Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Character is destiny, Heraclitus said. Know yourself, or watch helplessly as you are torn to pieces by the latest hurricane to sweep through society. You need a bedrock to cling to when that storm comes, because like a noisome wedding guest descending upon the table where you had been quietly enjoying your meal, it will try its damndest to sweep you off your feet and ruin your evening. (I’m kidding. Sometimes I do like dancing. It depends on my level of intoxication. But darnit, this isn’t about me! I’m not some self-obsessed…oh never mind.)

What a decade ago had been…

As Matthew Futterman wrote in the New York Times back in February, the decision by Melbourne officials to remove fans from the Australian Open, in accordance with the latest Covid-related lockdown in the city, immediately drained the energy from the proceedings. (After this “snap” lockdown, fans would return for the semifinal rounds on through to the finals.)

As a spectator watching remotely, I could only let out a sigh, adding it to the collection of dashed expectations cluttering an increasingly decrepit corner of my mind. Funny, how easy it is to learn to live—or at least, to function—under a never-ending…

Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman. (Courtesy of Focus Features)

It is in all likelihood an inextricable, incorrigible component of my male toxicity that, after watching Carey Mulligan in a scene from Promising Young Woman, the glitzy, lip-glossy, curse-wrapped-like-a-candy film from Emerald Fennell, I found myself humming the melody from Belle and Sebastian’s “Step Into My Office, Baby”—only, I changed the lyrics to Spit into my cof-fee, baby.

I’ll explain. Carey Mulligan plays Cassandra “Cassie” Thomas, an on-the-cusp-of-her-thirties medical school dropout who now works in a coffee shop and lives at home. Like so many millennials she is, on the surface, a loser.

Her comportment in both locales is rather…

Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges in The Fisher King

In January, I watched The Fisher King. It was the first time I’d seen it since my sophomore year in college, when we spent a couple of weeks studying it in a Literature in Film class I couldn’t have cared less about at the time—my mistake, like so many I committed back then.

Watching it now, I found myself transfixed. The feeling deepened as the film roared toward its finish. When it was over, I found myself filled with that sublime sense of magnified resonance that becomes rarer with age—able to only exclaim, Fuck. Here was one of the most…

Peter Sarsgaard as Mark in Garden State

I recently re-watched Garden State. Here was a film that had unmoored senior-in-high-school me the first time I’d seen it back on a dreary winter afternoon in early 2007. It must have been a Friday, one of those blessedly free slates to start the weekend I reveled in between the end of cross country season in November and the start of track workouts. Wait. Those started in January. Which is when I remember first watching Garden State.

Maybe this was how it happened. I’d gone for a run after school, gallivanting along the nearby trail to the nearby park, thus…

When I’d go out for walks toward the start of lockdown last year, I quickly noticed a recurring theme amongst the signs that began peppering the windowsills of the homes I’d pass. “We’ll get through this!” “Stay strong!” “Shine your light!!”

It was a touch implicit, and it took my dumbass a short while until I understood the message. In the face of an unprecedented pandemic, and ever-shifting goalposts about how you, citizen, are being enlisted to help fight it, in the interest of national security you are henceforth reduced to a reactionary state; you can do nothing to change…

Photo courtesy of Astrid Lyre

In the cognitive dissonance where we made this record, there was no escape.

That’s what Dan Boeckner told Sub Pop about Wolf Parade’s new album, Thin Mind, which, in the tradition of every record released by that band, contains a couple of songs that I simply can’t get out of my head.

If I have a confession to make, it’s that I learned of Wolf Parade through Spencer Krug—or, more specifically, through listening to Spencer Krug’s work as Sunset Rubdown. That band became one of the soundtracks to a year spent abroad.

Just as you can’t recreate the feeling of…

Courtesy of RCA

Whenever I’m uncertain of how to properly appreciate a new album, I check Pitchfork’s review of it.

Phew. All that awkward, icky uncertainty washes away, and I find myself floating in that serene state so endemic to modernity, having eschewed the painstaking process of cultivating your own set of opinions in favor of outsourcing to the tastemakers—I mean, they’re paid to do it! The only time I listen to music, anyway, is when I put on a Muzak-laced Spotify playlist at a dinner party!

But a life spent fumbling through unceasing numbers of reviews inevitably leaves one spread thin—butter, over…

Turner, on the cover of the Arctic Monkeys’ 7-inch “Tranquility Base B-Side”

A few years ago I was walking in San Francisco’s Mission District when I noticed, to my right, a young couple exiting their apartment in anticipation of the arrival of the ride-share vehicle they’d hailed by phone. I approached them just in time to watch the vehicle breeze past where they stood on the sidewalk, nestling into an unoccupied space just ten or fifteen feet down the street out of the way of traffic.

Commendable, I thought. Rarely does anyone take the time to consider his fellow man’s respective fortune these days. The emphasis upon Ich, Ich, Ich has become…

Alley Whoops

Game of life, with a twist—and shout. Twitter: @alleywhoops

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