Tag Archives: media

What I Read and Watched in April

s-town-podcast

BOOKS:

COMICS/GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

TV:

PODCASTS:

  • Pop Culture Happy Hour 
  • S-Town

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Very rarely do I find a show I want to binge on, but this month I did. S-Town. Wow, I devoured it within a week. With such compelling storytelling, I couldn’t help myself, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. S-Town is a rare gem, and hands down the best podcast series I’ve listened to.
  • Speaking of great storytelling, I finally finished The Stand. It was a multi-month process with many breaks in between. Though not my favorite King novel, I can see why it’s classic.
  • Oh, and March? Incredible. This whole month was just packed with phenomenal stories! This graphic novel series, Books 1 – 3, should be required reading. I learned so much about the civil rights movement of the 1960s — about important people, milestones, and setbacks. That it’s told through John Lewis’ perspective and experience adds so much depth and intimacy to the series as well.
  • Without cable, it’s been years since I’ve followed a show as it was airing weekly. But Drag Race is so worth it. My Friday night joy.

Ideas for next month: 

  • Follow whims. Keep seeking out great stories.

What I Read and Watched In March

philosophy_big_questions

BOOKS:

MOVIES:

TV:

Thoughts & reflections:

  • I finally took the time to dig into some philosophy fundamentals, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while. These aren’t breezy reads. I’m also half-way through a Ralph Waldo Emerson collection. I’m taking my time with some of this stuff, taking notes, studying, absorbing. That equals less books finished this month, but I can’t complain.
  • I didn’t watch much this month either, but Tickled was one of the wildest documentaries I’ve ever seen. And Chewing Gum was refreshingly weird.
  • What was the last non-documentary film I’ve watched? It’s been a while.
  • My media success of the month was discovering how to watch live streaming TV without cable. Specifically, how to watch the premier of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. I can stream live from the VH1 website! So excited! I wonder if there are other channels I can do this with?
  • I was sick through some of March, which meant more sleeping and overall less reading, watching, doing, being…

Ideas for next month: 

  • I’m contemplating moving this blog onto another platform, if I can find the time.
  • Often, when I find pockets of time to watch something, I’m struck with decision fatigue, and I just don’t watch anything. I’m thinking on what I can do about this. I was using the National Film Registry as my curated list of films to watch, but it’s become daunting, and many of the movies aren’t available on my streaming services. Hmm.

What I Read and Watched in January

san_junipeiro2

BOOKS:

COMICS/GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

TV:

PODCASTS:

  • TED Radio Hour

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Emily Dickinson and Boogie Nights. Wow, what a weird month. How the hell did this happen?
  • See all those 2016s? I intentionally consumed some contemporary popular media this month. Soon it will be 2017s. I’d like to do a better job at keeping up with current popular fiction, at the very least.
  • I normally only list TV shows if I watch a full season of something, but the San Junipero episode of “Black Mirror” is quite possibly one of the best things I’ve ever watched in my life, so I had to include it. I watched it twice this month, in fact. Hit me right in the feels both times. I’ve been hesitant to watch “Black Mirror” because I hear it’s so disturbing and depressing, and after attempting to watch a second traumatic episode, I now understand. This particular episode is a gem though.
  • I didn’t write a post about my 2017 media goals like I had intended, so I’ll just summarize that I’m aiming for an average of 1 movie a week, and at least 5 books a month, including graphic novels and trade paperbacks. I’m cutting back on the book goal from last year because I’m not reading so many comics lately. Who knows, maybe sometimes this year I’ll find a complete series to devour, but for now, I’m not going to pressure myself. So, in sum, I made my goal this month. Hurray!

Ideas for next month: 

  • I’m ankle-deep in a writing endeavor that is already consuming a lot of my time this year. So my goal is to read books that keep me page-turnin’ and to consume compelling stories. I’ve begun scheduling time specifically for reading, and I hope to continue the habit.

My Favorite Books and Media of 2016

In 2016, I read 80 books, including graphic novels and comics, and watched 40 movies and TV series, combined. I’d say those are good even numbers, even if I didn’t hit my targets. And after all, it’s about quality, not quantity, right? And I read and watched some great stuff this year. Here are my top picks for 2016!

TOP BOOKS

flowers for algernonFlowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes, 1958
I picked this up out of a pile of books going into a yard sale. Maybe it was my lack of expectations, but this book just floored me. It happened to contain some of my favorite elements in a novel — an unreliable narrator, psychological twists, unconventional storytelling (it’s written as a journal), and an openness for interpretation. Amazing.

MiddlesexMiddlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides, 2002
Epic story and glorious, glorious narration. Damn. This novel was perfect to me, and for me this year, particularly. Its hefty scope kept me from tackling it for awhile, but it was well worth my patience. A book about personal history, identity and transition — with the level of strangeness I adore.


please kill mePlease Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk
, Legs McNeil, Gillian McCain, 1996
I’m no punk rock connoisseur, or even much of music history buff, but this book was downright fascinating. I couldn’t put it down. It’s a compilation of interviews with folks who lived the borderline-unbelievable history. Even if it weren’t all true, it would still be an engaging story.

rubyfruit jungleRubyfruit Jungle, Rita Mae Brown, 1973 
The tagline — “A novel about being different and loving it” — didn’t exactly sell me (feel-good stories don’t seem to do it for me). So I was relieved to discover that this coming-out classic is the right, refreshing balance of pessimism and confidence for me. The positive, negative.

between the world and me

Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2015
This should be required reading for everyone. Period.

 

 


TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS & COMICS

wicked and divineThe Wicked + The Divine, Kieron Gillen
For the second year in a row, WicDiv continues to be my favorite. The colors! The characters! Ahh so delicious I just want to eat the pages. Nom.

 

sagaSaga, Brian K. Vaughan
This is another continued favorite. Always inventive and unexpected. Truly a “saga” I can’t get sick of.

 

 

paper girlsPaper Girls, Brian K. Vaughan, 2016
Dang, is there any series I don’t like Brian K. Vaughan? He’s the comic storytelling master, though I have to say the art really hooked me here. Plus, the writing is just a little too adult for kids, a little to kiddish for adults, which is exactly my sweet spot.

ghost worldGhost World, Daniel Clowes, 1998
I read this because it’s the basis of the best movie I watched this year (spoiler alert for section below). The graphic novel was different from the movie in many ways, but I still loved it on its own.

 

TOP MOVIES & TV 

transparentTransparent (S1 – 3)
It’s like this show was made for me, so much so, that it’s a little disturbing. Not only is it my favorite show of this year, it’s my favorite show of all-time. I’m not much a TV-watcher or a binge-water, but I binged-watched Transparent with no regrets. Beautiful.

ghost worldGhost World
I put this movie on just to test out my Amazon Kindle Fire Stick, and it wound up being the best movie I saw in 2016. It was odd in all the right ways, featuring underrepresented female friendships and unlikely relationships.

 

the graduateThe Graduate
Timeless. The ending scene of runaway Ben and Elaine in the bus, their smiles turning solemn, must be one of the greatest all-time movie moments.  (Side note: this film kicked off a Simon & Garfunkle listening binge that I still can’t totally explain).

stranger thingsStranger Things
Come on, it’s a given. Stranger Things basically defined my summer of 2016, as it did for many. It was the reason I finally got Netflix. Just fantastic.

 

star warsStar Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Another given. Do I even need to explain why this is on my list?

 

 


TOP PODCASTS 

Invisibilia
Why does this podcast about human behavior resonate with me so strongly? I bet there could be a whole Invisibilia episode dedicated to the psychological forces that drive me to be in love with this show. Maybe that’ll be in the next season, which I can’t wait for.

Pop Culture Happy Hour
One of my goals this year was to be more in-tune with current popular media, and this podcast helped me do just that, while also entertaining me and giving me leads to shows, movies, and other media I might like.

TED Radio Hour
This podcast just fills my emptiness between Invisbilia seasons, to be honest. But it’s fascinating nonetheless. I actually prefer it to traditional TED Talks, because the episodes string together multiple ideas around a single topic.

2016 IN SUMMARY 

2016 was the year I embraced television beyond cartoons, watching shows like Transparent, Stranger Things, and even Breaking Bad (like, 8 years behind, I know). This filled a hole in my movie-watching pursuits, which have fallen to the wayside a bit, in part because of the unanticipated lack of good movie theaters near my town.

In terms of books, I tackled some hefty classics — like One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Sound and the Fury. Some were more rewarding than others. I also intentionally tried to read more books from diverse authors, and also incorporated more nonfiction and poetry into my reading.

This was the first year in awhile that I was unable to find a completed comic series to dive into and devour start-to-finish. Last year was  Y: The Last Man, which I think may have just set the bar too high. Also, most of the graphic novels I read were just mediocre. So I’m concluding 2016 being a bit discouraged about my graphic novels and comics, but that’s okay.

In conclusion, I used this year to reconnect with the current media landscape, consuming more new releases in books, comics, movies, and TV than I normally do. The hipster in me rolls her eyes at staying current, but the practical me appreciates the value more than ever. Watching the latest shows with others and being able to talk about new books and movies is important, because media is connective. As corny as it sounds, media consumption isn’t just personal, it’s interpersonal. And that’s my grand media lesson for 2016.

Onward to 2017!

What I Read and Watched in December

clockwork_orange

Better late than never.

BOOKS:

MOVIES:

PODCASTS:

  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • TED Radio Hour

Thoughts & reflections:

  • My media log is a reflection of my month. Not much time for reading, but plenty of movie-watching thanks to Christmas crafting and such (I like to have something on in the background while I sew/crochet/etc.).
  • I’m glad my reading for 2016 concluded with some philosophy (Zen) and queer history. And Salinger, of course.
  • I went to the movie theater only 4 times this year, and 2 of those times was to see a Star Wars film — Force Awakens  and Rogue One. Star Wars movies are like the bookends to my year.
  • Ah, I finally watched A Clockwork Orange. I’ve held out so long because it’s one of my all-time favorite books. Kubrick’s film adaptation is so ubiquitous in pop culture, I felt as if I’d already watched it before.
  • I’m slowly learning how to just “put something on” Netflix. I waste so much time deciding what to watch, and then some of my favorite films this year have been whims. The documentaries this month were especially thought-provoking.

Ideas for next month: 

  • Thinking on my 2017 media resolutions!

What I Read and Watched in November

thereaddunces

BOOKS:

COMICS / GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

TV:

PODCASTS:

  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • TED Radio Hour

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Moooooovies! I’m watching them again! How, why? Two words: Netflix Originals. Not quite indie, not quite mainstream, Netflix seems to produce some documentaries and dramas that fall in my niche of interest. My Beautiful Broken Brain was especially fascinating.
  • I happened to read family-centered fiction this month. That was an accident. The Jones of White Teeth, the Blochs of Here I Am, and of course Ignatius and his mother. A lot of complex relationships to digest (and laugh about).
  • I read some hefty books this month. Still, I’m reading less than I would like. I’m going to have to go back to carving out and defending reading time.
  • I had no idea Good Will Hunting was set in Boston before watching it. So yes, half the movie I spent going, “Ohhh he’s riding the Red Line!” and such. I should have known — it has Matt Damon in it. Seems like he’s always either in Boston or in outer space.

Ideas for next month: 

  • Just trying to find time for reading/writing during this busy holiday season! Ah!

What I Read and Watched in October

twin-peaks

BOOKS:

COMICS / GRAPHIC:

TV:

PODCASTS:

  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • TED Radio Hour

Thoughts & reflections:

  • October just flew by! Yet somehow I got some reading in. Not much watching though, with the exception of Twin Peaks, which was an excellent show for the spooky season. I had a feeling I might love this show, and I wasn’t wrong. So strange. So surreal. So absurd. My only regret is that I started watching it too close to Halloween, so I didn’t have enough time put together a Log Lady costume. Oh well, there’s always next year!
  • It seems I accidentally wound up with a theme of depressing books this month. Sometimes the most thought-provoking literature is also the most heart-wrenching, but damn Pride of Baghdad has to be one of the most alarmingly sad books I’ve read. Leave it to Brian Vaughan, master of feels.
  • The sound. The fury. The sound of me throwing a book against a wall in a fury.

Ideas for next month:

  • I still have a backlog of books. Carrying on.
  • More poetry, please. I’m having difficulty finding volumes that are robust yet digestible. Not giant compendiums, but not thin little books either. Hm.
  • My library and its local consortia have an alarming lack of gender studies books and I’m debating what I’m going to do about it, if anything. No Judith Butler in a consortia of 30+ libraries? Really?

What I Read and Watched in September

middlesex

BOOKS:

COMICS / GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

TV:

PODCASTS:

  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • TED Radio Hour

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Quality trumps quantity this month. I’m way below my goal on all accounts. But not only were Middlesex and Please Kill Me heavyweights page-wise (nearly 1,000 pages total), they were also intensely awesome. So, two new favorites in one month? When has that ever happened before?
  • Same goes for the movie-watching — or lack thereof. The one movie I did see — Kubo, great film — I saw at the local movie theater, to which I’d never been before. In fact, I think this is actually only the second movie I’ve seen in theaters this entire year. The theater was independent, with a retro vibe but comfy seats. But I still miss AMC. No bother. The movie-going experience makes up for my lack of movie consumption, I’d say.
  • Plus, how would I have time to watch movies with all this Breaking Bad-watching? Yes, I’m aware I’m eight years behind. This show premiered when I graduated high school — high school. But I finally hit the threshold where I couldn’t function like a semi-normal social being without having seen it. So many references are made to this show. Everyone’s seen it, it seems. With good reason — it’s a a great show. I’m getting a little exhausted with the hour-long episodes though. And 5 seasons is intimidating. I’ll probably slow it down and chip away at the remaining episodes as needed
  • This “thoughts and reflections” section is turning into an excuses section.
  • Did I binge-watch Transparent season 3 faster than I care  to admit? You bet I did. No regrets. Okay, maybe a little regret, because now I have to wait indefinitely for the next season!
  • I finally did it. Signed up for my own Netflix account like an independent non-mooching woman. It’s been helpful for watching Breaking Bad. But otherwise, I’m not sure if I’ll keep it past the 30-day free trial yet.
  • I also finally printed out the complete National Film Registry, and checked off what I’ve already seen. I began watching some of the very earliest films too, but they are so brief (and most available for free from the Library of Congress), I don’t bother listing them here. Dream of a Rarebit Fiend was particularly amusing! Such special effects for 1906! I’m looking forward to working my way through the list, though I likely won’t go in a strict order.

Ideas for next month:

  • I never list music in these media logs, because I haven’t been able to wrap my head around what I’d include. Also, I have bizarre music-listening habits. But I’ve started to give it some more thought, especially as I recently set up a “Kendra’s Top 100” playlist on Spotify. It houses my favorite songs, in no particular order. It got me thinking, “When did I start listening to some of these songs? And how and why are they my favorites?” Hmm.
  • I have a backlog of borrowed books I’m looking forward to reading.
  • This election season has opened to my eyes to just how little national and world news I consume. Without cable, I have the luxury of avoiding the nauseating onslaught of political ads. But I just feel so disconnected from all that’s going on. My college media studies left me very disillusioned with the state of news and journalism, and since then, I’ve just sort of tuned out to all the corporatized sensationalism. While I’m not about to watch hours of CNN or Fox, I’d like to tune back in somehow, mindfully and objectively. I just want to learn about what’s happening in the world, without someone telling me what I should think or how I should feel about it. That shouldn’t be nearly as difficult as it is. But it really is.

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!!