Obsessions #15: You're Telling Me a MILF Built This Manor?
Everything I've Been Reading, Watching and Listening to
This is Obsessions, a seasonal newsletter-within-a-newsletter highlighting everything I’ve been reading, watching, listening to and generally obsessing over for the past few months.
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What I’ve Been Reading
Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton
A slice-of-life graphic novel/memoir, Ducks tells the story of Beaton’s time working in Alberta’s Oil Sands in order to pay off her university debt after she graduated in the early 2000s. As one of the only women working in the camps, the memoir explores misogyny and work.
Halfway through, the story takes a difficult twist but is done with great vulnerability and strength. Ducks is the recent winner of this year’s Canada Reads; I think it’s tremendous that this kind of story is being shared with such a wide audience.
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
It took me a while to get through All My Puny Sorrows, which makes sense considering its heavy subject matter, but I’m so happy I read it. Based on real events in Canadian writer Miriam Toews’ life, the novel focuses on the relationship between sisters Yolandi and Elfrieda after Elf survives a suicide attempt.
It’s a rich and empathetic look at how mental health affects an entire family. Toews’ writing is exquisite and peppered with profound insights and laugh-out-loud jokes alike. This was the first book I’ve read by Toews; it more than lived up to the hype. This is literary fiction at its finest, people!
Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock by Jenny Odell
Jenny Odell’s How To Do Nothing is one of my favourite works of non-fiction released in the last five years, so I was very excited for her follow-up, Saving Time. The book is a bit of a mixed bag with Odell countering mainstream time management and work culture, as well as exploring more abstract ideas of time as they relate to nature and climate change.
I found this book the strongest when it was discussing the former and slightly weaker when it was taking on the former. Still, the chapters about productivity and leisure were excellent. Overall, I found it to be a worthwhile and interesting read, but I would suggest starting with How To Do Nothing if you’ve never read her work before.
What I’ve Been Watching
Donald Glover simply does not miss! Co-created by Glover and Atlanta writer Janine Nabers, Swarm is a seven-episode horror/dark comedy mini-series about Dre, a super fan of a Beyoncé-like pop star named Ni’jah. Taking place from 2016 to 2018, the show follows Dre as she becomes a killer devoted to protecting Ni’jah’s legacy online and in real life.
Swarm’s twists and turns are ultra-compelling to watch even when you want to look away, with each episode being very unpredictable. I loved how the series played with real pop culture events and how it tackled the nasty side of the obsessed fan. Although I think it’s genius, Swarm has received quite mixed reviews, so your mileage may vary.
Described by critics as “psychological torture,” MILF Manor is, quite literally, a 30 Rock joke made real. MILF Manor is a reality show that strands middle-aged moms and their 20-something sons in a Mexico resort and forces them to… date each other. But not like, their own sons! Just the other boys who are their sons’ age, of course.
If that sounds like an uncomfortable premise, it is! As a reality TV connoisseur, MILF Manor might just be one of the strangest things I’ve ever watched. The moms and sons are forced to share rooms, compete in erotic challenges and reveal secrets about their sex lives with each other. It’s horrible. If you are at all intrigued by this shitshow, spare yourself and watch Cody Ko’s YouTube recaps of it instead of the actual episodes.
Creed III might be one of the best Rocky movies and it doesn’t even have Sylvester Stallone in it. Directed by and starring Michael B. Jordan, this installment finds Apollo Creed retired and enjoying domestic life. When his old high school friend Damian is released from prison and tries to prove his boxing worth, Creed concedes to help him.
It’s an excellent film that does a lot of interesting stuff the other entries in the Rocky franchise don’t. Plus, Jordan is a huge anime fan, so all the fight scenes are shot like Naruto. I involuntarily yelled in the theatre while watching the final match, so you know it’s good.
I Like Movies
Written and directed by Chandler Levack, I Like Movies is one of the best independent Canadian movies I’ve seen in recent years. The film takes place in Burlington, Ontario in the early 2000s and stars a Grade 12 boy named Isaiah. Obsessed with movies, he gets a job at a video rental store where he strikes up a friendship with his older manager Alana.
The film is nostalgic and hilarious with a razor-sharp script that tackles weightier subjects in a way that only dark comedies can. While I had the chance to see it during its run at my local indie theatre, I don’t think it’s playing anymore, so keep your eyes out for it when it goes to streaming.
Marc Maron: From Bleak to Dark
My favourite type of comedy special is one where you cry at the end and Marc Maron’s latest certainly does just that. Reflecting on losing his girlfriend to cancer during the pandemic, From Bleak to Dark explores death, grief and mental health with Maron’s signature candor. Sample joke: “It was the worst day of my life, and probably hers too.”
The tone of the special isn’t going to be for everyone; some may find its frank discussions of death uncomfortable. But as a person who has also experienced the death of a close loved one, I really appreciated the honesty that Maron has in this special and found great comfort in hearing about his experience with grief.
What I’ve Been Listening To
10,000 gecs - 100 gecs
100 gecs is Blink-182 for neurodivergent queer people. Their sophomore album finds them tighter, catchier and dumber than ever before. Clocking in at just under 27 minutes, 10,000 gecs is a hyperpop blender filled with references to ska, nu-metal and the THX Deep Note.
Album stand-outs include “Hollywood Baby” and “Dumbest Girl Alive,” the latter of which contains the instantly iconic lyric, “Put emojis on my grave.” 10,000 gecs is the earworm of earworms and it’s pretty damn impossible to not hit play on the album again right after it stops.
You Must Remember This: Erotic 90’s
The latest installment of Karina Longworth’s beloved film history podcast follows up on their previous series, Erotic 80’s. Much like that season, Erotic 90’s addresses the culture wars of the era through the lens of film, feminism and sex.
While the series is still ongoing, early episodes have addressed the rise of Julia Roberts’ stardom via Pretty Woman and how Thelma & Louise sparked a national debate about violence against women.
Even if you’ve never heard of or seen the movies discussed, Longworth’s richly researched episodes provide you with all the context necessary. It’s a must-listen for those who love exploring history through the lens of pop culture.