Not a Newsletter: Workin’ hard to get my fill


Hello from the end of the 4th of July holiday weekend! Did a Wednesday July 4 help create a five-day weekend?

The calendar turning to July reminded me that I haven’t accomplished nearly the amount of reading I’ve intended to this summer (yet I still keep buying books; it’s a problem). It doesn’t help when getting sidetracked by a book I didn’t expect to read, like Don’t Stop Believin’, a memoir by Jonathan Cain, the keyboardist for Journey.

Journey was my favorite band as a kid, something I remember taking a lot of shit for, but is apparently cool in a nostalgic way now. (As with comic books, it took 30 years for culture to be accommodating.) So reading Cain’s accounts of how songs like “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Open Arms” were written was really fun, providing a dose of nostalgia right in the vein.

Particularly amusing was the revelation that “Don’t Stop Believin'” refers to “South Detroit” (something that plenty of Detroiters will tell you doesn’t exist) because Cain thought that line needed an extra syllable.

Songwriting has always fascinated me. Composing melodies and writing lyrics to fit in (or vice versa) just seems ethereal. Even bad songs are the result of that. Getting a glimpse into that process — why isn’t the chorus of “Don’t Stop Believin'” until the end? — just pulled me right in. It was the pleasant surprise of my week.

This week’s listening

Naturally, I did a deep dive into Journey when I got home. I didn’t have nearly as much of it on CD or digital as I would’ve guessed.

This week’s reading

** Why weren’t there courses on Batman when I went to college? I’d have aced that class, man. [io9]

** Speaking of Batman, last week’s NYT spoiled the ending of Batman #50 and the wedding of Batman and Catwoman. That pissed off a lot of people. Poor George Gene Gustines — whose love of comic books is infectious — took a lot of crap for it. But we were going to read that comic book anyway. [New York Times]

** The best superhero movies are comedies to some extent. Ant-Man and The Wasp is just the latest example. That’s helped kill the success of movie comedies for adults. [Wall Street Journal]

** Nick Offerman plays roadie for wife Megan Mullally. Go see him in Hearts Beat Loud, which is a warm summer breeze at the movies. [New York Times]

** Seattle has banned plastic straws. I’ve noticed many businesses trying to discourage their use locally. And yes, that video of the turtle with the straw up its nose is harrowing. But fishing gear is most responsible for the huge amount of plastic in the ocean.[Bloomberg]

** BD Wong seems like a rather recognizable actor. When he appeared in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the audience at my showing reacted knowingly. He’s on a ton of Law & Order: SVU episodes. But theater is where Wong has found his most gratifying success.[GQ]

** Many good recommendations among the NYT‘s 36 Hours in Seattle. But I’ll take the 24 hours of fun I had (which included dinner at Junebaby) during my 120-hour “working vacation” with A. two months (!) ago.[New York Times]

** I worry about staring at screens — computer, phone, tablet, TV — and what it does to my eyes, which were already bad. Maybe we should look at more trees. [Wired]

** Bao, the animated short playing before Incredibles 2, has been polarizing because of what happens in its climactic moment. But those who grew up in and around Asian culture (I’m one of ’em) understood and were most touched by it. [Polygon]

On the menu

This is the week I finish Buttermilk Graffiti, chef Edward Lee’s latest book. I know it. After that will be Ken Auletta’s Frenemies, about the upheaval in the advertising industry. Season 2 of Westworld, most of which I missed while traveling, is also waiting to be conquered. So are Seasons 1 and 2 of Netflix’s GLOW.

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