Saturday, November 26, 2011

Media Endorsements!

One blog I read regularly, Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style, (which I came to via The Hairpin), recently posted a short little note on things she is currently loving and recommends. And since LORD KNOWS I have no shortage of opinions when it comes to media, here are mine:

First up, American Horror Story. The story of the Harmon family and the haunted house they move into. This show just gets more addictive the more insane it becomes. It's like a nice little stylistic mash-up of the eeriness of The X-Files crossed with the bat shit, off-the-wall insanity of, say, True Blood. Or really any other Ryan Murphy creation. It has some great supporting performers, such as Denis O'Hare (speaking of True Blood: the greatest scene of anything ever), Frances Conroy, and finally Jessica Lange, who eats all the scenery for breakfast and is completely FANTASTIC. The Halloween two-parter, which centered on Evan Peters and Zachary Quinto, was amazing.

Also: Community. This show is just so smart and so endlessly clever. They recently set up a background joke where the punchline was three seasons in the making. Three seasons! Admittedly, the show doesn't really know what to do with Chevy Chase or Ken Jeong and I'd personally love to see less of those two and more guest spots by John Oliver. But take the most recent episode, which was a riff on Heart of Darkness AND featured Joel McHale's impersonation of the Dean. So funny, so smart. (Actually, per the recent Nielsen ratings, the top three shows with the greatest concentration of viewers, 18-49, with four or more years of college are: Parks and Recreation, The Office, and Community.

And speaking of Parks and Rec: Awwww.

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan is super brilliant (and Pulitzer-award winning!). While it is nominally about an aging record producer, Bennie, and his assistant Sacha, each chapter delves into a different character with a relationship (in some form) with one or the other (or, unknowingly, both). It skips back and forth across decades and ends up giving you a sense of the scope of these two people's lives, even if their paths only crossed for a short while. It also examines how events in the past continue to shape their lives or influence them decades later. And given that they worked/work/will work in the music industry, the book also touches on the communal nature of art.

(Plus, Jennifer Egan is a fellow Burkes alumna, who mentions the school in the book. How could I not love it?)

Local by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelley is a twelve-part graphic novel about wanderlust and different locales around North America. While it was originally intended to be portraits of places with one character, Megan, as a unifying thread, it gradually became more and more Megan's story and the tale of how she grew up as she traveled. Obviously, as someone who has moved a lot during her twenties, and has a pretty strong case of gypsy blood, I'm biased. But the art is beautiful and, as evidenced by the previous book, I really enjoy narrative structures that come at their characters obliquely and through differing points of view (Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, which won the Pulitzer as well, is another good example of that type of structure.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Disc 2 videos!

Mostly songs and not videos. But well worth a listen...

song only:

song only:

2011 mixes - now in video form! (disc 1)

If you watch only a few of these, I recommend Lonely Boy, Uberlin, and Shake It Out.

song only:

2011 Mixes!

I know. I usually wait until December to pick out mixes for the year. But I have been waking up every morning for the last week humming "Past Three O'Clock" and "Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella" and now that we have officially passed Thanksgiving, I'm planning on cranking the carols for the rest of the year. (A quick note: lots of these were not released this year. Oh well.) So, for all of you in a tryptophan-induced coma, enjoy:

2011 (Disc 1)
Lost in the World (ft. Bon Iver) - Kanye
Moneygrabber - Fitz and the Tantrums (thanks, Em!)
Lonely Boy - The Black Keys
1977 - Ana Tijoux
Arlandria - Foo Fighters
Only Happy When it Rains (live in Trieste) - Garbage
Two Years Before the Mast - Astronautalis (thanks, Konner!)
Somebody That I Used to Know (ft. Kimbra) - Gotye
The Rake's Song - The Decemberists
Repatriated - Handsome Furs (thanks, Chris!)
Uberlin - R.E.M.
Gangsta - tUnE-YarDs
Freaks and Geeks - Childish Gambino
Echoes - The Rapture (what? I watched a lot of Misfits this year)
Rolling Till the World Ends - Adele vs. Britney (I figure everyone has Rolling in the Deep, so this is one of the remixes I like)
I Can't Behave Myself (ft. Neon Hitch) - Deadmau5
Sex Changes - The Dresden Dolls (I wanted one of their songs on here, since I rang in the New Year with them)
Letterbomb - American Idiot Broadway Cast
Shake It Out - Florence + the Machine

2011: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Disc 2)
You Are Here - Selene (sampling Clint Mansell's score from Moon. Mooooon!)
Titanium (ft. Sia) - David Guetta
Cold War - Blaqk Audio
Cardiac Arrest (ft. Robyn) - Teddybears (Again, I figure everyone has Call Your Girlfriend...)
Planetary (Go!) - My Chemical Romance (I listened to this one a lot while I was training for my 5k)
Not in Love (ft. Robert Smith) - Crystal Castles
A Real Hero - College (from the Drive Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The Devil is in the Details - The Chemical Brothers (from the Hanna Motion Picture Soundtrack)
White Rabbit - Emiliana Torrini (from the Sucker Punch Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The Man Comes Around - Johnny Cash (not from any particular soundtrack, but used to great affect in the Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dawn of the Dead)
Marcy's Song - John Hawkes (from the Martha Marcy Mae Marlene Motion Picture Soundtrack)
California Earthquake - Mama Cass (in honor of our many recent earthquakes and from the Beautiful Thing Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Who's Been Loving You? - Watsky
Foolin' - Devendra Banhart
Pretty When You Cry - VAST
Heavy Metal Lover - Lady Gaga
The Birds pt. 1 - The Weeknd
Hard to Explain - Owen Pallett
21 Guns - American Idiot Broadway Cast
Video Games - Lana Del Rey
You Know What I Mean - Cults

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stealing Confessions of the Unread

So one of my favorite blogs is The Bathroom Monologues. I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but it is a flash fiction site with great super-short stories. Occasionally haikus. However, sometimes the author, John Wiswell, talks about his writing process or other reading-related items. One of his most recent posts resonated with me: Confessions of the Unread. As John writes,

According to Goodreads, I present possess 141 books that I haven’t read. The desire to read everything I hear about is so strong that even if I only borrow, buy or steal a small fraction of it, I wind up with boxes of books. And among those books are a few that I feel particularly ashamed for not yet reading. Most of these are hard classics. Some are so long that I argued myself into reading long works from my industry instead. Such excuses work in the short term. In the long term, literary guilt is powerful. I'm publishing this list to further pressure myself to get some culture....
What we really need is a National Novel Reading Month.

(Similarly, FT Magazine, recently published photos of writer's libraries. Junot Diaz said this, "Naturally, I buy more than I can read, so there is always at least a 100-book margin between what I own and what I’ve read. What’s cool is that I’ve caught up a couple of times. But then I’ll buy too much and the race starts again." Nice to know one is in good company.) 
So: here's my list of shame. They aren't all hard classics, but some are gifts which I feel particularly bad about not having gotten to. And some I've carried through roughly five moves and really need to get to:
Possession by A.S. Byatt (which I started this summer and then put aside)
Ulysses by Joyce
Guys and Dolls and other writings by Damon Runyon
Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (this one is particularly damning, since she's one of my favorite authors)
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
The Portrait of a Lady by James
2666 by Roberto Bolano
The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield
Africa in my Blood by Jane Goodall
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski (I have been carrying this around since 2005. I WILL READ IT.)
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents by Julia Alvarez
Jane Eyre by Bronte
The Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
The Omnivore's Dillema by Michael Pollan
Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maughm
From Hell by Alan Moore (I'm in the middle of it, but I keep wanting to read it in bed and it is TOO BIG.
Local by Brian Wood
Plus I have 4 books edited by Manley and Lewis that are short stories by female authors that I need to get around to. And there are a few others floating around somewhere. Good thing I'm taking vacation next week to go curl up with cats and read. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I am BEYOND annoyed at Google Reader. It's now hard to read and unable to share. I'm working on finding a new rss feeder to go to (suggestions? I had one for feedly... which is closing down. Like so many others that tried to compete with the old  reader).

And since google no longer supports a shared items page, I'm moving that over to tumblr, which I think will be fun, although I have to figure out how to repost things correctly. So that may take a little while. Anyways: You'll know you're in the right place quickly enough...