december books (plus)

i opened this month debt-free! and i apologize to the denver nuggets-i didn’t know that they were the top of the western conference (who could’ve predicted that?!) i am now more disappointed that within a week (and a bit), we have beat the warriors and lost to the nets-that’s garbage. but at the same time, if we beat the good teams and lose to the bad ones, at the end of the day, we won’t match up with the shit ones in the long run and/or the playoffs so i suppose that’s a thing.

i loved hearing leslie odom jr. ask a young girl at the philly free library what her dream was, and her answer was “to be a dermatologist”. i also love that a real life librarian at bloor/gladstone was asked how to get out of the door, and she thought it was adorable-i myself wondered how the fuck he got in.

i attended a teeny interactive art show, assemblages, and made duck fat kraft dinner.

we did back to back shoots on our last episodes of 2018. i signed miikshi‘s diploma as president of root veg university.

i chose dave and friends at the last minute (when my windfall came in) and got to ask a friend the question coming from the shad show (i had to go to the show that sold out last), “does my presto card emasculate you?”

babygirl turned 6. i clearly remember her 3rd birthday (3stack balloons). if she’s mad at me/distant, it’s probably because i’ve missed half her life again. i am my father. (sigh).

i have a new (hot) therapist-i look forward to talking to her about all of this. (she also has “compton” written on the back of her gleamingly white adidas)-i am so curious.

looking through my bookshelf, i started reading my kitchen year, the book and talk that prompted my decision years ago to move to mexico city next year (since recinded) and the book that hunt got me from malaysia years ago, teaching me haka from mandarin-i will do my own duolingo, trying to learn an oral language from one that i don’t know at all.

i am also got tickets to happy place for me and my love zee, who is coming to our screening!

i am also happy to report that my last game at the ACC (nope, i won’t call it by its new name) was a winning one, right at the end, tho. but i can’t remember the last time i got hoarse and light-headed. our superstar may be an expensive rental, but he’s an awful lot of fun to watch. also-i finally got to see greg monroe play!

also-jorg kraus can eat my dust for december-i am creaming his duolingo champion ass.

on the same night-i got to bigup michie mee, see peter holung in action, and returned to standup!

we are screened! i was photographed with a stranger in a cookie! our JNO resto has been turned over, and for the first time, there was a child, and no star wars movie to fight over.

1) hey ladies-the complete series and the movie if stephen merchant ever felt a way about being the idiot abroad, it’s his assholic time to shine here. it’s hard to believe that anyone could be so clueless and awful, but it’s a bit too real. if only we could keep these fuckers fictional and not in the real-life dating pool. i like that stylistically, the character was not redeemed in the series, but is by the end of the movie, which is a continuation of the series-even though we still get a hollywood ending, it feels real, so it’s more hope-full than cliche. this was a lot of fun.

2) friday black-nana kwame adjei-brenjay back to back glowing reviews from roxanne gay, and i’m not mad about it-she is not wrong! talk about opening your short story collection with the most haunting one-damn. i’m still thinking about it. i also love the dedication and the kendrick quote off the top-it’s nice to know when someone is not playing, from jump.

“The tone of her voice, spiced with the Bronx, said I was one of many inconveniences in her life.” (68, The Hospital Where)

holy shit. as i make my way these stories, i continue to marvel at this meditation on race that is more realism than magic, but we are at the point in contemporary society where this kind of visceral exaggeration is almost possible, but i think we are still at the point where we don’t actually want it-may we heed these present-day cautionary tales…

3) mind of a chef-gabrielle hamilton i was re-watching the layover a few days ago, because of anthony bourdain, ok, because of the food, but one of the best things he ever did was put this woman on. this is no exception-short of the introduction to each episode where he doesn’t even introduce himself, he just gets the fuck out of the way. i remember seeing her talk about her book at the reference library years ago with nadia and walking away so inspired. that was at the beginning of her motherhood and her restaurant, and she was stressed. this is lovely because twelve years later, she is here, successful and jubilant-she’s having so much fun here and it’s great to see that when you do want you believe and what you love, it will love you back. the garbage episode in particular is amazing-“you make money in the restaurant business by saving food, not producing it”. wow. also-it gets to the heart of what i believe in-waste is about convenience and your character-if you’re not willing to spend the time and energy thinking about the things you throw away, it shows that you’re not willing to consider your impact in the world, and that makes you a dick. it is important to experience life across the spectrum of experience, though, as i remember talking to with khingz, years ago when i interviewed him-from being able to find something great in all food to all music, i agree. yesterday, i took great pleasure in salvaging the chickens slated to be frozen in salty purgatory and not only transforming it into something palatable (with lime juice, mayo, sesame oil and a soupcon of relish), but also turning it into crew lunch for everyone with only $2 additional of crew money, only to come home to smoke a blunt and eat burger king (hey, on a coupon!) and catch up on star-i’m loving it all.

watercress grows in water! of course it does-but this is the first time that i’ve ever seen anyone scavenge for it:

“i’m not gonna pull it by the root, because i want it to grow back”

i learned that lobsters don’t bleed red-they bleed clear. huh. i had never thought of this before-i have never considered the blood (or lack thereof) of crustaceans and now i have. i’m great-full. i also learned what larceny means and that she was convicted of it. it’s kind of amazing that the dvd extras features zucchini tops, but i love it and can’t wait to try it, along with make pasta….i need a rolling pin-or i’ll just use a coke bottle like we used to when i was a kid.

4) everything’s trash but it’s ok-phoebe robinson damn. i can’t imagine coming out to my parents about being tens of thousands of dollars in debt via this book (that also talks of meeting oprah and bono)-it’s quite a reveal for people will only be impressed by meeting viola davis. but kudos for bringing up class issues and the things we go through to save face with our folks/defend our artistic choices. i like what she brings about work in general-i feel like this is what’s different between this one and the first one.

5) becoming-michelle obama (audiobook) she reads it. that’s all you need to know. i’ve been listening to it in the mornings before i go to the shoot, and what a wonder-full way to set things off every day. everything-from making toast alone, to her forays into piano, having a crafty mother (whose life and goals she has started to consider now that she has also found herself in these roles), hanging out with jesse jackson‘s daughter, boyfriends before barack, and the unequal life conditions that contributed to her becoming (the powerhouse that she is now) is interesting and amazing to hear in her own words, literally and literally:

“Failure is a feeling long before it became a result”

everything is foreshadowing-from being on the campaign trail with the second black presidential candidate, adapting to living with someone who is not organized (and still doing it), running a princeton daycare of healthy snacks and exercise and homework, not understanding why someone would take the path less taken (graduating princeton to try out to be a mascot), and finishing law school to mentor a lanky dood with a distinct name that she didn’t initially think of dating because he was a smoker and white people always do freak out when they see a black guy in a suit (shade!), but eventually she came around because “he was a deadly combination of smooth and reasonable”. i also have been thinking about the reverse-simpsons situation of her and her brother fucking up their parents’ cigarettes by breaking them (by the case!) and dipping them in hot sauce-how pissed must they have been?! as the campaign unfolded, michelle talks of how torn she is to have to give up her work dedicate her time to the campaign trail (and even see her husband at all), and simultaneously be demonized for emasculating him and have her success attributed to her association to him-she’s really a saint-she’s really a model of grace, that’s for sure.

the thing about audiobooks is that they take so much longer to get through than anything i can read in my own mind. but the thing about audiobooks is also that when they are read by the author, they can be a downright delight-to hear someone’s words, literally and literally. i am hella wired tonight, after the big win (and probably the late-ish tea), but i made it to the end of a disc and the points of note from #11 are: the nicknames (nice choices, sasha and malia!), the fact that obama refused the $100,000 moving allowance (first of all-that’s a bit excessive, and second-guess who probably did not even blink on spending that, although he still doesn’t even want to move in), and the fact that there is no job description for first lady (and presumeably not for president either…) so it’s really up to whomever is in office to shape that (under great scrutiny, of course) for herself. she talks of laura bush giving her a tour of the white house, and i know that she advocated a lot for teachers and librarians, michelle was all about healthy habits for children, but this one? i have no idea what she’s about, other than tasteless jackets and staying out of the way. what will first lady kim kardashian be about? i mean, she’s already done more in terms of that one prison pardon…i’m sayin’.

i had no idea of the money racked up by the first family-they have to pay for their food and other expenses, huh. her bootcamp vacations sound absolutely amazing, and she had me going for a minute with the petting zoo nightmare. she wonders if mandela really knew who she was when she met him, stays committed to instilling healthy habits in children, and is the questlove of her relationship (the face of the group). the way she talks about her anxiety over re-election feels like the same process of winning back to back NBA championships, and even though i know what happened, i was on the edge of my seat. i mean-we live in a time of unbelievable history, so it’s not that far off…

she speaks about how hard it was for her and barack to go through sandy hook, and i must have just glossed over the details because i don’t remember them at the time. for all that is made of obama not being a “racial” president, the truth is that his stance (and michelle’s) on gun violence could not not be a racial issue, just like there’s no way that it cannot be now.

she’s such a queen that she only did commencement speeches for non-ivy league schools and the queen queen wanted her to sit next to her in the car-secret service be damned. “becoming is forward motion” is the takeaway from this audiobook that i have come to see as coming home. i had to finish it and return it because there are holds (obvi) but now that it’s gone, i miss it.

6) the muppet show-season 3 wow. what an amazing job they did on this show-and how it’s stood the test of time. i’m watching it digitally remastered, but it’s amazing. especially now that i have minimal puppeteering experience and know how hard it is, holy shit. also-it is amazing to see a demographic that no longer exists-“family” when it’s just about singing and dancing and jokes and magic-maybe this is where miikshi can fit in. it’s also interesting to see how some humans/actors/performers fare better with muppets than others. i’ve put season one and two on hold as well, and will binge-watch as much as i can before i get back on set, for research and development purposes. the themes are complicated-from being aged out of the industry as a piggy, er, woman to signing your soul away in a contract to become a star-the show is actually quite deep, using the medium to massage the message. i’m not sure how much of a fan i am of the trope that miss piggy is manipulative about her relationship with kermit (and prone to violence) and threatened by her female costars and guests but i suppose that’s a sign of the times.

highlights: alice cooper, gilda radner, liberace! the ghost puppet-how are they doing this? is it a projection? and the pigs in space in line drawing?! this is still moving now, imagine all those decades ago…the slow dance conversations, harry belafonte‘s fine ass drumming with animal, the angry baby band (bbbb), and the behind the scenes commentary and old commercials-i am so glad that i came to the wonder of puppets at this time of my life, and that i always get to keep finding new things to love and understand in the context of living in the world.

7) man alive-thomas page mcbee another book reviewed and vetted by roxanne gay and i like knowing that i’ve basically had the same reading list, but i’ve come to it on my own, and i like this synergy. this one is also beauty-fully written and of a category that i’m reading to bulk up on knowledge and experience in solidarity with my near and dear. here are some pull quotes:

“There are the facts of what happened, but the story is in parts.” (13)

that’s interesting-i pulled it initially because i thought it said “there are facts of what happened, but the story is the hardest part”. huh. really makes you think. (wow).

“The words sat like something dead between us. I kept my mouth shut. I’m not the kind of man that destroys something smaller than me.” (143). dang. what a sentence/concept.

“Everyone is entitled to his own truth, his quiet dignity; even those who try to steal yours.” (149)

“Everybody has a different threshold, but we all know to run eventually; most people don’t realize that.
We never forget how to escape.” (51)

“What makes a man? A man makes himself.” (157) exactly. so let me just step out of the way and trust them to do just that (that means no coddling, pandering or resentment). does it mean that i don’t notice how consciously trans/queer/non-conforming men (of colour) do this? absolutely not.

i also learned that thomas means “twin”, which is interesting because hobbs of calvin and hobb‘s real name is thomas, which also brings levels to that.

8) all eyez on me-dir. benny boon so, jada didn’t like this. afeni died being against it being made. i have many questions. mainly around misogyny and truth-but we can never forget that as women who also love rap/rappers, right? this guy sometimes really looks like ‘pac, other times, looks like a puffy stand-in. i’m also pretty sure that the attribution to the slang “fam” is too modern to put it on angie martinez et al in 1995. it’s hard to believe just how young he and big were-but speaking of big, they couldn’t get anyone who could’ve done it better? dre too? and suggesting that tupac died bumpin’ “blackberry molasses”? i mean-it was the knock, but who could corroborate that, suge? and there are no questions as to why he escaped that shootout unscathed when they were sandwiched? did those women in the car on the other side get hurt? what about ayanna jackson? i want to know about her-it was quite the portrayal of her intentions and the choice to play r.kelly during her screen time (!), and she seems to have been handled with the same gloves as dee barnes, but at least she got an apology. the articles that i’ve read have reported such nonsense information such as pac serving 9 years in prison for her assault, and i have yet to watch her “in my own words” video, though i have been inspired to read the book that i’ve had on my shelf in his own words, which, at first glance, seems to be a primary source for the director. also-kidada has nothing to say? if even to dispute/refute her ex-fiance’s mother claiming about her “she got a white mama”? it’s never an easy job, to do a biopic on such a well-loved and controversial figure, but the most provocative choice is why to do it in the first place. huh. really makes you think.

9) no ashes in the fire-darnell l. moore ok, this one has a review by kiese laymon (amongst other heavy-hitters) on the jacket, so the reality of all of the authors that i’m reading reading each other continues. i got here because of his appearance on luvvie ajayi‘s podcast, and i actually saved it from being put back into the mix because i was late to pick it up (man alive i actually missed and had to call back, btw) and i’m so in love-with his voice, his story, his approach to life. i remember one of the things that stood out most in that podcast being his reaction to people asking him what he does-something along the lines of “instead of answering the question ‘what do you do?’ i ask instead if they want to know what i love…” what a time to hear this and be completely in line with its sentiment and reality.

someone will always get hurt when writing about family, but the ratio between how much of an impact someone has on you and how close they are to death/illness is an especially tricky place to navigate, with compassion existing somewhere along the spectrum in between.

“Lack didn’t impede their ability to care for one another; it made care possible.” (56)

“We didn’t do much, but our too little was enough.” (107)

like michael arceneaux, moore‘s struggle with the church and sexuality brings me back to a point that cameron esposito made on the call your girlfriend podcast that she guested on-the reason that the adjustment to celibacy was made for priests was property-related-all of the church property was going to the kids of the clergy, so the way to fix that, of course, was to limit them from making their own kids, thus driving them to touch and shame everyone else’s.

10) luther 4-this was probably too scary for me to start at the time that i did-i forgot that i don’t usually like things in this genre, but i don’t remember it to be svu-like when i first started watching it years ago and discovered that i reacted to idris in a way that made my partner insecure, oops. i mean, this was someone who was addicted to porn and had no problem talking about what he would do to rihanna and the game of thrones women, but i “ooh” once (so low that i didn’t even hear it) to him taking his shirt off in the corner and it’s a thing-hello, double-standard…but hopefully things are different now that he’s a father, though the last time we talked he expressed not wanting to put “his son” in pink, so, probably not, but maybe (we gotta keep hope alive). i love that in the UK a “series” is so loosely defined-they were at least four 2-hour episodes, and now this one is two 1-hour episodes, so i don’t know why they didn’t just release it as a movie. and it’s clear that luther has a type-crazy redheads-and that’s cool and whatever, but it doesn’t make him that good of a detective, but that’s always been the limit of the show-he’s always got to be just enough on the side of justice because he is crooked.

11) zane presents z-rated chocolate flava 3-i know, i know, i said i would stop, and i did return all of the random ones that i grabbed on library tour, but zane has been doing it forever-i trust her to vet these writers. so far, they’re pretty good-short and self-contained at the very least, so i don’t have to sufferlove through an entire book at a time. i heard that zane has an erotic podcast and i just looked it up, it’s called purple panties and the tagline is “in a world of purple, we bring you the pink”. and, i’m out. but i’m reading this one in between episodes so i don’t have to be riding public transit with this (or explain it to my crewmates). i didn’t end up doing that, rather spending nights reading it, but here are the pull-quotes (get ready):

“Her knees nearly gave out at the scent of him-man and hair products.” (92, Tight Jeans, Giselle Renarde)

“He was simply a nigga in possession of a powerful position, making plenty of money, with a hearty appetite for eating punany and a rock-hard dick for committing larceny.” (132, Klepto-Collecto, Thomas Slater)

ok. so i have this thing about porn-i sometimes watch it to see something interesting, something different, like the time i saw grown men playing baseball with their long hard dicks as bats (the light bill had to be paid) and the above story was that in this collection-what the actual fuck? but a+ for effort, i’m here for the idea.

i had a discussion in the summer with someone about how we don’t really see the second person narration (outside of the choose your own adventure series)-little did i know that i would encounter it in a story called “Possessed Penis” by Tiffany L. Smith, so thanks for that…

“My towel was the only thing between us. She grabbed my obviously hard apparatus, towel included, and guided me to the bed. I was in big dick trouble now.” (The Rules of Sheets, Scott G.)

“I flick my tongue up and down his shaft; take his cleanly shaven sperm holders into my mouth, let my moans vibrate against him like his did me moments ago.” (298, Heated Waters, Jewells)

“I grabbed his dick with both hands, spread my mouth open as far as I could and stuffed it with some delicious, protein-infused trouser snake.” (321, Mea Culpa, Zane)

and, yikes. these sentences are so bad i got stuck in a trance reading them. listen-i know it must be hard to come up with new ways to say the same shit, because we only have so many moves as humans, but come on! also-i didn’t expect that the worst of them would come from zane herself, she was the reason i kept going through with this in the first place-and right at the end, too. it reminds me of the time i read needful things-852 pages that were gripping for 800 and then utter bullshit for the last two. except this was pretty awful for most of the book, and then really awful right at the end. also, the first story was by zane‘s son zander, and that’s a helluva a family business/writing collabo.

the thing that i did appreciate was the fact that sex is a complicated thing, and when combined with power and communication, we really have a lot of opportunities to fuck up. at this time (and all the times, really, but i feel like we might be almost ready) we need any opportunity we can get to have a whole host of discussions, and if this a way in, let’s take it.

12) weapons of self destruction-robin williams i couldn’t resist putting this one on hold, and can’t help but wonder what he would say now about the american political climate, but seeing him act out bush and tony blair as the “UN-sanctioned version of rain man” was well worth the price of admission. i am also learning that schwarzennegar proposed building the wall in 2006, i must have missed that because at that point, people hadn’t lost their fucking minds yet as to consider it as a plausible action plan. i am so into the local highlights.

13) kill the messenger-chris rock i think i realized early in that i’ve already seen it, but it’s chris rock, so something can always be learned. in this case, it was that he shed light on the fact that men are always wondering when to whip their dick out with someone new. the difference is that he said “you can’t just bring out an ashy dick”. well, i wish that everyone exercised that, as well as the skill of knowing when to bring it out, but sadly, some folks insist on not only bringing the dick out at an inappropriate time, but also at inappropriate hygiene. white women-i’m looking at you to raise your standards so that we can all do better. (this is another great topic of this special). it’s interesting that this was recorded before obama so he was able to say that bush was the worst president ever-oh, how quickly history renders itself irrelevant.

14) portlandia-season four oh, joint finances. i am beginning to think that there is never a reason to do this-ever. i’ve already seen this season (i remember wanting to get the matching cloud pajamas and now i have matching cloud robes), but it’s pretty great. i extra love kumail nanjani now, and really wish there was a service that fact-checked things that people say on dates. seeing the women’s bookstore carwash reminds me that they free the trailblazer cheerleaders, so i’m here for that. also-the entire banter in the blazers’ locker room is amazing. also, the paul allen (rip) kickstarter for new uniforms was probably not far from the truth-i once sold him some shoes when i worked at roots. i somehow missed the jay-z concert skit, but i had quite the chuckle. also, “celery” is genius through and through-but i have a soft spot for produce and customer service. my fave guest stars are steve buscemi, maya rudolph, and jeff goldblum. it’s amazing how many ways these two can always come up with new relationships to put characters in, as well as their own relationship as themselves.

15) first year out-sabrina symington this one has been making the rounds on the “to read” lists so i gave it a chance. i don’t feel like the art matched the story-i thought it was about a much older protagonist, but it turns out, she was in her early 20s. i also found this to be quite a first year-do people usually get approved for a gender reassignment surgery in their first year? i would’ve liked to see the counselling piece in there, unless that’s not a requirement anymore. also-how lucky for her that her mom just had an epiphany over how terrible she was being and made a full 180, and she was able to find someone to love her so completely and without any of his own issues or hangups.

16) portlandia-season seven-i didn’t think it would b a problem to watch out of order, and having a marketing team suggest death faking as a way of promoting the run the jewels launch is amazing proof of this being the right decision. claire danes using the same faces as i first saw her as angela in my so-called life to be an identity thief cum acting coach?! i love the men’s rights activists, as well as the nerds vs. hunks-oh how fragile the male ego is (anatomically correct gingerbread men!), and how hilarious it is…and wow-the long-distance relationship planning and logistics hit a little close to home, considering who i was watching this show with last-yikes. airport sushi! “the sushi that everyone can eat, but nobody wants to”-genius. steve buscemi has really found his niche-too bad the show is over, his guest spots are amazing.

17) mike tyson-undisputed truth-wow. i think i heard about this, but never checked it out at the time-i’m glad i did now. wow. i mean, if mike tyson can find love and do a show on broadway directed by spike lee, there’s hope for all of us. he was charming, self-deprecating, funny as hell, and he performed his ass off. ever an enigma, it was lovely to see this chapter of his story at this time, through these loving eyes. everyone should see this, for every reason.

18) electric arches-eve l. ewing-this one is reviewed by kiese laymon, and i’m actually sure that i read it because he was talking about it on twitter. it’s gorgeous, i love the (hand)writing, the best of us are poets first, and my favourite piece is what I mean when I saw I’m sharpening my oyster knife.

19) gold-dir. stephen gaghan i discovered the trailer of this movie in the dvd previews in moonlight. i’m beginning to think that matthew mcconaughey is one of our best contemporary actors, and not just because he does his best to try to make himself look ugly in real life. what a story-adapted from real life and utterly insane. it does do that unfortunate thing of glorifying the rogue businessman/non-traditional leader, and i don’t think that

20) jane the virgin-season three i started this the morning after wrapping our last episode of 2018. i skipped season two because the library doesn’t have it, and i am saving my eyes from all the television that i’ve been binging on thanks to the gazelle automations gift of a usb gift drive. a few minutes into the first episode, i discovered that jane, like polkaroo and lindsay, , reads the ending before the book, and this may be a coincidence, or it may not…it’s good to be back in this world. i love that this show has been about work and purpose (religious or otherwise), basically what your life is about and how it lines up with your heart/calling. i had no idea that the big death was coming, and that is the first thing that has become unlike a telenovela-i thought that nobody ever really dies…i also fully teared up during the rogelixo engagement, but that may or may not be exacerbated by my sight-reading music for lovers at the same time (this works better than trying to read graphic novels whilst listening to michelle obama‘s audiobook, but i only have limited time and brain space, ok? i also love how politically relevant this show is-from the ICE conversation to the hashtags about venezuela, the abortion (which is a bigger deal in the states, it seems) and the bringing in the real-life plot point of white women telling spanish workers to learn english-the show is set in miami, after all. the friend fight really hit home, and the makeup was everything i’ve ever wanted.

21) broad city-season three more of the same nonsense, and i love it. leo’s back at the patate, and i got to tell him that i now know which of these broads reminds him of me. i love the ny comedy cameos-michelle buteau whut whut! (i remember seeing her do a set in 2014/15 when i was there a lot) rachel dratch, and of course, hannibal. “look at joss stone-she’s a genius and she’s never even worn shoes”. i can’t. also-beating those little (chauvinist) boys at basketball and then threatening to fuck their mothers, so much. funnily enough-abbi has to be ilana for her shift at the organic coop-and it is amazing. also-tony danza and hillary clinton? blake griffin?! in a quirky sex scene, eating pizza and talking about how he steals moves from the wnba? TRACEE ELLIS ROSS?! that is, i’m done. (i didn’t miss seth green, he’s just in the same episode as tracee ellis ross.

22) jeremy lin-the reason for the linsanity-timothy dalrymple i’m not sure why this book had to be written in three weeks, but considering that it covers about that time frame (literally), with the historical figurative, of course, it makes sense. it’s super interesting that it’s written by a former athlete who broke his neck and turned to a life of religious studies that happen to marry a taiwanese woman, and even more interesting is the fact that someone else who has borrowed the book from the library has circled a distracting code of letter combinations throughout the read. people-so fascinating, and not always in a good way. imagine what would’ve happened if lin stayed in golden state? and just now, he’s slated to be on another team after being benched (due to injury) back in new york. unfortunate hairstyles aside, i’m rooting for the kid. (maybe not to the point to agree with his assertion that he was ordained by god to play basketball, but i just saw a picture of harden without his beard, so.)

23) big little lies-dir.jean-marc vallee go’head, montreal. i have loved jean-marc vallee’s work since c.r.a.z.y. but i guess he’s getting his michel gongry on now, in the way of taking on unexpected projects. even more impressive is reese witherspoon and nicole kidman (the consummate screen victim) being executive producers, and of course there is an article circulating about their “egos” holding up season two, not this complicated ensemble cast, not hbo having the director work on an “inspired” project, not any of the myriad of reasons-they had to reduce it to a catfight. (definitely not trying to take down the women who are doing it for themselves in front of and behind the scenes because it upsets the patriarchy-definitely not). i like this the way that i like dark archie, as an escape, but i worry that it does too much to sympathize how fucked up white people are, so that it justifies the things that they do to the rest of us. but lenny kravitz and lisa bonet gave their daughter a lot-she finally got a role as denise-the boho yoga teacher who is the golden second wife in a white man’s midlife crisis, and ultimately she is the murderer. it’s because of her that i heard about this show-pheobe robinson mentioned it during the her episode of the so many white guys podcast. and of course, it’s the philly free library podcast that changes my mind about white folks making art-they are just doing what they know-at least they didn’t fill up space with tone-deaf and behind-the-times stereotypes of token colours of characters, and not focusing on race allows the focus on class and that is important because marx was wrong-the workers of the world have not united, they have gone inward and nationalistic and falling for populist candidates who are so absurd that that’s the only way they make sense.

24) double cup love-eddie huang i started this one after i was so wired from the pacers game that i couldn’t sleep-even after making it to the end of disk 11 of michelle obama’s audiobook, contemplating masturbating while it was happening, not masturbating until i heard the disc end, having the vibrator die, then getting up to blog about what i had heard, writing the program for our puppet show screening on sunday, and lapping jorg kraus on duolingo (learning english from italian). i am pleased to read that he at least dated a few asian girls, after he said he wasn’t attracted to us because our nipples reminded him of his mom’s (so fucked up i can never forget it from his first audiobook, but also quite insight-full and illuminating so i’m great-full), but finally gave up and tried to go to sleep (around 4am) as he was talking about meeting a fun (white) girl. bigups on opening the book dying from edibles, because i have totally been there. and then, just like that, he mentions breaking up with the woman that he invited to china to propose to, and then doesn’t explain it. whatevs-here’s the quote that inspires me most-there’s someone else who can write about life and food through the lens of extreme rap and basketball nerdery:

“Our Hunan red-cooked pork was one note with a countermove, it worked. Like Shaq’s drop-step spin to a baby hook, Old Jesse’s pork had only one countermove: vinegar. Our Hunan red-cooked pork was like the Nigerian Nightmare, Hakeem Olajuwon. It lured you in with pork fat, faked you out with sugar, bounced you with garlic, elbowed you with peppercorns, and, just when you thought it was safe, laid it over your head with a touch of anise. But like the old Taco Bell commercials with Shaq and Hakeem arguing about crunchy or soft tacos, the answer is the double decker taco.” (123)

25) portlandia-season six so, zoe kravitz has been putting in work-although it seems that she is still typecast as the young woman charmed by a middle-aged underachieving white guy (sigh). but what fun it is to see these two in all of their amazing skits-“family emergency” serves as an unintentional time capsule of pre-controversy louis c.k. or at least pre-knowledge of the truth. of course, my favourites-steve buscemi and the most feminist bookstore in the most feminist city, arguing over capitalism. i love carrie and fred.

26) riverdale-season two and, we’re back! murder! gangs! lies! corporate greed! family secrets! i’m here for it. though i’m not sure how much of the terrible latinx accents that the lodges are supposed to be doing because they are spanish? also-it’s kind of hard to avoid the south side/north side thing considering the history of this delineation of many american cities, but once again, it’s white people exploring class again, since there is no clear racial divide-they did this well on friday night lights, but that show happened at a time when it wasn’t so crucial to try to justify uneducated white folk.

i can’t shake the portrait of robin givens and mike tyson, and how he said that she’s been trying to reinvigorate her career ever since-so seeing her as the mayor of riverdale, advising the sheriff that if her daughter says the man was hurting her, he was hurting her, is a very striking image.

also-archie has a huge head, is this dawson‘s next cranium?

interesting, they are weaving white-washing of history into the plot of the town’s history. the idea of celebrating a “founding father” of a man who rolled over possibly indigenous history? ooh, land claims, taking down statues, and family secrets? ooh, the plot thickens…also-bringing home your secret brother to find out that he’s a gay internet porn star?! undocumented workers from canada! papa poutine! the audacity! homoerotic hair brushing trains! and are they saving jellybean jones for season 6 when she’s old enough to come and wreak havoc? conflating student council elections and mayoral elections, is this a way of inspiring hope that regular people are able to affect change in “democracy”? allegiances all across the board are being tested and questioned-so it’s a morality play now, more than ever. but-girls kissing on the backdrop of a gay conversion video? i love it. representation matters. the musical episode tho? i’m not sure i can handle this if it lasts more than one episode-i’m all for concepts, but not this one. i almost lost it when the top of the next episode started with a song, but luckily it was just a funeral song.

riverdale is literally burning-how are they coming back from this? turf wars, the sins of the father, a daughter counselling her mother out of an emotionally manipulative relationship, queer bow and arrows, even more murder? student council president framed for a murder he did not commit?! oh my!

27) inside amy schumer-season one and two i am watching this intermittently with dark archie because i have no renewals remaining on it. i’m glad that the library is lenient with holds over the holidaze, probably because they are closed so much. i should basically be caught up and ready to go for the new year. so far, it’s great. the skits are ridiculous and very well-produced.

“cute apartment-do you teach art to cats?”

these are some different rape jokes-i admire what she did here, because it is true-there is a grey area when it comes to rape, and “not totes consensh” is actually pretty bang-on. wow-aids vs. gluten-sensitivity-that is a choice. i’m feeling this mix of streeters, interviews, and stand-up as well-i’m into the neo-variety show format-for sure. men’s group therapy is amazing-all the men telling terrible lies and then coming clean by killing their wives-this is real life, people. also-the focus group about the show is amazing. i love that she sees god as paul giamatti, and bigups on that popchips sponsorship. and wow, the video game skit, damn…and ali wong! and a sex columnist who doesn’t like being eaten out?! wtf?! the behind the scenes is amazing, it’s good to see jessi klein live, after reading her book this fall. also-“write what you want to see” is great advice-they wanted puppies and made them happen. rachel dratch! janeane garafalo! marina franklin! reggie watts!

28) the comeback-starring lisa kudrow i thought this was a comedy, and it just seems uncomfortable. i feel like michael patrick king is just mean to women. i don’t know if the blatant racism is supposed to be ironic, or the extreme insecurity of aging as a woman in hollywood, or if this is just that american thing that they do with acknowledging one injustice at the expense of another. but 21 episodes is a lot-i was already cringing at 3, but you know me-completist. i hate-watched this, and it was almost worth it for the brief lena waithe cameo. maybe the moral is how people in hollywood are horrible, but did we need 21 episodes for that?! all that to get to the point of running out on the emmys if it’s the last time you may see your dying hairdresser-dammit. what’s it all for?

29) the bridge-season two-i decided not to continue watching this after two episodes. yup. i did that.

30) the muppet show-season one (digitally remastered) i really cannot get over how amazing of a job they did with this show-and before the 1980s and everything. it’s a pleasure to watch this in retrospect, and dangit if rita moreno is not the babe to end all babes (the aga khan was right to wife her). the muppet facts are so interesting, but their pop up video style makes it hard to watch them and do anything else, and that may not be such a bad thing, we could all stand to do more single-tasking. “at the dance” continues to be my favourite recurring skit.

pig: “my cousin was seen by ten million people last night”
date: “oh, is he a television star?”
pig: “no, he’s a football”

i actually almost spit out my smoothie. there’s also something to say about staying power (see below) when i see a young ben vereen as a guest on season one of the muppet show, and then as queen latifah and brandy‘s abusive father on star in the season finale. i had no idea that twiggy was british-i thought she was american, and only a model-i didn’t know that she also sang. the big intro hasn’t happened yet, and it was neat to see the original pitch that made it all possible. wow-really makes you think.

31) the mother of black hollywood-jenifer lewis wow if she means this literally, and literally. i suppose it escaped me that jenifer lewis has played everyone’s mother-from tina turner to tupac, and grandmother-from raven to the blackish kids. what a career she has had! this autobiography reads like butter, and i went to watch the clip of her at carnegie hall (pictured on the back cover) at her bequest, and who can forget “in these streets”? i hope that i will see her live one day.

32) creative quest-questlove so, i scrambled to read this before its due date, and wish the library had it in audiobook (as well as heavy, but alas, not yet, or not in real form). i hope it wins the award its up for though, and i definitely enjoyed it-i think i was thrown a bit by the food book (the 808 and heartbreak of his book cannon) because i really liked the other book, too. i am comforted that at least in some part, ?uesto is as happy as i am engaging with the works of others (although he has also created much, much more in his own write). i love how he talks about his wrong first impression of j dilla, and how he reacts to great music in paralysis. i could do without some of his “jokes”, especially those that he has to explain, but i feel like he would really be like this in person, so that makes sense.

imagine if the roots had stayed being called radio activity, or black to the future.

“A few weeks after that, we were on the road opening for the Pharcyde.” (59)
staaaap. let me just imagine that for a second. and hope for that again-remember, that would’ve been with leonard hubbard still. (sigh)

“Backward asks all questions, and answers them too.” (79) i will adopt this at once-turn things around, i don’t know about playing music backwards, but i could try it with a piece of music, maybe?

“That blew my mind. It kicked over my Jenga. How could that be? Why would he introduce such an iconic song if he didn’t know it it inside and out? It occurred to me that with Prince, maybe he feared being too derivative. As I discussed earlier, I don’t really have that fear. I think my creative identity is unquestionably made up of parts of other people’s creativity. I have lived my life being referential and reverential. But I have also seen cases where artists at an elevated altitude do not want to work that way. They hold the idea of covers at arm’s length. I’m not saying they’re wrong. I’m not saying they’re right. I’m saying that making things is about making choices.”( 136)

“I love Drake. I love Future. I love Migos. I like Earl Sweatshirt, Logic, Kendrick, Cardi, Chance.” (190 and i added corrected punctuation). tho the original is brazy tho-these are fighting words. wow.

he blew my whole mind with “chubby checker” as a weird variation on “fats domino“….whoa…

33) the to do list-dir.maggie carey “come on, sisters before misters” i love the commitment to “beaches” here, along with the opening credits, the inside jokes, and basically, everything. i remember wanting to see this years ago and what a perfect way to ring in the new year, amidst rain and fireworks in my neighbourhood and a phone call from my friends doing edibles in montreal. i’m sorry that bill hader and maggie carey broke up recently, but i guess sometimes relationships get ill. i love that she takes control of her virginity, and in the ned, chooses her friends over everything. the outtakes are amazing-this looks like it was a great set to be on.

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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

july 2018 books

it’s been a helluva month. i’ve been all over the place, but here are the books:

1) white oleander-janet fitch. i got this one from a book swap at a friend’s mom’s place. i was a bit worried that my book (i drink for a reason-david cross) would not go over well, but it ended up being fought over. i also learned that some people engage in the appalling practice of reading the last page of a book before they decide to read the rest of it. gaaah. this one was super intense, but so well-written that i couldn’t put it down.

2) high rise stories-compiled by audrey riley (and read on the 2nd floor of the reference library, not sure why this is not in general circulation, or who told me about it, but i am certain that it was on a podcast)

3) you play the girl-carina chocano (again, i think this was in liner notes or contributor’s notes or something of that nature)

4) how to american-jimmy o. yang. desus and mero brought me here. even though they covered a lot in the interview, this was like a grass jelly milk tea-refreshing and easy to drink. i like that he wrote it himself, unlike most basketball players and coaches, and i’m looking even more forward to crazy rich asians.

5) what is not yours is not yours-helen oyeyemi everything she writes is magic.

“Consent is a downward motion, I think-a leap or a fall-and whether they’ll admit it or not, even the most decisive people can find themselves unable to tell whether or not their consent was freely given. That inability to discover whether you jumped or were pushed brings about a deadened gaze and a downfall all its own”. (290)

6) nothing ever dies-viet thanh nguyen this one took me a while to finish, it was pretty dense, literally and literally. the idea that sticks out the most is the monetizing of nostalgia, from the cu chi tunnels to the zippos (i got one when i was there processing my identity fresh out of university that had an engraving of saddam hussein and missiles that lit up with the caption “anxiety peace we” this book broke that down)

metrotextual-may 2015

i feel like there’s a point in all of my attempted records where things get a bit murky, and i have hit that point here. my may 2015 file is full of books dated with different months, so i think this means that i didn’t record the exact date that i read them, but i recorded the dates that i blogged them, when i was still doing that. my apologies to kathryn kiutenbrouwer for the interview i never wrote up from our talk about all of the broken things, i don’t think i was actually ready to confront my feelings about talking to you about the book you wrote about vietnamese-canadian identity.

the books:

1) All of the Broken Things-Kathryn Kiutenbrouwer
2) Exposing Myself-Geraldo Rivera
3) From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant-Alex Gilvarry
4) Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy-Darryl Pinckney
5) After Artest-The NBA and the Assault on Blackness-David J. Leonard

these were all very big books, literally and literally. one of them prompted me to contact a former canadian talk show host to ask if he’s ever interviewed geraldo (he had not). one of these i got from the philly free library podcast, my longtime fave.

here are some quotes:

“The effort to exclude under-20 ballers from the NBA, while also motivated by owners not wanting to pay first-round dollars to players who might take years to develop and college programs wanting to profit from the unpaid labor of America’s top ballers, reflects a desire to push America’s best players into attending college so they can join the league having been already ‘seasoned’ and ‘domesticated’.” (102)

“Barbara used to tell me that people like us would always carry the double-edged sword of celebrity: greater access to sources, but resentment from rivals and colleagues. Don’t let it affect your work, she counselled. On some stories, especially in remote places, we will often cause a bigger fuss than the story itself. Don’t worry about it. Just concentrate on doing better than anyone else.” (307)

“There were more rats running around the emergency room than hospital staff. The place would have been a scandal in Addis Ababa, or Bombay, but it was quietly tolerated in the urban wasteland of the South Bronx.” (72)

“What is it that they say? Home is where you hang yourself.” (5)

“Obama’s reelection stimulated concern in some quarters about the price black Americans were paying for a black president.” (39)

“We rented a boat, and I rowed us to a remote corner of the reservoir. The sun baked down hot. I took off my shirt, and we embraced. Right there, the estranged first lady of Canada leant new meaning to the term head of state.” (333)

“It was the shame Teacher conveyed, by trying to fix things. He wanted to shout that these things were just broken. He wanted her to understand about the pride of broken things.” (161)

“And you won’t hear any of us called prisoners either. That’s forbidden too. We are detainees. It is all very clever on their part. Because we are not called prisoners, they don’t have to charge us with a crime.” (206)

five words: politricks, notoriety, truth, advice, reality

metrotextual-may 2016

the books:

1) The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears-Dinaw Mengetsu-may 6
2) The Punch-John Feinstein-may 11
3) One Last Thing Before I Go-Jonathan Tropper-may 13
4) Eleven Rings-Phil Jackson with Hugh Delehanty -may 17th
5) Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Ex*-Heather Belle, Michelle Fiordaliso-may 19
6) Super Sad True Love Story-Gary Shteyngart-may 30

huh. deep in the playoffs for the first time, it doesn’t surprise me that it was mostly fiction and basketball, with a touch of trust issues.

the quotes:

“It wasn’t a kiss so much as it was a gentle press, or an extended graze of lips, full of a sudden, almost crushing tenderness.” (59)

“Players and coaches were far more accessible to the media. To begin with, there were far fewer media outlets. ESPN was still two years from its launch, and USA Today was six years away from publishing for the first time. None of the twenty-four-hour news services that now glut the airwaves existed. Writers often traveled on the same flights as the players. Their lifestyles weren’t all that different. The difference in salaries between most players and most writers wasn’t that great. Often they ate and drank together.” (36)

“He loves her as much as any man can love a woman he’s never spoken to, which is significantly more than you’d think.” (12)

“One thing I’ve learned as a coach is that you can’t force your will on people. If you want them to act differently, you need to inspire them to change themselves.” (13)

“And beneath the chaos of the moment, Denise becomes aware of a painful truth about herself: she is never as deeply in love with a man as she is in the moment he leaves her.” (211)

“To earn that kind of trust and affection from a child is to find out that you may have just been a better person than you believed all along.” (108)

“What impressed me most about Scottie, however, was his development over time as a leader-not by mimicking Michael but by teaching his teammates how to play within the system and always offering a compassionate ear when they ran into trouble. This was critical because Michael wasn’t very accessible and many of the players were intimidated by his presence. Scottie was someone they could talk to, someone who would keep an eye out for them on court. As Steve Kerr says, ‘Scottie was the nurturer, Michael was the enforcer.’” (74)

“While the desire to please caregivers is natural, it can become confusing if too much was expected from you as a child…..If responsibilities were foisted upon you too early, you may have come to believe that your greatest worth comes from denying yourself and offering up acts of service instead.” (102)

“I was only sixteen at the time. I didn’t believe in consequences yet.” (126)

“I felt both jealous of their youth and scared for their future. In short, I felt paternal and aroused, which is not a good combination.” (206)

in five words: experience, relationships, revelations, imaginary, intimidation.