“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.”
― Sylvia Plath
Another month down and it’s time to share a few things I loved this month. This August was heavy on the video front when it comes to pop culture, from stand along shows to absolutely brilliant series, to thoughtful content creators. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not reading as much as previous months, but I am nearly caught up on podcasts, which is truly saying something!
I’m surprised at the mix of dark and light topics this month, and also at the overtly feminine and female topics that have grabbed my attention. From pop culture to personal stories, I was clearly all over the place, but there are a few narrative similarities if one wants to dig into my psyche a bit.
What have you loved or discovered this month? Share your favorite stuff in the comments; I’m curious as always.
Nanette, by Hannah Gadsby
I finally got around to watching this Netflix “comedy” special, and it’s just as powerful as people said it was. It’s less comedy than it is a cry for help and a battle cry at the same time by a brilliant woman who Has Had Enough. In her monologue, Hannah Gadsby debates breaking up with comedy for her own growth and mental health and takes an unexpected turn about halfway through her set, choosing to tell her truth with radical honesty. It’s not a happy story, but it feels deeply, deeply important in the current cultural moment as we grapple with identity and divisions and what knits us all together. And she’s also very funny! Definitely give this one an hour of your time if you haven’t yet, you will be moved.
Old school, cheap market bag
It’s a bit embarrassing how much of a good £5 well spent this was, but I picked up a French style, woven string market bag at a vintage shop simply because I thought it would be an easier thing to carry around in my work bag and use to do smaller shopping trips several times a week. And do you know what? I was right! Because both Jeff and I have had rougher work schedules lately, we have only been able to do big shopping trips at the weekend. This means we are likely to run out of stuff mid week and resort to other, less frugal eating choices when laziness rears its ugly head. Having something relatively small and weightless, and more expandable than your average mass marketed tote, has been ridiculously useful. It’s such a weird pick for something to love for the month, but I really do.
Sharp Objects, HBO
Guys, this show is dark. Unbelievably dark. It’s also incredibly well-crafted, superbly acted, gorgeously shot, and almost ridiculously well-edited. It’s almost absurd how good it is. This is a limited series from HBO, adapted from Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name. She’s the dark and twisty mind that brought us Gone Girl and her preferred themes of toxic relationships, the dark side of the female experience, and the damage people can do to one another and themselves are on full display. I imagine watching this may be a gendered experience because there are certain lines and shots that absolutely knock me sideways and don’t quite land on Jeff in the same way, but he’s equally obsessed. This is a show about female rage, female generational violence, female evil–it leans into tropes and stereotypes and then twists them, or takes them to dark conclusions. Mother love isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, the societal pressures to look pretty and not be a bother can be lethal, and pristine packaging can hide some pretty devastating rot.
Amy Adams does some of her best acting in the role of a journalist who returns to her hometown to cover the murder of two young girls. As she investigates, her backstory is revealed through masterful editing cuts that flit back and forth from the present to the past and weaves the narrative together and a deliberately haunting way. I personally find many aspects of the story deeply triggering and difficult to watch, but it’s so amazingly done that I can’t stop watching. I wish that limited series were more popular in the US as a medium; when they are well done, they can be film masterpieces in their own right. Hopefully this project inspires more in the future.
Rosehip, Bite Beauty
I’m still working on using up my goal lipsticks this summer, so this month Rosehip by Bite got a lot of love in aid of that target. But it’s also a beautiful, bright coral shade that’s perfect for hot weather and wears beautifully on the lips. At time of writing this is set to be the third Bite lipstick I finish off this year and were it not for the fact that I need to use up even more before I’m allowed repurchase (plus the fact that I’m now on austerity shopping measures), I’d buy another one of this shade in a heartbeat. [ETA, I finished it!]
Audrey a la Mode
I’m not sure how I discovered this YouTuber but I have really been enjoying her video and blog content. While we don’t have exactly the same style, she has such a lovely aesthetic and is clearly so thoughtful about the kind of writing and filming she does in her own instantly recognizable way. She blogs on overlapping style interests of mine, including second hand and vintage shopping, slow fashion, and thoughtful consumerism.
3 thoughts on “Five Things I Loved in August”
Just started bingeing on The Alienist — dark and scary and beautiful and set in 1865 NYC.
Sharp Objects was a toughie. There was MUCH chatter online in my industry about how she made female reporters look shitty and how we are most often shown as lazy and shitty and unethical and how annoying that is — even if “it’s only a story.”
Ooh, I watched The Alienist too and it was very darkly but visually gorgeous. Tough subject matter.
I’ve been following the SO chatter, especially when you brought it to my attention, so I get it. My own take is that Camille’s story doesn’t seem to be a story about a journalist per se as much as it is about a deeply, deeply damaged woman. But far be it from me to tell anyone that their feelings aren’t valid or correct, and goodness knows I think the media usually get journalism badly wrong.
True! But I so love period pieces.
Indeed. The larger theme — which you well addressed — is how deeply damaged women can be, and by the very people who are not meant to do that to us (i.e. mothers.)