Watch: Tammie Brown’s “Coal In Your Stockings”

I’m not big on Christmas music. I change the radio when it comes on. I tolerate it with family and friends at holiday parties. I grin and bear it if I’m paid to perform it. The kitschy stuff can get me for a little bit but it starts to get (dare I say?) worshiped like the more sincere efforts and immune from laughter somehow.

Cue Tammie Brown, the best entertainer to ever come out of RuPaul’s Drag Race (your mileage may vary, as Tammie’s character is intentionally kooky and she never steps out of character when she has an audience, even when she’s walking around as Keith Glen Schubert), recording a sort-of music video for her new holiday song “Coal In Your Stockings.” Tammie’s music is a trip. It’s designed to be performed live and get a reaction out of a nightclub audience. It’s campy beyond belief.

It’s also really well-written and very clever when you start to break it down. Tammie’s not a great singer, but she is a great musician and entertainer and really sells it. It’s very much like Bette Davis jokingly performing songs on talk shows in the 70s. I’m a bit obsessed. A new holiday classic worthy of a playlist with The Nightmare Before Christmas and Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics.

Donovan's Brain

Horror Thursday: Donovan’s Brain

Yesterday was a bit of a mess, but I did manage to get Horror Thursday up eventually.

Last week was even worse. The servers ate my original review of Donovan’s Brain that focused on expectations versus reality in 1950s B-Movies trying to be hard-hitting melodramas.

This week, the angle is quite different on my second review of the same mad scientist features. What do medical ethics and fame have to do with a low budget black and white horror starring an Oscar nominee and a former First Lady? Read the full review to find out.

Takashi Miike Directing As God Says Film

Kamisama no lu Tori As God SaysI’m terrified of Takashi Miike’s next film project. I’m a big fan of his style and know that if anyone can make this particular story work, it’s Miike, but it’s really disturbing.

Production on the film adaptation of the manga Kamisama no Iutoori, aka As God Says, begins next June. Japanese horror split in two very different trends after Battle Royale and Ringu became so successful one after the other. It’s not the totality of J-horror, but it is a pair of clear subgenres that began to dominate the field. On one side is the supernatural horror with pale wet ghosts destroying anything they encounter. On the other side is huge body count features often centered on young people thrown into games where people are guaranteed to die. As God Says is the latter style.

In broad strokes, a group of high school students are tossed into a bizarre game where most of them will die. A daruma doll arrives claiming he speaks for God and begins blowing up heads in the protagonist’s classroom. It’s actually a play on red light, green light, where if you’re caught moving at the wrong time, you die. The games only get more twisted and violent from there. I don’t want to say there is a wonderful fan translation of the manga online if you want to see what’s up, but it’s a little too early in the life of the series to hope for officially licensed English translations any time soon.

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The Stanley Parable

Watch: What Is a Game?

I’m going to make a preemptive strike on my game awards this year. I like to experience something different in gaming. It’s how Super Hexagon, Dear Esther, Journey, and even browser games like Dys4ia and Orange Roulette made my Best of 2012 list. It comes down to how well the game is made and how strong the concept is.

I’m not going to lie. My 2013 list is going to be even stranger. I’ve become a Steam bundle addict in the past year so I play a lot of tiny little games that exist just to challenge the form and function of video games. For every Tomb Raider I rave about, there’s an Accelerator that does one thing so well and so different from other similar games that I go gaga over it. Which is better? Which will actually make my list? I don’t know.

What I do know is the new episode of Extra Credits tackles “What Is a Game?” with a resounding “Who cares?” They boil it down to interactivity with choice. I like that. It covers everything from 9.03 and Gone Home to BioShock Infinite and The Last of Us. There is no way that every game made will appeal to every gamer, but not liking a game does not make it any less of a game.

So keep that in mind when things like Long Live the Queen, Paranormal, and Papers, Please might wind up going toe to toe with Ni No Kuni, Metro: Last Light, and Arkham Origins. I still have a lot of games to play through but some really wild experiments are catching my interests more than some of the big console and PC titles this year.


The show went fine over the past week. However, I realized that I just need a couple days to get my life back in order. I’ve been away from home more than not since the end of September and everything is kind of a mess. I have a lot of things to clean, organize, and attend to. I might get to a couple smaller posts like the beginning of last week but videos and comic content will come back at the beginning of December.

The tipping point was losing my Horror Thursday column last week. I scheduled it after midnight and it just disappeared by morning. I tried to keep everything up and it was just too much. I’ve been in schools everyday since Wednesday, including the weekend. It’s my first day off in a long time and I just need to get everything centered again.

I’m reopening my Netflix disc service so I can catch up on all the 2013 releases (I’m not even close to the amount of reviews I did last year because I’ve been so busy) leading into the Sketchys in 2013. Categories will cover film, TV, music, and gaming. Here’s a front runner that I’m afraid to write about because of the negative explosion that surrounded the video’s release. NSFW.

I just need a little time to be me again. Ever since I took a risk and started including more of myself in my work again and bringing in some actual comparative analysis/critical theory into the site, it’s turned into a much harder gig. I love the work. It just takes a lot more from me to do it. I’m working up for a big push including an incredibly scary step I’ll be taking in December for the first time. I’m confident in the choice but it makes it no less terrifying. You don’t spend a lifetime being told an industry works a certain way and then break all those rules because the tools finally developed to make the less-conventional route the total control freak route.

Cheek to Cheek

Today, my students I’ve been working with since the end of September start their one weekend run of The Philadelphia Story. The singers and a student piano player are performing my original arrangements of 1930s/40s standards as varied as Kurt Weill/Ogden Nash’s “Speak Low,” George/Ira Gershwin’s “Nice Work (If You Can Get It),” and Louis Atler/Sidney D. Mitchell’s “You Turned the Tables on Me.” It’s a strong group of young female singers, so I coached them to pull inspiration from Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, and Ella Fitzgerald. The director wanted Frank Sinatra and I spun that to the abilities of the young performers.

Sadly, their prerecord of “Cheek to Cheek” for the curtain call didn’t work out, so we’re stuck with using one of the big inspirations for the program instead.


Explore: Film School Thesis Statement Generator

I think I’m being put out of a job. The Film School Thesis Statement Generator is a cheeky look at academic film criticism. It pulls very broad critical concepts pulled from title keywords and randomly pairs them with basic film elements. Add in academic doublespeak and you wind up with profound looking statements that boil down to really simple things.

For example,

Through the fluid identification of the viewer, Otto; Or, Up with Dead People conforms to pre-Oedipal guilt.

actually means

Since someone watching the film can connect to some changing aspect of the story, Otto; Or, Up with Dead People falls in line with an ambiguous sense of guilt created by general society.

Test it out for yourself. It’s fun.

Watch: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games: Ms. Male Character

With the first set of Anita Sarkeesian/Feminist Frequency’s Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series, I decided to dig into the subject matter in an effort to create a continuing dialogue with the series. Thanks to the trolls, Sarkeesian no long allows discussion on her YouTube videos and doesn’t engage in discussions on social media. She interacts more on the backer’s only updates at Kickstarter. I don’t blame her for guarding the work at this point. I applaud her for refusing to back down from her vision of online media criticism as educational tool.

With Ms. Male Character, I have absolutely nothing to add to the discussion. Sarkeesian’s presentation is air tight and fascinating. It’s totally worth a watch. I think it might be her best video yet including the Feminist Frequency series.