More like Deez Nutz roasting on an open fire, ha-HA! …wait. But then wouldn’t that—no that’s right, it—hang on lemme do some math on this one, you cats go read the article.
Toast-tosterone? Is that anything? HEY I SAID GO READ THE ARTICLE, TRUST ME, YOU DON’T WANNA SEE HOW THE DONUTS GET MADE.
(Obligatory reminder to subscribe to my once-monthly newsletter here, which rounds up everything I wrote in the preceding month, grants access to a curated members-only Spotify playlist, and includes a piece of exclusive bonus collectible content I will NEVER repost anywhere else, ever! It’s free, fast, fun, and you’ll feel left out of the cool kids’ newsletter conversation at lunch if you don’t!)
MOVE OVER, ELDEN RING, TUNIC, AND GOD OF WAR RAGNAROK, THERE’S A NEW BEST GAME OF 2022 ACCORDING TO MY FIVE-YEAR-OLD NEPHEW/GRANDSON (LIFE IS COMPLICATED, THIS ISN’T ABOUT ME.)
I introduced the wee boogens to the Mysteries of the Blue Shell just before Thanksgiving, and since then it’s been all they can talk about both over here and at home, so we gave Oldest Boy my old Switch and the results have been TREMENDOUS.
It was really their first introduction to video games proper, and I also got them hooked on the impossibly great Donut County.
Anyway Mario Kart rules, you don’t need me to tell you this, but they’ve added a bunch of new tracks and it’s hard to think of many other games that I’m still actively playing six years after its release.
Look the thing about this game is that it rules and I’m enjoying it a lot but sweet caroline It Lomg.
My Amazing Wife Managed To Find Me A Refurbished PS5 In Blatant Contravention Of Our No-Presents-This-Year Treaty, It Is Fucking Enormous; Also I Am Glad That I Too Violated The Treaty By Getting Her A Nice Wireless Digital Pictureframe And Replaced Our Car Batteries
WE ARE NOT BOUGIE FOLK, SHE SAVED UP ALL YEAR FOR IT, PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ROOM FOR US IN YOUR TUMMIES WHEN YOU COME TO EAT THE RICH.
I haven’t really had a chance to take it for a proper spin, because it’s 2022 and Christmas morning with a new game console now consists of updates and logins and transfers and downloads and locking yourself out of your goddamn Final Fantasy XIV account, but I can tell you already that I have been video-gaming for thirty years and have never felt a controller anywhere near as good as this one, it’s AMAZING; I’m redownloading Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice because it’s the most action-oriented game I own and I cannot WAIT to suddenly be good at it, I am CERTAIN that’s how this works, it was the CONTROLLER’S fault that I was bad at it on PS4.
The Afterparty is about what Benoit Blanc would call A MUHDUH at a high-school reunion and is the fucking DEFINITION of ‘mad I slept on it but glad I found it when I did’, because we devoured it in a single perfect night of some of the best television I’ve ever seen. As with all things that are truly incredibly it’s difficult to explain why it’s so good, so I’ll just list a few of my favorite things about it:
- Ben Schwartz gets a musical episode all to himself. The show is not a musical.
- A police detective who brings her own popcorn to crime scenes to enjoy while suspects tell their stories.
- Our main character gets a kittycat face drawn on him while he’s passed out after unknowingly ingesting animal tranquilizers and doesn’t realize it until the second episode
- There are secret codes embedded in every episode–morse code, flag semaphore, anagrams, and more–revealing one character that ISN’T the killer
- All of the suspects have to give handwriting samples that read ‘diarrhea’ and none of them can spell it
Every episode is from the perspective of a different character, ensuring that you’re never bored, never sure what to expect and, most importantly, never QUITE certain whether the information you think you have is accurate or not, as both audience and cast learn the hard way that memory is a fickle siren song.
A Christmas Movie Marathon
Featuring the yuletide stylings of:
- The Family Stone
A modern classic in the Melancholy Christmas tradition, featuring a gay, biracial, Deaf/Hearing couple, endless abuse of Sarah Jessica Parker, and a mom secretly dying of cancer. Sometimes gets flack from people who were expecting a rom-com, not a bittersweet rom-sad, but know what you’re getting into and it’ll knock your socks off.
- A Gift-Wrapped Christmas
Oh boy, what’s a lonely, bumbling single dad to do when his terrible, bloodthirsty Business Girlfriend wants him to neglect his son at Christmas, and what will his perky, quirky, store-brand Kristen Bell personal shopper do when she realizes ‘shopping’ isn’t the only ‘personal’ she’d like to be doing for him? You bet your ASS romantical Christmastide hijinx ensue, buster brown.
This is one my missus watches every year because it’s kind of really perfect in its purity, the platonic ideal and archetype of the Hallmark Christmas Movie, and that’s not inherently a bad thing; if you can get on that wavelength it’s cute as hell.
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
One of the all-timers! Full of relatable holiday frustrations and yearning for a perfect family celebration that never actually existed, one of the better novelty Christmas-songs ever made, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her husband get coal in their stockings, because they’re yuppie scum. Is it actually good? Who can say, but its shape is worn indelibly into my holiday psyche.
A classic of the New 10’s with an absolutely STACKED cast, a genuinely touching message about sadness and hope at the holidays, INCREDIBLE violence and creature-effects, and a terrifying non-sequitur animation sequence without equal from a cool old German grandma!
- Home Alone
Another all-timer! Also? A deeply strange movie filled with people acting in completely inexplicable ways. Why would you let your brother call your 8-year-old son a jerk for accidentally spilling milk? Why would you persist in pursuing a CHILD-GUERRILLA who has proven he would absolutely kill you to defend his home, or maybe just for fun? Why would you give a kid the fuckin’ third degree while he’s just trying to buy groceries, like his money doesn’t spend like everybody else’s, I thought this was AMERICA?
Also: as a wee Californian I had no idea what the fuck that furnace was and it freaked me out just as bad as it did Kevin, so I related to him in that moment.
- Home Alone 2: Lost In New York
Y’know what I’m just gonna say it: a superior movie. The Wet Sticky Bandits are much, much goofier (Daniel Stern’s physical performance in particular is incredible; how did he do that with his skeleton) and somehow much scarier at the same time, the Plaza and its staff give Kevin more to play off of than just running around his empty house, and the McCallister family are way better developed and yeah, maybe still assholes, but assholes that’re actually fun to watch. Also: I am very confused about how the charity money is supposed to get to the children’s hospital; a number of times they say they’ll rush it right over there, like what, there’s a surgeon refusing to do an emergency sisterectomy until somebody hands him a basket of cash? Unclear. Anyway, fun picture.
- A Christmas Story
Another classic, I don’t have anything to say about it that nobody else has, except maybe that while everybody in it is obviously doing a great job, Mom and The Old Man are acting CIRCLES around everyone else without trying, most evidently in Ralph’s fantasy-sequences. Also, the bit where Ralph goes out of his fucking skull and beats Scut Farkus within an inch of his life is beautiful not just because it’s satisfying, but because the inciting incident, the camel on whose back Scut is merely the last straw, is that Ralph is already on the verge of succumbing completely to despair with the realization that he’s pled his case for a Red Ryder BB gun with every power to whom he has access and was turned down every time. The scene and its performance really capture the way that an emotion–desire, frustration, etc.–could totally overcome us when we were kids, because we had the same volume of feeling but less space to store it in. We feel Ralph when he snaps, because we too have been brought to tears with how goddamn unfair it all is.
My favorite Christmas movie! It’s got EVERYTHING: monsters, one of the most haunting and beautiful scenes I’ve ever seen on film, a loving but incompetent father, Christmas carolers going at it with gusto, improbable friendship with Cory Feldman, inventions that get more ridiculous the longer you look at them, a steady job at the bank, references to The Time Machine, a landlord getting what’s coming to her, that landlord’s cats being named after various currencies like Drachma, Kopek, and Old Dollar Bill, and an image that permanently seared itself into the fear center of my brain!
It’s also got a lot of problems re: open racism, subtler and more insidious racism, and failing to realize that the point of its own story is that consumerist capitalism and xenophobia will be our destruction. (See here for a much more thoughtful, detailed, and entertaining account than I have time for here.) I will say that Gremlins 2, while not without problems of its own, manages to correct a lot of these and lampoons many of the first film’s flaws, but like, you don’t have to say “sorry we were racist six years ago” if you just…try harder not to be racist in the first place. Like all you have to do is not play the gong-sound behind the old Chinese man, it’s actually the easier thing to do.
Also, I’m sorry, I’ll always love him with my whole heart as the paranoid, definitely PTSD-suffering, rambling old avuncular neighbor I never had, but I just don’t see any world in which Murray Futterman wouldn’t have been at the Capitol on January 6th.
- Knives Out
I dunno it feels kinda Christmassy, doesn’t it? It’s cold, a terrible and also hella racist family who all hate each other are gathered together in a spirit of greed, one guy is outside smoking the whole time EVEN THOUGH he could just do the see-your-breath smoking and spare his tastebuds for delicious hams, a woman gets a surprise present, Chris Evans wears some cozy-ass sweaters, the defense rests, your honor.
Oh hey it’s that picture everybody except that hateful little weirdo liked! Glass Onion is FAR too competently-made a movie for me to have much to say about it that’s original or important, and I’m sure we’ll be analyzing it as a culture for a while, but I’ll say the hell out of this: it might not be BETTER than Knives Out (it’s just a different thing) but it’s probably a lot more FUN, and that definitely counts for something. The thing about sequels is the requirement that they be More than their predecessors in order to justify their existence, which causes them to tend naturally toward Denser And Wackier; this is only a problem when it isn’t handled well, and fortunately GO is much more a Gremlins 2 scenario and less the later Nightmares On Elm Street.
New season baybee! Youngs vs. Olds! HK is always my least-favorite when stacked against Masterchef and Masterchef Jr when I rank them, but damn if the drama don’t draw you in. NOBODY’S CONSPIRING AGAINST YOU TARA, SOMEONE HAS TO BE PUT UP FOR ELIMINATION AND YOU REALLY FUCKED THE TOASTER WITH THAT SALMON, THAT’S HOW THE GAME WORKS.
(I am conspiring against Tara.)
This is an all-timer in our household, destined to become a yearly re-watch for a million reasons, some of which are:
- THE MYSTERIES OF FAITH, YOU SAY 👀 👀 👀
- As long-time fans of The New Adventures Of Old Christine, Fargo, and Legion, we have only ever been the biggest, most belligerent supporters of Hamish Linklater, and were THRILLED to see him finally get something he could really stretch his legs–OR WINGLES???–with instead of just being a goof or relegated to bit parts. Every performance in the show is award-worthy and his is absolutely without equal among them in a way that unfolds and becomes clearer the more you watch it, knowing what you now know. MAN what an actor, shit.
- The desire to fling Bev Keane into the gaping chompers of the nearest convenient Tyrannosaur
- Wampire! (MAYBE???)
- Positive and well-researched depiction of Islam and specifically its relationship to Christianity
- “Be not afraid”
- The way it’s absolutely just a series of monologues, but like, they’re great and performed by incredible actors
- The guy at the potluck playing Gordon Lightfoot songs, hell yeah, that dude knows what’s up
Did you find The Haunting Of Hill House deliciously traumatic but a little insubstantial (because ghosts)? Did you like how thoughtful and emotional The Haunting Of Bly Manor was but wished it wasn’t asleep on its feet? Wish you had good examples of sincere and humble faith but also a proper Judgmental Religious Alpha Bitch to rightfully hate with the intensity of a blast furnace? DO YOU LIKE WAMPIRES??? Citizen: Midnight Mass is for you. GodDAMN what a program.
I hereby induct Spirited into the Canon of Christmas Movies, because it RULES. It follows a team of Christmas Ghosts who are in charge of redeeming one hopelessly Scrooged soul every year through meticulous research, top-notch production value, and ELABORATE MUSICAL NUMBERS. This movie is SO much goddamn fun gang, you get to see Ryan Reynolds be a piece of shit, Will Farrell absolutely DOES go Full Will Farrell but also gives an extremely nuanced, emotional performance, it features rainbow casting to reflect how, y’know, the real world has more than white people, and it’ll teach you your favorite new way to tell people to go fuck themselves. Spirited has a terrible title and received NO marketing as far as I can tell, but is an incredible hybrid of stage and screen musical sensibilities, is consistently entertaining, and has songs you’ll be singing for hours afterward and during your every monthly shower; if you need more than that from a Christmas movie, I will say GOOD AFTERNOON TO YOU, CITIZEN.
Besides being required viewing for the only Star Trek podcast that matters, Voyager has become my go-to on-the-treadmill companion, all the better to distract me while my body undertakes its grim work.
It’s pretty weird that Voyager gets as much hate as it does, considering that as far as I can tell nobody likes Enterprise or Disco (although I’m pretty sure I’ll find something to like about them as long as there’re Klingons); I think it must be the fact that it follows Deep Space Nine, which is pretty universally renowned, and rightly so.
For me, I like Voyager because it’s weird and dumb and wandersome and sometimes kinda boring; it feels a lot like older Trek with its focus on exploration and thing-of-the-week, and also evokes a wistful flavor of ship-lost-at-sea, which is pretty clearly the intended effect if the title sequence is any indication.
Well, there she is, mon petites; the last post of the year unless I decide to pull something wild and/or lazy off at the last second. When I started this site earlier this year I didn’t really know what I expected, but I’m so glad that this—all of you—is what I got. Be good to yourselves, be good to each other, wear your goddamn masks, and make 2023 wish it had killed you when it had the chance.
And May the Force be with us all.