Hiya! It is that time of the week again for another installment of Literary Cuisine, the blog series where I talk about 5 things I consumed this past week that are absolutely delicious and worth tasting. Okay, now this metaphor is making me hungry.
1: Many Beautiful Things (Documentary)
Lilias Trotter. The name doesn’t ring a bell? For most people, it wouldn’t. That is because Lilias Trotter, an artist of the Victorian Era, was almost lost to history. A woman who defied cultural norms, Lilias Trotter gave up her opportunity to fame when she traveled to French Algeria to live out her calling of serving God. It was against the better judgement of her mentor and famous art critic, John Ruskin, that she left England. He told her that her work could be “immortal.” Many Beautiful Things is a documentary recounting Trotter’s life as an artist, her relationship with Ruskin, and her decision to give up a life of fame for a life of un-acknowledgment. There are so many things to love about this film. The content is very rich to begin with but is given an addition layer when you learn about the hard work that was involved in researching Trotter, mainly by Mariam Rockness who has an excellent blog dedicated to Trotter which can be read at this link. Visually, this film is stunningly beautiful. The use of light and color is masterful, and the animation of Trotter’s artwork allows the viewer to become engrossed in her paintings. The voice work is another aspect of this film that works well. The stand-outs are obviously Michelle Dockery and John Rhys-Davies who voice Trotter and Ruskin. I’m a big fan of Dockery’s and seriously think she should consider doing more voice-over work (or, at least, read an audio book!) because her voice is just beautiful to listen to and is among my favorites next to Alan Rickman. It is also important to note the Rhys-Davies was also excellent. Both actors did a fantastic job. And finally, I can’t forget to mention to gorgeous score that backdrops the film. The composer is called Sleeping at Last. I’ve been listening to this guy since 2009ish when I graduated high school and entered college. His music contributed a lot to what I listen to today and still captures me. This score is his best work by far. I bought the album months before watching this documentary and still can’t get enough. Pro tip – listen to this album when the warm weather is slowly returning and you can finally open your windows, or listen while driving slowly with the windows down and the sun is setting. It’s so relaxing and spiritual, you can’t help but feel connected to something bigger than yourself…which is a pretty big theme in the documentary. Listen to the album for free at this link or buy it on iTunes. Overall, this is something everyone should watch. It is engaging in every possible way and is just a well-made film. Buy it on Amazon today!
2: Say Goodnight Kevin (YouTube)
I love YouTube. There, I said it. All the hours I’m not reading I am probably binge watching YouTube videos. And to answer your question, no I do not watch funny cat videos over and over again. There are quite a few YouTube pages I consistently return to but one of my favorites is Say Goodnight Kevin. This channel is run by a guy named Kevin McCreary who dabbles in a bunch of other projects around the interwebs such as Blimey Cow, The Inner Tube podcast, Movie Facts, etc. Now I won’t lie, my favorite part of the channel is his show Say Movie Night Kevin where he basically becomes the Christian Nostalgia Critic. At one point, he even titled the show the Nostalgia Christian. I love this show because Kevin really breaks down why so much of Christian entertainment is just propaganda to make Christians feel better and isn’t really telling a story that can appeal to the masses and change their hearts. Most of the films he reviews lack in style and understanding of filmmaking and shove a message down the viewers throat. Kevin uses a lot of snarky humor in his reviews which always appeals to me. His newest review focuses on the popular movie Divergent. But beyond that show, the entire channel is great. It is very different from most channels on YouTube and Kevin is the kind of guy that really excels at this craft. You can tell he knows what he is doing which is great and makes me want to return to his videos multiple times a week. Check out his channel by clicking this link.
3: The Bible Tells Me So (Book)
Let me pose a thought. Say I read the Harry Potter books literally. Suddenly, they take on an entirely new dimension. Magic exists? Am I not good enough because I am simply a Muggle? Do all Slytherins have bad blood because Hagrid says so in the second book? When someone says they would rather read the Hunger Games, am I meant to shame that person for not reading the Harry Potter books because of their important messages? Hunger Games has similar messages? Pfft. Well, I guess I can’t diversify or even consider another perspective. Now, take a step back. That sounds really stupid. Right? If someone acted like this, wouldn’t we consider them an extreme Harry Potter fan and that their mentality is pretty dangerous? Funny because that is how a lot of Christians act in today’s society when it comes to the Bible. This is where Peter Enns book, The Bible Tells Me So, comes into play. The subtitle of his book is “why defending scripture has made us unable to read it.” Enns makes the argument that the Bible is a book of stories written to make sense of the present time period which they were written. It isn’t a history textbook like we often believe but a lush example of storytelling, being shaped orally over a thousand or so years until it was written and compiled into what we know today. Now, that is just a basic summary of this book. The ideas posed to the reader are very radical. I know a lot of Christians will outright not even pick this book up (let’s face it, LOTS of the Christians I know won’t pick up most of the books I read so…way to have an open mind Christians) because they fear the ideas it is suggesting. But if you are like me and find that most answers Christians give about difficult passages in the Bible are outright silly and problematic, do yourself a favor and pick up this book. It is one of the best books I have read, certainly will be on my top books read during 2016, and is extremely thought provoking. Buy it on Amazon today!
4: Gradient.is (News)
Gradient is a brand new news and culture platform on the interwebs. Their website has a lot of great content, including articles and podcasts. I was introduced to the brand when I started listening to the weekly podcast the website hosts titled ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) where the hosts sit down and talk about 5 big news stories from the past week and lend their commentary to the issues at hand. They have a lot of other podcasts about various different topics such as animation, comic books/super heroes, and happiness. The site itself is as visually appealing as it is stimulating. It strives to comment on all important stories going on in culture, as well as review entertainment being released currently. While it is still in it’s early stages, it is a must for anyone interested in innovative ways of consuming the news! Check it out here!
5: How Music Changed the World (Podcast)
One thing I absolutely love is music. I don’t think I am alone in this sentiment. Music is so engrained into our culture that it is hard to tell if music is influenced by it or is culture is influenced by music. The new podcast titled How Music Changed the World seeks to study music and music’s influenced on culture. It is hosted by Josh Taylor, also known for hosting the popular Disney podcast called Modern Mouse Radio. I really love this podcast. Taylor does an excellent job capturing the spirit of each musician/theme he talks about. He truly knows how to say a lot without saying too much. Each episode is very well produced and is usually around the 20-30 minute mark. What I love most about the show is how Taylor easily makes connections from music to culture and then the specific impact. It speaks to the power music has and how art itself is a huge part of experiencing life. This is a must listen. You won’t regret it! Check out the podcast at this link or find it on iTunes!
Like this blog? Be sure to like this entry and share it on social media! And tune in next Saturday for another segment of Literary Cuisine!