Look at me, just flat-out stealing playlist titles from Spotify. That's how badly I want summer to be over so I can go back to living a normal weather life.
Recent things I've experienced and/or enjoyed:
1. The scene in Walk the Line where June Carter and her parents shoo Johnny Cash's drug dealer away from Johnny's pretty lakeside home while he sweatily detoxes inside, and before that when they're watching him try to get that tractor up that hill and June tells her mama, "I am not going down there," and her mama says "You already are down there, honey." It's so nonjudgmental and supportive. When I watch that movie I always want to hitch up with the whole Carter family straightaway and learn how to warble like a bird and be generous and forgiving of sins. As much as I love Johnny Cash, I don't really need another bad boy redemption story in my life, and instead I always wish the whole thing was about the Carters and their sweet brand of Christianity as presented in those few scenes. Plus Reese Witherspoon and her sharp little chin and costumes and evolving hairstyles are just the tops, as is the fact that June wrote "Ring of Fire," an important fact I somehow always forget. And she really made Johnny Cash get his shit together in order to earn her devotion, I like that, too. "Baby baby baby baby baby."
2. Lily Tomlin in Grandma at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, which was packed to the gills with old cranks (including me). I loved the movie—you just can't have enough Lily Tomlin, in my opinion—but even before the picture started I decided I can never ever return to that theater. The combination of moldy '70s subterranean lair atmosphere and constantly yakking seniors both pre- and mid-flick is just too much for my fragile ecosystem to handle. I usually scoff at the notion of "self-care," which like most lifestyle trends has gotten a little out of hand, but this is one act of personal preservation that will be worth my time and investment, believe you me. (Grandma sounds like the name of a low-budget, mid-'80s horror film, though, right? Pretty sure I"m right about that.)
3. I settled once and for all on peanut M&Ms as my cinematic summer snack food of choice, since popcorn has gotten so boring. (Have you ever in your life wanted popcorn without salt and butter? Maybe once a hundred years ago you made that mistake, and then immediately realized "Why, I'm just eating styrofoam!" What a racket.) I purposely went with something classic and not those weird boxes of cookie dough bites or whatever, which are juvenile. I feel like Siskel and Ebert would approve: TWO THUMBS WAY UP! they shout over my shoulder every time I pull up to the snack bar and slap my bills down on the counter.
4. Last weekend I read the book Laurel Canyon the whole way through. It is a hugely entertaining look at "the inside story of rock-and-roll's legendary neighborhood" and I had the sense while I was reading it that I wanted it to last forever but also could not, as they say, bear to put it down. I had to know why the music died! (Same reason everything else dies: fame, sex, drugs, greed.) I'm having a similar reading experience this week with The Good Lord Bird, which is the dictionary definition of "a ripping yarn," and an example of a writer who is so completely in control of his voice and narrative that reading it is like standing still and letting a wave wash over you in a meditative yet fully conscious way (?). (What I'm trying to say is, it's immersive without calling too much attention to the fact that you're being immersed, although the way I'm describing it also sounds like LSD.) The last book I can remember having the same effect on me was True Grit: at the end of a chapter I'll just stop and picture Charles Portis or James McBride nodding over their pencils or keyboards and smiling to themselves as they wrote, knowing what they held in their hands. And now here it is, in my hands, and we are tied together through these words on paper forever.
INSERT SIDENOTE: a friend of mine posted something on Facebook a while ago about people abandoning their Kindles and reverting to good ol' fashioned printed matter, and I left a comment about why I seldom use my Kindle anymore, and right after me another friend of hers—who's no friend of mine—wrote "It's not a contest, folks!" which was a real snotty, asshole-type conversation killer, IMHO. My point was that I have never had the type of experience I described above while reading a book on a Kindle (and I have read many!). We just don't have that kind of relationship, me and that device, because the device is always there. I'm never not aware of the device as a device that's sitting between me and the words. Perhaps this is a personal failing, who knows. I guess I'll ask the friend of my friend the next time I need a stranger to tell me my opinion.
5. On second thought that was actually The End.