Things I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

As per usual, these are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  It’s YA-heavy this week, but that’s kind of where my passion is, so it is what it is.  Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Unplugging from John Green and Rob Thomas (Persnickety Snark)

vmI was so happy when Adele from Persnickety Snark started blogging again after a fairly long hiatus.  I love her posts and her thoughts about books and pop culture, and I was particularly struck by a recent post in which she talks about fatigue from being deluged by a creator’s updates about their process.  Because I agree.

Like Adele, I was a Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter Backer, and also like Adele, the updates from Rob Thomas got to the point where another one would appear in my inbox and I would think, “Seriously?”  She gets to the heart of it here:

At this point in time, Thomas has sent out 92 updates on his highly successful Kickstarter initiative to revisit the world of Neptune High.  92 updates, a media eclipse of content, a mediocre film and nowhere to run.  Even in unfollowing every cast member and creator, I was still inundated with information about the script, the casting, the production, the team working on it, the media appearances, Rob’s new VM related projects, the premiere, and now I am getting news on an unrelated Thomas driven project via the Kickstarter updates*.

I’m with her, and I’m also with her about the updates we’re now being subjected to about iZombie.  I can’t tell you how much I don’t care about iZombie.  Actually, I can.  I don’t even know what it is, apart from the fact that Thomas is working on it.  I can’t even be bothered to Google it, so irritated am I that I’m receiving updates about it.

This part of her post also stuck out to me, because it’s exactly how I feel about it:

But in a world where we are becoming increasingly interlinked, escape is becoming less probable.  I want some mystery back.  I love hearing about the process, and the creators’ emotional journey etc after the end result.  If the process is intensely detailed as it’s happening – I need to disengage.  I don’t want to be over the book/film before it has even made its way to the public.  I am then robbing myself of some great storytelling with the added benefit of surprise.

Just something to think about.

Why the Eleanor and Park Movie is so Important (BookRiot)

If you follow YA news at all, you probably already heard that Rainbow Rowell’s excellent (seriously, seriously excellent) Eleanor & Park has been optioned by Dreamworks.  Although it’s a long road to actually becoming a film, because of the book’s intensely vocal (and wide-ranging) fanbase, it seems pretty likely to do so.  Of course, this movie news is influenced by the recent surge of other realistic YA novels being optioned for film.  But this one feels particularly important in a way that other YA lit movie news doesn’t.

For one, it doesn’t include Shailene Woodley in the lead role (is she in everything, or is she in everything?) This Book Riot post gets to the heart of it pretty quickly:

But when it comes to casting, it’s not a surprise that we’re seeing the same faces over and over again…by using the same actors over and over again are telling movie audiences: “These are people whose stories are worth telling. If you look like this person, your story is worth telling. If you don’t…um… it’s like… I don’t know what to tell you, dude.”

The argument here, of course, is that this won’t work with Eleanor & Park, because Park is half-Korean and Eleanor is not a waif.  This means, if the movie hews closely to the book, casting directors are going to have to go outside of their comfort zone, at least a little.  Maybe?

No One Wants to Discover New Music? Ridiculous. (Salon)

Books might be my first love, but music is a pretty close second.  I’m an audiophile, and I’m obsessed with discovering new music and tracking what’s being released when.  Most of my music discoveries happen through music blogs, but I definitely use things like Pandora to help discover new stuff, especially when I’m hanging out with people and we want background noise.

This article appeared at Salon this week, and takes issue with another article (linked at the site and not here, because I kind of feel like the original article is troll-y click bait) that purports that streaming services like Pandora and Spotify are fighting an uphill battle that they will never win.  Essentially: music listeners don’t want to discover new music, because they are comfortable with what they know they like.

Which, what?  This is true of some music listeners, sure.  It’s impossible to make a blanket statement one way or the other, but the original article attempts just that.  And it’s super ridiculous.  The article from Salon agrees:

What’s so astonishing is that, now, more than ever before, it simply doesn’t have to be that way. When I was an impressionable teenager it was logistically difficult to get exposed to new music outside of the narrow confines of Top 40. It required money and transport (or, at the very least, a good FM DJ). But today it’s the easiest thing in the world. For the last week or so, I’ve been occasionally listening to a Pandora station seeded by the Broken Bells, and I’m continually amazed at just how much creative, interesting music is out there that I’ve never heard of.

So maybe for casual music fans, there’s a certain truth to the original argument.  But for people who actually love music and are interested in discovering new bands and sounds?  Streaming sites like Pandora are a mecca.

The Hazards of Book to Film Adaptation: Further Thoughts on Attempted Rape in Divergent Divergent  (Stacked)

I finally got around to seeing the Divergent movie last week and was surprised that there was a divergentscene in which Four attempts to rape Tris during one of her fear simulations.  I didn’t remember it from the book, but I sort of brushed it off because I read the book years ago and the details of the plot are hazy at best.  But then I started reading articles on the internet, and I realized that I hadn’t forgotten the scene–it had been added.

Which is disturbing for a lot of reasons.  But this piece by Kimberly Francisco at Stacked gets to a lot of what makes that decision so uncomfortable.  She wonders why the filmmakers decided to fundamentally alter Tris’s fear landscape to include an attempted rape:

The kindest answer to my question may be that the filmmakers thought it would be too difficult to communicate Tris’ fear of sexual intimacy – or just affection in general – on the big screen.

So if that’s the case–and I agree with Francisco, that’s likely what propelled the decision to change the scene from one in which Tris is afraid of sex because of how scary sex is when you’re a teenager to one in which the fear is of actual rape–it sends a completely different message to viewers:

Perhaps they did not intend to explicitly tell readers and viewers that they felt Tris’ fear of sexual intimacy was equivalent to fear of rape, but by making the choice to exclude the book’s scene and create the attempted rape scene, that’s exactly what they have done. 

Which is, of course, completely alarming.  Francisco is not the only person who takes issue with this choice in the movie.  Melissa Montovani at YA Bookshelf has some great pieces about this movie and how it fits into rape culture, and I encourage you to take a look at them.

At any rate, I’ve been thinking about this since I saw the movie, and I think I’ll be thinking about it for a good long while still.

What got you thinking this week?

 

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the articles I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  Let’s get to it.

The Gaslight District: The Dangerous Precedents Being Set By the Woody Allen Molestation Case (Pajiba)

Honestly, guys, I don’t care if you’re sick of hearing about it, because like this article states, you should be sick over this issue.  You should, because it’s disgusting what’s happening.  We need to be talking about this, because when we don’t talk about these things, we set the precedents talked about in this article, and we reinforce everything that we allow in a rape culture.

There’s a lot at play here, and there’s a lot to unpack.  Biological vs. adoptive parents, victim blaming, the concept of a vindictive mother, etc.  All of these things are worth talking about, but by wanting to quickly move on, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and the victims of sexual abuse.  This is an accessible article and it tackles all of those things.  Read it.

#SochiProblems is More of an Embarrassment for America Than For Russia (PolicyMic)

I’m not watching the Olympics because I literally don’t care and also because I don’t think we should be in Russia.  But my best friend sent me a link to a compilation of the best hashtags about the problems in Sochi, and my immediate response was, “This is fascinating because cultural privilege.”  And this article, whether you agree with it or not, is worth taking a look at.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone created a novelty Twitter account called @SochiProblems to document all the perceived mishaps that are happening in the city during the Olympics, but it is worth it to take a minute and think about the larger implications of that.  It’s malicious glee, and while I’m certainly guilty of feeling that way about certain pop culture events, it’s important to reflect on what that says about me (and the culture at large):

As faves and retweets on @SochiProblems explode, it’s clear that the meme is based on cultural misunderstandings borne out of sheltered ignorance: The posts reflect actual issues that directly impact the quality of life of Russia’s 143 million people…Most Russians don’t drink water from the sink due to fear of illness, and the ones who can’t afford bottled water just boil it and hope they don’t get sick. Only around half of Russians had access to drinking water that met reasonable health standards in 2002, according to Jean Lemierre, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. And the situation is still so bad that Putin himself admittedlast May that even he has dirty water running from his sink.

This article is definitely on the earnest side, but hopefully it also makes people stop and think for a second.  The #SochiProblems trend makes me super uncomfortable, and this helps me pinpoint why that is.

J.K. Rowling Did Make a Mistake, But it Wasn’t the Ron-Hermione Pairing (Book Riot)

Apart from sort of wishing that Rowling would stop talking about things that should have happened in her books that are already published in a series that is (probably) complete, I’ve stayed pretty far out of the latest reveal that Rowling thinks Harry and Hermione should have ended up together.  Mostly because I DO NOT CARE.  But this article is interesting, because it doesn’t really care about that, either.  Instead, it tackles one of the biggest issues that even hardcore fans have with Rowling’s books: that epilogue:

I still remember when I turned that final page and saw for the first time that Rowling had added an epilogue to Harry’s last book. It didn’t take more than few sentences for me to develop a sinking feeling in my stomach. What?, I thought, 7 books of plot twists and suddenly everyone marries their high school boyfriend and has adorable moppets who become friends with their high school friends’ similarly aged moppets!??! Even Draco Malfoy is there?

There’s also this:

It also feels like cheating. If you want to decide what happens to your characters, Rowling, you have to actually write it. It’s no fair summarizing all that time in the middle. You have to make it happen.

Whatever, this piece isn’t going to change the world or anything, but she definitely has a point.  It’s a fun diversion.

The 15 Most Hated Bands of the Last 30 Years (Salon)

I’m really good at hating things, so there’s no doubt that I’d love a list like this.  It’s totally silly and fun, but there’s also a kernel of truth to it.  Some highlights:

Nickelback, Creed (aka “Nickelback before there was Nickelback”), Lana Del Rey, etc. etc.

However, not including U2, my MOST HATED BAND PROBABLY EVER, feels like a great oversight.  You best believe they’re mentioned in the comments (and not by me, because they ARE THE WORST).

Does Length Matter? (Dear Author)

I include this not only because it’s a thoughtful, well-written piece, but because I think about this all the time.  One of J.s jokes about me is that my biggest and most frequent complaint about nearly every movie we watch together is that it’s “too long.” And in my defense, this is mostly true: movies are more bloated than ever before, and there are stats to back it up (you can Google this.  I’m too lazy).  I’m a firm believer in taking the amount of time you need to tell the story, but I often feel like movies, books, and even TV shows could be tighter in how they do this.  So yeah, I believe length matters.  Which is why this piece struck a chord with me.

Obviously, this is different for every reader, but there are some good reasons put forth here, and it’s worth a read if you like to read–no matter what the length of the book.

What did you read this week that got you thinking?

 

 

Five Things I’m Into Right Now

A long time ago, I used to do this thing where I’d post a list of things I was into at the moment.  I’m trying to do that again, right now.  I have no idea how often I might post a list like this, but I can promise you it won’t be more than every other week, mostly because I don’t like very many things.  Seriously, this list would be easier for me to post if it was “Five Things I Actively Hate,” but I’m all about the positivity, guys.

1. The Good Wifegoodwife

I wrote about this a little bit in my January recap, but I am legitimately obsessed with The Good Wife.  I don’t remember the last time I was this excited about anything I was watching, really.  Normally not a huge procedural fan, but this show is so smart and is so well-cast that I can’t help but find it completely compelling.  I don’t know what I’m going to do when I’m all caught up and have to wait for episodes to air.

If you haven’t given this one a chance, I suggest you do.

2. Ice Cream with Sprinkles and Marshmallows

This is my dessert of choice lately, and I’m completely aware that it’s diabetes in a bowl.  I don’t care.  There’s something about how the marshmallows freeze and the sprinkles crunch that makes me so happy.  Whatever, guys.  I eat pretty healthy the majority of the time, but I’m fundamentally a dessert person, and this is my jam right now.  I’m sure I’ll get sick of it soon, but in the meantime, this is my favorite treat.

tongue3. Zoey, the Love of My Life

It’s no secret that J. and I are pretty in love with our brilliant, frustrating dog, Zoey.  She’s one of the sweetest, friendliest dogs you’ll ever meet.  Full of raw enthusiasm and unbridled curiosity, she amazes us every day.  I guess this is how some people feel about their kids?  I wouldn’t know.

zoeybear

But I do know that I look forward to going home to this crazy puppy every day, and I love getting to spend time with her, whether we’re going for a walk and finding things to smell or hanging out on the couch, cuddling.

How could you not love this dog?  Seriously, how?

4. Ask Polly

My best friend and I regularly read and dissect the Ask Polly advice column, and it’s always a good time.  I think Heather Havrilevsky, who writes the column, gives amazing, thoughtful, and truthful advice.  I often identify with the letter writers as well as “Polly’s” response.  Full of good advice and often very funny insights, this is required reading, every week.

We even have a saying: “WWPS,” which of course means, “What would Polly say?”

5. “Magazine” by Caroline Smith

I had the chance to see Caroline Smith at First Ave recently, and she didn’t disappoint.  She’s one of my favorite artists right now, and this song is so catchy and thought-provoking and fun.  I dare you to listen to it and not get it stuck in your head.  I love it–and this video.

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the articles I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  Let’s go!

Revisiting the Reductive Approach to YA Revisited: Contemporary YA and Generosity to Readers (Stacked)

There’s a lot to unpack in this excellent piece by librarian extraordinaire Kelly Jensen, but it’s worth a read if you’re at all interested in how YA gets written and talked about, and the rise of the bogus concept of the “YA Savior.”  In it, Jensen takes issue with a New York Times review of A.S. King’s book Reality Boy, written by the polarizing (but mostly beloved) John Green, and then expands upon Green’s influence in the media these days:

Article after article from publishing insiders talk about how contemporary realistic fiction is on the rise. That it’s the next trend to really hit YA fiction. While I disagree that it’s the next trend — it’s always been a staple of YA fiction as much as being a teenager has been a staple of being between the ages of 13 and 19 — I think the actual trend is the rise in YA fiction that reads like or can be sold as being a John Green alike.

That’s not all that this article covers, though.  Jensen talks about Green’s position of power in the world of books, and she talks about the fact that while he doesn’t abuse that position, he also makes grand pronouncements and doesn’t back them up.  Recently, he tweeted this:

Fascinating to see responses to Allegiant because I think many of the book’s readers are just, like, wrong about what books are/should do.

He goes on to talk about the fact that readers have an obligation to be “generous” to the books they read.  Jensen has some questions about all this:

So what is it that a book is or what a book should do? And more than that, why does the reader owe generosity toward a book? He doesn’t offer a suggestion here, but rather a platitude that doesn’t dig deeper into the implications of what being a generous reader means.

I’m not doing a very good job of summarizing this post, but that’s because there’s so much here to think about.  Jensen is very fair to Green–much more fair than I probably would, but she raises some really good questions.  It’s worth a read.

Why TV Wives are Always Way Hotter than Their Husbands (Alternet)

It’s no secret that there’s a double standard in Hollywood when it comes to the attractiveness of men and women.  Men are allowed to be much more ordinary-looking than women are.  It’s much more common to find a kind of schlubby dude paired up with a much hotter, fitter (and often younger) woman.

Across the board, audiences today are subjected daily to female characters who are not, for lack of a better word, ordinary. They are almost always gorgeous, fit, sexy and dating or married to someone not nearly as attractive as they are. Men can be all shapes and sizes on film; women must be hot.

In this article, the author, an actress herself, took a look at a bunch of different character descriptions that casting directors use to fill spots on TV shows.  The message is clear: what a woman looks like matters.  It’s worth reading the different character descriptions (how many euphemisms can we find for “hot”?), but it’s also so, so discouraging.  With fewer and fewer roles for women, why does it always come down to what they look like?  And wouldn’t everyone benefit from seeing more representation onscreen?

My So-Called Life Set the Path all Teen Shows Would Follow (AV Club)

Wasn’t My So-Called Life the most amazing thing, like, ever?  Can you believe it’s been nearly 20 years since it aired?  Does that make you feel as old as I do?

My So-Called Life felt utterly and completely unique when it aired, and it feels utterly and completely unique now; if this show somehow found its way onto the schedule in the fall of 2014, it would almost certainly be just as hailed as it was in 1994, and it would almost certainly feel as fresh as it did then. It is an oasis in the history of television, but like all oases, its presence was far too small.

This article is such a beautiful love letter to a show that was pretty much flawless.  I think I have to rewatch the series now.

Don’t Hate Macklemore Because He’s White. Hate Him Because His Music is Terrible (Slate)

I’m including this article not only because I think it raises some good points, but because the title made me laugh.  Look, I’m sure Macklemore is a nice person, mostly.  I don’t think about him a lot, but when I do, it’s usually because he’s done or said something that’s well-meaning but sort of awful.  He’s been in the press a lot this week after his (completely undeserving) wins at the Grammys, and that’s to be expected, I guess.

This article is pretty great, though, for a lot of reasons.  This is one:

No, I hate Macklemore and Ryan Lewis because I think their music is terrible at best, and worse than terrible at worst. It’s the lowest sort of middlebrow, an art-like commodity that shallow people think is deep and dull people think is edgy…This is rap for people who don’t like rap that makes them feel proud of themselves for not liking rap, and for buying Macklemore albums, and as such it moves from bad music into immoral, bleached-out hucksterism…

It gets better when it starts to dissect Macklemore’s music, and why, exactly, it’s so awful:

As Jon Caramanica noted in a Times piece far more levelheaded than this one, Macklemore apologists and detractors alike often argue that his music is more pop than hip-hop, and that to compare him to Kendrick and Kanye and any number of other artists who were up for Best Rap Album on Sunday is an unfair equivalence. This is bullshit. For starters, from a musical standpoint both Kanye West’sYeezus and Drake’s Nothing Was the Same are easily more genre-straddling works than The Heist, a conservative record in every sense other than its politicsSecondly, and much more importantly, Macklemore claims himself as a hip-hop artist, proudly, at every opportunity.

I mean, whatever.  In the scheme of things, he won some Grammys, and people are either in on the fact that the Grammys are kind of a joke or they’re not.  People either understand that there is white privilege at play here or they don’t.  I’m not trying to be a social justice warrior and I’m not trying to rail against people who think his music is good (it’s not, guys) or fun (I guess I’ll allow this).  I’m just trying to engage in the discussion about what Macklemore’s wins mean, and how it relates to the pop culture machine.

I’ll leave you with this:

And this is when I wonder: Who does this dude think he is? The number of lazy elisions and smarmy misdirections buried in here are confounding. In what asinine, addled universe is “hip-hop” reducible to YouTube comments? Hip-hop is certainly a culture “founded from oppression,” but what might you know of that, Macklemore? It quickly starts to feel like the white kid in the front row of the Af-Am Studies class, droning on about his own radicalism, convinced he’s the only one in the room with Dead Prez on his iPhone.

Okay, I’m done now.

What did you read this week that got you thinking?

 

 

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

I skipped last week’s link round-up, but I’m back this week with some stuff to think about while you digest whatever insane amount of food you ate yesterday.  Without further ado, these are the things on the internet that made me think this week:

Satire is Hard: Why Most ‘Onion’ Rip-offs Don’t Work  (SplitSider)

I’ve been having a sort of ongoing conversation with one of my friends about why people are the worst when it comes to checking sources on internet articles.  This week, she sent me this article and said, “THOUGHTS?”  And I have a lot of them, but many are what I’ve already expressed here and elsewhere.  People are so quick to hit “share” that they don’t stop and think about what they’re saying.

This article takes it a step further and examines actual satire, and how hard it can be to get it right.  Part of what makes the Onion such great satire is that the articles could almost be true.  That’s how ridiculous the news media is these days.  But this quote, from one of the websites that is like the Onion, was interesting:

While Daily Currant abdicates responsibility for public confusion, National Report cheerfully admits to courting it. “We play off of societal fears and follow fringe trends,” says founder Allen Montgomery. “We have found that people use news sources not for information but to confirm what they already believed…It is our opinion that if a person is too lazy to check for multiple references (or at least one other source), or think critically about the news they are receiving, and they spread misinformation around as fact, then they are to blame, not us.”

“Fit Mom” Lashes Out at Regular Women’s Selfies (Salon)

Look, I didn’t even know who Maria Kang was until I read this article.  I suppose I had heard the name when her stupid photo went viral, but I couldn’t be bothered to care.  There’s always been a certain amount of gloating attached to someone who looks amazing and has worked hard to get there, and I don’t necessarily fault them for that pride–but I also don’t feel the need to muster some misplaced outrage about it, either.

But this latest bit of news?  This is where I think Kang crosses the line, albeit in an ignorant way.  This piece from Salon talks about Kang’s non-apology for saying that an ad campaign showing real women’s bodies normalizes obesity, and it pinpoints where Kang goes completely off the rails:

But where Kang fails in both logic and, spectacularly, empathy is in her inability to distinguish the difference between her own family history and a photograph of a real woman whose health and circumstances she knows zero about, beyond the size of her body. She assumes that because a woman is bigger than Kang-size – and worse – isn’t ashamed to be, we’re “normalizing” something she assumes is, well, as she called her mom, “selfish.” She writes on Facebook, “No one should be ashamed of who they are, at the same time, in order to desire something greater, you have to – at some level – be uncomfortable with where you are at.” Which is fine if you’re the sole arbiter of everybody’s “greater,” or if you assume that being a certain size is automatically unhealthy and selfish.

Look, I lost a lot of weight in my early twenties and have worked to keep it off.  I understand that it’s not easy, and that it takes a great deal of sacrifice.  But my body still doesn’t look anything like Kang’s, and it never will, unless I give up everything that keeps me fairly grounded (personal relationships, dessert, sanity about food).  I applaud Kang’s dedication to being “healthier” but take SERIOUS ISSUE with her narrow, dangerous definition of what “healthy” looks like.

Also, non-apologies are bullshit.  If you aren’t sorry, don’t pretend to be.

Kendrick Lamar has a Right to be Mad at GQ (The Atlantic)

This is a relatively short, and incredibly interesting piece.  Even if you have no interest in hip-hop or rap culture, it’s worth giving it a read.  Here’s the gist: GQ named Kendrick Lamar one of its “Men of the Year” and put him on the cover.  They wrote a complementary piece about him, and then Lamar’s representation released a statement saying that the piece is overshadowed by the “racial overtones” and focus on “drama.”  If you read the GQ piece closely enough, you realize that Lamar is right.  And it’s really, really disturbing, because it’s completely well-meaning, but racist as hell.

This is from the GQ article:

Much of Kendrick’s music now is an attempt to transcend his ravaged world without separating himself from it in judgment, about somehow gaining control over his household’s chaos—some of his uncles were Crips, and his father was reportedly a Gangster Disciple in Chicago before moving to Compton—and over his neighborhood’s warped commitment to adolescent pride. It’s an ethos that extends to his crew. They have a seriousness of purpose, a rigorous discipline that can feel slightly monastic at times. Kendrick doesn’t smoke weed or drink booze.

Which, okay, fine.  Except, do you see how it reinforces the stereotypes about rap culture by acting essentially shocked that Lamar’s group doesn’t engage in those activities?  “Monastic,” really?

The article relies heavily on setting Lamar up against familiar rap cliches and then demonstrating how Lamar doesn’t fit into any of them, but the actual cliches are never questioned.  There’s an implied racism here, and it’s so ingrained in the author’s writing that it’s easy to miss.  But it’s there, and it’s indicative of the problem of writing about a black performer in a magazine that sits with a predominantly white audience: how do we make this person relatable to people who have no idea who he is?

Am I wrong?

A Tale of Two Lolitas (Vulture)

This one is lengthy, and deals with a great deal of historical content, so if you’re not particularly invested in the road to publishing that Nabokov’s “Lolita” took, or the fact that my favorite writer, Dorothy Parker, published a short story entitled “Lolita” right before his book came out, you can probably skip this one.

You can argue a myriad of different things about whether or not the stories mimic one another or who might have had motivations to “borrow” ideas, but what is interesting to note is how this article frames Parker as a desperate woman who was barely holding onto her career.  I don’t have much to say about this, myself, but the people in the comments sure do.  They are more interesting than the article itself, and the author’s fierce defense of her piece there is also sort of fascinating.

What did you read this week that had you thinking?

Things I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Here are the things that got me thinking this week:

Life, etc.

Mastering the Art of the Thought Catalog Troll (The Atlantic Wire

Let’s be honest about something: Thought Catalog is pretty much the worst thing on the internet.  It’s a bunch of privileged white people whining about their lives.  Too many of the articles are poorly written, poorly edited (and poorly executed in general) to really be taken seriously.  The article in question here meets all those criteria.  But it exploded this week because it’s such a disasterpiece.

I’m not linking to the piece, but if you click through to this excellent piece from The Atlantic Wire, you can find the source material easily enough.  The basic gist of the essay is that the author is privileged and is tired of feeling guilty about her privilege.  It’s basically that line from Mean Girls where Gretchen Wieners says, “I’m sorry that people are jealous of me, but I can’t help that I’m so popular.”

Obviously, there are a ton of problems with the TC piece.  First of all, privilege IS a choice.  Second of all, this piece is the DEFINITION of link-bait.  Hate-linking is real, guys, and this is the perfect example of mastering content that inspires it.  Anyway, all of it is interesting in a sort of nauseating way.

Here’s What Happens When You Text Drake Lyrics to Your Ex (Pigeons and Planes)

The hat tip for this article goes to my friend Stacey (@GingerGoingHAM), who is as obsessed with Drake as I am.  The title of the article/slideshow says it all, and the results are kind of hilarious.  Since my two best girlfriends and I just started a new game last week where we try to speak to each other using only hip hop/rap lyrics, this is right up our alley.

So, yeah, this is silly, but it’s also become our new thing to try.

Books and Reading:

From Mars (The New Yorker)

I actually heard about this profile while listening to the most recent Slate XX Podcast.  It’s a long article, and I certainly don’t blame you if you can’t get through the whole thing, but it is really interesting and thought-provoking.

The article is about Bryan Goldberg, one of the founders of the sports-news blog The Bleachers, who decided to start a new website for women.  Whatever, it is what it is.  It’s not like there aren’t other websites aimed at women that compile all sorts of news, but what is unique about this one is how completely clueless Goldberg seems to be about what it is that women are.  I heard one person describe Goldberg and said he was surprised the guy didn’t just come out and say, “I’m a virgin.”  At 30, the man doesn’t seem to have ever talked to a woman, so the idea that he would be capable of creating a media outlet for them is just unfathomable.  Good thing he hired a bunch of women to create content for his site, right?

That’s all for this week.  What have you been reading that’s got you thinking?

 

2012 Year in Review: Listening

Music is a big part of my life, but I don’t write about it here very often.  Sure, I post the occasional song or video when I do my 5 things I’m into posts, but I don’t tend to go on and on about music unless there’s something I’m super obsessed with.  Partly, I believe music is very personal, and partly, I get so tired of people being judgmental little turds about what other people listen to.  If it makes you happy, go for it.  Listen to it.

My music tastes are wide-reaching and eclectic (a lot of people say this, but I actually believe it’s true when applied to me, and since it’s my blog, I get to do whatever I want).  Without further ado, here are the 10 albums that rocked my world this year.  IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

1. Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

20-year-0ld Cloud Nothings frontman Dylan Baldi called this album’s title a description of what the album aimed to do: attack the memories of what many people believed the band sounded like, and create something new.  The result is exactly what Baldi hoped to accomplish, as this album replaces the band’s sugary pop-punk hooks from their previous album(s) with an aggressive new sound that’s got heavier musical accompaniments.  Not everyone could handle the change in Cloud Nothings’s sounds: I had a friend throw in the towel after one measly listen to this album, which was his loss.  This is an album that grows on the consumer with repeat listens, and Baldi’s willingness to grow and adapt his music as he gets older can only mean good things for him in the future.

2. Grimes – Visions

Say what you will about Claire Boucher’s proclivity for strangeness, but you have to admit that the woman put out a hell of an album this year.  Visions is Boucher’s best album to date, and it’s also the most accessible and most fun to listen to.  Present in her music are all sorts of contrasts and complications to sort out (and I’m not just talking about trying to figure out what, exactly, she’s saying at any given time).  Grimes uses pop hooks and weirdly atmospheric beats to create a unique sound that is all hers.  It helps that her high, almost childlike voice is haunting and beautiful all at once.  Whatever.  All I know is that I listened to “Oblivion” and “Genesis” on repeat this year, and I’m not even sick of them yet.

3. Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls

This seems to be an album that has transcended age groups and has widespread appeal among the young and old.  It probably has to do with the fact that Alabama Shakes–led by twenty-something Brittany Howard–grounds their music in sounds that sound straight out of the 70s.  Howard’s throaty voice and confessional lyrics help add a roughness to the album.

This is the record that has most often been on repeat at family dinners this year.  For a debut, this is a solid album well worth a couple of listens.

4. Beach House – Bloom

Beach House has slowly come into a sound all their own.  The Baltimore-based duo’s dream-pop isn’t for everyone, but I once heard it described as “make out music for indie kids,” and that feels pretty apropos.  With their most recent album Bloom, Beach House has strengthened their sound and sharpened their craft.  This is a fantastic album, full of subtle shifts and music that attempts to describe the indescribable.

5. Purity Ring – Shrines

Purity Ring was one of my later finds in 2012, but since I discovered them in October, I haven’t been able to stop listening to them.  A Canadian duo who were virtually unknown before a song called “Ungirthed” leaked onto the internet, Purity Ring has taken the indie circuit by storm.  Megan James’s vocals are largely what propels this album to greatness, as her high, clear voice conveys lyrics that are often creepy and beautiful.  The album’s focus on the body might not sit well with some listeners, but the entire album feels like one extended piece, and the fact that it fits together so beautifully and so memorably makes this a standout album of 2012.  I can’t wait to see what Purity Ring has to offer in 2013.

6. Jessie Ware – Devotion

An unlikely marriage between smoldering pop music and electronic beats, Jessie Ware’s album is definitely one that requires more than one listen.  There’s a lot of influences at work in Ware’s music, including 80′s pop (you can hear some Whitney) and 90′s diva-inspiration, but the sound remains uniquely Ware’s own.  Ware’s hypnotic voice pairs well with her haunting lyrics, and the inclusion of a variety of sounds, including dubstep beats and other electronic sounds makes this an album well worth your time.  If nothing else, Ware’s voice is worth a listen.

7. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

I’m not sure what there is to say about Frank Ocean’s album that hasn’t already been said already.  This is definitely one of the best albums of the year, and pretty much everyone would agree with that statement.  Ocean’s strengths lie in the melodic power of his voice but also in his absolutely brilliant words: Ocean’s lyrics can’t be rivaled by any other songwriter working today.  Ocean’s storytelling abilities are what make Channel Orange go from a great album to a fantastic one with staying power.  Every single song on the album tells a story, and each of those stories is absolutely worth hearing again and again.  (I particularly recommend “Super Rich Kids” and “Bad Religion.”)

8. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City

There’s an autobiographical element to Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, m.A.A.d City that feels almost uncomfortably intimate.  But that’s also what makes the album work as well as it does.  While each song on Lamar’s album can stand on its own, it also works within a larger concept.  There’s a lot of heavy stuff at work here: Lamar deals with the powerful pull of gang life and how often the only thing keeping him from joining is his faith and his family (Lamar populates the album with snippets of actual voicemails from family members).  While all this could feel like too much, Lamar manages to pull it off because his lyrics are brilliant, his hooks are catchy, and the album as a whole is a fantastic study in how great hip hop can be.

9. The Men – Open Your Heart

I went through my punk phase in high school, but I certainly didn’t have anything like The Men to help me funnel my anger through music.  With this album, my sixteen-year-old punk self was reborn. Perhaps most interestingly, this album is both aggressive and welcoming.   It’s the kind of album that wants to knock you around a little bit and then knock a few back with you while you laugh about it all.  It’s a great album, with each song building on the last.  I’ll put it this way: it’s one of the only albums I burned in its entirety on a CD to listen to in the car this year.  That’s a ringing endorsement if I ever heard one.

10. Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan

Dirty Projectors is a fairly isolating band.  People tend to either really like them or hate them (I’ve dated more than one person with a strong opinion on the band), but I’m going to come out and say that I like them.  Despite the band’s propensity for switching things up often (including who is in the band, exactly), there’s no doubt that this most recent album’s switch-up has made for the most accessible, addictive album from the band yet. Swing Lo Magellan marries catchy beats with the most straightforward lyrics Projectors has ever come out with (and…they’re still kind of hard to digest).

What did you listen to this past year that you absolutely loved?

Lists and Procrastination: 5 Things I’m into for the Moment

Gentle Readers, welcome!  It’s time for another installment of Things I’m Currently Obsessed With.  Previous installments can be found hereherehere,hereherehere,  here,  herehere,  hereherehereherehere,  hereherehere,hereherehere, and here.

1. Pink – “Try” Video

I’m actually not super into the song–I think it’s kind of boring (sorry, Pink), but the choreography in the video is super awesome.  I love that she did all of it herself.  Plus, her hair looks dope (even if she is sort of copying my girl Robyn).  I actually watch the video with the sound off (that’s how much I don’t care about the music).

2. Tiny Tower for iPhone

Yeah, I’ve become that person.  I finally caved and got a smartphone, and the result is that I am now obsessed with a totally silly game called Tiny Tower.  (It’s getting to the point where J. feels like he’s competing for attention with this game).  The game is simple: build a tower, move people in, and keep providing new stores and restaurants for them.  It’s totally addictive and totally stupid.  LOVE IT.

3. “Best of” booklists at Chicken Spaghetti

This is a great place to track all the best of booklists being published as we approach the end of the year (it’s coming up fast!).  Bookmark it now; peruse at your leisure.

4. Nicki Minaj featuring Cassie – “The Boys” (NSFW)

The video is as tonally off as the chorus to the song.  I’ve listened to this thing a bunch of times, and I still can’t figure out what they were going for exactly. I just know that I like it, and I love watching Minaj and Cassie interact.  Quick question: which lady got the better boob job?

5. Cookie recipes

Call me obsessed.  I’m super into figuring out what cookies I’m going to make for Christmas-cookie exchanges this year.  Pinterest, you will be the death of me.

What are you into at the moment?

Lists & Procrastination: 5 Things I’m into for the Moment

Gentle Readers, welcome!  It’s time for another installment of Things I’m Currently Obsessed With.  Previous installments can be found hereherehere, hereherehere,  here,  herehere,  here, here, here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here, and here.

1. Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools (Drank)

I don’t know what it is about this particular song that I find so interesting, but I do know that I can’t stop listening to it.  Kendrick Lamar’s album is probably the best new album I’ve been listening to a lot, and this song is one of my pump-up songs before I go out.  There’s something completely voyeuristic about listening to Lamar’s whole album, and this song definitely showcases his talent at creating songs with soul-baring lyrics.

2. Wanelo.com

This one is embarrassing because it’s so consumption-driven.  I like to troll the websites pictures because they have some ridiculous stuff for sale.  They also have some really cool stuff.  I’m not going to lie: I want the sweatshirt with the mermaid dance quote on it from Pitch Perfect.

3. Crafting a decent holiday gift list

I’m not going to lie: I have a hard time picking out presents for people, whether it’s birthdays, parent days, or the holidays.  I try to start fairly far in advance so that I can get what I need to get for the people closest to me.  This year, I’m spending a lot of time trying to figure out what to get people that isn’t a total waste of time or money.  I also value giving gifts that the person will actually use.  In order to do this, I’m making liberal use of Pinterest, Wanelo, Uncommon Goods, and Evernote (to track it all, duh).

4. French Bulldog Puppy

I stumbled across this while doing searches for stupidly cute animals.  I don’t know what it is about this short video I find so endearing or affecting.  I just know that it makes me stupidly happy.  How can you not love it?  I just want him to get up at the end.  YOU CAN DO IT.

5. Stacked Books hosts Contemporary YA Week

Have you checked out Stacked Book’s Contemporary YA week?  If you haven’t you should.  They have tons of great recommendations, discussions, and information about my favorite genre.  There are great lists of books (my favorite thing in the world) for any YA fan to geek out over.  This is a blog that consistently delivers some of the best content on the internet (in my humble opinion).  GO AND SEE.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Lists & Procrastination: 5 Things I’m into for the Moment

Gentle Readers, welcome!  It’s time for another installment of Things I’m Currently Obsessed With.  Previous installments can be found hereherehere, hereherehere,  here,  herehere,  here, here, here, here, herehere, here, here, here, and here.

1. Creepers by Kid Cudi

Without a doubt the best song off Kanye West’s new Cruel Summer compliation, Kid Cudi’s “Creepers” is the song that’s on repeat in my house, despite my roommate’s increasingly vocal objections.  There’s something about the song that’s so inherently catchy I can hardly stand it.  My favorite part of the song is when Cudi says, “If I had one wish it’d be for more wishes–DUH.”  It’s that kind of smart, self-aware lyric that makes this song a standout on an (admittedly lackluster) album.

2. The Cybils

I wouldn’t be totally honest if I didn’t admit that the Cybil nominations are taking up a lot of my time.  Nominations have only been open for a week, and there’s still plenty of time to submit titles for consideration (just make sure you read the rules first).  I’m neck-deep in reading nominated titles and talking about the books with my fellow panelists, and it feels great.  I’m averaging about a book a day, which means that I’m reading a lot. I can’t wait to share my thoughts about some of these books with you.

3. Planning the Halloween party of the century

Of course that’s hyperbole.  Of course it is.  My roommate and I live in a two-bedroom duplex, so it’s unlikely that this will be the party of the century–but we are putting a lot of thought and work into it.  She’s got decorations up the wazoo, is hard at work at making our costumes, and I’m busy planning a food menu that won’t suck.  I don’t want to give away all the details, but there’s dry ice involved. EXCITING I KNOW.

4. The return of Fall TV

My schedule doesn’t permit me to watch a lot of shows live (and I hate ads so much I probably wouldn’t, anyway), but that doesn’t mean that I’m not watching and tracking the returning fall TV season.  I’m already behind on things–I forgot about the premiere of Scandal, and I’ve heard good things about Last Resort and mixed things about Revolution–and hope to catch up eventually.  In the mean time, I’ve been enjoying the hell out of Parenthood (which you probably already know) and New Girl.

5. Christina Aguilera – “Your Body”

Have you guys seen this video?  It’s crazy, and not in a good way.  I can’t tell exactly what Aguilera was going for, but I have a sneaking suspicion that she was trying to take a page out of the Beyonce/Lady Gaga “Telephone” book (see what I did there?!?!).  The result is…not good.  But the scene with the pink glitter is cool, and the wig budget alone must have been insane.

What are you into this month?