#WeekendRecommend — Kings, Neighbors, and some serious Shredding
Here are some things I loved this week!
A) My Neighbor Totoro 
Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli make some of the most gorgeous films of all time. Somehow I had neglected to watch one of their most famous: My Neighbor Totoro. This movie has been around only months less than I have, and yet I never got to it. BUT IT’S SO GOOD GUYS! “Delightful” and “Charming” are the two words that kept coming to mind, in the deepest sense of the words. Cuddle up and watch this, and smile.
B) Podcast Recommendations — Werner Herzog on WTF, and Malcolm Gladwell (again, seriously.)
Every week I think, “Nah, I put Revisionist History (Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast) on my #WeekendRecommend too recently to put it there again.” AND EVERY WEEK HE CRUSHES IT. SO GOOD. The first season has finished with an amazing and challenging look at the use (and efficiency) of political satire in the West.
Secondly, Marc Maron had a very entertaining interview with Werner Herzog — esteemed german filmmaker/documentarian. Herzog’s dark sense of humour and philosophical seriousness swirl in and out of each other. It’s worth listening to just to hear Herzog make comments about how long the squirrel population of Central Park would last if suddenly all of New York had to get it’s food locally. No really. Worth it.
C) Wolf Hall [TV Mini Series]
In 2009 Hilary Mantel released one of the greatest novel’s I’ve ever read: Wolf Hall. It’s the story of Thomas Cromwell’s rise from abused blacksmith’s son to being Henry VIII’s main lawyer. He’s a remarkable character, a polymath with an incredible memory who speaks numerous languages, can estimate to the pound how much someone’s clothes cost, and a master wordsmith. I’m somewhat obsessed with Henry VIII too (he founded the church denomination I most resonate with/I studied Reformation History in college/I kinda look like him apparently) so this was right up my alley. Wolf Hall also won the Man Booker prize (my favourite literary benchmark). The sequel, Bring Up the Bodies ALSO won the Man Booker — two in a row is a remarkable achievement.
So, all that to say that this BBC mini series of Wolf Hall immediately excited me when I heard it was coming out…and then I didn’t get to watching it until this week (a full year later). And it’s really good. First episode is a bit of a slow burn and you need to pay attention, but it’s worth it I promise. Mark Rylance portrays a very complicated man with much subtlety (he won British Academy Television Award for Best Actor — basically a British Emmy) and Damian Lewis (of Band of Brothers/Homeland fame) does a great job of showcasing VIII’s intensely emotional and sudden decisive pivots without being too over the top about it. Worth the watch guys. But seriously, read the books if you’re into books or history or intense dramatic conflicts.
D) Skeletonwitch — The Apothic Gloom EP
I saw Skeletonwitch live by accident. And was pleasantly surprised. I was driving home late at night and heard a radio contest to see Black Dahlia Murder and Skeletonwitch live. I’d heard of BDM, have friends who like them, and called in when I got home…and won because no one else was up that late? Anyway, out of the three bands who played, the only one I enjoyed was Skeletonwitch, and I enjoyed it a lot.
Former vocalist Chance Garnette stalked the stage like a necromancer summoning legions of the dead to his cause. The shredding was epic, and the stage craft was really enjoyable. I picked up their last LP Serpents Unleashed and played it quite a bit. After their set I talked to guitarist Scott Hedrick and he was super generous with his grateful attitude, extended time, and genuine interest in me.
Anyway, THEY’RE BACK, with a new vocalist , Adam Clemens — whose vocal style I actually prefer — and I’m digging this 4-song EP. Clemens is formerly of Wolvhammer, a band I’ve heard of but haven’t checked out up to this point, but I may now!
E) Russian Circles — Geneva (2009)
Russian Circles make HEAVY and GORGEOUS instrumental music (no harsh vocals for those of you who hate that). I’ve listened to a couple number of their albums (2008’s Station and 2013’s Memorial) and when their new LP Guidance came out two weeks ago I was hopeful of more deliciousness. I was a little underwhelmed and told my buddy Jesse (the biggest Russian Circles fan I know). He said something like, “Well ya, I mean Geneva will always be their best.” And when I said I couldn’t recall if I’d heard Geneva he exhorted me to listen to it. Immediately.
HOOOOOOOOLY IT’S HEAVY AND DELISSSSSSHHHHHHH GUYS! Definitely their best that I’ve heard. Can’t believe it took me seven years to listen to it. Tones for days, gorgeous interludes, crushing crescendos. Get into it! If you want a good sampling of their range listen to “Geneva” and “Melee” back to back.
Bonus — Synchonized Swimming
WTF GUYS! I’ve never watched synchronized swimming before this current Olympics in Rio. It’s crazy. I couldn’t find official Rio footage quickly so here’s the Russians at the world championships. How can something so SILLY be so HARD and inspiring at the same time? So confused.