february books et. al

for the first time that i can remember, the lunar new year falls in february. i am more motivated than i ever have been-could it be the few extra weeks? perhaps. or maybe, because i actually met another vietnamese person who just accepted my status in the nation, i made canh chua and held space with friends and other rappers all day.

also, it’s the first year that i can remember that the all-star game is not on valentine’s day-what the hell-why the beaver damming of my longest and most reliable relationship?!

i also watched (most of) the grammys for the first time, maybe, ever. at the gladstone with drag queens, of course. all i have to say is that diana ross, tracee ellis ross, janelle monae, cardi b, her (and her baggy sheer jumpsuit), gaga and dolly are everything. there’s also the alicia keys showboating, but the medley was cute. she’s totally wearing makeup tho-we’re not still buying that she’s not, right? i wonder if it was a deliberate move to make it so female-centric, in the light of everything that has happened, or maybe it’s another way to “prove” that nobody “wants” to honour women in music. my favourite quote of the night was, “IS THIS A LOVE LETTER TO TEQUILA?!”

and speaking of love lessons, here are the biggest reminders that have emerged in this year of the pig: “it’s ok to let the people who want to hold you, hold you” and “no response is a response” (listen). (sigh). i’m going to work really hard to make this the year that that sticks.

i am still tantalized by makeup, so i have decided that i’m going to get the nyx advent calendar now that it is 50% off, and literally only open a door every time i do an open mic, in order to do my 40 stages by 40 challenge, and also am doing a daily 40 x 40 exercise challenge (squats, pushups, situps, jumping jacks) while i duolingo.

i am also moved to finally do the repairs and mending that i have been meaning to do to my clothes, and revamped my faux fur scarf into the fur donut of my dreams! i am also noticing the beauty of when a knit two purl two turns into something-i feel like i was looking for it to happen, and was looking too hard, until i actually saw it happen.

it’s interesting to hear them discussing the sad state of basketball nicknames being discussed on the hoop collective podcast, when it’s been at least two years since i first heard it brought up on open run (though i’m sure someone did it before).

another inspiring asian brunch and new friends! i love that my circle is becoming more refined and that people are responding well to the boundaries that are becoming increasingly easier to establish.

i’m great-full for sticker puzzles, friends who let me help, meals cooked by childrens, and delicious food. also, canada’s a drag is amazing-it’s the degrassi to drag race’s saved by the bell-it’s stories behind the magic, and it’s real. let’s do our part and our civic duty-stream that ish!

palentine’s day at tinuno-it was destined. also, i rolled up the rim AND won! well, for the second time, really. the first time, i left the cup at the location that i won it in, but this time, my brokeass is gonna keep it and redeem it. i found a bonus one unrolled on the streetcar on the way home from games night, and won another one!

daamn, just got a notification of this being my ten year anniversary with wordpress, and that makes sense-i had decided new year’s day 2009 to move here, and thus the blog was founded to re/distribute my reading materials on mtl public transit. well, i didn’t think i could keep a blog going, and it’s been ten years, so here’s to the relationships that i maintain without even trying. imagine when i do.

1)years of living dangerously-the complete series-created by joel bach & david gelber a library search for america ferrera led me here, thus further confirming how amazing she is. i have never heard of this series, even though it was produced by many heavy hitters and won an emmy. it’s kind of amazing how deep the belief that climate change in texas is “biblical”, and i’m having a flashback to the time that i really understood the impact of high school football, also in texas. but for every amazingly ridiculous american, i feel that there is an equal and opposite amazingly amazing american, and a christian environmentalist is the star of the first episode. plot twist to have don cheadle bring them together-aw shit! i also love the connection between america and beyond, if in the diplomatic way of saying-“we are deforesting for palm oil because it is in all of processed food” and not “reconsider your relationship with convenience foods, asshole”. i like it-way to not alienate the people that you need most to change their ways. i’m surprised to see arnold here, expressing his concern for environmental factors, when it was his “build the wall” idea that has inspired the current and only person who has ever held the job post of “leader of the free world” who is a blatant climate change denier.

it’s a pretty big win for the pastor to let his daughter address his congregation about climate change, and the christian responsibility.

chris christie‘s almost angry stance against climate change is an example of the populist politics that have overtaken the forefront of our current reality, but at least he didn’t toss paper towels at people from a pulpit. it’s interesting that this is where mark bittman chooses to comes in. and this brings up makes the next point of the documentary and the tension of the political debate-labour vs. environment is real, and makes it shows it truly as a class issue and is a present example of how the workers of the world have not united, they have lost hope and have hyperfocused-it’s truly a privilege to be or think complicated.

one of my core values has always been about the distribution of resources, and the will-full ignorance re: the investment into climate change denial-think about how much better we would all be if we used that money towards not continuing to fuck up our environment?

2) i can barely take care of myself-jen kirkman i first saw jen kirkman two jfl42s ago, when i was in attendance for the live recording of her podcast and her guesting on another podcast. i liked what she said about preserving her voice, having to get an emergency topshop jacket, and her extensive knowledge of russian robots due in part with her experience with them as an online jewelery retailer. i was surprised to see her books at the pape/danforth library, but now that i’ve read one, i’m not surprised at all. i obviously identify with being single and childless, and am inspired by her real-life realness, in her career and her lifestyle choices.

“A total stranger tried to small-talk me about abortion. I have never had an abortion. I never want to have an abortion. I also don’t want to have a baby. I fear how both procedures would impact my life and leave me full of regret.” (90)

“That’s what I love about my mom ever since she’s entered her seventies. She’s still lucid but has the honesty of someone who’s lost her mind.” (121)

3) my squirrel days-elie kemper (audiobook) where does kimmy end and ellie begin? it’s hard to say-and this is not a bad thing. this book feels like getting tea with someone, or a private show, in the way that many books written by actors/comedians do. i am impressed that she used to write for the onion, and love hearing of her journey through 30 rock. i am also loving the overthinking of putting david letterman‘s face on a piece of toast. she must be kidding about how she approached her role in bridesmaids, right? and, confirmed as she likened it to apocalypse now. also, now i see where the soulcycle story arc in kimmy came from. and, heart of hearts, i am sad (and kind of relieved) at the announcement that season 4 will be the last of kimmy schmidt. only two behind now!

4) i may be wrong but i doubt it-charles barkley i discovered more books written by basketball players while on library tour, and opted to put them on hold rather than check them out (my bags were always so heavy). i opted to keep them inactive, an amazing function of the website that allows you to keep your place in line but not have to read at an unsustainable pace, but once i read shirley wang‘s story about barkley and her dad, i knew i had to hear this man’s thoughts in his own words (over and above the espn story, which is so worth the listen and bawl if you have immigrant parents). mike wilbon hooks with the intro, and we are off to the races.

“And we bootlegged. We sold alcohol. That’s the way we made ends meet: selling alcohol.” (34)

this is the first moment that i realized that i was in for something different-and it’s also got me thinking about the history of women bootlegging-from this to the stories of nuns doing it, it’s kind of amazing, really.

“Getting to the top isn’t the end of the process, it’s the beginning. Make sure the elevator brings up somebody else.” (59)

“My first agent cheated me out of a lot of money. Luckily, Julius Erving and Moses Malone taught me so much about a lot of things, including money.” (74)

“The funny thing about this is that Michael is so damn cheap. Michael ain’t the most popular guy in Las Vegas. He’ll win $1 million in the casino and not tip the people.” (80) and then an awkward story of how MJ chastised him for giving a homeless person money because if he had enough breath to ask for change, he could get a job at mcdonald‘s…yikes.

“I guess if R. Kelly had become a priest he’d be fine because then he’d be protected from the laws that any other pedophile is subject to.” (85)

this was 2002 and i think that he’s trying to do the hotep thing of “why persecute the black man when all these white men have been doing this?” so i’d like to ask him now, 15 years later, if he thinks that the pied piper has been fairly persecuted for his continued crimes…

“Tiger wins, so they get an easy way out of dealing with some real ugly stuff, some of their own bigoted feelings they’ve been carrying around but don’t want to deal with.” (103)

again, this is 2002 so it’s before obama, and this situation with tiger is foreshadowing the same effect with the guilt of white people and how they can feel proud of themselves for “letting” others win.

“Me, Scottie, Michael and Magic played cards every night, all night. We’d start playing cards around eight o’clock, go until five in the morning, get three hours’ sleep and then go to practice. Every day. Every single day.” (189)

and, that’s a movie in itself. damn. to be a fly on the wall…also, an anecdote about them seeing a comic rip into magic for not having $2 for condoms to prevent his HIV and getting permission from him to laugh about that, in his presence.

“I believe in prayer and treating people the way you would want to be treated. But the idea that God might help me beat another team never crossed my mind.
How come it’s often the most religious people who seem to forget the verse in the Bible which says that only God can judge me?” (212)

and, thus he tells the story of how he refused to be part of kevin johnson‘s prayer when they were in the finals. who knew that i would pull so many quotes from this book? turns out, i actually agree with barkley on many, many fronts.

5) kiki-a film by sarah jordeno and twiggy pucci garcon “but more than anything, i love.” this is the first time i’ve heard the phrase “of trans experience” and i’m feeling it. i love all of the interviews with the supportive parents and families, it’s really heart-warming. i also appreciate the dancers talking about their own growth and freedom, through and around the balls. also-if this is not the quintessential example of making something (fashion, identity, art) out of meagre economic and socially accepted circumstances, i don’t know what is. this is the second documentary in a row that i have seen obama in now, and it’s striking how quickly he has become history-it feels like so long ago that the office of potus even meant anything, let alone be occupied by someone thought-full and intelligent, who cared about things like climate change and marriage equality. (le sigh).

6) gifted-dir.marc webb because this movie is about an established british mathematician who tries to exploit a young girl with a love of science set to kind of creepy music, i cannot help but think of dr. tiger mercer stealing miikshi‘s experiment, and obviously there are the familiar tear-jerking themes of abandonment and mothers and not doing the right thing by a child for me, but i’ve been thinking about what this is responding to in society-perhaps it’s what to do with children who are exceptional? or does it have more to do with kids who are not?

7) race-dir. stephen hopkins ok, i admit i’m here because fonny is fine. (and from toronto). oh shit, he’s 25? never mind. that is particularly interesting because he seems to only play people in the past. i’m racking my brain to remember his performance or character in home again, but i cannot. no matter. i once treated leni reifenstahl too leniently in my documentary film class, and in retrospect, i probably was choosing to see her more as a trailblazing woman in film, rather than the propagandist that she ultimately was. i’m glad for the knowledge of her and goebbels that i got from that class and it’s something to see them represented in film. what a travesty that jesse owens was never acknowledged by the us or the german government-let this be a lesson in giving people their flowers while they are living.

8) pimps, hos, playa hatas, and the rest of my hollywood friends-john leguizamo i have always loved this man-i even loved the pest. his first one-man show came out while i was in my last year in university (or second last year) and it changed everything. i never really saw house of buggin’, but i saw how it was the predecessor to both mad tv and in living color, and i never forgot that. most importantly, dood is still working and relevant and making his own way to tell his story, and after all his career ups and downs, this is the most inspirational thing.

“The crew snickered. Another example of how the crew don’t play. They don’t make enough to put up with spoiled people.” (125)

second-acting! i never thought of showing up to the theatre to mingle with the intermission folks, and then grabbing a program and take a seat for the second act. john learned this from his uncle, and then taught it to everyone who came to see his show.

“I love Spike Lee. Spike’s the kind of guy who says nice things about you behind your back.” (203)

9) dysfunctional friends-dir. corey grant what a premise. someone bringing together their “friends” and forcing them to be with each other for five days in order to get a piece of his fortune. i suppose we can all have fantasies. it was pretty well executed though, what with the ensemble cast that included a young michael jackson, a former girlfriend, one that starred in clueless and turned clueless, a veritable princess, and tatiana ali. bigups on the spoof booty video, and the prophetic rachel dolezal character of the white girl who attended an hcbu and only dates pro athletes.

10) bessie-dir. dee rees well damn, look at dee rees out here, telling queer stories, doing a period piece, casting queen latifah as a queer icon and omar and mike epps as her mens. and let’s not forget mo’nique as ma rainey. the costumes are to die for, and it was interesting that bessie was shown the most naked, not with any of her lovers, but alone in the mirror. i love that they kept the shot where the water hit the camera, but i suppose the emotion made it a keeper. the behind the scenes is precious-seeing queen la‘s 1996 audition for this and how perfect she was for it then, and the 22-year journey from then to now. just, wow. “the blues is not about people knowing you, it’s about you knowing people”

11) orange is the new black-season three i remember binge-watching the first two seasons at julz‘ house, and now, we’re back (and way behind). wow-the production value, and the wardrobe restrictions of outfitting a prison, but i’m loving how the womens’ styles have come through, in their underwears/paper suits/garbage bag dresses. i missed these fools and their acting. something always happens in the intro, where i think it’s different women, so if someone could verify this for me, that would be great. if not, i suppose i will keep watching it like an optical illusion every time. the book funeral!!!! THE ULTIMATE BOOK RETURN! ohemgee “a ‘made you a mixtape’ kind of love”!!!! i don’t know if i’m just noticing, but there seems to be an overt focus on books and quotes and literacy as a tool of empowerment, but i suppose that’s an opportunity to take this show as it goes on-and of course, i’m all the way here for it. “they multiply like grandmas” is a quote. and damn, “my system is making the ladies think there is a system” is a thing, as is further perpetuating the divide and conquer. also-mike birbiglia! and outwardly naming prison sweatshops! for victoria’s secret, er, whispers, no less! perhaps the possibility for activism is alive after all…i love that they’re at least hinting at the martha stewart reality as well. i wish that the “behind the scenes” of sophia didn’t reveal the plot twist on a disc that the episode aired on, but in some ways, at least now i know that it’s coming. damn, taryn manning-that’s a real actress-shit. and oooh piper is a snake! i’ve always known it! i’m glad they’re organizing against her! and go ‘head, alex. i wonder if real-life butchy alex is feeling any redemption in the fact that her character is starting to see past piper‘s garbage. FELONIOUS SPUNK! i just cannot. it’s really important to see how people get lost in the cracks, how drugs are prioritized over talk therapy, and how insecure men who feel small in their actual lives have over the inmates and their coworkers who are trying to do a good job. emancipation day at the lake tho?! i full out cried when soso and poussey were floating around holding hands like some damn otters.

12) homey don’t play that-david peisner there are a lot of revelations in this book and it is very well-written. i found it in the library collections because i was trying to watch seasons of in living color after three since i own up to then due to the great mentos scam of 2014. it’s no accident that i am reading about comedians and family ensemble shows, and carving out a niche because this is what is happening in my life right now. i’m getting tips, like “don’t saw yours and ours, say i and me-the more specific you are, the funnier you’re gonna be”. also, the more things change, the more they stay the same. i remember being in new york in 2015 talking with folks being sore at kanye west for “giving white people the permission to say ni$$a” and reading now that eddie murphy did this bit at the tonight show. (for the record, as great as these two men have been, neither of them gets to give anyone permission to say that word, let alone the folks who invented the word in the first place, but i digress. also, hearing chris rock say that he learned the most about standup from damon wayans, and then shawn and marlon saying that they learned the most from rock is really beauty-full (and kind of tragic because of the snail’s pace that we have progressed at). also, the freshness with which key and peele were able to revive the same issues/skit of trained theatre actors competing for roles as thugs makes reading about hollywood shuffle so much more impact-full. keenan wanted adam sandler as his white guy. i will be thinking about this one for awhile. also, keenan prioritized being funny over being important, and this is an interesting hill to die on, especially later on, when the show crumbled without him at the helm. also-paul mooney as homey, not his creator. i had no idea that the fly girls as their own franchise was a thing, or that they lost their chance at a record deal by talking smack about paula abdul in the washroom while she overheard (and it probably did not help when they did the “promise of a thin me” skit). i know ali wentworth from in living color, not mad tv. daaaamn. also, kelly coffield and steve park got married! aiya! keenan’s influence on network television on 309 also got me messed up, as well as his influence on fox as fox being the literal embodiment of “when he gets on, he’ll leave you for a white girl”.

“Keenan wanted to invert this relationship. He saw the writing staff as being there primarily to service the cast, not the other way around. His show would be built around its cast. Which is to say, it would be built around his family, starting with Damon.” (110-111)

“As one story goes, at one point the NAACP tried to pressure Keenan by asking how many black writers and producers he’d hired. He challenged them to send over a list of all the black writers and producers they knew. They didn’t have any such list and that was the end of that.” (135)

“Perhaps the most far-reaching effect of ILC’s Super Bowl half-time show was on the Super Bowl halftime itself. Never again would the NFL hire an Elvis impersonator, figure skaters, or the members of Up with People. The following year, they hired Michael Jackson, then the biggest entertainer on the planet.” (252)

and yea, that shit happened. wow. context means so much more, in context.

13) step-dir.amanda lipitz i love documentaries. i believe (in) documentaries. perhaps this is why i wanted to give leni reifenstahl the benefit of the doubt. and why i’ve always found more pleasure/escape in real life stories, rather than sci-fi or fantasy, and i’ve never read mysteries because i see them integrated into real life. but i know that there is always a bend when it comes to the form-it’s not neutral, like scientific studies, everyone’s trying to “prove” something, for some reason. i am impressed by how many hair/makeup looks that blessin goes through, and i feel that there are reasons that so many blanks are left un-filled. i looked her up, and she got through her first year in her program, and it’s quite amazing that 100% of those students got into universities, absolutely amazing. kudos to these young women, i’m surprised i didn’t hear about them in the read’s black excellence.

14) are you here-dir. matthew weiner “friendship is so much more rare-because there’s nothing in it for anyone.” “you don’t know me, and you don’t owe me.” this is another side of maryland, fictional as it is. this is america (shoutout to childish gambino for winning that grammy) and it’s quite something to see fake white people not knowing how to navigate getting all of the free money (and land) and real black people not having a clue what to do because they have no money or food. but they all made it in the end, and that’s the american dream, right?

15) orange is the new black-season four “why does she get a garden tour like a shiba inu?!” “i’ve had a beard since i was ten years old-two-the one on my face and the one i took to junior prom. yea, i like men-i will never find you adorable.” so, more inmates and spanish “gangs”, both nuanced (puerto ricans vs. dominicans) and blatant-the white woman using her white privilege is still running things, taking the crown from red. i guess piper is walter whiting her way through the prison, and it just reminds me that i hate them both, even though i’m supposed to, i don’t feel like it’s a testament to their great acting, i think it’s just because the shit is too real. taystee out there googling is hilarious tho. aw shit, now this dumdum done fucked around and started a white lives matter club-oh great. i can’t wait to see who she tries to blame for this mess. ooh, white lady cracksmoke confessions in the cornfield! and the merging of the paula dean and martha stewart stories? genius. i gasped out of true horror when the garden was dug up, not for the murder consequences, but for the kale and tomatoes. everybody’s eyeliner is out of control. holy fuck. and then there was no orange. just black. she couldn’t breathe. say her name. and then….things fall apart. wow.

16) the book of negroes-dir. clement virgo as much as i want to support the canadian director and author whose book this was based on, at this point in my life, i decree that the book was better, for me. maybe it’s just that i don’t need to see these slave narratives and the violence represented visually, or perhaps all i needed was to hear them say “plantin” once and that was it, but probably it’s just that i’m not desensitized to the violence-rather the opposite, i must preserve my watchings for something that will teach me something or show me a new perspective. in general, i believe that the mediums are largely complementary now, but please-read the book, read the book, read the book.

17) things that make white people uncomfortable-michael bennett i have tried to like football, more than once, but i cannot. i even played football in high school for crying out loud, but i have no idea how it works, and how the continual violence around the players’ circumstances gets swept under the rug. but hooray for dave zirin and haymarket books for another tale of an athlete who is not just brawn, but plenty of brains, first.

“I was half god, half property. But whichever half they were dealing with, I was never fully human.” (32)

and, this is the quote that made me pull back and say, daaaamn.

i had no idea that houston took in more refugees than any other state, but it makes sense-we are so quick to write off texas, and we are wrong. i also had no idea that the key and peele skit about the sack dance was based in reality.

“The NFL is just another corporation, and they’ll do what thye have to do. Asking them to lead on social issues sometimes seems like asking a dog to meow.” (15)

“I’m sure that some fans care, but I know that the NCAA does not. We all know it. Ask most NFL and NBA players and they’ll tell you with the cameras off that the NCAA is a gangster operation, a shakedown, and a system that works for everyone except for the so-called student-athletes. The main revenue-producing college sports are football and basketball. The main sports in this country built around Black Americans are football and basketball. The only sports in which you are not paid for the revenue you bring in are college football and basketball. This is not a wild coincidence. We tend to come from communities that are the least empowered, the most desperate for opportunity, so we get the shittiest end of the stick. It’s a bullshit system that persists because we’re too desperate for the chance at the brass ring-the pros-to organize and say no.” (23)

and holy shit, i had no idea about his run-in with the cops in vegas, i’m so sorry it happened, and that they tried to gaslight everyone after that. all the more reason to redefine the american hero.

“If food is self-determination, then right now, that self-determination does not exist.” (101)

holy shit. the activism that this man has is amazing. and finally, an athlete voicing my own concerns over the hypocrisy of fast food conglomerates funding sporting events. and calling out other athletes to come onboard, whoo!

for anyone who is still wavy on the state of the NCAA-i challenge you to counter this argument. but wait-you probably don’t think that climate change is a thing either.

“It was impossible to avoid the contrast: poverty and malnutrition in Haiti mean starvation, while poverty and malnutrition here mean early-onset diabetes and obesity.” (111)

and, boom! way to call out 45 for calling haiti a shithole nation.

18) muppets take manhattan-dir.frank oz oh snap, the plot of this one is a bit too real. joan rivers giving miss piggy a makeover is kind of everything tho. but that same played out trope of piggy tricking kermit into marrying her? come on. this is where the male ideal of “feminism” runs dry-she should’ve left him a long time ago if he couldn’t commit to her, or see her for all that she is. just sayin’.

19) muppets most wanted-dir. james bobin my first thought is “who the hell are these muppets? it’s very jarring to listen to these voices. but i suppose things must change. in this case-production value is the least they can do for this turn from the original vision-but hey, masters die, and not everyone has access to that magic, and nostalgia will only get us so far. i can’t lie, “i’m an amphibian-american” and “it’s not easy being mean” are pretty good lines. it’s also pretty dark to deliver kermit to the gulag in a hannibal lector mask. and the cameos are pretty amazing. i guess they got around the voice thing by making the puppets sing in funny accents. the muppet face firework finale was a nice touch, but overall-meh.

20) how to be single-dir.christian ditter “sex is the perfect way to know what you want” is an interesting take on being single. so is “i’m tired of you meeting a guy and falling into his dicksand”. and damn, new york city looks great in movies. shoutout to leslie mann for being typecast as the older woman who doesn’t know she’s adorable and desirable to young men. i can’t help but get the sneaking suspicion that the lesson is that women need to count their blessings and not pass up on doods that “good guys” without acknowledging that the standards are much different, because of the patriarchy.i can definitely identify with multiple vantage points in this movie, for sure. okay, okay-this turned out differently than i thought, well played, people. well played.

21) dear white people-season one (created by justin simeon) “you’re tracee ellis ross biracial, not rashida jones biracial”-i’m dead. i didn’t watch this when it came out because i wasn’t sure how it would play out, i’m still working out how i feel about the movie. but again, such gorgeous shots. and heeeeey intersectionality! wow-will there ever be a non-ironic use of “redbone” again? ohemgeeee i love this series so much more than the movie! awwwww! young, complicated love! holla…perspectives! of COURSE barry jenkins directed chapter v. i am so glad that i decided to look through the collection at runnymede yesterday when i stopped in to pee. going to a different library is always fun because the collection is curated by something other than your usual. what a treat that we have 100 different curated branches to choose from. the wardrobe and wardrober are sooo inspiring! so much that i sent my dad an angry email about a side piece that he had who had horrible taste in food but amazing taste in clothes-it was almost worth being a casualty in that affair for the clothes. (almost, ok?!) wow-the times when the fourth wall is broken-damn. also-gus fring as narrator?! did this fool just have a 9 and a 1/2 weeks fantasy montage about these two?! and now a do the right thing one?! gaddamn. has a show ever made you want to burn palo santo between episodes?! holy cautionary tale of not getting into revenge-based rebound relationships, batman. yo-this fool sniffing manties wearing a “bad choices make good stories” shirt is too much! i strangely just had a thought wondering what FZV thinks about this show, just not enough to actually reach out to her. (but thanks for the sardines on toast, buddy-i’ve been running with that for a minute). aaah! director commentary! gaaaah!

22) fruit of the drunken tree-ingrid rojas contreras my numbers have been going down since i lost the watching machine (temporarily), but that’s probably good that i’m watching less tv and listening to more podcast and reading through my book selection. this one came from preparing for the upcoming lecture series at the library. i think i remember hearing the tapes of people recording messages to the kidnapped in colombia in a this american life episode, back before i completely overdosed on those, and it’s something quite striking to read a fictionalized account based on a real-life one.

“Both versions of the story I told were lies, probably because the truth was more difficult to tell. What was the truth? Something horrible had happened. A man had been killed.
Maybe it wasn’t so difficult after all.” (88)

“The ways we failed Petrona was a bitter pie and I had divided it in three and maybe now it would be easier to bear.” (228)

“Sometimes the less you know the more you live.” (300)

and what a way to end the book on a mountain of beginnings.

23) lies that chelsea handler told me-by chelseas’s family and friends (audiobook) this is an interesting way of handling this project. i’m not gonna lie, i mostly put it on and went to sleep, so i missed a lot of it, save the night i couldn’t go to sleep at all, but basically, she would let her friends and fam talk about her and her pranks and failures, and then would come on and refute and rebut. there’s a weird chapter that she reads as her dog, so i don’t know who exactly she is dragging, but i appreciated the show notes and suggestions that she shares (and ignores).

24) be everything at once-dami lee i heard her on luvvie ajayi‘s podcast, and loved their conversation. my new little sister commented on the #booklook that i posted about it, and it was good for a couple kekes. it’s cute and worth supporting.

25) can you ever forgive me-lee israel i cannot believe that a screenplay was developed from this little book, or that production originally began with julianne mooremelissa mccarthy is perfect. i was expecting more in the book than some of the letters, and the details that were all covered in the movie.

“Walt Disney, for instance, would have been out of the question: his signature looks like something underneath the Articles of Confederation.” (96)

“Imitation is not flattering in the least; it is the refuge of the third-rate.” (104)

i don’t think this is as cut and dried-i think imitation only, for the sake of imitation, is that, but sometimes, influence due to reverence is clear before it turns into something personal….

“I began attorney shopping now. I stupidly surmised that I was owed talented pro bono representation, having written extensively for Ms. magazine and been associated in the past with civil rights causes.” (112)

this made me laugh out loud, as does a text exchange with a new friend over mall eggplant.

26) fighting with my family-dir. stephen merchant so-is stephen merchant my favourite now? i think he is. also-the rock is in every movie, now and forever, and i’m here for it. i loved this movie, the perfect one to see after an intense therapy reunion, and before new noodles and playreading group. it also gave the premise to a new joke as i remember that i do know paige, because of an old roommate who was obsessed with wwe-monday night smackdown, thursday night raw. (sigh).

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gratitude jar 2018-the rest

in no particular order:

michelle and teya‘s card from my going away party
saul‘s going away card
michael and kids‘ going away card (handmade)
-team goodbye card (that made me cry again this morning)
lisa‘s family portrait
bryan‘s going away letter
-quincinera whistle (blue)
aaliyah mac eyeshadow palette box
-green rayon string (no idea what it’s from)
gardiner museum “g” tag (don’t tell my daughter i didn’t recycle this)
-my university of victoria mbna mastercard (the last one that has the library fountain on it-i suppose i did graduate fifteen years ago, lol)
north york public library branded bic pen (from my library tour)
-“dramatic/dramatique” snickers wrapper
kevyn aucoin julia package (oh my, imagine if i would’ve kept ALL my lipstick packaging!)
-glamour shot of kobe the beagle
-stained glass window star made by kit i found in the street with rat teeth
laylow business card/magnum wrapper/failed preganancy test (me and d are cool now)
uoft queer alumni event lanyard that i almost didn’t make it into (and stole a centrepiece from)
-strange donkey drawing from chef at the beet who thought my going away party was my bday party
-my first expired ontario photo id card
-a beaver patch that somehow escaped having an rosecrown/asscrown on my distressed jean jacket
-problematic negrita chocolate bar wrapper (from international day)
-angelica ❤ floorganics anonymous note
jen + graeme + reggie‘s going away card
-4-pack of crayons from pizza hut in costa rica
-katakana bookmark that i calligraphied during my library tour
reggie‘s studio christmas card
-2 x betsey johnson bag tags (after years of never finding the right one)
animal crossword lottery ticket with “corgi” on it (not a winner, somehow)
trent‘s handdrawn (and not very flattering) going away card
-the display materials for my pig broach display at the button store
rusty‘s regime/my note to mr. roy about boarding rusty/payment (that i had to negotiate) for watching monster
wild north flowers card (going away present)
-proof of award and delivery of free new balance for “being the exception” on my bday
-note that i found this road speaker that i am still loving right now
pictionary pictures drawn with my current leading to reading student
-the thank you notes that used to be up in my office
-the inner safe code from the old store (one number being my employee number, another being the year of my birth)
-an angry customer letter about nkotb
-instructions from a librarian not to get to the library i was going to, but to her house (oops)
-remnants of my old business cards (two versions, two stores) i used to write appreciations on the old ones, and wrote myself one
-my seafood city loyalty card (back during sunnier days with fzv)
writing in the city prompts
-the puppy valentine from cj that prompted me to quit my job ten minutes after coming back from staycation
-the business card of the guy who runs the boardwalk-he overheard our ideas about dog chaps made out of kombucha skins
pawpular science subway ad featuring dr. tiger mercer that i had folks sign like my yearbook (uprooted memento)
buy good feel good ticket (free from the subway or the store, largely not worth the time)
-UP ticket from taking chauncey to the airport
one of a kind spring ticket
capro set sale trinkets
one of a kind fall ticket
-airplane bauble from alejandra’s quince
-my skyzone id for catherine’s bday
-my first (and only) GO ticket to whitby-i was filling in, and then they couldn’t get rid of me
-turrialba parking pass
-boarding pass for dallas fort worth to san jose
-cleared criminal record check (needed to volunteer at the library again)
-boarding pass for toronto to dallas fort worth
-boarding pass for toronto to vancouver (never went on this one)
-boarding pass for san jose to dallas fort worth
-boarding pass for dallas fort worth to toronto
-list of hotels in the dallas fort worth area printed on dot matrix printer (that i used to draw the kids’ comic book instructions)
-swatch of “you are super” tissue paper from TKVO
-alejandra’s faux boarding pass (team italia was our table)
a cup of love gift tag (lemongrass/licorice/peppermint/chamomile/rose petals/love)
-baby picture of damon
-baby picture of bronwyn
-french metro ticket (and l’autobus cocktail lounge in paris business card) from valentina‘s jacket
mois de l’histoire des noirs postcard from the amazing exhibit that we went to on my overnight in montreal over all-star weekend
miikshi “newsbot” mini script and call sheet
-the mibukiville playbill that i wrote for our screening
miikshi‘s diploma that i signed as president of the university
sportsball ballot (with our nick’s order on it)-the sportsball memento
-one of chickelyna‘s unused packages (episode changed)
-episode 4’s notes on the newsprint that i figured out how to cut on a ruler
totoro wax seal from erin’s bday card
-bus ticket from toronto to montreal
-my jury duty summons/assignation/raccoon eyes‘ permission to miss court for a medical appointment
-my sunlife card (by for now, benefits life)
-texas stamp packet from the hotel giftshop that i sent a few mementos home with
ticomex mexicali business card (in case i need to order their services again)

and, that’s it for last year!

2018 gratitude jar-the experience flossy project

here are the cultural events of note that are not basketball games or movies:

-8 music bingo cards-including my bday fortune teller and a lot of notes about my game partners-many of whom i brought for their first times
the read live with FZV
-my postcard from the luis vuitton time capsule, with all of my red lipsticks (at the time) swatched on the front in honour of the red that i painted onto an accent piece of a bag while i was there (also a note that said that i want kevyn aucoin julia, and i have since come into possession of that shade)
-admission into the aga khan museum-thanks to the toronto public library
-the program/passport to tobie’s amazing race 40th bday party
-admission to yayoi kusama‘s infinity mirrors (i guess the AGO isn’t trash after all)
-program to she the people-the amazing and inspiring second city show (after nine years in toronto, i have never uttered those words-until now, when i cannot mean it more)
-my wristbands for afrochic, including erykah badu‘s dj set and her fangirl-led in conversation
resistance and lipstick burlesque
saintarctica + xxxx‘s assemblages art exhibit
dave meherje + friends (seeing him was a real turning point in my decisions to s l o w l y inch towards comedy (again) and i’m glad for this chance to see him again before the year ended
-“1 rap free hour” coupon that i got from the shade festival, which also made a major impact on the above decision-also-the comedian who gave it to me was an important lesson in boundaries and trusting assholes (this was a recurring theme this year) too bad the shade set during jfl was one of the ones i enjoyed least, for many reasons (but i didn’t really like jfl as much this year)
-except it did still bring me into the same rooms as ken jeong, margaret cho, and reggie watts (ticket just has BAE across the front) among others
cbc canada reads ticket-lindsay and i went on the day that jully black took down jeanne bekker (also with a note that questions whether the mothership paid for all that braid weave) (also, this was my canvas for mixing paints for something-prolly one of the awkward paint by numbers that i continued doing this year)
-program for invisible footprints 0.2: deep cuts-i sculpted a durian vagina, which was lost or broken, but still got to go inside khanh‘s giant durian so, hashtag, heaven.
-receipt from carrianne leung‘s book launch, where i bought lindsay the wondrous woo for her bday
-a picture that kenza and i collaborated on (she claims i “ruined” it after forcing me to participate-control issues, anyone, lol? but she is our child) during our first solo date at the gardiner museum where we sculpted exhausted unicorns and went on a maddeningly hard scavenger hunt where looked at creepy zodiac sculptures awkwardly dispersed amongst fine ceramics
-a program for the high park music recital (sans the page with our kids, of course) to commemorate when i became the tita who cries over 75 shitty piano renditions of “twinkle twinkle little star”
tee‘s card from her exhibit at TKVO-what a great night

raptors

-the 20 (17-3) games i attended through the 2017-18 and 2018-19 season, including the epic win against the warriors this year (shoutout to lisa wong, who was my biggest supporter/benefactor/ticket pusher and brought that same energy from the summertime), two games with amanda (tradition), two games alone (companion ticket paid), the weird loss to okc when the refs had to be escorted out because demar, coach, and serge were all ejected, and kyle was fouled out, the raptor‘s 1000th game, fan‘s first game, and four games with maya season bae including the last game of last season and the first game of this season
-our season ticketholder membership agreement-our last
-5 non-winning 50/50 tickets and that’s a $125 crew neck that i never got
-my “script” from when i got to play announcer and chose OG (“wearing number 3 and hitting clutch 3s, rookie of our year…OG ANUNOBY”) to win klipsh earbuds in jurassic park since we didn’t get playoff tickets because we decided to renew instead, a stint that also got me on cp24 calling for the firing of casey (it happened) and another opportunity to not take in stray puppies, no matter how cute they are
-the label of my starter jacket-the first one i’ve had since the bulls one i had in high school, and the only merch i’ve allowed myself to get this year (and did i ever get a bonus lesson in gaslighting and faux feminism out of this one)

movies (34)

the happytime murders (august 28 and september 1)
crazy rich asians (september 6 and august 31)
sorry to bother you (july 18 and july 23)
downsizing (jan 14)
a star is born (october 23)
proud mary (jan 16)
jumanji (jan 9)
can you ever forgive me (november 1)
bad times at the el royal (october 16)
uncle drew (july 3)
isle of dogs (april 8)
meditation park (april 2)
won’t you be my neighbor (july 17)
game night (march 20)
blockers (april 10)
whitney (july 25)
the hate you give (oct 20)
white boy rick (oct 2)
life of the party (may 15)
deadpool 2 (may 29)
ocean’s 8 (june 12)
blindspotting (august 9)
anthropocene (october 5)
black panther (feb 19)
the spy who dumped me (august 7)
lady bird (feb 13)
i tonya (feb 6)
den of thieves (jan 23)
queen of the damned (feb 24)
space jam (sail-in cinema, summertime) the same day as tobie‘s bday and the night market at ontario place
widows (no ticket, but it was the last movie i saw in the theatre of the year)

another year of being great-full for the cinemas formerly known as rainbow (including my free one on my bday) and the varsity a couple times (with lindsay) and a few others around town and in mtl. also-shoutout to my friends who are reliable movie dates.

2018 gratitude jar-it was written

i’m late on getting this together because i had to return all those books before they were overdue, and also we rang in the new year with our amazing basketball team, led by our expensive rental last night.

so, here it is:

the quote cards i coloured:

-it is okay to hold people accountable and expect others to do the same. it is a gift when i do this with grace and understanding. (jan 1, 2018, also the handwritten adendum “i expect more, i accept more”)
-you deserve to be surrounded by people who never ask you to apologize for being who you are (jan 12-anniversary of the earthquake in haiti/trump calls it a “shithole country”, media finds that easier to say than “racist”)
-i am allowed to say no to carrying the weight of other people’s problems (jan 12-loi leminh‘s birthday)
-you are not ‘too much’. you are exactly enough (jan 12-sick day-lots of things to consider) (no kidding)
-i can be proud of my healing process even if it starts and stops (mar 8-IWD-i am feeling this as i go back to yoga and the pool and get shit done-feeling it a lot lately)
-my body is not wrong or bad for being triggered and having a hard time letting it go (may 6-as i approach the anniversary of the last time i had non-consensual sex with a man, i embrace my willingness to improve this body and let things go-and eat a donut)
-i deserve people in my life who can see my pain, who are willing to witness my stories, and be patient with my growth (june 18-swanky hotel with fredy, healing session with sienna, finding anchor cup and A plate, sally came to affirm the space and hood)

90 days, i wrote summations of how great life was. here are the 10 standouts:

fri the 13th-free axe-throwing, new friends and badaxes (my wristband)
april 3-today i din’t have a lot of plans but i accomplished them all
july 18sylvia ferrari (heart eye faces) demar is traded (sad faces)
july 14-i beat rubia gm‘s all-time point total on duolingo (i have since gone on to do this by almost 200,000 points)
thanksgiving-(part 2/2) lindsay gives me coats and a fat smirking chiwow. so great-full for being welcome into a house of love, food, and good manners
august 15FZV is in my home for the first time and upon seeing my gratitude jar exclaims, “what a fire hazard”-yup. a winner.
nov 21-i bled through my thinx and stood in my vibrant power. wow.
july 27-using my benefits to the last dollar, strong man massage, sushi burger, secret zaki (again), big 3 basketball
nov 30-i got to stamp the cups at the abbott and hang with katherine and remember the first time it was the self-care that made me start thinking it was time to leave tsp

and my guest gratitude-written by the incomparable michelle cho: “hooky + brunch + lots of laughing + one dirty tic tac + crafted-i had the bestest day of self-care with you that was good for my soul. xo cho”

letters:

i started writing the letters to my dad time capsule that i bought last year, and in montreal, i started writing them to myself as well, so i will keep these in the jar to complete this year, and open later, when it feels right.

-a letter with no return name, no handwriting, from alberta with photos of southern alberta that arrived on march 2nd, 2018 with my handwritten addendum of “i have no idea who this is”) finding it again, i feel like i should write back, just to start a correspondence.
papa cush‘s address, so it must be from the thank you note that i sent him and sarah for the red petticoat they gifted me, which ended up being sold to the little mermaid
erin‘s return address because she ended up mailing me back my yellow tutu after borrowing it for almost two months (lots of business with tutus and mail)
-a beauty-full card that came from my gift box from the parkdale community health centre, and that has truly been one of my biggest blessings of the year

november 2018 books (and beyond)

i tapped! it was easy and great! i can now go into any exit at any subway! hooray! we also filmed another episode of miikshi! every day, someone mistook me for lindsay-even someone who has allegedly loved me for 12 years-way to make your case, buddy-you don’t even know what i look like! (took the time to copy and paste a picture back to me, not of me, and then say “i only see joy”, which, is an uber-fucked up thing to hear from a poc, kind of along the lines of “i don’t see colour”). but, that happened. also, justin gave me a dvd drive and i am catching up on all the television series that i have not seen in the past years because i have no bandwidth on netflix.

i also have to express gratitude for she the people and trixx, the back to back shows that reminded me that i have some stage time to put in….but bigups all the same.

also-19-4 and the podcasts don’t care-if we were any other team….but it’s all cool. it was quite a bookend to see the OT win against durant‘s 51 and the (champion) warriors when the last time i saw him hang 51 on us, he was playing with OKC and we lost in triple overtime on some salmons‘ bricked free throws. super teams over superstars, just sayin’.

1) adulterio-paulo coelho-this one was a bit of a slow go, since i am reading it in spanish. i got it out when i first got back from costa rica, and since the alchemist is the first book i ever read in spanish (and spanish only), i took a chance. i also got a coehlho book (frida) at polkaroo‘s book swap, and the jacket says it’s a story of a woman who is either going to be in a relationship or be a witch, so-no accidents. this is the first book that i have renewed to the end of its three terms in a long time, and i also just got it out in english as well, so as to make sure that i didn’t miss anything. maybe i should leave it though, i think i got the gist. i got lost on my way to a fermentation workshop and outside of the old mill hotel, a man really wanted to tell me what a great book it was. the cover also got me a lot of looks on the subway, and we had a great ride into the studio about books in translation/being multilingual. woot woot, duolingo.

2) insecure-season one not technically a book, but i am so amped about being able to catch up with the television series that i have not seen in the last few years. i took this out at the city hall library before my glam day at nordstrom (that resulted in me playing a piano concert for myself) in anticipation of having a dvd drive of my own! although i knew what happened thanks to the recap by crissle and fran, it was lovely to see it. what a gorgeous show, inside and out.

3) kimmy schmidt-season one i feel like fucking kimmy schmidt with this show-so behind on this excellence, but it’s perfect timing! wow, what a smart, timely, feminist show! i love it when white women get it right. can’t wait to watch season two.

4) walk on the wild side-dennis rodman i started this on a shooting day and regaled the car with stories from it, mainly about pearl jam, his relationship with eddie vedder and their shared love of mookie blaylock (who wore #10), and rodman’s own jersey number(s) as 91 is nine plus one, this pull quote:

“I’d love to take NBA commissioner David Stern as my prisoner, strip off all his clothes, rub lipstick and makeup all over him, dress up like Frank and sing to him….’I did it my way.’ It would probably be my last act as an NBA player, but it would be worth it.” (26)

yea, so that’s the thing-he wasn’t yet retired at the time of this book’s publishing. he also apologizes to madonna for some faxes that were intercepted and sold to hard copy which is very perplexing, because why the hell were these people sending faxes?! he brags about his dick size, claims that he doesn’t like to eat pussy, but one of his “commandments” is “thou shalt not douche before being eaten”. he claims that he wants to change his name to “orgasm”, and as far as i know, that has not happened. but then again, he did cry to oprah that he would apologize to scottie pippen for breaking his nose on national tv in front of everyone when they won a championship together, and i’ve given up waiting for that, too.

in conclusion-dennis rodman has as many tangents as fonts, and like all good narcissists, it’s impossible to know what he really things. hashtag, gaslight.

5) ali smith-public library (and other stories) i had to get this one while out on the library tour. here is why:

“For me, the public library is the ideal model of society, the best possible shared space, a community of consent-an anarcho-syndicalist collective where each person is pursuing their own aim (education, entertainment, affect, rest) with respect to others, through the best possible medium of the transmission of ideas, feelings and knowledge: the book.” (76)

yesssssss.

6) falling for my side dude-racquel williams it is official-i have a problem. i’m addicted to these terribly written unrealistic tall tales, and i just have to go through it. i don’t think i’m going to continue this after i go through the ones that i took out in person, but who knows. i tried a different author, but there are definitely tropes. maybe i’m just jealous because i could at least write this badly. the fantastical world of negotiating class privilege, the sketchy morality issues of infidelity, the latent homophobia and saving face, and the advocacy of douching (nooooooo! don’t do this in 2018)-the only thing that’s clear is that there is no room for compassion and feelings-it’s all hostility from jump. but i got through this in a few hours, and had to chuckle at the turnaround from the jacket cover description:

“…No one is untouchable, and loyalty is nowhere to be found. Will Malaya walk away from her family and risk it all in the name of sexual gratification?”

and the first line of the acknowledgements:

“First and foremost, I give all praises to Allah. Without him, none of this would be possible. I am forever grateful and definitely blessed.”

it was nehal‘s birthday yesterday, and don’t think i didn’t consider for a moment that if i have to suffer through this, i’m dragging her down with me.

7) the unbreakable kimmy schmidt-season two so, i think i am kimmy and titus all rolled into one. i am still loving this show, and am now caught up so i can continue watching it with lindsay and assheat tomorrow. having this dvd player has even caused me to be late for the past two weeks on the new episode of star (clutches pearls). i love how everyone is living while learning to get through their abandonment issues.

8) she begat this-20 years of the miseducation of lauryn hill-joan morgan dream hampton didn’t like miseducation. she also made black august (the film). and she did like unplugged. huh. well. milfin’ (still) ain’t easy, but it’s (still) gotta be done. i was totally geeked that miz morgan liked and reposted my #booklook, though i got less reaction to that than when chingy followed me, so-come on, people. i love that lauryn has always been her own stylist, and her own artist, though people are way less willing to give her the “genius” label than some other rappers (mumble mumble). i never had a moment when i was mad at lauryn, but i never loved her completely either-i recognized her impact and her talent, and ex-factor will forever be my jam, especially the live version in japan, though i hope one day it will not hit so close. but the thing is-it’s the equal and opposite reaction of why people are so disappointed/surprised/crushed when she is late/doing jock jam arrangements/dressed like an insane person now because people were jumping up and down and shitting candy when she was 22 and “saving” hip hop/representing for all women. oh-and the patriarchy is the reason that people do not react in a similar way to r.kelly. (sigh). oh, the lack of equality in accountability expectations is because of a lack of equality, etc. etc. etc. basically:

“She was the one who broke through and she got a bit broken in the journey.” (58)

lauryn taught us that sometimes, we gotta be our own heroes. and we wear whatever the fuck we want.

and joan morgan proved why i disagree with walter mosely‘s most recent talk at the philly free library, when he claims that writers don’t have to be readers-writers should definitely read. it was the difference of taking over a week to read these silly clit lit dramas vs. devouring this book in one afternoon-though purposely putting it down so i could savour it, but then picking it up again. i got a legit chill from the introduction that lasted all the way through. thank you, womens.

9) power-season three first of all-why is ghost‘s spanish so awful? he’s a drug overlord and he’s in lifetime love with a puerto rican. but he’s loosely telling the jay-z story, right? and omari hardwick has always been method-adjacent. i think it’s also interesting that i can watch this show again, it used to be too hard because he makes the same puppy eye tortured soul faces as the dood i spent four years learning hard lessons with, so every time he would say “angie…” in that tragic way, i used to crumble. i did cry when they broke up this time, but i also fully support that “it’s the right decision”. finally, even though i had heard rumblings, i was completely surprised that i saw 50’s dick for so long, but it was kind of hot-it’s the first time i’ve seen full frontal that wasn’t just garbage-duchovny‘s limp and dead dick from asphyixiation in soderburgh‘s film, jude law‘s limp dick in the bath in ai, or kofi siriboe‘s in three grapefruits-ok, that was kind of the best one-heeeey, lil’50. i liked the “behind the scenes” that accompany each episode of this season, and am so happy that season 4 is already on its way to me, thank you, toronto public library. (also, on a related note-i’m excited for all of the sheet music that is coming my way as well, what a wealth of materials that are available to us, and i’m great-full every day to be able to search them).

10) startalks season two-hosted by neil degrasse tyson i found out the other day when i hosted lindsay that i live in miikshi‘s apartment-i had to flip the room from dining to entertainment when i could only play the music after i was no longer using the toaster oven to make ciabatta squares. i must miss her, because i am binge-watching this on an off-shooting week, or i legit have always been science-friendly. i have the utmost respect for this guy, and although it’s kind of awkward at times (like his rap battle with kyrie irving), it is totally worth the watch and the think-here are a few notes that i made: “the secret of magic is that we are willing to work harder than you think the trick is worth” (penn, or teller), “if we can reproduce it, it’s not art”-so, does that make it science? is the line so cut and dried?, “society is only as good as it treats its creative people”, and “there was a time without skepticism-it was the dark ages”. i’m heeeeeere for all of this.

11) survivor’s remorse-season two where does reggie end and rich begin? i love that i get to resume my two favourite starz series at the same time, and this season of survivor’s remorse was exactly what i needed after a completely frustrating day with the outside world. i literally felt the tension dissolve through laughing and feeling my way through these episodes, as i coloured some tiles in the glorious colouring book that is jade gedeon’s island escape. i love everything-the acting, the shots, the writing, the complicated relationship with public and private accountability. oh, and everyone is fackin’ fine.

12) emergency contact-mary h.k. choi once again, a book that i know of because of desus and mero. i didn’t know this was YA until i got it, but then again, i don’t really see the delineation of YA-books are books, who cares who the audience is for? i kind of feel like YA is the backup singer of the book genre, really-it’s gotta be really good in order to blend in enough to be good enough to be read by all people-it’s gotta be better than regular fiction, and i’m here for it. i started reading this on the epic journey to brampton for the baby shower that i went to last week, and finished it up yesterday after i got home from seeing trixx at absolute comedy. WHAT A HILARIOUS HUMAN BEING. anyway, here is my pull quote:

“Fiction was fine, but real life was the true freak show.” (121)

which is the perfect segue that i didn’t even know i was making-there’s a point in the story when one of the protagonists speaks of stealing a piece of art because she a) loves it so much and b) understands motivation to create something that inspires people in the way that it inspires her. i can identify with that because i used to rip pages out of library magazines as a youth, but only if the picture did not affect other people’s ability to read the articles (i know, sketchy morals, but that’s what youth is for). it also explains why i’ve never been into sci-fi or fantasy, because there is so much in this world that i haven’t needed to delve into make-believe that much yet. i also love the discussion of what constitutes a true apology-spoiler alert: it’s not one that goes “i’m sorry you feel that way”. (sigh). it’s settled. every “adult” should definitely have to read at least one YA a year. start with this one, fools.

13) queen sugar-season one i was crushed from the first note of me’shell‘s “faithful”, and then again when “pennies” came through-i was done. we all know ava duvernay is a genius, but can we just talk about how
much she slays, every damn day, in everything she does? i realized that it’s her angles and focus that sets her apart for me-she focuses in on the simplicity of emotion, and whether it’s the movement of an eyelash or the flicker of feeling in an eye-that’s a real one. i love that she shows how complicated relationships are, without injecting her judgement or morality-she does what a true director does best-she presents all sides of a story, and really brings forth a character’s motivations. but she also captures them in moments where their perspectives change, and that’s what so relatable and inspiring. also-she seems to find the most gorgeous actors and really hone in on their talent. i was about three episodes in until i figured out that i will never forget rutina wesley because of how she move, and it’s great to see how she has grown as an actor as well. (and also that she is fine as hell).

14) naughty-book three-brenda hampton (sigh). it took me forever and eight days to finish this, but i think i now understand hate-reading. i was captivated because i truly wanted the characters (and the writing) to somehow get better. it did not. nope. it also occurred to me that it was so uncomfortable because it reminded me of the values of my last situationship-none. or at least none that i understand. i am just so puzzled by the words and actions of all of the characters, and like when i can’t find any redeeming characteristics of a tv show-i even want to kick the children in the teeth. here’s a snippet of this bullshit:

“‘Trust me, I ain’t talking no shit. If I ever catch anyone tampering with my pussy, I’m killing his ass and your ass too.”
We laughed and decided never to go clubbing together again. For some reason, he couldn’t believe all the attention I got, and I never imagined it would be so crazy going out with him.” (205)

TAMPERING WITH MY PUSSY?! what the actual fuck?! all through this book-lying, cheating, will-full miscommunication, violence, threats-all of this is seemingly promoted. the one redeeming thing that i found was the dood used and switched condoms in a threesome. aaaaaahhhhh. i hope this association makes it clear that it’s the last time with that situationship, too.

15) so close to being the shit-retta i am late to the game on this one. i will say that i have been trying to watch parks and recreation for some time, but for all the materials that the library has, somehow this is not among them. but i enjoyed this little ditty very much-it’s snappy and well-written, which should come as no surprise because she’s a twitter susperstar.

16) riverdale-season one wow. this is how you do a remake. first of all-pick a different medium. second-make it hella angsty and simultaneously update the details so that they are contemporary and shoot it so it’s still frozen in time. also-robin givens is the mayor! dylan is archie’s dad and molly ringwald is his mom! (what a world). so emo, so flowers in the attic, creepily bad wigs, teacher fucking in the first episode, and an inside joke every time someone says “alice cooper”. i love it. i’ve been meaning to watch darchie (dark archie) for a minute now, thanks to the library once again coming through.

17) power-season four it’s hard out here to be melo. his best basketball happens during the offseason when he’s overheating in a hoody, no team wants him, and things must really be over with lala if she is getting fucked all over the place like this by tommy. the lustre is wearing off on this series (maybe i caught up too fast), or maybe all of the good actors have been killed off. i don’t know that i believe this “next generation” bizness, mainly because the kid is just such a spoiled dick, and that’s at least in part because he’s not as experienced as an actor. rip, lobos.

18) jane the virgin-season one it’s a telenovela within a telenovela and i’m here for it. it’s the perfect accompaniment to compete against my duolingo nemesis and to watch while i am working on my freelance gig. i don’t know why the library doesn’t have season two, but they have season three, and i can do worse than internet catch up on a season of a show. representation matters.

19) t-dot griots-eds. karen richardson & steven green the image of griots being buried in the trunk of trees, away from society, is an extremely striking one. i am so great-full for this anthology, but to be honest, that’s what has sent me googling and wondering-do they hollow out their own trees? when i found out that baobab trees are used, i am further confirmed in my blessings to have lived in the same home as yinka’s baobab magazine-and i know i will be thinking on this for years to come. of course, i am glad that this collection of toronto lyrical legacy exists, and i have similar feelings about alicia keys‘ first album (heeeey, karen richardson-your poems are my favourite by a new-to-me artist, though i sense that we must have crossed paths in some capacity in montreal). finally, of course kamau is my favourite, he’s been my favourite:

Imagine that you had nothing to gain from change
And even less to gain if the world stayed the same…

(Diaspora, 149)

20) the year of finding memory-judy fong bates i am so great-full for the women’s connection offered through the parkdale community health centre. there are so many reasons that this feels right, from the very beginning, and at every step of this beginning thus far. i was intrigued to learn that unlike other programs, our counsellors are not obligated to call the police if we express suicidal thoughts-it is acknowledged that that is a common feeling (and that is proof of the problem that we have of a lack of mental health resources and denial about mental health being an issue) and are committed to work through it. so hearing that, on the day that i am supposed to return this book that is now overdue, does not feel like an accident to me. how do we keep our parents’ secrets? how do we embody our inheritance? how do we find the answers to questions that they may or may not have made sure not to ask?

“My mother rarely talked about her younger sister. I was not aware that she had sent money at regular intervals and had no idea that these remittances actually allowed this woman and her family to eat and live. But then again, memory can be incomplete, and it is possible that whatever news my mother shared with me about her sister and her family never made an impression. Another side of my mother was beginning to reveal itself, one that perhaps my youthful self had chosen to ignore. Or one that she had long since put away.” (136)

21) moonlight-dir. barry jenkins-wow. sometimes, the oscars get it right-even if they “jokingly” try to give the award to white people first (i’ma let you finish). i’m so floored by this. i waited a long time, because from what i heard about the mother, i understood the character to be like monique‘s in precious. i should give my imagination more credit at this point. this was a stunning film, and i didn’t even cry. (i was certain that i would). everything is perfect-the casting, the faces, the pacing, the lighting, the story, the lacunas. wow. just, wow.

22) broad city season one and two i started watching this last year with zahra but she didn’t like it because she thought they didn’t “win” enough. but i don’t know, they’re great friends, they grow together, hannibal burress is amazing and so is his character, and i am so delighted by any chance that i get to witness amy sedaris and/or janine garaofolo gets to work. (second season was hard to watch because the copy i got was quite damaged, but i mostly feel the same way).

23) heavy-kiese laymon i devoured this while listening to starting from scratch’s think b.i.g. (the final tribute) on the last day of the month, the same day that i watched moonlight and remembered the first time that i ever stamped the cups at the coffee shop and started to realize that i really needed to quit my job. i don’t remember now how i heard about kiese, but i do know that he has been so consistently great at writing and i’m glad he’s around to do the work.

“I didn’t understand hell, partially because I didn’t believe any place could be hotter than Mississippi in August.” (55)

America seems filled with violent people who like causing people pain but hate when those people tell them that pain hurts.” (88)

i read his mother’s response letter a few days ago. i didn’t realize that it was such a direct response to this memoir that is written directly to her. (sigh). this is so brave. i think of the parallels of the memoir that i could write to the single parent who raised me (along with the differences too, of course), but i don’t know if i would be brave enough to do it while he was living, and know for sure that he could not be so eloquent in his response (if he even responded at all). i can also say that i had destructive teenage sex in his bed, and wonder how many of us out there did this because we couldn’t talk to our parents, rendering ourselves the cliche self-fulfilling prophecies of their nightmares.

“Consent meant little to nothing if it was not fully informed.” (208)

thank you. this is all i want men to understand. this is the work that we all have to choose to keep doing every day, the work that is not equally chosen, but yet equally expected-i resent that women are held to higher standards of compassion, adaptation, and emotional labour, and i refuse to do this work for men, or let them coast any further without any acknowledgement or knowledge of it. this means that i am choosing not to coddle them, and also not to be kind. but kiese is proof of the doods that i want to know, and so my choice is justified-i will just find the ones who have done the work, and not hang around the ones who have not/will not. to quote the dumpster fire that is common:

“if i don’t like it, i don’t like it-it doesn’t mean that i’m hatin'”

damn. i felt the change(s) throughout my body as i realized each layer of how literally heavy this story is-as i realized what i was reading, and how it informed how figuratively heavy this story is-daaaaaammmmn. also-i am now realizing the context from which the response that i read first is. wow. just, wow.

yesterday, i put a photo of this book, and judy fong bates‘ book on my lap with the caption, “on my couch with this #motherlode.” i had no fucking idea.

september 2018 books

i got a warning from the transit police because i didn’t realize that i was rolling with my august pass still because the month switched over as i was walking all over the city five times over, falling in love a little bit, as i am wont to do.

here are the books:

1) What We Lose-Zinzi Clemons wow. what a book. somehow, i thought that i had read another book by her, but perhaps it’s because of the buzz around her name in relation to a certain author that we wanted to root for, but in our hearts knew that he was a pigdog. this one is one that i can relate to, in terms of the relationship between a daughter and father when the mother between them is lost, and how we cope, or don’t. it also introduces a complicated and provoking element of motherhood and nationalism that i will be thinking about for some time.

2) How to Keep Your Marriage from Sucking-Greg Behrendt & Amiira Ruotola these two, behind multiple relationship books now, i recognize them from one of the earlier ones, and him from He’s Just Not That Into You, and couldn’t resist the slim volume that beckoned to me from my resumed library tour. it’s exactly what you would expect it to be.

3) Secret Path-Gord Downie & Jeff Lemire

4) Literally Me-Julie Houts this one jumped out at me from the shelf because of the drawings and humour. i was horrified for about three minutes because i thought the story was real. i am usually not fooled in such a way-great work.

5) I’m Judging You-Luvvie Ajayi i heard about this book in luvvie‘s episode on amanda seales‘ podcast, and from there, i subscribed to her podcast, so imagine my delight when i found it on the library tour! it’s well-written, smart (most crimes against white people are committed by white people too-mind blown), and i agree with a lot of the chapters and am glad someone with a bigger platform is telling it like it is. the lollipop made me chuckle the whole way through too. i finished it on a canoe downtown, taking a break from the cocktail and ping pong party that was the most fun i have ever had at an industry party.

6) The Icarus Girl-Helen Oyeyemi back to back nigerian authors, one non-fiction, one fiction, one nigerian american, the other nigerian brit. it’s like my current duolingo quest to learn french from spanish, and using my french-english and spanish-english dictionaries as intermediaries. i did learn that “biro” is a pen because it comes up in both.

7) Choose Your Own Autobiography-Neil Patrick Harris i got this one on audiobook from the library tour, and was a bit curious about how it would work out. it is modified, which is the tradeoff for him reading it to us. i tried to do one of the magic tricks that he “taught” and it didn’t work-maybe i heard it wrong. funnily enough, he mentioned that rupert everett was inordinately rude to movie crews, and the other audiobook that i had checked out was rupert everett‘s, and i didn’t even finish it because it wasn’t very compelling, even as read by the usually compelling actor.

8) The Blueprint-LeBron James, Cleveland’s Deliverance, and the Making of the Modern Era-Jason Lloyd this library tour has had the tendancy to get heavy some days, and i made a note to check out scott raab‘s latest book, the one where he makes up with lebron, and here comes this guy claiming to be the “only one” who has covered the whole ordeal-hmm. white men, always gotta be vying to be the first. i also learned that JV could’ve been a cav (and by definition kyrie could’ve been a raptor-but prolly not, because we didn’t have a high enough pick). also, i guess kevin love has some selective view of justice when it comes to dirty hits-don’t get me wrong-dood has had some terrible injuries happened to him, but he also flagrant fouled my man during our last playoffs and wasn’t called for it, so.

9) when they call you a terrorist-a black lives matter memoir-patrisse khan-cullors and asha bandale wow. so much packed into a slim volume. i heard the authors talking about this on on the philly free library podcast, and was so glad to hear that asha bandele was writing again-it makes me what to chase down that issue of essence that turned the tide. the accounts of prison torture were heartbreaking, and the ultimate irony of american terrorism/miscarriage of justice is just so outstanding. do better, neighbours. but it’s just like how the person who is v. jealous and projecting is also the person doing dirt-americans wave their flag and rub their “freedom” and “democracy” louder (and more obnoxiously) than anyone else, and they are the worst to their own people. “their history’s historical” along with their conditioning. i also appreciate the articulation of the problem that i have with 12-step programs. some people can buy-in fully because they can navigate their addiction problem without context in the way that others cannot-a side effect of being able to navigate the world without context-yes, i am talking about white privilege. it is also a wider discussion of what community means, and what it means to be part of a community. i made a note to see which products from whole foods were made with prison labour, and i am v. surprised to learn that it’s goat cheese and farmed tilapia, along with the v. specialized sewing required to do victoria secret’s catalogue, or maybe it’s not that skilled after all? i wonder if these folks can put this on their resume afterwards, at least? this one was on my holds’ list and checking it out in person changed all of that and i am so great-full. final note-the paper is outstanding (that seems to be something that i cannot resist as of the last 24 hours). patrisse-i wish peace and purpose to you, your child and partner, and to monte. asha-i hope your relationship has worked out, i could never work out by your books if it ever did.

10) I Can’t Date Jesus-Michael Arceneaux this is another one that i heard of through desus and mero (shoutout to the thirst trap that was desus reading to childrens) and it was an amazing companion on the library tour, a lot of people were very fascinated-from the bank manager who was a bit too personal (just gimme my money, dammit) to the guy on the subway who asked about it, only to deduce “ok, so he likes bad boys then”, which was surprisingly insight-full, and offered a take that i had not considered at all up until that point. to continue the thought about communities and borders, he articulates the problem with religious groups and barber shops, and the way that the individual can be conflicted when considering all of his (in this case) parts. i was a bit paranoid as i started reading it in the juror’s lounge, and swear i was bit by something that jumped on me in court from friday. i cringed at the part about dating a dood with fleas. i can also identify here’s the basic pull quote that i can identify with most:

“Living like an SWV song was not the way to be. No, I needed to find something that was mine.” (205)

amen, friend, amen. may we all go where we are wanted.

11) Nookietown-V.C. Chickering-i can fully admit that i judged this book by its cover that screamed at me from a perch at the richview library. i took it as a “fun summer read” but was actually quite pleased to find that it was well-written and brought up the topic of poly and/or open relationships with a fresh premise, and a hot take on sisterhood, control, marriage, kids and divorce. i’m not sure how i feel about the end being that women succumbed to their insecurities and turned on each other in what could’ve been a utopia (“your man is her man is my man is your man too”), or that the main character gets pregnant (and ostracized like hester pryne) by pouring the contents of a discarded condom into herself (i mean-given her age and the statistical odds that semen that has been outside two bodies for any amount of time as being effective), it was worth the read.

12) Rich People Problems-Kevin Kwan-it feels like it’s been much longer than five years since the first book came out, but huh- sometimes time flies like that. considering the scale (and reach) of the movie production, it must have been optioned upon publication. maybe it feels longer because i couldn’t remember the exact plot of the middle book, but the little wink between astrid and charlie (i assume), there’s a second movie on the way, and i cannot be more pleased. this series is great fun and there’s always a moment of extreme wealth that always floors me-in the middle book, the closet and in this one, the plastic surgery for the fish.

13) Shoplifter-Michael Cho-a graphic novel about saving your soul from a slow death via corporate job? sign me up.

14) Go Ask Ali-Ali Wentworth the toronto public library has been the route to me reuniting with ali wentworth, whom i have not even thought of her in the fifteen years since i saw her on the last season(s?) of in living color. funnily enough, i started watching her show headcase on hoopla digital, one of the library’s streaming services, but when i went to continue, it is all of a sudden, gone. and there’s no mention of it in these books that i have no idea that she published-it was a surprise during the library tour that i kept finding them so i kept taking them out. there’s also little on the internet about it, but it was great, what few episodes that i saw. i was hoping her books would be a bit like that, but it was a character, and her voice is clear. the tone is light, it’s snappy, and she reminds me a lot of caitlyn moran. giddy up.

and there you have it. i don’t know if it’s the fact that i finished the library tour (and thus spent long stretches of time on public transit), the three weeks that i spent not getting chosen for jury duty, or some combination of both-the 14 books is probably a record of what i’ve read in a month, and i also have to shout out glamour magazine for their rebrand-you’ve got my attention now. thank you.

august 2018 books

this month, i read in three different countries. here are the books:

1) Save the Cat-Blake Snyder i originally read an updated version late last year when i was working on the script that i was commissioned to write, and it caused quite the to-do then. this time, i skimmed it because it was the only book i had that i couldn’t renew because someone had a hold on it.

2) Everything They Had-David Halberstam i like reading books about other sports, just to see if i can identify with anyone’s reason to follow any other sport. i liked the articles about fishing and hunting most, probably because they were completely new. i still cannot find any room in my heart for baseball or football.

3) Oranges are Not the Only Fruit-Jeanette Winterson “I don’t know if God exists, but I do know that if God is your emotional role model, very few human relationships will match up to it.” (165) amen. i took this one from one little library and deposited in in another (east end to west end). i didn’t like it as much as the one with her on the cover as a kid in a bathing suit, though i suppose it’s another way to tell the story within the framework of the bible/church.

4) Drive-How Vince Carter Conquered the NBA-Chris Young meh. i don’t know that i actually learned that much, though it’s probably a bit dated in light of everything we know now. a couple things: an interesting crossover to the Jordan story and David Falk and i wonder what oakley has to say now that dood has been in the nba forever and eight days.

5) Playing for Keeps-Michael Jordan and the World He Made-David Halberstam so, from air canada to air jordan-i guess the thing i didn’t realize that i got from the above book is that i didn’t know that vc was also a tarheel, nor did i know the jordan comparisons (or that they could’ve gotten shareef, and he could’ve ended up in vancouver-i was still there for that, but let’s play “what if” for a minute, nuts), i thought the name was because of the arena. this is v.well-written, just circular and a bit too detailed for me to fly through. i am leaving it at page 218, to be picked up at another time. (i actually did not return it on time, because i left in the middle of the morning in a quincinera outfit, and all of our flights were still oversold, but it was worth the $1.40 in fines, and my first overdue book in i don’t know how long).

6) That Time I Loved You-Carrianne Leung what an amazing book, to travel with or otherwise. just like The Wondrous Woo, a dazzling story that is so deliciously well-written. i’m glad she was just appointed writer in residence, she really deserves it. this is also a win because i am cutting into my home book shelf, though i also keep adding books that i find in the street as well. there is just so much to read! (what a life).

7) God Save the Queen Diva!-Big Freedia with Nicole Balin this was my first book after i returned from costa rica, and the one where i learned that mystikal was a great cheerleader. i love that this got some response on instagram, and am looking forward to seeing her here in october, as i missed the nxne show because nobody updated the schedule, and i left because i didn’t find tinashe particularly compelling.

i have also resumed my library tour and am hoping to finish it before jury duty, so there have also been some graphic novels that i have read and returned along the way (and forgot to write down)-oops.

total: 7
summary: v.slow burn