Jay: Greetings, friends! We here at the Fraudsters Almanac thought we would try doing a weekly wrap-up of the things that are currently drawing our attention, excitement, ire, or otherwise. We three all consume more than we can possibly review, and sometimes we revisit things we love but have already written about at length on the site, so here’s a space to quickly go over what’s piquing our interests.
So, illustrious colleagues, what’s on your respective plates right now?
Mark: I’m not currently hot on any new (or old) albums, but I have been listening to a lot of podcasts recently! A few weeks ago, This American Life presented an episode from a podcast called Love + Radio. Since then, I’ve been pouring through their archives. The stories are remarkable, more focused on allowing the subject to tell their own story than on heavily narrated explanations or pontification. One of the greatest hooks of the show is in that it seems to typically involve a bit of a turn or a twist that can take what may be an interesting tale into areas of challenging moral ambiguity. It is great. Check out this episode about a man working to inoculate himself against the venom of the world’s deadliest snakes!
While I’m certainly strapped in and ready to enjoy the new episodes of Game of Thrones (as I’m sure most of you are), I’m also trying to wrap my head around whether or not Netflix’s GLOW is a terrible show or a terribly fun show. It seems moronic and gratuitous, but I keep giving it a chance once a week or so and it may be winning me over. It is surely better than the other shows that I’m watching, The Mist and The Strain (which are both terrible shlock-fests), so I may as well just keep it on the docket.
I’ll also be eating foods and drinking beers! I’m looking for a good new book to read. If you’ve got any recommendations, please let me know.
Josh: I’m two months late to the party, but this week I finally tore into the second season of Master of None, which is every bit as charming and insightful as the first season of what I’ve called Netflix’s best original show. It’s more creatively broad and risky than season 1, but always in service of its characters. Aziz Ansari’s observations about love, race, and general millennial ambivalence are on the nose, sure. But maybe there’s room for a work that treats these issues with a less cynical hand than Twitter, and a less entitled one than HBO’s Girls. It’s sweet and funny and a little touched with melancholy rather than drowning in it. The first two episodes of season 2 are delightful, lyrical meditations on both the fear of love and the fear of missing out on it. That Ansari can so successfully subvert conventions by making this short, sweet, dorky Indian guy a romantic lead makes Master of None an indispensable cultural marker.
A recent episode of This American Life (“619: The Magic Show”) was about magic, which reminded me how much I fucking loved magic as a kid. One segment of the episode revolved around the famous 1983 trick in which David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear. I remember watching this segment (re-aired, obviously) on TV, probably in the early 90s and being blown away by it. Watch the Copperfield segment, and see if you can figure out how he did it. Then listen to the segment, “Act 2: The Lady Vanishes,” to hear the great story investigating how it was (probably) done. Just be mindful of spoilers all over Google and in the YouTube comments section.
Jay: Probably foremost on my mind is Okja, a Netflix-only movie written and directed by Bong Joon-ho, about a girl trying to save her genetically modified “superpig” from the slaughterhouse. I liked his goofy movies Snowpiercer and The Host, but my love for Okja is on a whole other level. If I were really to get into it, I’d probably end up writing some tedious 5000-word memoir about eating meat. So instead I’ll say this: Okja is kinetic, funny, well written, sweet, hopeful, often deeply saddening, has an excellent cast, and is absolutely worth watching. I loved it.
On a recommendation from a dear friend, I finally started reading the first book in Elena Ferrante’s lauded Neopolitan Novels, My Brilliant Friend. I doubt I could ever speak intelligently on it, but suffice it to say it’s a psychologically astute coming-of-age story. I’m enjoying it.
There is approximately a 100% probability that I will play more Dark Souls this weekend. I have an illness.
Monday, I’m going to see Lucy Dacus live in Vancouver, which is exciting because I loved her debut No Burden. I also got a sneak peek at Vire’s upcoming EP, No Screens, and am really enjoying it; expect to read more about it here when it’s finally released. And what’s this about a new Nine Inch Nails EP? More work for my illustrious colleague to do later! (Can’t wait to hear it all.)
That’ll wrap up this week’s In Rotation. Stay tuned for next week, when a slightly more hungover Mark inevitably shits on Phil Collins’ musical legacy, Josh shows remarkable patience and nuanced understanding of music in pop culture, and I squander my precious time on video games I’ve played a million times!