In a recent episode of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast that I was listening to, one of the co-hosts remarked on how, as far as the cultural output calendar goes, October and November are relatively calm months. For them, that means that the fall months are a time for ruminating on the year and catching up on things that they may have missed in the preceding seasons. This all leads up to the wintertime take-no-prisoners mêlée of year-end best-of list season, in which every columnist, blogger, and critic finally publishes their highly curated index of 2015’s best offerings and scours their rivals’ lists and furiously downloads whatever they’ve been foolish enough to ignore. Of course, this is coming from people inside the industry, who get albums, books, and screeners about three months early. For us normies, the months of October and November can feel just as packed with content as the summer and spring seasons that came before. The fall TV season is in full swing, meaning that the best new shows have finally pulled ahead of the pack and we can begin whittling down our interest from the insurmountable mound of programming that the networks and streaming companies have dumped upon us. O veritable mount of fine hour-long dramas and ten-episode sitcoms! How would I ever conquer thee? New vital albums are coming out every week, some that you can’t get enough of (hello, Arca) and some that you can’t help hearing about all the time (oh hey Grimes). That pile of library books that you put on hold in August isn’t getting any smaller. All those movies you heard about when they were getting rave reviews on the festival circuit are coming out.
And alas! It’s the middle of November and the end of the semester is, believe it or not, in sight. But just because it’s in sight doesn’t mean you’re anywhere near reaching it. There are thesis deadlines, and junior seminar work, and three final papers, and that gym class you can’t miss any more if you still hope to get credit, and a couple tests to study for, and a damned group project, and a million other things. October and November may have a lot of cultural content being spurted out into the world, but as we descend into the bowel of the semester, it may slip by unnoticed.
Most of the time, when I write this, I’m exhorting you to get off-campus and do something, close the textbook and pick up some pleasure reading, telling you it’s okay to watch a couple episodes of this or that show before bed or stop working on your thesis for the afternoon to actually go to a movie theater for once. Today, I’m here to tell you the opposite. It’s okay to miss out on a couple things that come out in these blustery weeks of November. See, there’s a reputation with Reedies that they need to get out of the bubble more, take pleasure in what Portland and the greater world has to offer. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s sometimes the opposite. I get caught up trying to stay up to date on things that I end up wearing myself out. So today, I’m telling you that it’s okay if you download a couple albums and then don’t get a chance to listen to them until winter break. You don’t need to watch that show right now, it’ll be just as good when you are hiding out from relatives in your childhood bedroom over the holidays. In fact, it may even be better. Think of it as a little present to yourself.
I guess this is a long-winded way of saying that I don't have any new tidbits of media to bring to your attention this week, and I hope that's okay. Take it easy, folks, and I’ll be back in the next issue, and maybe with a co-conspirator the next time around!