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Hey, friends!

Where the heck did the week go? What have I accomplished? How did I get here? Where is my beautiful wife?

Alas, now isn't the time for such questions. I have many things to tell you about, and vice versa. Keep those emails coming: With each one you send me, you earn a kajillion points, and the first person to reach five zillion wins a pony.

What I'm into right now:

A few things steaming my trousers:

TV: Huge thanks to the reader who sent me THIS TIME WITH ALAN PARTRIDGE, the latest series featuring Steve Coogan's iconic character. It's just perfect, and when British gardening god Monty Don popped up in an episode, I nearly fell off my chair. If you've never seen Alan, spend some time searching YouTube and the like. Here's a clip from THIS TIME in which he does a "story" on the importance of washing your hands.

BOOK: I devoured Ottessa Moshfegh's MY YEAR OF REST AND RELAXATION last weekend. The plot involves a woman who tries to sleep her life away, and it hurtles toward an ending I'm still contemplating. (I could probably write 2,000 words on how it reminded me of a similar period in my life, so holler if you're an editor in need of such a thing.) Go to the publisher's site to read the first few pages. It'll suck you in.

MOVIE TRAILERS: The JT Leroy movie looks great, and as I texted a friend of mine, "KSTEW IS REALLY GOING FOR IT." And of course I'm down for more TALES OF THE CITY, in which Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Paul Gross and others reprise their roles! When I first saw this in high school, it made me feel very hopeful that there was a cool world beyond my tiny hometown.

COMEDY: Nashville comedian Nate Bargatze just released a Netflix special, THE TENNESSEE KID. Nate is a Southern treasure who deserves love from the rest of the world. Check it out, and go see him next time he comes to town.  


PODCASTS: Shout-out to SOUND OPINIONS for their nostalgic and informative episode about shoegaze. All that Slowdive/MBV/Cocteau Twins/Ride put me in the dreamiest mood. ... I should also mention that Adam Scott and Scott Aukerman posted a new ep of R U TALKIN' R.E.M. RE: ME? with special guest Mike Mills. Gah!

MUSIC: April 13 is Record Store Day, and I hope PItchfork's guide can help me sort through it all.  ... I also keep meaning to mention this new Butthole Surfers book, and now I REALLY need to tell you about it, because it looks like there are only 93 copies left on the planet. ... And finally, R.E.M.'s RECKONING turned 35 this week, and the The Ringer talked to Mitch Easter, Scott McCaughey and Patterson Hood about it. In summation, it's a mighty fine record.

COVER SONGS: J Mascis' cover of Tom Petty's "Don't Do Me Like That" rocks my socks.

COMICS: I was thrilled to interview cartoonist Box Brown for The Comics Journal. Go read his new book, CANNABIS, and/or his previous books about Tetris, Andy Kaufman and Andre the Giant.

MISCELLANY: My dear friend James Sime runs my favorite comics shop in the country, San Francisco's Isotope. The other day he mentioned they have some construction/scaffolding outside, which is never great for business. So anyway, if you happen to live in SF or wanna order some comics, talk to James! And if you walk by a small business shielded by scaffolding/construction today, consider shopping there. We gotta keep these spots around.

And YOU recommend:

MUSIC: Herman is very down with Courtney Barnett's latest song, "Everybody Here Hates You." He also shares this link to Morrissey's cover of "Wedding Bell Blues." He notes it's an "interesting spin on a familiar tune"  -- and whoa, the track even features Billie Joe Armstrong on backing vocals.

MOVIES: Alex tells me he wishes he lived in New York so he could see this special screening of APOCALYPSE NOW. The Tribeca Film Fest really does have an amazing lineup this year; if you're around, affordable single tickets are on sale for most events.

BOOKS: Carter in Long Beach is halfway through BOY SWALLOWS UNIVERSE  by Trent Dalton and says "WOW" to this "coming-of-age-story of an enlightened 12-year-old in a world of Brisbane drug dealers. Sounds dark, but isn't ... yet." ... Aug loves DAISY JONES & THE SIX by Taylor Jenkins Reid. "It's about a fictional '70s rock band. It's SOOOO GOOD. Told in interview style, it rings very honest, and I've gotten even more into than stories of lots of real-life bands. It's making me wish their album AURORA really existed so I could hear it, and the chapter on the cover art has me wanting to actually see it." OK, I'm sold.

TV: Many of you are very, very amped about GAME OF THRONES. I hope it lives up to our expectations!

YOUR TURN: Tell us what you're into via email or text/voicemail at 929-515-1988. I'll share your recs in a future newsletter.

Some recs from ... DEAN HASPIEL!

This week I'm thrilled to have guest recommendations from multi-talented writer/cartoonist Dean Haspiel. His work includes collaborations with Jonathan Ames and the late Harvey Pekar, along with series and webcomics like BILLY DOGMA and THE RED HOOK, rad books like BEEF WITH TOMATO, and on and on. He's done it all!

This week Dean launched a new podcast, SCENE BY SCENE WITH JOSH & DEAN, where he and cartoonist Josh Neufeld discuss Harvey Pekar's legacy and the film version of AMERICAN SPLENDOR. The third installment of his popular RED HOOK webcomic series, STARCROSS, also debuted this week for free at LINE Webtoon.

Below, Dean tells us what he's into:

WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? by Edward Albee might be my favorite play of all time. Alas, I've only seen the brilliant movie adaptation directed by the late/great Mike Nichols, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It's the movie that made me want to write a play.

I've been lucky enough to have written three plays produced the last few years, and I'm currently putting the finishing touches on two more. In a world going digital, the intimacy of a black box theater is my favorite space to engage in one of the last bulwarks of human expression and connection. So with that in mind, here are three NYC recommendations: 

- IT'S GETTING TIRED, MILDRED, written and directed by Roger Nasser. It's NYC's longest-running late-night monthly soap opera for the stage. Since its premiere in 2014, it has grown a loyal following with a cast party after the show so you can meet your favorite characters. And whether you have watched from the beginning or come for the first time now, you will be hooked and become a fan!

- COMEDY PEOPLE'S TIME features New York's premier stand-up, improv and late-night television talent. Each unique performance continues to raise the bar. If you haven't seen my pal/actor Tarik Davis do his thing, you're truly missing out on something special.

- THE PAIN OF MY BELLIGERENCE. I have tickets to see this brand new play on April 19, and I trust that writer/actress Halley Feiffer (daughter of master storyteller Jules Feiffer) will broker a spirited performance confronting the rigors and fallout of toxic masculinity with brutal wit and wisdom. 

As for other mediums, I've been listening to Boy Harsher, Kamasi Washington, Vince Staples, The Zombies, Roland Kirk, and Cosey Fanni Tutti. I watched and loved ANNIHILATION, ASSASSINATION NATION, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT and THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER. I recently watched Season 2 of THE SINNER and THE DEUCE, and Season 1 of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY and KIDDING. Comic books/novels I'm currently reading are INCREDIBLE INC.  by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Cavallaro, CRIMINAL by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, OFF SEASON by James Sturm, SOMMELIER OF DEFORMITY by Nick Yetto, WHICH LIE DID I TELL? by William Goldman, and FREEZER BURN by Joe R. Lansdale

Thanks, Dean! Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for more updates and tips.
The week ahead: Notable releases

TV/STREAMING:
- AMERICAN MASTERS tells the story of Joseph Pulitzer (PBS, April 12)
- Jim Parsons produces/Ryan O’Connell stars in SPECIAL, a comedy based on O’Connell’s life as a gay man with cerebral palsy (Netflix, April 12)
- GAME OF THRONES returns for its final episodes (HBO, April 14)
- Olivia Colman is among the stars of a music-free adaptation of LES MISERABLES (PBS, April 14)
- Sean Astin and Melissa Joan Hart lead the sitcom NO GOOD NICK (Netflix, April 16)
- Lake Bell and Dax Shepard want us to BLESS THIS MESS (ABC, April 16)
- STAR TREK: DISCOVERY wraps its season (CBS All Access, April 18)

IN THEATERS (ALL OUT APRIL 12):
- David Harbour takes a stab at being HELLBOY
- Issa Rae and Regina Hall star in the BIG-esque comedy LITTLE
- Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace rob a bank in STOCKHOLM
- Zach Galifianakis and Hugh Jackman voice the animated MISSING LINK
- Elisabeth Moss channels Courtney Love in HER SMELL
- Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix star in MARY MAGDALENE
- Elle Fanning leads the music-filled TEEN SPIRIT
- Molly Shannon takes on Emily Dickinson in in WILD NIGHTS WITH EMILY
- And ROTTENTAIL tells the story of a half-man, half-rabbit who kills people!

MUSIC:
- April 13 is Record Store Day! Head to recordstoreday.com find a participating shop and get the scoop on what's out that day.

BOOKS (ALL OUT APRIL 16):
- Brian Raftery tells us about the BEST. MOVIE. YEAR. EVER.: HOW 1999 BLEW UP THE BIG SCREEN
- Mike McPadden digs into TEEN MOVIE HELL: A CRUCIBLE OF COMING-OF-AGE COMEDIES FROM ANIMAL HOUSE TO ZAPPED
Bret Easton Ellis returns with his first nonfiction book, WHITE
- Jesse Valencia pens KEEP MUSIC EVIL: THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE STORY
- Sheila Moeschen delivers the LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARILY FUNNY WOMEN: 50 TRAILBLAZERS OF COMEDY
- And cartoonist Peter Bagge brings us CREDO: THE ROSE WILDER LANE STORY.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WE LOVE YOU:
April 12: Beverly Cleary (she's 103!), Herbie Hancock, David Letterman, Tama Janowitz, Amy Ray, Nicholas Brendon, Shannen Doherty, Claire Danes
April 13: Charles Burnett, Al Green, Ron Perlman, Max Weinberg, Ricky Schroder, Nellie McKay
April 14: Loretta Lynn, Julie Christie, Peter Capaldi, Daniel Clowes, Anthony Michael Hall (pictured), Sarah Michelle Gellar, Win Butler
April 15: Seth Rogen, Emma Watson, Maisie Williams
April 16: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ellen Barkin, Ian MacKaye, Dave Pirner, Jon Cryer, Tracy K. Smith, Lukas Haas
April 17: Afrika Bambaataa, Nick Hornby, Liz Phair, Rooney Mara
April 18: Robert Christgau, Hayley Mills, Rick Moranis, Conan O’Brien, David Tennant, Edgar Wright, Alia Shawkat
See ya next Friday!

I hope that's enough, because it's all I have! As always, see the archive and/or subscribe here. Email me anytime (just hit reply) or text/call me at 929-515-1988, where I leave a new outgoing message every weekday. And if you had fun here, please help spread the word on social media.

If you wanna send me physical items, email me to request my address. Would you like to advertise or hire me as a freelance writer/editor/speaker? Again, just email.

Turning your orbit around,
Monroe Ficus

"I don't blame the average 17-year-old punk-rock kid for calling me a sellout. I understand that. And maybe when they grow up a little bit, they'll realize there's more things to life than living out your rock 'n' roll identity so righteously." 
- Kurt Cobain


"I would never be a sellout, but you can never be a sellout to kids. Kids is kids!"
- Biz Markie

Copyright ©2018 Whitney Matheson. All rights reserved.


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