I hope these demonstrate an engagement with something rather than me scuttling around not thinking about The Serious Things in life. I enjoy these things. I’ll get to weightier issues in due course but right now I wanna talk about some good shit.
TV: Community is that one show that pretty much defined my sense of humour and I didn’t even realise it! But it reminded me of when I was in uni and I would binge it between (or sometimes instead of) assignments. This is the perfect show that I can fit an episode of into a lunch break. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but for me, right now especially, it’s been pretty good.
Unfortunately, with the start of the fourth season, my excitement for it has waned significantly. By no means the absolute worst watching but it definitely is a slip in quality. Which, you know, makes sense. I have friends I trust and know my writing quite well but that’s not the same as being able to write like me. Especially for comedies, the joke architecture is so tied to the original showrunner (their idea, their baby and whatnot) that a change in hands is always fraught. So the season that Dan Harmon wasn’t working on it was perhaps doomed to have difficulties. Not because they’re bad writers, they’re just not the creator.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is, well, just that. Bizarre. Absolutely pioneering manga with some the weirdest, most creative fights, and is arguably the most memeable anime I’ve ever watched. It’s a bunch of crazy fun that paradoxically doesn’t take itself too seriously but can shift gears and be utterly devastating, often in the same minute. It’s been made more fun by my friends who are fanatic about it. So they get excited for me and I get excited because of their excitement. I am currently on Part 4 after being traumatised by Part 3.
Tower of God: It’s an interesting one. I ended up really enjoying it towards the end as it invested in the characters and their stories and dynamics. It’s a cool show! Nice anime but clearly one that hasn’t shown all its cards yet. People who’ve read the original web comic swear by it so we shall see if there’s a second series.
Ghost in the Shell SAC: 2045 is a return from one of my favourite series, and most certainly my top all-time anime, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. It courted a lot of initial controversy for its move to the third dimension. I’m not personally against 3-D animation but have seen few examples of it being done well. This unfortunately is not one of those examples. It’s by no means terrible but it is a downgrade from the previous SAC series, which considering that last one is a 15 year-old-show that has great animation even now, is disappointing.
Writing-wise, the return of Kamiyama from the previous series was welcome and is the reason why I got excited, but it took a while for it get started. The first half was slow and fine, with a stronger back half, ending just as it got interesting …
I want the second season but it might be a while yet. Sort of felt like half a story rather than having a complete story per season. -sighs- Oh well.
Altered Carbon: I quite enjoyed the first season and Joel Kinnamon’s mumbling performance way back when it first aired so was excited for a second season. In saying that, now that it’s dropped, I’ve have taken my sweet time getting to it. A lot of my favourite shows are either delayed or finished and I very much have the time and am in the mood for a serialised sci-fi show, preferably in the cyberpunk/post-cyberpunk tradition so this is ticking all my boxes. I like how the core premise allows for a different actor to play the main character! “Sleeves” or bodies are interchangeable. The thing that matters is your “stack”, alien tech that your mind or consciousness gets uploaded to and can be put into a different body at will.
There are a lot things about the premise that I’m not sure the show has the bandwidth for but would be intrigued if it wove into its narrative such as: what does race and gender mean? There seems to be a mind-body disconnect that is part of the core tapestry of themes and people in general feel like their sense of self is uniform, as well as their gender despite body-hopping. If it never explores them, it doesn’t matter, but I like speculating. It’s good watching! Not mind-blowing, but stylish, entertaining.
Music: Haruka Nakamura’s, beautiful, meditative piano record Still Life was the perfect accompaniment to me when I was working between phone calls. It reminds me of the quiet spaces, the tousled greenery in urbane environments, moments between words. It’s pure intention, creating a tapestry with not a single word, sort of like a modern Debussy.
I was touching up my YA novel and having this play in the background while Microsoft Edge’s surprisingly sophisticated site-reading software read it out to me aloud while I checked grammar and syntax and overall readability. It was nice to have the contrast of this warm, emotionally rich music with the more detached monotonous robotic voice.
Books: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I just finished and enjoyed it. It has a great sense of interiority, spending a good amount of time with each character. As I’m going through, I’m evaluating my understanding of YA, and why this hasn’t been categorised as such. Part of it for me is the structure (shifting 3rd person as opposed to tighter 1st, which is usually standard) but I don’t know. Good reading though!
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James: this is the opposite of safe as it’s pretty brutal, dark, and complicated. The structure and the story are meant to make you question, doubt, and mislead you. It’s hard to describe without some serious exegesis. You can get a lot out of the first part and it’s only about 1/6 of the book.
Citizen by Claudia Rankine: Not much to say about this book beyond it looks very piercingly at race in modernity, from the “smallest” microaggresions to police brutality. Being lyric poetry, it centres the subjective, the “I”, and that adds to its accessibility. Its later sections struggle with making its abstractions clear, despite its deceptively simple language, but it is a poignant, powerful work that I’m enjoying revisiting.
Here’s a section that really connects with me every time:
To live through the days sometimes you moan like deer. Sometimes you sigh. The world says stop that. Another sigh. Another stop that. Moaning elicits laughter, sighing upsets. Perhaps each sigh is drawn into existence to pull in, pull under, who knows; truth be told, you could no more control those sighs than that which brings the sighs about.
How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin. I’ve just started this short story collection. It was a birthday gift from my friend off the back of our shared loved of Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. I’m basically nowhere in it but I’ve not read many short stories so am excited to sink my teeth into.
Writing: Been planning my comeback here for some time. I just didn’t feel like my reviews were doing anything useful or interesting to me. My boredom and apathy towards making regular meaningful content meant that I chose to disengage from it completely. While I started off using reviews to sort my thoughts, I felt restrained by them and my boredom towards them intensified.
I think I’ll still do reviews in some capacity but I might do fewer and focus on books that really leave an impression on me, hopefully doing essays or some core ideas, or at least some expanded analysis. I have a few ideas on what other things I want on the blog, which includes regular poetry like finishing my damn poetry project. My novels have taken a hit during the ‘rona. It’s been a weird difficult year but I’ll write about this stuff in another blog.
What have you been excited about?