Thursday, September 24, 2020

Cool Stuff to Watch (and Listen to!)

I need lots of comfort viewing (or listening) lately, and can never seem to find enough good options. Luckily, I found a few things in the last week that fit the bill and thought I'd share.

Maria Bamford: Weakness is My Brand. Bamford's hilarious, offbeat style is just what I needed. I laughed a lot while watching her latest comedy special, and couldn't we all use a little more of that in our lives? If you have Amazon Prime, you can check it out for free.

Lucy Worsley Audible interview. Worsley is my favorite British academic who regularly gets TV specials with the BBC. This interview is just 12 minutes, but it's a delight, especially for fans of Jane Austen. "I don't think she was just an important writer, she was an important human being," Worsley says. Why, you may ask? For that you've got to invest 60 seconds times 12. The interview is free on Audible.

Biography: I Want My MTV. A&E's look at how MTV came to be barely scratches the surface, but it did lightly scratch an itch for this Gen Xer who loves all things '80s music and videos. For a real deep dive (and loads of stories about rock stars), pick up one of my favorite oral histories, I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution.

Friday, September 18, 2020

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up My Brilliant Friend a few years ago, read a chapter or two, then dropped it again. It just didn't spark my interest.

Cut to last year when I decided to watch season one of the HBO series based on the book. It was dark, grim, hard for me to watch at times. But the friendship between the two girls was mesmerizing, and I hung in there. By the time I'd finished binging the series, I was in love.

I still didn't go back to the book, though. The memory of bored disinterest kept me away. Season two aired, and again I was enthralled. Finally, I recently decided to pick the book up again on the chance I'd merely tried it at the wrong time, when the mood wasn't right, when the muse of all printed things was pointing another direction at the moment. And this time, I loved the story, the writing. Everything.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I never knew much about Steve Jobs, other than he was the head and founding member of Apple, a company that didn't particularly interest me. When he died, it didn't affect me more than it would on hearing of anyone's untimely passing, but I watched in amazement as masses of people the world over mourned. What was I missing? By the end of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, I understood. When Jobs' death was described, after I'd invested hundreds of pages getting to know him, I was sobbing for what was lost – both for him on a personal level, and all the things lost to the world that he might have created had he lived.

This well-written, intensely researched book depicts Jobs' life, warts and all, celebrating grand achievements and exposing crashing failures. It depicts him as a difficult personality that I wouldn't have cared to know or work with, but whose passion and dedication to his ideals created products that really did change the world, and did it with an eye for beauty and simplicity.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
"The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is one of the most extraordinary ventures in the entire history of catering. It is ... enclosed in a vast time bubble and projected forward in time to the precise moment of the End of the Universe."

I'm so down for this joint! Sneak me on your spaceship, snag me in a time warp, whatever it takes – I want to visit this restaurant and watch the universe implode from a safe vantage. I want to dine with "a fascinating cross-section of the entire population of space and time."

Just imagine the peace of watching all the madness of creation go boom-boom, bye-bye. The wonder of seeing it happen. And knowing you can return to your life, or come back for another viewing, or zip over to a different restaurant to watch the Big Bang.