Discover more from warm cups of tea
Back again. I very much do not remember July but I do like to meticulously record my media consumption. Same same but different. Here’s lists.
Top artists (last.fm):
Florence + the Machine
Alex the Astronaut
This Hell, Rina Sawayama
Young Luv, Stayc
Shatter, Maggie Rogers
Overdrive, Maggie Rogers
Sidelines, Phoebe Bridgers
Catch Me In the Air, Rina Sawayama
Spitting of the Edge of the World, Yeah Yeah Yeahs ft. Perfume Genius
Smoke Signals, Phoebe Bridgers
Don’t Swallow the Cap, the National
Life’s Too Short (English version), aespa
My Listening TM is pretty scattered right now but I have been listening through Hold the Girl by Rina Sawayama a fair amount (and was a fan of the singles), liked Maggie Rogers’ Surrender and Angel Olsen’s Big Time and then I also adore Miya Folick’s very recent 2007 EP :-)
I read some great stuff, a lot of it short, a lot wonderful. Favourites bolded and I really am restraining myself on that front.
Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata trans. Ginny Tapley Takemori. I’m a fan! I read this entirely on Sydney trains from Chatswood to Central and back, into it as a book and as a brief travel companion.
Jade Legacy, Fonda Lee. OBSESSED . . . every book in this trilogy manages to do something completely different yet it fits together so well [Anakin podracing voice] Now this is fantasy.
These Wild Houses, Omar Sakr. The poetic voice! I think debut poetry collections are interesting in that they are often a collection of greatest hits up until that point, informed by the ideas that have compelled the poet into poetry, or at least sustained them through an early career. A section from the preface is excerpted on the back: ‘Now you are about to read the poetry of an Arab Australian, which is a rare thing when it shouldn't be. Now you are about to read the work of a queer Arab Australian, which is a rare thing when it shouldn't be. Now you are about to read the life of a queer Muslim Arab Australian from Western Sydney, from a broke and broken family — not rare, but it should be.’
The Violent Century, Lavie Tidhar. #gayrepressionlit and devastatingly so. Offers an alternate 20th century with superheroes on both sides of all wars.
The Chosen and the Beautiful, Nghi Vo. Kind of a mess and I absolutely loved it. I love The Great Gatsby so I was bound to love a retelling that casts Jordan and Nick and Gatsby and even Daisy as messy bisexuals, and then adds a sheen of magical realism. It relies quite heavily on Gatsby—it’s wonder lies in how it reinterprets that text, and in particular fills in blanks left by Nick’s unreliable narration—something I did not mind. I may or may not write more on this
Cruel for the Summer, Dahlia Adler. If the titular Demi Lovato song was a book that also encompassed a bisexual crisis. Fun and contains the line ‘I drop a random fun fact I learned from Demi Lovato stans on Instagram’.
Less than Zero, Bret Easton Ellis. Something about the opening line ‘People are afraid to merge on freeways on Los Angeles’ has dug into my brain and is stuck there now. My very first BEE and I enjoyed it a lot. Clay has a very precise (in observation, asides, humour, thoughts, omissions) narration style that pulled me through, utterly compelled.
Milkman, Anna Burns. Ooooooooh what to say about this. A tight and simmering book which makes a panopticon out of Troubles Ireland. The rambling narration style takes time to adjust to however I think the density works, adds to a growing sense of claustrophobia, particularly in the latter half. I obviously love a book that is Narrated.
The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, Hanif Abdurraqib. A reckoning and recognition of what it is to be Black in contemporary America, retold with so much heart. Seriously, Abdurraqib has risen rapidly through my list of favourite writers and all that is left is for me to eventually obtain the upcoming reissue of They Can’t Kill Us ‘Til They Kill Us.
Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal, Anna Whateley. This was cute! I’m a gay #ozya supporter. An emotional storyline that just happens to feature plot, and very well executed.
Against Disappearance: Essays on Memory, edited by Leah Jing McIntosh and Adolfo Aranjuez. Essay anthology! Incredible, so much thinking and care and knowledge and experimentation and urgency (sorry) between these pages.
Freshwater, Ashwaeke Emezi. I will either think about this book a lot in the future or rarely at all, not sure yet but I know that it struck me.
how to make a basket, Jazz Money. Read in one sitting from midnight to 1.30 like the intake of a single breath. Tender + expansive.
Intimations, Zadie Smith. Slim observational essay collection, works alongside Rooney’s Beautiful World in my mind as literature that reflects 2020 / the early pandemic and may function to help study the current zeitgeist in fifty years or so. Though if I had to choose just one text for that specific purpose it would be this.
Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir. I have read this at last—Just finished, actually—and it is as good as advertised, if not more so. I went in with only a vague understanding of the aesthetic (goth, skulls), narrator (butch lesbian, a bit silly, does swordfights), and gay romance (devastating). The actual book was carefully crafted and constantly astounding, in both twists and execution.
I am about two chapters into Harrow the Ninth and may try to finish another book before I get truly stuck in, just for room to breathe and think through Gideon. This would be The Past by Wendy Xu (poetry) or After Sappho (historical fiction told through vignettes?), two books that are waiting for me to properly sit down with them. I’m also reading one chapter at a time of There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job between other books.
Quite a significant three months for watching things! For two and a bit weeks in August I became a person who watches things (volunteered at MIFF) (why was I there as a person who doesn’t really watch things…? literally for the vibes). I think it took me about a month to fully recover my energy and I would be willing to do it again next year (I think). I also indulged in some little films outside of that <3
A loose ranking of everything I watched at MIFF as well as brief thoughts. I AM sorry.
Neptune Frost dir. Saul Williams, Anisia Uzeyman. Dare I say visionary . . . like absolutely nothing I have seen before . . . “Is this the poet’s version of a dream?” . . . Strongly recommend.
Decision to Leave dir. Park Chan-Wook. Fucked up! Obsessed! Some absolutely breathtaking moments. The sea!!!!! Some very interesting ideas about what it means to be diasporic Chinese in Korea, among other things.
Sweet As dir. Jub Clerc. Now THIS was a movie. Made with so much heart and a Q+A with the director and some of the crew pretty much confirmed this, I really hope this is released widely and then finds an audience of people to connect with it.
Broker dir. Hirokazu Koreada. I liked it! Broker was gorgeous and entertaining throughout and offered fleshed-out characters and a classically great reluctant family dynamic and IU was there!
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. I expected to enjoy myself and still was surprised by how much this story moved me. Marcel is my friend! “The sound of myself, connected to everything!!!” ← yes this absolutely yes
Love & Other Catastrophes (1996) dir. Emma-Kate Croghan. Yes I was charmed by the 90s Day in the life of pretentious unimelb arts students movie . . . I am not immune. Funnier than I expected and with an excellent soundtrack.
Moja Vesna dir. Sara Kern. This one made me cry my heart out on a random Tuesday afternoon. Grief + trauma as depicted through the eyes of a young child and I think what struck me was the immense respect that the story had for its protagonist.
Anak dir. Caleb Ribates. I liked Anak more before I watched Moja Vesna, sorry to pit Australian feature debuts centring young immigrant children against one another. A still and considered film that pulls at a lot of nuance. I honestly think some shots were Too Good in a way that threatened to eclipse the narrative, and especially didn’t love the black-and-white but ~aesthetics~
Joyland dir. Sim Sadiq. I left feeling incredibly whelmed, though upon reflection think that it struck some narrative beats better than others. I am quite glad for what it does do though; I always have time/room for films exploring gender and family, in every context.
Nelly & Nadine dir. Magnus Gertten. Lesbians!! I don’t remember much about it past that but always nice to see historical gay people, etc.
Emily the Criminal dir. John Pattern Ford. Well it was fun and entertaining. Not life-changing, especially compared to say The Crossing 2018 which does ‘criminal activity for money’ with a very different tone and more nuance and is overall much better. Aubrey Plaza was magnificent <3
Leonor Will Never Die dir. Martika Ramirez Escobar. This was a bright and lovely magical realism film from the Philippines, centred around a retired filmmaker. A tad confusing for me I fear but I have to respect it.
Sick of Myself. Norwegian satire on narcissism and the art world. Bitingly funny. It does get overly long and I mostly wish the film went deeper re: ableism and how we treat people with visible illness and/or disability.
The Lonely Spirits Variety Hour dir. Platon Theodoris. Fun little absurdist movie, didn’t stick with me. Some clever/funny little jokes, other tonally jarring moments that left me pretty baffled. Not quite my thing I think? idk the ticket was free and I was in the city.
The Gravedigger’s Wife dir. Khadar Ayderus Ahmed. The only movie where I thought about leaving to vibe instead but felt bad doing so. Something was not clicking and also I was very tired and this could have been a short. Gorgeous landscapes though.
Succession. Jordan and I finally finished this show (feels like ages ago now actually) and I think both of us would like to say Who came up with this. The last two episodes of s3 were especially wild and so I am in a state of fear and apprehension thinking about what could possibly happen in s4.
The Handmaiden (2018) dir. Park Chan-Wook. I was very very late to this one in part because I felt like I had to wait for the right moment, and this idea amplified as time elapsed / I began to feel irrationally guilty for not having watched it. I got over myself though and I’m glad that I did. Cinema! I love lesbians! I do fall on the side that some of the sex scenes felt voyeuristic and unnecessary but we can’t have everything. It’s still like . . . ahhhhhhhh.
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) dir. Hayao Miyazaki. Rewatch with my brother who was watching for the first time(!) This is a very important movie to me for reasons I cannot quite explain. For all the romanticisation of Ghibli movies, I think many don’t actually have ideal or aspirational settings but I Would like to live above a bakery in a town by the sea.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) dir. Anthony Minghella. I wrote an essay for a crime fiction subject last year on this book + The Goldfinch + repression and so I was intrigued when I saw the movie pop up on Netflix. Insane viewing experience! Takes a book with an undercurrent of repressed trauma and homosexuality and goes ‘teehee look at this insane gay person :3’
Yesterday (2019) dir. Danny Boyle. SUCH A FUNNY MOVIE. I CAN’T CONVEY IT YOU HAVE TO SEE IT TO UNDERSTAND. Jack Malik recorded by himself what it took four Beatles to do. Probably a movie for people who like Glee so its lucky that I do.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003). This show is really a show. Like things are happening. I did become interested in a somewhat convoluted manner incl. wikia pages so I am now putting together my own version of the show in my head, as I should. Buffy my sweet.
& some texts online I have enjoyed (mostly designed for desktop so do that):
Illawarra Wandering, Luke Patterson
Horse Girls, Amy Estes
The Kellen Valley Library Summer Pen Pal Program, bignastytruck (violet)
honey･ﾟ✧, Eric Jiang