march madness

so, the month started with an unexpected treat by MLSE of a detroit roadtrip to watch our team lose to coach casey’s new team. it was a bittersweet bookend to this tenure as a season ticket holder.

also-lots of love from my peoples with whom it doesn’t have to be so difficult all the fucking time. we all deserve this, people-we deserve to be with the ones who want to love us, feed us, hold us, and see us.

the work front has gotten very exciting all of a sudden-dangit, it just goes to show-when i say i want to work, i want to work. lots of potential life changes on the horizon, but i suppose they have always been there. it’s been quite an ordeal trying to jump up in the air and stay there.

my last games as a season ticket holder are coming up-it’s kind of surreal that the first time i see us actually beat lebron, kyle‘s not playing, and it comes as the man who’s made it to the finals the last eight years in a row will not even make the playoffs. further-it was outshadowed by the bloody fight that happened in the stands next to us, and urkel being in the building.

all my ipods are dead now. boo. i am sad and wish i had these podcasts on a thing i can walk with. “there’s a thing called demo-itis” and “they just reminded me of kittens-and i love kittens” are examples of gems from jhene aiko‘s episode of song exploder that i’m sure would have given me life in a walking way.

i am going through it with my hair right now-i can’t handle the growout, i can’t reach certain places to shave, i’m trying to comb it over, the greys are in full force, and dangit, i get all the flyaways when i put it up. (sigh).

1) handbook for an unpredictable life-rosie perez i went looking for this because of the in living color book, and i recognize the parts that that author took, basically in her exact words. another virgo with struggles with family-gotta love it. but damn, i’m sorry that she had to struggle with the group home and the convent and all of that, at least she always knew that someone (her tia, her dad) loved her and was fighting for her, despite her narcissistic and controlling mother. i am also in outrage over the grandparents being fired for being group home parents for having weed, but the man going free for raping one of the girls. i love her for speaking out about the attempted sexual abuse from her half brother, and i can identify with being afraid when five percenters wanted to talk to you. also with moving somewhere and hustling to make money because folks were robbing and betraying her. ooh the story about how she got on soul train! and how she got to teach bobby brown how to dance because of it. it just goes to show-people will always want to hold you back, but better ones will notice you. and meeting spike lee?! and negotiating by machete where that ice cube could go! puffy was heavy d‘s driver and a club dancer! ll cool j‘s dad was a creepy dick! slick rick pulled a gun on her! i never knew she became an AIDS activist because of her actual gay husband. her survivor’s remorse is real, and i hope that she is truly good with jennifer. being recognized by rodney dangerfield at the emmys! tom cruise holding her papi’s hand at the oscars while she got him orange juice for his diabetic crash and her swearing her way back into the ceremony! i’ve always loved this woman, and listening to her audiobook has made me love and appreciate her even more. what a treasure.

2) isn’t it romantic-dir. todd strauss-schulson this is the perfect example of the sports movies where they learn the lesson, and still win anyway-it takes away from the lesson as the win. i kind of feel like the real moral of the story is that fat girls can find love too, despite what their jaded mothers who drink wine floats say. but at least it’s self-reflexive. i’ve been a fan of rebel wilson, even though she’s got that corpse-complexion that i’ve been recently made aware of. but, i prefer the other movie that she was in on this topic, where she was an actually happy single person.

3) a brief history of seven killings-marlon james so, i cannot remember the last time i read a 700-page book, but it’s probably been a minute. i regularly read 300-pagers, so it’s not that big of a deal, but just like how five lines of four people will always look shorter than one line of 20, i suppose optics are a thing. i also happen to be reading this book at the same time as a couple people on the outskirts of my circle, so i suppose the world is small and all of that.

4) best food writing of 2018-ed. ruth reichl i love ruth reichl. i also love food. i mean, obviously-but i love all facets of food-the growing and harvesting, shopping for a spectrum of food-from junk to organic produce, and i love the politics of waste and power. this collection has it all, and i want to track down all of the articles in the “honourable mentions” in the back-dangit! i was also blown away by how much i had no idea about, and am great-full to this woman for her continued knowledge and gifts in this curation.

“Suffice to say that we love to consume stories about consumption in all its forms.” (xii, foreward, Silvia Killingsworth)

“Apparently the rules have changed. Women may not have value as chefs, but as victims we’re finally interesting!” (34, Amanda Cohen, I’ve Worked in Food for Twenty Years. Now You Finally Care about Female Chefs?)

“Soon the entire Nixon administration was sold on the idea that we could make our enemies-and even our friends-dependent on us to feed themselves.” (75, Ted Genoways, Bringing in the Beans)

i knew it….this is why i am so passionate about the distribution of resources…

“It’s hard to have pride when you’re poor. Finding joy in food that comes from a bag or a box feels like a sin in a society that demonizes it. Now it’s hard for me to honor that happiness when grieving. Food brings me home, but it also makes me face my shame.” (123, Marissa Higgins, The Struggle of ‘Eating Well’ When You’re Poor)

“Craft is only as white as the lies it tells itself.” (146, Lauren Michele Jackson, The White Lies of Craft Culture)

“It’s always hard to leave the place you call home. Sometimes it’s harder to come back.” (164, Francis Lam, In Good Hands)

“Maybe I would have learned this reading anything, but I learned it reading cookbooks: words can be used to make an idea more precise or more vague, to make something clear or to blur its edges. Some writers are good at imagining people who don’t live a life exactly like their own, and others seem incapable.” (230, Tejal Rao, The Joy of Reading About Cooking)

also-these nba fools with the pbj! I had no idea!

5) don’t call us dead-danez smith daaaang. i just read the first poem aloud, and got a chill. i haven’t felt this way about poetry in awhile (you know what that means!) just look at this brilliance:

“history is what it is. it knows what it did.” (summer, somewhere)

“take your God back. though his songs are beautiful, his miracles are inconsistent……abra-cadaver. white bread voodoo. sorcery you claim not to practice, hand my cousin a pistol to do your work. i tried, white people. i tried to love you, but you spent my brother’s funeral making plans for brunch, talking too loud next to his bones.” (dear white america)

aaaah. i love him sooo much. just go read this because every single poem is so good. and so necessary. and so worth it. go treat yourself to the feeling of experience it for yourself. you deserve it. ( i mean that in all of the ways).

6) my kitchen year-ruth reichl i’ve decided to read this because of the 2019 toronto public library reading challenge item “a book you’ve always meant to read”. it’s also on my personal list of books that i own that i haven’t read. also-i just can’t get enough of ruth reichl, this dynamo who has an amazing career in cooking and writing. when i bought it, i had just paid off my debt and was inspired by her talk of mexico city ingredients, and decided that it was my next destination. it was at george brown and after the cookbook store had folded (rip). it’s also no accident that i’m picking it up now, as i navigate a similar place of being in a no man’s land of decadent unemployment, thinking and cooking my way out. also-full circle, i had an interview at sanagan’s yesterday, and met peter, the owner, who i saw do a demo in that very same cookbook store after it had been renovated with a full kitchen.

“A disaster is a fine excuse for a pajama party, and we stayed up half the night talking.” (25)

frankie gave me a bunch of pantry/produce castoffs, and i made the lemon panna cotta the day i overdosed on all the dairy. it was perfect.

7) i might regret this-abbi jacobson again, i have opted for the audiobook, because i love to hear a woman’s story in her own voice. i had no idea what this was about, but again-no accident that it’s her account of her choosing to drive across the country alone, after her show wrapped and her relationship ended. the first disc sets it up as a self-reflexive running away. i like it, and i can identify. i hope it ends with her being sure that she is not, in fact, incapable of love. (fingers crossed). i feel like the second disc was an hour of stream of consciousness, which both inspired me and also made me say, “come on”-probably around the point where it went to “when do ankles become cankles?”. it’s interesting to know that she also worked at the onion and i’m enjoying the process part. just like key and peele-they have decided to end broad city on a high note, and i can’t help but wonder what influence michael jordan has on that cross-platform. both 23 jordan and 45 jordan. ohemgee, the poignancy of knowing you’ll be heartbroken when something ends, but also needing it to end-dang-this perfectly describes my recent end of employment, perfectly. also-the wisdom of saying nos that make room for more yesses. there were a couple more discs of free associations and “what ifs” that made me question whether or not this would’ve been better in her journal, but hey-plenty of doods do this, so, take up your space, boo. and i suppose that’s why it was called i might regret this. the moral of the story-she may not.

8) love enough-dionne brand i got this one half because i want to read more of our prolific poet laureate‘s work, half because i’m checking the “a book set in toronto” box on the 2019 toronto public library’s reading challenge. i don’t know if her work has gotten easier to read, or if i’ve become a better reader, but it’s probably six of one and half a dozen of the other, like the process i’ve gone through with toni morrison. it’s also as glamourous to recognize toronto in a book as it is to recognize it in a movie-i never knew this before this book.

“It occurs to her that you can go to sleep at night as one person and wake up the next morning as another. It occurs to her that you can go down into the subway at Main as one person and emerge at Landsdowne another.” (19)

see?

“Mercede’s love was exhausting because it needed love back constantly. Lia and Germain were children and didn’t always know how to love back. They simply knew how to love, and at times they simply wanted to run or play and have love waiting for them when they returned.” (50)

“Sex didn’t need English, of course, but love did.” (57)

“But the woman said it had to be true first, for it to have become a fiction.” (87)

facts.

9) glamour magazine-i ducked into sanderson quickly to see if they have bust. they don’t, but i caught up on the glamour mags that i have missed since issa was on the cover. reading the masthead, i’m seeing that they’ve incorporated self and mademoiselle, and that’s perhaps the reason that they’ve got the resources to be so consistently dope now, both in the clean graphic design, and the phenomenal content. or maybe it’s that rusty, er, anna wintour is the artistic director. i mean-i don’t think i’ve ever seen a ninety-something year old park ranger on the cover of any fashion magazine, and the articles are great. i’m actually considering a subscription….but maybe when i move.

10) the lonely city-olivia laing i did not finish this book. i read until page 125. it’s the first book that i’ve fired in a long time. but i had different expectations-i don’t know why i thought it would be a celebration of navigating a city alone, but i was confused by the title-i should’ve know because it’s called lonely city, but the subtitle of “adventures in the art of being alone” made me think that it would be subversive, and celebratory of the lifestyle choice of not conforming to this relationship and kids and blah blah blah, but alas and alack-it turns out that it’s a bunch of portraits of artists who made art out of their extreme loneliness and social awkwardness. because it was a collection of artists, i kept with it because i thought eventually it would stop being like breaking bad, where i hated everyone because they were terrible people, but it never did, so i bounced. it came at the same time that i decided to walk away with someone with whom i’ve been having a circular and depressing situationship with. no accidents.

“If you are not being touched at all, then speech is the closest contact it is possible to have with another human being.” (47)

11) the woo-woo-lindsay wong holy shit. “crazy” is thrown around so very casually (thank you, eirene, for gently calling me out on this earlier in the year-it took awhile, but i got it), so i’ve been hyper-conscious of not doing it, but this story is legit crazy. i don’t think i’ve ever seen this before-i’ve read sedaris and borroughs, but not a parallel story from a woman, a racialized (canadian) one at that. the devils are really in the details-damn.

“But loss of familial trust is like a screwdriver in the eye or a sledgehammer in the forehead-it’s more the shock that causes the internal damage, and you don’t even think about the pain or the bleeding or the spreading infection of hate until later.” (87)

“At thirteen I was competing with myself, my siblings, my cousins, my parents, my uncles, my aunties, and all the other Chinese people in the world.” (99)

“Luckily, it is a universal truth that rich girls do not hit excessively hard. It’s the petty middle-class ones that you have to watch out for.” (138)

“I felt betrayed that she had gone completely insane without consulting me.” (208)

“It was probably more frightening to be ambushed in the bathroom by my mother than to encounter a real ghost. At home, things were usually uncomfortable and chaotic, and I could not spend four months of summer trying to avoid the damned supernatural.” (227)

12) dirt candy-amanda cohen & ryan dunlavey with grady hendrix i love this comic storycookbook. i also love that vegetables are the stars in her resto. i also love her tip-included tasting menus. thank you, best american food writing for this, i’m putting it on my list of places to eat.

13) CHICHO-please see this show. don’t ask any more questions, just treat yo’self.

14) shoplifters-dir. hirokazu kore-eda i thought it was about a real family. who’s to say that they’re not? it’s quite a different view of japan than i remember ever being onscreen, and it’s the second that i’ve seen this year that is about the end of the world, which maybe is more of a thing because of the aftermath of fukushima (as suggested by my brilliant friend paul) the casting, acting, and shots were beauty-full. holy twists, batman.

15) bye felipe-alexandra weten i put this on hold because it looked like a contemporary selection in the relationship self-help books in the collection of the toronto public library. it was a quick read, with nice layout, but one awful font that i did not like at all. i went to check out the instagram, but it was just too depressing.

16) polyamorous-jenny yuen i think this one was saved by not being a completely personal story. i liked the snapshots into people’s poly lives across canada, and was even amused at the one person who felt that the poly community was “too queer”. oh, my. i’m also thinking about the passing of the law of three people being allowed on a baby’s birth certificate, and wonder how that has/can/will impact folks that i know who are in the situation to be doing this.

17) overcoming passive-aggression-tim murphy, phD and loriann oberlin, MS, LCPC i’ve been going through a rough patch/hypersensitive processing moment and one day put all these self-help books on hold. it must have been one of those nights that i stayed up way too late because i forgot to put them on inactive and got them all at once. i mostly skimmed this one, despite the accolades that they make sure they claim, but this pull-quote was the one:

“We gravitate toward the old order or conditions similar to those of our upbringing so that we have a second chance to make things right.” (109) it’s actually quite beauty-full (or a bit unnecessary) but i gotta love the earnest in this goal-just as long as it’s not a twelfth or thirteeth chance to make things right.

18) on the come up-angie thomas so i was having a discussion with someone about “the formula” that seems present sometimes with certain authors in certain genres, and i definitely feel the presence in this second novel by angie thomas. it’s interesting that she thanks common here, because this is definitely like be/finding forever, in terms of the turnaround time and the similarities. obviously, they have the movie in common, and i’m hoping that there is a mixtape forthcoming.

“That’s when I learned that when people die, they sometimes take the living with them.” (45)

19) relationship sabateurs-randi gunther, ph.d man, there is a lot of self-help this month. is it also a coincidence that i feel like i have fallen apart the most this month? physically and mentally? i don’t know. but here are the pull quotes from this one:

“This need to dominate may hide an underlying fear of being controlled. Controlling people may have been raised by similarly overbearing parents who forced them into obedient subservience. As a result, they may be determined never to be in that role again.” (11-12)

“Insecurity is the emotional experience of anticipated loss.” (39)

20) go ahead in the rain: notes to a tribe called quest-hanif abdurraquib

“A Tribe Called Quest wanted to go out on a concept album about love, but the only problem was that they didn’t love each other, and it didn’t seem as if they loved the world they were occupying anymore.” (119)

“There is a way to read a poem, and then there is a way to allow a poem to exit the body and be read by everyone in the room.” (155)

i read this one on my daytrip to ottawa. full disclosure-tribe has never been my favourite. i know, i know. but as suspected, i have loved them more through those who really love them. like hanif. i am still thinking about his calling q-tip ewing and phife john starks. i’m not sure i agree, but then again, i’m not sure that i don’t. i also love that these are letters to the group, as well as love letters to the work, and to phife‘s mom. it does feel a bit surreal that he is gone, and like it was just yesterday that i saw him perform halftime at the raptors game. to me, this feels really different from the michael rappaport documentary, which felt completely exploitative, but interestingly enough, hanif doesn’t feel that way about that.

sorry this is a late publish-i’ve been knocked out by food poisoning. ugh.

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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).

january 2019 books, rants, and beyond

the year opened on a high note, at the AGO with mickalene thomas‘ amazing exhibit, femmes noires, and career-high kawhi hanging 45 on the utah jazz in an electrifying game where we were upgraded to row 9 and pascal also almost got 30, and ricky rubio and jae crowder were having fantastic games as well (and rudy gobert is fine)-whoo!

also-spurs fans tho-wow. what a delusional group of people, chanting “overrated” at a dood who was the youngest to win finals mvp since tim duncan, with tim duncan, bringing them home a championship. he’s a legit top-five superstar and is balling out of control right now. i feel for demar, and wonder what they will say about him, lest anything ever happen. nevertheless, i’m glad he had a big game, i think he really needed that.

i don’t know why i haven’t thought of this before, but listening to music podcasts while i am walking (or skating) is the best thing ever. my current faves-song exploder and not 97. i tried to unsubscribe, but the key really is to find a different medium for the message. (and then my podcast ipod broke-whomp whomp). and so i adjusted by listening it on my laptop while i write-yessss!

fuck the police. fuck them for barging through my door without telling me why and fuck them for telling me on the phone that they had a right to do that so they wouldn’t register my complaint.

i’m getting more vitamin d this month than i have in quite some time, and i gotta say, it’s pretty medicinal. along with the romance of movies (beale street what up!) and skating after midnight. let’s not forget the power move of waving at me across the club all night-can’t say i’m mad about that one.

great visit with my nanaybaby blessing my space, shoutout to the amazing reiki “witchcrap” session that we shared last night-so much power-full bruha energy in this space right now, i’m lovin’ it.

1) fierce femmes and notorious liars-kai cheng thom oops, i forgot my pullquote before i returned this, but i loved it. it read like candy. hard, hard candy. it was one of my first entries into the toronto public library 2019 reading challenge in the category of “a book by an LGBTQ+ author” (6/25)

2) this is where i leave you-dir. shawn levy we are officially in a moment where the book is not always better (anymore). the book and the movie/tv show are now great complements. in this case-the star-studded cast makes it all-it allows different perspectives into the story, and that is what is missing from the book. to be fair, i did read it during a jonathan tropper binge, and that could’ve been what did me in for being over him. what an amazing movie to watch as i get my 2018 gratitude jar together.

3) the florida project-dir. sean baker wow. what a movie. i’m sorry i missed this one in the theatre, but i’m glad that i’m able to see it now that i can watch movies at home again, thanks to the library and gazelle automations. i am legit crying because of these childrens, and i am realizing that i will never be able to watch anything the same way now that i have had a soupcon of the filming process. i love this ensemble cast of untrained actors, anchored by willem dafoe, it shows me just how much better the raptors could be with vince carter playing his last nba career games back home where we can hang up his jersey after what is shaping up to be the best playoffs of our history. bria vinaite (and halley) reminds me of star (and maybe jude) and i’m not sure where she was in the nice for what video, but i’m here for it (karena evans is the queen of the video world). but this was the best use of kids in a movie since you, me and everyone we know.

4) detroit-kathryn bigelow whose story is it? that’s the question that comes up on the innernets about this film. i don’t know if it’s the one that i would’ve asked, but i do find it interesting that there wasn’t more of a to-do when its release was timed with the political hotbed of police brutality, but then hey-we still live in the world, (sigh).

5) the cider house rules-dir.lasse hallstrom i watched this when i was knocked down by migraines the first week of this month, which also happened to correspond with me bleeding out. it really sucked. (my condition, not the film). the film was pretty soothing, and i can’t remember if i’d seen it before, but i know that i had wanted to for a long time because i knew that erykah badu is in it. i didn’t know that heavy d was, but he had a tendency to pop up in movies that made me go, “huh”. maybe i just read the john irving book it was based on, i did go through a phase. but incest, abortion doctors, orphans, purpose, family-all great wholesome cinematic themes. also-it was before charlize theron had decided to be an ugly troll in every movie she is in.

6) the muppet show-season two for some reason, i didn’t like this season as much as i liked one and three, but it is still muppet mastery. (maybe it’s because i had a migraine and hated life).

7) barber shop-the next cut-dir. malcolm d. lee ok, i love ice cube. i love him especially in the barber shop movies. if “are we there yet?” is what he gets clowned for making as a former gangsta rapper, this chapter in this series is of particular note because it co-stars common, and i couldn’t really take either of them seriously because of “the bitch in yoo” and “i used to love h.e.r.”. add another layer of rap beef between eve and nicki minaj, fighting over common. as usual, regina hall is gorgeous, and this could’ve been the one where her and common found each other dating-oh, the specks of gossip.

8) playing house-season one so, keegan michael key is fine. it took him acting like a regular person in this series for me to see this. i loved this show-and am still trying to figure out if these two have really been longtime friends, or if somebody did a really good job with their childhood pictures. their chemistry is amazing, the wit is quick, the ladies are doing it for themselves, and it always sucks when they choose the wrong woman, but even more so when you’ve done the right thing. here’s to crying in a mini raccoon house because if he doesn’t choose you, he’s not right for you anyway.

9) key and peele-season three i think at the time, i was a bit oversaturated, so i couldn’t fully enjoy this last season of these two. but i appreciate the staying power of their sketches. i watched the outtakes over and over, and am so inspired and entertained by these extremely talented mens. in fact, jordan peele is the only one who i will trust to terrify me, and i look forward to that with his upcoming movie.

10) full court press-elena della donne representation matters. i love that she is writing this YA that seems quite closely inspired by her own life. i love it. get it for your young girls.

11) calypso-david sedaris i am kind of chuffed that this the first time i am hearing a david sedaris audiobook-his voice is so priceless. i don’t know why i laughed and laughed at his sister sleep-eating the leaves of her poinsetta plant, but i did. i’m glad she survived-i always thought they were poisonous. also-the details and aftermath of siblings dealing with the suicide of one of their own-damn. i knew that if you committed suicide in japan your family would be fine, supposedly for the dishonour, but had not previously considered that if your family was the reason you were killing yourself, it would be added incentive. i am also pretty intrigued to shop here:

https://www.kapital-webshop.jp/

(swoon).

what a gorgeous (and tragic) metaphor it is to describe one’s relationship with his father as being like “two bad trapeze artists-both grasping for each other’s hands, and missing”. i also love that lots of people in prison write to him, i adore this.

“i refuse to support the poltergeist industry…..none of which is called the scarriot…” i am really going to miss audiobook david when he’s gone.

holy hell the guilt must be real if the last time you saw your sister you were telling security to shut the door in her face at your book launch. damn.

12) claws-season one “i wore this to reagan’s inauguration, it still fits!” there’s nothing i love more than big hair, big nails, and big drama, and this delivers on all counts. karrreuche! i mean, we know niecy nash has been amazing, but lil’ mama is really showing her acting chops-and the jokes! “moccachina”! i love it. and seeing harold perrineau as someone’s brother (desna‘s) and someone’s daddy (noah brooks‘!) in the blink of an eye makes me great-full to him for his cinematic presence since time.

13) battle of the sexes- dir. valerie faris & jonathan dayton so, the thing with american film is that it’s a longterm project of the retelling of history. this is all fine and good, but it diverts the reality of sexism in tennis from a relatively unknown queer white lady vs. a male chauvinist to the career-long nonsense of racism and sexism against serena williams, one of the most dominant players in tennis, full stop. but this is a necessary story tho, it is. it’s just not enough.

14) the glass castle-dir. destin daniel cretton i bought this audiobook for the mother of one of the biggest stars of the toronto queer community. i got it for her because she mentioned that she was having problems reading, and also because the relationships between mothers and daughters is tricky-duh, look where we were. so that is what i remember from the book-that the mom was more of a monster, but in the film, it’s woody that takes over as rex being the more destructive force so perhaps it’s a way of bringing both parents into equal role of destructive inspiration in jeanette walls‘ life. i really like how she was consulted in this film, and as is my life now, i really love watching the behind the scenes of the art department and wardrobing extras.

15) bon cop bad cop 2-dir.alain desrochers this film was a bit saccharine, but cute-like justin trudeau‘s election commercials where he talks in english and french at the same time, just a whole movie worth. it’s a different take on the english and french joining forces against the west and the south, and that’s a thing. it’s a risky film to make in quebec, because they are really polarized when it comes to language, but i like the exercise in form. bon bagay!

16) girls write now-two decades of true stories from young female voices i have a problem with calling grown women “girl” because i think it’s infantilizing, but of course, i have a different standard when we are talking about actual girls. in this case, i got this out of the library because i read it reviewed in bust magazine, and also because i love all of the curators. the thing is-i love them as writers, and while these are good first forays into the literary world, i look forward to seeing how these writers mature as women more, so-call me in a few years for the reunion. that being said, here’s a pull quote asking a question more succinctly than i ever have:

“Am I a reflection of my mother, or are my writings a reflection of my need for her to be there for me?” (151, Caesia King, Still Looking, 2010)

17) american like me-ed.america ferrera this is the difference in compilations-i prefer the ones written by adults. but i did pull it out of the same issue of bust‘s book reviews so that’s a further win. what a treasure america ferrera is, for all of the reasons, and this anthology is proof of it. i liked reading about how jeremy lin was mistaken for the knicks trainer and how he guzzled strawberry lemonade when out with his highschool team since his parents wouldn’t pay for drinks when they went to restaurants. i love everyone chosen, and i love how they tackled their task. the kid pictures alone are worth the price of admission. i love the synchronicity that occurred whilst i was reading this book-i came to a big shift of energy in therapy, and was completely affirmed by it through this beauty-full collection of inter-generational tales, and specifically, how similar peoples’ experiences with their grandmothers is. here are the pullquotes:

“We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors’ dreams wearing the weight of their sacrifice on our backs.” (304, America Ferrera, conclusion)

“My grandmother is an alchemist trapped in a death camp.” (143, Frank Waln-the pager code for “i love you”, no coincidence)

“Ironically, when you are the only one of your kind, it is difficult to be authentic. You are unique. You don’t blend in. This should make it easier to be the real you. Because there’s no one like you. But, instead, this is isolating. You are so unique that they don’t make a key chain for you.” (3, Reshma Saujani)

“And even today, I am still constantly recalibrating my tenderness for my mother, seeing her as a person and not just the strong, brave, and unchangeable force who raised me.” (278, Uzo Aduba)

18) black coffee-dir.mark harris i found this because of barbershop. five minutes in, i’m not sure of the acting. it’s really bad acting. but a good movie to put on whilst messaging the weedman and trying to convince your babymama to let you hump method man (by promising her your baby).

19) ride along 2-dir.tim story i am in love with ice cube. this explains this one. and ken jeong tho? bonus. this was largely silly and unnecessary, but was probably fun to blow off steam to in the theatre.

20) the dilemma-dir.ron howard is vince vaughn a giant, or does he just look like one because he’s so much taller than these other actors? also, he seems to shoot a lot of movies in chicago-maybe he has worked out a sponsorship deal with the sports teams? if so, that is genius. so, my new succinct rule/advice to everyone is not to sleep with anyone who makes you feel like you have to lie or cry to anyone-before, during or after. i’m not sure where i stand on meddling in other peoples’ relationships, but this on brings forth lots of dilemmas, that’s for sure. and awkward toasts at people’s parents’ 40th wedding anniversaries. i feel like this is another example of the cultural cannon of “good men” just being stunted and unable to communicate so when they lie to us, it’s for a good reason and they just need to be men who fix things. it’s compelling, but i don’t buy it. nope. be better, do better. don’t lie. also-having white men scream “yes you did!” for an extended shot in chicago (over hockey) is something-but i’m sure it’s just a coincidence….

21) all you can ever know-nicole chung the wife of the best friend of one of the major loves of my life was a korean adopted by a white american family. in the little time we spent together, i observed her extremely limited knowledge of her own asian identity/the internalized racism that must come with her circumstance. i have often considered my “birth mother” not as someone who has been adopted, but as someone who has been abandoned. just like i’m not quite hapa because of my lateral miscegenation, and the fact that i have a bunch of ex-step siblings, my situation has always felt a bit exclusive, and i have lived with as much mystery as someone who has been adopted. all of this to say that there are no accidents, and i’ve come to this amazing book at this time for a reason (or twelve). again, i love the subject position on this topic, and i’m excited to one day learn more of the writers in my own family tree (i got a soupcon of insight years ago when i learned that my cha poh had a printing press):

“My own lifelong obsession with writing was a shared family trait, the inheritance of what I was told were generations of scholars and writers.” (189)

22) american gods-season one i am watching the visual adaptation before i read the book-the first time i’m doing this (on purpose). so far, so good…i really had no idea what was happening for at least five episodes, but they are so pretty that i kept watching. i seem to recall my baby mama showing me the bilquis character sucking up her lovers, but maybe it was something else that was right up that alley. watching the behind the scenes brought a lot of clarity to the vision, and i like that gaiman went to iceland (nothing) to make sense of america (everything). i thought that laura was just saying “papi” in a terrible white mispronouncing accent, but she’s really saying “puppy”. i love that orlando jones is still out here working-talk about staying power-and a diverse portfolio-his standup chops are still sharp as well. and now, we have arrived at the moment that the comic book heroes as morality plays are coming to an end-and boy is it ever exciting. also-gillian anderson is a total babe (also with staying power and a diverse portfolio).

23) straight outta compton-dir. f.gary gray i am late to this game, i know, but i am certain that i’m here now because of baby ice cube (glad that i am uncontested in the claiming of him and his daddy, unlike method man, though i am pretty sure that i sold my babymama on that one by promising her our baby). i don’t know if the “bye, felicia” scene was real or imagined as an hommage to friday, but either way-i’m here for it. i never really liked eazy e‘s voice, and am tickled to see that they didn’t really like it at first, either. there are so many moments that have become prophesies, but that’s probably because we don’t have that many moves as humans-first the showdown between the police and jerry, and the bulldozer rolling over the records like people burning nikes-“at least they bought them”, not to mention the current loop of police officers getting away with shit that is on camera. speaking of fine ass ice cube though, isn’t he just laughing his way to the bank as his sun plays him winning the battle against NWA cinematically as the most commercially viable surviving member-get your money, papi. it is kind of surreal to see all the different depictions of suge, pac, and snoop as of late-i wonder what it’s like for people who are learning this story for the first time through the movies-can one of you tell me? i suppose all of these cautionary tales of the music industry can now happen not that there is no music industry as it was then, and that in itself is of historical relevance-the relatively short timeframe of its downfall, but that matches the young and flexible history of rap music-i just saw something on insta today about souljah boy and how he is already a historical figure in this halflife generations that we are currently counting and cannot help but remember how he won that “beef” with ice-t. nice touch including kendrick in the closing credits, as he is currently the present west coast king, and what a story that is-reversing the coasts, or merging them, if you will-combining the historically east coast storytelling and lyrical complexity with the beats of mister dr. dre himself.

24) amateur-thomas mcbee i’m in love with this man’s writing. i had no idea about this fight, but it’s a fascinating story. i did hear him talk about evaluating his own sexism at work on the call your girlfriend podcast, and i wish that every dood would do the same.

“Family, like gender, is contextual. Boxing didn’t make me more of a man. But, sitting across from Danny, I knew I was a better man for having met him.” (160)

i am still thinking about the idea that being able to fight is about being willing to pay attention, and that’s the kind of metaphor that stretches across all of the fightings, and all of the fights.

25) i know that voice-dir.lawrence shapiro “will you stop looking at him, and start listening to him?” i heard about this documentary while we were filming last month, and i’m glad that i’m watching it now. it’s really illuminating. voice actors are actors-it makes sense that some have a musical background, and it’s lovely that there is a true camaraderie in this field where people refer each other and really love each other-i think the piece of not having your face/ego at the forefront is something of note. i love the piece of mostly having autonomy and being paid for having fun and for the most part not being recognized.

26) i know a woman like that-written and dir. elaine madsen “when you get to our age, we start losing people. do you replace people?” wow. what a question. over the last few days, i’ve been re-arranging my space, and looking up and down for a photo of myself with my grandma, which i never found, but i have discovered many beauty-full things in the process, including how important words and letters have always been to me. i was moved to tear all over again, and in some cases, maybe for the first time, and appreciate everyone who has ever loved me enough to write-whether we are in touch or not. i’m not sure who or what i was searching when i found this doc in the toronto public library offerings, but it’s no accident that i am watching it now that i’m considering my history of being a woman like that. eartha kitt is a goddess. gloria steinem pointing out that the best indication of who we will be at 60 is what we were like at 8-before we became “female” impersonators. damn, that’s helladeep.

27) atlanta-season one i could watch these episodes forever because they are sooo beauty-full. the slow shots are different from ava‘s or barry‘s, that are gorgeous because they allow you to take in the beauty of the actors’ faces, they are gorgeous because they allow you to see the beauty in the struggle of the actors’ faces and their circumstances. and all of these fools are breathtaking. i love the crossover work with the soundtrack, the voice acting, and the recurring creepy psychic pushing nutella sandwiches (is that the updated beanpie?!) the show is so master-full, the talent is out of control, the writing and thinking is so meta and high level, and hiro murai is my new hero (again). the opening titles alone-swoooon.

28) courage is contagious-and other reasons to be grateful for michelle obama-ed. nick haramis i love this. all of the reasons. all of those curated and their words. all of this woman’s legacy. yessss.

“Lots of people think Michelle Obama is unflappable, but that’s not what my Michelle saw. Someone who is unflappable might decide to turn away or give up to avoid getting upset. But Michelle Obama engages and says, ‘Okay, how can we fix this?’-that’s true caring.” (60, Patton Oswalt)

“Michelle Obama will have her own legacy, separate from her husband’s. And it will be that she was the first first lady to show women that they don’t have to choose. That it’s okay to be everything.” (70, Rashida Jones)

29) meet the patels-dir.geeta v. patel and ravi v. patel this is another direct line from america ferrera, this time, from ravi‘s story about this process in her anthology. what a tense and touching documentary-i have so many questions about the secrets that are revealed during this process. does audrey know that her phone calls are broadcast in this film? i appreciate the experience of both siblings and their different treatments in this process, and their equality when it comes to their parents guilt and shame. ravi talked about how his dad gathered all of the patels he could for the screening in toronto, and i wonder if the siblings disagreed on whether or not they were going to tell their parents about audrey. wow-the reveal of the lying being worse than the white girl (i don’t think this is entirely true) was a big deal. and then the “happy ending” being that he was able to bring her around. but google tells me that he did not marry her, so perhaps the parents “won” after all.

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

major laser

i can’t speak enough about how amazing amanda seales is. i love her podcast small doses so much, and i’m glad she’s on hiatus from it while she’s on the road with her show, because it gives me a minute to catch up. the current resonance is the side effects of the curve (with bresha webb) episode. hashtag, getting my life.

i posted a few childhood photos on the gram the other night, 30% for my ego because i was called a “not very attractive child” and 70% because i look exactly the same, and i cannot believe that anyone would have such poor form as to insult someone’s baby picture at all (and this is different from calling someone’s baby ugly) and also how they cannot see how insulting your kid picture (that looks exactly like you) is insulting you. for the record, i don’t give a shit if you think i’m attractive or not, i’m not for everyone, but i do care if you do not have the good sense not to be disrespectful, unnecessary, and straight-up rude. i’m glad you feel so comfortable in your honesty but consider it an original nose/ass/titty/lip day in kardashian town before you are invited back, or for the first time, really, since you also just forced your way in to insult my space and my baby picture, into my home again. all offers for cooked food have been redacted.

one of my friends noted that my collar said “poop”, and that’s something that i’ve never seen before. amazing.

another one of my friends commented on my baby teeth, and that’s true-i have my adult teeth in now, so my smile is less jagged. i also don’t have the best haircut or outfit (i pick my own clothes now) but i was a fucking child. i also wear glasses now, so i suppose that changes my face.

there are two details that stand out for me in that picture that i have not considered for a long time-the first is the pineapple necklace that i’m wearing, which i just remembered in that moment was from my mother.

i don’t know where that necklace ended up, or if i knew to keep it because i would’ve had a memento of her (of which i otherwise do not), but i guess knowing that i’m wearing it around my neck in one of two pictures that i have of myself as a kid is important enough, so i’m great-full to this asshole for being so obnoxious that it led me to this appreciation.

the other is that at this point in time, i still had a mole under my left eye. i wonder how much more interesting my face would be now if i was allowed to grow into it. i don’t have it anymore because my father heard from a fortune teller that it was the reason that i cried all the time, and he had it lasered off my face when i was seven years old.

what the fuck with people who cannot handle their feelings?! maybe i cried all the time because my mother left me (and you). maybe i cried all the time because i didn’t know where i was half the time that you dropped me off in strange homes to live while you were on “business trips”. maybe i cried all the time because i woke up cold in the backseat to the streetlights because you drove around until i fell asleep to 103.5 easy listening radio while you went to fuck women because you were too cheap to pay for babysitting. maybe i cried all the time because i was a child and didn’t know how to process my feelings or know the responsibility that i would have to shoulder over the years that i had to raise you. maybe.

i was awake for that laser. it was 1987. i’m sure the technology has advanced in the subsequent years, but this may be why i’ve been scared of lasers ever since. why i’m generally distrustful of medical practitioners. maybe this is why i cannot keep my eyes open to put contacts in. i haven’t thought about this for a long time, maybe since it happened.

but the most fucked up thing is? it didn’t work. i have cried about everything ever since. i cried when this asshole left my house. the difference now is that i know that it is strong to cry. it is strong to acknowledge and feel my feelings. perhaps i have always known that. the difference is that nobody can ever take that away from me again. imagine being so terrible of a parent that you would rather subject your child to a traumatizing cosmetic surgery just so you could possibly avoid having to talk to her.

imagine hating yourself so much that you don’t see your own leaps in internalized racism that seeing my baby picture as looking like yours means that i am ugly. naaaaw, b. you can just miss me all the way with that bullshit. it took me a while, but i see how ugly you are now.

this also reminded me of a thing that i also forgot that my dad has done my whole life, and i finally blew up at him over it when i last saw him two years ago-my dad always says “the chinaman does this”, “the chinaman does that”, and it’s so packed with racist vitriol against the chinese that i never understood until i realized that he was still mad at my mother (who is chinese malaysian) for leaving her. this, along with “i don’t like crying babies”, was in the revolving soundtrack of my youth. the problem, of course, is that i am half my mother, so he was constantly disparaging his chinaman crying baby for her whole life. maybe that’s why i left home at seventeen and never looked back.

i may never see him again. but that may not be such a bad thing. i’ve had problems with boundaries, but the voice that says “hold up” is getting louder and louder, and i’m glad i’m crawling towards listening to folks who keep telling me who they are. i trust the process.

“don’t change who you are, just change who you are talking to”. –amanda seales

my bank do thangs that your bank wish it could

due to my current life of leisure and the fact that FZV is off ice (that lasted a whole three weeks), i was able to sleep on a luxurious deck last night, actually see insecure and not just listen to the podcast summation, and i got some steps in this morning walking my friend to work.

i meandered through side streets and when i made to king, the streetcars were all backed up, of course, so i headed to queen street to go home that way instead. there’s a cibc on queen and spadina, and i had to get cash out for therapy, and decided to do the adult thing and order my cheques at the same time.

why, pray tell, do i need cheques? because i finally used up the last of my original set (from university) and my landlord cannot figure out an e-transfer. i could get out cash every month, but then i’d have to make an appointment to see him because i’m not leaving my rent cash in the letter box with no proof that it reached. i decided last week that i would just do it, and try to get him to split the cost with me, because you have to order 50 at a time, and the cost ends up being $55 or something like that, which seems insane to me, but it is antiquated technology.

the tellers were very nice to me, even though i was in yesterday’s outfit and had no eyebrows, and the woman was telling me that it would be $20 and that seems more reasonable. i figured that that could be wrong, but she seemed confident, so i went with it. she ordered them, and then someone else swooped in and was appalled because the cost is indeed $55, and he pre-offered a full refund for them when i get charged for them, even though i wasn’t angry at all.

contrast this with scotiabank, with whom i have a TFSA because my former employer banks with them and they advertised savings accounts that would be good for us, and for the most part it hasn’t been a problem, but in the last month, when i adjusted the amount of my contribution due to my status, i have gotten spotty and shitty service, and i have to go in in person because the money is coming from my account at a different bank. i have been jerked around in person, on the phone, and over email, kept waiting for inordinate amounts of time, had to travel across time and told wrong information from a different person every time because they keep quitting, and nothing has been offered to me at all, not even some freakin’ movie tickets and you know they own that whole scenepoints racket. maybe they’re going through some growing pains because they are trying to prove that they are diverse and shit. they may have gained a stadium, but to me, they are acting the exact same way as the empire that has a monopoly on that stadium.

since i’ve been considering long-term relationships and choices to stay and leave in situations, i’m glad for this sign that yes, i’m good with my bank not just because it’s been the only one, but because it still works.

money isn’t everything, but it’s not nothing, and where you keep it matters.

jklol, i’m totally that tita that stuffs cash in socks and shit. maybe that’s why this b thinks i don’t have a credit card.

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