I wrote like four introductions to this post and they all seemed whiny and self-indulgent. They have been deleted for their crimes. In any case, here’s a new post.
Books and Other Words
Here’s what I’ve been reading:
- Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth. This is a gothic horror story set in a girls’ school in two time periods. In the late 19th century, several girls die under mysterious circumstances. In the present, we follow the young actresses making a historical film about the incident. Past an present run together, and everyone loses their grip on reality a little. I liked this book but didn’t love it, which could be because horror is not really my jam. However, I do enjoy a novel with footnotes with a mix of real and imaginary citations.
- Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R. F. Kuang. It didn’t occur to me until just now that I read two novels in a row with unreal footnotes, but that is what happened. I loved this book! Magic linguistics! A revolutionary group fighting colonialism! In this world, translators are prized because they can create magic from the gap in meaning when translating a word from one language to another. The idea is that no word is a perfect translation, there are always connotations and shades of meaning that don’t carry into other languages. This leftover meaning is converted to magical force. It’s a really cool concept and extremely well done.
- “You Just Need to Lose Weight” and 19 Other Myths about Fat People by Aubrey Gordon. I loved Aubrey Gordon’s last book and I love listening to her on the Maintenance Phase podcast, so obviously I bought her new book. This book is informative and important but brutal to read. I hope everyone reads it. More people need to understand that there is no known way to lose weight in the long term (really!) and that doctors pick up explicit bias against fat people in medical school. This book is full of research (all real citations here) that made me want to throw it across the room.
Meanwhile, on the internet:
- Gentrification by Fire: The West’s new climate is exacerbating housing inequality in the quintessentially blue state of California via Washington Post (this is a “gift” link so you can read for free). So, uh, this really sucks. The fires have generally destroyed lower-income housing, but people with less money are also people who can’t afford to rebuild, so we’re seeing more expensive houses get built instead.
- Inside the implosion of Justin Roiland’s Animation Empire via The Hollywood Reporter. I’ve found Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites both to be pretty funny, so it sucks that one of the main people behind them is gross and terrible. I’m not sure I can death of the author my way into continuing to watch these shows.
- This isn’t an article, just a little treat from Tumblr. You may be familiar with the grounding technique of using your senses to relieve acute anxiety. One Tumblr user proposed (seriously or as a joke, who knows but I kind of don’t care) a much more entertaining version that prompts you to identify “five things you can see that you could easily steal without being noticed” and “two inanimate objects that in another dimension, might fall in love,” among others.
Making Things and Doing stuff
Last weekend I went to see the Sacramento Ballet’s performance of Swan Lake. I had never seen this ballet before and was only passingly familiar with the story of the princess getting turned into a swan. The dancing was beautiful and looked incredibly challenging. I really liked the costumes as well as the effects, like filling the stage with fog and having the swan girlies pop up from the mist. However, as with most stories, I have so many questions. What kind of evil wizard is getting off on turning girls into swans? Do you think the other swans know she’s a girl and if so, do they still accept her as one of their own? I feel like, if I were an evil wizard, I wouldn’t have loopholes like you’re a swan, but you can be a human at night. Why? It just seems like a chance to get your hard magical work undone. In any case, when we left the theater, Kirk summed up the performance by saying, “That guy really wanted to fuck a swan.” It really makes you think.
I’m not sure that the photo makes it look that great, but I made this red onion, broccoli, and blue cheese tart. I thought it was pretty good, Kirk seemed to think it was one of the best things he had ever eaten, so I will be making it again, ugly photo notwithstanding.
I forgot to take a photo, but I’ve been tweaking this orange loaf cake recipe and getting good results. I added more orange to the batter (in place of the rum, which I had been skipping anyway), increased the spices (because NYT is always under on how much spice you need), and added some chocolate chips (why not?). It’s been a good way to use some of the oranges the tree in my back yard is producing. I hate to eat oranges, but I’ll gladly incorporate them into a baked good.
Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.