I’ve been having a hard time writing here. Sometimes what’s most important is just writing. Something. So it doesn’t feel like the last “Published” date is getting smaller and smaller in your rearview mirror. Lots of things are different right now, so why wouldn’t this be?
With that, I thought it would be fun to try reflecting on the past month through books, movies, music, podcasts, and what have you that I discovered and enjoyed.
So, here are some things I liked in May
Series: I’ve been watching Zone Blanche (or Black Spot in English) on Netflix. It’s a French series about a small logging town with a series of unsolved cases in the police department. The main character is Laurène Weiss, the head of the town police. The forest surrounding the town is a looming figure where strange things happen, to the extent that it almost becomes its own character and its presence is continually felt.
I just finished the first season and I feel like it took me all eight episodes to fully grasp what kind of show it is. The writers walk a fine line between police show, drama, thriller, and exploring the paranormal. It’s a slower pace than most Netflix shows, but they do an excellent job with character development and keeping things very surprising (with a lot of layers).
Movie: I know I’m late to the party for Parasite, but wow. I recently saw that it was on Hulu, so we finally sat down for a movie night. (And now I absolutely understand why it won so many awards.) In short, the film follows a family living in dire conditions. The son begins work as a private tutor for a very wealthy family and, as a result, connives to find a way to get the rest of his family working there.
It is a (very) dark comedy that touches on complex issues. Wealth and poverty. Privilege and oppression. Nature and nurture. I purposefully had not read much about the plot of the movie until watching it. There were so many unexpected twists and turns where my mouth was just hanging open, shocked, as we watched.
Book: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I’ve been following this article from Buzzfeed, “35 Of The Best Books From This Decade That Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Life” and pretty much going in order. Next up, was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
When I started, I wasn’t completely convinced. But Gail Honeyman did an excellent job of slowly building up a complex and layered character. What’s more is that, throughout the book, I found myself growing more and more fond of the main character, Eleanor, through the eyes of her work-friend Raymond. Through my attachment to her, I felt more emotionally connected to her character development and the way she changed over the course of the entire book.
It’s complex, hopeful, and also deals with some extremely difficult topics in a surprising way.
Tools: A few years ago, a friend told me about iTalki to practice languages with other learners. In the past few weeks, I’ve been obsessed with this site. Both personally, and for work, I’ve been wanting to better maintain – and improve – some of the languages I speak. As such, I’ve found some excellent teachers for one-on-one lessons on iTalki, as well as a few community members with whom I can chat and practice. (A few of us started a small French-speaking group chat to practice and hold video calls together. I am, by far, the oldest member, but it’s amazing to hear other learners at various levels from all over the world and connect with them!)
Recipe: Yes, I’ve been baking. A lot. I’ve always loved baking, but never made the time for it until these past few months. (I’ve done some different breads and even experimented with some Italian pastry that were definitely too complex for my current skill level.) One recipe I keep coming back to is this biscotti recipe from Sugar Spun Run.
It’s relatively simple and makes a huge batch. I find myself snacking on them throughout the day, especially when I need a quick little coffee break. Pro-tip: don’t make the loaves too thick! You definitely have to wait until they cool before slicing and cooking again, but I keep making the mistake of making them too thick so the dough breaks as I slice it. Third time’s a charm.
Podcast: Mamilos. Yes, it means nipples – but their tagline is “Journalismo do peito aberto” which, roughly, translates to “Journalism with an open chest.” It reminds me of the tagline for BUST Magazine, “For women with something to get off their chests.”
Nevertheless, this is a weekly Brazilian podcast from two women who discuss controversial ideas and topics with a variety of guests. Lately, their conversations have, of course, focused on what’s happening in Brazil in the wake of coronavirus. I find their take to be open-minded, interesting, and a good way to understand a variety of diverse perspectives in this part of the world.