The Academy Awards are around the corner, and no doubt the viewers at home are eagerly awaiting which of the presenters will be slapped across their face.
What occurred last year between the right palm of Will Smith and the left cheek of Chris Rock was indeed a tragedy (or twisted comedy?) of manners, but it was not a disaster. For that, we must turn to a film I recently screened in celebration for the upcoming Oscars, a best picture nominee that raked in some serious dough back in its day: Airport, released on March 5, 1970, the second-highest grossing film that year.
Some film critics have labeled it the worst movie ever nominated for Best Picture. Could it be that a movie about a disaster was itself a disaster?
Here’s a list of my top songs for this year, in an order that might be surprisingly mixable. These are not necessarily from 2022; I just happened to have heard them in the last twelve months.
End of the Empire I-III, by Arcade Fire on WE
End of the Empire IV (Sagittarius A-), by Arcade Fire on WE
Happy New Year, by Let’s Eat Grandma on Two Ribbons
King, by Florence + The Machine on Dance Fever
American Teenager, by Ethel Cain on Preacher’s Daughter
Beach House, by Carly Rae Jepsen on The Loneliest Time
Mastermind, by Taylor Swift on Midnights
Bostich, by Yello on Musik Music Musique 2.0
Summer, by Emeli Sandé on Let’s Say for Instance
At the Frick Museum, by Aimee Mann on Queens of the Summer Hotel
Easy on Me, by Adele on 30
Chaise Longue, by Wet Leg on Wet Leg
Hold Me, by The Teskey Brothers on Run Home Slow
Angel of Business, by Grace Ives on Janky Star
Cambodia, by Kim Wilde on Musik Music Musique 2.0
Hindsight, by Jake Wesley Rogers on Bros Soundtrack
Home by Now, by MUNA on MUNA
LSD, by Lucius on Second Nature
Rerun, by Mia Wray on Stay Awake
Less Than Zero, by The Weeknd on Dawn FM
You Make the World a Better Place, by Priscilla Ahn on Waiting
The highlight of this year is Grace Ives — there are many more songs on her album Janky Star that could’ve made this list. Also a weird discovery — there’s an Australian record label called Ivy League Records that are featured here, on The Teskey Brothers and Mia Wray. Oh, and the lyrics to Chaise Longue are just hilarious!
Sunday: Flash Fiction/NonFiction Writing Workshop on Ekphrasis [Adult] 12/04/2022 11:00 AM – 01:30 PM ET
Location West Windsor Arts Center 952 Alexander Rd. West Windsor, NJ 08540
Description The definition of ekphrasis is “the use of detailed description of a work of visual art as a literary device.” Writers should bring in a meaningful photo of someone they will write about in the workshop. It can be a family member, a historical person, or even a photo of themselves. This is a flash writing workshop, so writers will be creating a 500 word or less piece by the end of the workshop, which will be critiqued and shared in the class.
It’s one thing to have people read your story — but to have it illustrated? For me, there is no higher praise. These following artists took my words and turned them into their own works of art.
Huge thanks to Grant Shaffer (https://www.instagram.com/nyseecomic/) for sharing these with me. And thank you, each and every one of you beautiful artists: Abigail, Adrien, Cecil, Fiona, Francisco, Dora, Junhan, Kayla, Maggie, Sarah, Sol, and Andrea. I’m just floored.
So you may recall that a little while back, a third artist had painted their take of my Modern Love essay. Now there’s a fourth — and all I can say is wow. I’ve always been jealous of artists, their ability to say so much through a single visual statement. This is by Rumi Hara (@rumi.hara – https://www.instagram.com/rumi.hara/). Wow. Thank you, Rumi!
A reminder that the Collingswood Book Festival is indeed happening tomorrow! The weather gods have thrown a little fit, so due to the rain, the festival will move to the high school. From the website:
Due to the weather forecast for this Saturday, October 1, the festival will be held at Collingswood High School, 424 Collings Avenue, Collingswood, NJ. Enter through the high school gym building on Eldridge Ave. If you’re not vaccinated for COVID, mask up!
Amazon Studios has adapted my Modern Love essay!!! (I feel three exclamation points are warranted for this bit of news.) It is episode 3 from Modern Love Mumbai, entitled “Mumbai Dragon.”
So of course I knew about the Modern Love series on Amazon Prime, but I didn’t know they have branched out to culturally specific versions of Modern Love. From Wikipedia:
In April 2022, Prime Video announced the Indian version of the series in three different languages — Modern Love Mumbai in Hindi, Modern Love Hyderabad in Telugu and Modern Love Chennai in Tamil. A Japanese version of the series, titled Modern Love Tokyo will premiere worldwide on October 21, 2022.
Can you guess which of these stills is my episode? If you guessed this one…
…you are absolutely correct!
So for those with Amazon Prime, which seems to be just about everyone I know, you can watch this episode whenever you wish (turn on the English subtitles!). I would recommend you either read or listen to the essay beforehand, so you can see all the changes that took place in the adaptation:
This was released almost three months ago — how come you are just posting this now? That’s because I wasn’t made aware of it until this past Friday! The Modern Love folks at the Times were waiting to tell the authors until the financials were worked out. They were indeed worked out, so ergo, I was notified. 🙂 Frankly, I’m glad I wasn’t aware of this until now, because if I had come across it when it came out, I would’ve been very much in the mold of, “Now wait a minute…this sounds a little too familiar…”
I just saw the episode, but where was your name in the credits? Yeah, that’s just the way it goes. If you look at the first Modern Love series, you’ll notice that only the episodes that hew very closely to the original essay give credit to the author. Mostly those were the stories that were super popular/went viral. Mine did not, so the writing team made many, many changes to tell their own tale. I knew this before watching, so I was prepared for it to be a very different story — but I was absolutely thrilled with the way it turned out! Much of my essay did make it in the episode, and the theme/spirit of my piece is totally there. The director of the episode, Vishal Bhardwaj, is a legendary filmmaker in India, so I lucked out big time. And the performances are top notch, too. There were three people in my essay — my mother, my wife Dawn, and myself. The same trio stars in the episode, modified — mom the cook, son the singer (!), and sagacious girlfriend.
Now that your essay has been turned into a podcast and a TV episode, what’s next? Isn’t it obvious? Broadway, of course! Somebody please write a musical, pronto…
Lots of people loved the series and this episode in particular — check them out.
https://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/2022/05/modern-love-mumbai-review-another.html “The third episode titled ‘Mumbai Dragon,’ directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, is perhaps the most interesting of the lot. Set against the backdrop of the Indian Chinese community, it tells the story of Sui, a single mother who overbearing love for her son gets threatened when he shares his portion of love with his girlfriend. The mother played by Yeo Yann Yann is easily the best thing about entire anthology.”
https://www.leisurebyte.com/modern-love-mumbai-review-warm-comfort/ “I perceived Mumbai Dragon as a story of how stubborn most Indians are when it comes to love. They want their children to marry someone from their community. More than the happiness of their children, what matters to them is their pride. Even though the ending is predictable, the delicious food, performances and tuneful music keep you going through the end.”
https://www.highonfilms.com/modern-love-mumbai-season-1-review/ “Vishal Bhardwaj is, to put it simply, eons ahead of anyone in the people in this anthology web series. His direction is so expressive, so vibrant, so lively, so dynamic that it’s unfair for everyone else. He brings out the best in Yeo Yann Yann, Meiyang Chang, Naseeruddin Shah, and Wamiqa Gabbi; giving them ample room to visualize their characters’ feelings with words and sometimes, without them.”
One last thing — this is an embarrassment of riches, but another artist on Instagram reached out to me with a third take on my essay this morning! Andrea can be found on Instagram and her website.