"When the shit hits the fan" is a popular term for end-days enthusiasts, along with TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it). The terms ricocheted inside my brain during the 2020 pandemic shutdown when I discovered the 5-year-old series PRIMITIVE TECHNOLOGY on YouTube. It featured an outdoor MacGyver type (actually North Queensland's John Plant) making all manner of stuff from nature: weapons, a kiln to fire clay, increasingly sophisticated buildings. I watched every video, soothed by the bare-chested, barefoot man's dogged and mostly silent videos (other than bug- and birdsong). After abruptly halting posts in 2020, Primitive Technology resumed posting recently, including a video on making a metal speartip from swampwater. Pretty handy to know for WTSHTF. (CARRIE SCOZZARO)
A LIGHTER TOUCH
Considering his sixth novel (2016's The Underground Railroad) and seventh novel (2019's The Nickel Boys) both won Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction, you can imagine expectations were high for novel No. 8 from Colson Whitehead. And HARLEM SHUFFLE does not disappoint, even if the intersecting stories of Harlem's criminal underworld don't quite add up to have the same power as those other two books. As a reader, though, delving into the life of furniture salesman Ray Carney and his criminal cousin Freddie who drags him into a web of shady characters and questionable deals that go oh-so-wrong, is pretty delightful. While Whitehead's prize-winning past marked him as a trenchant writer on race and history, Harlem Shuffle is less thematically heavy while remaining a pretty thrilling bit of crime fiction. (DAN NAILEN)
THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST
Noteworthy new music arriving in stores and online Aug. 19:
DEMI LOVATO, HOLY FVCK. Presumably taking cues from Olivia Rodrigo and Machine Gun Kelly, the pop star's latest album takes things in an "edgy" pop-punk direction.
PANIC! AT THE DISCO, VIVA LAS VENGEANCE. You chimed in with a "Haven't you ever heard of a Panic! song after that first single back in the day?" I chimed in with a "No."
SILVERSUN PICKUPS, PHYSICAL THRILLS. The alt-rock mainstay made this new Butch Vig-produced album during pandemic times, and frontman Brian Aubert's yearning for personal connection seeps through the tunes. (SETH SOMMERFELD)