36-40, 2016

   I was about to type, "round two! fight!" but we are so far beyond round two at this point. If you've been following along with this journey for awhile there may be a movie here which you will look at and say, "how many times are you going to watch that?" The answer is: so many times.

   Time to GUESS.


an incomplete list

   Events I have been remembering over the past few days:

   A man in my life told me that body hair on women was gross and ugly, and immediately the memory of tip-toeing quickly across the bathroom floor with blood steadily flowing from the backs of my ankles popped into my head. Those were my worst shaving related injuries, but there was also the time I cut the back of my knee, or the time I cut an inch long gash on the front of my shin, or the innumerable times I nicked my knees, or the time, or the time, or the time.

   I was on the train going home from work and a drunk man leaned over me, asking what my name was, where I was coming from, where I was going, if he could come home with me. I was deeply and earnestly thankful for my bike acting as a physical barrier between me and him. At one point he walked away from me and I made the mistake of relaxing before he turned around and leaned in close to my face. I wanted to escape, but what would I do at a train station far from my house in the middle of the night? There were at least three other men in my line of sight on the train car, and they did nothing.

   At my job at a theatre I was leered at and propositioned by a drunk man, who leaned over the counter and stared at my chest. He was already inebriated, but I served him so that he would leave. He was in a group of men, one of whom apologized and tipped me as they left. I wondered why he didn't say anything while it was happening, and why he thought his twenty dollars would make up for his silence.

   Again at the theatre I was yelled at by a man who told me I was a waste of space. I was shaking and shaking as I called my supervisor on the radio. The group of patrons around me stood by quietly. One woman told me I handled the situation well after the man left.

   Walking down a street downtown at night with a friend, we both stiffened when a group of men approached us. The men didn't move to one side of the sidewalk as we passed, but rather made it so we walked between them. They made comments as we walked by.

   A male friend said that cat-calling was fine because it's just men paying compliments, and I recalled the times I have been yelled at out of cars while walking, while biking, while driving, and how it made me fear for my safety, and made me feel exposed.

   Several times, despite my "train gear" of headphones, sunglasses, a book, and a scowl, men have approached me, taking up my time and space and energy. They sit too close or interrupt my reading and I think of the time a stranger at a train station asked my younger sister for her phone number by shoving his phone in her face.

   As I compiled this list all I could think of was the stories and experiences of the women in my life, and what their stories involve (violence, weapons, violation, injury, fear, coercion, trauma) and how mild my own experience has been in comparison.



   I don't really know what to say today. I'm not American. I'm white, straight, Christian, and able-bodied. I have access to higher education and medical care. I am okay financially. I have a lot of privilege. While I have so much sorrow over the results of yesterday's election, I don't think I can begin to understand the implications for people in already marginalized communities in the States.

   I saw this tweet this morning

and it encouraged me to get up and look for what I can do to be a helper. How can I use my position and privilege to help others? So I've been making a list for myself, and I thought I would share it. 

   I can educate myself. I can read, listen to, and watch people who experience the kinds of oppression that I do not. This can mean reading books that have been written by someone with a very different background from me (Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea, The Rabbits by Shaun Tan) or books that are explicitly written to educate and expose (Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit). I can seek out podcasts and TEDtalks by and featuring people who I can learn from (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's talk about feminism). 

   As a Canadian, I can educate myself (and encourage others to do the same) about the racism and sexism built into my society. I can learn about residential schools. I can learn about immigration policies. I can also learn about the diverse communities around me, and I can do it respectfully. I can learn about other cultures and I can learn what words/actions cause harm to people with less privilege than me, and then I can eliminate those words and actions from my life. 

   I can use my whiteness as a shield between others and harm. 

click to enlarge

   I can support the work of marginalized people and choose not to support the work of people who actively harm others. I can buy music, watch movies, read books, and generally support art made by/centrally featuring people of colour/women/people with disabilities/other marginalized people. I can avoid things like movies that unapologetically cast token "Others" in a cast full of white men. I can also avoid movies/music/etc made by/centrally featuring people who have used their position and power to cover up or enable things like domestic abuse. 

   I can be willing to enter uncomfortable situations with my friends to challenge word choices, action choices, ignorance, etc. I can humbly accept and repent when I am challenged in this way. 

   When I buy luxuries like chocolate and coffee I can use my money to buy fair trade goods. 

   When I speak to my nieces (and other children in my life) I can emphasize their hard work, their kindness, their intellectual life, the ways they are learning and growing, their bravery. I can speak kindly about others in front of them. I can speak kindly about my body in front of them. I can, in some small way, encourage them to see their futures as full of possibility and promise. 

   And lastly. To my sisters and brothers in Christ (and to myself): the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Our job is to work justice for the oppressed. We have been shown what is good and what the Lord requires of us, which is to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly.  We have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and a sound mind. We are to follow and imitate Christ, who treated people with love and respect when they were marginalized (racial minorities, the poor, the chronically ill, people with disabilities, sex workers, women, the list goes on), and challenged and rebuked those who had molded religion into something that benefited them and held others down (the Pharisees as a brood of vipers). We are also charged to test everything and hold on to the good. 

   Are you loving your neighbour? How? Are you working justice? How? Are you doing justly, loving mercy, walking humbly? Are you turning away from a spirit of fear? Are you reaching out with love to the marginalized? Are you repenting the times that you have hidden behind Christianity or turned a blind eye to how you or your religious leaders have used the Gospel for your/their own gain? Are you testing what you hear coming from Christians in positions of authority and power? 

   I love you all. Let's be helpers. 


reading in August-October

   I should start splitting my reading recaps into quarters. It's happening naturally anyways.

   OKAY SO, my reading-for-fun has taken a backseat to my reading-and-writing-for-school, and so I thought that I would be barely reading at all AND YET I remembered that audiobooks exist and I have a bus ride to and from school every day and even with listening to podcasts and music I still have time to enjoy a good audiobook, praise the Lord. I'm still not going to make it to 52 books this year, but I have come to terms with my destiny.

   The books:

  • Petty Theft / Pascal Girard - a short-ish comic book about a comic artist living in Montreal who sees a woman stealing books from a bookstore. I read it in an afternoon at the library, and I feel a bit conflicted about it. It was good and enjoyable but also he kinda stalks her? 
  • Girls of Riyadh / Rajaa Alsanea - this book was described on the Get Booked podcast as Gossip Girl but in the Middle East and it was VERY GOOD. I am so glad there are places like Book Riot that make recommending diverse reading a priority, otherwise I never would have found this. Highly recommend. 
  • If You Feel Too Much / Jamie Tworkowski - a collection of Tworkowski's earlier writing, put into a book from various blog posts etc. Tworkowski founded To Write Love on Her Arms and he really cares about people. 
  • The Peach Keeper / Sarah Addison Allen - spooky happenings and interpersonal relationships in a small town in the southern States. Good, but not great. The further I get from having read it the more I say "meh" 
  • Witch Child / Celia Rees - MORE WITCHES? Why not?!!?!?
  • Why Not Me? / Mindy Kaling - this book starts out with Kaling spilling celebrity beauty secrets and I was like "HEYO" and was on board for the rest of the book. It's very good! 
  • Seraphina / Rachel Hartman - dragons and humans and half-dragon-half-humans, oh my! I think everyone I know who has read this has enjoyed it and I am no exception. 
  • Stiletto / Daniel O'Malley - I waited so long for this book and you know what? It was Worth The Wait and I loved it. I want to go back and read The Rook again. I want Daniel O'Malley to immediately write and publish another entry in this series. I want him to update his website because he hasn't since 2015?!?! Please, give me more of The Chequy Files, I beg of you. And is The Rook ever actually going to me made into a TV show? 

   That's a lot of books! I'm pleased with the number even if it is spread over three months. If you've never read The Rook you need to do that asap, please, it's for your own good. 

   I shall end this blog post with a recommendation for a computer game. I was at a library conference last week where we were talking about literacy and reading and story and how these things are changing and evolving, and a panelist mentioned the game A Dark Room. It's a text-based quest game, which come with some moral ambiguity and a mystery to figure out. I've played through the app version, and it was amazing. I'm currently partway through the online version, and it is also amazing. If you're looking for a game that is engaging and challenging in a variety of ways and also doesn't require a huge amount of active participation, A Dark Room is the game for you. The online version is free, the app is 99 cents. 


"Oh, I'll bring it. Don't worry."

THE MOVIES were as follows:
  • Bring It On (00)
  • Groundhog Day (93)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (15)
  • Matilda (97)
  • Star Trek: Beyond (16)
   I recently realized I had to fill a giant hole in my movie-watching life and finally watch Bring It On, and it Did Not Disappoint. It was fun! I was so glad about the cheque thing and how it wasn't the story of a white saviour. I also spent a great deal of the movie shouting things like, "they cannot actually allow 17 year olds to do this in real life". Like the car wash? Please tell me that is a movie-made myth. Also, Gabrielle Union was TWENTY-EIGHT when they made this movie.

   I watched Groundhog Day ALSO for the first time, and here are some thoughts I had, in no particular order:
  • There is no explanation of why the day starts repeating, and no actual explanation for why it stops:
    • Arguably, it stops because Rita agrees to stay at the hotel without Phil trying to ply her, but that's only circumstantial. 
  • Phil indulges his id (the car chase, eating whatever he wants, picking up women, dressing up as Bronco), his ego (learning French, piano, etc), and his super ego (a wide selction of good deeds), all in turn;
  • He also goes through the evil-neutral-good/lawful-neutral-chaotic spectrum, sort of?;
  • This movie is MUCH DARKER than I thought it was;
  • Phil doesn't know when the day will stop repeating, or even if it will. Based on his experience, he has to conclude that it is going to repeat forever, meaning:
    • Phil has died and is in purgatory;
    • Only when he has learned to disregard the self and only act with the good of others in mind does he complete the 2nd of Feb; and,
    • And when he wakes up on the 3rd, he has worked his way through purgatory, and moved on.
  • Based on clues, we have to conclude that Phil has been repeating the 2nd for at least several years. When he goes to the movie, he says he's seen it 100 times, and I was going to count how many times Rita slaps him when I realized, "I can just google this," and discovered that people have calculated either 8ish or 34 years.
    • Based on his learning French (presumably, since he busted it out a few iterations into their date), piano, ice sculpting, and card throwing, I'm inclined to agree with 34 years. 10,000 hours to achieve mastery, you know? 

   If you thought I'd be tired of watching and re-watching Mad Max Fury Road yet, you thought WRONG. It's a cinematic triumph and I love it. 

   I had vague memories of both watching Matilda and not being allowed to watch Matilda, which I'm sure combined into baby-me watching it, getting scared, and then not being able to talk to my parents about it without blowing my cover (hi, mom). 

   DISTINCT LACK of needlessly naked ladies in Star Trek: Beyond, well done, JJ (and others). I found myself being jarred out of my suspension of disbelief by some VERY ridiculous physical feats, especially things like people sliding very fast down a long thing, landing squarely on their feet, and not immediately breaking every leg they had. It's like when people in movies use non-dynamic rope and don't get cut in half, or when there's some good ol' TV CPR. IT'S THE WORST. Other than that, this is a fun movie, Spock/Bones are great, the Sabotage scene was truly amazing, and there are ladies who exhibit agency and individuality. A good flick.  


The Witches / Stacy Schiff

   Every once in awhile things will suddenly start popping up everywhere, in a way that I associate with the word "synchronicity", although I think my terminology is faulty. This has happened with two things lately, the first is Dungeons & Dragons, which has been showing up ALL OVER THE PLACE. A small selection of instances: an acquaintance on the fbook who said he wanted to get into playing tabletop role-playing games, The Adventure Zone along with other podcasts, a set of knuckle tattoos in the shapes of various dice used in D&D posted by the artist who did my latest tattoo, and in Stranger Things. It seems like a lot of D&D!

is the universe telling me to play D&D?

   The other one has been more spread out, and the other one is witches. Suddenly, witches are showing up everywhere. On the exact day that I finished reading The Witches by Stacy Schiff, A Century of Murder - which is a documentary about witch hunts mostly in Scotland in the 1500's-ish - appeared on my "recommended for you" tab on Netflix. There was another book - Six Women of Salem - I was trying to put a hold on that led me to The Witches in the first place. Basically: what is with witches and D&D, and is it actual sorcery, someone let me know. And now that I've read this book about witches I've also realized that it's Fall, otherwise known as Spooky Reading Time.

   So: I started reading(listening to) The Witches because suddenly witches were everywhere and I've always wanted to know more about Salem anyways (I haven't read The Crucible because my deep dislike of Death of a Salesman has kept me away from it, please someone let me know if I need to read that play, or see it). The Witches is a very long book. Goodreads says it is 417 pages, and the audiobook version that I listened to was just over 18 hours. That's a lot of reading! There are a lot of Puritans to keep straight! Who on earth names their son "Increase" and/or "Cotton"?!

   First: two genuinely baffling things:

  • The last of the executed women weren't exonerated until The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand One; and,
  • A few years after 1692 people from the area were like "at least we didn't BURN anybody" AS IF BEING PRESSED TO DEATH IS BETTER THAN BURNING, and as if you didn't really do anything wrong by hanging innocent people because at least they didn't get burned.

   As a function of being very long, this is very thorough. Now that I've read it, I'm wondering why it isn't billed as a scholarly source instead of just a lil history book on witches. This thing Goes Into Detail; BUT it still somehow manages to be a bit scattered and confusing timeline-wise. This impression, however, could be largely due to my sometimes zoning out while listening.  Even so, I learned a great deal and knowledge that I already had was greatly fleshed out. I now know names like Sarah Good and Bridget Bishop and Rebecca Nurse, women whose primary crimes were things like being poor, being ornery, being old, or being loud. It was a horrifying time to be an even slightly unlikable woman in Salem and the surrounding areas. 

   Schiff also includes the stories of the "afflicted girls", and how their lives played out post-1692. Some of them were fine, and went on to get married and have babies and live out their lives, while others died early or remained in an afflicted state until they died. Before talking about where they ended up, Schiff talks about how the witch trials began in the first place. 

   While trying to answer the question of why the girls started to accuse people, Schiff spends a great deal of time dwelling on hysteria. As soon as the word "hysteria" popped up, I was off put and disappointed. Schiff used the term interchangeably with conversion disorder, and I wish she would have just used the more accurate and specific diagnosis to describe what she had arrived at as a possible cause of the beginning of the accusations. "Hysteria" has a fraught history, and isn't in use anymore as a diagnosis, so why pepper it throughout the theorizing on what caused the fits, hallucinations, and convulsions? There was so much talk of hysteria and nary a mention of ergot poisoning and it just left a bad taste in my mouth. 

   To sum up this somewhat disjointed review: very informational, kinda dry, too long, "hysteria" isn't a real disorder, and I was planning on reading Schiff's book about Cleopatra but now I don't know if I will. 



   The movies from the last post:

  • The Emperor's New Groove (00)
  • Galaxy Quest (99)
  • Love & Friendship (16)
  • The Secret Life of Pets (16)
  • True Lies (94)
   I don't think I need to tell you how good The Emperor's New Groove is. Pure gold. 

   Here is a video talking about how Galaxy Quest ought to be considered a comedy classic, and I am in agreement. What a gem of a film. I loled aplenty, as well as feeling genuine emotional attachment to the characters. 

   Love & Friendship easily earned a place in my top-five movies of the year, and I saw it twice in theaters. It is witty and hilarious. Kate Beckinsale plays a woman who is 40 times smarter than anyone else around her and absolutely runs circles around them. She essentially manipulates everyone into doing what she wants and it's amazing. And then! Other women in the movie learn to play the game and it is like this giant battle of wits with a polite veneer on it, it's so good. Here's the trailer. Highly recommended for anyone who likes jokes, banter, or good movies. Watched it twice in theatres. 

   I saw Zootopia earlier this year, and was so thoroughly impressed by it, and I think it may have heightened my expectations for The Secret Life of Pets. Pets was disappointing, racially problematic, and fairly boring. I thought it was going to be fun, and it wasn't. I thought that it would maybe have the same kind of thoughtful commentary that Zootopia did, and it didn't. It had one good joke near the end. Skip this one. 

   A few years back my brother and I spent a great deal of time watching Arnold movies, but somehow skipped watching True Lies. Imagine my glee when I was hanging with some pals and their cat, and we discovered that we were all in the mood for some Arnold time. True Lies  not only includes SEVERAL hilarious lines, it ALSO features and outdoor-to-indoor motorcycle chase when instead of being on a motorcycle, Arnold is RIDING A HORSE, and the horse TAKES THE ELEVATOR, and it is AMAZING.

   Movies! I love them. 


What I Read Since the Last Time I Posted About What I've Read Which Was When, June?

   I'm never going to stop using that gif. 

   Life has been full, but that hasn't stopped me from doing some reading, thank goodness. I've also finally joined the masses and started playing Pokemon Go, and oh boy, have I walked a great deal. If I hadn't found The Adventure Zone and started binge-listening I would have been listening to audiobooks while going for pokeymans and this reading list would be more impressive, but I did find The Adventure Zone and I can't stop won't stop and now I want to play D&D and it is very possible that I have reached Peak Nerd. 

   On to the reading list. 
  • The Woods, Vol. 1 : The Arrow / James Tynion IV (yes, that IS his real name); Michael Dialynas - I had almost forgotten that I read this, which is a real shame, since it was quite good. A school full o' teens and teachers gets transferred onto another planet. The planet is hostile! The school quickly devolves into some Orwellian situations! The art is very colourful! I'm gonna get the second volume of this from the library as soon as I finish this post!
  • Year of Yes / Shonda Rhimes - I listened to this, and Shonda Rhimes herself reads it, and I loved it. I finished it and was like "I need to say yes to more things". I have so much respect for Shonda Rhimes, and was truly inspired by this book. And when she's like "I'll say yes to scary things, but I'll do it on my own terms"? Uh, I concur. Please everyone read this book if you have not already. 
  • Something New / Lucy Knisley - this was charming and good! Luck Knisley talks about planning her wedding, and how crazy the wedding business is, and how she and her now-husband worked to subvert some things and embrace other things and make their wedding reflect their values. She also talks about things like where wedding traditions come from and guess what! A lot of them are pretty gross! This book is about wedding planning and meaning-making and fostering community and includes a recipe. Recommend. 
  • Maisie Dobbs / Jacqueline Winspear - This was a fun mystery which not only included unexpected twists and turns, but also had several female characters who displayed competence and individuality. I think I shall return to Maise Dobbs next time I require some mysterious reading. 
  • The Selection / Kiera Cass - this book is the first in a trilogy and oh boy can you ever tell. It was satisfactory and fulfilled my reading needs at the time; I don't see myself going back for part two in the near future, but I don't mean that as a disparagement. What a thoroughly lukewarm review. 
  • Wolf Winter / Cecilia Ekback - picture here the astonished emoji, the one with the partially-blue face, who is making a face like the one in that painting, which I think is called The Scream but don't feel like googling to make sure. That emoji is how I feel about this book, in the best possible way. I was describing it to a friend and called it a murder mystery/small town dark secrets/ghost story/survival story/historical fiction. It's also set far enough north that it is always dark in the winter and AGH JUST READ IT, OKAY? I am definitely going to read more of Cecilia Ekback's work. (I include here a content warning for sexual violence that is talked about but not described). 
  • The Illumination / Kevin Brockmeier - a pal told me about a book by ol' Kev that is sort of about purgatory, where dead people go and stay until no one alive remembers them and I was like "MUST READ", but it was unavailable at the library. Fortunately this book was and I read it and now his other books have been bumped up my TBR list. In this one pain becomes visible in the form of light, and then each chapter follows a different person as they navigate through the world where pain is now visible, and that sometimes changes and sometimes doesn't change things. There's a journal which serves as a unifying element, and I don't think I'm describing it well but it's an all-around A+ read. (Another content warning for self-harm). 
  • Room / Emma Donoghue - hey guess what! Everything you've heard about this book is true, it really is a beautiful gem! And the movie is an exemplary adaptation that does everything you'd want an adaptation to do. Lauren Wilford wrote a really good essay about the film which I can't find, but I am still linking to this article that she wrote about Noah (and Mad Max: Fury Road) which is excellent, please read it. And please read Room if you, like me, put it off for far too long. (Obviously: more content warnings. But this book protects you, because Ma protects Jack, and it's told from Jack's perspective. It's quite beautiful, really.)
  • Everland / Rebecca Hunt - I was given this book for Christmas and BOY HOWDY, was it ever a good gift. I love Antarctica. I don't see myself ever getting sick of learning/reading about it. This novel is set in Antarctica and is about two expeditions separated by a hundred years to the same place that go badly in eerily similar ways and I am So Here For That. Here are two stories about me reading this book: 1) I was at a music festival with a friend and we were taking a reading break in the shade. She was like "let's go" and I was like "hold on a sec, gonna finish this chapter" because I couldn't tear myself away from it because they were describing GLACIERS and I LOVE TO READ ABOUT ICE. 2) I read a heap of it on a plane on the way back to Canada from Colorado and lo and behold, I actually forgot it was summer because I was so immersed in the freezing cold land of the story. 
   Other things I have done lately include, but are not limited to: deciding that Colorado is pretty choice, moving to a new city, playing so much Pokemon Go, and incessantly referring to Pokemon as pokeymans. It's been a wild ride. 


"Freshly opened tennis balls"

   Some of these movies I watched quite awhile ago, like, March. March! And then school hit me in the face and then school was all I did for some time and now HERE WE ARE (still talking about school, for some reason).

   THE MOVIES from the last post ARE:

  • Flight of the Navigator (86)
  • Huntsman: Winter's War (16)
  • Mockingjay Part Two (15)
  • Somm: Into the Bottle (15)
  • Somm (12)
   I cannot give a high enough recommendation for finding a waffle place in your town or city that shows movies every Monday and then going to said waffle place to eat waffles and watch childhood favourites. And big news, I was somewhat concerned that seeing Flight of the Navigator as an adult would diminish it in my eyes/memories, but GUESS WHAT: it is fine. It is a fun movie. Fun fact: rewatching/changing/rebooting movies from your childhood will not, in fact, ruin your childhood. I know, it's a revelation. I too was surprised (I was not). 

   I have two problems with Huntsman: Winter's War and they are these: a) not enough Charlize Theron, and b) why call it Huntsman when CLEARLY the Huntsman himself is a secondary character? Riddle me that. Other than those complaints: this movie was everything I wanted it to be and more. Amazing costumes, ridiculous dialogue, many ladies, genuinely creepy bits, very fairy-tale-y fairy tale telling. A+. More Charlize Theron in everything. 

   My boyfriend and I watched Mockingjay Part Two in a couple of stages, one of which was while sitting on a couch in a hostel in the middle of Manitoba where we were the only guests after driving for ten hours to get there. Admittedly, I was in a bit of a daze. I was once again upset about how some things were dealt with, BUT, all in all: a satisfactory flick. The pacing was weird. 

   My parents took me for delicious curry dinner after I finished my school, and afterwards we bought some wine and watched two documentaries about wine back to back. Somm is about people getting ready to take the Master Sommelier (a word I can never pronounce properly) exam, which is an insane three-day exam that only takes place once a year and to which these peeps dedicate their LIVES. It is nuts. Somm: Into the Bottle is less about people and more about wine itself, and features people opening bottles of wine that are so old and rare, and then being absolutely giddy over them. It also talks about everything from fungus to WWII to earthquakes to family drama sparked by barrels. I live tweeted these, so if you follow me on the twitter you were absolutely inundated with wine tweets. I'm not sorry. I recommend watching wine documentaries while drinking wine, it's a recipe for enjoyment. 


It's Summer and I'm Barely Reading

   I still haven't finished a book since Yes Please, but I have a few on the go. I've been having some trouble paying attention to books this month, which I think is due to the amount of reading and writing I did with school, and the "now the pressure is off" feeling of being done. Hand in hand with my non-reading energy is a lack of writing energy AND SO, a list of the books I am reading:

  • Wish Her Safe At Home / Stephen Benatar - I may or may not finish this one. It is good, and the writing is good, and it is also highly uncomfortable (in the "this unreliable narrator does NOT realize what is actually going on" way). It is also due back at the library and I've reached my renewal limit, perhaps I will return it and come back to it at a later date. 
  • Year of Yes / Shonda Rhimes - I have like 40 minutes left in this audiobook, I will finish it very soon. Also: this book is as good as everyone says it is, which is to say: it's excellent. 
  • The Witches : Salem, 1962 / Stacy Schiff - this book is SO VERY LONG, but I am enjoying it. Learning heaps. 
  • Wolf Winter / Cecilia Ekback - tense! Spooky! Well-written! So good! QUITE happy with this pick, tbh.
  • A small selection of comics, including The Woods , Lumberjanes, and Y: The Last Man
   Since starting to write this post I've read the first volume of The Woods, and it was quite good. I immediately borrowed volume two (praise the Lord for my local library). 


Reading in May

me @ my exams/papers

   OKAY, wow, May was bonkers. I wrote a zillion words for school, and was subsequently unenthused about any other writing. I also read a zillion words for school, and as a result only read ONE BOOK in May, which is a REMARKABLY low book count. That one book was:

  • Yes Please / Amy Poehler - SO GLAD I finally read this, it was GREAT. I listened to it as an audiobook and I'm pretty sure that's the best way to read it. 

   BUT, do you know what else I did in May? I will tell you. 
  • Got a sweet rabbit tattoo
  • Wrote/read the aforementioned "zillion words"
  • EARNED A DEGREE, yes sir I did
   All in all, I am pleased with May. I mean, I managed to get a degree through distance education without dying, and I am pretty pleased with myself. And now June is bustin' out all over and I have so much time so spend doing fun-reading, and I am stoked


Reading in April (and March)

   I definitely forgot to do one of these at the beginning of April, so here we have BOTH April AND March's reading: 
  1. Y: the Last Man, vol. 5 / Brian K Vaughan - It's good enough for a reread but not so good as to be stunning. Some problematic stuff but as we know, all of your favourites are problematic. 
  2. Burn for Burn / Jenny Han, Siobhan Vivian - This is fine but not super memorable. I don't feel the need to finish the trilogy. 
  3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society / Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows - I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob. 
  4. Where'd You Go, Bernadette? / Maria Semple - A strong contender for top five books of the year. So good. If you're putting off reading it, please don't for your own good. 
  5. The Accident Season / Moira Fowley-Doyle - Bit weird. I wanted more of some things and less of other things. It was fine. The reader for the audiobook has an Irish accent, it's grand. 
  6.  Giant Days, issues 11-12 / John Allison, et al. - Continues to be excellent
  And that's it. Not much for two months but life has been full. May's reading is mostly things about the Canadian North, gender and consumerism, TV theory (fun!), and media relations (boring!). BUT I am currently partway through Wish Her Safe At Home and it's great and I have the first volume of Genius out from the library so all in all, my reading will be fine. I'll be done my degree at the end of May (LORD WILLING, AGH SO MUCH WORK TO DO) and in June I am going to read hella books. July I'm taking a trip to Denver and guess what, hella books then too. 

   Just realizing now that my non-fiction has been pretty sparse so far this year. I guess I should get into it. I've already given up on a book that I though was about the Black Death but was ACTUALLY about climate change in Medieval times, so I should probably replace that one with some more non-fiction. 


Where'd You Go, Bernadette? / Maria Semple

   You had me at "Antarctica". Five stars!

this picture is actually on Elephant Island, but I love it

   Okay, okay, a bit more of a post is called for I guess. This book is great! I don't know why I resisted reading it for so long when so many people with good taste said it was good! Will I learn a lesson from this? Probably not!

   The book is part epistolary, part told by Bernadette's daughter Bee, and the structure works beautifully. There are heaps of different voices, and pretty much everyone is an unreliable narrator, but not in the way where you close the book and say "damn you, Agatha Christie." There were a couple moments that hit me "right in the feels" as the tumblr youths say, except mine were....Antarctica feels.

Boromir here represents my feelings about Antarctica.

    BASIC PLOT: Bernadette and her husband and daughter live in Seattle and Bernadette has mental health issues. Then she disappears, and Bee is trying to figure out where she went. I could say more about it but really, this book was the exact book I needed to read when I read it and it's difficult to articulate the whys and wherefores of that, you know? Where'd You Go, Bernadette was the ideal book for me at this moment in my life, for reasons.

   Anyways, it's a lovely book and I highly recommend it. I suppose I also recommend listening to people when they say "this is such a good book" a million times. Alternately, I can recommend that if you want to get me to read a book just mention offhand that Antarctica is involved and I'll be like "omgosh, wut. TBR."


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society / Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

   I listened to this book over the course of three-ish days, and my fitbit tells me that one of those days I only slept 4 and a half hours, which is because I was hella engrossed in the story and stayed up Way Too Late. So maybe if you start reading this, start it at the beginning of your weekend so that if/when it sucks you in, you won't be shooting yourself in the foot quite so thoroughly as I did when I slept so little on a Tuesday night.

   So! We have Juliet who is an author and WWII has recently ended and she is doing a book tour. Things are going well for her! It's nice. She gets a letter from someone who lives on Guernsey, which is an island in the English channel that was occupied by the Nazis during WWII and was totally cut off from communication with the outside world, but now some books that Juliet used to own have made their way to the island and her name and address is in them and she is getting letters from peeps on the island about books. It's still nice! More things happen, largely nice, but I will admit that I had to pause the audiobook for a bit because I couldn't concentrate on it through my tears. My susceptibility to crying may or may not have been influenced by the lateness of the hour.

a good book AND a good cry

   For someone who has read as much as I have about World War Two, I was astonished that I knew NOTHING about Guernsey and its occupation. Nothing! How!? Apparently I have more reading to do.

   The book is written as a series of letters and telegrams and etc! I'm always game for a good epistolary novel. After I read this one I read Where'd You Go Bernadette and I am there for this structure/device, if you have a recommendation, sock it to me.

   p.s. highly recommend you google Guernsey because it is way more lovely-looking than I thought it would be.


"I've been taking lessons"

   It's been two weeks since I last posted? I've been doing a lot of learning about the geography of the Canadian North. It's very interesting! Anyways, the movies from the previous post ARE:
  • Brooklyn
  • Cat Ballou
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • People of a Feather
  • Zootopia
   Brooklyn is really lovely and really well done and I recommend you all go see it asap. I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob. Cat Ballou has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and I watch it probably every year and it is SO FUNNY and Nat King Cole sings the narration soooooo, also see this one asap. You know how in a series there is the one book where not much stuff actually happens but the book still has to be there? Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Also, in the movie when Snape reveals that he's the titular Half Blood Prince it feels like way more of an afterthought than it does in the book AM I RIGHT. People of a Feather is about eider ducks and dams and the Inuit of the Hudson Bay. A friend of mine told me they were screening it at a museum downtown and I was like "obvs we are going". Zootopia has it all: A+ animation, A+ story, A+ jokes, A+ commentary on race relations. I advise you to add it to your watch-asap list. 


16-20, 2016

   I haven't been reading much! I have been watching several movies! Can you guess them all?


Burn for Burn / Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

   Sometimes when you are tired of listening to a very long audiobook ostensibly about the Black Death but so far it's only been about the Medieval Warm Period (I get it, it's set up, history is normally my jam, omgosh so boring) you just need a short detour and so you look around for a not-too-long, not-set-in-1200s-Europe book and you see the cover for Burn for Burn and think "didn't someone say this was good?" And that's how I ended up reading it. And it was good!

   Lillia, Kat, and Mary are in highschool and they are Out For Revenge and their plans quickly escalate from mostly harmless to quite harmful. Things get out of hand! Their parents don't seem very involved in their lives! They don't consider the long-term consequences of their actions! They are teenagers. At one point one of them says she's going to miss their 2:00 am revenge planning meetings and I was like "gurl you are not getting enough sleep" but then one of the other characters said essentially the same thing SO, at least one of them is at least somewhat reasonable in this one area of her life but not many others, namely: drugging people.

   There are some moments where it seems mega obvious that this book had two authors. Like one of them had an idea and the other was like "sure" and then there's this dissonant thing and the reader is like "what? okay." But it's still good. The ending is pretty abrupt.

   This book was enjoyable, but I don't think I'll be continuing with the trilogy because a) I heard a spoiler and I don't so much care that a major plot point is spoiled so much that it is THE WORST PLOT POINT OF ALL TIME, and b) I got the second book out from the library and it is a brick. It's like 600 pages. I already read The Count of Monte Christo thanks that's enough revenge for me.


"Two men enter! One man leaves!"

   FOLKS, I sometimes forget how much I like movies and then I watch a bunch of good ones in a row and I'm like "movies are the best" and I am just constantly enamored with STORIES and how people TELL THEM and I've been learning a little bit about film theory and it is making me like movies EVEN MORE.

   ANYWAYS. Here are the movies from the previous screencap post:
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (85)
  • Matchstick Men (03)
  • Princess Bride (87)
  • Room (15)
  • Zoolander (01)
   If you're wondering how soon Max gets beyond the Thunderdome in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, it is pretty much right away. As in Road Warrior and Fury Road, Max isn't a character in these movies so much as a catalyst; things are already happening when he comes on the scene, and would have happened without him, he just sort of trips into playing a part. An accidental, reluctant savior, of sorts. George Miller assigns some messianic imagery to Max, either directly through paintings on walls or indirectly though the structure of the story - where Max arrives, helps a group through violent change, and then leaves the group to build their own lives in his absence and pass their story down. There are believers and doubters in the groups he encounters in the three subtitled movies, along with a Big Bad on the other side. Anyways. Beyond Thunderdome is good! Tina Turner is fabulous! This movie has the least sexual violence out of the series!

   You know how there are some phrases that are weirdly hard to say? Think "rural juror". "Long con" is one such phrase for me, which makes talking about Matchstick Men somewhat difficult. Don't worry though, it's still a good flick. When you watch it you can play a fun game where every time Frank comes onscreen in increasingly ridiculous garb you can say to your movie-watching companion (in my case, boyfriend) "wow, you should get a shirt/hat/outfit like that." It's hilarious, I promise. Also, the first movie I saw Sam Rockwell in was Moon and you NEED to watch Moon asap.

   Highly recommend going to see Princess Bride in a theater full of other people who love Princess Bride. Mega joyful.

   Room is amazing and I cried throughout the whole thing. I wish I had something more intelligent to say than "this movie is important and painful and beautiful, please go see it." Brie Larson won best actress and she deserved it. I haven't read the book yet, but when I got home from seeing the movie I put a hold on all three formats that my library has of it, and whichever one comes in first is going to be consumed.

   I've finally seen Zoolander and so many of the jokes from my youth suddenly make sense. Blue steel.


February's Reading

   I feel much better about February's reading, even though I didn't finish any more books than I did in January. But! I am mid-way through a handful of others, and feel more excited about reading in general. I'm counting February as a good reading month. Thank goodness for comics to put an end to reading-disinterest. 

   The books:
  • Treasure Island!!! / Sara Levine - I wrote a review of this book, it was an excellent read.
  • Rat Queens, vol. 2 / Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch - more shenanigans, more hijinks, more backstory, a little more of a jumble than volume 1.
  • Giant Days, vol. 1, issues 5-10 / John Allison, Lissa Treman/Max Sarin, et al. - are you reading John Allison yet? ARE YOU? He writes web comics, and Giant Days is the continuation of a story he started on his site. His writing is excellent and heartfelt and his comics are great, READ THEM. (He does the art for the web comics, someone else does the art for Giant Days)
  • Y: The Last Man, vol. 4 / Brian K. Vaughan - I didn't really like this volume the first time I read it and I didn't really like it upon reading it again. Onward and upward, I guess. 
    I'm not sure if you went and immediately started reading Bad Machinery and Mordawwa: Queen of Hell and Bobbins by John Allison but if you didn't you should read this thing he said about the next issue of Giant Days: "It’s not as out there as issue 11 was, but it does feature the constant threat of wolf attack, and the most gloves ever to appear on panel in a direct market comic book." Constant threat of wolf attack. ARE YOU CONVINCED YET? Just read his comics! You will be doing yourself a favour.

   Okay, there's a lot on his website to try to sort through right away, so HERE is a link to the beginning of one of the early Bad Machinery cases (please read it and grow to love Charlotte Grote as much as I do)(did I mention that Bad Machinery is about friendship and mystery-solving and sometimes aliens?). Maybe start there, or with one of the other cases, an archive of which you can find HERE, if that link decides to work properly.


11-15, 2016

So far this year has been movie-heavy, but I'm alright with it. Can you guess them all?!?!