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The Mindless Entertainment We All Need Right Now

Plus two movies to stream this week.
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We are so close. As we finally approach Wednesday, I've been anxiously, obsessively checking the news in advance of the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday. It's a big week, starting with a day commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King's contributions to civil rights, but let's hope the only breaking news is a peaceful transfer of power. For the past few weeks, Jonah and I have been taking a break from the news in the evenings (the only way I can sleep) and watching tons of movies and shows: Decades-old movies I thought I'd love but didn't ('Baby Boom'), new movies that left me in awe (see two of those below), and shows that read very differently nearly a decade later ("Girls"). If you're looking for an escape from the endless scrolling and refreshing, look no further. Here's what I've been loving this week:

1

[Trigger warning: This review and film acknowledges the existence of rape.] 

The trailer for Emerald Fennell's 'Promising Young Woman' gave me chills. In it, Carey Mulligan appears to be blackout drunk at a club. When a man takes her home, in her clearly inebriated state, she suddenly sobers, sits up, and asks him, "What are you doing?." It's the ultimate, building revenge movie, featuring a "dark, contained, shockingly human female character" as this (great) New York Times Magazine feature puts it, with an ending I truly did not see coming. You can rent it online here (it's worth mentioning that it's $20 to rent, but considering it was intended for cinematic release, the price of admission is justified and, in my opinion, worth it).

2

I love this show so, so much. In it, two exceptionally good-looking people decide that they, for some reason, couldn't possibly be attracted to each other, but that it's mutually beneficial for them to pretend they're in love until they (no spoiler here) fall in love. *WHAT!* As predictable as the plot may be, I spent last weekend glued to my screen, the costumes (I should probably mention that it takes place in early 19th century London), and the set design. As Kelly mentioned here, it's essentially "Downtown Abbey" meets "Gossip Girl." What more could you ask for? (If you do watch, I also highly recommend this piece in Refinery29, on the show's depiction of race.)

3

One of the questions I'm constantly asking myself when it comes to anti-racism is how I can take everything I'm learning about and turn it into real-world applications. Ijeoma Oluo's book So You Want To Talk About Race (recommended to me by our contributor Jillian Wilson in this post) tackles an enormous piece of combatting racism—how we talk about it and address it. The book is compassionate, but stern, as Oluo uses examples from coworkers to her white mother to provide examples about how to talk about race (with a final chapter that lays out small steps for creating real change).

One of my favorite takeaways from the book is that, to combat systemic racism, we have to always "link to the systemic effects of racism whenever you talk about racism." In the example she offers, if a teacher says a racist Hispanic slur in a classroom, you shouldn't only demand that the reacher be fired, but also tie that individual racism to the system:

"Yes, you can demand that the teacher shouting racial slurs at Hispanic kids should be fired, but you can also ask what the school's suspension rate for Hispanic kids is, ask how many teachers of color they have on staff, and ask that their policies be reviewed and reformed."

I haven't yet picked up Ijeoma Oluo's most recent book, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America, but can only imagine it'll shed a necessary, glaring light on January 6th.

4

Jonah and I have little to no expertise when it comes to video games (for reference, the fact that I owned a Gamecube and rented SSX Tricky regularly from Blockbuster makes me the resident expert of our household). Over the holidays, we decided to look into video games—a search that quickly overwhelmed us and led us to Apple Arcade, and ultimately, Sneaky Sasquatch. 

I didn't realize until after I'd played six hours of Sneaky Sasquatch that it's recommended for ages 4+, but hear me out: This game, while apparently simple enough for a preschooler, is the pure-joy entertainment we all need right now. In it, you play a Sasquatch, who steals food from campgrounds (without getting caught by the ranger!) and earns money by doing miscellaneous tasks from ducks. Yup, that's the game. But from there, it expands as the Sasquatch collects treasure map pieces that, for some reason, are the key to saving the park he lives in from developers.

You guys. It's simple, it's free for your first month, a pure delight—and you can play it with your Apple TV remote. Until Geoffrey finally succeeds in talking me into getting a Nintendo Switch, it's the weekend decompressor I need.

5

In 'The Sound of Metal,' available on Prime Video, Riz Ahmed ("The Night Of") plays a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing and has to learn to navigate the world without sound. The movie is beautiful and compassionate, but also left me with a renewed appreciation for people's ability to communicate without the use of voice, and an interest in learning American Sign Language.

The movie also inspired me to listen to this episode of "Ted Radio Hour," on our relationship with sound, which I also highly recommend. 

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1. I've been thinking about this podcast episode of "Maybe Baby" on nepotism since December.

2. A cupcakes and cashmere reader's sister started this podcast, Canine Conversations—I've been listening to it on walks with Toast!

3. Photographer Rich Frishman captures "the vestiges of America’s racism evident in the built environment, hidden in plain sight."

4. I love this 'Singin' In The Rain'-inspired Burberry ad

5. In case you missed it... Texas wedding photographers have seen some $#!+ this summer. (Is getting other people sick really worth having a "perfect" wedding day?)

6. Why do we keep reading The Great Gatsby?

7. I missed The Public Theatre's free online festival Under the Radar earlier this month—but some shows, like The Capsule, are available on demand for a few more days.

8. I'm counting down to the release of 'Minari' (watch the trailer here!). 

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