Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A rom-com farce, a Philly supergroup, and a bunch of cute video game bears

Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd in They Came Together


Alphabear is an iOS/Android/Commodore 64 word game filled with cute bears. You spell words using an ever-changing set of tiles on a grassy playfield, and if you do a good job of spelling the words, you get another bear for your collection—or at least you make one of your existing bears stronger. Strength matters because each bear gives you certain power-ups, like a bonus for spelling five-letter words or extra points for using the letter “Y,” which is a fine letter indeed. If you cultivate your bear menagerie, their ursine talents will help you complete increasingly difficult levels, so you can collect additional bears. Here are some of the bears I have collected: Golfing Bear, Devil Bear, Finch Bear. A recent update added dozens of new bears, an excellent idea. The game is free to play, but it is $5 if you want to play as often as you want, which you do, by definition. This review will now end so I can try to get more bears. [John Teti]


Year Of Glad, self-titled EP

In a previous Staff Picks I recommended Dogs On Acid, a Philadelphia supergroup that’s a throwback to the early ’90s in all the best ways. And now with the emergence of Infinite Jest-referencing Year Of Glad, I’m signal-boosting another Philly supergroup. Year Of Glad features members of bands such as Good Luck, 1994!, Nona, and Mike Bell & The Movies, and its debut EP is the kind of pop-rock that one would expect to find on a long-lost Merge Records 7-inch (or a good Everclear record). Though its self-titled EP was released back in June its just been released on cassette by Forward Fast Records, and that tape landing on my desk reignited my love for Year Of Glad. Opener “Umbro Season” piles the hooks on thick, as the band stomps through chunky power-pop riffs and vocalists Mimi Gallagher and Chris Diehm offer inviting harmonies that make me contribute my own off-key vocals when in the confines of my home. With equal parts ’90s alt-rock and modern DIY ethics, Year Of Glad connects past to present with songs too catchy to be ignored. [David Anthony]

They Came Together

If watching all of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp in one sitting has whetted your cinematic appetite for more humor by Michael Showalter, David Wain, and their pals, check out their 2014 spoof of romantic comedies. They Came Together is like a Naked Gun take-off on that idealized genre, with Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler standing in for our romantic leads, and a fun supporting troupe including Michael Ian Black, Christopher Meloni, Zak Orth, and Ed Helms. You’ll find sendups of You’ve Got Mail, Forget Paris, et al. as a variety of tropes get deconstructed: the lame romantic hurdle, the walk-in-the-rain breakup, the guy pals on the basketball court, the runaway bride who bolts across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’ll fulfill your need for State-based humor, and make you look forward to whatever genre Showalter and Wain decide to tackle next. [Gwen Ihnat]


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