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Media Roundup, November 2018

In an attempt to track and briefly note what I consume, here’s a roundup of (mostly) everything I watched, read, and listened to this month. As the first one, some October is slipping in because there were some goodies I didn’t want to miss. Also, I make no promises of actually doing this every month, but I’m going to try.

Music

La Dispute’s reissue of Somewhere at the Bottom is a master class in honoring an original performance while updating it only for the better. This record defined a lot of my early college years and I’m glad to see a reissue so well cared for. Supergroup boygenius put out their self-titled EP that gets it right by playing to the strengths of all three members throughout. Julien, Phoebe, and Lucy’s output have been amazing separately, but all three together really have come up with something special. My favorite band of all time, Minus The Bear, put out their final EP, Fair Enough, in the middle of October and is still getting regular plays from me. I’m truly heartbroken over their end, but I’m glad they’ve left such an amazing catalog I can bring with me forever. TTNG put out an acoustic reissue of Animals with their original vocalist for its 10th anniversary. Some of the complicated guitarwork falls flat on an acoustic if you aren’t familiar with the electric versions, but I love these songs so much it all works really well for me. JPEGMAFIA put out a new tune with Kenny Beats called “Puff Daddy” with one of my favorite beats of the year. Veteran is my favorite rap record of the year easily and the singles he’s put out since its release have held up just as well. Speaking of Kenny Beats, the new Vince Staples record, FM!, has been on regular rotation since it came out earlier this month. It’s a fun, relaxed effort that let’s Staples show off some interesting flows and wastes no time clocking in at just 22 minutes. I’ve given a few cursory listens to Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers’ Bought to Rot, but it hasn’t really stuck for me. Lastly, Esperanza Spalding’s 12 Little Spells is an idiosyncratic jazz and pop outing that I find myself coming back to while at work these last few weeks. It’s much more lush and ambient than her previous albums.

TV

I got through a lot more TV than I expected to this month as I started biking indoors for the winter. I wrapped up the new season of Big Mouth and caught up on Steven Universe and The 100, both of which I had left lingering in my queue over the summer. Big Mouth’s potty humor appeals to the immature side of me that I can’t help but cackle at. Steven Universe is continues to dominate animated television, especially post-Adventure Time (RIP, I need to weep about how much I love and miss this show publicly soon) and the expanding world and history they’re creating have only made it better as it’s gone on. The future of that show is bright. I think I’m finally done with The 100 now. The first two seasons were great and it’s all been downhill for me since then. This one finally ended on a concrete enough note that I’m happy wishing it good luck and moving on with my life. I’d still recommend those first two seasons, though. I swung back around to Disenchantment, the new Netflix show from Futurama creator Matt Groening, which was…okay. I feel very meh about the show as a whole, but I’m holding out hope for season two to move things forward. It was a fun watch, but definitely fell short on expectations. I also watched all of Cowboy Bebop for the first time, which I plan to write a lot more about in the coming week. Spoiler for that post, the show is amazing in pretty much every way and its cult status makes sense to me now.

I cut down my weekly queue a good amount this fall, so my list of actively airing shows is down to just South Park, Riverdale, Bob’s Burgers, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I watch South Park mainly out of nostalgia at this point, and this season isn’t really doing anything to change that. The Manbearpig episodes have been a nice moral about-face and making fun of vaping is still funny, but the charm of that show left many years ago. Riverdale I watch mainly because my girlfriend wants to, but boy is that show getting weird (in a good way) this season. Bob’s Burgers still finds a way to be the most lovely, hilarious show, even 9 seasons on. And Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is holding steady as it finds its exit with a final season. What’s nice about the show is that it’s actually attempting to work through and show character’s growing and changing and it shows that progression in an honest, realistic manner.

Movies

I don’t watch a lot of movies, so this area may be sparse most months, but I did watch two Jackie Chan movies this month: Legend of Drunken Master and Rumble In The Bronx. The movies exist with almost zero plot (Rumble literally had no denouement), but that’s not the point: Jackie Chan doing amazing martial arts on screen is and he delivered in both movies. I hadn’t seen any Jackie Chan movies other than Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon prior to this, so it was a fun chance to see some of his earlier work. If you are looking for some easy laughs and awesome stunts, both of these movies were great for exactly that. My intention is to watch Amour of God and Police Story next.

Books

I finished up The Dark Forest, the second book of Liu Cixin’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, in late October and started burning through Death’s End immediately after. The Dark Forest ended on a crazy note and Death’s End hasn’t let off the throttle at all. What makes the series so good is the way it balances philosophical problems with big picture science fiction story-telling. I find myself having trouble how good these books are without spoiling the story, so I’ll leave it at that for now. I started Eating Animals because I might eat meat, but I know it’s not the most moral decision I make each day and I want to investigate that feeling more. I’m also reading Extreme Ownership at work. I think the principles it presents are great for any leader to hear and consider how to apply themselves, but all the military stuff sours it for me because I can’t decouple my personal politics from those stories.

Articles

Thrillist’s ‘I Found the Best Burger Place in America. And Then I Killed It.’ is probably the best piece of writing I read this month. It contemplates the power of sharing and The Media™ through a non-controversial lens. “Is it good to share this?,” “Do we have an obligation to?,” and “What are the consequences of doing so?” are questions that don’t bubble up in the era of social media and click-based revenue models. It doesn’t reach too deep into answering those questions directly, but it’s good to see them being considered and I hope this article’s popularity starts more conversations around these questions.

The Atlantic’s exploration of the sex recession brought together a bunch of ideas around dating, romance, sense of self, and a bunch more interpersonal topics I think have been bubbling up for a few years now and made a case around how it’s happening. I’ll be interested to see if the trend continues in the data over the next generation.

There are few things I enjoy more than Current Affairs taking right-wing and centrist schlock to task and Being Mr. Reasonable does a hell of a job on Sam Harris. As always, it’s well-researched and articulates in great detail what makes these moral scam artists so horrific.

I finally got around to Longreads’ piece from back in September, No, I Will Not Debate You. It sharpens a point I’ve been trying to make in my head for a while around the always-dumb debate about civility and giving the microphone to lunatics. It puts a cap on a point I’ve been trying to make in my own head for a while now:

If we deny racists a platform, they feed off the appearance of censorship, but if we give them a platform, they’ve won by being respectfully invited into the mainstream. Either way, what matters to them is not debate, but attention. There is no perfect choice.

Federico Viticci’s explanation of how he uses GitHub for a writing and collaboration workflow on iOS has inspired me to create a platform agnostic notes system using GitHub as my sync server. More on this later, though. I just found the article interesting from a technical ingenuity standpoint.