In my 2014 wrap-up I said new things were coming. And this is a new thing. A new series in fact.
I consume a lot of media, partially because there’s a lot of media to consume. I wouldn’t experience even half of that media without the power of recommendations and word-of-mouth.
So I’ve decided it’s my turn to play curator. At the end of each month, I’ll present you with some pieces that have really caught my attention. Some will be humorous, some will be serious, but all of them will be powerful.
Here’s my picks for January:
I read this essay by Erin J. Bernard in December, so I’m starting this series by cheating (don’t trust anyone on the internet!). It absolutely gets a place here, though, because it’s what made me want to start this series in the first place. That’s how powerful it is.
It begins with mirrored comparisons of France and the U.S. that distinctly show their historical differences, then moves to Erin’s more modern interpretation of Paris via her own experiences with its food, art, and people. It’s a story of expectations that change, of rose-colored glasses that fade to clear and reveal a more unfavorable and misogynistic side of the city. Erin’s writing is beautiful: no detail is insignificant, and every word belongs perfectly–no other word would suffice. Overall, the piece is serious, but it also includes moments of comic relief (like smugly calling Paris “The Land of the Thousand Sniffs”) that break up even the bleakest moments.
Gretchen’s first two traits–that she swears in front of her kids and chooses favorites–seem normal enough, but by her third and fourth confessions she had me cracking up at her truly
strange unconventional parenting style. Apparently her kids love it though, since they want to be around her all the time (I told her that “Helicopter Kids” would make a great name for an indie family band). Her eccentricities are hilariously endearing and they may even make you nostalgic about your own parents’ weird habits. Seriously, this post is awesome.
This piece is written by my friend Veronica, who is currently living in Paris and plans to go into journalism. She explains how her first reaction to the attacks on Charlie Hebdo was sadness and anger, but then uses the violence as a springboard to discuss why freedom of speech and freedom of the press are the most important rights to have, to exercise, and to defend. She also participated in the Je Suis Charlie demonstrations, and her post includes photos from that day of the people and their messages of unity in the face of threatened liberties. If you’ve been following the shootings or the subsequent protests, you need to read Veronica’s post.
Trivia Crack has definitely been my favorite app of January. You can play against friends or random opponents, answering questions about science, entertainment, sports, geography, art, and history. Some questions are truly difficult, while others make me wonder what kinds of people get them wrong.
I love the app because it’s engaging. I find the questions interesting and like testing my knowledge in different areas. Sports is my worst category, but for awhile entertainment was my weakness, and playing the game has actually taught me a lot of information in those areas. I’ve also played in Spanish with my friend Luciano, which proved to be a challenge both because of the language barrier and the cultural references. Even though he beats me badly every time, I keep playing, because the game is a fun challenge regardless.
I watched all of Season 3 of Girls in two days over winter break (also note that during Thanksgiving I finished the first two seasons in three days). Now that I’m back at school I’m watching Season 4.
The show is addictive, to put it simply, and it’s because of the characters. Each of the girls–Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna–are incredibly unique and have deeper demons that they have to overcome in their day-to-day lives. They’re all realistic, and I can see myself and people I know reflected in their personality traits and behavior as they navigate their twenties. Yet they’re all extreme people, which means that their dialogue frequently includes flickers of satirical commentary about young adulthood, making it hilarious in its truth. So good. So so good.
How to Make Sure Your Kids Get Their Fair Share of Therapy! (More “unconventional” parenting tips, this time as excellent satire)
What the Cast of Arthur Looks Like Now (Mostly here because my college friends and I unashamedly watch Arthur so we loved this article)
A post about a male comedian’s realization that “male is default” (With an excellent and hilarious discussion of assigning gender to inanimate objects)
How To Interview a Woman Writer (Hint: make sure you mostly discuss how attractive she is)
Image notes: The first two images are used with permission from the authors of their respective posts. The third is from the Huffington Post.