Saturday, May 26, 2018

It's the FRIDAY'S BEST POP SONG EVER podcast episode #7

No matter how lightweight a song might seem, if you think about it long enough, you're bound to come up with something interesting to say. In the case of Tommy James and the Shondells' much-covered hit ''I Think We're Alone Now,'' it inspired me to talk about cover versions and the  myriad reasons people have for doing them. Hear all about it in the latest episode of the FRIDAY'S BEST POP SONG EVER PODCAST, which has just been posted on Stitcher.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Friday's best pop song ever

An aerial offensive

When you listen to Pop Offensive, you get a lot more than a selection of some of the most catchy and danceable pop music from around the globe and across the decades. You also get to hear me laugh at my own awful puns (because, if I don't, who will?) and make up outrageous lies about popular performers (which is to say that, no, P!nk does not have to stand on a highwire in order to sing properly.) Sound exciting? OF COURSE IT DOES! So check out the archived version of last Wednesday's episode, which can now be streamed from You--or I, at least--will be glad you did.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tomorrow! POP OFFENSIVE returns!

Peralta College's KGPC, the station that hosts POP OFFENSIVE, has a lot of programming that is quite progressive. At any hour of the day, you can tune in and hear all kinds of challenging music, be it experimental, industrial, world, indie, or what-have you. And then I come on and play ABBA, Mandy Moore and Janet Jackson and ruin everything.

I'll be unrepentantly repeating this sad ritual tomorrow night, May 15th, at 7pm Pacific time. You can stream it live from KGPC.ORG if you so desire.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


If it seems like I've been posting less frequently, it's because I've been putting the finishing touches on my new novel, SO GOOD IT'S BAD, which is a direct sequel to my last novel, PLEASE DON'T BE WAITING FOR ME. Yes, it turned out I just hadn't put that lovable band of rapscallions through enough torment in book #1, so  I've lined up a whole new gauntlet of misfortunes for them in book #2. And what's worse, it's going to be a trilogy, so be sure to clear space on your shelf for the inevitable boxed set.

In the meantime, above is a preview of Andrew Nahem's butt rocking cover design for the book, which will be going to press in June. Sometime before then, I'll be putting up a website with more detailed info.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

All the good cover versions

The "all covers" episode of Pop Offensive has just been posted for your streaming pleasure in the Pop Offensive Archives. I know that the ratio of good cover versions to bad is not in favor of this episode being any good (see below), but take a listen and I think you'll agree that we resoundingly beat the odds.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

It's the FRIDAY'S BEST POP SONG EVER podcast episode #6

As new episodes of the Friday's Best Pop Song Ever podcast come faster and faster, we move closer to our goal of it becoming a weekly, rather than a monthly podcast, and from there to it becoming an inescapable part of everyday life, like work and sleep. Until that happens, though, be sure to enjoy the latest episode, which concerns "Haunted", a song by the Pogues that appeared on the soundtrack of Alex Cox's 1986 film Sid and Nancy. If you're unaccustomed to hearing a song by the Pogues described as "beautiful" and "lilting", you best listen to this episode, where I uncover the band's secret weapon, bassist and vocalist Cait O'Riordan.

Please note that the Friday's Best Pop Song Ever podcast is now on Stitcher and, having noted that, please subscribe. If you like what you hear, I also ask that you rate and review the podcast. You--or I, at least--will be glad you did.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pop Offensive - You're covered with it!

I ask you, what’s better than a good cover version? A good original song is the obvious answer. But don’t tell that to the two dozen or so artists featured on this Wednesday’s Pop Offensive, each of whom present us with their own take—whether reverent, sarcastic, or indifferent—on another artist’s song. The result is what you might call two hours of inspired unoriginality. But whatever you call it, what is indisputable is that it is streaming live from on Wednesday, April 18th at 7pm Pacific. If you can’t listen yourself, have a proxy do it for you.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Get offended.

Last Wednesday, I returned from yet another calamitous illness to deliver a Pop Offensive of almost unprecedented intensity, sending the internet into a frenzy of head bobbing, toe tapping, hip swiveling, and rump shaking. It was part of a recurring survival narrative that has become part of the fabric of Pop Offensive itself. If you don’t believe me, just stream the archived version of the show, which has just been uploaded to the Pop Offensive Archives.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

It's the FRIDAY'S BEST POP SONG EVER podcast, Episode #5

Preceding hot on the heels of Episode #4 comes Episode #5 of the Friday's Best Pop Song Ever podcast. This time I'm discussing the song "They Don't Know", and providing an overview of the life and career of its author and original performer (Tracey Ullman's hit version aside), the late, great, and sorely missed Kirsty MacColl. This one's a weeper, so have your hankies at the ready.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Wednesday! POP OFFENSIVE returns.

These past few days have seen me mainlining vitamins in an attempt to avoid becoming sick and postponing yet another episode of Pop Offensive because I have the immune system of a baby. So far things are looking good, meaning that I am as ashen and rundown-looking as usual, so chances are I will be back at the microphone on Wednesday evening and presenting you with another episode of this fine, fine program. This episode will have no theme, which means that the playlist will be at the mercy of hazard. Despite that, I guaranty that, if you listen, you will hear a lot of things that you have never heard before, as well as a lot of things that you would never have thought you wanted to hear until you heard them. How could this be, you ask? Well, because pop music has powers beyond our comprehension--and, on some level, we are all its slaves.

Listen to episode 44 of Pop Offensive this Wednesday, March 21st, at 7pm Pacific, streaming live from As we say in the East Bay, you'll be hella glad you did.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

It's the FRIDAY'S BEST POP SONG EVER Podcast, Episode 4!

Another episode of the Friday's Best Pop Song Ever Podcast is upon us. This time I'm discussing the Herman's Hermits track "No Milk Today" and it's author, Graham Gouldman, who went on to become a driving force behind the band 10cc.

As this is the fourth episode of the podcast in as many months, I reckon it's going to be here for the long haul. In honor of that, I've invested in some more internet real estate in it's name. You can now visit the official FBPSE Facebook page, where you can listen to every episode up to and including the new one, here, and the official FBPSE Twitter feed here. And if you want to go right to the source, visited the Podcast's Soundcloud feed here.

Of course, all of this is just a pale prelude to August, when the Friday's Best Pop Song Ever theme park will open in Redondo Beach, California. This will remain open until that inevitable day when the ABBA robots malfunction and start killing tourists. Reserve your tickets now!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Femina Ridens, aka The Laughing Woman (Italy, 1969)

Ok, ladies, a question for you: Who among you would not feel that a lifetime of male domination and constant humiliation would be a fair trade for being the kept woman of a wealthy, narcissistic pervert? Hmm, let’s see… all of you? Alright, then.

Granted, that’s not a very appropriate question to ask at this particular cultural moment. But I had to ask, because that type of man-up/woman-down relationship is a constant fixation of Western popular culture, even as the audience for it shifts. After all, the Fifty Shades of Gray novels and their screen adaptations are squarely aimed at the women folk, essentially being modern day bodice-rippers offering Harlequin Romance with a Desadean twist (with a nice dose of wealth porn thrown in for good measure.) But such stories have traditionally been engineered with an eye toward male titilation—from John Fowles’ The Collector¸ the many iterations of The Story of O, and, in the mainstream, 9 1/2 Weeks, and even Pretty Woman. Each of these works posits the existence of an actual human woman who finds having her sexuality bought and paid for by a man of means somehow liberating. The appeal of this idea to the masculine ego is not too mysterious, but to women? Could it be that this world is such a dangerous place for women that some of them would pay any price—forfeiting their dignity, even their humanity--to be protected from it by a buffer of wealth and privilege? I’m looking at you, Melania.

This fantasy is so powerful that even a film like Femina Ridens, which seems to pride itself on subverting that power, cannot do so without delivering a lot of fan service to the raincoat crowd. Granted, as sexploitation films from the late 60s and 70s go, Femina Ridens (aka The Laughing Woman, but released by Radley Metzger in an English dub under the telling moniker The Frightened Woman) is pretty tame. Which is to say that, if it were Japanese, there would be enemas in it. And maybe eels.

As it is, the film sticks with a pretty literal expression of sado-masochism, which seems to be the default fetish of Western fiction. It seems hard for popular cinema to imagine any type of off-kilter sexual proclivity that does not involve someone hurting someone else or being hurt by them. Apparently, though the range of human fetishes is limitless, those fetishes’ appeal to straight society is limited to those that serve us up with a heady cocktail of sex and violence. In other words, no one is going to pay to see a movie in which a beautiful woman is absconded with by a mysterious count with a diaper fixation. But, of course, that’s just a choice, not the result of sexual violence being any kind of broad cultural fetish, or anything like that.

Femina Ridens stars A Hatchet For the Honeymoon’s Dagmar Lassander as Mary, a pretty young journalist who, after succumbing to a drugged highball, finds herself decorously imprisoned within the pushbotton-everything, mid-century modern dreamhouse of Sayer, a wealthy philanthropist played by The Night Porter’s Phillipe Leroy. Here she is subjected to constant ritual humiliation, as well as Sayer’s constant voyeuristic gaze. Sayer, it turns out has a lot of interesting (read: paranoid) ideas about female liberation, seeing the movement's first tentative steps as the prelude to a full on insurrection that will see the removal of men from the birthing process and their eventual extermination. Thus Mary, an educated and assertive young career woman, becomes his stand-in for the feminine gender as a whole, setting the stage for the archetypal battle to come.

Some of Sayer’s methods are boilerplate movie psycho stuff—chopping off Mary’s hair, whipping her, soaking her with a firehose, etc.—but others are more peculiar. At one point he tapes her mouth shut and forces her to watch as he slathers half a baguette with marmalade and eats it. At another, he shows her a hogtied female figure in constricting bondage gear that’s suspended from the ceiling, only to reveal that it is only a mannequin. He also forces Mary to make love to a mannequin version of himself and, later, makes her play a chamber organ as he fondles her body invasively. But by far his creepiest contrivance is a double bed divided in half by a moving panel, which he sometimes draws back to reveal to Mary that he has been lying beside her during a moment of presumed privacy, to drive home that he is always watching.

Throughout all of this, Phillipe Leroy, while indulging in all the evil chuckling and delivering of maniacal proclamations we all expect, takes pains to show us Sayer’s pathetic insecurity and preening self-absorption. It becomes obvious that his fantasies of coming female domination are  expressions of his anxiety over his own waining physical prowess, as exemplified by a scene in which he forces Mary to watch him do naked pull-ups from a bar suspended over his bathtub. It’s easy to imagine that his fetishes are the only way that this sad beast can get off, as there is nothing about him that doesn’t scream impotence (in an early scene, he angrily castigates Mary for her views on male sterilization as a means of birth control.) At times, Mary seems to be aware of this fact, and tries to sell Sayer on the idea of romantic love and mutually pleasurable sex. When this fails, she tries to exert the natural power that she, by virtue of her sexuality, holds over him, at one point preforming a topless go-go dance in her quarters, all the while aware that he is watching inertly from the other side of a two-way mirror.

And then, after Sayer revives Mary following a suicide attempt, love blossoms between the two—with results as chilling as anything we’ve seen so far. I’m talking about scenes of the couple frolicking in the fields and cuddling in the shower as whimsical music plays. This inexcusable audience torture ends with a scenic trip by amphicar to a seaside castle where Mary laughingly cajoles Sayer into overindulging on fried oysters. But amid all this lovey-dovey frivolity, one has to ask oneself—or Femina Ridens director Piero Schivazappa, if he happens to be in the room—whether Mary’s affections are real, or if she is just playing on Sayer’s feelings to her advantage. You might, in fact, ask yourself ..


Another inopportune thing about the current cultural moment is that it prevents me from discussing a silly movie like Femna Ridens with the flippancy it deserves. Because, despite whatever subversive--or even feminist--intentions its makers might have had, it is indeed very silly—and it is silly because it undermines those very intentions in two ways that are directly tied to how much it conforms to the practices of the typical European sexploitation film of its day. For one thing, while it’s fun to look at Francesco Cuppini's ultra-mod production design  and groove to Stilvio Cipriani’s slick, pop-inflected (and excellent) score, both of those elements are aggressively employed to embue Sayer’s money-driven world of decadent excess with a seductive glamour, and, while Mary’s turning the tables is a foregone conclusion, it appears to be a conclusion that the film's male creators have some ambivalence about.

It also has to be said that the filmmakers do themselves no favors with a couple of instances of  laughably on-the-nose symbolism--which, to be honest, is what a lot of us watch these old Italian exploitation films for. The first occurs during the pair's romantic idyll, when Sayer pulls his car over beside some railroad tracks to receive some road head from Mary. As she goes to town on him below the camera's view, an engine passes by towing a flatbed car bearing an all female band. A close-up shows us the clarinetist salaciously mouthing her instrument. Get it? It's exactly the kind of seedy, winking coyness that makes hardcore porn seem wholesome by comparison.

Another of the film's blunt force metaphors is the statue of a giant pair of spread female legs with a vagina dentata at its nexus. At the film's opening, a group of business men are seen filing listlessly into its maw and then,  at a pivotal moment, Sayer himself is seen stepping inside, only to emerge as a skeleton. This less than subtly signifies the moment at which Mary goes from being the victim to the femme fatale.

On the other hand, thanks to some goofy musical cues (babbadabbadip-doowah!) and sound effects, plus a few instances of romantic slapstick, the film at times adopts a tone that is downright breezy. This is typical of the European ‘sex romps” of the day, which positioned themselves as clarions of the Sexual Revolution, spreading the word that sex was no longer something to be taken seriously, that it was instead something fun… even zany! And sadly, Femina Ridens was not the only of these films to portray as fun and zany sex that was practiced upon those without agency or choice, or used, in tandem with wealth, to callously exploit them. (I can’t help recalling the running gag in When Women Lost Their Tales concerning how Senta Berger is routinely gang raped—zanily!--by her caveman companions.)

Now I’m not saying it’s not possible to surrender to Femina Ridens’ charms and simply enjoy it as a stylish piece of European pop cinema, which it is. I’m just saying that, to do that, and then turn around and write about it as if it's not problematic on a number of levels, would be an act of bad faith I’m not ready to commit, no matter how sprightly the soundtrack. And so I gaze forlornly through the window at the kids on the other side of the pane, the ones without scruples, who happily cavort in the sprinkler while jazzy Italian pop music plays, shouting out bad words like “boobs” and “tushie” with gleeful abandon. Sigh.

Friday's best pop song ever

Thursday, February 1, 2018

It's the FRIDAY'S BEST POP SONG EVER Podcast, Episode 3!

Hi, I'm Todd and I like turtles, Chinese noodles and pop music. Mostly pop music, though. In fact, I like pop music so much that I have a new favorite song every Friday. I post videos of those songs every week, under the banner Friday's Best Pop Song Ever, but I also have a monthly podcast of the same name in which I examine one of them in excruciating detail. The latest episode of that podcast, which I've just posted, deals with "A Glass of Champagne" a robust bit of bubbleglam from the nautically-themed British band Sailor. You can stream it using the link below.

Friday's best pop song ever

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Pop Offensiv är fantastisk!

I think last week's survey of Scandinavian pop was one of the best episodes of Pop Offensive yet -- and certainly the best one since I took over the show a few months ago. And now it's available for streaming from the Pop Offensive Archives. Why wouldn't you want to listen to it? Is it because you don't have the complete playlist to read along with it? Well, here's that, too, just posted over on Pop Offensive's Facebook page.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss (Japan, 1970)

Nikkatsu's Stray Cat Rock films established a couple of precedents in Japanese exploitation cinema. For one, they contained the seeds of the Pinky Violence films that Toei would produce throughout the 70s. Second, they mark a first step in the ascent of actress Meiko Kaji, who was just on the cusp of achieving Tarantino-certified cult icon status with her titular roles in the Lady Snowblood and Female Convict Scorpion series.

However, those coming to the first film in the series, Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss, with hopes of seeing a nascent version of the cold-eyed badassery Kaji would evince in those later films will be at least a little disappointed. Because here Kaji is little more than a supporting player, leaving the spotlight to star Akiko Wada, a Japanese pop singer here making her screen debut. And that is as it should be.

Wada makes her first appearance in the film under it’s opening credits, playing surly loner Ako, who comes roaring into town on her motorcycle like a distaff Brando, her face—and gender—obscured by her helmet. Soon she runs into Mei (Kaji), a waifish street kid who demands she give her a ride. Ako drops Mei at a mucky unused reservoir, where she joins in a fight against a rival gang with her fellow cadre of bad girls. Mei and her friends quickly lose their advantage, and are saved by Ako, who chases the other gang away while doing sick jumps on her hog.

Now having made fast friends with the gang, Ako retires with them to a noisy psychedelic nightspot, where she finally removes her helmet to reveal her long hair and arguably feminine features (by which I mean that the permanent cocky smirk on her face is somewhat on the far side of demure.) Mei is undeterred by this revelation and asks Ako to dance, which she does. This is as far into Sapphic territory as the film goes, though there are other vague intimations of Mei’s attraction for Ako.

Mei is saddled with a boyfriend, Michio (Koji Wada), who, by all appearances, is a cowardly loser. Michio is intent on gaining entrance to a neo-fascist criminal gang called the Seiyu Group, and endeavors to do so by convincing the gang to bet heavily on his boxer friend in an upcoming match, with the understanding that he will convince his friend to throw the fight. He fails in this, and ends up a prisoner of the Seiyus, who beat him mercilessly. A real “stand by your man” type, Mei convinces the other girls to join her in rescuing him--and, in the ensuing brawl, Ako comes very close to blinding Hanada, the gang’s boss. This is enough to make the elimination of the gang, and Ako especially, a top priority for Hanada and his giggling top enforcer Katsuya (Tatsuya Fuji).

In classic Pinky Violence tradition, the battle-hardened young women of Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss (not to be confused with just plain Delinquent Girl Boss, a later Toei film) find themselves in a world populated only by the most grotesque examples of the male species. This is true from the sickeningly weak-willed Michio all the way to the leering Katsuya, who, at one point, leads his men in violently raping Mari, a member of the gang portrayed by Yuka Kumari, the sister of  Branded to Kill's Annu Mari.

These portrayals are given a sharper edge by the fact that the movie has a bit more grit than later PV films, which had a tendency to go over the top into lurid absurdity (surprising, given its director Yasuharu Hasebe is famous for directing the modish fever dream Black Tight Killers.) Unlike some of Toei's later PV films, which seem targeted at dirty old men, you get the sense with this picture that the filmmakers are actually trying to speak to the disaffected youth they are portraying. To this end, there are a lot of moody location sequences that, while celebrating Tokyo nightlife, also seem to hint at its emptiness and isolation. The nightclub scenes are harshly chaotic, and gain an added sense of verisimilitude from the appearance within them of actual bands of the time, like long-haired psych rockers The Mopps and OX.

All of this is not to say that the film is without stylization, as the occasional appearance of blinding, primary colored wipes and overlays clamorously attests. Also, it being a Japanese studio film of its era, it almost goes without saying that many of the shots are beautifully composed--especially when Hasebe chooses to forefront his young actors, dwarfed by the indifferent urban landscape looming above them. As an added concession to pop consciousness, we also get a couple of songs from Akiko Wada, including her hit “Boy and Girl”, (which was featured on Volume 2 of Big Beat’s Nippon Girls series if you want to hear it.) To these the husky voiced, sleepy-eyed Wada brings the same confident swagger that she does to her acting.

I have to say that Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss seems pioneering for how it so matter-of-factly presents an androgynous female protagonist in the typically male role of the laconic outsider hero. Contrary to expectations, none of the exploitative tropes concerning same sex attraction (the shower scenes, the leather clad bdsm, etc.) are in evidence.

All of this allows Wada to emerge as a female action hero of rare charisma and gravity. Though Kaji would eventually take over the lead in the Stray Cat Rock films, in Delinquent Girl Boss it is Wada who provides the film with exactly the kind of compelling central presence that Kaji did to her more well-known films. Check it out.


Now that our country is being overrun by Norwegians in response to Mr. Trumps golden-tongued proclamation, it may be time to look at what our friends from the frigid north of Europe have to offer us.

Of course, that is not the reason that I programmed an entire evening of tunes from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland (though mostly Sweden, if we're being honest) for tonight's Pop Offensive. The set was, in fact, programmed a couple of months ago, then I got sick and was unable to broadcast it last month.

And the reason I programmed it that way is because I host a show about pop music and the Scandinavians are a people with pop music in their blood. If Scandinavian pop has one flaw, it may be that it is sometimes too pop: too catchy, too slick, and too upbeat. But even its most dedicated detractors have to admit that even its most cloying musical products are stunningly well crafted--all the while proclaiming that there's no way in hell that they would listen to this show. If that's you, consider yourself forewarned.

Pop Offensive goes Scando rando tonight (Wednesday, January 17th) at 7pm PT and can be streamed live from kgpc969.0rg. So why not grab yourself a plate of lutfisk, pour yourself a glass of potato vodka, and tune in.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Podcast on Fire's Taiwan Noir Episode #26: Nine Demons and Shanghai Thirteen

Overseeing our respective media empires takes up a lot of time in the lives of Kenny B and myself--so much that we allowed six whole months to pass between episodes of Taiwan Noir. I would say that this was inexcusable if I did not so desperately want you to excuse it. Because, if you didn't, you would miss out on this latest episode, which I think is one of our finest.

Under discussion is famed martial arts director Chang Cheh. Now, as I say in the show, I am no great fan of Chang's, but I am willing to give him props when he gets it right. And I think he pretty much gets it right with the two film we're talking about in this episode: Nine Demons (right, the one with Gary and Joey) and Shanghai Thirteen. To my mind these are two of Chang's most enjoyable films. Check it out, won't you?

And if, by the time you finish the episode, you find that you have not had quite enough of Ken and I, check out Podcast on Fire's jumbotronic Christmas episode, in which fellow co-hosts Tom K-W, East Screen West Screen's Paul Fox, and myself compete for Ken's approval in an Asian cinema-themed pub quiz. (I don't want to spoil it for you, but, if you're the gambling type, I wouldn't lay money down on yours truly, who came in a respectable fourth out of four.)

That should satisfy you until next time, which I promise will not be that far off. We're already planning episode #27 as I write, and it's going to be super boss. Believe it!

Friday's best pop song ever

Monday, January 1, 2018

Looking toward the future

It’s no understatement to say that 2017 was a year that few of us will ever forget—and whose forgetting will be welcome for those of us who can achieve it. Fortunately, among all the stuff that the year contained, there were those rare distractions that buffered our descent into, in some cases, denial and, in others, a sort of tense, provisional resignation.

In my case, I found succor in the usual dusty corners of obscurity while at the same time making occasional, paradoxical appeals for public acclaim. The most momentous of these latter endeavors was the release of my second book, and first novel, Please Don’t Be Waiting For Me, which came out in June and continues to elicit kind words from every corner of the internet—as well as in the world of actual humans in all their nauseating tactility. If you enjoyed my first book, Funky Bollywood, I think it’s safe to say that you might enjoy the new one, even though, rather than describing crazy old Bollywood movies, I am instead describing the early days of the San Francisco punk scene as seen through the eyes of a picaresque group of fictionalized teenaged ne’er do wells. Also, there are murders.

In addition to this, there was the departure of my co-host Jeff Heyman from Pop Offensive, which made me the sole host and producer of the program. While I have struggled to master the couple of extra buttons I have to push, I think that I am settling into my new role pretty well and hope—in the show’s fourth year—to continue bringing you the best in overlooked world pop. Somewhat augmenting the good work I am doing at PopOff, is my brand new podcast Friday’s Best Pop Song Ever, which, while taking it’s name from one of 4DK’s recurring features, is in no way intended to replace that feature. I see FBPSE as being somewhat pioneering within the context of podcasts that I am involved in, in that it’s episodes are only 10-15 minutes long, rather than lasting as long as its hosts’ overstrained voices can yammer on before giving out.

As for my consumption of culture, I have spent the past two weeks trying to check off the remaining entries on my “must see” list for the year, which means that, in a very short period, I have watched Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri¸ Lady Bird, I, Tonya, and The Disaster Artist. Given this was one of the most exceptional runs of my moviegoing career, I feel compelled to say that 2017, while being a shitty year for so much else, was a very good year for movies—and considering other favorites of mine like Kong: Skull Island, Atomic Blonde, Get Out, and Baby Driver, genre movies in particular. Meanwhile, the fact that I was somewhat less thrilled by Wonder Woman than literally everyone else is more an indication of my being burnt out by superhero movies—especially those of the DC/Zack Snyder variety—than it is the fault of the movie itself. Of all the costumed hero capers on offer this year, only Dr. Strange awakened within me some sense of why I continue to dutifully attend these movies like some kind of bitch slave of Stan Lee.

Ah, but don’t think the scant gratification I have achieved as a member of the moviegoing public means that I have turned my back on the thrills to be found in the cobweb enshrouded archives of world pop cinema. To wit, this year has seen me cover everything from an all-black cast horror film from the 1940s to an East German beach party movie, in addition to revisiting such reliable founts of filmic ecstasy as 1960s Lebanese pop films, the Punjabi punch ups of Sultan Rahi, and Soviet space opera. You see, like that wad of gum you stick under the couch, I see those films that fell through the cracks in official film scholarship as simply being there for later enjoyment. Thinking now about all the odd movies that are currently passing below our notice as we fret about the future of the world and try not to touch each other inappropriately, I get the spine-tingling sense that comes with anticipating pleasures delayed. It’s enough to make me want to muddle through this current mess with both my humanity and capacity for joy intact.

Hey, man. Whatever it takes.