Misreading Roundup: Halloween Shows, Belgian Beers, Books
I used to do this thing on LiveJournal where I would regularly review random assortments of things that usually don't get reviewed together and I'm thinking of trying it out here. Welcome back to 2005! Now with emoji rating system I'm nicking from Joe's Midnight Movie Reviews.
I know it's sort of a cottage industry within the review world—I wrote a little bit about these kind of reviews before in this blog post—but I have been scrambling for something to talk about this month, not because the world isn't eventful or anything, but just because I couldn't find the right way to write about any of it.
So here it goes!
This is an Extremely Seasonal offering on Netflix right now where real life experiences of the transmundane. There's a very Unsolved Mysteries feel to all of it, and I approve.
I'm giving it five little-used scary emojis:
The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell
This is another Netflix original custom built for Halloween. It's ostensibly a baking show, if you want to eat cookies and cupcakes that look like they're possessed, though Christine also gives guides on how to make dresses and ghoulish craft decorations, as the plot demands. I don't watch that many cooking shows, but this is the first one that I know of that even has a scripted plot. And the supporting cast of authentic Jim Henson puppets is endearing and gross. Very strange. Very like.
This show gets nine emoji household items that might be used to commit murder:
I could have also just titled this review as "Belgium" or "Brussels" because mainly the text would be exactly the same. Last weekend a lovely friend had us over and showed us the best Brussels and Ghent had to offer; by quantity, that was beer.
It's an experience that is elegant and elevates (elegates?) beer drinking. I loved it, but can't recommend it for anyone who isn't into to wine-strong, monk-brewed beer with recipes that have been passed down in abbeys for hundreds and hundreds of years. With some of these, the flavor and strength could really be mistaken for wine (particularly one rossbier not pictured). The glassware didn't help.
Speaking of glass, what the hell is that? And why? I thought this must be some bizarre mediaeval shit but when I got home I looked it up: Although Bosteels Brewery has a nice story about it being a glass for coachmen who were not able to stop to drink, it turns out that Kwak itself and the glass/wooden contraption it's served in were only invented in the mid-1980s. It's just intentionally convoluted design that recalls antiquated complexity: it's basically Monkpunk.
I give it ten emoji goblets full of kriek:
Lords of the Schoolyard by Ed Hamilton
Having been bullied and having bullied myself too, Ed Hamilton's Lords of the Schoolyard (Sagging Meniscus Press 2017) was uncomfortably familiar. I think there will be some readers who won't be able to endure Tommy and Johnny, the titular characters of this book. But in its resolution, this book deals with its bullies a lot like the way bullies are dealt with in real life: they get older. The kind of comeuppance that they get doesn't seem effective enough, no one really is happy here, there's no justice. It's the dream where you can fight back, but your punches have absolutely no effect. Only it's not a dream, you're completely wide awake.
Five emoji punches from a schoolyard bully:
Liberating the Astronauts by Christina M. Rau
There is a new movie about astronauts out this month, but before you head out to the theater, or while you wait in line for tickets, or before the movie starts, think about reading through the poems in Christina M. Rau's 2017 collection Liberating the Astronauts (Aqueduct Press 2017). This book spins a small cosmos for itself, populated with the crews and the spacecrafts and the media that brought them back to us on Earth, part mystic experience, part propaganda. Recent winner of this year's Elgin Award.
I give it seven space emojis:
Not being on Facebook
The other day I was sitting with someone who proudly proclaimed they weren't on Facebook anymore, adding "I'm free!" There is a real joy that comes with not having to feel chained to the Facebook social media experience. I have spent increasingly less time on Facebook. But signing in just the other day I immediately saw its value, or some of its value. A birth announcement, a death announcement, someone happy about their new poems accepted. And yes the fucking birthdays. Not being there, missing that, that doesn't entirely feel responsible, not as a friend (a real one) or as a member of a community.
Three Facebook likes: