Obsessions #2: Harry Hamlin's Bolognese Lunch
Everything I've Been Reading, Watching and Listening to in September
This is the second edition of Obsessions, a monthly newsletter-within-a-newsletter highlighting all of the things I’ve been reading, watching, listening to, and generally obsessing over for the past few weeks. Make sure to comment on everything you’ve been obsessing over lately too!
What I’ve Been Reading:
I only read three books this month, two of which I’ve already written long reviews of here and here (I’m still distressed by how boring I found the new Sally Rooney). The third book was an advance copy of Montreal writer Helen Chau Bradley’s short story collection, Personal Attention Roleplay, which is being released mid-October by the wonderful Metonymy Press. I really liked it, especially the way that Chau Bradley wrote about children and queer desire.
I’m really excited about two new books by Megan Milks that were just released this month: the novel Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body, and the second addition to Instar Books’ Remember The Internet series, Tori Amos Bootleg Webring. I’ve got a funny feeling I’m going to adore both. I think October might be the month that I attempt to read Shuggie Bain. Hopefully, the hype surrounding THIS contemporary Scottish writer won’t disappoint me too much.
What I’ve Been Watching:
Dangerous Game: I decided to watch this after hearing it recommended by Tranna Wintour on The Mixed Reviews podcast. It took some hunting down (the only place I could find a copy was the Montreal Public Library) but it was well worth it. Directed by neo-noir filmmaker Abel Ferrara, Dangerous Game is a 1993 meta-movie-within-a-movie, starring Harvey Keitel, James Russo and Madonna. In this film, the lines of what’s true and what’s not are blurred until they’re completely illegible. Whoever says Madonna can’t act hasn’t seen this, because she acts her fucking ass off. As one Letterboxd review puts it, “pure nihilism, absolute hatred, madonna is a god.”
Heathers: I decided to watch Heathers for the first time since high school and you know what? I loved it even more than I did before. The writing of this movie is so fresh, funny and apt that it still feels so forward-thinking today, despite the fact that it was made in 1989. The DVD case I got from the library for it said, "Without HEATHERS, there would be JAWBREAKER, no MEAN GIRLS and certainly no JUNO," and I think the DVD case is right. Heathers is the best high school/teen film ever made. I am ready to die on this hill.
The Real Housewives Televisual Universe: There was a moment in September after Drag Race All Stars 6 ended where there were no new episodes of Drag Race for the first time in nine months. What’s a girl to do in order to get her camp reality TV fix? Join Hayu! For only $5.99 a month, I got the streaming service featuring Bravo programming, including every season of Real Housewives under the sun.
I will admit: I’m a Housewives casual. I’ve seen bits and pieces since the franchise premiered in 2006, mostly from tuning into random episodes on Slice during my teen years. I was familiar with the faces, but not the nuanced intricacies of the particular city offshoots and plot details. Hearing so much about Erica Jayne in the news led me to the latest city of Beverly Hills, which I liked, and the first season of Salt Lake City, which I liked even more.
The weird thing about watching Housewives is the sheer class analysis of it all, particularly during the latest season of Beverly Hills, which was shot during the pandemic. It really hits you watching all the stars of the show walking around maskless, going on vacation, and having dinner in groups, contrasted with the staff waiting on them in full PPE. Watching Harry Hamlin spend as much on groceries for his “bolognese luncheon” as I spend on food for a month made me want to shoot the cook.
Still, the franchise is absorbing; I’ve ventured out to the spin-off Vanderpump Rules, which I find slightly more proletariat-leaning due to its nature as being about hot servers. I’m obsessed with Giggy the Dog.
Reservation Dogs: My boyfriend is obsessed with Taika Waititi, so much so that we have a gigantic framed Jojo Rabbit poster in our apartment. When he heard Waititi’s new show Reservation Dogs was finally available to stream in Canada on Disney+, we hit play the first moment we could. It’s excellent! The half-hour comedy/drama (com-drom?) focuses on four Indigenous teenagers in Oklahoma and features a primarily Indigenous cast and crew, including poet Tommy Pico as one of the show writers. I’m sad the episodes are only released once a week because the show is such a treat I want to marathon it all at once. Thankfully, it’s already been renewed for another season.
Survivor 41: Come on in, guys! Except Jeff Probst said “guys” is canceled now. After 16 long months with no new episodes of Survivor, Season 41 has finally returned, and as a lifelong superfan, I couldn’t be happier. This season marks the first shot after the show committed to greater diversity inclusion with a cast that is 50% or more people of colour. Switching up the typical casting is already making the series more fun, as well as the new twists and advantages introduced in the game. There are three out LGBTQ+ contestants, a rarity for the show, and I am loving them all (I even picked Evvie in the draft for my Survivor fantasy league). The first few episodes have been great and I, for one, am just thrilled there is no more Extinction Island.
Supermarket Sweep: IT’S MINI SWEEP TIME! Supermarket Sweep has also returned for another season. I became obsessed with the reboot of this classic game show during the long COVID winter and it is my firm belief that every game show should feature the host yelling at contestants when they fail. You can read a long essay about my thoughts on the show from a March edition of my newsletter here.
What I’ve Been Listening To:
The Dropout - Elizabeth Holmes on Trial: I’m not really a true crime person, but I’ve become absolutely obsessed with the story and trial of Theranos girl boss grifter Elizabeth Holmes. Honestly, the whole story behind Theranos is so fascinatingly fucked up, it’s a really great binge-listen.
Various New Albums: Remember last month when I said I never get excited about new music anymore? Well, I’ve done a 180. Tons of great new releases came out this past month, including Lil Nas X, Lady Gaga, Kacey Musgraves, and Macy Rodman, the latter of which I have been bopping to especially frequently. Also, did anyone else notice the similarity between Charli XCX’s video for “Good Ones” and My Chemical Romance’s video for “Helena,” or was that just me?!
What I’ve Been Cooking:
Don’t get me wrong, I love the abundance of summer produce as much as the next person, but my cooking strengths rely greatly on the use of my oven, which I didn’t even turn on once all summer due to living in an apartment without air conditioning. With the cooler weather, I’ve turned back to some of my favourite rich, cozy fall meals.
Alison Roman’s Goodbye Meatballs are the best I’ve ever made (the trick is to soak the breadcrumbs in ricotta). I made lasagna for the first time ever using Joshua Weissman’s recipe for $1 Lasagna, which is probably more like a $4 Lasagna in Canada, but whatever. I’ve also gotten back into my quiche habit, this guide from Sally’s Baking Addiction is really helpful and it’s even easier if you use a frozen store-bought crust.
And, of course, as soon as it was September 1st, I was at Starbucks, ordering a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I don’t drink coffee normally, but even I have to make an exception for what is the best seasonal hot beverage known to humankind. Even better was the PSL Cold Brew with Sweet Cream, which definitely gave me caffeine shakes but was well worth it. If you’re craving pumpkin but find PSLs too sweet, I love this recipe for Pumpkin Muffins from The KITCHN, which I make at the end of September every year like clockwork.
Thanks for reading! The next newsletter comes out the week of Oct. 18. Make sure to subscribe to never miss a newsletter and to like, comment, and share it if you enjoyed it - it really helps me find more people interested in my writing. You can find me in the meantime on Goodreads, Letterboxd, Twitter, and Instagram.