Chronicling My Media Consumption: An Introduction (and Vol. 1)

As anyone who knows me can confirm, I consume a lot of media. I also have a lot of pet projects. Hence, the start of this new series of blog posts, where I collect all the favorite things that I’ve come across in the last month.

Inspiration for this project came from the weekly newsletters that arrive in my email inbox and from just being on the Internet in general. Lately, a lot of link roundups have been popping up on my radar. And they’re currently one of my favorite ways of spending my time. I’ve always been a generalist. It’s why I double majored in very different fields in college and why I’d make a terrible PhD student. It’s also why I love the link roundups I’ve been reading. The articles that I’ve discovered through these pages run the gamut when it comes to subject matter and format. There’s always something that’s relevant to today’s trending subjects. There’s always something that’s completely random as well. Every week, I shake my head in wonder and think, Boy, there is a lot of cool stuff out there.

So why bother adding my own link round up to what already exists? My memory for the things I’ve read/listened to/watched is unfortunately short-lived, unless I tell something about it or write down my thoughts about them. Luckily, this is where the blog posts come in. Thinking about the things I’ve read and why I like (and occasionally dislike) them will help me remember them better. I’ll have better answers when someone asks me what I’m reading/listening to/watching.

Without further ado, here are the favorite things that I’ve come across about in the month of May (and some extra stuff from March and April slipped in there too).

The Internet
“Yet I’ll Speak”: Othello’s Emilia, A Rebuke to Silence (The Toast)
I’m a sucker for thoughtful readings of Shakespeare. I haven’t read Othello since high school, but Moran does an excellent job of explaining why Emilia’s line, written centuries ago, remains so salient in the present-day.

India’s Dying Mother (BBC)
I highly, highly recommend reading this article on your phone. Scrolling through this is a joy. Text, images, and video flow together flawlessly, and it’s a gorgeous piece of storytelling that shows how well different forms of media can be integrated.

Same But Different (The New Yorker)
Siddhartha Mukherjee’s An Emperor of Maladies is one of my favorite nonfiction books, and I was more than a little excited to see excerpts from his forthcoming book in the New Yorker. Since their appearance, Mukherjee has received a lot of flak for dressing up unsound science in beautiful prose, but this article still makes it onto my list because I enjoyed every minute reading it.

“You want a description of hell?” OxyContin’s 12 Hour Problem (LA Times)
Purdue Pharma is despicable. That is all.

How Blac Chyna Beat the Kardashians at Their Own Game (BuzzFeed)
I had so much fun reading this article, and Obell does a fantastic job of teasing out what the drama between Blac Chyna and the Kardashians reveals about race and the construction of celebrity.

Unearthing the Secrets of New York’s Mass Graves (New York Times)
This piece conjures all the morbid thoughts that cross my mind from time to time, especially now that I live in a city where it’s so easy to stay anonymous. It’s also an unsettling reminder of the ways institutions and systems can fail people, even after death.

If You Are What You Eat, America Is All Recipes (Slate)
I’m a card-carrying home cook foodie who’s into obscure vegetables and farmers markets, but I learned how to cook from All Recipes and still sometimes uses sour cream as a substitute for ricotta cheese. I’m glad that someone else was also thinking about the different ends of the food culture spectrum.

How Empowerment Becomes Something for Women to Buy (New York Times Magazine)
My favorite kind of think piece: how something is commodified to its detriment.

How Lifetime Became One of the Best Places in Hollywood (BuzzFeed)
As if I needed more reasons to start watching UnREAL.

The Voyeur’s Motel (The New Yorker)
One of my favorite things about this piece is that it might reveal just as much about the author as it does of Gerald Foos, the voyeur himself. There’s plenty of moral ambiguity to go around.

Books
Is It Evil Not Be Sure? by Lena Dunham
I’m a Lena Dunham fangirl, so when I found out she published a chapbook of old diary entries and other ephemera, I was very excited. I still haven’t gotten around to purchasing it yet thanks to my sickly Kindle, but I was sold when I read the following line from the sales copy. Dunham writes, “I have always believed that women chronicling their own lives, even (or especially) at their most mundane, is a radical act.”

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister
It’s only May, but this will probably be my favorite nonfiction book that I’ve read this year. I was surprised to see that some Goodreads reviews of this book faulted Traister for not presenting anything “original.” It is true that Traister is rehashing points that other writers may have already talked about in other magazine articles, websites, etc., but I’m glad that someone has synthesized and woven all these points together into a book that’s coherent, well-researched, and just fun to read.

The Door by Magda Szabo
Since I’ve read The Door, it’s now been billed as the next book that you should read if you’ve finished the Neapolitan Novels and still suffering from Ferrante Fever. I see the similarities between the Ferrante and Szabo’s books in that their works focus on female friendships, but The Door has a claustrophobia to it that made it hard for me to put down.

Y: The Last Man, Book One by Brian K. Vaughn
I was so unimpressed with Brian K. Vaughn’s  imagining of an all-female society that I’m still mad about it.

Podcasts
Millennial
Thank you to Meghan Tan for an earnest look at being lost and confused in your 20s and for teaching me how to spell millennial. (Two L’s and two N’s.) I didn’t expect to like a memoir-style show, but I wound up binge listening to all the episodes in one weekend.

Who Do We Think We Are?” (This American Life)
Mariya Karimjee’s story in act 1 is the shining star of this episode.

On the Edge” (Radiolab)
Radiolab is most well-known for making science accessible to the general public, but it occasionally produces episodes about human interest topics. This episode focuses on ice skater Surya Bonaly and delves into some of the things I find most fascinating about the sport.

TV
“Hello Kitty” (Girls)
My love for Girls is unabashed, unapologetic, and visceral, but if you want an example of how clever this show can be, look no further than this episode. Our favorite crew of unlikeable young people see a performance piece that centers on Kitty Genovese’s murder. The play is the perfect setting to dramatize (and perhaps poke fun) at everyone’s self-absorption and showcases how one of the most interesting relationships of the season is the friendship between Hannah and Jessa. I miss the show dearly and I’m sure I’ll miss it even more after its last season next year.

“The Door” (Game of Thrones)
I spent a whole week trying to avoid spoilers for this episode. I managed to figure out which character would be the subject of the show’s latest plot twist, but the ending of this still episode shocked me completely. George R. R. Martin, what other revelations are you keeping up your sleeve?

Movies
It Follows
After hearing lots of rave reviews about this, it took me a while to finally get around to watching it. It’s absolutely terrifying and can also be read as a very nuanced coming-of-age movie featuring a likable gang of teenagers just trying to figure things out, which is a winning combination.

 

Music
“Archie, Marry Me” (Alvvays)
I’ve been looking for a band to fill the void left by Best Coast when they ditched their lo-fi sound. Alvvays is definitely the best contender. My first introduction to this band came from my very hit-or-miss Discover playlist on Spotify. In this case, Alvvays was a hit for me, and this song is breezy, fun, and something I’d blast on a long drive if I were the kind of person who would own a car.

The Life of Pablo (Kanye West)
I read all the reviews of Kanye’s latest offering before actually listening to the album. I expected to only think that it was okay, but I was pleasantly surprised, and it’s still on my current rotation. (In fact, it’s playing right now.) Despite all the stops and starts that came with the release of this album, the production values are top-notch. I might not defend Kanye West as a human being, but I’m still enchanted by his music. Favorite tracks: Waves, Famous (despite the shade Kanye throws at Taylor Swift), Ultralight Beam (Chance the Rapper sounds so excited to cameo on this song), Wolves.

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