Hello! This week was absolutely insane. I spent the first half sick and the second half doing Too Many Activities™. Friday was our annual work outing, at which I spent 2+ hours getting torrentially downpoured on in a sailboat (misery) and drank all the wine cocktails (happiness). Then, I drove out to Western Mass to see one of my dearest friends and go to a show (detailed below), and didn’t get home until 2 am. Needless to say, I am an empty shell of a human who requires sleep and adequate nutrition. So, without further ado, my weekly roundup:
I saw Jenny Lewis (again) last night in Northampton, and it was a religious experience. She’s still on tour, so get tickets immediately! I might go see her again in Boston or Providence, it was that amazing.
I’ve been watching Catastropheagain, because I’m never not watching Catastrophe in a loop. Truly the greatest series ever created.
One of my biggest regrets is not registering for a high-powered blender or Vitamix for our wedding. Just trying to make my own oat milk! Also, if you’re not on the oat milk train, I feel bad for you, son.
This playlist, FIG for CHELS—True/Tested, i.e. the playlist of car songs my husband has been making for me over the past several months, slaps so hard it should be illegal.
Michael and I are (slowly) watching Westworld. We certainly don’t have the same momentum watching it as we did Game of Thrones (the nonlinear storyline doesn’t propel it forward in quite the same way), but we’re really enjoying it so far. Thandie Newton is a sensation.
Speaking of HBO, they made a series of My Brilliant Friend, one of my favorite novels of all time??? Watching immediately.
If putting this three days late is wrong, I don’t want to be right! Accountability is hard, guys. Deadlines are hard. The important thing is that I’m back to shove articles and other media in your face—I’m reliable that way, if late.
I’ve already made you wait, so without further ado and nonsense from me, this week’s list!
Did you guys hear about Barnes & Noble being sold? That store was such a huge part of my childhood that I actually ending up working there for years. I’d like to see them survive, and I think the strategy of tailoring them to the needs of their communities is a good one (the plan-o-gram model of universality always bugged me). I wish nothing but the best for them, but also capitalism is evil, etc, etc.
I’m reading Homegoing, finally, and it’s incredible. 10/10 would recommend.
Did you see this NY Post story? People are roasting it online…how out of touch can you get? I laughed out loud when I saw the reply, “my dad has bricked seven laptops” @shaun_jen. It goes without saying that a. Women have skills and we don’t seek mates who can build our Ikea furniture and b. Millennials can’t afford to buy houses because of the economy y’all ruined, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
I had a shitty week (got passed over for a job, had an existential crisis about my professional life), but Wine Countrywas there for me when I needed it.
Start using the Co—Star astrology app if you want to get dragged to filth every day via push notifications (see above).
Friday was National Donut Day and I didn’t even get to have one! I need to find some donut shops that don’t involve me driving into South Boston for Blackbird. Did you know they do weddings now? Guess I have to divorce my husband and remarry him to make this happen.
Good morning, long weekenders! I needed this mini-vacation like you read about. I have no plans, which, it seems, is the best possible way to spend a weekend as an adult. I would like to try to get to the beach at some point, but considering the holiday, I might have to settle for the nearby pond. I hope you make the most out your days off!
We’re all sad to see GoT go, but Barry has been renewed for another season! Bill Hader would never disappoint us. This article nails why the show is so effing good.
I did it—I became a mystical bitch. Crystals, Tarot, you name it—sign me up. I had my first ever psychic reading on Sunday (I was in tears the entire time). I bought this fancy deck set and some stones for meditation at Open Doors in Braintree, and yeah, I’m signed up for the crystal meditation class on June 3rd, so see you there?
I finally fixed my Instax Mini 8 (i.e. put new batteries in it) and I’m going to try to take more physical photos. I miss having actual pictures around! I’m pretty sure my cat, however, doesn’t appreciate me following her around like a paparazzo.
I snagged Rainn Wilson’s book on clearance at Barnes & Noble and I’m pumped to read it. Dwight Schrute is my dream man.
Have a lovely day off tomorrow, if you’re lucky enough to have one. And even if I’m not the world’s most forgiving person when it comes to this weekend’s theme (those planes tho), a Facebook friend shared this petition and it seems like a great cause.
Whenever I bring up the show Barry, I am shocked that no one I know is watching it! Since the entire world watched this season of Game of Thrones, I know you all have access to HBO. So what’s the problem? Do you not like thrilling, dark, hilarious antihero stories? It’s Memorial Day weekend—you have the time to binge-watch a show about a fictional veteran.
Barry, created by Bill Hader and Alec Berg (of Seinfeld fame) is the tale of a Marine-turned-hitman-turned-actor trying to escape his life of misdeeds by pursuing a career in the arts. It’s glib to refer to gunning down innocents as “misdeeds,” but the slippery relationship between good and evil is exactly what makes the show great. Barry Berkman (stage name: Barry Block) is the best kind of antihero, because no matter how sinister his actions, we still want him to come out on top. It’s rare that a show can make an audience root for a man to kill a cop, for instance—later, even as we watch Barry in a flashback, overcome with rage, murdering a noncombatant in Afghanistan, somehow we fill with pity instead of disgust. The show has a lot to say about the power of emotion—and its absence.
In summary, Cleveland native Barry Berkman (Bill Hader) becomes a hitman in the employ of Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root—from Office Space!) upon leaving the military. Doing reconnaissance for an ultimately botched hit in LA, Barry stumbles into an acting class, is profoundly moved, and decides to quit the killing business to pursue acting. Disentangling himself from his life beyond the law proves trickier than anticipated—chaos ensues. Season two gets even darker. The show’s writers deftly fold so much into this morality tale—a critique of the narcissism and sexism of show business, a reverence for the power of storytelling, abuse, mental illness, and a scathing indictment of the way the military leaves its veterans.
Barry’s past as a Marine is a vital part of the show, because it makes clear, without ever explicitly stating it, how insidious and vile an organization we socially recognize as “good” and “honorable” can truly be. It’s hardly a secret that bloated military spending is a huge national problem, and that service can often mean the disruption or destruction of the lives of those enlisted, but what the show explores instead is America’s fetish for killing, its bloodlust. In a flashback to his deployment (“The Show Must Go On, Probably?”), the audience gets to watch Barry’s first kill, to see him discover his dark talent and be rewarded for his ability to turn off his emotions and take lives. In a moment that would shatter most people, well-adjusted or otherwise, Barry finds purpose and community. His soldier friends celebrate him when he “[takes] out a sheepfucker from 700 yards.” They rally around him and chant his name, seconds after he shoots three people for their dubious “suspicious activity.” When Barry leaves the Marines after, as acting teacher Gene Cousineau puts it, “Basically, you killed somebody and you got away with it” (“What?!), he claims that he “didn’t think [he] deserved a good life.” Fuches, a family friend, is there to manipulate the shell of a man left by deeply traumatic wartime experiences. The Barry that returns from Afghanistan is emotionless, blank—a trained and effective killer brainwashed to believe that his murderous capability is his only redeeming quality.
Barry’s ability to shut off his emotions entirely and kill make him a great soldier and hitman but later stunt his ability as an actor. It’s no coincidence that the writers chose acting as Barry’s would-be career—a life of robotically acting on orders (in the military and then as Fuches’ employee) has left Barry stagnant, depressed, and hollow. It’s only through inaction, or the purely dramatic rendering of actions, that Barry can tap into his emotions and start to grapple with the evils he has committed. Dramatic acting forces Barry to thoughtfully consider situations and juggle their emotional weight—he can no longer blindly act at the behest of a commander or boss. But the delicately nuanced show doesn’t absolve Barry of his many wrongs—it dances with just how innate Barry’s killing ability is. Barry doesn’t just carelessly point a finger at the military—it points a finger at America itself and the ways in which we encourage and facilitate senseless violence. As audience members, invested in our protagonist, we are complicit in condoning scores of murders, typically at least one per episode. We have become anesthetized to it.
In the second episode of the second season, “The Power of No,” Barry asks Chechen mobster Noho Hank (Anthony Carrigan), “Am I evil?” In perhaps the series’ finest moment of comedic delivery, Hank replies, “Oh my god…I mean, absolutely! Do I not tell you that enough? You are like, the most evil guy I know, man!” Barry replies, “You know, I take no pleasure in killing people. You know that, right?” But as Barry attempts to convince Hank, he doesn’t succeed in convincing himself. The show doesn’t provide an answer to the question of whether killers are born or made, but it does leave viewers with the creeping sensation that, under the right circumstances, they too could be Barry.
Both seasons of Barry are currently available to stream on HBO GO.
Happy Sunday, friends! I wish I could say “Happy long weekend,” but alas, that’s next weekend. Here’s the stuff that “freaked my week,” and yes, I regret saying that.
I finally started watching You’re the Worst and it’s a perfect show. Je suis obsessed. Chris Geere is my boyfriend. The Ferris Bueller discussion at the beginning of episode two is the very definition of *chef’s kiss*.
Last week’s Game of Thrones was TRASH—sound off in the comments if you’re as upset as I am, and as terrified for tonight’s finale. This thread is everything.
Check out this trippy video for “Oh What a World“! And yes, I am a Kacey stan, sorry ’bout it.
I don’t know if you saw the original piano Cardi B video, but he’s back with another one and it’s perfect.
Wait for the cameo at the end of this video. My god.
I know it’s basic to plug yourself, but I wrote this piece about Céline Dion 2 years ago and watching everyone on Twitter stan her so hard lately has made me feel like an honest-to-goodness trendsetter.
Good morning, friends! I know it’s…Tuesday, but Sunday was Mother’s Day, aka the worst day of the year, so I took a knee and bailed on the post. This week I’ve been reminiscing a lot about England, how fortunate I was to get to live there for the better part of a month. It was a dream come true, and I can’t imagine not recreating the experience again soon.
The rest of this post has exactly nothing to do with any of that, it was just on my mind.
It’s been a week and I still can’t tell how I feel about this SNL short. Is it genius or the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen?
I’m going to read this book next—I’m totally fascinated by French culture in general, but French motherhood is something I think Americans can really learn from.
Is the velvet trend finally over? I mean, I’m going to keep a couple of pieces, but I’m glad to see it go. Like off-the-shoulder tops—what were we thinking? What do you think the next inescapable trend will be?