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Monday, December 30, 2013

Checking In With 2013's Biggest Newsmakers

As we bid this year a fond farewell, I feel it prudent to catch up with some of my favorite newsmakers of 2013, see what they’re up to and what the coming year might hold in store.

1) Mally: Mally, of course, is the baby capuchin monkey Justin Bieber received on his 19th birthday and subsequently abandoned at an airport in Germany during his European tour. I’m happy to report that Mally was adopted by a German zoo, and is currently enjoying a fulfilling life of chattering, tree climbing, poop flinging and screeching for no reason. She is also working on a non-fiction tell-all about her experiences with Bieber titled Eye of the Storm: One Month With Canada’s Only Asshole.

2) The Jonas Brothers: We all remember where we were when the Jonas Brothers broke up this year. I was reading entertainment news off of a computer screen. “Oh, the Jonas Brothers broke up,” I vividly remember thinking to myself, following this with a third sip of coffee and a vigorous scrotum adjustment. What I didn’t know at the time was that the Jonas Brothers weren’t simply breaking up as a mediocre band whose fans really did deserve better (c’mon, Jonases!), but that Disney’s golden boys were actually divorcing each other as brothers, which is a thing you can do now. The split has been the hardest on Trey Jonas, the seldom-seen fourth Jonas, who lives his life as a conjoined fetus twin beneath Nick Jonas’s left armpit. Turns out, he wrote most of the group’s songs. Nick is refusing to work with Trey, who witnesses say looks kind of like a mix between creepy Muppet and one of those novelty plastic puke gags with teeth, who is now penning songs exclusively for Canada’s own Barenaked Ladies.

3) Anne Frank: Earlier this year while touring her house, baby monkey-abandoning, Canadian asshole, Justin Bieber, tweeted that Anne Frank probably would have been a “Belieber,” a term Bieber's fans use to refer to themselves, when they aren't screaming or crying. Public outcry was so bad that the ghost of Anne Frank herself held a press conference at which she said, “While I have never heard the music of Mr. Bieber, I would be more then willing to give it a chance if someone could please make me a mix tape.” As of this post, officials are still trying to locate a dual tape player. The ghost of Anne Frank still politely haunts the streets of Amsterdam.

4) Julianne Hough: You remember Julianne Hough, right? The girl from Dancing with the Stars? The star of the Footloose remake? Ryan Seacrest’s former gal pal (It’s a Hollywood term. Look it up, pleb!)? Well, this Halloween she dressed as one of the beloved convicts from the Netflix original series, Orange is the New Black, complete with orange jumpsuit and blackface. That’s right, blackface. Somebody did that in 2013. Somebody that media types often pay attention to. I’m not kidding! When confronted, Hough yanked at her collar and said, “I guess I didn’t get the memo!” The human race has since forwarded said memo to Hough. She probably tweeted an apology emoji or something. Anyway, I’m sure she’s still rich and pretty. Full disclosure, I didn’t actually catch up with her.

5) Paula Deen: Unlike recently reinstated anus-hater Phil Robertson, Paula Deen never recovered from her inconsiderate racial comments. She is still currently in hiding, basting things in butter and dreaming up new ways to serve ham to fat people in her popular Savannah restaurant, Butterball’s Old Fashion Pig-Outtery (“Where cracklins are always on the menu, y’all!”).

6. Miley Cyrus: Miles had a big year, huh? She put out the one album I bought this year (I’m sorry, everybody in the world.). She famously rubbed her butthole on Alan Thicke’s son. She sang a duet with an extraterrestrial, diamond-sobbing cat. She broke up with Thor’s brother. She licked a sledgehammer. She smoked a bunch of weed probably. She captured the very first photographic evidence of Walt Disney rolling over in his grave. She did it all! What’s next for Miley? Hopefully it’s less rapping.

7. Jon Gosselin: There were some pretty great Gosselin moments this year, man. I didn’t write about any of them, because ever since he blocked me on Twitter (Long story short: He tweeted something about Wheaties, I responded with something like “oh, is that what douchebags eat for breakfast?” only it was mildly funnier, but not really), I’ve felt kind of bad for all the crap I’ve shoveled on him. So, yeah, I didn’t offer any commentary on the interview he gave about how he’d rather work as a restaurant greeter than a reality TV millionaire with a closet full of trucker caps and Ed Hardy t-shirts. And I pretty much ignored the time he fired a gun at a reporter who followed him home to his secluded cabin in the woods. But I’ve got to mention the year-end rant he went on in which he called his ex-wife, Kate, “an asshole.” That is just a wonderful end-of-the-year treat that has to be discussed. So, yeah, he called Kate an asshole. That’s pretty much it.

Thanks for another great year, celebrities (and whatever Jon Gosselin is)! We’ll check back with you in 2014!

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Movie Superlatives

As of this posting, I have seen only 12 films released in 2013.  You don't need to say it, I am aware that this unfortunate statistic is quite shameful.  I'm hanging my head as I type this (partly out of shame; partly because I never learned to type correctly*).  Look, I could provide you with a litany of legitimate excuses (I have a two-year-old; I spend most of my monthly allotted entertainment budget on potato chips and orange soda; I mostly hate leaving my house unless it's to purchase potato chips and orange soda; all the movie theaters in my town mysteriously burned down at the beginning of the year; etc.), but I won't because, honestly, I don't owe you people anything.  Plus, I already listed said excuses between the two parentheses in the preceding sentence.  If you are the type of person who typically skips statements included between a duo of parentheses (Is there a type of person who does that???), go back and check it out.  Some of them are lies, so it's funny.

As you know, I post my Top 10 Films list on Oscar night, so I've got plenty of time to catch up on all of 2013's hit films (The Lone Ranger!  The Croods!  Jack the Giant Slayer!  My Little Pony: Equestria Girls!) before February, 2014.  Before this year ends, however, I wanted to hand out some good, old-fashioned, senior class superlatives to the movies I actually got to see.  So without further what-have-you:

1. Best Street Brawl Between Super-Powered Fantasy Creatures Involving an International House of Pancakes at Some Point: Superman VS. The Kryptonians in the streets of Smallville (Man of Steel)

2. Best Street Brawl Between Super-Powered Fantasy Creatures Not Involving an International House of Pancakes at Any Point: Legolas VS. Bolg in the streets of Lake Town (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)

3. Best Scene of the Year (And Probably Ever Because Holy Shit!!!): The barrel escape (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) - You don't have to be a LOTR geek, like myself, to enjoy this one, dudes!  Worth the price of admission itself, the barrel escape scene is a triumph of fantasy-action-adventure filmmaking.  It's got everything: dwarf antics, gross orcs, elf antics, decapitations, raging rapids, barrels, horrific violence, near drownings, Kate from LOST.  Best ever!!!

4. Most Likely to be a Movie You Watch When You're Home Sick From Work, Zonked Out on Cold Medicine and It's Just Starting on USA or TBS (Maybe You Even Missed the First 10 Minutes): Oblivion

5. The Michael Cera Award for Excellence: Michael Cera (This Is The End)

6. Best Remake I Was Convinced Would Be Awful and was Proved Gloriously Wrong By: Evil Dead

7. Most Likely to be Deemed "Meh" Months After Viewing: (tie) Star Trek Into Darkness and The Wolverine

8. Best Direct to Video Sequel About a Murderous Doll Possessed by the Soul of a Serial Killer: Curse of Chucky (other superlatives awarded to Curse of Chucky - Best Post Credit Sequence [In the 'unrated version,' Chucky and Andy Barclay are reunited long enough for the latter to blast the former in the face with a shotgun]; Most Likely to Shake Up An Until Now Firmly Established Personal Franchise Hierarchy List [Curse has been placed in the #3 spot]; Best Use of Rat Poison [vegetarian chili seasoning]; Worst One-Sided Phone Conversation [Andy Barclay talking to his mom in the post credit sequence in the 'unrated version'])

9. Best Segment From A Found Footage Horror Anthology Sequel: "Safe Haven" (V/H/S/2)

10. Most Likely to Inspire a Real-Life Drinking Excursion: The World's End

11. Character Most Likely to Be Punched in the Head by Me If We Ever Meet and His Mommy Isn't Around: That annoying kid from Iron Man 3 (Iron Man 3 also received the following accolades in a separate, un-televised ceremony - Most Fun Twist That Fanboys Should Just Get Over Already [The Mandarin is a drunk, English actor]; Best Use of Robot Suits)

12. Most Likely To Make My Official Best of Year List When It's Posted in February: (tie) Monsters University and The World's End

* This is a lie.  I type like a f**king champ, son!

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hoopdy Doo and Dickory Dock!


from your pals at 


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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Of Buttholes and Duck Men

"You ever had your asshole licked by two women at the same time?"

The summer between my sophomore and junior years of college, I worked for a temp agency based in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The assignments over that three month period were varied and more than a little odd.  One week I was helping make speciality food deliveries to local grocery stores with a man who incessantly sucked down Coca-Colas, justifying it by explaining that his grandfather had left him several shares of Coke stock in his will.  Another week I was teamed up with a rag tag group of men, ages ranging from 18 to 53, to clear the shelves of boat store to make room for, I guess, newer, better boat-related products?  I organized a small insurance company's filing room (Until I lost interest, left for lunch on the second to last day, and never returned.  School was starting back up anyway, so I didn't think it was that big of a deal.  Nobody talked to me in the office anyway.  I probably could've sat in that cramped filing closet for 8 hours a day, not touched a single file, and still gotten paid.  It was stupid.).  I helped a gregarious middle-aged woman set up speciality food displays at a Food Lion on the outskirts of Mecklenberg County (On our last day together she gave me a box full of free stuff, all of it past the sell by date.).  The boat store crew and I reconvened to move the contents of a high-end furnishings store from one location in the rich person's mall to another location three or four stores away.

My weirdest assignment was the single day I spent with a leaf blower strapped to my back, clearing dead leaves and debris from the breezeways of a sprawling apartment community.  Just me and another dude, let's call him "Greg," mostly because I can't remember his name.  Greg had recently been released from prison and was living with his sister.  He enjoyed rap music.  In fact, twenty minutes into us working together, Greg asked me, "Matt, do you like rap music?"

"Of course I like rap music," I answered.  I was pretty smitten with Greg already.  He was a nice dude. He never shut up, but he was endlessly amusing.

"Will Smith, right?  He's the White Man's rapper."

"No.  I don't care for Will Smith.  I like the Beastie Boys."

"Yeah.  They're all right."

Twenty or so more minutes later, Greg looked at me and said, "You know, Matt, I used to hate white people.  Wanted to kill 'em."

Usually, this statement would've been it for me.  I would've fear shit my pants and run for my car.  But Greg and I had fallen into a rhythm and I was interested to find out where he was taking this.  "I hate to hear that."

"Then I met this white dude in prison, Peter, and we became, like, best friends, man."  Phew!  Fear shit avoided.

My very special favorite bon mot uttered by Greg that day was the colorful phrase that opened this post.    Before I could answer that I had, in fact, never had my asshole licked by one woman, let alone, two women at the same time (Full disclosure: By this point I had just done a lot of heavy petting and received exactly one lackadaisical hand-job), Greg said, "I have!  It was awesome!  They were both down there and then one of them starting sucking..."  You get the point.

What does this have to do with Phil Robertson?  Well, I'm glad you asked.  Earlier this week it was revealed that one of the stars of the inexplicably popular A&E reality television series, Duck Dynasty, is a homophobe.  Oops!  I'm sorry.  I meant, compassionate Christian gentleman who loves all of God's creations, even the hell-bound ones who prefer the company of the same gender.  Here's my favorite quote from the GQ article that exposed this bearded bigot:

"It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus, that's just me," Robertson said. "I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical.

Let's skip the reductive nature of Robertson's comments.  I mean, he seems to be suggesting, in this bit anyway, that what defines a homosexual male is his all-encompassing love for the anus.  Um.  Hey, Robertson, you know that thing attached to the vagina you love so much?  The woman you fell in love with and desired to start a weird bearded family with?  The mate with whom you wanted to share all the most important moments in your dumb life?  That's what gay dudes want too, dummy!  They want a deep, meaningful connection with someone too, only that someone just happens to share the same junk in the swimsuit area.

And don't take what I wrote the wrong way, anybody.  Vaginas are great!  The best, probably.  But I didn't date, fall in love with and marry my wife just because of her vagina.  She has an anus too, you know!

Look, until Greg introduced the idea of buttlicking into my life, I was kind of walking around with my head up my, well, you know.  The fact of the matter is butt holes are great, and the fact that Phil Robertson seems repulsed by them, going as far to call an appreciation of them "illogical," makes me feel super bad for his wife.  Do you know how many pleasure receptors there are in the human anus?  Like, 5,000*!  That's amazing!  To ignore the anus in either heterosexual or homosexual sex is to do a great disservice to your sexual partner.  Trust me, Phil, your wife wants you to spend a little time with her balloon knot.  She might not even know it yet, but, again, trust me.

I'm not going to say whether or not I ever took Greg's advice to get my asshole licked "as soon as possible."  That's not important and, frankly, it's none of your business.  But I will say that I understand the importance the butt hole plays in human sexuality, and when some duck call whittling, homophobic piece of swamp-water chugging garbage starts bad mouthing it, I'm gonna stand up and say 'No thank you, sir!  You leave butt holes alone!  Or don't!  Don't leave them alone!  That's the problem here!'

*I don't know if that's true.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Entertainment Weekly's Best Singles of 2013: Part 1

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I didn't really listen to a whole lot of new music in 2013.  When I wasn't listening to podcasts, I was usually tuned into a local Top 40 radio station I particularly enjoyed (i.e. had the least annoying DJs).  Once said radio station switched to a country format (WTF?!?), I abandoned the radio pretty much altogether.  The only 2013 album I purchased was Bangerz by Miley Cyrus, and, I mean, it's a fine album, it's actually better than it has any right to be, but I'm a stocky, balding man in his mid-30's.  I'm going to write a end-of-the-year, Miley Cyrus-centric music wrap-up?  Not bloody likely.

There were some pop tunes I enjoyed this year (Zedd's "Clarity"; Krewella's "Live for the Night"; a handful of songs from the aforementioned Miley album), but for the most part, I don't know what the fuck went on in the world of music in 2013.  Kanye West put out a new record, yes?  Something about how he's the reincarnation of Jesus Christ or something?  Oh, there was that Jay Z song I hated.  Eminem is back apparently.

Thankfully, Entertainment Weekly put out their best of 2013 issue last week.  Now I know officially what I was supposed to like.  Even more thankfully, they included their picks for the year's best singles.  So, rather than doing my own research, I've decided to listen to each one of singles EW chose, and decide for myself if said choice was good or bad.  Keep in mind, EW included World War Z in its list of the 10 best films of 2013.  I haven't seen World War Z, so I don't know if my reminder means anything, but I thought it was important to share.

10 "When A Fire Starts To Burn" (Disclosure)

What EW says: "It's all so deliriously simple, it just might be genius."

Or, you know, it's so simple that it's, I don't know, amateurish?  Look, this is the only Disclosure song I've ever heard, but as the old expression goes, 'You only get one chance at a first impression, so make sure it isn't just a recording of a sermon over a drum machine.'  Based on this outing, I'm not sure I need/want any more Disclosure.  Full disclosure (heh heh heh), this reminds me of when my friend Will and I would create a beat on the old Mtv Music Generator program and then record ourselves saying silly stuff over it.  We'd listen to the finished product and giggle like idiots, maybe we'd play it for some other like-minded friends, but never anyone else.  I think I did play one of our silly tracks for my dad once.  He had the most confused expression on his face the entire time.  When it ended he asked, "What instruments were you guys playing?"  "We weren't," I beamed.  "It's a computer program."  "Oh," he said in a tone that actually said, "Why is my college-aged son still such a goof, Lord?"

One of the year's best?: No.  I can't think of anything less essential than "When A Fire Starts To Burn."

9. "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" (David Bowie)
What EW says: "With a crunching guitar riff and four-on-the-floor drums, the music takes its cues from the best of his Berlin Trilogy and Scary Monsters output."

I don't have enough David Bowie knowledge to speak to this unfortunately.  I enjoy the music of David Bowie.  I like the 'best of' CD I own (I know, I know, 'best ofs' are for housewives and little girls. Whatever.).  My heart is open to David Bowie.  There is a place in my musical life for him.

I don't think there is anything to hold onto in this song unfortunately.  Sure, that 'crunching guitar' is pretty bad-ass, but there's no hook, or not enough of one to keep me interested.

One of the year's best?: Not for me.

8. "Cruise (Remix)" (Florida Georgia Line w/ Nelly)

What EW says: "If love means never having to say you're sorry, then yeah, I'm not sorry.  I love it."

Didn't I shit on this earlier in the year?  I'm almost sure I did.  Listen, if you like this kind of thing (toothless hip hop mixed with grating country pop filtered through auto tune and readymade for truck commercials) you're in luck.  This is probably the best song ever.  If you enjoy music and non-suicidal thoughts, you probably hate this song.  I'd rather listen to an extended version of "Must Be The Honey," Nelly's recent song-mercial for Honey Nut Cheerios, then hear "Cruise" ever again.

One of the year's best?: For people who love shit, sure.

7. "Stay" (Rihanna w/ Mikky Ekko)

What EW says: "Vulnerable and disarmingly honest..."

This is a song I like (It's not the only one on EW's list, by the way.  This won't be a complete pummeling.).  Sure, it was overplayed, but the first few times I heard it, the emotional gut punch it delivered was a real, painful treat.

One of the year's best?: It may have been if radio hadn't played the shit out of it.  It's still pretty good though.

Stay tune for Part 2 later this week.

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Worst Commercial of 2013. Or Ever.

No offense, but you probably love this:

"Aw, it's cute because it's toddlers playing soccer, but it's funny because how did those toddlers get so good at soccer.  I'm going to buy this camera immediately and start taking photos of the soccer-playing toddlers in my town."

I have a visceral reaction to this commercial.  So much rage wells up in me when this commercial comes on that I can hardly stand it.  I'm serious.  My mouth twists into a tight grimace.  My temples start to pulse.  My hands twist into talons of hatred.  My skin prickles.  And for its 32-second runtime, I can speak in nothing but curse words.  I cannot explain it, other than I hate the fact that these kids are playing professional level soccer through the aid of CGI.  Like, maybe if they found some actually soccer wunderkinds or something, I wouldn't be so pissed off.  But I am pissed off.  So pissed off.

I hate you, Canon EOS Rebel SL1!

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

My 10 Favorite Television Programs of 2013

Was it a great year for TV?  I don't know.  I spent most of my allotted "TV time" watching Sesame Street and/or old Mickey Mouse cartoons with my daughter.  I'm not complaining, I'm just trying to explain how a whole lotta TV got by me this year.  

There are a lot of newcomers on the list this year, as well as tried and true favorites, and exactly one non-comedy.  Why is the list so comedy-heavy, you ask?  Oh, you didn't ask?  OK then.  Moving on.

Look, my DVR is full of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Almost Human episodes that I haven't watched yet, so maybe they're great.  And I've committed myself to giving Sleepy Hollow a try once I gather up the strength to care even a little bit.  Also, a lot of 2013's new offerings do not appeal to me (The Crazy Ones?  Really?  Dads?  No thank you, sirs!)  At least 10 shows did appeal to me however, and that's why they made the following list.

10. Chopped (Food Network): As far as I'm concerned, Chopped should just have it's own network.  It would be called The Chopped Channel and it'd play nothing but episodes of Chopped, back-to-back-to-back.  Whenever I turn on Food Network and see something, like, Guy's Grocery Games, I go, "What a minute!  Where's Chopped?"  A network dedicated to Chopped would alleviate this problem.  Anyway, Chopped is a fantastic cooking competition show, and if you're not watching it, or (GASP!) not even aware of it, I don't know what to say to you.

Best episodes: To be honest, I can't tell a Season 17 episode from a Season 3, so I don't know if my favorite episodes this year were current or not.  I think the episodes in which contestants were forced to used leftovers in their dishes was from this current season.  Those were my favorites: the leftovers ones.

9. Steven Universe (Cartoon Network): I was initially interested in this show for one reason and one reason only: Tom Scharpling.  He is the voice of the titular character's father, and being a huge fan of Mr. Scharpling, I felt it my sworn duty to check out the show.  The concept was also weirdly appealing (a chubby young boy with a gem for a bellybutton lives with three gem-powered females [Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl] who use their mystical powers to protect the seaside town of Beach City from hideous, gem-hungry monsters, and gets into various misadventures while trying to learn how to use his own gem-based powers).  Greg Universe (voiced by Scharpling), Steven's car wash owning father (who somehow is bald and has a mullet at the same time!), was in the second episode, and then kind of disappeared.  At first, I was disappointed, but then, I realized, I kind of just love this show.  Fans of Adventure Time, Scott Pilgrim and gem-based magic take note: this is your new favorite show.

Best episodes: "Cat Fingers"; "Frybo"; "Cheeseburger Backpack"

8. How I Met Your Mother (CBS): I've said a lot of things on the blog lately about how sick I am of Ted Mosby and his "I-still-wuv-Robin" bullshit, and how I'm so glad this show is finally coming to an end, and how I would be glad to put it out of its misery Old Yeller-style, and so on.  The truth is, however, I love this show.  I've been with it from the beginning and I will stay with it to the bitter end.  It's the only show my wife and I watch together on live television, not counting football, so that's something too.  Monday night at 8:00, I always know where me and the wife will be: snuggled in bed, her almost certainly fast asleep, watching How I Met Your Mother.  And I didn't have high hopes for this season, seeing as though it was being spread over Barney and Robin's wedding weekend.  To my surprise though, HIMYM has been pumping out some of the greatest episodes of it's 9 year run.

Best episodes: "The Lighthouse"; "Platonish"; "The Rehearsal Dinner" 

7. Comedy Bang Bang (IFC): Another solid season of the CBB TV show.  Can I just say it's funny, and move forward?  I can?  OK.  It's funny.  Very funny.  Maybe the funniest thing on TV right now.  If you aren't watching it, you're an asshole.  Or, perhaps, you don't have cable.  If it's the latter, I'm sorry.  You're not an asshole.  But get cable already, you asshole!

Best episodes: "Aziz Ansari Wears A Charcoal Blazer"; "Anna Kendrick Wears A Patterned Blouse & Burgundy Pants"; "Andy Richter Wears A Suite Jacket & A Baby Blue Button Down Shirt"; "Jim Gaffigan Wears A Blue Jacket & A Plum T-Shirt"

6. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX): My favorite new situation comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a brilliant ensemble workplace comedy, only with murder and drugs because it takes place in a police station.  The cast is incredible (Chelsea Peretti on TV once a week?  Yes, please!) and the show is hilarious and I love it.  Andre Braugher is especially fantastic as Captain Holt.  Seriously, is there anything Andre Braughter can't do?  This man is amazing!

Best episodes: "Halloween"; "Sal's Pizza"; "Christmas"

5. Parks and Recreation (NBC): I know what you're saying: "Matt, I thought this was your favorite show on TV right now!  What gives?!?"  Look, you're not wrong.  Parks and Recreation might be my favorite comedy ever, but I wanted to give the tops spots to some other guys this year.  That said, Parks and Recreation has been great this season, from the consolidation of Pawnee and Eagleton to Leslie Knope's unfortunate recall.  Great ensemble.  Great guest stars (Does Billy Eichner officially work for the parks and rec department now?  I hope so!). Great writing.  Greatest show ever.

Best episodes: "Doppelgangers"; "Fluoride" "The Cones of Dunshire"

4. The Birthday Boys (IFC): I've heard such good stuff about the Birthday Boys so many times on the Comedy Bang Bang podcast, then when it was announced they'd been given a show I was in, sight unseen.  For my money, The Birthday Boys is the best sketch comedy show on television right now (I'm also a big fan of Kroll Show and I promise to check out Key & Peele before the end of the year, guys.  Promise.).  And having Bob Odenkirk on your team doesn't hurt.  I hope to see many more seasons of The Birthday Boys in the future.  Unfortunately, I don't hear a lot of people talking about it.  Maybe I frequent the wrong Web sites.  I almost only hear about boobs when I'm online.  Oops!  I've said too much.

Best episodes: "Goofy Roofers" (maybe the finest half-hour of televised comedy I saw this year); "All Your Favorites Are Back"

3. Nathan For You (Comedy Central)

Don't believe what you may have read online.  Nathan For You is not a prank show.  Nathan Fielder is not a devious prankster out to embarrass the normies of this world by making them look stupid on television.  In fact, the reason Nathan For You is so funny is that Fielder is often making himself the fool (I mean, the boob-obsessed security guard Fielder convinces to stakeout a convenience store while hiding in an empty arcade game cabinet is pretty stupid, but that isn't Fielder's fault.).  Ostensibly, Nathan Fielder is a "business expert," who approaches faltering or failing business and helps out, offering an off-the-wall solution to a problem that probably doesn't really exist.  The results are comedy gold.  I can't recommend this show enough, in fact, this year alone I've turned two people onto it, and I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but keep in mind that I talk to exactly four people a year.  

Best episodes: "Santa/Petting Zoo"; "Clothing Store/Restaurant"; "The Claw of Shame"; "Haunted House/The Hunk"; "Gas Station/Caricature Artist" (The "Gas Station" segment is my favorite one of the first season.  It is insane and brilliant.)

2. Breaking Bad (AMC)

I binged watched Breaking Bad so I could be semi-caught up once the final season ended (I ended up seeing the series finale two weeks after it originally aired.  That's not too bad, right?  I avoided all spoilers too.).  This is perhaps the best and worst way to watch Vince Gilligan's masterpiece.  Best because, holy shit, this show is good.  I mean, Breaking Bad is amazing!  But you know this.  You've seen it.  Binge watching Breaking Bad is almost impossible to avoid.  You don't have to wait a full week to see what Walt and Jesse are going to do next, so why not watch 7 episodes in a row on a Monday night?  Worst because, after awhile, it felt like a chore.  A fun chore, but, c'mon, Breaking Bad is heavy stuff, and a steady stream of it into your head can, for lack of a better and less-offensive term, fuck you the shit up.  That being said, Breaking Bad now reigns as my favorite show of all time and I, for one, was a big fan of the finale.

Best episodes: They're all good, man!  Just watch the whole series.  I think my dad and I are going to watch it together after the football season ends.  Nothing like a show about meth and murder to bring a father and son closer together.

And my favorite TV show of 2013 is...

1. New Girl (FOX)

Confession time: The only reason New Girl was left off of last year's Best of Television list was because I got lazy and didn't want to write anymore.  That's the truth.  I've regretted that decision every single day since then.  That's not why you see New Girl at the top of 2013's list though.  No, sir.  New Girl is at the top of this year's TV list because nothing made me happier when plopping down in front of the big-screen for my Saturday Afternoon TV Catch-Up-A-Thon (Saturday's from 12:00 to 3:00, AKA my daughter's nap time) than a new New Girl on my DVR.  New Girl is solid week after week after week.  Funny and moving, I care about these characters and what they're going through.  My hope is that you are watching it.  A lot of people I know refuse to give it a chance because of the whole "adorkable" thing from when the show first premiered.  Forget all that.  "Adorkable," whatever it means or was, has been left in the past.  New Girl is now comfortable being one of the funniest shows on TV without it's Buddy Holly glasses and fakey British accent.

Best Episodes: "Cabin"; "TinFinity"; "Double Date"; "The Box"; "Keaton"; "Menus"; "Longest Night Ever"

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My 10 Favorite Podcasts of 2013

Tis the season for year-end shit!  Fa-la-la-la-la and the rest of it.  It's that exciting time of year when Giant Electric Penguin picks its favorites.  Then it's off to Twitter to tag the winners in a tweet they can ignore from now until Christmas and beyond!  

Naturally, I've decided to share My Favorite 10 Podcasts of 2013 first.  I say naturally, because as most of you know, I require the sustenance only podcasts can provide for my continued existence.  Something happened to my body earlier this year--it may have been during the third hour of a You Made It Weird--but now I can absorb nutrients through my ears, nutrients provided by not only the 10 amazing pods on this list, but all 23 of the ones I listen to on a regular basis.  It's sick.

So, without any further what-have-yous, the list!

10.  The Horror:  Put out twice each week by Relic Radio, The Horror re-airs horror plays from the good old days, when, following a dinner of mutton and pearl onions in white gravy, a family would put on its Sunday best, gather around the radio box and listen to creepy stories about infidelity, murder and offensive stereotypes.  Mom would dab at her brow with a lace hankie; the children would sit huddled together, quite certain that another night of horrifying nightmares awaited them; and Daddy drank.  Ah, the American dream.  I've been giving The Horror a lot of ink on the pages of GEP lately and for good reason.  The Horror presents a slice of Americana that I kind of miss retroactively.  I'm glad Relic Radio is keeping it alive.  

9. Go Bayside: Comedian and fellow Morrissey acolyte, April Richardson, watches an episode of Saved by the Bell and picks it apart with a funny friend.  As a huge fan of both Saved by the Bell and funny people, Go Bayside seems perfectly catered to my podcast needs.  The fact that Richardson is so passionate about the show (and has access to people like Paul F Tompkins, Howard Kremer and Jake Fogelnest, among many others), makes it even better.  Also, I've been meaning to write her an e-mail about the whole "door-leading-from-the-hallway-directly-into-Mr.-Belding's-office" thing.  My wife knew a principal who had a back door, of sorts, that led directly into one of the school's hallways.  Apparently, he used it to make a quick escape when someone he didn't want to talk to was coming.

8. The /Filmcast: You'll find as this list progresses that I listen to a lot of movie-related podcasts in which bad movies are poked, prodded and generally shit upon.  The /Filmcast offers a more serious take on film, though not so serious that the proceedings are dull and laugh-free.  A typical episode finds host Dave Chen, co-host Devindra Hardawar and a special guest discussing what films and TV shows they've been watching, then talking about the latest film news and ending with an in-depth review of a current release.  It's entertaining, as well as, insightful, and Chen and Hardawar have a good chemistry.  And speaking of chemistry (BOING!), Chen used to do a pretty great Breaking Bad podcast, called The Ones Who Knock, that I particularly enjoyed listening to as I navigated that show's final season.

7. Extra Hot Great: Extra Hot Great returned this year after a little hiatus and I couldn't be happier.  EHG is a podcast concerned with all things TV.  Highlights include: Is This Worse Than Jazz?, without which I would have never known how absolutely abysmal The Mindy Project's theme song is; The Canon, a growing list of the best episodes of television ever; and Game Time, which consistently distracts me from my work duties.  

6. Bloody Good Horror:  I remember I wanted to find a podcast that focused on horror films, as it is a genre I am very passionate about (obligatory reminder that I intended Giant Electric Penguin to originally be a horror-focused blog that wasn't call Giant Electric Penguin).  The first pod to pop up in my search was Bloody Good Horror.  Turns out, it was all I needed.  The horror talk is top notch, but what keeps me coming back are the hosts of the show.  They have a rapport that is difficult to beat, and they are quite gracious to their listeners as well.  And I'm not just saying that because host, Eric, liked one of my pictures on Instagram.  They seem like nice dudes.

5. We Hate Movies: Some more nice dudes, who are equally gracious to their listeners (and not because of all the RTs I've gotten from them, OK?!?), the gang over at We Hate Movies do what I like and they do it well (and with copious amounts of wonderful swearing and mock anger!).  Simply put, the WHM crew watches a movie that sucks, then they painstakingly, and hilariously, kick the shit out of it.  

4. Doug Loves Movies:  DLM has been around for a good long time and it remains one of the best podcasts in the pod-o-sphere, which is probably a real thing by now, right?  In fact, I like all of Doug Benson's podcasts (DLM; Dining with Doug and Karen; Getting Doug With High: the forthcoming Doug Loves Sleeping).  Doug Benson is awesome!

3. Comedy Bang Bang

I've been listening to Comedy Bang Bang since the beginning, when it was Comedy Death Ray and it played goofy comedy tunes rather than ads between segments), and it just gets better and better.  Highlights in 2013 included: the introduction of new Earwolf intern, Gino Lambardo (Please put Lambardo and Marissa Wompler together as soon as possible!  PLEASE!!!); a visit from Michael Jackson, on vacation from Hell; Marissa Wompler's 17th Birthday Party; Paul Rust's Creepies; several memorable visits from 2013 CBB MVPs, Lauren Lapkus and Horatio Sanz; and Jon Daly and Zach Galifinakis' deep appreciation for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

2. The Best Show on WMFU

Last month, Best Show host, Tom Scharpling, announced that he's ending his show after 13 years.  I'm bummed, but I get it.  Doesn't mean I gotta like it, but I get it.  I, of course, will follow Tom to whatever he does next (Check out My 10 Favorite TV Shows of 2013 later this month for proof, not that I owe any of you proof, ya jerks!).  People who know me know that The Best Show is pretty much my favorite thing.  Period.  I once made the mistake of saying that to someone in front of my wife.  A friend asked me about the Best Show t-shirt I was wearing and I responded, "It's a radio show out of New Jersey.  It's basically my favorite thing ever."  "That's nice," my wife said, rolling her eyes.  I quickly amended my statement, placing The Best Show second, after my family.  So, yeah, it's second, but it's a strong second, I mean, it's right there pushing hard on first, letting first know who's boss.  [I'll post more about The Best Show next week.]

And finally, my very favorite podcast of 2013 is...

1. The Flop House

Take two writers for the Daily Show, the world's coolest dude, a bad-ass house cat and Hollywood's dumbest movies and you have The Flop House, my favorite podcast of 2013.  Dan McCoy, Elliott Kalan and Stuart Wellington (seen above not in that order) are three of the funniest dudes around and the Flop House fan community on Facebook is pretty awesome.  I usually don't get into all that (posting on podcast's FB pages, interacting with other fans, etc), but Flop House listeners are a funny, intelligent and accepting bunch, and I'm glad to count myself among them.  Flop on, Peaches!

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