New Danielle Rollins – Burning up the YA shelves

Burning is a thrilling and suspenseful book, written by Danielle Rollins. After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is now months away from release. She’ll finally get the hell out of Brunesfield Correctional Facility. And then Jessica arrives… she’s young — only ten years old — so why did she arrive in shackles under the […]

via Burning – book review — Written Word Worlds

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Aside

Now for something completely different…

You know how sometimes in horror movies (or mob wetworks) somebody gets dissolved in a vat of acid, presumably leaving behind nothing but a puddle of goop?

Well if for some reason that’s how you wanted to leave this world, apparently your dreams really can come true!

Though I can hardly believe it, akaline hydrolysis (also known as water cremation or bio-cremation) is an alternative to traditional options. Except instead of just cremating a person in a dignified manner, water cremation will first see you or your loved one basically boiled down to bone. The liquid is flushed into the sewer system, and the bones are reduced to powder and given to the family.

It’s not new technology, having already been in a few U.S. states for some time. It’s new to me, however, making Canadian news last week in Ontario. I understand the science behind it, and it really does sound like an eco-friendly process, requiring 1/8 of the energy and creating 75% less carbon emissions vs traditional cremation.

Rationalizing the benefits, however, does nothing for my heebie-jeebies. The concept of pouring human remains into the sewer system is about the most horrifying thing I’ve ever heard. I mean, I know what kind of disgustingness already goes through municipal sewers, and I suppose in general terms liquefied body parts are probably no worse. Actually, the boiled remains are probably safer than what’s normally in the sewers because the high heat would kill disease and bacteria.

I just kind of feel like I’m taking crazy pills because at face value, pouring dead people into the city sewer just doesn’t seem like something that should be legal.

With its reduced carbon footprint, I can see this type of cremation becoming the norm someday. I still kind of hope, however, that my loved ones care about my remains enough to burn my whole body down to ash instead of letting the majority of my remains end up at the city sewage plant.

Budget

Setting the stage for a great 2016

So we’re almost 2 weeks into January, and usually by now whatever resolution I made so carefully over champagne and fireworks is starting to become a distant memory.

But not this year!

In my customary new year’s post, I decided that this was the year of monthly intentions. So that I’ll be forced to regularly assess my life and tailor my new moon-infused goals accordingly. I thought that sharing these goals here might help keep me on point, so for better or worse I’m bringing everyone else on this journey with me.

January 2016Just a few housekeeping goals this month, trying to ease myself into the new year. Most importantly:

  1. I’ve been living paycheque to paycheque for a longtime, but on paper it looks like should have over $1000 leftover after all of my bills. What’s up with that?
  2. Christmas break is so very over, but I haven’t gotten back into job search mode. The economy kind of sucks in my hometown, so I’d like to try and strike out somewhere that still has a pulse.
  3. I have so much stuff! Like, a whole house-worth of shit meant for an itty bitty apartment. This month I’m challenging myself to pick one thing, like books or clothes, to thin out.

Hopefully sharing this with everybody will force me to stick with it. I’ve really dropped the reins over the years, living like a teenager with zero accountability, but I feel like 2016 will be different. I used to be a really responsible person, so I declare that this is the year I find my way back to myself!

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Sherlock: The Abominable Bride was a disappointing mess

theabominablebrideWith season three wrapped up in 2014, the stellar BBC series Sherlock took pity on its fans Jan 1 with a shiny new Christmas special, “Sherlock: The Abominable Bride”. I never thought I’d say this of what is quite possibly my favourite TV show, but I think if I had to describe whatever it is that I watched on Friday night in a single word, I’d say it was abominable.

Now, it’s entirely possible that my expectations for this show have reached unreasonable heights. After three solid seasons, it’s no mystery to me that Sherlock currently rates 9.3/10 on IMDb, or even scores 99% freshness according to the traditionally harsh Rotten Tomatoes. What is a mystery to me, however, is how writers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat even came up with the concept for this special.

I’m blaming apple juice before bed, or maybe just a hit of acid.

*Spoilers ahead*

From the posters and trailers they’ve been flogging since last October, they’ve made it seem like fans will be getting an oldey-timey Victorian romp with a comparatively lightweight case. This was maybe true for about an hour, after which we were offered a weird, disjointed trip through Sherlock’s “mind palace” while he was on a cocktail of drugs, from the comfort of the plane we left him in at the end of series 3.

Seriously, Mycroft sticks him on the plane at the end of “His Last Vow” (S3.E3), and then takes him out of it again at the end of “The Abominable Bride”. The whole 90-minute episode progressed us about a whole fifteen “real” minutes.

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Emilia Ricoletti – dailymail.co.uk

Meanwhile, Sherlock’s hallucinations have us looking at the Victorian case of the “abominable bride”, concerning the public suicide-by-pistol of Emilia Ricoletti and subsequent ghostly killing spree targeting the chauvinist husbands and lovers of London who mistreat their women. Sherlock staunchly refuses to believe in the existence of ghosts, and must discover how a dead woman can possibly be returning from the grave to carry out her bloody justice months after the fact.

With this plot, the show writers drew an obvious parallel to the supposed return of Jim Moriarty at the end of “His Last Vow” (S3.E3). If you’ll remember, everybody saw Moriarty blow his own head off at the end of “The Reichenbach Fall” (S2.E3), just before Sherlock took a dive. In that detail, Sherlock is absolutely, positively certain: Jim Moriarty is dead. So if he’s dead, how can he be back?

In “The Abominable Bride”, Sherlock reveals the truth of Emilia’s “return”: a secret society of bloodthirsty suffragettes in purple hoods who cut down London’s men under the guise of the ghostly bride. Emilia Ricoletti is decidedly not dishing out vengeance from the grave  because she’s stone-cold dead; but her sisters-at-arms perpetuate her image with their victims, thereby gaining the freedom and protection in anonymity to carry out their feminist agenda.

(I didn’t know there was a feminist-supremacy cult I could join! Thankfully a man took the time to explain feminism to a room full of suffragettes, and gave their bloodthirsty, KKK-esque lynchings of chauvinist men the aura of noble rebellion.)

If the special was a way of addressing the Moriarty issue, does that mean there’s a secret society of psychopaths in modern-day London, ready to wreak havoc while disguised as someone who should be dead? Sounds plausible, I guess, but we won’t find out for sure until 2017!

Which was surely the incentive for this whole contrived, disjointed, disappointing special episode in the first place. Making fans wait three years until the new series was too much, but putting together a special just for the sake of creating new content was maybe not the answer if “The Abominable Bride” is the end result.

I’d much rather have just revisited series 1-3 for the next eighteen months, but now I’m judging the writers for making me watch 90 minutes of Sherlock in the throes of a drug overdose giving feminists in KKK hoods a free pass and having weird, fanfic-inspiring tête-à-têtes with Moriarty. Not better!

 

If you want to learn more, check out these links:

The Telegraph – Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, 9 Things We Learned (1/2/16)

Screen Rant – Sherlock: The Abominable Bride Needs a History Lesson (1/2/16)

The Independent – Sherlock ‘mansplaining feminism to feminists dressed in KKK hoods’ in The Abominable Bride has annoyed viewers (1/3/16)

Den of Geek! – Sherlock: The Abominable Bride review (1/3/16)

The Verge – In Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, Holmes is the worst kind of superhero (1/4/16)

 

 

 

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Goodbye, 2015. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but 2015 has been an all-around disappointment. The best part of my year was probably my trip to Italy back in June, but any residual high I might still have been enjoying was definitely quashed when I lost my dog this month. Add to that the perpetual frustration of pretty much every aspect of my life in general, and I’m definitely ready to see the end of this year-long shit show.

when-my-husband-asks-me-where-all-the-money-wentTraditionally, I like to end the year by reviewing my New Years resolutions to see how well I did. As I can’t tell you at this moment what even a single one of them was, I’m guessing this year’s answer is “not good”. Is this a sign that I should consider making just one resolution every new year so I can more easily keep it? Probably.

It might also be a sign that promising something in a champagne-fueled haze in early January, and expecting to remember it past the first week, is just stupid.

20151219_174041What I’ve actually started doing for the back-half of this year is setting “new moon intentions” every month. While I don’t particularly walk the witchy path, there’s something I really like about the idea of infusing my mini goals with the new moon energies of change and new beginnings.

Framing my intentions this way means that I’m regularly assessing my current needs, making me more mindful of the now (and not trying to measure myself against whatever seemed important then.) I’ve found this method incredibly effective for holding myself to personal challenges, like making new business connections or working on my professional website.

This new year, I resolve to continue with that positive progress by setting monthly new moon intentions and taking control of myself and my life.

Sending everyone best wishes for your own happy new year! I hope that the year of the monkey = the year of amazing!

xoxoxo

No matter what, that J-Law can't seem to get herself out of trouble.

Joy (2015)

Incredibly excited to see this film!

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

So, did Jennifer Lawrence invent feminism, too?

Ever since she was a young girl, Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence) knew that she was always destined to do something great for the world. While it may have all started in her room where she would experiment with creating little inventions here and there, after awhile, real life started to get in the way and it’s where she found it harder and harder to let her true inspiration come out and make a difference. For one, she got married, had two kids, and then got divorced from Tony (Édgar Ramírez). Then, she moved back into her mom (Virginia Madsen)’s place, where her grand-mother (Diane Ladd) also lives, meaning that the current house situation is incredibly cramped. And now, if matters weren’t already bad, her unpredictable, but always trouble-making father (Robert De Niro), has moved back in and wants to take over the whole family…

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Things to consider before dungeoning and dragoning

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking Dungeons & Dragons is what socially awkward virgins with bad skin get together to play in dank parental basements. I know it’s what you’re thinking because it’s what I thought six months ago before a friend invited me to join her group. As a newly minted D&D enthusiast, I’m thrilled to tell you that it’s actually what awesome geeks with great senses of humor get together to play over delicious brunch.

Full disclosure: this game is not for everyone. When you’re talking about immersing yourself in a fictional world, and roleplaying a completely implausible character (warlock, half-elf, etc.), there are a few things you really need to consider:

  1. You need to find a group that lets you be yourself. Mine is delightfully laid back and accepting, which means that none of us feels intimidated or self-conscious to play our characters however we feel they should be played. It means the difference between me just saying that my tempest cleric is a drunken lech, and actually hitting on all of my friends in my best baritone because I know they’ll play along.
  2. Dungeons_and_Dragons_game

    Game in progress – Wikipedia

    You need to enjoy tabletop/pen and paper games. While there are certainly digital ways to play D&D, the classic version doesn’t allow you to roleplay from the safety of your computer keyboard. You have to do it in front of actual people, armed only with your character sheet, a pencil, and a set of game dice. Mine are sparkly and pink!

  3. You need to channel your childhood. Remember that kid who loved playing dress-up*, and putting on stupid plays in the living room because pretending to be someone else for a while was just so damn fun? She still lives inside you somewhere, buried underneath your grown-up worries and work stress. Let her out to play! (*Princess gown and your mom’s old heels not required. I mean, unless that’s how you roll.)
  4. You need to get a good feel for your character. It’s a fun challenge to roleplay a character who is totally different from yourself, like my drunken cleric. It means you have to really think about both your in-game actions and reactions to make sure they make sense for who you’re trying to be in the moment. I find it helpful to find some inspiring artwork and write a little backstory so that I can better visualize who they are and why they might do or not do a thing. Even distilling a character’s background down to a single sentence can be a big help. If you’re stuck for ideas, the Who the fuck is my #DND character? backstory generator might be a good place to start.

  5. You need to be patient. Both the fight mechanics, and the effort my group puts into designing dungeons and quest lines, means that I don’t think we’ve ever played for less than three hours. Thus, D&D-brunch was born. Not only that, the character levels are structured by Wizards of the Coast to require increasing amounts of experience points to progress to the next level. This means that my drunken cleric moved from level 1 to 2 in a single session, but has now been stuck at level 3 for over three. But if I can get him to 17 (sometime this decade) he gets to fly and rain down thundery death! So that’s something to look forward to.

All told, I’d say joining my friend’s D&D group was one of my better decisions this year. Because I took a chance on something outside of my comfort zone, I’ve made some great new friends who’ve made me laugh through some difficult moments this year. And nothing helps you forget your troubles like roleplaying a boozy playboy and hitting on everyone at the table…

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Farewell to a faithful friend

My dearest Mac,

It’s been a week now since I’ve heard the click of your nails on the kitchen floor, or felt your wet nose at my elbow as I’ve sat at my desk. A week since the last time I rubbed your velvet-soft ears and told you what a good boy you were. I’ve had a week to get used to the idea that your quiet, gentle presence is truly gone from this house, but I still find myself looking for you in your favourite sleeping places. It’s felt empty here without you.

It was amazing watching you shake off a little more of the abuse from your past every day you were with us, and learning to love and trust us. You were part of this family for such a short time, but your big heart and endearing personality made it seem like we’d been together all along. You became my faithful companion through some of the most difficult years of my life. I hope it gave you comfort that I was there with you at the most difficult moment of yours.

Now that your ashes are home I feel a little less raw, but any time I’ve tried to talk to you like I used to it’s only reminded me that I’ll never again see you tilt your head trying to pick out words you know. I think we’ll keep some of your ashes so that part of you will always be with us; the rest we’ll spread at some of your favourite walking places so that you can take in the sights and smells you always loved.

I hope you know how much you meant to us, and how much you’re missed. Farewell, old friend.

Pictures To Bo Sorted 132Knowing

If I had known that on that day our time was near the end
I would have done things differently, my forever friend.
I would have stayed right next to you deep into the night
but I thought I’d see you in the early morning light.

And so I said “Good night” to you as I walked in through the door
never thinking of the time when I’d see you no more.
But if I had known that on that day our time was at the end
I would have done things so differently, my forever friend.

– Sally Evans (written for Shoo-Fly)

 

 

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Airport adventures

It’s T-minus 60 minutes to my flight departure for Rome! I’ve got a layover in Minneapolis for a few hours, and another in Amsterdam tomorrow morning for only an hour, which should be interesting. I had no trouble navigating the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris when I visited, but I also speak French… I’ll worry about that later, I guess. All I can think about right now is how barbaric it was to travel before phones and free wifi.

Unbidden, but so helpfully, Google is tracking all of my connecting flights and displaying the weather in my destinations. It even sent me a message when I was already en route to the airport telling me I should be on the road! Breakfast in my one hand, food in my mouth, I just called Rogers and arranged a travel data package so that I can use things like TripAdvisor when I land in Italy. I can text my friend when I land so that I can find her in the Vatican grounds, and then we can call up our itinerary on Dropbox.

With various Google services and phone apps working so hard for us in the background, it seems almost impossible that we collectively managed to get anywhere without them. But we did. I sure didn’t have any of these fun services on my old flip phone that I brought to France a few years ago. In reality, we’ve just given ourselves the green light to be super lazy. And I’m as guilty as anyone else. Why should I have to exert myself in any way to find out about Italian weather or good restaurants in Rome when Google will just tell me? I mean, really.

Anyway, this is my internal monologue as I wait for my flight to board. They’re about to call my section, though, so I’ll catch y’all at my next break. Ciao!