Every once in a while I like to share all of the wonderful things I’ve been watching, reading, or listening to. Just for fun. So here’s the latest in my media consumption.
I LOVE Dance Academy!! This show consumed a good two weeks of my life. I went to bed late numerous times and almost missed church once because I just wanted to watch one more episode. It’s about a group of teens in Sydney who get accepted to the prestigious National Ballet Academy. It’s full of teen drama (seriously, sometimes I just wanted to give those kids a good talking to!) but also lots and lots of great dancing. Also, I fell in love with the characters. I don’t want to spoil anything, but something happens at the end of season 2 that … well, I don’t want to spoil anything. But it’s available on Netflix and it’s also on youtube. I totally recommend it.
After getting so wrapped up in Dance Academy, I knew I needed something familiar that I could just play in the background while I work on other things. Cheers showed up on the front page of Netflix, and I thought, Why not? I have lots of fond memories of watching Cheers reruns every night, but I had never seen them in order. It’s been really fun to watch, and it’s still laugh-out-loud funny. It’s funny how many of the episodes I remember really well and then there are a lot that I had forgotten. But it’s also interesting to watch them as an adult. And I have to say, without getting all academic or anything, it would be an interesting show to analyze for gender roles. When Mad Men came out, we were all appalled at how women were treated in the work place, but honestly, Cheers is constantly disparaging women – from Norm’s cracks about his wife Vera to how Sam treats Diane, other men treat Carla, not to mention the constant objectifying of women’s bodies. Plus, let’s face it, Sam’s and Diane’s relationship is messed up. It is so unhealthy. I guess that’s what makes it interesting tv, but another disconcerting element of Cheers is that it actually has a really subtle “violence against women is ok” message. There are many episodes where Sam threatens Diane with physical violence and one in particular where they are both slapping each other. Anyway, I don’t want to take it all too seriously because I know it’s a light-hearted comedy, but these are just a few things I’ve noticed as an adult that surprised me. But the 80s fashion is awesome. And the show is seriously witty. They have lots of great come-backs. Also, the writers love a good pun.
What’s not to love about White Collar. It has art forgeries and heists and Matt Bomer, who lives in the most amazing fake New York City apartment. If you haven’t heard of White Collar, it’s basically about a con man who ends up helping the FBI solve crimes. It’s not an amazing show, but it’s definitely entertaining.
I listened to this as an audiobooks (the narrator, by the way, was wonderful). When I thought about what to say about this book, I realized that I’m still kind of mad at it. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I can’t explain why, but if you’ve read this book, I would love to talk to you about it. The Lonely Polygamist is about the father of a polygamist family in Southern Utah in the 1970s who is questioning his role. It follows the viewpoints of Golden (the father), Trish (his fourth and newest wife), and Rusty (one of the 28 children) to show different perspectives of the family. One of themes that runs throughout the novel is the question of what is the greater responsibility — to your family or to the individual? There are some really lovely moments in this novel. Obviously, as an active Mormon, I was a little skeptical at first of the way that my church’s history would be portrayed, but I felt like there was a clear difference for me between the small fundamentalist sect that broke away from the church and the mainstream church to which I belong. However, there was a shared experience in some ways that helped me connect to the characters even more. And it is very strange to hear some our specific hymns sung in the middle of an audiobook. Here’s a good review of the novel from the New York Times.
In A Jane Austen Education, William Deresiewicz explains lessons that he learned from each of Jane Austen’s six novels. This isn’t the type of book I would normally read, but I am an Austen fan (although whenever I do a Jane Austen search on the Internet, I always discover that I’m not a crazed Austen fan… there are a lot out there), so I thought I’d give it a try. I actually listened to the audiobook version, and I wish that I had read the physical book so that I could have underlined that thing to death. There were so many great quotes in it. It’s been a few months since I listened to it, and now I can’t remember any of the great quotes that I thought for sure I would. This is the problem with audiobooks. Even though I’ve read all of Austen’s novels several times (and as a student of literature, I feel like I read them with a refined eye), I still gained a lot of wonderful insight into the novels. But more importantly, I gained some insight into how to be a better person. Here’s an article in the Huffington Post that summarizes some of the lessons learned, but I definitely recommend picking up a copy. I think I’ll order a paperback version for myself and keep a pen handy the next time I read it.
Victoria and the Rogue is exactly the kind of book that I want to write. It’s light-hearted and fun. It has no pretentions to being more than it is. You know exactly what will happen from page 1, but the joy is in seeing how it happens and the little swoons and sighs along the way. I checked it out from the library on my kindle and read it when I went to Wisconsin last May. I couldn’t put it down and stayed up till much too late to finish it. She has a few more Regency romance novels that I’ve tried to check out, too, but they haven’t been available.
Truth be told, I just finished Sweethearts by Sara Zarr this evening. I bought it last night as one of the books to read on my flight to London, but I needed something to read today at lunch and decided to start it. I got hooked right away and ended up being a little late back to work. Then I rushed home as soon as work was over to finish it. It’s the story of Jennifer (Jenna) and Cameron Quick, two childhood sweethearts. They are both the odd ones out during elementary school and only have each other for a friend. Cameron moves away suddenly without saying good-bye. Jenna reinvents herself. Now it’s her senior year. She’s popular and pretty and has a group of friends, including her boyfriend, and everything seems fine. Until Cameron Quick mysteriously shows up again. I loved this book. I didn’t have a lot of friends in elementary school. We moved a lot, so I went to four different elementary schools, and I was always a shy kid. There’s a scene in Sweethearts where Jenna describes walking in close proximity to other kids just hoping that they would notice her and invite her to join in, but also trying to look busy and perfectly happy being by herself. I remember doing the exact same thing. Then Jennifer reinvents herself as Jenna, but she finds that Jennifer is still a part of her. One of the questions in the book becomes who is the authentic self — the self from childhood or the one you create for yourself? Something else fun about Sweethearts is that it’s set right here in Salt Lake City. There’s always something a little thrilling about knowing all of the locations – the Smith’s in the Avenues, Liberty Park, North Temple, State Street. Salt Lake isn’t the setting for a lot of things, so I don’t get this thrill very often.
I’ve read lots of other books but none that I feel are really worth mentioning. Do you have any tv shows or books you’d like to share with me? I’m always looking for something good.