Just before the holiday weeks I read something on Austin Kleon’s website about inputs versus outputs that really resonated with me. I decided to take the quieter holiday time to change my inputs and it’s been so good for me that I thought I’d write about it.
I stopped looking at news, I think I went to a news website three times, one of which was to look for a specific article in the food section. I stopped with most social media. But most importantly I made decisions to watch a bunch of movies and read and listen to podcasts. I watched more movies over the past two weeks than I did in all of 2019, getting DVDs from the library of older things I hadn’t seen.
So here’s a bit of a round up of some of my inputs and what I thought of them.
The Grand Budapest Hotel I loved this movie, laughing out loud several times. I hadn’t watched a Wes Anderson film in quite some time and that was a mistake, I love his style so much.
Phantom Thread I didn’t really know what to expect from this film, and well, it was certainly interesting and different. It’s the story of an artist at work and what happens when love enters his life, causing complete disruption to someone who can’t function well with disruption.
Booksmart WOW is all I can say about this film. So many scenes that I laughed at, but also so relatable for me and it brought me back to many of my own high school moments, in a good way. It’s amazing.
Isle of Dogs Yup, more Wes Anderson and I loved this one more than any other Wes Anderson film I’ve seen. It’s quirky, funny, and the stars are my favorite animals, dogs. I’ll be getting this and watching it again for sure.
Wonder Woman This is my one stinker of the entire time. I really disliked it, I didn’t find the story that good or convincing and the way in which it played out was not for me. I found the very beginning on the island to be the best part and wanted to know more about some of those characters.
Little Women I honestly didn’t think I needed another version of Little Women in my life, but I heard David Remnick interview Greta Gerwig on the New Yorker Radio Hour and decided to see it. It’s so good. A really interesting new look at the book and the back and forth between the present and the past brought together connections in a new way. I highly recommend it.
Lady Bird A coming of age tale that at times had me aching for Lady Bird. There were so many scenes where she’s talking with her mom that were almost directly from my own expereince. I loved it. And I realized that I still know all the words to the Dave Matthew’s Band Crash Into Me. (I know, I know….)
Bonus for the viewing side of things: Chernobyl. We finished this prior to the two weeks of the holidays, but in our house this series was something we talked about for quite a while. There is so much here about government, organizations, how they work, etc. It’s a hard series to watch, but so worth watching.
I read four books and you can find the reviews in my reading section. The best of the two weeks by far was The Secrets We Kept, an amazing novel based on the CIA getting Doctor Zhivago, publishing it in Russian, and having it smuggled back into the country. I also highly recommend a New York Times article about the author, it’s how it got on my to read list in the first place. My favorite book of 2019, since I’m talking about books, is a tie between Gnomon and Life in Code, very different books, but ones I’m still thinking about.
Finally, I listened to a podcast episode that’s a few years old at this point, but so well done. The Secret History of the Future is right up my alley and I really enjoyed the first season, especially episode nine. It’s so well put together, you should give it a listen to find out all the ways in which tech isn’t the answer.
And here’s the thing about all of these inputs: they started me thinking and I’ve been drawing and doing some rough comics and using the mixed up batch of thoughts that’s come from them all to produce some outputs. I’m not ready to share many of those outputs quite yet, but I’m on the road to doing different things because I have so much going on in my head at the moment. The most significant change from the past two weeks that I hope will carry through this whole year is a lot less news. Taking time once a day to take in more thoughtful and less reactionary news is enough for me.