Welcome to Good Stuff, HuffPost’s weekly recommendation series devoted to the least bad things on and off the internet.
Beyoncé has had a hell of a week. She was granted full control over Vogue magazine’s coveted September cover and used her power to hire the first black photographer to shoot the cover in 126 years. This was before she dragged the fuck out of her husband’s former mistress while performing onstage during ANOTHER sold-out world tour before she got her nails done at 1 a.m. as we lessers slept.
But her best moment came during the On The Run II tour stop in Philadelphia, when our Queen Beyoncé resurrected her high braid — a mythical creature that first graced us with its presence during the Tidal x 1015 concert in 2016. In one memorable moment, the braid takes flight, swinging to the left before floating briefly in front of its master’s face. Then it snaps to the right and drapes itself over her shoulder. Even the braid bows down, despite having the capability to slice Becky With The Good Hair in half. Wow.
How the braid whips, bounces, spins, jerks, twerks and prances through the air with a distinct choreography that, somehow, moves in tandem with Beyoncé is something I still haven’t figured out. But I am nothing more than a mere mortal gazing upon a goddess and her agile, all-powerful braid. I’m convinced that the braid is the last Infinity Stone. It will save the universe from Thanos, climate change, income inequality, racism, sexism and all other social ills since the goddess wielding it is a black woman dedicated to improving the lives of marginalized groups.
Do you now understand why your fave could never? ― Julia Craven
Henry Cavill’s Magical Beard In ‘Mission: Impossible ― Fallout’
One time in high school, I tried to grow a beard instantaneously. Everyone else laughed and said it couldn’t be done. After puckering my face a while in an attempt to squeeze out a follicle without anything happening, I started to believe them. At least, until the recent release of “Mission: Impossible ― Fallout.” From that movie comes the GIF of Henry Cavill cocking his arms and magically growing a beard. He even grows a breast pocket for good measure, like a real gentleman.
Since then, my life has changed.
I want to say thanks, Henry Cavill, for giving bare-faced high school kids hope. I want to tell you that all the grief you’ve gotten for the weird CGI cover-up in “Justice League” was worth it.
But mostly I just wanna say, “Eat my shorts, Class of 2006!” I told you it could be done. (And while I’m at it, to my childhood development class teacher: I know I said I was sorry for drinking that extra grape juice box, but I’m not. I wanted to drink it. I like grape juice. And it was delicious.) ― Bill Bradley
The RHONY Boat Ride From Hell
This week, “Real Housewives of New York” fans finally got to see the long-awaited “boat ride from hell.”
There is a particular pleasure in watching arguably terrible people you alternately love and loathe experience the terror of a clunking mini-yacht getting swept up in the choppy waters of Colombia. Sonja Morgan and Ramona Singer volleyed between screaming up at the sky and clutching each other. Carole Radziwill vomited into a champagne bucket and later said the boat was scarier than being a foreign correspondent during wartime. Bethenny Frankel held Radziwill’s hair back and tried to avoid being hit with flying deck furniture. Luann de Lesseps hit the floor for cover. Dorinda Medley frantically searched for life jackets (there was only one) as she yelled that she smelled smoke. Tinsley Mortimer and her perfect french braids were unfazed. Afterward, the housewives were safe, but they all had diarrhea.
Some might call watching the boat ride from hell a guilty pleasure, but I feel no guilt. As Vulture’s Bryan Moylan put it: “This is the apocalypse that we hath wrought and it is glorious and it is still not enough.” ― Emma Gray
A Good Week In Music
This was a really good music week. NPR kicked it off with a project that ranked “the top 200 songs by 21st century women+” ― an awesome cross-genre compilation of music from the last 18 years that I’ve spent most of the week cycling through. As a country fan, I was happy to see so many women from a genre that usually ignores them get their due, and while I naturally have some small quibbles (I might have chosen different songs by Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves), the list overall was a great installment in NPR’s ongoing effort to celebrate pop music in “more inclusive ― and accurate ― ways.”
Then, on Friday morning, a friend on Twitter pointed me toward “To The Sunset,” a new album from Americana/folk/country crossover artist Amanda Shires. “To The Sunset” is yet another album that doesn’t fit neatly into any single pop genre ― Shires called it “futuristic” in an interview with The Boot this week, and has openly talked about breaking from the traditionalism of both country and Americana. You can hear that sort of sound from the opening notes of “Parking Lot Pirouette,” the album’s opening track. And “Break Out The Champagne” might wind up as one of my favorite songs of the summer.
“I don’t usually toot my own horn, but it’s a pretty good record,” Shires said in The Boot interview. I’ve only made it all the way through once as of this writing, but so far, “pretty good” is a pretty big understatement. ― Travis Waldron
A Dog Dancing With A Frilly Pink Umbrella
Apparently this video is from 1999, if a YouTube account called ViralHog is to be believed, but I didn’t experience this jovial prancing pup until this week, so it counts. There are so many good things about this: his frilly pink umbrella, his jaunty hops, the fact that a Twitter account called “Nature Is Amazing” posted this. The best part, though, are the very stilted (and fancy!) crossover steps he takes toward the end of the video — the whole thing is 15 seconds, so don’t worry, you don’t have to wait long. What a good boy. Nature is amazing. ― Jillian Capewell
LeBron James’ School
The best thing I saw this week was the rollout of LeBron James’ new school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. The I Promise School, as it’s known, isn’t a private school, and it’s not a charter school. It’s a straight public school, but with exceptionally progressive ideas meant to help children in the same position James once found himself.
“I know these kids basically more than they know themselves,” he said this week. “Everything that they’re going through as kids, I know.”
As such, the I Promise School focuses on kids who are behind their peer group, and it tries to help their parents and guardians, too, with GED classes, job placement services and more. School days will be longer, as will school years, but that’s to keep the kids out of trouble. Transport is free. So is breakfast and lunch. Each kid gets a free bike and helmet. And if a child successfully graduates from James’ school, he’ll pay for his or her tuition at the University of Akron. Somehow, all that still doesn’t come close to explaining everything about this school, which came as a much-needed dose of inspiration for me this week. ― Maxwell Strachan
A Very Pretty Song About What A Disappointment I Am
Although Pitchfork tried its best to make me ashamed of it, I adored the dreamy debut Wet album, “Don’t You” so much that it dominated my 2016 Spotify wrap-up playlist. The indie pop group’s sophomore album, “Still Run,” dropped last month ― in the interim, the band went through a crisis that resulted in a lineup change and a romantic break-up between two members ― and I have now gotten around to being obsessed with one of its gorgeous singles, “Lately,” a wistful yet full-throated artistic break-up song with lilting verses that make my insides feel like they’re floating free in a sea of salt tears.
“Lately” is about trying to make someone feel useful while dealing with the reality that they’re not useful. “Lately” is about having a selfish boyfriend, maybe, or a lazy co-worker. “Lately” is about giving everything you have to give and then giving a little more and then saying “enough.” Band leader Kelly Zutrau’s voice alternately whispers and throbs; when it throbs, I feel like an invisible wire is tugging at my heart, trying to pull it out from behind my rib cage.
I listen to it all the time: on the subway, while elbowing through tourists in Union Square, while washing the dishes, while sitting at my desk. I listen to Zutrau croon, “I’ve been bending over backwards just to make you feel like you’re wanted / I use up all my energy just to make sure that you know you’re important.”
I imagine that this is what my editor thought when I sent her a rough draft that ends “TK ending, any thoughts?” and then followed up with a Slack message complaining that no one takes my writing seriously. My eyes grow damp. I softly warble, “So what have you done for me lately?” The Union Square tourists give me odd looks. I don’t care. That is the power of this song. ― Claire Fallon
‘The O.C.’, 15 Years Later
It’s been 15 years (!!!) since “The O.C.” premiered on Fox, and this story in The Washington Post was a delightful nostalgia trip that examines the role indie music played on the show. There are lots of fun tidbits in that story (who knew Rooney was named after the principal in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”?) but mostly, it’s just a fun look back at the melodramatic music that served as both the soundtrack to the show and to the high school years of many American teens who dreamed of living rich in California ― myself included.
Can anyone listen to The Dandy Warhols now without thinking of Seth Cohen bopping through his house in a bathrobe and a graphic tee? ― Paige Lavender
‘Eighth Grade’ Opening In Wide Release
August is always a spotty month for movies, left to catch the summer-blockbuster runoff and pave a fresh road toward Oscar season. This week’s big studio releases — the action comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” the YA sci-fi knockoff “The Darkest Minds” and the melancholic kiddy caper “Christopher Robin” — are mostly disappointments. So instead, you should see “Eighth Grade.”
Centered on the social frailty of a 13-year-old (promising newcomer Elsie Fisher), Bo Burnham’s directorial debut has been steadily expanding to more theaters over the past few weeks, and now it’s nationwide, poised to delight everyone who enters its orbit. Here, middle school is just as terrifying as anything you’ve seen in “Hereditary” or “A Quiet Place” — but the movie makes up for it with a smokin’ hot dad (Josh Hamilton), salient commentary about the trials of social media, a timeless portrait of adolescent anxieties and a note-perfect music cue from the one and only Irish castle dweller known as Enya. “Eighth Grade” is the “Lady Bird” of 2018, ushering in a month full of astute films about teen girls (see: “Skate Kitchen,” “Madeline’s Madeline”). Don’t miss it. ― Matthew Jacobs
A Band Called Let’s Eat Grandma
Let’s Eat Grandma ― an experimental “sludge pop” group comprised of lifelong BFFs Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton, both 19 ― released their second album, dubbed “I’m All Ears,” in early July.
A huge fan of their first album “I, Gemini,” a fairy tale-inflected freak show for the ears, I was excited to press play. The first song sounds like a threesome between Robyn and the “Phantom of the Opera” duo ― i.e. MY TWO FAVORITE THINGS.
The album perpetuates LEG’s predilection for twisting people’s perceptions of girliness to uncanny extremes. (The musicians are known to, at concerts, flip their waist-length hair over their faces and perform secret handshakes like haunted twins.) “I’m All Ears” continues to explore teenage girlhood using fantasy and horror as lenses ― or in their case, kaleidoscopes. ― Priscilla Frank
The Future Of Film Is Female
This week marked “The Future of Film is Female,” a fun series of films hosted by New York’s Museum of Modern Art, featuring women directors and creators. The organizers, Nitehawk Cinema’s Caryn Coleman and MoMA’s Rajendra Roy, did a good job picking out important, up-and-coming filmmakers to spotlight. I was lucky enough to see “Landline,” the charming 2017 comedy about family, fidelity and growing up, as well as “Bar Bahar” (“In Between”), about three female flatmates in Tel Aviv whose attitude and togetherness pushes them through tough times. “Landline,” in particular, sparkled for its snappy writing (by a woman) and its lovable lead actress (Jenny Slate). ― Anna Krakowsky
Patti Smith Eating Carrot Salad Over And Over Again
I check the hashtag #carrotsaladatumas on a weekly basis. It’s never updated that often, but I labor in the pursuit of a digital Patti Smith sighting that warms my otherwise cold, depressive heart. In each of the photos associated with the tag, Patti appears at a Far Rockaway cafe alongside an unassuming bowl of electric orange wisps. A profoundly well-coiffed man sits next to her. It’s always Klaus. (Klaus Biesenbach, the violently handsome former museum director of New York’s MoMA PS1, who’s headed to LA for a fancy new gig.) And his caption is usually the same: “good to have a weekly routine.” Goddamnit, he’s right. ― Katherine Brooks
The Best TV Of The 21st Century
I spent an inordinate amount of time diving into The Ringer’s glorious list of the best TV of the 21st century so far. The list features the usual suspects, shows that have been on all of the other lists heralding our “peak TV” era, like “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Wire,” “Six Feet Under,” “30 Rock” and “Arrested Development.” But it also valiantly makes the case for some really fascinating and unexpected choices, like Tom Cruise’s infamous couch-jumping “Oprah” interview and Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa” birthday meal for her beloved husband Jeffrey. Don’t sleep on the fun bonus features, like a ranking of the characters of “The Office” based on their varying levels of misery at Dunder Mifflin.
As with all pop culture lists and roundups, you’ll probably disagree with at least some of the choices. Personally, I would have picked “20 Hours In America” as the best episode of “The West Wing,” for instance. But that’s arguably the best part of these lists: how they generate discussion and debate, and how they might inspire other people to make and share their own lists. That said, can we all agree that “The Suitcase” is the best “Mad Men” episode? I think about this scene all the time. ― Marina Fang