Category Archives: Routine Check

Routine Check 3/26/13


– It’s hard to think of a bigger, nerdier story this month than the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter, partially because, hey, cool, a Veronica Mars movie, but also because of its widely-discussed implications on the future of cultishly adored, studio-shy properties. These massive success stories tend to always bring up the same conversations about established artists washing out the potential for new artists seeking funding, the difference between laziness and cutting out the middle man, etc., all of which I tend to mentally respond with “Eh, it’s fine,” but this piece raises some interesting points I hadn’t really considered about the dangers of a runaway crowd-funding success powered by backer rewards.

– Other new Kickstarters of interest: A new comic-strip documentary called Stripped, featuring interviews with Bill Watterson(!), Richard Thompson, Kate Beaton, Scott McCloud, and a host of classic strip creators, is nearly finished. John Vanderslice crowd-funding the completion of his latest album (actually successfully concluded yesterday, but worth a look as it’s another runaway success and in a medium which seems to me to be the most behind on using the tool.) The great Steve Rude doing a 2013 sketchbook. Also, not Kickstarter technically, but I’m glad to see some activity from Joshua Fried, the great electronic music innovator best known for his collaborations with They Might Be Giants and his eccentric live shows — he’s funding his debut album after more than 20 years of his radio-sampling experiments.

– Bobcat Goldthwait already had a couple projects for fans of his unexpected resurgence as a darkly funny and original filmmaker to anticipate, including the zombie-fetus nightmare Anklebiters and a boarding school musical based on the Kinks’ Schoolboys in Disgrace, but he recently wrapped production on a surprise found-footage film called Willow Creek, a Bigfoot-hunting thriller shot in sequence over just a few days. Bleeding Cool has a some notes from Goldthwait explaining the idea and acknowledging the “played out” status of the found-footage genre lately, which may help win over anyone not immediately sold.

– I wasn’t sure whether to be worried there would never be progress on the Beasts of Burden movie or terrified it would happen, but it helps a good bit to see that Shane Acker has come on board as director. That comic book is one of the very best of its or any kind, and does have certain potential as a cross-media franchise if handled correctly (it’s essentially The X-Files with scrappy dogs and cats if you’ve never read it), and Acker’s 9 showed a lot of promise for mixing creepy and distinguished visuals with semi-family-friendly entertainment.

– Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin, two names that should project “hey, read this comic book” to most self-respecting comic nerds, are trying out the Radiohead pay-what-you-want model for their new digital effort The Private Eye which for some reason I’m not reading right now instead of writing this.

– Among several attractive announcements at Emerald City Comic Con was a new slate of projects for the animation house Titmouse, who are working with comic book heroes like Jhonen Vasquez and Jim Mahfood to develop content for MTV’s Liquid Television reboot and other avenues. Fans of Vasquez, who has been relatively quiet since Invader Zim, will be particularly excited to hear that he’s toying with adaptations of cultishly adored properties like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Squee. The Mahfood show, D.I.S.C.O. Destroyer, is being written with Joe Casey and Scott Mosier and looks pretty great.

– Speaking of X-Files, IDW has announced a new comic series for the franchise following the same “Season X” format as the successful (I assume) Buffy comics, with creator Chris Carter on board as a story editor. Presumably this will get around to the story points that fans were frustrated about the final season and wholly unnecessary second film not bothering with, although I believe all of the show’s primaries are still pushing for another go at it themselves.

– Alex Winter has been fielding questions about Bill and Ted 3 while doing press tours for his new Napster documentary, dismissing the general feeling that the sequel seems to be taking a long time or possibly stalling out as a misunderstanding due to the project being announced too early in the process, and that there’s a rewrite moving along on schedule. I assume that’s just another draft by franchise overlords Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson, in which case it still has my full attention.

victorianmurdercomp– There are two types of comic book fans: those who think Rick Geary’s various true-crime comics are among the very best the medium has to offer, and those who haven’t discovered those particular comics yet. I guess there’s a third category of complete idiots, but anyone looking for jumping-on point for the series (though you can honestly jump on anywhere) will be well-served by its first compendium, collecting three of the earliest volumes in one attractive hardcover. Here’s an interview with Geary on the new book and his plans for further volumes.

– Another big, sexy comic collection you should totally buy: The Complete Cul de Sac, just announced on Richard Thompson’s blog. I’ve given that strip enough words in this column before that I won’t bore you again with how much I love it, but I’m glad it will have a convenient all-in-one book I can keep next to its cultural ancestor The Complete Calvin and Hobbes when I’m not forcing friends to read it.

– Among many Anchorman 2 casting rumors is the possibility of the great Terrence Stamp playing a Rupert Murdoch stand-in. He discussed it at a recent Q&A, reported by Ain’t It Cool, where he also teased a potential sequel to The Limey he wrote for himself and Julie Christie, which could be very neat indeed if it ever happens. I also had no idea that “Waterloo Sunset” is long suspected to be based on his and Christie’s relationship, which he confirms to the best of his knowledge when asked about it.

– I was at South by Southwest a couple years back when James Franco premiered his documentary Saturday Night, and have been regretting not making it in since it seemed to be locked into purgatory soon after. With a week-in-the-life format detailing the writing, rehearsal, and production of a single episode of Saturday Night Live, the film is potentially an essential artifact, but the solid reviews and Franco’s star power haven’t been enough to clear up all the rights issues so far, so I was glad to see him updating the Huffington Post on its status, even if it’s a vague “It will come out.”

– Cinematic Titanic, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 offshoot running parallel to the more popular Rifftrax, has announced that 2013 will be their last year, not long after shifting away from original DVD content to exclusively touring with live riffing. I saw the group perform a couple years ago and greatly enjoyed it, but I suspect having such a large group of comedians all living in separate parts of the country was never easy to manage into a roadshow.

– In what I hope is the first of many new project announcements from the newly freed-up Cinematic Titanic gang, Frank Conniff has a new podcast anthology called The Wonderful Pundits of Oz, featuring original radio musicals written, starring, and direct by Conniff and featuring the likes of Dana Gould, Emo Philips, Laraine Newman, CT’s J. Elvis Weinstein, and Dave “Gruber” Allen. I can’t say there’s a politically-charged-musical-comedy shaped hole in my life, but those are funny human beings.

– I wasn’t familiar with game designer Kenji Eno on hearing about his death from heart failure, but this obituary and rundown of his work is fascinating and does a great job filling in newcomers about the importance and innovation of his work, and made me want to figure out how to play some of it right away.

– Benjamin Curtis of the great School of Seven Bells is undergoing cancer treatment and could use some donations.

– If I can pull out one particular album from the section below, allow me some extra space for my favorite band since wee youth, They Might Be Giants. Their sixteenth proper album (not counting a seemingly infinite number of unclassifiable odds and ends) is streaming at Rolling Stone, and there is a full tour afoot as well as interviews and ephemera popping up all over, which is of interest if you’re a fan or if you’re just interested in a band getting near 30 years of active duty without the usual hiccups of the profession. I particularly recommend this wordy, thoughtful exchange between Rick Moody and John Linnell, and a series of pleasantly random articles by John Flansburgh as a week-long guest editor for Magnet Magazine.

Today in streams and freebies: It is apparently the season for big-ass album releases, so there’s a lot of these… It’s not every day you can go listen to a new David Bowie album, Thom Yorke’s long-gestating supergroup Atoms for Peace’s debut album is playing on their own site, Depeche Mode are entering their third decade of new releases, the Strokes are continuing their march into irrelevance with album 4,  comedy-rap lothario Dragon Boy Suede a.k.a. Howard Kremer has a surprise new album available for stream and purchase at his Bandcamp, Trent Reznor’s forced-typography vanity project How to destroy angels_ have a debut full-length (after a couple years of EPs and singles) at Pitchfork Advance, the underappreciated Montreal synth-rockers We Are Wolves’ fourth album is at Exclaim. Advance also has a new one from offbeat electronic pop duo Javelin called Hi Beams. NPR has the latest post-reunion full-length from Low, as well as the latest from one of my personal favorites Marnie Stern, and the third full-length from the always-enjoyable Telekinesis. Finally, a couple of short documentaries running free for now: fans of Belle and Sebastian’s rightfully revered If You’re Feeling Sinister album should enjoy the new making-of on Pitchfork, and fans of John Cazale will be glad to see that Richard Shepard’s tribute to the actor, I Knew It Was You, has been fully uploaded to YouTube on the anniversary of his death.

Also, check out the complete Ant Comic, a serialized Tumblr comic by Adventure Time artist and indie-comics maverick Michael DeForge, which DeForge collected in one convenient reading space. It’s really good and free.


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Routine Check – Valentine’s Day 2013


– Geez, 2013 is getting away from me. Here’s some appealing news highlights backing up in my bookmarks, as quickly as I can burn through them. Also, I started a Tumblr spin-off of this site that I initially intended to use to pick up some of the slack and do some more timely link-blogging, but immediately started using to post stupid Photoshops I made instead.

– A few bits on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and slightly-less-adult original programming — Netflix has signed a deal to stream a bunch of their extremely stream-friendly programs including Adventure Time, Regular Show, Childrens Hospital, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Boondocks, and Johnny Bravo, which should begin March 30 according to IGN. That includes a lot of shows I struggle to keep current with using traditional TV-watching methods, so that’s great news. Also, following the success of the kaBOOM! Adventure Time comic, webcomic maestro K.C. Green and artist Allison Strejlav will be following suit with Regular Show this April. Here’s an interview with Green discussing his plans, and here’s some very attractive cover variants for the first and second issues. In the classic department, the urban-legendary “lost Dexter’s Laboratory” episode has surfaced online some 15 years after it was produced; it’s a gimmicky, bleep-filled crowd-pleaser that’s not nearly as offensive as rumor had it. Last but certainly not least, the fifth season of The Venture Bros. will finally premiere on May 19.

– A few crowd-funding projects that jumped out at me: Ninja Turtle vet Jim Lawson Kickstarting a neat-looking dinosaur OGN. Jon Schnepp of Metalocalypse is funding a documentary on Tim Burton’s infamous failed Superman movie. Ralph Bakshi is working on a new animated short called Last Days of Coney Island, said to be a ’60s-set “mafia/cop/horror” mash-up with “political overtones both realistic and outrageous.” He’s looking to raise $165,000 for it, which is 220% of what Bill Plympton was asking to do a whole feature, but still, new Bakshi is worth throwing some change at for sure. Coatwolf, the car-and-gun-nerd collective who made one of my favorite movies of 2011, Bellflower, are using Indie Go Go to try their hand at another DIY feature, and it looks great.

– That new Coachella lineup is mighty impressive, even if the obligatory long-shot band reunions have become almost comical at this point.

mindmgmt– Matt Kindt, one of the most interesting writer-artists in comics right now, is having a really good year so far, with his excellent Dark Horse serial Mind MGMT getting picked up for a potential Ridley Scott film adaptation, and coming on board the new-52 Justice League comic with a back-up feature starring Martian Manhunter, which can only make that incredibly boring comic better.

– In other comic-to-film news, Guy Delisle’s semi-autobiographical graphic novel Pyongyang!, about his experience supervising an animated children’s show in North Korea, is being developed as a feature by screenwriter Steven Conrad and director Gore Verbinski. That’s interesting on several levels — Delisle is a revered and prolific creator I’ve been meaning to check out, and that sounds like a fascinating diversion from your average comic book movie deal, plus Steven Conrad is one of the greatest and funniest writers working. Verbinski may seem like an odd choice, but before he worked full-time for Johnny Depp he was an extremely eclectic filmmaker, jumping from the live-action Looney Tune MouseHunt to the noirish caper comedy The Mexican to his previous collaboration with Conrad, the deeply underrated The Weather Man.

– In one last bit of comics, the popular/excellent/super-nice Don Rosa of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck fame has posted an “epilogue” that Disney barred him from including in the last volume of his collected library through publisher Egmont. It’s a fascinating and surprisingly emotional read that goes into some pretty serious reasons why Rosa decided to retire, including a harrowing near-miss with permanent blindness and a constant struggle with Disney’s creator relations, the latter of which kept it from being published. Rosa himself notes the irony of the fact that the text would likely have been sort of an obscure “fans-only” essay if it had been in the back of a book, instead of being online where anybody could skim through it; indeed, it’s gotten a lot of link traction across the Internet the past couple of days.

– If you, like me, have been wondering what Matthew “Garth Marenghi” Holness has been working on, Bleeding Cool has a sort-of-update on a feature-length 70s pastiche he’s been working on, namely a freshly posted short film that may be a couple years old now. It’s pretty great.

– Hey, John Mulaney picked up a deal for a Lorne Michaels-produced sitcom. That is good news.

– I didn’t realize the Alan Patridge movie was even a done deal, much less already filming. With a script by Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, and various other comedy gods involved with the original series, it is a lock for hilarity.

– I believe I’ve plugged Searching for Sugar Man, last year’s excellent documentary exploring various mysteries surrounding the obscure but cultishly admired musician Rodriguez, several times here but it just recently landed on DVD  so here I am doing it again. More importantly, the newly high-profile singer is considering another record, which he may record with producer David Holmes, who introduced me and a lot of people to the man by putting “Sugar Man” on his Come Get It, I Got It mix in 2002.

– Speaking of elusive, mysterious rock stars, they don’t come any more elusive or mysterious than The Residents, who are currently on a 40th anniversary tour that sees them reimagining some of their “hits,” following up an amusing media push for their new limited-edition refrigerator box set I posted earlier. I got to see it in Atlanta a few days back, and would highly recommend it. I’d also recommend this illuminating article about Atlanta resident Molly Harvey’s relationship with the band. It pulls the curtain back on them a little more than usual, and it’s just kind of a sweet story overall.

– Somehow I missed that Dan O’Bannon had a posthumous screenwriting book released at the top of the year. Dan O’Bannon rules.

Fridays, the infamously hard-to-find live sketch show best known for being the early stomping ground of Larry David and Michael Richards and for a legendary Andy Kaufman incident, is finally headed to DVD via Shout! Factory this year.

– Finally, R.I.P. Alan Sharp, one of the most interesting screenwriters there ever was and I can only assume a great novelist as well. The Hired Hand and Night Moves, both self-adapted from his novels, have become two defining examples of ’70s hidden treasures recently, and they are indeed two of the finest and most unique films you’ll see. There’s some interesting background on his life and career here.

Today in streams and freebies: The indie comics maverick Kyle Baker has unexpectedly and graciously dumped all of his creator-owned work online, which means you can read classics like The Cowboy Wally Show and Why I Hate Saturn for free, right now. NPR is streaming Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s sophomore album, which is a pleasant little psych jammer I’ve been enjoying over the last couple weeks. Rolling Stone is hosting the new Tegan and Sara, which I haven’t heard yet but it seems to be giving them their biggest spotlight since that stretch where “Walking With a Ghost” was in everyone’s head all the time. The Guardian the new Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album, which I’m very excited about, as well as Frightened Rabbit’s fourth album of melancholy Scottish folk-pop, which is currently making my wife very happy. For many, the only album news that matters all year will be the new My Bloody Valentine, which can be played track-by-track through YouTube, probably best accessed via Pitchfork.

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Routine Check 1/16/13


– OK, well, it’s another year. It took me a while to store up enough links to post one of these (either because it’s a slow season or I’ve just done a bad job bookmarking interesting stories), so apologies if a couple of them are going silver.

– I’m excited to see Bill Plympton, arguably the indiest man alive, coming to crowd-sourcing with a Kickstarter for his seventh animated feature, a surrealist watercolor noir called Cheatin’. It’s already reached its $75,000 goal and is now going for a “stretch goal” of $90,000. Contributing gets you a variety of digital goods plus regular updates, which should be more interesting than most since it’s, you know, a guy hand-drawing every frame of a goddamned feature film.

– In the last update, I posted a variety of showbiz folk tagging their favorite media of 2012. One thing not really covered in those insider best-ofs is comics, so I appreciated this collection from Robot 6 of industry pros listing both their favorite comics of the past year and their most anticipated works of 2013. It’s telling that even most of the big-name, DC-and-Marvel-friendly artists and writers here seem more interested in webcomics and self-distributed minis than anything you could find in an average store last year.

nedroid2012– While we’re on comics, I kept thinking I was going to do one of those holiday gift guides or year-end wrap-ups and kept saving these links, but I’ll give up and go ahead and point out that two of my favorite web-based comics, Nedroid and The Abominable Charles Christopher, have new volumes in the ongoing print collections of their work here and here, respectively.

– If you’re like me, the best thing about 2012 was getting a new Wes Anderson film and the best thing about 2013 will hopefully be getting a new Wes Anderson film. This interview with him seems to be more or less pushing the same general questions again and again (Have you noticed your movies are quirky? Have you noticed you keep working with the same actors?) but there are some revealing and interesting thoughts that could only come from someone in Anderson’s unique place in the film business. It also drops a few more hints and cast announcements from his next one.

– Speaking of unique places in the system, I can’t imagine there’s a more interesting read than that New York Times article going around about Paul Schrader, Lindsay Lohan, Bret Easton Ellis, and the making of their crowd-sourced indie film The Canyons, a willfully trashy neo-noir that made an early decision to open up every part of the production process to their fans and and an all-access reporter. The link’s been making a lot of rounds, but if you skipped it from a disinterest in Lohan, take another look. I’m not sure how many universal truths can be gleamed from it since it’s such a specific case — the most famously unreliable star in the world, a self-serving commitment to airing dirty laundry, a revered director who hasn’t worked in a while, and an Internet-famous porn star in a leading role — but you don’t get a lot of chances to see so far behind the curtain, and I know I came away with some pretty complicated opinions on everyone involved.

– Hey, it’s award season, I guess. I digested all of the Golden Globes via about 12 minutes of handheld YouTube footage the morning after, which made it seem not all that bad, actually, in the sense that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler made me laugh and Bill Murray’s facial hair looked incredible and all the right people looked like fun drunks. As for the Academy Awards, I’m grateful to their nomination announcements for making it slightly easier for someone in South Carolina to see films like Silver Linings Playbook and Amour. I also hope to find one of the special screenings of nominated short films playing February 1st. In the past, they’ve shown the animated and live-action films as separate packets, which were barely long enough to merit the trip, so I’m glad to see I can take care of it in one night this time.

– Comedy nerds love to talk about the traditionally weird last sketch of the night on Saturday Night Live, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a greatest-hits compilation like the one AV Club posted this morning. They found a clip I’ve been questing after for years, a creepy black-and-white horror parody from the 1990 Fred Savage episode that left deep emotional scarring on my 6-year-old brain when it aired. It’s weird to revisit something like that and have a variety of new angles into it, namely that it was directed by Tom Schiller and that was something of an outlier as a filmed short between the era when Albert Brooks was doing that kind of thing and when Adam McKay picked it up several years later.

– Charles Durning, man. The best. It’s an all-too-common compliment for a character actor to say that their name popping up in an opening credit sequence makes you infinitely more excited about the movie you’re about to watch, but I’m not sure I can think of anybody who encapsulates that better than that guy. If you’re looking to celebrate his ridiculously extensive career with nothing but a Netflix Instant account, I recommend The Choirboys (one of his few sort-of-leading roles, as a ball-busting cop named Spermwhale) and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which netted him a Best Supporting Actor nomination for a brief but perfectly executed number. R.I.P.

Today in streams and freebies: One of my most anticipated albums of 2012, Shugo Tokumaru’s In Focus?, was pushed back to become one of my most anticipated of 2013, where it’s finally streaming here. A couple other promising top-of-the-year albums now streaming: Ra Ra Riot’s Beta Love (which I hope will dial back the diminishing return of their last one) and Petra Haden’s intriguing “accapella film scores” album Petra Goes to the Movies. Meanwhile, Pitchfork launched a new service for exclusive pre-release streams called Advance, which has new music up from Yo La Tengo, Toro Y Moi, Esben and the Witch, and more. Finally, a couple of rarity compilations streaming in the form of an extended 2005 album session from New Order and an odds-and-ends mix from Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich.

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Routine Check 12/21/12


– It’s been a while, partially because the first half of December is always completely bananas for me due to running an annual 24-hour weird-holiday-crap marathon called the McArathon. This was its eight year, and went delightfully well with a mostly-noir theme that included movies like Blast of Silence and I, the Jury. The full list is here, and the 8-minute “commercial” we shot for it is here.

– You’ve surely already heard if you’re the sort of person that would care, but Karen Berger is retiring from DC Comics and the Vertigo imprint that she founded and managed into arguably the most reliable corner of comic book sophistication of the last 20 years. The general consensus is that comics like Swamp Thing, Sandman, Animal Man, HellblazerPreacher, Y: The Last Man, Human Target, and a billion others would never have reached their healthy issue counts or lofty ambitions without her in their corner. Comics Alliance rounded up a bunch of reactions from industry folks, whose “end of an era” comments match the rumors that Vertigo might be getting phased out soon to make room for more spandex garbage.

– If you missed this roundtable of “so hot right now” directors filmed for The Hollywood Reporter, that’s probably the best thing I’ve seen on the Internet this month. It’s a very frank conversation that delves pretty deep into the idea that many directors’ output tends to go south at some point.

– Gus Van Sant, who barely edges out Ang Lee in that last video as the chillest director in the room, is talking about doing a superhero comedy in the vein of Stephen Chow’s films. Sure, I’ll watch that.

– Speaking of Ang Lee, you might remember that Life of Pi was previously being developed with the great Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Even having his name tangentially attached was enough to rush me into theaters, and while I mostly enjoyed Lee’s version it’s hard not to imagine a more personal, idiosyncratic take by Jeunet, which makes his recent blog post sharing concept art and thoughts on the subject pretty fascinating, though it’s pretty tame as far as Hollywood car crashes go. There doesn’t seem to be much bad blood involved in his leaving the project, and he charmingly shrugs off his disappointment with a classic line of thought: “I tell myself that every director must have made: a black and white film, a great success, an American film and a film… which is never made.” The Jeunet Director Checklist!

richardspooralmanac– At the risk of making most of my news posts about Richard Thompson in some way, it is everyone’s great fortune that GoComics is now running his pre-Cul de Sac, semi-editorial strip Richard’s Poor Almanac in addition to re-running the recently hiatused Cul de Sac from the top.

– It’s too late to fund it, and it didn’t need your money anyway (it broke the record the most over-funded book on Kickstarter), but check out this nice-looking project from Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics and Kaboom’s Adventure Time anyway. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure, picture-book take on Hamlet that sports a ridiculous roster of art talent thanks to North’s epic curator skills — Kate Beaton, Dustin Harbin, Anthony Clark, Ethan Nicolle, Chris Hastings, Brandon Bird, Andy Runton, Faith Erin Hicks, Scott Campbell, David Malki, Ryan Pequin, and Meredith Gran, to name a few.

– Here’s a project not currently crowd-funding but that I would pitch in for in a minute — the excellent comic artist Tommy Lee Edwards is moving into live-action filmmaking with an ’80s action tribute called Vandroid, shooting this month in North Carolina. Edwards has been a concept artist on several major films including Batman Begins and Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, and recently collaborated with Edgar Wright for the Brandon Generator webcomic,  so he know what side film is buttered on.

– I enjoyed this video-game-focused interview with Pendleton Ward, who discusses the new Adventure Time game bust mostly just rattles off his various gaming addictions and touches on some other influences and background on the show. Ward has also been posting some short webisodes called Animations Pals on YouTube with Adventure Time animator Ian Jones-Quartey.

-As a longtime fan of the Residents, it’s fun to see them get some press for once, particularly for this very funny publicity stunt involving ten refrigerators full of rare merchandise. The accompanying video is a pretty rare instance of the band addressing their fans and acknowledging their willful obscurity, and it actually makes for a pretty nice history and summation of their work for the unfamiliar. Plus it made me laugh like an idiot.

– There is of course a staggering amount of year-end listmaking going on at this very moment… I always get a little depressed about it because I think publishing a bunch of definitive best-ofs in the middle of December is severely flawed in that late-in-the-year releases are either ignored, overcompensated, or at the very least not given the proper gestation time for a really well-considered rundown. To be even more pretentious about it, it also seems a little classist when the average person who doesn’t have access to a lot of higher culture until months later. Having said that, there are some interesting lists around, particularly the ones that outsource the favoritism to various artists and celebrities, like these lists from Brooklyn Vegan or these from AV Club, which collectively poll the eclectic likes of Animal Collective, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Patton Oswalt, Fred Armisen, Dan Deacon, Tig Notaro, Maria Bamford, Adam Scott, Tim and Eric, Neil Hamburger, Kyle Kinane, Amanda Palmer, John Hodgman, Eugene Mirman, Questlove, Eddie Argos, Tom Scharpling, Jon Wurster, JEFF the Brotherhood, Damon Lindelof, Ben Folds, Britt Daniel, Blonde Redhead, Bear in Heaven, Prince Rama, !!!, and even the Petes from Pete & Pete. Not bad!

trillium– Looking ahead to next year, here’s one of Tom Spurgeon’s “Five for Friday” posts where his readers list comics they’re looking forward to in 2013. There’s a lot of neat books and collections in there, many of which won’t get a lot of press on release. I’m pretty damned excited for Jeff Lemire’s Trillium myself.

– Another big thing to look foward to next year: another new They Might Be Giants album. It’s called Nanobots and just recently wrapped a lengthy recording session that yielded “25 tracks in about 40 minutes,” which is sort of a harkening back to their earliest classic albums. Rolling Stone has the premiere of the first single, an brassy pastiche called “Call You Mom” which I found pretty infectious and amusing.

– One last look to the future, here’s some TV shows being developed that could potentially be interesting: Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Films is doing a couple pilots for ABC including one based on Michael Ian Black’s recent non-fiction book, Adult Swim is spinning off the Childrens Hospital show-within-a-show(-within-another-show-or-two) Newsreaders, and Amazon Studios–the open-door crowd-sourcing experiment I wrote up recently for a project with the band YACHT–announced a slew of mid-profile pilots from the likes of Garry Trudeau, Kristen Schaal, and The Onion.

Today in streams and freebies: Here’s some music-of-2012 mash-ups by Dan Deacon, The Hood Internet, and Major Lazer, and here’s a bunch of holiday junk: a crazy mixtape called Chopped & Scrooged from holiday music master Sufjan Stevens featuring exclusive bits from Das Racist, Busdriver, and others; a teaser for a double single of heavy metals takes on classic carols by Christopher Lee (seriously); a new holiday EP from Lemon Demon; a new compilation called Holidays Rule featuring new recordings by Paul McCartney, the Shins, Heartless Bastards, and Eleanor Friedberger, among others, streaming in one big chunk on Soundcloud; a new Kill Rock Stars comp streaming on Bandcamp;  an original EP by the composer of Adventure Time for download; some original carols by Mark Lanegan of all people; a new single from Kishi Bashi; and finally, a yuletide mix from DJ Jazzy Jeff, who is still a thing apparently.

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Routine Check 11/23/12

– I will leave all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday reporting to less lazy people, but I have noticed that a new round of Record Store Day releases has gone a little under-reported. Check out your local music store for interesting limited releases from Tenacious D, the White Stripes, Wes Anderson, and more. Here’s the full list.

– I was at an of Montreal concert in Atlanta back in 2008 (with Homestar Runner’s Limozeen as an opener) which had fancy cameras swirling around for what was obviously some sort of official production. Later, it turned out to be part of a feature-length documentary called In a Fit of Hercynian Prig, Oculi, directed by Craig Zobel (a Homestar associate and director of Great World of Sound and Compliance), which seems to have been partially abandoned and retooled into Song Dynasties, which is now raising money on Kickstarter for completion and release. Hopefully all the time and tinkering will be a blessing; they should certainly have enough footage by now that I wouldn’t expect much filler. Anyway, if you like the band (and you should), there are a lot of fun treasures to be had if you donate.

– Speaking of waifish, long-running melody wizards, Beck’s sort-of-pretentious, sort-of-interesting new “album,” actually an original songbook meant to be played and sung by anyone but Beck, is coming out in a few weeks and he’s talked about it with The New Yorker, explaining the concept and its inception and letting some of the magazine’s staff premiere one of the tunes in a pleasant but hipster-hater-unfriendly video. Check it out via Pitchfork.

– Matt Besser, co-founder of Upright Citizens Brigade and one of the funniest people in the world, is offering a digital collection of his character-based stand-up for the just-ridiculous price of $1.99. It’s his first proper stand-up album, though he released a classic “reverse prank calls” CD years ago, and I can’t wait to enjoy it. You can also watch his feature directorial debut Freak Dance, based on his long-running stage show, at Netflix Instant, though you might need to be in the right mood for a grating teen dance spoof (read: I couldn’t get into it.)

– I don’t often learn something useful from Entertainment Weekly, but this list of actors who narrowly missed out on playing James Bond had a few names that were news to me. On a related note, Skyfall is totally solid.

– Quentin Dupieux, the French DJ and commercial and feature director, has his follow-up to his cultishly divisive Rubber spreading out through festivals now, but Slashfilm has some pictures and details on two more after that, more appropriately weird-looking dark comedies variously starring Eric Wareheim, Jon Heder, Steve Little, and Marilyn Manson. That makes three movies I will probably watch.

– I’m only casually familiar with Jason Horn’s Ninjasaur comic, but I walked past his demonstration of a work-in-progress mobile app at HeroesCon and was really impressed with it, particularly its clever use of touch-screen to quickly cycle through various production levels of each page. The app is now available, and Comics Alliance has a breakdown and review of it. I will probably pick it up if/when it comes to Android; it seems like the most pleasurable way to get into that comic at this point.

– Lastly, I enjoyed this quick comic illustrating an R. Kelly story told by The Wire‘s Michael K. Williams.

Today in streams and freebies: 1) The Fleischer Superman cartoons, some of the greatest shorts ever created and arguably the height of Superman-related media, have never been particularly hard to find thanks to their public-domain status, but Warner Bros. is officially streaming them on YouTube now if you’re interested. (Thanks to Comics Alliance for the link.) 2) The Evens, the routinely exquisite duo of Ian MacKaye and wife Amy Farina, are streaming their third album The Odds at NPR. 3) Also check out Damon Albarn’s brief but intriguing BBC commission at Pitchfork, along with some explanation.

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Routine Check 11/9/12

– TV announcements are still flying right and left, though it’s impossible to gauge which ones you’ll ever hear about again. I’m certainly interested in this new comedy being developed at FX, a project from delightful weirdos Rob Schrab and Steve Agee, who previously worked together on The Sarah Silverman Program, along with producer Jack Black, based on Agee’s experience attending military school. For all the “…or we’ll send you to military school” jokes you hear in sitcoms and the like, I honestly can’t think of any movie or series actually set at one, and Rob Schrab is an amazing talent who I think still has a lot of tricks to show off, so that sounds like a good blueprint. Schrab’s frequent collaborator Dan Harmon also got a pickup at Adult Swim a few days back, but that’s pretty widely posted news at this point thanks to Harmon’s unlikely superstar status.

– A couple other quick notes on some upcoming series –FOX’s Axe Cop uploaded a preview clip that seemingly reveals the perfect casting of Nick Offerman as the voice of the cult web-comic hero, and Ain’t it Cool has a trailer and an interview on Adam Rifkin’s new Showtime series Reality Show, which looks like it could have a few good things going for it if it can overcome the fact that its premise is pretty blatantly siphoned from Real Life and The Truman Show.

– Ricky Gervais also wrote in to The Huffington Post to give an update on his various running projects, which is useful since his stuff can be a little hard to follow both from an American, one-ocean-removed standpoint and also just, wow, that guy puts out a lot of TV specials and podcasts and other hard-to-define media. The short version seems to be that HBO’s animated adaptation of The Ricky Gervais Show podcasts, the Warwick Davis Britcom Life’s Too Short, and the Karl Pilkington travelogue An Idiot Abroad are all in the midst of wrapping up, with his new Stephen Merchant-free dramedy Derek forging ahead along with at least one new project. I think I already mentioned it here, but Merchant has his own solo single-camera comedy setting up at HBO, which might make or break his reputation as “the funnier, less annoying one.”

– Bob Odenkirk ran through a similar rundown of upcoming projects, which include a book of unproduced screenplays (and presumably other tidbits) co-written with David Cross, a possible stop-motion adaptation of one of said screenplays, a new sketch series developed with improv troupe The Birthday Boys for IFC, and the rumored Saul Goodman spinoff from Breaking Bad, which I can’t dig into any further as I’m about one hundred episodes behind.

– As a huge fan of Bong Joon-ho and Kim Ji-woon, I enjoyed scanning this article on South Korean directors making English-language debuts. There’s some sketchy details on some upcoming projects buried in there, but I mostly just enjoy seeing Bong rattle off a list of favorite American directors.

– Bleeding Cool has a year-and-a-half-early scoop on an upcoming 2014 animated feature worth keeping an eye on, The Canterville Ghost, based on the Oscar Wilde short story and set to feature the voice talents of a reunited Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, and most interesting of all with a score by Ennio Morricone, who has mostly spent the 2000s with a relatively low profile scoring low-budget Italian features. Looking through Morricone’s work, I could only find one other animated feature, which looks to be a forgotten fantasy from 2001, so this is somewhat new ground for the 83-year-old legend.

– The great Kate Beaton has been tweeting sketches of interesting moments from her experience in New York during and after Hurricane Sandy, which she’s compiled all together here. Those are neat both as a kind of personalized snapshot but also because even Beaton’s quickest doodles carry a knack for organizing minutia like a classy graphic novel.

– While I’m on comics, I highly recommend scanning the results of Comic Book Resources’ latest reader poll for the top 100 comic book runs. That website has a pretty large reach with comic readers so it seems to be a pretty accurate record of what are considered “the classics” of serialized issues at this point, which is less common nerd knowledge than the top graphic novels.

– Lastly, I’ve been enjoying the AV Club’s newish feature where they ask notable folks to program an imaginary 24-hour film festival. I think it’s an idea they’ve used a couple times in the past, but they seem to be heating it up lately with a really good list of eclectic horror films from Joe Dante and a really good list of “discomfort comedies” from Tim Heidecker. Surely it’s only a matter of time before they start actually holding the events with a host Q&A.

Today in streams and freebies: 1) If you’re a fan of comedian Kyle Kinane (and if you’re not, go listen to Death of the Party and instantly become one), you can watch his latest Comedy Central special on the press screening room that you’re not supposed to link to, and you can also watch a new online-only series he’s been hosting for the network called 30 Seconds Over Washington, which is a little like an MST3K for political ads, here. 2) It’s a little late for Halloween, but the day saw a plastic pumpkin-load of free horror comics, of both the legal and arguably less legal variety. Comics Alliance had a handful of promotional digital freebies and web-comics, while Tom Spurgeon at Comics Reporter had a seemingly infinite train of links to classic and rare scans. 3) One of my all-time favorite bands, Awesome New Republic a.k.a. ANR, put up a free Texas Chainsaw Massacre-inspired mixtape called Tobe Hooper, which contains an impressive docket of seasonal covers and originals that I’ve been looping nonstop. 4) Another of my favorites, weirdo rapper Busdriver, has a new EP up for free download here. 5) Norwegian producer Lindstrøm has his second full-length album of the year streaming here. 6) Brian Eno’s new full-length is streaming here. 7) The swanky synthpop throwbacks Chromatics are streaming a 35-minute bonus album from the sessions that produced this year’s popular Kill for Love here. 8) Trent Reznor’s husband-and-wife side project How to Destroy Angels, which Reznor does not want called a husband-and-wife side project or How to Destroy Angels (it’s meant to be typed ridiculously), has their sophomore EP streaming here. I’m listening to that one now and it’s not doing much for me, but my inner high schooler is excited to hear than Nine Inch Nails may be getting in the studio soon.

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Routine Check 10/26/12

– Universal has posted the full screenplay for This is 40 a good two months before its release, which seemed like a really bold, interesting move until someone (I forget where I saw it) pointed out that not only does it happen all the time (it’s a handy way to attract screenwriting nominations), but even specifically with Judd Apatow’s own Knocked Up, not to mention that in both cases the free PDFs have read more like transcriptions of the final, edited films than the original, pre-improvisation shooting script, which means it doesn’t really have any real educational value unless you just want a bunch of spoilers for one of the year’s only major comedies. Which you may want exactly.

– I promise I’m not as obsessed with Genndy Tartakovsky as my constant writing about him here might imply — I’m probably not even going to bother getting around to Hotel Transylvania this life — but he sure has managed to parse out some neat little announcements the last few months, topping it off yesterday with the reveal of a new short he wrote, directed, and animated all by his lonesome over the past month. Goodnight, Mr. Foot, a sort of 2D companion piece to his CG feature still owning box offices, will start to play before that film in Regal theaters starting today. Though it’s sort of a promotional gesture for his big, squishy blockbuster, it’s also a nice way to subvert fan expectations that he might be moving away from more personal projects and his signature style, similar to how Joss Whedon is following up The Avengers with his bedroom Shakespeare movie.

– I am maybe a little obsessed with Hampton Fancher, the frustratingly non-prolific Blade Runner screenwriter who made his directorial debut with the misunderstood masterpiece The Minus Man in 1999 at the age of 61, and since then has mostly stayed silent beyond a tease here and there for various surrealistic indie features he wants to make. I was excited to see he has a book of short stories freshly out called The Shape of the Final Dog, and here’s an interview he did with, er, Interview to promote it. Of course, Fancher also made some recent headlines for being possibly attached to return in whatever the hell Ridley Scott is about to do with the Blade Runner universe.

– I’ve mentioned before that AV Club’s Random Roles interviews are probably my favorite thing about the Internet right now, and they’ve been dropping so many great ones lately I have to round them up. Robert Patrick made me laugh several times, and seems very charming in an old-school Republican kind of way, and has a few Roger Corman stories. He has an adorable “I just got lucky” approach to discussing his biggest roles, and he has a good sense of humor about the Double Dragon movie, which makes me happy. Kelly Lynch made for a good example of why I started reading every Random Roles even if I wasn’t previously fascinated by the interview subject. I quickly realized I was a bigger fan of hers than I thought, and she tells amazing stories about the Murray brothers (she’s married to Bill’s frequent collaborator Mitch Glazer), and her early days transitioning to acting from modeling on some notably seedy productions, plus drops some sincerely illuminating tales from behind the scenes of Road House and Cocktail. Also Brooke Shields, another one I wouldn’t have pegged to me a deeply interesting subject, comes off as delightful and honest, with an interesting angle on the teensploitation type work she cut her teeth on. I think writer Will Harris puts all of these together, and I hope he never stops.

– I don’t know how many people other than me would be interested in an interview with the forever-underrated pop duo Sparks, but you should be, because they’re the best. This is mostly discussion about their current Two Hands One Mouth European tour, which features the two Mael brothers playing without a backing band for the first time in their 41-year career, but there’s also an update on the film they’re developing with Guy Maddin based on their excellent radio musical The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman, and an unexpected diversion about Ron working as a driver for Lee Marvin’s children in his youth. I also either had no idea that they’ve been on and off working on an adaptation of Mai the Psychic Girl with Tim Burton or I somehow forgot. Those are too-good-to-be-real film projects, I hope they prove me wrong.

– Speaking of artfully poppy bands making unexpected excursions into visual media, Stereogum has some news about the delightful indie synth-jammers YACHT developing a comedy series with the new open-door Amazon Studios. As part of the Amazon model, they’ll be making every part of the development process available to the public, including the script co-written by all four band members. It would be sort of interesting to have a not-strictly-comedic band showcase its music through episodic television the way Tenacious D, Dethklok, and Flight of the Conchords have. Has that even happened since the Monkees?

– Also potentially getting a show: Craig Robinson. I didn’t watch a lot of the American Office because my loyalties lied with the original, but I think everyone on that show is generally talented so watching them all announce their plans beyond its last season is kind of exciting for me. Greg Daniels did a lot of great, original work before he made his fortune neutering British comedy for American audiences, so I’m completely open to what he and the ridiculously funny Mr. Robinson want to try for their NBC reunion series.

– Chris Hardwick’s new special Mandroid should be pretty hotly anticipated since it’s his first stand-up special since creating an unlikely empire out of his Nerdist podcast network, and I believe his first major stand-up outing outside of his excellent musical duo Hard ‘n’ Phirm with Mike Phirman. You can watch it early at Comedy Central’s “Screening Room” press site, a site which they are very clear about not linking to despite it being readily accessible from Google.

– I wouldn’t normally link to a greatest-hits list of YouTube embeds, but this collection of streaming Halloween cartoons from Flavorwire was fun and timely and has a couple interesting stories behind the shorts.

– Finally, here‘s what appears to be a just-unearthed double-side single meant to be included in copies of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier but repeatedly canned for unknown reasons. It’s a couple of fake hit singles by a fictional band from that universe called Eddie Enrico and His Hawaiian Hotshots, with vocals by Moore himself.

Today in streams and freebies: I have been digging hard on Black Moth Super Rainbow’s new Cobra Juicy, which is still streaming here. Likewise the sophomore Diamond Rings album here. I haven’t listened to all of Luke Lalonde’s debut Rhythymnals yet, but I like his band Born Ruffians and the samples I’ve heard from it. It’s streaming here.

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