Tuesday, October 13, 2020

October 2020 Currentlies

Currently Making: Another handmade, one-of-a-kind collage and art book that will be featured in my Etsy shop, Writer's Brain Has Wings like this one.

Currently Watching: The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix, based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, which I finally read about Halloween time in 2019. In the TV series, the governess's name is Dani. The setting has been moved to the 1980s, which I enjoy for the nostalgia factor. I've watched 

Currently Reading: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer. I'm reading it slowly. I started it in the middle of July and so far I'm only up to the part where Edward and Bella have dinner together at the restaurant in Port Angeles. 

Currently Listening: I have a rotation of favorite podcasts. I don't listen to every single episode, but I do listen to all the ones that interest me. Some of my top podcasts include:

- Omnibus with Ken Jennings and John Roderick. Check out the recent Aztec death whistles episode: eerie and informative!

- FireStarters Podcast. Dan and Henry explain the history of everyone and everything mentioned in Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire." We're learning world history of the 20th century and it's fun!

- None of This Is Real. Sarah and Damani are two North Carolina friends who tell each other stories about weird phenomena. On one episode, a listener shared a dream about a fictional person called Nut Guttson and I have been laughing at the name "Nut Guttson" ever since. 

- Terrible Book Club

- Book Vs Movie Podcast. The two Margots have done The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Toni Morrison's Beloved, In Cold Blood, Elton John's biography Me vs. the movie Rocketman, and many more. This is one of my very, very favorites. 

- You're Wrong About. Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall debunk pop culture myths one at a time, sometimes with the aid of a book. They're both writers and Sarah is currently working on nonfiction about the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980s. The "killer clowns" episode references Loren Coleman, who writes the Twilight Language blog. It doesn't have anything to do with the Stephenie Meyer series at all, but it does have to do with eerie synchronicities and other kinds of things you might see on Ancient Aliens. 

I listen to all of my podcasts on Spotify Free, but many of these are available across numerous platforms.

What are your currentlies? What are you making, reading, watching, and listening to? 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Mini Review of 'Gone At Midnight: The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam'

If you enjoyed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, you'll likely enjoy this book as well. The author, Jake Anderson, is an indispensable part of this story the way that author Rebecca Skloot became part of the story of the descendants of Henrietta Lacks. 

Like Lacks,
Elisa Lam lost her life far too young. This book is part true crime story, part exploration of what it's like to live with a mental illness in the U.S. and Canada. It's certainly different from a typical true crime book. 

Featured in this book is YouTube vlogger John Lordan, whose video channel I subscribe to and who investigates primarily cases of missing persons. Lordan takes a very practical, rational, ethical, and empathetic approach to such cases, which I appreciate. 

If you're interested in reading more about true crime stories, I recommend checking out Mitzi Szereto's Best New True Crime Stories series. She doesn't pay me to say that; I've just liked several of her other anthologized collections of stories. 

Gone at Midnight is a book I checked out from my local library using the Libby app. I was not compensated in any way to read and review it. This mini review represents my own honest opinion. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

'New Age Lies to Women' by Wanda Marrs

New Age Lies to WomenNew Age Lies to Women by Wanda Marrs
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wanda Marrs was half of Living Truth Ministries, the Texas-based Evangelical Christian ministry with her husband Texe Marrs. Texe was renowned outside certain strains of Evangelicalism for his antisemitism and anti-Roman Catholic bias. Although I don't recall reading anything explicitly antisemitic in this book, it's clear from the text that Wanda shared her husband's anti-Catholic prejudice.

I did not contribute to Living Truth Ministries in the acquisition of this book. I bought it from a secondhand store, where it caught my eye with the beautiful Pre-Raphaelite painting on the cover and many beautiful "New Age" illustrations within. I bought it quite cheaply with all the proceeds going to my local used book store.

This book was a quick, easy read owing to the many pictures, blank pages between chapters, and numerous quotations, some of which are quoted on two different pages, sometimes within the same chapter. I don't quite understand that last decision. It's as if Wanda knew we'd forget what we just read as soon as we read it.

I wouldn't read this book to try to follow Wanda's arguments, since she uses a combination of extreme cherry picking; conclusions drawn from her few, unrelated, cherry-picked examples; and "facts" passed off as Biblically and historically accurate even though her sources are listed by Wikipedia under its "pseudohistory" macro-category. (Example: Alexander Hislop's 1853 book The Two Babylons is not a reliable source. It's anti-Roman Catholic propaganda plus bad archaeology.)

Indeed, if there is any reason to read this book at all, and I don't recommend that you do, it's that some of Wanda's cherry-picked examples of New Age witchcraft are examples of beautiful 1970s and early 1980s feminist spiritual writing. To Wanda Marrs, Miriam Starhawk (to name one example) is literally possessed by the literal devil; to me, Miriam Starhawk is a feminist author who writes beautifully.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

'Had I Known' Mini-Review: Essays by Barbara Ehrenreich

Had I KnownHad I Known by Barbara Ehrenreich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this audiobook, which I checked out from my local library using the Libby app. I had heard a few of the essays before, having listened to Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America and Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer as well as reading Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, but I didn't mind hearing them again. They bear repeating.

My favorite of the essays was "The Cult of Busyness." I strongly relate to those individuals who have survived to adulthood without being habitually busy. It describes my personality well.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Enjoy Nostalgic 'Last Dance' Toni Kukoc Zine

This first issue of my zine inspired by the ESPN Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance is all about my favorite European teammate of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen - #7, Toni Kukoc.

Am I a little fascinated with the countries that used to be Yugoslavia? Maybe. You decide.

Recommended for mature audiences teen and up. Think of this as The Last Dance if, instead of meticulously compiled from hours of interview footage, it was just written by a weird nerd.

I will refund you the cost of shipping this zine to your address if your mailing address is in Croatia or if you are Will Ferrell.

Get it on Etsy or for $1, get an instant download of my poetry and list zine!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Favorite Books by Black Authors

I stole this idea from godzilla-reads. Support Black authors and Black-owned independent bookstores. I'm originally from South Bend, Indiana, so I'm biased in favor of Brain Lair Books, owned and operated by an African-American woman.

These are non-affiliate links to pages within this blog. Each page contains a review and further details about the book:

Around the Way Girl by Taraji P. Henson  - nonfiction - memoir/autobiography

Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston - nonfiction - American history/African-American folklore

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi - YA fiction

Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. - nonfiction

Hustling 101: Selling Your Talent Without Selling Your Soul by Rebecca Scott - nonfiction

I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan - contemporary adult fiction

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison - children's nonfiction - biography, picture books

Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - fiction

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

In the comments, please feel free to leave suggestions for other books by Black authors and your favorite Black-owned independent book store.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Poem for Jewel Kilcher's Birthday

Happy birthday to songwriter, poet, and singer Jewel Kilcher! 

The text of her "Poem Song," which can be found on JewelWiki:

"I like to call you my wild horse 
And feed you silver sage 
I'd like to paint my poems with 
desert tongued clay across her back 
And ride you savagely as the sweet and southern wind 
Through green and wild Kentucky

"I'd like to make you my secret song 
Blaze and dark and red in the orchards 
And I would steal away to watch the way 
Your silver belly bends and bows beneath me

"I'd make you my wings in the foothills of Montana 
My lover in the oceans of the world 
I'd make you... of children 
And I would scatter you across my green memories of home 
I'd make you my hungry valley 
And sow your golden fields and wheats my own

"If I were a painter 
I would paint you with this note 
Silver traces on your skin 
And if I were a writer 
I would write these words on your back 
In desert tongue clay, deep in (your wind?)

"I'd make you my secret song 
Blazing in the orchard 
And I would steal away 
To watch the way your silver belly 
Bends and bows beneath me

"I'd make you my wings in the foothills of Montana 
Make you my lover in the oceans of the world 
I'd make you my calico children 
And I would scatter you across my green memories of home 
I'd be your hungry valley 
And I'd sow your golden fields of wheat my own"