don't be a one-book dummy: Brendon's 2017 pop culture lessons
There are still about seven weeks left in 2017, so a year-in-review is, in some ways, premature. But I was born on November 9th, a date that will be associated with the ascendance of Donny T until his term ends. And so, as I’ve just celebrated a birthday and stress-napped my way through my destabilizing and still-not-fully-processed memories of last year, some taking stock is in order. With that in mind, here are some of the pop culture lessons I’ve learned over the past year.
You don’t have to keep listening to the music you loved when you were 17. Good music always makes you feel 17. Nostalgia and novelty-seeking are two sides of the same coin. It’s not so much that we’re drawn to the particular pop artifacts of our youth. I think it’s more that we want to feel about new things the way we felt about them when we were at the age of possibility. Yes, we want to have our minds blown and our hearts opened – but only because it ensures that we haven’t lost the capacity for it.
It’s better to fall asleep to something funny or informative than to something harrowing or otherwise opinion-dense. Leave the political or true-crime podcasts for daytime chores or commutes. Shows like Science Vs., a Gimlet Media podcast hosted by Australian science journalist Wendy Zukerman, are perfect for pleasant dreaming.
And If I Were You, a comedy advice podcast hosted by Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld, is probably the most consistently funny podcast around (especially while My Dad Wrote a Porno is between seasons). Their most recent episode featured actor and ever-delightful meme inspiration Ben Schwartz.
Nothing goes away. So giving up on that TV or book series that everyone is raving about is, like, fine. I never finished Stranger Things. I might never get back to it. I watched the first few episodes of season one, and was enjoying it. But everyone has that series that, for them, just won’t be denied. The one for which burning through ten hours over a weekend is more happy accident than chore. I’ve had that experience with Mindhunter and, more recently, The Big Family Cooking Showdown. This Netflix show is co-hosted by Great British Bake-Off winner Nadiya Hussain and pits families from all over England in a three-challenge cooking tournament. Fans of GBBO, as well as Anglophiles and people who enjoy watching families other than their own squirm under kitchen-based pressure, will love this series.
When you know you’re going to be in a waiting room for a while, two books is a must. Only dummies bring one book. I’m getting my summer tires swapped for snow tires this weekend (unrelated, but: what has my life become?) and I’ll be alternating between two books while I wait out the service. The first one will be a trade paperback of Paper Girls, a sci-fi mystery series about four pre-teens who are caught between life, work, neighborhood bullies, and invading time-travelers. This is the best-colored comic I’ve ever read. And the second book I’ll be reading is Rabbit Cake, Annie Hartnett’s debut novel from Tin House Books. In it, a ten-year-old girl called Elvis with a mind for facts and a penchant for snooping tries to keep her family from spinning out after the death of her mother, a chronic sleepwalker (and sleepswimmer). Don’t be a one-book dummy.