January Random Round Up

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Oh Louise, you’re so so right!

January is almost over, thanks be to Jaysus, and because it’s been a dry one for me, I’ve been staying in and devouring books, films, articles, and everything else to keep my busy little brain occupied. Lots of book reviews to come in the following weeks, in addition to some film reviews (like everyone else with a beating heart I loved La La Land, but Jackie not so much).

My favourite actor has been nominated for an Academy Award for his work in Nocturnal Animals. If you haven’t seen the film, I highly recommend it.

I have also watched Episodes which is on Netflix. Starring Matt LeBlanc (‘how you doin’?) as an arrogant, lecherous and materialistic version of himself, Episodes tells the story of two English TV writers who go to LA to bring their hit show to American screens. It’s a winning performance from LeBlanc and I particularly love Kathleen Rose Perkins as the people pleasing Network executive.

We don’t get to see the Lincoln car commercials starring Matthew McConaughey on Irish television but this hilarious article will make you want to watch them and work out if the author’s theory is right.

Heywood Hill is a gorgeous and well renowned bookshop in London’s Mayfair. Vanity Fair explored how such a small bookshop is surviving in the digital age.

An interesting article by Emily Gould on Buzzfeed on the expectation that women should be nice in order to succeed in publishing: ‘In order to be successfully un-nice, an author would have to be so confident in her talent and skill that she was willing to risk alienating influential peers, editors, and agents — not to mention actual readers.’

Shit Rough Drafts reimagines the first drafts of famous books. They branched out with this post featuring a correspondence on nymphomaniac garden gnomes. Just read it and thank me later.

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I very much relate to this Sarah Andersen comic

Christmas Entertainment

After the nightmare that was 2016 I sincerely hope that Multiverse readers are looking forward to a relaxing and joyful festive season. In case you’re looking for something to while away your time over your holidays, here are some suggestions. I look forward to seeing you again in 2017. Squillions of love to you all.

The above video is a cute interpretation of a classic and one that is a tradition amongst me and my best friend’s family. It always makes me think of her.

A recent and hilarious Vanity Fair article on Trump Grill(e): ‘And like all exclusive bastions of haute cuisine, there is a sandwich board in front advertising two great prix fixe deals.’

I’ve become a huge fan of Taffy Brodesser-Akner‘s writing and this article on sugar dating (published last year in GQ) is just brilliant: ‘A thing you should know is that there are very few people to root for in this story.’

A great Harper’s article on the 80s literary Brat Pack: Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis, Donna Tartt, et al. ‘One member would go on to win a Pulitzer; one would become better known for controversy than fiction; another would exemplify the excessive highs and very public lows of the decade; and another would slowly fade from view.’

I’ve read so many books this year and as always I try to read a mix of recent and classic fiction. Some were terrible, some were superlative and a lot of them aren’t even worth talking about. Here are a few of the books I’ve really liked but not gotten around to reviewing in depth, (if you click on the links they’ll bring you to reviews of the work in question): Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig, Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sarah Baume, Devoted Ladies by Molly Keane, The Eden Express by Mark Vonnegut, The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim, Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks, The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch.

I’ve been a bit obsessed with this Thundercat song for months, even though it was released in 2015. The Prince influences and the 70s disco vibe combined with the funk bass-line all coalesce into an infectious groove.

Anyone browsing Netflix should put White Girl (Kids for Millenials), Black Mirror (dystopian tech nightmare), The Crown (sumptuous period drama), Love (Freaks and Geeks all grown up), and Daft Punk Unchained (documentary about the electro legends) on their list.

Go Fug Yourself is one of the websites I have visited daily for many years now. This year I particularly loved their AbFabtrospective and their SWINTON retrospective (Tilda being one of my sartorial heroines).

Lose yourself browsing the archives of Hooked on Houses, a website devoted to gorgeous homes, from celebrity abodes to houses featured in movies and random real-estate inspiration.

And now it’s time for my sister’s family’s favourite Christmas song, Nobel prize winner Bob Dylan singing a Pogues-esque polka version of a 60s classic. It’s barking and brilliant! Enjoy!

NASA Visions of the Future

I saw these amazing space-travel posters on a friend of mine’s Facebook feed and knew that I had to spread the word a bit further. They can be found on the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory website and there are fourteen of them. ‘As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future.’

There’s a bit more on the design of each poster available here. The NASA design team took inspiration from the iconic WPA posters from the late 30s and 40s. Despite the retro feel, these posters were created and released earlier this year.

And the best part? They are available to download and print FOR FREE! How generous is that? I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely getting a couple of these printed and framed for my walls. View and download them here.

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McMansion Hell

McMansion: mass produced mansion; generally used to denote a new, or recent, multi-story house of no clear architectural style, which prizes superficial appearance, and sheer size, over quality.

The McMansion Hell blog is a recent discovery of mine and it has provided me with much amusement. It’s written by an American woman named Kate who grew up in North Carolina and now lives in Baltimore, Maryland. In her own words: ‘I love to hate shitty and bloated houses with a passion. I’m always seeing what monstrosities are for sale all around the US. Bonus points for dated-ness and McMansion architectural faux pas. These are all houses that are currently on the market, rather than just rehashing the same 50 McMansion pics from Google Images.’

What turns a big house into a McMansion? Kate provides a definition here. She finds much to ridicule in current American architecture and she sure as hell knows what she’s talking about. My favourite parts of the blog are the captions she uses in photographs; always edifying, always funny.

Some examples below. Click on the locations to be taken to the original post on the McMansion Hell blog. Enjoy!

 

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McLean, Virginia
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Montville Township, New Jersey
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Houston, Texas

The Best Lipsynch in the Herstory of Drag Race

One of the great things about not having a TV is that you don’t get sucked into brain-drain channel surfing and so the only reality show I have ever been fanatical about is RuPaul’s Drag Race. I first discovered it in 2013, reviewed it here, then recommended it to everyone I thought would appreciate it, creating a few new fans in the process.

Drag is an art form, a unique expression of a personal creative vision, and the show has given me a look into a world I knew nothing about before. I am often blown away by the queens’ charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent (for an explanation of this phrase and a general resource for newbies, this is a comprehensive guide).

The Lipsynch For Your Life is the great leveller of Drag Race, the last chance to prove the queen deserves to stay in the competition. Stellar performances have come out of left-field to save the day, and seasoned queens have unexpectedly been sent home.

Having watched all eight seasons of Drag Race more than once, my favourite lipsynch is from season four: Dida Ritz doing ‘This Will Be’ by Natalie Cole. Cole is on the panel and her reaction sums up what the viewer is feeling. Dida lives the joy and energy of the song, and she’s so on point it’s jaw-dropping. As legendary queen Latrice Royale says, ‘that is what a lipsynch for your life is…that is high-drag at its finest.’

 

David Attenborough on God

I used to describe myself as an atheist but a while ago I realised how incredibly arrogant that was and so like Sir David Attenborough (and many others) I now think that agnostic is a better description of my spiritual inclinations.

A few years ago I came across this video of Sir David interviewed by Laurie Taylor talking about divine design, mythology, and religion, of which he says ‘I shrink from the word’. When asked in the interview why he was agnostic rather than atheist, he made a comparison involving termites.

He uses the analogy of taking off the top of a termite hill and watching the termites go about their busy lives: looking after the queen, building walls, clearing the nest, caring for the pupae. They haven’t the faintest idea that he is there watching them because they do not have the ability to see him. Therefore he feels as if he may be similarly lacking the sense organs to appreciate some sort of greater influence in our lives.

Atheism is a confidence that Attenborough feels he doesn’t have while his friend Richard Dawkins would say that he was ‘rather feeble’. I admire his humility and open-mindedness and his termite analogy is one I have often used as it’s very simple yet very effective. Enjoy and have a lovely weekend!

 

Scarfolk by Richard Littler

Scarfolk is a town in North West England that did not progress beyond 1979. Instead, the entire decade of the 1970s loops ad infinitum. Here in Scarfolk, pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science; hauntology is a compulsory subject at school, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever. “Visit Scarfolk today. Our number one priority is keeping rabies at bay.” For more information please reread.

Scarfolk Council is a blog by writer and designer Richard Littler that has developed a cult following since its debut in early 2013 and now has grown so much that it was voted the UK’s funniest blog of 2015 and a book, Discovering Scarfolk, is available on Amazon. Part satire, part social commentary, and with an hilarious yet unsettling occult tone, the blog depicts life in a fictional English town which is perpetually stuck in the 1970s. The blog releases artefacts from the town: books, leaflets, advertising materials, public information posters, and the like. I particularly love a recent and very apt post where Scarfolk Council welcomes refugees.

Some of my favourites below. Check out the site for further laughs.

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