Here’s what got us through it.
The Bizarre, Familiar World of ‘Neo Yokio’
The only thing that’s been able to distract me from the sorrows of this terrible week is the new Netflix anime-lite, Neo Yokio. The futuristic creation of Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, Neo Yokio is set in a surreal, alternative version of New York-meets-Tokyo, where a teen idol named Kaz is tasked with slaying demons who haunt the city while navigating society’s upper tier of pop stars and celebrity fashion bloggers. Fittingly, Kaz (who bears a striking resemblance to rapper Lil Uzi Vert) is voiced by fellow teen celebrity Jaden Smith. The rest of the star-studded cast includes Rookie’s Tavi Gevinson, VICELAND’s Desus and Mero, Susan Sarandon, and Jude Law. The playful series strikes the right balance of bizarre and familiar, couching pop culture references and commentary in an off-kilter plot about the supernatural. —Nastia Voynovskaya
Dame Shirley, My Hero
The San Francisco Opera is revving up to produce the world premiere of a new work by the eminent, Berkeley-based composer John Adams. As I prepare to report on The Girls of the Golden West, I’ve been digging into one of the main sources for the work — The Shirley Letters. The author of this amazing batch of Gold Rush-era correspondence is a doctor’s wife by the name of Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe. Clappe is my new hero — an intrepid pioneer, and scribe who gave herself the pen name “Dame Shirley” when she started filing missives to a San Francisco magazine called The Pioneer from the remote Northern California mining camp on the Feather River where she and her husband spent a fascinating if hard-scrabble 15 months in 1851–52. Whether describing the rugged landscape, her encounters with Native American women, or a public whipping, Clappe writes with vivid color and emotion about the tough mining life. Her words definitely provide a sense of perspective on our own Gold Rush-like times. —Chloe Veltman
Dogs Photoshopped into Various Yoga Poses
I’m heading to a conference in Reno in a few weeks, and my hotel there just sent me a very nice email with the weather forecast and an invite to check out their schedule of fitness classes. I don’t do yoga here, but maybe, I thought as I clicked the link, the version of me that goes to Reno for a conference does yoga?
Next to each class description is what I can only describe as the best dog-related clip art imaginable. Beside a class called “Happy Tuesday Vibes” (knowledge of sun salutations recommended), a smiling husky does warrior 3. Alongside “Vinyasa Flow” (energizing for both body and mind), a pup holds a physically impossible version of the locust pose.
Nothing has brightened my mood in recent weeks like these images of dogs doing yoga. Further internet research led me to the source — photographer Dan Borris, who puts out his images of yoga dogs in both book and calendar form. As Maori the demigod says in his Lin-Manuel Miranda-penned earworm from Moana: You’re welcome. —Sarah Hotchkiss
On a Week Like This, I’ll Just Say It: The Beatles
The Beatles are my kids’ new favorite thing. The little ones — they’re two and five — were turned onto the Fab Four thanks to a Netflix show called Beat Bugs, which features the catchier Beatles tracks filtered through today’s adolescent pop music. I’m not a fan of children’s music, so I’ve been playing the originals on our home stereo whenever possible.
Listening to the Beatles reminds me of a childhood blanketed in oldies radio, and my later fandom spurred by finding cheap copies of their records at garage sales. Once, in my college days, I had a bunch of friends come hang out at my apartment. I didn’t have a TV, so we sat on my floor and passed around my guitar, playing our favorite Beatles hits. No matter who had the guitar, everyone sang along.
I like to play music at the dinner table, and when our favorite songs come on the stereo, I both engage in and encourage full-throated singing along; it’s important to me that my children know the joy of participating in harmony. With the Beatles, I don’t need to sing first to inspire our homemade chorus — sometimes the songs start without me. It makes me wish I could thank the band personally for the memories being made. –Kevin L. Jones
These Tiny Little Songs for a Girl Named Yoshimi
Shawn, half of Lullatone, originally started making ‘tiny songs’ for his then-girlfriend Yoshimi when she had insomniac spells in college. Now a married couple and band mates, Lullatone has an EP inspired by each of the four seasons. ‘Falling for Autumn’ is by far my favorite. I can’t name the number of times ‘Falling for Autumn’ has carried me through a tough week of final exams or through a spell of anxiety. I found my way back to ‘Falling for Autumn’ this past week, because with song titles like ‘Raindrops Plucking the Last Leaves from a Tree’ and ‘New Stationary for a New Semester’, you can’t help but feel enveloped in a warm hug through their music. —Katherine Manley