A few associates and I have been feeling down recently, so I compiled a very special Fun-Pak to try and lift us up from our respective gutters of existential July despair. Nothing’s really that bad – I just like to whine sometimes because I’m a really big brat and also who doesn’t? I ALSO wanted to have a solid excuse to share some things that are notorious for bringing mad joy into my life, so I reassembled them into a Must List. Maybe you can like them too, even if you’re not somewhat torn up like I am, and if you aren’t, come over and stroke my hair and tell me dad jokes. You know I would totally do the same for you in your time of need, without you even asking me to, probably. I’m just that good of a friend. Anyway, here’s what’s up when you’re feeling down (that sounds like a good tagline for anti-depressants marketed toward teenagers, no?):
1. The Embarrassment – “Wellsville”
This fucking song! The Embarrassment were a great band based in Wichita, Kansas from 1979-1983. They were this very overlooked Midwestern gem of a subtly punk outfit that sounds like ’90s Olympia-style music, but played by four stoic-looking guys in the middle of the country a decade beforehand. I can’t find a recorded version of this song anywhere, but that’s okay because I like watching the lead singer stare into middle distance and drag his cigarette in perfect time with the song breaks. I’m also fully in love with his flat but also just-smart-alecky-enough voice. This song is particularly interesting because its eponymous fictional town was appropriated by the creators of The Adventures of Pete and Pete as the name of their fictional town, Wellsville, where the show takes place. The music associated with that show is all so goddamned good, so it’s no surprise that this song also rules entirely.
Fellow Rookie writer Marie Lodi, aka AGENT LOVER, is something of an avatar of good fashion sense. I’m in awe of her steez. You can always count on her for a good pussy bow, amazing pattern mix-and-matchin’, and the occasional ’90s movie fashion breakdown. Her blog is a gift unto the world. But for those of us too dumb to put together as impeccable a wardrobe as hers, Marie has her own PAPER DOLL. Paper dolls in general have historically been known as one of the most fun things ever, and this one’s even better because it’s impossible to rip and also it’s Marie. You can put a nurse’s uniform on her if you want to, even…and you know I do.
3. My very favorite short story (or at least one of them).
Little Expressionless Animals is not only the name of this blog, but also of probably one of the best short stories ever written. It’s by David Foster Wallace-Spiegel (his estate said it was okay if we got married posthumously, which was pretty lucky for me) and I’ve read it sixteen thousand times – sometimes to study it and pick apart what makes it so special, but mostly just to revel in its perfection, which is absolute. It’s a love story whose setting is the game show Jeopardy! and it amazes me with every word. The perspective changes and jumps and shifts between different characters and years, but it’s all written in the third person, which excites me so much – see, usually, writers who use that disrupted kind of narrative technique will go for a time-stamped and clearly-labeled first-person narrator; like, they’ll often choose to put, “FAYE, 1980” at the beginning of a segment, like a diary entry, to let you know who’s where when. In this story, though, all of that information is sometimes announced in that kind of way but more often is accessibly and flawlessly threaded into the plot itself. The writing itself is simple and mind-blowing, assembled into clipped-but-packed sentences like this description of clouds: “The sky looks cerebral.” I really love my husband so much, you guys. Just so much.
4. This cover of a science-fiction pulp novel:
Half of me is like, this is so fucking awesome-looking, what the hell are they doing to Sirius’s brain, so fucking cool, EXPERIMENTS, but the other half is like, oh, pupper, let me put YOU together your own Fun-Pak of a chin rub, a squeaky toy shaped like the head of the scientist responsible for this, and someone getting those wires the heck off your dome. Poor Sirius has it worse off than all of us, guys. Just think about that next time you’re feeling low. You’re welcome.