Oh god I gotta write something.
Welcome back, today we're reviewing a few things I've watched lately, some stuff in my hometown where I've been losing my mind for over a week, etc. Then I'll recommend some better writing.
The other night, I saw Wes Anderson’s new movie, Asteroid City, in a movie theater in Naperville Illinois. The crowd was me and about 8 teenagers all in groups of 2 or 3.
I’ve always liked Wes Anderson’s movies. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anybody as I am a 25 year old who went to an arts and media college and writes a blog about music, but it's worth stating. I don’t so much go into his movies wondering whether I’ll like it or not. I go into his films expecting to see some pleasant color schemes, highly stylized outfits and his quick, matter of fact humor playing out within emotionally stunted family dynamics. There’s a spectrum of enjoyment, but I think most of his movies are pretty good.
Asteroid City is a play within the film that you’re watching, but all of Wes Anderson’s movies feel like you’re watching a movie in much the same way— if you know what I mean. You’re not really immersed. Everything is just a little bit off. Even his earlier films with more true to life color schemes feel like you could turn to the left and see where the set ends. Everybody looks a little too done up, the cars don’t look like they’ve ever really been driven, the rooms are telling you a little too much, a little too obviously. Wes Anderson doesn’t write people you believe are real, he writes characters. That’s sort of the point. I saw someone smart that I follow on Twitter talking about how it’s almost aspiring to be Brechtian, but with the only goal of achieving sentiment through estrangement from the real.
I think that thread has a lot of interesting analysis (or at least the beginning of analysis) and criticism, but I’m an idiot with a business degree, so mostly it just reminds me of old movies in a way I find pleasant. I suppose that could be thought of as part of the whole sentiment-above-all-else effect.
I grew up watching the Turner Classic Movies channel a lot. My dad would explain all the faces on screen— Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, who died young, what other movies they’d been in that he liked or disliked, what nicknames they had. He’d talk about the differences between 30s and 40s and 50s movies and tell me what celebrities the hosts of the TCM informational segments between movies were related to. My dad watched a lot of war movies, but I’d record movies with any star’s name I recognized on our DVR and watch them alone in the basement. I didn’t always like them but sitting down to one always felt like an agreement to suspending my understanding of my personal world.
The people don’t talk the way people talk— either as a function of the transatlantic accent or just because dialogue really has no reason to not be cutting and funny and precise and matter of fact. The sets all look like sets. It’s all very phony.
My favorite kind of old movie phoniness is an interior car shot. You agree to believe they’re in a moving vehicle, but the video footage of the street outside doesn’t really line up with the outline of the windows and it’s not moving around in line with the way the actors are moving around. The car scenes in Breakfast at Tiffany’s were the first times I ever really noticed it and they remain really funny, but I like the phoniness of all of it.
Wes Anderson is, of course, creating that distance from reality intentionally– and more in this one than even his others– instead of as a result of time period defined constraints, but his single-minded pursuit of sentiment through aesthetics works on me for the most part.
One of the weirdest parts of this movie is people in the mega unhappy google reviews who are like "a celebrity cast can't save it!!!!" because I think one of the best ways he creates the emotional estrangement is through the presence of such recognizeable actors. I don't know. Those reviews make me question if I'm remembering the movie right, but I don't think it's a me problem. Wes Anderson makes nice movies for the most part. Whether they're as good as some artsy teenager you made up in your head thinks they are isn't any of my business.
8.1/10 – A good time for me and the teenagers hootin' and hollerin' when anything funny happened.
Listen, I'm in a particularly vulnerable place regarding the city of Chicago. Philadelphia was suffocating me and I can't wait to live in Chicago again. I watched season 1 of The Bear in the two days before I drove back to Illinois to stay at my parents' house for a bit and watched season 2 with them.
Folks! It's so good. You probably already know that. It's just good. The relationship they try to put Carmy in doesn't really work for me fully, but I get the distraction as a plot device. The end is such a bummer in all the right ways. John Mulaney showing up is silly. It's so good!
9/10 – Got to explain Matty Matheson to my dad.
Colleen Ballinger's Ukulele Non-Apology Video
That grown woman picked up a ukulele and sung a song about how all of the allegations against her right now are just lies. Insane. Deranged. Malicious! She made the ukulele a tool of malice! Legitimately unbelievable. I've watched a good number of videos about it because it's so absurd, but the beginning of Nick Green's reaction video is so good. His face when she picks it up... gold.
This isn't an apology video because she doesn't apologize or acknowledge she did anything wrong, but it is an innovation in the art of addressing a controversy which I almost didn't think could be done!
0/10 for content, 10/10 for innovation - the toxic gossip train....
The Greatest Craig Finn Line Of All Time
I've landed on what I think is the best Craig Finn line. It comes from the second verse of "Family Farm" off their 2021 album Open Door Policy.
And the nurse that they assigned me
Had Eruption as her ring tone
Blasting out through built-in speakers like it's bug spray
Buzzing like a hornet halfway blown
Blasting out through built in speakers like it's bug spray!!!!!!!
That's his best work. You can suggest others if you want, but it just feels good to say! It's a perfect line. He's so good. I'm seeing The Hold Steady tomorrow, so I've been thinking about them. I'm always thinking about The Hold Steady.
Andy's Frozen Custard
Custard feels very midwestern. The waffle cone is delightful. What more could you want?
9.3/10 – My mom got ripped off by a kid who gave her a pint instead of a quart lmao
The Dine-In Movie Theater
My mom and I saw the new Jennifer Lawrence movie the other day. I give that one a 5.7/10, but we saw it in a dine-in theater. I had a cocktail that was perfectly nice and cost me $15. We had a quesadilla. It was funny. Good mom hang.
7.4/10 – Feeling for the poor server trying to take our order over the sound of the Oppenheimer trailer lmao
The greatest American superstore. Not interested in hearing alternative thoughts.
8.9 /10 – You can buy liquor anywhere here.
The Dying Mall
One of the funniest things about living in Philadelphia is that I can go to malls that are like.. truly packed and full of stores I've heard of. The Cherry Hill Mall is the most living mall in the United States. The mall in the town I grew up in... depressing. The old Aeropostale is not an axe throwing place. There's a sunglass hut that I've never seen an employee in. It sucks. It's depressing.
Barnes and Noble is still ok.
3.1/10 – Depressing!!!
Here's some stuff I recommend to you to read!!!
I really love Alexandra Hayes Robinson's advice newsletter Hello Hayes. I found her through her TikToks, but the full written version is wonderful. The sort of angle of the advice is "Advice for when you know what you want to say but need help saying it" and I think it's great. I've always liked advice column type stuff!
The most recent one is giving advice to someone losing their mind while living at home, which is relevant to me as my mom tries to convince me I should move home instead of getting an apartment lol.
A quick excerpt about her experience deciding not to move home over a summer in college and some great guidance I relate to about listening to a good therapist who is telling you something obvious in exactly the way you need to hear it:
Despite my progress, my therapist was adamant that I don’t return home. He never said it outright, an old school psychologist like him would never tell me what to do. But he did guide my thinking. Why would I stop doing something that was so clearly working for me? Did I think it was a coincidence that, once I started taking my mental health care *extremely seriously*, I started feeling more in control of my behavior? Better about myself? Less angry? I see his smile now. He enjoyed asking me these questions, watching me learn. I see his patches of white hair and ironed Oxford shirts and the way we both cried when we said goodbye the following year.
As a related recommendation:
Justina Sharp does advice in a similar way on TikTok and I really like her videos, too!
Grace Robins-Somerville on Exile in Guyville
Grace is so good and this is some of her best work in the beautiful realm of music writing that is also personal writing.
It felt like fate, listening to her completely level some hotshot guy, and do so with unquestioned bravado and a smile on her face. By marrying together the one-two punch lines “I loved my life / and I hated you,” she made space in her heart for righteous anger without letting it cloud her lovestruck-vision. It was a broad, unspecific yet desperately urgent love that wasn’t going to wait around for someone who didn’t deserve it, and would instead let her see the world in technicolor, smitten with all that surrounded her.
So fucking good. Read it!
Josh Terry on Listening
Josh writes a lot of good stuff in his newsletter, particularly if you're in Chicago and looking for a show to go to. He always rounds up cool shows, but I've thought about this one a good amount. The idea that the best, most interesting thoughts come out of people when you shut up more is something that he presents as important both in professional and personal dynamics. Great and fun.
Josh also recommended me good bottle shops in Chicago within like 45 seconds of me asking him, so he's great for that kind of thing, too.
So many folks are at their most comfortable when they’re talking about themselves and you will almost always make a good impression when you indulge them.
Niko Stratis on Smoking and A Great Death Cab Song
I missed this one when it was posted back in May and boy is it great. The Photo Album is probably my favorite Death Cab record, or at least the one I listen to most and Niko captures exactly what I love about The Photo Album and "Steadier Footing" particularly.
Death Cab, for me anyway, is the sound of discovery, of excitedly sharing tapes and songs and sitting out on a patio in the night with a boombox that eats batteries like a ravenous snake, laughing into glasses of wine and make points with cigarette butts pressed into overworked ashtrays. “Steadier Footing” is born of a night just like this one, a calm center existing outside the hurricane of a party that had passed, and two bodies at rest sitting making no movement towards lasting romance with the other but rather finding new ways to delight in the immediacy of a moment that will never last.
Mike LeSeur June Round Up
Mike is one of my favorite writers. There's always great exploration of new and old things in his newsletters. This is just the most recent one, but I think it's great and you should read it if you don't already.
Miranda Reinert is a music adjacent writer, zine maker, podcaster and law school drop out based in Philadelphia. Follow me on Twitter to keep updated on cool blogs I read: @mirandareinert. This blog does have a paid option and I would so appreciate any money you would be willing to throw me! You may also send me small bits of money at @miranda-reinert on venmo if you want. As always, thanks for reading!