do i miss my friends

the answer is yes and the result is me listening to edmontonian, rapper and poet laureate, cadence weapon's, do i miss my friends on repeat. so, consider this my attempt to purge my feelings of melancholy yearning (what? too dramatic?).


love letter to werner

dear werner herzog,

i love you, in more ways than i can articulate and finally getting the chance to watch bad lieutenant: port of call new orleans, my love has been pushed to unhealthy limits. in fact, i loved it so much i'm willing to overlook the terrible and (somewhat) misleading title, but we won't get into that.

more importantly, how were you able to elicit the best performance by nicholas cage since leaving las vegas? mr. cage's portrayal of lieutenant terrance macdonagh is hypnotizing; he makes an enduring case for watching the shit heap he builds throughout the film, pile higher and higher. lieutenant macdonagh's shit storm is discomforting, yet entertaining and without a doubt, thrilling.

i'm going to tell everyone, even if you're not into brilliant subtle nuances and commentary on the american justice system, this is a genius detective story that just doesn't stop giving. it's like christmas but a christmas fueled by cocaine, guns and terrible decisions.

ok. i'll stop swooing.

love always,
charity dawn

and now, behold the amazing:


merry christmas and all that jazz

as promised:

photo by makito, set design by cynthia and me!


i really enjoy n-grams and bodily functions

i'm not sure what exactly this says about me, but i'm kind of loving google's books n-gram viewer. not only is it totally fascinating but it makes me look like i'm doing smart things when people walk by my computer. little do they know.

basically it allows you to see the frequency in which certain words or phrases have shown up in a collection of books over the years. just type in the years you want to include and the words you want to find and BAM! you've got this amazing n-gram that says a lot about society during that time span. just  look at the n-gram i made. it looks like english speaking society was obsessed with farting, starting in the mid 1650's until the trend tapers to a simmer in the early 1800's. fascinating. and the spikes in the popularity of the word, poop; it really makes a girl wonder.

(yes, i am actually a 13 year old boy)

if anything, this n-gram has taught me that the years between 1650 and the 19th century were probably really stinky and that everyone, likely, ate beans. a lot of them. more importantly, it also points to the fact that i should probably leave the house more.

anyway, i hope i'm not the only one who ends up wasting her youth on google's book n-gram now that i've shared this little secret with you. i think i'm going to take tom for a walk now.


freedom is my own personal hell

so i just finished reading jonathan franzen's, freedom, and if your expecting me to fawn all over franzen's fourth novel like michiko kakutani did in his new york times review, you're wrong.

some of you might be familiar with 'franzenfreude,' a term that came to fruition after franzen's novel was reviewed and highly praised by several big name literary critics. i haven't been able to find the source, but i read somewhere that one critic described franzen's book as one of the best of this century, which is an absurd idea in itself since we are only a decade in (ETA: it was the guardian who said this). franzenfreude became a popular hashtag on twitter when, best selling author, jodi picoult, criticized the current literary scene for favoring white, male writers, saying that if a woman had written freedom it would not have received the praise it had. not long after, everyone and their dog were debating the merits behind this statement and after reading freedom, i'm going to have to agree with picoult.

freedom is an epic novel about the dysfunctional lives of the berglund family. the epitome of your american suburban family, the berglunds harbor a great deal of unhappiness, discontent and sadness beneath the polished surface of their existence.

before i start on my discontent with this book, let me just say that franzen is a master with words. his writing is beautiful and each word flows effortlessly into the next, making the five-hundred plus pages pretty easy to breeze through.

unfortunately, i found the content of this book so eye-roll inducing i think i sprained my eye balls. everyone of the characters is a spoiled pathetic sad sack. not at any point throughout the novel, did i find myself routing for any of the characters. it was difficult for me to tell if franzen wanted me to like his characters because he kept them in this perpetual prison of self-pity and i know that this proverbial prison is sort of the point (har! har! the book is called freedom, oh the irony!) but when was the last time you wanted to spend any significant time with a person who was all 'oh woe me' all the time? never, right?

my second and probably biggest problem with this novel was franzen's depiction of women. every female character in this story is a whiny, selfish, thoughtless dummy (and if they're not, they are solely there for the male characters to stick their dicks in). the men, on the other hand, they have their flaws, but they are also the only people in Franzen's world that apparently have brains or are capable of rational, calculated thought. seriously, i found this aspect of the novel to be so insulting and condescending - there were several times when i walked away from that book, exasperated with franzen's female characters.

the other aspect that annoyed me about this novel was this idea of the american delusion of freedom. franzen gives his characters everything they need to be happy; most of them are white, middle class,  and college educated. his characters have the ability and the financial means to build successful, meaningful lives, unfortunately, most of them seemed so overwhelmed by the options open to them, they became debilitated hollow shells, unable to make any decisions. i get that this is franzen's commentary on capitalism and choice; how in western culture we believe that the more options you have, the more freedom you have but how in reality we are just building little prisons around ourselves made of pepsi cans and nike high tops. i get that. but i think there are way more pertinent effects of capitalism than how isolating it can be to the people who have access to those options in the first place. i feel like this book would have been more appropriately titled, white people problems.

the only thing that saved this book is franzen's writing style. like i said, it's flawless; he is an amazing word smith. however, i think that if a woman had written it, it would have quickly been banished to the chick lit shelves and probably wouldn't have ended up on several top books of 2010 lists (this is a really great article on this theory). in either case, it did not make my top books of 2010 list. so there.

so, who else has read it? what did you think?


king of glory

i'm up to my armpits in christmas present making, so i'm going to let stephen colbert do the heavy lifting for me today.

stephen colbert, king of my heart, take it away:


do not f--k with the wrong mexican

i recently watched robert roderguiez's 2010, machete, and there are so many things that i loved about it.

first is, danny trejo. i'm sure he was just as surprised as everyone else in the world when he learned he would be playing the lead in a major motion picture. characteristically a supporting actor, trejo has no problem embracing the lead role - simultaneously repulsive, charming and ready to cut your head off if he has to, trejo plays an illegal immigrant and former mexican federale who goes by the name machete. after leaving mexico for the states three years prior, when he was double crossed by his chief in the federale, machete receives an offer to hit a corrupt senator who is trying to have all illegal immigrants deported (or shot and killed). unfortunately (mostly for the people who get in machete's way), things don't go as smoothly as planned.

second is, the right amount of camp. machete is a good example of a film that balances a contentious topic (i.e. immigration policy in the states) with the ability to not take itself seriously. despite having an obvious message on the states' approach to immigration, roderiguez compliments this subject with an absurd and over the top use of fake blood, more beheadings than i can count and lots of poking fun at common hispanic stereotypes. machete can count cheesy, fun AND thoughtful on its list of descriptors.

third is, roderiguez successfully sets out what he meant to do. in an interview, roderiquez states that he wanted to make a hispanic film that would be palatable to a broad audience and people could walk away yearning a little to be like that amazing hispanic hero you just watched save the day on the big screen (he likens this to his experience of wanting to be asian when watching john woo films). like similarly styled films, such as deathproof* or kickass, the audience find themselves routing for the underdog - and not your typical arnold schwarzenegger or matt damon underdogs, they're women, kids or illegal immigrants. it was refreshing to see a mostly hispanic/latino cast, all of who kick serious whoopie cookies.

and lastly, michelle rodriguez and jessica alba (i swear, i never thought i would say that). their acting is terrible (but whose isn't, it's a horror/action film), nonetheless, they both play interesting and smart women. and they're both total ball busters. yea, my favorite kind of character, right?

anyway, i enjoyed this film. i love the horror/exploitation genre so much and it's so great to find one of these films totally hit their mark. if you like this genre or if you just want to see lindsay lohan naked (i know, no one really does) - this movie has it. i believe it's ready for video release on january 4th and there will be an extra violent director's cut available, for those who need things a little bloodier. you should also check out the wikipedia page and read about how this movie came to fruitition; it's had some interesting incarnations that i'm too lazy to write about here.

and now the trailer:

*full disclosure: i have an unhealthy relationship with this film, as in, i love it way too much. if you ask any of my friends about me and deathproof, they would likely laugh and roll their eyes. i spent three solid months (it might be longer) talking about and forcing them all to watch this movie.


christmas collaboration

i'm pretty excited about my christmas cards this year. i've been making birthday cards for jesus since i was fourteen and my mom was forcing me to hand write the greetings in all the christmas cards because, as she said, i have very nice penmanship. i'm not really a christmas person. i'm not a practicing christian, i hate receiving gifts and most christmas carols (not you, brenda lee) make me want to murder. so, i guess you could say, the christmas card making is sort of a nervous tick.

anyway, this year's card is going to be the best one yet. it was a collaboration between my favorite nscad alum and photog, makito, my roommate, baker extraordinaire, cynthia and gingner bread molding specialist, me.

some of my favorite people will get hard copies in the mail, old fashion style. but for all my intertnet friends, you'll get to see it, in all it's wonderful, tasteless, christmas glory, here. december 24, 2010. seriously, if you're not marking your calendars, i don't know what's wrong with you.

here's a little taste of the hard work that went into it:

this is what i do for you people


man ray, african art and the modernist lens

last week i went to ubc's museum of anthropology. i had never been and heard that it was a pretty decent gallery (and decent it was). i love arts and culture and to have the opportunity to see some of the earliest examples of it is quite humbling. i also gained a lot of appreciation for how much influence/supression first nations culture has had, especially in the canadian north west. unfortunately, though, i found the museum dense and overwhelming. there's a billion things to see, hundreds of drawers to open and inspect, and the exhibit seemed strangely organized. so that's why i'm not raving about it, but i will say, it was worth the $15 and three hours.

i did come across something i wanted to share with you, however.

unbeknownst to me, moa had the man ray, african art and the modernist lens exhibit on. i had, truthfully, never heard of man ray before and the more i read about him, the more shame i feel about this. apparently this guy was very multi-talented and considerably influential; he was a painter and a photographer and gertrude stein had her picture taken by him!

anyway, the exhibit features over 50 of his photographs (as well as several other artists) that are credited as changing how the western world viewed african art. most of the photographs feature african artifacts either alone or with people and some of the actual objects were present in the exhibit. according to the moa website, these photographs questioned the idea that these objects weren't just artifacts but pieces of art. considering most of these photographs are from the 1920's-30's, i'm sure they were challenging not only the concept of african art but were also, very likely, challenging concepts of race and equality.

the only thing that doesn't sit right with me about this exhibit, is the fact that man ray, and most of the other artists featured, were white. without seeing the exhibit, it might not sound that alarming but some of the images were quite sexual (a naked black woman poses seductively with a dark wood carving) or seemingly mocking (two guys in suits, wearing african masks, exaggerating conversation). it's probably the hyper-sensitive feminist coming out in me, but i can't help but wonder: erotisization or validation of african culture? what do you think?

in anycase - the more inappropriate the better, i like to say. the exhibit is good, it's controversial and stimulating (in so many ways). if you live in vancouver, you should definitely check it out. and if you don't, visit the man ray turst site (or google images) and check out his work!


fish tank

so, i really want you to watch, fish tank, a 2009 british film, starring, katie jarvis. unlike a lot of films i see these days, this one has become pretty important to me. not only is it a great film, that i think a lot of people will enjoy, but it's also a really accurate and affecting portrayal of the female experience (which, i don't think is, generally, appreciated or dealt with honestly in cinema).

katie jarvis plays, mia, who is my favorite kind of character - she's fifteen years old, foul-mouthed and willing to break your nose if she doesn't like your dancing. she lives with her young, hot, single mum, joanne, and little sister, tyler. the dynamics in their small essex apartment are precarious to say the least and when joanne's delicious-looking and apparently sweet-hearted boyfriend moves in, things take an interesting turn.

what's particularly moving about this film is that it captures a particular moment, that i think a lot of women experience at some point in their lives. director and writer, andrea arnold, perfectly depicts the experience of first realizing that most of your value, as a female, is placed on your sexuality. arnold shows how women come to understand that their bodies are wanted and how that feeling can often being validating and/or violating. there are several interpretations of this throughout the film, each one is as subtle and unique to it's experiencer, as real life.

i loved this film. and so did everyone else, apparently. it won several awards including, the british independent award, for best director, as well as a cannes jury prize. so if that's not enough to convince you to watch this film, i don't know what is.


putting the fun back in funk

initially i was just going to post about my new favorite ear candy, sharon jones & the dap-kings, but after spending some time on their record label's website, i'm just going to have to focus on daptone records, because i simply couldn't decide which of their artists to share with you first.

so here's the deal - my friend, mike, who i consistently depend on for music recommendations, recently introduced me to sharon jones & the dap-kings. a nine piece collective from brooklyn, new york, sharon jones & the dap-kings are subtle, soulful and reflective of a musical era long since passed. if you like the sounds of james brown, the shirelles, or early gladys knight, then you will love sharon jones & the dap-kings. i highly recommend you check out their latest release, 'i learned the hard way,' which was recorded on an old ampex 8 track, giving the album an authentic anaolog sound so familiar in my old motown favorites. here's a little video sample of what you are in for:

hard to believe it was recorded in 2009, right?!

when i told mike i was going to do a blog post on sharon jones, he suggested i also look into daptone records, jones' record label. when he suggested this, i really had no idea that i would spend the following 72 hours downloading and listening to a majority of their artists. so. many. great. artists!

so let me introduce you. daptone records is an independant soul and funk record label, located in brooklyn, new york. run by gabriel roth and neal sugarman, daptone records most of their releases in their customized recording studio and only record on analog tape - maintaining that pure analog sound you heard in the sharon jones song.

aside from sharon jones, there's also naomi shelton and the gospel queens, who have quickly sung their way into my heart. they are less gospel and more soul, and naomi's gravely, deep voice (reminds me a little of nina simone) is a great juxtaposition to the gospel queens' silky smooth harmonies and back-up vocals. their album, 'what have you done, my brother,' is a solid and strong 45 minutes worth of listening. here's a sample of naomi's power:

additional favorites from daptone records include, pax nichols & the netty family and the budos band. both these bands are completely instrumental and are as fun as funk should be.

daptone also has another project, como now, that is definitely worth mentioning. in 2006, daptone went to a small rural town in mississippi and placed an ad in the newspaper, inviting singers to come down to a local church and record traditional and original gospel songs. i haven't listened to the entire album yet (only the samples in the itunes store) but it sounds like an amazing listening experience. the daptone records website also has the como now story in video format - i've just started watching the series of videos but i'm already enamored and can't wait to finish. it's a truly fascinating story.

i hope you will find something you like at daptone records and please remember that they are an independent label, so show your support and buy their music!


before the beatles, there was the tielman brothers

i'd like you to meet the tielman brothers (if you haven't already). they were an indo-dutch rock n'roll band and, from what i've read, were the shit in the netherlands back in the day. apparently they were playing their guitars with their teeth long before hendrix and were ripping up stages with solid rock before most (white middle class) americans even knew what rock n'roll was.  you can find their whole story here and it's quite an impressive one, i encourage you to read it. otherwise enjoy this amazing video.


delayed reaction to giller win

my head has been sort of up my ass lately. i've been meaning to mention johanna skibsrud's newly awarded giller prize since it was announced last tuesday. so this is old news now but whatever. i'm excited about it.

i haven't read the sentimentalists yet but i'm looking forward to it. and i can't help feel a little lady pride seeing a woman take the giller because it's been mostly men since it started in 1994.

also interesting is the fact that you couldn't buy the book anywhere when the award was announced because it's printed by a small printing press in kentville, nova scotia. luckily, gaspreau press outsourced some of the printing to a vancouver press and the books may (or may not - i haven't checked) be on bookstore shelves.

i'm hoping to get my hands on a gaspreau printing because i hear it's beautifully printed. and there is nothing i love more than a beautifully printed book.


a little bit of everything

i am excited about the following:
  1. post-it note stories - i only recommend this site if you have a lot of time to be sucked into a giant vortex of funny, endearing stories. on post-it notes. it reminds me of this american life. but on post-it notes. and the tal reference was inevitable, seeing that this is a starlee klein project (she is my favorite).
  2. speaking of tal, i bought the tal iphone app. yes, i did. best $2.99 ever spent. full access to the archives, plus episodes of the interesting, but kind of inferior, tv version; i can mark episodes i've listened to, and organize favorites, listen to episodes by contributor, topic or staff favorites. this is pure, talk radio bliss.
  3. canada reads 2011 - they won't be announcing the five finalists until november 24th but the top 10 have me intrigued. i'm happy to see hill and mckay on the list but i'm disappointed toews and o'neill didn't make it. fortunately, it looks like zoe whittall's, bottle rocket hearts, is filling the troubled-canadian-female void. i'm pretty confident we'll see boyden's, three day road, in the top five and i would love to see jeff lemire's, essex county, up there with it (a graphic novel would be so refreshing). so. i guess you could say, canada reads is like the stanley cup playoffs for me. 
  4. human centipede - i'm excited about this in the way you would be excited about having a root canal done while being forced to watch two girls one cup while completely unanesthetized. this movie was so traumatizing. i have no words.
  5. hopefully the bad lieutenant: port of call and fish tank will be better experiences.


enveloped in darkness

the quiet stillness of the vancouver art gallery only heightened the sternum punch i felt when i first laid my eyes on one of kerry james marshall's large scale paintings. even two months after my initial introduction, marshall's paintings resonate with me.

standing among marshall's twenty-some paintings, it hit me, when was the last time i saw african american culture portrayed in oil or acrylic? i tried to think. i'm vaguely aware of artists such as hale woodruff, jacob lawerence and the obvious jean-michel basquiat but as i stood in a four story art gallery, surrounded primarily by works of white artists depicting white life, i realized that the mainstream art world, the one in which i am most familiar, has undoubtedly omitted the african american narrative. and marshall's work had an alarming way of making this obvious.

marshall's paintings, in their confrontational realist style, address this invisibility of black culture in  art and the western world, in general. the paintings made me uncomfortable. they made me  aware of my privilege being, living in a world saturated in white.

i hope you'll read this interveiw with marsall in the washington post from last year and, if you live in vancouver, check this exhibit out.


love and robots

a friend of mine recently sent me a link for spike jonze's short film, i'm here, and i thought i would share it with you.

filmed in jonze's characteristic dream-like style, this story is about sheldon and francesca, who live in a version of Los Angeles where robots and humans coexist.

the film is apparently based on the children's story, the giving tree (yes, sheldon is named after shel silverstein). it's a tender and classic story of love and sacrifice and i think you should really curl up with someone sweet and watch it.


it was just a feeling

i recently finished reading atmospheric disturbances, a peculiar, existentially romantic novel written by rivka galchen. i have been itching to share this novel with you because i have never read anything quite like it; atmospheric disturbances is a little bit science fiction, a little bit heartbreaking but so totally and completely meticulously composed.

the novel is narrated by leo, a middle-aged psychiatrist who believes his young and beautiful wife, rema, has been replaced by a simulacrum. although the evidence with which leo draws this conclusion is completely absurd (the doppelganger looks, talks and acts just like rema), he is compulsively compelled by his faith in the belief that this doppelganger is not his 'real' rema. throughout the novel, leo tries to retrieve his wife by looking for clues that may or may not be buried in the work of a meteorologist by the name of tzvi gal-chen.

i don't want to give you too much of the plot because i sincerely think you should just read this novel. there are so many interesting and strange aspects to this story that it simply deserves to be read. galchen's story explores the instability of love and the common experience of trying to protect yourself from pain and heartbreak before it ever happens. it also elaborates on the odd sense of the uncanny - those moments when something deeply familiar suddenly feels so very alien and unknown. but more importantly, with passages like this, how could you not want to read it:

i don't know if i believe that our relationships with our parents establish patterns we are doomed to repeat and repeat but - i am surprised that i was not more anxious about marrying a woman who very well may have just abandoned her parents. for all i knew rema had misrepresented and cheaply blamed this beautiful mother whose only fault may have been accurately perceiving the ugly truth - even with little information - about the rude american rema had chosen to marry before she as chosen to marry me. i should at least have learned more about how it had come to be that rema had abandoned her mother, before i asked her to marry - and hopefully not abandon - me. but i saw rema prismatically, all fractured and reconstituted as if seen in the valley of an unshined silver spoon, and actually i'm glad love does that, i shouldn't complain about love, or love's perspective - distorted or no, to feel superior to it would be wrong, as if there were some better way of seeing.

seriously, go out and buy this book now. read it and let me know what you think!


who really killed his wife

i woke up this morning thinking about the two quiet weeks i spent with my grandmother last christmas, just the two of us. i often retreat to this memory when things are feeling crazy, taking comfort in the peaceful and productive time i spent in penticton, bc. in short, those two weeks consisted mostly of sewing, reading, talking and watching old movies, which couldn't be a more ideal way to spend my time.

for some reason, i started to think about one of the movies i happened to watch during my visit. it was one of the best films that i saw while i was there and although i typically give hollywood films a bad time, i do make exceptions for films made before 1950. this particular film struck me for its stylish and clever film techniques.

dark passage is a 1947 film noir starring humphrey bogart and lauren becall and is based on the crime novel of the same name by david goodis. the film centres on vincent parry, a man who has been framed for the murder of his wife. when he escapes from prison he undergoes a dramatic reconstructive surgery on his face so he can go undetected. he is eventually taken under the wing of a young artist named irene jansen.

if you have never watched a bogart and becall film (this is one of four they filmed together), i highly recommend dark passage. it's also a good introduction to the film noir genre, which is arguably one of the most interesting eras in film.


what about them i'm all about them

i have this really annoying habit where i'll listen to an album, or worse, a particular song on repeat and kill it. just slaughter it to death. then i can't listen to the album/song for months or in some cases years.

oddly enough, the debut lp, treats, from the brooklyn duo sleigh bells has managed to completely debilitate my obsessive habit. don't get me wrong, i love listening to this album. singer, alexis krauss and guitarist/producer, derek miller are your own personal cheerleaders. cheerleaders with heavy guitars and microkorgs. walking down the street is so much more fun with these guys in your earphones. they are a little bit pop, a little bit hardcore and a whole lot of awesome. but they're also totally crazy and listening to this album more than a couple of times a day will produce the same results as over-caffenation.

i am completely and 100% behind this album - just don't say I didn't warn you. i recommend the song rill rill first, to ease you in and once you're ready you should listen to rhythm riot.


looking for something

i remember being particularly charmed by this trailer a couple of years ago when i came across it on itunes movie trailers. i had recently moved to vancouver, so i made the assumption that it would make it to theatres here. i waited. and waited. and waited.

until two days ago, when i finally got to watch this lanky 70 minute film by josh safdie on dvd.

i'm not entirely convinced that it was worth the waiting and obsessing but it is definitely a charming, oddly melancholy and weirdly affecting film. although my initial feelings were of distaste, i haven't really stopped thinking about the film since i watched it.

the film centres on eleonore, a new york feral compelled by her kleptomania. unfortunately, that's about as much plot as you're going to get in this film - there's a guy named josh, an impromptu detour to Boston and a curious fantasy sequence involving a polar bear.

sadly, i just kept waiting for something to happen throughout the film, strangely compelled by elenore's pervasive search for something. from cars to dogs to plucking grapes from grocery store shelves, she never seems to find what she's looking for but she continues to look and take. there doesn't seem to be any character development - the eleonore you meet at the beginning of the film is the same eleonore you say goodbye to at the end. you never learn much about her or why she does what she does.

when the film ended, i felt unsatisfied. however, the always appealing new york back drop, the unrelenting childlike allure of eleonore and a pretty solid soundtrack makes it an interesting enough film to watch - just don't expect to walk away with much.


welcome back (to reality)

the last several weeks of my life has been nothing short of insane. there's been a plethora of visiting in my life; i had visitors, my roommates had visitors, i even did some of the visiting. but now it's all coming to an end and i can finally get on with some amount of normalcy in my life, which includes updating this little ditty. my hopes are, with the return of routine, to bring you updates regularly. i'm also unemployed now (and looking for work), so i really have no excuse for being inconsistent.

but let's get on with business, shall we?

i was asked recently how i find the writers and novels that i so persistently devour. aside from relying on recommendations from friends and spending long hours rifling through second hand book stores, i also spend a significant amount of time on the internet reading about reading. so i thought i would share some of my tried, tested and reliable methods for finding good books.

the new yorker
i rely on the new yorker for a lot of things but my priority when picking up my weekly edition is the fiction section. the new yorker features short stories by contemporary authors and i use it as a means for staying current on who is it or up and coming in the world of fiction. i've discovered some of my favorite authors, such as george saunders, joshua ferris, and dennis johnson, who have all been featured and continue to be.

i'm currently reading atmospheric disturbances by rivka galchen, who i recently discovered because she was featured in the new yorker's 20 under 40 fiction series. i plan on doing a reveiw once i'm finished because, so far, this book is blowing my mind.

quill & quire
the quill & quire is a canadian based book and publishing magazine. if you're like me and have a propensity for canadian literature, the quill & quire is a great resource for what's going on in canadian writing. the reviews section is an obvious choice for finding a reliable recommendation.

slate's audio book club
if there is anything i love more than reading great books, it's hearing people smarter than me talk about great books. i was recently introduced to the world of slate podcasts and i simply cannot find enough time to listen to all the ones i like but i always make time for the audio book club. i will read anything they discuss, if only because the conversation and discussion gets me really excited, even for books i wouldn't normally get excited about.

so those of my most reliable resources. i hope that you find them useful and if you come across anything you like, please make sure to share with me!

as a side note, the vancouver international writers & readers festival starts tomorrow. i'm hoping to catch readings by sara guen, gary shteyngart, yiyun li and wells tower. i'll let you know how that goes.

fresh face

bare with me as i make some changes around here. i also have some tasty blogs coming your way but obsessive compulsive charity needs to finish what she started first. so stay tuned.

in the mean time, amuse yourselves with a video of a corgi doing belly flops:


i'm partially a shell

i came across this adorably hilarious video on and it was the perfect end to a crap day full of self-inflicted bitterness and cynicism. marcel the shell with shoes on is voiced by saturday night live's jenny slate and i suddenly have the compulsion to hug everything. marcel is too effing cute. god damnit.

MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON from Dean Fleischer-Camp on Vimeo.


what a great couple you had been

i was feeling homesick for the maritimes recently so i purchased julie doiron's 2009 album, i can wonder what you did with your day and best decision ever!

generally speaking, i have issues with the female singer/songwriter genre. i feel disappointed with women in music when i see the generic, formula based guitar strumming, sweet voiced chanteuses coming out by the thousands. i prefer to see women pushing boundaries in music, like patti smith, bat for lashes and the ladies of sleater-kinney. or how about krysta cameron, who i recently discovered and now revere.

so despite doiron being a guitar strumming, sweet voiced chanteuse she's definitely not formulaic or generic. i love her light song writing and playful lyrics mixed with the heavy weight of distortion; the dulcet melodies perfectly balanced with double tracked chaos. i don't know if it's the brown hair and bangs but i'm all over julie doiron.

the best part, i know several people in this video. i think i'm even more homesick now.

ETA: i took matt to a doiron show once, many moons ago. it was our second date.


you won't get paid for this

sooooooooo, i'm currently redesigning my website and have a few surprises in store. but like any good blogger, i'm here to serve my readers (all four of you) and i want your input. i want to know what you want to see, what you love, what you hate. you don't even have to be tactful about it. do you demand regular posts? do you like videos or not so much? too many comma splices, perhaps? whatever. give it to me. i can take it.

also, what's you favorite colour? mine's red.


one of those days

today was one of them and my solution to these types is cat power and whiskey. preferably a lot of both.


r is for read

i contributed to my best friend, natalie's blog today.

i recently suggested that she read lullabies for little criminals by heather o'neill and she suggested i read mariam toews' a complicated kindness and now we've made monsters out of each other, both completely enamored and obsessed with these new reads. so she suggested we share our opinions with the world. take a look-see:


inception vs. white ribbon

i saw inception last night. my review of the movie is less than forgiving, so i'll spare you the bitter and cynical assessment of hollywood films. yes, i realize that a lot of people have really enjoyed this movie so far but i wouldn't recommend it to anyone. save yourself the $15.

on the other hand, i recently watched white ribbon by michael haneke, which was wonderful, shocking and unlike inception, original and affecting. as some of you may know, this is a slightly biased opinion. i'm a huge haneke fan and love his entire repertoire. this film did not disappoint and is now high on my list of haneke favorites. actually, i just returned the dvd today, almost two weeks late. it probably would have been cheaper to just buy it.

if you like german cinema, subtitles and a lot of unhappy looking children, I definitely suggest you watch it.


born from nuclear waste

i don't know how i've never seen this film before, but my room mates and i watched the toxic avenger this weekend and it was all sorts of amazing; if you're into campy, spandex-laden monster movies, that is.

for those with weak constitutions, i would not recommend watching this blood splattered, profanity filled trailer.  for everyone else, enjoy!


stage moms

i thought this dyad of videos was too great not to share. behold:

and now, the greatest outtake ever:


finally, someone who shares my distaste for lady gaga

i love joanna newsom. her music has always struck me in a peculiar way. but now that i've read this interview, i love her more.

and then i bought her new album, which could be my favorite yet. however, i may be blinded with adoration. it's hard to say.

art is present

i've come across a few posts about marina abramović on and have become rather taken by her most recent exhibit at the museum of modern art in new york. abramović is a performance artist who is performing a retrospective piece entitled, the artist is present. according to one of the posts, abramović invites museum goers to sit across from her at a bare wood table, in silence. the participants determine the length of time; the chair is open to any one who is willing, from the moment the museum opens until it closes its doors at night.

moma has a flickr page that documents each participant and the length of time they stayed. i highly recommend you take a look. each portrait is so compelling, you'll find yourself having a hard time pulling away.

one of the things i find most interesting is the powerful experience some of these participants appear to be having. many of them have been brought to tears over the past 41 days. the variety of expressions on each participants' face make me wonder what the opportunity to sit with abramović would be like.

Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images


let's run to the f--king bar and other great things catherine keener says

this is just one of the reasons i love catherine keerner. other reasons include your friends and neighbours, being john malkovich and death to smoochy.

yea. total girly crush.


care for some tea?

i don't really know to much about the history of the neighbourhood i live in. i know our house was built in 1954 and there used to be a creek that ran through where the back alley now resides. i also know this area used to be a cherry orchard, but that's about it.

what i find most curious is that we cannot break ground anywhere on our property without unearthing some little artifact. normally they are small to medium pieces of china, porcelain and other dishware. some are plain white and others come with partial samples of their former beauty and elegance. once in a while we come across other household items, like old chisels or light bulbs.

recently matt had to dig a large hole to replace the old concrete stairs on the side of the house. during this particular excavation he came across some particularly interesting things like an old bucket, a perfume bottle and some old liquor bottles. however, the best parts where this tea cup, which is in near perfect condition and this nail polish bottle. the tea cup has 'made in occupied japan' which is interesting. i have not looked into the relevance of this, so if anyone knows anything, please share.

unearthed tea cup

made in occupied japan

nail polish bottle


oh, you look good

i wanted to reward myself for a recent accomplishment of mine. a dirty habit needed to be broken and i did it. naturally one must purchase something expensive and unnecessary to celebrate.

i came across mod cloth a couple of days prior and fell in love with the relatively cheap vintage inspired threads. i had been looking for a fifty's inspired bathing suit, something with polka dots, low cut legs and a halter neck for some time now. and BAM! mod cloth had it. so i bought it.

in short, i want to buy all my clothes from mod cloth now - for a few reasons. first, i ordered the suit on sunday and it arrived from pittsburg on wednesday, which is a pure miracle considering it's taking other things i've ordered from the states up to four weeks to clear canadian customs. the sizing was right on, i was worried about buying something that i couldn't return, so i measured and remeasured myself and my other one piece bathing suits and low and behold the bugger fits like a glove. lastly, they sent me a very cool pair of earrings for free - when you send me free stuff, i love you forever.

one day, when the weather gets nice, i'll take a picture of my awesome new bathing suit to share with you. until then - don't spend too much money on mod cloth.



this is lucy, she's my bike. she recently had a makeover - new handlebars and new tape. she used to be famous around halifax for her neon pink handlebars but now she will be famous in vancouver for her neon green handlebars.

i think i should do something about that rust, though. 


the key to my heart

i made a necklace this weekend. i found these wonderful vintage beads in a jar of treasure my grandmother gave me. i'm often inspired by the things i find in there. the origin of the keys are a mystery - my long lost diary, maybe. the bird is from a broken necklace (broken heart).

 treasures, care of oma

neckalce, detail


plastic bags with german accents

this is amazing. it's part of a really interesting series, called futurestates. werner herzog narrates.

bergman vs. burton

ingmar bergman and michael haneke sort of ruined hollywood movies for me but i'm going to see tim burton's alice in wonderland anyway. don't get me wrong, i respect burton. i mean, he made pee-wee's big adventure and beetlejuice. i just find hollywood films over-processed and lacking unique or original stories. everything is so formulaic these days.

i'll let you know how it goes. hopefully i make it out alive.

in the meantime, enjoy this trailer from pee-wee's big adventure. classic.

EDITED TO ADD: i survived the film and it was better than i thought it was going to be, which really isn't saying much.


grotesquely hilarious

i'm currently reading in persuasion nation, a book of short stories by george saunders. and i'm sort of in love.

i first came across saunders listening to the new yorker fiction podcast, which is a monthly podcast where your favorite authors read and discuss works of fiction from the new yorker's archives. you come across amazing things like tobias wolff reading denis johnson's emergency, or jeffrey eugenides reading harold brodkey’s short story spring fugue. it's absolutely, hands down one of the greatest podcasts of all podcasting time. if you ask me.

anyway, joshua ferris does this fantastic reading of saunders' adams, a grotesquely hilarious and accurate emotional analogy of the iraq invasion.  if you have a half hour, you should listen to it. it's engrossing and totally laugh out loud funny.

the stories of in persuasion nation are equally satirical. and if you like vonnegut, i highly recommend saunders. they share some of the best qualities, particularly the ability to balance pure havoc and over the top hilarity.

so, yea. george saunders. remember that name next time you go to the library.


good idea explosion

i've recently had a mind explosion of good ideas happen and i need to stay inspired because i often lose focus quickly. i'm slightly a.d.d. that way. so i've decided to compile a list of things that are inspiring me right now - for your viewing pleasure. enjoy.

style rookie
tavi is the shit. she's thirteen years old and runs this wickedly clever fashion blog that has sort of taken the online fashion industry by storm. not only is she totally adorable but she writes like a pro. oh, and she's completely tenacious. what other thirteen year old do you know, will brave junior high dressed like a crazy yet highly stylish bag lady. i find her uniqueness and lack of regard for what other people think totally admirable.

simply breakfast
this blog makes me want to wake up early, quietly make a delicious, satisfying breakfast and read the new york times while the sounds of morning float through my kitchen window. it also makes me want to take more pictures of my food.

nasa's astronomy picture of the day
each day, a new picture of the cosmos.

sally jane vintage
please, may i have all of your clothes? seriously though. i'm really into this so called fashion blog trend and this pretty lady keeps me swooning. the bows. the high waisted skirts. the granny socks with heels. i love all of it.

she also runs an online etsy shop, which i am currently dappling in the idea of. i have a million vintage buttons and i'm thinking i can have a little side hobby selling pretty vintage buttons. kind of a niche market, i know, but what else should one do with a million vintage buttons?

carson mccullers
she was 23 when she wrote her first novel, a favorite of mine, the heart is a lonely hunter. for the love of god, i can barely complete a short story. her skill, desire and motivation to write such a poignant novel at such a relatively young age keeps me trying.

and lastly, dancing at the cafe



hey you there over there. welcome to sweet charity.