Here’s my list of the stories and pop culture that made me happy this week:
1. Neil Gaiman. The man has a reading voice that could make the phone book sound like it was full of twists and cliffhangers. So getting to hear him read the storm scene from his latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, while the thunder rumbled outside War Memorial was completely unforgettable. (And Bela Fleck‘s accompaniment wasn’t bad, either.) I went to the talk with some Gaiman super-fans, and by the end, he’d charmed me, too. Can’t wait to read the book.
2. The Fall. In this British crime series, Gillian Anderson plays a senior detective hunting down a serial killer. Only the killer isn’t some creepy, crazy-eyed loner you’d avoid in a grocery parking lot. He’s hot. He’s married. He’s a grief counselor and a doting dad. And all these things make him much scarier than anything conjured up on Criminal Minds. Catch it on Netflix.
3. This story about how one person’s tweet inspired hundreds to share photos of their happiest moments. I could look at these photos forever.
4. The Punch Brothers covering The Cars’ “Just What I Needed.” Who knew this song needed a banjo solo?
5. The Dissolve. If you love smart writing about film – and you’ve been missing it since Roger Ebert died – you’ve got to check out Pitchfork’s new site. Its “dream team of film writers” (mostly ex-A.V. Club staffers) are penning reviews, commentary, news, essays and interviews about movies, past and present. It’s a total rabbit hole for film geeks. Jump in!
6. “Life on the Set of The Wire: How Bunk, Kima, Freamon, and McNulty Blew Off Steam in Baltimore.” If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll love Slate’s excerpt from Brett Martin’s Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
7. Batman: Hoarder. Kerry Callen’s parody comic strip imagines what’s going on in the Bat Cave. Spoilers: it’s hoarding.
8. Comedy Bang! Bang! #229: Two Thumbs & Not Much Else with Ben Schwartz and Paul F. Tompkins. During some episodes, it feels like the guests are competing for laughs, but in this one, host Scott Aukerman and guests Schwartz and Tompkins (playing legendary German director Werner Herzog) sound like they’re genuinely having a good time – especially as they debate how to pronounce “marshmallow” and start spontaneously singing “Skid Row” from Little Shop of Horrors.
9. Serious Eats says this photo of a piglet with ice cream is “the cutest photograph you ever will see.” They might be right.