So I heard 'Give Me Back My Man' for the first time in May 2023. The B-52's had always seemed a novelty act to me. 'Love Shack' being trashed in the Fat Ladies Arms when I was 18 probably didn't help. But holy hecka, this song. It's like the sort of thing I'd go crazy over if you said it was the Bush Tetras or something similarly obscure. But the B-52's?
Blink 182 was wrong. I guess finding out bands you'd dismissed your whole life are actually amazing is growing up.
Boxer by Ryan Pinkard (non-fiction, physical book, 2022)
I love Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series. I pitched to write the book on Monster Magnet's Powertrip back in 2018, but didn't make the cut. Hard to know whether it was their view about the potential audience for any book about Monster Magnet, or their view about the version of the book I pitched (with two sample chapters), or both.
Boxer is one of my favourite albums. I trashed it during my year of a million words (2008), when I wrote most of my first book, A Man Melting, and book and album have become entwined since then. Pinkard's book is a pretty straight-forward account. There's one intrusion of the "I" voice in a footnote during the book, and an I-forward epilogue... I guess I still prefer these pocket-sized books to be more than biographies of an album thanks to the challenge of having less words to play with.
As another aside, it did make me feel bad for falling out of live with The National after High Violet. The reason Boxer was so important to me in 2008 was because it was such good writing music, and I was writing a lot. The album was a grower. While I'm probably still right that The National haven't gone far enough into new territory in the last 15 years, I haven't listened to new albums 5, 6, 7, 8 times in close succession. It doesn't help they got super popular and it kinda feels too true-to-label, normcore, beardy dad to like The National... I always think of the kid in the Seattle grunge doco, Hype, who has cotton buds (or cigarettes?) stuck up his nose and bemoans everyone is starting to like the bands he liked so now he needs to find something else.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (novel, audiobook, US, 2001)
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace (short fiction, audiobook, US, 1999)
Not Too Late: Changing the Climate Story from Despair to Possibility - Edited by Rebecca Solnit & Thelma Young Lutunatabua (non-fiction, audiobook and ebook, 2023)
I'm a Fan by Sheena Patel (novel, audiobook, UK, 2022) - I was not a fan.
M Train by Patti Smith (non-fiction, audiobook, US, 2015)
Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser (novel, audiobook, US, 1997)
To read Millhauser is to flirt with fables and the fantastic, but never quite cross over. It's fascinating. I think I prefer his shorter works, where you spend more time - proportionately - on the knife's edge.
FILM & TV
Woman at War
Bo Burnham: Inside and Inside Outtakes - couldn't get past 10 mins when it first came out, perhaps because it was "too soon", but genuinely very good.
Succession - Season 4
Avatar - rewatched, this time with kids. Best parts: all the things that made sense on big screen 3D but not so much streaming on Disney+
I think you should leave - Season 3 - I gobble up each new season in 90 mins then wait 18 months of more, tided over only by the NBA x ITYSL memes on Twitter
The Pez Outlaw
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
Ugly Delicious - Season 1
The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker
White Men Can't Jump (2022) - turrrible.
The Gone - Season 1 - turrrible title, decent Kiwi-Irish crime noir