The Initiates / Etienne Davodeau

   Everyone stop what you are doing and stop reading whatever comics you're reading and pick up The Initiates and be delighted. It's about comics and about wine and most importantly, about FRIENDSHIP. You heard it here first. Davodeau writes comics, his friend Richard Leroy makes wine, Davodeau asks Leroy if he wants to teach him about the world and process of wine-making, while being taught about the world and process of comics-writing. Cue a year of adventures at various comics conventions, vineyards, publishers, restaurants, and much much more.

   Let's talk about the art: it's lovely. It's perfect. PERFECT I SAY. Take a gander at this here spread:

so moody

   AM I RIGHT? I am constantly astounded by what people can do with black, white, and grey. It's like the art in The Walking Dead, no colour, which is exactly right for the story. I think colour would take away from the story here.

   Here is something I love to see/hear/read about: people who clearly love and are passionate doing what they do. It's a really beautiful thing. I remember seeing a video of David Bowie performing Rebel Rebel  and being blown away by how much he loved what he was doing in that moment. It's the same love and passion that I see in a lot of rock climbers. People who love what they are doing are the people I want to learn from and get to know, even if that just means getting to know thier work. Davodeau is passionate and knowledgeable about comics, Leroy is passionate and knowledgeable about wine, and it definitely comes through in the whole tome. Reading this book made me want to a) read a ton of comics, b) take a wine-tasting course, c) keep a sketchbook, and d) go to France. I put several comic books on hold as they were mentioned in the book, and there's even a bibliography of sorts at the end, listing the books that Davodeau assigned to Leroy for his comics-education.

   Here is something else I love: friendship. It's a strong theme here and I couldn't be happier. This book gets a resounding 10/10 from me. Seriously folks, it's spurring me to action and what more can you ask from a book? I want to gather all my pals with all their specialized knowledge and trade knowledge and experiences with them and teach and be taught and expand my horizons. It's making me think about what I have and what I know and how I can give those things to the people around me. Basically what I'm saying is READ THIS BOOK STAT.

   Here's the David Bowie video because I can't mention it and then not show it to you:

   P.S. for those with an aim to diversify their reading, this is a work in translation by a French author in a non-conventional format! Bam.


"And shepherds shall we be, for Thee, my Lord, for Thee"

   The movies from the previous post:
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (15)
  • Bookdock Saints (99)
  • North Avenue Irregulars (79)
  • Oceans 11 (01)
  • Valley Uprising (14) 
   Avengers: Age of Ultron suffers somewhat from the same malady that is coming to affect all of the Marvel movies, which is this: it is so busy setting up stories for the rest of the MU that it doesn't really bother telling it's own story. Apparently, and I could be wrong here because I haven't taken the time to do some back up research, it wasn't the movie that Joss Whedon wanted to make. However, it's pretty easy to see his stamp on it: a well-handled ensemble cast, the addition of more female characters (yes yes yes!), an oh-so-unexpected death (this isn't a spoiler. It's Joss Whedon we're talking about here), and so on. This movie is fun and enjoyable and could have been so much better and I hope Scarlet Witch figures heavily in all the remaining movies because she is awesome, and super super super powerful.

   So many people hate Boondock Saints but there is very little chance of me ever decrying it. It's a great flick and ain't nobody can convince me otherwise. I quote it all the time. I intend to never, ever see the second one though.

   I went to my pals house and after an extended walk with their dogs we decided it was movie and snack time, so I grabbed their cat and they grabbed North Avenue Irregulars and we hunkered down. It was one of their childhood favourites and I'd never seen it before, but that didn't keep it from being hilarious. I laughed a great deal. Undercover shenanigans!

   I hope you've seen Ocean's 11 because it's quite fun. Casino heists! There's not much else to say about it besides that Brad Pitt's character is constantly eating at that is hilarious to me.

   My brother and I watched Valley Uprising a few days after Dean Potter died in a base-jumping accident, and it was somewhat surreal to watch him talk about climbing in Yosemite in the last bit of this documentary. Valley Uprising is about the history and future of climbing in Yosemite National Park, of Dawn Wall fame. Royal Robbins! Alex Honnold! LYNN HILL! If you want to know more about climbing, watch this film. It's good. Here's the trailer:



How to Tell if You've Been Doing a Great Deal of Yoga

(We interrupt our regular programming to bring you this post, brought to you by a 30 day yoga challenge)

You start referring to your "side body", "back body", and "front body" without batting an eye.

You've thought, at least once a day, "man, I could really use a hip-opening practice later today." (Alternately, heart-opening) 

You are very connected to your breath. Mindful breathing FTW. 

You think you are starting to understand what it means to "breathe into your fingertips"

You tell your brother to move with his breath while climbing a hard route at the gym. 

You think/talk about breathing All The Time. 


You are sometimes accused of showing off when you stretch at the climbing gym. 

When your arms are shaking in low plank/torso is shaking in boat/legs are shaking in an extended balancing pose you say to yourself, "this is good. This is nice. I'm grateful to myself for taking the time for this practice." 

You truly are grateful to yourself for taking the time for your practice. 

You aren't sure how it's possible to be so sore and feel so limber at the same time. 

Your back-bends might be impressive but you need to create some space in your side body. 

You have, already a few days in, noticed an improvement in your climbing. Bonus! 

Unfortunately you've ALSO noticed that your posture is AWFUL. 

But you also are working on accepting where you are in your practice, which includes accepting your posture while committing to put effort into improving it. 

You roll your eyes at some of the over-the-top yoga-y affirmations, even though they are pretty nice to hear. 

You read pages and pages of Slightly Aggressive Affirmations to counteract the yoga-talk. You are hella affirmed. (You are glad that Alice tweeted about this SUPER AWESOME blog)

You don't bother rolling up your mat and putting it away because you're just going to use it tomorrow. 

Savasana is your best friend, your foam roller is your second best friend. 

You know that savasana is important and rushing through it isn't beneficial but oh man sometimes you want to even though it is, as aforementioned, your best friend, but your North American brain just doesn't LIKE lying on the floor and practicing stillness, until you are a couple minutes in and suddenly you realize that this really is a nice time so you take some deep, mindful breaths and do some praying because you ain't gonna watch your thoughts float around like little clouds, you have to draw the line somewhere

You expand your rib cage when you inhale, feeling the expansion in your back body, and it is awesome. 

You always bring it back to your breath, eventually. 


One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich / Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

what is this even a picture of

   Reading this book is like listening to a favorite song with high-quality headphones after only ever hearing it through a sub-par car stereo in a beater from the 90s. The song is already familiar, maybe even a bit tired, but the headphones reveal new things about it. Maybe I've read a zillion books about various work and concentration camps, but not any with this level of straightforward depth.

   Summarizing this book is very easy. Ivan Denisovish wakes up, eats, marches, builds a wall, eats, marches again, waits, gets frisked, stands in some lines, eats again, smokes, gets counted (a few times), and then goes to sleep. Together we agree, it was a great day. If I had bothered to keep track, which now I wish I had, I could tell you exactly how many grams of bread Ivan ate throughout the day, and when.

how many grams does that loaf weigh? Ivan would know

   Sometimes I forget what I ate for breakfast by the end of the day. For example, I know I ate 10% MF yoghurt with strawberries yesterday because it was especially delicious but what did I have the day before? I can never be sure. Not so Ivan Denisovich. How thick was his soup? How many grams of bread has he eaten? What kind of grain is this? Ivan knows, and Ivan can tell you. Ivan can tell you about tobacco, mittens, foot wraps, stoves, and cold, and Ivan can tell you in excellent detail. This book might make you feel cold, and while doing so will drop gems like "a man who is warm cannot understand a man who is freezing" which, let's be honest, is an amazing thing to say, especially in a book that is trying to make the reader understand, a little better, a freezing man's life.

Canadian winter garb.

   "Solzhenitsyn"? Omgosh my last name is boring. I started reading Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy right after finishing this book so maybe it's all related. Solzhenitsyn broke the Russian ice for me or something (causation? correlation? what?). I've tried to get through Crime and Punishment, but I think I was way too young to actually absorb and "get" it, and I gave up in desperation. BUT NOW: I know I can read and finish reading a book written by a Russian EVEN THOUGH One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovish is very, very short. I have confidence in sunshine, I have confidence in rain, I have confidence that one day I will finally finish reading both The Idiot and Crime & Punishment but not until after I've read Resurrection which, thank goodness, has three-page chapters that make me feel like I am accomplishing something. 


Reading in May

   JUNE IS BUSTING OUT ALL OVER, but what did I read in May? Behold:
  • The Sister's Brothers / Patrick deWitt: SO GOOD, READ IT NOW. 
  • Ms Marvel, v.1 : No Normal / G. Willow Wilson, Adrain Alphona: yes, yes, yes, yes to everything happening here. 
  • A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy / Sarah Lazarovich: this book is very short and quite insightful and includes delightful illustrations, I recommend it. 
  • Y: The Last Man, v. 1-2 / Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, Jose Marzan Jr: I was somewhat worried about reading this story again, but surprise: it's still good! I'm really quite pleased. I'm going to keep going through it. 
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich / Alexander Solzhenitsyn: I have a lot of thoughts about this book so I am going to review it eventually. 
  • Blindness / Jose Saramago: INTENSE. A bit complicated to talk about; there is a lot that happens in this book. Alley at What Red Read reviewed it, which convinced me to read it. I listened to it as an audiobook, which with the lack of quotation marks seems to have been a good choice. 
  • The Amber Spyglass / Philip Pullman: absolutely bonkers and not in a good way. Philip Pullman, what is your DEAL. 
  • The Year of Magical Thinking / Joan Didion: keepin' it sad. 
   Omgosh that's a lot of reading. Here's some other things I did in May: climbed a bunch of rocks but took no pictures of it. Outdoor climbing is becoming more and more feasible as the weather gets its act together, which means I am in the mountains more and more often. I also climbed some 5.10a routes at the gym and my arms and back are getting HUGE so all in all I love climbing and climbing is great. I was at Grassi Lakes climbing just the other day and everything was beautiful (here I advise a quick image search for Grassi Lakes, because they are quite lovely). 

   Remember in April's wrap-up when I said that the fires would start soon? I was right, unfortunately. There's a province-wide fire ban in Alberta at the moment, and there have been some smoky mornings in the past couple weeks. Grass fires, mostly, if my nose is right. 

   JUNE, what will you bring me? Obvi: heaps o' climbing. But also! Poker nights! BBQs! Reading! More school! Cold-brew coffee! Hopefully some camping! Right now I have seven books on my currently-reading shelf on Good Reads. Oops?