Saturday, August 1, 2015

Girl Drink Drunk: Bear Flag Dark Red Blend

Once upon a time, I was having a really shitty week. I was just about broke, my boyfriend had moved away for the summer, I was waiting for my acceptance letter from Dal. I was stressed the fuck out. I had taken what change I had and gotten a twenty pack of smokes and about fifteen packages of Mister Noodle which I ate for every meal, seven days straight.

Even when things are looking down, there are two things I can’t live without: booze and smokes. I had smokes, and I had twenty dollars left on my credit card for booze. I went in the liquor store and started poking around, after a while one of the employees came over and was like, “hey, can I help you find anything”. I said my usual, “nope, I’m doing okay” when what I meant was, “can you point me in the direction of the shitty wine? Not that bad wine, I want the really shitty wine.”

Bear Flag is actually one of my favourite winemakers because it tastes good, it’s fourteen bucks, and it gets you fucked up. It’s not great wine by any means, but it’s affordable and it doesn’t have that tangy, acrid taste that makes your eyes screw up and your tongue turn inside out that most wines under twenty bucks seem to have. Plus it has a really cool label (why do you think I bought it in the first place?), there’s a picture of a bear on it, bears are pretty great. I didn't take a picture of it, but it was pretty cool.

I also really like dark wines. This is more flavoursome than Bear Flag’s normal red blend. It’s got a sweet, smooth vanilla flavour that is really nice. I brought it up to my mum’s the following weekend and tried to get my brother to drink some proclaiming, “you should try it, it’s really bold.” I’ve always found the word bold really irritating when used to describe something you eat or drink, so I started using it ironically (another word I downright hate the misuse of, and subsequently misuse myself just because it gets my point across), and now I can’t stop.

Recommended for people who people who only have twenty bucks to spend at the LC and want a nice glass of bold wine. You will still have six bucks left over for other things, like groceries or whatever.

Bear Flag’s website is here and is also really cool.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Worlds of Science Fiction (Part 2)

The majority of my fiction consumption is in the form of short stories, and the collection I read most recently is called The Worlds of Science Fiction. I wrote about it before here. I finished reading the book recently and the highlights are as follows.

"A Saucer of Loneliness" by Theodore Sturgeon

Theodore Sturgeon is one of my all time favourite writers in any genre – he is classified as a science fiction writer but his style and subject matter is often hard to pin down to anything so specific. Sometimes very dark, sometimes really sweet, his stories always illicit a strong emotional reaction from me, even when they’re barely comprehensible.

This story is about a woman who is touched by a flying saucer while walking down the street one day and receives a special message. Afterwards, people view her only as the woman who talked to the flying saucer, and her life becomes a toilet flush of sadness and isolation. It’s a weird story, and beautiful in its weirdness. Sturgeon has a way with words that’s simple, and fantastical, and dreamlike, but also very real. “The novels were alright for a while until she found out that most of them were like the movies – all about the pretty ones who really own the world. So she learned things – animals, trees. A lousy little chipmunk caught in a wire fence bit her.” It's elegant but also frank. I think that juxtaposition is what I like so much about Sturgeon's work, and this is a great example of it.

"Now Let Us Sleep" by Avram Davidson

About a guy who visits a planet with no resources or strategic value, inhabited by a race of semi-humanoid aliens called Yahoos. Passing space ships stop on the planet to let their crews “blow off steam” by hunting the Yahoos and raping their women. The guy is upset by that and attempts to do something to stop it, with mixed results.

I really like science fiction stories that get into the ecology of alien worlds. Even if I don’t really care for the story, I find it interesting (and that’s pretty much how I got suckered into finishing Dune. It’s the worms, man). I did like this story. It was a little heavy handed maybe but it was good.

I also have some pretty strong thoughts on conservation and the fact that humans are super shitty to pretty much everything that's alive, so this story got me in the feels pretty good.

"The Ugly Little Boy" by Isaac Aasimov

I had read this story before, in one of those books that was one book on one side and then you flip it over and it’s another book on the other side (the book it was attached to was The Widget, The Wadget, and Boff by Theodore Sturgeon, I think I've made my feeling about him explicitly clear), and didn’t really like it a whole lot.

It’s about a time travel institution where plant, rock, and animal specimens are pulled out of prehistory to be studied. One such specimen is a small Neanderthal child who is put under the care of a nurse and taught to act like a human. After several years of bonding with the boy, she learns that the institution needs the space more than they need him and is planning on unceremoniously dumping him back in his own time despite him no longer having the skills needed to survive on his own.
It’s actually a good story and pretty well written, the setting is interesting and the conflict is both believable and heartbreaking. If it were written by somebody who had ever met a woman, I might have liked it.

It’s just that the main character, this nurse, is such a lame cutout of 1950s misogynist femininity. Okay, she’s maternal, that’s the point of the story, I have no problem with that, but it gets turned into this whole "women are so sentimental" thing which is grating to say the least. Plus she's got this weird, creepy infatuation with her boss, she gets really disappointed when she finds out he's married, and then acts really catty towards his wife and son. Coz, you know, that's what women do, we fall in love with any man that pays attention to us, even if it's in a professional setting. It's surprising that there wasn't a scene in the story about how she had mixed feeling about going to work for the institute because she couldn't bring all of her shoes.

Anyway, not a bad story, that stuff just annoys me quite a bit.

Any stories you want to recommend to me? Or maybe you're incensed that I slammed Isaac Aasimov? Either way, leave me a comment, yo, we can talk about it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cool Antique Stores in Halifax

Back in February my boyfriend and I got our own apartment together. No roommates, no weird mold in the walls, no furniture. Apart from my desk and dresser and the few crappy bits and pieces of shit I picked up to sit or sleep on over the last year or so, we had no furniture. So we did what any broke ass couple would do in our situation. We went on an antique crawl through Halifax. I quickly realized that antique stores are kind of the opposite of thrift stores in that you will not get something for less than it is worth so I didn't end up buying much of anything but I saw a lot of cool stuff and went in a lot of cool stores. Some of the antique and curiosity shops I visited and liked are as follows.

McLellan Antiques and Restorations 2738 Agricola Street When I went here I read "restorations" as "restaurant" and didn't realize my mistake until I left the store. So I was pretty confused while I was in there. My apparent inability to read aside, this place has some really nice stuff in very good condition, and it smells like wood polish which is nice for sure. I would definitely buy from them, everything looks gorgeous. It's also very expensive but I'm guessing not overpriced for the quality.

Finer Things Antiques and Curios 2797 Agricola Street Right across the road you've got Finer Things which is more the kind of store you would expect - there's stuff everywhere, on the floor, on shelves, piled on top of other stuff. There's big stuff, nice stuff, expensive stuff, found stuff, anything that could be considered antique or collectible in any way, it's there. The childhood hoarder in me is delighted by stores like this coz yeah it's packed with stuff but it's all so meticulously organized. If I could get my house to look like that I'd be happy.

They had this really cool zebra head which I would like to own some day

Zion's Gate Boutique 47 Williams Lake Road I read about this store in the Rotary News and to be honest I was expecting a little more. Something sort of like a curiosity shop, and less like yet another curated thrift store. It's also really small and the owner is right there so it's like you can either awkwardly make small talk or awkwardly not make small talk. Either way it's kind of weird. That being said, it is the only store where I made a purchase on this particular excursion.

Plan B 2180 Gottingen Street

More taxidermy I want to buy
So, alright, this is probably my favourite store in Halifax. It's just so weeeeeird, it's part antique store, part craft collective, part straight up junkyard. There is shit all over the place, some of it's cool, some of it's not, there isn't really any rhyme or reason to it. People looking for something in particular, or expecting a traditional shopping experience, will not be impressed. But anybody who would rather just delve through a bunch of freaky weird shit, this is the store for you. Got a favourite antique store or curiosity shop in Halifax? (Or anywhere else for that matter) Give me a shout in the comments, I'm always looking for new purveyors of weirdness.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Internet Wishlist: Animals On Everything

Periodically I like to go through the bookmarks on my phone and look at all the pages I saved with the intention of one day buying some of this stuff. Maybe one day I will. For now it's just fun to look at.
Zebra Print Racer Back Top

Every girl should have at least one garish animal print item in her wardrobe. This one is cute.
Source: The 15 Dollar Store
Price:: 15 Dollars

Phat Stripe Brown and Black Pants

I think these are supposed to go with a steampunk outfit but they also remind me of Obelix's pants and give me sort of a Viking vibe.
Source: Etsy
Price: $135.92 CAD

Relic Penguin Coin Purse

For whatever reason, most girls have an affinity with some kind of cute and fuzzy animal. My grandma was into hedgehogs. Some girls like everything to be kitty shaped. I like penguins. I have a penguin towel, I have penguin binoculars. I need somewhere to put my change, why not a penguin change purse?
Source: Bealls Florida
Price: Out of stock. Fuck.

Skull Planter
Much nicer than the ice cream containers and cream soda bottles I currently keep my plants in.
Source: Etsy
Price: $51.19 CAD

Shark Shower Curtain

Another animal I like is, ironically, sharks, eaters of penguins. What's cooler than taking a shower with a shark on the curtain? Nothing, that's what.
Source: Amazon
Price: $28.98 plus shipping

Black and White Butterfly Earrings

Fun fact: a butterfly is actually my spirit animal. No lie, I learned this during guided meditation in my youth. It's a funny story how that went down, and also a story for later. The story for now is that I wanted to get a tattoo of a butterfly but feared that it would be interpreted less as "this is my spirit animal because of it's strength", and more as "I have zero taste or imagination". Butterfly earrings I think are acceptable.
Source: Etsy
Price: $43.81 CAD

Vintage Pie Plate with Recipe

My mom used to (and possible still does) have all these pie plates with recipes on the bottom. That always struck me as both stylish and incredibly practical which is my favourite combination of things. I need to get me a couple of these.
Source: Etsy
Price: $15.48 CAD

Sunday, June 7, 2015

TRESemmé Split Remedy Shampoo

A while ago, I got a coupon in the mail for any TRESemmé product. I normally use Herbal Essences because I like the colourful bottles, variety of flavours, and the fact that they're on sale a lot of the time. However, a coupon is a coupon, and I get a kick out of trying new products from time to time. After standing in the shampoo aisle of Sobey's for an interminably long time while my boyfriend patiently waited in the car, I picked the Split Remedy edition because I have hella split ends and the bottle said it would fix them.*

Now, I feel like it's important to stress the fact that I'm not stupid and I understand that the science behind split end repair shampoos is a bit spurious but I was out of shampoo, and I had a coupon, and my hair is a fucking mess, and I didn't think that there was any possible way it could make it any worse.

So I crossed my fingers and hoped that shampoo wasn't one of those things that only worked if you believed in it, like Tinkerbell and Jesus. Did it work? Let's find out together!

So, here's an extremely, uncomfortably, close-up picture of my hair before I started using the shampoo. My hair has suffered probably a decade of abuse from bleaches, dyes, the sun, and god knows what else.

Still some split ends there. Also pictured: the duct tape corset Zoe and I made (which I will post about later) and my shamefully messy house.

Split ends are still there. I'm getting better at taking pictures of the ends of my hair though.

And today, there are still split ends in my hair. A lot of them. Soooo the shampoo didn't work. When I say it didn't work, I mean it didn't "repair" the split ends in my hair. It still made my hair clean and smell nice which means it does work as a shampoo. It could be argued that I didn't use it correctly (I didn't use it in combination with the conditioner, for example). It could also be argued that it's not really possible for a shampoo to "bind split ends". Either way, this didn't put me off of TRESemmé's products by any means, but I'm not any more likely to buy them than before. Once this bottle runs out I'll be back to buying Herbal Essences.

*Sort of. What the bottle actually says is this: "Reduces up to 80% of split ends after 3 uses, with continued use when used with TRESemmé Split Remedy Conditioner vs. non-conditioning shampoo" which, as far as I can tell, means it might do something. And it also might not. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Planters from Recyclables

Last summer I planted my first garden in a space I shared with my roommate. It wasn't much of a garden - my section was poorly planned and yielded little more than two bell peppers and a handful of herbs before I killed everything with neglect, but it was fun and I learned a lot in the process.
Over the winter I moved into my own place which has little in the way of garden space so I started growing stuff inside. Most of what I planted was originally kitchen scraps so I'm calling the whole thing learning experience. So far, so okay.

I had a few planters left from my old place and I bought a couple more at Canadian Tire and Halifax Seed but the cost adds up pretty quickly when you're trying to grow a bunch of different things so I repurposed some containers I had lying around into new planters. By which I means I dug a bunch of shit out of the garbage, poked holes in the bottom, and went to town.

This stuff doesn't look great but it is functional. Some things are, of course, more functional, or easy to work with, than others. And that's why I'm sharing my insight with you, gentle reader, so that you may learn from my weird mistakes and enjoy the piece of mind that comes from not paying for stuff you can make yourself out of garbage.

The first thing I tried was an ice cream container which was the best of all of them. The one I used was made out of that plasticized cardboard stuff so it was really easy to poke drainage holes in the bottom. Since this was my first one, I underestimated how many holes I needed to poke in there though so I did end up with a bit of a drainage issue. My advice: poke a shitload of holes. Poke holes in the sides. Since the material is coated in plastic it has no natural drainage or absorbency.

This was the end of a celery I bought at the store. This container worked really well actually until I left it too close to the baseboard heater and it basically melted. I think it was too hot for the celery also and it died. So, yeah, don't do that.

I would not recommend soup cans. They are the most customizable, but the hardest to work with. I did not know this, but apparently the bottom end of the can is way thicker than the top, and cutting drainage holes is really hard. Yes I tried a can opener. I ended up using a nail and another can to hammer it in (I don't own a hammer for some reason). The garlic is okay with all that, though.

Milk cartons are about the same as ice cream containers in terms of ease of use, plus they usually come in fun colours, but you have to be really, really really careful when washing them out because milk ingredients seem to get caught in the corners super easy and then make life miserable for everybody.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Worlds of Science Fiction (Part 1)

One time when I was up home (New Brunswick is "up home" for me in case anybody was wondering), my mom gave me a stack of books she said were mine and needed gone out of the way or whatever. I gladly accepted them coz I was pretty much starving for reading material. So I got them home and started looking through "my" books, which included Gravity's Rainbow (not mine), The Golden Fleece (not mine), The Complete Memoirs of George Sherston (I have no idea who that is), The World at War (also not mine) and other weird stuff. In my mom's defense, she has a very small house and twice as many people live there than do my apartment.

One of the books she pawned off on me was The Worlds of Science Fiction, a collection of short stories which I have never seen before but is still a fairly apt assessment of my tastes. I love short stories since I am really busy and have a hard time getting through a whole novel. Lately, I get about half way through a book and then have to take it back to the library and then put a hold on it and then forget to check my e-mail and then the hold expires and so on and so forth.

Anyway, short stories. The highlights are below.

"Evening Primrose" by John Collier is the best one so far I think. It's about a guy who gets tired of dealing with regular life and decides to move into a department store. He hides during the day and dicks around writing poetry and hiding from the night watchman after hours. Then he discovers that there is a society of really creepy people who have been living in the store since the Great Depression. It's really surreal and bizarre and sort of funny and makes me want to read more of John Collier.

"Babel II" by Damon Knight is about a dude who, while selling photographs and models to an interdimensional alien, inadvertently triggers an event which renders all humans on earth unable to understand one another. The story really gets into detail the problems that would ensue in such a scenario (for example, all airplanes are grounded because they have no radio communication). I liked it because it presented me with an idea that I hadn't really contemplated before and I had no idea where the story was going.

"Memento Homo", about an elderly spacer on his death bed, was a nice read and I got really excited because it was by Walter M. Miller and he's a really good writer. "'All You Zombies--'", about a time traveler who is his own mother and father is a weird enough idea that I spent a lot of time thinking about it and discussing it at work, but I got really annoyed because it's by Robert A. Heinlein and I really don't like his writing.

The other stories I read so far are nothing really to write home about. I'm only about halfway through the book now and will post again when I'm finished.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Binge Watching Friends on Netflix

My boyfriend was in Truro today for work, which marks the first full day I've been by myself in the apartment since we moved in. It was kind of weird since I've never lived on my own. I lived with my parents and then with roommates, so even when I was home by myself I was never really, totally by myself. I did live with my first boyfriend very briefly but that was such a clusterfuck it doesn't count. Co-habiting is technically living with someone, except there isn't really anywhere you're not allowed to go so it's also kind of like being on your own. I think. I don't know.

Anyway, he wasn't home, and I wasn't at work or school which doesn't seem to happen very often, so I figured I'd do a little baking and get the apartment cleaned up a bit. As I was scrubbing with a folded up corner of paper towel and two different types of cleaning spray, trying to figure out how to get the little specks of dirt out of the latches on my windows, I recalled when the guys I hang out with back home told me I was the Monica of our social group. At the time I thought that designation was totally unfounded - me? The Monica? Surely not. My favourite character had always been Phoebe. But quickly I realized that between my neurosis, and my love of all things food, the comparison was pretty on point.

With that seed planted in my mind, I remembered that Friends is on Netflix now. So, at the risk of screwing up my boyfriend's recommendations, I settled down to folding laundry, doing yoga, and watching Friends, which is basically what I envision stay at home moms do from the time their kids pass the fuck out to the time their husbands come home.

It's been probably two or three years since I've watched an episode of Friends (whenever the last time I lived somewhere that had cable was). But the episodes and the characters are so ingrained in my mind - like many children of my generation, television practically raised me. And Friends premiered in '94, when I was three. It's just always been there.

It's weird going back and starting the series from the beginning coz first of all the girls' fashion sense is just so innately nineties it's adorable.
i think my mom actually has this same top in the back of her closet
Also they (the Friends) just all looked so young and cute back then. Of course Jennifer Aniston looks exactly the fucking same now. Which is amazeballs. Just sayin.

One of the other things I noticed watching the first season is that, you know, Ross used to be fun. He had a zest for life. He made jokes. He had a pet monkey. He... he did fun things. In later seasons, it seems to me, repeated heartbreak and emotional trauma turned him from that loveable nerd, to a whiney, obnoxious husk of a man. To that point, I'm pretty sure the first use of the word "friendzone" was used to describe Ross' relationship with Rachel.

These are the things I notice now. Now that I am not three. I only watched maybe fourteen or fifteen episodes, which seems like a lot but I had it on in the background all day while I did other stuff. I've been very careful with Netflix since the time I was living with my first set of roommates and I sat and watched Pokemon on the couch for, like... a long time. I didn't move. I couldn't control myself. Anyway, I've treated Netflix somewhat like cocaine - it's alright to dip your nose in once in a while, but when you're naked on the couch in a pool of your own sweat for days at a time, then it's time to stop.

Another thing I noticed today (about Friends, not... whatever that last tangent was about), which of course totally blew over my head as a child, was that the Friends are surprisingly non-judgmental about sexual promiscuity. It seems to me that every show has something negative to say about that (for example, I've been watching a lot of Frasier lately and on that show Roz is almost constantly badgered and harrassed about sleeping with lots of dudes. Mostly by people who call themselves her friends. Also her boss. Ha ha, it's funny coz she's a slut. /sarcasm). From what I've seen so far, Friends doesn't really go there. The girls date (and presumably bone) lotsa different people. So do the guys. It becomes a joke with Joey but it's not really chastised so much. Sexual conquests amongst the Friends are applauded, both male and female. That means a lot to me. I've been pretty sensitive to women's issues lately, to the point where I feel personally attacked and threatened whenever any woman is judged by the number of men she's slept with. I realize this is probably a topic for another post. What I'm getting at is that it's nice to watch a sitcom and not feel gross because the girls get referred to as garbage to be picked up. I'm pretty sure it passes the Bechdel test too, I wasn't really paying attention but I think it does.

So that's what I have to say about that. Even after twenty plus years, Friends is still a pretty good show.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday Wishlist: Mostly Leather

So Halifax got somewhere around fifty centimetres of snow between last night and this afternoon. School got closed, work got cancelled, I did all my homework and have been sitting on the couch eating craft dinner, re-watching Game of Thrones and online window shopping while my boyfriend shovels the driveway. It's days like this I'm glad I don't have a credit card. Anywho, these are just a few of the cool things I didn't buy today.

Leather Bean Bag Chair

I realized the other day when there were more than three people in my apartment that I need a chair in my living room. So why not a bean bag chair? Why not a leather bean bag chair? Yes, such a thing exists, gracefully combining old world class with new world slovenliness. In other words, it's my kind of chair.
Source: Restoration Hardware
Price Tag: $795 for 'antiqued ebony'

Faux Leather Skinny Jeans

I attribute my need for black leather pants to Buffy Summers, and Kate Beckinsale in Underworld. I am by no means opposed to using and/or wearing leather, but the faux leather ones are easier to find. These ones are Alexander McQueen, which is a good thing if what Nicki Minaj has lead me to believe is true.
Source: The Outnet
Price Tag: $90

Steel Boned Corset

A corset can be the most versatile piece in a person's wardrobe. A lot of people seem to see them as just a sex thing but they are so much more. This one, for example, could be worn with pants, or a skirt, or over a shirt, or under a bolero, or by itself. I always wanted a corset. I had one, once, when I was a kid, that my mom made for an historically accurate 17th century gown I wore to a costume party. It was an undergarment so it was designed to be functional rather than stylish. I want something stylish. I know this one is stylish because it has 'elegant' in capital letters in the website's description.
Source: Corsets Queens
Price Tag: $89.99

Leather Jacket with Fur Lined Hood

If it hasn't become apparent by now, I have a thing for leather. I also have a need for a new fall jacket, and this one has a cool, modern Viking thing going on. Plus the fur hood will keep my brain warm on those brisk days.
Source: Polyvore
Price Tag: $2,125

Pleather Dress

This is the last (p)leather thing, honest. I like this dress. It's the kind of thing I could see myself wearing to, like, a work function and also to a goth/fetish function. It's multi-purpose, and therefore practical. I consider myself a practical person. This would then be a good purchase.
Source: Nordstrom Rack
Price Tag: $39.20

Octo-Skull Nighty

I love sea creatures. I love skulls. I love lying around in bed and not putting on real clothes (as I type this it is twenty to seven at night and I am still in my pyjamas). It stands to reason that I would want this nighty. I also really like the word nighty for some reason. It makes me want to say "tee hee, I'm in my nighty" in a falsetto.
Source: Scary Threads
Price Tag: $45

White Ball Python

I've never been very comfortable with the idea of ordering animals online and having them shipped to me. I know people do it all the time, but it's not something for me to do. I would rather drive great distances and deal with borders than put a snake on an airplane. But that's just me. Anyway, since I got my python, Ligeia, I've been fascinated by all the different colours that ball pythons come in. Something about the pure white ones really caught my attention. They look like snake ghosts.
Source: Reptiles by Mack
Price Tag: $449.99

Bride of Frankenstein Phone Case

I love me some Bride of Frankenstein. I also love me this phone case. Of course, this won't fit on my Galaxy so it's a pipe dream, really. The same seller does have one with the monster and the bride which will go on my phone. They also have a Creature from the Black Lagoon one, and a Freddy Kruger one that would also fit. And they also sell bath and body products. And they're called "Bloodbath", I think that's neat. I will definitely be buying something from them in the future.
Source: Etsy
Price Tag: $20.87

Vintage Movie Cover Yoga Mat

I really need a yoga mat, actually. Doing exercises on the floor was getting hard on the knees and back, so I started doing them in bed but I kept going to sleep, so I started doing them on a blanket on the floor but it just slips around. This mat would actually fit somewhat with the decor of my apartment also, which is something I wasn`t really expecting but it`s kinda cool.
Source: Cafe Press
Price Tag: $83

Kitty Speed Bump Scratcher

So my cats will stop scratching my fucking couch.
Source: Etsy
Price Tag: $39.25

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

5 More Books That Changed My Mind

About a year and a half ago I posted on here a list of ten books that forever altered the way I look at the world and the people in it. Since then I've read a few more books which have had a rather profound impact on me for better or for worse and decided it was time to update the list (the original list can be found here).

A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M. Miller Jr
Sometimes when I go to the library and there isn't anything I want in the science fiction section, I delve into the regular part of the library, looking for misshelved SF novels, or ones with enough clout to be considered more than sci-fi. This is one such find. Although it is set between the 2500s and 3781, it sort of defies classification as a science fiction novel. It's funny, dark, disturbing, and realistic all at the same time. It kind of caught my attention as one of the first books to surprise me in quite a while. Despite the fact that repetition is one of the main themes of the novel, I found myself unable to anticipate what was going to happen next much of the time. The book is so entertaining it sort of lulls you into a sense of security and then hits you like an arrow in the face. It stood out too because I didn't realize that so much irony could be packed into one book without becoming extremely annoying. All in all, one of the best post-apocalyptic science fiction novels out there.

Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
I went on a mini-Vonnegut kicker last summer (see more below). I had read a lot of his short fiction before but never any novels, so it became my mission for a few months to burn through as many of them as possible. I read this one in two days, which is probably the shortest time I ever spent reading a book. I've mentioned before (I think) that though I enjoy reading, I do so slowly, in fits and starts. Not this. I needed this in me as fast as possible. It's not a big secret that I have some unresolved issues with my brain. I've self-medicated depression and anxiety with alcohol for a number of years, and have had a very difficult time letting go of anger and other, less easily defined emotions. This book treats time as something nonlinear, a perception that really helped me with my troubles. Some days are good, some days are bad, but you can kind of live in the good days if that makes any sense. It sounds really corny when I try to articulate it, but depression and anxiety are irrelevant when all time is the same time. You can't worry about the future or feel bad about the past if it's all the present. Reading this book made a really big difference in the way I look at my life and deal with my problems and for that I am extremely grateful.

Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
I read this also. It is not as good of a book as Slaughterhouse Five - both books are psychotic and frenetic and shocking and powerful and so much more that can't really be explained in words, but this one is more of a mess somewhat. Not that I mind. But I can see, more so with this one, why people who don't like Kurt Vonnegut really don't like him. I still think those people are missing something really important but that's just, like, their opinion and that's okay. I find his style of writing to be ahead of its time, even maybe ahead of this time. I remember being in a writing class once and the instructor said something to the effect of, "it's weird how experimentation in the medium of film is considered progressive but with novels it's frowned upon". Vonnegut's novels are experimental, sometimes to the point where they maybe shouldn't even be called novels. Slaughterhouse is more an example of that but I talked enough about that book up there. Anyway, just like the above mentioned taught me about time and how to deal with it, this book taught me about people. It is mentioned several times throughout the book that no one person is any more important than another, and the book tells the story of every character, no matter how relevant they are to the story. Everybody is of equal value. Some of them tie in to the end, some of them don't. It doesn't matter. I find that a harder thing to wrap my head around than time being nonlinear. Because of course I'm the most important person in the world, I'm me. But that's not the case. Everybody is just as important as I am. Not more, not less. I still have trouble with that actually. It's hard to accept. But it's a good starting point and it's helped me in a lot of ways to stop looking up to, or down at, other people, and to stop being so angry at other humans all the time. They're just doing what they need to do. They're not doing stuff to hurt or offend me specifically, they're just doing it because that's what they do. And there should be no anger in that.

Doomsday Book - Connie Willis
But enough about the massive hard on I have for Kurt Vonnegut. I was in the library one day, browsing the science fiction section as I so often do, and unable to make up my mind about what to read. I did what any self respecting adult would do in a time of difficulty and texted my mother. She recommended this book to me. About a week later I texted her again, this time something like "why did you do this to me" and "I'm never trusting you again" (self. respecting. adult.) The next time I was visiting home, my grandmother mentioned that she was starting to read it, so I offered her my condolances. This book is good. It's really, really good. It's also hands down the most traumatizing and devastating novel I've ever read. I didn't even realize that a book could have such a profound effect on me. This is the first time in my life I've uttered the words, "I can't, I really have to go home and read this book". I talked about it at work because I needed someone to feel my pain. And then I realized that nobody can feel my pain, ever. That's what makes it one of the few things that is really mine. So, you know, it's something to be cherished. I'm going to get off that topic before I start to sound like a Clive Barker novel. This book is meticulously researched which makes it educational, it's perfectly paced, it's got a great sense of humour, and the characters are so relatable and well written that when they start dying en masse it rips a hole in you that no amount of ice cream or red wine will fill. Thanks, Connie Willis. Thanks, mom. Thanks for making me feel like a human being again.

Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist
I went to see the movie adaptation of this book when it screened at the film festival many moons ago (you can read my review of it here). I thought it was so weird and fucked up and unique I immediately wanted to read the book. It took me two or three years to get my hands on a copy - the libraries didn't really seem to have it until the American remake came out so I had to wait for that. It was worth it. The novel dives into places I can't really begin to describe. It's beautiful, it's touching, it's gross and violent. Parts of it made me feel sick. Most of it made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Like I was witness to something I wasn't supposed to see. It does a really good job of capturing a certain time, and a certain place, opening with a description of the suburb as a land of failed potential, and just building it from there, getting more and more depressing and horrible to the point where death by vampire almost seems like a release. I would venture to say it's the best vampire novel I've ever read, not only because of it's rather unique subject, but also because it's not really a vampire novel. It's a great novel, with a vampire in it. It's just so crisp and the characters are so realistic and so shitty. Another unique thing about it is the neutrailty. The main character is a little kid who gets bullied, but it doesn't really sympathize with him any more than it does the kids who pick on him. They all have their own shit going on, they're all horrible and flawed humans, all victims of the time and the place. It's interesting and I've never read anything quite like it.

So that's what I have to say about that. Did you read any of these novels? Agree with me? Think I'm full of shit? What books changed your outlook on life? Why not recommend me something, friend. Go ahead. It's free, and it's anonymous. It'll be our little secret.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Girl Drink Drunk : Ravens Wood Petite Sirah

Excuse me for any spelling mistakes and glaring grammatical errors, I'm writing this on my phone coz my computer "failed to start" today. I used to panic whenever that happened but now I'm kinda like "meh, she'll run tomorrow".

aaaanywho, this wine was on the special rack on valentine's day and it had a cool label and it cost more than twelve bucks so I figured it'd be a nice treat and picked it up.

I don't actually know what the fuck a petite Sirah is but it sounded to me like a little shiraz and I like shiraz so why not.

It lived entirely up to my expectations. It's rich and smooth, almost like drinking cream, with a fruity undertone, really tasty, much like a shiraz. It's Not quite as heavy though, which is quite nice. I rather enjoyed this wine, would buy again.

Ravenswood is a California winery and produces several other wines which I may well try in the future. They also have a partnership with the sriracha people? So presumably that means there is wine infused chili sauce somewhere out there? My birthday's coming up in like six and a half months, just sayin.

Ravenswood can be found online here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Girl Drink Drunk: Abbot's Delight

So my spicy man friend moved down to Halifax from New Brunswick a couple of months ago which is pretty radular. We're rocking our own place in the nice part of the shitty end of town, I'm doing moderately well at the whole adult thing I think. I sometimes have spontaneous fits of anxiety, but like, doing laundry and opening mail and paying bills on time and stuff, I got that covered. I even got my car undercoated for the first time ever which is, I think, the most responsible thing I've ever done in my life (I would count paying fines in a reasonable amount of time but obviously if I was responsible I wouldn't have fines, hey).

I decided to try this drink because
a) I went from a long distance relationship to a cohabiting relationship and that deserved celebrating,
b) I was broke from paying my fines and had no booze except for this big ol' bottle of Frangelico which I had moved at least twice, and
c) I wanted to know if I could make a drink out of Frangelico that doesn't taste like a hazel tree's ass.

I found the original recipe in this book (I bought it with points I earned doing surveys online, no word of a lie). The only place I could find it online is here. You can translate it out of Japanese yourself you lazy fool. I tweaked it a little bit to suit my tastes, thusly.

My phone takes shitty pictures

Abbot's Delight (makes two)
3 oz. Frangelico
1 banana
6 oz. pineapple juice
2-3 tbsp plain balkan style yoghurt
Dash of angostura bitters
A fuckload of ice

Slap that in the blender, push the button until sufficiently blended (I'm waaaaaaaay to impatient to wait for it to be smooth. I don't give a fuck about big old chunks of ice and fruit and shit in my drink. I imagine that's why I hated working at a smoothie place), then pour it into the fanciest glass you can find and drink the fucking thing. I jammed a maraschino cherry in there coz I had some, not that you can tell, they always sink to the bottom.

Super fucking fancy
I added the yoghurt because I was reeeeeeally hungover and wanted to pretend I was having something nourishing. It's a wonder I didn't put protein powder in there for fuck sakes. And I doubled up on the pineapple juice because as it turns out I don't actually like the taste of hazelnut very much. It took me until now to realize that, coz everybody likes hazelnut, what's not to like about hazelnut? But seriously though, if I'm having a fancy flavoured coffee or soemthing I'd rather it be vanilla or chocolate flavoured. The same is true of liqueurs. Hazelnut just doesn't do it for me.

I found this drink was actually too sweet and fruity and nutty at the same time. It kinda made me sick. But the yoghurt settled my stomach. In hindshight I think vanilla yoghurt would have been nice, but I usually only ever buy plain coz I hate fun.

Anyway, it got me a little buzzed and the Frangelico's finally gone and done with which was the main point so I'm gonna call this a success. Over and out.