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December 10, 2013 at 9:47am

Nerd Alert: End of the Year List-ish

Even if the theories don't persuade you, "Room 237" fascinates.

Regretfully, I spent much of this year cocooned in solitude; too poor and depressed to do much beyond learn the names of the most praised cultural items of 2013. As such, it makes it quite difficult to put together a proper year-end "Best Of" list, as I am normally wont to do. Instead of making a token attempt at assembling a list, I'll just give you a miniscule sampling of things that both came out this year and that I saw and enjoyed. This Venn diagram is pocket-sized.

Movies

Coincidentally, the two films that I was most intrigued by this year are hardline nerd-bait. These films are the most fascinating and infuriating releases I saw this year, and neither one of them give a damn about whether or not you can follow along - for two very different reasons.

Room 237 is ostensibly a documentary about Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, told from the point of view of a handful of unseen talking heads. Each of these unseen narrators has a different completely bonkers theory about what's really going on in Kubrick's classic horror. Some make a certain amount of sense (Kubrick was a bored genius who put in subliminal sexual messages just to fuck with people), and some are hysterical batshit (The Shining was Kubrick's allegory for the faked moon landing/the Trail of Tears/World War II). Regardless of whether you believe any of these theories, which you won't, Room 237 is a brilliant essay on a brilliant film - and you'll be just itching to go back and revisit Kubrick's masterwork.

Upstream Color is only the second film from Shane Carruth - released almost a decade after his mind-expanding and impenetrable debut, Primer - and I couldn't spoil it for you if my life depended on it. Something about mind control, I think? Just like Primer, Upstream Color begs to be watched with friends and argued about for the rest of the night. It's the hardest of sci-fi's, and visually stunning to boot.

Podcasts

Podcasts are my only friends, and I will tell you about some of my favorites this year.

Harmontown: Hosted by the volatile and whip-smart creator of Community, Dan Harmon, Harmontown is a live, weekly "town hall meeting" hosted by Harmon and his longtime friend, Jeff Davis (Whose Line is it Anyway?). Besides stream-of-consciousness rants about dicks and existential discussions on the ins-and-outs of escaping Earth and building a colony on the moon, Harmontown is ultimately an examination on the difficulty of being a professional creative person while simultaneously being a functioning member of society. Add to that a hilarious, never-ending campaign of Dungeons & Dragons, which ends every episode, and it's a can't-miss.

Stop Podcasting Yourself: Featuring two comedians (Dave Shumka and Graham Clark) up in Vancouver, B.C., just shooting the shit with a weekly guest, Stop Podcasting Yourself is the classic formula for the chat show podcast. What keeps me hooked is the pure, ineffable amiability of the two hosts. SPY is the show that most consistently makes me smile, which epitomizes the greatest thing about podcasts: it's like visiting your best, funniest friends once a week.

Welcome to Night Vale: For those that want a bit more in their podcasts than just some guys sitting around talking, Welcome to Night Vale does a fine job of utilizing the weirdly uncommon format of the radio play. Punchy articles about Welcome to Night Vale like to describe it as A Prairie Home Companion meets H.P. Lovecraft, and that certainly does fit. However, for people that came of age in the '90s, I think a more apt comparison is to the surreal world-building of the Sideways Stories from Wayside School book series. Every dryly hilarious, claustrophobic news report about the mysterious desert town of Night Vale adds absurdly specific levels to the town's growing mythology. With less than 40 episodes at less than half an hour each, this is one you can catch up on in no time.

See Also

Judging by the Trailers

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Screens, Podcast,

November 8, 2010 at 2:14pm

Podcast: Cup Check sports column

Matt Driscoll's Cup Check sports column runs every week in the Weekly Volcano's Classifieds and on our website in the Extreme Leisure section.

CHECK IT >>>

On the first Sunday of every month I visit the Northwest Convergence Zone - a South Sound based podcast orchestrated by the venerable Darrell Fortune. It's "kind of a big deal," for lack of a better description, as the pro bono, weekend warriors behind the Northwest Convergence Zone recently came in fifth in King 5's Best of Western Washington poll - in the radio personality category. Usually, the Convergence Zone talks local music, arts and happenings - but once a month Darrel and Co. make an exception, allowing me to come in, talk sports and hype the new Cup Check column - a weekly irreverant look at the wild world of sports that recently debuted in the Volcano.

Here's a taste of yesterday's conversation, which you can also hear in full as part of this week's episode of the Northwest Convergence Zone.

Filed under: Sports, Podcast,

September 20, 2010 at 10:42am

Today's Soundtrack: Donald Glaude

Donald Glaude

LISTEN WHILE YOU WORK >>>

During the past 18-plus years as an international DJ, Lakewood-grown Donald Glaude has been responsible for seeding vibrant musical landscapes for audiences up and down the West Coast.

Las Vegas Weekly spent time with Glaude, recording the chat for the newspaper's Nocturnal Admissions podcast. Download it here.

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