Apologies for the interruption in newsletter service the past few weeks. Life has been busy and then I found myself once again considering what exactly I wanted this newsletter to be. I’ve decided to make a couple of adjustments. First, we’re going fortnightly. The newsletter will now come out every other Friday, for now until the end of time or until I change my mind. Secondly, I’m using the extra time to go back to the mini essays I used to include in each newsletter. If longform isn’t your thing, no worries—feel free to skip ahead to the usual links and media updates.
Lately I’ve been thinking about getting older. I could hardly help it: next Monday is my fortieth birthday. I don’t tend to get worked up about birthdays with big round numbers, and I don’t think I’m worked up about this one—but I am thinking a bit about what it means. Which is, essentially, the fact that I’ve been bouncing around the world for forty years now.
I used to think forty was ancient. Now on the threshold of that age, I am of course astonished by how young I still actually am. That is not a very original observation. I'm not sure there is much about the experience of getting older that can be expressed in any way but in cliches. We all get all the same deceptions and misconceptions and we all cycle through testing them against reality, and we all come to largely the same realizations, because that's how getting older works. In the end, you're only as old as you think you are, it's never too late, so forth and so on, and it's all as true and transformative as it is boring and banal.
At any rate, it's a nice surprise to find yourself not as old as you expected you would be, especially when you've accumulated enough wisdom to put it to work in the time ahead of you. There seems to be a point where getting older switches from a drag to a boon. I hope we all get there.
This isn't much of an interesting, or coherent, essay. It's just some words to get going again. Stick with me. It'll get better from here.
“What kind of awareness quotient are we looking for? What more about climate change does anyone need to know? What else is there to say?” All the right words on climate change have already been said.
Will we ever be able to clean up all our trash? I think about this not infrequently and knowing the actual answers helped me a little.
“Society can’t understand itself if it can’t be honest with itself, and it can’t be honest with itself if it can only live in the present moment." The internet is rotting.
"For a brief period, knotty movies with amoral protagonists and unchecked darkness flourished once again in Hollywood. But films like ‘The Usual Suspects’ and ‘Basic Instinct’ weren’t merely part of a nostalgia movement—they were the products of surprisingly troubled times." When noirs took over the 90s.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame at 25: an oral history of Disney’s darkest animated classic.
Murakamist: a website collecting references to other art in Haruki Murakami’s books.
“Pen poised, I sit to attention, in my suit, on the edge of my imagination, prepared for the beautiful line to arrive. Sometimes it does, sometimes it does not — either way I am powerless to influence the outcome. So often we stand bereft before our ingenuity, with nothing to show for our efforts. Yet at other times we are ushered in.” Nick Cave.
We have a lot to cover here. As always, I keep the year's complete media log at my website. I also keep track of books at Goodreads and movies at Letterboxd (I've also started writing more short notes on films at Letterboxd than I did previously, if you want to read that). Here are some highlights:
- I read Haruki Murakami's latest short story collection, First Person Singular: Stories, and I liked it better than the one previous.
- I'm currently reading Killer, Come Back to Me: The Crime Stories of Ray Bradbury and it's a lot of fun.
- Shiva Baby has hit HBO Max and I highly recommend it.
- For clever horror with a dry sense of humor, Housebound is now on Shudder.
- The newsletter missed Pride month, but till streaming on the Criterion Channel is The Celluloid Closet, an excellent documentary on the history of queer characters in Hollywood film.
- Also on the Criterion Channel right now is their Neo-Noir collection, which has hardly a dud in the bunch.
- If you're headed back to movie theaters, I recommend Zola.
- Some other movies I enjoyed: No Sudden Move and A Nightmare Wakes.
- Movies I recommend as "pretty okay, if you're into that sort of thing": Black Widow and the three Fear Street films on Netflix.
- Movie I do not recommend: Gunpowder Milkshake.
- I liked that Loki show on Disney+. For what that's worth.
- Wellington Paranormal, the spin-off of the What We Do in the Shadows film is now airing on HBO Max and it's fantastic.
- I've been listening to You Must Remember This since it literally began, so sometimes I forget to mention that it's really great and just keeps getting better. If you haven't caught up recently, the newest season, Gossip Girls, just closed and is really worth listening to.
- In fiction podcasts, I listened to the first season of The Left Right Game, which I liked a lot even if it felt like it fumbled towards the end. Featuring Tessa Thompson, always a plus.
- The Linda Lindas just dropped a new single:
Last month marked one full year of Quiet Little Horrors, which is pretty cool. If you’ve been listening, I hope you’re enjoying it. Last month we also released two episodes: a mini on Rosemary’s Baby and a full-length on Images.
This month we released the first of our Suspiria discussions, starting with our take on the 2018 version, and the second one on the original comes out this weekend. Subscribe, share, all that fun stuff.
Happy Ted Lasso new episode Day!
This week’s quote is from Elizabeth Bowen.