Tagged rmc

It’s been a while, RMC edition.

Hello again from the most radical little green house of books you’ll ever find.

It’s been a while but after a crazy year we’re working on getting back in the swing of things. How are you, though??

 

Microcosm’s staff is an incredible little world of its own, with wildly different personalities, opinions, and preferences. Every now and then we like to check in with everyone and see what we’re all into these days….

 

Kristine (Accounts Manager)
My favorite thing on tv right now is Stranger Things 2, because I like Dungeons and Dragons-themed tv (OK, I have a 13-year-old who loves horror).
I read stuff simultaneously: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Unfuck Your BrainAkata Witch, and the new issue of Harper’s.

pussyriot in their glass cell Fun Fact: the women of Pussy Riot were kept in a plexi-glass cage during their trial. They were THAT dangerous. (From Harper’s)


Cyn (Publicity Director)
the good place holy mother forking shirt balls gif
My favorite thing on tv right now is The Good Place. I started it on a whim because I liked the cast, and how funny and surprising it was blew me away. Eleanor (including her faults, unfortunately) is definitely my spirit animal.
mazzy dancing mural
I’m also obsessed with the Cooking With Mazzy youtube channel, and flipped out when this Mazzy mural went up near the off
ice.
In the book department, lately I’m only reading stuff that haven’t come out yet for work…. the only other thing book-wise is… well, does listening to the High Rise audiobook for the 3rd time count as finishing a book…? It’s just so soothing…

Jeri Cain (Sales Director)
My favorite thing on tv right now is the show Fortitude. It’s quirky.
The last book I read was How to Read Nature. My favorite part was learning that pigeons follow roads.

Kayla (Intern)
Your favorite thing on tv/entertainment right now is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, because it’s funny feminist fun, with fantastic characters & songs—what more do you need? But I haven’t gotten to watch any of Season 3 yet, so don’t spoil it for me!
Last book I finished was Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. My favorite part was [SPOILER!] when Vianne (one of the two sisters the book revolves around) kills the Nazi she’s very conflictedly in love with. Though my critique would be this book teeters on the edge/possibly crosses into too-melodramatic territory pretty often, which is often difficult with WWII fiction.

Elly (Marketing Director)
I am seriously enjoying this band and their one lonely album…

Rampant Media Consumption edition 2017!

For the first time in a while, we asked a few staff members what they’ve been into so far this year! Read on for Elly, Cyn, & Jeri’s responses, plus a gift!

Elly

My favorite media lately:

Patti Smith accepting Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize more graciously than he ever did anything in his life. Her mid-song screwup makes the performance even better.

– I read In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate — a really mindblowing and wonderful book about addiction

– And I loved the movie Kedi, a documentary about the street cats of Istanbul:

 

 Cyn

• Been catching up on the amazing graphic novel Locke & Key, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. The horror genre is my passion and Joe Hill consistently puts out brilliant writing, and this is some of the best: engaging, thoughtful, endlessly creative and often viscerally brutal.

• Been obsessed with song covers; my current songs on loop are Johnny Cash’s Hurt, Rasputina’s You Don’t Own Me, Janet Devlin’s Friday I’m In Love.

• Was disappointed with Marvel Television for the many, many ways they dropped the ball on their new Netflix show Iron Fist, but fell in loveloveLOVE with FX’s Marvel show, Legi⊗n, which was amAAZing (why can’t I find feminist analysis/reviews on it yet??? ).

• Recently reconnected with my college best friend watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer while on the phone together, which is something we used to do (in person) when I was on the east coast. We had been halfway through season 5 when I moved, and in March we finished it via phone. It’s my 3rd or 4th time watching the show, but the finale left me (us) in tears all over again. Weeks later, they’ve taken all 7 seasons of Buffy off Netflix…

 

Jeri

Soundtracks! I am super judgmental about movie soundtracks. In fact the film can be shitty but if the soundtrack is stellar, the film is redeemed. Here is a list of films with great soundtracks. And listen on Spotify below.

 • Snow Falling on Cedars • Last Tango in Paris • Public Enemies • The Alamo (the one with Billy Bob Thornton) • The Revenant • Bridge of Spies • Let’s Get Lost • Miami Vice (the movie with Jamie Fox) • Ned Kelly (with Heath Ledger) • Last of the Mohicans • The Last Time I Committed Suicide • The Last Picture Show • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. • The Changeling (with Angelina Jolie) • In the Electric Mist • Country Strong • The Informers • Paranoid Park • The Good, The Bad, The Ugly • 

 

What are YOU reading/watching/listening to/or obsessed with this year??

Use the hashtag #RampantMediaConsumption on Twitter, Litsy, or Instagram, tag us or let us know, and get a 10% off code good for anything on our website all month, to further encourage your media consumption!

Rampant Media Consumption! First 2016 edition

My Career as a Jerk movie cover art You all kept us busy the last three months! Normally things quiet way down after the holidays and by the beginning of February we’re left cleaning the office, catching up on administrative projects and long-term editorial stuff, and strategizing about the future. Not this year! We’ve been slammed with orders and with editorial work on exciting new books, and it’s been fabulous. As a result, though, it’s been a while since anyone had a minute to consume any media, much less report on it, much less blog about it.

We finally found a sec, though. So… here’s what we’ve been taking in!

Cyn

I’ve been listening to Halsey and Marian Hill on repeat.

I caught up on the new season of Agent Carter—it’s a little more kitschy than last season, but fun anyway, and still well done.

In my favorite kind of news, Jessica Jones got picked up for a second season! I mean, of course it did, because it’s amazing, but it’s good to know.

I also finished listening to the audio book of Gone Girl. I wasn’t excited to read it because it seemed over-hyped, but I actually ​*loved*​ it, and actually hate that I saw the movie first and ruined the twist, because it probably would have blown me away. Also, I think Amy Elliot Dunne might be my gender-politics spirit animal.

This month I’ve been obsessed with watching 360 degree videos. Guyz, this is the future of technology. Check out this one or this one (it’s better if you’re using a mobile device). (ps. if you don’t know how it works, just click anywhere on the video and drag)

In not-360 obsession, one of my favorite songs got an amazing music video, although for the full effect you should listen to the song first, ​thenwatch the video.

Taylor

Read: Libra by Don Delillo
Listened to: The Serial podcast

Elly

I reread Blake Nelson’s Girl, which I vividly remember finding at the library as a teenager. It totally holds up. Oh the 90s. I read up about the book’s history… it was serialized in Sassy, but first published as an adult novel because all the sex wasn’t deemed appropriate for teenagers. It wasn’t published as young adult until the late 2000s, when I guess the publishing world was ready to admit that teenagers have sex. It was interesting to watch the price fluctuate as well — in 1995 the adult fiction trade paperback was $14, but the YA reissue in 2007 was $11. If it came out today, it would have to be $9.95. And that is the story of how my nostalgic weekend reading turned into a work research project. Not to mention the story of our economy.

Thea

  • Found and liked: http://gatosaurio.com/
  • Watched the new XFiles and Louis C.K.’s “Horace & Pete”
  • It had to happen, a Walking Dead coloring book

    Joe

    My Career as a Jerk​ by Dave Markey​
    While mostly fascinating as a way of tracing the evolving fashion and motivations of the Circle Jerks as they struggle to ​remember their relevance in a changing world, this documentary is my favorite work by Markey (The Year Punk Broke). While most LA bands of the late 70s and early 80s broke up or went “crossover”​ metal​ by 1986, the Circle Jerks tried to stay their course…but never seemed quite sure what that was as they lost key musicians Roger Rogerson and Lucky Lehrer. Mostly memorable for footage of a​ 46​-year-old Greg Hetson dressed in Warped​-​Tour​-style​ ​baggy shorts and pulled up gym socks next to the ever-increasing lengths of Keith Morris’ dreadlocks ​as they ​threaten​ed to touch the floor​ while the band dropped staccato rhythms in favor of a slower hard punk style​. It feels like​ even when​ they can’t quite recall what they were angry about 30 years prior​ that the feelings remain in full force.

    ​Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff
    As frustrating to read as it is informative, this is a look into one reporter’s life in Detroit as he tries to nail the mayor, city councilwoman, and various public service departments. There were numerous times where I wanted to throw the book against the wall in disgust: when he assaults his wife, when he makes fun of retarded people, his various awkward racial stereotypes, extensive stories about his own life that are pointless to the reader or narrative, and how he will tell you everyone’s race (unless they’re white) even when it does nothing to advance the narrative or fill in details about that character. Nonetheless, I powered through for the information. While much of the book seems committed to responding to the various criticisms of his work and leaving out details at times convenient to serving his story, it provides enough back and inside story about Detroit to understand how things reached the point of bankruptcy, destitution, and auto bailouts. I only wish that I could leave LeDuff behind and keep his reporting.

    The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
    While this book cannot hold a candle to Jon’s editorial masterpiece So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, it’s an illuminating look into the world of psychology and how little science really exists within it. In his classic style, Ronson befriends character after character, both those who work deep within the system and those who have been wronged by it. While my experiences with psychology have been mostly pleasant and I’ve had little reason to give it the side eye, looking at its limitations is always educational and informs action. While Ronson has a great way of making even the most serious subjects read as funny anecdotes, it never takes away from the actual substance of his message and what he has to get across to the reader.

  • Rampant Media Consumption: What we Read, Watched, and Listened to in 2015

    junun album cover2015 kept us all busy! Our next blog post, containing our annual report, will show you how and why. But somehow along the margins we found chances to read books and articles, watch movies and tv shows, listen to music and podcasts, and consume other assorted media to inspire us and keep us going. Here’s a recap for the last month bleeding into the last year.  

    Tomy

    I’ve been obsessed with an Animal Planet show called Monsters Inside Me. It’s a show about potentially deadly parasites. Premise one: First-worlders contract parasites while attempting to prove they’re capable of vacationing in unsanitary areas around of the world. Premise two: Unsuspecting first-worlders eat foods that are contaminated, raw, or improperly cooked. Episodes include: sick people, dramatizations, menacing music, medical specialists, formulaic TV-show suspense, and a hunky/nerdy bat biologist. Super fun!

    Reading poetry by Franz Wright because he recently died.

    Also reading/studying Fine Gardening magazine and This Old House magazine because I’m chin-deep in home renovation.

    Taylor

    I read: Jane: A Murder by Maggie Nelson

    Libra by Don Delillo

    What the Living Do by Marie Howe

    …and listened to Lana Del Rey’s newish album Music to Watch Boys To

    women in clothes book coverThea

    I’ve been trying to ignore this book series by Elena Ferrante, but now I’m intrigued after this VF article.

    Finally got around to reading Every Last Tie, an amazing and incredible recollection/reflection by the brother of the Unabomber.

    Happy to have discovered the wild & wacky history of coloring books.

    Jeff

    Can’t stop listening to the Junun album.

    Also i’m finally getting around to listening to Four Tet

    Watched this crazy documentary about Scientology.

    Joe

    In November I resolved to read books faster than I accumulated them. So far I have been tremendously successful.

    So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

    I should probably get it out of the way that Jon Ronson is my favorite author. His stirring mediations, objective analyses, and carefully considered conclusions feel like the journalistic work that I would be doing if my childhood had been more privileged, my dreams had been supported, and I had gone to college. Rather than regrets though, my lived experiences allow me to enjoy Ronson’s work for its brilliance and beauty. While Them, his look at hanging out with a dozen extremists of various kinds after 9/11, was an incredibly balanced work that offered deeper perspective about things we don’t get to hear much about, like The Bilderburg Group, this book takes his thinking and writing skills even further. Jon holds himself culpable as he criticizes the emergent culture on social media that leaps to attack a stranger before the evidence is on the table or sometimes even requested. He learns about himself when strangers create a Jon Ronson parody Twitter account. He takes a prolonged look at how the result of one bad joke can cost you your job, your friends, and your entire reputation. He examines the way that privilege can sometimes allow someone to recover from a public shaming and resume life as usual. And he evaluates how the distance between our self-image and the public’s image of us allows for shaming to affect us. It’s important to note that this book is as appropriately funny as it is clever and revealing. When Ronson works with Reputation.com to restore the future career of one young social worker, he simultaneously points out everything that is strange about the whole affair. Our culture rewards innocuous blandness and creating a new public persona for someone that has nothing shocking to say can restore credibility. At the same time, the man who seems to have suffered the least has a more interesting sex life than anyone I know so the book is fairly intriguing in its analysis. Most importantly, Ronson helps us take a more nuanced look at every situation without jumping to conclusions, which is something that would be good for all of us, whoever we are.

     

    How To Ru(i)n A Record Label: The Story of Lookout Records

    Larry Livermore has lived an almost unbelievable life. In these pages he recalls attending the original Woodstock, seeing the Supremes homecoming in early 1960s Detroit, witnessing MC5 at a battle of the bands on a tennis court, and joining the White Panther Party. Of course all of this could not prepare him for an even more regimented and controlled life in his depictions of a cultishMaximum Rocknroll house. While Larry deserves much credit for displaying the East Bay punk rock scene and reviving punk rock in a global way from 1987-1997, what’s interesting is what’s not in this book. Despite a long-passed statute of limitations, Larry does not address the rumors of whether Lookout was founded with money from pot sales as co-founder David Hayes alleges. Similarly to Bob Mould’s See a Little Light, we get to see Larry as an insecure, less-than confident individual who seems to be successful both because of and in spite of himself. While there is plenty of self-effacing commentary in these pages, Larry’s depictions of other people seem less aware of the implicit power dynamic in their drastic age differences or how others might be reacting to his unique personality. A stirring commentary on building a scene in a material way, it’s compellingly well written and a perfection companion to Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records, with a parallel narrative. It’s the story of how one off-the-grid hippie-turned-punk agitator, despite all odds, managed to introduce the world to the likes of Green Day, Operation Ivy, Screeching Weasel, and a hundred other artists. And how an awkward relationship with being the boss and personality disputes that could ultimately disrupt all that had been built. This story is magical because it shows us that someone with enough stubborn passion can leave their mark on the world and write history and that the best things don’t last forever.

     

    The Rosie Project: A Novel

    I complained in the last chapter of Good Trouble about the lack of Aspies depicted in culture and media. So it was exciting and refreshing when our proofreader, Markell, recommended this book to me. Just so we’re on the same page, this is the third work of fiction that I’ve read in the last 25 years. It helps, of course, that the Aspergian literalist in this story could easily be based on my life. He rides his bike everywhere he goes, argues about the definition of a jacket with restaurant waitstaff, finds the emotional communications of others difficult to understand, and uses science as a way to find a suitable date. The narrative strikes me as completely lacking in class analysis and how the professor’s position is what has prevented him from having to face these revelations or his behavior earlier. Of course this book also ties up in a bow and a happy ending, which real lives often do not, but it was a refreshing change of pace. Every paragraph contains a clever reminder of what living with Asperger’s is like and there are constant surprises and plot twists throughout. I am left wondering if it would not be more effective to pick a real person and write a novelized biography of their life. In my experience, the events that happen in real life would often not be believable in fiction.

     

    Making a Murderer

    My friend April recommended this ten-hour Netflix documentary to me. To their algorithm’s credit, Netflix had also figured out that this would be something that I would be interested in. I don’t veer away from difficult subjects and this extensive review of the events and cases posed against Steven Avery were as much of an indictment against the judicial system as the actions of the allegedly crooked cops and prosecutor. Through extensive tampering with evidence, a couple cops and a small town courtroom was seemingly able to frame Avery for two separate crimes with extensive imprisonment while ignoring evidence about who the actual perpetrators were. Avery and his nephew who was also convicted both have low IQs and while well meaning, were quite prone to tampering by the police. Through It’s chilling and illuminating narrative about the flaws in the system and how class and status seem to have a greater access to power than truth or justice, these hard-working filmmakers will hopefully one day free Avery and his young nephew.

     

    Elly

    It’s cold which means a lot of time hunkering down to read. I’ve read a lot of books lately with the idea of learning new life and work skills. The best two have been Difficult Conversations (holy crap, there are some pretty basic things I’ve been missing), and a very unlikely favorite, Bobbie Thomas’s The Power of Style—my natural tendency is to gravitate towards jeans and t-shirts, which doesn’t really cut it everyday, so I set out to look for a book like Apartment Therapy but for clothes. Despite its bubble-gum, cake-makeup packaging, this book is the real deal. Thomas was a sexual assault crisis counselor before she became a tv personality and stylist, and her message is all about using clothing intelligently to communicate the messages of your choosing to the world and to yourself. In the same vein, I reread big chunks of Women in Clothes, which is a nicely designed look through hundreds of eyes and formats at the huge variety of perspectives and practices and meanings we put into what we wear. 

    Then I needed an antidote to all this earnest instruction, so I got started on Patti Smith’s new memoir M Train, which my sister sent me for xmas (good call, kid). Patti Smith waxes exuberant about Murakami, who I’ve been ambivalent about, so I checked out his recent Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki. In this book, he finally stopped trying to tie his plot up into a neat, tidy bow and the result is super powerful—I’m still thinking about the story, weeks later.

     

     

    Rampant Media Consumption—November 2015: Confessions and Guilty Pleasures

    dil to pagal haiA year ago when we first launched the RMC, people were pretty excited about it, and would send in their short book + movie + tv + art + more experimental media (like the sounds on the bus) links and reviews every week. But participation dwindled. We started posting monthly, and then less than once a month, just when enough people had sent that in. Then, during a staff meeting, it came out that a lot of us feel a little self-conscious about what we go home and read/watch/listen to unwind. So we decided that this month we’d all be super honest and not worry about meeting some invisible cultural bar. 

    So here it is, the RMC guilty pleasures edition!

    Jeff

    My mom got me into watching Dr. Who. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but it’s strangely addicting.

    I found a free Hank Williams record and said “Why not?”

    But I’m not sure why I keep playing it.

    Hadn’t seen the movie Trading Places in a long long time. So yeah, I watched it again. 

    Meggyn

    Erykah Badu’s new mixtape “But You Cain’t Use My Phone” is hands down my favorite release this year. It was released today and it’s a careful selection of phone related songs that have been important to the r&b/hip hop scene for the past two decades. This is important. 

    [Meggyn also wrote: “I made a playlist called Velotronica on Spotify full of my guilty Vegas dance favorites. Should I link? (They power me through the hardest hills.)” But she did not send the link.]

    Elly

    I watched the whole latest season of Project Runway. Then for a while I couldn’t stop watching all the Bollywood movies that are hitting Netflix, especially the amazing ones from the 90s starring Shah Rukh Khan—my favorite was Dil to Pagal Hai (The Heart is Crazy), which left me feeling weirdly giddy and whistling the tag line on my bike for a week.

    I spend a lot more time every week than I ever plan to reading long articles online. Recent ones that stuck with me include Rebecca Solnit’s ultimate answer to the whole “having it all” racket + the tedious questions women are supposed to constantly field about our reproductive plans, and the super-long New Yorker article about Megan Phelps-Roper—every paragraph had a new amazing reveal. And here’s a real pleasure: Carrie Fisher and her dog Gary splendidly demolish inane interview questions on Good Morning America.

    Thea

    Can’t stop watching Spiral, the French crime drama. 

    Finally watched This Must be the Place movie with Sean Penn by Paolo Sorrentino. Wasn’t disappointed. 

    More BBC bicycle love.

    Ack! Now even coloring books are gendered

    Tomy

    The Great British Baking Show — It’s great. I don’t know what it is about it that makes me very happy.

    Rampant Media Consumption – September and October 2015

    basically this is usInput inspires output! Here’s what we’ve been taking in this month:

    Thea

    Scoped these concept albums

    Saw the BBC special about cycling, Victorian women, and healing through exercise. 

    Enjoyed reading Anne Elizabeth Moore‘s newest comics journalism on food & tradition

    Meggyn

    The new Alpine album makes me want to treat myself to a nice vegan pasta dinner. The title has no indication of the sound. It’s glorious. 

    I started reading Notes on the Synthesis of Form by Christopher Alexander, but I stopped when they referred to all designers as “he”. Debating on diving back into it.

    Also thumbed through Fingerprint No. 2: The Evolution of Handmade Elements in Graphic Design for some inspiration. 

    Taylor

    Been reading this

    And this.

    Elly

    I read two books on vacation: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (rumor has it that one of her earlier novels, All Over Creation, was inspired by the real life of the author of our book Maps to the Other Side) blew my mind. It’s about nature, quantum physics, japanese youth culture, and an anarchist nun. 

    Then I thought that Jo Baker’s Longbourne was going to be totally silly lite reading but it’s a really good book. Think class-conscious Jane Austin fanfic. Yup!

    Rampant Media Consumption – August, 2015

    Duett borderline album coverHere’s what we absorbed from the media waves this month.

    Thea

    The rabbit book that’s supposed to put kids to sleep keeps them awake, parents say.

    It’s official…Manspread has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, along with butt dial and fangirling. 

    Meggyn

    Obsessively listening to this new release by Duett.

    If the late Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu were somehow fused together, they would create Lianne La Havas. Her new album is perfect and it’s been on repeat.

    I have also been reading as much Crate Digger as possible in between work and sleep, and Bob has made it to the top of my list as far as storytelling goes.

    & thanks to the recommendation of our last intern, Hayley, I’ve been watching The Jinx, which is about Robert Durst, and ultimately became the aid to his conviction for three murders. 

    Elly

    I have never been familiar with even the basics about anything music-related, and reading Daniel Levitin’s This is Your Brain on Music is blowing my mind. It’s like eating something really delicious while watching fireworks. Or that moment when you’re learning to do something new, like speaking a language, and you suddenly get it on a whole new level. 

    Oliver Sacks wrote a cover blurb for the book, which reminded me of the similarly revelatory impact of his writing. And then I learned that he died last week. Someone posted his long essay, “The Bull on the Mountain,” on This.cm and I stayed up late reading it and thinking about brains, and death, and music, and the sort of things that only happen when you’re walking alone. 

    Cyn

    In music this month, I discovered Angel Haze, a trans rap artist who suffered more than they should have growing up and now explores pain and success through their music. “Your Voice is a Weapon,” with Bastille is stuck-in-your-head awesome, and “Battle Cry,” with Sia is play-over-and-over-again amazing.

    I don’t have much reading time, but listening to audio books on my commute brought The Ocean at the End of the Lane into my life. Why didn’t anyone tell me how amazing it is? I also started the Odd Thomas series, which is unfortunately long but so far enjoyable, and how could I not love the adorable Anton Yelchin movie?

    Television hasn’t brought anything new lately, especially with my work schedule, but re-watching the guilty pleasure that is Scandal with my sister has kept me entertained.

    Also, can smart-phone app games stop being so incredibly addictive? Tap Titans and Dark Corridors 2 kind of rule my life right now.

    Taylor

    Read a book saying these chants will stimulate your mind and make you need less sleep.

    Also watched Gone Girl.

    Rampant Media Consumption – July 2015

    building a better nest book coverHere’s what we put in our brains last month:

    Taylor

    read: Bluets by Maggie Nelson and Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein 

    listened to: Julee Cruise

    Jeff

    listened to: New Zak Sally stuff

    finally watched: Barbershop Punk it has a lot of Ian MacKaye and Henry in it

    Elly

    Read: Sherwood Nation and was super excited to find a new entry in the emerging genre of feminist bicycle science fiction. This one about a drought-stricken Portland! Good stuff.

    Joe + I watched two documentaries: What Happened, Miss Simone and also Billy the Kid. And we went to see Minions.

    Meggyn

    Little Dragon’s latest album (2014) is killin’ it for me

    I watched this about 70 times 

    Thea

    Reading: Glory Goes and Gets Some stories by Emily Carter and Building a Better Nest by Evelyn Searle Hess

    Learned all about Hobo Spider bites—ouch! 

    Got the real dirt on garden tips from Grow PDX on XRay FM 

    Rampant Media Consumption – June 2014

    lizzy mercier desclouxHere’s what we took in during the last month!

    Taylor

    Read: Dave Egger’s What is the What and White Girls by Hilton Als

    Listened 2: Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Team Dresch, Gap Dream, and a podcast called Expanding Mind on different states of dreaming

    Tried to watch Black Fish but internet connection was too poor, still recommend everyone check out.

    Hayley

    listened: Brains by Lower Dens, This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) by Talking Heads (live from Stop Making Sense – David Byrne dances with a lamp. What more could you possibly want?), and Dead Fox by Courtney Barnett.

    read: Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. I’d been meaning to read it for a year now and I’m so glad I finally did. It’s thrilling and haunting and beautiful. McBride is ferocious and passionate in her debut novel, with the brutal prose reading like a slap in the face. Written in a broken down stream of consciousness, the words wreak havoc on the page. And this lovely/horrific mayhem left me utterly wrecked. GO READ IT.

    watched: Iris, a documentary just as charming as its subject: the iconic Iris Apfel. Also season finales of Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, and Orphan Black…Don’t worry, I’m only suffering minor withdrawals.

    Elly

    I just finished Carsick, John Waters’s book about hitchhiking across the country. The first two parts of the book are the trips he fantasized about before setting out: the best and worst possible scenarios. They’re basically like being inside one of his movies and an issue of Weekly World News, respectively. So good. His actual trip comes at the end, almost as an afterthought, and while it pales in comparison to his imagined journeys he does the nearly-impossible and makes a freeways-and-onramps travelogue entertaining and picturesque. 

    Before that I read Haruki Murakami’s new doorstop, 1Q84. The more editing work I do, the easier it is to figure out from reading a book what the writing and editorial process was like (ok, I should rephrase that to say—the harder it is to think about anything else). In this case, I can see all of the effort and care that went into building up this amazing, complex world of books within books and stories within stories and little people within big people…but then maybe he got tired or the manuscript deadline started looming and there was not an equally amazing plan for how to tie it all together in the final third. It says a lot for Murakami’s skill that he wrapped the story up in a pretty satisfying way anyway. But still.

    Joe

    MansonI’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I’m reading this book. It feels like my Gen X diagnosis is correct after all. The mall-core t-shirts celebrating Manson always annoyed me and felt as inappropriate as the people who wore them. But I did stumble upon David Duchovny’s Aquarius, which was so well done that when I stumbled upon this book for half price at Powell’s with a cover quote from my friends’ grandmother, I had to bite. Spoiler alert: The book is even better than the TV show. Jeff Guinn is very thorough. While there are entire chapters framing a time and a place that is already familiar to me but necessary for the reader to understand its role in the story, he still strikes gold by revealing new aspects, like how the SF Diggers had a sexist division of labor or exactly how the Black Panthers felt like a threat to Charlie or what it was like to live in Appalacha 100 years ago. The most powerful aspects of the story cut into the bone of how Manson attempts to tell his own story. As with anyone who has worry that their concerns will not be taken seriously, Manson has a tendency to exaggerate. At other times his lies are more bald-faced. Guinn chases down so many original sources that you do feel like you receive the balance and nuance of every aspect of the story. While Guinn is clearly skeptical of the countercultural movements that he is depicting throughout the book that frame the Manson story, it’s done with class and fairness. I mean sure, the hippies were bullshit and I was never a fan of The Beatles but it’s nice to see where the myth holds up or not. It’s a powerful story framed like a novel with some of the best writing I’ve ever read. I find myself googling aspects of the story that aren’t central to the theme for more information. Even when I question Guinn’s style or approach, it becomes a fascinating exercise to examine the elements of story and narrative that makes me want to write.

    Positive ForceTen years ago I received an email from Mark Andersen, co-founder of Positive Force. The reason for him to get in touch was because I had written about Positive Force DC in the past tense and he wanted to point out they were still active, more than twenty years later. Next thing I know he’s wearing a Microcosm sweatshirt when he’s interviewed on CNN. Of course his work along with dozens of other stalwart activists was certainly one of my inspirations from a young age and hearing about what they were doing when I was just a teenager was powerful to understand how political will is managed. But until I watched this film I didn’t have a clear understanding of just how impacting and deep their work is. For example, I knew that Bikini Kill lived in DC for part of their tenure and I knew that Riot Grrrl was founded there, rather than in Olympia but the fact that it was done in the meeting room of the Positive Force house under the guiding umbrella of what was going on in that city at that time, largely under the direction of things like Positive Force helped me to better understand the inspiration, place, and moment. While my interest in DC bands is about 50/50%, I’m at a point in my life where I am more interested in reading about the cultural relationships of punk than I am in listening to the music. Granted, the former tends to beget the latter while I’m doing something in the kitchen or trying to remember how it feels to span across a band’s catalog or to experience the liner notes with their proper soundtrack. While this film was very short on criticism for Positive Force, it explains it in the narrative: It’s better to go out and create the movement that you want to see and support those whom you feel deserve it than to tear down and split hairs with the trivial aspects of the scene. Instead, let’s attack some real power structures! 

    Red ShirtsWhile I caught some episodes and movies from time to time, I was never a Star Trek fan, but I know the basic premises of the show and its various eras without holding onto any strong opinions about it. So it was with some curiosity and zeal that I checked out this piece of peculiar fan fiction. This book, telling the story of the world of Star Trek from the perspective of the Red Shirts strikes upon a stupendous concept but the book’s class analysis falls flat. I mean, the characters talk like they are nerdy fraternity boys studying the intellectual aspects of philosophy that make up the audience for the book when the red shirts are essentially soldiers raised as fodder. If it’s not worth the officers’ time to property train the red shirts about how to fight a certain kind of menace, why would the society prioritize educating these soldiers on evaluating the purpose of their existence? While they are comedically getting into trouble at times, it seems like their dialog should have more resemblance to steel mill workers at the bar after work than to dissecting purpose and whether or not their lives are an elaborate movie. While the first two thirds of the story contain many entertaining parts that are great for laughing out loud, the whole thing takes a nosedive as the predictable plot collapses on itself.

    Cyn

    My sister moved in with me this month, and she’s very much the image of a (neo)millennial, so we’ve been watching a lot of YouTube in my home. She loves Good Mythical Morning, and I’m kind of addicted to Buzzfeed‘s wide variety of videos. Hopefully this trend won’t last too long, though.

    We’ve also been re-watching all of Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors—because we can, of course.

    For music, I’ve gone back to my list of put-on-repeat songs from last year; Lana del Rey, Babel, and—mostly—Hozier, because “Work Song” pulls at my soul every single time.

    I finally finished the audio book of Joe Hill’s N0S4A2. It was fantastic and fun and so well done, but now that I’ve devoured all of Hill’s books, I don’t know what to do with my life!!

    Rampant Media Consumption – May 2015

    madmax Here’s a taste of what we put in our brains last month:

    Meggyn

    This month, I put together some book and music pairings for you.

    Book | Author | Artist | Album

    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess pairs with Jon Hopkins Immunity 

    Bikenomics by Elly Blue pairs with Bleached Ride Your Heart 

    ​Biopunk (A Collaborative Work) pairs with Snakadaktal Sleep In The Water​ ​

    The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides pairs with  Wild Nothing Nocturne​ 

    No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July pairs with Zero 7 When It Falls

    Also, ​a new genre was born: Post-apocalyptic Feminist Action Thriller. If you haven’t seen Mad Max, it’s a MUST…but don’t bother watching the previous films if you haven’t already.

    Coco

    Looking/Listening/Feeling 

    Jerry Saltz anything and everything
    Dirty Beaches. Exclusively the “Badlands” album.
    -My Bloody Valentine
    Julia Holter
    -Picasso, De Kooning, Mapplethorpe
    -Patti Smith’s Just Kids (before the backpack safekeeping my copy was stolen) 
    -Saw Gag play at Seattle’s Rain Fest. This was my first hardcore show. The front man came out wearing an oversized adidas tracksuit and baby mask, then he stripped naked. It was great. 10/10.

    Cyn

    This month I’ve been finishing Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation and its super-weird creepiness. I finally jumped on the Outlander boat (just the show, so far) and I’ve developed an addiction to NPR, which used to just be my husband’s thing, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Feeling so very far away from everyone I know has left this little seed of isolation, and knowing as much as possible about the world right now seems to help. On the music front, I’ve spent a lot of time time working on commute playlists full of pop-y folk music and jazzy hip-hop.

    Elly

    I was on tour all month and consumed the following media: 

    -Jessica Hopper’s new book, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, which I bought at Quimby’s and read on the train home.  
    -We spent about 2/3 of the tour listening to the Pillars of the Earth audiobook, which is like Game of Thrones with entrepreneurs instead of magic.
    -The Hair Metal and Ozzy’s Boneyard channels on Sirius/XM, with the essential addition of my tour-mates’ commentary.

    Nathan

    Nathan went to a bunch of book readings at Powell’s and reports back the following:

    Cool reminds him of: Everything we sell :o) We are the epitome of “Rebel Cool”

    Lost Boi reminds him of our Punk Fuckn Rock Superpack, Homo for the Holidays, and Portland Queer.

    The Upright Thinkers makes him think of our newly-controversial Evolution magnets and stickers

    How to Clone a Mammoth inspired him to have a heart-to-heart with a cat.

    The Crossroads of Should and Must brings to mind Grow and How to Be Creative More Often.

    My Body is Yours reminds him of the Fat is Beautiful zine, Learning Good Consent, and our Healthy Relationships superpack.

    Lord Fear brought to mind G.G. Allin’s prison diary and Sober Living for the Revolution

    Everything You Ever Wanted brought to mind Ariel Gore’s work, Tomas Moniz’s stuff, and The Happiness Project,

    He also went to Mississippi Studios’ Best New Band Showcase and came away playing the air guitar and thinking about How Music Works