17 January 2020

“My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely.”

This Week

I’m not a fan of Januaries. Nothing personal against the month. The depths of winter just never go all that easy for me. So I’m still more or less plodding though. Let’s keep going, everyone.


Links

“Women ‘adjust’ their careers for family life, and we collectively build the trajectory to match our expectations. Women do, and women should, are tangled at the root.” Whatever happened to _____?

This is a stunningly beautiful essay about myths, identities and loss: “My Father and the Dragon King.”

“Aren’t we all woven through with stories? Isn’t that how we think of our lives, how we survive them? Now, when someone hurts me, I remember that they are only living the terms of their own fictions—sometimes desperately—so their selves don’t unravel.” Woven.

“It will be months until I call uncle and quit; it will take almost a year to realize I was gaslighting myself, that I was reading from someone else’s script.” Uncanny valley.

“Nothing is ever solved. Solving is an illusion. There are moments of spontaneous brightness, when the mind appears emancipated, but that is mere epiphany.” A graphical review of Patti Smith’s Year of the Monkey.


Reading/Watching/Listening

  • I finally got last year’s Haruki Murakami collection of stories, Men Without Women. I don’t tend to like his short stories as well as I do his novels, but this is a particularly cohesive and eloquent collection.

  • If you’re of the horror movie aficionado persuasion, there’s a gem of a film currently streaming on Shudder: The House of the Devil It’s an 70s/80s throwback in the best sense of the term, faithful to the style and feel of an old-school Satanic slasher but not cartoonishly self-aware.

  • Weirdo comedy Medical Police is now on Netflix. I find it absurd and delightful.


It’s okay to stay in and watch animal videos if you want. I just said so.

Love,

Jen


Connections

Substack archive: https://jenmyers.substack.com/archive

TinyLetter archive: http://tinyletter.com/jenmyers/archive

Essay archive: http://modernadventuress.com/

Website: http://jenmyers.net

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/jenmyers

Email: hello@jenmyers.net

Post: P.O. Box 13114 Chicago, IL 60613

This week’s quote is from Mary Oliver:

“It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.”

10 January 2020

“You are your best thing.”

This Week

Just muddling through this week. Send me all your Baby Yoda gifs.


Links

Writers and their writing tools.

Finding images of deceased loved ones on Google Maps Street View.

“The church is open to all. You’re free to bring your own instrument.” Fifty years of worship at the church of John Coltrane.

Fellow media log enthusiasts, director Steven Soderbergh has posted his 2019 “seen, read” list.

This is a very good examination of tattoo on film.

“I’m interested in this idea that hobbies can not only help us cope in times of crisis, but they can also foster in us a sense of personal liberty that, no matter how small, can help us resist tyranny.” Knitting at the end of the world.

“It’s hard to take risks — to know which risks are good for you and which risks are destructive. People destroy their lives in new ways every day. People with everything do this and people with nothing do this. It’s time for you to start to cultivate compassion for yourself, above all else, so that you can slowly start to feel compassion for the people around you.” Ask Polly.


Reading/Watching/Listening

  • Recently I picked up a copy of Stephen King’s Joyland (at the Dial Bookshop, which is a fantastic Chicago bookstore to patronize). Published by Hard Case Crime, it’s less of a horror story than a thriller and has plenty of King nostalgia, but I’ll always show up for pulpy carnival tales and this is a very enjoyable one.

  • The Criterion Channel is now streaming Jane Campion’s In the Cut, a dangerously dreamy take on the “serial killer stalks the streets” genre, centered on the depths of women’s desire. Meg Ryan is something to appreciate here. This film never got its full due.

  • Been listening to a lot of Lou Reed lately. No particular reason. It’s good gray January weather music.


Keep on coping.

Love,

Jen


Connections

Substack archive: https://jenmyers.substack.com/archive

TinyLetter archive: http://tinyletter.com/jenmyers/archive

Essay archive: http://modernadventuress.com/

Website: http://jenmyers.net

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/jenmyers

Email: hello@jenmyers.net

Post: P.O. Box 13114 Chicago, IL 60613

This week’s quote is from Toni Morrison.

3 January 2020

“I keep turning over new leaves, and spoiling them, as I used to spoil my copybooks; and I make so many beginnings there never will be an end.”

This Week

Welcome to the new year, friends. Your mileage may vary, but a clean slate state of mind is rarely a bad thing.

The official end of last year means that I wrapped up my year in watching, reading and listening to things. I read 66 books and watched 376 films. I didn’t listen to many podcasts. I only went to a couple theater performances. This year was clearly for movie catch-up. Which is fine! I like movies, and I filled in a lot of gaps this past year.

I put together my customary list of things I liked in 2019, including books, films, television series, theater performances, websites and places. And whatever Baby Yoda is.

I also completed my yearly media log, my third complete year since I began with 2017. I also wrote last year about why and how I keep such a log, including the HTML template I use so you can grab it and create your own log on your website. If you do grab it and create your own log, I’m now adding links to other logs at the template repository. Send me a pull request to add your own.

I usually write a personal rundown of the year past, but I found I wasn’t inspired to do one for 2019. It was not a bad year, but it was an odd and quiet one. My energy was taken up with things like moving (not a particularly fun thing to do as a single adult with a kid), looking for a new job and trying to find the heart of my creative work. Large-scale visions come easily to me, but I’m still learning not only how to break them down into manageable parts, but also how to determine whether something is truly worth making. Just because something could functionally work as a story or project doesn’t always mean it’s something I’m meant to make. Instead of working from the outside in, I’ve been learning how to move from the inside out. Instead of creating from the top and breaking it down, I’m trying to start from the bottom and building up. In short, this year has involved more thinking, considering and exploring than it has action or production; the result of which is that I don’t have a simple list of accomplishments to share. Which is fine. These years are just as necessary as any others.

I would like to foretell more finished projects in 2020, but the truth is I have no idea what my timeline looks like anymore. All I can say is that there are many things I want to make and I haven’t given up figuring out how. The rest will take the time that it takes.

Wishing you all clarity and peace as we move on.


Links

The decade of enduring male fragility.

How we killed the old internet.

Is it time to embrace the idea of “digital nutrition”?

Welcome to the era of the post-shopping mall.

“The Final Girl is an empty promise. What it seems to offer women is the guarantee of survival if we do everything right. But what it actually ensures is that, if you are hurt, there will be a way to trace it back to a rule you broke. You become the Final Girl by attrition, not achievement. You can’t earn the title. You can only outlast everyone who didn’t get it.” A love letter to the girls who die first in horror films.

35 directors on their favorite movies and television of 2019.

Directors on their hidden gem films of the 2010s.

The most anticipated films of 2020.

I liked The Mandalorian more and more as the season went on and the season finale was fantastic. Alan Sepinwall breaks down why it was so good.

“The adoration that fan art owns up to, unapologetically, isn’t girly; it’s fucking magic.” Girls’ fan art isn’t embarrassing—it’s radical.

I like the idea of Submittable’s #Rejection100 challenge. This year, resolve to be rejected as often as you can, from anything that will reject you.

“If a person’s behavior doesn’t make sense to you, it is because you are missing a part of their context. It’s that simple.” Laziness does not exist.


Reading/Watching/Listening

  • I didn’t rush out and see Little Women (now in theatrical release) right away—not because I didn’t want to see it but because I knew I wasn’t emotionally prepared to handle it over much of the holidays. But I made it out for a New Year’s Eve viewing. And it’s really wonderful. Spirited and beautiful and modern.

  • I saw The Last Black Man in San Francisco pop up on others’ recommendations throughout the past year but I hadn’t been able to catch it. It is now, however, on Amazon Prime, and it’s worth watching. It’s a romantic sort of film, in the classical sense of word, that wears its opinionated heart on its sleeve, and it’s about societal change and responsibility as much as it’s about how people determine which stories they need to tell to survive, and which stories they need to tell to thrive.

  • Like many another bookish child, I filled myself with mythology when I was younger. I had a kids encyclopedia of Greek and Roman gods and stories that I basically committed to memory. In high school, I read everything from Edith Hamilton to Euripides just to get more of those stories. Now, as a grown women, it would seem I’m the target audience for Nina MacLaughlin’s Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung, a thick volume of something approaching prose poetry that remixes Ovid’s tales with modern, feminist sensibility. If you ever wanted to read about Eurydice as an indie musician fleeing to the underworld to escape her abusive rock star partner, this book is for you.


Happy new year. You got this.

Love,

Jen


Connections

Substack archive: https://jenmyers.substack.com/archive

TinyLetter archive: http://tinyletter.com/jenmyers/archive

Essay archive: http://modernadventuress.com/

Website: http://jenmyers.net

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/jenmyers

Email: hello@jenmyers.net

Post: P.O. Box 13114 Chicago, IL 60613

This week’s quote is from Louisa May Alcott, Little Women.

27 December 2019

“All things are ready, if our mind be so.”


Just dropping a quick note for you all this week, as I am taking some time to rest and stay off of the internet. I hope you all are able to take a deep breath before the new year.

Whether you are a new reader or you’ve been around for years, I’m sincerely grateful for you. As I’ve been looking for a new job over the past couple of months, I heard more than one reference to a network of folks who read the newsletter and it was heartwarming. I truly appreciate you reading, sharing and linking. It’s nice to feel a bit of the old internet I knew that was characterized by human expression and connection still exists via email. I love you all almost as much as I love Baby Yoda. That’s, like, a lot.

Happy new year.

Love,

Jen


Connections

Substack archive: https://jenmyers.substack.com/archive

TinyLetter archive: http://tinyletter.com/jenmyers/archive

Essay archive: http://modernadventuress.com/

Website: http://jenmyers.net

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/jenmyers

Email: hello@jenmyers.net

Post: P.O. Box 13114 Chicago, IL 60613

This week’s quote is from William Shakespeare.

20 December 2019

“Just keep going. No feeling is final.”

This Week

I made a playlist of songs I like from 2019. Here it is. You can listen to it.

A quick note on the stuff going to paid subscribers: last week I sent an essay about my love of lists. It’s neat. You can read it.

I hope you’re heading into a time of relative rest and relaxation, no matter what your holiday status.


Links

The 2019 haters’ guide to the Williams-Sonoma catalog.

Manohla Dargis on Hollywood’s crisis of masculinity.

The feminist horror of Black Christmas 1974 and Black Christmas 2019.

How Indigenous people have embraced and made art from their connection to Star Wars.

The best true crime books of 2019.

A collection of videos and resources about the loneliness of Edward Hopper paintings.

In a tiny Japanese town where the last children have grown up and many adults have moved away, a woman makes life-size dolls to fill the empty places.

The Far Side is now online.

“Just because everybody loves a story about a woman who is losing her power (or better yet, never had power to begin with), that doesn’t mean it’s true. Beloved stories shared by all are sometimes the least true things in this vast sparkling universe.” Ask Molly.


Reading/Watching/Listening

  • What better way to celebrate the holidays than with a feminist slasher film? The original 1974 Black Christmas is a great film (streaming on Shudder now, by the way), and this modern updated version of Black Christmas doesn’t pull any punches expressing its opinions. Recommended for those who want to burn down the patriarchy.

  • Also on Shudder is a little-known Japanese film called One Cut of the Dead. It starts out as a low-budget horror movie within a horror movie: while on set filming a zombie movie, real zombies attack the cast and crew. It then morphs into something else, no spoilers, but it remains a good time. This movie is just a straight-up blast to watch. It made me feel like I just got off a super fun theme park ride. Recommended for everyone.

  • I suppose I should make mention of the wars among the stars. I don’t have a lot to say. I had lowered expectations and that was probably for the best. But I do give full marks to Lando’s coat.


At least we still have Baby Yoda.

Love,

Jen


Connections

Substack archive: https://jenmyers.substack.com/archive

TinyLetter archive: http://tinyletter.com/jenmyers/archive

Essay archive: http://modernadventuress.com/

Website: http://jenmyers.net

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/jenmyers

Email: hello@jenmyers.net

Post: P.O. Box 13114 Chicago, IL 60613

This week’s quote is from Rainer Maria Rilke.

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