Welcome back to recommendations posts! You’ll notice I just gave up on my idea of making some kind of numbers pun for every subject line. It was never worth it. I apologize for trying.
I have a couple of inching-towards-fall recommendations in here, but if you need to hold onto summer a little longer, I implore you to watch Lana Del Rey’s “Doin’ Time” video if you haven’t already. Her cover of a misogynistic Sublime song sounds like a dream ballet, and the pitch-perfect video makes me want to steal a VMA to give it to Lana right now.
Book time again
Stephen McCauley’s My Ex-Life is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. It follows the unexpected reunion of exes Julie and David, who were married in their early 20s before David came out of the closet. Now a few decades later, Julie is a mom barely keeping it together during her divorce from her second husband, and David lives a lonely life across the country helping rich kids with college prep. Julie’s teenage daughter Mandy, feeling spiteful and rebellious during her parents’ divorce, tracks David down online and invites him to come visit for a few weeks under the guise of helping her with her college applications. It’s a warm, witty book with some unexpectedly dark parts and it’s a really enjoyable read.
Moody tunes for fall
The Rayland Baxter song was recommended by my friend and coworker Veronica, who also introduced me to How Far is Tattoo Far? because she contains multitudes.
A nice first-person essay
“When Someone You Know is Gay,” at the Paris Review, was a really sweet read about growing up and figuring things out about yourself. (Its depiction of bisexuality also happens to mirror my experience exactly.)
You have to understand that this was the era of the Gay-Straight Alliance, that oasis of plausible deniability; the following year, when I joined my high school’s GSA, it was universally understood that we were all S people, in selfless A with the abstract idea of G people.
An easy food and a hard food
If you feel like putting some effort into a salad, Half Baked Harvest’s Honeycrisp Apple and Kale Salad is EXTREMELY DELICIOUS. I don’t eat meat, so I substitute tempeh bacon for prosciutto and it’s certainly not as good but that’s a choice I have to live with. It’s still extremely good, to me. I love all the fall flavors — the maple and cinnamon coating on the pumpkin seeds, the fig and apple cider vinaigrette — and the fact that it makes me eat kale, which I normally do not.
If you do not want to put any effort into a meal at all, here is a very quick tuna salad recipe that’s also a little autumnal: mash up an avocado with a can of tuna (the kind in oil, not in water). Add tart dried cherries, crushed pecans, and black pepper. I like it with Pepperidge Farm Harvest Wheat crackers but they’re IMPOSSIBLE to find in the city and I have to order them online like the fussy nightmare human that I am.
Do you know about Todd??
Todd in the Shadows is my favorite YouTuber. He does mostly does pop song reviews, but he has other series — retrospectives of the careers of one-hit wonders, analyses of albums bad enough to ruin an artist’s career, and reviews of every movie Madonna was ever in — and I love them all.
I have watched every one of his videos multiple times (except for his “Shake It Off” review because that song is so viscerally annoying to me I can’t sit through it). His in-depth coverage is just a balm for my brain, and his actual love of pop music and pop culture means he comes from a place of legitimate criticism and not just Internet assholery. If you’ve never seen his stuff, I recommend his “Dear Future Husband” review as a good starting place because that song is an absolute disaster and it’s a joy to watch him tear it apart. “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” and “7 Years” are also great entry points.
Okay, that’s it for me! Have a great day and here is a gay avocado that I found when looking up stock photos for this post: