With most people's busy schedule, plants can seem like a hassle. Not for Jarad! He's digging his heels in against a plantless existence with an ever growing collection of houseplants.
I just moved back to college for the start of my senior year. This is an exciting time, but it also means that I don’t have a garden to tend to, and subsequently I’m starting to go a little stir crazy. For example, I had a dream the other day about hollyhocks. Sexy, I know but I am, after all, what several people have referred to as a, “plant freak,” so I suppose it’s only to be expected. This happened to me last spring as well, to the point where I was going around campus deadheading masses of daffodils and weeding flower beds, a job usually reserved for the people paid to do it. I couldn’t help myself, I had to do something. In my defense, they weren’t doing it often enough. And would it kill them to do a little pruning? That’s neither here nor there, but still I’m sorely tempted to take after a rose bush that’s half dead with my trimmers. Anyone have recommendations for a set of pruning shears that will fit neatly in a backpack?
My Year of Rest and Relaxation
Written by Ottessa Moshfegh
Review by Julie Carpenter and Jarad Johnson
This is a book that Julie lent me to read recently, and when I heard the premise I was immediately interested, but I didn’t know what to expect. I read the blurb and wondered how you could fill an entire book writing about a woman who was sleeping. So, I cracked it open this week and I was surprised. I didn’t like any of the characters, although they are objectively hilarious (Spoiler alert: not every character has to be likeable to make a good story), but I was still hooked.
This spring, I decided to get a little hands on experience with gardening. I went a little overboard. But only a little.
Monty Don once said, “It doesn’t matter how much you read or how much you study, nothing beats a lifetime of experience.” I think this is very true, and it’s something I decided to apply when I became interested (my mother says obsessed, but I think this is too harsh) in gardening. Besides my desire to be active in a garden rather than reading about it, I was eager to learn by doing. So, I did, and last winter I planned out several flower beds and one bed for vegetables, and I went a little crazy buying seeds. I couldn’t wait to get home for spring break to start all of my seeds, and as soon as the term was over, I busily went to work removing sod with a shovel and planting seeds, flowers and vegetables. For the first three months of the summer, I was watering all five beds with a two-gallon watering can, and it took almost an hour. Suffice it to say, I have never had the appreciation for a garden hose that I have now.
Review by Julie Carpenter
Once again, I’m late to the party. I really meant to watch this movie last year. You know, when it came out. But me and movies don’t work that way. I have to slowly sneak up on them or vice versa. I was finally watched it. If it had been underwhelming or super popular, I wouldn’t be bothering you with it. However, I’ve looked at the numbers and the reviews and I’ve realized that not nearly enough of you guys have watched this thing, or if you did, not enough of you appreciated it.
Under the Silver Lake, directed by David Robert Mitchell and starring Andrew Garfield and Riley Keough, is a weird, comic, slightly nihilistic film noir that’s a sprawling mess…and I love it. The movie follows a strange, sort-of-likable-if-you-don’t-have-to-deal-with-him goofball named Sam who has only a few days to pay his rent or face eviction. He sees a beautiful young woman named Sarah swimming in the apartment complex pool, spends an evening with her during which they really get along. He agrees to meet her the next day, but the next day she is gone, her apartment cleared out.
The main action of the movie is Sam searching LA for Sarah. This movie feels like a carnival rendition of a Hitchcock movie, and in one of the best scenes our hero follows some suspicious women using a paddle boat. As he chases down information, he discovers that the disappearance of his mysterious and nontraditional femme fatale may be linked to murder.
This is all I can tell you about the plot for two reasons. One…spoilers. Two…it’s too frickin’ weird. Here’s what I can say, this is a movie for this uncanny moment on our timeline. It’s about the machinations and vacuous indifference of the rich and powerful, it toys with the idea that pop culture often acts as an opiate to prevent us from noticing that fact, and it lays out a puzzle that can’t exactly be solved.
In a film noir trope taken to a level that’s so absurd it must be true in Trump’s America, Sam looks for patterns where others can’t see them. He looks for connections everywhere from game shows, to pop music, to the backs of cereal boxes. He learns with exquisite clarity that there are things happening behind the curtain, but that the complexity of the message may not have any bearing on its worth, and it's not clear what can be done to head off catastrophe. There are non sequiturs and dead ends that never get wrapped up. There are whole plot points that lead to other plot points and then sit quietly in a corner never to be mentioned again. There is a conspiracy by the rich that leads to the abuse of the media for purposes so pointless that the billionaires who do it come off as less as villains than as vaguely malicious clowns, creating grueling and complicated schemes on top of schemes with payoffs the average person would disdain.
In other words, welcome to the extended metaphor of what it is to be alive right now. If you like a movie that wraps things up in a nice neat package and makes you feel that everything will be ok, this is not the movie for you. But if you wanna have a weirdly good time possibly going nowhere…check this thing out.
Once Upon A River
Written by Diane Setterfield
Review by Jarad Johnson
We are fully into summer now, and I find that some books are best for the season. Easy, engulfing books that can distract from the oppressive heat. This is one such book. The first that struck me when I picked it up was the cover with a cool blue river snaking across the cover. Ah! Cool and blue. A summer book.
Julie and Jarad are predictably talking about gardening again. Just fyi, the next time you're taking a walk outside and you see a squirrel, just know they're cussing you out. You're welcome.
Jarad asked if I would like to add to his piece on enjoying a garden. I have to agree that for the most part, I find myself piddling when I go outside, deadheading roses, pulling up basil, weeding or planting. While I enjoy sitting calmly in a garden, I don’t often find myself in that position. I think that active gardening is what I love as well.
The only thing I can really add is that I also love - when no one is around to report me – talking to the plants, cats, birds, squirrels and occasionally garden statuary. This is why I really and truly need a fence. My neighbors don’t really need to know exactly what kind of crazy woman lives next door. They say that the real problem comes in when the monologue becomes a dialogue. It’s when things start to talk back that you know you’ve gone round the twist. (Let me add you might end up living with a snarky, skeletal visitor who never leaves.)
I suppose I wouldn’t say the plants talk back, but plants do tell you things in their own way. And I defy any one of you to tell me that squirrels don’t cuss. So I guess that’s it. Working in the garden helps me relax and so does having a little conversation with nature. (Except for squabbling with belligerent squirrels over the blueberries.)