You probably haven’t heard of Michelle Sutherland (yet). At the end of last year, she directed Gertrude Stein SAINTS!—one of the weirdest, craziest, coolest stage performances of the year. The work combines two texts by Stein—Four Saints in Three Acts and Saints and Singing—into a sort of opera-musical showcasing a multitude of American music styles, from doo-wop to Shaker music to rap. It was the only show to win more than one award at this year’s New York Fringe Festival, and it’s returning to New York soon for a three-week run at the Abrons Art Center. For a good idea of just how strange and glorious this project is, watch the video for their Kickstarter campaign, which reached its funding goal and then some. READ MORE
British musician Phildel makes songs that sound like the ones on Florence + the Machine's first album, or maybe White Chalk–era PJ Harvey—nursery rhymes with drum machines for grownups who've seen some shit. (She's seen her fair share, having been raised in an abusive home that didn't allow music.) Her first (and right now, only) album, The Disappearance of the Girl, has its ups and downs, but this song will never leave your head. Ever. Prepare to be constantly singing to yourself about wolves and blood and sinners and stuff, because that's your life now.
This amazing Slate piece takes to task America’s choices for official state birds as “a big joke.” Apparently, governmental ornithologists (or whoever makes the bird decisions around here) demonstrated “a general lack of thought” and didn’t even “research the bill color” of their selections. READ MORE
When I started grad school a few months ago, I was delighted to find that all the restrooms in the Humanities building have chalkboards in each stall. Presumably it’s a technique intended to cut down on actual graffiti, and it seems to work: Though the chalk is long gone and the messages are mostly in marker, those messages on the chalkboard, and the stalls’ walls, remain pristine (for some definition of the word pristine that includes surfaces sprayed nearly continuously with microscopic drops of toilet water). READ MORE
When I moved into my current apartment, I was told it had a dishwasher. Actually what it has is a machine that uses water and a tremendous amount of noise to take bits of food from one dish, swirl them all around, and stick them onto other dishes. This may have to do with detergent companies removing phosphates from their formulas; I’ve tried several different brands, and none seems to work. A maintenance guy even once told me the problem was that, paradoxically, I was using too much soap, which may have been clogging the pipes. READ MORE
Every year since 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest has united an entire continent with the power of music and the beauty of poorly translated English. This year’s competition, held in Baku, Azerbaijan, is no different. Each country submits a song, and viewers voting by phone or text select a winner. In grand Eurovision tradition, their choices include a few folk songs, a few rock songs, a few dance-pop songs, and innumerable sappy ballads. Oh, and a Romanian entry that’s inexplicably in Spanish. READ MORE