This week’s question comes from A.V. Club staff writer Ignatiy Vishnevetsky:
What’s something you never checked out because you just couldn’t get past the title or name?
I work with several people who have nice things to say about King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard—things that I never actually hear, as every word that follows turns to resin-coated ash in their mouths, immediately snuffing out whatever enthusiasm they were trying to stoke for this band whose name manages to be the most irritating thing to ever hail from Australia, the land that gave us Jacko and Yahoo Serious. I know they make psychedelic rock, a genre I like, and often get mentioned in the same breath as bands like Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo, both of which I enjoy. I’ll just presume they like weed, which I’m also very fond of. But despite our considerable common ground, I’ve never actually listened to their music, because as soon as I start typing their name into the search bar, I instantly lose all interest in rock, drugs, and rebellion in general, reflexively leaping up to don a pair of pleated khakis, shave my head into a Johnny Unitas flattop, then head down to the courthouse to volunteer for jury duty. Making matters worse, King G****** Et. Fucking Al is one of our more prolific modern bands, having released five albums in 2017 alone—guaranteeing that nary a week went by last year when its name didn’t appear in my inbox, like some kind of LSD-spiked turd dropped in the punchbowl. I’m sure the music’s good, but I don’t care. Maybe let me know when King Gizzard goes solo.
This one just popped up with an ad on my Twitter outline, so let’s be clear: There are very few things you could do to keep me from watching a show where SCTV and Christopher Guest alums Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara do a Canadian riff on Arrested Development’s “rich assholes try to adjust to the real world” premise, but calling it Schitt’s Creek manages to do the job. I had a friend recently try to sell me on the series during one of our semi-annual “Let’s review all the TV shows and movies we’ve each watched over the last six months” lunch dates, and it was all I could do not to walk away from the table then and there. I get that it’s a joke. I get that Dan Levy and Annie Murphy are probably both great in it. But it’s called fucking Schitt’s Creek, and I just can’t. At least the Scrotal Recall people still had enough of the shame god gave them to try to walk their damage back.
Fox quickly came to its senses and changed the name of the show to LA To Vegas before it aired, but the fact that it was originally stylized as LA —> Vegas made me so irrationally angry that I never checked out the adventures of wacky pilot Dylan McDermott and his similarly wacky passengers. LA To Vegas is a fine name, but putting the arrow in it is so outrageous that I can’t believe Fox was able to get past it long enough to order a pilot in the first place. How would that name have worked on DVRs? Was it meant to be pronounced as “LA to Vegas,” and if so, why put the arrow in it at all? Maybe it’s because my job occasionally entails typing out the names of TV shows, but titles that include a significant number of things that aren’t letters irritate me in a weird way (like Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is the writing equivalent of one of those potholes that wrecks your suspension).
Well, I sat through the entire Alvin And The Chipmunks franchise and all its terribly titled sequels (excuse me, squeakquels), so I’m going to have to go with one that always makes me shake my head disapprovingly: Lucky Number Slevin. By the time this particular film came out in 2006, the world already had S7ven, whose stupidly stylized title I’ll forgive because it’s actually a really good movie. But this just seems like a mashup of every post-Snatch faux-clever crime-movie cliché, tossed into a blender and fed to a title bot with a poor command of spelling. And yeah, I know, the main character’s name is Slevin. But the Gaelic overtones of that particular name are giving me a Boondock Saints flashback, and that just makes things worse, honestly—as does the occasional stylization of the film’s already dumb title.
I’ll dip my toes into just about any fighting game I can get my hands on, including plenty of stuff coming out of Japan with wacky names. But for whatever reason, my brain has drawn a line at a relatively obscure one called Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late. For obvious reasons, it’s more commonly referred to as UNIEL or UNIST, if you’re talking about its latest revision, which tacked “[st],” brackets and all, onto the end of an already unwieldy word salad. My mental block has nothing to do with the game itself, which by all accounts is a solidly crafted anime-inspired fighter with a devout cult following and a fantastic tutorial system (something I care a lot about). It’s really just the name that I keep tripping over, maybe because spending too much time with the Melty Bloods and Guilty Gear Xrd Revelators and Asuka 120% BURNING Fests of the world pushed my tolerance for weirdly translated gobbledygook past its tipping point.
I am currently starting Daniel Abraham’s The Spider’s War, the final entry in his five-book The Dagger And The Coin series. It’s a very enjoyable, well-written fantasy series that I would have never even thought of checking out if my friend had not personally handed me the first entry and practically opened it up and turned the pages for me. The name is so dull and the cover art such a low-effort Photoshop collage, I’d never muster up any enthusiasm to crack open the book myself. Fantasy is my favorite genre, but I’m phenomenally, unreasonably picky about it. I have an undefined—but no less rigid for it—set of criteria for what qualifies as good fantasy, and part of that is being turned off by the generic titles and imagery that encapsulates 90 percent of fantasy books on the market. Which is why, despite being featured in our own favorite books of 2014 list, I’ve never read Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series. The series is credited for being thematically rich and populated by interesting characters, but it sounds too much like a 2nd-edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign I’d have run in high school for me to check it out any time soon.
Toilet humor (or “potty humor,” as it’s unfortunately also known) has always bummed me out. I find it tiresome and unpleasant—always have. I realize this is a personal issue, as much of the rest of the world seems to go apeshit for it. Even as a child, I starkly remember sitting in the movie theater, listening to gales of laughter rippling throughout the place during the scene in Dumb & Dumber where Jeff Bridges has violently explosive diarrhea, and being absolutely dumbfounded that my fellow kids found this cheap and crass situation humorous. (Clearly, I was the most popular kid in grade school.) I like to think of it as having obvious standards; the counterpoint would likely be, “You’re a fucking stick in the mud.” I can’t help it; it just never worked for me. So needless to say, I have never been able to give a fair shake to Enema Of The State, the Blink-182 album that a number of my coworkers swear is a legitimately fantastic pop-punk record. The band’s lunkheaded antics and fart-and-belch-filled sensibility jars me every time I encounter it. Maybe someday I’ll give it a listen; for now, I have cautiously included “All The Small Things” on a playlist. Baby steps.