Stories that Speak to Us: What the CAHSS Community Watched, Heard, Read and Played This Summer
Stories told through literature, theatre, podcasts, film, video games and television inspire and empower, connecting us deeply and reflectively with our personal and collective experience in ways that often reverberate throughout our lives. The College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (CAHSS) newsroom will periodically ask CAHSS faculty, students and staff to contribute their recommendations in specific categories geared toward specific topics for a new “Stories that Speak to Us” series.
As summer winds down and we gear up for the beginning of a new school year at the University of Denver, we asked members of our CAHSS community to share what they enjoyed reading, watching, playing and hearing over the last few months.
Damary Beltran, studio art technician, School of Art & Art History
Normal Gossip is the No. 1 podcast my wife and I listen to during our long summer road trips. This podcast delivers juicy, funny and lively storytelling about people you’ll never know and never meet. Host Kelsey McKinney discusses reader submitted, completely
anonymized gossip with guests, diving into the lives and decisions of complete strangers. It is the perfect podcast to relax to while also having good laughs and empathizing with low-stakes drama taking place anywhere from farmers’ markets to youth soccer leagues.
My second recommendation is “Lu Over the Wall,” a 2017 Japanese animated fantasy film produced by Science Sari. The movie is about a musically talented boy named Kia, who spends his days sulking in a small fishing village after his family moves from Tokyo. His life then changes after meeting Lu, a young mermaid whose singing causes humans to compulsively dance — whether they want to or not. It’s a beautifully animated film that explores friendship, passion and change.
My next recommendation is a video game called Cozy Grove — a fun and relaxing Indie sim-life game in which you are a scout stranded on a haunted island full of cute, bummed out ghost bears. As a spirit scout it is your job to help the spectral bears in their afterlives, and eventually help them find peace. You will build a camp, make friends with the characters, embark on quests and bring color back to the island. If you already enjoy games like Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley, you will adore this game. Cozy Grove is also available on most gaming platforms.
Angela Mitchell, manager of marketing and communications, Lamont School of Music
Of late, I have really gotten into the writings of Philip Roth. Earlier this year I read “The Plot Against America.” It’s an alternate history of the United States, and what happens when Theodore Roosevelt loses the 1940 presidential election to Charlies Lindbergh. As Lindbergh cozies up to Adolph Hitler, antisemitism becomes more acceptable and Jewish families are persecuted to varying degrees. It’s a fascinating look at how much could have gone differently in this country, had one election had a different outcome.
I’d also like to recommend the podcast Wiser Than Me hosted by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. On each episode, Julia sits down with a woman who is older — and presumably, wiser — than her. There are 10 episodes so far, and the guests include people like Jane Fonda, Isabel Allende, Fran Lebowitz, Carol Burnett, and Diane von Furstenberg. Julia is both incredibly funny and wickedly smart, and her conversations had me alternating hysterical laughter with crying. You can find this show wherever you get your podcasts.
Hillary Hutcherson, CAHSS graduate recruitment digital marketing analyst
My summer reading list included “Remarkably Bright Creatures” by Shelby Van Pelt. This beautifully written fiction, mystery novel is set in Puget Sound and addresses the complications of familial relationships, evolving friendships, loss, animal companionship — in the form of a giant Pacific octopus — and the aging process, through a series of intertwined character stories. It will tug at your heartstrings, especially if you love animals.
My watchlist is currently being consumed with the History Channel’s not-so-new series “Alone.” If you enjoy camping, hiking, or any other backcountry adventures, this show will probably appeal to you too. The premise is expert survivalists are dropped off (alone) at an extremely remote destination and the individual who manages to stay out in the wilderness the longest wins. Most seasons are set in northern Canada near the end of summer and commence when the seasons turn, and snow eventually forces people home.
Personally, I find this show intriguing because the participants are all trained survivalists, therefore, as a viewer, I feel like I learn some wilderness survival skills from them. Contestants must construct long-term shelters, hunt for food, deal with local wildlife encounters, and adapt to extreme isolation. My favorite part is the structure building, wow, some of their creations are really impressive.