April 2020 Book, TV, and Film Roundup

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Staying home, fasting for Ramadan, and moving very little limited by the square inches of my apartment turned me into a lazy person. As a result, I came to consume media at the fastest rate humanly possible while knitting. The roundup this month is an extensive one, and even with saying that I do not think it reflects the real amount of media I consumed; there is more to it than what is written here! The good news is that I kept the roundup short this time, and this has no direct relation to my newly adopted habit of laziness. Cheers!

Other April 2020 Blog Entries

February – March 2020 Book Roundup: The Self-Isolation Edition

Top 10 Podcasts of 2020: The Next Generation Radio to Fix Your Pandemic Blues

The Shelf

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (2007)

The author Díaz begins by taking a well-known storyline, the fat sci-fi obsessed boy who should not have any hope in life, and he makes this boy a hopeless romantic Dominican. There is an explanation for his uncool, no girlfriend type life—he is a victim of the family fukú (which means a curse). While the first few chapters introduce Oscar, the fat kid, Díaz decides the best way to explain his eternal damnation is through observing the family history as well as the political history of the Dominican Republic (DR) which the reader can follow through the footnotes. In fact, the author could have easily added another 150 pages to the book if he expanded on these notes about the Trujillo ruling. (I share similar feelings because I was born in a developing country; I appreciated his laments that may seem out of nowhere to some readers). Continue reading

Top 10 Podcasts of 2020: The Next Generation Radio to Fix Your Pandemic Blues

In an attempt to fill my excess time between cooking and cleaning in this new quarantine realm, I decided to give podcasts a try (I have always been a late bloomer; in fact, I still haven’t seen Tiger King). After a month of listening to different podcasts, I narrowed down a list for your convenience. Some of the podcasts below have informed me about the COVID-19 crisis without putting me in a depressive state, and some simply helped me put a smile on.  They are ranked and reviewed below.

Gentle Reminder: I am also looking forward to your podcast suggestions in the comments section!

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February – March 2020 Book Roundup: The Self-Isolation Edition

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Hello, fellow homebodies! There isn’t any news from me except that I am a slowly recovering screen addict these days. In between finishing every season of the four TV shows, I was watching concurrently; I was able to squeeze in a few books. I am turning into a bit of an optimistic these days, so I actually really enjoyed every one of these books and I hope you do, too. Whether you are a dreamer, a creative, or a thinker, there is a book for you— Just look below!

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[Series] Strong Female Leads to Follow on Streaming Giants: Self Made, Inspired by the Life of Madam C. J. Walker

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IMBD Score: 7.6

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

Self Made (2020) is a limited web series that recently premiered on Netflix in March 2020. It is made of 4 episodes that overpass the life of Madam C.J. Walker. The premise of the series is very straight forward: search of identity. Before she is Madam Walker, our protagonist is an abandoned widow who washes laundry to keep the stove running in the house. The hardships of life return her… hair loss. Shortly after, a mulatto saleswoman shows her a product that makes her hair grow. It works magic because then Madam “C.J. Walker” has a boost of self-confidence and she meets her second husband (C.J. Walker) that gives her the iconic name. The rest of the story illustrates her struggle to start her own hair business and exist with this new independent identity between the 1880s and 1890s. Spoiler alert—Madam becomes America’s first Black, self made female millionaire; she also has had a mansion next to John D. Rockefeller’s! (Thank you OprahMag.) Continue reading

[Series] Strong Female Leads to Follow on Streaming Giants: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

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The next few entries on the blog will explore streaming shows that center their stories around strong female characters. This week, we’ll start with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017-) on Amazon Prime Video.

IMBD Score: 8.7

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

When God granted me a free Amazon Prime Video account, I took it without hesitation. I have not watched anything else on the platform other than The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017-) since. Probably because nothing seems to catch my eye on Amazon and the company is weak on the advertising front. Nonetheless, here is why The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is different than your average streaming production—You cannot binge it. I can hear some of you disbelievers already; Believe me when I say I tried, but the content is too rich to shovel it down your brain that quickly. Continue reading

The Ultimate Covid-19 Resource List (Updated Regularly)

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Credits: DanarArt on DevianArt.com

Dear habitants of earth,

Unless you are a space cowboy, you should be aware of the latest pandemic that we are all affected by equally—Well, that is a first. I hope you are all staying safe from the COVID-19 virus by staying in and battling with creeping diabetes at the same time. I know, I am. Kudos to those who work out and avoid baked goods at home; please do share your secret. I was home for a total of 7 days, self-quarantining (and, I mean who is counting?).

Here is how it went:

Day 1 – Workout done, cooking done, cleaning done, reading done

Day 2 – workout nada, cooking nada, cleaning nada, reading yes, watching tv YES, laying down like a sloth YES.

Rest of the week – same as before. I am sure I was more productive during the occasional times that I felt depressed in university.

While I can talk about the hardships that people of the earth suffer daily and I think we never hear enough of that, I will try to lure the left side of your brain today. If you are home today, you are an awesome individual who cares about the people around you; I want to thank you, friend. I also want to help you with unleashing your creative energy during this unusual time (for some of us). I will try my best to write a couple articles for the next while to keep us, the privileged folk sane. Continue reading

January 2020 Book, TV, and Film Roundup

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It’s been a minute since the last time I did one of these roundups. So, I decided to welcome February with one! Now that I am a person who has the occasional free time, I get to write a little more. I still have an academic project I am aiming to finish within the next month so, I will juggle between that and the blog. Continue reading

The Age of Streaming Services: Then, Now, and Beyond [Exclusive Interview Inside]

Previously published on The Artifice.

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SOURCE: Vidooly

“My family are huge TV watchers. We will, unfortunately, subscribe to everything”, states an anonymous comment made by a viewer in a public survey.* It is common to feel impotent towards new movies and tv shows releasing online every week. The Internet made content accessible for the public, but the catch is that the viewers feel the need to keep up with it all both financially and otherwise.

Streaming is replacing the beloved TV in the average household. Whether it is Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, (or all three!), there is a guest in the house who will literally cut the cable, and, it may be here to stay. So, how did the average consumer welcome streaming without a visible transition? It started with a live internet video by some tech company nerds in 1993. It was a poor attempt that used up half of the available bandwidth of the entire internet. In 1994, the New York Times referred to the Rolling Stones as “the first [major] rock band in cyberspace” to promote their music to millions of streamers. As you can imagine, there was some controversy about who was first and what should’ve been written in Rolling Stones’ press releases. Fast forward to 2005, Saturday Night Live (SNL) released its first video short on Youtube, right around the time that the service started becoming popular. In 2007, Netflix (NFLX), previously known to be a mail-order service, introduced its on-demand platform and became an influencing figure as both a content-producer and provider. Today, the same company has 24 Oscar nominations (2020).

The Inevitable Death of Television

The Universal TV Problem is perhaps rooted in its adaptable nature. In the 40s, the black chunky boxes found their place in the American home and made their debut a little later internationally in the 70s. As Media Theorist Neil Postman discussed foreseeingly in the 80s, the average family (despite their income) started positioning their couches to face the television. And the television found its purpose as the entertainer, silence-filler, and now, a mere accessory.

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[Underrated Mondays]: The Zodiac (2007)

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There is a new section on the blog: Underrated Mondays. In this section, I will review movies that are filmed between the years 2000 and 2010, and that I think are underrated. For the sake of clarification, movies that make it to this section will be ones that do not double their budgets (reflected as ‘gross box office data’). I expect to update this section twice: the first and third Mondays of the month.

“It is more fun than killing wild game in the forest, because man is the most dangerous animal of all.”

The first film that has the honor to start this section is The Zodiac (2007) directed by David Fincher. Despite its intriguing topic and hall of fame cast, it barely surpassed its budget of 65M USD, grossing 84.8M in the box offices. It is fairly surprising that this film did not gather greater public attention. Nonetheless, here is my limited critique of the film—do not let it blow you off; it is a film guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Zodiac is a film based on the true crimes of a Bay Area killer, active between the 1960s and 1970s who is known as the zodiac killer. For nearly five decades the police were not able to identify the killer. What makes the film so interesting is its loyalty to the real events, as well as its well-crafted ending. While much of the public criticism was due to the unsatisfactory ending that does not reveal the status of the killer, I would argue that it only places information on a fair ground in terms of storytelling—Afterall, how fair would it be to project a success that the police, reporters, and victims were not able to experience for your at-home entertainment? Continue reading