Something to Love: Room 237 – A Documentary

Something worthy of your attention, and five reasons I love it


  1. Here is the Netflix description of Room 237: “This fascinating documentary explores various theories about hidden meanings in Stanley Kubrick’s classic film The Shining”. While that description is technically accurate, it is only the tip of a very weird iceberg. This isn’t a film about The Shining; it’s a film about obsession and the power of the human mind to make connections.  This documentary shows that you can find evidence to support almost anything if you look hard enough, and the subjects of this film look at The Shining very hard indeed.
  2. Room 237 is currently streaming on Netflix. Always a win for a cheapskate like me.
  3. In Room 237, five interviewees present their theories on the hidden meaning of The Shining. These are not your average film geeks – interviewees include an ABC News correspondent, a playwright, a Holocaust expert, and more. Their theories range from the intriguing (The Shining is an analogy for the genocide of Native Americans) to the bizarre (The Shining is Kubrick’s confession that he helped fake the moon landing footage).
  4. The filmmakers behind Room 237 made the interesting choice to not show any of their interviewees. There are no talking heads in this documentary. Instead, the interviewees talk over film clips from The Shining and other movies. The end result is that the movie is solidly focused on the theories and the evidence rather than the interviewees themselves.
  5. Okay, let’s talk about the most interesting aspect of this movie: the theories. As unlikely as these theories are, it is fascinating to watch the interviewees explain them. We are taken through scenes frame-by-frame and told the hidden meanings of background objects and continuity errors. We are shown the beginning of The Shining superimposed over the ending The Shining and told what that juxtaposition reveals. It’s weird, it’s kind of crazy, but it also makes for an interesting documentary.

Learn more about Room 237 here.

Something to Love: Filmspotting SVU – A Podcast by Allison Willmore and Matt Singer


  1. I listen to a lot of podcasts. Most of them are entertaining. Some are educational. A few are a combination of both. But only Filmspotting: Streaming Video Unit (SVU) is actually useful .
  2. The original Filmspotting is one of the best movie review podcasts out there. I’ve listened to Adam and his co-host (be it Sam, Matty, or Josh) for many years. Filmspotting: SVU is a brilliant spinoff in which film critics Alison Willmore and Matt Singer review movies available for online streaming.
  3. Chances are good that you subscribe to some sort of video streaming service. Netflix. Hulu Plus. Amazon Prime. Whatever. Maybe you have even dropped or reduced your cable service in favor of online streaming. If so, you probably find yourself occasionally scrolling through the ‘New Releases’, ‘Suggestions for You’, and ‘Because You Watched My Little Pony’ sections in a haze of indecision. These online services provide thousands of movies, which means it takes forever to shift through the garbage and find the good stuff. That’s where Filmspotting: SVU comes to the rescue.
  4. Each week Alison and Matt have one in-depth review as well as several other shorter reviews. They always point out which streaming services carry the movies they are discussing. Make sure to have a pen and paper handy while listening – I’ve never come away from an episode with less than three movie recommendations that sound interesting.
  5. Filmspotting: SVU covers a wide variety of genres. Whether it’s a horror film like ‘The ABCs of Death’, an indie flick like ‘This is Martin Bonner’, or a blockbuster like ‘The Avengers,’ Matt and Alison are there for you. Whatever types of movies you are into, Filmspotting: SVU will help you discover more of them.

Check out Filmspotting: Streaming Video Unit here.

Something to Love: Tape Deck Heart – An Album by Frank Turner

Something worthy of your attention, and five reasons I love it.


  1. One of my favorite things about services like Pandora and Spotify is the way they introduce you to new artists with no preamble. How did Spotify choose to play me this particular song on this particular day? I have no idea. Apparently there is some tangential, algorithm-based relationship to The Hold Steady, but other than that I just listen to the music they play me and I either like it or I don’t. I don’t know anything about the personality of the artist or whether they have a hipster or teenybopper fan base. It’s a pure listening experience – me and the music. This was the way I was introduced to Frank Turner.
  2.  Tape Deck Heart is a personal album. In that weird alchemy of art, the more specific and heartfelt the lyrics, the more deeply it connects. Though I don’t have tattoos, and I don’t especially want to dance, and I have never dated a girl named Amy, I can somehow still relate.
  3. This:
  4. I did a bit of reading about Frank after hearing the album. I was not surprised to learn that he comes from a hardcore punk background. While his new stuff walks the line between singer/songwriter and straight-forward rock, he still has that punk rock chip on his shoulder. He sings like an underdog who intends to go out swinging.
  5. Like many of my favorite bands – Neil Young, The Replacements, The Hold Steady – Frank Turner’s music is built on a solid foundation of passion, song-craft, bad attitude, and pop sensibility. A lovely combination if you ask me.  Everything here serves the song, and Tape Deck Heart is a collection of consistently wonderful songs.

Check out Frank Turner here.

Something to Love: The Blood Between Us – A novel by Jerrod Begora

Something worthy of your attention, and five reasons I love it.

TBBU1. The Blood Between Us is the story of three siblings struggling with real life issues. One is dealing with his college girlfriend’s pregnancy. The second is battling racism at his high school. The third fights to have her dreams taken seriously despite her disability. Then the vampires show up.

2.  Though the novel has three interconnected storylines, the standout character is Lorelei. Lorelei is obsessed with comic books, and she is eager to prove her keen detective skills even if the local police department won’t hire her as anything more than a crossing guard. She has Down syndrome and –while that might change the way the world sees her – it doesn’t change the way she sees herself. She possesses a keen awareness of how the world views people with Down syndrome, and she uses that knowledge to her advantage in hilarious ways throughout the book.

3. The Blood Between Us mixes genres with confidence. The cover says it’s a ‘Twisted Teen Comedy’, but I think it is more than that. It’s a family drama, a coming of age story, and an adventure story all in one.

4. In the interest of full disclosure, The Blood Between Us is written by my good friend, sometimes bandmate, and former classmate (kindergarten through fourth grade). Jerrod works as hard as anyone I know on his craft, and it has been a pleasure to watch him grow into the writer he is today.

5. The Blood Between Us features a unique take on vampires. If you are tired of the sparkly vampires of Twilight and the feral vampires of Let the Right One In, check it out. It draws its bloodsuckers with a different color palate than anything I’ve seen before.

Check it out here.


Something to Love: Runner 2 – Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

Something worthy of your attention, and five reasons I love it


 1. It takes a certain kind of confidence to name a video game BIT.TRIP Presents Runner 2 – Future Legend of Rhythm Alien. I’ve been struggling with how to refer to it more succinctly. Runner 2? Rhythm Alien? BTPR2FLORA? It’s a wacky name, but it actually represents the game. Because, make no mistake, this is wacky game.

2. Runner 2 (I’m going with Runner 2) is a video game that shows its retro influences in a number of ways. First, it is a side scroller – meaning the main goal of the game is to run from left to right in a two dimensionalworld. Secondly, the game harkens back to the days of Super Mario Brothers and Sonic the Hedgehog, a time when games were light on story and heavy on weirdness. They present their surreal realities to you with little explanation. The titular Rhythm Alien is some sort of space commander who was sent to another dimension and now needs to defeat the forces of evil. By running a lot, apparently.

3. Let’s get to the Rhythm part of the title. Runner 2 is essentially a music game. The game’s catchy soundtrack plays as you run through the levels, and each time you successfully perform a task such as jumping over an object, collecting a gold bar, or kicking an enemy, you add a new note or tone to the music. It’s a simple concept, but it adds a whole new layer of fun. As you perform well in the game, the music gets better, louder, and more exciting.

4. Runner 2 is hard. Most levels took me multiple attempts to conquer. Some took dozens of attempts. But that is how the game is designed to be played. There are no lives – each time you die, you are whisked back to your last checkpoint, the music resets, and you run again. If you like a challenge, Runner 2 is for you. If you don’t like playing the same level again and again, this probably isn’t the game your’e looking for. Personally, I was raised on Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I still remember the frustration of dying again and again, but I also remember the gleeful feeling of victory when I finally succeeded. Runner 2 is a similar experience.

5. Runner 2 is a great game at a great price. It sells for $14.99 on most game systems. If you are a Playstation Plus member it is free this month.  So go download it, pump up the volume, and get ready to run.

Learn more about  BIT.TRIP Presents Runner 2 – Future Legend of Rhythm Alien here.