Happy Lunar New Year & Valentine’s Day, all! Hoping good luck and love for all. In Portland, we’ve wandered into a fairly disgusting stretch of weather with a few inches of snow mixed with rain, sleet, and every other disgusting mix possible. What I’ve learned as a first time seeing snow in the area is that the city is incredibly unprepared to handle snow. They seem to refuse to salt the roads, preferring to throw down occasional gravel or leave folks to chain their tires. Honestly, I’ve resigned myself to being stuck at home with whatever food we can whip up here. You’d imagine this would be a great time to consume some content but strangely, I’ve preferred to just turn into a bit of a potato. While not part of the series, it’s been a good time to finish Watch Dogs Legion which seems oddly prescient, thinking in a funny, video game manner about the way that we try to insert technology into humanity, not as an aid but an alternative.
For this edition, I’ve wrapped up the PBS documentary series about the Vietnam War. With narration by Ken Burns and an incredible score by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, the series is incredibly long. Normally, each episode in a series is 30 or 60 minutes although this series is a series of movies about a period of time in the war. Some are an hour while others go up to two hours with an incredible insight into the occupation of Vietnam by the French along with American posturing that led to it being involved. I don’t think I can speak to everything that it covers since it’s such a breadth of content and information on such a controversial period of time in American history and such a pivotal time in Vietnam along with the rest of the world.
I found the whole series fair, describing some of the struggles by both Americans and Vietnamese soldiers at the time. I appreciated the way that they brought in soldiers who had fought under the South, North and Viet Cong armies, allowing them to talk about the struggles that they experienced during the war and the reality of life in the country after America had left. All in all, give it a watch if you have a lot of time on your hands and find history exciting. You’ll be surprised to learn some things about your government and the war at large.
After reading “The Glass Hotel”, I was left with a profound sense of confusion and loss even though it was a work of fiction. Emily St. John Mandel sold me with that story alone so I made sure to dig into some of her older stories. I’ve finished “Last Night in Montreal” which wasn’t as impactful as The Glass Hotel however I liked it all the same. The story centers around a man whose girlfriend disappears on a random morning, continuing a chain of running away from everywhere she’s lived for years. It’s an exploration into the way that our lives impact us along with human interactions. I’d recommend it only after her other tales with a bit more acclaim, “The Glass Hotel” and “Station Eleven”.
I can’t say too much without spoiling although it definitely goes through the motion of loss, life, and existence.
From Now is a new podcast from the folks at QCODE who have brought other fun things like the Left Right Game and Black Out. This one involves a Richard Madden (of Game of Thrones fame) and Brian Cox (you know him, Google it). This go around is about the USS HOPE, a spaceship that intended to try traveling to find greener pastures, instead disappearing and showing back up 35 years later with only one crew member alive. The series is a journey through the untangling of what happened while the ship was gone and the reason that the crew member looks no older than when he initially left. QCODE always produces podcasts with a rich soundscape, deserving of quality headphones. This was a fun time to explore a not-so-far-flung future.
Til next time.