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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Culture Corner

The Art Desk’s weekly picks for music, movies and more


By ANNE THISELTON-DYER  — arts@theaggie.org


Song: “Pool” by Samia (2020)

“Sami, Sami, Sam-Soumi…” A recording of indie-pop singer Samia’s grandmother singing in Lebanese Arabic plays over the slowly expanding first notes of “Pool.” This sets a sweet and nostalgic tone for the opening track of Samia’s debut album “The Baby,” which explores the experience of clinging to a temporary relationship with the knowledge that it is fleeting. Samia’s smooth, piercing vocals are the real star of this track, allowed to shine over stripped-back instrumentals. The song seems to suspend time; as it progresses, that suspension snaps and lets loose an outward ripple of emotion that builds and gains structure, growing increasingly powerful. “How long do you think we can sit here / Before we have to move?” Samia questions. “Pool” confronts the reality of endings, fitting for the nostalgia of college graduation season or just the bittersweet tone of growing up.


Book: “The Curious Thing: Poems” by Sandra Lim (2021)

I was originally assigned to read “The Curious Thing” in a poetry workshop last spring, but this volume is one that I’ve revisited several times since and recommended to my friends, even the ones who “aren’t poetry people.” The third volume from the Korean-American poet and professor is both witty and profound; it has a dry sense of humor that breaks up its more emotional moments. Its domestic setting and fascination with mundane, lonely moments provide an almost uncomfortably personal perspective on desire and solitude. Lim is an incredible writer, and this collection proves it with beautiful poems that remain grounded and strikingly emotionally aware.


TV Show: “Killing Eve” (2018-2022)

In this thriller-comedy show, MI5 agent Eve, played by Sandra Oh, is tasked with tracking down the charismatic yet psychopathic assassin Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer. As their lives become increasingly intertwined, the two women develop a mutual obsession with each other and chaos ensues. The chemistry between Oh and Comer is what makes this show, and specifically the first two seasons, great and differentiates it from any other spy thriller. It’s a masterfully written will-they, won’t-they, and you’re never fully sure whether Eve and Villanelle are going to kiss or kill each other. Bonus points for Villanelle’s outfits — she’s a style icon.


Podcast: “Alice isn’t Dead” (2016)

This serial fiction podcast follows Keisha, a truck driver searching across America for her wife Alice, who she previously thought was dead. Framed as a series of audio recordings and radio broadcasts, “Alice isn’t Dead” shows Keisha repeatedly brought face to face with the supernatural: a reappearing town that reflects the stages of grief, a factory run by a man who ages in a day, highway stops haunted by flesh-eating creatures and a conspiracy that might just connect them all to Alice’s mysterious disappearance. This podcast is inventive, thoughtful and always surprising, and even though it is horror heavy, the narrator’s voice is so relaxing that I sometimes listen to it when I can’t sleep. “Alice isn’t Dead” is genuinely so weird, but also provides an extraordinarily insightful exploration of the psychic life of America’s in-between spaces.

Written by: Anne Thiselton-Dyer — arts@theaggie.org