Friday, May 11, 2018

Mad Norwegian Press

I am still continuing with my interest in Pop Culture and the publishers Mad Norwegian Press have been a great source. Their collections of essays on a variety of geeky topics have been winners thus far, in the month of March the topics were Dr Who and Joss Whedon for my choices. "Whedonistas" and "Chicks Dig Time Lords" provide a look into fans and fandom from a female perspective. I have always been more of a solo fan as meaning I don't go to MeetUps or belong to chat groups. In the last few years since moving to SeattleI have started going to more conventions and my daughter has become a fan, thus the topic of Fandom has been piqued.

One of the main focuses of Mad Norwegian Press is Dr Who and the women who love it. Dr Who was probably the first fandom my daughter and I have totally shared, the Tenth Doctor is our favourite followed by the Eleventh. As we discover more about each others interests we seem to be overlapping and sometimes veering away from each other. This may be largely due to the fact that she is getting older and is developing more of her own opinions. I have always exposed her to my interests but it is only more recently that she puts more of her own spin on them. Graphic novels or comics have long been an interest of mine, she seems to like Manga better which is fine. We are both being exposed to the others reading preferences in this area and we both occasionally will read the others book. Now if we could convince her father that they count as Literature we would both be happy.

"Chicks Dig Time Lords" edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O'Shea was a fun read. It is not something to read for academic purposes it is more of a primer to the reasons why it attracts female fans. It is one of those books that if you like a particular essay perhaps you will be inspired to pursue a topic mentioned or to find out more about the author. I will often research the author to see what else they have written or why they were selected for the compilation. This leads down the rabbit hole and sometimes the result is wonderful, sometimes not so much, but I am good with either tho the wonderful results are preferred. A couple of the essays made me think about how that particular author reacted in that manner to one specific episode or character. One introduced me to Big Finish. Big finish is a British company that produces audio books and plays based primarily on cult science fiction properties. Reading this book introduced me to a wide variety of offshoots to the world of Dr Who.

I also enjoyed "Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon by the Women Who Love Them" edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Deborah Stannish. Most of the essays are about Buffy or Angel though Firefly, Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible also make an appearance. They are all written by women who are part of the fandom created by these shows. This book was published in 2011 and presently there are a lot of mixed feelings in relation to Joss Whedon but I still think he created work worth viewing and it was nice to read all the different viewpoints.

Catherynne M Valente contributed to both of the previous books mentioned and so in April her book made it to my reading pile. "Indistinguishable From Magic" is a compilation of essays and blog posts, broken into 5 subgroups. Catherynne is an author who loves fairy tales so her name has come up before in my reading choices. I have a wide selection of fairy tale books both old and new and I enjoy reading authors like Catherynne's revamping of these tales. The topics covered in this collection include publishing, writing, editing. genre, pop culture and the list goes on. Anyone who is interested in writing fantasy or books for young adults would benefit from reading this book.

Mad Norwegian Press books have been a wonderful addition to my always growing collection of books :).

Thursday, May 3, 2018

April's Books

I haven't been in the mood for heavy reading in the last while so this sampling of titles are all lighter reads.

Three of April's selection were read on my kindle unlimited account. Amanda M. Lee is an author who writes a variety of series and I keep an eye out for certain ones - Mystic Caravan, Wicked Witches of the Midwest, Charlie Rhodes, and Avery Shaw. Her characters all have a slight sarcastic nature to them which I find I can relate to. All My Witches and Merry Witchmas are both from the Wicked Witches of the Midwest and the stories revolve around three cousins and their extended family. These are both books later in the series and I would have to say I read them out of familarity,  the plots are predictable but they still make me smile at times. Freaky Place is from the Mystic Caravan series which revolves around a traveling circus which fights supernatural evil. She is an author who I will continue to read and one of the reasons my kindle unlimited account is useful.

DIY Rules for a WTF World is a book written by Krista Suh the creator of the Pussyhat Project. She has broken the book down to a variety of short chapters focusing on what she believes can help women/feminists feel enpowered and achieve greatness through their creativity. It was interesting to discover how quickly she managed to create, promote and execute the Pussyhat Project. A book I plan on passing on to encourage inspiration.

Hold Me Closer Necromancer by Lish McBride a local author was a fun read and I have already bought the second book in the series. I am looking forward to see how Sam(short for Samhain) and his friends will cope with life and his new found skills of being a Necromancer. Another added feature of the book was the local setting and how Lish played with the quirks of Seattle to develop her story.

The Antipope by Robert Rankin first in the Brentford Triology series was actually a reread. This series consists of 9 novels and has characters and setting in common but little continuity. At times I think Robert Rankin plays with the continuity on purpose. They are all set in Brentford and combine, occult, aliens, fantasy and comedy. I decided to reread this one as it has probably been at least 20 years since I read it. Many of his books were difficult to find in North America until he reissued them himself on Kindle in 2012. He is an author who makes my list for favourite books, though I would recommend one of his later titles to most people.

The month of April also involved me reading numerous graphic novels which I am going to do in a separate post. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Voltron = Leif Garrett

Honestly it does Voltron = Leif Garrett. Or at least it did in my mind this morning while walking my daughter to school. She was talking about Voltron, I vaguely remember the original, probably from Saturday morning cartoons and I have watched a couple of new episodes. Apparently there is a very strong fandom and she has been reading some of the fanfic recently where Lance and Keith are often a couple. She stated that she liked "Klance" better then "Kleith" for their Ship Name. This started my brain to whir and start connecting thoughts.

I obviously like the name "Kleith" better :). From here the name "Kleith" made me think "Leif". Leif, Leif that name was jogging some reference, first I though Ericson the Norse explorer, nope that wasn't the right one. Then it hit me Leif Garrett, American singer, actor etc. 

I remember seeing his picture all over the place in the 70's, when you flipped through the posters at KMart there was always a a few of him. When I was at my cousins, who were older, he was on the wall in their bedroom, or when you were looking at magazines like "Tiger Beat" he would be on the cover. He had a long and erratic career and was often mentioned in celebrity news for his drug use and other legal issues. The image above is how I think of him, he was probably about sixteen or seventeen, he has the sulk, the hair and the pose which was iconic for pop idols then. 

This is how Voltron = Leif Garrett. My daughter didn't get the leap of thought but it makes total sense to me. I then preceded to show her the video for "I Was Made For Dancing"

She still didn't get the leap but understands that my pop culture references do connect in some sort of manner, they kinda of work like "Seven Degrees of Bacon". It may take some time to convince another person of the connection but it can normally be done. Oh I almost forgot Hunk's (another character from Voltron) last name is Garrett :).

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

God Of War A New Obsession

God Of War was my birthday present to myself and has become a new form of procrastination and enjoyment. Definitely a bit of an obsession. I have actually been competing with my daughter in the morning for monologues on our latest fandoms. She has been talking about My Hero Academia on our walks to school and I have been talking about God Of War. Still not sure who can be more of a motor mouth on their topic of choice. Our conversations I am sure seem very disjointed to anyone who happens to overhear but there would be no doubt that we are both very passionate about the discussion :). 

God of War is another game which is beautiful to look at. I am not really that far into the game and I am already impressed with the graphics. There is so much detail to every scene it is one of those games that I wish you could experience in slow motion. At points during fight scenes I just want to see what else is going on instead of concentrating on the fight. This is the main reason I become enthralled in games that have a plot and beautiful scenery, still haven't found a first person shooter that grips me.

The main characters, Kratos and his son Arteus are on a quest of scattering the ashes of their wife/mother on a distant mountaintop. Of course they have lots of turmoil, conflict and adventure en route. Kratos is not a very likable character and every time he calls his son "Boy" I cringe, though when he lost his son in the fog during hunting practice he calls "Atreus" so you know he can be caring. As the plot develops we learn more about their relationship and secrets are gradually revealed, throw in Norse mythology, other realms and we have a game that has caught my attention. I am sure I will loose many hours to this game as I explore/solve every side quest, look for and kill every raven,  and add new creatures to my bestiary.

So Happy Birthday to me, last year I got Little Nightmares, this year God Of War, here's hoping next April brings me a game release I will enjoy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

March Books - A Review

"UX for Beginners" by Joel Marsh was worth the read. I presently have a variety of computer books on the go that relate to a course I am taking and O'Reily books are my first choice for coding books. This was a light read compared to most coding books. Joel Marsh has a blog where he discusses the ins and outs of UX and this is a compilation or as the title states "A Crash Course in 100 Short Lessons". He uses humour and illustrations to cover a wide range of topics and it was a great way to become more comfortable with the many types and labels of UX Design. Anyone curious about the topic would benefit from reading this book, it has definitely assisted me in understanding the more technical books I am reading.

"Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline had been on my pile of books to read for a while, my husband read it to my daughter when it first came out. Of course I have been to see the movie now and I am not sure whether I should have read it just before. Both the movie and book were enjoyable but I feel I may of liked the movie better if the book wasn't so fresh in my mind. I really try not to judge movies by what was left out or neglected from the plot of a book but often it is hard to maintain that mindset :). It always becomes apparent how easy it is to pick apart a movie and how they changed continuity when the book is fresh in your mind. Should have read the book earlier.

"The Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter" by Theodora Goss and "Strange Practice" by Vivian Shaw are both introductions to new series. Both involve characters which are inspired by other literary works. "The Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter" starts with us meeting Mary, the daughter of Dr Jekyll who then proceeds to solve a mystery with Sherlock and Watson. This mystery involves the secret society her father belonged to and the meeting of the daughters of other mad scientists, including Mr. Hyde's(Does that make her a step sister?). It is a gothic mystery with a good mashup of some favourite literary monsters. "Strange Practice" protagonist Dr. Greta Helsing, daughter of Abraham Van Helsing, is a doctor who administers care to the many monsters of London. Both are slow paced novels and character development is the main goal of the authors, something often done in the start of a series. I will probably pick up the second book in each series to see what adventure the ladies venture on next.

"The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern is another book from my "To Read " pile in my bedroom. The author does beautiful descriptive writing which adds to the story and sets the mood. It is so much more then a love story or the typical fantasy novel, it's whimsical and slightly dark. In many ways it is a modern fairytale and I have always loved fairytales. "The Book of Speculation" by  Erika Swyler also includes a circus but in a more indirect manner. This book is broken into two time lines one is from the perspective of a librarian researching a book and then his family, the other time line involves a circus which ties to the book he is researching and also his family. It involves the history of Circuses or Traveling Shows, something which I find very intriguing so it kept me reading. At times it is hard to like the main character and his manner or interaction with others but it is all part of the development of the plot. I enjoyed both of these novels for different reasons but the theme of circus performers has been strong this past month.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Simon Pegg and Sisters of Mercy

When "The World's End" came out I heard rumours that it had a strong Goth soundtrack and they weren't lying. It was exciting to discover that Simon Pegg and his cohorts Nick Frost and Edgar Wright shared my fondness for Goth music. When Simon talks about his favourite Goth bands and creates his playlist it overlaps with mine continously. Thus it has become one of my favourite movies to watch just because. No I can't quote lines from the movie because I have to admit I kinda watch it like one long music video. Being a fan of Sisters of Mercy I can see similarities in scenes to some of their videos and also Fields of Nephilim videos. In general it just captures the total vibe. How can I not love a movie which has a main character, Gary King, who loved Sisters of Mercy so much he has the bands logo tattooed on his chest and he still loves them. He also still wears a band tshirt and  the quintessential coat of his youth. Gary remembers the 80's as the best time of his life and wishes he could relive them and this is the basic plotline of the movie along with some aliens, violence and humour thrown in the mix.

This movie is the third installment of "The Three Flavours Cornetto" or as some call it the "Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy". The first was "Shaun of The Dead" which is a comedy disguised as a zombie flick or a Rom/Zom/Com. The Cornetto flavour or colour of this film is Strawberry which signifies all the blood and gore. The second is "Hot Fuzz" which is a comedy disguised as a cop buddy movie with a mysterious cult included. Here the Cornetto colour is the Original flavour, colour blue aka Men in Blue. "The World's End" is the last in the trilogy and it is a mixture of comedy, science fiction and little green men. In this one the flavour of Cornetto is green mint chocolate chip and you have to watch for the reference.  I like all of them but I would reverse them for my order of preference.

These are just a couple of the fun posters you can find when searching Cornetto Triology :)

Because of my fondness for Simon Pegg he now makes my daughters list of favourite actors, who are mainly British. Her favourite Simon Pegg movie is probably "Absolutely Anything"(2017), which rates really high in her books as it  includes Monty Python allumni in the cast and is directed by Terry Jones. British humour, thus Monty Python is very popular in our household. The movies starring Simon Pegg we have watched together so far are:

                                           Shaun of the Dead
                                           Hot Fuzz
                                           The World's End
                                           Run, Fatboy, Run
                                           Hector And The Search For Happiness
                                           Absolutely Anything
                                           Man Up
                                           Kill Me Three Times

In "Cuban Fury" (starring Nick Frost) Simon Pegg has a cameo which we both caught because we had recently watched "Kill Me Three Times", it was the mustache which caught our eye. "Kill Me Three Times" was probably the first movie she watched that has done a nonconsecutive storyline and she still isn't sure whether she approves of the techniques. We also realized she has seen The Boxtrolls and Room On The Broom - voice actor. Simon Pegg has now become one of our go to actors for what we call our Film Studies Course, yes we discuss plot, genres etc. I am movie buff so I enjoy introducing her to actors/actresses that are not standard North American fare. If I can sneak in music also, even better, especially when it is a band like Sisters of Mercy :).

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Goth Girl

In the late 80’s and the 90’s I was a Goth girl, in many ways I still am. In high school I was often referred to as the girl who wore big boots, short skirts and long coats. My husband likes to sing "Short Skirt Long Jacket" by Cake to me whenever we come across a picture from that time. The long coats and short skirts were most often my own creations or something that I had modified from a thrift shop. My attire did not change much season to season even though I grew up in a climate which includes 4 definite seasons. And I assure you fishnets are not the best thing to wear when it it -10 C and colder, though I would do up my coat then. When I moved to Toronto to go to Fashion school I stopped wearing any colour other than black and to this day I still have a hard time wearing bright colours. Colour enters my wardrobe through accessories mainly, one of my favourites being funky striped socks worn with attention getting footwear, laceups, mainly black, occasionally shades of red or purple. For footwear my favourite has been Fluevogs for about 25 years now. Looking in my closet you can see my obsession with Fluevog footwear, some of them have been resoled, restitched, and some hardly worn but they are all beautiful. Throughout my teenage years until my early 20’s every year my Dad gave me a birthday card that read I.O.U one pair of boots. My favourite boots presently are the Zachary which are no longer being made :( . My pair is well worn, have been resoled and restitched and need some TLC again. I have my fingers crossed that they will release them again as lace up boots with no zippers are practically impossible to find. If I am not wearing these with a skirt or bloomers my other go to's are my burgundy derby swirls(Fluevogs of course) with pants.

My go to boots - Zachary from Fluevog

I have always read voraciously and during my heavy Goth phase I read a lot of theology and philosophy when I wasn’t focused on fashion and music. I still have an extensive collection of books on Voodoo, History of Witchcraft and the odd Neitzche mixed in with my other reading material. I listened to mainly British music during this time as they had a stronger goth scene(Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Fields of Nephilim, The Mission etc) otherwise it was punk or industrial music. Most of the other kids were into Hair Metal or ProgRock at my high school and I didn’t meet many other people who had similar listening trends until I left home. Being Canadian I tried anything put out on Network records the home of Skinny Puppy and Sarah McLachlan, opposite ends of spectrum for music. Of course I was a Skinny Puppy fan out of those two, though I have always respected Sarah as a strong female Canadian musician. I had many friends while living in Toronto(college years) whose goal in life was to look exactly like Robert Smith of The Cure, Peter Murphy of Bauhaus or truly believed Sid Vicious was a good roll model. Some even followed the fashion of the Rude Boys of Ska music or did the total Rockabilly look. Normally these weren’t boundaries to be blended but I have never been inclusive in my fandoms or subcultures and I really hope some of the evenings we spent at the pub together at my insistence resulted in some lasting friendships that wouldn’t of happened otherwise. At this stage in my life I was pretty fearless in starting conversation with anyone who happened to catch my attention.  Something I am sad to say isn’t as prominent now, it seemed so much easier when I was in my 20’s to just strike up a conversation with a stranger.

Goth Phase also equaled Club Scene participant. The only night I didn’t go out was Saturday as that was when all the frat boy/jock types were out. Sundays and Mondays were the best as then I went to clubs/alternative spaces with staff from other places. Otherwise Thursday was a great night for Goth music or seeing a band at Lee’s Palace. Because of my interest in fashion and especially alternative fashion I also met a variety of people from the fetish scene. I honestly can’t believe I use to make and wear creations made from PVC fabric or latex, neither fabric is meant for comfort. Those outfits were made to be seen in, pose in, definitely not for dancing. But every time I went to the Tazmanian Ballroom it was like going to a members only fashion show. One of the aspects of the evening was showing off your outfit, this was also the era of Jean Paul Gaultier and the iconic cone bra he created for Madonna, the resurgence of lingerie as outer wear and the start of body modification entering the mainstream. Going to a Con nowadays has a similar vibe at times when I see people reconnecting, showing off their outfits or their latest obsession. Fashion and dressing to please and express yourself is very important to me. I am one of those people who will paint a fence in a velvet skirt if that is what I chose to wear today though comfort has become more important to me then it was. I still prefer boots over shoes, my skirts are longer nowadays and I still own a variety of long flowing coats.

And just for fun here is a link for Short Skirt Long Coat by Cake - not very Goth but a catchy song :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

February Books

February was a good month for reading. This was partially due to more time spent on the bus :) taking my daughter back and forth to the SIFF Film Camp she was enrolled in during her Winter Break. That week I was probably reading a book a day, I think I ended up reading 12 or 13 books in the month in total. For transit reading I normally pick a non-fiction book which is more of an essay format. It needs to be engaging, thus not a dry academic read. The more academic reads I keep for home where there are fewer distractions.

I have just recently discovered the Fan Phenomena Series, check them out if you are interested in Pop Culture. Buffy The Vampire Slayer is the first I have read in these series and I enjoyed it immensely. We just recently watched the complete series in our household as a family. We even participated in a Buffy Trivia Night mid December so it was fun to read essays focusing on the series, they ran from academic to fandom based.

Andi Zeisler is an author/columnist I discovered recently who was pivotal in the creation of the magazine Bitch. I read We Were Feminists Once first which discusses through essays how the word feminist has developed and how it has become a marketing buzzword. In reading this book I also discovered her great interest in Pop Culture and that she had a published book on the subject, Feminism and Pop Culture. I enjoyed both books, neither was overly preachy and covered a nice range of topics.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce was a book recommended by the Book of the Month club. I worked at a small independent record store part time off an on for a while in my 20's so it piqued my interest. The main character is a man who can find the perfect match of music for each person who walks into his store at that point in their life. The music history that was interspersed throughout was an added bonus and I can see why it is getting compared to High Fidelity.

The Everything Box by Richard Kadrey is the first book of a series with a supernatural aspect. It was fun and I will probably pick up the next one at the library at some point to read.  Sherman Alexie is an author that I have come across numerous time at local bookstores so I finally decided to read Fight. He is a local Pacific Northwest author and writes about being Native American. One of the things I enjoyed in this novel was its setting of Seattle.

The Philosopher's Flight by Tom Miller is the first novel from this author and hopefully more are in the works. The Power by Naomi Alderman is a science fiction book I picked up at Ada's Technical Books & Cafe. Both these books are about alternate realities where females are in power. Both are very well written and cover the topic of "What if girls ruled the world". They can be read for pure enjoyment but be warned they may start you thinking about politics, sociology and philosophy.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Amigurumi - Creepy Cute Crochet

My fascination with Amigurumi has shown itself again. This week I have been working my way through the Creepy Cute Cochet - Zombies, Ninjas, Robots and More! by Christen Haden. Of course I am not following the patterns exactly. I seldomly do :0).

So far I have completed a bride and groom by taking aspects from the patterns for Skeleton Bride and Groom and the Day of the Dead Gal & Fellow. I used the headdress from Day of the Dead Gal as I didn't have any white tulle on hand. Then I decided they both needed some adornment around/on their necks. Pretty cute results.

Then I moved onto the GrimReaper and a Trojan which are both still missing their weapons. Those will be completed soon as I have decided to create a scythe and a sword using Sculpey. The GrimReaper seems like a teen to me in this incarnation so I see a goth girlfriend in the future for him.

The next pattern I decided was a must make was Chuthlu which meant I had to get some green yarn. Which then made me start thinking what else could be created using it as a main colour. It looks like there may be more creatures to come. Perhaps an alien, Caterpillar(Alice in Wonderland has so much potential), Medusa.

Presently I am working on the Monkey which is wearing a fez of course. The book includes 20 different patterns with many of them using the same body and or head pattern.Creepy Cute Crochet is good inspiration and it is quite easy to use ideas from multiple patterns to put your own spin on your creations. So once again yarn is residing by my chair waiting to be made into creatures when I am binge watching my latest fascination on the screen. Lately it has been a couple of episodes of Community most nights which I am working my way through with my daughter. Or later in the evening Banshee with my husband.