Home Arts & Life What we’re watching, listening to, and reading that has absolutely nothing to do with the U.S. election

What we’re watching, listening to, and reading that has absolutely nothing to do with the U.S. election

by OTR Staff

Ryersonian staffers tell how they are distracting themselves from American politics

(illustration by Cole Brocksom)

Earlier this week the Ryersonian published our second special editorial project of the semester, focusing on the U.S. presidential election. Since then, our newsroom, like everyone else, has  been collectively biting our nails as the process of ballot counting slowly unfolds state by state. And just like everyone else we’ve been consuming all kinds of media to distract ourselves when the electoral tension runs too high. If you’re looking for some new recommendations, we asked our newsroom for some books, movies, TV shows, music, and video games that have absolutely nothing to do with the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Dune and the trailer for Dune – Patrick Swadden, Editor-in-Chief
Actor Timothée Chalamet portrays Paul Atreides in the upcoming film adaptation of Dune, set for release in October 2021 (Creative Commons)

Because of COVID-19, Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation has been pushed to October 2021 — hopefully we will be far enough out of the coronavirus woods by then to enjoy the spectacle in theatres. I am reading the book for the first time, having missed the boat in my youth (I was a Lord of the Rings guy). While the anxiety of waiting for election results ages me in years with each passing hour, I am digging into Frank Herbert’s classic 1965 science fiction novel.

Published three years after Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, there are many themes to this complex work, including ecological change—topical for the 21st century. While it might be spoiling things for myself, I can’t stop watching the trailer, featuring Hans Zimmer’s pulsing rendition of “Eclipse,” by Pink Floyd. Take a look!

The Daily Stoic email newsletter – Alex Cyr, Podcast Exec.

Each morning at 9 a.m., bestselling author Ryan Holiday’s short newsletter hits my inbox amid a storm of noisy pandemic headlines and election updates. The Daily Stoic is a quotidian, 300-500 word meditation on stoic philosophy and practices. Day after day, Holiday’s succinct communication of stoic maxims, like focusing on life’s controllables, helps me cope with this moment’s mundanities, and braces me for what is unknown.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air – Mahad Arale, News Editor
Cast of the 1990s hit show “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” (creative commons)

I’m not really into any new TV series currently but “Fresh Prince” is always my go-to if I want to distract myself or fill in some down time. I’m sure it’s other people’s go-to as well. It’s what I call “casual comedy;” it doesn’t matter what mood or situation you’re in, “Fresh Prince” will take your mind away from anything and make you laugh. Would recommend in light of the US elections.

Crusader Kings 3 – Matthew Best, News Editor/Crime and Security Reporter

I’ve been firing up Crusader Kings 3 around midnight every night when the waking world goes away. Sure, I still have to deal with losing counties, flubbing elections, having to deal with a massive gender divide and a world constantly on the precipice of chaos — but dammit, I’m going to see the Danelaw restored in England. MAGA: Make Anglia Geatish Again.

Jade City by Fonda Lee – Coby Zucker, Copy Editor/Sports Reporter
Cover of Jade City by Fonda Lee (courtesy fondalee.com)

Jade City — and its sequel, Jade War — by Fonda Lee are phenomenal books for raw, fantastical escapism. It’s urban fantasy with a fresh take. Imagine The Godfather meets any Bruce Lee movie except it’s all set in a fantasy world. The characters feel real and — maybe it’s because I binge read these books in two days — I felt profoundly attached to their stories. Give it a read if you want to see Michael Corleone do magic kung-fu.

Fine Line by Harry Styles – Sabrina Pourghassemi, Photo Editor

Like any other stressful and anxiety ridden time in my life I reach straight for my headphones. Music is easily my favourite distraction and the perfect outlet to escape from reality for a while. I have quite a few favourite albums that I constantly rotate through but right now my go to has been Harry Styles album Fine Line on repeat…maybe a little too much.

Gaslighter by the Chicks – Kayla Empey, Opinion and Photo Editor
Album cover of the Chicks’ newest album “Gaslighter” (courtesy of Rolling Stone)

After dropping the “Dixie” from their name earlier this year, The Chicks released their first album in 14 years and it’s iconic. Gaslighter is about the divorce of lead singer Natalie Maines, and includes everything from heart-breaking ballads to fiery and indignant lyrics the trio is known for.

While The Chicks are notorious for being political in their music and personal lives, there is only one song on the album that is forwardly political. So if you are really trying to steer clear of anything that will remind you of the election, skip track six.

Lego Star Wars 2 – Cole Brocksom, Arts and Life Editor

Whenever my roommate and I are both free of school and professional work, we like to spend our evenings playing some old video games from our youth. Popular titles among the two of us include Mario Kart, Super Smash Brothers, and Wii Sports, but lately we’ve been occupying our free time with the second installment of the classic Lego games set in the Star Wars story. As a fan of both the science fiction films as well as the plastic building toy, this game came at the right time in my youth, at the right crossroads of my interests to give me enough nostalgia to take me out of the perils of ballot boxes every time I sit down to play.

Courage the Cowardly Dog – Josh Scott, Business Editor
Title card from the cartoon Courage the Cowardly Dog (Creative Commons)

This week, I started re-watching “Courage the Cowardly Dog”, one of the most adventurous and disturbing children’s television series ever made. Courage lasted for four seasons on Cartoon Network between 1999 and 2002, and it’s remarkable that it did because it haunted me, and countless others, for years. John Dilworth’s show makes full use of the possibilities and drawbacks of early animation, playing them off of each other for scares and laughs, using the latter to make the former easier to digest. Drawing from influences like Salvador Dali and Charlie Chaplin, the show depicts an anarchical, other-worldly and oddly triumphant mix of surreal horror and slapstick comedy that’s ultimately worth watching due the oversized heart of its pink canine protagonist.

This article may have been created with the use of AI software such as Google Docs, Grammarly, and/or Otter.ai for transcription.

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