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archer noir. [a month of happy.]

We are so close to a new season of Archer. 

Spoilers follow, if that’s even a thing with Archer.

I’m assuming this season takes place in Archer’s mind at the end of season seven, what with the oxygen deprivation and whatnot. Brains are weird even when you aren’t in a cartoon.

That would be a tidy way to have a season that is disconnected from the other seasons. After that, I would assume he’ll be brought back to life for season nine — the whole ‘he was dead for eight minutes’ sort of thing. Since Adam Reed said the show will end after the tenth season, I can’t imagine Archer stays dead.


moonlight. [a month of happy.]

“Who is you, Chiron?”

I would imagine that this may seem a strange inclusion in the month of happy. This film isn’t exactly light fare.

But after watching Moonlight for the second time, the best word to describe the mix of feelings it leaves me with is joy, followed quickly by hope.

For one, its beauty is inspiring. There is no aspect of this film that isn’t beautiful. The screenplay is beautiful, the score is beautiful, the camera work is beautiful, the themes are beautiful, the characters are beautiful. Every actor in the film manages to imbue each character with an amazing humanity and depth, which is especially impressive in light of the fact that only one cast member appears in all three parts of the film.

Moonlight is remarkable and joyful in many ways, it certainly deserves more than this stream-of-consciousness blog response. But, all the same, I wanted to share something that struck me on my second viewing.

This film– in addition to all the huge things it portrays in terms of race, sexuality, and identity — quietly illustrates the immense significance of kindness and hospitality.

The most poignantly hopeful scenes in Moonlight all take place when characters are creating space for each other in small and extraordinary ways.

**Spoilers and whatnot**

As these characters provide a meal, offer a ride, light a cigarette, share a table, make a bed, create a nickname, make a cup of tea, teach a child to swim — as they offer the gifts of touch, warmth, and home, they save a life and create room for a man as he continues the struggle to find himself and feel at home in his own body.

Take the scenes in the film set at tables. These alone are enough to illustrate my point.

With a glaring exception in the center of the film — in the cafeteria when Kevin is goaded into assaulting Chiron — every other scene in which characters share a table with each other is a scene when characters are fighting for Chiron, making room for him in the world.

In a perfect film, which I’d argue this one is, we’re rewarded for paying attention. Director Barry Jenkins doesn’t waste a single gesture or camera movement, every frame plays to the larger story.

Chiron is an easy character to love, but his world is forcefully telling him the opposite.

Again and again, we see characters share various tables with Chiron. They serve him food, juice, water, and wine. They talk and listen, they attempt to coax him out of hiding and toward himself. There’s more to unpack there, but I’m not entirely sure how to do it without a video essay. In part because so much is expressed in the performances.

This film is obviously about much more than this idea of the importance of creating space for people. It would take dozens of blog posts and essays to even scratch the surface. Yet, while every scene is about much more than this, they are certainly not about less.

Moonlight makes me happy. In part, because it helps me believe that there is some hope for us, if perhaps only in the small moments and kindnesses we share with those around us.

I’d love to continue fleshing out more thoughts about this movie in conversation if anyone is interested, but as I’ve learned talking to Emily about it earlier today, I can’t promise not to cry in the process.


taika waititi. [a month of happy.]

When I watch a Taika Waititi film, I feel happy. As a person with clinical depression, that’s basically like saying that I found a huge gold stash hidden in my basement.

I’ve already written about him twice since October, so imma be lazy and repost all that. Still true.

Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement have a comedic voice that is unendingly amusing to me.

All of Waititi’s writing has this rare combination, where it’s so sharp and funny, but also genuinely sweet and warm. He revels in the flaws and awkwardness of his characters, and it’s where I find so much joy in his work.


A friend recently asked people on Facebook to give a list of their favorite films since 2012, and I listed What We Do in the Shadows; not just because of my affection for that film, but because I needed a representative of Waititi’s work.

His films are so full of charm and joy and sweetness, and Hunt for the Wilderpeople is no exception. Plus, I’m a sucker for stories about people who come together and make weird nontraditional families. It deserves all the inclusion it has gotten on various lists of underrated or underappreciated films of 2016.

Taiki for life!

I bet some people are unreasonably disappointed when they visit New Zealand and it’s not actually Middle Earth. I’m probably going to be unreasonably disappointed if I ever go because everyone doesn’t talk like a character in a Taiki Waititi film.


Here I am, the president of the Taiki Waititi fan club, at it again.

I don’t really know what else to say to get my friends to watch Waititi’s movies. I don’t know how anyone could not love his work. Don’t you like being happy?!

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is stuffed with joy, charm, and Waititi’s trademark lovable weirdos who become a family. There’s so much sweetness, but it never gets cloying.

Recently, when I recommended Hunt for the Wilderpeople on this blog, I joked that I’ll probably be disappointed if I ever go to New Zealand because people won’t talk like Taiki Waititi characters. The more I think about it, I realize it’s actually just disappointing that the people of the world in general don’t act more like Taiki Waititi characters.

Also, here is a trailer for Boy, which is criminally underseen.


saga. [a month of happy.]

You should be reading Saga. 

I don’t care if you don’t like comics or speculative fiction. I don’t care what bullshit preconditions you put on what a good story can be. They don’t matter. You should be reading Saga.

At its core it’s the story of a family, set in a sprawling fantasy space opera… on acid. I was going to make a list of the particular themes you could say Saga is about, but I realized that Saga is about everything. It’s about being alive, about everything that happens along the way, and about knowing you’re eventually going to die, along with everyone you love.

Writer Brian K. Vaughn came up with the idea as a kid, as he says, when he was bored in math class. That seed seemed to grow somewhere in his brain while he built a prolific comics career with creations like Y: The Last Man and RunawaysSaga appears rooted in his life — in being married and having kids and all the ordinary things that are much more compelling if you set them in the midst of a horrifying galactic war.

It’s funny, violent, weird, sweet, perverted, brutal, and tender. It’s also really smart, but more than just smart, it’s got an emotional depth that rings of truth.

The war in Saga doesn’t have good guys and bad guys, although it does often have perpetrators and victims. But everyone loses, everyone pays, nobody wins. All the characters are interesting and well-drawn — both literally and figuratively — and while most are at odds with each other, everyone has a point of view you can understand.

There are scenes in this story that stuck with me well after I’m done reading. The final panels in the most recent issue have haunted me since I read it, for reasons I obviously can’t describe without spoilers.

Part of what makes Saga amazing is how good artist Fiona Staples and Vaughn are together.

Every panel Staples creates is inventive and energetic. There are some really great artists working in comics right now doing original, exciting stuff, and Fiona Staples is their rightful queen.

I have no idea how the collaboration works in practice, but between these two creators the imagination is apparently bottomless. The book is an immense hodgepodge that jumps between genres, inspirations, biologies, and ideas, and brings them all together to create one seamless trippy tapestry.

Anyway, like I said, you should be reading Saga. 


a closer look. [a month of happy.]

One thing that has helped me stay sane — or at least, stay in the same neighborhood as sane — these last few months, has been comedians who offer clear-eyed commentary on the lunacy of this administration. And for me, Seth Meyers is right up there in significance with Last Week Tonight and Stephen Colbert (whose heartfelt, live plea for hope and reason on election night kept me from the brink of despair that evening).

There’ve been plenty of claims that through all this Stephen Colbert has been America’s dad, and in that vein, Seth Meyers has felt to me like a funny older brother, talking us through the bullshit.

All the praise for Seth’s interview with Kellyanne Conway was well-deserved, but “A Closer Look” is my favorite thing they do. I’m always sad on the days when we don’t get a new installment.


twin shadow – five seconds. [a month of happy.]

I discovered Twin Shadow right before leaving Seattle, and by the time we headed south to Portland for the beginning of a meandering road trip east, “Five Seconds” had become the official song of the journey.

12 days, 13 states, a co-pilot trade at around the halfway point, and through it all at least one thing remained constant: this song started each major leg of the journey. It made the weight I carried during a really difficult time just a bit lighter.

Granted, we didn’t ever get to join a post-apocalyptic motorcycle gang, but the song still helped.

As a bonus, this KEXP in-studio from two years ago has a great acoustic version of the song.