What I Read and Watched in August

stranger-things

BOOKS:

COMICS / GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

TV:

PODCASTS:

  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • TED Radio Hour

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Summer 2016 will be known as my summer of blueberry shandy and Stranger Things. Really, I love this show so much! It’s awesome to be able to be part of a TV phenomenon as it’s happening. To be able to discuss it with people, and to know what people are talking about when referencing the show. It sounds silly, but I’m just now realizing the true social value of being a TV-watcher. I just wish there were more series that were short and digestible like Stranger Things. Most require hours of time (*cough* GoT *cough*), and for not as much entertainment. I ought to look for more shows with a good time/enjoyment ratio.
  • I tried out two new comics series this month — The Unwritten and East of West. East of West is definitely not my thing, so scratch that. I could see myself getting into The Unwritten, but still, I’m not so thrilled about it. *sigh* Spoiled! I’m so damn spoiled!
  • Magical, magical, this month was. Harry Potter. The Secret Garden. Stranger Things (wait, I mentioned that already). Lumberjanes. I was in the mood for magic, apparently, and magic was had.
  • I was not, however, in the mood for movies. Again. I only watched High Fidelity off a recommendation and, I admit, it was good!
  • TED Radio Hour is filling my Invisibilia void. I really enjoy these! Even more than (dare I say) TED Talks, because each episode will connect multiple talks over a single theme.

Ideas for next month:

  • Transparent Season 3! Yasss.
  • Philosophy? I have this feeling that philosophy is my next frontier.
  • Feminism, again. I have a lot of catching up to do on that front, too.
  • I feel as though I ought to maybe read more plays? I struggled a bit with the format of this latest Harry Potter book, but it has inspired me to read more scripts.
  • Something spooky, perhaps?

What I Read and Watched in July

one-hundred-years-of-solitude-by-gabriel-garcia-marquez

July, July, it just flew by!

BOOKS:

COMICS / GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

TV:

PODCASTS:

  • Invisibilia
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Yes, I’m aware I’m 2 books short my monthly quota. No, I don’t feel bad about it. I had a good, busy month. And One Hundred Years of Solitude (OHYoS?) was an undertaking. I had to re-read some parts. I’m still processing it.
  • Oh, Invisibilia. “In this episode, we’ll be talking about whatever it is that is most relevant in Kendra’s life right now.” Yup. Every episode is eerily relevant and intensely fascinating. How do they do it? I’ve also gotten hooked on Pop Culture Happy Hour, because it makes me feel up-to-date with TV and movies even though I’m really not. I apparently love NPR broadcasting so much that it’s spilled over into my TV-watching. This American Life, the TV series, is almost a decade old now, but the subjects and stories are still fascinating. Gives me lots of think about, which just makes my head happy.
  • Sagaaaaaaa!! Finally! Well worth the long library hold waiting list. When it came in, it was like Christmas. The librarian must’ve sensed my joy. I devoured it, and now I’m back playing the waiting game.
  • Hah. Movies. Hah.

Ideas for next month:

  • I need to get back on a regular reading routine. Summer days and good weather have me all thrown off! I just want to move and frolic. But I also want to read all the things. So.
  • I’ll be testing out a couple more comics series this month until I get hooked on something. Or maybe I won’t. Gosh I still miss Y: The Last Man. That just set my standards so high, I may never recover.
  • After OHYoS, I feel like I need to read some fluffy fiction. Or something straightforward. Some simple, tidy stories perhaps?
  • Stranger Things!! 

What I Read and Watched In June

invisibilia_personality

BOOKS:

COMICS / GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

PODCASTS:

  • Invisibilia (S2: E1-2)*
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour (E 6/24)
  • Hidden Brain (E36)

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Yikes. One book short of my quota. June was a busy summer month, but it was a good month, so I’m not disappointed. I only have so many hours in a day, yo.
  • I finally invested in a streaming device, so now I can use my TV like a normal person. Yay! But you can see how that’s affected my movie/TV watching — pretty much not at all yet. Hah. But! The first movie I watched on it, just to test it, somehow ended up being one of the best movies I’ve ever seen?! Ghost World is exactly my kind of movie. I love when that happens. Random whims that turn into favorites.
  • Bah. This just hasn’t been a good comics-reading year. There hasn’t been any complete series that I’ve been excited to read one after another, so I’ve just been picking up random graphic novels and trade paperbacks and nothing is really striking me. Ah well.
  • My “authors from towns I live/lived in” theme turned out to also be a “postwar angsty young men” theme. Such good reading, my god. Oh, Rabbit and Sal. I loathe you but I love you because you’re both so familiar to me, uncomfortably so.
  • Podcasts! Invisibilia is back for season 2 and oh I love it so, so much! The subjects covered in this season are eerily relevant to my life lately. The “Personality Myth” episode, in particular, was incredibly eye-opening (mind-opening?). I love the series so much, it’s inspired me to test out some other NPR podcasts. Pop Culture Happy Hour I particularly enjoyed, and it actually led me to watch Suited, an HBO short documentary that I also enjoyed.
  • This month demonstrates that I don’t have to meet any particular quota to have a good media month.

Ideas for next month:

  • This is going to sound crazy, but I got this jigsaw puzzle of random book covers, and it features so many of my favorite books, even obscure ones, that it’s eerie. There are some books on it that I haven’t read (or even heard of), and I figure they might be ones I’ll enjoy, too? Let a random jigsaw puzzle determine my next book selections? Sure, why not!
  • I would like to watch some more movies, now that I have a reliable method of streaming them. But… it’s summer and I want to be outside. Hm.
  • Feminism.

What I Read and Watched in May

paper girls

BOOKS:

COMICS / GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

TV: 

Thoughts & reflections:

  • So, movies weren’t my thing this month. I’ve decided that I can’t (nor should I) force myself to watch movies if I’m not in the mood and have other priorities. Something about spring and the sunshine just doesn’t make movie-watching appealing. My interest will likely peak again during some other months or seasons.
  • Ahh, such good comics this month! Paper Girls exceeded my already high expectations for awesomeness. And WicDiv of course was stellar, gorgeous, and well worth the one-month hold I had on it at the library. Black Hole, though? I’m still not sure how I felt about it, other than confused and grossed out. Yeesh.
  • How is Transparent the most amazing show? It just is. And how am I supposed to wait until winter for Season 3 now? *heaving sigh*
  • Beach reading is best reading. Except I’ve been reminded that when reading in public, your choice in books becomes free game for people comment on. You want to chat about Salinger? Or feminism? That’s cool. Good way to meet new friends (and possible enemies, though thankfully that has yet to happen).
  • I need to read more poetry.

Ideas for next month:

  • More poetry.
  • I’m investing in a simple streaming device for my TV to make it, like, an actual, functional TV (without cable, but still). I’ll see how the convenience affects my movie and TV-watching, if at all.
  • Massachusetts authors. Kerouac (Lowell, where I used to dwell) and Updike (Ipswich, where I dwell now).

What I Read and Watched in April

IMAG2238

Happy 1 year anniversary to my monthly media log!

BOOKS:

COMICS / GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

TV: 

Thoughts & reflections:

  • At last, I’ve been able to experience the joys and woes of binge-watching a show. I’d thought I was incapable, but I guess I’ve just never watched a series as amazing as Transparent. This show is perfect in general and perfect for me. I blew through the first season faster than I care to admit (hey, it’s only 10 30-min episodes). And thus, my whole monthly movie-watching goal is shot. Worth it. Now I have to decide whether or not to devour the second season right away. How do people watch TV this way? It’s taxing.
  • As you can see, I attempted a movie theme of musicals this month… until Transparent happened. I still got in 3, and these are long films. I chose ones I’d never seen before, but probably ought to for cultural awareness and such (“I Feel Pretty” is from West Side Story? See, I didn’t know this). I usually think of myself as not being a fan of musicals, but I’m not sure why. I enjoyed them.
  • I did some reading on writing this month. The illustrations in The Elements of Style Illustrated made me laugh! Otherwise, my reading selections don’t appear to have a connecting theme. The theme is the lack of theme.
  • Of course I managed to accidentally find a comic that combines two of my favorite things — poetry and crabs. Dear Creature is adorable!

Ideas for next month:

  • So it’s been a full year since I started logging my media consumption in this format. Is it time to change things up? I think maybe. How? I’m not sure yet, but I’m in the mood for something new.
  • I have too many comics on hold at the library, they’re going to revoke my card. Someday when I’m rolling in riches, I’ll buy enough trade paperbacks to swim in, but for now, I have to be patient! Ugh.
  • More nonfiction will be happening.
  • Binge-watching Transparent season 2 and then crying that it’s not coming back until later this year will also very likely be happening.

What I Read and Watched in March

Flowers for Algernon

Success. I exceeded my media quota this month, and I have one new book to add to my favorites shelf. Killin’ it.

BOOKS:

COMICS / GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Damn I read some good books this month. Got a couple more core classics under my belt with Anne of Green Gables and Slaughterhouse-Five (I had read neither before, hard to believe). And Flowers for Algernon just blew me away! I love when I approach a book that I know almost nothing about with little to no expectations, and it just suites my tastes perfectly.
  • Two unintentional March movie themes: black-and-white surrealist cinema and Ryan Reynolds. I don’t care for either, so why did  this happen? Because I’m a masochist. Nah, I just misjudged. Usually I love Lynch and Aronofsky films, but Eraserhead and Pi these were not for me. The sounds got on my nerves so much — oh! — but that’s probably the point. Although Pi has the coolest opening intro, one of my favorites. And I loved Drive up until things got crazy violent. All of a sudden it went from atmospheric neo-noir with a cool soundtrack to heads blowing off. I had been warned this going to happen, and even still, it was just too much for me. Deadpool was violent but hilarious and ridiculous and fun, and come on, who doesn’t love Deadpool?
  • No TV worth mentioning this month, again. I even have a backlog of cartoons to catch up on, but just haven’t. Other pursuits have taken priority, I suppose.

Ideas for next month:

  • Back to nonfiction. There are things I want to learn about!
  • I’d like to have some sort of theme for my 5 April movies, like core films in a specific genre (that’s not black-and-white surrealism) or on a particular topic. Hm. I’ll think on this!
  • I’ll be testing out the library’s inter-library loan because I’m a pain and can’t just accept what’s granted to me on the shelves. Moar books MOAR BOOKS…

5 Things I Learned in February

T-Rex in a Snuggie

TMIL (This month I learned)! You thought I forgot about this, didn’t you? What with March already being a almost half-over? A-ha, nope! The draft’s just been sitting idle for, oh, a week?

1. Toggl for Time Management

I know this puts me at risk for sounding anal-retentive* but I like tracking how I spend my time. I’ve practiced time tracking on-and-off since high school, scribbling down near-illegible notes about hours and activities (7- 7:30 – blogged TMIL). For me, it’s less about productivity and more about being mindful of what I’m doing — the former just happens to follow the latter (sometimes).

This month, I started using Toggl, and it’s totally changed how I monitor my time. I now work a job that requires me to report hours spent on different projects, and my manual method became too tedious. Toggl is the next best thing, if not better. It’s so easy and always handy on mobile or desktop (plus, it syncs). I’ve even started using it to track time spent on my creative and personal pursuits outside of work. The problem with a lot of other so-called “productivity tools” is that they focus too much on time planning. Scheduling, to-do lists, deadlines, blah blah. Toggl is purely about tracking, which better suits my style, whims, and fancies.

*Related TMIL: Not everyone knows what “anal-retentive” means, and so it’s probably best not to casually use the phrase in a professional setting. Oops!

2. How to remember dreams (better)

This month (or, last month?) I remembered my dreams eight nights in a row. That’s a new record, I think. And okay, maybe this title is misleading because I’m not exactly sure how or why this happened, but there are a few contributing factors. For one, I was going to bed a half hour earlier. Secondly, I was feeling a bit sick, fighting off a cold (hence the going to bed earlier). Third, I recorded my dreams every morning, making it a habit. So some delicate combination of those factors made for a good formula. Guess what broke the streak? Going to bed and waking up at an unusual time (I’m bad at the whole “sleep schedule” thing, surprising for someone who gets excited about time tracking apps).

3. zelda fitzgerald died in a fire

Maybe that’s too specific, but it’s something that I did not know previously, and now I do. I actually learned a lot about Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald (or Scotty Fitz, as I like to call him) this month. Not only did I read Superzelda: The Graphic Life of Zelda Fitzgerald, but F. Scott’s writing routine was featured in Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors.

4. What to do when you can’t get cash for THE laundromat

You kick something. Except no, kicking things is not productive. This should really say: “This month I learned, the hard way, to always keep some emergency cash somewhere, in the unlikely event that I have a load of laundry in my car, it’s dark and pouring rain, and my only method of getting cash for laundromat quarters isn’t available.” It’s fine. It worked out.

5. Library COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT services

Hey, I never said my TMIL’s can’t relate to my day job. The awesome thing about copywriting is that you get to dive deep into a topic you knew maybe knew next-to-nothing about. Like library services, for example. I’m not a librarian (though I’ve been assumed to be one on more than one occasion — must be the glasses?). But I love books. I love libraries. And now, thanks to a copywriting project I’m on, I get to learn all about tools and solutions that make librarians’ jobs easier. Which means I’ve had to give myself a crash course in what exactly librarians do — from book selection to collection management.

P.S. I have no idea what to put for a featured image on this post, so I just put a t-rex in a Snuggie. ¿Por qué? ¡Por qué no!

What I Read and Watched in February 2016

fargo-primary

Woah, I’m really shaking up the blog titles here. “Media log” sounds too blaaaasé, I say. That rhymes. Hey.

BOOKS:

COMICS / GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

Thoughts & reflections:

  • My goal is to read 8+ books (including comics) and 5+ movies each month, so I’ll log approximately 100 books and 60 movies  in 2016. But I’ll admit that I needed that extra leap day this month to finish my eighth book and watch my fifth movie. To be fair, none of these 8 are what I consider “quick reads.”
  • What an odd assortment of literature. Sort of surreal when you put them all together. I guess the unifying theme was… quirky? What do Sherlock Holmes, Jenny Lawson, Eleanor Douglas, Zelda Fitzgerald, and zombies all have in common? Quirk. (Are zombies quirky? I just looked up the definition of quirky, and I’d certainly describe zombies as “characterized by unexpected traits.” I mean, who expects a dead person to want to eat you?).
  • Zelda Fitzgerald died in a FIRE? Why did I not know this? After such a crazy life, what a way to go.
  • So if you remember from my very first media log (and you better), I have this weird internal conflict where I feel as though I should love Coen brothers films but for some reason don’t. Well here I go again, trying to watch another one. I can’t let this go. But I’ll be damned, I loved Fargo! You betcha. I’m now convinced that this has more to do with some psychological trickery involving my expectations. Like, I went into Fargo thinking, “I don’t like Coen brothers films, so I probably won’t like this, but I’ll give it a shot,” whereas with the others I went in thinking, “Coen brothers films are masterpieces, so if I don’t love this, there’s something wrong with me” (I’m kidding… a little). See how it goes? I should just have low expectations about everything in life, just so I can be pleasantly surprised. I’m kidding again… a little.
  • I also really enjoyed The Graduate. But I did not enjoy American Graffiti. Like I say with Coen brothers films (well, now usually), I can appreciate it without loving it. Just not my thing.
  • Where’s the TV this month? I’m deliberately omitting episodes I watch as sort of one-offs or only half-watch socially. I’m even considering maybe not having a TV section anymore, unless I get into a series, which is so rare, except with cartoons.
  • No podcasts again this month, either. It’s a symptom of my changing lifestyle and routine. There are so many good series out there though, I wonder when/how/if I can fold them back in, without having to commute in a car 1.5 hours a day as I used to. I don’t miss driving.

Ideas for next month:

  • Books written in journal-type entries. Hyep, already got my theme.
  • Um, that’s all I got. March on.

5 Things I Learned in January 2016

envelope pillow

One of my favorite subreddits is Today I Learned, or TIL. It’s great when my brain is craving some factoid snacks. One of the bajillion projects I keep meaning to try is regularly tracking my own personal “TILs.” Not so much detailed trivia like /r/TIL, but more like bigger life things – like learning how to do something or learning something that holds some longer-term significance. So I’m going to take a first swing at a summarized TMIL, “this month I learned.”

Here are 5 things I learned last month!

1. The Konmari Method of folding clothes

Oh, the tidy trend. Tidy this, tidy that. Marie Kondo is hot right now.  Lucky me, I just moved, so I don’t have much life-changing tidying to do. However, I’ve started using the KonMari method of folding my clothes and let me tell you, it is actually kind life-changing and maybe even a little magical. It doesn’t take much longer than how I folded clothes before (once I got the hang of it), and now I can see everything in my drawers. It saves space and just is more practical than lying things horizontally like I used to. Not to mention it just looks lovely.

2. How to put on a duvet cover

So I got this awesome colorful duvet cover from Society6, right? And so I was excited to put it on my bed. Only problem? I’ve never had a duvet cover before! So I was unprepared for the drama that is putting on a cover on a duvet. I’m there thinking, “It’s just like a big pillowcase, no biggie!” Oh so very wrong.  I basically got caught up in a tornado of tangled fabric. It was a scene. I finally gave up and asked the YouTube gods for help. Of course they delivered this upbeat feel-good video showing me how to do it “the California roll way” (oh yeah). I still don’t fully understand how this got my cover on the duvet, but it did. Some kind of voodoo duvet magic.

3. How to use the MBTA commuter rail

The purple line. I had never used the MBTA commuter rail before last month. And so I did not know that the MBTA actually has an awesome app that lets you buy tickets in advance, and then instead of the conductor punching your ticket, you just show your phone. Futuristic and super handy. It’s definitely how I’ll be getting in and out of Boston from now on.

4. General Beatles discography

I’ll clarify. When it comes to The Beatles, I basically have only ever listened to compilation albums. Rubber Soul? Revolver? Nope, I’d never heard of them before this year. Of course I’d heard of Abbey Road, but I couldn’t have told you which popular songs were on it. Now I can, and I can also tell you that it was released before Let it Be but after Sgt. Pepper. Why does this matter? Maybe it doesn’t. It just feels like something I should probably know to be connected with, y’know, popular music history or something.

5. The best way to sew a throw pillow cover

Do I mean the only way to sew a throw pillow cover? I think maybe. After sewing some little curtains to transform my TV stand into a fancy junk-hider, I had some leftover fabric to sew a matching throw pillow. I googeled how to do it and found several videos on how to do it the “envelope” way. I got the general gist of it and whipped up a cover so fast, I was both amazed and appalled at how easy it was. I wanted to sew another one immediately, but alas, I had no spare pillow forms. But wait for the next good sale at Jo-Ann’s — watch out — my apartment might just start overflowing with pillows.

January 2016 Media Log

star wars force awakens

Kickin’ off a new year of reading and watching! So I’ve added a year to the post title. I hadn’t thought that I’d actually keep up with this long enough to run the risk of having a log from the same month, but different years. But, alas!

BOOKS:

COMICS / GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

TV: 

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Any connecting themes this month were subconscious or incidental. Two “wild” books? Unplanned. Literary confession time: I actually had no idea that the protagonist of The Call of the Wild was a dog before reading it. I actually had no idea what it was about in general. I always get Into the Wild (which I have also read) confused with The Call of the Wild and Jack London confused with Jack Kerouac. And then I confuse On the Road with Into the Wild… really, it’s just a cluster. Maybe the dog thing will help me keep it straight now.
  • Tell me — who would not love Star Wars Episode VII?! Oh, it was just so FUN! Good movie to kick off the new year.
  • And then half-way though Ex Machina I’m like… this actor is way familiar. Oh hey, it’s Poe Dameron! If Poe Dameron was a buff bald creepy tech genius with a beard. Lots of coincidences this month, I say!
  • I tend to do this thing where I’ll watch the first few episodes of a popular TV series and then stop.  But at least I can now say that I’ve seen Game of Thrones… only five years behind! Getting into these serials is like committing to a really long movie, and I’m just not a natural binge-watcher.
  • I miss my cartoons. Bah.
  • I also miss Saga and WicDiv. I really need to find a new completed series to fill my comics void. Tried Locke & Key. It was good but not quite what I’m looking for. Trying The Walking Dead next. February log spoiler alert!
  • Not captured here is the fact that I’ve started tracking movie-watching by some other means besides memory (which, trust me, is faulty… erm, what did I watch last month again?). I’m using an IMDb list – pretty simple. I’m debating whether or not to include TV shows here also.

Ideas for next month: 

  • *sigh* I have the bug again. You know, to redesign this blog for quite possibly the 20th time. I’ll probably do it, too.
  • In addition to my new “movies watched” list, I also finally created a movie “to-watch list” (because “watchlist” isn’t specific enough, don’t you think?) in IMDb. There’s about 60 movies on it, mostly populated from the Library of Congress National Film Registry listing. Another mental list I get out of my brain and onto paper (digital paper?). Free up some space for other things, like thinking about cats ‘n stuff.
  • I’ve been reading on whims of interest lately and will probably continue to do so this month.