Popcorn Diet: July 30 through August 6
Here is list of the pop culture I consumed - hence, my popcorn diet - from July 30 to August 6. Let's get into it.
Sat. July 30
Started reading The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Shiffe. It appeared on a lot of "Best of 2015" book lists, and it's been sitting on my bookshelf for about three months, because I requested it from the library and still hadn't gotten around to reading it. But perhaps inspired by Winona Ryder (follow my brain: Stranger Things on Netflix, Winona Ryder, Winona in The Crucible, The Crucible and the Salem witch trials), I picked it up and forced myself to power through the first challenging 40 pages or so before really getting into it. This is seriously a tome, a 496-page book with a 14-page Cast of Characters and equally lengthy Notes and Index sections. But Schiff's writing is detailed and wry, and she captivatingly lays out how a group of preteen girls, orphaned and disenfranchised, whipped Salem into a witch-hunting frenzy. It's equally shocking and sympathetic and horrifying. I can't put it down.
Sun. July 31
Wondering if I should buy J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Cursed Child immediately, or hold out until the end of summer when I can borrow it off someone. Is it terrible that I went for the second option? I'm sorry, J.K. But you don't really need my $20, do you?
Mon. Aug. 1
Saw Hell or High Water, starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Jeff Bridges. Written by Taylor Sheridan (who also wrote last year's very good Sicario), it's about two brothers who start robbing banks to pay off their mother's home loan. The movie feels a little like Cormac McCarthy-lite with its version of beaten-into-the-ground, downtrodden Texas life, but it's enthralling (and OH MY GOD, CHRIS PINE). I have a full review coming Friday; here's the trailer in the meantime.
Wed. Aug. 3
Learned today that Nine Lives is opening cold, which is upsetting, because it looks so terrible that I'm intrigued. And I don't care about seeing it for Kevin Spacey; I've never watched an episode of House of Cards and have no real interest -- instead, I want to see it for Jennifer Garner, because I DON'T GET WHAT SHE IS DOING. Has she forgotten that she was Sydney Fucking Bristow in Alias? Has she forgotten how deeply she cut Ben Affleck with her "Bless his heart" comment in Vanity Fair earlier this year? Garner has the capacity to be a stone-cold badass, and has been. Why she keeps playing it disturbingly safe with choices like Miracles From Heaven and now Nine Lives is beyond me.
Thurs. Aug. 4
Was going to see Kubo and the Two Strings, but got stuck in awful traffic leaving work and couldn't make it to the press screening. Bah! There is another screening in a couple of weeks that I can attend, but still, I really want to see the latest from Laika -- they've never let me down -- and I don't want to wait! I am petulant.
With a free night, I caught up on Mr. Robot and Vice Principals. I've enjoyed the second season of Mr. Robot so far even though I keep reading that critical reaction has been "lukewarm" and that the show is in a "sophomore slump." Are we watching the same show? AM I NOT A CRITIC, WITH REACTIONS? Anyway, episode five, eps2.3logic-b0mb.hc, was gasp-inducing stuff, and I adore so many things about it right now: Darlene leaning on Elliot, in spite of her Darla Singer-like intensity; Angela's quick thinking during her meetup with terrible ex-boyfriend Ollie; and the frightening sociopathy of Joanna Wellick, singing a lullaby to her baby while listening to the details of the murder she ordered. I may be in love with Joanna, actually -- her gorgeous face is so good at saying patently false shit, and her stone-cold ruthlessness is so enjoyable.
Fri. Aug. 5
I worry about the future of Gawker and its websites, like Jezebel and Deadspin, given that insane ruling they lost against Hulk Hogan. Without online outlets like that, would we get articles like this: The Internet of Dead Girls? This piece by Stassa Edwards about how dead women are talked about online, how their narratives are used to continue our cycle of lambasting misognystic violence, is some thought-provoking, heart-breaking stuff. Here's a choice paragraph:
Without this violence against Cooper and Weiss, there would have been no movement, no watershed. This is the fundamental paradox of the feminist internet’s dead girls: we require their production in order to take action. There is nothing to witness if nobody is dead. There is no contemplation without saints.
You should read it.
I also watched the Olympics Opening Ceremony, and was amazed by how condescending and clueless the coverage by NBC hosts Matt Lauer, Hoda Kotb, and Meredith Vieira was. Example: They called Brazil "culture cannibals" who take pieces of international cultures and adapt them to their own nation. I'm sorry, isn't that how globalism works? Like, for everyone? Ugh. Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture's TV writer, wrote a scathing essay about it, and you should read that, too.
Sat. Aug. 6
Lucked out with movies on TV, with The Namesake on HBO in the morning (I turned it on to when Ashoke is telling Gogol about the origin of his name and watched through Ashoke's death, so, yeah, I cried the whole time) and then switched it over to There Will Be Blood on HDNet, which every time I watch I am amazed didn't win the Best Picture Oscar back in 2008. Does Oscar winner No Country for Old Men hold up as well? I don't really think so.
Also powered through the second half of season three on BoJack Horseman, and cried EVEN MORE during the overwhelmingly moving episode 11 "That's Too Much, Man!" and episode 12 "That Went Well," the season finale. I don't want to talk about either episode too much because I don't want to spoil anything, but all I will say is that I think the final five minutes of "That Went Well" are some of the most moving on television this year, and possibly ever for an animated show. I know that may seem like an over-the-top compliment, but truly, I can't say enough adoring things about "That Went Well." That final scene hit me somewhere that I won't ever forget.