For those of you who are off work, sleeping in, barbequing and otherwise celebrating today – Happy Memorial Day! I enjoy a good barbeque is much as the next person (and probably more than some), but it’s always a bit weird to me to try and celebrate this holiday in a thoughtful manner. On the one hand – a day off work (for some people) and time to sleep in! Yay! On the other hand … it is about remembering our dead. (And if you’re one of the many Americans who is still a bit hazy about which dead those are, don’t be ashamed; educate yourself.) And that doesn’t seem like a cause for celebration so much as for a wake. Or maybe a vigil. Still, this is how we do it. We don’t have anyone in my immediate extended family to remember today, but I know a lot of people do, and our thanks can never be enough.
For the rest of the world – Happy Monday. Here's a roundup of some of the cool things I found on the internet this weekend!
This, Troll’s-Eye View, is the fun little book that I just finished, initially picked up because it’s edited by Datlow & Windling, fairy godmothers of the fantasy genre as I read it. The idea behind this anthology is fairy tales retold with a twist: so, in a story contributed by Jane Yolen, the Three Billy Goats Gruff is really about the Troll, and involves a flash of rogue lightning. In another, Hansel and Gretel are barely present in the retelling of their own story; instead we hear all about the ‘witch’ and her childhood, what happened to her in her formative years that drove her deep into the forest, the reasons why her house is made of candy, what on earth makes her want to eat a child. I love a good retelling, especially when it weaves in new story that informs and illuminates the old. Troll’s-Eye View is a quick read; I recommend it.
And now, on my next book: are you one of those people who may do well-to-decent in a class (or a subject, or any kind of activity really) right up until there’s a big test? Because I am. I consider myself a good student, diligent in most ways, but I’ve always planned my effort in classes to allow for the fact that, no matter how well-prepared I am, I am going to freeze up and panic at some point during the final. I don’t like it, but I’ve come to live with it.
Well, I’m hoping that Choke, by Sian Beilock, will give me some new information on that point.
Every once in awhile, I like to dabble in pop psychology (Blink by Malcolm Gladwell was my last one), and this one promises to be at least as interesting. Also, it promises to teach me how to keep my brain from betraying me at critical moments, which, assuming it works, will be an awesome thing to know. I'll let you know how it goes.
For those of you that care about such things: Snow White and the Huntsman comes out in the U.S. later this week! Regardless of how you feel about the story or the actors (I personally think Nicole Kidman is one of the scariest looking ladies alive, perfect for an evil queen, second only perhaps to Tilda Swinton), I am really jazzed about seeing these handmade costumes by Colleen Atwood. The evil queen alone has at least 20 costumes, and the materials used include Indian chain mail, Thai beetle wings, and Chinese sequins. One of the pieces is a $30,000 coat of feathers. (Is your mind boggled yet?) I’d really like a coffee table book or something, just to see everything up close.
Speaking of new movies – a friend of mine just wrote a review, or rather an argument, about The Avengers. You know, that new superhero movie that everybody and their little brother is going crazy for it (myself included)? Well, he didn’t like it. At all. This, I admit, was a bit shocking to me at first, but I will concede that he makes some valid points.
Oh, and here are some very exciting movie trailers: THIS and THIS. Also THIS. The first one is the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter trailer, and I have not been so excited about a movie in a loooong time. I love Abe Lincoln. He is my presidential sweetheart, bless his craggy face. I will see this movie at least a dozen times, whether it’s good or not. He has an axe with a shotgun inside it. What could possibly go wrong?
The second one is the trailer for the Great Gatsby movie coming out later this year. Isn’t it gorgeous? Again, don’t know if it’s going to be good cinematically (but I mean, judging by the credentials on the production and artistic teams, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be), but those COSTUMES. AGH. Absolutely beautiful.
Third, Rock of Ages. Honestly…Catherine Zeta-Jones sings and dances (which I fell in love with her for after CHICAGO, by the way – didn’t we all?), and…some other stuff happens, involving big hair, iconic rock songs, and a cute pop-culture coming-of-age formula. Whatever. Singing! Dancing!
Some excellent advice compiled from the ever-badass Justine Musk. Strong womanhood, for those who may not have known, doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with business suits, red stilettos, or scaring the menfolk (intentionally, anyway).
Are you a fan of alt rock? How about punk/dark cabaret (yes, I looked it up, apparently this is a real thing)? How about super-awesome Kickstarter projects? How about Amanda F. Palmer???
As you may have gathered, I support all these things, and I think you should too. Even if you decide you don’t want to be a part of the Kickstarter project, though (but seriously, why wouldn’t you – she’s giving out some great work), you should at least check out her blog. This lady is an amazing artist and businesswoman. She’s got a brand that is unforgettably, unmistakably her own, clearly works like a dog (or seven) to keep her work at top quality, AND she treats her fans like family. Also, as I mentioned a couple posts ago, she’s Neil Gaiman’s better half. Like I said: she’s amazing.
Also, I just started using a website called Freecycle, mostly because my boyfriend needs some furniture, preferably in exchange for little to no money. It’s definitely lagging a bit technologically (you have to join a Yahoo group, for Pete’s sake), and they send way too much email if you don’t adjust your settings carefully, but the concept is pretty cool and it’s already started to pay off! We are picking up a futon mattress for absolutely free sometime in the next couple of days. Basically, you join the site that’s for your location (U.S. only; sorry international friends) and you get to view and contribute to listings of things people are both offering and looking for, zero money or barter involved, just straight up if-you-come-get-it, it’s-yours. Most of what I’ve seen so far is furniture, gardening supplies, reams of paper, stacks of books and boxes upon boxes of old computers, the kinds of things people dig out of long-forgotten closets at estate sales, you know. It’s a bit like Craigslist, so obviously browse with caution, but still, if you’re broke and/or just-post-college like Yours Truly, it’s a great resource.
On a personal note, my family’s washer is broken and won’t be getting fixed until Friday at the soonest, so I'm spending a large part of Memorial Day at boyfriend’s house, doing my laundry and watching his ridiculous siblings play board games. Oh, and researching more jobs. I’ve gotten a couple of “thanks for your application, we’ll be in touch!” replies from companies, but no bites for August yet. Will keep on truckin’.
Also? I leave for New York in eleven days. ELEVEN DAYS, GUYS. The countdown continues apace.
Thanks for reading! If you’ve got any cool books, videos or websites to recommend, please feel free to share!