Rampant Media Consumption! First 2016 edition
You all kept us busy the last three months! Normally things quiet way down after the holidays and by the beginning of February we’re left cleaning the office, catching up on administrative projects and long-term editorial stuff, and strategizing about the future. Not this year! We’ve been slammed with orders and with editorial work on exciting new books, and it’s been fabulous. As a result, though, it’s been a while since anyone had a minute to consume any media, much less report on it, much less blog about it.
We finally found a sec, though. So… here’s what we’ve been taking in!
I caught up on the new season of Agent Carter—it’s a little more kitschy than last season, but fun anyway, and still well done.
In my favorite kind of news, Jessica Jones got picked up for a second season! I mean, of course it did, because it’s amazing, but it’s good to know.
I also finished listening to the audio book of Gone Girl. I wasn’t excited to read it because it seemed over-hyped, but I actually *loved* it, and actually hate that I saw the movie first and ruined the twist, because it probably would have blown me away. Also, I think Amy Elliot Dunne might be my gender-politics spirit animal.
This month I’ve been obsessed with watching 360 degree videos. Guyz, this is the future of technology. Check out this one or this one (it’s better if you’re using a mobile device). (ps. if you don’t know how it works, just click anywhere on the video and drag)
I reread Blake Nelson’s Girl, which I vividly remember finding at the library as a teenager. It totally holds up. Oh the 90s. I read up about the book’s history… it was serialized in Sassy, but first published as an adult novel because all the sex wasn’t deemed appropriate for teenagers. It wasn’t published as young adult until the late 2000s, when I guess the publishing world was ready to admit that teenagers have sex. It was interesting to watch the price fluctuate as well — in 1995 the adult fiction trade paperback was $14, but the YA reissue in 2007 was $11. If it came out today, it would have to be $9.95. And that is the story of how my nostalgic weekend reading turned into a work research project. Not to mention the story of our economy.
My Career as a Jerk by Dave Markey
While mostly fascinating as a way of tracing the evolving fashion and motivations of the Circle Jerks as they struggle to remember their relevance in a changing world, this documentary is my favorite work by Markey (The Year Punk Broke). While most LA bands of the late 70s and early 80s broke up or went “crossover” metal by 1986, the Circle Jerks tried to stay their course…but never seemed quite sure what that was as they lost key musicians Roger Rogerson and Lucky Lehrer. Mostly memorable for footage of a 46-year-old Greg Hetson dressed in Warped-Tour-style baggy shorts and pulled up gym socks next to the ever-increasing lengths of Keith Morris’ dreadlocks as they threatened to touch the floor while the band dropped staccato rhythms in favor of a slower hard punk style. It feels like even when they can’t quite recall what they were angry about 30 years prior that the feelings remain in full force.
Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff
As frustrating to read as it is informative, this is a look into one reporter’s life in Detroit as he tries to nail the mayor, city councilwoman, and various public service departments. There were numerous times where I wanted to throw the book against the wall in disgust: when he assaults his wife, when he makes fun of retarded people, his various awkward racial stereotypes, extensive stories about his own life that are pointless to the reader or narrative, and how he will tell you everyone’s race (unless they’re white) even when it does nothing to advance the narrative or fill in details about that character. Nonetheless, I powered through for the information. While much of the book seems committed to responding to the various criticisms of his work and leaving out details at times convenient to serving his story, it provides enough back and inside story about Detroit to understand how things reached the point of bankruptcy, destitution, and auto bailouts. I only wish that I could leave LeDuff behind and keep his reporting.
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
While this book cannot hold a candle to Jon’s editorial masterpiece So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, it’s an illuminating look into the world of psychology and how little science really exists within it. In his classic style, Ronson befriends character after character, both those who work deep within the system and those who have been wronged by it. While my experiences with psychology have been mostly pleasant and I’ve had little reason to give it the side eye, looking at its limitations is always educational and informs action. While Ronson has a great way of making even the most serious subjects read as funny anecdotes, it never takes away from the actual substance of his message and what he has to get across to the reader.