SICK or SUCKS
Sam and Jos review 2023
Welp, we are just another major AAA publication now, and our board of directors has determined that we need to maximise the year-end SEO potential with a list of stuff we liked. In keeping with our pod parlance, we’ve decided to categorise things as SICK or SUCKS. We are mostly not talking about tunes this week because we will share some playlists next week. R.I.P. “the year of our Lord” 2023!
Ending the pod
Jos: I am getting more sleep sometimes, I’m doing the dishes and staying on top of my laundry, I don’t consistently have an existential dread headache, I’m watching movies and going out for dinner with my wife. There are so many hours.
Sam: We got a dog! Not possible before!
Monica by Daniel Clowes
Jos: Only got into this Gen X. ass in the last couple of years, and a lot of it is super dated (even the more recent stuff), but this decades-spanning book about cults is a literal masterpiece and proof that some guys do still release good stuff when they’re old.
Sam: More like Daniel Clowns? I don’t know anything about this but I’d never read a book with a feminine-coded name as the title, sorry. Fool me once, Rebecca.
Jos: I didn’t think there would ever be something as good as American Movie ever again, but this is almost even better. Patrick J. Pespas is an all-time legend, I love watching him shred on an unplugged guitar. I was genuinely gutted when he went missing after this came out, but he’s home taking care of his wife again and all is well in the world.
Sam: Why can’t all docs be this good? Instead we get Murder at Murder Beach or American Murder or Murder Mafia or Murder Most Murderous or whatever. I hate this business! Even the people commissioning this shit know it sucks and is only watched by losers and suckers I’m sorry!
Merch cut discourse
Jos: Dude it’s so funny that before there was like, just unspeakable atrocities constantly unfolding on the timeline every day, there were a bunch of people that used to be in the A.V. Club comment section doing the most nasally, whiny debates about whether or not venues should be tried for war crimes for taking 10 percent of their Gildans. I will always look back fondly on the phrase “merch cut discourse.”
Sam: I have nothing to add. Gotta stay on everyone’s Christmas card list.
Jos: Before Andre 3000 made his mid flute album (which is a compliment — everyone should pivot to making mid flute albums), he was tooting away in this beautiful film from Kelly Reichardt. I love stories about people who are trying to create stuff while being jealous of and mad at and a wet blanket towards everyone else.
Sam: When Josiah and I started talking about this I went over to my Letterboxd and realized I’d only watched two or three movies made this year. Didn’t feel right to include The Pope’s Exorcist, even though I’m sure it was the better film. So much Italian! Very smart movie.
The Old Oak
Jos: This is actually my first Ken Loach, and it’s sooo dry and boring and beautiful. Love this kinda shit.
Sam: This was uh the worst Ken Loach.
The Fantastic Golem Affairs
Jos: Gotta include something no one else will ever be able to see. This comedy I saw at Fantasia is a surrealist comedy that is full of papier mache special effects and very immature jokes. I loved it.
Sam: C’mon man.
Sufjan Stevens’ tribute to his late partner
Jos: The new Sufjan album was really good, but I also keep revisiting this tribute he wrote to his late partner, which, at the sake of dropping all bits and pretence, is the real stuff.
Sam: I would love to cry for freedom some time. I have cried in vans for sure.
Sam: An angel sent from heaven (to lick up his own piss) and the most wonderful thing to happen to my life since I bullied Ashley into dating me 20 years ago (not problematic then). Very cliche and wholly unoriginal observation but the fact that love is not a finite resource and you can just jam your life even more full of it by bringing a wild animal into your home and trying to make it act normal is such a funny thing. We finally nailed “down” this week and he feels like a genius and I feel like a god.
Jos: I would never go “down” if Sam told me to. In fact, he’s tried.
Number Go Up by Zeke Faux
Sam: Having been on the periphery of this ~whole thing~ for a few years, this is the most clear-eyed writing I’ve ever come across about crypto and the last year of being on a certain part of the internet (and at some very weird parties). That it has the zippy first-person globe-trotting new journalism vibe that I always love? Fantastic bonus.
Jos: Sam is just slowly discovering what we all already knew: he’s a crypto guy.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 16
Sam: Funniest the show has been in a decade! Has the breathless, mean-spirited feel of early seasons with none of the stuff that hasn’t aged well! I feel like I’m 20 again but no one is doing black face! A perfect sitcom!
Jos: I loved this show, but it definitely got real bad. And not because of the black face, per se, but more because of the egregious Emmy-baiting, where it really seemed like they would do anything to try and win some respect. In fact, I think there was even a black face episode in the Emmy-baiting era. I do believe you though. Season 35 of The Simpsons is great too.
Sam: Does the Bard rock? My multiple trips to Stratford, Ontario this year say: yes! Love to be almost 40 and have something like “Shakespeare” finally click for you because Paul Gross is a really good King Lear and they made a vibed-out disco Richard II at the same time you’re working on a movie about disco. Or maybe I just like hanging out with my mom!
Jos: Learning about how much Sam has been forcing Ashley to go to Shakespeare this year, against her will, is one of those hilarious Sam-isms that we might’ve talked about for weeks on end. Instead, it’s something we’ve chuckled about in passing on our few Google Meets. Very odd feeling. But also, I bet Sam always loved Shakespeare, he probably just used to experience it via Fringe Fest ‘80s movie mashups called like “Shawshank-speare.”
The audiobook for Be My Baby by Ronnie Spector as read by Rosie Perez
Sam: Released mid-last year but I simply must say: this is the best audiobook you will ever listen to. Already the best rock and roll memoir ever written but now imagine the coolest voice in the world reading it to you. I would be out for a walk laughing, crying, falling in love all at once. I must have looked like a wild man (which I am). The reason audiobooks exist.
Jos: If you’re a Goodreads user and know how to read, I just gotta be honest — audiobooks don’t count. You’re cheating. Reading is meant to be a punishment, something done in private because you’ve been on Twitter too much. It’s not something you can do while out for a walk. Unless of course you are using an audiobook for accessibility reasons, in which case go wild.
Sam: Canada’s only good province? Maybe! It’s just sooooooo foggy.
Sam: After missing out on doing this in my 20s, the final 155 shows led to not one, but TWO subsequent DJ nights featuring Chayne and I having the time of our lives while everyone else simply endured (a humble lie that is not true, our Halloween night was a bonafide SMASH so please watch out for our upcoming February event, LOVE CONNECTION).
Jos: I think Sam has a kind of empathy for his fellow man that doesn’t necessarily come through in his writing (like, what do you mean about Newfoundland? You like the fog or no? Are you just trying to tell us you went there?) but absolutely does come through in his contagious enthusiasm for having a good time IRL. That’s why he’s such a good DJ, he doesn’t want to challenge anyone or make them uncomfortable. He just wants to make eye contact.
Ending the pod
Jos: I’m reading this book about how to write and the creative process called Bird by Bird (my dad bought it for me, and he even got the author to write a lil dedication for me!) and it’s making me realize that, by forcing myself to put out a pod every week, I was forcing myself to have a writing discipline. And now I’m just playing video games and trying out new recipes and stuff. So I have to figure out a writing discipline on my own, and one that might not even have the instant reward of having 12 strangers in Discord quote it back to me. It sucks!!!
Sam: I really miss you, man. It’s not the same to do the newsletter and we both know it. We’ve got other stuff cooking since but man, it was a beautiful ride and I don’t think I quite found my equilibrium since. I had to get a dog!
blink-182 One More Time…
Jos: And this is the shit we were working towards? For these three guys to get back together and make this? For real, when we share our year-end music playlists next week you’ll see, blink-182 fully caused an existential crisis for me (I wonder how many times they’ve done that in my life) and I’ve only been listening to like whispery folk bullshit and IDM that sounds like a broken radiator.
Sam: The post-album tour tickets cost $150 for dogshit nosebleeds at the Skydome, a dogshit place to watch music. Didn’t even cop! It’s over, but I’m happy for them.
Jos: I feel like we’ve moved past the ability for something pretty mediocre to come out, flop, and then be fondly remembered as being “actually kind of good” a decade later. Both Barbie and Oppenheimer are kinda bad movies, and mostly excuses for their characters to deliver epic speeches. But in general, they point to a broader thing of empty hype where I just can’t engage anymore, even more than usual. I’m going full wanker, gang.
Sam: I had fun at Barbie! And I liked Oppenheimer! And I can’t believe those are two of the only new movies I saw this year besides The Pope’s Exorcist! Marketing works and I am a sucker!
Talking about music
Jos: Is it just me, or is talking about music the most embarrassing it’s ever been? Everyone’s saying how they will “die on this hill” or rearranging their desert island picks or trying to turn everything into Pinkerton every day. Are you all still on lockdown or something? And the musicians are even worse, whining more than ever before. Talking about music should bring us all a deep, deep shame.
Sam: Actually Josiah music died with Best Coast or whatever.
Jos: I’m trying so hard to quit the apps, and when I was really sick last week I kept spending like $75 for two lukewarm bowls of pho that had weird crunchy bits in it. It’s just not worth it. I’m gonna try to become a wet chicken and egg man in 2024 like my buddy Sam, if that’s what it takes.
Sam: Confused how I got delivery five-to-six nights a week at some point in my life. Was I the richest man in Canada?
The province of Quebec
Jos: It’s finally getting to me guys. I almost wrote a letter, lord knows to who, the newspaper? Hydro Quebec, the same people who were responsible for our 6 day power outage this spring, have decided to dig up the sidewalk outside of my house and plug in some kind of… extension cord so that we stop losing power in the neighbourhood? And the extension cord is just exposed, so they put a massive fence on both sides of it that eats up the entire sidewalk and makes it impossible to clear ice or snow or walk anywhere. On the exact section I have to walk every day. I’m really starting to lose my mind from sharing a life with all these French-Canadians….
Sam: I actually love Quebec, it’s so janky. The only place still run by the mob! That’s something to be proud of. Even Sicily is normal now but Quebec is just run by politicians whose whole families will be murdered if they don’t award fat infrastructure projects to Les Boudreau Family or Nous Bissonnette Clan or whatever, just so some greasy dudes can put pylons in the middle of the road year-round and nothing ever gets actually fixed. It’s honestly so out of time and beautiful.
Sam: Josiah is finally right, it sucks here. Everyone is so mad all the time, we’re ruled by the suburbs and cars, and even our borderline-cool mayor has given up fighting with the province over novel ideas like “public parks” after maybe two days in office. I understand that America “sucks” but there are a dozen cities you can live in and work. Canada has one! And it’s bad!
Jos: What is this thing about changing the name of Dundas? Did you guys finally realize how hokey and Canadian it sounds? Now that you hate Toronto, I’m gonna be honest. We loved visiting in May. And we’re coming back soon. As long as you don’t talk to anyone who has anything to do with the Canadian music industry, you can have a great time. I mean, Toronto has Burrito Boyz. Montreal doesn’t have a single good burrito!
Sam: Worse than Toronto! Wild to visit the place where they invented classism and have my first experience with what I think was oppression? I don’t care about “Soho” and the spot where Bowie is standing on the cover of Ziggy Stardust doesn’t even look cool anymore so why even bother.
Jos: This is what I mean about Sam’s writing style. He’s being coy and vague, which is fine, but in this case it reads like he experienced prejudice for being white. Man, I love this guy.