Cultural Junkdrawer – My favorites of 2018

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CULTURAL JUNKDRAWER

 

My favorites of 2018

 

Yes, once again were at the time of the year where critics and pop culture hacks/commentators… at least the ones who aren’t certifiably insane, looking at you Alex Jones, put out “Best of…” lists for the year. This is, obviously, an easy topic to take on because most of the heavy lifting has already been done throughout the year and if you’ve taken good notes you can just knock out a blurb or two to follow up and get back to drinking your eggnog spiked with rum, tears and all that disney payola for liking “The Last Jedi”.

Ummmm, not gonna do that!

 

Yeah, for multiple reasons like: Why bother? I don’t have the readership required to compete with other Best of lists. Since I spend more time making entertainment than consuming it my scope is limited. I feel I would be giving short shift to a vast list of musicians, filmmakers, television showrunners, video game makers and celebrity chefs that deserve notice but since I’m not on any free stuff lists I haven’t experienced. I don’t want to.

 

So instead I’m gonna just blab about stuff I liked and experienced from this turgid, confusing, harrowing, screwed up, darkest timeline 2018 we seem to be trapped in. I’ll try and be funny but if you read the previous sentence that gets harder on a daily basis.

 

I’ll also do a runner up and least favorite to pad this out a bit.

 

MY FAVORITE COMIC BOOK MOVIE: Into the Spiderverse

Our what is radioactive?!?!?

Not just because the movie has a deftly realized screenplay with wonderful characters, fulfilling story arcs, perfectly structured story, brilliantly choreographed action scenes and a killer soundtrack but because this movie somehow manages to synthesize the most exciting and innovative elements of both COMIC BOOKS and MOVIES. I’m hesitant to use the term “pop art” but something like when Miles is first experiencing his spider sense, he goes to that big frosted window and the words “LOOK OUT” appear just before it smashes can really only be adequately described as such. A feast for the eyes yet the story never loses the human component. Enjoyable if you are a lifelong or casual fan of the wall crawler. An animated movie of fictional characters but feels living and breathing in the way only true art can be “Into the Spiderverse” is near perfect about every way it can be.

RUNNER UP: Avengers: Infinity War – It somehow pulls off the previously considered impossible task of wrangling dozens of characters, years of continuity, and unparalleled expectation into a spectacle bright with the “KAPOW!” but never loses touch with what makes this universe resonate with viewers.

LEAST LIKED: VENOM – Borderline incoherent with years of development scars showing, this patchwork movie may have been a big hit but that doesn’t make it GOOD by almost any metric. Unless you have a particular kink of seeing a bug eyed Tom Hardy sit in a fishtank and eat raw lobster (looking at you again Alex Jones).

 

MY FAVORITE VIDEO GAME: Fortnite –

This cake ain’t a lie!

Colorful and silly I name this game my favorite for a few reasons: 1 – I only bought a few video games this year and none of them were released in 2018. 2 – There is no “pay to win” loot box scam shit going on with Fortnite. Sure the kids want to drop coin on this game but it’s all for cosmetic reasons: you can be a buff Santa with a rainbow unicorn harvesting tool fighting alongside a squad member with a fish body wearing a puppy on his/her back. 3 – When you win or if you just want to; you can do dance moves! 4 – For awhile there you got to have your ass kicked by Thanos wearing the Infinity Gauntlet. 5 – My daughter plays and when she inevitably gets killed she can ask her squad friends (and she does have a friend list) to “Avenge me!”

RUNNER UP: Yu-Gi-Oh Duel links: Fun, deep gameplay that never really stops evolving and the added ability to duel people from across the globe. This game kept me sane while I was laid up with a back injury in the spring. It’s also the reason there are three fewer column entries from me this year. Yeah, I’m a dork, sue me!

LEAST LIKED: Star Wars Battlefront 2 – See the above mentioned “Pay to win loot box scam shit”. I’m a proven Star Wars consumer but this as so mercenary as to make Boba Fett shake his head in disgust.

 

MY FAVORITE TV SHOW – Legends of Tomorrow

Wait is this a shot from the new Godzilla movie?

Ok, I’ll admit that the first season of Legends was weaksauce and a lot of people walked away but since then the show has gotten exponentially better with each season. The trick is realizing that time traveling superheroes is an inherently silly idea and then steer into that silliness skid with wild abandon! The results are, more often than not, heartfelt, meta, fun engaging characters, oddball concepts and very very funny. Example: Last season the big bad, a time demon named Mallus (pronunciation of his name is still a running joke), was commanding Damien Darhk to do evil stuff. The demon was voiced by actor John Noble. The Legends hatch a plot to record the actor John Noble giving false instructions to Darhk because he sounds like the Demon. They time travel back to when Noble was shooting the Lord of the Rings trilogy and record him under the guise that the instructions are new pages for the movie. I just had to re-read those last few sentences to make sure that all made sense. Other weird embracing: Gorilla Grodd sent back in time to kill a young Barak Obama, Unicorns are savage flesh eating monsters that give off psychedelic musk, The Legion of Doom almost scaring George Lucas into not making Star Wars, three breasted fictional warrior women coming into the real world and a epic Godzilla meets the Matrix final battle between Mallus and a giant cuddly blue furred toy called Beebo in the old west!

A funny, game cast, fun outrageous stories and a willingness to be weird all combine to make Legends of Tomorrow a perfect guilty plesure.

RUNNER UP – Future Man: Finding itself in the middle of a venn diagram of Terminator, The Last Starfighter, irritating fetch quests and Porky’s; Future Man also embraces the sheer lunacy of its premise. What makes the show work, aside from the jokes is that the show trusts its audience to be smart enough to grok the SF concepts along with the possum jiz jokes. Inside word is that season two is going to be even more off the rails concept wise.

LEAST LIKED – Jessica Jones season 2 – Following up a brilliant first season (the best of the Marvel netflix Universe) with a meandering second outing. Krysten Ritter squanders her considerable charisma on a show that had no idea what it wanted to be, subplots that went nowhere and characters that uniformly learned NOTHING from their previous experiences. I’m sure there was worse TV out there but none as disappointing to me.

 

MY FAVORITE ALBUM – The 1975 “A brief inquiry into online relationships”

One of these things is not like the other…

I don’t know about “The Millennial OK Computer”… several millennials I know give that title to Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires of the city” but the newest long play from the Manchester band captures “the moment” in an album that grows better/weirder with each listen. And CAN you listen to it! Filled with ear candy like “Love it if we made it” and “It’s not living if it’s not with you” jumping around stylistically the music never gets self indulgent even when it’s being too clever and knows it. I’m close to an age where a lot of pop music sounds the same; if it all sounded like this album I wouldn’t complain at ll.

RUNNER UP – One Dove “Moon Angel”: the never released follow up to one of my all time favorite albums “Morning Dove White”. How did I find it then? Quite accidentally stumbled across a youtube video with all the songs. I’m not even sure of the correct track names, I had to best guess from a few fan sites. Ethereal pop with dance beats and the mournful, breathy sexy voice of Dot Allison! If this is ever officially released I’m there but until then I’ll take this as proof there is still good in the world. Here’s the link BTW

Least Liked – About 94% of what my daughter is listening to – Nuff said.

 

MY FAVORITE COMIC SERIES – Crowded

Working title Guns n Smartphones!

Christopher Sebela’s manic creator owned series is dangerous to you. Because when you read it you will most likely slap yourself in the head repeatedly saying “Why didn’t I think of THAT!” Imagine a “Go fund me” for Assassins and a Uber for Bodyguards! A “twenty minutes into the future” take on social media, crowdfunding and stoic lone wolf heroes; Crowded blends breathless action, 21st century archetypes and a thoroughly twisted plot with some of the most playful, inventive and sharp artwork (thanks to Ro Stein, Ted Brandt and Triona Farrell) out there. Charlie Ellison is a modern girl living and working through social media and the vast internet temp economy. That is, until, she realizes there is a million dollar plus Reapr campaign (crowdfunded assassination platform) mysteriously placed against her. She hires Vita, the lowest rated bodyguard on Dfend… a bodyguard app, to protect her. Hilarity, action and anti-buddy character comedy follow.

RUNNER UP – JUST ABOUT ANY VALIANT TITLE – Wither it’s Matt Kindt’s epic in every sense of the word “XO Man o war”, Christos Gage’s James Bond as a ninja pulpy fun of “Ninja K”, Jody Houser’s smart, geektastic story telling chops on “Faith” or any of the other well crafted engaging titles; the Valiant line delivers on the promise of superhero comics potential! Side note this is a shared universe ripe for invasion of other media. Hopefully that will happen sooner than later.

LEAST LIKED – Batawang – Sure it was an “accident” that we got a glimpse of what Catwoman has been seeing all these years and not an attempt to generate media attention to your debut title for DC Black Label imprint. I believe you.

 

Next Week a special supplemental “(Not really)Best of…” list with things like Best Hate group, Best No Show and the hotly debated Best scented candle.

 

Stay Tuned.

 

Things tangential to the main column that I couldn’t work in organically

 

By the way I missed my last check from Disney for claiming to like “Last Jedi” and hating “Justice League”. I also haven’t been paid recently by NASA to push the narrative that the world isn’t flat, Big Pharma for vaccinating my kid, or the Democrats for saying bad things about Trump! Guys… keep that cheddah rolling in or the jig is up!

 

My thoughts on “Aquaman” in case you were curious: A movie that holds together despite constantly succumbing to the worst film making instincts a tent pole movie can have.

 

Honorable mention for TV has to go to “Santa Clarita diet” which answers the question “What if George Romero did a screwball family sitcom?”

 

Those that know already don’t you DARE spoil the best scented candle… Alex Jones I’m looking at you yet again!

Anytime Costumes

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