What I've Been Reading and Watching
I thought I would ease back into blogging today with a little look at what I've been reading and watching lately, though with luck some of this might spin out into longer reflection. First up, the books!
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahesi Coates. I read this more or less in one sitting and I almost never do that anymore. I should probably read it again. I don't know what I can or should say about it except that if I had to tell almost everyone I came in contact with to read one book this year it'd be that one.
World War One in 100 Objects by Peter Doyle. Kind of an interesting if not necessarily deep look at specific examples of objects from WWI; helmets, hats, badges, weapons, the car the Archduke was assassinated in.
World War 1 by S.L.A. Marshall. I've probably read more books about WWI than any (non-Irish) historical subject and I'm not entirely sure I was enriched by this one. Marshall was the official U.S. Army Combat Historian of WWII and Korea and his methods and legacy have been sharply questioned. Really hard time getting stuck into it. At times his voice is interestingly dry; at others it was 'oh I've been drooling facedown on that page for five minutes' dry.'
The Last Days of Innocence: America at War 1917-1918. Still trying to really get down into this one, but I will eventually; grading for school, baseball, working on Stillbright and another book project keep getting in the way.
In terms of comic books, nothing much has changed for me; still mostly looking forward to Rat Queens, Saga, Star Wars and G.I. Joe every month. I have gotten into Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat! by Kate Leth and Brittney Williams and the new Black Panther by Ta-Nahesi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze which had a beautiful first issue that I unfortunately tried to read with a massive headache, and will have to go back into later. I'm willing to take recommendations on new Marvel books to jump into; I abandoned ship from Marvel years ago. I am, sadly, deeply skeptical of whatever new relaunch D.C. is doing, but I'll at least give you an ear.
In terms of television watching, well, I don't watch as much as I might like, but something's got to give every night before I go to work on a book, and baseball fills up a lot of time prior to that. I thought Daredevil Season 2 was actually superior to Season 1; making the legal drama about the Punisher was the smartest choice it could've made. Supergirl is easily my favorite of the superhero shows on these days, and I'll probably only catch up with Arrow, Flash, Agent Carter and Legends of Tomorrow by late in the summer; they're packing the DVR right now. Two things I've watched recently stick out; the Jackie Robinson documentary by Ken Burns is predictably amazing, but I think you can hardly help but be amazed by Jackie's life and legacy. If you tried to write a novel or a screenplay today featuring a person who was tremendously athletically gifted, as brilliant, as resilient as Jackie Robinson was, you'd be told it was wildly unrealistic.
Lastly, and really this is the thing I can't stop thinking about, is the FX show Baskets. Zach Galifianakis is extremely hit or miss to me, so I didn't jump right into that show. I started watching it On Demand on my spring break and I am obsessed with it now. That show is odd all the time, painfully beautiful in certain moments, savagely funny in others, and fully humanizing at its best. I might write a longer essay going over my reactions to it, which began with cautious interest, grew to surreal fascination, and ended in total devotion. I may watch the entire thing again before I write anything too in-depth about it. I'll say this; it certainly seems like certain characters on that show are going to fit a specific, cliched type – Penelope as the unattainable, emotionally distant object of desire, for instance – only for that type to be undercut with humor, honesty, and even tenderness later on. But even those moments aren't allowed to last too long, because at the end of the day our main character, Chip, is too self-involved and too much of a dyed-in-the-wool fuckup to learn from anything for much longer than a few minutes. Also that show has a few moments where it revives the absolutely lost art of making smoking on-screen look beautiful and desirable.
There you have it; are there any shows I should be watching that I'm missing out on (if you say Agents of SHIELD consider yourself forewarned that I'm going to ignore that suggestion), books I have to read, comics I should take a first or second chance on? Let me know.