It’s that time again! gnovis is here to fill you in on all the things we’re reading, listening to, and watching. Check it out below!
1) Neil Stephenson’s Snow Crash
I’m very late to the party, but I’m glad I finally arrived: Snow Crash is an amazing romp through a 90s-chic future world that would make intense Libertarians swoon. In the world of Snow Crash everything is drive through, everything is corporate, and everyone’s in it for biz. Our main characters are Hiro Protagonist, master sword-fighter, expert hacker and co-inventor of the Metaverse, and YT, a radical skate Kourier who surfs the wild traffic of LA. Written in 1992 the book has aged a little, with some questionable caricatures of certain ethnic groups, but really the world of Snow Crash is itself a caricature of trends in the “free market” happy and race-relations-challenged United States. I came in to read about the Metaverse, which is still inspiring modern day Virtual Reality efforts, but I stayed for the semiotic viruses, ancient Sumerian legend, the unstoppable harpoon-wielding mercenary Raven, high speed traffic surfing, and sword fighting. Snow Crash is a damn fun read.
2) Australia’s Fan Friday Photos
This week, and every week (let’s be serious), I’ve got the travel bug. My fix? Australia’s Friday Fan Photos. Better yet, they always come early, Thursday evenings, in the States. Time differences can occasionally be a blessing. These photos capture a wide variety of the Aussieland. Not only are the photos fantastic, they’re also from professionals AND amateurs alike. Bonus: the captions usually make me laugh. Thanks, Australia for giving me a few moments of warmth during this winter and for encouraging amateurs, fans and, well, everyone to appreciate the beauty of their surroundings. Take away: travel and take a shot, or thousands of shots (we do all have digital cameras now!)
3) Fresh Off The Boat
I’ve been watching Fresh Off the Boat on ABC. It’s one of the few and only TV shows I’ve found to feature an Asian american family, without having to infuse the Hollywood racist trainwreck that is Orientalism. Its premise is simple and its execution, although rough at times, is well on its way to finding its balance. Those who have watched the show and are still crying racism, probably aren’t Asians anyway…
4) Vestiges and Claws
I’ve been listening to Jose Gonzalez’s new album Vestiges and Claws released on February 17th. Gonzalez’s lyrics are deeply searching and easily move from metaphysical wandering to introspection about why we fail to act and what blinds us to the realities of our world, all without coming off as fatalistic or accusatory. This album is stripped down to mainly guitar and simple percussion and exemplify the often made comparison between Gonzalez and Nick Drake. The album is honest, beautiful, heart-wrenching yet hopeful and I can’t stop listening.
5) Parks & Recreation: The Final Season
I’m taking time to watch the final season of Parks and Recreation, which aired its series finale Tuesday night. While it was initially pitched as a spin off of The Office, P and R became less of a satire, and presented an earnest sitcom about civic duty in the age of divided politics. Vox’s Todd VanderWerff explains it much better than I can.
I first heard about Solomon’s debut novel during this NPR interview. Cut to one Amazon purchase later, and I found myself sneaking in time to finish this wonderful coming-of-age tale. Disgruntled details the story of Kenya, a precocious girl in Philadelphia who has never really “fit in”. Teased by her black classmates as a child because of her Afrocentric parents (who make her celebrate Kwanzaa and attend meetings toasting to black martyrs) and discontent at her elite prep school as a teenager, Kenya’s story is all too familiar for many young people. Solomon’s voice is powerful in this intricatly woven narrative. As Kenya comes into her own as a young adult, I think we can all see some semblance of our individual quests to “find” our identities on our own terms.
7) The Brain Hack
Short films are often overlooked in our media landscape. But that doesn’t mean they should be. In less than 20 minutes, the award winning British student short film, The Brain Hack, weaves an intricate and thrilling tale with surprising narrative polish. Without giving too much away, the film follows film students in an attempt to find a shortcut to god by “hacking” the brain. The film explores religion, neuroscience, film theory and much more while never allowing the weighty concepts to slow the brisk narrative pace. Did I mention that it’s only 19 minutes? Just go watch it!