Have you ever had one of those days where it’s best, for everybody, that you stay in your room and turn off your phone and promise never to talk to anyone ever again? Gabrielle Bell understands. Her autobiographical comic strip The Voyeurs just rescued one such Thursday night for me. Bell makes social awkwardness verging on phobia look cool, or at least perfectly rational, and even at her most despondent, her pen notices what’s going on outside the window or in a friend’s facial expression—and as often as not, it’s funny and endearing, even beautiful. For an artist who skewers her own fecklesness and self-pity, Bell spends a lot of time secretly celebrating the world. —Lorin Stein
As my friends know, I have long held a somewhat irrational prejudice against all shades of purple, and when pressed, have only ever been able to come up with vague allusions to wizards and Lisa Frank. Imagine my glee, then, when, in a Q & A with The New York Times Magazine, Monocle editor and full-time jet-setter Tyler Brûlé declared the following:
Purple is a color compromise. You could do a presentation to a group of executives for a new brand, and you could go the very forceful hot, glossy red route and then you could maybe show them the more matte, conservative deep navy route. Weak agencies or a weak chairman will then just end up with a mélange of the two, and you get purple, a color of compromise.
Vindication! —Sadie O. Stein
Australia doesn’t put out a lot of movies, but the standard of the films that they do make is remarkably high. One of the most recent fair-dinkum pictures to come out of the land down under is Mary and Max. This claymotion for grown-ups follows the friendship of two lonely pen pals: Mary, an unattractive Australian child with an alcoholic mother and a pet rooster called Ethel, and Max, a middle-aged recluse with a penchant for chocolate hot dogs, an invention he considers his crowning achievement. Some scenes in the film will make you laugh until it hurts. Other scenes, the ones about deep loneliness, depression, and alcoholism, will make you hurt until you cry. By the film’s end, you feel a sense of emotional achievement, and you’ll never take friendship for granted again. —Arthur Holland Michel
I have been dismayed recently by the increasingly reductive arguments surrounding issues of atheism and religion, particularly on the Internet. (The whole thing could be said to be summed up by a recent piece on Vice.) For a non-snarky discussion of the issue of the “New Atheism” perpetuated by people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, read or reread James Wood’s New Yorker piece from 2009, “God in the Quad”, or his 2011 essay for The Guardian. For atheism to be taken seriously, it must take belief seriously, something that Wood, a nonbeliever himself, refreshingly understands. —Anna Hadfield
“Lucia Pamela was an American musician, bandleader, and eccentric.” That’s the first line of the former Miss St. Louis and Ziegfeld girl’s Wikipedia entry, and I can think of worse epitaphs. Pamela (read a great profile here) enjoys a certain cult following for her supremely bizarre 1969 concept album, Into Outer Space With Lucia Pamela, for which she provided all vocals and musical accompaniment. As the name implies, it involves a trip to Moontown, where the inhabitants dress like cowboys. (In the accompanying coloring book she released a few years later, we meet the Nut People of the neighboring town, M. Cashew et al, who speak French. There is also a dog who smokes cigarettes.) Each rollicking song begins with a brief vocal intro (“I see elves!”) and Pamela sings like a bawdy Lili Taylor. I am sometimes uneasy with the genre of “outsider music,” but Pamela (whom Tony Kushner immortalized in a play) clearly takes such joy in the enterprise that you just want to enjoy it with her. I have been listening—and, to my coworkers’ chagrin, quoting—little else for days. —S.O.S.