We’ve reached the end of October and November! Hard to believe, considering the warm weather. I’m ready for warm sweaters, for hot cups of tea, for apple pie, for frosty air–though I recognize I may be the only one.
So here’s my autumn wrap up–here’s what I’ve been into this fall!
Things I’m Reading:
- Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. This was a weird one. I’m still not sure what to make of it. I read this for my “Reproduction in Science Fiction” class. It basically involves a woman who falls forward into different dimensions and time periods. It had a really interesting concept and several intriguing characters, but for me, the writing dragged terribly. There were a lot of points where I wanted to say, “show not tell!” It also had an abrupt, very unsatisfactory ending.
- Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I loved this book. My favorite kinds of books, art, and films are the kinds that challenge your preconceived notions and ideas. This book involves a woman named Lauren and how she survives in an apocalyptic version of the United States. There’s not a lot of detail into how the civilization crumbled (possibly a Trump presidency? It does take place in the future…), but a great deal of focus on her characterization, how she survives, and how she connects with other survivors. There is a fair amount about religion and God in this book–but with a really intriguing conception of both. I can’t say I agree with a lot of the beliefs espoused, but they were fascinating to digest and consider. At the very least, I really loved how Octavia Butler incorporated philosophy and religion into her dystopic vision, because generally religion is ignored in dystopic literature (or is the oppressor.)
- The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. A feminist classic! I’ve wanted to read this book for years. It is a lot thicker and a lot dryer than I expected, but very interesting. This book was a game changer and especially considering the current political climate, is still pretty relevant to a discussion about female gender roles.
- Dawn by Octavia Butler. A lot of Octavia Butler! I read this book for my “Reproduction in Science Fiction” class. It was…strange. It had a lot of interesting ideas regarding sexuality and gender, but there were some parts regarding personal boundaries that made me distinctly uncomfortable. Maybe that was Butler’s point. Definitely worth a read, I’m contemplating reading the second book, but we’ll see.
Things I’m Watching
- The Last Five Years. I was recommended this musical several months ago, but I only just recently watched the film version. It’s really interestingly constructed, a story of a relationship narrated by two people–one who is reflecting on their relationship from its end to its beginning, the other who looks at it from beginning to end. Their songs intersect in the middle. The music is beautiful and while it has something of a downer ending, it’s definitely worth a watch.
- The Man in the High Castle. We watched the first two episodes in my Dystopian Lit class and all I can say is wow. Masterfully constructed, beautifully written, this chilling show explores what might have happened if Japan and German won WWII. Sooo eerie and all the more terrifying given the recent election. I may actually do a full blogpost review of the show, once I finish season 1.
- Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. I have been a Gilmore Girls nut since I was 12 years old. I used to watch this show with my mom, as I’m sure many girls did. Jess Mariano ruined boyfriend expectations for me (still on the lookout for a bookish bad boy that would enjoy conversations about Ayn Rand and Ernest Hemingway, thanks a lot Jess) and probably men in general. Anyway, as any Gilmore Girl diehard knows, it was an absolute travesty that Amy Sherman-Palladino was forced to leave the show and that she never got to end her show the way she envisioned. Netflix granted us this opportunity, praise Jesus, and we even got the penultimate final four words. Which were just as mindblowing as promised. Initially, I was furious with the ending (and admittedly, there are still some things I’m upset about), but now that I’ve had a chance to reflect, I really love the literary mirroring and the heavy parallels. It had a very circle-of-life kind of feeling. Overall, I’m pleased. (Although the fact that we had to sit through fifteen minutes of that dumb musical scene and got like three scenes of Jess is something I will be incredibly bitter about for years to come. Also why was there only one and a half scene with Jess and Rory when Jess was so heavily promoted and advertised? I feel extremely cheated.)
- Moana. I love Disney films. I ESPECIALLY love Disney princess films and I will 100% continue to see every new Disney princess film forever and always Amen. I saw Princess and the Frog in theaters, I saw Brave in theaters, and I continue the tradition with Moana. My oldest brother treated me to this movie on Thanksgiving Day and it did NOT disappoint. I’m sure you all know of my love and admiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda (I JUST WANNA BE HIS FRIEND REAL BAD)–he did the music for Moana, and it is stellar. Anyway, the animation, the acting (Dwayne Johnson has truly come into his own as an actor since his Scorpion King days), the story–all of it was incredibly beautiful. Highly recommend.
Things I’m Listening To:
- “Canyonlands” by Kate Voegele. Oh, this album. Oh, this album. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love and adore Kate Voegele. I’ve loved her for–holy shit, ten years, I discovered Kate Voegele when I was sixteen. This album is good enough that I will probably be reviewing it in full on another post. Something fun about Kate Voegele’s albums–they’re all regional, you can hear which one has New York pop influences, which one has beachy California influences, which one has Cleveland rock-pop influences, which one has Nashville influences. Now “Canyonlands”–this has a 70’s California desert kinda feel. It’s impossible to pick a favorite, but I think the ones that stood out the most to me were “Ventura Highway”, “Sun Will Rise”, “Bad Bad Drug” and “Middle of the Night Mind”. PLEASE get this album. I saw Kate Voegele live two weeks ago in Indianapolis and she was just incredible.
- “Who Knows Who Cares” by Heath McNease. Same rules apply to Heath, ALL of his albums are amazing, please purchase all of them. This one came out a few months ago, but I listened to it a lot on the drive to North Carolina two weeks ago. (More on my autumn roadtrip later) This album is a really fascinating mix of genres and like Heath himself, can’t easily be defined in one set category. Again, impossible to choose a favorite, but I really love the “July” remix, the title song “Who Knows Who Cares” (which I sing whenever anyone questions me about my future after May), and “You Deserve My Silence”. Oh, and “13:15” is incredibly powerful.
- “The Essential Leonard Cohen” by Leonard Cohen. Like the rest of the world, I deeply mourned when Leonard Cohen passed away. Just like with Bowie, this one hit personally–“Hallelujah” has always been an incredibly special song to me. It was one of the first songs I ever learned on guitar and I have good memories belting it out in college, playing at different St. Louis bars for extra cash. But as much as I love “Hallelujah”, I also love “Dance Me to the End of Love”, which is haunting and lilting, with an incredibly chilling backstory. And I love “Suzanne” and “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye”.
- Moana Soundtrack. The day I don’t blast Disney songs out my car window on the way to work is the day I have died. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the International Refugee Assistance Project. Lin-Manuel Miranda did the music for Moana. That’s all you really need to know. Go get it.
- The Hamilton Mixtape. Have I mentioned my eternal love and admiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda? Three times in one blog post? Okay, just so we’re clear. This album involves a variety of artists covering, remixing, and creating new songs inspired from the Broadway show Hamilton. They’ve released seven of the songs early and all of them are amazing. My current favorite is “Wrote My Way Out” with Nas, Dave East, Aloe Blacc, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, which I blast whenever I’m about to write. Serious inspiration for writers. PICKED UP MY PEN LIKE HAMILTON. WHEN THE WORLD TURNED IT’S BACK ON ME…I WAS UP AGAINST THE WALL…I PICKED UP MY PEN…AND I WROTE MY WAY OUT.
All right, that’s it for October and November wrap-up! See you next month!