19 December 2014

White vs Blue vs No

How are people reacting to the "theme" of Survivor season 30: White Collar vs Blue Collar vs No Collar?

I don't think it's a terrible idea. They're quite fond of dividing people up in this way, like, by different generalizations/binaries, with the assumption that the different groups will behave in different ways. The white collars will be psychopaths (or "cut-throat," to soften it); the blue collars will be simple and hardworking all American-types; and the no collars will be airy-fairy move to the beat of their own drums. At least, those would be the stereotypes. It'll be interesting to see how it actually works out but to be honest I can see myself getting pretty annoyed with the season. I'm not a fan of people who think they're slick because they wear a suit to work, if you catch my meaning. The Wall Street crowd, in other words.

As a no collar myself, I'll probably be rooting for that group, haha.

Though, noticeably absent is a Pink Collar group, i.e. people in the service industry. Is it just because they only wanted three groups, or is there another reason?

18 December 2014

HBD, ARS

Oh snap, Amy Rose (from Rookie) and I are the same age.
She's an ultra babe rockin' her life and I'm sitting at a dining room table in my parents' house, smelling like wet dog, with greasy hair, possibly going blind, and angry that I see my friends, on average, one day a month.
I know it's not that simple. Amy Rose has gone through some rough stuff and has worked tirelessly to get to where she is now.
It's just weird when you have a moment of perspective like this, when someone you admire is the same age as you. It's not even jealousy. It's like, what exactly am I doing?

But anyways, Happy (belated) Birthday Amy Rose! May you bath in a heart-shaped tub full of cheeseburgers whenever you please!

Queen Natalie


I wasn't sure if she'd be able to do it. She played so hard, and people knew she was a threat to win. But as soon as Keith got voted out, I knew: Natalie had won Survivor season 29!

You could literally see it on her face as soon as Jeff started reading the votes and Keith's name was there. It wasn't just relief that she wasn't being voted out: she knew she would win. Because she deserved it. She played a strong social game, a strong mental game, and a strong physical game, all while keeping under the radar prior to the merge and then, come merge, playing super aggressively while still managing not the get voted out. She had been working the entire game to make it to the end. Everything she did, she did to win. She outwitted, outplayed, and outlasted them all.

This was a pretty good season overall - all new castaways, long-time fans and strategists mixed with people who had no idea what they were doing; cleverly played idols and well-handled blindsides (plus one not so successful attempt at a blindside).

But what really makes it standout is how satisfying the finale was. 

For starters, the final three were all women. There were only eight women in the game, to ten men. Five women made it to the merge, four of them making it to the final five.

And just for the memories:





Like, is that not the most epic thing ever? I'll admit, I don't remember Survivor: One World all that well (besides Colton crying and the guys being a general mess while the women ruled the game) (looked it up, the final five was all women, yayo!). But I remember Parvati, Amanda and Cirie: they were crazy good players and awesome to watch (though technically Cirie only ever made it to fourth place). Still, so awesome.

Secondly, the jury mostly consisted of super bitter men (plus a tearful Baylor; though Jeremy wasn't bitter, he was almost as stoked as Natalie).

But most importantly, Natalie won. And Natalie deserved to win. Not just out of the final three. Out of everyone this season, Natalie deserved to win. She played the best game. She's a living legend. Sure, other people played hard too, but they just couldn't wangle it out. Like there was always a bit of a block, keeping them from going just that extra step. Natalie went there. For instance, playing the idol for Jaclyn and voting out Baylor (who was like her little sister in the game) - who does that?! She made so many risky moves, and yet she never received a vote against her. And, interestingly, she only ever voted against men until there were no other options (ie: when Keith had immunity and Baylor was voted out; of course Natalie went on to vote Keith out at the next tribal).

Basically, Natalie is a living legend.

13 December 2014

Christmas Books 2014



For a few years now, twice every year, on my birthday and on Christmas, I get books as gifts. These are books I select/order myself (and, for Christmas, also wrap myself), so, in the reverse order of things, I am the only one who knows what the books are, and it is my family who is surprised when I open them.

(I get all my books at Chapters, by the way. I always feel like I should support smaller bookstores, but there aren't any where I live, and it costs a lot for my to go to Toronto, or even to have books delivered from Toronto. And anyways, I think Heather Reisman, the CEO, is doing a good job of making sure that physical books stores don't disappear altogether.)

Anyways, even though it's not Christmas yet, I felt like writing a bit about the books here, just because I so excited to finally have them in my hands, to read the authors' bios, the acknowledgements, the blurbs, before reading the stories themselves.

Firstly, my 2015 agenda (above, right).
My family always wonders why I need an agenda when I neither work nor attend school, but I find it useful for general things, such as keeping track of my tv shows (especially stuff like Big Brother and Survivor, where I record who gets voted off each week), as well as for any outings/get-togethers, books events, and just for quick random notes. I like the Peter Pauper Press agendas in particular (I've had them for three years now) because the format is very practical: there's a good amounts of space for each date, and there's also space for addresses and extra notes at the very back.


Grimoire for the Green Witch: A Complete Book of Shadows
This is something that I've wanted for a while now: a book of witchcraft. But it had to be the right one. A lot of books just describe the tools that witches use and whatnot - more like encyclopedias than anything. And of course others are just full of love potions. I wanted something practical, with more of a focus on herbs (which is what I tend to muck around with), as well as something with less of an emphasis on Wicca. I'm interested in witchcraft, but don't feel a connection with Wicca for a variety of reasons (it mostly boils down to the continued reliance on binary opposites). The Grimoire for the Green Witch by Ann Moura, based on online descriptions, seems to suit my purposes. There are still prayers/chants and whatnot, which aren't my thing, but there's also sections on things like colour/plant symbolism, uses for herbs (such as in teas and cooking, but also herbal pillows), as well as more of a focus on witchcraft as a sort of personal meditation. I'm hoping that there's also some stuff about healing potions/spells/whatever, which is always useful.

Sidenote: the cover is really pretty. It reminds me of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel
Lullabies for Little Criminals is the award-winning debut novel by the Canadian author Heather O'Neill. I've been avoiding learning too much about the plot, but from what I have read, it's a dysfunctional bildungsroman about a 13 y/o girl named Baby. Does one need to know more? I don't think so. Especially not with a cover like that. I love a good book cover. I'm really excited for this book, not just because it's won awards and has gotten good reviews, but because it's by a female Canadian writer. I have a weird tendency to avoid Canadian writers because I assume (often correctly) that they don't write the types of books that I like. (A lot of Canadians write about either being an immigrant or about growing up in a field in Saskatchewan, which is fine, but, apart from Alice Munro, not for me.) But because I'm Canadian and a writer I figure I should be at least marginally informed about what my comrades are up to. Hence this book.


Women In Clothes
And also this book, Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton. I have three basic reasons for getting this book. 1) I admire Sheila Heti (another Canadian!). 2) The cover is gorgeous. And 3) I've been wanting to improve/develop my own personal style and I think reading about other women's opinions of clothes will help me feel more comfortable with the various ideas around clothing. (Kinda hard to explain what I mean by this, and I don't want to get into it right now...) The book, from what I know, consists of a large number of women's feelings about clothing and personal style. It should be interesting.



Yet of course, shortly after I got these books, a bunch of other interesting books made themselves known to me.
The Strange Library
Haruki Murakami's The Strange Library, for example. I knew he was coming out with a new one, but I didn't realize that it would be this year, so soon after The Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki. This novel, The Strange Library, sounds much more up my alley than his previous book. It's a short, illustrated novel about some kids who get trapped in a weird library. A lot of the elements in the novel are references to Murakami's previous works, which is a great treat for his fans. I'll probably have to pick up a copy after Christmas (maybe Chapters will have a sale or something) because this seems essential to my Murakami collection.

Then there's this list, which Rookie mag shared in their links today, of the Top 25 Young Adult Novels of 2014 (as listed by Caitlin White) (totally random, but I really like this spelling of the name Caitlin). I've been hearing about Meg Woltizer's Belzhar for months now, but other books I've never heard of before, though some sound quite interesting. Particularly Conversion by Katherine Howe, which is partly about the Salem Witch Trials, and partly about the contemporary experience of hysteria in a high school. (This actually sounds similar to the novel that I'm working on now, which is disconcerting, but which also makes me want to read it even more just to make sure I'm not copying it. (Just at a rough guess, I think I've got enough of a edge with mine that it's not copying anything else, but you never know. But, anyways, there's already the immediate difference that my book is set in Canada, not the States, and I have to develop my own dark/witchy history for the story because no such history exists in Canada.) Other books from the list that sound interesting to me: Panic, The Walled City (I've had ideas for a book similar to this), This One Summer (a graphic novel), Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, and We Were Liars (which Caitlin White lists as the #1 YA novel of the year).

Just as odd as it is that I read little Canadian fiction, I also read little YA fiction while simultaneously attempting to write YA fiction. I've always found a lot of YA work to be either too romance-based or too realistic. And a lot of it, like literature in general, is just plain bad, poorly written dreck. I need stuff that sets my imagination going into a hundred different directions. I think some of these books will do that, so I guess I'll be adding them to my list!

edit: Just looked at reviews for these YA books on Goodreads - not looking so good. :P

7 December 2014

The Week in TV-land (spoilers ahoy!)

Another week has brought us two more season finales, leaving television addicts wondering what they will do with their time (don't worry, kindred spirits - Christmas movies, tv marathons, and the Doctor Who Christmas special have already launched their take-over of the tube). (I'm literally just talking to myself here.)

Starting with the least important/most disappointing, I was totally wrong with my ANTM predictions - not a single female model made it to the final three - and Will, the male model who I thought had the best chance of winning, came in second place to Keith, who won the whole darned thing. Don't get me wrong, Keith has a great face for modelling and his runway was definitely the best of the three finalists. But his look is one we've seen before *coughcough*Tyson Beckford*coughcough* (I know very little about models and fashion, but even I know who Tyson is. Whether or not this will ultimately work in Keith's favour, I don't know.) And of course there's the issue of Keith always looking the same in every picture (though this is pretty common in ANTM). If Will would've stepped up his game, he could have won. But he got weaker towards the end, and his runway walk was pretty bad. It's like, despite his height, he's afraid to take up space. (I do think this is exactly his problem. Perhaps because he comes from a small town where the majority of people are prejudiced against gay people, he's used to feeling like he has to hide/make himself smaller. Hopefully he continues to work through this, because he's an awesome person and has a gorgeous face and has no reason to hide who he is.)

But I guess the outcome was to be expected. Since a male model didn't win last season, of course it had to happen this season. Kinda sucks for models like Lennox and Shei, who, non-guy seasons, would've made it the to finals (especially since Lennox totally owned the runway anyways).

On a positive note, I'm glad that Tyra has found a good balance between her kooky personality and fashion-knowledge. There were a few seasons, years ago now, when she was acting over-the-top crazy, and it was a bit annoying to watch. Now, she's much more of a mentor to the models, getting more involved with them, offering useful advice and sharing stuff from her own experiences, while still being silly and ridiculous.

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Not a season finale, but the most recent episode of AHS: Freakshow was rather special, as I suppose it always is. The whole Dandy-mother scenario was a long time coming - Norman Bates/Psycho, anyone? I wonder if Dandy will start to dress like her now, though he seems to prefer being covered in blood. Elsa murdering Ethel was something of a surprise, though Ethel had been going on a self-destructive bender ever since she found out she was dying. And now she's dead, so that's one less thing to worry about. But now Jimmy will probably be drinking even more, which, personally-speaking, is really boring. Drunkeness is ugly to me, and I really don't care to watch it on tv. Though perhaps Jimmy will find more comfort in Ima Wiggle's "ample bosom" than in alcohol. (On that note, if the actress, Chrissy Metz, is wearing a fat suit, as I assume she is, it's a really awkward one. She looks like a square when she sits down. But like a gorgeous square. She's probably the most beautiful woman on the show right now.)

The only story line that I'm interested in at the moment, besides Dandy, is the one with Desiree and the other vigilante women. While a lot of the other characters just stand around and talk, these characters actually do stuff, while also providing an interesting dialogue on misogyny and various types of privilege.

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SERIOUSLY DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE WALKING DEAD MID-SEASON FINALE

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

So, The Walking Dead mid-season finale aired last Sunday and I still don't know what to say. I thought if I gave it some time I would come up with something, but I've got nothing. I mean, I knew someone would die. That much was obvious considering how the plot had been going (and also because Chris Hardwick said there was going to be a "surprise guest" on Talking Dead). But, like a lot of other fans, I'm really upset that it was Beth who died. It was unfortunate that Bob died, but he was always more of a background character anyways. It was extremely sad when Hershel died, but I think the shock of how it went down and the concern for the rest of the group kinda merged the sadness with anger, and it was all very emotionally confusing. With Beth, we, like the characters and even the cast themselves, are left with pure grief. (Emily Kinney seems completely heart-broken over the fact that she'll no longer be part of the show.)

I think one of the special things about Beth, and why her death is so particularly affecting, is that she was the closest to the audience: she wasn't particularly prepared for surviving in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-filled world, and yet she did survive, and not in a way that destroyed her humanity - her humanity never wavered.  Even in the way she died, she was standing up for Noah and the other hospital wards, standing up for their right to freedom, standing against a system that allows people to be used and abused.

Beth never lost hope that they could all survive, that she could survive. She always believed in herself, which, as we've seen, can be a difficult thing to do in their world.

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edit: Oh, and Dec 17th will bring us the Survivor season 29 finale. They're having it on a Wednesday again, which is "meh" to me. I think this has been a pretty decent season overall, though I really don't remember past seasons all that well. I've been watching it for over half my life, so it's hard to remember everything.

Anyways, I hope one of the women win this time. I mean, I almost always hope that a woman wins, but especially this season, because the women have really been owning the game. They're thinking the most, doing the most work overall. But knock on wood, because I don't want to jinx it. It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if John won, but that's kinda a boring choice. And Keith spits too much. I don't like that.

I wonder if they're having a final two like the previous season? I guess we'll find out soon.