Category Archives: Must List

for keep’s sake

Hey, fastballers. What’s your world looking like? My current zone: I’m lamping with my two foster tyke-kittens, both named Lorenzo ’cause they’re identical. Who has the time to suss out who is whom?

renzo

Another Renzo-based impossibility, aside from identifying them: getting two of them to pose illustratively in one photo.

 

What I can identify: One’s frenetic and loyal, and one’s very soft and looks at you with regal evenness no matter what you’re up to. If you want a perfect Renzo or two and are proximal to NYC: Hit me on my private car phone, or send a note to rushandpush@gmail.com.

Today, I’m working on pieces about (a) opioid regulation and addiction treatment, (b) the often-masculine conflation of violence and virtue, plus a proposal for my next book, which is about how disparate economic classes become experiential mysteries to one another. Who says this ol’ party-bod doesn’t know how to rage her hair right on down? “Keep it light,” I always say. Given this general attitude of mine, I bet you are downright shocked that the above portrait of my bedroom is unequipped with one of those “Don’t worry, be happy” fish plaques. “Keep it light…and keep ’em guessing,” quoth this international woman of ebullient mysteré.

Oh! Today, I realized that keep is the warmest word. It came to light that, unaware, I’ve been calling Jesse “Keep” as a pet name for some time. This seems to supersede even “you’re my favorite animal” as a heart-based encomium. Keep’s become someone and what I hope to do with them—a direct object and active verb, all at once.

Borf! ENOUGHA THAT HEART-SLOP. Here’s a Must List/How It’s Going hybrid for you. I once cross-bred irises—starting out with these Blue Oceans from 1939 and introducing stamens from other iris varieties, etc. to them—so I know what I’m doing, what with this mixing of strains.

(How to invent an iris of your own: “It’s important to “emasculate” the pollinated mother plant by pulling off its stamens, otherwise it could self-pollinate, resulting in seeds that are not the intended genetic mix.” Maybe the aforementioned masculinity piece (b) that I’m revising will benefit from this gendered-ass floral acumen, too.)

OK. Here’s what I really like—what I’m so glad of—plus what I’m getting up to.

1. I’m personally delivering Action, my recently published nonfiction TOME, to you on my first book tour, which commences in like two days.

condoms

I’ve got felicitous merch in the form of these fucking incredible condoms (!) and I might try to smuggle the Renzos onto the plane(s). The dates:

🌦 7/22, 7 PM, Books, Inc., Berkeley, CA
🍜 7/23, 4 PM, Book Soup, Los Angeles, CA, w/ Crissy Milazzo and Natasha Young
🏸 7/26, 7 PM, Women & Children First, Chicago, IL, w/ Diamond Sharp and Ernest Wilkins
🎟 7/29, 7 PM, Head House Books (@headhousebooks), Philadelphia, PA, w/ special guests

And another date in Toronto, on 8/3 at Type Books. Anne T. Donahue will interview me because I’m pretty lucky. I’ll let you know about the time—keep watch. And please come say hi how are you like your name is Daniel Johnston.

hi how.jpg

2. Unbought and Unbossed, Shirley Chisholm’s autobiography.

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Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman to hold a seat in Congress and the first woman ever to run for the Democratic primary. She is a certified don, and one who also wrote perfect, blunt sentences about how to run campaigns and also a life entire. Here are some exemplars, which coincided with a physically but not psychically debilitating surgery on a “massive tumor.” She discovered it just as her campaign to become Congresswoman really alit, but kept right on at her mission:

Soon after the primary, before the operation, a woman rang my doorbell, and when I answered it she pushed an envelope into my hand. “This is the first, Chisholm,” she said. There was $9.69 in the envelope, and I learned that she had collected it from a group of people on welfare at a bingo party. I sat down and cried. After she left, I told Conrad [her husband], “If I ever had any doubts, I don’t now.” My campaign was financed that way, and out of my own pocket.

Shirley Chisholm knew how to go about the world properly: with love translated into pragmatism. If you need a break from the noxious political palaver bearing down on us at current, this book is pretty restorative/galvanizing.

3. “Joanne the Scammer In: Stole Mink.

I made a playlist based on an imagined score for my favorite grifter’s imagined first feature film. It has Frankie Knuckles, Wyldlife (a scuzzy band from my scuzzy home state of New Jersey), Sean-A-Paul, and Kim Jung Mi (a lucid-voiced, Nico-ish 1970s psych singer out of South Korea—how she sounds on “Haenim” is saudade defined, albeit on a different continent, etymologically). Listen at the link above.

4. This interview with The Rumpus is my favorite that I’ve gotten to do yet.

That’s about it, lip kits.

Yours in light and in guessing, and definitely for keeps,

ARS

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in list, we must

HEY, YOU. Welcome to the latest edition of the Must List, wherein I chronicle the aspects of the world that pluck me outta bed in the morning. Here is the best shit of right now.

$$$

1. The bassline of the Beverly Hills Teens theme song

Yo, do you know about Beverly Hills Teens? The smash cartoon bildungsroman that followed a group of rich-ass California teenagers around their country club? You remember. The one that aired from 1987 right up through…1987. (September to December. YouTube any episode and see for yourself why—maybe “Diet, Please,” where the fillies are competing for a beauty contest. Notable quotable: “Gag me with a lobster fork.”)

I FUCKING LOVE THIS SHOW. The characters have names like “Larke” and a proto–cell phone thing—“the Gossip Hotline”—that buzzes harshly, like a panic alarm at a nuclear plant, whenever some new social scandal emerges. More mellifluous than that: The stupendous theme song. This week, I have seriously not wanted to do anything but jam to the tune of these BevHillzTeenz. Come on and make your dreams come true. It’s so horrible. I’m so in love.

2. “Twist My Fingaz,” YG

Actually: There is a second song on my end-of-July playlist. In terms of real West Coast music made for humans instead of a group of profligate animations: This single goes and goes and goes and GOES.

This track reads even more “California” to me than the above theme—who knew that were possible?

3. Back rubs

I’m an elderly boy now. I can tell because yesterday, fed up full to bursting with the world entire, I dipped into one of those “$10 for 10 minutes” outlets where a person punches you in the spine for a little portion of your life. I had never had a massage before! It turns out my vertebrae adore pummeling.

I didn’t know whether to take off my clothes?

Whatever. I’m into it. If, like me, you (a) are prone to kvetching re: feeling mad Sisyphean, even though you have litero nothing to complain about, and/or (b) recently texted your sororal group chat that you “seriously want a breast reduct-o” because of persistent back pain, go get socked in the back some. You will like it, or at least not be texting diatribes about your life/tits to your siblings for a hot 10.

4. The southern flannel moth, aka the Mrat’s identical twin

Mritter has a body double and I’m never going to stop making fun of her about it.

5. My First Time

I am very stoked for this forthcoming video series. In it, experiences with first books are recounted by writers like Donald Antrim, Sheila Heti (“I remember thinking, I just have to work harder than any other writer in the world“—yes, and if I didn’t feel this way, I’d quit), Akhil Sharma, and Ben Lerner (I loved 10:04; shove it). So far, only the trailer and a few excerpts have been released, but even just those little bitsa flotsam are making me feel way okay.

6. Too Faced Lip Injection

toofaced

By and large, lip plumpers are temporary bullshit that taste like smoking a Newport without the tobacco part. To these, I say, “FERGIT IT.” The ringing/stinging exception is this injurious and beautiful gloss, which burns as though you smoothed fiberglass over your chomper (in a nice way?) as it expands it exponentially.  It’s so horrible. I’m so in love.

7. Lisa Hanawalt

hole

I have long adored this person‘s work for Lucky Peach (this strip, where she goes all spirals-for-eyes at a Las Vegas buffet, is my favorite of those), so clearly I was like YEA DOYE MY DUDE uh sorry I meant to say thank you but got excited, is all when the proprietor of the best comic/zine store in my neighborhood suggested that I might like her new-ish book, MY DIRTY DUMB EYES. And doye, did I ever! Cop it if you like lewd animals/are, yourself, one. (Oh, and on that note: If you like that show Bojack Horseman, Hanawalt designs that.)

8. The Rufous hummingbird

In terms of my Instagram consumption, the two categories I follow above any others are similar in tone: Sneaker-enthusiast and bird-watching accounts, with sparse exception, are both captioned all like, “[STERN RED EXCLAMATION EMOJI!] AUTHENTIC PICTURES ONLY. NO REPOSTS. TAG US FOR A FOLLOW BACK. [STERN RED EXCLAMATION EMOJI!]” Do not fuck around with, like, Sole Supremacy or BirdExtremeFeatures if you are tryna get them to redistribute photos of some spurious sparrows/SBs that you actually have no business with. The avian/sneakerhead social internet: “ACCEPT NO FAKES [AN EMOJI THAT LETS YOU KNOW THEY ARE IN NO WAY PLAYING AROUND ABOUT FINCHES/FOAMPOSITES!]”

Given the gravity of all that cartoon punctuation, I knew my love was AUTHENTIC when I happened upon this species of hummingbird, of which I had never heard:

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WHAT THE HELL IS THIS WONDROUS LITTLE GUY? I got me over to the Audubon Society’s website for more intel, because, like the above Instagram captions, Audubon has its own sort of stylistic rapture inherent to its language. You can just hear the organization’s bird-os caring SO MUCH as you read their rapt characterizations of each species. Here are the first two lines of their description of Rufous, aka this bird:

Although it is one of the smaller members in a family of midgets, this species is notably pugnacious. The male Rufous, glowing like new copper penny [sic], often defends a patch of flowers in a mountain meadow, vigorously chasing away all intruders (including larger birds).

WHAT AN UNDERDOG. Mountain meadows are worth scrapping for, though, if anything is; I knew I liked Rufous for a reason outside its “glowing like new copper penny,” although the photo above is of a female, whose cranial plumage is…let me try and Audubon this…verdant like freshly-mint dollar bills.

Or maybe: RARE COLORWAY! PREMIUM HUMMINGBIRD [MEAN PUNCTUATION]

$$$

All right. That’s everything I like right now. Have a good summer-remainder, and remember: Come on and make your dreams come true! It’s fun for me and you! In Beverly Hills!

X ARS

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MUST LIST: bulldozers in love edition

Can you find all the ghosts hidden in this picture? Hint: The first one is at bottom right.

Can you find all the ghosts hidden in this picture? Hint: The first one is at bottom right.

GREETINGS, EARTHLINGS! (God, do any of you still have, like, some uncle that says that? You have to have a talk with him about this behavior.)

I’m writing to you  from the heaven of my bed in Greenpoint, having just returned yesterday from the psychic used car lot/dirtbag Valhalla/dream factory that is my ancestral homeland, aka suburban New Jersey. I was there for a great many days, during which time I made a Christmas sojourn with my family to our favorite abandoned insane asylum (I totally pretended to see a poltergeist, see above), fucked up my nascent only-fish-and-cheeseburgers vegetarianism by eating ham almost exclusively during my stay, and tried to divine sorta-correct answers to when my little sister repeatedly asked me, “What’s trending in Miami right now?” I don’t know what’s trending in Miami, Madeline. Actually, you know what, now that I think of it? If you’re asking me, fibbing about the supernatural is really hot this season. That, or maybe neon. Pass the ham.

So! Now that I’m settled back in, I’d like to present this freshly-butchered MUST LIST for your perusal. I GOT SO MUCH I WANT TO LOB YOUR WAY, DARLING EARTHLINGS, so here are all the things that are totally trending in my brain right now:

1. Iron-on letters

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I bought tons of these deadstock rainbow iron-on letters from the 1970s so that I can gussy up all my gross old denims ‘n’ such with whatever ill-advised slogans my heart desires. Some ideas:

– BRUISER, the nickname I asked my friends to give me as my 18th birthday gift while knowing full well that you can’t ASK for a nickname and not even caring one whit
 IF YOU HEAR ANY NOISE / IT’S JUST ME AND THE BOYS / BOPPIN
BILL THE CAT 2014  (Sidenote: Did you know there are two bona-fide recorded tracks credited to Billy and the Boingers? They were included on a record that came with a Bloom County book in 1987. Objectively, they’re not the most polished examples of songwriting or musical ability, but fuck a drooling cartoon feline if I don’t totally love them with all of me. Also, it’s looking like my daily struggle against getting a Bill the Cat tattoo is going to persist into the next calendar year. At this point, the best we can do is hope that I don’t opt for one that includes barf.)

I eagerly welcome further advice on this very pressing press-on matter.

2.  Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Foundation

kat

This is the best foundation in the world, although I understand if, after buying it, you hide the bottle when you have people over lest they think you’re super down with her aesthetic and are tryna become a similarly styled TAT-TOTALLY ROCKIN’ ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BITCH BABE-GUITAR. Personally, I welcome any gritty changes to my image, however hackneyed, that might help corrode the irrepressible wimpitude I unwittingly beam into the world at all times. Please, call me Bruiser.

This BADASS ROCK FACE SLUDGE is truly the most matte, long-wearing, and uniform in its coverage of any I’ve ever worn, so I’m attached to it for good now. In keeping with this new style direction, I guess I have to put off the Bill tattoo and get one of, like, a dumb old winged heart that’s somehow on fire. Or maybe one of those cultural-appropriation koi fish…that’s also somehow on fire. I’m gonna look so rock ‘n’ roll, I can’t even wait.

3. This playlist I made the other night when I was pretending to be a bulldozer pining for its unrequited object of desire (see last post for more context)

I’m still enjoying this mindset, so this one goes out to all the soft-hearted lummoxes who don’t know their own strength except for the strength of their lonesomeness. The Lennies of the world who can’t help but stay petting rabbits far too hard. The King Kongs who lie awake all night dreaming of how to look cool in front of Fay Wray. The heavy-handed true of heart and clumsy of limb. This is my ham-fisted beast-Valentine to you. Hope you like Abba and Gang of Four.

4. This Sheila Heti essay about what constitutes fiction and how that affects a reader (and whether God is dead)

I haven’t read the book that serves as the nominal subject of this essay, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s second volume of the serialized autobiography My Struggle, but I care deeply about the topics Sheila Heti covers in thinking about his work: the inherent impossibility of trying to truthfully commit the past to text, the “false distance” of nostalgia, the romanticism of presenting something as fiction vs. the supposed admirable frankness of framing the same work as nonfiction, and the differing degrees of power over the material that result from the outcome of a writer’s making that decision. Here, see for yourself, then get to reading the rest of this beauty:

Knausgaard has said that while he forgets painful stories told to him in confidence by the people he loves, and plots of novels he’s read, he vividly remembers landscapes and rooms. Writing, for him, involves filling these rooms. But before that could happen in the way it did here, he had to encounter the rooms and landscape of his childhood and past as auraless, ‘small and ugly’. Nostalgia is a false distance, we feel it everywhere, its ‘sameness’. The aura of nostalgia is akin to the aura of ‘the novel’. It brings life close but makes that life unreal. It turns the past into something it was not, the way conventional novels make of life something it is not. When nostalgia dies, our romantic stories about our lives die, our impressions of who our parents were die, and novelistic conventions also die. Also dead is the consensual safety that fiction brings with it, the presumably ethical veil behind which writers protect themselves from their family and friends: it’s not you, that’s not your name, your hair is not red, it’s made up.

X ARS

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must list: infrared

Fall: How it’s going.

 

Hiiiiiiiii, killers. How are you doing? My brain and heart are careening all over the place lately between the semester what just started, all kinds of nice personal projects (to give you an idea of what’s going on in my mindpiece at current, one of them involves making a map out of sunprints as part of a writing exercise), and deadlines – I just started buzzing the hand that feeds me over at BuzzFeedMusic, so look out for that if you want. All of these activities have been scored by music that pushes forward and sprouts energy; I’m into these very aseasonal, standalone songs that have little/nothing to do with one another, which is unusual for me at this time of year: I usually want cohesive, weather-inspired albums and playlists in autumn. Maybe I’m fiending the musical opposite, conceptually, right now because all of the areas of my work are similarly disparate and compartmentalized? Anyway, I’m going to start this edition of ye olde MUST LIST with my favorite of these tracks at the moment to give you some idea of how I’m feeling:

1) Prefab Sprout, “Faron Young”

 

 

How come none of you never told me about Prefab Sprout before?! In discovering them this week, I’ve been totally stunned by their 1985 album, Steve McQueen, which opens with this incredible song. The melody is a little mean and galloping, like a soundtrack of a Western, paired with these alternately sighing and bouncy vocals that name-check country music genius Faron Young and gargle up lines like, “You offer infrared instead of sun/You offer paper spoons and bubble gum.” Again, I’m really mad at everyone who knew that Prefab Sprout was the best band and didn’t let me in on that, which was probably a lot of you seeing as it’s pretty goddamn obvious.

 
2) Color Club nail polish, via Birchbox

 

Sorry, Bob Dylan, but I can’t help but think “Bow down to her on Sunday/Salute her when her Biiiiirchbox comes,” to myself when I get one of these in the mail each month. What can I say? I’m addicted to searching out high-end beauty products to add to my already-too-extensive toilette, and Birchbox DELIVERS (get it because they are a mailing service HAR HAR oh god sorry) majorly on this front. Anyway, one thing about me is that when I’m not doing nutso nail art, I only paint my meathooks true gold or gray, my two favorite colors. Well, that used to be the case, until I received this gorgeous rose-gold Color Club polish a few days ago, and I’m branching, like a birch, outward. What’s that you say? It still counts as gold? Gold is even in the name of the color? JUST LET ME HAVE THIS, GUYS, and also lookit how sick (albeit a little smudgy, again, I ask you to please let me live at this time) my nails are.

3) The Comics: The Complete Collection by Brian Walker

 

 

I just got this behemoth of a hardcover in the mail yesterday, and I feel like I haven’t stopped hugging it to my chest in excitement since. Brian Walker is probably the foremost scholarly authority on newspaper comic strips and their place in American culture in the 20th and 21st centuries, and I’m so thrilled that I get to read 673 pages of his analyses of obscure strips called, like, “Harold Teen” (1923, as great as it sounds: In one strip, he’s all very and completely excited to go for his first shave after his little sister tells him he has “whiskers,” but it turns out she was playing an April Fool’s prank on him). Gems of this variety abound throughout the decade. I think I’ve finally found true love after all this time, and it feels so good. We’re registered at Midtown Comics, if you want to get this book and me something for our wedding.

 

4) Pizza

 

I’m sick and I don’t feel like writing anymore so I’m cutting this list short to go get some. Until next time, babies.

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we must, we must, we must increase our list

O TIME, THY PYRAMIDS – once again, I bring you this MUST LIST:

1) Rookie Yearbook One. Okay, guys, this marks a first in MUST LIST history: I have never before used the immense influence of this hallowed list to shill for something of which I am a (small) part, but I have to put that aside to let you know about this amazing thing that’s happening, like, next week. On September 4, Rookie’s first book is coming out and I’m all over the place with excitement about it. It will include a pop-out Meadham Kirchhoff crown (gonna wear it everywhere, sorry), a Dum Dum Girls flexi-disc, and the kind of QUALITY-ASS writing and artwork you’ve come to expect from ROOKIE MAG DOT COM. Pre-order your copy today!! (Imagine this said in my best infomercial voice, with Billy Mays-style fists brought close to the chest for emphasis [ooh, I just linked to one of my own Rookie articles while big-upping the Rookie book. SELF-REFLEXIVE SELF-PROMOTION! I mean, really now.]).

2) The demo version of “Can’t Hardly Wait” by the Replacements

I’ve been listening to this song a minimum of five times a day (though it mostly just plays near-constantly) for the past three weeks or so, and it means more to me each time I do. I first heard the studio version of “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which appeared on the mostly subpar Replacements album Pleased to Meet Me, in about 2006 (or when I was fifteen, for reference). It stuck with me immediately, although I didn’t yet know any of the band’s other work. I wouldn’t until I found Let it Be and Tim, the latter of which is my favorite album of all time, in 2009. These albums sounded waaay different from the slickly-polished, horn-laden “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which had previously been the only Replacements song I knew. They were everything I wanted – the songs were screaming, drunken, furious, hurt, and questioning, but what made them so special is that they were always unfathomably TENDER. Plus also the guitar lines blew my world apart. Tim slays me every time I hear it, so I choose to hear it a lot.

Earlier this year, I realized that there HAD to be other music out there that was at least somewhat comparable to the album, style-wise. There isn’t, and if you’re about to recommend the Faces to me, don’t you even dare START with me right now. I’ve had it with you people. So I gave up on that search and decided to try a different tack: Since there wasn’t anything else like Tim, I just had to unearth more of it. I YouTubed my fingers to the bone searching for deep cuts: “the replacements live 86,” “the replacements demo,” “the replacements unreleased,” you get the picture. I found this song and fell in rabid love. It suddenly made sense why I adored “Can’t Hardly Wait” so much while hating the most of the other songs on PTMM: It had been written and recorded for Tim originally, which is important for two reasons: A) it was the last album on which the amazing Bob Stinson played guitar for the band and B) Paul Westerberg, the heart and head of the Replacements, was still really into screaming about wanting to die, which changed when the band started making more commercial albums. Both of these elements really agree with me. Although the structure remained the same on the PTMM version, this version is clearly superior because, like all the best Replacements songs, it’s raw and sad and earnest enough to make me want to get in a romantic fistfight, or storm out of a bar without speaking to anyone, knocking over a stool on my way to the door, or climb to the top of a scummy water tower, screaming, “I can’t wait ’til it’s over.” Uh, these are totally good things, I promise.

In closing, you can’t even imagine the lip-curling body-thrash move I do at 2:22 when I’m dancing to this song in my bedroom. It looks really tough, you guys! Especially if I’m doing it in my headphones shaped like fuzzy tiger ears!

3) “Palm Sunday,” Frederick Seidel

I’m very late on this, but Frederick Seidel’s poem in the August issue of Harper’s proves, like all his other poems, that his mind is one of unparalleled beauty. Read it out loud and try not to interrupt yourself with exclamations of joy and disbelief. I love this man so much.

4) Broadway Sizzle

I endlessly loathe Broadway and musicals, which is exactly why I take such delight in parodies of musical theater culture. Tim and Eric are particularly great at this, but my reigning favorite example is Will Ferrell as John Timberly-Crisp in this sketch from the last season of SNL. Look at that funky little hat! I diiiieeeee. I’ve been saying, “Where’s my durned head?” so much recently and cracking myself up in otherwise normal conversations. Please watch this amazing sketch and get in on the joke so I can stop looking like such a goddamned crazy person whenever I open my mouth.

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MUST LIST: Fun-Pak/Despair Edition

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.

2. The Agent Lover paper doll.

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.

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