THINGS WE CURRENTLY LOVE SEPTEMBER

Dana

Lady Lamb – After

Lady Lamb’s (formerly Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) new album After is one of my favorite little gems from 2015. I had never heard her music before this album, so this album fell into my lap as a fully formed treasure. The strength of Lady Lamb’s lyrics – about love and loss and modern anxieties – are bolstered by the sometimes sweet, sometimes surprisingly hard rocking tunes she crafts around her words. It’s definitely not the “young woman makes quiet folk record” cliché, but instead, young woman takes the world around her as she experiences it and creates a moving record of her truth.

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Marjorie Cameron

One of the biggest experiences of cultural FOMO I have suffered in the last few years was the Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman exhibit at Los Angeles’ MOCA last last year. The more I read about Cameron, her relationship to Jack Parsons and other male occultists of her day, and her art, the more I am just in awe of this incredibly powerful woman. Finally, the Deitch Gallery brought an expanded version of the MOCA show to their gallery in New York, and I was lucky enough to be able to check it out this past week. It’s in a beautiful, sunlight space with bare white walls, belying the dark imagery in Cameron’s art. Dark, yet incredibly compelling and, to me, remarkably inspiring. I am strongly considering getting the sketch pictured above, from the Songs for the Witch Woman series, tattooed on my leg or side, as a reminder of the power of witch women, and also because of how plain beautiful it is. Taking Cameron’s inspiration to heart for future projects!

Pumpkin Spice Lattes 😦

Fall is incontrovertibly the best season (sorry to one of my favorite writers, Jia Tolentino, who is just totally wrong on this), and, being really real with you all, it’s partially because of pumpkin spice flavors!! Especially Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattes! I am one of those basic bitches who love a PSL; I got the pre-release coupon for an early cup, I even think the PSL promoted tweets are cute? But really, fall is the best, cinnamon-y flavors are the best, and now I will be enjoying pumpkin spice fever until after Christmas.

Emily

Knitting

I’m an anxious person generally, and I’m currently going through a stressful professional time. Knitting has become at once hobby, coping mechanism, and bulwark against despair. I had attempted to learn to knit about 4 times previously (efforts going back 10 years), and gave up each time, frustrated that my hands couldn’t or wouldn’t make the right figures. This time something clicked, and I immediately felt like a witch. Making objects out of yarn is extraordinarily satisfying and grounding, combining precision, attention, and a long process of learning with a sense of provisionality and play, while offering me material evidence of my competence. It’s a joy, and I’m grateful it’s part of my life right now.

The Ocean

ocean emily

My boyfriend and I recently made a trip to Prince Edward Island for our friends’ wedding. I grew up on the Island between the ages of 8 and 18, but, for various reasons, I haven’t visited in almost a decade, and haven’t seen the Atlantic Ocean in nearly as long. I didn’t realize how important it was to me, how viscerally I’d missed it, until we arrived at Greenwich Dunes and I immediately ran into the waves and started crying. It’s already been too long since I’ve been back.

Hot toddies

Cut up a whole hunk of ginger root into pieces (you don’t need to peel it) and put it in a pot with a cinnamon stick, some whole cloves, and a few pieces of lemon peel. Add 5 cups of water, bring to a boil, and simmer for about half an hour. Strain the liquid, squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a mug, then top the mug up with some of the ginger mixture you’ve made. Add honey generously and, if you wish, the alcoholic spirit of your choice. Drink and feel cozy as fuck.

Julia

Summer lingered long through September here, and I am grateful. The month ended with a supermoon and an eclipse, so I stared long and hard at the shadows of the moon trying to make sense of space, time, light and darkness. Something tells me I won’t find the solution overnight.

Nicolas Provost – Papillon d’Amour

I watched more short films in September 2015 than I have in the past year. Quebec City’s Film Festival has hit its stride this year in its 5th edition, and my favourites were the local short films screened in all kinds of contexts – in shipping containers, in decadent moldy theatres, in gorgeous palaces. Simultaneously, the first Quebec City edition of Cinédanse took place at the Musée de la Civilisation. I could list off the gorgeous shorts I had the chance to see screened, but the one that struck me the most and that translates best onto screens of any size is this piece by Nicholas Provost, from 2010. Simple, short, and fucking intense. Also now I need to rewatch Rashomon.

Reading poetry and shit

I’ve been making a real effort to read more fiction in French these days but I keep getting sidetracked by badass poets. Namely,

Warsan Shire
Elaine Kahn
Louise Glück
Anne Boyer
Alice Notley

Also people can you stop posting Warsan’s work without crediting her? That would be great. That happened a lot this month with her poem  “Home” and it pissed me off.

Wide-brimmed hats

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For years and years and years, I have lusted for cloche hats. They look so good. I love pretending I am a modern-day flapper when I wear the ones I have. As my hair grows long, and longer, I am confronted with the reality that cloche hats look best on chin-length hair – or shorter. Well guess what. Wide-brimmed hats look fucking awesome when your hair is longer. So here are some selfies of me with wide-brimmed hats, including a fancy-ass French one I wish I could afford.

P.S. YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE WAS AWESOME ABOUT SEPTEMBER? Meeting Emily. That was pretty awesome. [Emily interjects virtually: YES, IT WAS AMAZING <3<3<3]

Madeleine W

I’m a sucker for anything involving trees in the title, which occasionally leads me astray (I’m avoiding watching The Place Beyond The Pines even though it has the best title of all time??) but lately I’ve been rewarded by pine trees, specifically in Alice Notley’s Into The Pines and AroarA’s Into The Pines.

The latter is a sort of adaptation of the former, taking Notley’s already experimental book of poetry, and writing a song for each of the poems. Having listened to the album to the point of memorization before reading the book, I had a really weird reading experience. The book of poems is one of the best things I’ve read in a long time, and I’m not sure why it took me years to finally get around to reading it. I often write down or post on tumblr my favourite lines, but it got to the point where the entire book was my favourite line. I resisted posting more, feeling like each line was reduced when outside of the poem it is part of. Which is a weird thing to feel, considering the album takes a few lines and writes a song about it. I experienced it in the wrong order, and I wonder if I would like the album as much if I’d read the poems first. Initially I want to say I now have context for these lines, but rather I have a linguistic context within the book versus the musical context of the song. Both are complete works, with their own world and wholeness. Both ache with a long sadness, and have the haunted shiver you can only find in the dark woods. The lines from the poems, “I was born to be your poet,” “I am a dead man’s eyes and I haven’t seen anything for eternity,” “I’m going to find your soul,” aren’t missing anything in the songs. They have a new home, with just as much meaning. A really remarkable project, I wonder if it could work with others.

Femina Ridens Round Table: From Saturday to Sunday (1931)

Mána is a young secretary. One evening she and her roommate accompany two wealthy older gentlemen to dinner. After one of them offers money to her she realizes his intentions and flees from the restaurant in shock. She later meets a man named Karel in a nearby café. They spend the night wandering the rainy streets of Prague and the two quickly develop strong feelings for each other.
IMDB plot summary

Emily: Hi everyone, I’m excited to have the chance to talk about Gustav Machatý’s From Saturday to Sunday (Ze soboty na nedeli) with you, so thanks for participating! I have some specific questions coming out of my rewatch, but, as always, please respond with anything that you’re interested in or struggling with in the film.

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THINGS WE CURRENTLY LOVE: APRIL

The end of April finally (finally!) means the beginning of spring, and we have lots of love for lots of things.

Eva

Unbecoming: A Novel by Rebecca Scherm is a novel about identity with the trappings of a heist thriller. We meet the protagonist, Grace, living in Paris and restoring antiques several years after a robbery gone wrong. Grace is unreliable and elusive and part of the pleasure of the book comes in part from teasing out her authentic self from the various roles she fills in the lives of the men around her. Some of the other great joys in reading Unbecoming are the descriptions of the restoration process. Reading about Grace painstaking cutting bite marks into tiny wax peaches is the closest I’ll ever get to an ASMR experience.

Espiral Vinho Verde is slightly effervescent “medium dry” wine from Portugal that is so unbelievably refreshing that I swear it’s like drinking sparkling water. This particular bottle is $5 at Trader Joe’s and I think it’s exclusive to that grocery chain. Despite living smack in the middle of an American Wine Destination we’ve stocked up on 4 or 5 bottles of this cheap and delicious wine every time we’ve made it out to Seattle in the past couple months. I have yet to try making a mimosa with the Vinho Verde but I suspect it would be perfect!

♥ Sunsets are kind of a boring example of nature’s majesty, which is probably why I was totally indifferent to them until I moved west. I don’t know that sunsets are somehow more beautiful in WA than in OH, but my view is less impeded by buildings and I find myself checking out the back window every evening to see if there is a radiant explosion in the sky bathing the yard in golden light. My favorite is a sunset on a slightly rainy day; the clouds filter the light into these eerie rosy dapples up and down my street. IMG_6654

Unreal sunset in late September

Maddy

♥ Ruth – Polaroid/Roman/Photo

Around this time last year I was in Montreal staying with Maddie for a couple of weeks. I heard part of this song in two bars and needed to hear more, but never got the chance to ask. After a month or so of searching (and I’m willing to admit my keyword selection wasn’t the best, but there are also a surprising amount of songs that “man woman saxophone talking french song” apply to) I found it by accident. Now that it’s warmer out I find myself listening to it with the windows open. Hopefully my neighbours like it as well.
♥ The Missing Pieces by Henri Lefebvre

I read this book in one sitting (which is easy to do with an 80 page book) but I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Lefebvre crafts an incomplete list of missing works, diaries, paintings, letters, ropes to hang oneself, by various artists. Decidedly white, male and Euro-centric (with some painful exclusions) it’s still a marvel. Did you know we have no idea what the Marquis de Sade looks like, since all his portraits were destroyed or lost? That Decartes wrote a book about his dreams, called Olympica? I am constantly interested in the smaller personal items of famous people, and have the utmost respect for every act of destruction one takes towards their work. To have a grouping of them creates a space of impossible dreams and works that get the mind reeling.

 ♥ It Follows Soundtrack
 
It Follows has already made an appearance on our “Things We Love” posts, and there may be more to come. I’ve had the soundtrack on loop, which isn’t particularly good for my mental health as this perfect tweet sums up. Still, the older I get the more I want to listen to synths, and this strikes the chord (the pun wasn’t intended but I’m keeping it).
Julia
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Things have not been very good but I’ve been reading some very good things.

♥ Susan Sontag – Reborn: Journals & Notebooks 1947-1963, edited by David Rieff I first came across this book in photograph form. I first came across a quote, or a photograph of a page, via Durga Chew-Bose (who you should be following on Twitter and Tumblr if that is not already the case). Here it is, I’ve found it. The photographed page, underlined by/picture with the manicured hand that held the pen and turned the page. Now, that photograph of a page of a diary written in the fall of 1957 has been reblogged or liked by 948 people in the winter of 2015. (Am I still writing about the book?) I’m not underlining pages in my copy because it is from the library and also because it is hard to underline things in books when you read them in bathtubs. Her words burn hot on my skin and it feels perfect to be in a steaming bath while reading them. I read excerpts out loud, the echo in my tiny white-tiled bathroom heard only by my black cat. I’m not done yet. It is one of those books you want to savour, namely because you know it has to end at some point. I haven’t been using a bookmark, and have re-read passages purely for the pleasure of it all. I debated sharing a favourite part but there are too many.

♥ Sauna by Mount Eerie This record! It feels like a record that has always been in my collection, that I know off by heart without knowing the track titles already. It comes in waves, waves of beauty and terror. Take the 13-minute track Spring, for example. It begins with peels of bells, dramatic dongs, then centers itself with falsetto choirs of disembodied angels… all while singing you existential words about how nothing is impermeable or real. It is just BEYOND. To top things off, the record as an object itself is fucking gorgeous. You should buy it. (Par rapport a rien, it’s also the 2nd album I’ve listening to in the last month that mention the tides when the album was recorded? What’s up dudes?)

 The Real Image by Esmé Weijun Wang in the New Inquiry This was written back in February but I only got around to it now! Worth the wait. I first crossed online paths with Esmé six or seven years ago, when we both faithfully documented our wardrobes and shared them online. She co-ran Fashion for Writers with Jenny Zhang, and I am so fucking glad she is still sharing her photographs, thoughts, and wisdom online. This piece explores madness and myth making and the cinema. Cinema as an experience, not necessarily simply as images on a screen, if you get my drift. For us who love film and thinking about what film does/can do, it is fascinating. For anyone who has dealt with mental health issues, it is extra insightful and eye-opening. So you should read it.

Dana

♥ I’ve been in sort of a reading slump lately – in 2014, I did a reading only women authors project, which gave the year a structure that I don’t have this year (although I am still only reading female authors!) – but I recently read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, which has me excited about books again. A pre-, during-, and post-apocalyptic novel all at once, Station Eleven weaves together the stories of several Canadians at the end of the world. Arthur Leander, world-famous actor (I was thinking of him as a Michael Caine-type), dies onstage during King Lear; Jeevan, a paparazzo-turned-EMT with a history with Arthur tries to save him; while Kirsten, a child actor in the pay and friend of Arthur’s, watched in horror. This is the last day before the world ends – literally, for Arthur, and both literally and figuratively for Jeevan and Kirsten, who both finds ways to survive in a new world. It’s refreshingly non-depressing for a novel about the apocalypse – of course, there are momets of deep tragedy, but there is also a lot of beauty to still be found in the world, and each other. My favorite part of the book is Miranda’s illustrations of her graphic novel (within the novel) Station Eleven – I would love to see a printed version of the comic!!

♥ This is probably more of a shameless self-promotion than anything else, but for the past six months I’ve been contributing to Screen Slate, a daily, absolutely invaluable resource of all repertory/gallery/special event screenings in NYC. It’s given me the opportunity to write about, and, more importantly, point interested viewers’ eyes towards, films I think are important, particularly within the male-dominated NYC film scene: The Last MistressThou Wast Mild and Lovely, and Immoral Tales, to name a few. Now, in order to make the site even better (the things the team is imagining are amazing, to say the least), Screen Slate has started a Kickstarter. I know there are tons (and tons) of crowdsourcing campaigns you can (and should!) contribute to, but Screen Slate has been a lifesaver for me, even before becoming a contributor – the site makes it so easy to find screenings you otherwise might never have known. Those kinds of things are my favorite part of living in New York.1429801403_kim-kardashian-467

♥ Lately, Kim Kardashian’s fashion game has been even more on-point than usual: she’s really embracing her gothic witch side. Her dress to the Time 100 gala is really off the charts – all sheer and dark and sleek and voluminous. Even better is the outfit at right, which she wore to a casual night out, apparently. When I saw this picture, I couldn’t not imaging Kim as the lead witchy-vampire queen in a nouveau Jean Rollin film. Can someone please make this dream a reality!

Femina Ridens Round Table: Kamome Diner (2006)

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Where are we welcome? On a quiet street in Helsinki, Sachie has opened a diner featuring rice balls. For a month she has no customers. Then, in short order, she has her first customer, meets Midori, a gangly Japanese tourist, and invites her to stay with her, and meets Masako, a formal and ethereal middle-aged woman whose luggage has gone missing. The three women work in the diner, interact, and serve customers. A somewhat brusque man teaches Sachie to make delicious coffee, then he returns under other circumstances. Three neighborhood women inspect the empty diner every day; will anything bring them inside? We learn why Sachie serves rice balls; but why Finland?
– IMDb plot summary

Maaike: Hi everyone! I’m super excited to discuss Naoko Ogigami’s Kamome Diner (aka Kamome Shokudo, aka Ruokala Lokki) with you all. It was hard to come up with discussion questions other than “Isn’t this film amazing?” (isn’t it, though?) but I’ve done my best to formulate a few. I’d love to hear about anything else that stood out to you or interested you about the film, too!
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THINGS WE CURRENTLY LOVE: MARCH EDITION

March gladness continues here with this month’s edition of Things We Currently Love.

Emily

♥ In the last month I’ve fallen completely in love with Teuvo Tulio’s melodramas. Working in Finland in the 1940s and 1950s, he made a series of films so gorgeous and devastating that I legitimately can’t believe they aren’t well known and widely celebrated. As it is, discovering them feels like being inducted into a secret cult of exquisite suffering. Like many melodramas, Tulio’s films explore the lives of women caught in the strictures of a violently patriarchal society, and his stories are anchored in raw, astonishing performances by actresses like Marie-Louise Fock and Regina Linnanheimo. On top of this, the films are made with deliriously beautiful chiaroscuro lighting; masterful, often experimental editing; and an almost operatic use of music (particularly in Sellaisena kuin sinä minut halusit [The Way You Wanted Me], in which the plot is driven by the recurring melody of a Finnish folk song). I originally heard about Tulio from this amazing post on overlooked melodramas by visualtraining on Tumblr (via the ever-spectacular giallolooks) and now I can’t wait to explore the rest of the list.

tulio - the way you wanted me

Marie-Louise Fock in The Way You Wanted Me (1944)

♥ Writing my recent post on Louise Brooks (and seeing her in 1928’s Beggars of Life at the Silent Revue, the screening that originally occasioned the post itself) has made me fall deeply in love with her all over again. If left to my own devices, I would never have written about Brooks–thinking, basically, “what more is there to say?”–but in being given the opportunity to highlight her on the Revue blog and really asking myself that question, I think I was able to figure out what it is about Brooks that makes her so compelling to me now, years after I originally fell for her. Seeing her incandescent performance in Beggars of Life later that week on the big screen was the icing on the cake, and a true pleasure. An “outtake” that didn’t make it into my essay is that Brooks was notorious in each place she lived for taking books out from the public library and marking them up with her annotations (she said, in her later years, that “I am the only woman who ever gave up men for the public library”). In Rochester, many of these books were later stolen by Brooks acolytes; the books Brooks owned (likewise heavily annotated) are now held by the Eastman House and can be consulted there. I also delight in Brooks’s characteristically bitchy assessment of Anita Loos’s memoirs: that “she could have written the greatest history of Hollywood and winds up listing all the very tall men she didn’t go to bed with.” Having read Loos’s memoirs for a previous post, I can attest that though this is not entirely accurate, it is also not not accurate. I love both of these women for their work as Hollywood’s unreliable narrators.

♥ My boyfriend sent me this short video of early electronic musician Suzanne Ciani discussing her production of music and sound effects for the pinball game Xenon in 1980, and it’s a masterpiece on so many levels. From the plummy narrator intoning how “mahvelous” it is that in our electronic future we will be able to regrow “entire limbs,” to seeing Ciani at work composing music (programming with a flawless manicure), to watching her give the computer a female voice that talks back, I love it all so much.

Julia

March and November are two months I have no particular fondness for. I find them grey, dreary and endless, a strange stasis between seasons, bad bookends of winter. So to take the time to reflect on what makes me happy in this generally unpleasant month is a good thing.

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The Morrin Centre. Years after having first visited the Morrin Centre in my beautiful city, I am now officially a member. I spent a sleep-deprived, dazed Thursday afternoon there, the sun streaming through the beautiful windows, casting shadows on century old books and painted wooden statues of colonial heroes. So many French-speaking Quebeckers have never even heard of it, and since the Old City has become ghettoized by the Disneyfication of it all, so it remains a quiet hidden gem. It’s my favourite place to bring tourists when they come to my city!

I’ve already been 3 times in the month of March, and just discovered their amazing collection of graphic novels. I love their old shit, too. I shared some photos on my Flickr page here.

Hazlitt’s The Arcade is quickly becoming the number one source of inspiration when it comes to which book i choose to pick up next. Prior to that, it had been Wachtel on the Arts (omg her interview with) I’ve never read Andrew O’Hagan’s fiction – I waded into the intense abandoned biography of Julian Assange but never finished it – but I don’t think that affects your potential appreciation of his discussion with host Anshuman Iddamsetty. The Arcade podcast is totally my fav. I relate to a lot of what Anshuman has to say about his relationship to poetry, which is extra intriguing to me given I am married to a poet. My poet is often put in a position where he has to defend, explain, rationalize his work and it makes me think a lot about the power of words. These two, the way they discuss, reminds me of the beauty of words, of explaining atrocities, of understanding the world through art. So good! But instead of reading my thoughts about it you should listen to it and then tweet at me about it.

This music. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve still pretty much been listening to O Paon on repeat for the last month, but only one of her songs is featured in this mix. I have lost of the habit of really crafting music mixes, but made one for my wonderful friend Morgan’s birthday and remembered how satisfying it is to share my mixes online. I’m hoping to make a less dreary one come spring, but if you want to wallow in the endless winter you should make this your soundtracks.

Maddy

♥ Heidi Julavits’ The Vanishers
With a renewed library card I’ve been trying to read more and more contemporary fiction. The results have been middling, and for the first time in years I’ve been giving up on a record number of books. It’s mostly me – I haven’t been in a mood to push through anything. Thankfully Heidi Julavits’ The Vanishers has caught me and I have no interest in letting go. I’m always impressed with world building, and Julavits has constructed a complex but deeply interesting one. What’s struck me the most, which also happens to be an intersection on all of my interests, are the titular vanishers. A company has created the option for people to abandon their lives. We’ve been told they’re given a new life, and with the constant referring to and leave nothing but a brief film explaining themselves. A filmic object that’s a sort-of-but-not-actually suicide note is something I’ve been constantly thinking about. There’s a lot more to Julavits’ work than that, but it’s struck a chord that I can’t shake.

♥ GrayIMG_20150314_140358934
It is deeply Canadian of me to be so preoccupied with the weather, but the past few days have been gray gray gray. It’s unusual for the morning fog stay longer than a few hours, but it’s been here all day. I went for a walk along the lake on Sunday, and couldn’t even see the open waters next to me. With the weather a bit warmer, but not warm enough to bring people out in droves, the dreary gray that comes before spring is something to dissolve into. This mood has translated into everything else I do – my instagram has become gray, it’s all that I’m wearing, and I keep walking around my apartment thinking of where to put gray objects on prominent display. The sun might shake this mood, but I’m happy to be surrounded by it.

♥ Water, Wind, Dust (Amir Naderi, 1989)
This film is more along the taupe lines than gray, but I’m deeply interested in large areas of land that are inhospitable to humans. Naderi’s film is about a young man wandering around a desert as the winds beat at him, and everything about him. I was lucky to see it in 35mm, but the print was so old and scratched it was as if the wind in the film ended up tearing away at the physical film documenting it. Unintentional, but perfect.

Maaike

♥ The Jean Desmet exhibit at EYE Amsterdam: I’ve been so excited about this: an exhibit built around the collection of Jean Desmet, film distributor in the Netherlands from 1906-1916. I had to wait far too long for time and money to visit, but have by now seen it twice, and will probably go again. The exhibit itself, which mainly focuses on Desmet’s film collection, is practically a work of art (and quite overwhelming), with a wealth of breathtaking shorts and fragments on show, as well as some fantastic posters other ephemera of the film distributing trade. Being a fanatic, I’ll probably be clutching the catalogue to my chest on my death bed, but I think people who are new to silent film would also do well to check out this look into the wildly inventive and entertaining world of early cinema.

♥ Parsifal: I’ve been herheim parsifalcommuning with my favourite performances of my favourite Wagner opera, in anticipation (SO MUCH ANTICIPATION) of the Berlin premiere of Dmitri Tcherniakov’s production, which I’ll be attending soon. Parsifal is musically almost painfully sublime to me, and its story so convoluted, conflicted, and magical, that seeing one of my very favourite directors tackle it (with one of my mega fave singers in the cast and the legendary Daniel Barenboim in the pit) is… well, freaking me out. If you’d like to check out one of the greatest operas ever, I recommend Stefan Herheim’s Bayreuth production, which is so good that words actually fail me. Check out the prelude here: part 1 & part 2.

Dana

♥ Sometimes I’m the truly intolerable type of film hipster where once everyone sees and loves a movie I once loved, I’m sort of over it. Not the case with It Follows, which I was lucky enough to see in a test screening last year, and which will probably be it-followsone of my favorite films of 2015, as well as 2014, as it was recently released in theaters. Rarely have I been more excited about the hype around a film, since David Robert Mitchell’s film delves into the fear, paranoia, and intense panic around teen sexuality without being misogynistic or moralistic in the least. And unlike so many “social issue” horror films, It Follows is actually scary as fuck. Maika Monroe, also seen in another great 2014 horror film, The Guest, is my new favorite final girl, and I want her in whatever feminist horror film I make. She’s got the face of a young Catherine Deneuve, and kicks total ass, while also being a fine actress. I cannot recommend this film enough! Which seems to be the case all over, as it opened to unexpectedly huge box office takes in LA and NY. The film’s expanding over the coming weekends, so check it out if you are able! You can believe the hype on this one.

♥ The winter is very hard on me – I don’t leave the house (even less than normal), I have to wear clothes I hate (ugh sweaters!), everything is sad and cold and everyone is crabby. But being from the Midwest, when the weather gets to be about 45-50 degrees (Fahrenheit, natch), it feels like it might as well be summer. I am sure that as we speak, my father and brother in Wisconsin are unpacking their shorts from the back of the closet, in preparation for above-freezing temperatures. Even in New York, everyone gets happier, my dog is much more interested in being outside, and you start seeing girls in cute outfits again everywhere (style inspo!). While we’re not quite there yet – and NYC actually might get snow on Friday – I can see it in the future. The near future.

♥ I’ve been feeling the need to nest lately, to clean up my living space and get the dog and husband smells out, to put up cute posters and make the place feel like home, and not a den we have been burrowing in for the last four months. Clearly, this is related to the above point, but I’m investing in candles, incense, and sage for burning to do a spatial cleanse. That, and the actual spring cleaning I’m doing this weekend.

THINGS WE CURRENTLY LOVE: FEBRUARY EDITION

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, what could be a more stereotypically perfect date to introduce a semi-regular feature: Things We Currently Love! It’s a little peek at the things, from the superficial to the serious, that ring our bells.

Maddie:

♥ TV shows that aren’t about white people. Like most media-oriented young Asian-Americans, I’ve spent the past few weeks anticipating, worrying about, reading up on, finally watching, and worrying about ABC’s new sitcom Fresh Off The Boat. At the same time I’ve gotten into Fox’s record label melodrama Empire, which is both nothing like Fresh Off the Boat and an interesting complement to it. fresh off the boatThere’s the hip-hop component of both, yes, and I loved David Turner’s point that there are two shows on American TV right now about rap music through a non-white lens. But the more deeply felt link between the two shows is family, with kids stumbling to find their own ways in the world and strong, complex, wickedly funny moms at the centre of both shows. (Constance Wu, who plays Fresh Off the Boat’s mom Jessica Huang, had a great interview with TIME last week about her character.) And another thing I love in both shows is the unspoken details: the shorthand in Empire of New York neighbourhoods and “the Nation” and gatherings full of aunts that give depth to the world the characters live in, and the set dressing and throwaway lines of Fresh Off the Boat that make me laugh not because they’re funny, per se, but because I can understand them right away.

milktea dessert

♥ Even though it’s winter, I’ve been drinking as much cold milk tea as I can: meeting friends after work for roasted oolong with tapioca pearls, no ice; picking up impractically-sized bottles of Kirin milk tea at the Korean grocery store, the brand of tea I would buy cold whenever I passed a vending machine in Tokyo two years ago; and daydreaming about the giant pile of milk tea shaved ice with grass jelly and tapioca I had on a really cold day in North York.

dikiThe work of Diki Tattooer, a Seoul-based tattoo artist whose artwork recalls Art Deco, stained glass, 50s cartoons, and high school notebook doodles. I love his minimalist line art works, most of which seem to be no larger than 1cm by 1cm on an otherwise blank stretch of skin, like a little decoration. Their flippant placement (and sometimes content) undermines the scary permanence that Getting A Tattoo still holds, in my mind anyway. (P.S., if my mom is reading this: I’m still not getting one!)

Maddy:

Frozen spinach: I’ve been trying to eat healthier, which so far has manifested in reading many, many articles and blog posts about superfoods. When it comes to actually purchasing, I’m overwhelmed at the grocery store (which would happen regardless of blog posts) and whatever I buy ends up going bad before I can eat all of it. Frozen spinach is the miracle – keeps forever, inexpensive, and very good for you. It’s often in a weird place (frozen food? vegetables? next to the Popsicles?) so it is a quest to find it, but I have. And I will again.

Lush’s dry shampoo: I don’t blow dry my hair, so whenever I wash it, it’ll take the whole day to dry. This is fine, but with winter finally arriving in Toronto, wet hair ends up limiting my days. So for those inbetween days I use a lot of dry shampoo. Lush is too white-savioury for me to be a regular customer, but their dry shampoo is the best. I’m able to have clean hair and go outside in -22 temperatures immediately (not that I want to). My boyfriend also enjoys it.

That weird sandwich my boyfriend makesRye bread, pate, cheddar, salami and bread and butter pickles. You would think it’s disgusting, but you would be wrong.

Eva:

♥ I read The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai in almost one sitting on a weekend in early February. This book is a ghost story but it isn’t really about the ghost, who amounts mostly to shattered glass and blown lights. The novel focuses instead on the living people that populate Laurelfield, the haunted house and former haunted artist’s colony, throughout its titular hundred years. Perhaps my favorite thing about any book is the slow uncovering of secrets and The Hundred-Year House has its fair share of mysteries. Each revelation raises new questions as the narrative jumps backward through time, from 1999 to 1955 to 1929 and finally to 1900 (a “prologue” of sorts). This book is about both transformation and the cyclical nature of family histories and owes a lot to the English country house genre, though it is unique enough to hold the attention of any veteran of the haunted house novel.

♥ I am unrepentantly vain about my luxuriously thick head of hair and, aside from argan oil and air-drying, I am completely dependent on Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask to get me through the winter. Unlike most other hair masks I’ve tried, it is applied on wet hair after shampooing and only worn for 5-10 minutes as opposed to an agonizing 20-30 minutes of waiting around to shower with your dry hair saturated with something akin to mayonnaise. The result is soft, smooth hair that isn’t weighed down by any excess oil. It’s a little pricey so I use it only weekly, but it is by far the best hair mask I’ve ever used and it smells like coconut!

♥ I discovered Veronica Falls a little late (they formed in London in 2009) but just in time for my first foggy winter in the Pacific Northwest. Self-described as “horror rock, ” creepy lyrics combined with brooding, sometimes retro, indie pop makes them perfect for wandering in the unseasonably warm but maddeningly grey Washington winter; the deeply unsettling surf rock track “Beachy Head” in particular makes me wish I lived closer to the ocean just so I could die in it at night. If you like guitar-driven jams, The Cranberries, graveyards, Romanticism, and classic twee (think Black Tambourine) you will like Veronica Falls.

Maaike:eline vere

♥ The biggest thing of the past month for me was Harry Kümel’s serialised adaptation of Eline Vere (a classic of Dutch literature, which to be honest I’m only now finally reading). It has its flaws, but overwhelmed me completely with its visual beauty and its engagement, in different ways and on different levels, with so many things that are important to me (not the least of which are my love of opera, of my hometown, in which Eline Vere is largely set, and of uncompromisingly excessive women).

mahal♥ I’ve also been immersing myself in classic Bollywood films recently. I’m really enjoying exploring beyond the (so so good) masala films of the ’60s I was already more familiar with. Last month’s highlight was the eerie Mahal (1949), starring megababes Madhubala and Ashok Kumar; currently watching and loving Madhumati (1958), a very different film on similar themes. I also finally remembered to find compilations of songs from one of my favourite Bollywood voices, Shamshad Begum; this one is my current favourite.

room

♥ Having recently switched bedrooms with my flatmate, I’ve been working on making my new room look nice, a process that tends to take me absolutely forever but which I really enjoy. Taking the time to go through all of my favourite things, finding out how they change the room and how the room changes them, is really calming and satisfying, plus a good excuse to put the Shamshad Begum mix on repeat and sing along (badly).

Erica:

♥ Alice Coltrane, A Monastic Trio:

I’m still adjusting to winter in the midwest, where the sun goes away for weeks on end. Those long, grey days–I forget how to be a person, how to talk and laugh and be around people. I need sun. That’s when I put on some Alice Coltrane.

A Monastic Trio was jazz harpist Alice Coltrane’s first solo record, made the year after her husband’s death. It’s not an elegy, though: Trio is celebratory, weird and gorgeous. Coltrane’s harp pirouettes like a cartoon ballerina, playing against the clarinet, thrumming bass, and drones. Every track is gold, but I’m obsessed with “I Want to See You,” Coltrane’s piano concerto. Its bright notes remind me: soon we’ll have light and warmth again. (Take that, Illinois!)1525904_orig

♥ Queer Zine Archive Project: As I wrap up my last semester in library school, I’ve been thinking a lot about archives and the ways they tell certain (read: white/cis/heteronormative/capitalist) stories about the world.  Suffice it to say, that’s tremendously shitty. Thankfully, there’s a growing number of projects devoted to making sure marginalized voices (including POC and/or LGBTQ folks) find their way into the archives. Exhibit A: the Queer Zine Archive Project. QZAP is an amazing volunteer-run online archive of queer and trans zines, all freely available to read and download. Where to start? I loved Trans Rentboys, an important anthology featuring stories from trans sex workers across the world.

Screenshot at Feb 14 15-57-42

♥ Mastering my Sophia Loren cat eye: The number of Q-tips I’ve lost to Youtube cat eye tutorials is legion. It’s embarrassing. On the plus side, being a winter recluse gives me lots of time to practice my Sophia Loren-inspired cat eye. It’s not perfect, but I’m getting there! Thanks, Stila liquid eyeliner and repeat views of Prêt-à-Porter.

Amaka:11001007_10108139832297714_1956751705_o

♥ “Before July: Demos and Unreleased Songs” by Marissa Nadler: This 5-song set from Massachusets native Marissa Nadler is a real gem. While each track is fantastic, I find myself most drawn to the demo version of “Dead City Emily” (another version of the same song is featured on July, her full length album released in February of last year) and “The Rose City.” “Leave The Light On” is stellar as well, and reads to me like a bleak tale about intimacy, departure, and cautious optimism.

♥ Talenti Gelato and Sorbetto: I have always avoided traditional ice cream in favor of sorbet, but Talenti’s line of delectable gelato is making me reconsider my once firm stance. In the age of deeply personal and lengthy Yelp reviews, it is very easy (and tempting!) to discuss and describe food 11006073_10108139832272764_337335844_nin an  exhausting way, but I don’t know enough about this ice cream’s chemistry to do that comfortably. However, I do know that it is delicious and offers a diverse range of flavors, including but not limited to: German Chocolate Cake, Caramel Cookie Crunch, Tahitian Vanilla Bean, and Sicilian Pistachio.

As a bonus, its packaging has great utility for future uses; its plastic container can be used again for snacks, paint, coins, and much more.

 The “Nightshift” dance scene in 35 Shots of Rum:

35 Shots of Rum (dir. Claire Denis, 2008) explores the relationship between widower Lionel (Alex Descas) and his daughter, Josephine (Mati Diop), as they adjust to the minor and major changes in their lives. The entire film is a stunning, unassuming study of love, disappointment, and grief, but one moment stands out to me in particular — the “Nightshift” scene.

Lionel, Josephine, and their neighbors Noé (Grégoire Colin) and Gabrielle (Nicole Dogue) encounter a rainstorm while driving at night and seek refuge in a restaurant. After a brief dance with his daughter in the middle of the restaurant, Lionel silently transfers his daughter to Noé, as the soothing Commodores classic, “Nightshift” plays in the background.

Josephine’s dance with Noé is much more than “friendly swaying” amongst neighbors, and one soon realizes that Lionel has let his daughter go in more ways than one. The moment is wordless, but not quiet.

Julia:

♥ I came across this musical project by Geneviève Castrée and was gobsmacked by the fact that it had taken so long for me to hear about this artist! Her earlier incarnations as Woelv went entirely unnoticed by me, but thanks to this tweet by the always-weird Phil Eleverum, I started listening to this new album and could. not. stop.

She also did the album artwork – appropriate since I only knew of her because of her graphic novel, published by Drawn & Quarterly. It features the two bridges which link Quebec City to the south shore, Lévis. She sings about names of streets and highways I walk past every day, about the ugliness of the endless winters and gravel and ice, about teen angst. Musically, hints of Julie Doiron, Scout Niblett and even a little bit of death metal bleed through this album. If you only listen to one song make it Boue/Fleuve II.

It’s also stemmed some amazing discussions with my Quebec City friends who are 35 and older, who ended up telling me all about the bands who used to play at a bar in the old city which was called “Les Fourmis Atomiques.” Punk bands with names like Les Marmottes Aplatis (the flattened marmots), Les Soeurs Volantes (The Flying Nuns) and WD-40. Amazing!

Galentine's Day

Galentine’s Card from BroodX, Tattooed lady from Crankbunny

♥ Subverting/Repurposing Valentine’s Day

Whether it be a friendly shifting towards Palentine’s Day, or the much more serious invitation to donate to local women’s shelters instead of buying roses, I love the way people are increasingly invited to make Valentine’s Day whatever the fuck they want it to be. I also think it’s a great occasion to revisit what our own perspectives on love and relationships are. This quote has resonated with me for years, and I tend to think back to it around this time of year.

Few people realize how sadly appropriate it is to use Valentine’s Day as a moment to reflect on domestic abuse and violence against women. Since 1991, activists in Canada have used February 14 to mark a National Day of Action for missing and murdered Indigenous women, hosting candlelight vigils, marches and protests. This year, February 13th marked one year since Loretta Saunders was last seen alive. Since her death, there have been other “flashpoint” deaths (Tina Fontaine), violent assaults and attempted murders (Rinelle Harper) that have raised more awareness around this issue in a Canadian political context. Today, the hashtag #HowWeDisappear is shining a light on missing and murdered women, about how specifically Indigenous women are rendered invisible by the mainstream media. Slowly but surely, it feels like a shift is happening, and that gives me hope.

Dana:kiss-GEL-FANTASY-NAILS

♥ When I’m having a bad day at work, my favorite thing to do is to take a little break, walk around the corner to the nearest Duane Reade, and spend a few minutes in the fake nail aisle. It’s so soothing to me, as I forget about whatever bullshit is waiting for me back at my desk, and imagine myself with long, well painted, glittery nails. My favorite brand is Kiss’ Gel Fantasy nails, which are generally outrageously sparkly and wonderful. Occasionally I buy some, too, because what else is worth $9 than being able to have the most beautiful hands?

♥ I’ve been aware of Sam Smith for a while, because it’s currently pretty hard to avoid him even if you really wanted to. But I had never given his music a real chance; sure, “Stay With Me” and “Money On My Mind” are both catchy ear bugs, but I finally listened to Smith’s album In the Lonely Hour recently, and it’s hitting me right in my current sweet spot of earnest, high-emotion, almost melodramatic pop songs (see also: “Pills N Potions” by person-I-always-love Nicki Minaj).

I listen to “Like I Can” on repeat as I’m walking around NYC in the bitter cold and snow, and picture myself on a mountaintop, arms outstretched, yell-singing this song to the world.

♥ A problem I often have with repertory programming in New York is that it’s too serious-minded. Film Forum’s recent Orson Welles 100 program was wonderful, but it left out such highly entertaining, but perhaps not weighty enough, films as Harry 31284_2015_CTEK_Carpenter_Series_Image_613x463Kümel’s Malpertuis, or Bert I. Gordon’s Necromancy, or even The Transformers Movie! Welles may be a serious figure in the history of film, but he was not a self-serious person at all. Which is why I’m really loving BAM’s John Carpenter retrospective. Carpenter is one of my all-time favorite directors; his horror films are truly scary, his action films truly thrilling, and much of his film work is imbued with a humor that is actually funny, but never takes away from the action. This past week, I caught In the Mouth of Madness, Carpenter’s Lovecraft tribute, in 35MM, and it gave me nightmares that night – something that doesn’t happen often to me, a hardened horror film vet. Carpenter is truly a master (and I hope he gets well soon!). I can’t wait to catch Assault at Precinct 13 (that score!!), The Ward, and Escape From New York/Los Angeles on the big screen.