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Verge Favorites: Lessley Anderson

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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.

'The Act of Killing'


Norwegian documentary maker Joshua Oppenheimer hooked up with the leader of a notorious Indonesian death squad, who led the murder of hundreds and thousands of ethnic Chinese and purported Communists in the mid-1960s. The gangster, now a white-haired senior, struggles to reconcile his bloody past by recreating it in bizarre historical reenactment scenes for Oppenheimer. A film within a film if you will, the gangster and his buddies play themselves in a campy Busby Berkeley-style musical, complete with drag scenes and dancing girls. It was an Oscar nom for best doc. Too bad it didn’t win.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones


An old quasi-boss of mine turned me on to this band, a six-piece from Alabama trying to recreate the Southern soul sounds of the 1960s, a la Otis Redding and Tina Turner. The singer, Paul Janeway, does some world-class wailing. Apparently they recorded their entire EP live to tape at Muscle Shoals in just a few takes, which is always impressive in our synthetic age of Auto-Tune and extreme digital manipulation.

Amazing Slow Downer


This app slows down any song without dragging down the pitch. I was first introduced to it as a download for desktop over a decade ago when I was playing bluegrass banjo. Banjo is played blazingly fast, so it was nice to be able to slow down famous recordings and play along. I still use it all the time to deconstruct songs for the keyboard.

'Undue Influence: Cons, Scams and Mind Control'


Maybe because I have no game, I’ve always been fascinated with those who do. This new book on the psychological underpinnings of coercive relationships including religious cults, Ponzi schemes, and even battered woman syndrome is incredibly readable and smart. It’s like the anti-guru handbook.

'Gangsta Rap Coloring Book'


I have a three-year-old, and we do a lot of coloring. I recently discovered a gnarly trove of weird coloring books on Amazon, and picked up this one, which faithfully represents great old-school rappers from the ’90s. Biggie, 50 Cent, Nas, etc., are all there in line-drawing form. Good stuff!