Hi, there. How are you? In the midst of Coronavirus related social distancing, my hopeful assumption is that you’re basically doing okay, but that things are very weird right now. You’re in quarantine. You’re self-isolating. You’re out of a job. You’re somehow working (a lot more) from home. You’re yelling at your parents on the phone to stop going to church. You’re walking your dog way more than normal. You’re cooking a lot. You’re reading the news every few minutes and you honestly can’t see how much more of all of this you can take.
Yeah, me too. Things are a lot, right now. But there’s comfort to be found.
That’s what this column is all about.
Every week (hopefully), I want to share the things that are bringing myself, as well as the other editors and contributors at Lewton Bus some level of comfort and normalcy while Covid-19 and our deeply broken political system conspire to wreck every last facet of modern American Life. Here, we’ll share the music, movies, TV shows, books, media, habits, hobbies, and activities that are helping to keep us sane while the world goes crazy. Similar to the Things We’re Digging column, this is meant as a regular repository for all the cool stuff that’s bringing us a bit of joy, in the hopes that you’ll find a little too, reader. My hope is that you’ll find some inspiration, and possibly give some back to us in the comments. Without further ado…
David Hoh – Welcome To The Basement
What’s keeping my room aglow of late have been episodes of the spectacular YouTube series Welcome to the Basement. Improv comedians and fans of cinema Matt Sloan and Craig Johnson have gotten together every other Friday since 2012 to scratch movies off a big “to-watch” list. They riff, summarize, and analyze films from all decades and genres: great films, terrible films, classic films, obscure films. Each one receiving silly jokes and serious discussion. I even wrote an entire essay recommending the program! Would you like to know more? (That link could easily lead to their Starship Troopers episode, but it’s my editorial.)
Kevin Kuhlman – Dave And Jeb Aren’t Mean
Honestly, the biggest thing I’ve needed during this weird time has been something light and easy to listen to. I’m still fortunate enough to have a job at the moment, but the specter of layoffs and business closures and other unpleasant potential realities looms heavy. My typical go-to podcasts while I work are sports related, so that has been out the window given there’s no new sporting events for the near future, so I’ve found myself transfixed on the back-catalogue of David Roth and Jeb Lund’s discussions about Hallmark movies. The pair are fun conversationalists, the show is extremely well formatted and segmented, and it’s fun to just make some gentle fun of silly holiday movies. Dave and Jeb Aren’t Mean hits a perfect tone for what I need in my life right now.
Ryan Roch – Deftones, Doom Eternal, and (crowdsourced) Documentaries
I’m well past my angsty, aggro phase in life, and to be honest, I was never a fan of so-called Nu Metal, even then. Bro posturing and muted power chords are not really very interesting. But when I first heard Deftones in high school, I could tell there was something different. From the melancholy strains of Depeche Mode and Morrissey, to the pure catharsis of savage riffery and one of the most dynamite rhythm sections in Rock (seriously, I could listen to Abe Cunningham drum for days), this band has stood the test of time when so many contemporaries have flailed for continued relevance or imploded altogether. Several times in my life, I’ve felt like I’d passed them by and left them in my youth, and then every few years they drop a new record, and I need to see what they’re up to. And pretty much every time, they create a challenging, towering, expansive work of powerful emotion, with an underpinning of seedy danger and malice. A Deftones record I don’t like one day may be on constant rotation just a couple years after it’s released. And right now, the shifting and mutably evolving sonic textures of their records are a delight to get lost in and explore. Now if they’d only tell me when that new record is dropping this year, so that the cycle can begin anew.
At the end of a 12-14 hour day digging through endless amounts of data and information, punctuated by mind-numbing news cycles and new frustrations, nothing is setting my mind at ease quite so much as just turning off the complex thought centers and rending demon flesh in frenzied abandon. I need to rip and tear. This game is stunningly gorgeous, idiotically fast-paced, and stuffed to the gills with atmosphere and ironic, nasty glee. It’s perfect.
Speaking of Doom, in my anticipation for Doom Eternal, I found myself down a rabbit hole on the old Tube of You. I’m the first to admit that I don’t really care for video game content on YouTube. I’m not the sort to want to watch someone else play games or crack lame jokes about same.1. But then I found /NoClip, a community-funded series of documentaries on all manner of video game apocrypha and history. When you stop to think about how tribal and inherited most of the known history of this medium is, you can’t help but remember how truly young video games are. With this in mind, Danny O’Dwyer has set out to tell the stories that have mainly haunted message boards and obscure wikis up to now. In his own words, “We make crowdfunded video game documentaries for everyone to enjoy. Our mission is to tell authentic stories about video games, the people who make them, and those who play them.”
From the saga of Valve’s perm-interrupted2 Half-Life series to the long-gestating resurrection of Id Software’s crowning jewel, Doom, O’Dwyer is pulling together the kind of thoughtful, interrogative storytelling you don’t often see associated with video games. It’s more than worth a look.
That’s it for this week’s edition! We hope you enjoyed it and found some new direction to point that endlessly turning cranium of yours. We also hope you’ll check back as we publish new pieces in this regular column, and give some inspiration back to us in the comments!
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay happy.
- Plus, most video game related content creators just give off a faintly scummy vibe
- Or is it?