Good Taste: For Kids

Determining our children’s tastes often comes down to that classic old adage: nature vs. nurture; do our children become products of the way they were raised or are they bound on some track naturally to fall into whatever pattern fits their particular genetic coding? It’s likely some mixture of both, with the nurturing portion likely causing children to actually rebel against their parents’ taste, choosing the newest, youngest, most shocking thing available, to their parents’ horror.

As someone who always tries to keep at the forefront of the new and progressive, not necessarily cool, but what will be considered in an objective sense (as much as that is possible) good, I feel as if I have some sort of advantage in keeping up with the pop culture playground my kids will occupy. I’m not someone who will forever hail the music of my high school days as being the best–for me this was mostly Christian hardcore and emo bands–and I won’t get stuck on the best albums of the last few years—Kendrick, Sufjan, Vampire Weekend, etc… Those albums will always be important, both to me and to culture at large, but they won’t form an eclipse over what’s new, at least not entirely.

But even with such progressive taste, as I obviously have, my kid is bound to reject what I think is good. Whether that’s rejecting the Studio Gibhli movies I put in front of him for the latest iteration of The Emoji Movie or dismissing the punk and hip-hop I think is cool and counter-cultural for whatever sort of weird spacey electronica we were promised would exist in the future. He’s bound to roll his eyes at whatever I think is interesting, it’s guaranteed.

Yet I’m someone who obsesses over this stuff, I have calendars reminding me of what’s new and what’s available so I can make sure that I’m up to date on what I want to be. This is a large part of me and something I can only hope catches on, however small or large, in my children.

That being the case, I thought it’d be fun to document my child’s tastes, particularly as I show them those things that I enjoy (that are age appropriate of course) to see what they react to, what interests them, and just how much I can manipulate them into enjoying eclectic art. This will be a series, updated as often as there’s something worth reporting (which, as I understand, will be little at first and more as he grows), a way of capturing a child’s growth, as well as mine as a parent as I try to come to terms with parenthood in the best way I know how (through pop culture).

This will also be a place to explore his fascinations. I have a strong desire for my child to be a little cinephile running around annoying other kids at his pretentious ideas about movies (New Yorker film critic Richard Brody recently wrote that his daughter used to watch and love Jacques Tati’s Playtime, that’s a #parentgoal if I’ve ever heard one), yet I also, obviously, care about the well being of my child and shaping them personally is more important than shaping their film tastes.

Most experts state that kids shouldn’t watch TV (screen time!) for the first two years of their life. As someone who spends an inordinate amount of time around screens this has proven difficult and even at 4 months old his gaze drifts toward the basketball game or movie we have on the screen. The ultimate goal is to raise a well-rounded child, one who is curious about the world, obsessive of particular fascinations, and draws upon empathy as his ultimate way of acting.

A holistic health is more than movies (unfortunately), so this will involve exploring the physical world, going to museums, partaking in the events of other cultures, teaching the basics of how we treat people, along with movies, music, and books. This will also be a place to express my sarcastic and cynical views of the strange modern parenting world, so watch out.

In Stranger Things 2, Dustin rushes out of the library having overdrawn his book limit, and yells “I’m on a curiosity voyage” as his excuse for stealing the books. This is the desire I ultimately have in this great science experiment called parenting, how can we fill our kids with an all-occupying wonder, one that causes them to explore every fiber of the world, loving it and the people in it? This is my documentation of that.

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Best Films of 2017

There’s still a lot of good stuff I haven’t seen that it’s almost embarrassing to release this list. Yet, here are ten movies I really enjoyed in 2017 that I can feel proud to put here. I will update as I catch up over the next couple of months.

10.  Mudbound 

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One of the most gorgeously shot films of the year, Mudbound is almost novelistic in its approach to two different families in the World War II south. The very land they live on, tilling away for their livelihood should make them equals, yet the unjust power structures and hateful racism do not make it so. Even acts of war that should unite disparate parts of the country are divisive for some (the film focuses on the uniting of two characters based on this). Dee Rees’ film is utterly gorgeous, it unravels a bit at the end, but the first half is tight, some of the best storytelling of the year.

9. The Shape of Water 

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This movie shouldn’t work. The trailer was awful, riddled with cliches, and looked kind of lame. But what Guillermo del Toro ends up crafting is something far weirder than it ever should have been. Del Toro is willing to go for the hard ‘R’ in his tale of a woman falling in love with a strange swamp creature. Sally Hawkins is mute, Richard Jenkins is gay, and Octavia Spencer is a black woman in mid-civil rights America. These are the characters  coming up against the system’s powers and if it takes a woman falling in love with a swamp monster to upend the powers that be, then so be it.

8. Logan Lucky 

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Steven Soderbergh’s return to directing is a heist movie as far removed from the white collar bank robbing of Ocean’s 11 as one can get. Set in the deep south and lead by a fantastic cast of Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, and Riley Keough, Soderbergh again has crafted a charming, hilarious, and thrilling film. It’s littered with jokes, some obvious, some subtle, and the robbery, this time of a Nascar race, legitimately pays off. It didn’t get the hype of most of his other movies, but I loved it.

7. Blade Runner: 2049

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This is what I wanted out of a Rian Johnson Star Wars a fully realized and unique point of view brought into an existing franchise. There are those who have argued that’s what Johnson does and certainly the situation was quite different, but what Denis Villeneuve brings here is on masterpiece level. Each scene is designed with an artist’s touch and there was perhaps no better cinematographic moment than the arrival into Las Vegas. It’s slow-paced and contemplative, everything I would want in a modern day sic-fi mystery.

6. Call Me By Your Name 

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A sensual and sultry coming of age story, set during an 80s Italian summer Call Me By Your Name follows Elio, a 17 year old boy, as he discovers who he is. To call it a “coming out” story is too shallow, the film explores every confused tendency of a 17 year old, allowing room for Elio to try things exuberantly, experimenting, and failing confusedly, until he finds what makes him alive. The film more subtly allows his amour, Oliver, one who seems to have confidently already come of age, to stumble over his insecurities and what he has previously been allowed to be or not be.

The film ends with something near a pep talk in which we get a hint of where Elio’s life will go, his, a life met with acceptance and understanding by those around him, will turn out much different than Oliver’s. We only get a small taste of it, but the final shot, a minutes long close up of Elio as he stares at the fire, contemplating his first romance, shows the disparate paths they will take. It’s sorrowful, yet hopeful, Elio will take the piece of this summer with him, building his life off of it in the ways we should move forward, not letting the past take away from the present, but using it to build something better and more beautiful.

5. Dunkirk

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A gorgeous exploration of the heroics of survival. Nolan takes a step back from his characters, letting their looks and silences and gasps for air fill in for a traditional plot. It’s a breathtaking piece of cinema, one that captures the chaos of war, not just in battle, but in the confusing way it flips our morals, how we justify our actions, and who we consider to be heroic. Here the warrior flees and cowers, while the civilians march into battle and each is somehow justified for their actions. War can never be just for it causes a spectrum of human experience to arise in a muddled and grey ethical playground.

4. Get Out

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Jordan Peele crafted a horror flick that uses racism, stereotyping, and white guilt to creepily subvert our society and the conventions of the genre. It subtly captures how horrifying it is to live within an unaccommodating white space before building to full on scary movie. All the horror tropes work well here, Peele invites you to think about larger social themes while slowly terrifying you. Peele was always excellent at creatively crafting comedy around the inequalities in our world while Key & Peele was on and here he’s found a way to amplify it across a feature length film, showing a keen ability behind the camera. It’s one that will be talked about for years to come.

3. A Ghost Story 

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Nothing about David Lowery’s latest is conventional, despite this it constantly moves in a new direction, from its initial reflections on losing a loved one to its grander ambitions of meditating on all of life and what we leave behind. It’s gorgeous, mostly silent, and plays with the ghost convention, asking questions of what we contribute to the world and if it ends up being nothing more than ourselves are we okay with that?

2. Lady Bird 

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Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is a heartwarming, heartfelt, and often funny coming of age story, telling of the battle for the teenage soul between the sincerity and carefree youth and the insecurity that comes with self-awareness in growing up. It’s completely lived-in, likely drawing from Gerwig’s own teenage experiences. Gerwig, who was already a proven talent in acting (Greenberg, 20th Century Women) and writing (Frances HaMistress America), has now again shown an immense ability to direct, guiding along a pitch perfect picture that encapsulates growing up. She and Saiorse Ronan guide us along this journey across the highlights and pitfalls of youth. It also serves as a loving tribute to one’s hometown (in this case Sacramento), the place you’re forever inextricably attached to, but anxiously await to escape. Did I mention that I grew up in the greater Sacramento region? Yeah, this movie hits home.

1. The Big Sick

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An almost perfect rom-com that justifies the existence of the oft-maligned genre. The Big Sick tells the true tale of comedian Kumail Nunjiani meeting and falling in love with his wife Emily (they co-wrote the script and he stars in it). To do so, he has to overcome the delicate balancing act of immigrant parental expectations against society’s, as well as a devastating sickness that puts Emily in a coma. Equal measures of laughing and sobbing fill this one and it’s remained my favorite all year even against more ambitious pictures. It’s strength rides on how charming it is and how it uses this charm to pull off the full gamut of emotions. Every single character’s story line produced an emotional reaction from me. When I look years down the road, I imagine this will be the movie I have returned to the most, throwing it on in almost every scenario, and having it fulfill whatever emotional void I’m feeling.

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Best Albums of 2017

10. Mount Eerie A Crow Looked At Me

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There are quite a few sad albums on this top ten list, but none takes the cake quite like A Crow Looked at Me. The album is an almost stream of consciousness telling of the events leading up to, during, and after the death of Phil Elverum’s wife. If that sounds tragic, listening to the album only amplifies it, leaving a pit in your stomach as you listen to him sing and tell tales of finding out she was sick, him doing tasks that remind him of her, and most heart breaking-ly of all, raising his daughter as a single dad. It’s almost too much to handle, but it’s the kind of record we need to help us mourn.

9. Phoebe Bridgers Stranger in the Alps
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Bridgers’ debut album is full of contemplative folk songs, catchy, full of heartache, and containing a self deprecating sense of humor, Bridgers’ was one of the best discoveries of the year for me and will likely continue to be a star in the indie folk scene.
 
8. Young Thug Beautiful Thugger Girls
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Young Thug is a continuously evolving artist, changing up his music with every album to playfully rap over. Mumble rap reached a peak this year, but Thug does more than just mumble, he garbles over his songs, making indescribable inflections and noises that come through as a really fun mix of hip-hop, R&B, and reggae. That’s not to say Thugger Girls is chaos, instead, Thug chose to accompany many of the songs with acoustic guitar and the beautiful melodies of singer Millie Go Lightly. The album is ever-surprising, a fun look into the mind of an evasive artist.
 
7. Rapsody Laila’s Wisdom
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Rapsody’s latest album is a fantastic blend of jazz, soul, and Gospel tinged beats and thoughtful lyrics. There’s a complexity to her songs, she joins BJ the Chicago Kid and Anderson.Paak for a couple of lengthier tracks that beautifully throw the gauntlet. She perfectly delivers every verse, riding through complicated rhymes whilst sounding casual. With Laila’s Wisdom Rapsody proves she’s one of the most interesting emcees out there.
 
6. Nana Grizol Ursa Minor
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Seconds into Ursa Minor the sound is obvious, Nana Grizol is bringing 90s indie rock back. It makes sense, the group is filled with members of former indie stalwarts, reformed into a group to speak into 2017. This is more than a legacy act however, Nana Grizol’s songs are as good as any band who hits the nostalgia parts of our brains and were one of the albums I returned to most throughout the year.
5. Cloud Nothings Life Without Sound
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This album didn’t get as much buzz as their previous two releases, but I found it just as thrilling as the others. Life Without Sound is a confident rock record, perfectly encapsulating everything the genre can be in the year 2017 when raspy guitar lead jams are about as uninspired as they come.
4. Marika Hackman I’m Not Your Man
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Hackman fits somewhere in between the sullen indie folk of Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers and the raucous and raw rock being made by groups like Tacocat and Diet Cig. She’s perhaps most similar to Courtney Barnett, whose rock and folk jams are dripping with irony and a wry wit. Hackman’s songs are subtly beautiful and unexpected even when they seem straightforward. She makes use both of the electric guitar and simple acoustic ones, putting out one of the best records of the year.
3. Julien Baker Turn Out the Lights
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Baker’s previous album, Sprained Ankle, became an unexpected indie hit in 2015 when she was just 20, delivering emotionally complex, if simple ballads about depression, faith, and loss. Now 22, with a surprising amount of expectation thrust upon her for her sophomore album, Baker went larger, making use of her voice to contrast the soft piano and acoustic guitar throughout the album. It’s grander without changing the core sound of Sprained Ankle; a beautiful progression that is able to maintain everything we all loved about her first record.
2. Kendrick Lamar Damn. 
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We will surely reach a point where Kendrick releases something that everyone shrugs off as unnecessary, but across the last five years the discussion has revolved around whether his latest work is amongst the best of all time. Damn. continues this, while not as ambitious as To Pimp a Butterfly, it features the best rapper releasing hit singles where he goes hard (“DNA.”, “Humble.”), allowing Rihanna to throw out some guest verses (“Loyalty.”), getting U2 to partake (“XXX.”) and a seven-minute magnum opus where he spills his guts (“Fear.”). He’s always exciting and it will likely be years before he stops being at the forefront of every single one of these lists.
1. Priests Nothing Feels Natural
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Released just one week after Trump was inaugurated, this was the album I needed to both question and riot against the things happening around. It’s an angry combination of forthright punk and more experimental noisy post-punk. It’s academic and anarchic, puncturing our consumeristic society and calling out the bland dreams it creates in us: “But I don’t think you care about anything / Why would you applaud such uninteresting social climbing / Even the emperor’s new clothes made a scene” (“Puff”). I constantly turned to the album throughout the year, allowing it to speak into the angst of the moment.  It’s exciting and full of life even if the life it exudes is bitter toward a patriarchal and commercialistic humanity bent on its destruction. Sometimes the anti- movements are just what we need to rise from the ashes toward justice. For 2017, this feels right.
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Top 10 Podcasts of 2017

I might release some thoughts about podcasts and some honorable mentions at a later date. Or I might not. Either way here’s my ten favorites from this year.

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10. The Nod

Gimlet moved Brittany Luse from Sampler and brought in her Eric Eddings, co-host from For Colored Nerds, to make a show that celebrates black culture. The Nod is what is typical to Gimlet at this point, turning what should be a pretty straightforward conversational show into a highly edited and researched program. The Nod is a great combo of public radio research and fun bits the hosts bring.

9. Spontaneanation

Paul F. Tompkins continues to reign in the podcast world, forever an essential guest for every comedy show, Tompkins show, which interviews a guest to inspire a longform improvised story (while soundtracked), is a consistent delight. Perhaps even more importantly is Tompkins willingness to break free of the white man guest that so often occupies comedic podcasts. He consistently features women and people of color to fantastic results.

8. Off Book

Off Book combined two of my very favorite things this year: improv comedy and show tunes. Jess McKenna and Zach Reino improvise an entire musical every episode, breaking into song with the help of pianist Scott Passarella to create songs that are often clever, catchy, and tell a complete and typically wild story.

7. S-Town

The much anticipated follow up to the Serial series once again rocked the podcast world. This time lead by Brian Reed who follows a lead he gets into the south and discovers one of the most fascinating interviews he could possibly find. I think the show makes too much, too early of its “mysteries” when all it really wanted to be was a character study and boy does it deliver on the latter.

6. Vox’s The Weeds

A show for policy wonks, occasionally the hosts get sucked into discussing the latest political news, but the show really thrives when they get “into the weeds” of an issue. Most episodes end with the discussion of a research paper where they discuss the feasibility of an idea and how its real world implications would play out. It’s a highly informative and often entertaining look into the underlying ideas that shape our country.

5. Rob Has a Podcast

The RHAP empire somehow continues to grow, releasing multiple episodes a day, to the point where Rob has now left certain shows to be hosted by former listeners in order to continue them on as he manages more and more. He’s probably the hardest working guy in podcasting and it’s paid off, there’s no other TV recapper who does a better job than him. Even for those not interested in reality television, spending time in the RHAP community will likely convince you it’s something worthwhile.

4. NPR’s Embedded

The regular format of the show was an extremely well produced look into news stories that had disappeared from the forefront of the headlines in order to see where they were at now. It was excellent, but the episodes Kelly McEvers and team produced this year, were brilliant and necessary. Across two different seasons they tackled “Police Videos” and “Trump Stories”, bringing nuance and history to two highly controversial subjects. “Police Videos” brings multiple perspectives across multiple shootings, including one where a police officer is shot and killed. “Trump Stories” covers the people who surround Trump, what they were doing beforehand, what their motivations seem to be and how they got to be at the righthand of our current president.

3. Radiolab presents More Perfect

Last year I combined the two and Radiolab was great again this year, but I had to highlight More Perfect for taking the flare of what makes a great Radiolab episode–production value plus moral quandary–and turning it on the justice system. As our nation’s political state grows increasingly tense, understanding the underlying powers that hold it together is important and More Perfect is here to walk us through the questions, tensions, and massive frailties of our system.

2. Doughboys

Doughboys continually is a must-listen upon its weekly release and in our overloaded podcast environment, this is the hugest compliment. The boys remain as self-deprecating as ever despite their continuing success in the podcast. They treat each fast food restaurant with a surprising amount of sincerity for a show that goes off on wild tangents and have series of shows like “Rocklobsterfest” and the “Tournament of Chompions”. The blend of sincerity and comedic skill still remains one of my favorites in the podcast landscape today.

1. Comedy Bang Bang

This show has been essential for me for the past several years, but has never quite snuck into the top spot. Sometimes you’ve got to reward your favorites and Scott Aukerman continues to crank out the funniest shows. For those not in the know Aukerman plays a version of a talk show host who typically interviews a guest, before eventually being interrupted or bringing in another guest who is actually a character played by a comedian. They travel down some wild paths as they offer up strange characteristics and Aukerman tries to throw them off and get them to start discussing even more off kilter ideas. It’s my favorite podcast and this year it deserves the number one spot.

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Best Songs of 2017 pt. IV (25-1)

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Listen to it on Apple Music (Spotify coming soon)

25. The National “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”

24. Mike WiLL Made-It “Gucci on My (feat. 21 Savage, YG, Migos)

This is a song that hits because of the range of its stars. Savage is low key, Migos bring their mumbling trap flow, and YG does a traditional West coast rap backed by a chorus of women. It’s the perfect melding of styles, exactly what you hope for when bringing together some of the biggest stars in the genre.

23. Algiers “Cry of the Martyrs”

Algiers blend of gospel and punk doesn’t always work for me, but when it does it sure is great. Franklin James Fisher belts out an anthem here as speedy guitars aggressively back him.

22. Aminè “Sundays”

Chance the Rapper was bound to create successors of his uber-sincere, Gospel-tinged hiphop, and Aminè is one of the first to do so. “Sundays” is an extremely positive reflection on faith, doubts, and trying to get by when things get tough.

21. Downtown Boys “A Wall”

We need punk music to speak against the powers that be, it’s naturally combative, and has been political since its inception. Who better than a Latina woman fronted punk band to do so? Their opening track directly addresses the notorious wall, bringing a fury that we need in 2017.

20. Paramore “Pool”

Paramore abandoned their mid-00s pop-punk stylings for a more musically complex and 80s/90s inspired sound. “Pool” is a pitch perfect 90s song, with a dreamily catchy chorus.

19. Priests “JJ”

“JJ” tells the story of a love that never was, from initial attraction to the realization that nothing will come together. It ends in a shouted nihilistic conclusion “I wrote a bunch of songs for you/ but you never knew and you never deserved them. Who ever deserves anything anyway? / What a stupid concept.”

18. Calvin Harris “Slide (feat. Frank Ocean & Migos)”

17. Cloud Nothings “Modern Act”

16. Future “Mask Off (Remix) [feat. Kendrick Lamar]”

The original is great, let’s make that clear, but what song isn’t improved by adding a Kendrick Lamar verse to it? So good.

15. Marika Hackman “Violet”

14. Lorde “Liability”

Lorde’s piano driven ballad is a heartbreaker.

13. Freddie Gibbs “20 Karat Jesus”

I’m a sucker for talented rappers going hard and “20 Karat Jesus” sees Gibbs go hard.

12. Young Thug “Family Don’t Matter (feat. Millie Go Lightly)”

Young Thug chose to open up his album with an acoustic ballad of hip-hop and R&B. Millie Go Lightly beautifully concludes the song tenderly in a surprising move from an always surprising artist.

11. KYLE “iSpy (feat. Lil Yachty)

This song is kinda cheesy, I’ll admit it. But I just can’t shake it. I’ve listened to it over and over this year. Yachty is always cheesy, but there’s a charm to it, none better than here.

10. Gucci Mane “Meta Gala (feat. Offset)”

Remember when I mentioned the 2nd best use of a ringing gong in hip hop? Well here’s number one. Metro Boomin’ creates a sparse beat, with the gong calling attention and allowing Offset to deliver one of the best verses of the year.

9. Carly Rae Jepsen “Cut to the Feeling”

Carly Rae Jepsen only released one song this year, a track recorded for the animated film Leap!, yet she still cracked my top songs of the year list. There’s no better pop song writer /performer working today, “Cut to the Feeling” proves that.

8. Julien Baker “Turn Out the Lights”

Baker released another album of beautiful, sparse, and sad songs. “Turn Out the Lights” is my favorite of the bunch, all of which find slivers of hope in the melancholy. We get to hear her vocal chops here, as the song crescendos and the despair fills in.

7. Dirty Projectors “Up in Hudson”

“Up in Hudson” tells the story of the initial romance and eventual split of David Longstreth and former bandmate/amour Amber Coffman. It’s a seven and a half minute hipster R&B opus, reflective of the rise of indie rock era, while concluding “love will burn out / love will just fade away”.

6. Migos, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B “MotorSport”

Migos were the group of the year and their late year collab with Cardi B (the year’s other breakout star) and Nicki Minaj was an astonishingly fun surprise late in the year. I saw that this had been released, put it on, and after I had heard it once, I repeated it my entire drive home. How can you not be a little charmed by the Offset and Cardi B romance, especially when Cardi B gives us the line “I turn Offset on”, something that’s just cheesy enough that it becomes cute.

5. Phoebe Bridgers “Motion Sickness”

“I have emotional motion sickness”, Bridgers sings in a line that has the most perfect poetic flow.

4. Migos “Bad and Boujee (feat. Lil Uzi Vert)

Almost more meme than song, Migos announced that they owned the world late last year with lead single “Bad and Boujee”. Migos went on to seemingly feature on one million hip-hop songs this year, most of which are actually fantastic, but ultimately none better than “Bad and Boujee”.

3. Kendrick Lamar “HUMBLE.”

Today’s hip-hop king reigns supreme pt. I.

2. Jesca Hoop “The Coming”

Hoop deals with her questions of faith by imagining Jesus give up his reign over the world and deciding not to come back. It’s a deeply personal song that dismantles those parts of faith which are hateful or don’t make sense. It’s sparse and sung with a deep conviction, one that’s defiant while haunted by beliefs that are always nearby, but not quite resonant.

1. Kendrick Lamar “DNA.”

Today’s hip-hop king reigns supreme pt. II. Lead in by a track that features a scene in which Kendrick is shot, “DNA.” opens hard, harder than any other song of the year (beating out “HUMBLE.” by a hair). It examines Kendrick’s entire being, telling of his family’s history, his current success, the evil lurking within, the violence of street life, and the celebration of blackness. He samples a Fox News segment that criticizes him and then shreds through his next bars with fury. This is the most exciting current artist at his best and there’s nothing more exciting than that.

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2018 Pop Culture Goals

The annual pop culture goals of the year list! Who’s ready?! This year I’m really swinging for the fences, even with a 3-month old baby. This is your life, are you who you want to be, right?

Read Infinite Jest

First up, one that I’ve been wanting to do for years, but didn’t want to casually start, knowing that I’d absolutely fail. This year I’m going to read David Foster Wallace’s magnum opus, but I’m giving myself the entire year to do so. The book is 1,079 pages, so I’m committing to 21 pages a week to keep up and actually finish it.

Write something 71% of all days

71% is 5 out of 7, which is more doable than 100% of all days, but will still be quite the challenge and allow me to take weekends off. My writings will be based on random prompts that I find on the internet and will only be somewhere between 100 and 500 words, but will push me to practice something I really enjoy doing. Keeping up with the rhythms and being sure to work out sentence structures with consistency will help me creatively and in future employment.

Do the Stephen Soderbergh culture calendar 

For those not in the know, director Stephen Soderbergh keeps track of everything he reads and watches with an unbelievable commitment. This year I decided to do the same as an exercise and did so for the month of January. This year I want to keep up with the entire year, because it’s a really fun way to reflect on all you did.

Watch 5 films from watch list

Last year, I was able to watch 5 films on my Letterboxd “watchlist”, a list of movie blind spots across the cinema landscape that I’ve yet to enjoy. For the most part they fit into the “eat your vegetables” of movies, which is why it’s good to push myself slowly across the essentials of film canon. My list is here. A series of films I’m particularly keen on trying to watch this year are the Apu trilogy, directed by Satyajit Ray.

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2017 Pop Culture Goals Review

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time to look back at the pop culture goals I had set for myself coming into the year. A lot happened this year that affected my opportunity, I welcomed a son into the world and if I had known with certainty that I would be I might have been less ambitious. That being said, I was still able to accomplish 1/2 of the goals that I set, so I feel more proud than embarrassed. It’s all a lesson in triteness, but it does push me forward into some challenging areas of life that I believe are ultimately good for me, so I’ll take it.

Here are last years goals and my updates on them:

Rewatch ten of my favorite films from 2007

I didn’t meet this. I got off to a great start, but just plain gave up. There’s just a lot to watch already, plus a baby came. Babies give you less time to do things I guess.

I watched: The King of Kong: A Fistful of QuartersGone Baby GoneLars and the Real GirlChop Shop, and No Country for Old MenNo Country improved the most for me, while Gone Baby Gone‘s final twist didn’t hit me as hard as when I first watched it.

Read 3,000 pages

I had a goal to read 3,000 pages this year, which was only 8 a day, ultimately an improvement of my feeble previous attempts. I did it! It was great and got me back into the groove and I am all about the reading groove.

This is what I read:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim

The Plague by Albert Camus

Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie

The Day the Revolution Began by NT Wright

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What is the Bible? by Rob Bell

Movies Are Prayers by Josh Larsen

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Telling God’s StoryA Parent’s Guide to Teaching the Bible by Peter Enns

Watch 5 films from my watchlist 

I also accomplished this! This was great, I was able to watch a few movies I’ve been dying  to watch for a while.

Here’s the list:

Do the Right Thing, Singin’ in the Rain, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Yi Yi, In The Mood For Love

Finish television series I am in the middle of

I swear I’m never going to finish Mad Men. I watched another season of it this year, putting me about halfway through season 5 and I absolutely love it, but I just can’t keep up the consistency.

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