Things I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the things that I’ve been reading and thinking about this week while I’ve been avoiding all the things I probably should be doing.

Washington Post Columnist: I Am a ‘Racist’ (ThinkProgress)

Think Progress is one of my favorite news sites because they’re left-leaning (and unapologetic about it), have good writers working for them, and have their finger firmly on the pulse of popular culture and all it extends to, including politics, race, gender, and so much more. This piece is enraging and thought-provoking all at once.

Juror B37 and the Racist Complicity of White Womanhood (The Modern Switch)

Probably one of the more difficult pieces I’ve read this week, The Modern Switch’s post on being complicit to a white supremacist society serves as a great reminder and a wake-up call to me about my own privilege.  As someone who believes in intersectionality and considers herself an intersectional feminist, this is the kind of stuff I need to keep in mind and more actively practice.

White Kids and Black Kids: Different Talks (The Root)

I’ve been really struggling with the decision in the Zimmerman case this week, and I’ve shared my frustrations with my mom, who sent both me and my sister this article about how to talk to kids about this and other sensitive topics.  There’s some great advice in this extremely accessible article, and a lot of it is applicable even if you don’t have children.  An awesome resource for a tragic event.

The Pixar Theory (Jon Negroni)

This one has definitely been making the rounds on the internet the past couple of days.  Chances are you’ve already seen other people posting about it, but if you haven’t actually taken the time to read Negroni’s detailed, lengthy post about the connections between all the Pixar movies, it’s definitely worth your time.  Interesting, intriguing, and totally diverting from the other articles I posted today.

Yeah, I’ve been fairly focused on race this week.  What have you been reading?

Things I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

It’s no secret that I’m struggling in the blog post department. Blame general ennui, blame a lack of book reading (a combination of being behind on my goals for the year and re-reading the Harry Potter series), but there it is.  I’m not posting much, and I don’t feel much drive to do so (though I do feel some guilt about not posting regularly, which is stupid because I do this for fun and no other reason).

However, I do read a lot.  A lot.  And much of that is stuff on the internet.  So I thought I’d start sharing some of what I read, as a way to share what it is I’m fascinated by at any given time.  That, and I think it would be really cool to track what I’m reading when it comes to the internet.  Without further ado, here’s what I was reading and thinking about this week:

“On Miley Cyrus, Ratchet Culture, and Accessorizing with Black People” (Jezebel)

I’m kind of obsessed with Miley Cyrus’s latest single and the absolutely cringe-worthy video, and this article helped me pinpoint exactly what it is that makes me so damn uncomfortable.  This is definitely an interesting read, and super quick if you have a short attention span.

The Lone Ranger Represents Everything That’s Wrong with Hollywood Blockbusters” (Vulture)

I mean, I was never going to see this festering turd of a movie, but it’s nice to see that I’m apparently not the only person who was reticent to go to the movies this past weekend.  For myriad reasons, this movie was wrong, wrong, wrong, and this excellent piece by Vulture writer Gilbert Cruz breaks it down for us.  I’m not going to lie: I’m glad this movie is being considered a failure a week in.

“Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview” (The Millions)

I’m trying to read more adult fiction (and non-fiction, I guess), and this incredibly excellent and exhaustive list from The Millions is damn near perfect in what’s coming over the course of the second half of the year.  I already had some of these titles on my radar, but it’s always great to find new things I want to read (it’s not like that to-be-read list is ever shrinking).

“The Children Who Went Up in Smoke” (Smithsonian Mag)

If there were one new thing I’ve become obsessed with this summer, it’s unresolved mysteries.  I’ve discovered a bizarre fascination with mysteries of all sorts, and it is these unresolved ones that I find particularly gripping.  I stumbled across this excellent, engrossing article about some children who disappeared in 1945, and I can’t stop thinking about it.  The article is worth a read for many reasons, but mostly because it’s so excellently constructed: you’ll start it wondering what on earth the mystery could be and end it convinced that something strange had happened.  OBSESSED.

“Your Flip-Flops Are Grossing Me Out” (Slate)

Look, I actually really like Dana Stevens, the article of this ridiculous, podophobic whinefest over on Slate.  It’s pot-stirring reduced to the most banal and ridiculous, and there’s some weird, unintentional cultural privilege undertones in the article that don’t sit right with me.  But perhaps the most vexing part of this piece is the fact that it doesn’t matter: someone else wearing flip-flops has exactly zero impact on your life.

And you can pry my flip-flops from my cold dead toes.

“One Man and His Pug” (The Daily Mail)

This guy from Seattle takes a picture of his pug, Norm, every day.  It helps that he’s a decent photographer and that I love pugs, but there’s something about this story and this guy’s love for his dog that I find really moving.  His instagram is worth checking out, too.

 What do you read this week that stood out?

Unofficial Hiatus

It’s pretty clear that I haven’t been posting much here lately.  Blame laziness and the stress of a new library job.  Or blame a general feeling of apathy regarding nearly everything I’ve been reading.

At any rate, I hope to be back into it soon.  In the meantime, I’ma read some great reviews of BEA, because there’s nothing like a conference to get people telling you exactly what went wrong and what they hated.

 

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, and here.

1. Marina & the Diamonds – “Starring Role”

The video for this acoustic version of “Starring Role” by Marina and the Diamonds is pretty captivating.  It’s just her singing with the band, but it’s damn near impossible to take your eyes off her.  I’ve had a love affair with Marina and the Diamonds for a good long while now, but the release of their new album “Electra Heart” has made my life much more full.  The entire thing is great.  Also, I really, really want that dress in the video.

2. Scandal on ABC

I was skeptical about Scandal from the start.  Shonda Rhimes (the woman behind Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice) was taking on law and Washington, D.C. in her newest network drama.  I’m not big on procedurals in general, and I haven’t watched Grey’s anatomy since the third season (which was a season too long, in my opinion).  But I heard some good things about it, and I’m almost out of TV shows to marathon now that the season is coming to an end, and I needed something to soothe my mind in the post-finals week.  Scandal seemed like as good an option as anything.   I like Kerry Washington, after all.

The result?  I’m totally into the show now, but I’ve felt uneasy about it without being able to articulate it.  Rhimes is the only successful, high-profile African American woman running a show on U.S. television right now, and her tendency to do color-blind casting is both admirable and indicative of how white our TV shows are.  However, I stumbled across this piece by Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress the other day, and she manages to get across my biggest issues with the show.  This girl and I could totally hang out.

3. Jenna Marbles scaring her dogs with a fart machine

You guys, sometimes the lowest common denominator is actually really funny.  In this case, it’s YouTube sensation and (very funny) blogger Jenna Marbles using a fart machine to scare her two dogs.  I was raised by a mother who thinks that farts are really funny, and as a result, I think they are, too.  This video is worth it for the dogs’ reactions alone.  Watch it and enjoy it.  I’m sorry I’m so sophomoric.

4. The L.A. Complex (Season 1)

Okay, this is a Canadian soap–but let me finish!  The show is kind of like Melrose Place, only actually interesting.  It focuses on an apartment complex in Los Angeles full of artists trying to make it in the city that seems to spit out more and more hopefuls every day.  The reason I started watching it was because I love Jewel Staite (who was excellent on Firefly), but I’ve kept watching it because the show is doing some risky, awesome things.  It’s not perfect–and it’s not, by any means, a really great show–but it’s completely entertaining, and that’s enough for me.

5. Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo

Okay, you guys.  Buzo’s first novel–Good Oil–is finally being published in the United States under the title Love and Other Perishable Items.  I loved this novel so, so much.  Buzo is definitely an author to watch.  Recently, I discovered that she has another book out.  This one, called Holier Than Thou, is firmly in the “new adult” camp, and I could not be more excited about it.  It looks so good.  Unfortunately, it’s not available in the United States yet.  While I can purchase it online, it’s not cheap.  I have to figure out a way to justify the cost, because I MUST HAVE THIS BOOK.

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, and here.

1. The Other Austen Tumblr

I discovered this Tumblr about a week ago, and I love it. My mom (who is an Austen fanatic) and I spent more time than I’m willing to admit scrolling through the blog, laughing and reminiscing about some of our favorite Austen adaptations.  Very funny, very smart, and super entertaining.

2. Homeland Season 1

I’ve been watching this excellent series for a little while now, and it’s so tense and so exceedingly well done that I find myself thinking about the characters long after an episode has ended.  Claire Danes plays a FBI agent convinced that an American soldier/prisoner of war has turned and is a spy for terrorist forces.  As she gets more embroiled in her obsession of proving she’s right, the soldier struggles with post-traumatic stress and readjusting to family life.  This isn’t ordinarily my type of show, but it is so good, you guys.  So good.

3. Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror

Admittedly, this band is not for everyone. Often characterized as noise-pop/dance punk, their sound is a little alienating to the casual music listener.  However, I believe their sound grows on you (kind of like a fungus).  Their new album has a bit of an evolution of sound for them, but it’s still pretty ridiculous.

Here’s the video for Comeback Kid (it’s kind of weird):

4. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

This one isn’t really a good kind of obsession.  I’ve been thinking about the end of Delirium since I finished it about a week ago, and I can’t shake the feeling of disappointment it left me with.  I knew–knew–how the second book would end when I finished the first book over a year ago, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t sort of crushed that my predictions were right.  I wanted Oliver to subvert expectations and make some really smart, really good commentary about youth and love and all that–and she took the safest, most predictable route ever.

Obviously I’m not going to go into detail because I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read it, but damn.

5. The trailer for Bully

You may have heard about this documentary–it’s been getting some attention since the MPAA rated it R and caused an outrage, since slapping an R-rating on a movie like this pretty much guarantees that it can’t be shown in schools.  There was a petition to get the rating changed, the Weinstein brothers have talked about taking a break from screening their movies for the MPAA, and people, in general, are worked up about this whole thing.  As well they should be.  I think the MPAA is worthless, corrupt, and totally unnecessary.  At any rate, the movie looks absolutely heartbreaking.

 

Links and Miscellany

In lieu of a real post today, I thought I’d post a couple of things that I’ve seen around the internet this week.  Enjoy your Saturday! (I’m in class all day. Gross.)

1. Kristen Bell and her love of sloths:

I feel like this is really cute (and you guys know I love me some Kristen Bell), but I also think it’s kind of scary.  What do you guys think?

2. Stacked on ARCs and etiquette

I’ve read several blog posts about this issue this week, but I think Stacked’s article talks about it in the most articulate and all-encompassing way.  As a blogger and future librarian, this concerns me.  I wasn’t at ALA Midwinter (I can’t afford it), but I’m embarrassed for some of the bloggers who were.  It seems like a big sticky mess, and I feel like this is not a problem that’s going away on its own.

3. John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars has been optioned.

We shouldn’t be surprised, right?  I haven’t read it yet, but I got a copy waiting on my kindle.

4. The Komen Foundation has pulled funding for breast cancer screenings at all Planned Parenthoods.

This isn’t a political issue, you guys.  This is way bigger than that.  What Komen is doing is totally pathetic, totally weak, and totally unacceptable, no matter what your stance is on choice.  Speak up.

There has been some changes worth following: What Komen Actually Said (WaPo); Komen Reversal (Jezebel)

5. I shouldn’t be shocked by this, but I am. 

When is White History Month Tumblr

Shocked, horrified, and absolutely embarrassed.

Top 5 Special: 5 Thanksgiving-Themed Movies

I always think of the week of Thanksgiving as a sort of fake-week.  If you’re in school, pretty much nothing gets done in the three days before the holiday.  If you’re working, it’s nearly impossible to concentrate as you wait for a long weekend (if you’re lucky enough to get the weekend off).  Because I’m all about the procrastination (despite the fact that this research paper isn’t going to write itself), here’s a list of 5 of my favorite Thanksgiving-themed movies.

1. Home for the Holidays (1995)

Claudia: You know, maybe next year will be better for you.
Russell:  Hey, yeah – or worse.

After losing her job, making out with her ex-boss, and finding out that her sixteen-year-old daughter plans to spend the holiday with her boyfriend, Claudia reluctantly goes home alone to have Thanksgiving with her crazy, passive-aggressive family.

Directed by Jody Foster and boasting an impressive cast, including Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, Robert Downey, Jr., Claire Danes, and Steve Gutenberg, this movie is full of quirky character and the universal theme of crazy families.  Cute, clever, and well-done all around.

In all honesty, this might be one of my favorite holiday-themed movies of all time.  I love this movie hardcore.  If you haven’t seen it, you should rectify that this week.  It’s worth it.

2. Pieces of April (2003)

Joy: I only have one nice April memory.  Only one. She was about three or four, and she was sitting at the window. And she turned to me and said, “Oh mother, don’t you just love every day?”

When black-sheep April invites her entire family to her apartment for Thanksgiving, she doesn’t realize what a trial the entire thing will be.  As her boyfriend tries to find a suit to borrow, April grapples with the fact that her oven is broken–which means she can’t cook the turkey.  As her family travels from their affluent Pennsylvania suburb to Aprils dingy NYC apartment, the families issues are laid out to be dealt with.

This quiet little independent film boasts a pretty decent cast, too: Patricia Clarkson (who is my secret girlfriend), Oliver Platt, and Katie Holmes before she became a Scientologist.

Pretty much the only thing I can watch Katie Holmes in, if we’re being honest.

3. Son In Law (1993)

Becca:  What are you wearing?
Crawl: Cheek-chillers, you likes?
Becca: I hates.

A quiet farm girl gets a total makeover during her first semester of college.  When it comes time for her to go home for Thanksgiving, she freaks out and ends up taking her eccentric RA with her.  The two make waves in her small farm town.

Yes, this is a Pauly Shore movie.  I’m sorry about that.  I really am.  But this movie is part of my childhood, and I kind of love it for that.  It’s fun to watch actors who were relevant in the 90s (I’m looking at you, Tiffany Amber-Theissen) and gawk at the terrible 90s clothes I thought were so awesome almost 20 years ago (ugh.  I’m getting old).

4. A Rugrats Thanksgiving (1997)

It’s a pretty basic premise: the rugrats experience their first Thanksgiving.  Shenanigans ensue.

Okay, so this one is a little bit of a cheat, as it’s more of a Thanksgiving special than a movie.  But it’s The Rugrats!  I loved them as a child!  How could you not?

5. The Ice Storm (1997)

Janey : Ben, you’re boring me. I have a husband. I don’t have a need for another one.

It’s 1973, and for one suburban Connecticut neighborhood, all is not well.  As parents and children alike experiment with drugs, sex, and general debauchery, things go horribly awry with lasting consequences.

This is not going to be a feel-good Thanksgiving movie.  I feel like I should get that out there right away.  But really, what Thanksgiving holiday is ever really feel-good?  Yours?  Mine definitely isn’t.  Might as well spice things up with some key parties!  Besides, everyone in this movie is so deeply, profoundly unhappy that it’s pretty much guaranteed to make you feel better about your own life.

That’s it for now, readers.  I hope you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Lists & Procrastination: 5 Things I’m Currently Obsessed With

Gentle Readers, welcome!  It’s time for another installment of Things I’m Currently Obsessed With.  Previous installments can be found here, here, here, here, here, herehere and here.  (I realize that at some point, I’m going to have to make a separate page for this.)

1. Regina Spektor – “Samson”

I’ve had a longstanding crush on Regina Spektor, and while favorite songs come and go (“Poor Little Rich Boy” got me through the last part of an ugly, extended break-up), I’m always amazed at how gorgeous and weird Spektor’s songs are.  “Samson” is no different: while some argue that it’s about the ill-fated Samson and Delilah, others argue that this story takes place even before that one.  It doesn’t really  matter, because music is personal and connotative, and every listener will take their own meaning from a song.

What does matter is that this song is totally boss.  When she sings “I loved you first”?  I die a little.

2. Breaking Bad

I’ve been hearing good to great things about this show for years, but I’ve never actually taken the time to watch it.  I can see why people love it–it’s smart, well-written, and superbly acted–but it’s also one of the tensest, uncomfortable shows I’ve ever watched.  I can only watch one episode at a time, and then I need to take a break and do something silly.  Distracting myself from how wrapped up I get with the characters and their plight is the only way I know how to cope.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, now would be a good time to do so.  The series is currently streaming on Netflix–and there’s always the DVDs.  It’s quality stuff.

3. Kate Nash – “Foundations”

Kate Nash is one of those artists that I stumbled across as the result of the magic of Last.fm.  She’s British and vaguely reminiscent of Lily Allen, only kind of better (I like Lily Allen, too, okay?).  Her lyrics are often sharp, funny, and observant, and she encapsulates the woes of your mid-twenties pretty perfectly.  “Foundations” is one of my favorite songs.  The song chronicles a relationship that’s essentially over but one in which the narrator is unable or unwilling to leave.  It’s pretty catchy and great.

4. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This is a book that I can’t stop thinking about.  I knew it was going to be good (Ness is one of my favorite writers, I think), and I read great things about it before I ever started it.  And then I read it, and I couldn’t put it down.  It broke my heart.  It actually hurt my heart to read it.  It’s that good.  The drawings add dimension to a very strong story, and I am telling you, Gentle Readers, this is not one that you want to miss.

5. iTrevor

Have you seen this kid?  He goes by the handle iTrevor on YouTube, and his purpose is simple: infiltrate Apple stores and film himself dancing and lip-synching to pop songs.  The result is hilarious and more than a little brilliant.  This video makes me so happy I can’t even properly convey it.  It is a guaranteed mood-booster.

(Also, how funny are those girls in the background?  Never has there been a more accurate or authentic representation of how awkward it is to be a young teenager.  Ever.)

 

Lists and Procrastination: 5 Things I’m Currently Obsessed With

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

1. State of Georgia on ABC Family

A half-hour sitcom starring Raven-Symone, Majandra Delfino, and Loretta Devine, State of Georgia centers around a recent college grad named Georgia (Symone) who has moved to NYC to become a star.  She lives with her wealthy aunt Honey (Devine) and her geeky best friend Jo (Delfino).  Hijinx ensue.

This happened accidentally.  I like Jennifer Weiner (I follow her on Twitter), and she kept tweeting about the show.  So I watched an episode.  Then I watched another.  And another.  I can safely say that I’m totally hooked, despite my initial hesitation.  I read several positive reviews of the series (one in the New York Times), and the general consensus is that it’s fun, light, and often really funny.  One reviewer remarked that Raven-Symone’s particular brand of humor is an acquired taste, and I have to agree.  But if you can get past that, there’s some genuinely sharp dialogue happening here, and it’s kind of awesome.

2. The Joy Formidable – Roarities EP

Generally, I’m not a fan of remixes.  When I heard that The Joy Formidable was releasing a new EP, I was stoked.  They’re one of my favorite bands right now.  When I heard it was comprised entirely of remixes, I was a little disappointed.  But when I actually took the time to listen to it, I was pleasantly surprised.  It works, you guys.  I particularly recommend the remix of “Austere” (remixed by The Naked & Famous, another of my favorite bands).  If you haven’t checked out this band from North Wales, you should.  They’re kind of noise-pop, but they’re more accessible than some other bands.

3.  Parks and Recreation on Netflix

A mockumentary in the same vein of The Office, Parks and Recreation follows the parks and rec department in Pawnee, Indiana.  It focuses specifically on Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), an enthusiastic but bumbling employee.  Although the first season got off to a rocky start, the show started to find its legs in its second season.  It is really smart, really funny, and amazingly well-cast.  Each episode gets better, and I can’t get through the series fast enough.  I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying it.

4. The creepy photographs featured in Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Author Ransom Riggs started collecting strange vintage photographs before he ever came up with the idea for his debut novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  He decided to weave a story using some of the photographs, and the result is a strange novel indeed.  However, the photographs are absolutely haunting, and I’m more than a little obsessed with them.  He solicited photos from some famous collectors (because the really good, weird vintage pictures are hard to come by), and the result is pretty stunning, indeed.

You can read more about the collection here.

5. “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato

This one is a little more than embarrassing, but I pride myself on both my candor and my relative transparency on this blog (except, for, you know, the fact that I use a fake name).  As someone who considers herself a pretty hardcore audiophile, admitting to even listening to a singer as innocuous as Demi Lovato is cringe-worthy, but owning up to the fact that I actually really like one of her songs?  That’s almost shameful.  Even so, there’s no denying that “Skyscraper” is pretty powerful.  Her voice has a raspy quality to it that works perfectly with the melodrama of the song.  I heard a snippet of an interview with her on the radio the other day, and she didn’t seem completely ridiculous.  I can’t explain it, you guys, but I’ve listened to this song a lot recently.