Sometimes you just need to make a list.
So that”s what I”m doing today. One of my side projects is a podcast wherein fellow DS writer Joy Bennett and I (along with novelist Rob Stennett) discuss things we like in popular culture. This being a pop culture column—and summer being a good time to try and discover fun new things—I figured I”d steal from that format and give you 25 culturish things that are inspiring and/or entertaining me this summer.
1. This lyric from Macklemore”s “Ten Thousand Hours“— “the greats weren”t great because at birth they could paint / the greats were great “cause they paint a lot.” I paint, too. Generally with this in my head.
2. The character of Augustus in John Green”s The Fault in Our Stars, which I just got around to reading in June. Because Gus is his own aspirational character, trying (and failing) to play a better version of himself. We should all be this way.
3. Also Hazel, the 16 year-old narrator of The Fault in Our Stars. Best narrative voice in recent fiction. Period.
4. T.J. Miller”s character, Jimmy, in . He could recite Sylvia Plath”s poetry and I would still crack up due to his goofball voice and inflection.
5. This three-part tour of video wizard Casey Niestat”s New York City studio. I can”t decide if his organizational obsession motivates or frightens me, but it”s completely engrossing. Three videos aren”t enough. I want to see more.
6. This line from the YA alien-invasion novel The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey: “I bet the Others knew about the…aliens we”d imagined. And I bet they thought it was funny as hell. They must have laughed their asses off. If they have a sense of humor…or asses.” (An inventive story told in a great YA voice, if you”re interested, though the plot does have some pretty unbearable holes.)
7. The subversive brilliance of Feminist Taylor Swift (@feministtswift). File this under “Things I Wish I”d Thought of Doing.”
8. The little old lady I see occasionally at the gym who wears sensible old-lady slacks and a ruffly old-lady floral blouse and WEIGHTLIFTING GLOVES while she kicks ass on the weight machine. Because that is amazing.
9. The Amazon product reviews for the reddish-pink Mizuno Women”s Wave Rider 16 Running Shoe, worn by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis during last week”s epic filibuster. Sample: “The next time you have to spend 13 hours on your feet without food, water or bathroom breaks, this is the shoe for you. Guaranteed to outrun patriarchy on race day.” I love the Internet.
10. Jeff McNeill”s Periodic Table of Typefaces. Design nerds: Rejoice.
11. The free iPhone app LeafSnap. You take a photo of a leaf. It tells you what kind of tree it”s probably from. Nature nerds: Rejoice.
12. The unbearably intense first two acts of World War Z. Most movies don”t generally get my heart racing. This one did.
13. That the central theme of the Jeff Nichols film Mud is love and fidelity, and how vital it is to find optimism in those things. I also love how this movie treats the rural poor with such dignity.
14. That Matt Nathanson”s new album, Last of the Great Pretenders, releases this month. I keep waiting for him to write a bad song. I am still waiting.
15. Michael Kiwanuka“s voice. His music is like a contemporary remix of Bill Withers singing Van Morrison songs. Go find him on Spotify right now.
16. The “Sev”ral Timez” episode of the Disney Channel show Gravity Falls, in which “N Sync member Lance Bass voices the fictional cloned band members Greggy C, Creggy G, Leggy P, Chubby Z and Deep Chris. It”s an animated kids” show, but the whole thing was just flat-out hilarious.
17. This definition of faith from Daniel Taylor in his book The Skeptical Believer: “Christian faith is believing and committing to (living out) the core claims of Christianity despite uncertainty.” His thesis is that doubt, rather than certainty, is most compatible with religious faith. YES.
18. The beach house in the USA summer series Graceland. I want to live there.
19. John Oliver”s substitute stint on The Daily Show. He”s exceeding expectations, right?
21. Stephen King”s new paperback-only summer novel, Joyland. Half murder-mystery, half coming-of-age love story set at an amusement park, with a super pulpy cover. Best of all, it”s short enough to start and finish on a vacation.
22. Austin-based cover band The Space Rockers, who played at my wife”s high school reunion. It”s like The Wiggles abandoned the silly kids” songs, began dressing even sillier (glow-in-the-dark spandex!), and then started an amazing live band covering classics from the “80s and “90s, complete with choreography and capes and passable hip-hop skills. Ridiculously entertaining. If you need an event band, book these guys right now.
23. This Tumblr: Boynton Plus Bible. Because it is exactly what it says it is, because I love Sandra Boynton”s picture books, and because it makes me so happy.
24. The recent NBA Finals. We have not been an NBA family until this year, when our basketball-loving son got seriously into the playoffs. This year we watched every game, and then—experiencing basketball withdrawal, I guess—both of our kids DVR”d the NBA Draft. THE DRAFT. And then they watched it. “I guess I”m a basketball girl now,” my 13 year-old daughter explained.
25. Hammocks on back porches on warm summer nights.
So that”s me. What are you loving this summer?