Monday, August 3, 2015

Jams of the Summer

Let's just acknowledge I haven't posted a "jams" post in a long damn time. It's been a weird summer, but I'm determined to get my groove back! Here's a super-sized jams post, just to make up for it!

Music Jam: "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd

I like how everything about The Weeknd is a throwback. His hair is straight from a Basquiat portrait. His ad-libbed moans and grunts are pure Michael Jackson, with EDM grooves. Everything about this song works and gets me raising the roof in traffic.

Online Soulmate Jam: Matt Bellassai's Whine About It series

I stumbled upon this series a couple weeks ago and this guy is my soulmate and stole my perfect job: complaining while tipsy. I always joke that only people who really know me realize I'm basically a walking Seinfeld episode of nitpicky complaints, so I laugh with recognition at every one of his gripes.

Literary Jam: Jane Smiley's 100 Years Trilogy

I had read great reviews of Jane Smiley's "Some Luck," the first book in her sprawling trilogy tracing the generations of one family through the 20th century. If that sounds like an unremarkable story, you'd be where I was for the first few chapters. But once the characters started to face the challenges of the Depression, the pace quickened and I literally spent every spare moment of the subsequent two weeks reading "Some Luck" and its sequel, "Early Warning." The final book will come out in October and I'm pumped!

Other Literary Jam: "The Signature of All Things"

Speaking of sprawling multigenerational historical family novels, I also lost a few days to Elizabeth Gilbert's "The Signature of All Things." It would be easy to dismiss Gilbert as a self-obsessed memoirist after the super huge success of the treacly "Eat, Pray, Love" (a book I actually couldn't help but enjoy), but this book is LEGIT brilliant and excellent. Her prose is beautiful, the science is fascinating and the characters are richly drawn. Who knew tracing the history of botany in the 18th century could be so entrancing?

New Show Possible Jam: Mr. Robot

Funny story: My husband started DVR'ing USA's new show Mr. Robot and AMC's new show Humans at the same time and when he asked if I was interested in watching either show, I said no because I had the plots completely reversed. One is about household artificial intelligence run amok and one is about a gang of anarchist hackers. You decide which one sounds like it would be "Mr. Robot." Anyway, it turns out I had them mixed up and this show — the hacker one — is excellent. It's stylish and cinematic, large in scope and full of interesting commentary on the state of a hyper-connected society. The most recent episode left me breathless.

Summer Movie Jams: Trainwreck

If you haven't seen "Trainwreck," get thee to a theater, stat. Amy's comedic voice, the inspired choice of Bill Hader as sexy leading man and the surprising and delightful LeBron James help rise above what is an essentially very formulaic plot. I had lots of laughs and am loving this moment in female-driven comedic entertainment.

Inside Out

I cannot gush enough about the brilliance of Inside Out, which I hope will enable a generation of kids to visualize and verbalize their feelings and experience empathy for others. It managed to make me laugh hysterically and sob. I saw it twice, and you know that ain't cheap!

Tented Spectacle Jam: Kooza

It's rare to see a bonafide spectacle these days that is completely unironically entertaining, but that's the case with Cirque du Soleil's Kooza, a touring show in a tent set up in Virginia Beach through this month. I was lucky to see the show with my friend Andi, and it felt old-fashioned and thrilling in the best way. 

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