Stuff You Should #4

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O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, boop boop boop boop boop beep beep

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, boop boop boop boop boop beep beep

SOME STUFF YOU SHOULD
KNOW ABOUT ME

I turned 28 this month! We all half-joke about 2016 being a shitty year, but for me personally it was transformative and wonderful: I made staff after 4 years at my job, bought an apartment, lost 30 pounds, created (and sold!) my first zine, adopted a kitty (see below), got some more tattoos, learned to cook like an adult, and basically felt the most at ease and at peace with myself that I ever have in my whole dumb life so far. It's been pretty cool, tbh. I'm aware of how wildly lucky I am, but I gotta give myself a little credit for the work I put in to get here. Onward and upwards in 2017, right?


SOME STUFF YOU SHOULD
READ ONLINE

Waiting, Reading, Thinking, Connecting, Feeling - Wesley Morris describes his first visit to the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History & Culture in a gorgeous, deeply felt piece that I've thought about every single day since I read it.

On Chicken Tenders - Helen Rosner's ode to the perfect nothingness of our most ubiquitous and beloved menu item will make you want to eat them immediately.

The Queen of the Damned - In a banner year for Cleveland athletics, veteran sportswriter Mary Kay Cabot is stuck covering the team that still can't catch a break: the Browns. This piece by Rob Harvilla proves there's more than one way to be doggedly determined.

Lifelike [2003] - I first read the inimitable Susan Orlean's account of the 2003 World Taxidermy Championships when it was presented as an example of The Right Way To Do It in a narrative nonfiction writing class in college. Rediscovering it this month was such a treat. "'I was a meat cutter for fifteen years,' a taxidermist from Kentucky said to me. 'That whole time, no one ever said to me, 'Boy, that was a wonderful steak you cut me.' Now I get told all the time what a great job I've done.'"

Addy Walker, American Girl [2015] - Brit Bennett assesses the role of black dolls in American culture, the cyclical teaching of racial pain, and the privilege that allows some children to opt out of history while others must swallow it whole. A must-read, I mean it.


The past is gone and cannot harm you anymore. And while the future is fast coming for you, it always flinches first.
— Welcome to Night Vale

SOME STUFF YOU SHOULD
READ IN PRINT

"A Manual for Cleaning Women" by Lucia Berlin - The only bad thing about this rangy, sharp-edged collection of semi-autobiographical short stories is that it was compiled after author Lucia Berlin's death: It's both the best she had to offer, and the last. It's one of those books I saw and heard about everywhere but steadfastly ignored for no particular reason, only to be blown away when I finally gave it a shot. Buy it on Amazon or via your favorite local indie bookseller.

"Gloria" by Brandon Jacob-Jenkins - My favorite play of 2015 (and a finalist for 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama) is finally available in print form!! "Gloria" is an observant, unsettling assessment of performative grief and the ownership of tragedy in our relentless celeb-obsessed society, and it reads just as powerfully as it was performed. Buy it on Amazon or via your favorite local indie bookseller.

Meet Toast! She likes dangly shiny things and cuddling. As, by the way, do I.

Meet Toast! She likes dangly shiny things and cuddling. As, by the way, do I.


SOME STUFF YOU SHOULD
WATCH/STREAM

Hell or High Water (2016) - David Mackenzie directs this modern Western from a script by Sicario's Taylor Sheridan, starring Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, the wide yawning yellow plains of Texas, the spin of gravel under get-away-car tires, and the schemes and failings of men with guns and big ideas. Available to rent or buy on Amazon now.

13th (2016) - Filmmaker Ava DuVernay and a stacked deck of fascinating interviewees explore the United States' history of racial inequality through the lens of the Thirteenth Amendment and mass incarceration. Streaming on Netflix now.            


Don’t plant your bad days. They grow into weeks. The weeks grow into months. Before you know it you got yourself a bad year. Take it from me. Choke those little bad days. Choke ‘em down to nothin’.
— Tom Waits

This was my favorite moment at the theater this year because these two older ladies had no idea that a woman DID direct "Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812." (Her name is Rachel Chavkin and she's brilliant.)

This was my favorite moment at the theater this year because these two older ladies had no idea that a woman DID direct "Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812." (Her name is Rachel Chavkin and she's brilliant.)


SOME STUFF YOU SHOULD
LISTEN TO

HomecomingI was hugely skeptical of Gimlet's first scripted podcast - if I wanted to listen to a drama I'd leave an episode of SVU on TV while reading shit on my phone! - but its cast of actual movie stars (Oscar Isaac, Catherine Keener, David Schwimmer) reeled me in and its twisty-turny plot kept me listening. Plus it's only six episodes, so you can binge it during just a few commutes.
       
MUNA, "Loudspeaker" EP - The latter half of my '16 was severely lacking in moody new girl-pop jams until MUNA popped up in my Spotify Discover playlist. The band's four-track EP is streaming now; full album drops February 3.

My December mixtape - My 10 most-played jams last month, from Vérité, Kehlani, Jesus Jones, Blond Ambition, and more. Stream it on 8tracks here.      


In a corner at a family gathering reading about celeb deaths on Twitter, as usual

In a corner at a family gathering reading about celeb deaths on Twitter, as usual

Forecast for January:

Starting off on the right foot with a long list of books to read, big plans to get 6-7 full hours of sleep per night (lol), and kernels of ideas for weirdass projects big 'n small.

Until next month,

xo Laura