Thursday, November 07, 2013

They See Me Rollin'

Big tings a gwan - the Great Gazoo learned how to flip himself from front to back today!  Meanwhile, Lindsay up there is too busy being a fatso to bother working on his muscle tone.  We started calling Prof. Gantok Lindsay this past weekend and now it makes me laugh so much I can't stop.  The etymology goes something like this: we call him Lenny, which sometimes gets turned into Lenny the Lighthouse (a character from a story), which then got turned into Lindsay the Lighthouse, and has now been shortened to Lindsay.  I'm semi-jokingly actively campaigning to have a future daughter baby (because I'm the baby craziest of all baby crazies?!) and so the Dotytron is trying to head me off at the pass by telling me that I should just consider Lindsay/Lenny my daughter.

The Big Yam finally cottoned on to the real spirit of Halloween this year and took trick-or-treating very seriously.  At first, he wanted me to come to the doors with him, but about 10 houses in, I was getting the stop-hand at the sidewalk, and a stern, "No Mama, you stay there."  He would have kept going on and on and on, but the rain was killing my horny so I steered us home.  We had the Big Yam sort the candy (with some debate on the classification of Tootsie Rolls - chocolate or candy?), awarded the prize for "best house" (the one that gave out McDonald's coupons for free fries and free apple pies), and then the Dotytron proceeded to raid the bucket as soon as the Big Yam went to bed.

So here's a question for you: have you ever heard of Mike and Ike?

Apparently I'm the only person in Canada who hasn't?  The Dotytron gave me a look of incredulous disgust when I picked up the packet and was like, "Mike and Ike? What's that?" Then, when I said, "I'm not a fan of Aero" and began explaining why, the Dotytron cut me of with an abrupt: "Nobody cares what you think about candy. You're ignorant and you're a blasphemer."  LOL!

Kinda slept on Dia de los Muertos this year - I got my act together enough to make pozole

A hot tip from my RMT has yielded my current favorite croissants - they're baked by Epi Breads and they're huge!!!  Love them.  Not quite as flavorful as Bonjour Brioche's but they're so big!

Hidden beauty of Toronto - Taylor Creek, a tributary of the Don River. This was taken just before we dropped our camera and the Big Yam peed his pants and had to walk back in pee-soaked shoes.  

We had a lovely, lovely weekend.  Friday night posole rojo, Saturday hangs with SMcKay featuring a phallically themed evening of Fancy Franks and watching that new showtime show Masters of Sex, and then Sunday we went for a walk to check out the fall colours through Taylor Creek Park and ended the day with a visit from Dr. Rei and Hanbo and takeout of the best Persian food - kebabs, rice, and salad.  Also, this happened:

I don't usually go for baby message t's - but I couldn't resist this one.  Awww, Lindsay!

This is actually a more tender moment than it appears to be - the Big Yam was giving the Great Gazoo kisses - even though it looks like he's being shut down with a classic,  throwback, "talk to the hand"

The Dotytron was initiated into this Trinidadian restaurant called Mona's Rotis in Scarborough.  2 LEGIT 2 QUIT, guys.  So, so good.  He brought it home for us for takeout tonight (it was a crazy day).  That's a goat roti, a chicken roti, and a double up there.  They obviously make their own hot sauce and their roti shells on site.  The spicing and flavour is spot-on.  We've finally found an alternative to our deep-Etobicoke roti go-to.  That plate up there makes me so, so happy.

We recently watched Star Trek: Into Darkness which gets a big, fat, "meh" from me.  I hate Chris Pine's glassy weirdo eyes and I'm not a Benedict Cumberbatch fan.  The best thing about this movie was discovering that the Dotytron apparently spends a not-insignificant amount of time riffing on the name "Benedict Cumberbatch".  Periodically throughout the movie, I'd hear him say, "Bend them back, you're a b***h" or "Cummerbund, Bake a Batch"  LOL!!!  I can see how he finds it fun.  It's such a weird, fantasy name.  Anyway, I'm not as big a JJ Abrams fan as I am a Joss Whedon fan.  JJ Abrams is a pretty nerdy sci-fi geek guy, but he lacks the insight into the human spirit/condition that Joss Whedon possesses.  Also, I don't find him as funny as Whedon.  Also, he's not as vocal a feminist.  

Way back in June, I read Caitlin Moran's How To Be A Woman for Academic Book Club.  It was part of a feminist-themed double-header with Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In.  This is a collection of essays by Moran, a British writer and radio/television personality, who is known for being a music writer and a self-deprecating, brassy, bold, sexually liberated frank lady.  The essays are kind of memoirish and follow a rough chronological trajectory that traces Moran's growing awareness of herself as a woman and a feminist.  It was quite refreshing and funny in spots, but also fell victim to a particular British-femme self-aware/self-congratulatory bawdiness that I wasn't a fan of.  She's quite likeable, but sometimes gets a little repetitive with her, "I'm just one of you ladies!" familiar self-deprecating tone.  One of the things I appreciated was how she talked about her sexual awakening and how, in the age of ready access to internet pornography made by men for men, the representations of sex are really quite narrow and geared only towards getting (heterosexual) guys off.  She's not anti-porn, but she's anti-hegemonic porn, which I can totally get behind.  Especially as a mother to three sons, it's important to me that I raise respectful, feminist males who are aware that women's sexual pleasure doesn't exist solely to support and in service of their own.  

This book was hugely controversial when it came out - as all articles/books/think pieces that discuss women/motherhood/career/balance seemingly are.  This and the Anne Marie Slaughter piece were grist for the "mommy/career war" mills to the nth degree.  I read it with an open mind and I didn't think it was worthy of the vitriole that was heaped on it.  Sandberg takes pains to attenuate her message - she acknowledges her class/race privilege, she doesn't try to say that her path is the path for everyone, and she's not (overtly) trying to hammer home a capitalist message.  Having said that, yes, Sandberg worked really hard but she doesn't really acknowledge the specific boosts that have given her an edge (like, having Larry Summers be your mentor and champion?).  I think that she has some important tips for women on how to navigate their career and stay in the game - one of the notable ones (for me) is that women tend to insist on being an expert on something and second-guess themselves for positions of authority/management, whereas men are more likely to sell themselves whether they have mastery of a subject or not.  I also liked her advice that you should view your career not as a ladder, but as a jungle gym - it's okay to make choices and moves that aren't linear.  She also stresses that at a certain point, your ability to learn things is more important for a job than having the exact skill set required in the position.  I did find myself guilty of some of the behaviors she points out preclude women from advancing in their careers - I'm such a giant ballbuster in my personal life but for some reason at work, I'm okay with taking on extra tasks without demanding the credit for them - stuff like that.  Also, the book is TINY - like, most of it is endnotes.  I don't think what she's saying is right for everyone.  But if you're criticizing her because she's not doing enough to fix the gender relations that have created the systems that place women in a second tier below men, that's not the project of this work.  She's not trying to dismantle the system, just point out ways in which women can work within it and still get what they want.  All that being said, she is EXTRAORDINARILY privileged (private jets! Larry Summers as your mentor! Headhunted by Mark Zuckerberg! Personal net worth of $1-1.6 billion!) and that's a jarring note underscoring the whole work.

Also, if you take the book at face value, she doesn't have a lot of fun, but I think it's because she knew that if she talked about how "work-life balance" included trips to the Maldives or private islands in Hawaii or having Sir Richard Branson on call as a babysitter it would be hugely problematic for the audience and undermine her "I can has career and so can you!" message.

My sister got me the latest Sarah Dessen book for my birthday.  Reading Sarah Dessen is a bit of a habit now, but one that I'm getting increasingly willing to break.  Her last 4 or so have been really ho-hum and not doing it for me.  It's just more of the same - girl at a crossroads, who learns a little about herself and her family over the course of a summer, with a boy along for the ride.  This one was very formulaic, the characters were non-entities, and it was just all around a snoozer.

Academic Book Club (I should really shorten that to "ABC"!) had me reading Crazy Rich Asians, which is a sudsy, summer read about the exploits of the uber-rich in East Asia.  I think it's supposed to be like a Judith Krantz-type Scruples but with subbing Hong Kong for Beverley Hills.  It follows a few rich Singaporean families and is supposed to be a dishy read.  Here's the thing: if you're going to do a Judith Krantz-type novel, IT BETTER BE AS GOOD AS JUDITH KRANTZ!  Judith Krantz, Jackie Collins and the like are all about doing flashy, Dynasty-style, super-fun beachy reads full of scandalous exploits like: drugs! sex! murder! double-crossing! all while name-dropping the playthings of the richest of the rich (it's a little dated now, since the references are to like, Halston and like, Bill Blass, but you get a sense of the swaggy 80s excessiveness of it all just from those names alone).  First of all, Kwan is not nearly the writer that those other ladies are.  SO. MUCH. EXPOSITION!  And so clumsily written!  The key to good exposition is not making the reader realize that you're doing it.  As opposed to having characters say to each other, "Ai-ya! You know how obsessive we Singaporeans are about food!  Why, we can argue about which hawker stall has the best egg custard tarts for days!"  SHOW ME, DON'T TELL ME.  It was a fun enough and breezy enough read and perfectly suited to the mind-fuzz that accompanied the first few months after the Wonder Twins were born, but I wanted more from it.  What I did enjoy was how he got some of the cultural stuff right - like the snobbery against Mainland Chinese people, and how cheap some of the richest people can be, and how into knock-offs - and hearing about the Hong Kong locations made me nostalgic for my time there.  I want to go back so bad!

The ABC ladies went apeshiz for this collection of short stories but I wasn't feeling it.  You know when you read/see a short story or film that's full of pregnant pauses about the mundane (in this case, stuff like: a couple preparing for a dinner party, a student caught cheating on an essay), and you're like, I know I'm supposed to be getting something Deep And Important from this, but I'm not sure what that is (if anything?)  This was one of those.  At the end of each story I was like, ooookaaaayyy.  If I took the stories at face value, it was like, nothing happened!  So I ended up racking my brain trying to parse the subtext, only to be told by my ABC ladies that I was probably "reading too much into it."  I didn't get it.  The quote on the book cover there likens this collection to Alice Munro and we're reading her next, so I anticipate a lot more head-scratching from me.  I'm a cultural studies/English major, people.  I need my deconstruction!

The 5th Wave is solid dystopian YA.  The backdrop is an alien invasion that wipes out most of earth's inhabitants.  Now, I say that, and you're already rolling your eyes getting bogged down by the set-up and the dystopian-ness of it all.  However, Yancey grounds the narrative through the eyes of teenage female protagonist who isn't as steely or as headcase-y as Katniss Everdeen but kind of more like a regular teenaged girl with some normal teenage girl problems living in an extraordinary time.  I really dug this book.  It was a gripping read and there was a satisfying two-boy love triangle at work and there was enough action an suspense to keep me invested.  I'm excited that this is going to be a trilogy.

Reconstructing Amelia clearly got greenlit based on the success of Gone Girl.  This is like Gone Girl lite.  Kate, a busy lawyer with a few skeletons in the closet tries to find out what actually happened to her daughter Amelia the day she allegedly committed suicide by jumping to her death from the roof of her private school.  The story is "reconstructed" through texts and Facebook status and Kate's investigation and it all unspools in a kind of clunky, amateurish fashion.  The denouement is highly anti-climatic and unbelievable.  Gone Girl does a good job in keeping the reader invested through changing points of view culminating in a surprise reveal, whereas this was just like a slightly modernized Murder, She Wrote episode.

Do not read Tangles if you're not prepared to be thoroughly depressed at how cruel life can be.  Sarah Leavitt's graphic memoir details her mom's diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's and the effects of her mom's rapid decline and subsequent death on Leavitt and her family. This is grim, harrowing stuff.  Alzheimer's is a mean, mean disease - one that robs you of all the intimacies that make you yourself.  The simple, sketchy line drawings that illustrate this memoir mimic the scribbly, incomplete, and transitory nature of a person with Alzheimer's and the nature of memory itself.  This was almost unbearably sad and left me up a few nights thinking about how we really need some kind of compassionate termination-of-life options to give dignity to those who are dying (see, I told you: depressing!)  

That just about catches me up!


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