Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Finds: Regicide, At Their Side on the Reg, I Go Bankrupt, and USA Finally Makes a Good Show

Note to newsletter-only readers: come on over to the actual site!  Your visits warm my heart and you get to see other ostensibly cool stuff.

I've decided to start a "Friday Finds" regular feature so that I can share stuff I've been in to over the past week without having to actually write full reviews. Also, I'm going to break the blog rules a bit and allow myself to include some not-quite-literary-or-infosci things because it's my blog and I can. Hooray!

First up, a report from the psychology department, via the Catnip Times, which is a thing:

Jonas Jonasson's The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden: A Novel, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles, has been absolutely delighting me.  This is one I can't wait to write about at length, but for now I'll say that it is a must-read if you like dry humor in madcap scenarios and following fun butterfly/domino/ripple effect tales. You'll also be nicely rewarded if you have a bit more global awareness than the average American, which sadly shouldn't take much. But in any event, I'm really having fun with it and I hope you might as well.

The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History by Jenny Volvovski, Julia Rothman, and Matt Lamothe is one of the advance review copies I was lucky enough to receive in my #ChronicleCrush box (which I really need to write about, ack!).  What a pleasing book. You get nerdy trivia, eye-catching illustrations, and gorgeous book design in one publication. This is a companion to the trio's The Where, the Why, and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science (2012).  It's a great book to read on its own but I also think it would make a mean coffee table book, way better than the usual Anne Geddes or look-what-my-dog-did bunk.  It comes out October 14, 2014, so preorder it or get ready for it in stores -- it's a keeper, not a borrower -- and be sure to get the hardcover edition only.

I have been rewatching Playing House, the brilliant USA Network comedy from Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair.  This past season was its first and the overbearing initial ad campaign had me looking for a reason to hate it, but I ended up becoming that obnoxious person who kept telling everyone in my world and perhaps even some strangers to get a-watchin'.  Parham and St. Clair are beloved in the comedy world, where they are known for being risky, smart, daring improv geniuses, but the rest of America is still catching on.  Playing House has Parham's character going through pregnancy single and best-friend-since-childhood St. Clair coming back from a job in China to help out.  It is somewhat reminiscent of Gilmore Girls in terms of the idyllic Connecticut setting and the witty dialogue, but it's much more mature and feels less scripted and more real.  That's the show's greatest strength -- it's the most realistic portrayal of friendship between adult women I've come across.  And you can't beat the supporting cast, including Keegan-Michael Key and the (regrettably underused) Zach Woods.  Watch it, love it, demand a second season of it.  DO THE RIGHT THING, USA.  If you can make room for Chrisley Knows Best, you can do us this solid.

For two wildly different reading experiences, try 1) Michael Ignatieff's outstanding interview on ISIS and Middle East intervention in Spiegel Online, and 2) this sweet post from Tina at BookishWanderings on classic cover art and design for books.

Completely unrelated to media consumption, but I found this site called Twice where you can buy designer clothing at insane discounts and also sell/trade-in your used items.  They make it all really simple and it's been great so far. (I swear this is not an ad and referrals benefit you waaay more than me.)  It's been helping some friends and family make money since I pointed it out, so if anyone else would like to learn more and join, here's my referral code, which gives you $20 in credit automatically!   If you are like me, you will sign up and then immediately proceed to pin the entire website oh god help me what is happeniiiiiiing...

Finally, this isn't something I've been into over the past week, but it's relevant to what people are talking about so I figured I'd share.  The death of Joan Rivers has people talking about the role of women in comedy, television, late-night programming, and so forth.  If you're interested in the subject and you've never read Live from New York, the incredible oral history of Saturday Night Live, you should.   You don't even need to be a fan of the show to find it fascinating.  But in any case, a recurring thread in the book is how women have broken (and not broken) through in front of and behind the camera, and it's just a really engrossing read and probably my all-time favorite oral history.  So if you're interested, there you go.

Godspeed, readers!  See you...tomorrow, maybe?  Shoot, I've got a backlog to tend to.

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