26 January 2017

Influences of Feminine Strength ... Mary Tyler Moore

A wave of sadness moved through me when I read of Mary Tyler Moore's death. This surprised me and I expected it to move on without incident. However, the sadness stayed ... and I started reflecting.

As a teenager, I adored 50s - 70s sitcoms. They made me laugh. They gave me different perspectives. But Mary Tyler Moore always did more for me. Most of the episodes were just ... more episodes, but there were themes that always resonated so strongly for me, mostly in the fact that she did make it on her own. 

The consistent connection was the beret though. 

Flipping that beret up, every time,  in that "you know what ... I am a successful women who needs absolutely no other person and life is awesome!"

Her personal power combined with femininity and beautiful clothes were inspirational. There were many influences that shaped my life, but I didn't fully realise how strongly she affected my own personal identity and the complete belief in myself to accomplish whatever I wanted.

Thank you, Mary Tyler Moore. 


15 December 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (book review)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1)Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Vintage photography. Dimensional time travel. Hints of horror with strong fantasy themes.

Yes, I love all of these things and that is what drew me so much to this book. It was a great time carefully studying the old photos and I was thrilled to see that they were authentically gathered versus a studio mock-up.

The key theme is the classic X-Men situation where some among us have supernatural (peculiar) skills, which becomes a challenge for those who have them with their own set of monsters and problems. If you want to be teased on how real or not real the Grandfather's stories are, I encourage you to watch Big Fish first, and then watch you argue with yourself throughout the early part of the book :)

I was drawn to this book as a recommendation after reading "Coraline" by Neil Gaiman. I much preferred Gaiman's "Grimms" approach, but seriously, Gaiman is like a god of writing; it's almost unfair to compare. His "young adult" can keep the attention of any age, where this book is truly more honed in for the young adult. Still, it doesn't keep me from buying the next book as it is an enjoyable read ... and I want more vintage photos with stories added!

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13 December 2016

Furiously Happy (book review)

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible ThingsFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Enlightening. Connecting. Hilarious. It's difficult to mix these three incredibly powerful effects, but Jenny Lawson has done it in spades. My eyes have been opened in a human way of storytelling on the hero's journey of not just surviving depression and anxiety disorder ... but giving it the middle finger, and the on-going journey and intentionality it takes to keep doing that.

I learned through her that everybody is different and have different paths, but all of us can embrace life and all that we are. Her Spoon Theory blew me away and so many puzzle pieces fell into place. I suddenly felt tearful and regretful with my assumption with friends who suffer from depression, and am grateful to Jenny for her bravery in sharing such vulnerable stories.

Thank you.

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07 December 2016

Coraline (book review)

CoralineCoraline by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When my friend recommended this book, he said, "you will be scared shitless and your daughter will adore it."

Given that my 9-year-old is easily nervous and I adore horror, I had my doubts on this prophesy. While not scared shitless, he was quite right in that my daughter and I had utterly different reactions.

As a great lover of all things creepy fairy tale, I smiled and said "oh dear" at the same time as events unfolded and one could see the trajectory of the story, while at the same time holding my attention in great joy too.

My daughter, though, was mesmerised. Unfazed by what I felt were impediments, there was a sense of "oh course Coraline will get this done" leaving the only question to be how, and joining Coraline in the quest. On the car ride, my daughter wanted a "mid-book break"; however, she was hooked long before then, becoming an enraged dragon if there was any interruption.

Neil Gaiman once again paints a beautiful scene full of imagery that reminded me of similar effects found in the new Alice movies, especially around the cat and, well, other things that I won't spoil.

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02 June 2016

Creative Space

Creative space ... it's that important physical space where you have the freedom to innovate, blast through a backlog, and simply change your context.

The ambience is all important of course, but it's the presence of tea that makes or breaks the effectiveness of my thinking processes, whether it's a black tea heavy with bergamot and flowers, Assam black with local honey and almond milk reminiscent of Prague, or gigantic pots of Morrocan mint tea.

If I lived in Boulder, I'd seek that creative space in Asheville, going to Dobra for long afternoons of tea and hitting up my favourite breakfast at Cafe 64. But I live in Asheville, so I find that creative space in Boulder, where I spend long afternoons at Boxcar and hit up my favourite breakfast at Walnut Cafe.

Lord Bergamot at Boxcar (Boulder)
Lady Earl Grey at Ka Chu (Boulder)

The two cities are alike for me in many ways ... the excellent wine sources; the bookshoppes; the vintage shoppes; the hiking; the beautiful drives. However, I live in one, so I must visit the other often, creating a new level of appreciation for both contexts.

Boxcar, the source for wine, charcuterie, prepared picnic baskets, and pots of Lord Bergamot

When it's a busy time in the main coffee shoppes like Snooze, Laughing Goat, and Boxcar, I haunt Ka Chu

Most of all, though, it's being with people who are doing the same thing I am ... sharing energy, dreaming, and acting on those dreams. That is what I love about working in these environments.

01 June 2016

The Tale of the Body Thief (book review)

The Tale of the Body Thief (The Vampire Chronicles, #4)The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book really helps you get to know the real Lestat. Louis whined in "The Interview", Lestat reacted in "The Vampire Lestat", and all of us got a much bigger picture of the vampire world with Lestat continual impudence in "Queen of the Damned". However, "The Tale of the Body Thief" is a reflection for Lestat as he faces the emptiness of loneliness.

As one could expect out of "the brat prince", he handles the fears poorly with manic behaviour, bringing out new levels of naivety and unwise decisions just to find new boundaries. The book becomes more engaging as the reader inevitably shakes the head going "seriously Lestat, you didn't see that coming?" But then, Lestat wouldn't.

At some point, you realise that the predictability isn't irritating because it is simply that you are getting to understand Lestat, providing thoughts like "of course you are going to do that" with lovely literary descriptions of exactly how he did that.

You don't need to read the Vampire Chronicles to enjoy this book; but reading them will certainly add a richness to your experience with Lestat's personal journey in "The Tale of the Body Thief".

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31 May 2016

Violence: A Product of Fear

Car bomb kills 16.
Genocidal ruler sentenced to life.
16 year old raped by 30 men.
Missile hits Doctors Beyond Borders hospital.
Germany takes in nearly half million migrants.

How are these today’s headlines? We expect the natural disasters to a certain extent. But willful violence on this proportion is incredibly difficult to quantify, so being thousands of miles away, it’s equally quite “tuckable” to deeper recesses of the brain; if nothing else, due to a natural dissonance between what we hear and what we can emotionally comprehend.

Violence is something I’ve understood from childhood having lived in a part of a city where the wrong word and seeing the wrong thing can cause things to go very poorly. Somehow, the visceral hate for hate’s sake that we as a world have been witnessing has been far more potent for me. In reading Pinker’s The Better Angels of our Nature, I’ve come to realize that much of the perception of increased violence is due to our pervasive citizen journalism, social media, and moment-to-moment news, which is a phenomenal development for our continual self-awareness as civilization.

It’s been six months since my (then) 8 year old daughter and I witnessed the terrorist attacks in Paris, and in that siren filled night, that dissonance that I mentioned started closing.

However, time away from such feelings blunts the urgency and provides a security blanket. I discovered how false that mental security blanket was when one of the acts of a show I was attending took a turn that I would have viewed through more naïve eyes previously.

Exploding onto the platform was two henchmen backed by James Bond music. The M16s were obviously fake, yet my blood instantly went cold as I tried to breathe. Then James Bond himself came out flashing a Glock in time with the music, dancing about as if there was great fun. All I could see in my head were bullet holes and glass. The henchmen bend down to “check out the crowd” aiming their weapons at us. Everybody cheers for reasons I can’t comprehend because am I can only see the Kalashnikovs brandished by the French soldiers … everywhere.

Then, the pièce de résistance … a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump hits the stage and James Bond takes aim.

Perhaps I could have made more sense of it if the guy sitting next me wasn’t screaming at the top of his lungs ….


… over and over and over and over again.

Flashes of two second scenes crashed into me of what it might have been like at riots or violent political rallies. Then oddly, out of no-where, I felt that thudding music from The Lord of the Rings when Théoden said so calmly as the hopelessly overwhelming army of uruk-hai came to destroy everything:

“…and so it begins.”

Only this violence isn’t from creatures made from evil. It’s simply our neighbors. It’s us when we lose objectively and let our fear control us.