23 December 2012

Stuff I've Been Consuming 11

  • Just Kids, Patti Smith
  • Kiki Strike: The Empress's Tomb, Kirsten Miller
  • Gear School Volume 1&2, Adam Gallardo
  • A Story of Debt, Ashley Riordan
  • The Trip, Michael Winterbottom
  • Skyfall, Sam Mendes
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn 2, Bill Condon
  • Life of Pi, Ang Lee
  • Lincoln, Steven Spielberg

November was all about the books, as I'd cleared the fifty movies months ago. Plus, there wasn't really a standout of the bunch, unless you count how much anticipation there was to watch the conclusion of the Twilight Saga. I can't even talk about the best part of that movie -- or rather, my theater experience -- because then I would be spoiling the ending. Twihards, ready your hearts.

One thing about Life of Pi: If you were hoping to see more bioluminescent whale in the movie, you will be sorely disappointed. The trailer contains most of the glowy blue whale the movie does. Watch the film to support Ang Lee, but set your expectations low for the whale.

I already gushed hard about the Kiki Strike series, and it's to my great relief that there's a third one in the works. It's called The Darkness Dwellers and it drops in late January. I haven't been this excited about a series in awhile and I'm already sad that I'll probably consume Book 3 in a few hours and then have to wait for more. I have some people say that they start to read slower to prolong a book experience. Usually I speed up to get to the end. However, with this next Kiki Strike I may have to try the slow down strategy.

The other book I'm 100% behind is Patti Smith's Just Kids. Part of me was resistant to it because it was ubiquitous -- you know how that happens -- but I'm happy to report that Just Kids is every bit as good as the critics claim. Having no prior knowledge of Smith's work prior to Just Kids, I found myself wondering what the heck she was famous for. The book starts with her as a young poet trying to make it in New York, then she paints, then she writes music critiques, then she kind of acts, then she gets a haircut and becomes popular for her androgynous look, and eventually she becomes a rock star. The other main person in her memoir, Robert Mapplethorpe, undergoes a similar all over the place artistic journey. Reading about their struggles and successes was both depressing and inspiring.

What Just Kids did for me was to make me realize that if you're an artist, everything can/should be your art. Your interests, your obsessions, your life, it can all just be a part of it. In fact, it pretty much has to be. Smith's book led me to think about how being an artist is more about a mentality than what you can do. "I take photographs, I paint, I sculpt, I write, I sing, etc."

The reality is that you set out to explore the world and take it in with an artist's curious sensibility and expression, and then you see where that goes. And if you don't have the necessary technical skills, you learn'em.

For quite awhile, I followed Ashley's blog, Writing to Reach You, as she chronicled her journey getting out of over $20,000+ in debt. Using an impressive amount of discipline and sacrifice, she cleared it all out in under a year and half. That's pretty amazing, especially since she was concurrently getting her PhD, working multiple jobs, and still being a regular person with regular social obligations and stuff. Ashley's been out of the red for a few years and now she's compiled all those blog entries into a free eBook! Go to A Story of Debt to check it out and download it.

I wish more of my favorite blogs did this actually, as I'd love to have complete copies of old favorites like Technicolor.org or Hipstomp. Instead I find myself trolling through the Wayback Machine to read everything. Is there a service that can turn websites into ebooks? I'd pay handsomely for that.