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TODCRA Presents The Best Of 2005 (Part II)

Yep, it's too big for one post this year! So check out the REST:


COMICS


Dan Clowes - Eightball #24 - Wow, two issues in two years! He's a MAD MAN! (To be fair, though, in the interim, he's been working on the new film Art School Confidential and, oh yeah, he's doing insanely good things with comics which is bound to take a while.) Like #23 (re-issued this year as the book Ice Haven), it's a one-issue stand alone story called "The Death Ray", and is typical Clowes fare -- by which I mean Excellent, Emotional And Brilliant. It's got a similar structure to #23, with the collection of different strips, although where in #23, it was a bit more intertwining, most of the strip-breaks are closer to chapters than a collection of 30 odd separate-but-intertwined short stories. If for some weird, strange reason, you haven't read any of Dan Clowes' work, get to a comics shop NOW. -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)


Chris Crosby & Owen Gieni - Sore Thumbs - Yeah, I know, Sore Thumbs has been around for a year or two. And, yeah, I've been reading it since it started. But you know what? After this year, I stopped reading it because it was Chris Crosby's Other Comic, and started reading it because I actually LIKED it. After the election, it stopped being quite so political (not that it ever was in the first place -- it was always intended as a parody on those sorts of Political Comics -- I mean, really, check it out, it's a manga-styled comic featuring a woman with impossibly large breasts who works in a gaming store and is over-the-top liberal -- it's pretty much intended to appeal to/be a parody of the accepted conventions of the Big Popular Webcomics), and Chris Crosby's standard character-driven absurdity started shining through. I actually laughed out loud at this strip, both from the reasoning of Cecania's father for leaving, and the final line. -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)

Jay Naylor - Better Days - It's a furry comic -- I'm surprised as you. But after reading this great article at the High Weirdness Project, I ended up devouring the archives. It's strangely compelling -- my first instinct is to call it a trainwreck, but that's not entirely fair; Jay Naylor is a good artist and a good storyteller. It's just that his stories tend to be a little on the wonky side; Naylor's an unapologetic Neocon, so there's the occasional story titled that direction. And, of course, if you go read that article (seriously, go read it), you get all sorts of backstory w/r/t a fight he had with another cartoonist whose characters they were sharing (Naylor'd given a sibling to one of his characters), which resulted in an incest storyline between the two characters (yeah, I know!). It's cool -- it's like a pretty good comic and all sorts of Internet Drama all rolled into one! It's that sort of thing that makes it so I make sure to read every Monday and Friday when it's posted. (Not to mention that, you know, it actually IS pretty good. So it's about, you know, 50% wanting to see what he's going to do next and about 50% actually caring about the characters. If only Scott Kurtz could pull something like that off…) -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)

Chris Onstad - Achewood Volume V: An Empty Cup Of Rum Well, I'm still reading Achewood, and it's still basically my favorite comic ever. And this is still just an excuse to plug it. Seriously, if you're not reading Achewood, why not? Do you have something against magnificent writing? Do you? Because if so, you're like totally missing out. Go read it! Now! -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)



BOOKS


Paul Collins - The Trouble With Tom - Hooray! New Paul Collins book! This one's about Thomas Paine -- or, more accurately, the earthly remains thereof. See, where most people get buried and that's about it, Thomas Paine, probably the most controversial founding father, was dug up and did a World Tour of sorts, and got lost somewhere along the way. Paul Collins looks at that, along with the people who were influenced by Thomas Paine's writings and how they figured into the big ghastly game of "Where's Waldo". It's really interesting -- and it features an aside about E.B. Foote's medical books for children, including a Victorian-era sex-ed manual starring a monkey! A MONKEY. -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)

Dave Eggers - How We Are Hungry - This is the new short story collection from Dave Eggers. I think it technically came out in 2004, but oh well. This is a much better, more mature Eggers -- much less in the way of apologizing for things he thinks the reader might see as "hokey" or "untrue" or "lame" or whatever. (This is basically the equivalent of the hardcover version of You Shall Know Our Velocity! before he put the Hand's Point Of View Section in the middle which completely undermined an excellent book. Basically, everyone should either read the hardcover version, or if they get the paperback, paperclip the middle 50 pages together and call it good.) I love the first and last stories especially. -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)

Chris Elliott - The Shroud Of The Thwacker - This book was a little bit more in the "Comedy Novel" vein than I'd been led to believe (even though it IS Chris Elliott), but it still actually DOES work as a novel. It's better than Daddy's Boy, anyway, although I actually liked that one, too. And, hey, Chris Elliott is brilliant at comedy, so, there you go. In typical Chris Elliott fashion, he's the main character, but there's some really interesting twists that also may involve him mistaking a modern hoax for a Victorian-era hoax and incorporating it accidentally into his novel and getting into all sortsa trouble. In real life, not in the novel. I mean, well, he gets into all sortsa trouble in the novel too, since then it'd be kinda boring, but you know. Whatever. It's good, which is my point, and you should read it. Because, hey, it's Chris Elliott! I love Chris Elliott. -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)

Brian Eno - A Year (With Swollen Appendices) - I'd been wanting to read this for a while, and I found a copy at Powell's Books in Portland, OR. And boy, did I find a copy -- they had like, 2,000 of them. (They also had More Dark Than Shark, but that was like 40 bucks, so…) Anyway, it's Brian Eno's diary for the year of 1995, along with a bunch of essays. I love the way it goes wildly between high-minded concepts about the nature of music and interactivity and all that stuff to stories about him using Photoshop to make porn actresses breasts and butts comically large, or the story about him watching Monty Python's Flying Circus and having to urinate, but he didn't want to get up, so he pissed into a wine bottle he had nearby… which, after realizing that he'd never in his life tasted urine, sipped from. Brian Eno is AWESOME. -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)

David Foster Wallace - Consider The Lobster - I actually haven't read this book. I don't even know if it's out yet. But, come ON, it's David Foster Wallace. You know it's going to be one of the best books of 2005. It's a collection of his essays, sort of a A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again Volume II. Which works. Because I liked that one a lot. Anyway, I just looked. Apparently it comes out the day after I'm writing this blurb. So, by the time you read this, you can have this on your bookshelf. In fact, I probably will. And hopefully I'll have read it. But I probably won't update this because I am basically fundamentally lazy, and besides, doing a review of a book I haven't read is much funnier when you're not actually being paid to do so. (Seriously, have you ever read those, where the reviewer will basically admit to having not read the book they've been paid to review, and spend the review just trashing the author? If I ever got one of those as a newspaper editor, my reaction would be "You're kidding right? You're fired. Get out. You don't get a recommendation. Next time, do your fucking job. Asshole.") -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)


WEBSITES


The High Weirdness Project - This is one of my favorite sites ever. I've got a huge thing for Wikis, and I'm a SubGenius, so to combine the two? AWESOME. I've done a lot of contributions to it; it's hard NOT to. It's pretty wide-arching. It's NOT an encyclopedia, but rather an inter-connected collection of reviews and essays (which is the thing I think Wikis are best at, actually). I love the "SubGenius Badfilm" section particularly. If you check nothing else there, check that. But seriously, check EVERYTHING. And keep coming back -- every day, the Bulldada Newsblog is updated, and there's always at least one great story per day, if not way more. -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)

WFMU's Beware Of The Blog - WFMU is one of the big important radio stations, and everyone seems to know about it. After all, They Might Be Giants are huge fans and are hangin' out there all the time, and Laura Cantrell has a show on the station. But what folks might not know is that they've also branched out from awesome radio to an awesome blog as well. The writing's usually pretty good, but what makes this great is the mp3s. And that they keep a collection of all the mp3s that have been posted. And there's SO much cool, rare stuff. Chris Morris' "Motherbanger", or an early version of Brian Eno's "The Paw-Paw Negro Blowtorch", f'ristinstance. You can spend days just going through their list and finding new nuggets of awesomeness. It's great. -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)

Your Subculture Soundtrack - I have been writing a ton of stuff for this. It's another wiki, because I love wikis, and I am actually an admin here, but even if I weren't, I'd probably be pluggin' this, because I think it's a cool idea. It's basically a big index of reviews and stuff, but the thing that really shines my potatoes about this is the big Mix CD collection here, with all sorts of cross-referenced notes and everything. I think that's really cool, and will be really awesome once a lot of people start adding to it. I'm just floored that there's already over 500 articles there. And I think about half of them might be mine, heh. -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)



MISC.


Baby Raccoons - Baby raccoons are like raccoons, just smaller. They follow their parents around. -- Field Marshall Stack (toddler_hiway)

Hummingbirds - The funny thing to me about hummingbirds is that they're so aggressive. They don't really seem to care about things that are much larger than them. We've got a stray cat that we've been feeding (this is Riley), and the hummingbirds have been known to attack and chase him off. And the other day, when my mom went out to tip their feeder to get the air bubbles out, they started flying around her at her face. My theory is that it's about a sense of scale; like, say, the raccoons we feed are kind of leery of humans (despite being able to pretty much hold their own), because while we're bigger, we're a more fathomable sort of "big". We're, I don't know, maybe five times the size, give or take. On the other hand, with a hummingbird, we're probably about a few hundred times the size, so at that sense of scale, people aren't really "real" to the hummingbird. (This probably also explains why insects are also rather blaze around people, too. Although it doesn't explain why they're so aggressive towards the cat which, you would think, would be a much more fathomable "big". Maybe hummingbirds are just jerks.) -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)

Phillips 642 DVD Player - This player is AWESOME. It can basically play almost any format. And it's hell of cheap! That makes it a winner in my book! More DVD players need to basically be able to play what are essentially data DVDs. I like that I can play an entire season and a half of Liquid TV on one DVD where if I wanted to burn normal video DVDs, it'd be like, I dunno, 4 episodes or thereabouts per disc! Awesome! -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)

Psychonauts - From the figments of imagination to the scenery design of someone's mind, just about everything in this game is fantastic. This game has more depth than a ...well, I can't come up with a great home-spun saying right now but it'd probably involve Lungfish(SEE WHAT I DID?). Long story short, for anyone looking for something that can show off Richard Horvitz's acting abilities without the usual cartoon scream-fest he's prone to doing, then give this a try. - Dr. Chef (circusvargas)


Raccoons - Raccoons are animals that visit Matt's house. They wash food and eat it. -- Field Marshall Stack (toddler_hiway)

Riley - Riley (a/k/a "Riley Mae") is a cat that comes by our deck that we feed. And that's pretty cool, because, hey, cats are awesome. And so's taming them so they can find a home. But Riley's a little more than that. We're not sure whether or not Riley's a boy or a girl (it tends to alternate. I tend to default to "he", and my mother will default to "he" as well, but will call him "Riley Mae", which is the girl-form of the name ("Riley" so being chosen by my mother as a unisex name). The other cool thing about Riley (which is much, much cooler than being of indeterminate sex (which is mainly because none of us have cared to closely examine a cat's particular nether-regions anyway, not through any trick of Riley)) is that he greets people by hissing. For a long, long time, he didn't even meow around us. Now he'll meow, but it'll be followed with a hiss. A completely non-confrontational/aggressive hiss, mind you. It's clear when Riley hisses that you're in absolutely no danger. Perhaps it's a function of being used to it, or perhaps it's a function of how he'll rub up against you and expect to be petted when he hisses. Our working hypothesis was that Riley actually didn't know HOW to meow, but that went out the window a month or so ago. So, now, we just don't know. The fact remains that Riley is awesome and a complete lovebug. A hissing, growling lovebug. -- Rev. Syung Myung Me (revme)

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