Weekend Reads #185

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A corner of my office that I promise to share very soon! Sofa by Albany Home (use ALISON10 for 10% off), print from Etsy in a Target frame, knotted pillow from Amazon, printed pillow by Zoe Schlacter.

Weekend Reads

Mary J. Blige on navigating self-acceptance through beauty. (Elle)

Finding my personal style helped me embrace my Filipina identity. (Refinery29)

You do not always have to say yes. (The Atlantic)

Gender-based online violence spikes after prominent media attacks. (Brookings)

Welcome to invasivorism, the boldest solution to ethical eating yet. (Popular Science)

The internet is failing moms-to-be. (Wired)

Bill seeking to outlaw self-preferencing by Amazon, Google clears hurdle in Senate. (the Markup)

The rise and fall of Esprit, San Francisco’s coolest clothing brand. (SFGate)

With fewer animals to move their seeds, plants are stuck in threatened habitats. (Smithsonian Magazine)

You are not owed a reason for someone's abortion. (Jezebel)

Inside this Maryland ICU (which is about a mile from my home), a depleted staff struggles to keep going. (Washington Post)

How a pearl necklace helped Amy Schneider make Jeopardy! history. (Elle)

The 100-year-old ‘it girl’: ‘Picasso took the cigarette and touched it to my right cheek’. (The Irish Times)


the righteous gemstones

We finished the first season of The Righteous Gemstones on HBO Max (also available on Hulu). I had put off watching this series even though friends loved it because I just don't love Danny McBride. I tried watching his other shows and just can't deal with him. I know many love him, but I see him as a wannabe John C. Reilly who is really phenomenal in comedy, drama, musicals, you name it. And sometimes Danny McBride plays a part that feels very heavily influenced by a role John C. Reilly made famous. But looking for a new series for me and my husband, we tried The Righteous Gemstones.

amber the righteous gemstones
Cassidy Freeman, who plays McBride's character's wife, makes me like McBride more

Woah, this show takes you for a ride! It's ridiculous and shocking and funny and gross and frustrating. Yes, Danny McBride is annoying AF the first couple of episodes but he really does come into his own and by the end of the season you can't imagine anyone else playing this role, or playing it so well. As you go through the season, you come to better understand each character and gain respect for the actors portraying them. But the one who I just adore is Walton Goggins.

baby billy righteous gemstones
Baby Billy Freeman just chillin' like a villain

Oh my GOSH his portrayal of Baby Billy is phenomenal. The tan. The teeth. The clothes. The car! I think anyone who has lived near or below the Mason-Dixon line has known of a Baby Billy-like person. Maybe not as much of a gaslighting scam artist (or maybe he is), but the whole style is so reminiscent of a mix of people I knew in my community in the '80s. Goggins has been in a LOT, and he often plays a very similar character because he is a bit of a character actor, but this character of Baby Billy is awesome.

Keefe and Kelvin rocking the kind of fashion only Keefe and Kelvin can rock

I gotta say the character Keefe is also pretty fascinating. I agree with this GQ article on the character that, “Not since Kenneth on 30 Rock has a pure, innocent rube of a man been so captivating.” But be aware, there is a LOT of frontal nudity, and it's not just Keefe (who several times has just a bit hanging out). I don't think I've ever seen a show with so many different penises displayed, and for long periods of time on camera. And it's not gratuitous, it totally adds to the ridiculous humor of this show.

judy righteous gemstones easter sunday pink sequin dress
Maybe not my personal choice for Easter service, but it's not shocking for Judy Gemstone. BTW after the pilot, Edi Patterson wore a wig to achieve Judy's curls

Oh, and I want Judy's Easter Sunday dress, though I have nowhere I would wear it. Maybe a Vegas vow renewal? For those curious about the costumes, they're thanks to Sarah Trost, Project Runway alum. (Decider). I'd just love to have it hanging in my closet! We plan to start up Season 2 next week!

the gilded age

As a family, we watched the first episode of The Gilded Age on HBO Max (also available on Hulu). I'll admit I never watched Downton Abbey, which it is compared to. And I have to say I like this. It's not exciting, it doesn't have depth (at least not yet), a lot of it is terribly cliche but really… it's so nice to have something pretty to watch.

the gilded age bertha
When Bertha walked into the building at this event into a patch of bright sun, I realized how rare that was these days in television and movies

I keep thinking about that article I shared last week about why every TV show is so dark and dreary. (Vox) And The Gilded Age is anything but. Saturated color, actors walk purposefully into direct light, there is no trash or even horse poop on the roads. It's shiny and new and bright and colorful and it feels like a vacation. The cast is full of Broadway stars and well-known faces. It especially feels like a vacation because it's not about murder or lies or a dystopian future or the paranormal.

the gilded age costumes
The fashion is very enjoyable. So is the decor, though there aren't a ton of high-res photos of it online… yet…

This isn't Edith Wharton, but I think that's okay. It's okay to not have every single show be the biggest and the strongest and the most powerful and most nuanced and most everything. And maybe this show will get more oomph as the season continues; it was originally to be on NBC so now that it's HBO there may be more to come. I am willing to continue and find out.

For Your Entertainment

holly humberstone

When I traveled for work pre-pandemic, I had a playlist on Spotify I called Planes, Trains, and Road Trips and it was full of the kind of music I could enjoy when looking out the window, or flipping through a magazine, lightly dozing. Think Cigarettes After Sex, Kacey Musgraves, Maggie Rogers, Leon Bridges. When I heard this song from Holly Humbertsone, it made me long for an early morning Amtrak ride to NYC.

At only 16, British singer-songwriter Holly Humberstone entered several of her songs into an online BBC music portal and one of her songs, “Hit and Run,” garnered radio play and she was invited to play Glastonbury which was one of her first ever-shows. She played a couple of small solo sets and then was invited to go on tour with Lewis Capaldi performing in front of audiences up to 12,000 in size. Her first EP was ready to drop, and then the pandemic happened.

But in typical Gen Z fashion, this 21-year-old's career wasn't slowed down by COVID. Her music is the kind that is best heard through headphones, not necessarily speakers in a general admission club. Her lyrics can be described as oversharing, but during a period of time when many of us feel alone, Humberstone's music can feel like a kindred spirit.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Joining the chorus to say just how much I enjoy what you pull together each week here. I especially loved the clarity of the article in support of abortion. Thanks for all you do.

  2. Have to say again how much I love your Weekend Reads. Thanks for the effort you put into them.

    Having read some truly grim reviews of The Gilded Age, I decided to give it a try after your review, and I actually enjoyed it. Mostly for the clothes and the scenery, but it’s also a pretty relaxing show. I am a HUGE Downton Abbey fan, and I agree with the previous comments. It’s worth giving it a try, especially if you enjoy The Gilded Age at all.

  3. Not sure if you can control ads but I have two featuring Alpha American. Did not sound progressive so I checked out the site and it confirmed my suspicions. One racer back tank proudly exclaims: “WAXED & UNVAXXED.”

  4. Thank you for the great links! I cannot express how much I wanted Esprit clothing as a teen but it was well beyond my family’s price range. Benetton was my other too-expensive fashion obsession, but now that I’m an adult with adult money their clothes seem much less fun and colorful than they were.

  5. Oh, my gosh! We just binge watched The Righteous Gemstones! It is so out there yet, like you, I recognized many characters. And, Walter Goggins is amazing in this show! I cannot wait to see where this show ends up! We haven’t started The Gilded Age yet. We are (I am rewatching) watching Downton Abbey. Now, when I watch it, I keep thinking it so badly acted, but maybe that’s truly how aristocrats talked…just so slow and terse. I love it for the fashion and the interiors. The story lines can get tedious. Love this blog post every week!


  6. I look forward to your Weekend Reads every week. I know it takes lots of time and energy to curate so much content and put these together – thank you!

  7. Walton Goggins is always the best thing in anything he’s in. His Oscar-winning short, The Accountant, is worth tracking down, and even in a show with a deep bench of talent like Justified, he’s the best. He made a bunch of films with Ray McKinnon in the 00s that are deeply respectful of modern Southerners and hilariously funny about them, too.

  8. You’venever watched Downton Abbey? Not interested? Turned off by some aspect of the publicity? I’m here to recommend it for your family viewing. Good story lines (uneven in some spots but overall satisfying), sexual encounters acknowledged but in a way that is not too strong for your daughter, plenty of humor, English class system scrutinized as integral part of the plots and characterization, early 20th century history always integral to the story. Gorgeous costumes and their change over the decades fascinating to watch. Start it for the women’s dresses and continue for the stories.

    1. I second that recommendation. I recently started rewatching it, and I am enjoying it so much! The characters and story lines are so compelling, and visually, it is stunning. It is lovely to see how characters change and grow over the years. . .After so many hard times for all of us, on so many levels in this past few years, watching something like this is somehow very soothing to the ragged soul. . . I think you and your family will love it, Alison.

    2. I also loved the clothes and how they evolved over time, and I credit the show with teaching me about eclampsia. I did find some of the characters/ storylines a bit overwrought/ drawn out, but overall worth a watch.

  9. I just love your weekend reads posts. You get me thinking in different directions due to the scope of the recommendations you make. Thanks for the work you put into doing this!

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