October 30, 2020

Liu Bolin. Iron Fist.

Oh hi, I guess this is going to be a bi-weekly blog for a little bit. I’m hanging in there, but dang, am I burned out! Are you? I love you. We’re gonna get through this.

  1. 10 things you need to know to stop a coup, Waging Nonviolence. Just sharing this article, no particular reason…just kidding. If we need to, we should prepare “for the possibility of a coup while keeping people focused on a strong, robust election process.” Some of these tips are pretty comforting. The importance of the regular citizen in stopping a coup gave me courage: “Coups tend to fail when government institutions (like elections) are trusted, there is an active citizenry and other nations are ready to become involved. […] A failed coup in Germany in 1920 gives an example. The population felt beaten down by defeat in World War I and high unemployment. Right-wing nationalists organized a coup and got the help of a few generals to seize government buildings. The deposed government fled but ordered all citizens to obey them. “No enterprise must work as long as the military dictatorship reigns,” they declared. […] The moments after a coup are moments for heroism amongst the general population. It’s how we make democracy real.” These lines in tip #9 are a good place to end: “Let’s aim for calm and avoid hyperbole. Be a reliable source by double-checking rumors and spreading high-quality facts. Sure, read social media… but spend some time, you know, doing real things that ground you. Breathe deeply. Remember how you handle fear. Play out scenarios, but don’t become captured by them. We’re doing this to prepare, just in case.” 
  2. Sunset on 14th Street, Alex Dimitrov for The Iowa Review. “I’m standing right in front of / Nowhere bar, dehydrated / and quite scared / but absolutely willing / to keep going. It makes sense / you do the same. It’s far / too late for crying and quite / useless too. You can be sad / and still look so good. […] Look at the sky. Kiss everyone / you can for sure.” This was a lovely piece with the vibes of a carpe diem poem.
  3. The feminist history of the cardigan, The Week. Didn’t know the first cardigans were called Sloppy Joes but I like it! “A 1947 article in Life lamented the sweaters and was shocked that these women “sometimes even ventured out of dormitories in rolled-up blue jeans and large men’s shirts with the tails out. … like a girl who does not care whether or not she looks like a girl.” GASP, what kind of girl?! 
  4. Dear Fuck-Up: Why Won’t My Friend Text Me Back?, Jezebel. “The problem, for me, is that it feels like there is simply nothing to catch these people up on anymore. Too many things are happening but also nothing much is happening at all, and I find I have nothing particularly interesting to say about it. Life is dull and that has in turn made me a dullard. Even the things that qualify as events don’t feel like enough to sustain any real contemplation. How have I been? Well, I moved to a new city, and now I’m in a new place doing the same things as before, mainly dishes and fretting.” Aw this advice column was so compassionate for the letter-writer and the girl the LW is writing about. 
  5. How to Make Socially Distanced Holidays Actually Feel Special, S. Bear Bergman for Vice. I loved the ideas here. If you like celebrating the holidays, treat the day like it’s special even if you don’t do all the traditions you usually do. Dress for the day, incorporate some games or conversation starters if you’re doing a Zoom dinner, and my favorite suggestion: Make videos of your relatives cooking their specialties, an intergenerational cooking class as the author calls it. It’s painful to see more traditions postponed or transformed by Covid, but if we miss each other this year, we give ourselves the chances for many years together to come.

October 16, 2020

I’m so tired of writing about 2020. I don’t want to anymore. I have skipped writing the last two weeks, and I just realized I’m feeling burned out on this year. I’ve been reading, but not as many articles I can link you to in full text. I’ve been reading a lot of books that let me escape this current moment, and if you will join me, I’ll share them with you. I heard someone say “Done is better than perfect,” and that is what is getting me to the end of this Friday5 post.

  1. Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Ahhh this book is wild. It reminds me of Turn of the Screw and The Yellow Wallpaper, but written with modern energy and a willingness to go darker than either of those tales did. I loved the main character, Noemi, as a horror heroine, who is willing to peer deeper into the darkness to save those she loves, to hold on tight and not let go. It’s also cool to read a (in my reading experience) traditionally white genre, the Gothic novel, with both a writer and protagonist of color at the helm. Moreno-Garcia hones right in on the eugenics and scientific racism of the 1950s, and connects the internal decay of the house with the host’s racism, misogyny and entitlement. It also reminds me of Bluebeard, and Tam Lin, and all the good stories about refusing to be the next in a long line of women consumed for immortality or men’s desire. Wow, it’s such a good book and I highly recommend it as a perfect ghost story for this October.
  2. The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal, Clint McElroy. This is a graphic novel, third in a series that novelizes the famously popular Adventure Zone D&D podcast, and in my opinion the best in the series so far. Here’s a quote from it that actually did make me tear up: “Do you know why our organization is called the Bureau of Balance, Merle? It’s because the world’s design, if such a thing exists, is one of masterful equilibrium. Fore every evil impulse drawn from a tempted heart, there is a heroic deed, spurred on by unimaginable bravery. From where we’re sitting, it’s hard to keep them both in our sights. But that balance is there, keeping the world stitched together. For every wrongdoing, there is a right. For each injustice, an act of kindness. For every wound, a remedy.”
  3. Solutions and Other Problems, Allie Brosh. Brosh’s long-awaited second collection of comics (her first, Hyperbole and a Half, is one of my favorite representations of the journey in and out of major depression). This one reveals more from her childhood and family life, and like any good graphic memoir, it’s hard to sum up. But it was worth the wait, and I recommend it to you.
  4. Not Like the Movies, Kerry Winfrey. This is a sweet contemporary romance followup to Waiting for Tom Hanks, which was pretty cute! I actually think the second one is better — it follows Chloe, a girl taking care of her aging father and working at a coffee shop where she and her boss have become the inspiration for a major romantic comedy film. As many romance novels do, the story is as much about the main character’s internal growth as it is about falling in love. I really related to Chloe’s struggle; she is a “helper” to everyone around her, and even though she feels tremendously overwhelmed and alone, she’s afraid to ask for the help she gives out so generously. This book made me cry several times, and is definitely more melancholy than other romcoms, but with a satisfying end and some major chemistry between the leads.
  5. Clockwork Boys, T. Kingfisher. If someone made a novelization of their D&D campaign, I imagine it would read like this book. It’s a duology, and I haven’t read the second book yet, but boy did I love the first. Total escapism into a world where four flawed protags face a doomed mission into enemy lands (in exchange for criminal pardons). We’ve got a fierce, tiny con artist, a wicked, abrasive assassin, and a paladin with a few demon-possession issues. Oh, and a scholar-guide, I’m not as attached to him yet. I like the world, and I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by T. Kingfisher. I have trouble describing fantasy novels, especially to folks who don’t read them, but this one is just pure fun.