Festive AF

I’ve always been known to be a bit of a Grinch. There have been years where I’ve even refused to have a tree in my house. I haven’t wanted to bake. I’ve banned Christmas music from my house, car and office. I’ve had no interest in participating in the holiday at all.

But something weird happened this fall. The second November hit, I started to feel this strange itch to decorate for the holidays. To put up my tree, bust out the twinkle lights, start baking and watching those horrible Hallmark holiday movies.

I wanted snow on the ground. Okay, I wanted snow on the lawns and rooftops, but not on streets, sidewalks or driveways, but you get the idea.

It’s been a little unsettling to feel the urge to be festive at all, let alone this early, but there I was. Setting my Christmas tree up the day after Remembrance Day. Tuning my radios to the all Christmas music stations. Pinning cookie recipes. I’ve even hung twinkle lights in my damn windows.

Why have I been feeling like this? Because this past year has been a giant dumpster fire. It’s time for some festivity and joy, damnit. I’m done with the bullshit cesspool that is 2018.

If I have to shed my Grinchy ways to get a break from all this terrible, horrible, very bad year, then that’s what I’m going to do. Bring on the twinkle lights, cheesy movies and overplayed Christmas carols. I’m going to squeeze every last bit of joy out of this time of year. Who’s with me?

 

 

I was gonna be a drummer in a metal band

I swore I was going to be a drummer in a metal band someday. It looks like a lot of fun. You get to sit in back of the band and rock out. You sit on a stool while you play, so you don’t risk falling over while you’re doing all that head-banging. Plus, I’m already a percussionist. (Pianists are percussionists, so let me stop you right there).

But as with a lot of crazy dreams, real life took over and it just wasn’t in the cards. It’s hard to dedicate your time to becoming a drummer in a metal band when you’ve got to work a 9-5 job to pay off your crippling student debt, make time for your friends and family, while killing mayonnaise, department stores, fabric softener, marriage, sex and bar soap like a good elder millennial.

I’d had almost forgotten about this dream. Until tonight! My partner and I were scrolling through YouTube (Oops, cable TV is also something we millennials have killed, sorry!) and stumbled across a metal cover of Toto’s Africa. And we couldn’t not watch it. I mean. Toto. Metal. Cover.

As it turns out, Leo Moracchioli‘s Frog Leap Studios has hundreds of metal covers on his YouTube channel. And he covers all kinds of tunes. We may or may not have been listening to these covers for hours now. Some of my favourites so far have been:

Let It Go

Ghostbusters Theme

 

Losing My Religion

It’s A Hark-Knock Life

Shape of You

Mmmbop

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper

Mamma Mia

Call Me Maybe

Baby Shark

So a list of ten may seem like a lot, but I was honestly restraining myself here. I didn’t post his Rick Astley cover. Or his Ace of Base Cover. Or his cover of the theme song of the Fresh Prince of Bell-Air.

Check out his channel and then tell me he hasn’t made you want to be a drummer in a metal band.

 

 

This month I’m participating in NaBloPoMo. Want to join us? Then visit my friend San’s post to link up!

Another year, another Nablopomo!

Here we are, November.

My mortal enemy.

Not quite, but I like to challenge myself each year (read: encourage myself to write for non-day-job reasons) to participate in National Blog Posting Month! The goal is to write a blog post every day in November, but for me I will consider this challenge a success if I post a handful of times in November.

Spoiler alert: It doesn’t always go well.

In the past, I’ve used the Nablopomo website and prompts to give me inspiration, but after a quick google search, that doesn’t seem to be a thing anymore.

Are you participating in Nablopomo this year? Let me know in the comments so I can link your blogs in my Nablopomo posts!

What I’ve read this year

What I've Read This Year

For the past few years, I’ve been using the Goodreads reading challenge to encourage myself to read more. I’ve kept my goal fairly simple, aiming to read a book a month. I’ve fallen a bit behind on sharing reviews as I’ve gone, so I thought I would share a quick catch up. Here’s what I’ve read so far this year:

  1. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

    This book is a collection of poetry. This was beautifully written and gave me chills, but I found some of the poems difficult to read at times due to subject matter. Even still, I rated this 4 out of 5 stars.

  2. Wherever You Go, There You are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn

    This was a self help style book, all about mindfulness meditation. The book was very well-rated and I read it on the recommendation of my doctor, but man. This book was not for me. It was too new-agey, too philosophical for my liking. I rated it 1 star.

  3. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

    This is a YA novel from the writer of the Shopaholic Series. Audrey suffers from anxiety and mild agoraphobia. There were parts of the story that really irritated me, but it was a fine read. 3 out of 5 stars.

  4. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

    The autobiography of the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah tells his amazing story from his young life in apartheid South Africa to the host of one of the more popular satirical news shows. This was a great read and I totally cried. I rated it 4.5 stars out of 5.

  5. Everybody Writes: You Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley

    This was assigned reading for the course I took this year, so I picked it up because I had to. It’s a great resource for anyone looking for a guide to content writing. There were definitely chapters of this book that covered things I already knew, but it’s a solid guide for anyone that is new to content writing or looking to brush up on their strategies. I rated it 3 stars of 5.

  6. When We Collided by Emery Lord

    Another YA, this book put an interesting twist on the boy-meets-girl, summer loving story. It handles the portrayal of mental health and mental illness in a more realistic way. The story has alternating narrators, from the POVs of the two main characters. I really didn’t like the one character, but still rated this 3.5 stars.

  7. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandy Menon

    While I found this book slow to get started, I really, really enjoyed the main character, Dimple. I honestly thought I knew where the author was going with the story, but she surprised me. It was a well-crafted story with real characters. I rated this 4 out of 5 stars.

  8. Other People We Married by Emma Straub

    Other People We Married is a collection of short stories. I didn’t really enjoy this book, but kept reading, because I thought maybe the next short story would grab me. It was readable, but I wouldn’t call it enjoyable. I gave this book 1.5 out of 5 stars.

  9. The Assistants by Camille Perri

    I loved this book, it was a fun read. The story was incredibly far fetched, but I think that’s what made it so fun. And having spent my fair share of time working as an unappreciated assistant, there was definitely something cathartic about this book. Don’t judge me! I rated it 4 out 5 stars.

  10.  My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

    Another Sophie Kinsella book. This was definitely more of Kinsella’s normal chick-lit style, where her protagonist gets herself into some major trouble, lies about it, then gets found out and hilarity ensues. It was formulaic, but something you can pick up and read. It was fine. I rated it 3 out of 5 stars.

  11. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

    Absolutely hated this book. I ended up hate-reading it because I really struggle with DNFing (Did Not Finish) books and again, it was a collection of short stories, so I thought maybe one of them would speak to me. I was not a fan of the main character. He came across as a complete asshole and maybe if I hadn’t read it in the middle of the garbage fire that is life, society and politics these days, maybe I would’ve enjoyed it more. But right now? Hard pass. I rated this 1.5 stars out of 5.

  12. This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

    This book follows the story of Sloane, who’s adjusting to life in Florida. Her family has just relocated from NYC and Sloane is struggling with the fallout from the move. When a painting by her new best friends’ mother goes missing, Sloane takes it upon herself to find out what happened to it. I really enjoyed this YA novel. The author created a really great group of secondary characters in the main character’s group of friends and family. I rated this 4.5 out of 5 stars.

  13. I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee

    Samatha Bee’s autobiography was a good read. It was interesting to read about her early career and Canadianisms that were very familiar. I skimmed through some of the essays, but overall it was an entertaining read. I rated this 3 out of 5 stars.

  14. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

    I picked this book after watching this review of it on Marines’s YouTube channel. The story follows Starr in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend from childhood, Khalil, by a police officer. This book punched me right in the feels. It was heartbreaking, inspiring and all too real for many POC families in America. I cried a lot. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

  15. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennett by Bernie Su and Katie Rorick

    I have to start off by saying I did not watch the web series, so I read this as a stand-alone book. I feel like that probably took away a lot from the story. This book was fine, but I wasn’t totally as in to it as my friends who experienced the webseries and book together. I very much related to Lizzie as being a mid-20s post-grad struggling to break into a competitive job market so she doesn’t drown in debt/have to live with her parents the rest of her life, but otherwise I found the story a little predictable. I gave this 3 out of 5 stars.

  16. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

    Another autobiography! This one by Mindy Kaling had its moments, but at times her self-deprecating humour gave me the same feels as Amy Schumer’s brand of humour. As in, it felt bad, man. I rated this 2 out of 5 stars.

  17. Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

    This book tells the story of Norah, who suffers from anxiety and agoraphobia. She can barely manage to leave the house to see her therapist, but things change when she has an encounter with her new neighbour. This story reminded me of other YA novels like Finding Audrey and Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, but it was way better because Norah’s struggles feel more realistic and true to life than Audrey’s (and isn’t insta-cured when a cute boy shows up) and she is truly ill. I rated this book 3.5 stars out of 5.

  18. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

    Okay, so this book was difficult to read at times. No pun intended. The stories in this collection deal with very heavy subjects. Some of the stories are hard to read and left me feeling uncomfortable. I had to take a break from this book because of how difficult I found some of the subject matter. That being said, I still found Difficult Women to be well-written and a good read. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

  19. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

    It’s been a few months since I’ve finished this book and I’m still not exactly sure how to describe it. The main story follows a group of kids in a small town where weird shit happens as they’re getting ready to graduate high school. It’s definitely science fiction, it’s definitely quirky and I love the diversity in the characters. This book is not for everyone, but it was definitely my kind of weird. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

  20. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

    Speaking of weird and quirky… Eleanor is an incredibly socially awkward, solitary woman in her mid-30s. She lives a very regimented life, which has been her method of survival. She and her awkward, sloppy and loud coworker, Raymond, happen upon an elderly man having a medical emergency. The unlikely pair save him, which inevitably leads to them all sort of saving each other.  I really wasn’t sure where this book was going at first. It’s clear that Eleanor is haunted by things that she has survived, but the ending of the book still took me by surprised. I’m pretty sure I liked this book? I rated it 3 stars out of 5.

  21. Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

    Set in 2575, a corporate war is breaking out and recently broken-up teenagers Kady and Ezra, along with the rest of their planet, are fleeing the conflict. On top of that, their fleet of evacuated civilians is dealing with a homicidal artificial intelligence and a zombie-plague. Kady is trying to untangle a scary corporate conspiracy and ugh, now she has to rely on her stupid exboyfriend and other teen-angsty things. I found this book distracting as heck to read, because it’s told through IM conversations, dossier briefings, medical reports, intercepted emails, and interview transcripts. But the design of the book is beautiful and once I got into the story, I had a hard time putting the book down. This is the first of a trilogy.  I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

  22. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

    I loved, loved, looooooved this collection of essays by Roxane Gay, and it wasn’t only because she did a complete tear down of the bullshit that is the “romance” of books like the Twilight Saga and 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy. Though that was a very good part of the book and made me feel incredibly justified and validated for the trauma my friends and I suffered recapping the series for the Snark Squad website. Anyway. Twilight and FSoG aside, this was an excellent commentary on feminism, the culture and media we consume and that we can all do better. I rated this 4.5 out of 5 stars.

  23. Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars #2) by Rob Thomas

    Okay, let’s be honest: I read this book for one reason and one reason only: I am a Marshmallow.  My love for Veronica Mars runs deep and she was taken from us too soon with the cancellation of her show after the 3rd season. After the Kickstarter campaign that brought us the Veronica Mars movie, these two books were released to carry on the VM universe. In this book, Veronica is hired to investigate the claims of a woman who says she was assaulted and left for dead by an employee in Neptune’s fancy hotel. The book was fine, but if it wasn’t Veronica Mars, I wouldn’t have read it. I gave it 3 stars out of 5.

  24. Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

    This is the second book in the Illuminae Files. I was better prepared for the way the story was presented, so I found this book easier to get stuck into. The book follows new characters on the Jump Station Heimdall, who wind up pulled into the corporate warfare when the company BeiTech tries to gain control of the station. Hanna, the daughter of the station’s commander, reluctantly teams up with Nik and Ella, members of a notorious crime family to try to save the crew of the Heimdall and the universe. No big deal, right? I gave this 4 out of 5 stars.

What are you reading right now? And do you use Goodreads? Let’s be friends there!

That time I was a guest on a pod

For those of you that are familiar with my blog, you probably also know that I blog elsewhere, recapping shows like A Series of Unfortunate Events, Jessica Jones, and Daredevil and books like the Twilight Saga on the Snark Squad site.

A few weeks ago, the lovely Nicole and Marines invited me to chat with them and fellow guest Silvia about my new fav show, The Bold Type.

Our episode is now live! You can check it out by clicking the link below.

My Epic Summer Vacation

Every summer for the last few years, I have had 8 weeks of vacation. And every summer for the last few years, I have felt compelled to fill every single second of those 8 weeks off with some kind of work, job or project. I’ve felt this intense pressure to have a great story of what I did with my time off to prove that I was somehow worthy of this time off. I break out in cold sweats just thinking about having to face my coworkers and their ‘So, what did you do over the summer?’ questions. It’s almost not worth the anxiety vacation causes.

It’s been pointed out to me that maybe this isn’t the point of vacation and maybe I’m projecting. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe my coworkers don’t care and are just making small talk. They’re probably not judging me at all if I don’t have a justification for my time off. Maybe I should calm the hell down.

But here’s the thing:

I am often very hard on myself.

I don’t listen very well when I’m not being told what I want to hear.

I am very stubborn.

I have anxiety.

It’s not uncommon for one to be hard on one’s self. Often we are our own worst critics and I’m no different. It’s also not unusual to not want to listen to someone when they’re telling you something you don’t want to hear.

Why can’t each and every person in my life just blindly enable me to do what I want, by telling me exactly what I want to hear?

I am stubborn. Very stubborn. Which only exacerbates the fact that I’m both very hard on myself and don’t want to listen to people who don’t want to validate my criticisms of myself.

And lastly, I have anxiety. Anxiety likes to focus on something small and grow it into a big, paralyzing problem. It doesn’t have to be rational. It usually isn’t.

It’s a frustrating combination.

At least I’m willing to admit that?

Anyway. What is my point here? My point is that maybe it’s okay to take a break. Maybe you can just enjoy vacation time and not feel the need to defend the fact that you’re taking things easier.

Maybe I don’t have an epic story of how I remodelled my kitchen, built a nature sanctuary for donkeys, or hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. But that’s okay.

We all work hard. We’re all doing our best. And we’re all surviving through the darkest timeline right now.

Like, have you watched the news for longer than five seconds? Because I haven’t. Anything longer than 2 seconds shoves my anxiety into overdrive.

So I’m going to try to not guilt myself into having to prove that I made good use of my vacation time. I’m not going to be baited into feeling like I need an epic story or example of how I spent summer vacation.

I’m planning on a summer vacation that can be just that: vacation. And that’s okay.

 

 

So sometimes I’m stubborn

I am pretty stubborn about some things.

A few weeks ago, I rebuilt by freelance website. I hadn’t really touched it since I first put it up two years ago. So I overhauled the entire site, which included adding some new plugins and widgets. Particularly, I wanted to update the security of my site by creating a secure admin login page.

I researched different ways to do this. I read about my plugin options. I made my decision, set everything up, chose a really clever page slug that I would totally remember.

Then I left my fresh site to collect dust for a few weeks.

Last weekend, I went to log in to my freelance site. But I couldn’t remember my new, clever, memorable login page address.

I tried a few different page addresses.  No luck. I tried typing random letters into my browser’s address bar, hoping that autocomplete would help me out.

It didn’t.

I opened up my browser history and went back to the weekend I did my site’s overhaul. I figured the login page must be listed there somewhere. I’d spent hours rebuilding my site. Setting up the new security protocols. Testing it. It had to be there somewhere.

It wasn’t.

Frustrated, I logged into my web hosting admin panel. I figured I would surely be able to easily find the information there. I poked around in my domain management portals. At the very least, maybe I could reset it if all else failed.

I couldn’t.

I was strongly starting to consider deleting the whole website. Throwing my laptop into the fire. And running into the forest, never to be seen again.

I started going through my site’s database, file by file. It had to be there somewhere.

If it was, it was hiding from me.

What an a-hole.

It was now quickly approaching 2am. My partner suggested that we go to bed and give it ago in the morning after I’d had a chance to sleep on it.

But that’s not how I work.

Instead of doing the practical thing, I queued for my web host’s tech support live chat. At 2am on a Sunday morning. And waited. And waited.

While I waited, I poked around some more in my site’s database. I opened every file. I read through so many pages that my eyes were burning. I was going to figure out what my admin page login was if it took all. Damn. Night.

Finally, my chat window pinged. I was next in line for the tech support chat.

At the same time, buried deep in the files of my website, I found what I was looking for. The URL to the secure admin login page.

It may have taken over 4 hours, a lot of cursing and the worrisome feeling that maybe I’d been gaslighting myself, but I figured it out.

This is my long-winded way of saying that the same stubbornness that kept me up all night trying to figure out my freelance website is the same stubbornness that keeps bringing me back to this blog.

I’m going to keep poking around until I figure it all out.

So yes. Still here. Hi, hello. Thanks for sticking it out with me.

 

My Top 3 Favourite Cancelled TV Shows

I’m really good at choosing terrible TV. Don’t believe me? I can prove it.

All my favourite shows get cancelled way too soon, while other shows that should’ve been canceled ten years ago soldier on (Looking at you, Grey’s Anatomy.).

Here are my top 3 favourite (now cancelled) shows from the last year.

Powerless


Photo source

NBC put a spin on the popularity of superhero shows with Powerless. Powerless is a comedy that follows Emily as she starts her dream job as the director of research and development at Wayne Security in Charm City. A city where superheroes and villains and the everyday regular humans that are sick and tired of having to deal with the aftermath of epic battles.

As the director of research and development, it is Emily’s job to motivate and inspire her team into creating the latest new product that will solve the problems of regular humans co-existing in the superhero world. It’s too bad that Emily’s team is less than interested in their mission and her boss, Van Wayne, is only interested in himself.

Powerless employed some of my favourites. Alan Tudyk, who you may recognize from Firefly, another one of my prematurely cancelled TV shows, portrays Van Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s cousin, CEO of Wayne Security. Danny Pudi, from Gilmore Girls and Community, and Ron Funches from New Girl, @midnight, and the Kroll Show,  are members of Emily’s development team and Emily herself is portrayed by Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical, Grease Live).

I really enjoyed the quirkiness of this comedy, and the premise was interesting and engaging. I loved the whole ensemble cast, but it was Alan Tudyk and his awesome performance as Van Wayne that made the show for me. And Powerless featured a few super cool cameos like Adam West and Marc McClure. It was a fun show.

The network didn’t agree with me and Powerless was cancelled before its first season was up.

Conviction

Photo source

Speaking of shows that were cancelled in their first season, the next show on my list finished its 13-episode run mid-season and left me wondering whether or not it was going to be cancelled for months before the network gave us the bad news.

Conviction is a show about Hayes Morrison, a former first daughter, lawyer and wild child, who gets strong-armed into heading up the new Conviction Integrity Unit to avoid going to jail for cocaine possession. She and her team investigate cases where there is suspicion of wrongful conviction. The new high-profile job puts Hayes in the spotlight while her mother is running for state senate and in close proximity to her ex-boyfriend and former colleague, DA Conner Wallace.

When I first found out about this show, I was a little worried because the promotional material really leaned hard on the ‘wild child’ bit. But Hayes Morrison was being brought to life by one of my celebrity crushes, Hayley Atwell. And I fell in love with Hayley because of her portrayal of Agent Peggy Carter in Marvel Cinematic Universe films like Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: Winter Soldier, The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man.  On TV, in the same role, Hayley guest-starred on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and starred in the cancelled-after-two-seasons Agent Carter.

I’m not bitter that the TV execs cancel everything I love. Not at all.

Anyway. I was in mourning after the cancellation of Agent Carter, so I was just excited that Hayley Atwell was back on TV. The show turned out to be really good, with a compelling cast of characters and great stories. It wasn’t as full of horrible tropes as I was expecting.

Alas, apparently the ratings weren’t there for a show  with a smart, badass, queer lady lead, a diverse cast and compelling stories.

Dark Matter

Photo Source

Speaking of diverse casts. It’s almost too soon to talk about the last show on my list.

But I can’t talk about awesome shows with diverse casts without thinking about Dark Matter. From the creators and show-runners of Stargate, Dark Matter is a space opera where the crew wakes up on their ship, the Raza, to no memories of who they are or what they’re doing. As they start to piece together their past, the Raza crew, lead by badass, POC, queer woman Two (aka Portia Lin, aka Rebecca), explore what identity is all about while running from the Galactic Authority and their past lives as criminals and dangerous people.

They’re trying to stop a corporate war, assassins and an android uprising, while exposing conspiracies and building alliances. It’s just all in a days’ work for the Raza and her crew.

The 7 person crew has a diverse representation of different races, ages, gender expressions and sexual orientations. This crew is unlike anything I’ve seen in a science fiction show before.

The show was fun, had a bit of campiness, wasn’t afraid to make jokes and created engaging stories, characters and relationships.

Dark Matter’s supporting characters were great and well-casted. Their villains were complex (Hello Will Wheaton).

Oh, and did I mention it was a Canadian production? And for me, it holds a special place in my heart, because my high school crush and Canadian Idol winner, Melissa O’Neil stars as the Raza crew’s leader, Two.

While Dark Matter was cancelled only a few months ago, there was hope this show might be saved after the fandom rallied behind it. But after the last of 3 interested parties passed on picking up the show, it remains cancelled. Apparently, I can’t have nice things.

Honourable Mention

I have to give an honourable mention to the show Doubt. Which was canceled after 2 episodes.  It was a courtroom drama, starring Katherine Heigl, from every romcom in the late-oughts, and Lavern Cox, from Orange is the New Black. The main character, Sadie, played by Katherine Heigl, was boring AF. But all of the other characters including Lavern Cox’s Cameron Wirth, a transgender woman finding her way as a new litigator in a new firm, were interesting and engaging.

Doubt was cancelled after 2 episodes but I honestly feel the show wasn’t given enough time to find its feet. Who knows what could have been. I really enjoyed what I saw from this show that was canceled before it even started.

 

What is your favourite show that was ripped from the airwaves way too soon?

Tell me all about it in the comments.