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Verge Favorites: Carl Franzen

Verge Favorites: Carl Franzen

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The Verge staffers aren't just people who love technology. They're people who love stuff. We spend as much time talking and thinking about our favorite books, music, and movies as we do debating the best smartphone to buy or what point-and-shoot has the tightest macro. We thought it would make sense to share our latest obsessions with Verge readers, and we hope you're encouraged to share your favorites with us. Thus a long, healthy debate will ensue where we all end up with new things to read, listen to, or try on.

'Fringe', Fox (2008-2012)


I’m hit or miss when it comes to J.J. Abrams: I liked Alias, not so much Lost. But this sci-fi show — a post-9/11 paean to body horror, has grown on me so much since I began watching it straight through on Apple TV a few months ago. If I didn’t know who made it, I’d guess it was some sort of X-Files spin-off directed by David Cronenberg, written and produced by James Cameron. Cheesy and completely, ludicrously unscientific at times, yet cleverer than its premise would suggest, it’s a paranoid thriller on acid (often quite literally), clearly homaging overlooked 20th-century sci-fi cinema greats, from Altered States to Relic. Fringe’s constant cliffhanger screenwriting benefits from binge-watching via digital streaming, too. Don’t be afraid. Plunge in.

'Optica,' by the Shout Out Louds (2013)


I was prepared to like this record from its first single on ice, but wholly unprepared for how much I love it. For a while, this Swedish indie rock band was one of many post-punk staples for me — not a favorite, not exceptional, just solid, fun listening. But Optica is surely their best record yet. It’s one of those rare albums that’s not only instantly catchy, but that improves with every listen. It’s also incredibly flexible — good for work, working out, or in a social setting. The lyrics are extremely repetitive. Okay, not J.T. repetitive, but initially they sound like pop punk unrequited love chants. But listen closer and they become much, much more interesting, especially taken as a full album. Can’t recommend highly enough. (2013)


This is a car show for non-car people by popular tech podcasters John Siracusa, Marco Arment, and Casey Liss. It just concluded its 12-episode long "miniseries" run, and it’s unclear if it will ever resume again. But it’s worth a listen now, all the way through, even if you hated their other shows. Maybe I like it so much because I don’t own a car myself but have a lingering idolization of them due to leafing through my Dad’s copies of Road & Track growing up and being forced to listen to Car Talk (also recently ended) on public radio with him. Car buffs are warned to stay away, or suffer intense aggravation.

Grilled cheese


When I was a bachelor, I used to eat a can or two of Amy’s vegetarian Chili (spicy) most nights for dinner. Then I moved in with my girlfriend and she convinced me there were better, cheaper foods to be had. Grilled cheese is my new go-to. I like to fry some Turtle Island tempeh bacon and drop that in between the cheese slices. Butter on one side of the bread and the frying pan itself. Cheese on both pieces of bread (duh)!

'The Magicians' by Lev Grossman (2010)


Confession: I never completed the Harry Potter series. I made it to book 5, which I finished, but was too put-off by "angry" Harry’s faux angsty self-loathing to continue. But anybody that’s even dimly aware of the boy wizard’s saga should appreciate how it is both subverted and honored by The Magicians, a more mature look at what attending a school for magic would be like, written by Time magazine’s book critic. Those readers who took a deeper dive into the works of actual Victorian-era magicians, e.g. Aleister Crowley, will appreciate it even more. The sequel, The Magician King, slumps a bit but is still a worthy follow-up, and I look forward to book three in the series.

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