Obsessions #7: Imagine if the Wordle was SHART
Everything I've been reading, watching and listening to in February
This is 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.
What I’ve Been Reading
I feel like I’ve been in a reading slump for a while now, which is not an amazing feeling as someone who has developed an Internet presence around reviewing books. I was really excited for John Darnielle’s Devil House, which I did a long review of here, but ultimately found disappointing.
I did read two things I really enjoyed this month: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwawke Emezi. I’m writing a long review of Station Eleven and its recent TV adaptation for next week’s newsletter, so stay tuned for that!
I’ve been meaning to read The Death of Vivek Oji since it was published in 2020 and it did not disappoint. It reminded me a lot of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, with the novel foreshadowing the death of the main character from the beginning, in addition to the repressed queerness of it all. I felt my attention waned a bit during the sections that focused on the parents, but I was completely gutted by the ending and I really enjoyed Emezi’s prose style.
While both novels were gorgeously written, they were also quite heavy, which was somewhat hard to sit with given that we’re living in multiple simultaneous dystopias right now. As a palette cleanser, I am currently reading Stephen King’s Misery, which is fun even though the writing feels somewhat dated. If you have any suggestions to get out of a reading slump, let me know. I think I just need to re-read some old favourites or take a trip to the bookstore for a little new book haul.
What I’ve Been Watching
Movie Theatre Round-Up
Since theatres reopened in Montreal in early February, I’ve been going every weekend to catch up on some Oscar nominees and new releases. While I heard great things about Licorice Pizza and Drive My Car, I ultimately didn’t like either. There are some interesting things happening in each film, but overall I was disappointed by both, Licorice Pizza especially.
Moving on to things I actually enjoyed: I’d never seen an Almodóvar film before I watched Parallel Mothers. My boyfriend said it was one of his lesser works, but I still enjoyed it. I found the theme of motherhood to be the strongest part, in addition to the two main performances and set design. If you enjoyed The Lost Daughter, I think you’d like this too.
My favourite new release, however, is definitely The Worst Person in the World. It has a strong literary quality to it (MAJOR Sally Rooney vibes). I really liked that it’s a coming-of-age story about a 30-year-old; aging the character up made it feel super modern. While it’s shot very true-to-life for the most part, there are some surreal sequences that knocked me out. And that third act destroyed me, especially the monologue about the ephemeral nature of art and life. Fuck, man. CINEMA!
I also was thrilled to finally see Jackass Forever. While it might be surprising, I have watched the entire TV show and every movie. Say what you want, but Jackass is pure kinetic entertainment. Who doesn’t want to see a man named Poopies get hit in the dick with a spring-loaded flip-flop? Seeing Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O for the first time in a decade was oddly emotionally profound. Jackass is GOOD!
Every Scream Movie
The latest Scream movie was also released in February, the fifth installment in the slasher franchise created by legendary horror director Wes Craven and the first in the series released since his death in 2015. I’d only seen the first Scream movie, so to prepare I went back and watched all the others.
Scream might be one of the best horror franchises EVER. Every entry in the series is a solid watch, even when some play with the format more than others. The writing is always razor-sharp and the films do a great job of combining comedy and mystery. While the first movie is definitely the best, Scream 2 is great, Scream 3 is good and Scream 4 is fucking AWESOME!
While the fifth movie was good, it was a little bit of a letdown after the strong twists and turns of the previous installment. Still, it was enjoyable, especially all of the jokes about “elevated horror.” Imagine begging Ghostface not to kill you because you love The Babadook?! Scream is GOOD!
Euphoria (Season Two)
Sunday nights have been stressful for the last two months, not only because of Euphoria’s subject matter but because Crave frequently crashed while I was trying to watch it live. I watched the first season of Euphoria last winter and immediately spent $50 on eyeliner afterward. I really loved the tight writing and ensemble cast, so I was super excited for Season Two.
Which was… up and down. While there were some high highs (Cal’s backstory set to an INXS soundtrack, Rue’s Good Time episode and Lexi’s play), there were some low lows (Nate and Cassie endlessly yelling at each other, Kat’s nonexistent role and every time there was yet another montage of footage we’d already seen).
I felt this season just wasn’t as concise as the first. Apparently, writer/director/creator Sam Levinson re-wrote the entire season after production was delayed due to the pandemic. I feel like these rewrites may have been overdone or too hasty; there was a real no narrative, just ~vibes~ feeling to this season that became annoying after a while.
I was also quite disappointed by the finale. Did Maddie really say, “It’s only the beginning” in a FINALE?! Did Rue really stay clean for the rest of the school year during a VOICEOVER?! AND WHAT ON EARTH HAPPENED TO LAURIE AND THE SUITCASE?!
I will continue to watch Levinson’s little elevated teen soap drama, but he needs to Get His Shit Together for Season Three.
What I’ve Been Listening To
I heard about this new podcast from the Who? Weekly Patreon newsletter. Instantly, I was so hooked I listened to every available episode in 48 hours. Normal Gossip is a new podcast from Defector hosted by journalist Kelsey McKinney. Each episode is devoted to sharing one long story about an IRL person, AKA it’s just some gossip about a normal person.
The stories are purposefully lighthearted and in good fun, not taking on anything actually negative or harmful about someone’s character. Frequent subjects are petty debacles with apartment neighbours and old friends from college. Describing it to my boyfriend, he said it sounded like “audio Seinfeld,” which is extremely accurate. I can’t wait for Season Two!
My Ticketmaster wallet is filled to the brim with concerts that have been delayed for this spring and summer. If they will actually happen, however, is up to circumstance. Still, when I saw that Peaches is touring for the 20th anniversary of the legendary The Teaches of Peaches album, I had to buy a ticket regardless.
Since then, I’ve been blasting Peaches non-stop. While I loved her music as a teenager, it’s been a few years since I revisited it. It more than holds up! It’s just the kind of sexy weird fun dance electropop that’s ideal for chair dancing. I am begging for this concert to actually happen so that I can finally do some standing dancing.
What I’ve Been Playing
I resisted Wordle for weeks, the smug grey, yellow and green squares everyone started posting on Twitter overnight. However, pandemic boredom got the best of me and I, too, occasionally started posting my score on Twitter, although not frequently because… I am very bad at Wordle.
I know this is ironic, coming from someone who is a “writer” and a “reader,” but it is my truth. I can’t count and spell at the same time. I have little patience for any type of game. I type the same three words into Wordle every morning (ALIKE, TROUT and MOPED) and then try to figure out the final word in less than two minutes. Could I become better at this game? Maybe. Do I want to be? No.
I think what I like about Wordle is just figuring out what word is, which makes going on Twitter easier to understand. I like seeing how Wordle tries to trick us; the KNOLL, VIVID and CYNIC days were a doozy. I almost lost my mind the day it was SHARD, because for a brief moment I thought the Wordle was actually going to be SHART. Can you IMAGINE?!
What I’ve Been Cooking
I’ve been in a bit of a culinary rut lately, as I always tend to be towards the end of a season. I’ve had it with my soups and stews, I just need good produce to be available again! Still, I tried a few new recipes that were hits.
Joshua Weissman’s $1 Healthy Rice Bowl was pretty good, although it definitely costs more than $1, especially if you are adding avocado. The teriyaki chicken was by far the best part, but the two sauces felt a bit like overkill. I also made this Kung Pao Chicken from Munchies, but subbed the chicken for crispy tofu. It was AMAZING! The sauce was perfectly balanced and I will definitely be making it again.
I made two different Split Pea Soup recipes: this vegan one from Budget Bytes and this bacon one from Alison Roman. I found the Budget Bytes one to be WAY better and highly recommend it. For Valentine’s Day, I made these Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms and thought they were really good and easy for a meatless special occasion meal.
Overall Review of February 2022
This Duolingo screenshot pretty much sums it up.
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