City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Another title from the “just caught my attention” collection. This book caught my eye last year when I attended my second Mama Gena’s weekend in the Ziegfeld Ballroom. That site isn’t actually the building where the Follies were performed, but it still had a potent resonance, walking in the spiritual footprints of the Ziegfeld Girls while doing Mama G’s program, and then learning about this novel about 1940s New York showgirls all at the same time.

Full disclosure: I’ve never read anything by Gilbert before. I know Eat, Pray, Love was a huge phenomenon, and that Gilbert followed it up with another memoir (or two or three) as her life took additional twists and turns. It wasn’t ever a definitive decision I made against reading her stuff, I just never got around to it. (So many books, so little time…)

Still, knowing what little I know about the whole Eat, Pray, Love thing, I was truly puzzled about what type of “New York showgirl” story this particular author might want to tell. Would it completely eschew her introspective memoir thing to go all the way into glitz and escapism? Would it tell an anachronistic story of female sexual liberation and expression? What exactly would I find behind this pink feathered cover?*

A closeup of the book cover for City of Girls, showing the title in front of a picture of pink feathers.

The answer? A little bit of all of the above.

Continue reading “City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert”

Toasting my ancestors in Whamhalla

It’s December 1st,* which means it’s time for that beloved holiday survival game:

Whamageddon

A black and white photo of the pop duo Wham! in all their mid-80s glory.

The rules are simple:

  1. The objective is to go as long as possible without hearing WHAM’s Christmas classic, “Last Christmas.”
  2. The game starts on December 1st, and ends at midnight on December 24th.
  3. Only the original version applies. Enjoy the ?#!$&%! out of remixes and covers.
  4. You’re out as soon as you recognize the song.

Now, you might remember me mentioning that I have a lot of CDs. (Like: a LOT.) As such, I think that no one will be especially surprised to hear that I also have a healthy number of holiday CDs.

So I usually go into each annual round of Whamageddon with a decent advantage, because I’m going to spend a lot of my time listening to my own collection of holiday music. Which means I can consciously program around that track for as long as I have other CDs to listen to.**

The main Whamageddon risks to me are when I’m out in the world where every store, restaurant and gas station has their own holiday playlist going.

Which is why I thought I had it sewn up for 2020.

Continue reading “Toasting my ancestors in Whamhalla”

Surge on surge on surge

I was gonna write an entirely different post tonight. I finished another “just for fun” read over the weekend, and was gonna do that one last fluffy book review before coming back to more serious topics.

But then I saw this tweet from NBC news:

So I guess it’s back to seriousness sooner rather than later.

Although, in all honestly, I’m not sure what more I have to say aside from.

What the fuck, America?

A picture of the red Angry Bird wearing a medical mask.
Continue reading “Surge on surge on surge”

Beauty Mark by Carole Boston Weatherford

Unsurprisingly for me with a few days off, I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading. This latest book steps outside of my two main categories for 2020* to be part of the “books that randomly caught my eye” category that is always in play for me, year in and year out.

I stumbled across this book in a newsletter (weekly? monthly?) about new titles sent by a local indy bookstore. It may seem hyberbole to say I “stumbled across” something in a newsletter that I’m actively subscribed to, but I stand by my sense of fortunate chance here. Frankly, y’all, I hardly ever open those emails, so let’s just ponder the odds of me just randomly opening this middle-of-the-pandemic issue to see something so patently designed to catch my eye: a YA verse novel about Marilyn Monroe.

A close-up of Marilyn Monroe's face in full glamour mode, but with the black & white tonailty overlaid with bright, bold, unrealistic colors (blue lips, rainbow hair, pitch black and red diagonal neck)

I prefer to think of it as a small, blessed piece of good fortune.

The title stayed on my mind until things with COVID settled down to the point where books could once again travel on interlibrary loan**, whereupon I put in a request for it, and then happily picked it up.

Continue reading “Beauty Mark by Carole Boston Weatherford”

Considering who counts

Mr. Mezzo and I have a monthly Datebox subscription. I gave it to him as a Christmas present last year, and we enjoyed it enough that we re-upped once the initial subscription term ended.

For the record, this was not one of those passive-aggressive “you aren’t bringing enough romance into my life” kinds of gifts. Between my workaholism and my mental health, I have been the less-romantic member of this partnership for a long damn time. Instead, the gift was offered in the spirit of “I know I’m often too busy or distracted or depressed for romance, but this is my commitment to you to regularly carve out time together“—and I’m pretty confident that was the spirit in which said gift was also received.

I’m sharing all of this because one of the activities in a recentish Datebox involved rolling dice to randomly get questions to answer so we could learn new and quirky things about each other. One of the questions was “If you could have one wish, what would it be?”

I don’t actually remember how I answered that question, but I do remember that we then organically and nerdily moved from there into the question “If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?”

A close-up of two Itty Bitty dolls: Batgirl and Wonder Woman.

That, I remember my answer for:

Universal Empathy Bomb

Continue reading “Considering who counts”

The way things are now

This post feels a bit like a cross between recent meditations on living in these COVID times and on calling things by their real names.

Or maybe, I should just call it: I may be a sad sack about my solo Solstice, but I am NOT going to be a selfish, solipsistic, self-destructive shithead.

(That kind of alliteration has to be kind of impressive, right?)

A 1970s era pattern made of titled S'es in orange, hot pink and purple.

Basically, this is me riffing further to expound on a comment from yesterday’s post. Someone’s initial response to my sadness from last night was to go see my family anyhow—cos life is short and nothing is guaranteed, anyways.

And I know that advice is coming from a place of individual compassion for me and my pain. But it is not counsel I can take in good conscience. ‘Cos I only have the tiniest bit of epidemiological understanding, but I know enough to know the importance of public health and to know how important it is to listen to public health and medical experts when you’re in the middle of a global pandemic.

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The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

Contextual set-up: aside from Shakespeare Project the Second, my 2020 reading has been deeply preoccupied with sociopolitical analysis—both anti-racist texts, and exposes of the Cheeto POTUS’s administration. This book doesn’t fit clearly in either of those sub-categories, but it’s definitely part of the same reading family that has been so front-and-center for me since I emerged from my first bout of “pandemic brain” and started actively reading again.

An screencap from MezzoSherri's Libby shelf, showing the thumbnail for Kamala Harris's book The Truths We Hold.
Thank you, Libby!

It wasn’t till I started writing this post that I realized The Truths We Hold is a campaign book.* But of course it is. Released about a week or two before Harris launched her Presidential campaign in January 2019, and with the flag-waving subtitle An American Journey, it has all the hallmarks of the genre.

And no shame on that. This sort of book has a long and respectable lineage, from JFK’s Profiles in Courage to Obama’s Audacity of Hope to Warren’s This Fight is Our Fight.** Good on Harris for writing her own, and I hope she continues to earn healthy royalty checks throughout the remainder of her long career in public service.

Still, I think I’m glad I read the memoir when I did rather than during the heat of the primaries.

Continue reading “The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris”

Bell, book and candle

There’s a meme that’s been going around FB lately:

A toy company makes an action figure of you. What two accessories does it come with?

I haven’t shared it yet on my own feed—I kinda feel as if I should be able to answer this question for myself before asking it of anyone else.* I have, however, been enjoying the threads on different friends’ pages, and even helped do some hypothetical problem-solving for someone who had listed “Bell, book and candle” as their accessories and hit against the arbitrary two items rule:

The bell is suspended from a ribbon of fabric also being used as a bookmark. #ProblemSolved

We pagan types gotta help each other out.

Silhouette of a witch against a multicolored sky with bats and a crescent moon. The image is surrounded by this slogan: "I just took a DNA test, turns out I'm 100% that witch."
As always: WWLD?
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When your only tool is a hammer

I’m still not exactly sure what I want to say about Oldboy.

Let’s start at the beginning, I suppose. Some good long time ago, I hung up the 100 Movies Bucket List in my office and began very slowly working my way through the titles that I hadn’t yet seen.

And I mean VERY slowly. ‘Cos after watching and posting about Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, that was it.

And that was it because I kept looking at the next little square on my poster.

6 squares on the 100 Movies Busket List poster. 3 are all the way scratched off: Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, The Deer Hunter. 1 is halfway scratched off: Snatch. 2 are untouched: Old Boy and Leon: The Professional. The square for Old Boy is marked with a post-it flag.

It’s no great mystery why I was dragging my feet here. I’d heard the film was ultraviolent—which it is—and I’d heard it was disturbing—which it also is, though not in the way I was expecting.

It’s just the kind of film that is very much not my bag, and I couldn’t summon the gumption to watch it. Especially once 2020 became…. well, 2020.

And I know I could have skipped over this box and gone onto to something I was more in the mood for. Except I didn’t. Not 100% sure why. I think in part I was imagining that I’d keep skipping this one, again and again, until it was the absolute last film to scratch off my poster, and I didn’t want that.

So, once our library system opened up enough that we can get interlibrary loans again (woot!), I asked for the DVD to be shipped to me from Groton. And now I can say I’ve checked off this box on my poster.

Spoilers right below the jump!

Continue reading “When your only tool is a hammer”

Black girl magic, holiday style

It’s the start of the weekend chez Mezzo. Not only do I have another 3-day weekend ahead, but I’m taking most of Thanksgiving week off, too.* AND Mr. Mezzo has tomorrow off so he can power through some more of his NaNoWriMo project.

So, even though we’ve been keeping a good habit of getting the TV off between 7:30 and 8 PM most nights, to support our separate writing habits—me here on JALC and him on his NaNo book—tonight we made an exception and kept watching later into the night so we could enjoy a movie on our “Friday night.”

A picture of 5 main characters from Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Story: Jeronicus, Journey, Buddy, Gustafson, and Grandma. The words "Netflix Official Trailer" are superimposed over the image.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Four thumbs up: would recommend.

Continue reading “Black girl magic, holiday style”