things i am watching and/or reading and/or listening to instead of doing my work

survivor
am i the last remaining dinosaur watching this fucking show? probably! was i a paying subscriber of paramount+ before it was cool to have access to all 40 seasons so i could watch them ad nauseam? definitely! man, this show is still good, even after all these fucking years. it still gives me a thrill to hear jeff probst shout “come on in, guys!” to a group of seemingly smart and cunning people who have chosen to starve and get stung by exotic bugs while wearing filthy underwear just for the chance to compete in punishing physical challenges to win an applebee’s cheeseburger production flew to tahiti. i cannot believe we are lucky enough to still have this show. will jeff ever get tired of risking malaria exposure to provide color commentary for lawyers with vacation beards wearing stained boxer briefs as they try to knock down targets with a rotting coconut? i hope not!

the us open
for a person who is only good at lying down, i watch a lot of goddamn sports. mostly football and basketball, but i could spend a good chunk of time watching baseball if i had to? i used to watch wimbledon when i was a kid because i never did anything over the summer and we didn’t have cable, plus i had an inexplicably large crush on boris becker and didn’t mind spending hours on a saturday morning waiting for him to appear. and then years later when venus and serena arrived i got a letter from the naacp saying that if i didn’t watch every single available match my membership would be revoked and who am i to break their rules??? long story long i still watch tennis, i love naomi and djokovic and frances tiafoe and i was bummed when coco gauff lost, but mostly i love to turn the tv on and find a program that is nine literal hours long.

defector dot com
let’s stick to sports: drew magary is one of my favorite writers of all time, i do not know him personally and never want to because i would probably break down in tears, i have read his books multiple times and i read everything he ever wrote at deadspin and i pay to read his new site defector and i don’t know how he manages to be so smart and funny while also raising kids and watching every vikings game but i am in awe. (if you have not read his yearly hater’s guide to the williams sonoma catalog what are you even doing????????) my favorite thing he does every year is a series called “why your team sucks” in which he breaks down what stinks about every nfl team in the league and every entry always takes me OUT. i understand that i am maybe the only person reading this who also records first take and PTI every day so skip this if you don’t care, just remember he! writes! books! too!

the chair
i’ve been on the record as a sandra oh stan for a while now and listen, i don’t know shit about academia or interoffice campus politics (please don’t make me remind you that i only went to high school) but goddamn this is a good ass show. i deleted my twitter a couple months ago because regular exposure to millions of other people’s brain worms was going to kill me, if my own smooth ass brain didn’t take me out first. i first realized shit was bad when, upon leaving the movie zola, my first thought as my eyeballs adjusted to the sunlight outside the theater was “am i allowed to like that? i better look at some tweets to make sure it’s okay.” excuse me??????? that is a disease! how am i so unsure of my own opinions (or terrified that some stranger i will never meet will disapprove of them or call them problematic even when they only exist inside my head) that i can’t decide whether or not i like a piece of art i paid real money to consume??? all that to say that i have zero regrets save for one: i don’t hear about pop culture shit the minute it drops anymore, so now your mom and i are on the same delayed schedule when it comes to watching new shows. the upside, of course, is that i get to avoid all of the discourse that has ruined everything i’ve ever watched since 2008 or whatever. anyway i heard about the chair from one of those “top suggestions for samantha” emails netflix sends me five times a day and started watching it immediately and it rules.

reservation dogs
get on hulu and watch it right now this show is incredible.

good neighbors sarah langan
okay so the back of the book looked interesting as hell, all the blurbs were from authors that made my eyebrows shoot up to my hairline, and then i saw it on this list of grady hendrix’s favorite horror books and i snatched it up immediately. i don’t know how to describe it other than GOOD AS HELL, stressful and infuriating and horrifying and funny. i read 170 pages in one sitting and i’m mad i stopped reading it to write this newsletter. it’s so good!!!!!

power (i’ve seen the entire series but i’m watching it again, which feels bleak tbh)
i started watching power after the first season aired in 2014, when STARZ did one of those “get this channel free for a week so we can bamboozle you into paying double the price for it later” promotions, and they played the entire season on a loop for that free weekend. it has everything i ever want in a show: rich, ruthless people; men in suits; men shouting in suits; men fighting in suits; badass women; sumptuous, luxurious interiors; and a killer theme song. it’s why i like succession so much. ooh and billions, except change “killer theme song” to “damien lewis’s cashmere hoodie collection.” power is about a drug kingpin with a heart of gold (of course) who wants to go legit. well, kind of legit. he wants to open a fancy nightclub and sell drugs there but he also wants his kids to be smart and go to private school? no really, he shoots a lot of people and evades the law and cheats on his wife, but he looks good and he’s nice about it. i love a gritty melodrama, which is probably the way your dad would describe it so please forgive me. it’s really good, and by the time they got to the final season the plot gets ridiculous in the absolute best way. anyway, i mainlined six episodes yesterday instead of using my brain for something useful because i love this shit so much. oh, also: 50 cent is on it. i should have led with that.

wendy williams hot topics
i like low stakes celebrity news, but i love when that news is extremely specific and full of conjecture and unfounded opinions. this is why i love wendy. i don’t want a cheerful man with too many teeth to read me a puff piece on bradley cooper’s dogs, i want to listen to a menopausal woman in a good wig speculate on who bradley cooper is boning! i want real housewife gossip breathlessly delivered to me like it’s the fucking news! now listen, i don’t want to watch wendy interview HGTV house flippers or whoever the hell else is on the second half of her morning show, i want to watch her make faces at the camera while trying to pronounce “gigi hadid,” so i skip the daily broadcast and watch all of the week’s hot topics clips on youtube in one fell swoop with my phone right up to my eyeballs while screeching “DRAKE DID WHAT?” while on the toilet.

who? weekly
s
peaking of d-list celebrity news that only matters to me: i continue to be obsessed with the podcast who? weekly. like, pay money for the bonus newsletter and patreon podcast OBSESSED. basically lindsey and bobby talk about all of the celebrities you have maybe heard of but don’t really know who they are, which is my favorite genre of famous person. i was late to the party because i like to pretend that i am too busy to listen to podcasts even though i literally am never doing anything, but all my friends were on the bandwagon years ago, so now i’m trying to listen to the two new weekly episodes plus bonus episodes plus a couple of old episodes until i get fully caught up. it’s a project. but worth it. 

doja cat planet her
i am the first person to admit that i don’t know *how* to talk about music. i know when i like something but i don’t have an artful way of explaining why, so i always hesitate to write about music because i don’t want to sound like an idiot. with that in mind, here are the songs i have on repeat:
“naked”
“been like this”
“kiss me more”
“woman”
“ain’t shit”
“get into it (yuh)”

home movies
y’all know i love alison roman, and her cookbooks, but i really love her youtube channel. her videos are a good distraction as i avoid trying to come up with essay ideas that aren’t stupid or boring, especially this one in which she threw a hot dog birthday party. my dream, realized!

gone girl
i promise i’m not a freak, BUT: gone girl is one of my favorite “comforting put it on in the background while doing other things” movies. i’m not sure what that says about my personality, but i love love loved the book, and (if i think about the movie as a separate entity from the book because movies are never as good as the books upon which they are based) i love the movie, too. maybe i just love ben affleck brooding in a dark, gloomy bar, but it’s so creepy and unsettling and is the perfect backdrop for “thinking about things while staring into space” aka “writing jokes.”

judge mathis
if you receive this newsletter then i’m sure you are uncomfortably familiar with my deep and abiding love for one judge gregory ellis mathis. his televised courtroom show came out when i was 19 and i have been a loyal consumer of it ever since, and i am about to turn 42 in a few months. it is, unfailingly, my longest relationship? i mean, my parents died when i was 18 so technically i’ve known him longer than i knew them. would it be weird if i started calling him “dad?” one day i tweeted “should i write a blog about who’s on judge mathis every day?” and enough people responded YES that i 1 immediately regretted having asked this joke question on a public forum that would hold me accountable and 2 started this newsletter. how fucking stupid am i to let an offhand joke that i thought would make three people laugh turn into a JOB. i am my own worst enemy, truly.

brittany howard jaime (reimagined)
man, can this woman sing. i’m not sure what you call this, a remix album? a reinterpretation record??? i’m already starting to feel my brain leaking out of my ears, so i’ll just say that these are new versions of the songs on her last record, reimagined by artists like bon iver and childish gambino. my main jams are “he loves me” (feat 9th wonder!!!!! and common!!!!!!!!!) and and “baby” (feat syd from the internet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) but the whole thing bumps, for real.

various beauty youtubers
earlier today i took a break from not working to engage in my favorite pastime: watching young people put makeup on their faces while talking to a camera. i had no idea this was even a thing until my friend stef sent me a jaclyn hill video years ago and i watched, mesmerized, as she transformed herself from a regular person to...a regular person with shiny cheeks and five layers of eyeshadow that just end up looking brown. i can spend hours down these rabbit holes with jackie aina, manny gutierrez, patrick starr, kathleen lights, et al, just watching them apply creams and lotions and powders to their luminous faces while hunched protectively over a plate of pizza rolls, grumbling like an ogre, wearing a crusty sweatshirt i’ve had on for the last three days.

it’s too bad all these words aren’t fit to go into a book, because that might solve a lot of my damn problems. i made a fall playlist filled with songs i’m feeling these days, and it’s still coming together but it’s pretty good so far if you need some tunes for driving around admiring crunchy red leaves or staring at the wall over your computer. also if you need a new show and you like weird gay comedy please watch the second season of work in progress which is (partially) out on showtime right now. among other reasons you should watch it because i am a ~consulting producer~ on this season which is a fancy way of saying i wrote some of it. okay i gotta go think of something to write 80,000 words about before december. *groan*