Culture Consumption: March & April 2022

Hoo, boy. Time slipped right by me. I was planning to do my Culture Consumption for March on time, but then the next thing I knew it was April. In addition to putting two months together, I’ve done a lot media consumption over the past two months — which means I’ve got a huge stack of things to talk about.

I’ll try to move through it all as quickly as I can. If I have the wherewithal, I’ll try to expand on a few of these later on.

Anyway, here I am at last with all the books books, movies, television, games, and podcasts I enjoyed over the past two months.

Books

The Smallest of Bones by Holly Lyn WalrathLet’s kick things off with a couple of fantastic poetry collections.

First, The Smallest of Bones by Holly Lyn Walwrath uses the skeletal structure of the body as a means of structurally shaping the collection. Each section begins with a poetic description of various bones, from the cranium to the sternum and beyond. The poems that follow beautifully explore love, sexuality, gender, religion, and death, among other  aspects of humanity and the supernatural. It’s a gorgeous collection with crisp, clear, and lyrical language.

This is How the Bone Sings by W Todd KanekoSecond, This is How the Bone Sings by W. Todd Kaneko is a stunning collection of poems focus on Minidoka, a concentration camp for Japanese Americans built in Idaho during World War II. The author blends history with myth and folklore to explore how the scars of the past carry through generations — from grandparents through to their grandchildren. The wounds caused by racism and hate are continue on through memory and story. These poems are evocative and beautiful, providing an important memorial for an aspect of American history that should never be forgotten.

Noor by Nnedi OkoraforDelving into fiction, Nnedi Okorafor’s Noor is the story of Anwuli Okwudili, a woman who prefers to be called AO, who has a number of necessary body augmentations on her arm and legs — a fact that that makes some superstitious people in Africa believe she is evil or wicked. When she is attacked by men in her local community, she fights back with incredible power and flees into the desert. On her journey, she finds new companions, faces off against an powerful corporation, and finds hope filled utopian community finding safety within the winds of a man-made natural disaster. I loved the characters and communities portrayed with Okorafor’s Africanfuturist vision of a future. It’s a great read.

Cosmobiological-Stories by Jilly DreadfulCosmobiological: Stories by Jilly Dreadful is a collection of hopepunk short stories that explore love, relationships, passion, the resilience of the human spirit, and the possibilities of hope through myth, fantasy, and science fiction.”5×5″ (which you can read at LightSpeed) is an epistolary story about two young people who connect with and find strength through each other at an advanced science camp.

Another gorgeous tale is “Even the Simulacrum Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” which is about a woman who has been genetically engineered for increased empathy. In the story, she has to deal with the impact that this increased empathy has on her live and reckons with her relationship with her father. It totally made me cry by the end.

And these are just two of many of the fantastic tales in this collection.

Continue reading “Culture Consumption: March & April 2022”

Culture Consumption: February 2022

Hi, lovelies. I am about to head out on a trip for a week, so I’m doing the rarest of things (as in it’s never happened before ) — I’m turning this round up in early.

So, without further adieu, here’s my month in books, movies, television, games, and podcasts.

Books

Never Have I Ever by Isabel YapIsabel Yap’s Never Have I Ever is a stunning collection of short stories that range from fantastical to terrifying. Calling upon the legends, spells, and tales from the Philippines, these tales are beautiful wrought and emotionally impactful. 

In “A Cup of Salt Tears,” a woman encounters a kappa (a creature said to drown people) in a bathhouse. Rather than threatening the woman with death, however, the kappa speaks with her and expresses affection for her — resulting in a gorgeous tale about grief and the price we are willing to pay for love.

“A Spell for Foolish Hearts” presents a version of our world in which magic is real and the people who use it represent a marginalized community. Being both gay and a weilder of witchcraft, Patrick moves to San Francisco in order to be a part of a community that is more accepting of these differences. While working as a marketing designer at a tech company during the week and as a retail worker at a witch shop on the weekend, Patrick meets and falls for a colleague — and what results is the sweetest of love stories.

“Hurricane Heels (We Go Down Dancing)” is a dark retelling of the magical girl trope — think Sailor Moon with extreme violence. Selected as teenagers to save their city from ongoing monster attacks, this group of women have grown into adulthood, with no end in sight to their ongoing battles. Every time they come away damaged, but still somehow pull together and face down the monsters of the world. It’s a powerful story.

And these are just three of the amazing tales in this fantastic collection.

Continue reading “Culture Consumption: February 2022”

Culture Consumption: January 2022

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

Books

Little Weirds by Jenny Slate“I realize I want to hear my voice and only mine. Not the voice of my voice within a cacophony of old pains. Just min, now.”

Jenny Slate’s Little Weirds is a strange and beautiful book, one that feels like a blending of poetry and memoir. The series of vignettes in this collection  encapsulate small moments, dreams, or deep emotional experiences, for which Slate layers imagery and sound in a beautiful cacophony of weirdly wonderful passages. It’s one of those rare books in which I found myself drawn to underlining favorite pages, or rereading phrases to taste them over again. It’s a book that came to me at the perfect moment.

“I look up to you because I love the heavenly bodies of the universe, and the way I see it, your heart is a planet.

Your heart is factually a part of the universe, which is a miracle of endless force and boundless beauty.

There is literally no way that you are not a part of that.”

Continue reading “Culture Consumption: January 2022”

Lost in the Sea of Solitude (Game Review)

Sea of Solitude

Sometimes I have bad days, or even weeks. Over the past few years, these bad days have manifested for me in two opposing and yet integrated ways. The first is a deep longing for solitude, a desire to find some far off place away from people and the world, somewhere I don’t have to interact with or perform for anyone. The second is a strong feeling of disconnect from the people around me, bringing on a sense of loneliness that seeps through even in a crowded room and carrying with it the belief that no one would notice if I was gone.

So many people experience such things. Depression, sorrow, and anxiety can feel like being lost at sea, floating on desperate dark emotions with no sign of land or refuge in sight. Sea of Solitude, a game developed by Jo-Mei Games, powerfully expresses these experiences through the exploration and healing of its watery world.

Continue reading on Once Upon the Weird.

Culture Consumption: December 2021

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

For those interested, here are my favorite books, movies and shows, and games for the last year.

Books

Character Development and Storytelling For Games by Lee SheldonI recently finished Character Development and Storytelling For Games by Lee Sheldon. It was an interesting read and the author draws on his experience in both games and television to discuss ways of approaching character and story development.

Note that what I read was the 1st edition from 2004, so while the book’s talk of characters and story are everlasting, some of the discussions about the future of games felt a little outdated. Apparently, a 2nd edition was published in 2013, which likely provides a more modern perspective

One section in particular presented me with a new way of thinking about story — namely, modular storytelling and how it can help blend gameplay and story into interactive narratives. I wrote a bit about what I learned over here.

Continue reading “Culture Consumption: December 2021”