It was one year ago today that I registered the domain name for “theCarbonFreeze.com” and started posting! It’s been a lot of fun uploading some of my old essays which had been mostly ignored on social media to a wider audience, and working on some new stuff in my spare time to stay sane in this soul-sucking work-a-day world. The site now has over 150 posts including this one, over a hundred likes and comments each as well as 50+ followers so hooray for all that. I’ve laid out my thoughts on political science, constitutional reform and campaign strategy, as well as childhood nostalgia and the foundations for a religion.
I gotta say though, I’m incredibly surprised that my most popular post in all this time has been my review of My Sister Leni, which a year later I maintain is an emotionally captivating and sincerely composed work of art by Gumball2. I was honored enough to receive a correspondence from them which to this day I consider one of my great accomplishments with regards to this site. (Although I sadly never got around to replying to before I lost their contact.) At the time of publishing my review of Leni, I still had yet to finish due to the work’s impressive length. I’ve since done so, but have nothing substantive to add to my initial reaction. (Though on a personal note, I greatly preferred the earlier chapters, particularly when Leni is a small child and when she interacts with Lincoln-as-a-baby.)
In the future I hope to continue with more speech/debate analyses and my own policy platform in the realm of Political Reactions. (Unfortunately, the Republican and 21st century nomination acceptance speech reactions I wrote in the past no longer hold up to my current standards. They’re gonna have to be rewritten and it could take awhile.) As far as Media Analyses, I would like to discuss Lolita, Belladonna of Sadness, Asuka Langley Soryu, Lost Media and Bojack Horseman among other entries. Finally, in the vein of Thoughts & Memories I’d like to discuss psychedelics.
Now, for the rest of this post, I’m going to celebrate the occasion by sharing 27 examples of my favorite works of art in 6 different mediums of creativity. Just, y’know, for fun. Keep in mind these are just my favorites, not the objectively best, most influential or anything silly like that. I just wanted to give some credit for the pieces of media which I’ve felt compelled to return to the most over the years, as well as that which has influenced me the most in life. Some of the entries in these lists I’ve already analyzed in detail on my blog, some I plan to dissect more closely in the future.
I hope you all stick around and enjoy what’s in store for 2020!
My Fave Films
This was the hardest to pin down by far. I just watch so many movies so when it comes to put an arbitrary end-point I just have trouble deciding, and then I’ll realize I forgot something which deserves a spot among the top. Again, keep in mind this is a subjective list meant to pay homage to the films which I personally derive the most meaning from, feel compelled to rewatch the most frequently or else which had the biggest impact on my appreciation for what the medium was capable of.
- Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
- The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola)
- The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner)
- Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean)
- Femina Ridens (Piero Schivazappa)
- It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra)
- Saturday Night Fever (John Badham)
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Sergio Leone)
- Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese)
- Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)
- Chinatown (Roman Polanski)
- A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick)
- The Return of the King (Peter Jackson)
- Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese)
- Alice in Wonderland (Collaborative, Disney ’51 version)
- Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet)
- American Graffiti (George Lucas)
- The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming)
- Casablanca (Michael Curtiz)
- 12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet)
- Belladonna of Sadness (Eiichi Yamamoto)
- The Terminator (James Cameron)
- Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis)
- Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming)
- West Side Story (David Wise)
- Pinocchio (Collaborative, Disney ’40 version)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (Gore Verbinski)
My Fave Albums
I gave an honorary #1 slot to SMiLE both because it’s had the biggest impact on my life by far of any entry from any of these lists and the many fanmixes it’s inspired get more airplay than anything else in my collection. But it’s incomplete and the officially released versions are, in my personal opinion, unworthy to be on this list in their current state. So, elsewhere on the blog you may see me refer to the United States of America as my favorite album because of this–it’s the best completed LP I’ve ever heard.
I tried to keep this to standalone albums, so no soundtracks were allowed (otherwise Vertigo, Femina Ridens and Chrono Trigger would take up slots, which felt unfair since I’m giving them love on other lists.) I mostly kept Greatest Hits packages off but I made the exception for two entries which had such a big influence on me growing up that I had to make an exception.
- SMiLE (The Beach Boys)
- The United States of America (The United States of America)
- Forever Changes (Love)
- We’re Only In It For the Money (The Mothers of Invention)
- Pet Sounds (The Beach Boys)
- Dots and Loops (Stereolab)
- In the Court of the Crimson King (Crimson King)
- Axis: Bold as Love (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
- Rubber Soul (The Beatles)
- Just a Poke (Sweet Smoke)
- The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (Pink Floyd)
- Revolver (The Beatles)
- The Doors (The Doors)
- Genesis (Wendy and Bonnie)
- The Singles 1969-1973 (The Carpenters)
- The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd)
- Freak Out! (The Mothers of Invention)
- Cottonwoodhill (Brainticket)
- Plantasia (Mort Garson)
- Abbey Road (The Beatles)
- Greatest Hits (The Association)
- Love You (The Beach Boys)
- Surrealistic Pillow (Jefferson Airplane)
- Procol Harum (Procol Harum)
- Cheap Thrills (Big Brother and the Holding Company)
- Synkronized (Jamiroquai)
- Whipped Cream and Other Delights (Herb Alpert & the Tiajuana Brass)
My Fave Shows
I love a good gritty TV drama, but I also have a great soft spot for a lot of the shows I grew up with, and sometimes make a point to rewatch them even now. Hopefully that explains the weird mishmash that is this list. I still have so many highly recommended shows to binge like Chernobyl or The Wire but there are only so many hours in the day. After so many of my previously favorite programs ruined their legacy in one way or the other, (House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones) this list ended up being more populated by old gems than new classics.
In the 90s, Nickelodeon used to give a good sampling of classic sitcoms as well, so I often watched a few growing up. Some of them never really “took” with me (All in the Family, The Jeffersons) some, I don’t think have aged well (Diff’rent Strokes, Laverne and Shirley) but a few absolutely hold up today. I don’t think anyone would argue that I Love Lucy and Dick Van Dyke are still hilarious, but where I might get some disagreement from readers is in my soft spot for Three’s Company. All I can say is I loved those characters and their dynamic. The cute roommates reeled me in, the sexual innuendos (still eyebrow-raising today in a few cases) kept me hooked. I have fond memories staying up late and watching it when I was young.
I usually hate reality TV but I make the exception for Face-Off since it’s about the art of makeup as opposed to forced drama between the contestants. On a similar note, Jeopardy is the only game show that isn’t too loud or dumbed down for me to get into.
- Bojack Horseman
- Mr. Robot
- Breaking Bad
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
- Mad Men
- Community (Just the first 3 seasons)
- Rugrats (Just the first 65 episodes though)
- The Sopranos
- King of the Hill
- Rocko’s Modern Life
- Avatar the Last Airbender
- Batman the Animated Series
- Gravity Falls
- Ed, Edd n Eddy
- The Powerpuff Girls
- Kenan and Kel
- I Love Lucy
- The Dick Van Dyke Show
- Three’s Company
My Fave Books
I usually read more non-fiction than fiction, so this list includes a ton of biographies and historical books. I’ve read enough 60s musicians’ biographies as well as Ancient Rome (& Carthage) books to take up half of this list but I decided to preserve a balance between the real and the imaginative. I included Room Full of Mirrors ahead of some other musician’s biographies because this is the book which empowered me to come forward about my own sexual assault. I read that Jimi Hendrix himself had been a victim of a similar incident and that made me realize “if even someone as cool as Hendrix could be victimized like that, I have nothing to be ashamed about.”
My number one favorite book has remained the same for over ten years, much longer than my number one pick for any of these other lists. The Great Gatsby has the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read, and the only other novel which comes close for me is Lolita. But it’s also just a really sad story about a man who became so obsessed with an idea that it consumed him, and as someone who’s struggled with limerence a lot in my younger and more vulnerable years, that really rang true with me then and now.
Holes deserves a special place on the list for being the first novel I ever really fell in love with. I remember my mom got it for me and at first I was hesitant to read it for whatever dumb reason. Then I got in trouble and sent to my room one day, and faced with nothing else to do…I just started reading and never put it down again.
A Separate Peace always reminds me of my childhood best friend. I had to read that book for summer reading at school. I remember I took it to the beach on our family vacation and the whole time I was just amazed at Phineas’ perfect resemblance to my old friend, Mars. I’ve never had another fictional character just seem to be tapping into my head like that before or since.
- The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
- Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov)
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Hunter S Thompson)
- 1984 (George Orwell)
- Terry: My Daughter’s Life and Death Struggle with Alcoholism (George McGovern)
- Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (Hunter S Thompson)
- How Rome Fell (Adrian Goldsworthy)
- To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
- Catch a Wave: Rise Fall & Redemption of Brian Wilson (Peter Ames Carlin)
- A Very Irregular Head (Rob Chapman)
- Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix (Charles R Cross)
- Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire (JK Rowling)
- The Godfather (Mario Puzo)
- Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Passion of Belief (Lawrence Wright)
- I, Claudius (Robert Graves)
- The 18 Day Running Mate (Joshua Glasser)
- Watership Down (Richard Adams)
- Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe)
- The Diana Chronicles (Tina Brown)
- Meditations (Marcus Aurelius)
- The Doors of Perception (Aldous Huxley)
- Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton)
- Holes (Louis Sachar)
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll)
- A Separate Peace (John Knowles)
- The Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger)
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Truman Capote)
My Fave Characters
These are the characters whose personalities, arcs, lessons or some combination of the three really hit home with me. Most of which I can relate to their struggles very personally, some are role models I aspire towards, and still others I just get a kick out of watching them do their thing. Some of these characters’ journeys are so perfectly constructed that to add any more would be diminishment, while others I could see myself seeking out some fanfiction to read more.
There are 4 entries which I think are most likely to elicit criticism regarding my grading criteria. I imagine people are wondering why the hell Clarissa Darling and Eliza Doolittle are so high up as well as why Humbert and Leni are included at all. Then there’s probably at least one person who feels the need to point out that T.E. Lawrence was a real person, and I understand that, but I’m judging based on the fictionalized portrayal in the movie not the historical person.
Clarissa is just an amazingly constructed character who embodies “cool” in the best way; she’s just herself, she’s unique and owns it, she never puts people down or tries to justify herself. That’s why she’s my #1 pick: as corny as it sounds she was my role model growing up but I don’t think I fully appreciated how thoughtful her characterization was until I rediscovered the show in my adult years. It was only then that I understood every facet of her design was meant to encourage individuality in children without feeling forced or moralistic about it. Clarissa was our lovable oddball leading by example.
Eliza Dootlittle is placed so high because she’s a feminist icon in the best sense of the word, before “feminist” meant “recast a male role with women” or “make the girl overpower everyone and have no flaws so men will know she’s badass!” I was enthralled by Eliza’s struggle with Professor Higgins, how he both empowers her (by opening doors because of her newfound diction) while also dehumanizing her in the process. It was a big inspiration to me in creating my first Dungeons and Dragons character. (She was a warlock named Desdemona, taken into a cult against her will and subsequently loathes her God yet needs to worship him to have power and survive in the cruel world around her.)
Leni Loud is at first glance a bit of a lightweight character in comparison to some of the others I have listed. But I really like her personality in the show, she makes me feel happy watching her antics on TV. Out of everyone on this list, she’s the person I’d most like to have around in my day to day life. I don’t promote ignorance but I also think if everyone were as sweet as Leni the world would be a far better place. Somehow she just struck a chord so much that I was inspired to read fanfiction for the first time, and I’m glad I did because it made the character a 3-Dimensional, flawed but fantastic person in my eyes.
Humbert is a despicable pedophile but that’s kind of why I like him. Hear me out: he’s a believable look into the mind of what makes a person like that become what they are. I also find it a lot of fun to dig into his psyche and determine how he really feels about some of his actions, or what really transpired in some cases, because he’s one of the best unreliable narrators ever in fiction. I certainly wouldn’t want to hang out with someone like Humbert but I’m fascinated to read about a person like him and that’s the difference.
Finally, there are a few notable omissions from this list. The most glaring example is Han Solo. His redemption arc is the most tragic I’ve ever seen: trying to keep the woman he loves safe against all odds only to tragically fail as a result of his own shady past connections. I would have loved to include him in the top 10 somewhere if it meant just his arc from Star Wars through Empire Strikes Back. Unfortunately his neutered character assassination in every subsequent installment kind of killed that for me. I don’t think it’s fair to put someone on the list if you have to pretend half of their appearances never happened. I left Lisa Simpson off for similar reasons. There were a few Game of Thrones characters I could’ve included had this list been compiled a year ago but…y’know…it all got stupid in the last few seasons and everyone’s arc was ruined.
- Clarissa Darling (Clarissa Explains It All)
- Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby)
- T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)
- Walter White (Breaking Bad)
- Eliza Doolittle (My Fair Lady)
- Asuka Langley Soryu (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
- Harold Hill (The Music Man)
- Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)
- Samwise Gamgee (The Lord of the Rings)
- Willy Wonka (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory)
- George Bailey (It’s a Wonderful Life)
- Lapis Lazuli (Steven Universe)
- Magus (Chrono Trigger)
- Charles Foster Kane (Citizen Kane)
- Cody Jarrett (White Heat)
- Humbert Humbert (Lolita)
- Sarah Conner (The Terminator 1 & 2)
- Prince Zuko (Avatar the Last Airbender)
- Tuco (The Good, the Bad & the Ugly)
- George Costanza (Seinfeld)
- Sally Draper (Mad Men)
- Sarah Lynn (Bojack Horseman)
- Scarlet O’Hara (Gone with the Wind)
- Blue (Pokemon Adventures)
- Lauren Zelmer (Just for Kicks)
- Edith Keeler (Star Trek)
- Leni Loud (My Sister Leni & The Loud House)
My Favorite Games
So, this is the section that’s going to reflect the worst on me and, if any hardcore gamers read this, probably prompt a lot of head scratching and shock. But I’m not really a gamer and if I haven’t played something I can’t include it. I’m aware I’m leaving off classics like Grand Theft Auto or Half-Life, Sonic and Doom. But I was a Nintendo kid growing up and all I had were Super Nintendo, PC and the Gamecube. I eventually got an XBox 360 but barely had time to enjoy it. (And even then, I only had so many games for each system–I had never even heard of Earthbound until I was a teenager and SNES games were hard to track down.) I’d occasionally experience some Playstation or Xbox games at a friends’ or cousins’ house but that was it. So, obviously I don’t think Donkey Kong 64 or Mario Tennis are necessarily the greatest games ever, but they’re what I have fond memories of playing with my cousins every family get-together. I have some emulators now, maybe as I find time to expand my horizons some more interesting entries can climb their way up this list.
I have a deep respect for the medium of videogames and what they can accomplish by immersing the participant firmly into the experience as well as offering an interactive form of storytelling. I just wish I had the time, or the budget, to experience it more often. Unfortunately, most games aren’t like watching a movie where you just stream it online for two hours and can cross it off a list. Games can require dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars in consoles/controllers/gaming PCs/memory to be able to enjoy. And for me, I just don’t have room for that kind of commitment right now.
I lumped both Donkey Kong Country and Smash Bros games together because the gameplay is basically the same.
- Chrono Trigger
- Metroid Prime
- TMNT 4: Turtles in Time
- Super Metroid
- Super Smash Bros (& Melee)
- Donkey Kong Country 1 & 2
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
- Pikmin 2
- Super Mario All-Stars
- Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
- Super Mario World
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
- Halo 3
- Another Metroid 2 Remake
- Super Mario RPG: The Legend of the Seven Stars
- Castlevania Chronicles
- Mario Kart 64
- Pokemon Yellow
- The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker
- Mario Tennis
- Donkey Kong 64
- Soul Calibur II
- Animal Crossing
- Time Splitters 2
- Worms 2
- Simcity 3000
I is cool that the anniversary of your blog and the anniversary of our firs meeting are almost the same day. Since that day You have become very important to me. I want to learn everything I can about you. And a post like this helps me do that. I knew a lot of this about you already. But this is a good reminder of all the wonderful things that are Cassandra, Thankyou for a wonderful year! Oh and thanks for sharing my painting of you and Harvey. I’m glad I could paint it for you and very proud that you have it hanging in you room. Still don think my art work has ever been able to capture your great beauty.
Hearty congrats, C, on your first year at the Carbon Freeze. May it be the first of many! 🙂