Recommendations & Endorsements

 Here you'll find books, movies, and music I heartily endorse no matter how much they keep asking me not to.  If my blog doesn't tickle your fancy, perhaps one of these other suggestions will.

Books
  • "House of Leaves"  (Mark Z. Danielewski)
    • Hands-down the best book ever written.
  • "The Thirteenth Tale"  (Diane Setterfield)  
  • "The Red Market" (Scott Carney)
  • "Survival of the Sickest"  (Sharon Moalem, Jonathan Prince)
  • "Stiff" and "Gulp"  (Mary Roach)
  • "The Kite Runner"  (Khaled Hosseini)
  • "The Orphan Master's Son"  (Adam Johnson)
    • Culturally relevant.  A fictional work portraying the life of a North Korean man.
  • "A Fine Balance"  (Rohinton Mistry)
  • "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time"  (Mark Haddon)
  • "The Historian" (Elizabeth Kostova)
  • "The Sister"  (Poppy Adams) 
  • "The Lives of Objects"  (Susanna Moore)
  • "The Book Thief"  (Markus Zusak)
  • "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer
    • Regarding the 1996 Everest disaster.
  • "Exegesis"  (Astro Teller)
  • "Room" by Emma Donoghue
  • the Goon comics, by Eric Powell
  • "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese
  • "The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb" by Melanie Benjamin
  •  "Grendel"  (John Gardner)
    • Great modern existential work.
  • "To Kill a Mockingbird"  (Harper Lee)
    • If you were forced to read this in school and hated it, read it again as an adult for pleasure.  You will be surprised at how great of a book this really is.
  •  "The Great Gatsby"  (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
  •  "World War Z"  (Max Brooks)
  • " Lives of the Monster Dogs"  (Kirsten Bakis)
  • "The Dogs of Babel"  (Carolyn Parkhurst)

Television Series

I don't watch a whole hell of a lot of television because I genuinely think it rots the brain.  I don't even own a television.  That being said, there are a couple of series I've watched and that aren't getting the necessary amount of credit they deserve, and which are definitely worth rotting your brain over.  These include:
  • 30 Rock
    • Tina Fey's labour of love, this show follows Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, the head writer for a sketch comedy show.  Liz deals with various wacky characters including Alec Baldwin as her boss and a page named Kenneth Parcell who was the precursor to Felix Jr. in the Pixar movie Wreck-It Ralph.  (Even some of his old lines were recycled!  "Sir, I don't mean to swear, but I am very irritated at you right now.")  I know this particular show already has a solid fanbase but I can't give it enough credit; nearly every line is a joke and they manage to keep it fresh throughout all 7 seasons.  
  • Stella
    • A show about three men who wear suits and get into bizaree situations.  (Seriouly, that's about it.)  The humour is very absurdist and I would argue a bit British in its styling, similar to some of Monty Python's work.  Some people don't get it, which is probably why it lasted only one season.  Aired on Comedy Central and well worth illegally downloading and going to prison forever, in my humble opinion.
  • The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret
    • A show about an American who is also a pathological liar and moves to England for a job at which he is thoroughly unqualified.  Incredibly, his decisions really do get worse and worse; the show never loses momentum over two seasons.  Check out this clip:

  • A Very Potter Musical
    • I wasn't sure whether to put this under movies or series, because it's a play.  If you can excuse the sound quality, take the time to watch this fan-created musical available for free on YouTube.  It's a comedy homage to Harry Potter and they clearly put a lot of effort into it... that paid off entirely.  It has two sequels, but nothing beats the original.  
  • Clone High
    • A cartoon about cloned historical figures who go to high school together.  It aired on MTV and was actually a rather clever satire of shows like Dawson's Creek.  Only one season... regrettably, this show made the mistake of airing on MTV, where it didn't hit its target audience.  Happily, all 12 episodes are free on YouTube.  I used to post links but they keep getting taken down by YouTube, so you'll have to go there and find them for yourself.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.  This is not quite a movie but not quite a miniseries, either.  Starring Neil Patrick Harris as a supervillian named Dr. Horrible who is trying to impress a girl at his local laundromat, this is a comedy/musical that, as far as I know, has never received a negative review from anyone who's seen it.  Free on Youtube.


  • Community.  A show about a diverse group of characters that has increasingly bizarre misadventures at their community college.  You've probably heard about it on the internet, so I won't go on and on about it, but if you haven't seen it, you're missing out.
  • Gravity Falls.  A new cartoon by Disney about twelve-year-old fraternal twins who are spending the summer with their great-uncle in a little town in Oregon where all sorts of spooky, supernatural stuff happens.  A quirky little show.  Everyone says I'm exactly like Mabel. 
  • The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  Available on Netflix, this is a series about a perky girl who was kidnapped at the age of 15 and spent 15 years living in a bunker underground.  Now free, she is adjusting to modern life in New York City with an insanely cheerful though sometimes naive attitude.  Like 30 rock, this show has shockingly good humor from beginning to end, with complex, diverse characters, bright colors, and unexpectedly good music.  
  • Honorable mention: Steven Universe.  It's a confusing, progressive cartoon about lesbian space rocks.  The music and animation is stunning but the fanbase can be toxic.  Watch it on Cartoon Network and research at your own risk.
  • Bojack Horseman.  A perfect existential work about a washed-up, has-been horse living in Hollywood.  Technically an animated comedy, but also powerfully emotional.


Movies

I'm not a big movie buff and don't see many movies.  Although, admittedly, I did attend the Guardians of the Galaxy opening dressed as Rocket Raccoon, and the Avengers as Thor.  But anyway, here's a couple that deserve a bit of credit.
    • Iron Man.  A perfect 10/10.  Most Marvel movies are at least a B, but this one truly takes the cake.
    • Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  I am not ashamed to say this is probably my favourite non-Marvel movie.
    • Sunset Boulevard.  A genre-defining, classic noir film.  Like Casablanca, I actually didn't see this until I was 23, and I now believe everyone ought to check out these two black-and-white oldies because even today they are truly outstanding movies.  (Also, for the record, I HATED Citizen Kane so much it effectively ended my "watching classic movies for the shared cultural experience" streak.)
    • Slumdog Millionaire.  This movie deserved the validation it got.  If you liked this movie, then I will tentatively recommend two others: Rang De Basanti and Mirror, Mirror.  R.D.B. was a ground-breaking Indian film from 2006, and Mirror, Mirror is a take on Snow White which has an Indian director and borrowed some Indian tropes for this movie, making it a real stand-alone among other American contemporaries.
    • If you're only looking for a movie to make you cry, Beasts of the Southern Wilds was that movie for me, although Hotel Rwanda was a close runner-up.  B.o.t.S.W. is a unique, artistic masterpiece, while Hotel Rwanda is dramatic realism and based on a true story.  Looking for a sad animated film?  Try When the Wind Blows, about a fictional nuclear bomb drop on England, or Mary and Max, about two unlikely penpals.  Waltz with Bashir is also excellent; this animated film portrays the Sabra and Shatila massacres of the 1982 Lebanon War with a perfect mixture of gentleness and brutality.
    • The Secret of Kells.  An animated Irish movie that is so artfully done I can't give it credit here.  If you liked animated movies in general you will love this, and even if you don't you should still see it.  Also, this might be a good place to say I loved Brave and Frozen, in part because it was nice to see a Disney movie where there was zero romance and the princess actually says "fuck you" and doesn't fall in love or get married at the end.  Let the record show that I found "Tangled" to be unbearable... Rapunzel is just too perky and cutesy and overdone with the fake "quirkiness."  However, Coraline fits nicely into the slightly off-kilter animated movie genre as well and is definitely at the top of my list of good movies.
    • If you're in the mood for comedy, anything with Nathan Lane is good, but The Birdcage and The Producers are two of his best.  One has cross-dressers and the other has Nazis so you know they're gold!  If you want something less edgy, you're out of luck, because my other favourite comedy is probably Undercover Brother, which stars both Dave Chappelle and Neil Patrick Harris, but regrettably didn't get enough credit from audiences because white people suck at humour.  (Look at me, for example.  I'm white and my blog sucks.)

Music

Music is something I think I take for granted.  My tastes are so nebulous that I have difficulty really recommending anything.  But here's a few ideas: go to YouTube and check out Django Reinhardt for some classy jazz, Paul Datah for electric violin music set to a solid hip-hop beat, the Rubberbandits for some Irish rap, and to top it all off, here's "Truman's Song" played with ping-pong balls.  My current (new) favourite band is probably Caravan Palace, who is helping to define the (relatively new) genre of electro-jazz.  I'm glad that Greenday is staying relevant; I thought "Bang Bang" was awesome.  Anywho, here's a list of some of my favourite songs, a list that is in no way even close to inclusive.

 Links

If you are not thoroughly impressed by my blog and need another corner of the internet to occupy your time, I recommend these.
  • Post Secret
    • A blog that updates weekly with selected postcards sent in from all over the world, anonymously stating people's most intimate hopes, fears, and secrets.
  • The MSNBC Photo Blog
    • What real photojournalism should be.
  • Pandora Music
    • If you don't already know about this, enjoy creating your own radio stations based on your own musical preferences.
  •  Married to the Sea
    • Single-panel comics creating by placing text over old-fashioned sketches.
  •  Amazing Super Powers!
    • Traditionally drawn comics with clever and irreverent punchlines.
  • The Perry Bible Fellowship
    • Traditionally drawn comics with bizarre, surreal themes.
  • A Softer World
    • Demure, existential comics; text placed over photography.
  • Clickhole.
    • Buzzfeed-inspired satire.
  • Horsey Surprise
    • The best troll blog of all time, courtesy of Ken M.
  • Omegle
    • Talk to strangers one-on-one and anonymously.
  • GeoGuesser
    • A game that places you somewhere random on Google Maps and has you try to figure out where you are. 
  • My boyfriend's blog.
    • In which Andy shamelessly rides the coat-tails of my internet success.  (Naw, but seriously, it's a good read and he talks about some of his cutting-edge work with stem cells, so go give it a looksee.) (Disclaimer: I am not actually internet famous.)
  • My buddy's film production studio.
    • In which Mick makes surprisingly high-quality micro-budget action films.
  • The L.A. Pony and Critter Club.
    • A club for human-animal roleplay.  NSFW: adult content.
  • Reddit.
  • RedditGifts.
    • Like Secret Santa exchanges?  Want to do them all year 'round with strangers from the internet?  Sign up here for monthly themed exchanges!

Other
  • Psychonauts.  It's a platform video game.  I'm not a gamer, but damn, this game is amazing.  You are a psychic kid who goes into people's brains, and each brain is a level, and each level is unique to each individual.  It's very funny with incredible plot and writing.  It didn't get nearly enough attention.  So go out there and play this, on XBox or on your PC.  I think Steam has it for something like $10.  Well worth your money.
  • The Bissell LittleGreen ProHeat carpet cleaner.  Before I had hardwood floors, I had carpet, and I had dogs, and this thing saved my life.  If you have carpet and pets, go get one.  I'm on my second and I have zero regrets.
  • Etsy.com.  Before you go anywhere else to buy, check out this site for artisan crafts.  A lot of unique and customisable items.
  • Harem pants.  Damn they are comfortable.
  • CareCredit by GE Capital Bank.  A credit card that can only be used for healthcare, including dentistry and vet bills.  With no interest in the first six months, this has helped me budget a lot of major animal surgeries that otherwise wouldn't have been possible.  If you have pets, this is a GREAT resource for emergencies.
That leg cost us $10,000.
  • Gardein vegetarian imitation meats.  Much more selection than Morning Star, and unlike Morning Star, many of their products are vegan.  Morning Star uses eggs from factory farms (that's right, not even free-range), which is definitely NOT targeting their market base.  But ethics aside, Gardein actually just tastes better, and they have items like ribs and Chinese orange chicken.
  • Amazon Prime.  I got it.  No regrets.
  • Shelter dogs.  Go adopt your best friend today.

 I like big mutts and I cannot lie.

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