retsuko: (Default)
2014 has been a good year for pop culture activities, even without SDCC tickets. I've been lucky enough to see about half of the movies that I wanted to; I've read 53 books (it would be 54, but I abandoned one because of sheer boredom/desperation); and I've had wonderful times speaking to many fun, knowledgeable, and interesting people about shared fandoms and pop culture interests. I hope 2015 brings more of the same, especially since there is Star Wars to look forward to, and Avengers, and Agent Carter and all my returning favorites and, really, far too many upcoming titles to entirely list in one entry.

I do have a bunch of projects that I want to bring to fruition in 2015, some of them big, and some fairly small and relaxed. In no particular order:

1) A Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell reread, to get ready for the BBC adaptation. My target date for this is January/February, just so I'm not attempting to finish such a long book too close to the release date. I'll blog about this in chunks as I go through it, and if there's anyone who wants to join in, I can get more specific about these chunks and when I plan to have them done. :)

2) Yebisu and I are planning, thanks to Netflix, to do a Star Trek: The Next Generation re-watch, probably two episodes a week. I'm hoping that the two episodes a week format will help balance out some of the truly regrettably bad episodes that I remember from the first few seasons by contrasting bad with good, or at least passable. I'll blog about this, too.

3) Photography of the action figures in SOME format; I just haven't settled on what yet.

4) A far more cryptic pair of projects, one of which hinges on acquiring new skills, and the other of which depends on time. I'm remaining cryptic in hopes of actually accomplishing both and/or confusing my older self when I review these entries years from now.
retsuko: (tea room)
I've seen, read, and experienced a lot of wonderful pop culture this year, and I'm still boggling over just *how much* I've gotten to experience at all, given that my son turned 2 and spent much of his time unintentionally taking up mine. (99% of the time, that's great, but the other 1% is tough.) I've been lucky to get anything done at all! Fortunately, what I have been able to reward myself with is on the top-notch side of the equation.

Movies! The usual suspects, with a late entry of 'Argo', a tremendous, tight piece of filmmaking. )

Books! Are you my influencing machine who knows how to be a woman/space girl/consulting detective/mother, or just a cloud atlas? )

TV Shows! Escapism in the form of ensemble comedy and music. )

If I had to wear a t-shirt with a design that encapsulated my pop culture choices of 2012, it would definitely be a collection of awesome ladies all having tea at the same table. (Princess Bubblegum would be hosting and discussing futurism with Sonmi-451; Alison Bechdel and her mother would be facing off against some of Joanna Trollope's family characters; Hushpuppy would be comparing monsters with Zita the Spacegirl; and everyone would have a "Leslie Knope for President!" button.) Before I forget about it, here is a tremendously interesting video that showcases the roles that women had in Hollywood/mainstream film this year:

This leads me into my hopes and dreams for 2013 and pop culture: More here. )
retsuko: (stars)
I was perusing some of the "Best Of" lists of movies and books this year in various sources (LA Times, NY Times, The Onion's A.V. Club), and realized that in most cases, I had only heard about half of the works on all the lists. This has never, ever happened before. In the case of books, I feel slightly better about it; books don't get the same pop culture treatment that movies do (the movie section of the newspaper is like the star high school quarterback, while the book review has been trimmed and pared down to chess club level status at this point). But in the case of the movies... gah. This is really how having a child has changed our lives. It's not an entirely bad thing, of course: we don't spend as much on movie tickets as we used to, and when we do see a movie, we're very, very picky about it. I'm also finding that most movies really don't lose much between video format and the big screen. But going to movies just because we felt like it was something that both [ profile] yebisu9 and I enjoyed a lot, and I hate to think that is not only no longer an option, but our general pop culture knowledge has declined because of it. The pay-off of this exchange, raising a child, is wonderful and awesome, and well worth losing movies. It's just a strange revelation for me, a reminder of how much things have changed.

In any case, the movies that I get a chance to see and enjoy fall mostly into the comedy category (Bridesmaids, the adult, cringe-worthy hilarity, and The Muppets, sweet and musical and funny), action-drama (Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part 2, a tremendously satisfying conclusion), and straight-up drama (True Grit and The Descendants). We've pretty much stopped going to documentaries (*weeps*), although this has more to do with the timing of the art house movie theaters near us, rather than issues with the genre. I'm still hoping to get to see Tintin, but that's not going to happen before 2012.

Books are much the same story--read in a very slapdash fashion here and there. I've really enjoyed continuations of my favorite series, like the new Percy Jackson series, or the latest Thursday Next installment, which rewarded me for all my faith in the series by being one of the funniest and most inventive adventures yet. I also very much enjoyed more serious works, like The Wilder Life (the life story and legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her much beloved Little House books) and The Lace Reader (see previous entry.) Again, my nonfiction reading has suffered. Years ago, I vowed to myself to always have a nonfiction title going at the same time as a fiction one, and technically, I *have* one (Tesla: Man Out of Time), but I'm not rushing to read it as much as I should be. (Tesla's life story is fascinating, but the electrical engineering talk that takes up much of chapters leaves me confused and rather bored.) This will probably be the subject of a pop culture resolution for next year (see below).

Music-wise, my Top 25 most played are pretty similar to previous years--Susumu Hirasawa (the Paprika OST is STILL awesome!), Neko Case, Barenaked Ladies, etc. etc. Newer entries include The New Pornographers, Neko Case's new album, Middle Cyclone, which is absolutely fantastic, and Flight of the Conchords. (My love for adorable pop music parody knows no bounds.) If I had to sum up 2011's musical trend in one genre, though, it would be kick-ass lady folk-rock/rocky-folk, like Florence + The Machine, Aimee Mann, my perennial favorite Dar Williams, and the afore mentioned Neko Case.

2011 was also the year of "Probably Far More TV Than Was Good For Me." On the other hand, even though I watched a lot of TV, it wasn't just junk that I passively consumed. I discovered several new fandoms (Adventure Time, Warehouse 13, Sanctuary) and am currently having the pleasure of watching several great American novels (most notably Mad Men) set to TV. There was a fair amount of TV that was pre-screened for our son, but as long as he enjoys good quality programs like Shaun the Sheep and Sesame Street, I think the good news is that I won't go crazy. (I also fully expect him to adore something I hate, but I will burn that bridge when I get there.)

There have also been quite a few manga volumes and comics littering up 2011. Of all of these, the two I'm most looking forward to are the next volume of Wandering Son, a beautifully drawn and translated story about transgender teens by a mangaka who obviously loves her characters and the next issue of The Unwritten, a story which gets more and more interesting with each passing and not nearly frequent enough chapter.

Finally, my pop culture resolutions for 2012! )

Happy 2012 to everyone who's been reading!
retsuko: (book love)
As usual this year, I was terribly late to the party in some things, and very punctual on others.

In Books:

What I've been reading this year is a mix of book group books, nonfiction/memoir, and random fiction that I chose myself based on recommendations of others or general 'what the hell' sentiment. (I will also admit that the covers of the random books played a role in my choosing of them.) The books for book group, as always, were a fairly mixed bag, ranging from excellent to awful; the best of them was Time After Time, by Karl Alexander, which was made even better by an appearance from the author himself. Other books that stood out were: The full list follows... )

Most Interrupted Book of the Year: The Unnamed, by Joshua Ferris. I've been reading this since Little Squeak was born, and it's a testament to Ferris' writing skills that I still remember who each of the characters are and what the central conflict is every time I read a few pages. It's like opening up a photo album while being distracted at a family get-together; every few pages, I stop to hear other things, but when I look down again, there are the same faces and stories that I remember.

Books Most Talked Back To: The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins. If the success of a work is how often I start advising the characters on what they *should* be doing while I'm reading about it, then Collins succeeds 110%. By the final book, I was muttering back at the characters about once every page or so, much to Yebisu's annoyance. Of course, my advice made no difference, but I was sure invested in it.

In Comics/Manga:

Best Ongoing Series, Trade Paperback: Locke & Key, by Joe Hill/Gabriel Rodriguez. I love my horror when it's tinged with strong storytelling, artwork, and meaningful character development. The hardcover trades are well worth the money.

Best Ongoing Series, Serialized: The Unwritten, by Mike Carey/Peter Gross (Special mention for the gorgeous covers by Yuko Shimizu). Where this is going, I'm uncertain, but wherever it is, I want to be there. I want to be there so much that I think it's well worth it to buy in serialized format.

Special Mention, Late to the Party Edition: Demo, by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan. Cloonan's accomplished and stylish black and white artwork was what got me in, but the short stories were so good that I stuck around for the rest, and I was glad I did.

Best Manga, Serious: Kingyo Used Books, by Seimu Yoshizaki

Best Manga, Silly/Guilty Pleasure: Rinne, by Rumiko Takahashi

At the Movies: Best/Worst List Follows: )

On TV:

This has been the year of BBC programming. Yebisu and I have rediscovered classics like Blackadder and A Bit of Fry and Laurie, as well as modern series like the new Doctor Who (loving Matt Smith, who I wish had appeared down our non-existent chimney on Xmas), and the riveting Survivors. Can't wait to check out more in the New Year.

Top 25 Most Listened To Songs:

Wow... looking back, 2010 was a great year for entertainment. I hope 2011 continues the trend! :)

May 2016

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