Trying Not to Binge Watch TV Anymore

Saturday, September 28, 2019
I know everyone loves a binge watch, but I kind of like taking my time with a show. With a binge watch, you don't get to savor a television show anymore. Thirteen hours and that's it. I want to spend real time with a show, thinking about each episode and wondering what could happen next instead of just immediately finding out.

Case in point for me right now: Succession. I am late to the party and just starting the show now, which it seems I'm not alone in that boat. This show is so addictive, it's taking everything in me to not watch it all in one or two nights so I can try to catch up to it. A lot happens in every single episode, and if I did do a binge watch of it, only about half of it would stick because my brain would be overloaded. And this is show about details and conversation, so you actually have to process it. But because I'm taking it slow, I can savor all of the political maneuvering and power moves. Thankfully, I've had an easy time avoiding spoilers for the season that's currently airing, which is making it all the more enjoyable.

And for the record, I'm Team Shiv.

My 2019 Emmys Ballot

Sunday, September 22, 2019
This seems kind of weird to do since I haven't seen everything (which you can probably tell from my picks), but here we go. In my ideal world, the Emmy goes to:

Bookshelf: Circe by Madeline Miller

Friday, September 20, 2019
This is a great exploration of the goddess and witch Circe that, from I can tell, is usually at best a supporting character in the Greek myths. She is probably most known today for being in Homer's The Odyssey, which I read in freshman year in high school, and do not remember a single thing about.

This is only the second time I've read a reimagining of Greek mythology, the first being the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. Those books were also a great way of learning how the gods worked, and the first time I had learned some of the myths of the Titans, who came before Zeus and the Olympians. This way of reimagining these classic myths, whether it's like Circe, where you focus on a specific god, or like Percy Jackson, where you create new characters related to the gods, and how they might affect them.

Both Circe and Percy Jackson make all of these gods feel like real people, with motivations you understand, or we see the affects of their actions on the lives of real people. You may leave thinking of them in a different light of the original myths the gods are apart of, but that's most likely the point. 

Doing a Bit of Fall Cleaning

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
I've accumulated a lot of stuff over the years, and a lot of that stuff had taken up seemingly permanent residence on my bookcase and in my closet. On a whim, I started cleaning out my bookcase. I don't know what came over me to start, but once I did I knew this wasn't going to be a one time deal.

When I do these big cleaning sprees, I usually separate into three piles: keep, trash, and donate. The donate pile is the one I usually have the hardest time with. One reason is that I have a hard time deciding whether to keep certain items, or if it's okay for me to part with them. The second reason is that it's hard to gauge whether certain items are in good enough shape that they would be worth donating, or just throwing it away.

The hardest for me is usually books. I have always been an avid reader, and so has my family. We're not big ebook people, so we have a lot of physical books. A lot of them I haven't read in years, just because they were from when I was a kid or a teenager, and they were simple stories that don't really interest me now that I'm at an adult. 

Good news for me is that I'm weird about books. I don't like creases, bends, or folded pages, so the majority of my books are in excellent condition, so they can go to people that will actually read them.

Also good news for me, I have a lot of younger cousins. So all those books from my childhood, can go to them if they want them. And whatever they don't want, will hopefully be able to go to the public library.

It's good to be able to take an inventory, and decide what you want to keep and what you're okay parting with. You can acknowledge that something once entertained you, but you won't really get any more pleasure for it, and hopefully give that joy to someone else.

My Top 20 Favorite Songs

Monday, September 16, 2019
In June, my dad mentioned that one day he wanted to sit down and figure out his top 20 favorite songs. I took that as a challenge to do one too, and it has taken me forever to try and crack this. This is the list as it is on this day, though honestly expect several redux versions of this list to come.

Here is my top 20, in no particular order:
  1. I Feel The Earth Move - Carole King
  2. Everybody Wants to Rule the World - Tears for Fears
  3. The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
  4. Hard Times - Paramore
  5. Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
  6. Jolene - Dolly Parton
  7. You're No Good - Linda Ronstadt
  8. Grace - Jeff Buckley
  9. Touch - Little Mix
  10. In Too Deep - Sum 41
  11. Just A Girl - No Doubt
  12. Renegade - Styx
  13. My Body - Young the Giant
  14. Rolling in the Deep - Adele
  15. Dreams - Fleetwood Mac
  16. Hometown Glory - Adele
  17. Gone - Lianne La Havas
  18. High Horse - Kacey Musgraves
  19. You Keep Me Hangin' On - The Supremes
  20. You Make Loving Fun - Fleetwood Mac

Earworm: Paramore's After Laughter

Sunday, September 15, 2019
It's been over two years since this album came out and it is still in heavy rotation for me. I love it. If there is any album that perfectly encompasses me, and all of the feelings I have about life, it's in this album. There are songs that come around that I relate to almost perfectly, but that has never happened for me in an entire album.

The contrast between the poppy music and the darkness of the lyrics is a hard balance to strike, but they nail it. It's all of the fun of 80s pop, with the angst and emotion of some of the saddest ballads.

Honestly, even writing about this album is making me run through the same gamut of emotions that actually listening to it makes me feel, so just listen to it.

I Keep Waking Up in My Dreams

Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Has anyone ever thought you had woken up, and start going about your morning, and then wake up again, to discover it's actually four in the morning and not eight like you thought? That has happened to me twice in the last three days. And it's not the first time I've had dreams like this.

It feels so real. It feels like I've woken up, realize I slept through my alarm and race to brush my teeth and get dressed. Then as I'm about a few minutes into that panic, I wake up again, panic again, and check the clock to see that it's about four hours earlier than I thought. 

Honestly, I don't know enough about dreams and how to analyze them and interpret them. I didn't even believe in that stuff until I had the classic anxiety dream of all of my teeth falling out. 

If anyone has any insight, it would be much appreciated.

Bookshelf: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Friday, September 6, 2019
I haven't read many books from the nineteenth century. Before picking up Little Women, I had previously read two books from this time, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Frankenstein I really enjoyed, and Scarlet Letter was a chore to get through. The only reason I read those novels was because they were part of the curriculum at school, which is the only reason I didn't delete my copy of that horrible book from my nook. So, all that being said, this is the first time I've willingly read a novel this old.

Also, it should be mentioned that the only reason I picked up this book is because I got really into the trailer for Greta Gerwig's upcoming film adaptation, and I will be going to see it the first day it opens.

At the start I was reading a chapter at a time, because I was still getting used to the language and writing style of the 1800's. It also helps that I got the Barnes & Noble Classics edition, so it comes with footnotes that explain the cultural references of the time so that isn't totally lost on the reader. It was more about getting the rhythm down of the prose and how the characters talk, and then translate it to my twenty-first century English, and I enjoyed that challenge of conquering the book. And as I adjusted to the style, and got more into the story, I was able to pick up the pace of my reading.

Full disclosure: I have seen the 1994 film adaptation of Little Women, and watched the episode of Friends where Joey got super into the book because it was flying around twitter after the trailer for the new movie was released.

So, I pretty much knew what was going to happen in the book. But, I was still gripped. I knew the events but I didn't know what had been changed or dropped for the movie, and I didn't get the full picture of the March sisters because there aren't whole chapters devoted to them. And since the movie primarily focused on Jo, the way I felt about the other three were how they affected Jo and didn't get as much of a sense of who they were and how they changed over time. Especially in regards to Amy, who I hope gets her due in the upcoming film adaptation that it doesn't seem like she did in the others.

Most of the books I read for fun are usually newly released books, because they're new stories that haven't been spoiled because they really haven't entered pop culture or been adapted into something popular and you can be surprised. And I think it's good to go back and read these classics. Some of them you may not even think you know the ending to because there are adaptations that change some things because there are things you can do in a novel that you can't in a two hour movie. Then there are some that are just adaptations in name only.

It's important to read these books that are considered classics still, find out why they are considered classics, and maybe reevaluate whether those books are a relic of the past, or stand the test of time. And that's an important discourse to have about works of art, whether we should move forward with or without them, enter some works that were paid less attention, for whatever reason, their due, and add newer works to the canon.

Given that this book is still being read 150 years after it was originally published, and is still being adapted for film, I'd say that we should continue to have Little Women on our shelf.

Little Mix Deserves to Break America

Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Little Mix are one of the best girl groups of all time.

But, for some reason unbeknownst to me, they aren't big in America, and that is a damn shame.

Little Mix are a girl group who can harmonize, perform in many different styles of music, and dance. They were formed on The X Factor UK, and did what One Direction couldn't: they won the show, becoming the first ever group to do so and broke the girl group curse.

And they have bangers. I could just list songs, but that would pretty much be all of their songs that aren't ballads. Just watch their music videos and listen to those songs and tell me you're not dancing in your seat. And their ballads are good. They make me cry and I had to take them off of my phone because they make me think and feel, and I generally listen to music on shuffle so that is not a good thing for my mood. But when I need them I have them, and they're not sad songs for sad song's sake. They are usually about friendship, insecurity, lost love, among other things. Little Mix also write a lot of their songs, so you know that they genuinely believe their messages and aren't pandering.

Little Mix are the second coming of the Spice Girls.

I love them and want them to break American goddamnit!

Trying to Read More Classics (Written by Women)

Sunday, September 1, 2019
I'm trying to read more, just in general. But then the trailer for Greta Gerwig's adaptation of Little Women came out and I was inspired. So I read Little Women, and then took advantage of a sale and my mother's membership, and went to Barnes & Noble and picked up Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen and Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier. The reason for Jane Austen was that she's a popular name, and one of the best adaptations of her books happens to be one of the best movies of all time, Clueless. The reason for Rebecca was on recommendation of my mother, and I remembered that it was the basis of one of Alfred Hitchcock's early films, released in 1940 starring Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier. (I knew that without looking it up on Wikipedia. I'm weird with what trivia I know and don't know.)

You may have noticed that all of those books were written by women. That was done on purpose because the last time I read classic literature was for my required reading in high school. The majority of those books (save Mary Shelley's Frankenstein) were written by dudes. They were fine. Except for The Scarlet Letter, which was the worst and should no longer be taught. If you really want them to understand the actual story, have the students watch Easy A. The only classic that the majority of the class enjoyed reading was Frankenstein.

So suck it dudes. I've read enough of your work. Time to expose myself to major works that was not considered important enough to be a part of my AP English Language and Literature curriculum.
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