What I Enjoyed, November 2017

November was one heck of a month. I got married and will be starting a new job in December. I managed to continue to draw every day, and I’ve still really been enjoying it.

After taking some time to think about it, I’ve decided that this will be the last What I Enjoyed post. It puts a strange amount of pressure on me to write one larger blog post at the end of the month instead spreading it out throughout the month. In the future, I’ll do individual posts for things I’ve enjoyed.

Continue reading “What I Enjoyed, November 2017”

What I Enjoyed, July 2017

The film and literature highlights of the month, including Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and quite a bit of David Lynch.

July was a good month. It wasn’t too warm in Portland, and I spent most of my free time working on my film projects and reading. Here is what stood out for me in July.

Films

The NW Film Center’s David Lynch series continues, so I’ve mostly just been watching David Lynch films. I did watch Dunkirk, Okja, and Atomic Blonde this month, but neither of them really stood out to me. Here are the films that did:

Eraserhead

Eraserhead (1977) - Henry 2 - David Lynch

I got to see it in a theater, which was awesome. But the audience reaction was unexpected and strange.

Eraserhead was even better the second time around. It’s absurd and impressive.

The Elephant Man

I love the story of The Elephant Man and the story of friendship that is told. It’s a beautiful and moving film. Black and white treats it very well, and it has aged wonderfully.

It is interesting seeing Lynch work within the confines of a time period, linear narrative, and pre-existing script. I really do think he’s one of the only directors who could have pulled this film off.

The make-up, costuming, and settings are all superb.

I really like how focused the story is. A film that’s just over 2 hours that focuses on one story line, following John, feels so rare these days. It was refreshing to watch.

The pacing in the middle is poor, but it ultimately redeems itself in the end.

The 35mm print was in great shape, but the audio mix was rough. The dialogue by all characters was very straining to understand. I’d like to rewatch it with subtitles in the future.

The Elephant Man doesn’t rank in the upper echelon of Lynch films for me, but I truly did enjoy it.

2001: A Space Odyssey

I saw 2001 for the second time, and it rose to a new level for me. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack lately too. The classical music is a great fit.

Blue Velvet

Blue Velvet Title

My sixth viewing of Blue Velvet really cements it as my favorite film. Within the first 10 minutes I got lost in the small, dreamy, American town of Lumberton again.

With some movies I can’t help but think when it’s going to end or when the next exciting thing is going to happen. But with Blue Velvet, by the time the credits roll, I can’t believe two hours have passed.

This time around I really appreciate Alan Splet’s sound work. Like a lot of early Lynch works, it totally sets the mood. I’m convinced Alan Splet was a master of sound.

Also, I’m pretty sure Angelo is playing piano at The Slow Club. It’s the little things with Lynch I appreciate on subsequent viewings.

I really love this film.

Books

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata

My Lesbian Experience with Lonliness Cover

A very relatable memoir-style manga that tells the story of a young woman overcoming her anxieties and discovering her sexuality. It handles depression, dealing with family, anxiety, and sexuality in an approachable but still impactful way, especially with the aid of the visuals. Very much worth reading.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick

Do Androids Cover

I spent the second half of July mostly reading this book, the source material for the film Blade Runner. What a pleasant surprise. PKD’s writing is refreshingly simple and shows a lot of restraint for a sci-fi novel. I love that it takes place over a single day, and that it’s not an epic in length. The dust-ridden San Francisco is more relatable than the chromatic shine and wonder of most sci-fi that I’ve read. The biggest surprise is how well this stands on its own compared to Blade Runner. While they share similar concepts and themes, they have distinct characteristics that I appreciate.

The introduction of the word kipple may just be my favorite part.

Looking Ahead Toward August

August should be a good month. I have some travel coming up, which is a great time to watch movies and read. There will be more David Lynch as the series continues. I started reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace after finishing Do Androids…?, so I imagine that will take up most of my time since it is quite long. I’ve been enjoying it so far, but I wanted to read a significant portion of it before writing about it.

What I Enjoyed, November 2016

Thoughts on the books, films, and music I enjoyed in November 2016.

The first entry of a newly monthly round-up on various entertainment and art I enjoyed during the past month.

Books

November was a pretty good month of reading aside from being busy with NaNoWriMo. I finished reading one book and started a few others.

  • A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami — I finished A Wild Sheep Chase in the middle of the month, and I thought it was pretty good. The journey of the main character and his girlfriend was fun to go along with. I really liked the Sheep Man character. It felt like a fitting end to the Trilogy of the Rat (three loosely related stories featuring the same characters). I’ve been working my way through Murakami’s older works, which tend to have a smaller scope than his later works. I think A Wild Sheep Chase would be a good first Murakami book for someone new to his novels before diving into the denser books like The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or 1Q84.
  • The Push Man and Other Stories by Yoshihiro Tatsumi — I picked this up earlier in the year and read through most of it the month I got it. I decided to sit down and finish it, and I am happy that I did. It’s a collection of separate short manga stories that covers themes such as violence, sex, depression, and jealously. The stories are very adult oriented, which I enjoyed in contrast to the popularity of shonen (targeted at boys) manga. Each story is concise and covers a theme, which works really well. For stories set in the 1960s in Japan, they still resonate today. The detailed backgrounds contrast with the simple character art, which works to great effect. ‘Make-Up’ was my personal favorite story in the collection. It’s a good manga story collection worth reading for those who aren’t fans of manga in general.
  • A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — I started A Study in Scarlet because I watched a Sherlock clip and thought it would be fun to visit the source material. I really like the writing, and I think Dr. Watson makes for a compelling narrator. I’m not too far, but I am looking forward to reading more of it. What’s cool about A Study in Scarlet is that it is in public domain and freely available, so if you’re interested, you can read it for free.
  • Drive by James Sallis — I bought this book over a year ago, started it, but never finished it. I decided to start reading it last weekend from the beginning, and I am really into it. The short chapters, which tend shift throughout the timeline, keep the story moving along quickly through this short novel. The way the narrator is written has added a lot to the story so far. I remember watching the movie adaptation when it came out on instant streaming services years ago. It was the middle of the night, and I figured “what do I have to lose?” It ended up becoming one of my favorite films. I am enjoying revisiting it through the source material.

Movies

I made it out to the theater once in November to see Doctor Strange, which I wasn’t crazy about. The special effects made me nauseous and the story didn’t really grip me, and I had trouble understanding Benedict Cumberbatch’s American-English accent.

At home, Abagail and I watched two films on Thanksgiving, and I watched a short on Vimeo that caught my eye.

  • Oh Lucy! — A clever and well shot short film about a Japanese woman who starts taking English lessons. The plot premise was, I thought, clever, and the ending was sweet. I watched it on Vimeo on Demand, and it is definitely worth the $0.99 rental.
  • The Royal Tenenbaums — This was the second time I watched this movie, and I think it was even better the second time around. It has great acting, solid humor, a clever plot, and spot on music. The set and costume design, like other earlier Wes Anderson films, feels more restrained (for the better). The colors, clothing, and set design are still elaborate and quirky, but it isn’t too extreme. I particularly liked Bill Murray’s character and the boy he was studying.
  • Inherent Vice — I had been wanting to watch this film for a few months, but for some reason it hadn’t yet happened. Abagail and I decided to go for it on Thanksgiving night, and we were glad we did. The plot is a bit difficult to follow, but the characters, especially Doc, were great. I think I’ll check out the book it is based on. My friend Paul told me the director’s other movies are good too, so I’ll have to give them a go.

Music

I bought and listened to quite a few new albums in November.

  • Blanco by David Bazan — I have been listening to David Bazan’s music for a few years now, and it has always been impactful. This album is no exception. The electronic motifs, reminiscent of his past project Headphones, feels refined and evolved. The lyrics are as deep and emotional as ever. The whole album fits together really well, but if I had to pick a favorite, I’d pick Trouble With Boys.
  • New Function by Gahlord Dewald — Gahlord is a friend and mentor of mine, and he released some music this year that is excellent to listen to while concentrating on something. The music gets out of the way, in the best way possible, and keeps the brain churning. My favorite track is Source.2 Extract.
  • Requiem For Hell by MONO — I accidentally stumbled across MONO on the day before Thanksgiving, and they’re incredible. It’s the kind of instrumental rock music that gives one goosebumps every few minutes. The title track, Requiem For Hell, which is just under 18 minutes, is my favorite song on the album.