What. A. Month. What a year, actually. I’ve spent a lot of it in accidental isolation, so this next month (and the upcoming year) for me are going to be about ending that. Part of the isolation has meant the companionship of art and media to help me feel somewhat connected and awake. But I’m learning that having a plethora of information and ideas around me all the time isn’t always a good thing, so I’ve been reducing my intake a bit. Here are some of the things that felt worthwhile.
- “To Have You Around” by Zach Winters. Almost like a daydream. I’ve been singing it under my breath a lot.
- “Better Than I Used to Be” by Mat Kearney ft. AFSHeeN. Mat has been one of my favorite artists for a long time, and he is still consistently good. His new single is a fun pop anthem with his own unique flair. I’m hoping to see him on his upcoming tour next year!
- Jon McLaughlin’s “Promising Promises” album. A classic for me. I forget how absolutely in love I am with it; it makes me physically smile and tear up. So, so good. He’s just a master at what he does. My favorite songs from it might be “Promising Promises” “You Never Know” and “If Only I.” But seriously, listen to them all, please. I’ve been listening to so much of his music lately. He just released a Christmas ep, by the way, and it’s wonderful!
- “Show Me (Like It’s My Birthday)” by Christian Collins. If you’ve been keeping up with me for a while, you know how much I adore Chris. He’s recently resolved to put out more of his music, and not only am I proud of him, but I’m also pretty happy to hear new things from him. This is a jam.
- “Easy Love” and “Paris in The Rain” by Lauv. I love his fresh sound and his youthful yet knowing voice. You can tell he puts a lot of thought into every element of his music; both of these songs are fun to listen to, but they go deeper, too. “Easy Love” in particular has made me think a lot, about the tendency we have to sell ourselves short and deny ourselves good things because they seem too easy to be real.
- Kevin “K.O.” Olusola’s cover of “Sign of The Times.” One of the best uses of a loop pedal I’ve witnessed; gorgeous and a jam at the same time. Plus, his voice is killer and he’s simply talented in general.
- Jillian Edwards’ “Daydream” album. She’s a songwriting inspiration to me. Nearly everything she creates is like a warm and comforting lullaby, but with more complexity and finesse. Her voice just feels so kind. Some of my favorites from this album include “Apologies” and “Daydream.”
- I just pulled my Christmas playlist out of storage! I try to update it on both YouTube and Spotify throughout December.
- Interstellar. I went into it thinking it was just another drama set in space, but I was so wrong. This film is incredible. The actors are top notch, the twists are unexpected and emotion-stirring, and it’s such an original, interesting story. I loved it.
- La La Land. It’s just so lovely, and easy to nestle into on a melancholy day.
- “Breaking Thor with Chris Hemsworth” on The Tonight Show. Stupid but made me laugh when I needed to laugh.
- Rhett and Link’s “Cockroach Cuddling Challenge.” I cried laughing.
- The Snow Queen, a Russian animated film from 1957. I happened upon it somehow, and it is just gorgeous. I can’t get over the backgrounds and the all the details in the artwork; the character design of the Snow Queen especially is beautiful and intimidating. It’s a magical escape to take with a unique story for an hour. There’s a 1995 English re-release in which the voice actress does an incredible job bringing the Snow Queen such power and grandeur, but the original is also available with English subtitles and I much prefer its soundtrack (and the dialogue isn’t as cheesy).
- Benny and Joon. Unexpectedly adorable. The characters are fun and interesting and I rooted for them. Its portrayal of mental illness isn’t groundbreaking, but it also isn’t romanticized or too exaggerated. [Disclaimer for those of you like me who’d want to know ahead of time: there’s one scene where you know things are getting a little spicy, but you don’t witness it happen.]
- The Giver. I wanted to see the film version after reading the book (and after becoming a fan of Brenton Thwaites). I’d heard mostly disappointed reviews, but I personally really enjoyed it. The changes they made didn’t change the core of the story. I teared up during the montages of memories, reminded that living with both joy and pain is far better than living with neither. And, of course, I thought Brenton was a wonderful Jonas.
- Arrival. I feel like I need to watch it a second time to better grasp it, but at the same time I love that my first reaction when the credits began rolling was to put my hands to my temples and repeatedly whisper, “What…” The twist was so unexpected. I love when sci-fi stories are eerie and use fantastical elements elegantly, instead of just screeching, “LOOK! ALIENS!” I loved these aliens! Because they were mysterious characters lurking in shadow, but they truly were characters and contributed so much. And Amy Adams did a stellar job in her role and for sure deserved an Oscar nomination for it.
- The first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War. Tears of joy came to my eyes. I am so, so excited about this film. We’ve been enjoying movies in this universe for ten years now, and to see it culminate in something like this is mind-blowing and just makes me feel so profoundly happy.
- Continuing to watch The Mentalist (on season five right now), The Good Doctor (it’s beginning to capture my heart), and Designated Survivor (mixed feelings but overall I’m enjoying it).
- The Giver by Lois Lowry. I was drawn to it because of the super interesting premise, and while it wasn’t fast-paced like I expected, I still enjoyed it and its cozy yet apprehensive tone; I like it more and more the longer I linger on it. Making seemingly common discoveries along with Jonas brought a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation.
- Gathering Blue, also by Lois Lowry. I love the way Lowry writes unspoken questions into her stories. While this book doesn’t have direct connection to its companion The Giver (that I know of so far, at least; I’ve just started the third book), there’s still the presence of a society that is accepted by those living in it but is also unsettling and highly controlled. The questions a story of societies like this bring up are huge and important. Yet I also like that Lowry doesn’t necessarily provide answers in her stories. Instead, she provides moments of waking up to the presence of the questions, and optimism for the future. And she uses loveable, humble characters to be the vessels of that optimism as we follow them in their journeys of waking up and becoming determined to make things better.
- “Secrets of The Marvel Universe” with Vanity Fair. I’m just such a fan of Marvel and the films they’ve been putting out the past ten years (as you well know by now), so getting to hear from the people behind it and see the new photoshoot was fun and interesting.
- I’m on Goodreads if you want to see full book reviews from me and follow along as I read.
What fed you this month?