My Weekend in Pop Culture

These are the pop culture items I consumed this weekend.  It was another busy weekend, so I didn’t do much media consumption.  Without further ado:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: I’ve been listening to this on audiobook, and it is pure, unadulterated pleasure.  It’s probably my favorite of all Rowell’s books, just in terms of sheer enjoyability.  Listening to it when Zoey and I take our walks or when I’m stuck in traffic on the way home from work has been just the best distraction.  I don’t want it to end, but I have less than 30 minutes left.  What’s interesting is that I’ve also been reading Landline at the same time, and while it is good and smart, it pales in comparison to Fangirl.  I think that’s really, really interesting.

At any rate, it’s one of those books I want to live inside of.  I don’t know what to do when I’m done, because I’ll be in this haze where nothing else I read is it.  Depressing and amazing.

 

Gilmore Girls Season 3: I’ve been doing a Gilmore Girls rewatch, and I’m firmly entrenched in the ggthird season, which is my all-time hands-down favorite season.  The story is the strongest here, I think.  I love so many of the episodes, including “Take the Deviled Eggs,” “They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They?” and “Dear Emily and Richard.”  It’s a stellar season on a very good show, and I love getting to revisit it.

I wish I could say the same for J., who tolerates it being on but often leaves the room.  It’s just not his thing, at all.

What pop culture did you consume this weekend?

Movie News and Randomness

Ready for another installment of movie news?  Here’s the movie stuff that’s got me excited or apathetic this week.

1. Wild Trailer

I don’t really feel like I have to give this one much of a summary or introduction.  It’s based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, which has been sitting on my iPad for months and which I still haven’t read.  Reese Witherspoon stars.  I will see it, but probably not until its digital download release.

2. Box Office Woes: Age and Gender Gap Fueling Summer Decline 

Or, you know, the fact that everything has been complete shit.  But truthfully, the fact that fewer males are flocking to theaters and Hollywood still hasn’t figured out that women drive much of the box office means that it’s been a pretty lackluster summer for movies.  Whatever.  More female films, please.  (THR)

3. Laggies Trailer

The film stars Keira Knightley as a mid-twenties screw up who panics when her boyfriend proposes.  She goes to live with her new 16-year-old friend, played by Chloe Grace-Moretz.  It looks…interesting?

4. Netflix won’t ship or process your DVDs on Weekends

Wait, people still use the DVD option? (Cinema Blend)

5. New Gone Girl Trailer

Because why not?  I know I’ve posted a trailer for this, or at least I think I have?  I know I’ll see this one because I’m curious about how the ending has changed.  I can’t wait for the internet backlash on that one.  The internet loves a good backlash (and so do I!).

What movie news got you excited this week?

The Best YA Books of 2014 So Far

Now that we are well into July, it’s time to talk about the books from the first half of the year that have blown me away.  It’s true that I’ve been reading more adult fiction lately, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not focused on the YA world.  These are the YA books published this year that have totally knocked my socks off.  Or whatever.  They’re just really great.

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

Amy was born with cerebral palsy and can’t walk without a walker or talk without a computer voice box.  She can’t even completely control her facial expressions.  All of these things have largely alienated her from her peers.  When she decides to hire student helpers for her last year of high school, her mother is reluctant, but Amy is persistent.  She wants Matthew, a student at the school who is struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, to be one of her helpers.  As the two become enmeshed in each other’s lives, a deep friendship forms, and the two of them wonder if they could ever be more.

McGovern’s book is really great, offers a fresh perspective of YA, and while it might be slightly over-plotted, it’s a knockout of a debut that I devoured so quickly but also didn’t want it to end.  Read the rest of my review here.

Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn 

Jamie’s sister Cate has been in a juvenile detention center for two years, since she burned down a barn, killing several horses and dangerously burning a classmate.  Since then, Jamie has tried to move on with his life and deal with his own issues, including a crippling case of anxiety.  But now Cate is out, and she’s coming for him.  She says it’s time for the truth to come out, but Jamie isn’t sure what that means for her or him or anyone, because wasn’t everything better when she was locked up?

I just finished this one and haven’t written a review of it yet, but it’s a stellar novel and well worth your time.  I had a friend text me about it the other day to tell me that she couldn’t put it down and couldn’t believe how obsessed she had become with the characters and the story, so I know I’m not alone in loving this one.  It’s a haunting read.  Fantastic.

Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Theo is doing much better than a few years ago.  When her best friend Donovan first disappeared, Theo stopped eating.  But she’s eating again, kind of, and she’s dating boys who are much more appropriate (although maybe still not quite right) for her, and she’s so close to getting an important break with her ballet dancing.  But then Donovan reappears after years, and the shitstorm that emerges with his return means Theo has to confront the ugly parts of her past that she’s worked hard to suppress.  Will Donovan ever be okay?  Will Theo?

Brandy Colbert’s debut is so good that I still think about the characters long after finishing the book.  It’s so good that I immediately finished the book, sobbed, and then pushed a copy into the hands of my English-teacher mother and said, “You have to read this book so we can talk about Theo!”  It is harrowing, authentic, and pitch-perfect.  Go read it.  Here’s my review.

Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

Tabitha’s friends think she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her like a bad habit.  Tab isn’t exactly sure how she’s changed, except that her boobs got bigger and she started to get attention from dudes.  Lonely, Tab seeks solace in carrying on a secret relationship with Joe, who already has a very public girlfriend.  Then she stumbles upon an online community called Life By Committee.  There, members spill secrets and complete Assignments.  As the Assignments raise the stakes, Tab wonders if she’s going too far.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Haydu is an author to watch.  This is the second novel of hers that I have just loved, despite having serious reservations when first beginning them both.  The characters here are vivid, the lessons hard, and the journey uncomfortable.  But it’s a fascinating, riveting ride.  Here’s my review.

That’s what I’ve got so far.  What books have I missed out on so far in 2014 that are must-reads?  Let me know.

June 2014 Recap

Can you believe June is already over?  Don’t you hate it when people say that?!

Reading:

Best Book of the Month: Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

Books Read: 21
Adult: 6
YA:  15
MG: 0
Children’s: 0
Fiction: 19
Non-fiction/Memoir: 0
Graphic Novel: 2
# of Pages Read: 5160

Thoughts on June’s Reading:

  • I’m still not reading any non-fiction.  I’m going to chalk this up to summer, but I’m not sure I can really use that as an excuse.
  • I’m really alternating between adult and YA titles, which is nice.  Almost everything that I get from the library in physical book form is adult, because my library systems YA selection is a JOKE.
  • Although I’m still plugging along on my recapping of Sweet Valley High novels for my other blog, I’m not as into it as I was before, which is why my numbers are lower this month.

Watching:

TV:

Much as I’d like to, I’m not obsessively tracking what TV show episodes I watch and when.  So this will be mostly bullet points.

  • I’m still firmly ensconced in my Covert Affairs love affair.  It’s silly, a little stupid, and definitely far-fetched, but it’s good summer TV.  J. agrees that Annie might be the WORST spy ever.
  • We’re also sort of digging the new showMurder in the First.  That’s one I can get J. to watch weekly.
  • Other weekly staples for me include my loves Switched at Birth and The Fosters.

Movies:

obvious childBest Movie(s) of the Month: Obvious Child

Movies Watched: 8
New: 6
Re-Watch: 2
Theater Trips: 3

  • I was up a few this month, with three trips to the theater.
  • Obvious Child was the winner by far this month, but I also enjoyed That Awkward Moment and They Came Together.

Goals for July:

  • Continue reading and watching diverse things.  Keep up with keeping track.  Try to squeeze in a few more movies.

Happy reading and watching, readers!

Movie News and Randomness

I’m a little behind in reading, which means I don’t have any reviews ready to go.  But that’s never stopped me from blogging!  So here is some movie news I’m pumped and/or apathetic about this week!

1. Dear White People Trailer

This sharp satire has gotten a lot of good buzz, and this teaser trailer seems to be doing that buzz justice, because I can’t wait to see it.  It’s going to piss a lot of people off (good), but it also looks pretty great.

2. I guess Prometheus 2 is a Thing Happening?

This article is really about Guy Pearce wanting in on the action, but did anyone know that this was a thing happening? I guess I just figured the backlash to the first one was so bad that it would fade into obscurity, but silly me–if there is money to be squeezed from us, there is a film to make. (Cinema Blend)

3. The Good Lie Trailer

There are things inherently problematic with this movie already: it’s definitely a white savior narrative, which, can we please move past already?  But it’s also about some of the Lost Boys of Sudan, and I’m willing to entertain the fact that this movie is going to be completely conventional and manipulative because it will also raise awareness to people who have no idea what has happened and is happening in Sudan.  Whatever.  It stars Reese Witherspoon and the trailer made me tear up because I know I’m being manipulated but I’m also powerless in the face of it.

4. Here are some Mockingjay posters

Because I don’t have anything else for you, and because why not? (Screen Rant)

5. About Alex Trailer 

I mean, the movie is dubbed “The Big Chill” for millennials and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a description so apropos.  It’s exactly what it is, and I am exactly the demographic, and I cannot wait to see it.

May 2014 Recap

Another month gone.  Let’s get to it!

Reading:

Best Book of the Month: Perfectly Good White Boy by Carrie Mesrobian

Books Read: 16
Adult: 5
YA: 11
MG: 0
Children’s: 0
Fiction: 16
Non-fiction/Memoir: 0
Graphic Novel: 0
# of Pages Read:

Thoughts on May’s Reading:

  • As far as non-fiction goals go, I didn’t read any titles this month that fit the bill.
  • I read some knockout YA this month, the best being Perfectly Good White Boy by Carrie Mesrobian (out this October).
  • Although I’m still plugging along on my recapping of Sweet Valley High novels for my other blog, I’m not as into it as I was before, which is why my numbers are much lower this month.
  • I read a couple of adult fiction titles, including Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas for book club.

Watching:

TV:

Much as I’d like to, I’m not obsessively tracking what TV show episodes I watch and when.  So this will be mostly bullet points.

  • J. and I finished re-watching The Office and we’re still plugging away on the re-watching of Parks and Recreation in hopes of eventually catching back up.
  • We’re still watching Game of Thrones and Orphan Black.  I’m excited for the return of Switched at Birth and Masters of Sex (which should premiere mid-July).
  • I’ve gotten super intoThe Fosters (first season is on Netflix).

Movies:

Best Movie(s) of the Month: Bachelorette

Movies Watched: 5
New: 1
Re-Watch: 4
Theater Trips: 1

Thoughts on Movies Watched in February:

  • Not a stellar month for movies.  I’m not sure why.
  • I don’t have a lot to say about the movies I saw this month.  The only one we saw in the theater was Godzilla which was kind of fun but mostly stupid.

Goals for June:

  • Continue reading and watching diverse things.  Keep up with keeping track.  Try to squeeze in a few more movies.

Happy reading and watching, readers!

Movie News and Randomness

It’s Memorial Day, and since I’m off work, it feels like a good day to talk about movie stuff.  Here’s the latest movie news that’s got me excited.

1. Happy Christmas Trailer

Look, not everyone is going to love a mumblecore movie.  But I loved Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies, so I’m thrilled to see him re-team with Anna Kendrick in Happy Christmas, due out this June.  It’s about a screw-up (Kendrick) who moves in with her brother, his wife, and their kid.  It looks pretty good, though.  It’s got a great cast.

2. Veronica Mars is getting a web spin-off

It will star Dick (Ryan Hansen) and will be something like 6-8 ten-minute segments.  I guess I’m just sort of wondering, why?

I…think this is a mistake. (THR)

3. Interstellar Trailer

This is Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to the Batman franchise, and it’s definitely getting a lot of attention.  Basically the world is out of food and we need to leave. A pilot and a ragtag crew volunteer to figure out the whole interstellar space travel thing.  The film stars a bunch of people and is out in November.  I will see it, despite legitimately hating Matthew McCoughnahey.

4. Magic Mike 2 is a Thing Happening

For whatever reason ($$$$$).  Steven Soderbergh won’t direct it (smart), but he will serve as cinematographer (less smart).  Whatever.  I just can’t. (Screen Rant)

5. Third Person Trailer

The film seems to star a ton of people, including Liam Neeson, James Franco, and Mila Kunis, and is about three different love stories?  At any rate, it looks interesting.

Movie News and Randomness

Instead of waiting until Saturday to post some movie news, how about Thursday?  OKAY.

1. They Came Together Trailer

From the same people who did Wet Hot American Summer, this movie stars Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd, so already I’m in.  But the supporting cast is awesome, too (and it looks like there will be a ton of cameos), and it looks super weird and funny.  A send-up of romantic comedies while also sort of being a romantic comedy, I guess?   It’s definitely not a film that will work for everyone (again, see: weird, and weirdly meta), but if you liked WHAS, this one will be worth checking out.

2. Paul Feig’s Spy has a pretty nice cast

And it just added the gorgeous Morena Baccarin, who joins Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, and others.  The comedy is about a CIA agent (McCarthy) who goes into the field for the first time.  I mean, it’s McCarthy, so you know I can’t wait to see this one. (THR)

3. Half of a Yellow Sun Trailer

Based on the popular novel by Chimamanda Adichie, this one stars Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor.  It takes place in Nigeria, on the cusp of civil war.  While the trailer gives away way, way, way TOO MUCH, it still looks totally compelling and I can’t wait to see it.  It’s going to be upsetting, sure, but it also looks pretty great.

4. Hailee Steinfeld joins Pitch Perfect 2

This is just sort of filler news, because the movie doesn’t come out until 2015, but I can’t wait, and every tidbit makes me happy. (Variety)

5. Boyhood Trailer

This is that Linklater film that took something like 12 years to create, because he filmed the stars–including Ethan Hawke–over the course of the years, to show the family age in real time.  It’s got some good buzz, and I’ll definitely see it.

Any movie news you’re excited about?

April 2014 Recap

Another month gone.  It was a slightly slower month in reading and watching.  I did do a lot of cross-stitching, though.  Hmm…  Let’s get to it!

Reading:

Best Book of the Month: Pointe by Brandy Colbert: This one knocked me over.  It was so, so good.

Books Read: 18
Adult: 5
YA: 12
MG: 1
Children’s: 0
Fiction: 16
Non-fiction/Memoir: 1
Graphic Novel: 0
# of Pages Read: 4921

Thoughts on April’s Reading:

  • As far as non-fiction goals go, I read only one title–Sex After: How Intimacy Changes as Life Changes, and it was interesting but ultimately not super memorable.
  • I didn’t read much in the way of new YA fiction outside of SVH novels, but the ones I did read this month were knockouts: both Pointe by Brandy Colbert and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han were great (in very, very different ways), and Capricious by Gabrielle Prendergast was pretty great, too.
  • Although I’m still plugging along on my recapping of Sweet Valley High novels for my other blog, I’m not as into it as I was before, which is why my numbers are much lower this month.

Watching:

TV:

Much as I’d like to, I’m not obsessively tracking what TV show episodes I watch and when.  So this will be mostly bullet points.

  • J. and I have been re-watching The Office for no good reason other than I wanted to and he was willing.  We tend to watch this when we’re both working on other things.  When he’s not around, I’ve been re-watching Parks and Recreation in hopes of eventually catching back up.
  • Weekly must-watches for us include Orphan Black, Game of Thrones (although I’m increasingly less enamored with this), and The Good Wife.
  • I still watch The Mindy Project every week.  I don’t care about New Girl at all anymore, and while I’ll probably catch up eventually, it’s super, super low on my list of priorities.

Movies:

shorterm12Best Movie(s) of the Month: Veronica Mars

Movies Watched: 5
New: 2
Re-Watch: 3
Theater Trips: 1

Thoughts on Movies Watched in February:

  • Not a stellar month for movies.  I’m not sure why.
  • Short Term 12 is the clear winner here.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it, and it’s streaming on Netflix for your viewing pleasure.

Goals for May:

  • Continue reading and watching diverse things.  Keep up with keeping track.  Try to squeeze in a few more movies.

Happy reading and watching, readers!

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

TV’s Rape Problem is Bigger Than Game of Thrones (Salon)

After last Sunday’s Game of Thrones aired, there was a lot of discussion about the rape (make no mistake, guys, that was a rape) that occurred at Joffrey’s wake when Jaime raped his sister Cersei.  The fact that it’s been changed from the original scene isn’t the point anymore.  I’ve tweeted about it a lot and I did a round-up of some of the best think pieces about it on the internet, but this piece at Salon (originally posted at The Daily Dot) gets at the larger issue:

Another major problem with the rise of rape on television is its inclusion as a explain-all for complicated female characters. At Entertainment Weekly, Karen Valby recently urged television writers to put a stop to this practice, imploring them, “Here’s something else to imagine: the idea that there are stories to tell about the sources of a woman’s anger, her ambition and fear, her brokenness and resolve, that don’t involve pinning her under some man’s heaving chest.”

So it feels a little pervasive, but perhaps my biggest issue is that it’s representative of lazy and insensitive writing.  It feeds into rape culture, and when show runners try to rape-splain it, it gets even worse.  More insulting, and more tone deaf.

It’s not that rape can’t ever be used to advance plot. But rape should never be used just to advance plot. Rape informs every part of a survivor’s life, but it also isn’t the only thing that informs their life. Rape should never be easy. It should never be a show’s quick fix for the writers’ bigger story problems. Rape should be treated with the same severity, thoughtfulness, and urgency on television that we’ve just started to treat it with in real life.

Ben Brantley is Asking For It (Daisy Egan)

In the same vein of rape culture, this internet gem was almost missed by me.  A little background: perpetual creeper and giant diaper baby James Franco threw what can only be called an instagram hissy fit over a NYT review of the Broadway play he’s currently starring in.  In his tantrum, he referred to reviewer Ben Brantley as “a little bitch.”  Which, whatever.  But what’s interesting is this piece by Daisy Egan, which is well worth your time.  In it, she takes issue with Brantley’s comments about the role played by Leighton Meester, and she is brilliant:

In his review of Of Mice And Men in Wednesday, April 16th’s edition of The New York Times, Ben Brantley says Curley’s wife, portrayed by Leighton Meister, “provides no evidence” of being either “slatternly” or “provocative” which, “[G]iven the grim events that eventually befall her character… may have been a conscious choice. We don’t want to be left thinking, ‘Well, she was asking for it.'”

That’s the background.  Here’s the takeaway:

When we talk about a “culture of rape” in this country, we are referring to a culture in which, “She was asking for it” is a common, acceptable defense for criminal behavior.  The only time a woman is “asking for it” is when she is literally asking for it.  As in, “Let’s have sex”, or, “Will you have sex with me”, or, “I’d like to have sex with you”, or some variation thereof, either explicitly or implicitly with another consenting adult with whom sexual contact has been mutually agreed to by both parties.  “Rape culture” is a culture in which an educated, prolific theater critic would assume that anyone would ever think “she was asking for it”.

Now go read the rest of it.  I’ll wait.

Greg Rucka on the Gatekeepers of Women in Geek Culture (The MarySue)

I’m not fully enmeshed in geek culture, but I dabble a bit.  And lately I’ve been tracking the female experience in geek culture, because there have been some awesome, vocal girls on the internet talking about their experiences as gamers or at conventions.  Let me tell you, it can be really hard to be female and active in various aspects of geek culture.  So when I came across this piece at The Mary Sue, I found it fascinating, insightful, and ultimately hopeful.

Greg Rucka is a father and a geek, and he recently came across some misogynistic piece of garbage who was wearing a T-shirt that said “I like fangirls howI like my coffee: I hate coffee.”  Rucka had some thoughts on this kind of thinking:

Fake geek girl? This is still a thing? Rape threats because a woman has the temerity to point out flaws in a grievously flawed cover? Bullshit arguments about inclusiveness being overdone, overrated, that we don’t need it?

So, yeah, this is directed at the guys, and you know who you are. Odds are you’re the ones who’d never read this in the first place, but that’s not going to stop me. You, yes, you. Come here. Listen.

What in the name of everlovingfuck is the matter with you? Are you simply stupid? Are you just ignorant? Are you broken? Newsflash: you are owed NOTHING. Not a thing. Not a goddamn thing. This fandom, that fandom, guess what? It doesn’t belong to you.

You don’t own it. You partake in it. It’s called community.

You want something to be your thing, make a club, build a tree-fort, and do us a favor. Don’t come down.

The whole post is sort of brilliant and amazing, but that part stood out to me.   I don’t have anything incredibly new to say about it, but I just really liked this post.

What got you reading and thinking this week?