I don’t know if you’ve been watching House of Cards, but I feel like it is probably safe to assume that you either have been or will be at some point in the near future. This means that, inevitably, you will reach HOC withdrawal once you binge through the new season. Even if you start at the beginning like I have and watch all the old episodes again- there are only three seasons. HOC withdrawal is unavoidable. But I am here with a solution.
Are you missing Claire Underwood’s impeccably structured dresses and also all the murder in the show? Then The Fall is for you. I could write up a whole post on why I love this show and why you should watch it in a cheerful room with all the lights on and some tea close at hand, but suffice it to say that Gillian Anderson is a wonderful actress and Jamie Dornan is really into bondage. It is gritty and terrifying and delves deeply into the motivations behind men who commit acts of violence against women. It should fill some parts of your HOC withdrawal for sure.
Do you miss the dark and convoluted desires that drive people to do unspeakable things? Check out Top of the Lake. It is set in New Zealand and is thus absolutely beautiful in a way that has nothing to do with elves running around the hills. Elisabeth Moss is the strong, smart, gorgeous, damaged woman in this particular dark gritty drama. Like Gillian Anderson in The Fall she is a detective attempting to deal with violence against a woman, although this time the woman is a girl- a 12 year old pregnant girl. The show is fantastic but you should definitely know that’s what you are getting into before hitting play on Netflix. And Faramir is in it! Couldn’t get out of New Zealand without at least one Lord of the Rings actor popping up.
Are you missing the political maneuverings that crush good people like insects on the windshield of greed and progress? The Honourable Woman is absolutely going to be for you. I feel like all I should have to say is “It has Maggie Gyllenhaal in it” in order to convince you to watch it. But if you need a bit more to get you there: The Honourable Woman is about an Anglo-Israeli diplomat who genuinely wants to help bring peace between Israel and Palestine but is blocked at every turn by the greed, corruption, mistrust, and general screwed-up nature of the region she is trying to make better. The show also deals heavily with the issues that all of these deal with: rape culture, violence against women, pyschopathy, and empathy.
I highly highly highly recommend all three of these. But have some tea and maybe some chocolate and a stuffed animal near you. Like House of Cards, these shows know how to stick the knife in with perfect precision. I hope that gets you through at least this Wednesday. Seen any of these? Leave me a comment about what you thought of them (no spoilers for HOC please! Or any of them actually).
It is possible that today will be my last first day as a student. It is a strange feeling for me, since I have been having first days of school for my entire remembered life. To mark the occasion there will need to be red lipstick, a book too heavy to be comfortably carried in my bag, a lack of sleep, and whole lot of earl grey.
So, business as usual. Whether this is your last first day too or just another Monday in January, I hope you have a list of things to look forward to from the new semester, month, year, week etc. Here is what I am pumped for this year:
1.The weather has to get somehow warmer and the days absolutely will be getting longer no matter what. Which means eventually my fitband-inspired walks will not be so shivery. Eventually. Boston will one day look like this again:
2.The new season of Pretty Little Liars has BEGUN. We have learned that Spencer knows how to fashion a shiv at a moment’s notice and that A can control fireworks just like V. WHAT CAN BE NEXT?
3.The new season of House of Cards will be here at the end of February. FEBRUARY I SAY. That is so much sooner than I could have ever expected or hoped for in my wildest Frank Underwood loving dreams.
4. The least realistic erotica novel ever written is coming to the big screen on Valentine’s Day. My friends and I have already claimed each other for steak and martinis at Applebee’s followed by that quality cinematic experience. So menfolk- I know you want us but sorry we are busy watching strangers getting busy.
5. Financial independence. I want it. I am striving for it. That, and an understanding of how Lipton can get away with putting “America’s Favorite Tea” on all their packaging. That’s supposed to be an insult, right?
This term I have found myself doing what I always do in an English Masters program. Namely, reading a whole lot. But something feels different about this term. Maybe it is the apple cider I bought yesterday that’s making me loopy but I have been massively enjoying all the reading I have been assigned so far. Which, even though it is not yet October, is about seven books and a whole lot of critical articles. So just in case you are interested in picking up some amazing and edifying books, here has been my reading list so far, which I have helpfully ranked for you.
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf: This book is a great introduction to Woolf if you’ve never read her and contains some of the most beautiful and calming prose I have ever read. It is also a very quick read that will make you feel contemplative and healthy, like you’ve just taken a literary vitamin.
Degas in New Orleans by Christopher Benfey: This book is a nonfictional exploration of Edgar Degas’ visit to New Orleans in the years after the Civil War. In looking at Degas and his family, Benfey is able to give an really interesting portrait of postbellum New Orleans that was full of weird stories and windows into the city.
Three Lives by Gertrude Stein: Also a great introduction to an occasionally difficult writer, Three Lives is Stein’s portrait of three separate working women, The Good Anna, Melanctha, and The Gentle Lena. The prose is weird and beautiful and the read also goes pretty quickly.
Independence Day by Richard Ford: This is the second book in a trilogy, so this recommendation is really for any of those three. The narrator in this book is often hard to take because he is kind of an ass. But he is also one of the most fully realized characters I’ve ever kept company with. I felt like I could reach through the page and slap him, and that made it massively worth reading.
A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway: Ah Hemingway. What can we say about him? I had never read this particular Hemingway novel and I came away very glad that I was finally familiar with it. It isn’t a happy read by any means but the terse prose (which I read in my head in Corey Stoll’s voice) blooms with sentiment at unexpected moments and yet never runs away from its writer. I also just realized Hemingway from Midnight in Paris and Peter Russo from House of Cards are the same person. Mind blown. Having hair makes a big difference in me being able to recognize people apparently.