So, here we are. The evening of April 20, aka 4/20, aka 420 blaze it, so smoke 'em if you got 'em. The question is, what do you do now? We asked the staff at Input what they recommend for situations like these, and they came through:
Play: Inside (PS4)
Look, I’ll be frank. This is a violent puzzle involving a protagonist who couldn't be older than 11. It's a dystopian setting and strangely apt given the ongoing pandemic — and the grim sociological petri dish it's exposed around the world. It feels and looks lonely and antiseptic as a child tries navigating a deeply hostile landscape. These details might discourage the average reader from giving Inside a go, but the studio that made the game presents the simplest, most beautiful graphics I’ve seen yet, a highly addictive ambient soundtrack, and rich red, blue, black, and grey hues. Playing this while high, I imagine, would make Inside even more immersive and dreamlike. As if you were swimming mid-air on a different planet, trying to help a kid make it out alive. You might even be able to decipher the David Lynch-ian ending. And if you do get there while high and make sense of what went down, I want to hear your theory.
Watch: Don't Fuck With Cats on Netflix
When I first heard of this true crime documentary, I was skeptical. Creeps hurting little cats and broadcasting it online sounded awful, of course, but if you know anything about the seedier and more unhinged parts of the internet, you’ll know that sadism and the lust for livestreaming it is unsettlingly common. But hearing about efforts to get back at the creeps? Well, that sounded intriguing. In just three episodes, Don’t Fuck With Cats plunges you deep inside the world and mind of a narcissist. Parts of it are darkly comedic — the self-obsession the character in question exhibits is occasionally entertaining — but the majority of the documentary is a viciously clever and detailed philosophical rumination on e-sleuths, internet rules, empathy, manipulation, and chaos. If you’re in the mood to weigh in while high on questions posed by humans for millennia — What is good? What is evil? Are we all inherently inclined toward virtue or are we doomed to vice? — this is your documentary.
Play: Yoshi’s Crafted World
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This title has everything you need for low-stakes gaming when you’re super stoned. It’s cute, easy but not too easy, and has all of the classic Yoshi bops to keep things light-hearted. The Crafted World spin makes for some fun, interesting visuals and you get to play as a fuzzy Yoshi, which is obviously a plus.
Read: Junji Ito’s Cat Diary & The Strange Library Haruki Murakami
Both of these titles are short stories from authors who have absolutely mastered the ‘WTF did I just read?’ genre. Fans of horror-manga artist Junji Ito will instantly take to the grotesque illustrations and over-the-top situations worked into his first-person short. But unlike his other works, this one won’t leave you afraid to turn off the lights.
It’s a hilarious story about begrudgingly becoming a cat person and deserves to be paired with a fat joint and a fit of the giggles. Murakami’s The Strange Library, on the other hand, is a bit more serious, but not nearly as much of a commitment as some of his other more popular works. It’s got some familiar Murakami tropes like imprisonment and sheep people, plus some really striking visuals. Reading this will have you feeling like you’re high, so you might as well be.
Listen to: Ctrl and Z
Both albums by SZA are perfect to smoke to. Play them back to back while you veg out in a patch of sun by the window or outside (with respect to social distancing!) and you’ll be chillin' hard. If you ate an edible and now you’re melting à la that infamous anti-weed PSA from our youth, something a little harder will hit the spot and keep any anxious feelings from bubbling over. Try Chassit by Heavy Temple, Busse Woods by Acid King, or literally anything by Weedeater. And, is any 4/20 list really complete without Sleep’s Dopesmoker? I think not.
Watch: The Simple Life
Yes. You heard me right. The reality show starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie which perfectly captures the essence of the early 2000s, for better or worse (mostly worse). The Simple Life is available through Prime or for free on Tubi and is way funnier this time around.
Watch: Devs (Hulu)
If you’ve ever watched anything penned by Alex Garland, you probably remember it. He’s the writer (and sometimes director) behind The Beach, 28 Days Later, Annihilation, Ex Machina, and now the longer-form series on Hulu, Devs. Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation fame stars as the founder / CEO of Silicon Valley tech company, Amaya. Gone are the beard and satirically alpha-male one-liners in favor of a middle parting, introspection, and a hint of the sinister, made more unsettling by his unmistakable, sonorous baritone.
Forget Offerman, though, the star of Devs is Sonoya Mizuno who plays an Amaya employee named Lily Chan. She’s a familiar face to Garland fans, and you may remember her as the enigmatic, chain-smoking Dr. Azumi Fujita in Maniac (Evan’s pick below.) When Lily’s boyfriend Sergei (Karl Glusman) gets a job in Amaya’s ultra-secretive quantum computing division, weird stuff starts to go down. Dev’s is atmospheric, intriguing, suspenseful, thought-provoking and, blessedly, only eight episodes. So you can binge it in a cloud-filled weekend — or a night, you lunatic, you — and won’t be left hanging for a year to find out how it all ends.
Editor’s note: Watch episode seven after that edible kicks in with a good sound system (or headphones) for maximum impact.
Watch: Maniac (Netflix)
Like Craig, I also finished Devs last week. The main character, Lily Chan, played by Sonoya Mizuno, is also in a little Netflix gem called Maniac, which is an absolute must-watch if you’re a stoner who loves science fiction.
Maniac stars Jonah Hill and Emma Stone as Owen and Annie, respectively, who are brought together in a medical research study by a series of odd twists of fate. The world of Maniac, created by Cary Joji Fukunaga and Patrick Somerville, is strange right off the bat. It’s a retro-future remix of our current reality with a heaping dose of '70's and '80's odd science.
Once the plot gets underway, however, things get pretty freaky, especially for Hill’s character Owen. I don’t want to say too much, but rest assured, you’ll be transported to strange worlds as the characters dive deep into their own minds. There are so many intense and hilarious moments in Maniac, it's absolutely worth it.
Listen: Told Ya by Whipped Cream & Lil Xan
A few years ago I was looking for some new songs to run to, and because Spotify knows how much of a freak I am for nasty bass, it recommended Persistence by Whipped Cream (below.)
Then, out of nowhere, Spotify once again dropped a single from Whipped Cream in my lap, this time a collaboration with Lil Xan; a rapper that I had (and still have) very limited knowledge about. Nevertheless, I listened to Told Ya and I was like, "Wow, this is great." Then I found the music video (above) that I won't even attempt to describe. Enjoy...?
Play: Mario Kart 8
We’re nearly three decades from the first Mario Kart's release on the SNES, and it’s still one of the best party games on the market. The best part about the series’ debut on the Nintendo Switch is its effortless online feature — perfect for social distancing.
The thing about playing Mario Kart 8 is it’s super easy to play with only a few basic controls to master — so it doesn’t take too much thoughtfulness or dexterity — but it’s endlessly colorful and has about a million different courses, which keeps it interesting for hours on end. Pack that vape, connect to Wi-Fi, and lose a few hours in the best way possible.
Play: Session (PC)
I've just discovered this relatively new skateboarding game, which is currently only available as an early-access title on Steam (though it's coming to Xbox Game Preview sometime this year). The game was released late in 2019, and is something of a marvel if you've ever ridden a board. Gameplay — which takes place mostly in New York City street locations — is something like a cross between the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and... QWOP. The controls are probably as close as you can get to actual skating without being on a board, which makes them both intuitive yet frustratingly difficult to master. The result is a lot of spectacular wipeouts (complete with hilarious animations and physics reactions of your main character) and serendipitous tricks you can't believe you pulled off. Just like real life. Needless to say... it's even better if you're stoned.
This comic series, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, is one of the most engrossing, surreal, hilarious, and beautiful pieces of science fiction I've ever read. You could draw parallels to other works of fiction in other mediums, but the way these stories are told and the characters are defined make Saga something that honestly stands on its own.
Set against a massive, galactic war (one which will seem all-too-familiar to you), it follows the story of Alana and Marko — two star-crossed lovers (literally) — and their newborn baby Hazel. The trio is on the run from forces of nearly every variety, but the story is also very much about making a relationship work and being a parent in the midst of absolute madness. So, you'll probably feel right at home while you read it. Also, there's an entire species of alien in the book that have TVs for heads. They're also royalty. So, yeah.
Listen: Red Herring by Union Jack
This 1995 trance single by genre-defining group Union Jack is the record that changed my life. When I first heard this at a record store in Pittsburgh, it cemented my love for the loping, alien, cinematic, and undulating sound of mid- to late-90s trance music. The real trance music. Red Herring is a song like no other; a twisting travelogue through arpeggiated Roland TB-303s (the machine that defined acid house), hard pan psychedelic vocal snippets (presaging the Diplo-perfected sound of nonsense rhythm vox), and razor sharp tribal drums submerged in creamy low pass filters. The end result is the purest distillation of what "trance" should sound like that anyone has ever come up with (one man's opinion, of course). Oh, and it sounds insane when you're high. What are you waiting for?
Watch: Dazed and Confused
Director Richard Linklater’s high school film Dazed and Confused, set in 1976 and released in 1993, is perhaps my favorite movie ever. A heavy cloud of weed smoke hovers over the whole affair, but the real 4/20 standout is the inveterate pothead character Ron Slater, played with goofy insouciance by Rory Cochrane. Cochrane delivers what has to be the greatest stoner monologue of all time — it features some “facts” you’ve never heard about George and Martha Washington — which you can enjoy in its loopy entirety here:
Watch: The Real Housewives of New York City
Nerds, I need you to have a little bit of faith in me here. Yes, the stereotype of a Housewives show is that it’s all screaming in ballgowns and throwing wine. While that’s true, The Real Housewives of New York City stars fascinating personalities, regularly tackles major national issues with aplomb and wit, and features some of the most innovative production and editing in television history. Whether they’re punching a cop or throwing their prosthetics across a restaurant, every scene on the show is delightfully unhinged and hilarious in ways you can never truly prepare for.
Though you can slip in during any point in the show’s run and quickly get your sea legs, I recommend jumping headfirst into the current season and going back to the beginning once you’ve become addicted to the drama. The only thing I struggle with while watching RHONY is that it is often so aggressive, action-packed, and bizarre that it can be hard to take a moment to appreciate all the weird and specific details and asides the editors behind the show manage to fit in each 40-minute installment. A little weed and maybe a finger or two of whiskey and suddenly you're able to appreciate every reference to John John, Madonna, updos, and Gstaad the way God (or Andy Cohen) originally intended.
Listen: Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple
It’s honestly surreal to me that Fiona Apple’s latest record is probably the most mainstream piece of art or entertainment on this list in 2020. Apple has been producing emotionally gripping, audibly exciting, vibrant music for decades now — but her latest installment, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, is almost supernaturally relevant to our current crisis. Apple remains 10 steps ahead of the zeitgeist and her ability to layer her work with so many distinct viewpoints and new sounds will provide you something fresh to pick apart and admire on each playback.
Sure, it’s perfect critical Metascore may turn off the contrarians reading this, but I implore you to join the bandwagon and not miss out on all this album has to offer you, especially at this pivotal moment in our collective cultural development. Pop in your AirPods, smoke a bowl in bed, and escape into your own adult Fantasia.
Play: Parasite Eve (PS1)
While the entire world is (rightfully) swept up in the glory that is Final Fantasy 7 Remake, you should do yourself a favor and take a detour into Parasite Eve for the OG PlayStation. PE was originally a concept for Final Fantasy 7 but, though its battle system is a very clear precursor to the battle system of Remake and its ilk, it was passed over. Thankfully, it saw the light of day as its own series and is often favorably compared to Capcom’s Resident Evil franchise.
In this first installment, you play as Aya Brea, an NYPD cop on the trail of a supernatural threat to NYC. (In an effort to avoid spoilers, that’s all we’ll say for now.) During the playthrough, you’ll visit various real-world New York landmarks and encounter horrifying creatures and situations that are no less effective for being rendered by the meager PS1. While we wait to hear news about a formal remake of the game, don’t let any intimidation about emulation get in the way of enjoying this '90s console classic in all its dithered and pixelated glory. The spy-themed '90s art style and unique pacing of the gameplay couldn't pair with THC better if they were designed by PaRappa the Rappa himself.
Play: Dance Central 2 (Xbox 360)
Step 1: Get high. Step 2: Dance. There’s nothing quite like moving your body when it’s in a relaxed state such that every wave and flail is live art. I can’t vouch for the songs or even the responsiveness of Kinect – god, I miss motion controls so badly — and if you don’t own one, then it really sucks for you. I can say Dance Central 2 is better when you’re high than when you’re not. Suddenly every combo is perfect even if you missed them all. Hey, it's not like anyone will judge you. You’re high. You’re dancing. You’re still racking up a score. Not even the last-gen graphics can ruin this euphoric experience. A+++ in my book.