Variant Edition | This Column Has Seven Days #139 // Old In All The Wrong Ways
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This Column Has Seven Days #139 // Old In All The Wrong Ways

Devin R Bruce is a friend to Variant Edition and to all good-hearted creatures who roam the Earth. In each installment of This Column Has Seven Days, Devin discusses his favourite pop culture experiences of the past week in an effort to share the joy of an overlooked gem, an old favourite that’s bubbled up to the surface, or a classic work that he’s finally gotten around to. Comic books, movies, television, novels, podcasts, music, Old Time Radio: there’s something for everyone. Here’s what he’s been up to this week.

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Greetings one and all! So many great pop cultural things have come my way this week, it’s an embarrassment of riches. Get ready: there’s a fistful of pint-sized recommendations coming your way.

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Cover for Peepland #1 by Fay Dalton.

Peepland is a crime comic of the highest order, an unflinching look at a corner of America that’s been sanitized for your protection. One of the first comics titles to come out from Hard Case Crime in 2016 (initially a book publisher specializing in hard-boiled crime fiction), Peepland is set in New York City in the last week of 1986, and focuses primarily on the women who work in the peep shows that have since been eradicated from Times Square. On Christmas Eve, a man running for his life ducks into a sex club and stashes an X-rated VHS tape in one of the booths before ending his night under the wheels of a subway train. The woman who works in that booth, Roxy, smuggles the tape out of the club and goes over to her ex-boyfriend’s place to watch it, because he’s one of the only people she knows with a VCR. Soon enough they discover that the pornographer-auteur has accidentally recorded a murder in the background of one of his films. And the murderer is the son of the millionaire real estate developer who’s been trying to get rich off of making the streets clean (and who just so happens to have a penchant for ill-fitting suits and a terrible blonde combover). Christa Faust is a Hard Case Crime veteran and a former peepshow booth worker besides, and she and co-writer Gary Philips have written a tough and grimy piece of crime fiction that touches on a host of topics, including the intersections of race, sexuality, greed, and hatred. Artist Andrea Camerini and colorist Marco Lescko put together pages that’s a little light on the filth for a book like this, but they capture each character perfectly, and frame each scene in perfect detail. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think anyone who’s interested in non-traditional representation in comics and/or unflinching crime thrillers would too.

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Sara Watkins’ Young In All The Wrong Ways is exactly the album I need right now, a hot-blooded breakup album for this cold winter. It’s basically a country album, with roots for the spine and bluegrass for the limbs, but manages to navigate many iterations of the genre in its ten songs. From honkey-tonk to rock and roll to roots-inspired pop, Watkins and her band take the listener through all the emotions that come in the aftermath of a broken heart. And her voice. My goodness, that voice gives me the shivers every time I hear it. I admit that I’m a sucker for a good breakup album, but Young In All The Wrong Ways is a great one.

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One of my goals for 2018 was to read more webcomics, and one of my early favourites is Ashley McCammon’s Obelisk. It’s a historical horror comic, with the horror confined (mostly) to the prologue so far. It’s New York City in 1908, and young Evelyn Reuter is in the process of taking over the business left to her by her late father. She’s a free-spirited queer woman with great fashion sense and an affection for bicycles, and in the first fifty pages or so we see her making this city and life her own. McCammon’s black and white art is expressive and free, with great texture and attention to detail. I wish it were many years into the future so I could read the whole series at once, but I will have to be content getting a page a week. It’s early days yet but Obelisk is very promising, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

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I watched Point Break for the first time last week and I was surprised at how legitimately good it was! Yes, the script is ridiculous, and yes, at the time it was released Keanu Reeves hadn’t quite hit his acting stride. But Point Break is also surprisingly intelligent, and yes, I know I just used the words “surprisingly intelligent” to describe a movie where surfers dress up as presidents to rob banks. I’m as shocked as anyone. Director Kathryn Bigelow and cinematographer Donald Peterman make every shot in the action scenes count, from surfing to skydiving to street chases. Patrick Swayze is brilliant as the surf guru/bank robber Bhodi, a character who would be ridiculous on paper but is unbelievably compelling on the screen. (Between this and Dirty Dancing, I think I need to re-evaluate my opinion on Patrick Swayze. Is a re-watch of Ghost in my future?) I mean, come on folks: Lori Petty is in this movie, and she’s wonderful! Don’t be like me: I passed on Point Break for years because I thought it was an empty movie that coasted along on nothing more than stunts and hunky dudes. I mean, it is absolutely chock full of stunts and hunky dudes. But it has a lot more.

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Former hosts of Stuff Mom Never Told You Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin are finally back in my earholes with their new podcast Unladylike, and one episode in they have exceeded my expectations. Unladylike is a feminist podcast for girls, women, and gender non-conforming people, but even a guy like me can listen and get inspired. It’s great and you should subscribe to the show and then get on their mailing list and learn about the world and how to make it better by being unladylike.

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That’s all for me this week! Until next time, dodge the bad and embrace the good. And if that’s as hard for you as it is for me, then we’ll just work on getting better at telling the two apart. I’ll see you in seven days.

AUTHOR: Devin R. Bruce
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