december books (plus)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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parkdale-7

mad late, but here are the haikus from last week before today’s last workshop:

the theme was “autumn turning into winter in parkdale”:

it’s too hot inside
smells of man are very ripe
polyester-no.

dark days turn frosty
leaves are more wet than crunchy
ground down into slush

farmer’s market done
tacos are all year round, though
faces-stuffed and starved

this time, they’re all about nature (maybe the theme set us up for success)-and i know that rule now.

time flies when you’re having fun.

parkdale-five

though heavily carb-motivated, i felt much better about my efficiency last evening.

i let off some steam with a rant about pronunciation choices, and learned a lot through the group share about things going on in the city and things going on in brains. here are some lovely things to think further on:

“vampirate”
second-hand pens
nominating monsters

our prompts came out of books that were based in parkdale (what a great idea) and the ink flowed freely.

this is from our last exercise of the night-the personification of the neighborhood, which is the perfect merging of writing characters and writing the city as a character. here it is, with some flash morning edits:

Pro-noun

They’re not subtle, that’s for sure. But they’re definitely a they: non-conforming to gender, class, race or mass. Perfect in their imperfections, hypocritical in their contradictions, they’re never fully gentrified-with a smile. They never fit in, and therefore fit in perfectly. Their personalities, schedules, alternative professions, ducks-cannot be fully explained but somehow make sense within the borders of the neighbourhood, like those giant stuffed tigers at The Ex. It’s all fun and games until you have to wrassle it onto a crowded express bus to Dundas West station. Are they done counting how many days it’s been since last sugar was tasted? When did they alter the Elm Grove bus stop to read “Elmo Grover”? Do people who are assigned to recruit there as Witnesses actually fear being invited into their homes? Their mounting beef with the police includes the oversight of the bylaw that states that you must clean up after your pet, as horses casually trot and drop mementos one tonne at a time on the residential street west of busy Dufferin. It’s a good thing they move slowly enough to receive the clear disapproval, straight through the eyes.

parkdale-4

i think we were all a bit tired last night.

we did exercises on character, switching gears from place, and i found it challenging for this reason:

“I think it’s easier for me to write about place than character in this neighbourhood because the hood is a character, and so full of real ones, that it’s hard to imagine one in.

Perhaps I should personify the tamarind balls that I forgot are for sale in that OG general store.”

and, so.

perhaps i was just too full of baked onion rings.

we’ll try again next week.

salman said-toronto reference library

this magical night, i met two 80+ versions of myself, one of whom, once shown the shallot that i had in my pocket to give to salman rushdie, grabbed me by the scruff of my neck like a mama cat in a peach blazer with shoulder pads and thrust me at him yelling, “this young lady has something to give you!”. here are some quotes from the evening:

“now i have the story too-the time a girl wanted to give me an onion.”

“libraries are a good substitute for school”

“and like the internet likes to tell me, it doesn’t work if it’s a leap year. there’s no fucking leap year.”

“monotheistic gods, unfortunately, get virtuous, and that’s not very interesting-they’re like people, how many virtuous people do you like?”

“a lot. i’m glad you brought up that point. there’s not much else to do in fairyland but have lots and lots of sex-they don’t have books or movies, and that’s part of why they like to meddle in human affairs-we do all of these other things, and most of us don’t have very much sex at all.”

“i like the idea of talking about dreadful things, amusingly.”

“hollywood attacks new york every summer, people say it’s los angeles’ way of showing that it cares.”

“i’m sorry about the staten island ferry-no, i’m not”

“cambridge, england, the real cambridge”

“when you become a writer, the things that people like about your writing are the things that people don’t like about your writing”

bb: “donald trump wants to build a wall between the US and mexico..” sr: “who’s going to build it?” (chuckles)

“history doesn’t go on tram lines-it’s not inevitable”

“when i was studying history, i was told very wisely, not to speculate about the future”

“christopher sometimes referred to himself in the third person…as ‘the hitch'”

“i called him a pussy” bb: “do you regret that?” sr: “no. these people were executed for drawing pictures-too many of my friends were on the wrong side of history”

“the only reason you’re dying it’s him because he’s described as having big ears. the frank sinatra thing came up because i turned off the sound during a debate and mccain was like this little red man strutting about (pantomimes) and obama was so smooth, so comfortable in his body, and i thought, i like that guy.”

“thanks for giving away the ending”

“they wanted me to audition to be bette midler’s gynecologist-and i thought that was irresistible”

“gynecologist, not scientologist”

“i do shoot my mouth off about saudi arabia as much as i can-ask anyone”

“i have a longing for the day that nobody asks me that question-someone tried to kill me, one of us is dead”

“the reception of midnight’s children in india was so much more important to me than winning the booker prize”

“nobody gets everyone-that’s why there are a lot of writers”

and, so. the dividends of being adored by librarians continue to pay off. to everyone who i invited that couldn’t make it-i’m sorry, the loss was all yours.

david suzuki at the toronto public library

“in the past, when i went on a book tour-i’d use the book as an excuse to give a speech on the environment.”

“i’m tired of fighting-we need to get together and talk, because if we can’t agree on what’s important, we will lose every time.”

as i was leaving work today, a woman with obvious mental health issues came into the store. she has been banned, and as no higher management was in the store, i took it upon myself to let her know that she was not welcome (i have already had to ask her to leave on many occasions-for stealing, for yelling homophobic terrorism, just for blocking peoples’ way with her effects) and she flipped out on me-she yelled at me that i was harassing her, that i was off my meds, that my “fucked up eyes” should not look at her, and when i told her that i was calling the police, she went to my co-workers and told them that they shouldn’t hire “temporary foreign workers” and that she was going to call immigration to deport me.

i’m a canadian citizen. but i happen to be one that works in the whitest rich neighbourhood in the city that is gentrifying too rapidly for its britches. i know that mentally ill folk are being squeezed out of their sausage wrappings, but is this lateral violence necessary or excusable?

if nothing else, my young white co-workers got a glimpse of what may happen at any moment in my skin, and i only wish their outrage could translate not only to the huge outbursts, but also to the microagressions that happen regularly. but how can they? i am not perfect, and i do harbour feelings of rage against those who have systemic and overarching power-whether or not they cash in on it. i acknowledge this, but do not apologize for it, because it is real.

i bought myself a purdy’s ice cream bar and went into david suzuki’s most inspiring talk at the reference library. i was in a privileged position there, as i was invited by a committee member and saw the poor folks who had been in line for hours scramble for better seats. i met a kindred spirit, and was moved by much of david’s talk-including the beauty-full and heart-breaking history of immigrants in this country who arrived here without their grandparents-so they arrived with “the shallowest roots in the old country and none at all in the new”. how people can be lost in just two generations with no language, culture, or geographical connection. how we choose who to remember and credit, and who gets lost in the shuffle? how he had to skip part of the description of his mother because he couldn’t read it without crying-that for me is enough to put it on my list.

the quote off the top shouldn’t have been made in the past tense, as much of his political agenda made it to the forefront of his talk, but at this point-how can that be separated from who he really is? i don’t think he can.

as i go through my own ongoing struggles and triumphs with relationships, the final food for thought of the night was when he described how the ones that “vanish from our consciousness” are “heroic in their humanity”, and i think that right there describes my mission in life.

i left inspired and clear and great-full, and i will leave all of the bad feelings of the earlier confrontation with this sign off.

goodnight.

psych-i will really leave it with the surprise tweeting of a line from my poem that was published in the first edition of the generations literary journal years ago.

that was amazing.

every day is metrotextual church

“if someone would’ve told me that bestiality was illegal, i wouldn’t have worked so hard on that story”

that was just one of the highlights of the miranda july talk at the reference library on thursday. having just watched the future a few weeks back, i didn’t know that she had a novel out, and i’ve got it chooses you, which i may or may not have already seen, fresh on my shelf from the library.

i went to iyengar class today for the second week in a row, and finally made it to the ago for the first time as a member. i fell upon a fresh video project that i wasn’t expecting, courtesy of the mammalian diving reflex and i urge everyone to see it if they can. the last thing that i thought i would see today was a bunch of high school kids asking dan hill if he can still get it up, or atom egoyan telling a story about humping an inflatable chair as a youth.

i’m currently finishing a very dark and riveting film, big fan (dir. robert siegel) and falling a bit more in love with patton oswalt. i came up with an idea for a new tattoo, we saw more of the itinerary, and samurai bambi called me “aunty” yesterday. i’m burning tibetan temple and frankincense because it’s sunday, and have poured rosemary essential oil into the holes in my desk, and found a new milk tea spot. i’m going to spend the rest of this superbowl sunday not caring about football, and thinking on the magnitude of wilt chamberlain‘s numbers (shootout to duolingo once again for the knowledge in translation).

life is good.