What’s Making Me Happy This Week?

I want to establish a weekly series on this blog called “What’s Making Me Happy This Week,” lifted from everyone’s favorite segment on the best pop culture podcast. But somehow, despite the okay week I’ve had and the sunshine outside, it seems wrong to publish a column called “something something happy” today. You know, with the Tomahawks in the south and the truck in the north.  But then again, when would it be truly appropriate to post a happy post? 

So here are my two favorite morsels of pop culture: 

* Stown, the This American Life/Serial podcast. It’s amazing, TAL storytelling at its best. But be warned, if you’re struggling with depression: Only listen to it on a good day. It’s not an abstract, whodunnit true crime story, but rather the intimate detail of a shit town and a man struggling with the world and his place in it.  

*Good news: There is a new At the Drive-In album on the horizon and the first few singles are actually good. For your sad/angry/happy/content  weekend listening pleasure, here is a Spotify playlist of the entire At the Drive-In discography. (The end of Invalid Litter Dept. always feels cathartic.)

What’s Making Me Happy This Week (II)

Inspired by my favorite pop culture podcast, NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, I want to introduce a new recurring feature for my blog: A post about something (pop)cultural I’ve read, seen, or heard the past week that makes me happy.

This week: Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I finally saw the new installment of the great space pew pew saga, and I really liked it. I think it’s at least as strong as the very first Star Wars. After the credits rolled and the Bad Robot did its thing, I was excited and actually immediately wanted to see the sequel – and that is a rare thing, as I usually find sequels to be unnecessary, if not downright despisable. The main reason I want another fix:  Rey, Finn, and Poe, aka the new young characters. Even without spoiling any major plot surprises, it’s clear that Rey, played by ,Daisy Ridley, is this movie’s Luke Skywalker. She is the central character, a human scavenger with a knack for droids, absent parents, and a good heart. She’s smart, talented, and strong, neither a damsel-in-distress nor an immediately impeccable warrior. Ridley’s performance is equally charming and clever, it’s wonderful to watch her act. (This makes it mind-bogglingly sexist that Rey as a character wasn’t part of a lot of merchandise)

The other two new leads are similarly clever, charming and flawed. Oscar Isaac’s-wing pilot Poe has a last man standing soldier’s swagger and is the new generation of the Resistance. John Boyega’s stormtrooper turned conscientious objector turned Black Han Solo is as great a character as Rey, and they have an almost immediate on-screen chemistry that is more battle-ready than romantic. (I hope that stays that way.) In addition to the great movie and acting performance, I’m really excited about the new stage of stardom that is possible for these three actors. The Force Awakens is the first time I saw Daisy Ridley on stage, but I’ve been rooting for Oscar Isaac’s since he played a restless folk singer in Inside Llewyn Davis, and John Boyega was amazing as crew leader and alien defeater in Attack the Block.

While all three have great potential, Boyega maybe has shown the greatest range so far. I’m sure it’ll be exciting to see what both these three actors and their characters do next.