Thoughts on life after the PhD
I’m a sucker for end-of-year lists. Probably because I have trouble remembering books, music, movies, etc. that happened before August. And while I certainly haven’t read / seen / listened to / done nearly as much as the folks over at Salon, Slate, and NPR, I thought I’d use what will probably be my last post of 2012 to recollect some good things that happened. Helpfully (I hope) categorized.
(I should mention that I have generally lame taste in music, meaning that I like plenty of stuff that most people would say is derivative and I would never turn my iPod to “shuffle” while it was hooked up to speakers in a public place. So these recommendations probably don’t mean much, but here they are.)
1. MC Hammer & PSY doing “Gangnam Style” at the American Music Awards. Okay, music award shows are dull, and most of the performances feel about as inspiring as slowly-rising bread dough. But damn. I could not stop smiling all the way through this thing. Kind of made me feel like a music-obsessed teenager again. Oh, and in a sea of “Gangnam Style covers,” I also loved Ai Weiwei’s, just because it’s Ai Weiwei and it’s appropriately random.
2. Kacey Musgraves, “Merry Go Round.” Generally not a country music fan, but kudos to Musgraves for this quiet, beautifully arranged song that rips apart country music’s sacred cows of God, marriage, and small town life.
3. Lana del Rey, “Summertime Sadness.” Yeah, I know, I’m supposed to hate Lana del Rey because she changed her name / gave a terrible performance on SNL / comes across as stiff and weird. But I played this song over and over again on the train, sometimes twice in a row. Nice video, too.
4. k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang, “I Confess.” Something about the urgency in the music and of course k.d.’s amazing voice. (video mildly NSFW)
Blogs & Blog Posts
Sequential Crush. I’m a bit young to have read romance comics regularly, but I do remember reading Archie comics as a kid, and something about these stories is so innocent, so much of a time capsule, that you can’t help but be charmed. Plus Jacque Nodell, who runs the site, is clearly passionate about the material and really knows her stuff.
Foodgawker. They seem to be focusing a lot more on sweets these days (maybe cause it’s the holidays), but this is still my go-to place for new food ideas.
The Hairpin’s 5-part series on growing up in Scientology. I admit to a somewhat morbid fascination with Scientology (this very long article about Paul Haggis’ defection a few years ago was amazing). This series of essays, by a woman who was born into and has since left the church, is beautifully written and informative.
Videos, Audio, & Viral Things
Tard the Grumpy Cat. I could look at him all day.
Where the Bears Are. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon this web series, and I’m pretty sure that I’m not part of the target audience. But it was so charming, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, and fun to watch. And I’m happy to know that some guys who’ve spent much of their lives writing for big studios got a chance to create something they wanted to create. (mildly nsfw)
Tig Notaro’s live set at the Largo. Damn. I’ve listened to this twice now, and the moment near the end, when the guy in the audience says “This is fucking amazing” and everyone claps, still makes me wanna bawl. And shout for joy at the same time. (I think it’s on YouTube, but this is really one to buy.)
The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello. Just beautiful.
(granted, several of these came out last year or the year before, but I didn’t get around to reading them until now)
Leviathan Wakes. Good old-fashioned space opera.
March Was Made of Yarn. Beautiful collection of story and essay-responses to the March 2011 tsunami. “Box Story” is the best by far, but there are plenty of other good ones.
Railsea. China Mieville goes young adult but doesn’t talk down. Not on par with Embassytown, but still a fabulous read.
The Night Circus. Like a gourmet toffee apple. Or a hot serving of high-end kettle corn. Okay, those aren’t very good descriptions, but the book was a lot of fun.
The Hunger Games. Hey, they’re pretty good! And there’s a heroine who isn’t overly girly and who saves the guys more than they save her!
Afterlives of the Saints. Kind of makes me wish I’d gone to Catholic school, just so I could have been terrified by all these stories of creative self-abuse.
Other Cool Stuff That Happened
I finished my PhD. Yea!
I made bread in my rice cooker. Oh, the possibilities.
Almost every idiotic politician who said idiotic things about rape / women’s bodies got voted out of office.
I went to Isshiki Beach, and it was beautiful.
I started rock climbing at an indoor climbing gym. I still suck at it, but it’s fun.
Happy winter holidays everyone!
writing•translation•scholarship on Japan (and a few other things)
tales of travel, research, and life
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