Movies I Watched in January

50 Movies 2016, Film

In keeping with my 50 Movies in 2016 challenge, I made an effort to watch more movies than usual this month. I usually have a habit of bingeing on tv shows (and I definitely did that too), but for some reason when I sit down to watch a movie I just get so easily distracted, no matter how good it is. Sometimes I’ll have to pause it and come back to it after surfing the internet or getting something to eat. What can I say? I’m a product of the digital age– I like constant, ever-changing stimuli.

Even so, I managed to watch 5 movies this month, and all of them new-to-me! A pretty good start to the challenge, I must say.

The Propaganda Game (2015) – Propaganda_ 3Poster_creditsA4_3Documentary. Longer review posted. Really enjoyed this, though I don’t think it added too much to a genre I already am pretty well versed in (North Korean ‘what it’s really like’ documentaries).

 

 

 

 

 

The Ghost Army (2013)71h29bvzqcl-_sl1500_Documentary. I’d heard about the book with the same title, and checked this out because of some good reviews, and it was wonderful. It’s about the, well, “Ghost Army,” if you hadn’t guessed, the troop of military personnel used in World War I that served in a non-combat division of the US army that specialized in diversion and deception. Artists, sound engineers, and other special forces were banded together to impersonate army battalions using fake weapons, tanks, track marks, sound effects, radio chatter, and all sorts of other tactics. Really, really interesting– more interesting than the actual war, to be honest. Definitely watch it.

 

“American Experience” The Poisoner’s Handbook poisoners_postervf-lores3-660x977(2014) – Documentary. This is a PBS documentary on the invention and rise of forensic science in Jazz Age New York. I love a good poison study, and it featured some really excellent reenactments (which is cool, because many reenactments are just garbage.) I’d say, watch it if the subject’s in your wheelhouse, or if you were planning to time travel back to the early 20th century to murder someone. Otherwise, skip it.

 

 

 

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2013) the-kingdom-of-dreams-and-mDocumentary. Behind-the-scenes for one year as Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli work on The Wind Rises, and discuss animation, storytelling, and how Miyazaki’s political views and personal history affect his storytelling. It was, at times, incredibly slow, but it was supposed to be. Much of the film focuses on Miyazaki’s creative genius, and how he takes the time to think, and breathe, and enjoy nature, and take care of himself, amidst all of the hard work he does. He came off as a somewhat grumpy old man, a little sad about the world, nostalgic, and ultimately hopeful. It was a really peaceful film, and it gave me an interesting insight into Japanese creative life (at least, one Japanese creative life), that I will keep in mind on my visit. You should watch it, but only after you’ve seen at least two or three Ghibli films, as otherwise it’ll be a bit dull (though still really interesting/calming.)

 

Howl’s Moving Castle (2014) howls-moving-castle I’m still catching up on all of the Ghibli, and this is one that I hadn’t watched, for fear of it not being my thing. How. Wrong. Was. I. This movie couldn’t be more my thing. I LOVED IT. I loved it. It was, of course, absurdly beautiful, visually. The colors, the landscapes, the character designs, all stunning. Howl was strangely leaning towards anime, which at first kind of threw me off but I ended up liking. The plot, though. God. As I write this it’s currently 4:59am, and I stayed up after finishing this movie at 4:00am, just to make sure I included this movie in my post. I don’t know why I always doubt the magic of the Ghibli I haven’t seen yet, especially when they always end up leaving me speechless. I love Howl, I love Sophie, I love love LOVE Markl, and Calcifer, and the little dog Heen reminds me of Ned so much I can barely stand it. I’m glad I watched this one after seeing Miyazaki work in The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, it really made me pay attention to the details of the animation and dialogue and themes more than I may otherwise (Miyazaki= very anti-war. I think he and I would be friends). I’m hoping to catch up on a few more Ghibli movies before my trip to Japan!!!

 

 

Not a bad start to my movie watching for the year! At the time of writing I’m also halfway through Casablanca, but I paused it in favor of Howl’s, and now, well. Of all the gin joints in all the world… this one’s not open at 5am.

Here’s looking at you, February.

 

W

January Wrap-Up: Prose for Big Kids and Little Kids

100 Books 2016, Weatherly Reviews

What I Read in January (Non-imagey books)

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Ok. So I read an absurd amount in January. Just, too much really. (That’s a lie, and I said it only for effect, of course. How dare I.) But seriously, the number is at 25 at the time of posting, so I could have slowed down a little. 

However, almost all of those were comic books. So. Maybe “slow down” wasn’t so much needed as “read some prose, man,” but such are the spoils. Here are my non-comics, non-graphic novel reads from this month. ENJOY. 

 

Fiction

 

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

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This is not the edition I read, but I couldn’t resist this cover. This book… this book was extremely depressing. This was one of those books that I feel like I should have already read, and I knew the story of, but I’d never read the actual text. I still haven’t read the actual text, haha, because I listened to the audiobook from Librivox, which took me only a few hours. It was much, much more entertaining than I was expecting. Kafka’s writing is excessively accessible, and his characters are very relatable, very human. But the story itself was so miserable that I was quite happy to finish. From Goodreads:

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Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

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This was a reread that I go back to every year or so. It’s such a comfort read for me that it’s almost not worth mentioning, except that I am insanely competitive and I have a competition to win, here, so IT COUNTS. I actually listened to the audiobook from Librivox. STILL COUNTS. 

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

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I’ve read this before, and this time I listened to the Librivox audiobook after finishing Pride and Prejudice because I was still in the mood for something a little light and fluffy. Although it is silly to the point of being sometimes trying, this is a hilarious play and a very quick read. I recommend it for anyone scared of being bored by the classics– the fight over Earnest is both totally ridiculous and totally entertaining. 

At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson

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This is a book of short stories that came with crazy high recommendations from most of the internet book people I listen to. I’m not usually a short story person, but I decided that 2016 would be my year to change that, so here I am, la ti da.             This book was an experience to read. I’m glad I read this early on in 2016, because I really feel like it will affect the way I read and choose books for the rest of this year. These stories were a huge departure from what I normally read, and I realized how much I’m missing in my reading life by not reading more short stories. I loved some of these stories, and I didn’t love others. Some of my favorites: Ponies (oh my god, Ponies. That’s one I really want to print out and send to people.), 26 Monkeys, Fox Magic, and Chenting in the Land of the Dead.
I’m definitely going to be recommending this, but I’ll be very careful who I recommend it to. I think it will appeal to a very particular type of reader– it’s weird, it’s vague, it’s an anxiety-ridden read. It’s strange to review the book as a whole when all of the stories seem to exist on their own, but I really enjoyed it.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Listened to the audiobook, my first Patrick Ness book. I didn’t really know what to expect, and I’ve been burned a few YA audiobooks before, especially when narrators try to sound like a teenager (why you gotta be like that?) But I was really impressed with this book. The premise is pretty simple and, at this point, pretty cliche (as all anti-cliche things quickly become). “What if you’re the guy that’s not the Chosen One?” It’s pretty heavily reliant on the concept and its constantly describing the “chosen ones” as “Indie Kids” was pretty silly, honestly. But the main characters, the “normal kids” this book follows, are exceptionally drawn. I felt so hard for the narrator dealing with his anxiety, trying to be good but still a slave to his emotions at times. He just felt so REAL. He was a dick sometimes because people are dicks sometimes, even if they’re the main character, and even if you feel for them, and I really liked that. I also really appreciated how sex and love were handled in the book. The characters are in high school, and I’m often so uncomfortable with how high school characters put so much emphasis on true love in YA, but the way Ness presents this idea of love not needing to be romantic, or permanent, to be real and powerful is neither condescending nor particularly dramatic and it’s EXACTLY WHAT I’VE BEEN NEEDING from my YA. I wish I had this book in high school, I’m going to push it on my high school cousin and hope she thinks I’m cool. READ IT.

In the Miso Soup by Ryū Murakami518zeqsrfzl

This book. Man oh man. So it only took me 7 days to read (I read multiple books at once, so that doesn’t say much– it’s super short, you could probably get through it in a day if you had the stomach for it.) Despite that… it feels like I’ve been reading this book for years. It was so. hard. to. get. through. The basic premise is Kenji, a young Japanese man, has a job escorting foreigners through the red light district of Japan, to various foreigner-friendly sex shops and strip clubs and stuff. There’s this horrible, gory murder of a schoolgirl around the same time that Kenji gets a new customer, an American named Frank who’s weirder than any character Kenji (or Weatherly) has ever encountered. And the plot goes from there, getting more and more disjointed and surreal with every twist. It is so bonkers. Ryu Murakami’s prose is really lovely to read– he cuts right to the quick of every sentence so that no description is overwrought but you get a keen sense of the atmosphere and exactly what’s happening. It’s really quick reading, too, it took me *maybe* an hour to read the first half. And then 6 days of painfully pushing myself to read the rest of it, and then an actual bribe to finish the last 15 pages. It’s been compared to Silence of the Lambs, and while it was gory, it wasn’t exactly scary. Just… really depressing, and uncomfortable, and brutally honest about human nature, and Japanese and American culture. When I finished, I was so relieved but I’m also in a book slump now, because of how much uncomfortable a reading experience this was.

Click here for my more spoiler-y review of it, I go into detail about a theory I read about this book that made me like it 100 times more.

Guards! Guards!  64216

This was my first Discworld book, and my first Terry Pratchett book, and I must say I had extremely high expectations. And I also must say… it didn’t meet them. Granted, while I was reading it, I enjoyed the experience, I could see, on a surface level, that the jokes were funny and the plot was fairly engaging. But I was never really engrossed by it, and when I put it down, I found it hard to pick it back up again. I’ll be reading another Discworld novel eventually, but I’ll be more careful about which one I pick.

Non-Fiction

 

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald

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My first nonfiction title of the year, and one I started six months ago. This book made me scared to connect my computer to the internet. So before reading this, I knew about Edward Snowden and the NSA and all of the other stuff this book was about from the news, of course. Or at least… I thought I did. But this book goes into such detail into Snowden, the leaks, the underlying privacy problems in the US and other countries, and all sorts of other terrifying stuff that I really feel like even if you have a decent understanding of the situation, you’ll learn stuff that will keep you awake at night. Truly excellent, really well written. Some parts were a little dragg-y because of the sheer amount of information that had to be conveyed, but I’m glad it wasn’t cut– it’s about the truth, and everything being done to try and hide it. So good.

51pueh2cuul-_sy344_bo1204203200_We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I can’t talk about this book highly enough, and I also can’t praise it as eloquently as many people, so I’m just going to say this: You need to read this. Yes, you. “But I’m not a feminist!” You say. “But this is a new trendy thing that is the result of millenials!” You say. I don’t care. Read this. Then, if you still disagree, then you can come air your grievances. Not that I will care about them, as people who aren’t feminists are denying my right to be thought of as fully human, but like go for it. It’s less than 50 pages. Seriously, go. I’ll wait.

Notorious RBG notorious-rbg-cover

This was a late-finish, and my last book I finished in January. And let me tell you, it was excellent. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a personal hero of mine for her badassery on the court and her logical, even-keeled view of the law. This is a really interesting skim of her life leading up to becoming a Supreme Court justice, as well as what she’s been up to during her term. I really loved all of the little anecdotes about very RBG things (her collar and fashions, her relationship with her husband Marty, her grammar sticklerosity), because it made this glorious powerhouse of a woman seem that much more interesting. A definite must-read, and totally on-trend with the cooler, more accessible looks at important figures in history (I’m looking at you, Hamilton.)

Children’s Books

 

Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

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If I wasn’t sure all of my pregnant and babied friends didn’t already have this on their shelves, I would be sending copies to all of them. LOVE. Absolutely hilarious. I laughed out loud all the way through.

 

The Monster Machine by Nicola Robinson 

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I don’t have much to say about this one. I picked it up after Go the F**k to Sleep because I had the stray notion of getting really knowledgable in children’s fiction this year. But then it was pretty terrible. The illustrations are glorious, truly. Great colors, interesting, lots of textures. But the writing is just… boring. And the story? Well the story is in the title. (Guess what the machine makes? I bet you won’t guess. Nah, you have no idea.) I think I’ll keep browsing for children’s books on Scribd, but I was pretty disappointed by this one.

 

 

Those are the non-comicy books I read in January! Stay tuned for my wrap-up of comics and graphic novels (yes, there’s more. Hold onto you hats and butts, it’s a LOT. January was a pretty crazy reading month, mostly because of how little actual work I had (desk-warming for the win!!) so I’ll probably not have a month as productive as this again for a while, but it was a great kickoff to the year!

What did you read in January?

W

A Book and a Snack – Greasy House, Seoul (Restaurant Review)

A Book and a Snack, Food, Korea

On my way back from Everyday Mooonday I was famished. My original plan was to go to Little Pie, which I heard about on A Fat Girl’s Food Guide, but after going to Everyday Mooonday on an empty stomach I was exhausted and it was FREEZING OUTSIDE, and I just wasn’t in the mood to go all the way across town back to Itaewon for a chicken pot pie, as heavenly as they sounded. Walking back to the subway station, I saw the Greasy House, and since the name promised something filling and the roof promised a refuge from the land of ice outside, I checked it out.

The Atmosphere

The inside of Greasy House is set up like an English Pub, and seats about 18 people in extremely close quarters. It’s very warm, and very cozy with maroon wallpaper, wood panelling, dimmed lights, vintage pictures on the wall, and the absolutely incredible smell of the food. When I went, it was playing jazzy Christmas music and was basically just about the cheeriest little spot ever.

The Food

Greasy House

I got the hamburger, mostly because I’m not the biggest fan of barbecue, which seemed to be their main pull. Afterwards, I saw other customers with Skillets, which had eggs, meats, and veggies, and I have to say– they looked way better.

The hamburger: Good. I liked it, and it definitely filled me up. It was HUGE (!!) and the cheese and fried egg were both superb and added great flavor. The onions were delicious too, and I am usually not a huge fan of big onion slices. The problem I had with it was the sauce. It was a specialty bacon jam. I know. Most of you just started crying with glee. I knew it was on there, from the menu, and that was the thing that made it different than just an everyday hamburger, that made me really want to try it. And it was good, really– sweet and savory, kind of thick and an interesting texture. But after the first half of the burger, the jam was overpowering. It was too sweet, too heavy, it overpowered the saltiness of the meat (which wasn’t very well seasoned in the first place), and it wasn’t balanced out by anything else salty or fresh on the burger.

Granted, I go for salty above all tastes, so the sweetness wasn’t really my thing, but I think it would have been improved with a spicy mustard or perhaps fresh lettuce and tomato. As it was, I left feeling a bit too heavy. (And not just because of how massive the burger was.) It was just a little too– well, Greasy. Oh Greasy House, at least you don’t false advertise.

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The sides: Fries. Of course. They were Wonderful. Maybe my standards are low, because fries are my umber one favorite food and it’s hard to disappoint me in this area, but it’s hard to find really good quality steakhouse fries in Korea, and these were super super excellent. Crispy, the right thickness, just. So good. There was also some radish kimchi, which really helped balance the greasiness of the burger, though I would have preferred dill pickles. (Then again, this is Korea, not America, so I don’t resent the kimchi haha.)

 

The Book

It was pretty dark in here, and they were crazy busy (even for the random time of day I went– 2pm! Though there were only like 5 tables, so.) Instead of reading, I listened to The Black Tapes podcast, which is sci-fi/fantasy fiction podcast about a research team investigating a series of mysterious happenings that have remained unsolved by premier paranormal skeptic and investigator Dr. Strand. It’s kind of like The X-Files meets Serial, and it’s pretty addictive, though I lost my spot in the recordings thanks to the Play Next function on my phone, so I ended up listening to Season 1 out of order. Ahh, well. Season 2  launched January 19 and it’s on my to-listen list, but if you’re interested definitely start from the beginning of Season 1.

W

Everyday Mooonday – A Trip into Cuteness Wonderland

Korea, Weatherly Travels

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A few weeks back, I visited Everyday Mooonday, a tiny little gallery in Seoul that showcases quirky indy artists in a really cool gallery space!

Arriving

Despite the website saying that Jamsil Station is near, it was a TREK, so I ended up taking a cab. Which was great, because this place is tucked on a teeny side street, super hard to find. (At least, if you’re like me and you have terrible time with directions.) When the cab dropped me in this alley I thought– great. He got tired of driving and can tell I don’t know enough Korean to disagree so he just left me somewhere. I’m cheerful like that. But when I saw these little guys outside and the badass murals, I realized I was just quick to believe people are mean. Thanks, Atlanta.

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The Exhibit

I first found out about Everyday Mooonday from my obsession with Anna Hrachovec, a professional knitter and creator of MochiMochiLand. She had a gallery showing earlier in 2015, and although I missed it I still wanted to see the gallery space. The current exhibit was Ana Albero, who did a series called “Pet Portraits,” which follows the life of Petra, a pet portrait painter, through her everyday life. The series was full of vintage-y flat colors and graphic details, and the exhibit had several real-life, full-size recreations of the paintings that were incredible.

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Black polka dots all over the walls and hanging from the ceiling gave the sense that the painting was bleeding into reality. So cool. 

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This was a full-size modeled rendition of one of the paintings, with real props, set into one of the rooms of the gallery. It was by far my favorite part. The photos don’t do justice to how interesting it was to see the painting made real!!

I love exhibits that go to extra lengths to involve the viewer more viscerally in the experience of the art. Bringing some of the pieces to life with models and the 3D dot room, and framing the smaller illustrations in a mixed assortment of frames that gave the sense of a living room wall made a very small show seem very immersive and personal. I’m definitely going to be going back to see other shows at this gallery!

 

 

The Store

Though I loved the exhibit, I honestly think I may have loved the gallery’s gift shop/ seating area more. It had hundreds of pieces from past exhibits on the walls, scattered on the couches and tables, and in display cases, and I spent nearly an hour walking around looking at things. The curator(s?) seem to lean towards quirky, indy artists with a more cartoon-y vibe, which is totally my style. If they wanted to come decorate my apartment, I’d have no objection…

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The Cafe

The gallery also has a little cafe where you can order beer, coffee and tea, and sweets. I’m assuming at night you can also walk around the gallery with the drinks, which would make a super adorable date, but I visited the cafe last and didn’t end up getting anything. The stadium seating leads up outside, and I can see it being a really cool, chill place to hang out at night (though in the day, as one of 2 people there, it was pretty awkward haha).

 

The next exhibit is Cosmic Girls by Stickmonger, which I know NOTHING about, but I may go check it out! I have such an urge to buy all of the little knick knacks from the store. It’s like it was made to take my money. If you’re in Seoul, definitely check out Everyday Mooonday for a fix of cuteness!

W

Book and a Snack: The Lobster Bar, Seoul (Restaurant Review)

A Book and a Snack, Food, Korea

A little while ago I made a trip to Seoul with the intent to meet a friend, and then ended up getting stood up. This is not a sad story. One of the things to know about me, if we’re going to be friends (and why else would you read this unless you wanted to be my friend? Oh, you want to hear a restaurant review? Right. Huh. Well… This is awkward…), one of the things to know is that I really, really love cancelled plans. This is not sarcasm. I love when I have something that I have to go do, and I’ve pumped myself up for it and made a decision to go, and then I find out that I no longer have to go. Why? Because then I can let myself relax. All of that energy I’ve been storing up in order to power through this social gathering can be released into something that isn’t stressful for me, like reading, or making stuff, or spending time alone. Don’t get me wrong, I almost always enjoy going out with friends, and I love a good party. But the pure relief I feel when I learn that the constant low-level but present anxiety that eats at me during the lead-up to these interactions goes away?

Pure, ecstatic, laughing about nothing bliss.

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So instead  the Lobster Bar is super easy to find, on the main strip outside of the subway stop at Itaewon. Or, if you’re like me and have one main reason to go to Itaewon: a block or two down the street from What the Book, the English language bookstore in Itawewon. I went by What the Book, bought an indecent/incredible haul of books, then headed over to Lobster Bar for a solitary, book-centric late lunch. I thought it would be a fun, relaxing idea to eat some critically-acclaimed food while I got a start reading Sally Gardner’s Maggot Moon, a YA book about a boy living in a dystopian world that resembles a mashup of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia called the Motherland.

And guess what? It was, as most of my ideas are, pretty damn excellent.

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The Food

I had the Lobster Roll and oh my. Was my mouth pleased. The roll was buttery, salty, crisp on the outside but pillowy soft. How do food bloggers do this? I am starving thinking about it. The lobster (which was, I’m pretty sure, real lobster) was cut in thick colorful chunks. It was salty and buttery and had a nice texture that contrasted with the crunchy lettuce.

On the side, of course, I got french fries. Thin crunchy steak fries. Nothing special, but still very good. And incredible honey mustard. INCREDIBLE.

There was also coleslaw, which, I have to say, I had the lowest of expectations for. It’s the most hit or miss food I’ve ever eaten. Seriously, it’s so easy to screw up coleslaw that I barely even register it’s on the plate. But damn. This coleslaw tho. It was SO GOOD. Not too mayonnaise-y. Not weirdly sweet like some coleslaws? Just… I don’t know, you know what good coleslaw tastes like right? It tasted like that. Delicious. And a really great refresher for the palate after the buttery saltiness of the roll and fries. Yeah, I said palate. I’m basically Anthony Bourdain. One thing, though: the coleslaw had corn in it, which is, I’m assuming, a consequence of the Korean obsession of “let’s put corn in every single thing ever.” But it didn’t bother me, still really good.

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The Drink

Despite planning on getting a gin and tonic, I ended up randomly trying the Lemon Honey Ginger Beer. Holy Moly guys. That’s all I can say. This was the best beer I’ve ever had. I don’t know what the brand is, because it was on tap and honestly who remembers to take a picture of the menu when you’re starving? Not this moi. This beer was so delicious. Mostly lemony, super refreshing and light, but with enough ginger to keep it from tasting like Pledge, and pleasantly fizzy. SO GOOD. UGH. I want that right now, too. Basically I want to stop writing this review and go back and eat there, but here I am, typing away. See what I do for you, blog? Do you see??

The Atmosphere

The restaurant’s up on the second floor, and the inside is very industrial shipping yard-inspired, with lots of natural light from the wall of windows. I chose a window seat, like you do, then immediately regretted it when I realized there was a puppy adoption happening across the street.Lobster Bar 3

Ye gods, why must thou torture me so?!? I planned to go afterwards, but it’s probably good for both my mental health and criminal record that I forgot to, because I would have taken home one of those dogs no matter how fast I had to run away with it.

The waiter was super nice, and they were really not busy at all, but that’s probably because it was like 3pm. Not exactly hopping restaurant time.

I’ll definitely be going back, next time I want to try their Lobster Grilled Cheese because are you serious? That should be illegal.

The Book

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So for most of my solo restaurant reviews, I have a feeling I’ll also have something of a book review because staring out trying to not make eye contact with people from other tables is not my favorite thing to do. Maggot Moon was incredible. I started it during my lunch and got a good 40 or so pages in, and later finished it on the KTX. It was one of my Runners-up for top book of 2015. I loved the main character, and all of the characters really, they were so lifelike, their dialogue was all perfectly crafted to fit their ages and the environment (fascist regime) they lived in. I loved the plot, and the mysteries behind it. The only thing that kept it out of the top books of 2015 for me was that about 85% of the way in, the plot lost a little of its steam. I started to feel like it was slowing, and though the end was satisfying in a way, I felt like I had to work harder to get to it than I thought I was going to have to halfway through the book. That sounds like I don’t want a challenging story, which isn’t true, I just thought the writing lost some of its sparkle after the midway point. That being said, I highly, highly recommend it, as its one that I like more and more the more I think about it.

W

A Series of Moments… (in Korea)

Korea

Hey guys, here’s a few pictures that have been languishing on my phone of my daily life in Korea. Just moments I took pictures of, but never ended up posting anywhere. Hold onto your butts, it’s going to get exciting in here!

I now know what quicksand feels like. (Unfortunately, I do not know how to escape quicksand without ruining a pair of socks and having to divest my top layer leggings. Thankfully I was wearing two pairs of pants that day. Serendipity.

 

Butterbeer lollipop

After having a truly terrible day, one of my students who I thought didn’t like me gave me a lollipop. Kinda looks like a beer mug with a brain bubbling over the top, right? It tasted like it too.

Just kidding, it tasted like Butterbeer and I want hundreds of them.

 

Seoul Subway painting

The Seoul Subway System has absolutely won me over to the necessity of reliable and efficient public transport. Also look, here’s a mural.

Christmas in Myeongdong

Christmastime in Myeongdong, Seoul was a show of capitalism and cheer that would make Times Square jealous.

I picked this up on a whim from a rather schmancy-looking cafe in Seoul after a disappointing day of wandering around. It was chocolate gateau, and while browsing, ordering, and walking back to my hostel I was listening to the Mystery Show podcast about a woman who wrote a book that she later saw Britney Spears reading in a paparazzi photo. She wanted to ask her if she liked it. It was, to my utter surprise, totally fascinating, honestly. The cake was just alright. I learned that although chocolate gateau is rich and delicious, it also has a powder on the top that tastes a little like very fine flour. “But Weatherly! That’s the part that makes it so sophisticated!” you say, wringing your opera gloved hands and gnashing your cosmetically perfected teeth. Unfortunately, dear classy readers, I have the palate of a 10 year old, and thus can only appreciate sophisticated food if it also tastes incredible.

 

 

W

The Old Razzle Dazzle. (On Sarah Palin and Donald Trump)

Personal, Weatherly Tells You

Guys. I think it’s time. I really think it is. We need to talk about Sarah. Palin. We need to talk about Sarah Palin. And maybe about the possible ergot poisoning happening in Alaska, because the speech she gave to endorse Trump has been haunting me in a way that I can’t quite put into words. (Don’t worry, I’ll let her do the wording.)

 

So. Sarah Palin. What a trip, right? She’s like Tara Reid from a few years back, popping up every now and then just to remind us, it seemed, how much we hadn’t missed her. For some reason the PR guys behind 2016’s worst excuse for a presidential candidate and the PR guys behind purposefully firebombing poor (very) old John McCain’s doomed presidential run decided that they were both bored as hell and needed to join forces. Why? Because SNL has been boring lately, the media train that is Star Wars the Force Awakens has quietened down a little, and people are going to need some new crazy to fuel the blizzardy week. Or maybe they’ve just given up hope.

Or maybe.

They’re actually post-post-postmodern literary geniuses looking for a stage.

I’ll take any of those options for $200, Alex.

Now, there are tons of articles out there tearing the speech apart as “nonsense” and as “psychobabble” and as “giving a sendup Paula Abdul’s run on American Idol” (that last one was just the article I’m writing in my head, but wow on point, right?) But I’m not here to do that. No, I want to take some of the best quotes to highlight their literary quality. Because it takes a lot of prowess, and a lot of ignorance, to say so many words that fit together so poorly with such a big smile. Let’s begin.

“Are you ready to make America great again? We all have a part in this. We all have a responsibility. Looking around at all of you, you hardworking Iowa families. You farm families, and teachers, and teamsters, and cops, and cooks. You rockin’ rollers. And holy rollers! All of you who work so hard. You full-time moms. You with the hands that rock the cradle. You all make the world go round, and now our cause is one.”

-This is the equivalent to the band’s calling out the city that they’re in during the first song. Sarah Palin knows you’re there, you plebeian masses. And she’ll prove it to you by reciting all of the jobs she found “normal people” do on Wikipedia. And to show she’s a soaring orator like “Barry Obama,” she’ll use the literary technique of repetition, using words and sounds multiple times in a sentence to indicate a unity. In her case, the first use is generally sensical, while the second use is generally… just words, sort of strung together with phrases taken from discarded Bon Jovi lyrics. But still. Powerful. Let’s continue.

“Well, I am here because like you I know that it is now or never. I’m in it to win it because we believe in America, and we love our freedom. And if you love your freedom, thank a vet. Thank a vet, and know that the United States military deserves a commander-in-chief that our country passionately, and will never apologize for this country.”

-Here we see Palin moving into the real meat of the issue, her head’s in the game, but her heart– her heart is just in the song. These lines are, of course, the inspiration for the astoundingly poignant upcoming sequel to High School Musical 4, High School Musical 5: Fight for your Right(s), where Troy is drafted into a newly mandatory army and sent overseas where he must fight the forces of a decidedly Middle Eastern-looking evil, in order for them to release their hold on the American people’s freedom of self expression through dance. The villain is the Capitulator-in-Chief, who would rather negotiate with enemies than see his country obliterated by nuclear holocaust. The hero leads the army in a decimation by droid fire, and then sings a touching duet moment with his pregnant wife while dancing on the ashes of what was recently an elementary school. The movie ends with his triumphant return home and his encouragement to everyone in his hometown to fight for their right to dance, before he tragically dies of radiation poisoning. Recently announced: In High School Musical 6, the gang goes to Havana for Spring Break!

“He is from the private sector, not a politician, can I get a “Hallelujah!” Where, in the private sector, you actually have to balance budgets in order to prioritize, to keep the main thing, the main thing, and he knows the main thing: a president is to keep us safe economically and militarily.”

-Here we see Palin’s sophisticated use of verbal irony, assigning the character trait of fiscal responsibility to a figure with multiple bankruptcies and business failures, in order to highlight the fallibility of the superman character in the narrative.

 

There’s a lot more to the speech, but honestly I got bored of dissecting it. When listening to Palin’s speech I couldn’t help but think of this quote by Dr. Robert (Bono) from Across the Universe:

Across the Universe (2007)

Dr. Robert: We’re navigators, we’re aviators, eatin’ taters, masturbatin’ alligators, bombardiers, we got no fears, won’t shed no tears, we’re pushin’ the frontiers of transcendental perception. Wait… Is Sarah Palin tripping acid? Because that was a gonzo kookookachu moment if I’ve ever seen one. Is she beaming down on us from a higher plane of consciousness? Mhm, probably not.

But she was definitely chosen as a speaker for a reason. Because after McCain’s fail, nobody involves Sarah Palin to help boost political credibility. You may as well call Tina Fey to speak in her place, for all the country sees her as a credible political entity. What Palin is used for is the old Razzle Dazzle.

She draws a crowd. And that crowd, no matter what their political beliefs, keeps listening until the end. People always use the term “like a car crash” to describe something you can’t look away from, but I’ve never seen a car crash happen in real life. I think a better term is “like that one couple having a heated fight at a party.” You know you shouldn’t watch, and deep down you don’t really care, but man is it entertaining.

 

See, Trump doesn’t really want the nomination. No, I know, he’s certainly making a show of pretending like he does. But what Trump’s career has shown us is that Trump’s power is in the ability to command attention. Not to influence thinking, not to engage in discourse or wield power over intellectuals, but to loom large in the consciousness of the masses– to engage in the Platonic immortality of not being forgotten. The Apprentice, Trump Enterprises, the illustrious Miss Universe pageant. The strength of his personality grows with every hash-taggable situation.

Or, to put it in a quote,

“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”
Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

This campaign is a win-win for Trump. Will he get the Republican nomination? Probably not. Will he win the presidency? Nope. But in the next two years after the race, will any book he puts out, any show he stars on, any business venture or endorsement deal or reality show fuckabaloo he participates in be the top story on every news outlet in America?

You betcha.

W

5 Things That Aren’t Blogging #4

5 Things, 5 Things That Aren't Blogging

1.Short stuff.

The more I think about creating things with short-term goals, the more I find myself interested in reading things that fall on the more DIY side of publishing: blogs, webcomics, and, most recently, zines. 51mhbb52bzdl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Drawn and Quarterly is a publisher I’ve never heard of before, though in looking through their catalogue I realized that several of their books have been on my to-read list, especially First Year Healthy,which D&Q describes as:

“the story of a young woman, recently released from the hospital after an outburst, and her burgeoning relationship with an odd, perhaps criminal Turkish immigrant. In a scant forty-five pages, working with a vibrant, otherworldly palette of magentas, yellows, and grays, Michael DeForge brings to life a world whose shifting realities are as treacherous as the thin ice its narrator walks on. First Year Healthy is all it appears to be and more: a parable about mental illness, a folktale about magical cats, and a bizarre, compelling story about relationships.”
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Pictures from the D&Q website. Obviously.

That art tho. Wowza. So gorgeous.

 

2.  This quote by Ira Glass:


“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

 

3. Conventional (short film by Karen Gillan)

I actually saw this about a month ago and wrote it down to be in one of these posts, but then forgot about it. That was probably my brain trying to save me from the soul-crushing misery that is this story. For those in the dark, Karen Gillan played my very favorite companion Amy Pond on Doctor Who, and is also in a bunch of other stuff I didn’t like as much (Guardians of the Galaxy, and the truly terrible Selfie.) She wrote, directed, and stars in this short film about a horror film actress whose fame has fizzled out, and who now makes (very little) money doing appearances at conventions. It’s slow-burning and horrifying. It’s beautifully shot. It will make you think deeply and then feel really icky about the price of fame, what it’s like after your 15 minutes are up, and attention addiction. It’s great, and I’m hoping Karen Gillan makes more stuff. Also I hope I can get this film out of my head now that I’ve remembered it because wow. Nightmares.

 

4. Because I’ve been thinking about writing graphic novels recently, these “behind the scenes” looks from some of my favorite illustrators’ books are INCREDIBLE. (Also, Fran is my favity fav forever. I love her illustration style, I CAN’T WAIT for the English version of her book to be released!)

I also love this post, about the artist’s behind-the-scenes process: http://verabee.com/2011/06/process/

5. Old stuff, Made New.

Hamilton. I am Hamilton Trash. I am. (Seriously, follow those links if you don’t know the play. Think you love vintage-y presidential kitsch? Oh honey. Just you wait. JUST YOU WAIT.

But I also love this adaptation of Hamlet. And as I said on Facebook (the embodiment of “old stuff” made… well… I’m waiting for Facebook to make itself new. But yeah):

a) This is the best 3 hours I’ve spent in a while.

b) Oh. How I wish for a BBC Sherlock/Hamlet crossover.

Horatio: “Before my God, I might not this believe without the sensible and true avouch of mine own eyes.”
Sherlock: “Horatio, don’t talk out loud, you lower the IQ of the whole street.”

WATCH IT. SERIOUSLY IT’S EXCELLENT. NEED OTHER REASONS? UHHHH The 10th Doctor/Killgrave (of Jessica Jones infamy) plays Hamlet. Sir Patrick Stewart (oh, you know, only CAPTAIN MOTHEREFFING PICARD and Professor X) plays Cladius. And if you need other reasons? I don’t even know you. Exit (Hamlet, I,2,480.)

 

W

 

5 Things That Aren’t Blogging #3

5 Things, 5 Things That Aren't Blogging

Time for another 5 Things That Aren’t Blogging! I feel like I want this to be a series, but the title leaves something to be desired, no? I feel like I need something snappier like “5 Things You Won’t Want to Miss” or “She Gave Her Kidney to a Blue Whale… You’ll Never Guess What Happens Next.” Ahh, well, non-Buzzfeed writers can’t be choosers. Here’s some stuff I’ve been liking!

 

  1. Pretending I’m in the market for Pemberley

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You know that daydream “When I’m rich and famous, I’ll…” ? That’s basically on constant repeat in the back of my head. What would I even do with 300 rooms and a carriage house?

Well if you have several million dollars and a little trust, you could find out. That’s a pretty good deal, if you ask me. (And only me.)

 

2. Pondering A Series of Unfortunate Events

I can’t WAIT for the new Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix (STOP TEASING US AND RELEASE IT ALREADY, PUNKS!) I’ve actually not read the whole series, but I may be inclined to remedy that this year, and I definitely have another Daniel Handler book on my TBR.  This trailer is incredible.

3. Listening to Gold Star For Me by Dodie Clark                                      Feat. Carrie Fletcher

Love the lyrics by Dodie, and Carrie is one of my very favorite singers on Youtube, she has such a clear, pretty voice. Super cute!

 

4. Listening to Year Years Bears by Dodie Clark                                      feat Tom Rosenthal

Yep, another Dodie Clark song. This one hooked me with the opening, then kept my attention with the sheer weirdness of the lyrics. It reminds me a little of The Mountain Goats! (Then again, most things do…)

I am really loving her songs this month, and I became a Patreon patron so I could download them and carry them with me! (Also to support, obviously. But mostly free downloads. I am, at my core, a selfish person after all.) I really like the idea of Patreon, and I “support” a few other people too (booktuber Jean Menzies, director Yulin Kuang, and Ava’s Demon creator Michelle Cjakowski to be specific…)! If you want to see your favorite creators continue to create, check out Patreon to directly support them, cut out the middle man, and sometimes gain access to cool stuff!

 

5. Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories                                by Colleen Gillard, The Atlantic

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I really like The Atlantic, despite their nefarious pay-to-read structure (what dost thou mean I have reached my daily limit? Hast thou never heard of view count-based advertising? For shame!) This article about the differences between British and American children’s stories is nestled in the gooey center of my wheelhouse.

“Even well into the 19th and even 20th centuries, many believed they could be whisked away to a parallel universe. Shape shifters have long haunted the castles of clans claiming seals and bears as ancestors. ‘Gaelic culture teaches we needn’t fear the dark side,’ Bateman says. Death is neither ‘a portal to heaven nor hell, but instead a continued life on earth where spirits are released to shadow the living.’ A tear in this fabric is all it takes for a story to begin.”

Indeed. The only problem I had with this article is the tiny little inconsistencies or strange things (such as sort of implying The Giver was the result of the post-9/11 rise in dystopian, or the random Scottish boy she interviewed. Where did this boy come from? Why was he chosen to be the voice of European children? Vair odd.) Still, a good read.

 

 

So, there you go, 5 Things That Aren’t Blogging! But now this is a blog post. So I’ve been lying this whole time.

I’m like your parents, or every M. Night Shyamalan movie ever.

W