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guess who’s… er… what’s back — it’s five things!

The fact that 2016 has been terrible is no secret. If the only bad things that happened this year were losing Bowie, Prince, Leonard Coen, and Phife Dawg in the same year it still would have sucked, but somehow that is just the tip of the giant shitberg this year has been.

Fortunately, there is still awesomeness to make me feel better, and I wanted to share a few of those things with you — ‘Five Things’ style.

1. Baby Fucking Groot

The second trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy — released a week ago at this point, this post took me way too long to get around to finishing — showcased more of the comedic energy fans expect from the series. I’m assuming anyone who cares about this at all will have already seen it at least once. Still, it’s too great to not have it up on RtM, just for posterity. I loved the first Guardians so much, and this one continues to look like it will easily win my heart next year.

A growing baby Groot is even more amazing that I could have hoped.


2. Awaken, My Love!


Is Donald Glover the messiah? He might be. I just don’t see how an ordinary human can give the world Atlanta and Awaken, My Love! in the same fucking year. HOW?! There are plenty of talented people who might release two things that good in their career… but in the same year?! Say what you will about 2016 — it was fucking awful — but Donald Glover certainly did more than we could have hoped in an attempt to salvage it.

Have you listened to this album yet? Did anyone see this coming? Were we aware Childish Gambino was capable of creating a neo-soul masterpiece?

When Questlove — a bonafide pop music historian with an encyclopedic grasp of all things soul — freaks out and wakes D’Angelo at 4 a.m. to listen to an album, you should take note.

Here is a fun interactive video of Gambino performing “Me and Your Mama” at his Pharos concert event.


3. The Girl Who Drank the Moon


The people who live in the Protectorate believe a witch lives in the woods. They believe they must sacrifice a baby to her every year to avoid her wrath.

A witch does live in the woods, but is nothing like the blood thirsty monster she is imagined to be. Confused why babies are annually abandoned in the wilderness, she rescues them and takes them to loving families far away, feeding them starlight to nourish them on the journey. During one of these trips, the witch accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, enmagicking her.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a book about identity, about the power story has to nurture or destroy, and it is about truth and lies and the way the powerful distort the narrative to maintain the status quo. It’s also about love and family and the way courage and compassion can change the world.

It’s lovely and well-written, full of wisdom and lines I wanted to go back and reread multiple times.

You should read it.

Good news: The guy who wrote the screenplay for Kubo and the Two Strings is supposedly the one adapting this book into a screenplay. More on Kubo if I get around to making my own 2016 lists.


4. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

I know, I know — I barely write on RtM anymore and when I do, half the time it’s about how much I love Taiki Waititi. Well, what of it? I do love Taiki Waititi.

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.

Speaking of underappreciated, when people talk about Hunt for the Wilderpeople they always mention What We Do in the Shadows but not Boy. Watch Boy!!!

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.


5. End of Year Lists

Hopefully, I’ll find time to make some of my own this year, but either way I am so excited that it is time for people around the internet to curate lists of their favorite things of 2016.

I love curation, both doing it myself and when others do it well. There is so much to learn by experiencing what other people get excited about with an open mind. It expands my life and my perception and offers me new things to enjoy.

Some of the stuff won’t be for me, but I might find a new favorite thing. There might be an amazing album or movie or book I would have otherwise missed, or I might be inspired to finally check out some show I’m sleeping on, or I might be encouraged to look at something I didn’t enjoy in a new light. Either way, my world will get bigger and brighter.


night three: the lost boys. [halloween movie fest, 2016.]

Now you know what we are. Now you know what you are. You’ll never grow old, Michael, and you’ll never die. But you must feed!


I’m probably one of the last 80’s kids to see this movie for the first time.

The Lost Boys is awesome and terrible, but it is awesome in ways that are mostly silly, and terrible in ways that are mostly enjoyable.

Interestingly, since they came out the same year, The Lost Boys has pretty much the same story as Near Dark, but with a more playful tone, and some family drama and Goonies thrown in. Also, some-crazy-how, there is significantly more narrative sense in The Lost Boys. For example, no inexplicable blood transfusions in a garage that cure vampirism.

Anyway, this movie is delightfully absurd, and I was never fully sure if that absurdity was intentional or accidental. Kiefer Sutherland is growling away like a crazy person, as he is wont to do. The Coreys added some lovable, terribly acted exuberance and silliness. The vampire deaths mostly don’t make any sense (but its okay, because they explained it away with a line of dialogue). It also did for water guns what Little Monsters would eventually do for flashlights.

This is the vampire movie the 80’s simply needed to produce. It just had to happen.

Also, concerning the 80’s, one question:

As someone who lived through most of the 80’s, I still need to ask, what the hell was happening in the 80’s?!? How did Hollywood produce an R rated kids movie?! The Lost Boys is largely about adjusting to divorce, growing up, potential step-parents, the dangers of peer pressure and drugs, and what it’s like as siblings change at different speeds as they become adults.

Those themes all make sense for a vampire movie for teens. Obviously, vampires are a great way to tell stories of addiction, adjustment, estrangement, and alienation. It’s the R rating that is just so amusingly nonsensical. Somehow, it worked in the 80’s

All in all, The Lost Boys is a worthy addition to the HMF canon

Also, there’s this fucking guy! The 80’s, amirite?!


‘sunday candy,’ by donnie trumpet & the social experiment.

Recently, two friends of mine were discussing how much they hate end of year lists. As is obvious from this blog most years, when I actually get around to making my own year end lists, I have to respectfully disagree.

My favorite thing about end of year lists is that I inevitably miss a bunch of stuff through the year, now more than ever. When other folks share their favorite stuff from the year, it makes it easy for me to discover great things from the year that would have otherwise slipped through the cracks. I can adjust my must-watch and listen and download lists accordingly. I love it.

Case in point. Last April, Chance the Rapper gave me a really great belated birthday gift. I’d already experienced and loved the album, but the music video for “Sunday Candy” I’d missed entirely.

Then Stereogum’s “50 Best Music Video’s of 2015” remedied that.

This single take music video of a fake high school musical is a delightful companion to the unabashedly joyful song Chance wrote for his grandmother.

Maybe you can make it through watching this video without smiling, but I definitely can’t. After we watched it I made Emily watch it again immediately. I’ve watched it another time since then. I’m going to go watch it again now.


frank, and also, recommendation avoidance.


I really liked Frank, the story of an Irish kid who meets an American indie band led by a man who never takes off a giant fake head. The film is also on a long list of movies that I really appreciated, but would normally be hesitant to recommend to anyone. I hate endorsing movies to friends when there is a solid chance people won’t like it, mostly because such a vast majority of people hate what they hate with much more passion and intensity than they love anything they love. I initially wrote much more about that fact as I was composing this, but then decided it was best left for a different post altogether. Suffice it to say that I have trouble separating my own feelings from the art I love, and most people are assholes when they don’t like something. Thus, even my best friends don’t normally get recommendations from me unless they read this blog, wherein I get to share stuff in a bit of a vacuum.

Anyway, the trailers for Frank make it seem like the film is about a lovable Irish kid who finds a genius songwriter who is a diamond in the rough, and a bit nuts, and nudges him toward a wider audience. In reality, the film is much better, and at times much much more uncomfortable than that. There were scenes later in the film where I literally had to pace my living room because I was so uncomfortable about what was taking place and how casually terrible people can be.

Frank is about genius, and mental illness, and being talentless (but too talentless to know it), and it is about that age-old conversation about the relationship between creative genius and mental illness. It’s about community, finding those people who see you and understand you and accept you for who and what you are, and make you better. The film is small and intelligent, and it is one of the few movies about brilliant and weird music that actually includes brilliant and weird music. Most of the time they just keep telling us it is weird and brilliant and we are supposed to go along with it. Everybody in it is great, which is what sells the uncomfortable moments so well, but also what makes the heart and beauty land perfectly.

I absolutely loved the closing moments of the film, for reasons that are best explained in a long conversation with someone who gives a shit about my two cents, instead of in a hastily written blog post. I’m sharing that scene so people who have seen the film can enjoy it again, but I would recommend skipping it if you haven’t watched Frank. Both because of spoilers, and because you won’t know what the fuck is going on. I just needed a scene about a man who can often only express himself indirectly and through an artistic medium included on RtM.


bad nights with kavinsky.

Tonight I found out that the bar I work for will no longer be open on Mondays, which is a shift I work from open to close. That’s a pretty massive hit to my paycheck. There are plenty of positives to take away from this: primarily, I don’t want to work there anyway and this will hopefully provide even more motivation to find a new gig. However, positive isn’t how I’m feeling about it. What it really does is throw into sharper contrast how far I am from where I want to be, how frustrated I am with where I am in my life right now. I truly believe I’m capable of so much more than what I am doing now, but I am where I am and that’s all that’s real. Potential, talent, smarts, hopes, dreams, whatever… they are all fictional if they never materialize into something more tangible. I don’t want potential, I want vocation, I want to be the person I think I am capable of being. Instead, this setback shows me that I am nowhere near that.

I could spin it positively, but that would be a lie. What I’m really feeling is frustration and anxiety.

What does one do when this is the feeling and circumstances of the day? Well, for one, polish up the resumé and apply to as many places as possible. For another, listen to OutRun by Kavinsky, because sometimes what I need is a conceptual French House album based on 80’s movie scores about a teenager who is killed in 1986 when he crashes his Testerossa and returns from the dead, his soul fused with his car, to make electronic music. Okay, so I always need that, I just need it more some nights.


the legendary roots crew.

The Roots just came to Seattle, playing two nights at The Showbox at the Market. Fortunately for me, Emily got me tickets for Christmas. It was an amazing three hour show. The encore alone included a 30something minute long medley that featured Roots songs and covers (from Guns & Roses to Led Zeppelin), and during which the band expended more energy than any other band I’ve seen does in their entire set. Here are three impressions I came away with after the show. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, but I imagine no one really wants to read 3000 words of my thoughts about the show.

1. ?uestlove is a genius.

I love The Roots. I think that even with, or perhaps because of, all their popularity as Fallon’s band, they are a wildly under-appreciated and underrated band. During their concerts, they take the whole thing to a new level.

The engine/heart/curator/director/producer/brain behind it all is         ?uestlove. He is a remarkable bandleader, which is why they are such a skilled and contagiously fun live act. Yet, his direction is always subtle. He is constantly creating contexts for other people to shine. He never leads the band by shouting or making big gestures to make sure everyone knows who is in charge, but simply has a second microphone at his kit that only feeds to the rest of the band and to the folks controlling the levels. Through this he refines each moment of the performance, keeping the band on point, and directing the sound board based on the main feed he gets through his headphones.

It’s hard to find anything more fun than a Roots show, and ?uestlove is the primary reason for that.

2. The Roots Are the Happiest Band on Earth Continue Reading →


kendrick on colbert.


Snoop says Kendrick is the leader of West Coast rap today. That seems pretty obvious, who is the other contender? Macklemore? Let me tell you right now, as a white man, if another white man is ever widely considered the ‘leader’ of any school of rap or Hip Hop, just shoot me in the face.

Seriously though, Kendrick Lamar isn’t just the leader of West Coast rap, he may be the greatest act that West Coast rap has ever produced. Especially because J5 sounds way more influenced by East Coast Hip Hop than any West Coast sound. Kendrick takes that gangsta sound and brings it to another level. I saw him open for Kanye here in Seattle and he killed it. Absolutely killed it. A short man in a hoodie in Key Arena with no fanfare outside of a live band and he controlled the entire arena.

I already respected him as much as any other working emcee. Then he shut down the musical side of the Colbert Report this week… dude had another gear we didn’t know about and it was on display.

Listen up, losers. The future is now. This isn’t the guy we need running West Coast rap, this is the guy we need running all of Hip Hop.


damien rice – my favourite faded fantasy.

damien rice faded review

I know I’ve missed so many great albums this year, but one album I’m glad doesn’t fall into that category was the long-awaited return of everyone’s favorite (or favourite) melancholy Irishman, Damien Rice. My Favourite Faded Fantasy is well worth the eight long years we’ve been waiting.

The years away were apparently quite the growing period for Rice. And from what he’s said in interviews, during that time he was wondering right along with the rest of us whether he would ever release anything again. Before the hiatus, his life crashed and burned, his relationship with Lisa Hannigan publicly fell apart, and he forgot how to write music. It’s the sort of scenario we’ve seen in art for as long as there has been history. So often this is the part of the story that ends in self-destruction, suicide or overdose or at least the napalming of every good thing.

Damien Rice found his way out.

In an unsurprisingly honest interview you should read, he told Irish Independent: “I invited all these different sides of myself to dinner – the arrogant fucker, the really nice guy, the over-polite fella – and we all just sat down and had a lot of dinners together and slowly, when I made friends with all these different crazy personalities that were going on in my head, I started to feel less angry and less frustrated and everything just started to open up and then I started to reach for the guitar again and tinkling at the piano again, and I started spotting all these things that I had done in the past that led to this thing happening, and so my finger-pointing completely changed.”

The resulting album is remarkable. Rick Rubin’s production is beautiful; big strings and sparse vocals in just the right places, always with that autumnal feel Rice does so well. As much as any other singer/songwriter I know of, he exposes the entirety of his soul on the track and in performances. He is so remarkably honest in his music, and so it’s no surprise that he has released an album that overflows with the hard-fought clarity of that time in the darkness. Most often My Favourite Faded Fantasy sounds like a letter to Hannigan all these years later, still full of fondness, regret, and heartbreak.

I’d say I’m sorry for the circumstances while still grateful they led to the creation of this wonderful album, but Rice says he isn’t sorry for anything because of how much he’s learned. So instead, I just hope to apply some of his well earned lessons to my own life, inviting all of the hurting and disparate parts of myself to come together for coffee so we can figure out how to make amends and create something beautiful together.