No stats. Can you believe it, we’re halfway through 2017? To be honest, I’ve been in a state of catatonia in the last two weeks, so I’m just going to give a rundown of the things I enjoyed this month, much like my other weekend posts.
Throwback film: The First Wives Club, released in 1996, surprisingly remains modern in this day and age. Issues it raised on sexism and ageism are very much on key—even politically sensitive to a degree—and so it must have been very, very ahead of its time, which makes this a highly recommended movie. But the best part really is Maggie Smith as the preeminent New York society lady with Sarah Jessica Parker as a social-climbing mistress. I remember having enjoyed those scenes from way back for their comedy (including those with Bronson Pinchot as an interior designer), but having now known Dame Maggie in Downton Abbey and SJP as Carrie has added a far more delicious layer to their characters.
Maggie Smith as a modern-day dowager
Late-night show: Graham Norton is probably the only late-night talk show host who could truly make me LOL. James Corden is cute and charming and Stephen Colbert is on-point and witty, but only Graham could make me snort and laugh throughout his show. The British show has just ended its season, so I’ve been going through his archives on YouTube. I don’t normally care for Robbie Williams, who guests in this episode, but this I think is the best Graham Norton episode, hands down, in case you want to go straight to the goods.
Season finale: (SPOILER ALERT) I’m fairly new to the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise having only seen three seasons out of 10 and this latest season was the first one I got to watch from start to finish in sync with the US broadcast. I was underwhelmed—I don’t think there were standout comedians in the group aside from Trinity, but nevertheless, I’m glad that Sasha won. She clearly won the lip sync battles on finals night, and I love the thought process behind the rose petals, which she explained in Buzzfeed’s The Library podcast (Gist: So Emotional by Whitney Houston describes someone with so much love to give, it turns into a huge, hot mess). Her brand of drag—conceptual and ugly pretty—is not something I see very often. If you want to watch the season, search for Queens of Draw on Facebook and they have recorded live streams of all the episodes.
Like a performance artist, Sasha Velour injects layers of meaning to her lip sync number.
Podcasts: Speaking of which, Pam and Tammy have mentioned them/tweeted about them offhand, and I realized, yeah, why am I not listening to podcasts? I usually listen to Spotify during my 30-minute walk to the gym, but the songs in the charts RARELY change (I mean, come on, Despacito has been in the top five for mooonths), so I’m sick of music right now. I haven’t discovered much yet, but I’ve been listening to Still Processing (iTunes|NYT) by the pop culture writers of The New York Times and The Koy Pond with Jo Koy, a Filipino-American standup comedian based in the US, who also has an outstanding comedy special available on Netflix (Jo Koy: Live from Seattle). If you have other recommendations, please leave a comment! I’m looking for something light and funny, not necessarily educational.
Book club: Let me just give myself a pat on the back for having read The Satanic Verses. It took me eight weeks, more than half of which were frustrating. The first few chapters seemed to have been written to specifically annoy the reader, such as:
‘O, my shoes are Japanese,’ Gibreel sang, translating the old song into English in semi-conscious deference to the uprushing host-nation, ‘These trousers English, if you please. On my head, red Russian hat; my heart’s Indian for all that.’ The clouds were bubbling up towards them, and perhaps it was on account of that great mystification of cumulus and cumulo-nimbus, the mighty rolling thunderheads standing like hammers in the dawn, or perhaps it was the singing (the one busy performing, the other booing the performance), or their blast-delirium that spared them full foreknowledge of the imminent … but for whatever reason, the two men, Gibreelsaladin Farishtachamcha, condemned to this endless but also ending angelicdevilish fall, did not become aware of the moment at which the processes of their transmutation began.
Yessir, but not random. Up there in air-space, in that soft, imperceptible field which had been made possible by the century and which, thereafter, made the century possible, becoming one of its defining locations, the place of movement and of war, the planet-shrinker and power-vacuum, most insecure and transitory of zones, illusory, discontinuous, metamorphic, – because when you throw everything up in the air anything becomes possible – wayupthere, at any rate, changes took place in delirious actors that would have gladdened the heart of old Mr Lamarck: under extreme environmental pressure, characteristics were acquired.
But I couldn’t abandon the book—I guess, I was penalizing myself for all those months I haven’t read a single novel. More importantly, the real-life repercussions and persecutions that came with the publication of this book also made me swat my frustrations aside and give the novel due respect; people died for the freedom to read this book. So read I did, and eventually, his sentences, paragraphs, and chapters became more forgiving to this average reader and I was entertained and piqued: I ended up reading about the early history of Islam, the politics between India and Pakistan, and even the geological history of Mt. Everest (essentially, it was the result of India, formerly a separate continent “slamming” into Euro-Asia). I actually enjoyed the religious themes of the book, but on the whole, this novel is more about the exploration of an immigrant’s experience and roots (and all the politics that entails, including with oneself) so it’s unfortunate how the non-literary issues regarding this book had been blown out of proportion and context.
Right now, I’m reading A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman, which was recently awarded the 2017 Man Booker International Prize. I chose this because it’s relatively short—I think I can finish this in a week—and it’s set within a two-hour stand up act in a comedy club, so I liked the simplicity and conciseness it promises the reader, in contrast with The Satanic Verses.