Trivia Club's QUARTERLY AWARDS : October to December 2013

January 06, 2014



I love awards. If that wasn’t evident by Trivia Club's nightly Golden VHS prize or the annual Grand Championship prize the Golden VCR, or the Summer Movie Wager Trophy, the Oscar Pool Confidence Cup, or the SNL Fantasy League's Phil Hartman Trophy, I don’t know what is! Hell, if I had the time to do this every day (would someone like to pay me?) I would. Trivia Club's Quarterly Awards, or Q+A for short, celebrate everything cool and creative, and anything that might be interesting to those who participate in Trivia Club, over the last three months. With that in mind, here is the latest round (yes, there's even MORE then there was last time) of Q+A's for the WINTER of 2013!


THE BEST OF… MOVING PICTURES, SOUNDS & VIDEOS, PRINT


MOVING PICTURES

I am writing this on an iPod, and maybe just maybe you're reading the Q+As from a piece of tech held snugly in your hand as well. We've become tethered, if you're cynical, or connected if you're maybe a bit more optimistic. Black Mirror is not so much about optimism though, no this British series and its six one-off episodes (that have been produced so far),   lives in the Twilight Zone of the 21st century with biting hard takes on social media, our need to document everything through our technology, and our reliance on 'reality' television as a form of entertainment. It holds no punches what so ever, and if you're left feeling drained then at very least you'll be entertained. It's no wonder that the stand-out episode so far, and honestly there are no weak spots, "The Entire History of You",  has already been optioned by Robert Downey Jr for a feature film.

If you've seen the films of Richard Curtis you know of his understated, incredibly personable style which introduces you to a host of highly charming English oddballs. Whether they be on a boat, at a wedding or a funeral, or a Christmas something something. His are films with ups and downs, where the biggest antagonists are the protagonists themselves, and there flawed inner-struggles. The fact that this is Curtis' final film before 'retiring' as he has put it, makes it all the more bittersweet. Why he still had to make this ONE LAST MOVIE though if evident in the utter loveliness. I mean, Rachel McAdams, how do you say no! Again, like Pirate Radio, and all the others before IT, About Time is a romantic comedy free of tragedy, but not devoid of drama. At moments it's a more flawed film then others in Richard Curtis' filmography, and that IS in large part to the time travel within the film, but the time travel also supplies About Time with an original take on the romantic comedy genre, while still finding a way to make the sci-fi minded concept as heart-felt and twee as the rest of the film. We can agree that Richard Curtis films kept the 'twee industry' alive, yes? And I love him for it.

Two? Yes two. You try to separate them, and I don’t just say this because they become so physically and emotionally entwined in Blue Is The Warmest Colour, though there is THAT. In equals measures they’re magnetic, more then the sum of the sex scenes which of course garner the attention, but theirs is a love on screen that wouldn’t be so clearly heartwarming and heart wrenching if not for each other. I know Adele is getting the lion’s share of the love, and I suspect it’s because she’s the ‘straight one’, and hers is an impressive acting feat indeed considering her age and the scope of the film itself that not only demands her barebones youth but also a maturity beyond her time. Lea is something of an otherworldly figure in the film, a kind of goddess of potential, the gatekeeper to an exciting and artful life with the blue hair and super-fair eyebrows only adding to the alien appeal, it’s only once she ages a bit in the timeline of the film that her humanity washes to the forefront. Yes, forget the sex scenes (as difficult as that may be), these two French actresses are much more then the sum of their… parts.

It's a well structured doc that becomes something more in the third act, a surprise potentially that wouldn't have been as delighting if one had read the fine print of the film credits before learning about Motown's long lost Godfather's of Punk. Yes, the film is in part created by the son’s of Death. Making the personal connection that flows through the film all the better. It’s about music, and death, but also and most importantly about family.

Killem has stepped up to be quite the able senior cast member, consistently creating memorable moments this season whether they be with Miley Cyrus, guesting behind the Weekend Update desk, or generally being the leading man-figure that I pegged him to be from the start of the season. Anyone worried about the transition away from Sudeikis, Hader, and even Armisen, may have forgotten about this certain friend of the SNL Fantasy League. And no, I’m not just giving him the MVP of the half-season of SNL because he’s helped out a bit on the numbers side of things (he didn’t even help my team!), though I’m not saying that doesn’t help either, he’s legitimately a cornerstone of the show, part of a core group of first-lookers that naturally includes Bobby Moynhian, Cecily Strong, and Kate McKinnon as well.

Speaking of first looks, I know on the Fantasy League side of things we were all excited about Noel Wells simply because it’s easy to crush on someone who can pull out a delightfully twee impersonation of Zooey Deschanel, uke included. Little could I suspect the wealth of impersonations this fearless performer had under her belt. Maybe it’s being the new kid in town, but even on a SUPER STRONG cast of women Noel is potentially the new go-to impersonator (and hell, that includes the entire cast as a matter of fact). Multiple times she’s pulled out multiple impressions in a single sketch, and though a set-up like that can prove blink and you’ll miss it at times, her Emma Stone stands out as Emma Stone and her Kristen Stewart is the Twilight star without saying a word. I gave her a hard time for an impression recently too, and on her birthday no less, but it doesn't take away from the great debut season she’s had so far! 

I don't love The Returned as much as I thought I would, so why am I giving it a Q+A, thus endangering the awards non-existent legitimacy? Well, because you're reading. And because, for all of its faults the core concept of The Returned and SO MANY moments within the series are just so damn cool. To put it simply, it took a French series to successfully pull off the metric ton of holy shit moments that first season Lost lived on. And this Channel 4 series, The Returned, did so while setting the show in a moody French Alps town where nothing is obviously as it seems. The danger of course, is that after it proved to be stirring and shocking on a level that I've never seen, it miiight not be able any of the big questions it's presenting... so in a post-Lost world, as much as I loved so much of the set-up, I already have a hard time trusting the punchline.

Watching Bo Burnham's ".what" Netflix special you're reminded about the potential of breaking the rules, or hell creating something without any rules. Burnham is a comedian born of the YouTube age, with a kind of drive that is seemingly unreal. All 22 years of age, Bo plays with cliches and then calls them out, letting his knowingly arrogant onstage presence leave nothing unturned, it's a shocking and funny kind of stand-up all at once, full of fourth breaking. A style once familiar and so fresh and so well structured. Book-ended by home videos, you see the boy behind the slightly older boy, with the closing musical number being an apt closing piece as if that would be any surprise, after the structured mayhem that was stitched through out. Thanks to Brian and Rob of Fantasy League SNL for opening my eyes to this really exciting comedian. Now enjoy the show.



SOUNDS & VIDEOS

Nothing gives me a boost in the morning quite like this song. Now, of course it’s from earlier in the year but I’ve returned to it, and it’s just so infectiously upbeat. Listen to it, enjoy it, return to it like I did. If Diane Young don’t change your mind…

Words will not do this any justice, just go to the link below:


See above, click below:


If I could have picked my song of summer ahead of time, making the irrelevancy of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" even more pronounced, this would have been the song. The Strokes are officially a generation (or two, even) removed from the rhythm and dirty feedback of "Someday", and Biggie is another generation before THEM... and yet, because they're very specific voices come together to make an anthem that feels so completely timeless this is a mash-up that I love love love to listen to. Man, what can I say, maybe I've finally learned to have more fun closer to my 30's so I can party and bullshit and party and bullshit.

How are you feeling today? Comfortable in your own skin? With your place in the world? Look at you so smug, so sure that your perception of reality is correct or that the men on the other side of your door have your best intentions in mind. They don't. This is Welcome to Nightvale in a nutshell, paranoia heavy, full of crisis of a unnatural ilk whose genius lies in its matter of fact  and VERY natural presentation.

It's an acquired taste, I get that, but you can tell they're having so much fun with the most diverse team of superheroes in the biz, and that counts for a bunch. The acquired taste, if that if you aren't of the tumblr reading hipster persuasion then you may me more out of the loop then most. Which means that ultimately, with Young Avengers the plot is as important as the feels. And OH the feels!


PRINT

One day, and one day soon, I'm going to oveREview the Nowhere Men, but until then I am suffice to say this universe within a collected six issues, is a very exciting start to something HUGE. It's super-science super-sized, the kind of series that makes me want to write blurb ready quotes. Details are layered into this story of (at its most simple) three parts, through in universe advertisements that foreshadow, and articles from books and magazines that introduce and add much sought after dimension. Read Nowhere Men, Trivia Club's Q+A winner for the Graphic Novel, and then since you own the Graphic Novel, read it a few more times, a few different ways.

Superhero comics can be fun, even at their bleakest they can have four colors and clean lines. This is probably the biggest internal fight of the industry, since OH 1986, when Moore and Gibbons dropped Watchmen and blew the lid off comics literary potential. So leave it to the one man who probably more more about superheroes then anyone you or I know, Mark Waid, to give Daredevil a chance to smile, a chance to be both weird and absolutely wonderful. With Chris Samnee on art (oh hey, while you're reading Daredevil you should pick up the short-lived Thor: The Mighty Avenger) Daredevil has someone to make him look as good a he's trying to feel.

Be a man, which is to say be responsible and reasonable (so being a man is NOT gender specific). This and more life lessons, caveats, and dispelled myths are all part of Nick Offerman's book a biography, road map, deconstruction that reads as if the man with the moustache and a (loose) plan is speaking directly to you. Paddle Your Own Canoe is written in a melody that makes you think of the man from Parks & Recreation immediately, as well, so you can't help but be thoroughly entertained while, say, masticating charred animal flesh.

Here is another instance of an oveREview likely taking the brunt of my thoughts on Locke & Key, but while I have you reading this, try this hyperbole on for size: if I can get you to read ANY comic book, read this one. And while you're reading it, get your girlfriend/boyfriend to enjoy the book as well. It's parts relatable, magical, and terrifying, featuring smart, fully formed characters. Locke & Key: Omega & Alpha is the end of the current story, but ooooh what an end! It will have you at the edge of your seat as things go from bad to the worst possible, under the writing of Joe Hill. With the almost peerless Gabriel Rodriguez there to make it all look as lovely as possible!

I have been an avid pro wrestling fan for most of my life. Now I realize that the typical fan of the form of entertainment now colors your view of me somewhat. But hear this, the "professional" part of this wrestling is such a beautifully long con, one that even the most average Joe is in on, and had been since before the turn of the 20th century when wrestling and boxing stood at a crossroads (no, not the one belonging to Cody Rhodes) and boxing strove for legitimacy, while wrestling strove for consistency and above THAT, entertainment! Forever a carnival show, the Squared Circle sketches out the history of it all, the evolution from the dirty fields to the sporting arenas, through the lens of the men (and women) who lived and died for the sport of entertaining! It's an intellectual look at something that folks often choose to undermine so as to not feel like rubes. But it's like 1930's wrestling promoter Jack Pfefer noted, "An honest man can sell a fake diamond if he says it is a fake diamond, ain't it?"

Don't let the name or that fact that its banned from the Apple Store fool you, this book is absolutely filthy. And for that reason it is really quite amazing. Based in a world where a girl finds out that time stops when she’s sexually aroused, before finding a guy with the same ability. Chip Zdarsky’s style is really damn likable, made for a comic book with a sense of humor, while keeping enough of a realistic edge to sell the more 'autobiographic' style of the writing (speaking of details, just look at big eyes on that glasses-wearing fellow), while not being so realistic as to feel “threatening” (except to the fine folks at Apple) when full frontal nudity is involved, and not underselling the more super natural aspects of the story either. *PHEW!* Run on sentence, my apologies, I got excited. Matt Fraction certainly deserves his equal amount of acclaim for making Sex Criminals such a great book, up to and including the PREVIOUSLY page to start each book after the first, not to mention the general humor of the book itself, but it’s a humor that obviously seems to be shared by Chip. See, the devil is in the details of Sex Criminals and what a devil of a good time it is. Sexual Gary posters on a girl’s bedroom walls, Obamacore (dealing with porn with a socialism and/or medical edge) as a section in Cum World (the book’s nostalgic porn store of choice), not to mention the endless amount of good laughs connected to books, magazines, movies, and posters. It all adds to a filthy, and absolutely enjoyable read, so the award goes to Chip Zdarsky!

Join in on the conversation. Trivia Club would LOVE to hear YOUR recommendation for Quarterly Awards, either in the blogs comment section, on Trivia Club's facebook page or in our twitter feed #QnAward. For now we'll be taking a week away to discuss, debate, and possibly trade amongst ourselves.

Russel Harder hangs his bow-tie in Toronto, Ontario, and hosts Trivia Club at Cardinal Rule (5 Roncesvalles Ave) every WEDNESDAY, at Hitch (1216 Queen St East) every SECOND and FOURTH MONDAY of the month, and Handlebar (159 Augusta Ave) on the FIRST TUESDAY of every month!

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