S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership. I’m Stephen Metcalf, and this is the Slate Culture Gabfest, Hello, it’s still me, ED. It’s Wednesday, November 24th, 2021. On today’s show, King Richard tells the no matter how you slice the astonishing story of Richard Williams, whose parenting helped turn Venus and Serena Williams into two of the greatest athletes of all time. The movie stars Will Smith as the heroically demented patriarch. It’s on HBO Max and also for now in theaters, and then Adele returns with 30, an album whose feel and sound make it a sequel to 21. Her monster breakthrough. Even though I understand she had another one 25 in between. It’s a series of smoky, belted deep moods and grooves towards songs we discuss with Slate’s own Carl Wilson. And finally, we will do something I believe. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, unprecedented to. For the show, we will discuss a new release comic book The Department of Truth. Why are we doing that? All becomes clear when I reveal Jamelle Bouie has returned for another week on the show. Jamelle welcome back.
S2: Thank you for having me.
S1: It’s great to have you back. You are in addition to Times columnist and a slate alumnus, you’re both a vintage and a first run comic book fan. If I’m correct about that.
S2: That is absolutely correct. I have been a comic book fan since I was a kid, and I still read them on the regular.
S1: So cool, and I’m really glad we’re doing this. A little sneak preview. I quite enjoyed the one that you recommended anyway. And then Dana Stephen, of course, is Slate’s film critic Dana.
S3: Hey, how you doing, Steve?
S1: I’m doing great. You want to know why? Because I’m a kingmaker Dana in the publishing world.
S3: Tell me about it, please.
S1: I moved the needle on your Amazon ranking for the pre-sale period, which, as you explained quite rightly, you’re if you’re a book author, you’re caught in this Catch 22, where, you know the publisher might be glancing at those numbers. Even though the book hasn’t come out to see how much they’ll promote the book. But how are those numbers going to move if you don’t promote it? Step in the kingmaker. Okay, Stephen Metcalf. So listen, I just want to say it’s like it’s become like a public radio fund drive, and I just don’t care how annoying it is. I want people who listen to the show to understand, you know, you’re going to buy this book eventually. You know it. So why not do it now? And it most benefits the book and Dana Stevens, who, as we all know, is really about the only consistent aspect of the show that the majority of the listenership likes, according to our emails. I don’t think we ever got like a negative email about Dana. Oh my god. I mean, they want to toss me down a flight of stairs. But anyway, Dana just quickly the title in the subject.
S3: The book is called Cameraman. As we discussed last week, it’s about Buster Keaton, but it is not a biography. It’s more of a, let’s call it, a cultural history of his life span. And the thing I had to add this week, Steve, in addition to thanking you for being my freelance publicist. And it really is true that after we released the crackin on pre-orders last week, you could see the numbers go up in the next day, and it was really, really exciting. And I’m sure that the publisher noticed it too. And that’s very helpful and thank you, everyone who pre-ordered. But the other thing I wanted to say is that I spent all of yesterday seven consecutive hours in a sound studio starting to record the audio book of my own book, which was incredibly fun, very challenging. All of these years of podcasting had not prepared me for how exhausting it is to talk into a microphone for seven hours. But it’s also great. I’m really, really excited to be recording it. So if anybody is more of an audiobook person than a book book person, that’s going to be available to you, and you can also pre-order that on Amazon.
S1: All right, let’s make a show. All right. We’re so accustomed to Venus and especially Serena Williams, a sports world demigods. We may forget how improbable their rise to All-Time greatness really was. Tennis historically, has been an overwhelmingly white and middle to upper middle class sport. It’s very expensive to begin with court time to gear lessons. It’s not a naturally mastered technique to hit a tennis shot, work consistently at all, but to become professionally competitive. That is a huge investment of time and money. This effectively means the talent pool for the sport can be quite shallow. Richard Williams set out to change that. He took his two daughters, Serena and Venus, to public courts in Compton, California, and in his own auto didactic, semi tyrannical obsessive. But I think at least according to this movie, quite loving way drilled and coached them until belatedly, some members of the tennis establishment began to recognize their immense talent. Feature film King Richard is now on HBO Max. It’s also in theaters. It stars Will Smith as Richard Williams as the patriarch, a man trying to map a very narrow strait between the Compton Ghetto and the almost fantastical clubby ness of the tennis world. The movie takes us from there, I think, kind of earliest tween years up to Venus’s first taste of professional triumph at the age of. 13 in addition to Smith, the movie stars Cynthia Sydney as Venus and Demi Singleton as Serena Williams. Let’s listen to a clip. Dana Will You set this one up for us?
S3: Sure. This is from a moment late in the film when Venus, who’s around 14 years old at this point, is about to play in her first big tournament. She’s getting interviewed by a journalist, and as you’ll hear, her father, Richard, played by Will Smith, intervenes in the conversation.
S4: Do you want to turn pro? Yes. A lot of people are excited to see how you do against players like Seles. Do you think you can beat her? I know I could beat her. You know you can beat her. Very confident. I’m very confident. You say it so easily. Why? Because I believe it. But you haven’t played a match in almost three years. Hold it right there. If you don’t mind, let me tell you. Richard, we’re doing an interview. What was? She has said. She said it with so much confidence to face time. But you keep going on and on, but you can’t just keep interrupting. If what you got to understand is you dealing with the image of a 14 year old child and this child going to be playing with your old ass and me going to be integrated when she has said something? We don’t tell you what’s happening. You are dealing with a little black kid. Let her be a kid. Now she doesn’t an it with a lot of confidence. Leave that alone.
S1: They know it’s an appropriately intense clip, I mean, the movie is and some people have have question, this is really dominated by Will Smith in the character of of of Richard. He’s intensely loving, but he’s also very, very intense. The line between encouraging and smothering is is I think the movie’s very much about that and the difficulties inherent in that. What do you make of this film?
S3: You know, I’m really conflicted about this film. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of watching it. It’s a pretty conventional sports movie in some ways. I mean, in the construction of the story, it certainly is a triumphant narrative of these two young girls becoming sort of emerging into their status as some of the greatest athletes of all time. I’m not sure about how I feel about the Portrait of Parenthood in this movie, and that is related in some way to Will Smith performance in a way that I want you guys to help me understand. Will Smith is such a, you know, famously affable, lovable kind of figure here. He’s playing someone who I thought seems very sort of ethically ambivalent. He’s an extremely devoted father, but he’s also a somewhat narcissistic one who, as we’ll talk about, is imposing his own predetermined plan on his daughters, which, as he himself says in the movie, was conceived before they were even born. He decided that he was going to raise these tennis prodigies. And I felt like the movie was always just on the edge of starting to maybe question the morality of his his parenting style, but never quite did it. The film is also produced by the sisters Venus and Serena. And while I wouldn’t call it a geographic portrait of their dad, it’s also one that just only hints at the dark side. Under the surface, there’s a revelation very late in the movie that he has another family that he is not in touch with at all. And in general, I just feel like this movie wants us to love King Richard Richard Williams because of his love for his daughters and his devotion to them and because he’s Will Smith, and that the movie doesn’t go far enough in asking, Is this the way to parent it? Is this the way to live a life? Then there’s another question which Allegra Frank has written about on Slate and others have written about elsewhere. The simple fact that this is a story that makes the triumph of the Williams sisters look like almost entirely the work of their father, and in some ways, the girls, especially in the first half of the movie, are are hardly characters. They’re, you know, they’re sort of pawns who are acting out his, his dreams and his schemes. In the second half, particularly Venus, emerges into more personhood and becomes more of a real character. But I would still say that this is an almost entirely Will Smith centric movie, as the title implies, right? I mean, it’s about the king making of their father and and I think that left me with a little bit of a queasy feeling, even as I was, you know, cheering them on in the in the final scenes of a Venus victory. Hmm.
S1: And now, as I understand it, Jamelle, the Williams sisters are producers on this project. So it’s it’s a version of the story implicitly, I would assume, sanctioned by them. Yeah. I hear Dana when she says it has queasy making elements, though parenting itself can be inherently queasy. But you would you make of this?
S2: Yeah, I mean, I think I’m probably a little more forgiving of the fact that it’s so Will Smith centric just because it is, you know, the Williams sisters were executive producers. This is, I think, the story they wanted to tell. And I think it’s like worth respecting that they wanted to tell a story that centered on their father. That said, the thing. So I don’t like biopics very much. This is a this is a thing that is sort of as far as my movie tastes go, I think they tend to just be formulaic and it’s hard to do a good one. The kinds of biopics that works as they are tend to focus on like very specific moments in the person’s life that are illustrative of the person. And it’s just like a difficult feat, I think. And so I went into this not necessarily thinking I was going to enjoy it. I ended up liking it much more than I anticipated. And that’s largely because Will Smith cannot help but be a charismatic presence on screen. It’s just sort of his yeah, it’s a gift as a star is just, he bleeds charisma. But I actually think that’s the problem with this movie that Richard Williams is, you know, by every account, a strange man in a strange, sort of like off-putting man. And there is a version of this movie that I think swaps out Will Smith, whose natural and easy charisma kind of sands down any of the rough edges about Richard Williams like he, you know, Will Smith Will Will Smith version of the man can be grating, can be annoying, can be tough or whatever. But there Will Smith can’t really do darkness at all and can’t really do the, you know, the narcissism can’t do the hardness and and and. His charisma obscured obscures those things even even more. I can think of a version of this movie that just stars actors who star an actor who could do that. Soraya McDonald on Twitter. Critic at the end defeated. Suggested Rob Morgan, who is an actor who you people who almost certainly seen in many things. I mean, it’s just a terrific character actor. But I think someone like Rob Morgan, who does sort of in his characters inhabits the darkness might be a better take for this, but then that that might cut conflicts with the story the Williams sisters are trying to tell, right? So it’s sort of there’s a version of this movie that is has no input from the Williams family that I think is like a little edgier. And then there is this movie, which is very much is very much like a family movie. It’s a movie that you know, you watch. You know, my parents would love this thing.
S1: Mm hmm. Yeah, yeah. I felt that very strongly. I mean, it’s to my mind, it’s not a sports movie so much as it’s a parenting movie and a movie about a tremendously unlevel playing field, not only of tennis, but you know, the country at large. It’s a movie about parenting when nothing in the world your class race, your neighborhood is designed to help you. You know, it’s really a sort of in spite of not because of story, I thought some of the scenes of family life struck me as. Poignant because they were real in some sense, like I, I I there’s a way in which I mean, of course, children come out pre individuated in ways that I think surprise a new parent, the extent to which they’re sort of three quarters baked, you know, like the fourth trimester happens out in the open air. So in one sense, they’re way more fragile, independent than many other creatures in the animal kingdom, but they come stamped with a recognizable personality almost from the beginning. But there is a sense in which individuation and personality are things that develop over time and in the context of parenting. And this is a man who believed that he needed to be as fearsome in some respects as the world at large that they were going to face with a with a real world irony that I was floored to discover and is not accounted for in the movie. It’s not talked about in the movie. He moved them from a relatively more middle class neighborhood to Compton to the ghetto in order to toughen them almost as a way of preparing them for the kinds of, you know, a different, maybe kind of menace that they were going to face in the in the tennis world. There’s even a story supposedly verified story that he hired schoolchildren to come to the Compton public courts and jeer them in order to get them ready for what they were going to later face. You know, maybe in slightly more genteel and passive aggressive form. I mean, I think Jamal’s absolutely right Dana. There is something Lear like and demented about Richard. And in the script, it’s made clear this is a guy who was savagely attacked, you know, by the Klan. He was, you know, getting beaten by southern racists as a as a young man and carried this wound forward into into adult life. Nonetheless, it won’t, you know, it wouldn’t surprise or dismay me at all to see Will Smith win an Oscar for this. There’s something he undercuts the depth and the gravity of it with his. I agree with Jamelle Iraq irrepressibly impish charm, but it’s still an insanely magnetic performance, right?
S3: Yeah. And it’s a very Oscar friendly kind of performance. I mean, to be, you know, pragmatic about it, like this is exactly the kind of, you know, it’s a stretch for him as an actor because he’s doing a southern accent, right? He’s doing a different kind of character than he usually does somebody with a little more of an edge. You know, a guy from the ghetto who’s had a hard life. I think it’s a very Oscar friendly kind of role. And obviously, the way that he plays it is, you know, he brings that for Fresh Prince measure of charm. But I’m really glad you mentioned that Compton story, the fact that he moved them to the ghetto. That’s something that should have been in the movie, right? I mean, I agree. Yeah, I guess. Yeah, if if his daughters who are producing it and they want this portrait of their dad to come out, that’s that’s what it’s going to be. But that detail helps you understand so much about the kind of man he was. And it’s this mixture of kind of inspired coaching and and, as you say, kind of demented parenting. And in fact, the movie is somewhat disingenuous in that respect. When I read that he had deliberately moved them there from, you know, a safer neighborhood. I mean, the movie presents it as if you know they’re playing tennis in order to get out of the ghetto. In fact, that’s repeatedly spoken right by the dad in various scenes. And there’s all these scenes where, you know, various hoods are endangering him. He’s held up at gunpoint at one point. He’s, you know, beaten by these, these thugs in the neighborhood. And all of that seems to it points toward this very different kind of narrative than what was actually happening with the Williams family and what was actually happening is so much more dramatically interesting.
S2: No, I think that’s right. And again, I can I can imagine a version of this movie that that captures that, you know, the I think Will Smith has been in two other biopics. There’s The Pursuit of happiness and then also Michael Mann’s Alley, which is a movie I really like. And I like it because I think what Michael Mann does well with that film is. Use Smith’s own kind of inscrutability rate, sort of the extent to which like this, he has a very public face, but you don’t really it’s only been recently. They would really learn very much about his actual private life and his interior life to use Smith’s own inscrutability to illustrate a person who themselves was, you know, extremely public but also, in their own way, inscrutable. Hard to know as a private person, and I think I think it would have been possible to take that approach with this film sort of use Smith’s own strangeness, the fact that for all of his easy charm, he is kind of a weird guy, a weird and an intense man, right? Like this is like, this is a guy who, by the time he was 21, had basically made himself into a superstar and used that to illustrate Williams as a person. And I think that’s sort of, you know, plumbing Smith’s own strangeness and intensity and inscrutability for care for a person like Richard Williams, who, you know, from the perspective of so many people around him did appear to just be kind of, you know, bizarre and hard to know. I think would make for a more dramatically interesting movie. But then that’s not necessarily a movie about Richard Williams, right? Maybe a movie about Venus. That’s it’s a movie. It’s much more about how he’s perceived by the people around him. Yeah.
S1: Anyway, it’s king Richard. You can see it on HBO Max or go to the theater. Let us know what you thought. All right. Moving on. OK, before we go any further in the podcast, now is typically when we talk business Dana, what do you have?
S3: Stephen We have one exciting piece of business, which is to tell listeners about our upcoming listener call in episode. This is our annual tradition over the holidays. We always have one episode in which instead of taking on our usual three cultural topics for the week, we just spend the whole hour answering your questions whatever you want to email us about. I mean, there’s really not even a mandate here. It’s just it’s just ask us stuff, try not to completely humiliate us with your question, but it could be about our show. It could be about culture more broadly. It could be, you know, questions, complaints, you know, Department of of chat, including personal questions or maybe strange thought experiments that you want us to embark on together. So if you have such a question for the Slate Culture Gabfest team, which I’m reminding you by the time the show airs, will include Julia Turner once more because she’s returning in early December. You can give us a call and leave us a voicemail message at four zero two nine eight nine three three seven eight. Once again, the number is 402 989 three three seven eight. If you call that, you’ll get a voicemail box and you can ramble on and leave us your question to be answered on an upcoming episode. And our second night of a business is just to tell you about today’s Slate Plus segment, since we have Jamelle Bouie as one of our guests on the show this week. And if you follow Jamelle Bouie at all on social media or read his newsletter from the New York Times, you know that he is a food guy he loves to cook. He has interesting ideas about cooking every week in his newsletter, which I’ve endorsed before on the show. He includes a recipe. And so we are curious about what happens at the Bouie household in Thanksgiving. So we will start off by grilling Jamelle about his Thanksgiving, then talk about our own, maybe some of our recurring sides. I think this is a conversation we’ve had before around Thanksgiving time. But I mean, just like Thanksgiving is a tradition arguing about what should and should not be served at Thanksgiving and at what time of day, et cetera, et cetera, is a tradition. So we’re going to resolve or at least take on some of those Thanksgiving disputes with Jamelle today. So if you’re a Slate Plus member, you get to hear that bonus segment at the end of the show. And as always, if you’re not a Slate Plus member, you can sign up today at Slate.com. Slash culture plus signing up costs just a dollar for your first month, and for that dollar, you will get ad free podcasts. Bonus segments like the one I just described and many other shows have them too, and unlimited access to all of the great writing on Slate. You will never hit a paywall when you’re a member of Slate. Plus, most of all, if you’re a member of Slate Plus your supporting journalism, you’re supporting our work and the work of our many brilliant colleagues. These memberships really matter to us. So please, if you can sign up today at Slate.com slash culture plus again, the address is Slate.com slash culture plus. OK, Steve, what’s next?
S1: All right, well, as a critic has pointed out, it’s almost like Michael Apted, every few years it appears Adele is going to update us with the new album. Her studio albums have been titled 1921 25, and then there’s the new 130. These are the ages she’s at when she’s produced the record. Let me now quote our guest Carl Wilson. The last time Adele Adkins released an album, 2015’s 25 Donald Trump had not yet become the US president. The singer’s British homeland had not yet held its Brexit referendum. George Floyd was still alive, so was queen of soul and eventual Adele Cover singer Aretha Franklin Carl. Welcome back to the show. Hi Carl is the music critic for Slate. I thought that that was an important perspective, both for your review and for our segment that that those five years. I mean, the album is ostensibly about her heartache, her divorce, raising a young child. There’s a ton of loneliness and pain on this record, but let’s begin with just the world has the world has now become abyss acclimated. In some sense, this seems like an appropriate record for that.
S5: Yeah, that’s really true. And I would say the thing that happened in between the time that that 25 came out with, you know, hello, is that sort of huge blockbuster single. There was so much talk at the time about how about the tear jerking this of Adele. And you know, there was the crazy Saturday Night Live skit where they had a whole family crying over Adele together, uniting, reuniting a family at Thanksgiving that were otherwise fading. There was this whole there was treated as a novelty for for music to kind of have that effect for big mainstream music to have that effect, partly because we’ve been coming out of this really upbeat time from the late, late 2000s into the early teens. When music, you know, most pop music was really upbeat and dancefloor oriented, it was the age of Katy Perry, you know, it was. And so Adele really stood out. But when all of those kind of geopolitical things happened and you know, whatever other cultural shifts you might want to point to, music slowed down noticeably. It was, you know, kind of tracks statistically that music got sadder and slower and even hip hop, you know, in the in the kind of Drake effect became emo hip hop. And and music really changed. And Adele comes back at a time when it’s not so novel. You know, we had Olivia Rodrigo at the beginning of this year with the big driver’s license, tear jerking single, and that kind of thing is more commonplace now. And the interesting thing is whether Adele was going to feel redundant and not sort of standing out from the crowd in the way that she did. But there’s interesting things that we can talk about in this album, where she also shifted over those times. And and the pleasant surprise has been that she’s found new edges to her voice and new areas to go to where it’s not really the cliche of here’s Adele turn on the waterworks, even though, of course, there are those moments here. So that’s the thing I find most striking, maybe about this record.
S1: All right. Well, you pick out a track for us to sort of, you know, that has that on display.
S5: There’s lots of things we could play, but maybe to make that point. We could go play the the deceptively titled Cry Your Heart Out, which is one of the most upbeat songs on the record. And not mostly fun, really.
S6: Hard to see your face
S4: when you are in now, it’s on a
S3: Carl, you say in your great review of this record that I think you described the sound of those backing vocals, which I think is Adele’s own voice, right as a chipmunk sound. You talk about the chipmunk grain of the backing vocals, and I just I think I just wanted to say the words chipmunk grain back to you, but I wanted to know what you thought about, you know, that kind of playful sound that seems like it’s this deliberately retro and also unusually for Adele sort of deliberately artificial background sound.
S5: Yeah. On several places on the album, you know, she does almost all of her own background vocals on the record, except for on this song Hold On, where she has kind of a crew of amateur friends show up and do kind of a really fun, kind of amateurish sounding backup vocals, but mostly it’s her own backup vocals. And in several places, they’re electronically processed partly to, I think, make it sound like a different voice than the voice that’s at the front. But I think also to kind of create these artificial atmospheres and give, you know, there’s there’s kind of the retro girl group part of it there, but there’s also this satirical element of like almost self-mocking in those vocals kind of undercut the, you know, lachrymose quality of of the of the lyrics on it, on the paper. And that in the the last song Love is a game. She does some of the same kinds of things. And it’s again, I think it’s her coming at this album from a less self-serious point of view than the stereotypical Adele approach that we might think of from six years ago or nine years ago. And and this is something I really appreciated. And there’s experiments going on throughout the album with production in these subtle ways. You know, none of it is radical. Adele is not about to put out, you know, some kind of crazy drill track or something like that. But it and it still caters in a lot of ways to the fans who want that Adele feeling. But there’s lots of subtle things she’s doing with her collaborators to create variety and different emotional tones throughout the record. And this chipmunk vocal thing is one thing, and there is this kind of jazzy touches in other places that had places she hasn’t gone in quite the same way before. And again, these are the things, you know, we can talk about the things that are maybe less work, work less well on the album, but that’s something I really have appreciated about it.
S1: Jamelle, you want to jump in at all? Or yeah,
S2: I mean, I I enjoy listening to the album. This actually the first Adele record I’ve ever listened to prior to this Marilyn Adele exposure is the theme to Skyfall. This guy. So I enjoyed listening to this, I I think I’m less interested in the ballads marched into the parts of this record that are some very heavily influenced by soul, by girl groups that are that are a bit more a bit more upbeat, which I think is going to show that I’m not sure Adele is for me exactly for as much as she is, you know, remarkably talented vocalist.
S1: You know, it’s funny is is Adele for me. She’s for me, Carl in a way that you point to when you use the word multigenerational. For me, this the the 2001 album, which was obviously just a blockbuster, you know, will forever be linked with driving my then nine and six year old kids around and all of us listening to it as a family and just kind of understanding that it had a pretense to to universality, even if part of that went through the byways of schmaltz or whatever. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t want to denigrate the record. It’s in some ways a great, great pop album, but it’s not. My love of Adele is not separate from that, but nor should it be in some way. I love the idea of like the old Roman Lust Room. You know, where you take stock every five years. I want there to be 35, 40, 45. I’ll check in with Adele for the duration.
S3: I feel the need to jump into this conversation just to say that Adele is for me. And while I don’t think this is my favorite of her albums, I think that is probably still 21, which is just banger packed from from beginning to end. But I so appreciate Adele being this kind of private and diarist, artist and someone who comes out with these album albums that are really, you know, reflections on where she is at that point in her life, to the point of being numbered with her age when she made them, and that you have to hear the album. And ever since the single from this dropped a few weeks ago, we’ve been talking every week in our conference call about what to cover on the show about Adele. Should we talk about Adele her new singles out? It’s doing really well. And I kept on saying, and I think we all agreed. No, we have to wait for the album because she’s an album artist, right? You haven’t really listened to Adele if you’re just listening to a single because it’s part of this sort of bundle of of journaling that she’s doing. And it’s very easy to make her for it because it’s very emo and very sincere and pretty retro. She’s never going to be, you know, this cutting edge artist who’s working with the coolest, you know, Swedish engineer in the studio or something. But I love the timelessness of Adele, and I love that she appeals to so many generations. You know, I also listen to her with my my kid. When she was little Stephen, we would belt out rolling in the deep together in the car. But I can also imagine I don’t know if my parents know her, but I can imagine my parents putting on Adele record and really enjoying it. And to me, she’s a part of this kind of tradition of a long tradition of the British white female soul singer, right, who has an incredible belting voice and and it’s sort of timeless and a little bit hokey quality, right? That appeals to everyone like Dusty Springfield. Isn’t that isn’t that group? And maybe Amy Winehouse in a way would have been if she had lived and continue to sing. But I was so looking forward to this album, and even though I don’t quite I haven’t listened to it quite enough to get its complete zeitgeist. I wanted to maybe put on a little bit of the very first track Strangers by Nature, which I don’t know if it’s my favorite song, but it’s the one that has stuck in my head the most after a few listens. And the thing that she has said about this song in interviews is that she was inspired by listening to a Judy Garland live concert show to write a song that’s in this somewhat, you know, big band, old fashioned style. And I just I love the the minor thirds and the unexpected things in this song Strangers by Nature. On. But Carl, something we haven’t talked about much, although we have talked about the fact that she is this diarist kind of journaling artist is the changes in Adele’s own life and how this is. This is a divorce album, right? Among other things. She’s she’s writing about her son. You write a little bit in your review about being somewhat disturbed about her inclusion of her son’s voice and her voice in these very personal, intimate voice memos on the album. And I’d love to hear you talk about that. She’s also going through this huge change in physical appearance, right? I mean, she’s slimmed way down and is now like a much more sort of presents much more glamorously, which has produced this interesting, you know, backlash in the media, which we could maybe talk about. But I wonder if you have anything to say about the autobiographical elements of this album and of her career in general?
S5: Yeah, I mean, you know, my my kind of default stance as a critic is to try and ignore all those things as much as humanly possible.
S3: But Adele won’t let you ignore them.
S5: I know. Yeah. But just because just because I think too much of music conversation at this point in history is consumed by a kind of non barrier between tabloid gossip and the music itself. And most of the time, Adele keeps her private life pretty private, despite how personal the songs are. She kind of avoids overly being confessional, and she’s not. She’s not a big social media person in all of these things. But you know, on the other hand, she last week did an extensive special where she had a long conversation with Oprah. So, you know, not so purely and that the things that detract from this album, you know, it’s interesting to me. It’s calling it a divorce album. It’s not a divorce album in the classic sense that we often talk about in music. It’s not a blow by blow of the pain and heartache and and conflict. It’s kind of a post-divorce album in a recovery from divorce album, mostly and lyrically, I think both its strengths and weaknesses. There’s a lot of sort of therapeutic self-talk going on and and points that’s really touching. And it points. It maybe feels a little indulgent, but the good thing with Adele is you can shut off your lyric brain if you want to and just listen to the sound. But the track that you were referring to with with her son’s voice on it called My Little Love, which is really this beautiful kind of shot, as you know, again, kind of a little bit more jazzy than we’re used to from her track.
S6: And then in. I don’t recognize
S5: me, and I was ambivalent about this in my review, and I over a few days since I wrote about that, I’ve come around to deciding that I actively despise the voice memos on that song that it’s maudlin and manipulative. And I think actually kind of offensively of breaching of her son’s privacy. And then the track ends with her in tears, talking from a different recording, talking to a friend. And it’s really the point where Adele falls into both, I think the pressure on celebrities right now to to disclose their behind the scene reality, which is, of course, always constructed and not real, and and also falls into this this thing of what fans want from her, which is this like utter blubbering emotionality when she’s actually a much more sophisticated artist than that. And yeah, so that’s among among several places on this album where I’m like, Oh, here is where it tips over that line for me. And those recordings are are the really strong point for that.
S1: All right. Who am I kidding? I’m about to go on a five hour pre-Thanksgiving drive with my entire family. Guess what? We’ll be listening to Carl, as always. What a pleasure. Please come back soon. Great review on the Adele and really fun chatting.
S5: Great. Thanks for having me.
S1: OK, as I said, up top, we don’t typically do this, but I’m so, so glad we did. We dug into a comic book at the recommendation of Jamelle. This one’s called the Department of Truth. It’s about an FBI agent who studies conspiracy theories and how he has his mind blown by the possibility that even the most outlandish of them think Flat Earth JFK Alien Shapeshifter is the moon landing. They might be true Jamelle. I loved this and I am eager to say why. But tell us first why you picked this particular comic book.
S2: I picked this comic book because I also love it. It came to me via just a random recommendation. I was looking for something a little spooky for Halloween to read, and I believe someone on Twitter recommended that I check out the Department of Truth, which is independent comic now published with Marvel or DC. And I was just blown away by the art. First of all, I think the arts for evocative. I think the the art is sort of very much captures. And this is done deliberately captures this sort of shifting notions of reality, but the story really deals with. But then also the conceit of the whole thing I found really interesting and really fascinating in a really great way to to illustrate something that I think we recognize as true in the real world, which is that, you know, reality is reality, but also perception can change and alter reality and perception can make, you know, enough people believe things. And to some extent, those things can become true. Or at least people will behave as if they are true. And that is, I didn’t really twist. But that is I think that that that is the the big idea of this comic, which is it’s not just that there’s this FBI or this federal agency devoted to conspiracy theories, but the federal agency is in possession of the knowledge of this secret knowledge that in fact, if enough people believe that the Earth is flat, then the Earth will become flat or it will reality itself will change. And so this agency is devoted to preventing people from preventing the spread of conspiracies or at least conspiracies that might fundamentally alter reality as as the United States government understands it.
S3: Yeah, it occurred to me, as you were describing the basic premise Jamelle, that it’s almost a parallax view kind of story, but very much one for the Trump era. I mean, conspiracy theories are as old as the hills, right? But this particular way of thinking about conspiracy that it’s something that can shape reality. And this idea that there is, you know, there’s sort of a shadow world out there that we can we can bring into existence by believing in it. It just seems like something. Although there’s no explicit, at least in the issue that I’ve read, there’s no explicit topical references to the present day seems like something you could only be true in the post social media age and in the post-Trump age.
S2: I think that’s right. I mean, you know, when I pick this up, I ended up kind of going through all of the issues that are currently out. And there aren’t there isn’t a topical reference, but at one point they do allude to Sandy Hook and Q and on and these sorts of things as conspiracies that you know, have begun to get get out of control and this like demand the attention of the Department of Truth.
S1: OK, just the foundational question. I read this issue on the first issue online. You, you get a hard copy, you
S2: know, so I am all right. There are there are things I do get hard copies of just to help out my local shop. But this I because I was sort of looking for it on a whim. I read it on my iPad, so I have one of those gigantic iPod nice I read comic books on.
S3: I have a question for both of you about the form and the look of this comic a little because I’m not a big comics reader. I love a few graphic novel style presentations of stories, but in general, just I guess, because of the kind of learner and reader I am, it’s always hard for me to concentrate on the image in comics. Whenever there’s a graphic element, I tend to just read what’s in the bubbles and then forget to look at the pictures and then have to go back and look at them later to get whatever information is being delivered by the illustrations. And I realized that is very much the wrong headed way to read comics, but it’s sort of my book trained brain can only look at them that way. And so I wanted to ask both about this particular comic and in general in this this format of, you know, stories that are being told simultaneously through illustration and words, sort of, how do you read them and approach them? That’s different from the way that you would read a book, right? Like, what do they bring that that a story would not bring? And also, in this case, the drawings and the text are by two different people. James Tennyson. The fourth is the author, and Martin Simmons is the illustrator. And I’m interested in the tension in this particular comic between, you know what we read and what we see, because what we see, we haven’t really talked about the image yet, but what we see in this comic is very obscure and hard to make out. There’s kind of a deliberate blurriness to the pictures. Most of the faces seem somewhat almost rendered in this this pixelated style where you can’t fully see the face until there’s suddenly a panel where you know a face pops into relief. And of course, obviously that goes with the theme of a conspiracy theory and with things being hidden under the surface. But there’s this an interesting tension in this particular comic between the look and the text, and I’m I don’t know what this question is. I guess I’m asking how you both responded to that and how you read comics in general, given that tension.
S2: I mean, so I tend to the way I read comics is I tend to ignore the words first and look at the art first and sort of try to figure out what’s happening by way of looking at the art and the way the panels are arranged. I mean, the interesting thing about comics that I think is. Difficult to capture when whenever they’re adapted to screen is that the panel is not just a, you know, a way to showcase a particular perspective, particular image. Like treat it after like a camera. You know, first panel might be a wide shot establishing where you are. Then you’ll have like a close up and interiors and such. But then the panels also can demarcate time. And so I move from one panel to another could be, you know, one panel could represent the next moment, it could represent an hour later, or it could represent a day later, depending on how the writer and illustrator have approached this. And so you’re for me, that’s part of part of just like looking at be looking at the images first is sort of it figuring out exactly what’s happening in terms of space, in terms of in terms of, you know, temporal temporality, if that’s a word. Maybe it’s time I just made it up. But I think you’re I’m saying. And going from there to actually seeing what people are saying, because this is one of those comics where you know what people are saying is important. It helps unravel the mystery. But also I do think so much more of the story is told through this this shadowy kind of not totally abstract, but somewhat abstract imagery imagery, sort of, you know, rooms are sparse with only the people in them details like smoke like or abstract and geometric. And as you noted, Dana faces are often obscured, often covered in deep shadows. It’s it’s very much trying to capture this idea of conspiracy of a hidden world of your perception, not really being quite what you think it is.
S1: Mm hmm. Yeah, I was. I mean, the look of it Jamelle is what struck me immediately and made me know I was going to love it because like I had it totally unspeakable appetite for more of these images, regardless of what the story was or what was being said. They’re so painterly and they’re both completely familiarly comic book in in a in a in a way. And, you know, they’re not totally outside of the, you know, range of expectations for comic book art, but it’s as if you know, like Edvard Munch or Cy Twombly or, you know, it’s both got that kind of deep, shadowy eye sockets and kind of human misery worn, you know, heavily on faces of like Monk. And it has, but it also has this kind of, you know, the artist Martin Simmons, I believe, is his name as IMO and. He’s also playing with surfaces. They seem scored and they’re painterly, right? You sense that that that the actual physical materials of the of of that he’s using, whether it’s actually paint or not, I don’t know, but it probably isn’t. But you know, you sense that there layer that they have three-dimensional layering on the physical surface on which he’s making these images. And there is something that works perfectly with the thematics of it in the story of it, because it is, as you say, it’s kind of smeared blurry edges or ill defined, you know, people sort of shimmer into figurative presence and then shimmer out of it. It’s just fantastically arty in the best possible sense of that word.
S3: I have a question to throw it to either one of you, which is that I just saw that this comic book is being developed into a TV show by the same production company that made Chernobyl for HBO. Interesting combination thereof of subject matter and material. And just wondering whether you think this could work on TV as a series and how it would look.
S2: I think it’s genuinely difficult to adapt comic books to scream in a way that I think is captures what makes the medium unique. I mean, I think one one comic book fan criticism you can make of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for example, that the kind of just mine these things for characters and maybe plots. But there’s no I don’t think there’s any real attempt to kind of capture the feel of a comic book. And that’s in contrast to what is my favorite superhero movie. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man two, which totally captures the over-the-top melodrama of a early Spider-Man comic, and Raimi throughout that movie tries to play with images in a way that you might see in a comic book. So the scene where doctors are trying to remove the Bouie mechanical tentacles from Otto Octavius is very comic book in the best way. And that’s something that’s I think it’s hard to do. So I, you know, my hunch it’s an adaptation, but this is going to be kind of a straightforward procedural and kind of miss the things that I think give it power as a comic book.
S3: Jamelle. I’m so glad to hear you shout out to Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, because to me, those also were sort of, I mean, really the only comic book movies that have truly grabbed me, and I sometimes attribute that to maybe just them being the first ones, you know, very early in this era that we’re now so deeply ensconced in. Or to me, being so much younger when I saw them. And I sort of sometimes fear that my my my feeling that Tobey Maguire is Spider-Man. Cliff Robertson is his uncle. What’s the uncle’s name who dies at the beginning of every Spider-Man movie? Uncle Ben? Uncle Ben? Right? To me, those people are archetypal frozen in those roles, and I’ve always regarded that as a weakness in my own apprehension of superhero movies. But now that Jamelle Bouie has rubber stamped it, I feel good about it.
S1: All right. Well, it’s Department of Truth. You can find it online. The first issue is free online as a teaser, and we’ll include a link to it. Love. You hear from comic book fans, but also, you know, if you’re a non comic book fan and you’ve been enticed into reading this, we’d love to hear what your reaction to it is. Excellent. OK. Moving on. OK, now is the moment in our podcast when we endorse Dana, what do you have Stephen?
S3: My endorsement is Adele related. It is a little piece of media that made me cry more than anything on Adele’s album Made Me Cry, even which is goings-on when you’re talking about someone as deliberately tearjerking as Adele. It’s this clip that went viral a couple of days ago after Adele appeared on a show on British TV called An Audience with Seeso. In this case, an audience with Adele, which is a funny title as if she’s royalty. But I gather that this is some kind of show on ITV, the British channel where famous people appear and other famous people come and sit in the audience and ask them questions. Because at least in this clip that has gone viral, Emma Thompson, the actress stands up in the audience and asks Adele about whether there’s someone in her life that had a special influence on her when she was young. Adele then proceeded to talk about a high school English teacher who inspired her and encouraged her to write and encouraged her love of language and says I haven’t seen her in 20 years, but she was wonderful. Miss McDonald And then, of course, they produced Miss MacDonald, who’s in the audience who hasn’t seen her former student for 20 years.
S6: He decides that he was a school
S4: teacher in the early 90s, so he just looked after my family
S3: and and she comes up on stage in the embrace and it’s just it’s a wonderful moment. It’s a moment that smears is just about, you know, the inspiration of a mentor, which is always something that will break me down in two seconds flat and. And just to hear that heartfelt and I think genuine surprise when they bring the woman up on stage is a is a great moment. So we’ll post a link to it on our show page. But it’s Emma Thompson’s question to Adele on the ITV program, an audience with Adele and then Adele response and her embrace of Miss McDonald.
S1: Oh, I love that, you know, Jamelle, what do you have?
S2: I know that it’s over. I, of course, have started a television show and that is the Apple TV. Apple’s studios aren’t really sure how to describe that whole operation, but the adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, the first season just ended its 10 episodes or something, and I started watching it just kind of on a whim while I was doing dishes, you know, I to have on, and I really enjoyed it and I enjoyed it because it’s the strongest thing in the world. But because I’m just interested in depictions of the very, very far future that try to present human culture as like kind of alien. By that point, I think that’s sort of an underrated technique for depicting the future features that are just like, fundamentally strange. It’s what I liked about the it’s what I like about Dune as a prop. What I liked about the recent Dune movie, which is that it shows a future of humanity that is truly bizarre and alien and not unlike our own. I think Apple’s foundation does something similar, so I recommend that it looks good at the very earliest. Most, most of all, the actors are pretty good. It starts Jared Harris, who is always great, love that guy. I love seeing him in everything.
S1: I love it. Well, you know, doing the show for, I don’t know. Well, over a decade, all the episodes kind of run together in a single, monochromatic slurry. You know, no disrespect, but but then there are these certain moments that just stand out forever. I mean, one of them being like unboxing the iPad, right? And like not being able to make it work like a bunch of clods. And the other would be like tasting the world’s best pie, right? And Julia, whose job in life is to greet everything I say with withering skepticism. You know, put that pie in her mouth and just, you know, I don’t know. She just had a very empathetic experience live on the culture Gabfest, which I think turned around the fortunes of that pie stand. It’s filled with skinny jean hipsters now, but but but another has to be, you know, kind of the all time greatest and worst endorsement was when John Swansburg said, I’d like to endorse a TV show called Cheers. And you’re like, Well, how about like a sky? That’s the color blue. Or, you know, you know, a form of music known as jazz. It was like, I think that’s not the point of the endorsement is to talk about something everyone’s consumed and everyone already loves. But we were just ribbing him. I love John and miss him, and we got to get him back on the show. But I’m now about to do John Swansburg one better. I’m going to endorse a little band called The Beatles because I I love the Beatles. I mean, I love them advisedly. Like they’re like Shakespeare or the city of Paris, like you were Van Gogh. Like, loving them is inherently trite, and there’s a certain amount of work to get past that and really experience for yourself. Whether or not the thing is as great as all of the accreted opinions, you know, say it is. And I think that’s there for the Beatles. But there’s this new slant way, as it were to get it their greatness, which is and I didn’t know this a few years ago, a bootleg that’s been circulating for decades and is legendary, called the SE third demos for where it was recorded. I think of George Harrison’s house in like a posh suburb of London called Esther. And it’s essentially they’ve all returned from India. They’ve their varying degrees, disenchanted with one another with the concept of the Beatles and very much with the Maharishi, who George Harrison sort of dragooned them into going to visit over there. And they had all they brought acoustic guitars with them to India, apparently, and done an immense amount of songwriting. They felt like they did not want to repeat. Sgt. Pepper’s, which is a the studio, is a huge it’s almost it’s own Beatle in the use of the studio. Famously, of course, had never been so extensive sound effects layering on and on. And now they wanted to be songwriters and a band, even though they were beginning to. Hate one another. And they produce the white album, which to my mind, is. I mean, it’s just personally this this is this is not a norm. This is not empiricism. It’s just for me. It’s just truly one of the great works of popular art of the 20th century and of art period of the 20th century. I mean, to me, it’s just unsurpassable, their greatest work and the greatest, you know, work a rock band has ever has, you know, has ever produced. And these are just them showing each other the songs for the first time at George Harrison’s house playing acoustic guitar and occasionally another Beatle chimes in and sings like a ad hoc harmony. And maybe there’s a tiny bit of instrumentation here or there. It’s a lot of the songs on the White Album being debuted for one another. It’s just it’s just unbelievable how good they are. And then also the mind blowing fact of how much they evolved in the four years, five years since they came out with like, I want to hold your hand. And so for me, that was a way of just wiping off the the layer, the grime layer of familiarity from the Beatles and just, you know, re encountering their genius and then very, very quickly. And I’ll talk about this more. Maybe next year because I went on so long about the Beatles. Rachel Cusk is a fucking genius. I love her novels. I’ve come to them. Belatedly, they’re they’re they’re the combination of of depth and precision of observation, like depth of feeling and precision of feeling is is kind of almost unrivaled. I love these novels. English novelist Though she’s originally from Canada, I think she’s ended up pretty permanently in England by way of Los Angeles. But anyway, highly recommended. And as I say, I’ll probably gas on about them as I’ve read more of them. Jamelle, thank you so much for coming on the show.
S2: Oh, thank you for having me on the show.
S1: Dana, as always, a complete delight as ever. You’ll find links to some of the things we talked about at our show page that Slate.com’s Lars Culturefest and you can email us at Culturefest at Slate.com. We do love to hear from you. Our introductory music is by Nik Patel. Our production assistant is Nadira Goff. Our producer is Cameron Dru’s for Jamelle Bouie and Dana Stevens. I’m Stephen Metcalf. Thank you so much for joining us and we hope to see you soon. And happy Thanksgiving! And by Dana’s book.
S3: Hello and welcome to the slot Q segment of the slate culture Gabfest, this is the bonus segment where for those of you who are kind enough to subscribe, we throw in a little extra content and this week, because it’s Thanksgiving week. This episode is dropping the day before Thanksgiving. We thought we would talk with our guest Jamelle Bouie, who is to me, at least in my household. Known for his recipes in his weekly newsletter, which I’ve made on many occasions. So I thought maybe we would start with him and hear about what his usual Thanksgiving is, what it’s going to be this year. And maybe just to structure the conversation a little bit. We’ll talk about unusual dishes that not everyone has it Thanksgiving that you always have like. What are some of your must haves in your family tradition? Jamelle.
S2: Also, the past couple of years I have been cooking Thanksgiving here in Virginia, and my parents have been coming to visit because my in-laws live in town as well. So it’s been I’ve been the focal point other than the turkey. My dad Will a turkey, and then I will usually do, you know, very kind of traditional, you know, black, southern or Thanksgiving. So cornbread dressing, which is basically stuffing, but with cornbread, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, baked cabbage, I really like field peas. So some sort of field pea dish. I strongly believe that Thanksgiving plates should have like something bright and acidic on them. And so I’ll do like a roasted vegetable salad of some kind, usually one or two of those just to have so people can have a vegetable that isn’t, you know, caked in fat and brains have played a bit more in the cranberry sauce and all that since we’re going to be at my parents’ house this time around and my dad will be doing most of the cooking. Most of the dishes will remain the same, except he usually makes, you know, I make sweet potato pies and I have a recipe that I’m very fond of. He will likely make a sweet potato pie, but also a pecan pie in a red velvet cake. So this would be the desserts, and he makes a carrot souffle, which is not really a dessert, but it’s like a little sweet. It’s very, very good. It’s something that’s sort of like I’ve never had anywhere else. I think he’s the only person who makes it. And it’s something I very much associate with Thanksgiving with my parents.
S3: Ooh, OK. I’m hoping now that in a future newsletter, you will post the recipe for Carrot Souffle, because that sounds amazing. I completely agree that there needs to be an acidic element on the plate, and that’s actually going to be our contribution this year. We’re doing unusually usually a Thanksgiving at a friend’s house, which we never do. I mean, this is maybe the second time in my child’s life that she will not have had Thanksgiving at our house with our friends. We don’t like to travel on this weekend because it’s just so hard to get around, especially by plane. And since I would have to take a plane to get to anywhere my family is, we we usually host and we have, you know, whatever orphans are in town who aren’t going to see their families, which usually ends up being this great mix of, you know, people who are immigrants, people who don’t necessarily celebrate Thanksgiving culturally and just, you know, whoever finds themselves around on that day. But this year instead, we’re going to a friend’s place. And when we were asked what we wanted to bring, we proposed a grapefruit and fennel salad, which is a very acidic, very refreshing, crispy kind of dish, which is exactly the opposite of what’s normally on a table. And Steve, what about you, Woody? What are your normal traditions and how are they differing this year?
S1: Well, a couple of things. One Jamelle When you were talking, I couldn’t help thinking, You know, my wife is white and she’s from the deep south. She’s from Alabama, and we used to go while they were still alive to her grandmother’s grandparents house in Arp, Alabama, just above the Panhandle. How similar the menus are, you know, dressing chicken and dumplings, which I don’t think you mentioned, but now I’m forgetting the other ones. But all of them were on their menu, too. It’s like that’s Southern Thanksgiving was so a part of my kid’s childhood. Anyway, it was know, incredible experience, but it’s been over for a few years now. I lost my dad over the summer. He was 97 and you know, it was his time. But it means we’re orphans for the first time and we’re going to our kind of sort of in-laws up in Maine. They’re my daughter’s girlfriend’s family invited us and they do a kind of a semi orphan thing up near Portland, Maine. And you know what I’m thinking about making? Let me let me read you. Um, I may take one pound of carrots, sliced lengthwise and half a teaspoon tablespoon of butter, olive oil, smashed garlic time and a quarter cup of water. Toss them in a nine by 13 bedded roast for a half an hour at 400 Jamelle. I’ve never I’ve never forgotten your description of that recipe. It just sounds so good and I’ve never made it. And we’re supposed to bring a vegetable side, so I’m I’m finally fucking doing it this year.
S2: I think people will really enjoy that. Every time I put one cooked carrots on a table for people, people lose their minds because they’re so, they’re so good. Uh, it’s like unreal how good they are. If you can fight like you’ve got to find really nice carrots. You can. If you find ones with the tops, you can always sort of like cook the tops to, you know, cool. Yeah. Like, cook them separately, you know, like, you know, give the leaves and blanch them or something and stir fry them or something. But yeah, those long cooked carrots are always a hit. So I hope, I hope. I hope people enjoy them.
S3: Are those something Jamelle that you’ve published the recipe for before in your in your newsletter or exhausted? I think on the idol, I remember that. I just wonder if that’s one of your Goto’s that you, you know, you felt far and wide to everyone.
S2: No, I never put. I should put it in the newsletter. I Typekit then you said, I wish I look for something that’s like closer to like a mean, just just make it worth people’s while. But there are lots of things like that. They just cook all the time, some of which they don’t really, really have recipes for that. I could probably like just pop into sort of like, you’re here, a little vegetable sides of I’m always making because we always I always cook a vegetable, a separate vegetable thing just like it’s decide how I how I like to prepare meals.
S3: What time of day do you guys eat Thanksgiving dinner? This is a fight that I saw happening on Twitter the other day, the sort of, you know, argument between the afternoon people and the and the evening people. And it seems like the classic American median hour for eating Thanksgiving dinner is four p.m.. But to me, that feels miserably early. I have always been a Madrid style late diner, and because we have a friends Thanksgiving where, you know, for example, there aren’t a lot of older people, necessarily, it’s more people of our own generation or younger. I don’t feel the need to serve it a lot earlier. And I like to eat it just normal dinnertime. I like people to come over at 5:30 or six and we eat at seven, but that seems to be very unusual for American family Thanksgivings. What about y’all?
S2: I think we usually eat at around 5:30 five five thirty six o’clock, which is fine because with with young kids, right? Like I’m free at six o’clock anyway. But I think maybe when we visit my extended family as a kid, that was always an early Thanksgiving because then people would have like second plates later in the evening.
S3: Yeah, yeah. I guess if it’s a really big gathering, I see the point of it being earlier, both because of the multigenerational thing, right? The older people and the little kids might want to eat earlier because they’re on that schedule or because they have to get home that night, right? They want to drive while it’s still light out. I could see the logic when it’s a really big gathering and then, yeah, you all go watch a movie together and then you go have seconds or pie or something like that. Steve, what about your family? How do you do it?
S1: Well, I have a theory that, you know, I’ve never subjected to evidence gathering at all, but you can tell what food way igbokwe a person is associated with by what the word supper means to them. Supper, just for some people, seems to mean a variant of lunch or a like a late lunch or an early dinner or dinner. It just supper, just sort of Rome’s all over the, you know, clock, as far as I can tell. I mean, I kind of remember when my parents were alive, it was like two p.m. for exactly the reason the Jamelle point sous you kind of, you know, you just sort of blitz your GI system with food and then fall into the tryptophan coma and then watch football and then eat again. Like, you know, there’s sort of a leftover hour that lasts really three hours or something. I felt like when we were going down to Alabama, it was peculiarly early and unceremonious. And I don’t know. I’ll let you know what the main The Peaks Island Maine Folkways.
S2: I’ll say my favorite part of Thanksgiving is the post-meal. Go see a movie. I really, I really enjoy. I really enjoy holiday day movies. So Thanksgiving Christmas Day, I’m always trying to see a movie at some point during the day.
S3: Yeah, my family always used to do that. And it’s a great feeling when you can just pick that movie and there usually is one being released, right? I mean, the movie industry is carefully aiming big releases for those weekends so that there’s something everyone’s excited to go see. Do you know what your family might see this year? Jamelle?
S2: Well, it’s usually only ever me. My parents are really big movie people. My brother, if my brother is right, he’ll come with me. But I’m the movie person in the family, so I don’t know what I’ll see. I don’t know what’s going to be out on Thanksgiving Day.
S3: Here’s where I, as the movie critic should be telling you that know.
S1: Is it typically is it typically like kind of a ghost town? Is it sort of is that part of the appeal?
S2: Yeah, I mean, I love I love going to movies by myself. This is, I think I try to engineer as much as possible, which weirdly, you know, now that I have these two kids and the only time I can ever go to see a movie is like Saturday night when everyone to sleep with me. It means I actually seem. Most movies these days, more or less by myself.
S3: I mean, I have to agree that seeing a movie by yourself is a really unequalled pleasure, I never get tired of it. And I do it a lot for work. Obviously, there’s many, many times that I’m watching the kind of thing you’re supposed to watch in company and also with a big audience in a basically empty theater by myself. And I still love it.
S1: Yeah, I always go for Gabfest. I’m almost always alone at the mall, and these days it’s totally empty. There’s just me and the movie stars,
S2: you know, if it’s playing an hour in our little chat here for this Carl and Nadira mentioned it, but liquor is pizza. The new Paul Thomas Anderson is a Thanksgiving release, right? If not playing in Summerville, South Carolina, which is like a hit or miss thing. I will say that
S3: I just reviewed that, and I didn’t realize it had already released because I often review things a bit in advance. But I mean, I don’t know what your feelings are about Paul Thomas Anderson. It’s also not the most typical of his movies, but I loved it, and it seems like great Thanksgiving viewing because it’s it’s it’s a lot to chew on, but it’s not heavy. You know, it’s a it’s a thoughtful movie, but it’s also a pretty lighthearted one that isn’t going to bring you down.
S2: Sounds good to me.
S3: All right, well, thanks to both of you for sharing your Thanksgiving plans, Jamelle, I hope you also share some of your recipes. Carrot soufflé carrot souffle. Just keep it a drumbeat
S2: in the bedroom. See if my dad will give me the recipe.
S3: I guess if it’s a secret, if it’s a family for secret, I understand. And then I want the long carrots. But give me some carrots, please. Jamelle, I need you. All right, thanks to both of you for sharing your Thanksgiving plans, and thanks to all of you who subscribe to Slate. Plus, we really appreciate your support for Stephen, Metcalf and Jamelle Bouie. I’m Dana Stevens. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll talk to you next week.