
on my back
lighten the world
not a whit while
removing them greatly
decreases my specific
For the first time in a long time, I made a social outing with new friends to the movies. We watched Air! It was totally fine! We talked about it on the way out! Man, I missed social outings to the movies.
Last week's game of Watchlist Roulette ended up landing on John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness, which, surprise surprise, was awesome. No one hit extra-base hits into the gap during his prime quite like the Master of Horror himself.
Kevan MacKay, better known by his nom de YouTubeurBobbyBroccoli, put out part one of his series on disgraced South Korean researcher Hwang Woo-suk.
Wes Anderson is poised to have a big year, what with Asteroid City playing Cannes and all, but he's also having a moment on TikTok right now, as people are making tons and tons of little shorts inspired by his films set to Alexandre Desplat's score for The French Dispatch. In other Wes miscellany news, Kottke dug up some shorts he made to promote the 1999 MTV Movie Awards, and I also stumbled upon his American Express commercial.
The great Scott Tobias on one of my favourite comedies of the last five years, Support the Girls.
The Rewatchables dusts off the studio cameras and finally does Alien. All-time bad Bill Simmons take re: cats contained herein.
I went to the venerable Montreal institution Drawn and Quarterly for the first time in like a decade for the launch of the English translation of Dandelion Daughter by Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay.
Even though I don't have a pony in this particular race, nothing beats playoff hockey.
For this week's edition of Mild Takes from 2016: I played Overcooked with Steph! It's super fun!
A poem, via Pome: “Folk Song” by Tomaž Šalamun, translated by Charles Simic.
Every true poet is a monster.
He destroys people and their speech.
His singing elevates a technique that wipes out
the earth so we are not eaten by worms.
The drunk sells his coat.
The thief sells his mother.
Only the poet sells his soul to separate it
from the body that he loves.
It dawned on me that I have many friends, people who I admire and share hobbies with, that I never do see in person. So in an effort to break free of this particular spiral of isolation, I hit up a poetry reading at a local used book store (local note: if you haven't visited Phoenix Books, please rectify that), knowing that I'd run into people I hadn't seen in months. Now I have a bunch of plans in the coming week. Funny how that works.
It's been a big couple of weeks for stuff on YouTube for your boy. First off: I devoured several of Lady Emily's videos because I, too, spent an inordinate amount of time watching James Rolfe yell at old video games in his prime.
On April 10th, the avatar of chill studiousness known as Lo-fi Girl disappeared, and the internet fucking lost it. As it turns out, this was all in the lead-up to the launch of a sister synthwave stream, complete with its own mirror-world mascot, Synthwave Boy. Sometimes we can have nice things.
I am thrilled to report that the new Dougie Poole album The Rainbow Wheel of Death absolutely fucking knocks. Get some cosmic country in your life.
The great Roger Ebert passed away a decade ago, and the just as great Austin Kleon remembers his late-period blogging and drawing.
Oh how the gods of chance have smiled down upon me during these last games of Watchlist Roulette: we have Hanna (kind of like a YA Bourne movie?) and Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill (what sumptuous problematic trash the man makes, and I say this with love).
An excerpt from “A Parking Lot in West Houston” by Monica Youn (via Pome):
Angels are unthinkable
in hot weather
except in some tropical locales, where
from time to time, the women catch one in their nets,
hang it dry, and fashion it into a lantern
that will burn forever on its own inexhaustible oils.
After a couple of years of fitful activity, the great I Don't Even Own a Television podcast, a punk-rock beacon of literary hijinx, has packed up the van and driven off into the golden Cali sunset. J., Collision, if y'all ever see this: thank you. Your show fucking rocked. Ride the crab, forever and ever.
I was spoiled by the gods manning the Watchlist Roulette wheel: The Changeling, The Battle of Algiers, Female Prison #701: Scorpion, Pigs and Battleships.
Matthew Ogle's Pome newsletter is back with a vengeance. Here's “Intelligent Design” by J. Estanislao Lopez:
An engineer in Wisconsin claims to have improved grief's design. Aerodynamic, he says, showing off his sketches, barely grief at all! Applying physics like salve to a wound, he remembers what Torricelli said about vacuums, what Carnot said about absolute terror. He grabs a pencil and revises one more time. There's money to be made in this, his father would assure, chopping chicken-necks through the afternoon. Flightless birds! The engineer pores over schematics, grimaces at draft after draft. His last sketch: confused. Joints unlabeled. A room inside a room inside a room.
In perhaps the most predictable Movie Bowl since Mad Max: Fury Road steamrolled the field, Everything Everywhere All at Once earned itself a place in the upcoming second Movie Bowl Tournament of Champions by defeating another crowd favourite, Glass Onion.
I did something no 35-year-old man should ever do: join TikTok. Pray for my algorithm.
The great Susan Kare, a legendary graphic designer responsible for the iconic visual language of the Apple Macintosh and the ubiquitous Microsoft Solitaire deck of cards, randomly showed up in my various feeds a couple of times, and who am I to question synchronicities like this. Fun fact: Kare is the subject of what I consider to be the greatest fit pic of all time.
T-Pain, king of AutoTune, has released a covers album, and in the tracklist is a heavy psych/soul take on Black Sabbath's “War Pigs”. Reader? It fucking goes.
So I'm trying out this thing where I actually watch movies from my Letterboxd watchlist, so I watched Phenomena (very bloody and very bloodless), Luca (Pixar has this shit down to a science), The Bourne Identity (the last 90s thriller), and Fist of Fury (Bruce Lee rules, it's a shame about the movie around him).
“In Memory of the Utah Stars” by William Matthews:
Each of them must have terrified
his parents by being so big, obsessive
and exact so young, already gone
and leaving, like a big tipper,
that huge changeling’s body in his place.
The prince of bone spurs and bad knees.
The year I first saw them play
Malone was a high school freshman,
already too big for any bed,
14, a natural resource.
You have to learn not to
apologize, a form of vanity.
You flare up in the lane, exotic
anywhere else. You roll the ball
off fingers twice as long as your
girlfriend’s. Great touch for a big man,
says some jerk. Now they’re defunct
and Moses Malone, boy wonder at 19,
rises at 20 from the St. Louis bench,
his pet of a body grown sullen
as fast as it grew up.
Something in you remembers every
time the ball left your fingertips
wrong and nothing the ball
can do in the air will change that.
You watch it set, stupid moon,
the way you watch yourself
in a recurring dream.
You never lose your touch
or forget how taxed bodies
go at the same pace they owe,
how brutally well the universe
works to be beautiful,
how we metabolize loss
as fast as we have to.
It was the Academy Awards on Sunday! Everything Everywhere All at Once went 7 for 11! Michelle Yeoh has a fucking Oscar, dude! And the guy from the “Turn Down for What” video has three! That's cool as hell! That's my take: it's nice that the winners got an Oscar.
Maybe it's because I didn't watch the show, and maybe it's because I'm fucking sports-pilled beyond salvation, but I really liked what Daniel Joyaux wrote at the Ringer on how to fix the Oscars telecast once and for all. Basically make it two shows split by a Super Bowl Halftime Show-esque musical interlude.
Man, all this movie talk crowding up the list, huh? Too bad, here's more: every year, I give myself until the Oscars to officialize my list of the previous year's movies. To that end: here are my top 10 movies of 2022.
You know what's a fun game? Retro Bowl. Shout out to Retro Bowl. I'll take it over Madden any day of the week.
It's such a rare treat to discover a new favourite podcast. Thanks to a guest appearance by the Shutdown Fullcast's Ryan Nanni (who is on a yearlong quest to guest on as many podcasts as possible), I have been mainlining episodes of Remember that Guy?, a podcast about remembering athletes who are not legends or Hall of Famers, but who are fascinating and intriguing for other reasons. These guys are my people.
In conjunction with the release of his book Shift Happens, Marcin Wichary (or someone on their team, I can't tell) put together this nifty in-browser typewriter simulator.
For the last couple of months, I've been getting into lifting weights, spurred by a couple of chance encounters with the work of Casey Johnston. She writes about fitness in an approachable, lucid, down-to-earth way that I can appreciate as a complete and total novice. It's a real antidote to a lot of discourse that's in the ether about fitness and health in terms of tone and POV. If you're curious about strength training, her book Liftoff gets my official okey-dokey.
“The Kingfisher” by Mary Oliver:
The kingfisher rises out of the black wave
like a blue flower, in his beak
he carries a silver leaf. I think this is
the prettiest world—so long as you don’t mind
a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life
that doesn’t have its splash of happiness?
There are more fish than there are leaves
on a thousand trees, and anyway the kingfisher
wasn’t born to think about it, or anything else.
When the wave snaps shut over his blue head, the water
remains water—hunger is the only story
he has ever heard in his life that he could believe.
I don’t say he’s right. Neither
do I say he’s wrong. Religiously he swallows the silver leaf
with its broken red river, and with a rough and easy cry
I couldn’t rouse out of my thoughtful body
if my life depended on it, he swings back
over the bright sea to do the same thing, to do it
(as I long to do something, anything) perfectly.
Only this time, the ten things are all movies I consider Short Good Secret All-Stars.
Ape (2012, comedy, colour, 86 minutes). Writer/director Joel Potrykus is gifted at weaving a very specific flavour of flyover-state ennui into acidic slacker doofus comedy gold. And here, his muse, Buster Keaton lookalike par excellence Joshua Burge, farts around, does shitty stand-up comedy, sets things on fire, listens to old-school rap/metal, wonders why everything sucks, and decides to make it everyone else's problem. Available on Mubi (and Kanopy in the US).
Avengement (2019, action, colour, 88 minutes). The crown jewel in the collaboration between English direct-to-video action lifer Jesse V. Johnson and the great Scott Adkins, possibly the most exciting fighter in the movies. Sits proudly atop the throne Guy Ritchie abdicated ages ago. Available on Netflix.
Dementia (1955, horror, b&w, 56 minutes). The other 1955 one-and-done, courtesy of aspiring producer and theatre-chain scion John Parker, is the epitome of “jazz horror.” A splintered avant-garde blast of urban decay and psychosexual paranoia. You will never look at a cello the same way again. Available on Tubi.
Fast Company (1979, action, colour, 91 minutes). A strange slice of auteur juvenalia: an early for-hire gig by body-horror master David Cronenberg that's... basically a Burt Reynolds movie? It's literally about a drag racer played by William Smith taking on his crooked sponsors, which may be the least Cronenbergian logline imaginable. But it does have former Playmate of the Month Claudia Jennings in a lead role, sick-nasty footage of cars going fast, a cute diet-Springsteen theme song, and a delightfully slimy supporting turn by CanCon All-Star Nicholas Campbell. Also John Saxon is here! Available on Tubi (and Kanopy in the US).
Furious (1984, action, colour, 71 minutes). A fractured, hallucinogenic no-budget fantasy martial arts jam shot in six days and starring legendary stuntman Simon Rhee. There's some surprisingly sturdy combat on display (Rhee and his brother Phillip are talented; the students from their dojo are less so), but the plot, tone, score, and pacing make absolutely no sense, and that anything-can-happen reach-exceeding-grasp energy is part of the reason I find this movie fascinating. Available on Tubi and YouTube.
Last and First Men (2020, sci-fi, b&w, 72 minutes). The sole directorial effort from the late composer Jóhann Jóhannsson is a post-rock elegy for the living, and Tilda Swinton is the one delivering the eulogy. It's based on a heady British “future history” novel from the early 1930s and the whole thing is rendered in power shots of various World War II memorials in the former Yugoslavia. Majestic stuff. Available on Mubi.
Night Tide (1961, horror, b&w, 84 minutes). Curtis Harrington, a mentee of Maya Deren and acolyte of Kenneth Anger, had been making avant-garde shorts for nearly 20 years by the time Night Tide was released, and it shows: there's a choppy, narcotic quality to this movie, which feels like the sun-kissed Cali version of Carnival of Souls. Only here it's mermaids, not zombies, and oh yeah, Dennis Hopper is the lead. Available on Prime, Mubi, Plex, and Tubi.
Secret Honor (1984, drama, colour, 90 minutes). Philip Baker Hall as an armed-and-drunk Richard Nixon loudly monologuing in the Oval Office while his own tape machines record his breakdown. Robert Altman's peak between 3 Women and The Player. Available on the Criterion Channel.
Son of the White Mare (1981, animation, colour, 86 minutes). Director Marcell Jankovics's best-known work in North America is likely 1974's Sisyphus, mostly because it was used in a GMC ad aired during Super Bowl XLII (aka the Eli Manning Combo Breaker). But Son of the White Mare, a full-blown psychedelic interpretation of a Hungarian creation myth, deserves some shine. Available on Kanopy in the US.
Tread (2019, documentary, colour, 88 minutes). There is nothing more dangerous on the face of the earth than a man with a Certain Set of Skills who feels he has been wronged somehow, because that man could be Marvin Heemeyer, who built a goddamn tank in his garage and turned it loose onto his “enemies.” The only thing more astonishing than the footage of the mayhem is the Hall of Fame-level staying mad on display. Available on Netflix.
Part of the reason this edition of Ten Things is late is that I spent five hours yesterday laying on my stomach getting a brand new tattoo, pictured above. Shout out to Val from Grey Market for her astounding work.
JPEG is a newsletter of a different stripe. From their own copy: “The images are links. The subject matter varies. No text. Just images.” Right on.
Y'all know I play Magic: The Gathering, right? And how I like to play with just the dregs of the game? Well, let me introduce you to some like-minded people, the pride and joy of Roseville, Minnesota, Quest for the Janklord, i.e. four guys who play Commander exclusively with cards worth $0.79 or less. So keep that god damn Sol Ring in your binder there, brother. Jank forever.
The great Adam Neely on the so-called Nintendo-fication of jazz, the future of the jazz canon, and the video game music scene.
You know who's a great fucking rock band? Pup. I caught up with The Unraveling of PUPTHEBAND, and guess what, it totally rips. Totally would have made my top albums of 2022 list had I heard it in time for list season.
Bailey Freeman, whose nom de plume is Foolish Baseball, got his main YouTube account hacked by Tesla dweebs. He has gotten it back, but has taken a hit in terms of subscriber count. If you're even in the ballpark of being as baseball fan (yes, I wrote that on purpose), I can't recommend this channel enough.
My friend Andy has taken the Ten Things ball and run with it: here's the first edition of the So-So Ocho.
Yesterday, Montreal lit mag Yolk held one of their “pop-up poetry” events (you give me a prompt and ~15 minutes, I give you a custom poem), and I was lucky enough to be behind one of the typewriters, hammering out verse for passersby. Here's a small sample:
I hope to hear your smile like sun rise on your face
My heart's inside your pocket— in its resting place
Felt from a distance conversation can erase
Happy Super Bowl Sunday to those who celebrate. Every championship season, I'm reminded of the modding communities that keep old sports games alive, updating the rosters and jerseys season after season. So shout out to the modding teams responsible for Tecmo Bowl 2023 and NFL Blitz 2023.
I am totally in the tank for whatever the Shutdown Fullcast crew does, and this includes Spencer Hall and Holly Anderson's newsletter, Channel 6. This week's free missive included a link to the 2008 Roofball World Championships. What is roofball? Why are all the participants in this supposed world championship seemingly all from Oregon? Fair questions both, but I invite you to just wade in the waters of adults putting a lot of time and effort into a backyard game (complete with score bugs and multiple camera angles, shades of classic Major League Wiffleball), all the while decked out in the finest fashions of the day. Says Hall in this very newsletter: “This is what the sports internet should have been, what it is at its best, and what it still could be.”
A new one for your rotation of morning puzzles: Cine2Nerdle, one part tile puzzle, one part Wordle.
Here's a weird one: I sunk over 1,000 words into Obsidian building a wiki for a grip of fictional characters that have been living in my head for years. I have no plans to make this into anything else, but it is nice to have this information somewhere that isn't my brain. I really like the idea of a wiki being not just a way of building a fictional universe, but telling a story by itself, as a kind of hypertext fiction.
Here's a peek at my current poetry project, a sci-fi/romance novella in verse:
Nor physicist nor engineer nor botanist nor cook;
I was just born here and got as comfortable as I could,
a ghost in the fuselage, a small spectral heart
in the outland folds of an infinite atlas,
longing for the margins, the coffee table,
the choppy waters at the edges of the page.
The whir of the engines gets the best of me,
and the brass tumblers in my brain slide into place
and I sink into the plush sleep of those on solid ground