Culture Consumption: December 2020

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my last culture consumption of 2020, with all the books, movies, television, games, and podcasts that I consumed in December.

I’ve shared my favorite books and media from the year in separate posts.

Books

The Hollow Places by T. KingfisherT. Kingfisher is a fantastic writer, taking fantasy tropes and turning them into pure horror. Portal fantasies tend to lead to wondrous worlds filled with fantastical creatures and adventures. However, in The Hollow Places, when Kara and her friend Simon (both of whom I love) discover a hole in the wall that leads to an abandoned bunker in another world, their curiosity quickly leads them into terrifying danger.

Kingfisher’s characters always seem so well wrought, with the way they dress, talk, and react to situations feeling so real. I believe that these two would make the choices and mistakes they make. In fact, I could almost see myself making the exact same mistakes, which only adds to the horror.

Books Finished This Month:
1. The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: The Apocalypse Suite, written by Gerard Way, illustrated by Gabriel Bá
2. The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry
3. The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

Total Books for the Year: 40

Still in Progress at the End of the Month: The Octopus Museum by Brenda Shaughnessy, Nox Pareidolia, edited by Robert S. Wilson, and The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel

Short Stories & Poetry

Three Poems by Lisa Marie Basile (Always Crashing) —

“A girl in the dead of summer flips a sand hourglass and watches it dwindle; that’s me. I’m in the sand. I’m the summer ending, the great no man’s land between body and safety.”

Teeth Long and Sharp as Blades by A.C. Wise (PseudoPod) — “Have you ever thought about how fairy tale heroines are like final girls? We survive poisoning, curses, imprisonment, mothers who want to cut our hearts out and hold them in their hands. But we survive, and our survival is an object lesson: act this way, and you’ll be all right. Be pure of heart. Be kind to strangers. Don’t go into the woods at night.”

Proof of Existence by Hal Y. Zhang (Uncanny Magazine) — “If the plaintiff’s name rings a bell, it’s because Arnold Chandler-Sand is the father of the child who disappeared twelve years ago. Licking sticky cotton candy from his hands, seven-year-old Jacob went into a single-occupancy bathroom at the amusement park and never came out. Surely you remember that heart-wrenching press conference.”

Glass, Kelp by Anindita Sengupta (IceFloe Press) —

“Two nights in a train,
the adagio of her hands

over tiffin boxes of food
She always fed me so singingly

curries, cake, crumble, pita, pizza, cookies, every day a feast”

I Don’t Want to Pry by James Yates (Pidgeonholes) —

“You’re too polite that way, and politeness got you into your various predicaments in the first place, fingers grazing forearms, texts sent with the right amount of too much whiskey.”

Movies

My friend and I have both become rather interested in paranormal documentaries and jointly decided to watch Hunt for the Skinwalker, so that we could discuss it after. The documentary describes a detailed investigation on Skinwalker Ranch a UFO hotspot, providing interviews with researchers, as well as locals who have had experiences at the site. The juxtaposition between the graphic research photographs and videos (some of cow mutilations) and the interviews is fascinating and sometimes startling.

One of the things that concerned me going in was the reference to Native American lore, as sometimes this can come off as culturally appropriative. Fortunately, rather than merely speaking about it in a vague sense, the director spoke with several members of the Ute Tribe about their own experiences in the region, which brings some nuance. In general, though, I don’t feel I’m qualified to say whether this is enough.

New-to-Me Movies Watched Last Month:
1. Hunt for the Skinwalker (2018)

Television

Watching seasons one and two of The Umbrella Academy was good fun. I enjoy how much of a delightful mess each one of these siblings is, each one (except maybe Five) is completely incapable of getting past themselves enough to do what they were raised to do—save the world. I especially liked season two, in which the characters really came together to be siblings (with all the love and annoyance that entails). They were still a mess, but they were a mess together, so they’re able to actually help each other out in a more effective manner. I’m looking forward to seeing how these dynamics progress further in season three.

The Umbrella Academy

Games

AFK Arena continues to be my main gaming experience. I’ve reached a point where my progress has slowed considerably. This is because leveling up characters becomes increasingly challenging as you go along, dragging progress to a halt for days or more. It’s a bit annoying and this is where the itch to consider paying for boosts comes in and — well, I don’t really want to talk about the amount of money I’ve put into this game so far. It’s still providing enough entertainment for the moment, so I’ll keep playing until the annoyance overtakes me.

AFK Arena - mobile adventure card game

I’ve been wanting to get back into playing PS4 games, but haven’t quite been in the right mood to start playing. This is in part why I’ve stuck with AFK, because it’s supper casual and I can almost play while also doing other things, like watching TV.

Podcasts

What’s Good Games helped me get through 2020 by providing thoroughly entertaining commentary on video games. Since it’s a news show, I don’t generally link to specific episodes, as the timeliness of the news can slip away fairly quickly. An annual episode that’s always a delight, however, is the What’s Good Games Awards. Different from your typical award, they honor games in categories such as Best Villain, Best Husbando, and Funniest Moment.

 

The Book Riot Podcast hosts featured their Favorite Reads of 2020, which definitely added a few titles to my own TBR list.

Imaginary Worlds has some great episodes, including Adulting with Cowboy Beebop and Making Up Creatures (Special Edition), which is a long form interview with Neill Gorton (who worked on Doctor Who).


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


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