Culture Consumption: August 2020

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, television, games, and podcasts.

Books

No Longer Human by Junji ItoWhat should be no surprise to anyone who reads my blog at this point is that I love Junji Ito — a writer and artist who continues to prove himself a master of the horror genre with his graphic novel, No Longer Human. The story follows the life of a man who feels disconnected with humanity to the extent that he finds it incredibly anxiety inducing — and at times outright horrifying — to interact with other people My full review is here. (I’ve also borrowed two more Ito books from my brother, so expect more gushing in the near future.)

After watching Hellier, I’ve taken an interest in the idea of synchronicity (or meaningful coincidences), which is often discussed on the show. Carl Jungthe concept in his paper, Synchronicity: An Acausal Connection. The paper presents his theories on synchronicity, which he ties to psychology, psychic phenomena, quantum mechanics, and and the collective unconscious. For Jung, synchronicity was a defining principle of nature as valid as space, time, and causality. It makes for a fascinating read, even if some of the technical aspects of the paper were a bit hard to follow. I found it so interesting that I put together a lengthy post, sharing my thoughts on the book and the idea of synchronicity.


(One day, I’m going to be able to get back into reading more books again. One day.)

Books Finished This Month:
1. No Longer Human by Junj Ito
2. Synchronicity: An Acausal Connection by Carl Jung

Total Books for the Year: 26

Still in Progress at the End of the Month: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, From the Standard Cyclopedia of Recipes: Adapted Poems by B.C. Edwards and The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel

Short Stories & Poetry

Pomegranate Means Grenade” by Jamaal May (The Slowdown) —

“Hold a pomegranate in your palm,
imagine ways to split it, think of the breaking
skin as shrapnel. “

Miss Beulah’s Braiding and Life Change Salon” by Eden Royce (LightSpeed) — “The chime above my shop door rings. It heralds a young woman wearing a head wrap boasting a network of silvery constellations on indigo, interspersed with the occasional yellow-gold moon.”

The World Ends in Salty Fingers and Sugared Lips” by Jenn Reese (Uncanny Magazine) — “We stop at the gas station in the desert, the last one for a hundred miles.”

On a Spaceship Somewhere, Long After the Empire’s Collapse” by by Jesús I Valles (The Slowdown) —

“Somehow, even in this future, amidst motherboards and cast-aside MREs,
Every Cool-Whip and Country Crock tub is still deceitful, more mystery than promise,”

Free Hugs” by Desmond Warzel (Psuedopod) — “The woman has, on a whim, embarked on a hike in unfamiliar woods, prodded by sudden nostalgia for an adventurous childhood. She soon discovers that the stream she has followed to avoid becoming lost is not natural, but rather the output of a large concrete tunnel set into a hillside; doubtless it is a conduit for the rainwater shrugged off by the nearby town.”

The Witch Speaks” by Rati Mehrotra (LightSpeed) — “As different as earth and sky. That is what they said about us. Yet even earth and sky meet at the horizon.”

Once More Unto the Breach (But Don’t Worry, the Inflatable Swords Are Latex-Free)” by Tina Connolly (Uncanny Magazine) — “You have always been at this birthday party. You will always be at this birthday party. Much like parenthood, the birthday party extends to fill every corner of your waking thoughts.”

Mercury in Retrograde” by Sheryl Luna (The Slowdown) —

“The day ended badly with a broken ankle,
a jinxed printer, and a dead car. The dry yellow grass
against the sunset saved me. “

Movies

Of the three movies I watched this month, none of I feel particularly compelled to write about. They were all entertaining enough, and I’ll leave it there. I’ll be happy to discuss them more, if anyone asks.

New-to-Me Movies Watched Last Month:
1.  The BFG (2016)
2. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)
3. Neat: The Story of Bourbon (2018)

Television

Still clinging to a need for comfort, I watched seasons one through five of Steven Universe — a show I’d heard a lot about over the years, but never watched. It turned out to be a lot weirder than I expected it to be, leaning into the scifi in a way I wouldn’t normally expect from something marketed as a kids show. You have alien beings made out of gemstones, laser light canons, time travel, fusion (in which two beings merge together into a new form), magical lions — and that’s just a small portion of the weird. Some of the episodes even lean into horror tropes. One example is when Steven’s body slowly starts turning into cats threatening to over take him (body horror). The show throws you in the midst of this weirdness and expects you to float.

Steven Universe

For all its weirdness, however, Steven Universe remains relatable by providing a story grounded in heart. The center remains on love, friendship, compassion, and a delight for the beauty of the universe, which is related in a way that feels moving. As the story progresses, it moves away from some of the one-off wackiness of the first season to provide a deeper exploration of Steven growing up, learning more about who his is, and becoming more powerful — while remaining connected to the people he loves. It’s honestly such a delightful show and I’m looking forward to finishing up the rest of the story by watching the movie and sixth season soon.

Adapted from the first two books of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, The Colour of Magic is a TV mini-series about Rincewind, a bumbling, cowardly wizard (played by David Jason), is roped into a life of adventure by a happy and carefree tourist, named Twoflower (Sean Astin). In typical tourist fashion, Twoflower is delighted by everything, from a grimy inn full of thieves to getting captured by dragons. Little do they know, their adventures at in step with events that could lead to the end of the world, and it will be up to them to save it. Tim Curry does a great job playing a murderous, power-hungry wizard, and the mini-series as a whole does a pretty good job of capturing Pratchett’s wit and satirical humor.

The Colour of Magic

I also re-binged Downton Abbey in its entirety (with only minimal fast forwarding to my favorite parts), as well as purchasing the movie, so I could rewatch that as well. Even after two watches, the show maintains a compelling charm for me.

The Great X-Files Rewatch continues, with two more episodes watched — “Deep Throat” and “Squeeze.” Trying to recap and review each episode individually requires a lot of work, and it’s difficult to figure out how much detail to put in. Makes for an interesting challenge.

Games

I tuned in to The Last of Us 2 for about an hour of gameplay, but haven’t come back to it in a while. For the moment my personal stress levels are making it difficult to keep going with such an intense game.

I also hoped onto the Sims 4, trying to continue the story of my character. However, as I was playing the power cut out, shutting off the PS4. Since I had not saved my game the entire time, I’m pretty sure I lost

Podcasts

I’ve been trying to get back to listening to my podcasts this last month, since I’ve fallen so terribly behind. I mean, I guess I could just delete the older episodes and jump ahead, but unfortunately I don’t work that way. I’ve been able to start catching up a little bit by listening while I go on runs or while I’m doing chores around the house, which helps. Here’s a few I particularly liked.

Imaginary Worlds recently explored what happens when an author’s personal political point of view affects and alienates their readers. In light of J.K. Rowling’s recent comments about transgender people, “Dumbledore’s Army (Updated)” brings back an old episode that discussed the impact of Harry Potter in inspiring readers to do good in the world and recontextualizes it. The episode features an interview Jackson Bird, a trans man who was the spokesperson for the Harry Potter Alliance.

Another episode, “Inverting Lovecraft,” looks at how modern authors and creators from a variety of back grounds are separating Lovecraft’s mythos from his racist ideology, developing new stories that conceptualize cosmic horrors in a new light.

Writing Excuses is a consistently great podcast for writers. Rather than looking at goals of world dominion, their episode “Small Evils” looks at how writers can give infuse their villains with acts of minor antagonisms that may be more relatable to readers.

Another episode, “Taking the Chance, with David Weber,” brings in a special guest to talk about to talk about the importance of risking failure for a writer to progress on their path to success. I personally found this episode very inspiring.

The Horror Queers podcast started a new series of mini-episodes, called Micro-Queers, which discuss short horror films with queer themes. The first episode looks at Instinct (2018), a beautifully filmed short, in which a lonely art curator becomes wrapped up in a seduction with a female performance artist. The episodes are nice and quick and the short films are readily available online, so that you can easily listen with context.


That’s it for me! What are you reading? Watching? Loving right now?


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