Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
This week: Jake Gyllenhaal is our best celebrity, let's review my preguntas about the Democratic debates, and Kamala + drum line = me very hype.
I am obsessed with beach house decor. OBSESSED. I am also deeply confused by beach decor. I will admit, beach rentals are a very new area of experience for me as we didn't go to the beach when I was a kid, so maybe this field of pun-filled, Home Goods-sourced furnishings has already been well-trod. But, beach, let me tell you, I'm shewk. I'm like Encino Man walking through an early 90s mall and gaping at an Auntie Ann's in total incomprehension. "This lamp... is a seashell!" I scream at no one in particular. Every five minutes.
The thing that always gets me most of all is that these houses seem to be decorated with complete seriousness. I mean, there's a wit involved (there are always at least three plaques that read "LIFE'S A BEACH!" after all.) But though beach houses are the epitome of camp they never quite seem aware of that fact. I love that. I enter every beach rental like a Camp Investigator on an assignment. You know, a Camp Investigator--like one of those paranormal investigators in a horror movie, the kind that has a spectrometer or something to detect ghosts, and is also a little psychic and seems to be very well-versed in the ironclad rules of the OTHER WORLD ("A ghost absolutely cannot pick up anything over 50 pounds. Everyone knows this.") That's me, except for camp. I do this in everyone's house, but beach houses are where my campometer really goes off the charts. I open the screen door, come face to face with an entire pullout couch done up in a seashell pattern and I turn to my companions and whisper, wild-eyed, "The camp presence is very strong here. Stand back, please."
What I would like, truly, is to accompany someone who is decorating their beach house rental for the first time. The houses are usually stripped of personal details such as photos or, like, mail and in that vacuum, a bunch of flip-flop-centered art emerges. And I want to be in the center of that moment, like watching a star being born. Who does the rental owner imagine will be staying at their house and why does that fantasy seem to rooted in many signs that tell you which way the beach is. "If there aren't at least 4 beach puns in each room, how will the strangers staying at my house know they're shore adjacent?! They could be anywhere!!!"
Other environs don't really lean so heavily into on-the-nose decor, although woodsy cabin merch really turns it up to eleven and respect must be paid. A cartoon bear in every room doing human things? I must be in the woods!
Maybe beach house decor is for the owner themselves? I always wonder this. Are we staying in someone else's fish-centered paradise? I would love it if that were the case. I am always trying to find the epicenter of the camp. The Camp Vortex, if you will.
The one place where my skills as a Camp Investigator are really put to the test is the collection of DVDs and books that beach rentals make available. This is always a truly confounding mix of bargain bin selections and oddly specific choices that hint at the personality of the homeowner, a Camp Portal to the other world. Or, perhaps, a secret message. Like, look at these choices:
I could spend all day dissecting these choices! What are you trying to tell me here?! Why is the bookend a lion and not a mermaid?? Prelude to a Kiss! Margaret Truman's Harry Truman biography?! I need answers!
My default is to treat everything that doesn't read as camp as a straight up mystery. I like to believe that there's order to the universe even though DVD collections, book selections, and the cooking materials in a beach house are the definition of entropy. Three slow cookers?! Life's a beach!
I am very excited for my interest in trying to make sense of the nonsense of beach rentals to slowly overtake my life. I already know that the second half of my career will be comprised of writing breezy sassy beach mysteries about crimes on the Cape. This is a forgone conclusion. I love mystery and whenever I brainstorm fiction projects they always somehow circle back to something that must be solved. "Oh this? It's just about two queer black high school students, coming of age, applying to college, and stumbling into a secret cabal of activists who are helping black men skip bail. It's a BEACH READ!" "This new thing? I dunno. Two people who run one of those very intense fan Instagram accounts for Beyoncé notice a small detail in the background of a paparazzi shot that spirals into a global conspiracy. IT'S A BEACH READ!!!" "Next up? A Camp Investigator tries to relax with friends but ends up running from room to room grabbing flip flop art off of the wall and screaming, WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!!"
If there's one thing that's clear after the first Democratic primary debate, it's that Elizabeth Warren is currently hard at work on a plan to improve all of the candidates' conversational Spanish. Last night's debate featured 10 of the now-25 candidates running for president, plus 16 moderators, an omelet chef, a ball boy from Wimbledon, and, I'd be willing to bet, at least one person who just showed up and stood behind a podium and never got asked to leave. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Author and spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson must have been standing closest to the door in the universe through which the chaotic energy came rushing through because her answer to the two-word question was not only a full paragraph, featuring dialogue and mis-en-scene, but also involved the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern.
Marianne Williamson calls Jacinda Ardern
Marianne: Girlfriend, I would like to formally invite you to bring it on because it has already been broughten for as you are aware, there are some Toros in the atmosphere.
Jacinda: I'm sorry, who is this?
Marianne: Girlfriend, it's President Marianne Williamson. From Earth?
Okay, so the first thing you need to know is that Jake Gyllenhaal is one of our very best celebrities. Disagree? Grow up! I'm not going to sugarcoat the truth; adults are speaking here! The actor, who famously stands 5-foot, 11-and-a-half inches, max morning height, is 1) very talented, 2) a super zaddy, 3) probably very weird, and 4) game for anything. All four powers combined in a BBC Radio One interview he and pocket snack Tom Holland did while promoting the new film, Spider-man: Many Different Versions of Hotness for You to Consider. During a segment in which listeners call in to voice their unpopular opinions, Jake Gyllenhaal revealed himself as the biggest, hottest, and most enthusiastic Sean Paul fan. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Leonardo DiCaprio being struck is the face by a volleyball is the most shocking sports injury since Kerri Strug performed a second vault at the 1996 Olympics at the insistence of Bela Károlyi even though she had a third-degree lateral sprain and tendon damage, nailing the vault (AS YOU RECALL) and then landing on both feet briefly before wobbling and balancing on her one good foot, saluting the judges proudly, and besting the Russians in a moment that single-handedly redefined '90s patriotism. While the latter event, which I have been trying for decades to brand "The Kerri Struggle" to no avail, stands out as a triumph of determination and suspect advice, this most recent incident is much more sinister. A volleyball struck Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio in the face and that volleyball should be immediately tried, convicted, and put in the holding cell in the back of a Dick's Sporting Goods. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
First of all, get into that pure unadulterated joy! We've talked about political entrance music before but any politician who isn't bopping into events like someone entering their own Grown & Sexy Birthday Party that they threw for themselves is really leaving money on the table. There is no one whose presence isn't improved by a drum line. Can you imagine Bernie Sanders backed by 40 kids playing percussion and horns and doing twirls? Give me that dissonant energy right now, please! Equitably distribute it to my eyes with a quickness. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
The biggest shocker on Sunday night's episode of Big Little Lies was the revelation that there is more than one therapist in Monterey. For nearly a season and a half we've been treated to the luxurious, dulcet-toned, therapeutically-sound, Ann Taylor Loft reads of Celeste's therapist, Robin Weigert. (I presume the therapist character has a name but I prefer to refer to her as Robin Weigert. It is also how I refer to my own therapist. This is my process, okay?) [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
The president announced his reelection campaign of terror this week which means that the defenseless American public will now be subjected to barrage of interviews between Trump and the media outlets he derides as fake and unfair. First up was ABC News, in which a man with his name in gold on buildings, an army of sycophants, and many private golf clubs claimed that no one in the history of the country had been mistreated worse than him. Now comes TIME Magazine, which was granted a lengthy interview in which the president revealed his reelection strategy ("cry havoc and unleash the dogs of war"). While there is much to be discussed regarding Trump's baldly cynical plan to say things to make his base angry and then target them with a bunch of Facebook ads asking for money (this is really the plan!), I've gathered you here to talk about something far more important: a little red button on his desk that summons him a Diet Coke. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Random Thing from the Internet
In honor of Jake Gyllenhaal's fandom, here's the video for "Cheap Thrills" by Sia f. Sean Paul. And here's Sia performing my favorite This is Acting song, "Reaper." This song is so powerful to me; I cannot help but blast it on the speakers and screlt at the top of my lungs.
And here's my second favorite TiA song, "Bird Set Free," which was originally written for Adele.
The camp presence is very strong here,