Frequent Fascinations: July 2018

Is it just me or did it seem like July lasted WAY longer than most months seem to? Most of the time when I sit down to write my Frequent Fascinations for the month, it feels like it has been a blip but Fourth of July seems like it was ages ago. I guess a lot has just happened this month, including getting this site back on track.

If you don’t know what my Frequent Fascinations are or why I do them, check out my past ones here. Basically, I spend so much time obsessing over the past, I want to take a second to obsess about the present for a bit before I get back to times before indoor plumbing and Spotify.

Without further ado, here are my favorite things from July.

Crash Course

Image Credit: PBS Learning

This is by no means a new thing to me or to anyone who has ever had the audacity to take an AP class in high school. However, if you have not heard about it, Crash Course is an amazing YouTube channel that teaches classic high school subjects such as history, science or literature in a fun and engaging manner.

This past month, I’ve fallen back in love with it. I love popping one on as a quick break from work because it keeps my brain active and engaged while still entertaining me. I also use it to brush up on eras and concepts throughout history that I am not as familiar with for certain posts on this site.

Additionally, my insatiable curiosity to know everything has been appeased by their new courses since I last checked them out, such as film, sociology, philosophy and media literacy. It’s basically like my own personal Time Turner from Harry Potter to go back and take the classes that I couldn’t in school, except this won’t open up a world of potential potholes in an otherwise seamless narrative.

sarah vowell

Image Credit: Comedy Central

I’ve been obsessed with the author Sarah Vowell for a while, ever since I read “Lafayette in the Somewhat United States” a couple of years ago. I picked it back up and reread it at the start of the month partially because I love reading it around the Fourth and, secondly, because we watched Incredibles 2 around that time. Sarah Vowell, as I was surprised to find out a couple months ago, actually voices Violet in the animated movies, which made the reading experience a tad different this time. All my friends growing up wanted to be Violet for Halloween while I found myself wanting to be Sarah Vowell herself.

Vowell’s books are a mix of history, personal essay and travel journal and always make me laugh hysterically in the way uses current events to draw out the humor of the past. It’s like grabbing a cup of coffee with an old friend and swapping stories. And, in this case, it’s catching up with Violet Parr.

“Ballet Now”

Image Credit: Los Angelos Times

The second I saw the announcement about this documentary pop up on Hulu, I was stoked. First of all, I’ve always been fascinated with ballet. The challenge, the strength, the stamina of it all just baffles me, especially since it all has to be masked with an outward appearance of grace. The second thing that immediately sold me was that Elisabeth Moss was an executive producer.

The documentary follows the five days leading up to The Music Theatre’s annual “Ballet Now,” a showcase performance usually curated and crafted by men. However, this particular “Ballet Now” marks the first ever curated by a woman, Tiler Peck, who also danced in nearly every number.

As with any good documentary, it shows the struggles and difficulties in putting together so many moving pieces in such a short period of time but, if anyone can handle that kind of stress and pressure with grace, it’s a ballerina. What I love about the show Tiler curates is that she chooses to bring together all different kinds of dance forms, including tap, hip-hop and even clowning to celebrate the diverse expressions that dance can evoke. One of the coolest dances I’ve ever seen is “1-2-3-4-5-6” so if you don’t have time to watch the whole film, at least find time to watch this performance.

“Unreal” Season Four

Image Credit: Apple

“UnREAL” really shouldn’t have been a show that I gravitated towards. It’s pretty dark and twisted and makes you super stressed and tense. I’ve never been much of a reality television watcher so this fictional twist on a “Bachelor”-type show shouldn’t really intrigue me as much as it has. But the show just sucks you right in.

If you’ve never heard of it, the show is basically behind the scenes of a show called “Everlasting” where several contestants compete to find true love. However, you get to see the lengths to which the producers go through to manipulate the contestants into getting the exact footage they need to create a good show. The additional twist is the fact that the women who run the show, Quinn and Rachel, have to not only fight with male executives to keep their power but also fight with themselves about the morals of manipulating other women, and whether or not that makes them truly powerful.

I loved the first three seasons and, I have to admit, when I first started watching the fourth and final when it came out on Hulu this month, I wasn’t as into it at first and I will say that, as a whole, this season was probably the weakest of them all. But the very last scene of the whole series was so perfect and wonderful and might possibly be one of the best ways a show has ever concluded, in this girl’s opinion. So just for that scene, the show goes on this list.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Image Credit: Albuquerque Journal

As an art history nerd, I have always been fascinated with Da Vinci and appreciated his artistry (except for the Mona Lisa because the only reason that painting is so popular is because an Italian tried to steal it to bring it back to its rightful country and the surrounding media scandal made everyone obsessed with seeing THE painting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool, but he painted MUCH cooler things). However, I hadn’t ever delved deeper into his scientific artistry which I knew was expansive but never understood how brilliant and forward-thinking it was.

A touring exhibit came through about his work and the bulk of the displays were models of his inventions illustrated in his notebooks, replicated with wood, canvas and other tools of the era. It was simply incredible how many things we have come to rely on today that he postulated centuries ago, such as bicycles, scuba gear, planes, helicopters, construction machinery and tanks. It blew my mind.

The coolest thing: who knew that he invented the water fountain?

Thanks for reading and have a happy and healthy August, y’all!

xo Elena

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