Cowboy Carter 🤠 & CGI Laura Dern

Plus: the broke luxury of being paid in perks.

Hi darlings!

How are you?? I’m doing well! I just took a long walk in the sun to pick up a bagel sammie (egg cheese avocado on everything 😋) and an iced coffee with oat milk. I don’t really care for oat milk, it tastes like water to me, but I guess it’s more sustainable or whatever? Anyway, the weather here in Los Angeles has been perfect for long walks lately, sunny and in the high 60s and low 70s.

I have a laser facial tomorrow and then I’ll have to stay out of the sun for a few days, so I figured I should get outside today (with SPF, of course). The laser facial is because I did some copywriting for my friend who is the Creative Director at a medspa. I give him social media one-liners and he gets me free treatments, which usually cost several hundred dollars, so it’s a pretty good deal. I love waltzing into their clinic in Beverly Hills in my track pants with holes in them from my cat sitting on my lap too much. A true outsider artiste!!

Did you see the eclipse?

There is something so charmed and ridiculous about being paid in perks. On the one hand, you’re not making any money, but you’re also getting access to these luxury experiences way out of your income bracket. When I was the Music Editor at BUST, I was paid a whopping $3000 a year, but I got all the advance album copies and free concert tickets my little heart could desire. I was among music’s most infamous and most elite: the press. One time, I even made it into the VIP section at an Action Bronson show. I have no idea why they thought I belonged there, but there I was, sitting next to Paul Rosenberg in an old t-shirt from my last food service job that just said “CHEESE” on it.

Then, when I worked for a Michelin-starred restaurant group in Brooklyn, I got to eat lunch there for free and sit in on their wine education classes, which meant I got to eat some of the best food in New York and taste a bunch of excellent wines, too. I think I also got a free cocktail at the end of my shift? I was making $15 an hour, so if I were in another job, there was no way I would have been able to afford to eat there that regularly. There’s something really lovely about that, that sometimes, even when you are broke, you still get to have these little luxuries in your life that make it more tolerable.

Let’s get into some things:

- I hope you all enjoyed reading Willa Köerner’s Morning Diary last week! I tried making salsa eggs like she recommended and they were delicious! More Morning Diaries to come, soon.

- Late Night with the Devil (in theaters, streaming on Shudder starting 4/19). I thought this horror movie, about a floundering 1970s late night talk show host interviewing a possessed teenage girl, was so much fun! I love horror, but possession flicks are not always my favorite–I’m more of a ghouls and ghosties gal. Give me a haunted house or a smartly done slasher and I’m in heaven! But the setting of a throwback late night television show made this a really entertaining and unique movie. So much of horror is done in the darkness and quiet, but you don’t get much brighter and louder than the set of a ‘70s TV show. I love that! I thought the pacing was very well done, too, and the scares heightened really beautifully.

A scene from Late Night with the Devil

All the performances were great, but I especially loved Rhys Auteri as Gus, the band leader slash sidekick. He was so perfect in this role! I was shocked when we looked him up on IMDB after the movie and found out that this was his first feature role. Where has he been hiding? I was also very impressed with David Dastmalchian as the host of the show. The thing about playing a talk show host in a movie is that you actually have to convincingly host a talk show, from the monologue to the stage banter to oh yeah, having an emotional arc. Not every actor could pull that off, so kudos to him.

I often think about just how much we ask of actors. When I was a writer in a sketch group several years ago, I was always impressed with the versatility of our performers. It was easy to write a sketch about a magician or a group of Broadway dancers and then forget that you were literally asking people to do magic on stage or pull off a choreographed bit of musical theater, two things people often train for years to do. I don’t know that actors need 25 different awards shows every winter, but it’s not an easy profession, and horror acting in particular is rarely celebrated. Anyway, yeah, check this movie out if you like a good spooky! (Oh, and try not to laugh at all the production cards in the beginning. There’s an absurd number of them.)

- Cowboy Carter by Beyoncé. I have been listening to this record since it came out, of course, but I wanted to give Black women and country fans the space to have the first wave of reactions. I’ve listened to a little bit of country in my day–I love Miranda Lambert and the Pistol Annies and Margot Price and Caitlin Canty and of course Dolly, I mean, come on! Who doesn’t love Dolly? And Lil Nas X, when he was country for a hot sec. But I would not at all say that I’m a country expert. Though, this album is really a blend of genres that I think could best be placed under the umbrella of “Americana.”

That looks uncomfortable. But a slay.

I have to say, I kind of agree with Azealia Banks that the record is too long. Or, maybe there are just too many tracks. It feels like a double album, even though it’s only an hour and 20 minutes long. I also kind of agree with Rose Dommu, who tweeted that the track “Dolly P” sounds like Jay Z got Beyoncé a Dolly Parton cameo for her birthday. Dying!!!

My favorite non-single tracks are “Daughter,” “Ya Ya,” “Levii’s Jeans,” and “Bodyguard.” I like the idea of “II Most Wanted” more than the execution; I don’t think Miley and Beyoncé’s voices blend well, they just kind of compete with each other, to my ear, anyway. I thought “16 Carriages” was an odd choice for a single, but it’s a beautiful song. I quite like “Jolene,” although I feel like she could have taken it further. Where is that rage that we heard on Lemonade? I also think the second half of the album loses a bit of steam, but maybe that’s just listener fatigue. What do you think of the album?

- SNL’s recent “Jumanji” sketch. So good! So many different ways to use the word “Jumanji!” I dearly wish they would include writing credits on SNL sketches, at least when they post them on YouTube, because I’m dying to know who’s responsible for “Jumanji is a series of jungle emergencies.”

- Palm Royale, season one (AppleTV+). I’ve really been enjoying this comedy? drama? about a former pageant queen (Kristen Wiig) attempting to climb the ranks of high society in 1969 Palm Beach, Florida. It’s juicy and delicious, and the fashion alone is to die for!!! The show also stars Allison Janney, Ricky Martin, Leslie Bibb, and Laura Dern, who are all terrific, but they do something really odd to make Laura Dern appear younger, either a filter or CGI or something. It really makes me wonder why they didn’t just cast a younger actor. I read that this season is supposed to be a prequel to the book upon which it’s based, so maybe the characters will age, if they get a second season? But that’s a pretty big gamble, no?

Poolside at the Palm Royale

For me, this show is scratching an itch that Feud: Capote and the Swans left behind. I loved the first few episodes of that show, but I’m sad to say I feel like it really fell off after “Le Côte Basque, 1965” was published and Truman was shunned. Palm Royale’s animated credit sequence even seems to be directly “inspired,” shall we say, from Swans. Oh, and Carol Burnett plays a woman in a coma, which I’m reading as hilarious satire. Like, the industry treats women her age as practically dead anyway, so why not play a woman in a coma? (I’m really hoping they give her more to do in later episodes, though–I’m only halfway through the season.)

- Cooking. Sweet readers, I have a question for you that’s been on my mind for a long time: do you mind when I post repeat recipes? That is, recipes that I’ve already shared in here? Do you notice? Do you care? Please hit reply and let me know! Thanks!

On that note, this week, I only made recipes that I’ve already shared in this newsletter: “broccoli bolognese,” which is really just a simple, broccoli-forward pasta dish with Italian sausage, and sweet potato and chorizo enchiladas, which I’ve been making for years.

Alright dears, that’s it from me this week!

If you have a second, I’d love it if you’d like or comment on this post–just click this link to go to the post page.

Until next time—I’ll have the oat milk I guesssss.

Love,

Liz

XOXO

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