90s alternative rock, Ahmed Saadawi, Allegory, Avengers: Endgame, Beloved, comedians, Flapper, Frankenstein in Baghdad, Jessica Jones, Patriot Act, prohibition era, roaring 20s, short stories, stand up comedy, Toni Morrison
August is a month of contradictions. One filled with both anticipation and anxiousness, in part I’d suppose because it’s my birth month. Each birthday presents me with another year in the past, filled with many things I was unable to do, and one ahead of me, rich with the promise of what I still might do. August also brings anticipation for the coming autumnal season—my favorite—followed closely by angst for the icy season that follows—my least favorite. August lasts forever but is also over and done in the blink of an eye, which means filling the vast amount of meager spare time was both easy and difficult. Here are all the mental munchies that kept me company as I propelled through August like a sloth on speed.
Books & Stories: I tried to finish Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi. Really, I did. I started it last month and got stuck halfway through when the plot turned to soliloquy. I kept it on my nightstand the first week of August out of an abundance of optimism, but I just couldn’t manage it. Feeling like a bit of a failure, I put it back in my “to-be-read” pile and replaced it with Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Morrison–who passed away earlier this month–leaves behind an undeniable legacy in both the literary and African-American communities, so it felt appropriate to honor that legacy by making it the very next thing I read. And readers, this book…it gutted me. Absolutely gutted me. To be honest, I don’t know why Beloved isn’t standard reading in all American high school English classes. With all the important “classics” we’re made to read, this book should be on that list. I punctuated the month with short stories from the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Allegory, an online science fiction, fantasy and horror magazine. The short reads are perfect for a shot of “something different” when you need a break from longer works of fiction. I’m still working my way through the current issue.
Movies & Shows: My viewing habits were rather narrow in August, consisting of comedies and superheroes. I watched several stand-up specials on Amazon Prime and Netflix throughout the month, to include Katherine Ryan, Sebastian Maniscalco, Iliza Shlesinger, Tom Segura, Hari Kondabolu, Jim Gaffigan, and Simon Amstell. Not going to lie—most of these were watched on the couch while eating dinner because they are light, relatively short, entertaining, and something my husband and I can agree on. Our tastes in movies diverge otherwise. We’ve also been glued to the set every Sunday for Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, which really is one of the best shows out there. We rented and watched Avengers: Endgame again, because, well, Marvel, and I’ve started the new season of Jessica Jones. I’m using the episodes as incentive to stop goofing off and make some headway on writing projects. For each project done or milestone achieved, I get one episode. I’ve watched two. Hmmm…I’d probably have more under my belt if it weren’t for all the stand-up specials distracting me.
Music & Audio: One of said projects above that I procrastinated the hell out of is a prohibition-era short story for my writing critique group’s upcoming noir anthology. To get my butt in gear on it, I pulled up some “Roaring Twenties” music compilations on You Tube, like this one and this one, for inspiration. And reader, it worked! The first draft is ugly but complete. FYI: the photo is of my youngest cub rocking the Flapper look for “Decades Day” at theater camp. Doesn’t she like smashing? I took a break mid-month to do some gardening (okay, to fight the never-ending battle against alarmingly prolific weeds), and decided my 90’s Alternative Rock Pandora station would provide the appropriate mental octane. I cleaned up the flower beds in no time, thanks to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime, and Smashing Pumpkins. Yeah, I had something for those weeds’ punk ass! (That’s from “Santeria” if you’re not familiar with Sublime…)
Now, get in my comments and tell me what music, movies and stories propelled you through this final summer month.