Usually cliches are something you want to avoid. They're old, they're familiar, and they're stale. Sometimes, though, when a genre has become well established, the work that comes across as original is the one that takes all those cliches and plays them completely straight.
Right now I'm playing through a video game called Nostalgia, which is exactly that kind of game. In addition to being steampunk (which as I already explained, is pretty cool), it has a structure that's so simple and familiar, yet so well-done, that it's hard not to love it.
The apparent simplicity of this novel belies the underlying complexity of its existentialist themes. It will take you approximately three hours to read, and quite possibly three months to fully understand. It's an excellent, excellent novel for people who are naturally analytic. I recommend that, should you choose to read the novel, you brush up on the basics of existentialism (specifically, absurdist existentialism) beforehand. Also, attack it with pencil and highlighter. Annotate it as if it were a poem.
I don't want to reveal any spoilers here (though you will find that the plot, in reality, is somewhat irrelevant in comparison to the overarching messages concerning the nature of humanity), but I promise that, should you take the time to analyze it, the richness of symbolism, metaphor, etc. will keep you both busy and extraordinarily satisfied.
Easily one of the coolest basic ideas of which I'm aware: steampunk.
Basically steampunk represents a cross between speculative science fiction and Victorian England. The basic premise is to imagine if the internal combustion engine had never been invented, and instead steam technology became more and more advanced.
But I can't really do it justice. You can read more about it here, here, or here. Googling it also works.
There's really not a whole lot I can say about this band (I've always been terrible at band history to be honest) except that they are really, really good. If you like bluegrass, or perhaps just have a strong affinity for the banjo, then Yonder Mountain are for you. I recommend the album Elevation for those who have never listened to them before.
I don't listen to a lot of "hipster music", but The Unicorns are probably the hipsterest (hipstest?) band to whom I listen. It sounds like a mix between off-brand synthesizers and industrial machinery. And it is wonderful.
The band's history is kind of interesting, as well. The Unicorns, as you can probably guess, did not have much money, so they had to do without agents or managers or anything and handled it all themselves. They eventually disbanded mid-tour in 2003 when the stress proved too much for them.
Still, they did enough to earn a small shout-out in How I Met Your Mother's 100th episode, and another one here.
Today: Lamb or The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, a novel by Christopher Moore.
The book's premise involves the story of the thirty years or so of Christ's life that is not covered in the bible, as told by his best childhood friend. It's quite possibly one of the funniest books I've ever read. It's not meant to make fun of Christianity per se (the afterword by the author makes it very clear that he doesn't mean to shake anyone's faith, but if their fake is shaken by his book perhaps they ought to be praying harder). Jesus, who is called Joshua, is still the good guy. However, if you're uncomfortable with Jesus Christ and dick jokes appearing in the same sentence, then this book is probably not for you.
(Concerning "knowing" a woman)
Biff: "Josh are you sure it doesn't bother you talking about this stuff when you will never be allowed to do it?"
Josh: "No it's interesting. It doesn’t bother you when I talk about heaven does it?"
Biff: "Should it?"
Josh: "Look! A Seagull!"
Definitely off-beat humor. Unlike some single-panel comics, The Book of Biff actually has the persistence to stick to single-panel comics. *Cough* It also uses a few other unique tricks like having only one character and being entirely pantomime aside from the captions.
Maximumble, done by the same guy, is a bit more mainstream. It's three panels and usually features dialogue, but it's still off-beat and fun in the same way.
Spring Awakening is an adaptation of a controversial German play. The play was controversial for the usual reasons. It portrayed homosexuality, child abuse, rape, abortion, and the questioning of religion. What makes the play itself interesting is that it was written in the late 19th century (keep in mind that authors writing into the early to mid 20th century rarely broached the subject of sex at all, for fear of not being able to be published).
The modern day musical is something of a rock opera, and, though I have yet to see it performed live, has excellent music and lyrics. At the risk of spoilers, I will not discuss much of the plot here, but in short it is about a starkly religious society and the response of the teenagers in the community to this inherent sexual repression.
Another webcomic that's worth checking out: XKCD. While this humble webcomic will occasionally make jokes based on science or technology, Russell Monroe of XKCD has made a career of it.
There's not really a lot more I can say. It's just about the nerdiest form of entertainment I consume. That's right, it's nerdier than SMBC. Though SMBC has done a guest comic for XKCD, so that's something.
Anyway, the link is available here, or for a little additional fun, here.