‘Conan the Barbarian”s Rose McGowan’s ADD Playlist

When Rose McGowan has trouble sleeping, she doesn’t turn to the sounds of a Brazilian rainstorm or fornicating dolphins for help. Instead, she flips on an episode of True Crime with Aphrodite Jones. “It’s basically all murder and mayhem, but with soothing voiceovers,” she deadpans from her suite at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, where she’s staying while her house undergoes renovations.

That the 37-year-old actor finds solace in savagery isn’t too surprising when one considers her career. McGowan, who has starred in such seminally twisted films as The Doom Generation, Scream, and Jawbreaker, will next appear as a wicked enchantress in the big-budget remake of Conan the Barbarian, out August 19. “I’m so impressed by how insane and magnificent I look in the film,” she says. “I was in prosthetics for five hours each day, from 2 until 7 in the morning. The whole experience was otherworldly and beautiful, and I really loved what was being created. It was nice to feel that way.”

McGowan hasn’t been involved in a high-profile project since the 2007 release of Grindhouse, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s giddily trashy double-feature. When asked about her absence, she says, “I took two years off because my father died. I pulled out of three films to deal with it. We had $85 million to shoot Barbarella in Germany, but Robert [Rodriguez, to whom McGowan was engaged until they split in 2009] didn’t want to shoot there.”

Her personal tumult over the past few years seems to have colored her taste in music (with, perhaps, the exception of the final entry on this list), but McGowan politely dismisses the idea. “It’s basically just the ADD playlist in my brain,” she says. “I can go from listening to Eminem to AC/DC to Patsy Cline in a half hour.” Or, you know, a song about bloodsucking vampires in the Big Easy.

Concrete Blonde’s “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)” How sexy is this song? It’s so playful and dark, and it’s very New Orleans. I’ve often thought I’d make a pretty great vampire, and I always feel at home in New Orleans—with the spirit and the people. When you’re walking around Oak Alley Plantation at night surrounded by the heavy scent of magnolia trees, playing this song on repeat, it’s pretty heady stuff.

Arcade Fire’s “We Used to Wait” This one reminds me so much of waiting by the mailbox. My parents are divorced, and when I was a kid I used to wait for letters from my mom when I was at my father’s house. He had a winding driveway and I remember taking long walks down to the end of it, and sitting out there by the mailbox all day. There’s such longing in this song for a time when you’re young and things are simple. Forget waiting by the mailbox—who even writes letters anymore? It makes me so sad, because it’s such a classy, genteel thing to have a nice set of personalized stationery. Not long ago, some douche at a restaurant sent over to my table a bottle of wine, so I sent him back a bowl of soup. You have to be creative in your thanks sometimes.

La Roux’s “In for the Kill (Skream Remix)” This song is so dusty. Listen to it while lying on your couch after you’ve been up all night having fun with your friends. I’m not involved in nightlife—never really was—but that’s often been a great misconception about me. I’d rather spend time at my friends’ houses playing backgammon. I love backgammon.

Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman” This one can make me cry. We’re no longer in an era when people dedicate things to each other on anything but AM radio, but somebody I used to love—I won’t tell you who—would play this song and say that it was all about me. The woman Billy Joel is singing about clearly has the upper hand.

Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” Haven’t we all had that relationship? The one I apply it to wasn’t so much about my being scorned; it was more like he scorned a situation that could have been so amazing and beautiful, but this is what he did and this is who he left. It was a case of this person being unable to be anything but himself, which was unacceptable. I didn’t want to include too many crybaby songs, but that’s exactly what I’ve done, huh? I’ll sit in my car playing this one over and over again, crying, and then I’ll think, My garage smells funny and I’m feeling awfully lightheaded! Oh, yeah, I’ve been sitting in here with the engine on, crying to this song for 30 minutes.

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” Featuring Kylie Minogue When I was little, I used to choreograph ballets in my head that I set to pretty much any song I’d been listening to. I still do that, but now it’s with ideas about how it would look on film. I can no longer separate film visions from my audio pleasure. When I go on a trip and see something—a view or a landmark—I think, It looks just like it does in the movies. I just got back from Auschwitz. I truly think, had I heard a German accent anywhere in my vicinity, I would have lunged at them and killed them. There was a point, when I came across the room filled with all the babies’ shoes, where it took everything in me not to fall to the floor and start screaming like a madman. By the time I hit the gas chambers, I never wanted to stop screaming.

Belinda Carlisle’s “Avec Le Temps” This song feels like when you’re by yourself and you sink to the floor heaving with sobs, but you feel strangely cleansed afterward. Music is often a really personal experience for me. I don’t really go to shows, but I did see Dolly Parton at the Greek Theatre a few years ago. Dolly’s music resonates with me because it’s all about being underestimated and misinterpreted, which is common in my life. Lots of people vomit up so much information about themselves, and I find that to be so repellent. Since I don’t really talk about myself, people make up stories about me. I am strong—this is true—but I hate when people say, “She’s definitely not the girl next door.” I’ve lived next door to somebody my entire life.

Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” This song is so beautiful. I always say that I believe I’m a gay man in a woman’s body, which my boyfriend [financier Rob Adams] doesn’t like. I’ve known this to be true for a long time, but I only realized I was even gayer than all of my gay friends when I made one of them go to a Zac Efron movie. He was like, “Seriously? You’re dragging me to see a Zac Efron movie and you’re playing the Flashdance soundtrack?”

Kay Starr’s “Wheel of Fortune” This one reminds me that life is like one big pair of crossed fingers. That’s sad to think, isn’t it? I hide sadness well. Put on some bright lipstick and nobody will ever know. That’s how I live my life, darling. I’m not even sure what I’m wistful for—I’ve just always felt a bit out of time. It’s a fish-out-of-water feeling, like I’ve gotten lost in some stitch in time and deposited in the wrong place. My mannerisms, my everything, just feel… wrong.

Lady Gaga’s “Telephone (Crookers Vocal Remix),” Featuring Beyoncé I wanted to end this list with something highbrow. I do fight training five to six days a week, for about two hours each day. I tend to do a lot of martial arts in movies—for whatever reason I’m either trying to save the world or kill the world, so I figure I’d might as well be good at it.

After Making ‘The Future,’ Miranda July Considers Her Recent Past

In The Future’s opening sequence, we’re introduced to Paw-Paw, the shelter cat who narrates Miranda July’s second feature, the follow-up to her award-winning 2005 film, Me and You and Everyone We Know. In less skilled hands, a philosophizing feline (voiced by July herself) might seem too precious, but the 37-year-old filmmaker elevates the twee aspects of her film into a grandiose allegory for embracing the future, no matter what it might bring.

July also stars in her new movie as Sophie, a children’s dance teacher, who, along with her hapless boyfriend, Jason (Hamish Linklater), decides to turn off her laptop and open herself up to the outside world. When a series of events causes Sophie to take an immoral detour, the two young lovers call into question what they think they know about themselves, each other, and tomorrow.

Time has flown by for July—she’s written a collection of short stories, 2007’s No One Belongs Here More than You; created the collaborative sculptures that made up Eleven Heavy Things, which debuted at the 2009 Venice Biennale; and gotten married to acclaimed director Mike Mills—so we asked the auteur of The Future to write a brief essay taking stock of her recent past. —Nick Haramis

I flew to Boston yesterday. While I was waiting for the bathroom, I chatted with the woman standing next to me. She mentioned that she was an airplane crash survivor. It was a British Airways flight that crashed into Heathrow. I asked her if she was scared to fly and she said she figured that the odds of it happening twice were very low. For a little while this calmed my usual fear of flying, but then I wondered if the reverse could also be true: maybe the odds are greater if it’s already happened once, because who really knows how math works.

Two weeks ago, I got poison oak all over my legs. Instead of itching them, I lay in bed and imagined shooting them with a gun, or sawing them off and throwing them out the window, or having them gored by an animal with horns. This helped a little bit because it was like itching them with my mind. Since the mind has a very light touch, you have to go to extremes to feel anything at all. image

I’ve become more conscious of money lately, after not thinking about it for the last 37 years. In poor times and in flush times, my goal has always been to put a minimum of thought toward finances. I thought I would be this way my whole life, like it was a part of my artistic temperament. But, actually, I was just young.

I wonder what other things come from youngness and are almost over. This makes me hopeful. It reminds me of being almost an adult, being 18 or 19 and knowing that a new way of life was coming.

Sometimes I still get excited about the fact that I can buy anything I want at the grocery store, and no one can stop me. In truth, though, I stop myself. I am like a very unfun, controlling parent, almost as bad as my own. My reward for finishing my movie was supposed to be a box of Wheat Chex. I still haven’t made good on that—every time I go to get the Wheat Chex I end up reading the list of ingredients and being horrified by the high fructose corn syrup. I end up buying lesbian Kashi, or a bag of barley.

The upside to being this strict with myself is that when I go wild, it’s really, really fun. And my mind is blown very easily; just knowing that pot exists is kind of thrilling.

Good things: Lydia Davis (the writer); I have more women friends today than I did a year ago; I finished the movie and it got sold; Mike; good health so far.

Things to worry about: that I don’t have what it takes to write a novel; cancer; that I’m going to come off badly in all the press I’m doing now; that life might get boring.

That last one just popped out. I didn’t know I was worried about life being boring, but now that I mention it, I see that’s a big part of what propels me, every day. The fear of being bored. Why would this be? Was my childhood traumatically boring? If I explored this more, the meaning of boredom would probably expand into something more kaleidoscopically profound.

Must everything be explored until it gets profound? Maybe some things are better left shallow. Actually, this is definitely true. The phrase “heavy-handed” wouldn’t exist if there weren’t some things that required a lightness of thought. Thank god for those things. Along with being more aware of money, I’m going to be more light-handed with my mind’s hands, now that I’m 37. Except when I’m mentally itching my legs, which requires the heaviest of hands, even a weapon.

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Filmmaker Errol Morris on Paris, Britney, & America’s Tabloid Culture

In his new documentary, Tabloid, filmmaker Errol Morris reintroduces audiences to Joyce McKinney, the former Miss Wyoming beauty queen who dominated British newspapers in 1977 after she was accused of kidnapping and raping her ex-boyfriend, Kirk Anderson. It’s alleged that Anderson, a Mormon missionary, was chained to a bed in a cottage McKinney rented, where she repeatedly tried to conceive a child with him against his will. In 2008, McKinney resurfaced under the alias “Bernann McKinney” when she commissioned a South Korean laboratory to create fi ve puppy clones using the ear of her dead pit bull, Booger. Here, the Oscar-winning raconteur discusses the greatest outsiders of them all: gossip-rag celebrities.

“Someone should write the history of sleaze. I wonder what Cro-Magnon sleaze looked like. I’m sure the first woman to shave her legs in those days received severe disapproval from the group. What would life be without the reprehensible, the corrupt, and the debased? We would all be severely impoverished, and I suppose we owe a debt of gratitude to the people who have advanced it, made it possible, encouraged it, and, dare I say, participated in it. We should get down on our knees and thank god for ongoing sleaze.

Tabloid stars, from Octomom to Anna Nicole Smith, are outsiders who’ve been ushered into the spotlight and then embraced or fetishized for their oddities. You can’t really compare Joyce McKinney to Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton, although Paris Hilton also became a celebrity because of tabloids. Britney Spears was singing, so at least she was a chanteuse, a thespian, a raconteur—what am I even saying? Maybe the best analogue is Kim Kardashian, someone who came out of nowhere with her own sex tape.

Sex tapes seem to be the fastest road from rags to riches, but, of course, they didn’t exist in Joyce’s youth. Maybe her story is shocking today because she has no sex tape, because people at that time weren’t quite ready for the total breaking down of privacy, the idea that handheld cameras could be taken anywhere, particularly the bedroom. Maybe it’s because each of us plays the nonexistent sex tape from Joyce and Kirk’s love cottage in our minds. Do we really know whether or not Joyce raped Kirk? Proof either way would deprive us of that mystery, that frisson of not knowing.

The same ambiguity applied to my relationship with Joyce. I never knew whether or not she was lying, which is fine because I never trust anything anybody is saying. Getting a great interview means something different than assessing the truth and falsity of what people say. There are many practitioners of the adversarial interview form—the Mike Wallace school, if you will. Those people ask difficult questions designed to trap people into saying something stupid or something that contradicts something they said earlier. But what’s interesting is how your subjects see the world and how they imagine themselves, and to that end, you’re trying to get a performance out of them. It doesn’t matter where the truth lies, because—crazy or not—all you need to know is what they believe.”

July’s Key Events: NYC Restaurant Week, Comic-Con, New Museum Block Party

July 3: Tennessee’s native sons Kings of Leon head Norse for a top-billed set at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival, which ends today. July4: Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino thinks all those fireworks are for his birthday. July 11: Indulge in NYC Restaurant Week, where, for a cool $35, you can experience what chefs doing a half-assed job tastes like.

July 12: Let’s hope for merry weather at the pavilion! Animal Collective plays Prospect Park for Celebrate Brooklyn! July 15: Riot police speed to Rockefeller Center when Chris Brown returns to morning TV for Today’s Toyota Concert Series. July 20: The Big Queasy: The Tales of the Cocktail, a four-day celebration of libations, gets popping in New Orleans. July 21: Comic-Con International swings into action in San Diego, where 2,000 mental images of Scarlett Johansson are simultaneously taken, stored, and, um, used. July 22: Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis star in Friends with Benefits, a movie about two pals who finally score dental plans! July 23: The New Museum throws a block party in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Sorry, Anna, it’s guest-list only. July 24: Ari Gold hugs his last bitch when the eighth and final season of Entourage gets underway tonight. July 25: Wiz Khalifa’s dreams of raising the roof are dashed when he plays Central Park’s SummerStage. July 29: Cowboys & Aliens, the big-budget epic about immigration reform, hits theaters today.

David Hyde Pierce on the Time He Made a Mess in Paul Newman’s Kitchen

In his deliciously twisted new thriller, The Perfect Host, actor David Hyde Pierce plays a crazy—okay, crazier—version of his beloved Frasier character, Dr. Niles Crane. Hyde Pierce, a four-time Emmy winner (he’s been nominated 11 times in as many years), is Warwick Wilson, an intelligent, affluent man who’s preparing to host a dinner party when a stranger named John (Clayne Crawford) arrives at his front door.

Although John, a dangerous criminal on the lam, pretends to be a family friend, the truth soon comes out—as does Warwick’s violent streak. Of his unexpected role in Nick Tomnay’s directorial debut, Hyde Pierce, 52, says, “It was fun to hear people gasp at seeing this character—who’s quite similar to the one I played on TV for so long—go in very different, very dark places. Surprising people was one of the reasons I did the film. That and working with Clayne, who, if I’m the ‘perfect host,’ played the perfect guest. In real life, I’m far from the perfect host. I was assisting my partner Brian Hargrove [the couple married in 2008] while he hosted a brunch for Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in their apartment. Due to a misunderstanding about how some glass cookware works with heat, the eggs exploded all over their beautiful kitchen. Glass shards were everywhere, and we had to start cooking all over again without all of Paul’s famous guests knowing what had happened. He’d stick his head in and ask, ‘How are the eggs coming?’ and we’d yell back, ‘Almost ready!’ as we scraped our messes into the wastebasket.” Maybe that explains why the venerable stage actor can often be found at thespian hangout Sardi’s, where his caricature hangs on the wall.

The Summer’s Must-Have Droid Apps: PopEater, NY Art Beat, Easy Tie

PopEater [Free] Whether it’s LiLo’s latest exploit or the newest covert snaps of stars in St. Barths, PopEater can deliver the scoop first. With the gossip-hungry website’s app for your Droid, get the best in celebrity and entertainment headlines on demand—before it all becomes so five minutes ago. Dive straight into the day’s hottest videos and read exclusive interviews, so you’ll never be out of the loop. Getting an insider’s look at tabloid buffoonery just got a whole lot easier.

NY Art Beat [$1.99] Forget art for art’s sake: If you’re missing the best New York shows, you’re officially an aesthete non grata. With NY Art Beat, swill tepid white wine from a plastic cup while knowing you’re at the event of the week. If gallery hopping’s your game, consult maps that tell you exactly what’s within walking distance, and consult a list of what’s hot right now and what’s flying under the radar. Browse through over 600 exhibitions happening in New York at any given moment. Gavin Brown, here we come.

Easy Tie [$2.14] Men, it’s time to step it up a notch (or a Windsor knot). Even if you work at a Scandinavian design collective, knowing how to properly wear a tie is still a modern sartorial essential. Now there’s an app with simple step-by-step instructions detailing the ins and outs of 15 dapper knots. Get detailed descriptions and user-friendly images to guide you through the process (clip-ons emphatically unwelcome). With everything from bowties to the Balthus Knot on file, tie one on before you tie one on.

Decorate Like a Celebrity [$1.38] Remember watching MTV Cribs and drooling from your ratty couch over some star’s fireplace-adorned bathroom? Now you can make your own home look just as chic—or gaudy—and for a hell of a lot less. Using Decorate Like a Celebrity, browse the dos and don’ts of interior design, cultivate great ideas, and learn how to decorate on a budget slightly smaller than that of an LA Lakers point guard. Choose from a variety of styles, including “Shabby Chic,” “Paris Apartment,” and “Tropical Chic.” Home is where you paint a swamp-themed accent wall, after all.

Wikitude World Browser [Free] From the rim of the Grand Canyon to the New Museum on the Bowery, augment the world around you with Wikitude. Using the camera on your phone, peer at your surroundings while the app overlays the camera’s display with geo-referenced interactive content and information. Find events, tweets, restaurants, and user reviews of your ever-interactive world by holding your phone up as you walk down the street.

Ethereal Dialpad [Free] Ethereal Dialpad takes a radically different approach to music-making by emulating a synthesizer. Choose between four dialpads, each featuring cool graphics and colors, or select the option that overlays notes and color codes to create what looks like a really pleasant acid trip. Control the pitch by moving your fingers across the pad as you compose everything from soothing ambient sounds to electrifying music fit for a night at the Roxbury. Once you get a feel for the app, add more dialpads to create a denser sound. Marching to the beat of your own drum never looked so good.

Savingstar Grocery eCoupons [Free] Paging TLC’s Extreme Couponing: Save a ton of money on necessities without the hassle of collecting flyer clippings. With SavingStar, use paperless eCoupons redeemable at over 24,000 supermarkets and drugstores across the country. Just select an eCoupon and the app will link it to your registered store loyalty cards. Your tab won’t shrink at the checkout counter, but money is automatically added to your StarSavings account, and once you’ve earned $5, you can collect your payout or, if you’re feeling benevolent, put that money toward a sponsored charity.

Summer Music Reviews: Yacht, Bon Iver, Black Lips

Eleanor Friedberger, Last Summer (Merge) As the Fiery Furnaces, siblings Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger have released nine albums of paranoid, scattershot rock. On the heels of their most recent LP, Take Me Round Again—in which they each separately covered songs they’d originally recorded together—Friedberger steps further into her own spotlight with an astounding solo debut.

Her pinpoint enunciation is immediately recognizable, yet dutifully enhanced with layered sonic arrangements. On the album’s lead single, “My Mistakes,” which features the sultriest sax solo since Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory,” Friedberger chants, “I’ve gotta live with my mistakes.” Going solo is not one of them. —Nadeska Alexis

Little Dragon, Ritual Union (Peacefrog/EMI) There are exactly two types of songs that play over every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. The first: a soggy dirge that usually indicates death or a Seattle rainstorm. The second: a happier tune, willfully ignorant of the inevitable bus crash; Meredith is almost always simultaneously eating a bagel. Little Dragon, an electronic four-piece led by Swedish-Japanese singer Yukimi Nagano, used to rely on the former (“Twice,” which appeared on their self-titled debut album, was actually featured in an episode), but they now trade in the latter—and that’s a good thing. Although there’s no shortage of distortion on Ritual Union, the band’s third studio album, cacophony has been eschewed in favor of unabashed, R&B-tinged pop. Drop your hipster posturing, and you might actually hear a bit of Des’ree—yes, that Des’ree—in “Please Turn” and “Little Man.” (That’s also a good thing.) —Nick Haramis

John Maus, We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves (Ribbon) If electronica’s godmother Wendy Carlos and the Cure’s Robert Smith gave birth to their own music prodigy (we can dream, can’t we?), it would sound like John Maus. The Minnesota-based singer-songwriter has mastered the art of bizarro astropop, a style he revisits on his third album, We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. Maus, an eccentric of the highest order, has built the perfect dichotomy between light-speed sound beams and gothic vocals, which he soaks in his preferred method of distortion: reverb. “Streetlight” is an airy ditty made for sun-baked afternoons, while “Cop Killer” might be something you’d find Travis Bickle listening to while dreaming up his next hit. —Hillary Weston

Liam Finn, FOMO (Yep Roc) After spending nearly three years on the road opening for acts like the Black Keys, Liam Finn returned to his native New Zealand in 2010, where he holed up in a secluded cottage and began crafting the follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2008 debut, I’ll Be Lightning. Isolated, Finn took to social networking sites so that he could keep tabs on his friends—thus the album’s title, an acronym for Fear of Missing Out. The result is a breezy, bare-bones indie-rock compendium on which the singer-songwriter handles most of the instruments. Finn’s laid-back melodies are fairly uniform throughout the album, but there are exceptions: “The Struggle” quickens the pulse with metal basslines, while the brash “Don’t Even Know Your Name” crosses over into post-punk territory. —NA Yacht, Shangri-La (DFA) For Yacht’s second album with DFA Records, Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans fled to the Texan desert to record, for the first time, in a studio. While that meant ditching a sound engineer, the Portland-based disco-punk outfit managed to experiment with live instrumentation and hazy theories about Utopia, mysticism, and Yeasayer-style apoca-environmentalism. The result is Shangri-La, a pop record thrumming with clubby energy and underscored by some seriously keyed-up lyrics: “I’m here to tell you that the world’s last unpleasant experience will be a precisely datable event.”Signs might be pointing to the end of days, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t haul our butts onto the dancefloor. —Megan Conway

Bon Iver, Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar) Far from the fortress of solitude where Justin Vernon recorded his debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, Bon Iver’s follow-up does what follow-ups should: it evolves. Bon Iver was recorded in an animal clinic Vernon turned into a studio in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, three miles from where he was raised. Vernon, who made a name for himself with his voice and a guitar (and, thanks to Kanye West, a vocoder), expands his repertoire to include a steel guitar, a saxophone, horns, and drums. The lyrics are lucid, and the imagery swells. In “Beth/Rest,” Vernon’s voice echoes with promise: “Said your love is known/ I’m standing up on it/ I ain’t living in the dark no more.” On Bon Iver, one thing is clear: this ain’t just for Emma anymore. —Eiseley Tauginas

Black Lips, Arabia Mountain (Vice) The Lips’ sixth studio album sounds like a bank heist. Produced by wunderkind Mark Ronson, Arabia Mountain’s genius is its simplicity; like getting robbed, the listener is slow to understand the gravity of what’s really going on. 2007’s Good Bad Not Evil was equally smash-and-grab, but their undiluted fuzzy doo-wop has been given the Ronson sheen this time out. “Modern Art” could be the soundtrack to an apocalyptic beach party, while “Go Out and Get it” is a raucous ode to summer, framed by the carefree lyrics: “Ice cream at the corner store/ You get two for just a dollar more.” We’re sold. —Ned Hepburn