Welcome to November, the most blah month of them all! Hope you like eating staff picks!
Jason Soto (Host Whatever with Jason Soto, That’s Da Bomb, Yo!, Co-Host Between The Scares, CineGamer, I Have A Weird One, Musically Ignorant & Sporaticast):
Smashing Pumpkins-Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness (Album-1995)
Twenty-seven years ago one of my most favorite bands ever, who also hail from my hometown of Chicago, released a double album. It is chock full of great songs and definately worth being a double album. Every song on this album is great, from “Tonight, Tonight” to “Zero” to “1979” to “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” to “We Only Come Out At Night”. But one of my personal favorite songs from this album is “Thirty-three” which features a very haunting music video, that I’m showing you below. But every song on this album is great and if you like 90s rock mixed with a bit of sadness (the main songwriter was Billy Corgan after all…) then give this album a shot.
Lisa Leaheey (Co-host Whatever with Jason Soto, Between The Scares, The SibList, & Sporaticast):
Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
Yup. I’m doing it. I’m recommending the film that often tops Worst Movie Ever lists. Why? Because it’s got sentimental value for me. In January 1993, Mystery Science Theater 3000 brought MANOS: The Hands of Fate to the world. Granted, “the world” refers to nerds who were up late watching a few puppets and a comedian/magician make fun of B-movies, but I digress. MANOS is my all-time favorite MST3K episode, and it’s just such a divinely terrible movie, I can’t help but want to share it with everyone. Released on November 15, 1966, MANOS tells the story of a married couple and their daughter off for a drive in the countryside. They get lost and come upon a cabin where they meet caretaker Torgo (John Reynolds on LSD); Torgo is resistant at first, but then tells the family they can stay, as The Master (Tom Neyman) would like Margaret (Diane Adelson). The film is a disastrous mess of continuity errors, endless driving montages, and confusing plot points involving a hell hound, a group of wives who fight in the ruins of a temple, and a mysterious Master clad in a black robe decorated by two giant red handprints. Fun fact: the movie was produced for $19,000 over the course of about two months. Paranormal Activity was made for $15,000 in about two weeks. Time and money aren’t everything, folks, but The Master would approve very much if you giving this one a look. I mean, what’s November without one really great turkey?
Rob Branch (Co-host CineGamer, Top 5 A Thru Z, Whatever with Jason Soto, & Lyrical Innuendo, & Sporaticast):
The Cobbler (2014)
We all know Adam Sandler can either put out a sizzler or a stinker of a movie, and lately it’s seems like the latter is what he’s known for. Every once in a while, he puts out a gem of a movie (and no I’m not talking about his 2019 movie Uncut Gems). No, I’m talking about a movie that was made 5 years prior that snuck in right before his blockbuster movie Pixels. I’m talking about a small little movie nestled deep in the hear of New York, The Cobbler. Adam Sandler plays Max Simkin, a 4th generation shoe repairman who took over his father’s shop, in old heart of New York when his father mysteriously went missing. Bored with his monotony of the grind of his daily life, an unexpected event happens that makes Max stumble upon a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers and see the world in a new way. Sure, playing around in another person’s life was fun for a while, but sometimes walking in another man’s shoes can become a dangerous game. It’s also the only way one can discover who they really are. With a star-studded cast consisting of Adam Sandler, Steve Buscemi, Ellen Barkin, Cliff ‘method Man’ Smith and Adam B. Shapiro (a former college classmate of mine) it’s no surprise that this movie didn’t get the credit it deserved. So, if it’s a rainy day or you’ve got nothing to do, just curl up on the couch with your loved one or pet, make sure that blanket is snug, and make sure you know where you put your shoes. As Abraham Simkin one said: “It’s a privilege to walk in another man’s shoes, but it’s also a responsibility.”
Pete Rangel, Jr (Co-host Top Five A Thru Z& Sporaticast):
If you are saying no to “Nope” why? In no way is there nothing bad to say on this movie! Nada! I was very surprised on how good this movie was. It in short as it was advertised is about a few people on a farm who see something suspicious in the sky roaming the Earth. That’s all I’m giving away and that it’s funny too besides suspenseful and a great plot and story.
Lackey (Co-Host Musically Ignorant & Sporaticast):
The Beastie Boys-Check Your Head (Album-1992)
My staff pick for the month of November is the 1992 Beastie Boys album Check Your Head. While their 1989 release Paul’s Boutique seems to generally be considered their masterpiece, it didn’t resonate with me immediately. Instead, it was Check Your Head that blew my mind from the first time I saw the video for the classic “So What’cha Want.” I’m still not aware of any other band that could so seamlessly fuse hip-hop with alt-rock, punk, funk, and soul. Other seminal cuts off this album include “Gratitude,” “Pass the Mic,” “Something’s Got to Give,” and “Groove Holmes.” Absolutely seminal.
Marc Armstead (Co-Host Word of (Hell)Mouth & Sporaticast):
In celebration of Heather and I new show, Word of (Hell)mouth: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer podcast, I wanted to do something Buffy-adjacent for this month’s staff pick. Debuting in 2004, Whedon’s and Cassaday’s run on Astonishing X-Men lasted 24 issues and is one of the best X-Men story arcs of the past 20 years. The story picks up right after Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men (another must read) and finds Kitty Pryde returning back to the X-mansion after a long hiatus. This team of X-Men (Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast, Wolverine, and Kitty) face their fair share of internal and external conflicts; from Cyclops and Emma’s affair in the heels of Jean Grey’s death, to the political firestorm of a supposed “cure” for the mutant X gene. Whedon, who cites Kitty Pryde as a big inspiration in the creation of Buffy, is in his natural element I. This book. You can tell that he’s a fan of these characters and he brings the same quippy, banter-filled dialogue his shows are known for. These 24 issues read like a blockbuster movie and introduces some characters that are still very influential active in Marvel Comics today. Another great thing about this run is that it exists so independently from all the crossover events that you see in comics, you can read it straight through without having to pick up the storyline in a different comic series. The run is completely self contained also making it easy for newcomers to access it without knowing decades of X-Men lore. So if you enjoyed Buffy and Angel, definitely give our new podcast a listen! But if you have some spare time and want something with the spirit of Buffy in a different medium, I would give Astonishing X-Men a read.
Nick Jobe (Host Sporaticast):
Werewolf By Night (TV-2022)
I’m a big Marvel fan and also a fan of filmmaking and horror, so Werewolf by Night was so outstanding for me. I’ve watched it multiple times now, and the style and tone and aesthetic… it’s so good. The werewolf sequence is one of the best things Marvel has done this far, from basically the transformation sequence through the end. But the entire thing is so great and well done. Gael Garcia Bernal is so good in this, as is Laura Donnelly. Though the standout here had to be Man-Thing, who is portrayed so well, capturing the same magic as something like Groot. I can’t wait to see where these characters go in the MCU, and I have a feeling Man-Thing in particular is gonna be important in regards to the multiverse. Definitely check this Special Presentation out… I hope Marvel does way more stuff like this. Also, it’s pretty graphic… shockingly so for a Disney+ thing. Honestly gives me hope for darker stuff coming up.
Bubbawheat (Co-host Lyrical Innuendo & Sporaticast):
For this month’s staff pick I decided to go with something relatively popular and well known as a certain Marvel Disney+ series finished out this month and I am on the side of the people that really loved it. It’s just the right kind of humor that tickles my fancy along with the fourth wall breaks that feel different enough from Deadpool ignoring the whole argument that She-Hulk broke the fourth wall in comics first while Deadpool broke the fourth wall in live action first. I like how this series tackled a wildly different set of problems than they usual superhero movies and TV shows. Jennifer Walters is more interested in her work and dating life and the super powers are more of a nuisance than a godsend. It also highlights real life issues for women and women in superhero properties albeit in an exaggerated manner. And on top of everything else, the insanity of the fourth wall break in the finale was fantastic. I loved every episode from start to finish including all of the cameos, every one from Wong to Emil Blonsky to Daredevil. So much fun and worth watching.
Ryan Luis Rodriguez (Co-host Tales From The Double RR & Sporaticast):
Werewolf By Night (TV-2022)
The MCU is in a real transition phase, functioning much stronger through the various television shows that seem to drop every other week, and a prime example is the recent Halloween special “Werewolf by Night”. It’s hard to dislike a 45-minute short film photographed mostly in black-and-white, and the fact that its tone allows it to stand out from the crowd. It’s easily the best MCU installment since “Loki”, and I hope they do more in the future. “Werewolf by Night” is currently streaming on Disney+.
Heather Baxendale-Walsh (Co-Host Word of (Hell)Mouth & Sporaticast):
Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey (Book)
In Abanddon’s Gate the three factions of the Sol system meet together, in what seems like an attempt at a peaceful effort to explore the ring gate. Tensions are high, and a series of events put everyone on high alert as the Malcolm effect does its thing. If Michael Crichton were still here, he’d appreciate how things go bad so fast in this book.
I am thoroughly enjoying this entire series. It explores the human condition in a way that simultaneously entertains and digs deep into existential questions I love going on about. It’s relentless in its pacing but also takes the time to reflect when necessary.
The characters in Abbandon’s Gate are particularly harsh, with fewer redeeming qualities than the books before. Finding a character that isn’t swiss cheesed with flaws usually means they will suffer the meat grinder that is humanity in its horrific sense of realism. While the characters that seem to have moral high ground are often sacrificed, those that walk in the gray are most human and represent the good and bad in all of us. Whether we want to admit or see ourselves in it or not.
This story shows what humanity does in the face of discovery, potential alien technology, and, even more exciting, a possible new frontier. It doesn’t disappoint. The result is often the same. We continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Our answer to fear is violence, and our way of facing the unknown is with false bravado and arrogance. All of this is wrapped up in a space opera of fun science fiction, political intrigue, and the mystery of the universe.
Great third book in the series and a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Bear (Host With Strange Aeons: Visual Lovecraft Adaptations & Sporaticast):
I’m a sucker for line-by-line play adaptations, and this is (for the most part) one of them. This is also my favorite Shakespeare film adaptation, with Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet coming in close second. It stars Patrick Stewart as the title character, and Kate Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth and it works so, so well – and not just because Lady Macbeth is my favorite Shakespearean character.
What I love most about this movie (other than Lady Macbeth’s depiction), is how they adapted the setting. Rather than 11th century Scotland, the sets emulate a mix of 1960’s Soviet Romania combined with Scotland – which I know sounds weird, but it works well. The other major change from the play is the witches, who appear as nurses that silently walk and view in the background of scenes that weren’t in before. They’re creepy as hell and, I think, perfect additions.
So! Great movie, great casting, great setting. The tension is there, and parts of the film actually feel scary as fuck. It’s one I recommend even to people who might not otherwise love Shakespeare, if only just for the set dressings and tone.
(and Kate Fleetwood)
Bill Szany (Co-host Top 5 A Thru Z & Sporaticast):
The Watcher (TV-2022)
The Watcher is a mini-series on Netflix. It’s extremely strange and creepy especially considering it’s based on a true story. A family decides to move from the big city and into a large house (I’m pretty sure a Mansion) and as soon as they get settled in they begin receiving creepy letters from someone named “The Watcher” claiming to be watching their every move. The threats turn violent and the parents begin to swiftly unravel, especially the father (Will Truman’s cop boyfriend), as they desperately try to decipher the mystery of who the watcher really is. This is no easy task because literally all of their neighbors are genuine weirdos and extremely rude as fuck. Who’s watching them? Who keeps getting in to their house? And how? And why? If you enjoy mysteries, suspense, horror, or thrillers you should definitely enjoy The Watcher.
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