Jamie’s Staff Picks for July

Here are my picks for July:

Friday Night Lightsfriday night lights

“In the small town of Dillon, Texas, everyone comes together on Friday nights when the Dillon High Panthers play. But life is not a game and the charismatic football players, their new coach Eric Taylor, and the passionate fans find that their biggest challenges and obstacles come off the field.”

This show was widely-lauded by critics when it was on television but struggled to find an audience. Their struggle for ratings led to some questionable decisions in season two, but even with that, this is one of the best shows ever made. The cast is perfect in their roles and the set feels so real because it was— instead of shooting on a sound stage in LA, the show was filmed in Austin, Texas in rented houses and on real football fields. It wasn’t really a show about football; it was a show about relationships, community, Texas, poverty, racism… a beautiful microcosm of real issues facing real people. The characters are so endearing, even with their many faults. You’ll find yourself thinking of Coach Taylor’s slogan “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose,” or Tami Taylor’s “I appreciate that,” or Riggins’ “Texas Forever,” on a regular basis after watching this show (and how can you not love Texas accents?).

A Man Without a Countrya man without a country
By Kurt Vonnegut

“One of the greatest minds in American writing, Kurt Vonnegut has left an indelible impression on literature with such inventive novels as Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions. Now this iconic figure shares his often hilarious and always insightful reflections on America, art, politics and life in general. No matter the subject, Vonnegut will have you considering perspectives you may never have regarded. On the creative process: ‘If you want to really hurt your parents … the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding.’ On politics: ‘No, I am not going to run for President, although I do know that a sentence, if it is to be complete, must have both a subject and a verb.’ On nature: ‘Evolution is so creative. That’s how we got giraffes.’ On modern cultural attitudes: ‘Do you think Arabs are dumb? They gave us our numbers. Try doing long division with Roman numerals.’ and on the fate of humankind: ‘The good Earth–we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.’ A Man without a Country showcases Vonnegut at his wittiest, most acerbic, and most concerned. Beyond the humor and biting satire is an appeal to all readers to give careful thought to the world around them and the people they share it with.”

I don’t think anyone gets to the heart of any issue quite like Kurt Vonnegut does. I’m happy that in A Man Without a Country, Vonnegut was able to take some time to write down his insights on the world that are not in the form of fiction (though the fiction he wrote is amazing too!). His thoughts are straightforward and without ornament, but he always brings a fresh perspective to problems that humanity faces. I always come away from reading Vonnegut with a feeling of goodwill toward man because that is truly what he wanted, as cynical and biting as his criticism can seem. This book will definitely make you laugh too, and who doesn’t need that?

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Filed under Audiobooks, television, TV, TV review

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