Pop Update: culture consumed week of 16 January 2017

Here is my summary of this week’s culture consumed:

  • Books read:
    • I finished Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day… it wasn’t my favorite, but it was good. I’m just not a big fan of witches and ghosts. I knew that going in and tried it anyway. But I never really got into it and there were some world-building and plot things that I got hung up on. I still love her Wayward Children series and am looking forward to Down Among the Sticks and Bones scheduled to come out this summer. This one just wasn’t for me.
    • Other than that, my reading has been pretty scattered this week… I’ve been struggling to stay focused enough to read, which is very uncharacteristic for me, but understandable in the context of this past week.
  • Podcast episodes:
    • I really enjoyed the final two episodes of Code Switch‘s series on Obama’s legacy
    • I listened to Pop Culture Happy Hour‘s episode discussing Hidden Figures the day after I watched the movie, and I’m really glad I did. It was nearly like getting to gush about this movie with friends.
    • I also listened to episodes from Smart Podcast Trashy Books, Reading The End, and a few others I subscribe to, but Code Switch and PCHH are the episodes that really stuck with me this week.
  • Magazines and other news:
    • As planned, I sort of avoided the news this week…
  • Movies and TV:
    • We watched the Sherlock season finale on Monday. This was a REALLY tense and uncomfortable episode to watch for me… Not my favorite. I liked episode 2 WAY better. Plus, this really feels like a *series* finale instead of just a *season* finale, which makes me a little sad…
    • I devoured the remaining episodes of The Crown on Netflix. I really love this series, and I’m still thinking about it. Sounds like we might get season 2 in November? I can’t wait.
  • YouTube:
    • I watched Oprah’s full interview with Michelle Obama, but now I can’t find anything but little clips of it. It was inspiring, and I loved it.
    • I also caught up on some of the videos from channels I subscribe to and watched a few more fan theory videos about The Force Awakens.

Queued up next…

  • From my TBR: I don’t really know… I may just have to drop everything that I’m currently reading and start The Star-Touched Queen
  • On my podcast app: Other than Writing Excuses, I may go light on the podcasts this week… Lately, podcast time has been during commute time, and I think this week I may want to focus more on using that time for reading rather than podcasts.
  • Streaming on video: I’m so excited that The Magicians returns next week for season 2 on the SyFy channel! (I’ll be watching online)

If you have thoughts on any of the above, or recommendations for me, please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

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Pop Update: culture consumed week of 9 January 2017

Here is my summary of this week’s culture consumed:

  • Books read:
    • I haven’t finished any books this week because I’ve divided my attention between a few different ones and I spent more time than usual watching TV shows and movies…
    • I was reading Come As You Are, but put it aside mid-week to start Dusk or Dawn or Dark or Day because I pre-ordered this novella and it came out on Tuesday. I’m hoping to finish one or both of these this weekend.
  • Podcast episodes:
    • I caught up on a LOT of podcasts this week… too many to name them all…
    • The one that stood out from the others was the first in a new series from Code Switch on the Obama legacy, “Obama’s Legacy: Diss-ent or Diss-respect?”
  • Magazines and other news:
    • How I Got My Attention Back by Craig Mod (via @RianVDM) — about how we’ve allowed technology to seize control of our attention and why that’s a problem for thinking critically and creative work
    • From back issues of The Economist:
      • Against Happiness” — about the ridiculousness of forcing people to put on a happy face at work
      • Proximate Goals” — about the Earth-like planet found orbiting Proxima Centauri
  • Movies and TV:
    • So, I finally watched The Graduate. It’s streaming on Netflix and, when I mentioned to my husband that I’d never seen it, he insisted that we watch it. Turns out he thinks he watched it on a double date in high school. He thinks much of it was lost on him at the time. I wasn’t that impressed. It was fine, but I couldn’t help thinking of it as a fancy, expanded version of a Simon and Garfunkel music video.
    • It only took us until mid-week to get around to watching episode 2 of Sherlock season 4. I really enjoyed this week’s episode. I have no idea what they’re doing with Mrs. Hudson’s character, but I like it.
    • I also watched the first four episodes of The Crown on Netflix because I figured out that I could download them onto my phone so I could watch them on my commute. This took away from my reading time, but I’m not at all sorry. The politics and tension and emotions in the plot, paired with the excellent acting, makes this a great series.
    • Last, but in absolutely no way least, hubby and I saw Hidden Figures on Sunday night. The last time I left a movie theater feeling that excited about a movie, it was probably Mad Max: Fury Road. This movie is SO GOOD, and it was exactly what I needed to see right now. I HIGHLY recommend going and seeing this movie. I don’t usually watch movies in the theater unless they’re the type of thing better seen on a big screen. I am so glad I made an exception for this one.
  • YouTube:
    • I’ve been leaning more into “actual” TV and movies this week, but I did enjoy at least one YouTube video this week…
    • Rey is a Kenobi popped up in my suggested videos, probably because I’ve watched other fan videos that support this reasoning. I’ve been convinced of this since I watched TFA, and this new video adds a bit more fuel to support this theory. If you don’t agree, or you do and want to see how this guy supports his case, check out this video.

Queued up next…

  • From my TBR: I’m itching to get started on either The Star-Touched Queen or The Obelisk Gate, but I should probably finish my in-progress stuff first…
  • On my podcast app: The second episode in the Obama legacy series from Code Switch, “Obama’s Legacy: Callouts and Fallouts”
  • In the news: I haven’t been very good about keeping up with my newspaper subscriptions. Although, this week in particular, I think I kind of want to hide from the news…

If you have thoughts on any of the above, or recommendations for me, please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Pop Update: culture consumed week of 2 January 2017

Last week I kicked off what I’m hoping will end up being a weekly blog post on what I’m reading, watching, and listening to — in other words, my “culture consumed” for the week. Here’s a link to last week’s post, if you missed it. And below is a (slightly more organized than last week) summary of this week’s culture consumed.

  • Books read:
    • Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton (Kindle) — My first book read in 2017! I’ve had this one for a while, but have been saving it because it’s about ballet, and I’m a sucker for a good dance book. If you are also a sucker for a good book set in that intense and somewhat insane world of professional dance, I highly recommend this book.
  • Podcast episodes:
    • I listened to a bunch of Code Switch episodes, starting with the first episode from 31 May, “Can We Talk About Whiteness?” I also listened to the post-election episode, the one about the crowd-sourced letter from the younger generation of Asian Americans to their parents about race and #BlackLivesMatter, and I listened to the “What’s So Funny About The Indian Accent?” episode. This is quickly becoming my new favorite non-writing podcast.
    • The first episode of the new season of Writing Excuses promised another excellent year of craft talk. I am very excited about their plans for this year.
    • I listened to the 2016 wrap-up and 2017 resolutions / predictions podcasts from Reading the End, Pop Culture Happy Hour, and Smart Bitches.
    • And, I listened to the second half of the Sub Pop podcast’s season 2 finale interview with Father John Misty.
  • Magazines and other news:
    • Teen Vogue article on the problematic treatment of consent at the core of the new sci-fi movie Passengers — sounds like I can skip that one… nice reporting, again, Teen Vogue!
    • The latest in the “Women of Harry Potter” series at Tor is on Minerva McGonagall
    • I started reading The Economist Holiday Double-Issue. There are SO MANY good articles in there, I think it’s going to take me a while to get through this one…
    • I saw this article on Book Riot’s blog, and it had a link to a template for tracking your books read. After going through the hassle of having to export my data from Goodreads in order to run stats on what I read last year, I thought I might adopt this tracker for my purposes and see how it goes. I’ll probably still log and review books on Goodreads, but this spreadsheet will make it so much easier to calculate all my various reading stats.
  • Movies and TV:
    • Miss Representation documentary about how women are portrayed in the media and how this effects them socially, economically, and politically. (available via Netflix streaming)
    • I didn’t get around to watching Sherlock season 4, episode 1 until yesterday. This is especially frustrating because we actually bought the season on Amazon streaming because we weren’t sure if we’d be able to stream for free (we don’t have a TV/Cable). But, now it looks like you can watch the full episodes on PBS online. So, I sort of feel like an idiot. Well… at least I didn’t have to watch any ads, and I can feel good about paying artists for their art. Right?
  • YouTube:
    • Thoughts on Tomes “gush” review of The Magician King and spoiler free review of The Magician’s Land — making me consider reading the third book after all…
    • Boho Berry’s bullet journal set-up video for Jan 2017 — I’m still not sure I’m doing this whole “BuJo” thing right, but I’ve been messing around with it for a couple months now and it seems to be something that’s working for me (sort of? I’m not entirely sure?). Every once in a while I watch one of these videos on YouTube to get some ideas or to try to figure out if I’m “doing it right.” Inevitably, I walk away shaking my head, half-convinced that people are taking a concept that seemed pretty straight forward and making it WAY more complicated than it needs to be… BUT… The “spreads” are just so pretty…. After watching videos like this, I end up with “BuJo envy” (is there a cute internet term for that yet?) and my creative brain wants to get crafty with my mostly utilitarian version of this trend. But, as it is, I struggle to find enough time to update the bare-bones version I’ve developed.

Queued up next…

  • From my TBR: My library hold came up for Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski. So, I think I’ll be reading that next. In case you are one of the few people who hasn’t yet heard of this book (it made the rounds as highly recommended on so many blogs I read and podcasts that I listen to, I can hardly believe anyone hasn’t heard of it yet), this is not a book about Nirvana. It’s a pop-science book about the science of female sexuality. So far, I’ve only read the introduction, and I’m fascinated. If you are curious about the content but not sure if you want to buy/borrow the book, I recommend listening to the “Smart Podcast, Trashy Books” episodes #186 and #201. The first features an interview with the author and the second is an encore, follow-up with listener questions. So. Good. These are what initially got me interested in reading the book.
  • On my podcast app: Monday is Writing Excuses day! Can’t wait to listen to the second episode of the season!
  • In the news: Got this week’s issue of The Economist yesterday (the first issue of 2017), and I’m looking forward to catching up on the news in long form.

If you have thoughts on any of the above, or recommendations for me, please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Pop Update: What I’ve been reading, watching, and listening to this week

I’ve been keeping a list of what I’ve been reading, watching, and listening to this week and making note, especially, of the stuff that makes me happy and feeds my creative soul. I’m going to try to post on this weekly. We’ll see how it goes.

Here’s what pop culture I was consuming in the final week of 2016:

  • On the way home from Christmas in Portland, I listened to the final Writing Excuses episode of the year. I loved their Elemental Genre podcasts this year, and I have to say, this is possibly my favorite podcast.
  • I also been loving the second season of the Sub Pop Podcast. On that same trip, I listened to the first of the final two episodes, featuring the first half of a two-part interview with Sub Pop artist Father John Misty.
  • I tried a few episodes of a new-to-me swimming podcast, and it’s okay. Not a ringing endorsement, I know, but for a podcast called “Swimming Science,” I don’t feel like there’s enough science or data driven info in these episodes to make it worth it a listen.
  • I am, however, finding a ton of useful, educative content in the pages of SWIMMER Magazine (free with membership to USMS, but also available online if you can deal with the crummy website design…). While cleaning up, I found a stack of these laying around that I hadn’t read. So, I caught up on all my back issues this week.
  • I’ve also been catching up on my back issues of the RWR (Romance Writers Report) magazine (free with RWA membership). If you write romance, you should really join the Romance Writers of America. The community is fantastic, and this magazine is chock full of useful and encouraging content.
  • As for other news, Alyssa Rosenberg’s article about all the celebrity deaths this year really resonated with me. It put into words a lot of the feelings I’d been having about all the great entertainers we lost this year.
  • I caught up on TOR’s “Women of Harry Potter” series and was reminded of Luna Lovegood’s relentless optimism and awesomeness. She really is possibly the best underrated character in the series… I highly recommend this post and all the other posts in Sarah Gailey’s series: the evil Dolores Umbridge, the fierce Molly Weasley, my hero Hermione Granger, and my favorite Ginny Weasley. They posts make me want to re-read the entire series with fresh (older) eyes.
  • After that, I finally got around to reading an article by Anil Dash that I’d had open in my browser for a couple weeks. The title pretty much sums up what it’s about: “It’s time for Asian American men to stop being the “Model Minority” in tech.” He makes some very interesting points that I hadn’t previously considered, or even realized, but that make a lot of sense to me based on some things I’ve experienced working in the tech community. If you’re at all interested in diversity in the technology industry, I highly recommend this read.
  • Because I had some extra time on my hands this week, I caught up on some of the YouTube channels I subscribe to… my two favorite videos this week were 1) this Vlogbrothers guest post from Tessa Violet on fear in art, and 2) Jenna Moreci’s “10 Worst Female Character Pet Peeves.” Note: I also liked Jenna Moreci’s “holiday writing tag” video, but I’ll save that one because I might respond to her question prompts as a separate post.
  • I finished two books and two comics trades this week. Here’s what I read (links take you to my Goodreads reviews):
    • Alterations by Stephanie Scott (Kindle, pre-order) — This book was so fun! I really enjoyed seeing how the author adapted the original (and re-make) movie, Sabrina, into this modern-day romance. Definitely recommend.
    • The Magician King by Lev Grossman (Kindle, library) — This book was a slog. I really enjoy the world building in this series, which is why I keep trying to enjoy these books. But, I hate the characters and the plot is way too predictable. There’s just too much snark and not enough sincerity for me in this series.
    • Saga, volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (trade paper) — I am so late to the party on this one, but I LOVED this so much. If this has been on your list for a while and you haven’t read it yet, go check it out immediately. It hits the trifecta of excellent world-building, characters you care about, and compelling story/plot. Highly recommend.
    • Monstress #1 by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda (trade paper) — The art in this is stunning. The story was a little hard to follow at times. However, you definitely get the sense that there is depth to the plot and complexity to the characters, and that pulls you through the narrative until you start getting more of the backstory. I’m still unclear on a few points, but otherwise very much enjoyed this. Definitely recommend.
  • My first issue of my new Teen Vogue subscription arrived while I was in Portland. No, I am not regressing to my teenage years. I have a lot of respect for teenage girls (having been one myself and knowing how tough it can be), and I think Teen Vogue and Rookie Magazine are providing the quality journalism that their audience (and really everyone) deserves. I love the December issue just as much as I thought I would. An annual subscription is only $5 and well worth the money.
  • And, finally, I watched two documentaries. The first was a graphic, disturbing, but ultimately important documentary about the US policy on torture called Taxi to the Dark Side. The other, called Grizzly Man, was about a guy who spent 13 summers living out in the Alaskan wilderness with grizzly bears, before finally being eaten by one at the end of his final summer. Both were fascinating, thought provoking, and probably not films I would have selected if left to my own devices, but I’m glad I watched them.

This list is a little longer than usual because I had more time on my hands this week than I usually do… I definitely don’t expect every week to have this much content.

As for what I’m looking forward to diving into… Queued up next: