Well, goodness. August ended up being far more productive than expected, and despite that, I have felt behind the eight-ball all month. I’m getting there. New classes, conferences, more than 100 students…welcome to academia, Dr. Lady Americanist.
I’ve been finding ways (other than crochet, my old standby) to de-stress at the end of a long day, and I have found solace in podcasts, reading, movies, and television. Let’s talk about what I’m watching / reading / listening to / anticipating right now in popular culture.
– Past – Thunderstruck (Erik Larson): Another historical thriller by Larson made for excellent reading over the last few months. This one examined the invention of the wireless radio system juxtaposed with a murder in the United Kingdom. It’s not as tightly woven together as The Devil in the White City, but it is still a good read.
– Present – Destiny of the Republic (Candice Millard): I’m only a few pages in, but I’m already deeply invested in the “character” of President James Garfield. Garfield’s assassination is perhaps the least analyzed of the four presidential assassinations, but it is an incredibly important event. More later.
– Future – Where Am I Now? (Mara Wilson): I’m a sucker for a good memoir, and Mara Wilson’s work was a big part of my childhood. I’ve been following her writing on Cracked and Twitter (is that a thing? It is now) for a few years, and the excerpts I’ve already read were incredible.
– Past – Hill Street Blues: I watched this a while ago, but I started a re-watch over the summer. I only have access to the first three seasons, and I’m sure the rest is just as good. It is a groundbreaking drama that paved the way for other shows that I love. I’m trying to get through as many 1980s prestige dramas as possible, but it is proving difficult. St. Elsewhere only has one season on Hulu, and L.A. Law, thirtysomething, and Murphy Brown are almost impossible to find. If anyone can help me out, please do.
– Present – Call the Midwife: My parents have excellent taste in television. They have turned me on to so many great popular culture texts, and this is just another in a string of recommendations. I’m almost through the first 4 seasons, and I’ve been watching since Thursday.
– Future – FALL PILOT SEASON: It’s finally here! My shows are back! What do I watch every week? Bob’s Burgers (Fox); The Goldbergs (ABC); Blackish (ABC); Modern Family (ABC); Fresh Off the Boat (ABC); Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox); New Girl (Fox); Saturday Night Live (NBC). What my television schedule is lacking is drama. I’m hoping that ABC’s Designated Survivor will help fill that void. I remember my dad telling me about a Tom Clancy novel that he was reading that highlighted the concept of the designated survivor (the Cabinet member that stays behind during the State of the Union). I’m hoping for good things.
I can’t really do a past / present / future thing, but I just watched The Big Short and Spotlight, both big Oscar contenders last year. Both were excellent. I need to compose something separate about my future film choices, but I am reigniting my quest to see every single Best Picture winner. Spotlight helped me with that.
– Past – Pop Culture Happy Hour (NPR): Technically, this is past / present / future, but I’ve been listening to it for about three years now, and I look forward to it every week. It’s funny, insightful, and a great place to learn about new pop culture.
– Present – You Must Remember This: My college roommate turned me on to this, assuming I had already listened to it. Karina Longworth investigates the first century of Hollywood, and each season focuses on a specific storyline. I started in the middle with the season about the blacklist, but I plan on going back to the beginning soon.
– Future – The West Wing Weekly: Actor Joshua Malina and musician Hrishikesh Hirway are going through The West Wing episode by episode with help from other West Wing actors, crew, and those who worked in the real White House. Season one just wrapped up, and I’m eagerly anticipating season two.
Hopefully you got some suggestions for your own pop culture enjoyment!