Culture Gabfest “Sandman vs. Predator” Edition
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Dana Stevens: Hello, I’m Dana Stevens. Welcome to the Slate Culture Gabfest Sandman versus Predator Edition. Today is Wednesday, August 24th. And today we will be talking about the Sandman, a ten episode Netflix series that is an adaptation of the legendary comic book series written by fantasy novelist Neil Gaiman. We’ll also attempt to account for the surprise runaway success of Prey, the fifth installment in the now 35 year old Predator franchise, which has been taking Hulu by storm and also charming the pants off of critics. We’ll talk about why. And finally, who is Colleen Hoover? If you follow book talk culture on tick tock, you may know the answer. She’s a wildly bestselling author working in all kinds of different pop genres right now. She has three of the five top books on the New York Times bestsellers list. Slate book critic Laura Miller will clue us in on the mystery of Cojo as she’s known by her hordes of passionate fans. Joining me this week in person in studio is Julia Turner, deputy managing editor of the L.A. Times. Hey, Julia.
Julia Turner: Hi, Dana.
Dana Stevens: So nice to see you. Yeah, it’s so great to see you in the flesh, face to face. Snacking on snacks together. I feel like that’s going to bring extra energy to this week’s conversation. And I wish our third conversant could be here in the room with us, too. We’re talking to Laura Miller, Slate’s beloved book critic. Hey, Laura.
Speaker 4: I’m so delighted to be talking to you guys, although it’s hard for me to wish to be in New York in August.
Julia Turner: Confirm stay in May and we wish we could come to you in May.
Speaker 4: So do I.
Dana Stevens: All right. Now that we are all convened onto our first topic, the revered fantasy novelist Neil Gaiman has said that in his opinion, his finest accomplishment is the DC comic book series The Sandman, which he wrote over a period of seven years from 1989 to 1986. The series tells the story of a dream, sometimes called Morpheus, a being who is the personification of the human capacity to create dream worlds. We can discuss exactly what he is personifying, but he seems to be essentially an allegorical figure of dreaming itself. He’s got great.
Julia Turner: Hair. Whatever he.
Dana Stevens: Yeah, think, think, neuro antics, eighties bands, dream siblings, if you want to get a sense of his allegorical world, include destiny, death, desire and delirium. And over the course of the comics, epic storyline ran to 75 issues. Dream Will Battle Lucifer in Hell, an attempt to reclaim the magical tools stolen from him by a series of mortal foes. The Sandman has been adapted numerous times, but never before with Neil Gaiman’s involvement and never before to his satisfaction. Now a ten episode Netflix series has dropped that adapts at least a part of this massive comic series. Let’s listen to a clip from relatively early in the show. What you will hear here is Dream. The character played by Tom Sturridge speaking with a character named Lucienne, played by Vivienne Acheampong. At this moment, Dream is returning to his magical realm after having been kidnapped for over 100 years by a British magus and a would be thief of his secrets. My Lord.
Speaker 1: You are the dreaming. The dreaming is you. With you gone as long as you are. The realm began to. Decay. And crumble. And the residents. The Palace staff. I’m afraid most have. Gone. Going somewhere, looking for you and the others. They thought perhaps you’d grown. Weary of your duties. And what? Abandon them. But there’s so little faith in.
Dana Stevens: Laura, I’m going to start with you because you were the one who wanted us to talk about the Sandman. You’re a huge fan of the original comic series. I definitely want you to talk about that in the history of its adaptation and then tell us what you think of this, this new adaptation. Get us started.
Speaker 4: Okay, so this comic book series was incredibly groundbreaking. There had been adult comics before Sandman, but but they were more of a kind of an underground called counterculture thing. And this this was like the sort of lead product of a imprint of DC Comics called Vertigo.
Speaker 4: And it had a look and feel and that type of story that was very different from from their other comics, in part because there was more violence and sex and disturbing content, but also because it had this sort of dense, arty quality. It brought all kinds of people who had been maybe less interested in the form. Into. You know, being interested in it, being fans and it earned gaming a huge fan base that helped him launch his career.
Speaker 4: Now, as a primarily as a novelist, but it was difficult to adapt because it was a kind of a tableau based storytelling format. You know, there were different artists and many of them was really striking, stylish, original images that they produced. And this had this sort of weird, mythic quality. People like to say that superheroes are the sort of myths of our time. But there’s a style of storytelling that is very brisk and action based and with with superheroes. And this is different. This kind of goes back more to myth and legend and fable. And and it was one of the few graphic novels when it was published in graphic novel form to make the New York Times bestseller list.
Dana Stevens: All right. That establishes how unusual the comic was in the first place. Why do you think there has been so much to do about the difficulty of adapting it over the years? I mean, given that comic books are now one of our major sources of material for all of pop culture, what is it about this one that made it so an adaptable do you think it is just the the abstract nature of the ideas it deals in?
Speaker 4: Yeah. As you mentioned earlier, the characters, the sort of running characters are literally allegorical. He represents dreams. His sister is deaf. He’s got another relative, a sibling of indeterminate gender, who represents desire. So they are both characters and they also embody a kind of a bigger idea or a force, let’s say, in living things and not just humans, but living things in general. And that quality and also the fact that as a central character, he he represents something eternal. These this group of siblings are called the endless. They don’t end unlike other gods and and spirits. And so they you know, they’re not characters that are necessarily really easy to engage with.
Speaker 4: And the way to make it work, which I think this series might be moving towards if they get more episodes, is, is a sort of almost like a Twilight Zone sort of thing. But this would be like like Twilight Zone if the Rod Serling character was actually had his own storyline, even if it wasn’t super eventful. And so so they preside over the affairs of different mortals and have interactions with them. But I mean, you have the problem that you always have with sort of mythic characters like Apollo. He doesn’t change a lot. Neither does Athena or Suze or or Wotan or, you know, most gods in mythologies. And so that kind of limits the dramatic potential of that character, although Gaiman does have him change a little bit in the Sandman series.
Dana Stevens: Yeah, the Twilight Zone comparison is interesting also, because at least as I’ve experienced it so far and I’ve seen now six out of the ten episodes, this Netflix series seems to be, it has at least one bottle episode, and it seems in general to be creating a self-standing story with each episode visiting a different world that sometimes has nothing to do with the world of the previous episode. Julia, I’m going to jump to you and ask you first, do you have any background with this material at all? And secondly, how did the Netflix series strike you?
Julia Turner: It’s interesting that the the actor who plays the Magus, who traps Dream in the first episode is the This Charles Dance, the actor who played the nefarious Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones. Because I spent my time watching this series thinking about the. Success of that adaptation of a very popular book series and feeling just kind of utterly held at arm’s length by this one. It’s beautiful. It’s intriguing. It feels like, wow, yes. That book has been on my list of books to read for a decade and it remains there and maybe punched up a couple notches. Like, okay, these are really interesting ideas that are being explored, etc. But. It’s really. Just unclear who you’re supposed to latch on to as a character, human or entry point or persona.
Julia Turner: In this opening set of of episodes and, you know, obviously, I don’t know that the Game of Thrones comparison is that useful. That’s like not my favorite show. I don’t think that shows the best show in the world. But you in terms of being very comfortable pulling you into a deeply realized world through the entry point of very, very specific humans who are compelling and pleasurable to spend time with. This felt more like. It was in a snow globe, kind of like a Tim Burton snow globe of like gothic beauty and interesting ideas. But, you know, I mean, you can hear it in that clip. Lord, the world began to crumble. You know, it’s like, what?
Speaker 5: Who talks that?
Julia Turner: Like there’s no crackle, there’s no life, there’s no specificity. Like, I don’t know it. I do think Tom Sturridge, as Morpheus begins to seem vulnerable or concerned or like not quite sure how he should carry himself in his new powerless self. And and, you know, it begins to take takes some life. But I found myself just wishing that the whole thing had a very different entry point because it did not feel lured in to the story.
Dana Stevens: I’ve read a few different reviews that have said something that I very strongly agree with, which is that the first episode of this is by far the worst. And I say this in part because I know the person I watched that episode with is going to be listening to this show saying that was the worst show I’ve ever seen. And he walked out saying, I’m not pursuing this any further because the first episode does a couple of things that aren’t very smart.
Dana Stevens: For one thing, it imprisons Tom Sturridge in a glass cage for the entire episode and doesn’t let him speak a word. He’s the protagonist of the show. Who? Laura, as you say, we already have this problem connecting to because he’s this highly allegorical figure who doesn’t change you sort of godlike and remote and brooding. And the show then compounds that problem by putting him in a cage and not letting him speak for the entire first episode. So he’s just kind of a victim in a piece, a prop, essentially a piece of scenery, and everyone else who’s important in that first episode who we’re trying to maybe connect with or make our protagonists or our villains, is gone by the end of the first episode, and we’re stuck with the guy who never said anything and never changes that. That really makes this show have trouble getting kicked off and acquiring any sense of life.
Dana Stevens: But it really is worth sticking around for a few episodes if you’re at all interested in the ideas and the subject matter it’s trying to deal with. Because although, Laura, the show does continue to have that problem of being about abstract ideas and this kind of huge cosmology that’s a little bit hard to personify. It does go to some really interesting places, idea wise. And when David Thewlis enters the scene, always happy to see David Thewlis anywhere. Yeah.
Dana Stevens: Suddenly we have a really interesting villain Slash. Is he really a villain? Is he crazy or are we sorry for him? And I won’t give a give away too much about his character, but he is one of the people who has some of these magical tools and and items that dream is trying to get back in order to re-establish his dominion. And I feel like things get really interesting around when David Thewlis shows up, but I don’t think that that’s until maybe episode three.
Speaker 4: So you do get more human characters that you can latch onto towards the end. I think the problem with that opener, which is less of a problem with the comic book, because you’re mostly just curious what’s going on in the comic book and racing through the pages to sort of find out what’s going on in the world and who this guy is, is that you’re not attached to dream and his kingdom and all of the characters who depend on him and his the world that they call the dreaming, which is a little bit like this sort of Aboriginal idea of a whole separate reality, which is the dreaming space. You’re not attached to that because you start the narrative when it’s lost. And so you’re not like, Oh, I can’t wait to get back. I can’t wait till he gets back. You’re still just thinking, who is this guy?
Julia Turner: Right? What is the dreaming? Why does it matter? I mean, there’s sort of just this. Yes. Stakes problem of like, oh, dear Lord, your skull crumbled and everyone turned away from you. But like, why did it matter? That isn’t the imaginary.
Speaker 5: Yeah. Yeah.
Julia Turner: And in addition to that, there was a real bird fail or possibly just my ignorance of European birding showing. But there’s some kind of, like, pied crow, sad situation bird that plays a role in this episode that’s referred to as a raven. And yeah, I don’t think there are ravens with big white patches. It looked more like a pied crow or a magpie. Correct me if I’m wrong, please. Bird Culturefest Girardi. But I was just like, Can we get no respect?
Speaker 5: That’s not a fucking raven either. Um.
Julia Turner: Perhaps it’s a raven I’m unaware of. I did a light. Some light raven googling and was unable to find a raven that resembled the bird that features prominently and is referred to as a raven. In this episode.
Dana Stevens: Wait’ll you meet the one voiced by Patton Oswalt. I think that’s really outside the ornithological canon.
Julia Turner: I, I saw that one and that one looks like a raven. And I will accept it’s Raven Hood. And it also looks different than the other Raven I did.
Speaker 4: I would urge people to continue watching this if they’re at all intrigued by it, because it took the comic a little while to catch its its rhythm and its purpose. It sort of started out as more of a horror comic, and then it became much more of this kind of mythical fantasy series. And I’m like a lot of fans of it. I’m very excited about the Summer Night Dream themed episode if they end up making it, which is about how a kind of court of fairies gets involved with these traveling Shakespearean players. And it’s very funny and charming, intellectual in the in the comics. So so I would say persist if if it if it at all appeals to you. But I can understand why it might not, although it does have many, many legions of fans.
Dana Stevens: All right. Well, you can decide for yourself by viewing all ten episodes of The Sandman, which are currently available on Netflix. And when you have, please write us and tell us what you thought at Culturefest at Slate.com. All right. We moving on. All right. We have a few items of business to talk about. Juliet, what have we got?
Julia Turner: The only thing on our list for today is to talk about our Slate Plus segment. We had a question from listener Emma who wanted to know if you were able to bring two celebrities from very disparate fields into conversation. Who would they be and how would you prompt their dialogue? In her email, Emma points to an example where the Guardian arranged a conversation between Brian Cox, the actor, and Brian Cox, the particle physicist. So she says, we get bonus points if the two people share the same name, and that is a high degree of difficulty. You must be a Slate Plus member to listen and figure out whether we meet the bar. If you’re not a Slate Plus member, you can sign up today at Slate.com, slash culture plus.
Dana Stevens: On its release on the Hulu streaming service in early August, Prey, the fifth installment in an action franchise that now dates back to 1987 in Arnold Schwarzenegger days, surprised everyone by rapidly becoming the most successful Hulu original film or TV show yet to be released, as well as the most critically acclaimed film in the Predator canon, with admirers that include Oscar winning director Barry Jenkins of Moonlight, who called it a lean, mean, impressive bit of filmmaking.
Dana Stevens: What is it about this prequel set? Nearly 300 years in the past, in the world of Comanche hunters on the Northern Plains, that has revived excitement in a franchise that has not felt new since. Arnold Schwarzenegger was an A-list movie star. It’s also worth mentioning that the director is Dan Trachtenberg, who has previously directed a movie in a long standing franchise that has nonetheless a fresh and original feel, which is ten Cloverfield Lane, part of the Cloverfield series, which I think did something really, really different in a similar way that this does. Female protagonist, small scale, intense without being bloated. Let’s kick off our conversation by listening to a clip from the movie. Here you will hear the Comanche tribe celebrating a successful hunt. While Naru, the main character played by Amber Midthunder, fears that there is something more dangerous than whatever they were hunting lurking nearby. The first voice you will hear in this clip is from Dakota Beavers, the actor playing Tubby, Nauru’s older brother.
Speaker 1: Out of her words. How do we go in? We did it. No.
Speaker 6: We didn’t do it. What do you think about those tracks and skin? That snake? And before I fell, I saw lightning in the water. There’s something else out there.
Speaker 1: And if there is, I’ll get it.
Speaker 6: We need to go back out far beyond the ridgeline.
Speaker 1: Now.
Speaker 6: To hunt alone. If I.
Speaker 1: Have to. You can’t.
Speaker 6: Do I need your permission or chief?
Speaker 1: It’s not about permission. You can’t. I had to carry you back. I can hunt. You’re right. We didn’t do it. I did.
Dana Stevens: All right, Julia, I’m going to start with you here. I don’t know if you have any feelings about the Predator franchise in general, if you care whether it’s being revived successfully or not. But to me, this movie Prey could have stood completely alone with the Predator franchise, never having existed as a really solid, small, quick, fast moving action thriller. I thought it was great, especially the first hour or so before it to some degree devolved into standard action. Really, really intriguing use of a young female protagonist from a native culture that you almost never see in any sort of movie, much less a mainstream action thriller. What about you? Did you like prey? I loved it.
Julia Turner: I’ve never seen a single Predator movie and don’t feel like I ever need to.
Speaker 5: But this was great.
Julia Turner: Like, I didn’t want to know more about the predator or the mythos of the Predator or whatever. But just as a piece. Of modern filmmaking that navigates the current prerogatives of Hollywood, right? Make something based on existing IP. Make something that centers a type of voice or an ethnicity of actor that typically haven’t had central roles in Hollywood productions. Make something interesting, make something attractive to modern filmgoers. Make something that uses current filmmaking technology. In service of beauty and story as opposed to like gray pixilated muck, which is like so much of what that technology is often used towards. What a great.
Dana Stevens: Movie.
Julia Turner: Like the action choreography is clear and beautiful and surprising. I have not yet seen someone find refuge in a beaver dam. And now I have. And I’m glad it was great.
Speaker 5: Like, you know.
Julia Turner: The the sort of there’s a series of kind of food chain type animal attacks that I think are meant to allegories the the predator prey, you know, dyad in life and in the world as we think about this new alien predator. And they’re kind of beautifully done. And then there’s all these scenes where an invisible creature, the predator, is chasing or fighting things. And those are striking. I mean, I really liked this movie and I don’t like this kind of movie so much, so that I’ve never been moved to click up or attend any.
Speaker 5: Kind of predator movie before.
Julia Turner: So yeah, I loved it. I mean that I also find it surprising and heartening that it’s seems like it’s a hit. I mean, these streaming numbers are always a little fuzzy, gauzy, usually like, you know, and what are the other Hulu originals that you’re comparing it to? Like, okay, it was more popular than The Handmaid’s Tale. All right. But still, I would be concerned that this is like a Predator installment that film critics love, but that, you know, the fanboys who don’t always like it when revered franchises are reinvented with, you know, women, protagonists, for example, seem to have liked it, too. And it seems to have found an audience like, I don’t know, it feels like a minor summer culture miracle.
Dana Stevens: Yeah, I have to say, I did not expect in my notes to a movie in the Predator franchise to be putting such references as Terrence Malick’s The New World, another movie about, you know, the colliding of of indigenous culture and European culture or Chloe Zhao’s film songs My Brothers Taught Me, which takes place on a reservation and uses nature, I think, in a somewhat similar way to this movie. A lot of pictorial beauty. I did not expect those to be my references for prey, but I was really, really happy to be making those notes. Laura, what about you? Did you also fall for this movie like we did?
Speaker 4: I did like it a lot. I actually also saw the original Predator when it came out and enjoyed that very much, although I haven’t felt the need to revisit it. So it’s more of the kind of movie that I would see. But then I didn’t. I might have seen one or two of the sequels. I have to admit, I have never delved into The Predator versus the Alien series, which seemed a little bit, you know, a little bit much. I didn’t really want those two two storylines to collide. I like that this was tight, but it was beautifully photographed. The cinematography is incredible. The the use, as Dana said, of the natural settings and the. The way that it’s sort of centered in the Native American life, so that first we see the intrusion of the predator into the sort of.
Speaker 4: Save continuity of the world that Nauru lives in, and then later these French trappers come. And by that point we’re fully invested in Nauru and her, you know, quest to prove that she’s a good hunter and then eventually her quest to eliminate the predator, which she correctly perceives as a huge threat to her people and and how alien the Europeans are made to see how grotesque and incomprehensible an alien they are, which I thought was a great, not overdone accomplishment of the movie to try to invest viewers in a different point of view. I was a little bit not so keen on the whole. Here’s the story of a girl who wants to do a man’s job because it’s actually overly common in historical fiction. But may but I realize this probably not so common in action movies, and I shouldn’t be like, rolling my eyes at it.
Dana Stevens: Yeah, I wondered about that as I was watching, because it is a familiar trope in the kind of Y.A. universe. Right. She is in some sense the the Katniss Everdeen of the Comanche tribe.
Julia Turner: She’s Joe. I mean, none of the you know, there is no female protagonist of historical fiction or even just historical work that is not on some level like a tomboy who chafes against the strictures of her gender situation.
Dana Stevens: Right. Or a Joan of Arc kind of figure. Right. This this teen girl who is the only one who sees the danger and is the only one able to lead the Army, which has, I think, led some to argue that she’s something of a mary Sue character because she is manages to get out of situations that seem logically like a single human should not be able to get out of. But that seems like it must also be true of Schwarzenegger in the original and all of the Danny Glover, all the various Predator fighters who came after. Right. I mean, that is just what a hero of an action franchise does. There’s a slight.
Julia Turner: Thing here where they do they establish with a lot of clarity that she’s like still developing her huntress skills and, you know, really has to work up the confidence to be a good hunter. But then about two thirds of the way through the film, she starts fighting people and she’s just like a ninja fighter from the jump. It’s like her fighting skills far surpass her hunting skills. And you’re like, Oh, they never showed us like, okay, I guess you do have to kind of take that with a grain of salt.
Speaker 4: I think she is mostly fighting men that she’s really mad at, so maybe it’s just her motivation is so much stronger at that point. It’s just great that it’s so short to, you know, who? That it’s not this bloated thing full of a lot of mythology and backstories about the predators and a lot of ridiculous information that you don’t care about. It’s just a very clear storyline.
Dana Stevens: Yeah, I really I did admire how stripped down the story was. It’s just about 90 minutes running time. There’s no subplot, as you mention. Right. There’s not really a lot of worldbuilding at the beginning. We’re just plunged right into the life of this Comanche tribe. And something that really struck me, especially in the first hour or so of the film, is the use of silence. You know, I mean, you really don’t often see an action movie that has any scenes that aren’t heavily scored with exciting music and, you know, packed with expository dialogue. And the idea that we would just watch people living their lives and build the world that way seemed really refreshing.
Speaker 5: I also like there were a few.
Julia Turner: Reviews that suggested that perhaps the film didn’t do enough with or have enough to say about the, you know, implicit parallel between the rapacious alien from the sky and the bloody rapacious, you know, French trappers. And I would just argue the exact opposite like I don’t think there needed to be is an explanatory or expository scene or a bunch of finger wagging.
Julia Turner: And even though the trappers are presented as kind of brutal and cruel and, you know, aliens in their own right, they’re also a varied group with, you know, different differing humanities and, you know, like that they’re it’s it’s not too broad a brush. And the parallel is nicely framed and planted for the audience to absorb it and make of what they will in a way that seemed smart and potent rather than under bait.
Dana Stevens: Yeah. It’s not like you have to go out of your way to make the predator look like a bad colonizing forces, a giant, invisible xenomorph lizard man. And just the idea of juxtaposing a historical epic that we don’t usually see in science fiction movies with a science fiction, a familiar science fiction villain was in itself fun. And I saw it lead to a lot of speculation on social media about other historical periods that you could transplant the predator into and what you could do with that.
Julia Turner: I’m ready. I’m ready for that series, if that’s. Where IP will take us. I’m happy and I will say, I mean, I get the difficulty of adapting the Sandman, but just in terms of the economy with which it pulls someone who has no investment in the overall mythology into the story, by giving you a person to care about whose motivations are clear, whose life is visually interesting and is almost like storyline you become invested in. It’s like Exhibit A, Pray Yes.
Speaker 5: Exhibit me.
Julia Turner: Sandman no. Like just storytelling mechanics, adaptation mechanics. It was really interesting to juxtapose these two.
Dana Stevens: Yeah, absolutely. The simplicity takes this a really, really long way. And also I will say that the all native cast and the fact that there was a Comanche advisor on the scenes gives the entire thing and not over researched and not preachy, but just a sense of precise historical detail that I really appreciate. All right. Well, all three of us give this one a strong recommendation. It’s prey and it’s streaming right now on Hulu.
Dana Stevens: All right. Moving on to our next topic. This has been the summer of Colleen Hoover Wright, Slate’s book critic Laura Miller, as she goes on to point out that season was preceded by a winter of Colleen Hoover in autumn of Colleen Hoover. For several years now, Colleen Hoover has been dominating bestseller lists, and right now, three of the top five books on the NYT best seller list are written by this Texas based novelist Cojo, as she is known to her legions of passionate fans on tick tock and books to Graham and elsewhere, works in all kinds of pop literary genres, from way to romance to gothic horror. What all her books seem to share in common is the ability to deliver what Laura Miller in her writeup of Colleen Hoover and slate calls feels Laura. I’m going to hand it over to you because you have been steeping yourself in Colleen Hoover novels, I presume, for quite some time, to write up this this pretty authoritative overview of her career. Tell us about, for one thing, the place that Colleen Hoover occupies in the marketplace right now and also what you think in her writing accounts for that bestselling magic.
Speaker 4: Okay. Well, whoever is this 42 year old former social worker who lives in a pretty small town in Texas, she’s generally you know, if you if you start talking about Colleen Hoover to people who actually know who she is, which is it’s kind of incredible that someone can have anywhere from 2 to 5 titles from the whatever bestseller list you happen to be looking at. And yet, like so many people have never heard of her, at least in my own circles. But if you ask someone who knows or who has read some articles about her, they will say that book talk, which is the part of Tick Tock where people discuss and recommend books, is responsible for her sort of massive success.
Speaker 4: But as people on book talk have pointed out, she was she has always been a really adept user of social media. She knows how to use YouTube. She’s Instagram, all of the sort of geek friendly social media platforms to promote her titles, while at the same time not seeming to be promoting herself. I mean, which is a very tricky skill to have. So she was she was getting bestsellers before Tik-tok ever came along, partly because of her successful use of YouTube and an Instagram.
Speaker 4: Yeah. You know, it’s I guess in a sense, her books are almost always some kind of romance, but they really are all over the place in terms of the tone. The most famous book of hers or possibly the most successful is called It Ends With US, which is a pretty serious book about domestic violence. And then another very popular book of hers is called Verity. And that sort of like a weird mix of Rebecca and Bond girl. I think of it as what if Gillian Flynn actually were as much of a psychopath as Amazing Amy and Gone Girl and her husband didn’t know and her husband was really hot and you were in love with her.
Speaker 4: And then. And then they tend to have big twists that are full of, like, wrenching stories from people’s past. I mean, some of some of her critics have complained that they are trauma porn. You know, there’s often a whole lot made over the fact that someone’s mother died or their child died or they suffered some kind of abuse. And that is sort of the organizing principle of their character. But they also have kind of a fluffy rom com repartee. And as I mentioned before, there’s almost always some kind of crazy twist.
Speaker 4: So I describe them as the everything bagel of popular fiction, because instead of just focusing on just a nice, fluffy, contemporary romance or just a weird psychological thriller where you don’t know if the paralyzed wife is actually really paralyzed and you’re in a big, spooky house, or the really serious wrenching exploration of a painful issue. You just do everything.
Speaker 4: You know, you have a zillion sex scenes. I mean, one of her most popular novels is called Ugly Love, and I estimated that it’s at least 60 or 70% sex scenes and then you have the tear jerking ending and then you have the crazy twist. I mean, it’s just everything. Everything. It’s in there. And I actually think that’s probably the secret to her success.
Dana Stevens: Yeah.
Dana Stevens: Laura here. I feel like I have to tell my own unrelated to our topic Colleen Hoover story, which is that before we even decided to talk about this book. But after I had read you on. On Colleen Hoover in Slate. My daughter for a plane trip we took last week, bought a copy of Ugly Love at the airport precisely because I think she had heard on Tik Tok that it was really good and some of her friends had earnestly pressed upon her this wonderful book that would change your life, Ugly Love. And I have to say, and this is this is my daughter’s judgment, not mine, because I’ve only read a few pages of the book. But she said it was one of the worst books she’d ever tried to read. She abandoned it about, I don’t know, a chapter and a half in. You can see the doctor down here.
Speaker 5: Here is page.
Julia Turner: 17.
Dana Stevens: Page 17. So she made it, I guess, a little bit a little way into the second chapter, perhaps. And she then proceeded to do an impersonation of the book’s language to me that it still cracks me up whenever I think of it. And for background, you should know that my daughter is not straight and has long had a healthy disrespect for any sort of heterosexual love story. Even Romeo and Juliet had a hard time winning her over because it was about liking a boy, which to her is just the ultimate silly thing to do.
Julia Turner: I mean, to be fair, that is one of the worst love stories ever written, but we can save that for another day.
Speaker 5: Well, at the.
Dana Stevens: Time she was trying to play Juliet, so she had to find something to grab on to there. She literally had to find a substitute for like, what if I actually liked a guy? What would that feel like? She had to substitute.
Speaker 5: Something from her.
Dana Stevens: Real life, but her impersonation of ugly love and I have read enough of it to know which sentence she was parodying went something like this. His hair was the perfect shade of brown, and I became aroused because it was brown.
Speaker 4: I mean, I have to admit that they are not the kind of books that I would ever read if I were not on the clock, partly because of the sort of somewhat generic nature of the characters. I mean, they have their distinguishing characteristics are that they have suffered some past trauma, like their father beat up their mother or their mother just died or they were in this terrible car accident or they were in a house fire and they have scars on their face. So, you know, they feel like that ruined their acting career and they feel like no one will ever love them.
Speaker 4: You know, there’s a lot of stuff like that that sort of passes for personality, but I mean, that is kind of common in romance novels in my experience, you know. So it’s not, you know, I totally understand your your daughter’s exasperation with this. I think you have to go in really understanding the romance genre and being invested in its tropes and storylines.
Speaker 4: And one of the things I found looking at book type videos is that there are lots of fans out there who say, okay, so this is a friends to enemy trope or this is a insta love trope, or this like they’re they have names for all of the formulas in the genre and we’ll dispense those at the top so that you know that if you like friends are enemies to lovers or whatever, you know, whatever the construct is, brother’s best friend, you know, romance. Like that’s a trope. People have favorites of those and so they use those a shorthand in recommending books. And the other thing that they do is they just scream and cry like the textbook.
Speaker 4: Videos are really remarkable in how much emotion the people who make them show over their books. You know, sometimes it’s just some popular music clip. No speaking at all. But just the the person in the video showing the book and then pressing it to their heart and nodding, you know, about how much they love it as they rank the books in the order of their preference. And sometimes it’s people, you know, some woman in her car screaming about how hot, ugly love is. It should have a warning on it that you need to change your panties three times and read it, you know?
Speaker 5: Yeah.
Speaker 4: So there’s, there’s so they’re so unlike your typical book recommendation because they’re so, you know, just about emotion. And I found that really fascinating, although there are also a lot of people on Tik-tok who are complaining about Colleen Hoover, much as your daughter did.
Julia Turner: I mean, I have not read a co book yet. I upon reading a little bit past where Dana’s daughter abandoned the book, find such sentences as When the protagonist meets the hot girl, I instantly become aware of my legs and their inability to stand my mouth, forgets how to speak my arms, forget how to reach out to introduce the person they’re attached to. My heart forgets to wait and get to know a girl before it starts to claw its way out of my chest to get to her. So lot going on there.
Julia Turner: I mean, the thing that I would ask you about this, there are many times that I have read a book simply because it’s the number one to see what the fuss is about. And I think some. These books do not demonstrate what the fine literary critics such as yourself or people who think themselves fans of good writing, such as myself, desire in a modern novel. But I think about like. You know, The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons or the Twilight series, which this seems closer to in some ways, like there is an ability to conjure arresting plot and heart turning emotional drama that is, I don’t know, maybe cheap or tawdry, but also maybe just like undervalued.
Speaker 5: By.
Julia Turner: Practitioners of quote unquote, literary fiction. Like, you know, I think there sometimes is a bit of a like big collective like sigh and head scratch by a certain set of the book world. When writing like this becomes ascendant and dominant. And that’s obviously happened lots of times. But there is, you know, to to as you pointed out, you can’t just be a master of marketing and have dozens of books that are climbing the bestseller list. You actually have to be producing something that people can respond to in this intense way. So I’m curious how you’d situate this, you know, possibly a literary, literary success in the grand history of extremely popular books that are not very well-written or quote unquote, not very well written, despite their ability to counter these effects in readers.
Speaker 4: Well, I don’t think that this book is in, you know, any worse than many very popular books that don’t have a particularly I mean, they’re fast moving. You know, many of the people who read these, they want a hot love story. They want a fast moving plot without a lot of writing, sort of interfering with the development they want, sort of slightly snappy dialogue, but not too clever and a lot of suspense about when will they get together.
Speaker 4: And then on top of that success, there’s all this intrigue about whatever the subplot is or what, you know, what’s the trauma that this person has suffered? What is their dark secret in their past? Is the wife really paralyzed or is she faking it? Was she a sociopath? You know, that kind of stuff. There’s there’s it’s like there’s a lot of redundancy in it. You know, if you’re not that engaged in the romance, there’s this other storyline that you can find suspenseful.
Speaker 4: Some people seem really invested in displaying their contempt for popular literature, and I don’t feel that way. I just know looking at this that it’s not quite my cup of tea, but I’m someone who read all of the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books very eagerly, because I’m just more interested in murders than romance. And those are also terribly written. So I’m not going to get on my high horse about it. I’m just going to say it’s it’s less my thing than than some of the other stuff that makes this bestseller list.
Dana Stevens: Yeah. I want to make clear that I’m not interested in in dismissing these books. I want to understand what is that, what it is that makes them so popular? And the fact that she does write in so many different genres makes it seem as if she hasn’t just hit on a formula that works, that she has some actual ability to connect with readers emotionally that transcends whatever familiar genre she’s writing it.
Speaker 4: Right? She does not sleep on any of the tricks of the trade, unlike, I would say, the Twilight series, which really coasts on the readers investment and whether that couple gets together or not. And, you know, there’s action in those books, but the plotting is not nearly as expert as what Colleen Hoover does. I mean, she she really writes a type popular novel. You know, there’s you can’t look at it except for maybe ugly love, which to me just seems to seemed slow moving because I was just not really into all the sex scenes. Most of them, you know, there’s a regular development in the plot that pushes things in this direction of that. And and there’s not a lot of padding and there’s they’re not slow spots. And so her her sort of craftsmanship on that level or narrative craftsmanship is is really strong.
Speaker 4: And and even if the twists are ridiculous, they often you know, sometimes they are ridiculous. They often are also bold and and and kind of creative. And I think that that is another thing that that you just don’t usually get in, in, in your standard romance novel, like some flair development that turns everything on its head. And then you have to realize that everything is actually different than you thought it would be.
Julia Turner: I also wonder, I mean, part of my earlier question was also not intended to be dismissive, but intended to be like, I just think plot the ability to successfully plot is like the most undervalued literary skill and that people who can create compelling plots can recurrently create compelling plots and can recurring. They create very. Different compelling plots is like, you know, that’s not an accident, that’s not a joke. And that’s like that’s that’s that’s legit. And, and whatever the nature of the sentences, I just mockingly read, like it seems like this woman has deeply earned her success.
Julia Turner: But I also wonder if there’s something going on here with the the way romance readers are intersecting with other forms of popular fiction. Like there’s, you know, there’s obviously lots of plot heavy, not super revered genres. There’s thriller, there’s horror, there’s suspense, there’s romance. But somehow romance has felt like it’s a little bit off in its own corner in terms of the bestseller list for a long time in like, yeah, Stephen King or you know, there’s these other series that will make it to the top of the charts. But and Twilight, of course, was and I guess 50 Shades were some of the earlier incursions of romance into a bigger sense of like, what is an airport book.
Speaker 5: Our.
Julia Turner: Conversation, but is this part of that trend as well?
Speaker 4: Oh, definitely. And I think that social media has enabled the sort of community of romance readers who buy huge numbers of books and help keep the publishing industry afloat. It’s just that it’s tended to be a volume thing. And this is something that I recently found out about James Patterson is he’s the, you know, the bestselling author in the country or of the past ten years with but only rarely having a book on the bestseller list because he just produces so many books with co-writers in particular. And so it’s, it’s, it’s different with romance because people just kind of just the regular romance readers just burn through so many titles that often no one title was in a position to stand out.
Speaker 4: I think that with Twilight and 50 Shades Day, these were little publishing phenomenons that brought in readers who were not part of the established romance community. And then on social media, they became more outspoken about how they are stigmatized compared to the readers of other genres and started to communicate. So when you you see, you know, young women on TikTok saying, oh, I just love a brother’s best friend romance. I don’t know if that’s entirely new, but the fact that you would just put a video out there just to any random reader with this kind of tag on it for a favorite formula that is that is new just outside for that to be outside of the romance community.
Dana Stevens: All right. Well, if you want to figure out where to start with Colleen Hoover, I advise you to read Laura miller’s great piece on Slate, the unlikely author who’s absolutely dominating the bestseller list. And as we sign off, I will just ask that if anyone out there is on book talk, can you please clutch my book cameraman to your chest and make a video of yourself sobbing about how you had to change your panties three times while reading it? All right. Moving on. Oh my goodness. We’ve already arrived at the endorsements portion of our program. And for once, I don’t have to go first because I’m hosting. So, Julia, I’m going to hand it over to you. What do you have to recommend to listeners this week?
Julia Turner: My endorsement is yet another from the summer stretch discard pile or the summer’s drought also also rans almost. Schwass and I particularly mention this one because I noticed also, Dana, that it was on your finalist list, but not name checked list. It’s a song called I Wish That I Could See You Soon by Hermann Dune.
Dana Stevens: Oh, yes. It was the Jonathan Richman Soundalike. Yes.
Julia Turner: And it’s sort of like a rollicking. Sounds like it could have been a folk song, but it wasn’t. Guy. And then there’s this trio of harmonic women. I don’t know if it’s a trio. It sounds like a trio. I just made that assumption. There’s an unspecified number of harmonic women that the loping narrator is in kind of a call and response with.
Speaker 1: I wish I could see you and the angels go out to. And I’m like, the sooner the better. Did you really think? Well, I have no way to say. And there’s nothing I can do. I am just saying there’s nothing I can do.
Dana Stevens: And there’s also a moment when horns come in. And as we’ve established, anytime horns sneak into a pop song, it makes me it makes me very it’s.
Julia Turner: Just a very unusual song. Has a very unusual sonic texture. It’s sort of unplayable historically. And as I’ve been listening through my long list the last few weeks, it’s one of the ones that every time it comes on, I think, Ooh, I love this one. So it’s. I wish that I could see you soon by Hermann Doone.
Dana Stevens: Nice one. I like that song. I’m happy to be reminded of it.
Dana Stevens: Laura, what have you got for us this week?
Speaker 4: Well, this isn’t brand new, although they do have a new season out. There is this New Zealand comedy series called The Wellington Paranormal. It’s a spinoff of what we do in the Shadows, a spinoff of the original version of that, the movie, which was also a Kiwi product. And there’s a couple of cops who appear in the movie of what we do in the Shadows. And the spin off is how these two cops and their sergeant have launched this special secret division to deal with paranormal threats. And in Wellington, New Zealand. And it is so hilarious and deadpan and you know, they confront all of these sort of ridiculous Monster of the week type things like X-Files. But, but one of the cops is an idiot.
Speaker 4: And then one of the cops is this complete by the books person? And it’s a mockumentary. So she’s constantly, constantly addressing the camera, saying, well, we’ve talked to the woman and we’ve convinced her that it’s not safe for her to do this. We just want to make sure that everybody gets out. You know, she just if she has the most ridiculous, deadpan, officially used way of talking about these crazy things that have happened.
Speaker 4: And the most recent episode, which I completely loved, is called The Coolest Thing. And it’s about how they find a leather jacket that whenever someone puts it on, it instantly makes them really cool. And and because it’s possessed by a guy who was like a breakdancing champion or something, know at 1.1 of those breakdancing on the top of the police station until the roof falls in and another one steals a motorcycle. And they just behave in these completely absurd ways.
Speaker 4: And at a certain point, they also meet a pair of possessed pants in a thrift store. And I feel like it’s a citation of my favorite Dr. Seuss story, which is about the pale green pants with nobody inside them, very expressive pants floating in the air. And I just laugh hysterically at this thing every time I watch it. You can see it on HBO, Max. But I think it’s also being televised on one of the sort of lower level cable stations like the CW or something like that. And I can’t recommend it more highly. Everything, every joke is funnier when it is told in a New Zealand accent.
Dana Stevens: Wellington paranormal. I just wrote it down. It sounds a little bit like Flight of the Conchords vibes, which is an old love of mine. So I will certainly.
Speaker 4: Certainly get.
Speaker 5: Up. Yeah.
Speaker 4: You’ll love it then.
Dana Stevens: All right. Well, I’m going to go full Julia and do a food endorsement this week. I feel like you’re the queen of the food endorsements. And this is actually a very Julia pleasing food endorsement because it involves thyme, an herb that we have bonded over before, nothing like fresh thyme. And I think you have an abundance of it in your home garden, multiple.
Julia Turner: Varieties of fresh thyme.
Dana Stevens: All right, well, here is something new to do with it. Besides the time recipes I’ve already imparted to you, it is time pistachio pesto, which is something I came across in a on a cooking blog called Off Script Recipes, where I gather that what this person does, this blogger, is adapt existing famous recipes and add fun things to them. Because this is an adaptation of Seminoles roots buttermilk chicken, right? Classic recipe that people have been making like mad since she publicized it in her book and show salt, fat, acid heat. But this is with this pesto that this person has MacGyver to add on to the buttermilk chicken. And you could completely make the pesto on its own. If you’re a vegetarian or don’t want to make chicken, it’s basically just thyme, pistachio, nuts, olive oil, salt and lemons, plus some lemon zest. That’s all that’s in it. You wear it all together in a food processor. We’ll put a link to the recipe.
Dana Stevens: And then an interesting thing that you do with this pesto, you don’t have to, but you can bake it with along with the chicken in the recipe, or you could just bake a tray of it on its own, which gives it this great sort of crusty topping, you know, like a crusty brown top. It’d be delicious and bake potatoes. It would be amazing on pasta, on just a slice of bread. It’s really, really delicious to the point that I now like it better than good old basil pesto that you can find everywhere. Thyme pesto is what it’s all about. I think you could do it with another nut as well if you didn’t want to go so pricey as pistachios, I’m sure you could do with walnuts.
Julia Turner: We just roll on the ground in pistachios in L.A.. But.
Julia Turner: Can I ask a practical question in making basil pesto, which I used to make a lot as a kid and just made for the first time as our basil crop has come in. I made it for the first time in like 20 years. You know, it’s a lot of fuss to prepare the leaves, make sure you take the leaves up the stems and clean leaves this, that and the other. And thyme leaves are tiny. Does it fussy? I mean, you can kind of strip the time leaves off the stem.
Speaker 5: Are you pulling the scaffolding?
Speaker 4: Are you.
Speaker 5: Putting the stand.
Julia Turner: Like the notion of having enough time, right. To get that kind of juicy paste like the at least the basil leaves it, you know, to like separate 50 basil leaves. It takes whatever amount of time, but they’re like nice big succulent leaves. Like 50 thyme leaves is like.
Speaker 5: A little thimble full. How do you process?
Dana Stevens: I guess the answer is that you put some of the stems in as well. It doesn’t seem arduous when you’re doing it. If you get a big pair of kitchen scissors and a handful of time and sort of snip at it until the woody parts are all that’s left in your hands. And you can include some of the stems in there, too. You don’t want to put the sticks part in. That’s really the bottom of this. But the little.
Julia Turner: Tender stems can make it. Yeah.
Dana Stevens: Know. Right. All right. It’s very easy to make. I mean, you throw this stuff in a blender, it’s ready within 15 minutes. If you don’t do the baking part, you can just throw it on pasta right then. Anyway, it’s summery. It’s delicious. It’s time, pesto. We’ll put a.
Speaker 5: Link for.
Dana Stevens: It on our on our show page this week, along with links to Julia and Laura’s recommendations as well. Thank you, Laura Miller Slate’s book critic, for joining us.
Speaker 4: Oh, it’s been a delight.
Dana Stevens: And Julia, thanks to you, as always, especially nice having you in the room.
Julia Turner: So fun to be here.
Dana Stevens: You’ll find links to some of the things we talked about today on our show page, Slate.com slash Culturefest. You can also write us anytime at Culturefest. At Slate.com, our Twitter feed is at Slate, Culturefest. Our introductory music is composed by the wonderful composer Nicholas Britell. Our producer is Cameron Druse and our production assistant is Nadira Goffe. For Julia Turner and Laura Miller, I’m Dana Stevens. Thanks so much for joining us and we’ll talk.
Julia Turner: To you next week.
Julia Turner: Hello and welcome to this plus segment of the Slate Culture Gabfest. Today, we have an intriguing question from listener Emma Firestone. She writes, A highlight of my week in culture was this Guardian article in which Brian Cox, the noted Shakespeare and Succession actor, is brought into Zoom conversation with Brian Cox, the celebrity particle physicist. I found both the conceit and the conversation totally delightful. My proposed slate plus topic is if you were able to bring two celebrities from very disparate fields into conversation, as The Guardian has done here. Who would they be? And how would you prompt their dialogue? It isn’t necessary for them to share a name, but bonus points. For instance, I would really love to introduce David Mitchell to David Mitchell. And this letter hails from Copenhagen, interestingly. All right, Laura, we will start with you today. Do you have any disparate converse since you’d like to convene? Same named or otherwise.
Speaker 4: Not same name. You know, I started contemplating this question by thinking, who are the people? Who work in culture that I always feel like I would want to hear more from. Whether because they don’t speak very much, you know, they don’t do a lot of interviews or they’re reclusive or, you know, for whatever reason, they don’t produce work that often. And then I had to think about which of those people I think would have the most interesting conversation. And so I ultimately decided on Donna Tartt and David Lynch.
Speaker 4: I love Donna Tartt’s work. You know, it’s pretty weird, right? But think about it. They both make extremely compelling, sometimes disturbing, very atmospheric work. And I have met Donna Tartt, and I know that she is extremely voluble and charming and probably could talk to anybody. And by all accounts, David Lynch is very similar. Even though he is a total weirdo and I just thought nothing could be more entertaining than watching these two people charm each other and talk about all the weird stuff that they’re interested in.
Julia Turner: I would love to come to that dinner party, and your smart suggestion has caused me to realize that I’ve really failed in the assignment in so many ways, because I think the idea here is to bring together two people whose work would not necessarily suggest a direct conversation, but whose either sensibility or identical name.
Speaker 5: Would create an unlikely pair.
Julia Turner: And I have merely come up with. Impossible, but may be too obvious pairings. But here here are a couple that I think could be interesting. One is I recently had the delightful experience of going to Venice. I hadn’t been in Venice for 20 years. Venice is many, many things. It is, you know, really kind of like a desiccated tourist shell. And it doesn’t have the vibrancy and life of like, being a real place any more. But it also made me think of nothing more than, you know, calvino’s, invisible cities and just the improbable ness that in all of human experience and history, humans have made. Many, many, many cities. And the cities all have a lot of things in common. But then also this one time they made Venice, you.
Speaker 5: Know, like.
Julia Turner: It just came out that way instead. And so it’s making me think about Calvino in Urbanism and cities. So I was thinking would be fun to have Calvino talk to Jane Jacobs. And then I was like, Well, the whole conceit of Invisible Cities is also that it’s Marco Polo describing his travels. So let’s throw actual Marco Polo in that conversation too, and have the three of them talk about urbanism.
Julia Turner: So that’s one idea. But again, possibly a little bit to prescribe in terms of topic. I also would love to convene Sally Rooney with Jane Austen and for them to talk about love and class and whatever else struck their fancy. You know, the interiors of British homes. So those were a couple ideas I started with in terms of the same name. Marie I am thinking that we need to get Dana Stevens to at some point interview or talk to Dan Stevens, the Downton Abbey actor, because you’re not quite animal gatherers, but, you know, they feel like there’s a certain a certain concordance there.
Speaker 4: I think that that’s fantastic. And I love Venice myself. And so I would be one of the people who would be super interested in hearing that discussion.
Julia Turner: At our cosmic 92nd Street Y. You would come to that? Yeah. Great. Yeah, I.
Speaker 4: Said I’d be the first in line.
Speaker 5: Now, I think.
Dana Stevens: They need to have the conversation in a gondola. The trans historical metaphysical gondola.
Speaker 5: Floating through the canals.
Julia Turner: Love it. Dana. Any ideas?
Dana Stevens: I mean, the two names thing really threw me, and I spent so long trying to figure out. I mean, this person really set the bar high. Wasn’t even just the same first name. They had identical first and last names. I realize they weren’t holding us to that stricture, but I was so thrown by the by being that impressed with the feat of them coming up with two groups of identical names that I floundered. I know that one person I would love to hear in conversation with anyone. And part of the criteria I brought was who likes to talk? Right. Like when you talked about David Lynch talking to Donna Tartt. Laura, as fascinating as those two minds would be melded together in a conversation. I can imagine David Lynch being not very forthcoming and just sitting there saying one or two cryptic thing. So I wanted to put someone really chatty into my hypothetical conversation. And so I thought of Martin Scorsese, who loves to talk and who I love to hear talk about anything at all. But who would he be in conversation with is the question.
Julia Turner: Brutalist sculptor Martin Scorsese is little.
Speaker 5: Known and.
Julia Turner: Famed fellatio ologist.
Speaker 5: Martin Scorsese, the stamp king.
Julia Turner: Sorry, I want to stop inventing Scorsese.
Speaker 5: Who did you have in mind?
Dana Stevens: I mean, what I can’t think of is who to put him in conversation with from another art form. Because obviously the thing that Scorsese, he knows a lot about literature, a lot about art, I’m sure. But I mean, obviously he is the movie guy, so I would love to put him in conversation with someone who has never seen a movie like someone from history before. Movies were invented, and I’m trying to think of an artist from history whose mind and sensibility would mesh with Scorsese Z, but who was born before or died before movies came along the ticket? You know, with Dickens, that could be a great conversation. Yeah. Somebody else who like Scorsese, he has this very ample gaze on the world.
Julia Turner: Tableau and yet fascinating character. Plus, who? Dick Dickens. Seems like he could talk to anybody.
Dana Stevens: You know, I had thought of Shakespeare because he also has that amplitude, but. But maybe. Maybe Dickens could be interesting because he’s more cinematic in some ways, right? I mean, his books are almost a predecessor to TV and movies. Do you? Do you have anyone to throw in conversation with Scorsese? Laura Scorsese.
Speaker 4: Here. Well, first, I would just like to point out that I don’t think that David Lynch is on forthcoming. It’s my understanding that he’s too chatty. It’s yeah. It’s just that he wants to talk about how sugar is granulated happiness or something like that, you know? He doesn’t like to talk about his work, but he likes to talk about the weather or. Or little art projects that he’s doing. Mm hmm. Who? My sources. I mean, I would want to put him with somebody who like. What about that? I’m Scottish. What is his name? Andrew Goldsworthy, the guy who does the. The sculptures in the natural environment.
Speaker 5: Yes, yes, yes.
Speaker 4: I love his work. Looks like somebody who does something totally different, but sort of quiet. You know, I bet they would have interesting things to talk about because Scorsese, it seems to me like a person who is very much about art, but who have an appreciation of making of physical objects in a way that the sculptor does and that they would probably pay off of each other in an interesting way.
Julia Turner: Oh, I like that idea.
Dana Stevens: Oh, I’m just looking at there’s a great documentary about Goldsworthy.
Julia Turner: You know, referring to David Lynch in the weather. I assume you’re referring to the fact that he does the weather report for case study reports. Yes.
Speaker 5: Are you aware of this? Do you know? Yes, he is.
Julia Turner: It’s unclear whether it’s shtick, passion or day.
Speaker 5: Job, but he.
Julia Turner: He does a daily weather report in Southern California.
Dana Stevens: Well, see, I stand corrected. He loves to talk about the weather and I would happily talk about it with it.
Speaker 4: He has this amazing video where he demonstrates how to cook broccoli that is just so delightful and he’s so excited about it. And I just I just think the two of them together would be fantastic.
Dana Stevens: So maybe he should talk to Marty as well. They’re both filmmakers, but they could talk about something completely unrelated to film the entire time. And I just feel the need to mention, Laura, because you brought up Andy Goldsworthy that there’s a great documentary about him. I mean, really, one of my favorite documentaries about an individual artist that I’ve seen, it’s called Rivers and Tides. And I’m just looking up and seeing that you can watch it on Amazon Prime right now.
Julia Turner: I love that idea. I will also say that I recently had occasion to interview Mike Schur, the creator of The Good Place, about his new book, How to Be Perfect, which is sort of like a pop survey of the history of ethics or the philosophy of ethics, essentially. And it’s an offshoot of the work he did on the good place, learning about philosophy and the philosophy of ethics. And it would be fun to at this cosmic 92nd street y shimmering gondola in the sky, convene Mike Schur with Aristotle and Conte and the various other thinkers and cultures that he pulls into this book and get them all to have a screening of a few episodes of The Good Place and discuss ethics together. So that’s another this is good. It’s just going to be a hot ticket.
Speaker 5: Cosmic y.
Julia Turner: All right. Well, we will invite Dream Destiny, Despair and their various fashionable haircuts to our cosmic y as well. Thank you so much, sleepless listeners, for listening to this bonus segment of our show for supporting Slate and its work. And we will talk to you all next week.