Welcome to Hyperfixate! This is a weekly newsletter that publishes every Wednesday. If you like what you’ve been reading, why not consider signing up here, for free! If you’re signed up already, thank you, and I owe you a drink once this PanDemi Lovato is all over.
It’s one of those weeks where I’m having a hard time focusing again. I'm coming off of a pretty long work week, or at least that’s how I’m justifying it. I’ve taken two days off in a row, on a Monday, too, no less, which is unheard of given my track record! I’m aware this is a negative Virgo stereotype; the “workaholic”. I used to be proud of it when I didn’t know any better than to place my self-worth in my productivity under late capitalism. I'm having a great time. I’m just having a little trouble stringing words together.
Speaking of stringing, my mother and I have decided to rewatch The Wire. I once asked to get “Stringer Bell glasses” but was told that my prescription would make the lenses too thick for me to pull off that style. I’ve internalized that ever since.
Whenever I struggle to do work, I would put something on in the background hoping it’ll help me. 100% of the time it works maybe 60% of the time1, and I like those odds. Throughout my dissertation period, all I did was sit in the library with old Steely Dan performances open in another tab. Without Steely Dan, I don’t think I would’ve graduated.
I’ve been relistening to a lot of Steely Dan lately. I blame the recent The Suicide Squad trailer, a film directed by that guy known for getting fired for tweets in defense of pedophilia and turning his brother into a furry. The trailer featured an arrangement of Steely Dan’s Dirty Work, one of many popular singles off their 1972 album Can’t Buy A Thrill. I think we as a society should normalize using more Steely Dan songs in blockbuster trailers. That’s much more important than whatever douchebag behaviour a certain sect of Twitter seems to pass off as self-care.
Dirty Work is in my top three Steely Dan songs, perhaps number two wedged between Time Out of Mind2 and Rikki Don’t Lose That Number. A better use of Dirty Work in popular culture would have to be that bit in The Sopranos where Tony Soprano sings along to Dirty Work as the FBI are tailing him. Tony Soprano, according to the Sopranos Wiki, was born on August 24th. Which would make him a Virgo. Like me.
James Gandolfini, who portrayed Soprano, was born on September 18th, a few days after my own birthday which would make him a Virgo as well. Do you know who else is a Virgo? John Mulaney, who famously loves Steely Dan. Mulaney once took The Suicide Squad cast member and bestie Crocs wearer Pete Davidson to a Steely Dan concert, wherein Davidson led a standing ovation. No one ever stands at a Steely Dan concert.
Mulaney was born on August 26th. I had to google this because I had a feeling I would be right, but composer Leonard Bernstein is also a Virgo, born a day before Mulaney on the 25th, a day after Tony Soprano. In his special Kid Gorgeous, Mulaney jokes about how his father would use Leonard Bernstein as an example when giving young John ‘the talk’:
“I was like 12 years old and my dad walked up to me and he said, “Hello. Hello, I’m Chip Mulaney, your father.” And he said the following: “You know Leonard Bernstein was one of the great composers and conductors of the 20th century, but sometimes, he would be gay. And according to a biography I read of him, when he was holding back the gay part, he did some of his best work.” Now, we don’t have time to unpack all of that. I don’t know if he was discouraging me from being gay or encouraging me to be a classical composer, but that is how he thought to phrase it to a 12-year-old boy. How would that ever work? Like, years later, I’d be in college, about to go down on some rockin’ twink and I’d be like, “Wait a second. What would Leonard Bernstein do?” I never talked to my dad about that, but I figured I’d tell all of you.”
Now, what would Leonard Bernstein do? Did Leonard Bernstein ever get scatterbrained trying to write a song to the point he would sit on the floor and stare at the ceiling? What would he actually do? Other than “holding back the gay part” to do some of his best work? If only everything was as simple as “holding back the gay part” to do “some of your best work”. Maybe then Castiel wouldn't have gone to Super Hell, maybe then I wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not Bucky will die at the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I think people do some of their best work when they don’t hold back the gay part. They do some of their best work when they set it free. Mulaney illustrates his father’s cluelessness towards human sexuality, as well as, at least to me, the almost cartoonish nature of his own upbringing.
That joke is one of Mulaney’s bits that I think about every goddamn day. Mulaney was a lot of the reason as to why I got into Steely Dan in the first place. I’m not sure if it’s Adult ADHD or just “being a mutable sign” but I often find myself emulating the people that I admire, or find some common ground with them. Steely Dan was to be a happy coincidence—my favourite comedian’s favourite band (The Smashing Pumpkins notwithstanding) happens to be the right rock-jazz-pop fusion that my dad would always put on in the car. I worry that I don’t actually have a personality. This is something I worry about often when writing stand-up bits, that I’m really just an amalgamation of pop culture references strung together. Who am I, really? That’s a heavy question. This is not that kind of newsletter. This newsletter is, however, an amalgamation of pop culture references strung together.
John Mulaney also happens to be one degree of separation away from Fiona Apple, another Virgo I have a lot of affinity towards. Both Mulaney and Apple have worked with Jon Brion. Brion had scored Mulaney’s Netflix specials Kid Gorgeous and The Comeback Kid and produced Apple’s albums When The Pawn… and Extraordinary Machine. There’s also a connection to my preferred Charlie Kaufman vehicle, Synechdoche, New York (2008), as Brion also did the music for that film.
The point I’m trying to make isn’t much of a point at all. It’s a mere observation of a peculiar coincidence. Once again, connecting dots, not by a thread but with the feeble remains of a used piece of tooth floss. This group of people I happen to admire share the same Sun sign as me. I think that’s pretty cool! That’s a spicy coincidence meatball!
I’ve been trying to distance myself away from astrology or at least practicing it. For no reason in particular other than it became more of a distraction instead of a tool. I still Google the birth charts of whatever celebrity I happen to be obsessed with, but I haven’t checked The Pattern or Co-Star for my own chart in ages. I’ve started to steer clear from my rotation of YouTube tarot readers.
I’ve got nothing against the practice, it’s just sometimes, as a side effect of being Extremely Online, some of the language involved gets a little unsettling. When you frame something like astrology or religion under capitalism’s very skewed and very cruel gaze, it can make you feel like nothing you do will ever be enough.
Like, if you’re not seizing every opportunity or if you don’t feel good when the planets are in your natal chart’s favour, you’ve failed. I’m aware this is thinking in extremes or at least a byproduct of it. And yes, I do agree, take what resonates and if it doesn’t, let it fly, but at least in my experience, if I wasn’t right with myself at a particular moment in time or didn’t follow a suggestion or instruction under a certain phase of the moon, it would only make me feel worse. I know that’s on me. And I shouldn’t let something as coincidental as an astrology tweet put in my orbit by an algorithm dictate how I feel about anything. I don’t know if that made any sense. I respect anyone making a living practicing it, but I worry about modern astrology being oversimplified and commodified into reinforcing the toxic positivity that thrives under capitalism. I don’t want to gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss my sacred Gemini Moon placement away.
That wasn’t where I thought this week’s newsletter would go, but hey, when not in Rome, right?
I’ll always enjoy finding out which famous people are Virgos. It gives us the opportunity to not have to live up to Beyoncé. I mean, it’s Beyoncé. Boyd Holbrook of Narcos, Logan, and the 2011 Tumblr model to WeHeartIt Pipeline fame is also a Virgo. Friend of Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal, is not a Virgo. He is an Aries whose birthday is this Friday. I’ll enjoy the Tarot Card of the Day if it comes on my Twitter timeline. And John Mulaney and I are both Virgo Mercuries, which I hold on to as hope for my growth as a stand-up comedian.
Mulaney is quintessentially the Virgo archetype I fall under; a little too self-aware, a little too anxious, a little candid about our struggles, and a little too into Steely Dan. I hope he’s doing well. I miss him, though I’ve never met him, dearly.
In case anyone forgot, I’m allegedly a stand-up comedian. I say ‘allegedly’ because of that bizarre discrepancy in my brain that makes me feel like a liar all the time. An impostor, if you will. I hear there’s a syndrome for that. But last week, I actually got to do stand-up again for the first time in two years. I had the time of my life. I hope to do more. I miss it a lot, and I miss it every day.
I don’t know if any of that was coherent. I’d like to think part of being a “writer” is to get something across in a way that makes sense. I’m trying to find a workaround to this whole scattered attention thing. I’ll figure it out. For now, I’ll leave Kid Gorgeous on in the background.
Release the Moana Cut
This is not in reference to the film Moana itself, but to the film Triple Frontier. In my unsuccessful attempt to catch some sleep last night, I needed a podcast other than Oh, Hello the P’dcast': The Life and Death of Princess Diana aka Di-Town to keep me company. I’ve been known to enjoy the tuna fish-laced comedic stylings of George St. Geegland and Gil Faizon, but I wasn’t up for Big Mouth voices and Lady Di’s alleged killer (though Mulaney claimed he was in Wisconsin and 12 years old as his alibi) keeping me Up All Night, like One Direction’s debut album.
So, I searched ‘Oscar Isaac’ into Spotify.
It yielded a myriad of results, including this episode of Josh Horowitz’ Happy Sad Confused during the Triple Frontier press tour:
It drives me insane, but like in a good way. At least Oscar Isaac does. At a certain point, Isaac says he is in possession of footage where the white man Garrett Hedlund and friend of the newsletter, Pedro Pascal are singing songs from Moana whilst they were shooting Triple Frontier in O’ahu. I don’t know what to make of this. It’s too much for me to process. Did they sing How Far I’ll Go? If so, was it the Alessia Cara version? Or did they sing You’re Welcome, popularised by Hobbs from Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw? What was Ben Affleck doing in all of this? And why don’t I want to know what Charlie Hunnam was doing? I’ll never know. Not unless Oscar Isaac releases the footage along with a four-hour cut of the film. It’s what I deserve.
Images from Triple Frontier’s conception will never bring me a moment of peace, yet I constantly seek them out. Like this one, for example:
I think the image speaks for itself.
Music To Sebastian To
I’ve recently been made aware via someone else reposting TikToks into my periphery that Sebastian Stan makes playlists for nearly every character he plays. He also has multiple playlists labeled ‘sad’. How do I know this? Because the kids on TikTok have found what Tumblr had some eons ago: Sebastian Stan’s alleged Spotify account. He’s made more playlists public since the last time that account was making the rounds. He’s made more playlists in general. He has a lot of them, as do I. I’d like to think that’s something we share both being Gemini Moons.
His playlist for Frank, the character he plays in Drake Doremus’ Endings, Beginnings, is actually quite good. I’m very obsessed with the playlist he made for Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer. It opens with five Dire Straits songs into G-Eazy’s No Limits featuring A$AP Rocky and Cardi B, a song that takes me back to my second year of University. I’m not sure if that song evokes good memories of second year, but it does evoke something. I think I co-wrote a film titled after that song. I can’t remember Uni very well.
It feels like I’m both being let in on a secret and also eavesdropping on a bombshell I’m not really meant to know. I would link in evidence here, but I don’t really want to do that to Sebastian Stan. But at the same time, he’s got a lot of followers on his Spotify anyway? Is this wrong? Has stanning (no pun intended) gone too far? Should I have not written this piece? I’m toeing a precarious line here. Was this a secret I was meant to keep among Seb Stan stans? If so, I am terribly sorry. Perhaps I’m terrible at keeping secrets after all. Where do you fall on this morally, reader? Have parasocial relationships finally gotten the better of me? That being said, I think about this tweet often:
I’m waiting for him to share his Bucky playlist. I hope he’s added coney island (feat. The National) by Taylor Swift to it.
That’s all for this week! See you next time!
I find myself unconsciously referencing Anchorman. I have some unresolved issues to address.
Fun fact: Time Out of Mind was used in the opening of Oh, Hello on Broadway, my favourite play, and Mulaney-Kroll collaboration to date.