Archive: August 2019

tweets for 2019-08-30

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

Seventeen Little Peedee Things

Friday, August 30th, 2019

2015-08-30 - The Birthday Boy & His Cake - 0010 [flickr]

My dearest little monster,

I find it endlessly and disproportionately amusing that you share a birthday with my little sister, sweet Peedee. Every year I text her a reminder that it’s your birthday, pretending to forget that it’s also hers, and every year she indulges me in my dad joke. This morning I included the above image, which gives me all the warm and fuzzy feels. Even though it was your last birthday, and even though we knew it at the time, the memory of those last months – May-November 2015, aka THE SUMMER OF PEEDEE – brings me so much joy and bittersweet nostalgia. I’m so glad we were able to spoil you like that; we haven’t always been that lucky, before or since.

You already know – because I’m sure your stardust is twinkling somewhere above, watching and waiting patiently for me to join you, so that our atoms can recombine into something awesome, like a humpback whale or a Tofutti factory – but it’s just Finnick and Lemmy and I now. (Your least favorite siblings, right!) I had to say goodbye to Mags shortly after we arrived in New York, and I lost Rennie a few months later. I won’t pretend that I don’t miss them horribly, but on the flip side, I’ve grown closer to the boys, and – you won’t like this next part – Finnick reminds me of you in so many ways: his silly smile; his nervous, high strung temperament; and his general goofiness. I dread the day when he will leave me too, because I know he’ll take pieces of you with him. Much like Kaylee lived on in Mags, I see you reflected in his eyes, which makes their dimming that much more painful.

2014-12-25 - Opening Presents - 0054 [flickr]

I discovered a new category of dog photos today: Peedee side-eying Finnick, an obvious offshoot of Kaylee side-eyeing Mags.
——————————

I wish you were here with me; I wish you could be with me forever. But I guess you are, in a way, and that will have to do. You were (are!) a pretty awesome doggo, Peeds, easily one of the best: boundlessly happy, scary smart, always up for anything, be it a new adventure or a sobfest with mom. You are the standard by which I judge other dogs. Well, one of the standards, anyway. (You’ve got some stiff competition in Kaylee, Mags, Rennie, and Ralphie, okay. Jayne and Finn, I love you guys, but you are more cat than dog.)

Happy seventeenth birthday, my baby boy. Be certain that I’ll binge enough baked goods for the both of us today.

Love times infinity,

Mom

2010-10-15 - 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes - 0010

 
(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2019-08-29

Friday, August 30th, 2019

tweets for 2019-08-28

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Book Review: Stay by Lewis Trondheim & Hubert Chevillard (2019)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

A story about grief and loss that’s curiously devoid of emotion.

two out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss.)

Fabienne and her fiancé Roland are on the first day of a week-long vacation abroad when he’s killed in a freak accident – decapitated (and rather cleanly, mind you) by an errant metal sign on a windy day. (I know.) In a haze of denial and trauma, Fabienne decides to continue on with the meticulously planned itinerary Roland made for them, rather than accompany his body back home. She blows off his brother Alan and misses the funeral. She goes to the beach, dines alone, and gazes apathetically at happy couples and celebrating families.

At some point this clearly not quite right tourist catches the eye of a local shop owner, the eccentric but mostly kind-hearted Paco. (I say mostly because he tosses a jar of his own pee on a loud-mouthed but obviously neglected dog, so there’s that.) He tries to cheer her up with homemade meals and picnics, but is almost painfully slow on the uptake: even though he collects scrapbooks of unusual deaths, it isn’t until he spots a text on her cell phone that he puts two and two together.

Fabienne blows Paco off, and then they make up. Eventually Fabienne seems to achieve some sort of inner peace or resolution; she finishes the vacation and heads home.

And…that’s it.

As a new-ish widow myself, my interest in this comic book is self evident. It also seemed like a delightfully weird story. Unfortunately, I just didn’t feel any sort of emotional connection to Fabienne. The story is flat, detached, dispassionate. There are no feels to be felt. Everything – or rather nothing – happens, and that’s that.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2019-08-27

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

Book Review: Life of the Party: Poems by Olivia Gatwood (2019)

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

Law & Order: SVU meets the Button Poetry YouTube channel

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for violence against women, including rape.)

If you have a son, how will you love him?
She is pacing the living room,
while the Thanksgiving Day Parade
plays behind her, a montage of inflated
cartoon bodies, floating slow
down 6th Avenue, smiles
painted onto their faces.

I consider not responding.
I consider explaining that I can love him and not trust him. I consider saying that I won’t
love him at all. Just to scare her. Instead, I say,

If I am ever murdered, like,
body found in a ditch, mouth
stuffed with dirt, stocking
around my neck, identified
by my toenails, please don’t go
looking for a guilty woman.

(“My Grandmother Asks Why I Don’t Trust Men”)

16. Laughter is not about humor,
it is about acknowledging a shared joy.
Laughter is about bonding.

EXAMPLE: WHEN I HEAR MEN LAUGHING,
I DO NOT ENTER THE ROOM.
I CRAWL HOME IN THE DARK.

(“Mans/Laughter”)

Aileen, I wish I could’ve taken you there.
It’s too late now. I wish you hadn’t hurt all those people.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I know you hate it when I say that,
what I meant was that I wish all those people hadn’t hurt you.

(“Aileen Wuornos Isn’t My Hero”)

In the Author’s Note, Gatwood writes at length about her obsession with true crime shows, and the resulting – if paradoxical – feelings of fear and control they instilled in her:

I want to believe that the motivation behind most true crime is to bring to light the epidemic of women’s murder worldwide, to use nonfiction storytelling as a method of illuminating a clear pattern. But I don’t believe that. If that were true, it wouldn’t focus on crimes committed by random strangers, and instead would reveal the much more common perpetrators: men whom these women knew and often loved. If true crime were truly mission-oriented, it would focus on the cases that are not explicitly perverse and shocking, the ones that are familiar, fast, and happen at home. If true crime sought to confront the reality of violence against women, it would not rely so heavily on fear-mongering narratives of cisgender white girls falling victim to men of color.

Life of the Party: Poems is a reaction to these shows, and the culture that spawned them. The same culture that taught her to fear men, and her own body. These poems are about crimes true and fictionalized; about violence against women, in all its forms: physical, sexual, psychological; violences so conspicuous that they are impossible to ignore, as well as the “smaller” insults called microaggressions. Gatwood identifies and names these things, embodies them in her verse, gives them life in her words – all so that she may eviscerate them with the same.

Gatwood’s poems are at at once stirring and despondent; beautiful and cutting (not that the two are mutually exclusive!); fierce and feminist AF. Life of the Party is both a memoir and a cultural history; some of the loveliest and most heartbreaking poems are those which incorporate actual headlines from real-life cases: “Murder of a Little Beauty” (JonBenet Ramsey), “Body Count: 13” (the West Mesa murders). Aileen Wuornos is present in so many of these verses, even when she is just passing through, like a visitor in the night.

There are odes to the women of Long Island (“when I show them the knife I carry in my purse, tell me it’s not big enough”), bitchface (“resting bitch face, they call you but there is nothing restful about you, no”), unpaid electricity bills, and a lover’s left hand. Woven throughout the named poems is an untitled, serialized piece about Gatwood’s babysitter, the cool older girl who, by book’s end, either overdosed – or was killed by her abuser, depending on your POV.

Yet, as bleak and depressing as many of these poems are/can be, Life of the Party ends on hopeful notes: “All of the Missing Girls are Hanging Out Without Us,” having a grand old time (surprise!) and, “In the Future, I Love the Nighttime,” thanks to the virus that did away with all the violent-minded men in the world. (Turns out the apocalypse is just peachy!)

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2019-08-26

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

tweets for 2019-08-25

Monday, August 26th, 2019

tweets for 2019-08-24

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

tweets for 2019-08-23

Saturday, August 24th, 2019
  • RT @agnesfrim: Last night I was in a loo and a woman entered the only other stall crying. I did the awkward shout over and asked if she was… ->
  • RT @moorehn: I keep saying my brain is fried this week but I haven't said why.
    I'm going to say it now, because I think my eldercare expe… ->
  • RT @cheryllynneaton: Yeah, lots of gay people wanted a politics-free zone for their marriage. Lots of trans folk wanted a politics-free zon… ->
  • RT @bjwinnerdavis: This is your reminder– my daughter #RealityWinner sits in prison still for blowing the whistle on Russian election hack… ->
  • RT @ACLU: We're proud to represent Ramon ✊ https://t.co/0d8oPFk4wa ->
  • (More below the fold…)

Book Review: Sparrowhawk (Sparrowhawk #1-5) by Delilah S. Dawson & Matias Basla (2019)

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

It’s an exaggerated shoulder shrug from me…

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley.)

Artemisia – “Art” for short – is the illegitimate daughter of a British Naval Captain and one of the indigenous women he colonized and enslaved. After her birth, Captain Grey kidnapped Artemisia and brought her back to his home in Victorian England, where she was begrudgingly “accepted” into the family. (As a servant, natch.) When Art’s half-sister Elizabeth is killed just before she’s to be wed to a Duke, thus snatching the Greys from the jaws of poverty, Mrs. Grey insists that Artemisia be auctioned off in Elizabeth’s place. It’s either agree to her stepmom’s demands, or see her younger sister Caroline given to a seventy-year-old Baronet. It’s kind of like Cinderella, except mom doesn’t give a shit about her biological daughters, either.

And then Artemisia’s problems go from bad to worse when she’s pulled into another realm by none other than the Faerie Queen herself. In turn, the Queen assumes Artemisia’s visage, with the intent of conquering earth. The only way that Art can get back to her world is by killing Faerie creatures to grow her own power and glamor. Can she slay the beast by becoming one herself? Does she even want to save earth, when her one good memory of it has been stripped away?

The “teen Victorian fairy fight club” descriptor is what really piqued my interest, but the actual story falls way short of this. Some of the finer plot points, like Warren’s relationship to Art, the significance of the flower, and just which memory Crispin traded Art for, are hecka confusing. I’m still not 100% sure I know what was going on there. The action only half kept my interest, at best. While there are quite a few fight scenes, the match-ups are uneven and so the battles are over before they even begin. (Fight Club? More like Rambo.)

Honestly, the only redeeming things are a) the artwork, which is moody and gorgeous and b) the ending, which is just deliciously perfect in a Twilight Zone kind of way.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2019-08-22

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

tweets for 2019-08-21

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

tweets for 2019-08-20

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Book Review: No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant (2019)

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

Starts slowly, builds into something real, and then ends abruptly and with no resolution.

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for sexual harassment and racism.)

Raised in Portland, Oregon, cartoonist Hazel Newlevant was homeschooled by their* parents (for hippie reasons, not religious ones), resulting in a somewhat sheltered childhood. When they were seventeen, they got a summer job removing English ivy and other invasive plants from the local parks and forests. The youth “No Ivy League” project immersed Newlevant in the high school experience they’d been missing (or slimmed down, summer vaca version of it, anyway). This is Newlevant’s memoir, in graphic novel format, of these formative months.

As Newlevant works alongside at-risk youths, most of them black and brown, Newlevant becomes increasingly aware of their own privilege – and, by extension, that of all the home-schooling families that make up their social circle. (The scene where Newlevant asks a friend if he knows any black home schoolers is a light bulb moment.) After a co-worker’s inappropriate comments to Newlevant result in his dismissal – never mind a similar incident, directed at a black girl, which went unpunished – Newlevant begins the long and never ending process of unpacking their own privilege.

No Ivy League carries the promise of a powerful narrative of allyship, but it never quite reaches its potential. Perhaps this is because I read an early ARC, which I suspect wasn’t 100% finished. When some of the panels started lapsing into rough sketches instead of polished illustrations, I initially thought it intentional, as if to convey mental distress. Yet the last few pages are obviously not done, and the story ends rather abruptly, without any real resolution.

Newlevant’s parents’ admission that their decision to homeschool was a direct response to integration isn’t really followed up on; like, was there ever a confrontation or discussion about it? Likewise, the parallel video contest and #HomeschoolingSoWhite plot lines seemed certain to converge – like, maybe Newlevant uses the win of the former to help educate, protest, or raise awareness of the latter – but nope. Everything just kind of…trails off.

On the plus side: there’s some vegan rep, so yay for that!

* Newlevant’s preferred pronouns are they/them.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2019-08-19

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

tweets for 2019-08-18

Monday, August 19th, 2019

tweets for 2019-08-17

Sunday, August 18th, 2019

tweets for 2019-08-16

Saturday, August 17th, 2019