Discover more from Follow Friday
Barbie's cinematic homages, "Barbie Girl," and protest Barbies
Also a generous amount of non-Barbie content, including a brilliant game for movie nerds and a jaw-dropping AI demonstration.
Welcome to Follow Friday! Thank you to everyone who shared last week’s newsletter with their podcast editor friends — I heard from a ton of excellent candidates for the assistant editor role and am talking with a few of them this week.
The single best thing I saw online this week: Exactly what it says on the tin, this is “Barbie Girl” by Aqua in the style of different classical composers like Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin. I quit watching Westworld after the infuriating second season, but one of my favorite features of that show was its western-tinged covers of more modern music. $50 to the first director who can sneak one of these arrangements into a straight period drama.
Anyway, this video is brilliant and hilariously annotated by the performer, Josep Castanyer Alonso. Stay to the end for the Ravel version (my personal favorite), and a twist ending. Really!
The best podcasts I’ve heard recently
Note to aspiring kidnappers: The best way to lure me into an unmarked van is with a podcast about Zelda music. Fortunately for me, Twenty Thousand Hertz had no malicious intent with their latest episode, “Zelda: A Beep to the Past,” which analyzes the music and sound effects of the beloved Nintendo series. I got so much out of this episode that a) I listened to it twice in one day, the second time with my partner; and b) I was pleasantly to discover that it’s only part one! Can’t wait for the next one.
Jumping ahead to a pop culture obsession from much later in my life, I loved this “book club” episode of The Stacks in which Traci Thomas reads Watchmen for the first time and discusses it with cartoonist Joel Christian Gill. There are spoilers, so I’d only recommend this episode to someone who’s finished the book, but I really admired the way Traci engaged with the things she didn’t like about Watchmen, some of which I had never considered before. Joel does a great job explaining why Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ book is widely considered the greatest comic of all time, and I think I’m long overdue to explore the rest of their ouevre.
Last Sunday, I convened a group of nine friends, many of us in pink, to watch Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, which is looking like it could become the highest-grossing film of the summer. Even though I have some quibbles with the story, I had a great time, and I really appreciated Gerwig’s homages to classic movies like Singin’ In the Rain and PlayTime (to say nothing of “the Godfather”). She goes deep on all the behind the scenes details with Sean Fennessey on this episode of The Big Picture, and now I want to see the movie again to focus on the incredible production design. Better find my pink shirt again …
One more podcast-y thing: Rebecca Sananès asks, is the word “podcast” cringe now? I agree 100% with what Ira Glass tells her.
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help i’m obsessed with this extremely nerdy game
I’ve written here before about my fondness for the recent resurgence in quick mobile games that live in your phone’s browser, which kicked off when Wordle became a worldwide (wordlewide?) phenomenon.
Wordle 769 2/6* btw
Anyway, I started playing Cine2Nerdle some months ago after hearing about it in a Drew Gooden video about using the internet less (lol), and it’s genius: Given a 4x4 grid of themes, actors, directors, and title fragments, you have to arrange them so that they describe five movies. Unlocking that fifth movie, which intersects with the other four, requires some lateral thinking, and every time I do it I get a little dopamine hit.
After getting hooked on the original style of Cine2Nerdle games, I also became a daily player of the “Reversal” mode, where you start with a grid of 20 movies and have to find the five things that connect them. And NOW, as if I wasn’t spending enough time on this game every week as is, I’ve been suckered in by Cine2Nerdle’s latest game type: “Logical.”
Every week, there’s a new grid of 20 movies and a new bespoke set of rules. This week’s Logical puzzle, for instance, features 20 non-English language movies and has rules like “The zombie film is the only film from Asia in all of rows 1 and 2.” Solving this part of the puzzle requires you to know which one of the 20 is a zombie film, and which of the other films are also from Asia to restrict them to the lower rows.
I know I say this about a lot of things, but yeah. I am truly, deeply obsessed. Anyone else?
The latest from LightningPod
Here’s what I’ve been producing and editing this week
On Grit, former Microsoft exec and ex-Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia talked to Joubin Mirzadegan about living through the US government’s antitrust case, how Snowflake (a huge data cloud company) survived some near death experiences, and his new book, The Datapreneurs. Towards the end of the interview, he talks with great excitement about how ChatGPT has changed everything — it sounds like he’s been anticipating the singularity since childhood, and is now optimistic about seeing it in his lifetime.
And on Building Better CMOs, AT&T CMO Kellyn Smith Kenny has an insight-packed conversation with Greg Stuart about fatal mistakes for marketers to avoid, embracing AI and other forms of change, and the right way to rebrand a company. True story, we were trying to keep this episode short because Kellyn herself said she doesn’t often listen to hour-long podcasts, but she had so much to share that Greg wisely chose not to cut her off. The final runtime came to 58 minutes, but it’s a good 58.
An insanely impressive use of AI
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TikTok and Instagram have made vertical videos so common that we hardly notice the format anymore — except when someone on these platforms tries to share a clip from a movie or TV show that was filmed in a more traditional landscape format. The picture usually gets squashed between black bars, or a blurry background — but what if it filled the whole frame instead? Alex Cerrato used an AI tool in Photoshop and the Adobe video editing app Premiere to expand on shots from real movies. I don’t care for the slow zooming effect, and some of the compositions just feel wrong, and one could argue that this entire thing is an insult to the craft of filmmaking … And yet, I can’t get over how good this looks, especially for a one-man project.
The best thing I’ve read this week
If you hadn’t already joined the exodus, this is the week when it probably clicked: Twitter is never coming back. Having destroyed just about everything else we once loved about the “hell site,” Elon Musk replaced the iconic brand with a baffling new one, “X.”
I severed my ties with the site months ago, as documented extensively here, but Aja Romano wrote a thoughtful piece about the “weird sorrow” of saying goodbye:
Even solely in terms of its content, the loss of Twitter as an archive feels overwhelming to contemplate. Jack Dorsey co-founded the site in 2006, so that’s 16 years of 200 million users churning out tweets, hashtags, gifs, memes, videos, art, stories, DMs, group chats, threads, debates, subtweets, quote-tweets, and all the other content that the Library of Congress briefly deemed worthy of preserving. That doesn’t even touch the intangible stuff — the myriad human connections made, the professional networks cultivated, the innumerable moments of collectively experienced joy and humor and tragedy; of life, narrated in real time, for years, as it happened to each of us.
Because internet culture is steeped in irony, however, the most extremely online of us have become rigorously conditioned to couch our sincere feelings about internet community in sarcasm and condescension.
Palate cleanser: Do you prefer working with seals or sea lions?
Trust me and click these:
A history of protest Barbies
Brb, I have to go to New York to see The Shark Is Broken
The world’s last internet cafes
A savvy, sad take on the summer camps of the Covid generation
A hilarious “translation” of a memo from
Twitter’s X’s new CEO
Why Across the Spider-Verse is not “half a movie”
CAPTCHAs may be on the way out (good riddance!)
A transphobic Italian beauty pageant gets hung with its own words
How Americans learned to love spaghetti squash
And: Megadeth drummer Dirk Verbeuren hears “Mr. Brightside” for the first time