Roadtrippin’ across the country and staying with various people / doing various things means an inconsistency that makes weekly Listen, Watch, Reads difficult to attain. However, here’s a sum up of December.
So many things. I love music and podcasts and listened to so many wonderful things this past month. Here are some highlights.
Mal Blum‘s You Look A Lot Like Me (Commentary Version) is HILARIOUS. I had never heard Mal Blum before and while the music is pretty good folksy punk, the album commentary is 1000x better because they are hilarious in their self-depricating honest in explaining the lyrics and composition of songs on their Don Giovanni Records 2015 release You Look A Lot Like Me. So again, if you’re into melody punk that is also hilarious in that way people who suffer from mental health issues make fun of their situation as a way to deal with it, check out this album (THE COMMENTARY VERSION!).
Listening on REPEAT, hearing it in my head ON REPEAT: Swearin’s “Irrational“. I had heard their song “Kenosha” before and really liked it, but hadn’t checked out their other stuff. “Irrational” has the same fast beat and throbbing guitar licks that I like in “Kenosha”.
I’ve also been listening to new audio fiction podcasts. FOUR (yes FOUR, I’m addicted to audio fiction…) in December really stood out to me as awesome.
- Within the Wires – From the Welcome to Nightvale dudes, a new fiction podcast told through meditation tapes to a test subject in some secret government test facility. It is very creepy and – like Alice Isn’t Dead – took me a while to get into. But once into it, very into it. Also the narrator is Australian, which I think is the most attractive accept in the world.
- Homecoming – From the Gimlet Media podcast company geniuses, their first fiction podcast which stars Catherine Keener as a therapist working with returning soldiers, one of whom is Oscar Isaac, in a creepy (probably not ethical) study dealing with memory and PTSD. The acting and production is obviously on point, so you should check it out. The only frustrating thing about the podcast is how Catherine Keener’s character gets berated by her jerk-off boss in, like, every episode and that’s hard to listen to. But it serves the story, so whatever.
- The Bright Sessions – “An audio drama about therapy for the strange and unusual”, the Bright Sessions is a fun little trail of audio messages from a therapists notes (Dr. Bright) on her subjects, people with powers like an empath, a time traveler, and a woman who can read minds. It took me a while to get into it because the writing is at times kind of stilted, but the characters are endearing and it’s an interesting story that’s worth it.
- LifeAfter – From the people that did last year’s The Message (which was awesome, you should listen to it), LifeAfter is about a dude who’s wife dies but he listens to her old Voice Tree posts (think Facebook or Twitter posts but instead of text/photo it’s audio) and discovers there’s a way for him to get her back audially, as long as he agrees to spy on the government. It’s a cool plot, masterfully executed by the team at GE Podcast Theater and Panoply.
Lastly, since coming home at the very end of December, I started playing my Grass Widow records on my record player and I love them so much. Can anyone find me a band remotely as awesome as Grass Widow, because they broke up and I wish I could’ve seen them live or at least that they still made music.
I watched a lot of films in December, partly because I wanted to watch all the things that were expiring from Netflix. I will just mention the things I liked or found interesting.
- La La Land (Chazelle, 2016) – not sure why everyone thinks it’s so amazing. It’s fun and entertaining, but not amazing. Also, too long.
- Summertime (Corsini, 2016) – France’s number one export must surely be lesbian dramas. This one is not (like another one that for some reason got a lot more attention, probably because it was made by a dude) totally exploitative, but instead feels really fresh
- The Arrival (Villenueve, 2016) – was pretty cool. I saw it twice and enjoyed it both times, so I would recommend it for anyone who likes interesting character studies.
- The Sting – was watched for my podcast Matt & E Matinee. Listen to the podcast to hear my thoughts (but the gist is that Paul Newman is a gorgeous human).
- Saving Private Ryan – I now understand the hype. I don’t usually like films like it, but it was engrossing. Probably because of the acting. ON POINT.
- Crash – It’s taken me over a decade to see this movie, but also it’s so intense. Why did people like it so much, especially when everyone in the film (and every piece of dialogue) is blatantly racist/discriminatory/prejudice.
- The Painted Veil – is only valuable because it introduced me to this song: A La Claire Fontaine.
I finished reading What Patients Taught Me by Audrey Young, and while it wasn’t great, there were parts that were interesting. I think mostly it made me want to explore the Pacific Northwest, as Audrey Young did as she was doing medical rotations during her education at the University of Washington Medical School.
I also read Andrea Harkins’ The Martial Arts Woman: Motivational Stories of Human Triumph and wrote a review article for jetli.com.
Lastly, on a recent roadtrip I binge-listened to several audiobooks, of them Susan Choi‘s My Education stands out as the best (Patience and Sarah a close second). My Education is about an literature department grad student who is attracted to her professor but then ends up having an affair with his wife. The book explores and is written in a first person style that feels like one long conversation with a literature department grad student (i.e. high-brow vocabulary) that at first feels contrived but then totally fits and draws you closer into the narrative. 10/10 would recommend. FUN FACT: Susan Choi was one of my creative writing professors at Princeton! I did not realize this when I was listening to the book, only once I finished reading and googled it because it was good I wanted to see what else the author had produced. SMALL WORLD!