Listen to ‘The Avatar Returns’ Episode 45

The Avatar Returns episode 45 is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

The secret is out! The truth about all of the crazy breaks and pauses and hiatuses The Avatar Returns has endured over the past year-and-a-half can finally be revealed. The truth is…we didn’t want this to end. But end it has, and we must fight our way through the heartache and the pain to discuss, one last time, these final chapters of The Legend of Korra. Chapter 412, “Day of the Colossus” sees all our gathered heroes marshaling what resistance they can against Kuvira’s Platinum Gundam of Spirity Death. There’s a marriage proposal; Hayao Miyazaki makes a surprise (if short) return; and Meelo bends with something other than his butt. And then in chapter 413, appropriately titled “The Last Stand,” Bolin throws a building at Kuvira; Mako bends his shirt off; and Korra and Kuvira have possibly the most viscerally satisfying battles in the history of the series. Plus that marriage proposal leads to an actual wedding, and our beloved Avatar indulges in some very significant hand-holding.

And now, at the end of all things, we finally, FINALLY try and give the extraordinary series composer Jeremy Zuckerman his due. (In case we don’t make it clear in the episode, he is one of the most amazing and criminally under appreciated composers working.)

Next: the shows are over but you still get one more podcast from us. Join us as we laugh, cry, and probably drink our way through a look back on the long, strange journey we’ve taken through these amazing shows. There could be games; we might try and stump each other with pop quizzes; it’s almost guaranteed we’ll argue over “Imprisoned” or “The Swamp” again. You’re all invited to The Great TARP Wrap Party!

(Show notes for The Avatar Returns episode 45.)

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 237, “The Destabilized Economy of Nightmare Fish Muppets”

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Gobbledygeek episode 237, “The Destabilized Economy of Nightmare Fish Muppets,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

During Miyazaki Month earlier this year, Paul and AJ (along with a number of their friends) discussed every feature film of Hayao Miyazaki’s career…except two. Which is why they’ve revived the concept for a “lost” Miyazaki Month analyzing 1979’s The Castle of Cagliostro, Miyazaki’s first movie; and 2008’s Ponyo, his penultimate film. Well, “analyze” might be the wrong word…for different reasons, these are two movies which don’t necessarily require a lot of thought. But the boys give it their all anyway, going over Cagliostro‘s heist picture wackiness and Ponyo‘s dreamlike simplicity, not to mention Hitler and nightmare fish Muppets.

Next: we’re on vacation…so who knows! But we’ll be back!

(Show notes for “The Destabilized Economy of Nightmare Fish Muppets.”)

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 227, “You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly (feat. Kenn Edwards & Joseph Lewis)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 227, “You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly (feat. Kenn Edwards & Joseph Lewis),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Our month-long celebration of Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki reaches its bittersweet conclusion with a look at Miyazaki’s purported final film, 2013’s The Wind Rises; and Mami Sunada’s documentary about its making, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. Joining Paul and AJ for their final descent into the world of Studio Ghibli is Smoke Gets in Your Ears: A Mad Men Podcast co-hosts Kenn Edwards and Joseph Lewis. The gang discusses the parallels between Miyazaki and The Wind Rises‘ aviation engineer Jiro Horikoshi, Miyazaki’s surprisingly fatalistic outlook on life, and–naturally–the grand folly of art. Plus, Joe makes an exciting announcement!

Next: leaping from one Disney-distributed universe to another, Paul and AJ enter The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

(Show notes for “You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly.”)

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 226, “River Gods and Turnip Heads (feat. Monique Morgan & Nathan Burdette)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 226, “River Gods and Turnip Heads (feat. Monique Morgan & Nathan Burdette),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Bathhouses, talking fires, giant babies, grotesquely overweight witches…for this leg of Miyazaki Month, Paul and AJ enter the world of the filmmaker’s two most visually distinct yet perhaps least coherent films: 2001’s Spirited Away and 2004’s Howl’s Moving Castle. Joining them on their journey is first-time guest (but longtime background entertainer) Monique Morgan of Beacon Hills: After Dark and Nathan Burdette of On the Rocks (and AJ’s blood relative). The gang discusses the limitless imagination on display in these two films, the strengths and weaknesses of that lack of coherency, and what the movies have to say about Japanese culture and war.
Next: Miyazaki Month comes to a close, as Smoke Gets in Your Ears: A Mad Men Podcast co-hosts Kenn Edwards and Joseph Lewis drop by for The Wind Rises and The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness.

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 225, “When Pigs (and Castles) Fly (feat. Greg Sahadachny)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 225, “When Pigs (and Castles) Fly (feat. Greg Sahadachny),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Miyazaki Month takes to the skies this week with 1986’s Castle in the Sky, the first official Studio Ghibli production, about a boy from a mining town and a princess from a floating island (jeez, does this guy have a thing for princesses or what?); and 1992’s Porco Rosso, wherein a man with the face of a pig fights air pirates and evades the Italian Secret Police. Greg Sahadachny, host of The Debatable Podcast and All the Pieces Matter, joins Paul and AJ to discuss Miyazaki’s aviation fascination, how Castle in the Sky may be the perfect bridge between Nausicaä  and Princess Mononoke, why Porco Rosso succeeds (or doesn’t) as a character study, and more.

Next: Monique Morgan of Beacon Hills: After Dark and Nathan Burdette of On the Rocks join us for a look at Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.

(Show notes for “When Pigs (and Castles) Fly.”)

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 224, “Witches? There Goes the Neighborhood! (feat. Kitty Chandler & Anna Williams)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 224, “Witches? There Goes the Neighborhood! (feat. Kitty Chandler & Anna Williams),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Our month-long celebration of Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki continues! After the intense, mythology-laden epics Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke, Paul and AJ turn to perhaps Miyazaki’s lightest features: the 1988-89 one-two punch of My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Joining them is author (and The Deli Counter of Justice contributor) Kitty Chandler and editrix extraordinaire Anna Williams. The gang discusses Miyazaki’s painterly detail, his use of complex female protagonists, how both films are about growing up, and why it makes perfect sense that My Neighbor Totoro was originally released on a double bill with Grave of the Fireflies.

Next: we’re taking to the skies! Greg Sahadachny of The Debatable Podcast and All the Pieces Matter stops by to chat about Castle in the Sky and Porco Rosso.

(Show notes for “Witches? There Goes the Neighborhood!”)

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 223, “Three Princesses, a Deer God, and a Sea of Decay (feat. Eric Sipple)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 223, “Three Princesses, a Deer God, and a Sea of Decay (feat. Eric Sipple),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Man has been exploiting nature since the first caveman picked up a rock and bludgeoned another to death with it. This doesn’t sit well with some, like Hayao Miyazaki, who has made two powerful films about the environment and the ways in which human greed corrupts it: 1984’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which led to the creation of the revered Studio Ghibli; and 1997’s Princess Mononoke, which finds Ghibli at the peak of its powers. To help Paul and AJ kick off their month-long celebration of Japanese animation master Miyazaki, another princess stops by, namely Princess Sippy Cup AKA The Deli Counter of Justice co-editor Eric Sipple. The gang discusses the ways in which Nausicaä and Mononoke tackle the same themes from different angles, Miyazaki’s shifting perspective over the years, and what both films have to say about violence and the nature of evil.

Next: Black Ice author Kitty Chandler (whose work just so happens to appear in The Deli Counter of Justice) and her editrix Anna Williams join us to discuss two lighter Miyazaki films, My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service.

(Show notes for “Three Princesses, a Deer God, and a Sea of Decay.”)

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

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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 & 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 154, “Aeolian Cadences (feat. Anna Williams)”

Gobbledygeek episode 154, “Aeolian Cadences (feat. Anna Williams),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

It’s an even-numbered episode, which theoretically puts Paul in the driver’s seat for this week, but he completely phones it in, so AJ Wiley takes the reins and redeems himself, more or less, for many of his prior podcast failures. He welcomes foul-mouthed fiddle player Anna Williams to the show to school the boys on how to talk about music. Also pet gender, cast announcements for Fifty Shades of Grey, and Gobbledygeek being so bad it’s driven Hayao Miyazaki into retirement. Meanwhile, Paul’s only contribution is the pitch for League of Extraordinarily Awkward Auteur Directors.

Next: the boys continue to fail at this job.

(Show notes for “Aeolian Cadences.”)