Pop Cultural and Shallow Goals for 2014

happy-new-year-2013

Well we’re already half way through the first month of the new year, but we’re still at the point where it feels a bit weird to write 2014, so I argue that it is okay to write about resolutions for the new year. This is something I did last year for funsies and it is kind of fun to look back and see what you accomplished. As it states in the title, this is purely shallow, otherwise I would include things like ‘be more loving’, you know? I think while these things are shallow by nature, obviously I see something important in them and they help to shape you, hopefully in good ways. Here is my list of goals for the year, enjoy.

One of my new web site staples has been social media film web site Letterboxd. I have campaigned for this thing over the last few months and have finally gotten some of my friends to join. It’s a great way to keep track of everything you’ve seen as well as see what others are watching. This year’s goal:

-Start and engage in more conversations about movies on Letterboxd with friends or internet pals.

On my Letterboxd account, I have a watchlist that includes 60 films. These are mostly classics, things I have never seen before. This year’s goal:

-Watch 10 films from my Letterboxd watchlist

Last year my podcast, The Rankings Podcast, took a break for like 5 months due to both of our busy schedules. This year I would like to commit to putting out the best content we’ve ever done. The goals:

-Put out at least a podcast a month

-Start a new podcast (this is one for which I already have an idea brewing)

I’ve always been a big reader, but due to laziness and the distracted nature of our generation it has become a struggle to read. Last year’s list included high-minded goals like : READ MORE which I really ended up failing despite my best intentions. So this year I am transitioning this goal into a new form. Most of the books I try to read are classics that I feel like I need to read in order to hold any weight amongst my reading peers. This has lead to mental blocks, trying to convince myself to read Dostoevsky or other 500+ page Russian novels. Instead of putting the classics on my must read list and then failing to actually read them and then wallowing in how unread of a person I am, I am going to change the nature of the reading material. This year’s goal:

-Read more mystery novels, because I always loved those as a kid.

2013’s box office top 10 results include 7 films that are sequels or prequels to other movies, 1 that is a franchise starter (Man of Steel), a Disney movie, and Gravity. For someone who likes to see film as somewhat of an art form, I find this kind of sad. Not that there is anything wrong for liking these movies, if you want to see Despicable Me 2 and when it comes out and the inevitable Minions television show and buy all the toys and tee shirts and DVDs then be my guest. However, it does feel or seem to me that we as a moviegoing public are being manipulated by the corporate heads of entertainment studios into paying millions of dollars for easy to manufacture products (the most obvious of these is in the making of “The Hobbit” into a trilogy, though the splitting of “Mockingjay” into two parts is pretty horrendous as well). This year’s goal:

-Don’t watch sequels/prequels/franchise films at the theater.

(I know I will break this goal, there are some that are worth watching, but my new rampage, in a fit of slacktivism, is to campaign against people going to see these movies, in the hopes that intelligent, artful films will be crafted without the hope or need of franchising it. It’s just a hope, that’s all)

It’s really easy to be a consumer of pop culture nowadays. We have feeds on multiple social media web sites updating us with the latest in everything. Netflix streaming automatically goes to the next episode to ensure the ease of binge watching. Youtube, Spotify, and Rdio make it simple to find any song you could ever want to listen to. What’s harder is finding time or energy to be creative. The goal:

-Be intentional about creating things (writing, cooking, podcasting, etc…).

I always try to push myself into broadening my tastes and interests, always looking for discovery. Last year’s goals featured a lot of that. I think I was fairly successful and grew in all sorts of ways. This year I can only think of one thing or area in which I would really like to expand myself. I’ve heard that these can be very artful and profound. The goal:

-Read a graphic novel (suggestions are welcome for what to read)

I am always eager to learn and I am sure as the year goes on I will find more ways in which I am eager to grow my interests. Maybe I’ll develop a huge interest in silent films or classic ballets or miming, but for now I don’t have anymore specific things to put down as a goal. I will instead put something vague, but something that I would hope to be true of myself.

-Stay open to the world

2014 FTW!

Reflecting On 2013 (Pop Culturally)

At the end of last year I made myself a list of pop culture and shallow goals to strive for in 2013, this is that list as well as my commentary on how I did.

Listen to more jazz – I had just started getting into the genre with albums by Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, and Charles Mingus and I definitely grew more interested in it throughout the year. I can easily rattle off names such as John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, etc… and I can even recognize songs that the hired jazz band is playing at events. This was definitely a success and one that expanded my knowledge and taste.

Listen to more of these albums: http://www.besteveralbums.com/overall.php – One of the definitive lists of the best music ever, Best Ever Albums is a great place to start to discover the classics and I definitely did, but also got distracted by all the year’s new music. I got around to listening to Nirvana’s “Nevermind”, “Blonde on Blonde”, and more Radiohead.

Finish The Wire and Battlestar Galactica – Two shows that I had started in 2012, but hadn’t finished. Well this remains true of today. Though, I am over halfway done with season 4 of The Wire, 2014 will definitely see my completion of it! As for Battlestar… I, uh, got the board game; that’s got to count for something right?

Start watching Mad Men – Definitely started this, definitely. In fact I have almost finished season 2! I do love the show though. From the very opening scene I fell in love with it. I just don’t know how all you people have time to binge-watch things. To me, binge-watching is watching 5 episodes in a week! My goal now is to catch up to the show by the time it finishes which I believe is set to be summer 2015.

Write more serious stuff – Check out the tag Serious Stuff, there was definitely an increase in my writing productivity this year. Points for me.

Write more non-serious stuff – Had a couple of pieces where I tried to be funny: here and here, as well as some list-like material.

Watch as many as these films as possible: http://artsandfaith.com/t100/ – I saw The Seventh Seal, The Three Colors Trilogy, Magnolia, Wild Strawberries, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Spirited Away thanks almost entirely to the DVD section of my school’s library which I am pretty sure %1 of the student body takes advantage of.

Read more novels – Well…

Read MORE – I read a lot of school books!

Read a new John Steinbeck novel – See above two.

Eat more bread and cheese – Nailed it, gouda, brie, romana, you were all mine!

Try new vegetables – Not sure actually.

Learn about new ethnic cuisines – Working with refugees this summer was fantastic for this. Tried various Persian and Pakistani foods, ohhh yeah. For a foodie who studies culture this was amazing.

Go to at least one play – I’m a terrible connoisseur of the arts.

Go to at least one art show – See above.

Listen to more comedy – Didn’t do this in the form of albums or anything, but got into more comedy podcasts as well as some stand-up specials. Even went to a stand-up open mic night at a local coffee shop.

Appreciate other art forms more (such as photography, paintings, architecture, sculptures, etc…) – I definitely appreciated these types, in my heart. Actually I find paintings and photography to be more moving than I ever have before, so I think I’m on the right track. I tend to be drawn toward storytelling forms of art, but I think my scape is being widened.

Go hiking more – Ohhh boy.

Spend more time outside – Still working on this. Maybe 2014 will see a giant breakthrough. I did go birdwatching once. And they were beautiful.