2008, Movies

A Christmas Tale (2008, Arnaud Desplechin)

The way I watch older movies is I go through my ridiculously long 90-page list and see what I can watch on Netflix or borrow from the library. I rarely remember why I added them. That can lead to some pretty hilarious misunderstandings when I added something I really didn’t mean to. Or, as in …

2000, Music

Voodoo (2000) by D’Angelo

I heard so much about this album that I was bound to be disappointed. I had read really positive reviews but also multiple friends of mine told me it was a great album and at least one of these people was not an R&B connoisseur. (Meaning I should take his opinion even more seriously.)

2000, Music

Razorblade Romance (2000) by HIM

To the extent the I know HIM I hate HIM. In 2011 I listened to Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights and Love Metal, panning both of them and giving the former a rare 3/10. (Music has to be bad for me to go that low.) The ensuing years seem to have mellowed me somewhat or …

1995, Music

Leftism (1995) by Leftfield

My knowledge of electronic music is confined primarily to the very early days of the genre, with a few (mostly ambient) records since. My knowledge of dance music is even more limited. My knowledge of House – specifically the niceties involved in defining the different subgenres of House – is basically non-existent. So I have …

1995, Music

The Great Annihilator (1995) by Swans

I am still far from a Swans expert – though I have seen them in concert! – but I feel compelled to echo the comments of others about how this record feels either like “more accessible Swans” or some kind of hybrid of their ’80s sound with a more traditional approach to songwriting (at least …

1995, Music

Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995) by The Roots

A friend of mine in university always used to tell me that, whenever I gave hip hop a try, I should start with The Roots. He thought they would be more appealing to me. That was many years ago and, since then the Roots became a household name thanks to Jimmy Fallon. So they’ve gone …

2020, TV

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez (2020)

This is a frustrating but also fascinating brief documentary series about Aaron Hernandez the NFL tight end who was convicted of murdering one person, charged with murdering two others, and credibly accused of shooting at least one other person. I paid no attention to this at the time so much of this was new to …

1995, Music

Throwing Muses: University (1995)

There is so much alternative rock. I guess is true of any genre that was counted among the most popular in the world at a given time, but it feels like this is especially true of alternative. It’s as if, after Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Soundgarden showed it was viable, every single alternative rock …

1995, Music

The Rapture (1995) by Siouxsie and the Banshees

This is my first ’90s Banshees album and I must say I was a little reticent to give it a listen, for two reasons. For one thing, though I feel like their ’80s records have dated rather well for ’80s music, I must say I was worried that this record would sound pretty damn ’80s. …

1990, Music

Flood (1990) by They Might Be Giants

I was pretty overwhelmed by Lincoln and not necessarily in a good way. I had heard so much about the band but didn’t really know anything. On Lincoln they came across to me as a sort of poor mans’ Camper Van Beethoven, which probably not fair for many reasons. But I feel very differently about …

1990, Music

Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (1990) by The Sundays

Why do I know The Sundays’ biggest hit? I was 8 when it came out and absolutely not listening to contemporary radio. My only guess is that the video got played a lot on Canada’s music video channel when I was older. Because I’ve definitely heard this song, and I can’t come up with any …

2012, Movies

Chronicle (2012, Josh Trank)

This is a pretty great idea, though hardly a new one, which is marred a great deal by the found footage conceit, which feels stupid and completely of its time. One wonders if they could only get the film made because of how trendy found footage was in the aughts. SPOILERS

1985, Music

Stella (1985) by Yello

What the hell do I do with this? If you’re my age, or within 10 years of me either way, I suspect, you’ve seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. And if you haven’t seen it, you’ve likely seen another movie “Oh Yeah” was in. Wikipedia tells me it’s an “’80s cliche” at this point, so I …

2019, Podcasts

Against the Rules (2019)

I have yet to actually read a Michael Lewis book. (I know, I know.) But if his first podcast is any indication, I will probably enjoy them. This is a fascinating podcast about “the decline of the referee in American society”. I don’t agree with everything in it, and I think there’s a lot that …

2019, TV

Russian Doll (2019)

So let me try to tell you as little as possible: this is a funny show with lots of pathos that deftly balances dark comedy with strong performances of people with metal health problems. If any of that interests you, see this without learning anything else about it. Ideally, if you can even avoid knowing …

2017, Books, Non-Fiction

Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite (2017) by Jake Bernstein

I think tax avoidance/evasion is the second most important issue of our time. So I wanted to be able to recommend this book highly. Alas, I can’t unequivocally recommend it, though I would say it’s worth reading if you are unaware, as I am, of a better book on the subject. (I’m sure it’s out …

2019, TV

The Confession Killer (2019)

This is a frustrating, maddening and infuriating true crime miniseries about Henry Lee Lucas, a serial killer convicted of 11 murders, who has confessed to many more. At this point I will say that if you enjoy true crime, you should watch this miniseries. If you enjoy Netflix true crime documentaries that make you extremely …

2017, Music

Far From Over (2017) by ViJay Iyer Sextet

This is my second Vijay Iyer record, the other one I’ve heard was a trio record which was obviously not as full band as this one. That makes him one of the 21st century jazz artists I’m actually paying attention to, because my popular music podcast has me ignoring jazz basically altogether at the moment.

1980, Music

Un peu de l’âme des bandits (1980) by Aqsak Maboul

Somehow, despite being familiar with the work of two of the guests on this record, and having listened to at least a couple Rock in Opposition albums, I had never heard of this band before. How is that possible?

1980, Music

The Age of Plastic (1980) by Buggles

This band and this record are known for one thing, their highly symbolic if not quite prophetic hit “Video Killed the Radio Star”. Funnily enough it had already been released by a former band member but we don’t know that version because there are no female backing vocals. Well, guess what? The rest of this …

1975, Music

The First Minute of a New Day (1975) by Gil Scott-Heron, Brian Jackson and the Midnight Band

This is only my second experience of Scott-Heron, so I don’t know enough about the history, but it seems like this is (mostly) a somewhat radical departure from his earlier work. That’s in part because there is a large band here now, rather than just a trio (or nobody) backing Scott-Heron.