Given *gestures broadly*, there’s a good chance you’re looking to escape, however briefly, into a show or a book or an album right now. To get the wheels turning, here’s the stuff filling our queues at Portland Monthly this week, from John Carpenter to Run the Jewels.
Is there a a more fitting 2020 refrain than "Bye bye, life / Bye bye, happiness"? So goes the musical finale in Bob Fosse's blistering 1979 slice of autofiction, which I chose to just sort of pop in the DVD player on a Tuesday night this week for unknown reasons.
My father and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow are on a first-name basis. This is, of course, unbeknownst to her. But night after night, he settles in to watch "Rachel" preach to the choir, often giving her verbal encouragement from his recliner: "You know it, Rachel, baby! That's the way to tell 'em."
By contrast, though I have covered politics in Oregon on and off for going on 20 years now, I have zero interest in Rachel, or any of her yelling compatriots on the tee-vee, and yet, in this fantastically fraught election season, I do want some sober analysis to ease my always-worried mind. I find myself turning most often to the dulcet tones of the commentators on The NPR Politics Podcast, where the opining is minimal and no one ever, ever screams. (Unless they are playing tape of President Trump at a rally, in which case I sometimes turn down the volume until he's done, to preserve my eardrums.)Instead, there's a rotating cast of politics reporters and editors, who have been out in the field and are reporting back, often with behind-the-scenes perspectives and a sense of humor and dignity. Unlike my dad and his buddy Rachel, they don't always tell me what I want to hear, but instead what I need to know, which is the point. Pro tip: On Fridays, the podcast is an extra-long round-up format that finishes with a delightful segment about each guest's can't-let-it-go moment of the week. Often, it's got nothing at all to do with politics—a welcome reminder that the world does keep on ticking, come what may on November 3. —Julia Silverman, news editor
John Carpenter gets a lot of praise for being a master of his genre (i.e. Halloween, The Thing). But 1988’s They Live (streaming on Starz and available to rent) is far from any hack-and-slash nightmare. It’s a science-fiction film about subliminal messaging in the media that only the former-WWF wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper can see. Did I mention it’s all coming from aliens disguised as upper-class citizens?
Only Piper’s character, John, can see the manipulation caused by the aliens thanks to a pair of mysterious sunglasses. Once John puts on the sunglasses, the hiding aliens are revealed and all advertising changes to its true intended messaging (it’s where graffiti-artist Shepard Fairey got his “Obey” slogan).