Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 213, “Frog Lies and Rock Facts”

overthegardenwall

Gobbledygeek episode 213, “Frog Lies and Rock Facts,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Two boys, lost in the woods. A fearsome beast roaming the forest. A frog with many names. Potatoes…and molasses. What do these things all have in common? They’re in Over the Garden Wall, the first-ever animated mini-series on Cartoon Network (and perhaps all of American television). The show, broken up in ten 11-minute installments, is a thing of weird and wild beauty. Paul and AJ discuss the many different references it draws from–Miyazaki, Adventure Time, Betty Boop–and how they all cohere to form one of the best cartoons in recent memory. So why don’t you join them, over the garden wall? Plus, Paul has become an Avatar: The Last Airbender obsessive and AJ watched a whole bunch of movies during the Gobbledysleep.

Next: Wesley “Wezzo” Mead makes his annual hop, skip, and a jump over the pond.

(Show notes for “Frog Lies and Rock Facts.”)

Paul’s Top 10 Comics of 2014 (and AJ’s Lament)

'Saga' art by Fiona Staples.

‘Saga’ art by Fiona Staples.

Last week, we brought you our top 10 films of the year. It was different from past years in that while I still wrote words and words and words, Paul presented his list without comment. He continues that trend with his top 10 comics of 2014. Meanwhile, I’m getting into some unusual territory by admitting that I don’t have a list. Sure, I could have scraped something together, but it wouldn’t have felt right.

I adore comic books–look no further than the year-long Four-Color Flashback series on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman we just wrapped in December–but this was the year they unfortunately fell by the wayside of my pop culture habits. There are a few reasons: comics are expensive, often going for $2.99, $3.99, or even more for a bundle of 20-25 sheets of paper; reading is a solitary, time-consuming activity which requires laser focus, unlike a lot of movies and TV (I’ll probably get in trouble for that), and this year I chose to devote much more of my reading time to prose; and lately, I’ve grown to prefer sitting down with one-and-done graphic novels or trade paperback collections to only getting a single hit of a story each month.

Then there’s the fact that 2014 was the year I (and Paul, and frenemy of the show Eric Sipple) published a book. I’ve always considered myself a creative person, but actually putting blood, sweat, and tears into finishing a real product available for purchase left me with a lot less free time. Video games were the first casualty–I played the very comics-oriented LEGO Marvel Superheroes for a few days, but that was about it–and then, completely by chance, I noticed comics becoming the second. Which is ironic, considering how heavily indebted The Deli Counter of Justice is to superhero comics.

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Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2014

The new year is less than two days old, so once again, it’s time to look back to our favorites of last year. As always, lists are imperfect, incomplete, and totally subject to change upon reflection and the passage of time.

We’ll start with Paul; he remains skeptical of this whole top 10 business, so this year, his contributions to our lists (including comics, albums, and TV shows) will be presented without comment.

(Mine, of course, will probably say too much.)

~ AJ

PAUL’S FAVORITE (NOT BEST) FILMS OF 2014
10. Boyhood (dir. Richard Linklater)
9. Interstellar (dir. Christopher Nolan)
8. Maleficent (dir. Robert Stromberg)
7. Only Lovers Left Alive (dir. Jim Jarmusch)
6. The LEGO Movie (dirs. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller)
5. Guardians of the Galaxy (dir. James Gunn)
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (dirs. Joe & Anthony Russo)
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (dir. Matt Reeves)
2. Big Hero 6 (dirs. Don Hall & Chris Williams)
1. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (dir. Dean DeBlois)

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Snowpiercer (dir. Bong Joon-ho)
Edge of Tomorrow (dir. Doug Liman)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (dir. Francis Lawrence)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (dir. Bryan Singer)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (dir. Marc Webb)

DIDN’T SEE
Birdman (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Force Majeure (dir. Ruben Ostlund)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (dir. Peter Jackson)

AJ’S TOP 10 FILMS OF 2014

10. BIRDMAN (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)

Film Review Birdman

“A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing,” reads the quote (sometimes attributed to Susan Sontag) stuck to Riggan Thomson’s mirror. One imagines the former superhero actor, played by a back-and-swinging-for-the-fences Michael Keaton, clings to that mantra as he negotiates a shot at artistic integrity with his paranoid need to be loved. It also serves as a warning to anyone trying to dissect the film or Iñárritu’s intentions. After making a career out of overwhelmingly somber dramas, Iñárritu has made a frenzied comedy propelled by a furious drum score from Antonio Sanchez. He also peppers the film with flights of insanity, in which Riggan has telekinetic powers or takes to the skies just like his old alter ego. How much of this is real? What does the film’s beautiful final shot mean? There’s a lot to be said, but you can also take Birdman for the absurd, chaotic, hilarious thing it is.

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Listen to Episode 210, “I’m Having the Weirdest Day”

scrooged

Gobbledygeek episode 210, “I’m Having the Weirdest Day,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

This Christmas season, put a little love in your heart with Paul and AJ as they revisit Richard Donner’s 1988 reworking of A Christmas Carol, Scrooged. This year’s Twisted Christmas entry stars none other than AJ favorite Bill Murray as soulless TV exec Frank Cross, who is visited by a number of very annoying spirits who try and pummel him into living life to its fullest. The boys discuss Murray’s manic-to-dry range, what we’re supposed to make of Frank’s (and even Scrooge’s) character arc, and the interesting decision to cast Carol Kane as the sound of nails on a chalkboard given form. They also invent the mental breakdown Donner surely had on set. This is a weird one. Plus, there’s talk of those Star Wars and Jurassic World trailers, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Next: an all-star jam band of our Sandman compatriots takes place, as the gang turns to the final volume of Neil Gaiman’s epic, Vol X: The Wake.

(Show notes for “I’m Having the Weirdest Day.”)

Listen to Episode 207, “Magic, Mountains, Monsters, and Mario”

bigtroublewages

Gobbledygeek episode 207, “Magic, Mountains, Monsters, and Mario,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

For the first Geek Challenge in many months, Paul has challenged AJ to John Carpenter’s 1986 fantasy/martial arts/neo-Western cult classic Big Trouble in Little China. In turn, AJ has challenged Paul to Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1953 “anti-everything” thriller The Wages of Fear. What, pray tell, is the common denominator? They’re, uh, they’re both about truckers. Tenuous connections are what Geek Challenges thrive on, and this one at least provides some sobering realizations for the boys. What do Paul’s reactions to some ’50s movies and AJ’s reactions to some ’80s movies say about them as people and that pesky generational gap? There may be actual answers. Plus, more surprising reactions, this time about Taylor Swift’s 1989; and AJ springs #AlexFromTarget on Paul.

Next: in two weeks, the boys will be back discussing two more very different movies, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and the Disney/Marvel animated film Big Hero 6.

(Show notes for “Magic, Mountains, Monsters, and Mario.”)

Listen to Episode 206, “What’re You Gonna Do with Those Pies, Boys? (feat. Greg Sahadachny)”

killerklowns

Gobbledygeek episode 206, “What’re You Gonna Do with Those Pies, Boys? (feat. Greg Sahadachny),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Some call it All Hallows’ Eve. Others, All Saints’ Eve. Most know it as Halloween. Here at Gobbledygeek, October 31 always has been and always will be observed as Gobbledyween. Fan favorite Greg Sahadachny, of The Debatable Podcast and All the Pieces Matter, joins Paul and AJ to round out this year’s celebration of all things horror with a discussion of the 1988 cult (?) classic (?) Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Armed with popcorn guns and living balloon dogs, these klowns descend from the stars just like the Blob to wreak havoc on small town America and–that’s really all the movie is, just one goofy clown-related death after another. Paul doesn’t think too highly of the movie, and while it would be insane for anyone to think too highly of it, AJ and Greg argue that it’s just too darn innocent to hate. Also, why are clowns so scary? Plus, AJ becomes hopelessly addicted to Jurassic Park: Builder and attends a groovy screening of Halloween at The Nightlight.

Next: the Geek Challenge rears its head once more, as Paul challenges AJ to Big Trouble in Little China, and AJ challenges Paul to The Wages of Fear. Because they’re both about truckers?

Listen to Episode 187, “How to Train Your Paul 2 (feat. Eric Sipple)”

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2

Gobbledygeek episode 187, “How to Train Your Paul 2 (feat. Eric Sipple),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Welcome back to the land of Berk, where the dragons soar, the adults have Scottish accents, and the kids have grown up. Frenemy Eric Sipple joins Paul and AJ to discuss How to Train Your Dragon 2, which–spoiler alert–they all agree is a fine film indeed. Among the points of discussion are the more mature tone, the stunning animation (with an assist from the great Roger Deakins), and Cate Blanchett’s role as Valka, Hiccup’s mother. In a strong year for sequels, this is one of the strongest, and we’re here to tell you why. Plus, in other dragon-related news, the gang dissects the Game of Thrones season finale.

Next: getting back on our track with our monthly Four-Color Flashback series discussing Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. Greg Sahadachny of The Debatable Podcast joins us for an analysis of Vol. III – Dream Country.

(Show notes for “How to Train Your Paul 2.”)