Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A “twee” book, a ridiculous board game, and an old how-to tome

game pieces from Cities Of Darkscorch
game pieces from Cities Of Darkscorch

Twee: The Gentle Revolution In Music, Books, Television, Fashion, And Film by Marc Spitz
I often write about punk and metal for The A.V. Club, but at the end of the day, I’m just as apt to be listening to Jonathan Richman or The Smiths. Veteran music journalist Marc Spitz has written plenty of stuff about angry music before, but he’s also penned a novel whose title riffs on one of Morrissey’s best-known songs. In other words, he’s well qualified to write Twee: The Gentle Revolution In Music, Books, Television, Fashion, And Film. The book came out earlier this month, and I just finished reading it—not that it was any kind of slog for me, seeing as how the entire topic of twee is one I’ve always had mixed but strong opinions about. In a nutshell, twee is the celebration of wimpy introversion in pop culture, and I say that with both love and hate as a self-loathing, introverted wimp myself. Twee, at least as it applies to music, crosses over with punk—the Buzzcocks being the most obvious link—and Spitz acknowledges that lineage while spreading his analysis of the phenomenon across various media, decades, and social philosophies. That said, it’s a brisk and at times funny read packed with illuminating quotes provided by everyone from John Hodgman to Mark Duplass. The book’s Brooklyn-centric point of view gets a little precious—Spitz has long worked his Brooklyn roots into his writing—but then again, preciousness is what twee is all about. [Jason Heller]


How To Make A Shoe by Jno. P. Headley
Mental Floss recently published a list of how-to books from 100 years ago. Some on the list are just plain weird, some are a study of the passage of time, and some are enchantingly quaint. Number four caught my eye: a book called How To Make A Shoe by Jno. P. Headley. (Upon further research, I learned that Jno. was an abbreviation for John. No, I don’t get it either.) I downloaded the book (it’s free) onto my phone and read it in about five minutes. How To Make A Shoe, published in 1882, is written in rhyme, and describes, in considerable detail, how to make a shoe, beginning with how to measure a foot and ending with polishing the final product. Although not particularly useful to the modern shoe wearer, it is a delight:

We to our old friend jack make haste,
With our awl and hammer bright;
Begin to peg on the line we’ve marked—
Six to the inch is right.

[Laura M. Browning]

Cities Of Darkscorch
I’d never in my life played one of those dice-centric multi-player board games until I played Cities Of Darkscorch a couple weeks ago and, honestly, I was kind of dreading it. I don’t normally have the patience to play a game for hours or the inclination to watch people mess around while I sit idly, waiting for my turn. Cities Of Darkscorch changed my mind about all that, though. The new board game from the Numero Group, Cities is a little convoluted to explain, so I’ll let Numero’s text do it:

“Roleplaying as any of Darkscorch Canticles’ sixteen determined bands, one to six players traverse the broken roads of Darkscorch—battling such forbidding quartets as Grimsword, Narcissus, Ass-Centaur and 97 more—to collect city banners from such pits of hard rock competition as Afterdath, Wizard’s Wellspring, and Throk. Along the way, players may augment their bands through the use of fate cards with new artwork from the demented minds of John McGavock McConnell and Eliza Childress. The ultimate goal is Numenor, victory, and a record contract penned in brimstone, VD, and pot smoke.”

It’s as ridiculous as it sounds, but ultimately I was able to maneuver my band, Stone Axe, and land in Numenor, dominating all the other players after three long hours of play and Domino’s Pizza. Should that sound too nerdy for you—and believe me, I get it—the game also happens to sync up semi-perfectly with Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles, Numero’s new fantasy metal-themed double LP, which comes either packaged in the game’s box or completely separate. [Marah Eakin]