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toastykitten

October 2017

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  • Was anyone else really unimpressed by Eminem's freestyle? And also extremely unimpressed with all the white pundits who were all like, "Yes, I am down with rap now that Eminem rapped something I agree with!" My thoughts were - he's done a lot better in decades past, and the performance was a bit, low-energy, you know?
  • I like how all this Harvey Weinstein is shutting shit down for him fast and that some Democrats are returning their donations or donating the money elsewhere. But, let's be honest, if all politicians vetted their donors for scumbags they'd have none left.
  • Looks like Weinstein's trying to battle his way back via TMZ. I have to credit LaineyGossip as a source for some serious media analysis, and a great ability to read between the lines, especially when they were covering the legal battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.
  • This HuffPost story about how NBC quashed the story is a must-read.
  • The New MidLife Crisis - this is so depressing.
Oct. 7th, 2017 10:36 pm

recently

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  • I started watching Rick and Morty with my husband. I just started from the last two or three episodes, and it's funny, but I kind of don't get it at the same time?
  • Started watching Star Trek: Discovery, really liking it so far. I have really vague ideas of the references to other shows, as I am not a Trekkie and still refer to one of the old Trek movies as "that one with the whale" but I'm enjoying it so far. I wish Michelle Yeoh was in more episodes though.
  • So Hulu has starting carrying all these old shows like Golden Girls and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper and Dinosaurs. I watched the first episodes of Dinosaurs and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper, and just had this moment like, "Oh my god they used to make shows about people with normal jobs." Like teachers! "Tree pushers!" It was a little disorienting.
  • I finished What Happened by Hillary Clinton and sort of feel like somebody should turn it into a Greek tragedy. Like, all of it was painful, but some parts more so than others. Also, unguarded Hillary Clinton is pretty funny and sarcastic. I'm still sorting out what I think of it - but overall it was pretty good, and thoroughly unsurprising.
  • So after reading the NYT takedown of Harvey Weinstein, and his non-apology apology and the removal of this app called Dirty Chinese Restaurant, I have concluded that it is now fashionable to declare yourself a fan of Jay-Z if you can't even credibly claim to have black friends. This does not negate the fact that Jay-Z was a misogynistic douche for the better part of two decades, at least, and making it up to Beyonce with his song does not make it up to everyone else who was a victim of his assholishness. So if they want to claim some woke influence, they need to look harder. But that would require work.
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I'm really enjoying my NY Mag subscription.


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I really liked this Ursula LeGuin short story, currently available for free as a PDF. I've really been having a lot of trouble concentrating and just focusing, and reading LeGuin reminded me of why I love her work so much. It's not just about the sci-fi/fantasy ideas, which are fun/fine in and of themselves, but also how beautifully she uses and chooses her words. Contemporary sci-fi often seems a little on the overly dry, descriptive, and plain side.

I think this part was my favorite, for what it evokes:


The toes, compressed by a lifetime of cheap shoes, were al-
most square where they touched each other, and bulged out
above in corns; the nails were discolored and shapeless. Be-
tween the knob-like anklebones ran fine, dry wrinkles. The
brief little plain at the base of the toes had kept its delicacy, but
the skin was the color of mud, and knotted veins crossed the
instep. Disgusting. Sad, depressing. Mean. Pitiful. She tried on
all the words, and they all fit, like hideous little hats. Hideous:
yes, that one too. To look at oneself and find it hideous, what
a job!
Sep. 21st, 2017 09:31 pm

i can't

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I just tried watching Mark Zuckerberg's apology video, and sorry, man, I can't. He looks creepy and totally insincere, and like someone who's taken a lot of classes in how to act like a leader, complete with authoritative hand gestures and he's still a complete failure at it.
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  • Donald Trump Is the First White President, excerpt from Ta-Nehisi Coates' latest book, We Were Eight Years In Power - argues that race trumped everything for his supporters/voters. Whenever I read critiques of Coates, there's always people arguing that he never has solutions. Like, since when does a writer have to be prescriptive? He's a writer describing a problem that few people want to acknowledge, or at least the people who should be confronting it head-on, are too cowardly to. It's not his job to solve racism and white supremacy.
  • What the Rich Won't Tell You, NYT article by Rachel Sherman. Striking how the privileged, whether it's via class/race and/or both, live in denial in order to cope with the large inequalities in their daily lives. That denialism is going to kill all of us.
  • The Drone King, newly discovered short story by Kurt Vonnegut
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So my kid asked me why we celebrate Labor Day. I asked her what she knew about it and she mentioned her teacher saying something to her about child labor. I sort of just pulled some stuff out about how people fought for the right to have weekends and holidays, and for kids not to work, but today was the first time I actually thought about it, and did some research about it.

Anyway, I started wondering if there were any kids' books I could get/borrow from the library, and came across this list: Children's books about labor and organizing.

More:

Tablet mag recs: focus on Jewish contributions to the labor movement.

Mighty Girl recs: 20 books about women and the labor movement.

Since let's be honest, it's not going to be on her curriculum.

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Sep. 1st, 2017 09:16 pm

amazon

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I made a spreadsheet comparing prices across grocery stores to Whole Foods' new prices.

Conclusion: still cheaper to shop at your regular grocery store, with the exception of Pavilions/Vons. No clue why their prices are so damn high.

Overall:
  1. Whole Foods prices, cheaper, is still probably going to be out of reach for most people. Add to it that they do not have the regular items that your average family gets like brand name cereals, sodas, snacks, etc., unless Amazon decides to change their character entirely, people are going to stick to what they know.
  2. Sprouts is most comparable to Whole Foods in terms of quality, and they almost always have sales on meat and produce you're going to get anyway. They often have 72 hour sales, and you can get produce on average for less than a $1 a pound. Their meat is also pretty comparable to Whole Foods, and usually cheaper.
  3. Krogers/Ralph's is cheaper overall; their meat's usually decent, but their produce selection sucks. And it's kind of a crapshoot whether or not the produce will be good on the day you get it.
  4. I tried to compare Super King/99 Ranch, but since they are ethnically specific markets, they don't have all the generic American stuff. Kind of hard to find an Asian equivalent to kale, and I was just reminded of how much more variety there is in the ethnic markets. I need to make it out to them more. Note: it's been years, but I hated the meat/seafood aisle at Super King. None of it was fresh. Though maybe that's changed - they now have a modern website and you can apparently use Instacart with them.
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  • I really like Lena Headey's interior design tastes. And also like her practicality for choosing to live in the Valley in a reasonably-sized house for her family.
  • These teen girls protesting in their quinceañera dresses are far braver than I ever could be.
  • Fan Ho, Hong Kong's poet with a camera.
  • Dr. Jen Gunter's takedown of GOOP has been a lot of fun. Also for fun I checked Dr. Gundry's license and noticed that under the self-reported board certification, he lists "American Board of Urology - Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery", which is weird. The board of Urology does not certify for female pelvic medicine; that would be under the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology. His board certification(s) should be for the specialties he practices in, which would be primarily cardiology and thoracic surgery. So, that's just strange. Wonder why he doesn't list his actual boards, and if he does have them (board certification is not a requirement to be a doctor, it's just a lot of hospitals/insurances/med groups prefer that their doctors maintain board certification to stay current on knowledge), if they're current. 
  • So my teenage horror reading might be turned into a TV show: Fox is developing R.L. Stine's Fear Street with a female director, Leigh Janiak. Someone please please please pick up Christopher Pike.
  • New Guillermo Del Toro movie:


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Day 05 – A book that makes you happy

Man...this is difficult. Lots of books make me happy. Let's do Matilda, since I just re-read that with my daughter. I love smart little girls who outwit nasty adults and save the day.

Day 06 – A book that makes you sad

All those books where a dog needs to be put down because they got rabies. Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, etc.
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Almost forgot.

Day 3 - Favorite series

Anne of Green Gables. I've read every single book to pieces, and practically know them all by heart now.

Day 4 - Favorite book of your favorite series

As I get older I appreciate Rilla of Ingleside more and more. It's the most realistic one, I guess, and the only one (aside from Anne's House of Dreams) where the characters have real problems to deal with.
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My new job gives me lots of time to listen to podcasts, so I listened to the Chapo Trap House episode on the critique of Coates' book. (For what it's worth, I'd only vaguely heard of this podcast before, and only started reading up on them today. They appear to have some beef with Sady Doyle? Sarah Jeong? I dunno.)

Anyway, the critique makes the following points:

1. Coates uses the word "bodies" too much and it's dehumanizing.
2. Coates focuses too much on reparations, which doesn't do anything for most black people, and is also an easy out for white people to handwring and not do anything about the actual problems of racism.
3. Not enough class critique.
4. Basically it's overly pessimistic and he doesn't value the Civil Rights movement enough.

I think I'm going to have to re-read the book, since I don't really remember getting those impressions. I do agree on the overuse of "bodies", though - that was a bit much.

I'm not comfortable with Stephens "it all comes down to class" viewpoint.
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If you read on a tablet, these are pretty good deals:

Ruhlman's Twenty, Michael Ruhlman $2.99
Zodiac, Neal Stephenson $1.99
Blasphemy, Sherman Alexie $1.99
Complete Works of L.M. Montgomery $1.99

https://play.google.com/store/books/collection/top_deals
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I just finished reading Matilda to my daughter. She's just at that age where she can start paying attention to chapter books, and Matilda's the first one I picked because it's one of my favorites, and also it's about a really smart little girl. My daughter loved the different pranks Matilda played on her parents, and her mouth dropped open when she found out Ms. Honey's aunt was really Ms. Trunchbull.

I love Roald Dahl in general, even though I know a lot of it is pretty problematic with the racism and everything. I forgot how much of it is really about how terrible adults are, and that's probably why so many kids relate to it, plus it's pretty outrageous in a cartoony way. Not to mention all the British-isms; all those witty phrases really passed me by when I was a kid. I just wanted the "eye power"!
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I found this 30 Day Meme tumblr, so I'm going to pull some out to do some to just get myself writing something. No guarantees of actually finishing everything.

First one I'm doing is the book one: 30 days of books.

Day 01 – Best book you read last year

Oh man...did I even read anything last year? 
It looks like I read Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between The World And Me. It was beautiful and painful, and I should probably re-read it to see if there's anything new to glean from it, especially after reading so many terrible critiques of it, ranging from "it's classist" to "it's too pessimistic". I think there was a decent one I found on Metafilter, (but I can't find it right now, and it's not the Jacobin one that rants about how he should support Bernie Sanders (newsflash: he already said he was voting for him)). Maybe it was another Jacobin one. Anyway, I think the critique laid out some of Coates' blind spots pretty clearly, and says basically that he doesn't give enough credit to the politics of organization, and says that he focuses too much on individual injustices at the expense of collective action. I think. I think there was a podcast where they discussed it further? Maybe Chapo Trap House? 

OH YES I FOUND IT.

The Birthmark of Damnation: Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Black Body.

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It's really hard to talk about The Handmaiden without spoilers, but I'll try. It's based off of Sarah Waters' Fingersmith, which was set in Victorian England's criminal underground. There's plot twists galore, some of it a little too off for me to buy it, and the second half kind of falters. But it was a pretty engaging book overall from what I remember of it. I actually think I like the movie a lot better, even though it's now set in Korea around the turn of the century, and there's a bunch of stuff that passes me by like the Korean/Japanese identity/hatred issues. It's also way weirder than the book. The actresses who play the protagonists are awesome, the scenery is stunning, and it's very unsentimental. It's currently free on Amazon Prime if you have it.


The Last Tycoon is available on Hulu, and it's in Mandarin. (The trailer is in Cantonese.) So...this is what I think happened. Wong Jing, the director, watched Inglorious Basterds. And he thought, this is great, but it needs something more. Like...a triad boss with a heart of gold and a tragic, doomed love story. Like LoveHKFilms asks, are you really a mobster if you eschew drugs, gambling, and prostitution in your business operations? Features Chow Yun Fat and Sammo Hung, being way better actors than this movie actually is. It's also soooo sappy, and each battle set piece is so epically drawn out.

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So there are a lot of deep important books I wanted to read but the news has been so depressing lately that I'd rather not. Anyway, once I read that they cast Michelle Yeoh and Constance Wu for Crazy Rich Asians, I was like, dammit now I have to read this. If you like light, breezy, fast-paced chatty chicklit about the rich Asian elite diaspora that make the American rich elite look like rank amateurs when it comes to opulence and overspending, you'll like this book. There's so much name-dropping and so much designer worship but also so many arguments about where to get the best Singaporean food that it'll make you really hungry. There doesn't seem to be that much in LA, but here's some to check out.

Anyway, at its core, the book is about Rachel Chu and Nick Young, who are both professors seeking tenure in the US. Nick invites Rachel to Singapore to meet his family, without informing her that he's pretty ridiculously rich and is dumb enough that he thinks his mom and grandma would think that he could just marry whoever he wants without any social consequences. It's a fish out of water story for Rachel, and we're basically seeing the Singapore elite world through her eyes. There's also a parallel story with Astrid, Nick's cousin, who is super-rich on her own and has the most expensive taste for couture, but somehow managed to settle down with a guy who insists on earning his own living instead of taking her father's money and gifts.

For the most part the book is rich people porn. Also Singapore porn, as the country and its food are lovingly detailed to the hilt.

So, it's also been a long time since I read actual Asian American lit, and in that light, this book was refreshing in more than a few ways. The most important being that it's not another goddamn narrative about how miserable it is to grow up Asian American and how they're trying to figure out their identity. Maybe it's because these characters are older, but they're comfortable in their skin, even as they have a bit of unease about their own identity (Rachel hasn't dated Asian men in a while for specific reasons until Nick), and it's just part of their life and not all-consuming. Kevin Kwan talks in this interview about he "began writing the book, because I wanted to introduce the West to the concept of the real Asia and contemporary Asia, where people are empowered and their lives don’t revolve around the West at all."

Apparently it's been 26 years since Joy Luck Club. I wonder how I would feel re-reading it.

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  1. When I am feeling less lazy/irate I will go into a lot of detail about how much I loathe Bill Maher and hate that so many liberals claim him. Nah, people, he's just a douchebag. Also, Ice Cube may have accepted his apology, but I don't think anyone else has to, as he's demonstrated in the same fucking episode that he doesn't have a clue and still wants to say it just because it'd be really cool to do it but he doesn't want to lose his show over it. 
  2. Also, double standards much? So Bill Maher gets to keep his show but CNN cuts Reza Aslan loose for "incivility"? For basically using a four-letter-word.
  3. This also pisses me off because on the Real Time episode where Bill Maher makes his stupid joke, it was to Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who just wrote a book about "The Vanishing American Adult", which, from the reviews is another "KIDS THESE DAYS JUST HAVE NO CHARACTER BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW THE VALUE OF HARD WORK" book, neglecting to mention 1. he's a Republican whose Republican policies have fucked all the kids over, and 2. most of those kids didn't vote for Donald Trump. In the transcript, Bill Maher just totally agrees with Ben Sasse, and bitches about adults celebrating Halloween in costumes. O. The. Horror. Bill Maher also dates women half his age, so maybe he doesn't have total contempt for our generation. That's the true incivility of our times. We have people literally getting murdered for existing, and all these assholes can do is bitch about how we're not nice enough to them.

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I'm going to have to start reading some actual books at some point. Anyway, I skim a lot of stuff while working at my new place. But all of these are pretty interesting reads:
I'm following a few stories, and it's making me go hmmmm....




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