Reopen for Business – Favorite Books of 2017

Hello, friends. It’s been tumultuous couple of years. I started working full time for the first time two and half years ago, and that’s lead me down a path of shoving things to the side when I didn’t have time for them. The problem with that though, is that shoving away things I like doing kind of sucks. So I’m going to open this blog again (it was private for a good while) and see what else could happen here. Maybe I type into the void. Maybe I don’t. We’ll see. But let’s talk about what I like to talk about best: books.

Twenty-eighteen has started out slow in the book area. I’ve been so busy at my current job, that even reading, one of the few hobbies I take pride in keeping up with, has fallen by the wayside. I’ve finished maybe 6 books this year, and I’m woefully behind on my annual GoodReads challenge. So to get myself back in the mindset, here are my favorite books from 2017.

I read a lot of comic books in 2017, and I get the feeling I might do the same this year, just to help me catch up. And honestly, I’m pretty happy I did, because 2017 was a great year for comics! I also didn’t read as much fiction as I would have liked, but I did read a lot of genre fiction, so get ready to hear about some speculative fiction and gay historical romance!

stories of your lifeStories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

This is one of those short story collections you wonder why you never heard of until you chance across it. In my case, it was the in the book section of Target, which is not actually a place I do much shopping for books. I’ve say 95% of books I’ve bought from a Target have ended being disappointing to me, but I was drawn to this one because it had the poster for the movie “Arrival” on the cover. Everyone knows that movie by now – Amy Adams and that guy who plays Hawkeye meet in the wake of an “alien invasion” and work together to figure out what these new lifeforms want. There’s mystery, cool-looking aliens, linguistics, and Forest Whitaker with a Boston accent. “Stories of Your Life” is the spec fic “Arrival” was based on, and it’s even more impressive in short story form. While the story and movie vary a lot, the source material is still rife with themes of language, time, and philosophy. Other stories that stood out to me were “Hell is the Absence of God,” a meditation on how humans would act if Christianity was proven correct, and “Liking What You See: A Documentary,” a story about children who are given the ability to not see – and thus not “value” – beauty in other people.

EAH

Ever After High: The Class of Classics by Leigh Dragoon and Jessica Sharen

From older entries on the blog, you may know I’m a big fan of the Ever After High franchise, which sadly petered out in the last couple of years. Stores have stopped carrying the dolls in late 2017/early 2018, the Netflix show and webisodes stopped production in 2016, and while it looks like there are a few dolls and books set for release in the coming year, nothing much is really being done with it otherwise. And all this is part of the reason why “The Class of Classics” is so great. It’s a wonderful goodbye to the franchise that was so severely unloved in it’s time. I don’t want to get into the whole backstory of why it ultimately flopped, but it breaks my heart as someone who was so invested in it. Anyway, the graphic novel is wonderful background on the actual “Class of Classics,” the graduating class containing the most classic fairy tale characters since the current set. Their parents’ stories give a lot of insight and context to current characters, and provide cute and charming tales that are told with love and care. The artist and writer could not have done this franchise more justice. I’m sad we’ll probably never see another one of these, but I’m glad I have this one to remember the series fondly.

jessica jones Jessica Jones: Uncaged! by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos

When it came out in the early 2000s, “Alias” was my gateway into comics. The follow up series, “Jessica Jones,” which uses the logo from the Netflix series, serves as more or less direct sequel, as we find Jessica a few years older – and perhaps a bit wiser? – but still unfortunately stuck in the same old self-destructive routine. Or so we think. After the 2016 Netflix series came out and caused such a splash, I was ecstatic to see Bendis and Gaydos working on a new series. And with Bendis’ departure from Marvel, this may be the last we see of her for a while – at least in classic “Alias” style. I haven’t made it a secret that I was somewhat disappointed with the Netflix show. While I think it told a good story and was very important for the development of female superhero media, it didn’t feel like Jessica Jones to me. It was like you could have slapped any name on the main character and the story wouldn’t have changed much. Everything that made the comic so interesting and original, to this day, seemed forgotten or deliberately left out of the show. But again, that’s a rant for another time. It’s good to see Jessica back in the noir comics from whence she came, and I’m glad we have a little more of her story from the original creative team before she inevitably fades back into comic book obscurity.

think of englandThink of England by K.J. Charles

Twenty-seventeen was the year I devoured K.J. Charles’ oeuvre, and I do not regret it one bit. I was never much interested in romance until a friend recommended me this book, and I realized not all romance has to be so painfully heterosexual. “Think of England” is probably one of Charles’ best books, and for me, it’s up there with her “Charm of Magpies” and “Society of Gentlemen” series. The story has a standard “extended party in the country with some murder” Regency plots, but it’s relationship between the two main characters is really want makes it stand out. Charles has a real knack for writing characters in historical settings that feel more real and modern than most contemporary romance novels do. And honestly, I was just so floored by the relationship the two main characters build over the novel. Many writers, whether their genre is romance or not, can rarely write a relationship this sexy, exciting, real.

kill or be killedKill or Be Killed Volume One by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Honestly, I’m not a vigilante hero kind of person. I like comic books, even superhero ones, but they’ve become so grimdark since Christopher Nolan’s Batman series exploded on the media landscape that I honestly just skip them out of habit. And when my boyfriend picked up volume one of “Kill or Be Killed” on our trip to LA in 2017 (RIP, Atomic Comics), I did the same. But he kept telling me I might actually like this one, and while it took some convincing, I gave it a try. (He really should have mentioned Ed Brubaker was the writer, but I digress.) “Kill or Be Killed” is part of a weirdly specific genre of fiction where the main character thinks some otherworldly force is compelling them to kill. And that’s exactly what this book is, but for once it didn’t make me groan at the romanticism of mental illness or the poor handling of women in the main character’s life. The book is a good deconstruction of the vigilante genre, as well as a solid story all on it’s own, revolving around the very real nature of unchecked mental illness, living in a surveillance society, and how much family messes you up. If you’re bored with comics and looking for something different, “Kill or Be Killed” is definitely worth a try.

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Favorite Books of 2015

I surpassed my goal of reading 40 books in 2015 by reading 56 instead. I may have overshot a little. Here were some of the ones I liked best.

10149142The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
I went into this unsure of how I’d feel about it, considering it was about a dysfunction family and written by a man. What I thought might be an entire book dedicated to manpain turned out to be a funny, endearing narrative told from the perspective of a woman, the older daughter of the Fang family. It follows the Fang children when, after brushes with bad luck, they both end up back in their eccentric, artist parent’s home. They worry they’ll be dragged back into the chaos that was their childhoods. A great story for anyone who worries they’ll never escape being the child of their parents, which is something I know a lot about.
GoodReads

27111324The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ & Amal by E.K. Weaver
Finally. FINALLY this is available all together in one wonderfully, giant package. I’ve been following E.K. Weaver’s characters, TJ and Amal, since she was posting character designs and stitched together long-form comics on, uh, less than reputable art gallery sites. And that was around 2008? 2009? So I’m a little biased. The web comic can be read here, but if you can get your hands on the omnibus, I recommend you do. So much wonderful story, but also concept art, design notes, extras – all in one beautifully bound edition. The story: After coming out to his parents, Amal leaves Berkeley on a cross country trip to see be at his sister’s college graduation. A man he meets at a bar, TJ, agrees to pay for the trip, no questions asked, so long as he gets him to the other side of the United States, and like, right now.
GoodReads

13497818The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
Does this book need an introduction? The life of a British idyll is disrupted when one of their parish council members dies unexpectedly. “Disrupted” might be the wrong world. “Goes totally fucking insane” might be better. I loved this book, and I was crushed to see how much people disliked it overall. The characters and their inner lives were fascinating, and the struggle between the rich and poor of the town was heart-wrenching and hit hard. As someone who grew up poor, this book meant a lot to me. And knowing Rowling lived in poverty before she struck it rich with Harry Potter, I’m sure she’s drawn on a lot of real life experience, and that makes it all the more engaging. If you tried reading the book and thought she was “trying too hard” with the crassness in the first part of the book, or that she was trying to distance herself from the boy who lived, go back and try again. Forget it is by the beloved author of Harry Potter and read it as a stand alone book. You may be surprised what you find.
GoodReads

18630542Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
I loved this graphic novel, because I’ve been saying for years that I wanted a version of Scott Pilgrim from Ramona’s perspective. And while I may never get that, I did get Seconds, which is pretty close. Katie runs a successful restaurant, but she’s still not content. She wants to open another, but things are not going well. She gets a second chance when she finds a tiny notebook and a basket of mushrooms – all she has to do is eat a mushroom and write what she wants to happen in the notebook, and she gets to go back and change the past! But of course nothing is that simple. As a slacker fuck-up in her twenties, I appreciate that O’Malley’s mastery for creating slacker fuck-up characters extends beyond Scott. My only complaint was that Katie should have ended up with Hazel, but that might just be me.
GoodReads

12349My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
Have I mentioned I love well-written female protagonists? Because I do. When Jane Tagaki gets a job making a documentary television series for a Japanese audience to sell American meat products, she uncovers not only misogyny, bigotry, and racism, but an insidious industry cover-up that penetrates deep into her biggest fears and (perceived) failures. Not only does Ozeki create wonderful characters in her protagonists, but the families she has Jane and her crew interview are so wonderfully real. I read “A Tale for the Time Being” a couple years ago, and I look forward to reading Ozeki’s third novel, “All Over Creation,” as soon as I can.
GoodReads

23093359The Wicked and The Divine: Volume 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie
WHO LOVES WELL-WRITTEN FEMALE PROTAGONISTS? THIS GIRL. Anyway. I read Gillen & McKelvie’s run on one of my all-time favorite super teams, The Young Avengers, and when I heard they were doing an original story for Image, I jumped on that so fast my head spun. And I was not wrong. Every nine years, a pantheon of gods are reborn into living mortals, and within two years, they are all dead. It’s depressing as hell and gives wonderful commentary on the state of (mainly comic book) fandom. They go to a convention for gods, for Christ’s sake. Pun very intended. Sadly, I haven’t been able to keep up with the releases, but rest assured I will collect the graphic novels as they come out.
GoodReads

22318578.jpgThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo and I have a lot in common. I mean, she’s a well-respected, certified domestic goddess and I’m not. But! We both hate clutter and think hanging on to things you never use is unnecessary and should be remedied as soon as possible. I appreciate that Kondo encourages people to purge things from their life, but not to think of those things as useless or garbage. Nicely kept possessions can be sent on to second hand stores, and worn items can be thanked for the joy they brought you and laid to rest in the garbage. You would be surprised how freeing thanking and saying goodbye to a possession you no longer have use for is. Needless to say, she even encourages you to pass her book along to someone else, which I did. Also needless to say, I’m pumped for the sequel. In-depth sorting and organizing tips? Please, go on.
GoodReads

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The Year of Mounting Frustrations

A few days ago, I was tagged by a friend on Tumblr to post six selfies I’d taken in the past year. It’s one of those memes that’s meant to boost self-esteem, and then you tag more people to do it, their self-esteem gets boosted, etc. Of course not everyone wants to post selfies, or even *takes* selfies, but it’s nice nonetheless.

For whatever reason, I couldn’t think of many pictures I had taken of myself this year, so I scrolled through my phone to find some. I got my phone in early February, so most of the year is on it. As I scrolled, I recalled the year and the good times I’d recorded — and also the bad, hiding conspicuously between the good times on my phone, made all the more prominent by the fact that they aren’t there. You know what I mean: I remembered my year, but my phone only remembers the good times. To me, they’re glaringly not there.

As I scrolled, it occurred to me why I found 2015 so hard: it was a year of mounting frustration. One of the first excursions of the new year ended up being a disaster. Between February and April, two local friends moved far enough away that I rarely see them now. A couple months later, I got a raise and hour increase at work, which only last about six months, until I was let go. Much of my summer was taken up by visitors or travel, and while I had good times, everything was crammed together: work, entertain visiting friend, work, bf’s friend visits, work, fly to other coast to visit home for a week, work. I didn’t get a real break at all. Work got increasingly annoying, because even though my hours increased, my boss got busier, so I was often working by myself and felt isolated — but I was making good money finally, and didn’t want to quit. So naturally  I was then let go when financial problems occurred. And now, finally, in the last three months of the year, I’m looking for new work that I still haven’t found.

Maybe that sounds exciting for some people, but this was too many ups and downs for me. And I didn’t even mention things like my boyfriend being sick/hurting his back, or times when I was sick, car problems, and financial problems of my own. I just felt like I couldn’t catch a break this year. Everything was in flux and it was terrible trying to keep myself from flying apart, being pulled in all sorts of directions, my insides always churning, making me feel terrible.

Next year, I’m taking it easy. I’m finding a job I can settle into, something that promises stability and perhaps even a desk to call my own. I don’t think I’ll go many places or take many trips that aren’t very short. I feel like I’ve lived too long without proper footholds and now I’m in desperate need of them. I’m too frustrated, not being able to stand on solid ground.

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Female Goth Mangaka Blog Carnival: Growing Up on Junko Mizuno

This post is for The Beautiful World‘s Female Goth Mangaka Blog Carnival. Click through to read and participate!

It started with a pop-up.

You might not believe it, or if you’re young enough, understand it. Pop-ups are a practically archaic form of internet advertising: on certain sites, ads used to pop up in separate windows, instead of nestling into new tabs or the edge of the screen. But it’s true: I discovered Junko Mizuno via a pop-up ad.

Exhibit A: The Beginning

Exhibit A: The Beginning

I don’t remember the site I was on. I think it was a personal site, which are also kind of archaic in the days of social media platforms. Back in the day (circa 2002), people had to build their own websites if they wanted to talk about themselves. Nowadays we have multiple platforms that let us talk about ourselves in various ways (hi, WordPress!), but back then, we made our own, and to keep them free, we had to have ads.

The image in the pop-up was a girl in a red sailor uniform with a silhouetted face, her eyes glowing the same color as her skirt, and her pigtails flared upward, ending in fiery plumes. She looked evil as hell — and I loved it.

The pop-up linked to Viz Media’s (nee Communications) web site, and was advertising the beginning of the release of Junko Mizuno’s fairytale trilogy – Cinderalla, Princess Mermaid, and Hansel & Gretel. The girl on the banner was a character from Hansel & Gretel, and I think only Cinderalla was out at the time, but I was excited by the unusual manga art and vowed to buy it as soon as I could get back to Borders. (Yet another relic of the past.) I was a high school freshman at the time, so getting anywhere on my own was a trial.

Thankfully, my parents were used to me begging for trips to the bookstore to buy manga, so on my next one, I found Cinderalla and took her home. I was nervous due to the shrink wrap around the book – denoting adult content – but thankfully my dad didn’t look too hard at it, and the cashier didn’t question a grown man buying a shrink-wrapped book.

I got the book home and devoured it, pored and obsessed over it. I tried out the drawing style and read it again and again. I Googled Junko constantly to learn as much as I could, and kept checking Viz’s site for news of new releases. I debated heartily about what to do with the stickers in the back. Some of them were racy and/or goth-looking and I didn’t want to put them on anything that could be seen by my very Catholic school or my sort of Catholic mom. So I snuck it in where I could and put only a tiny sticker of Junko’s signature skull and cross-bones rabbit on the back of my student ID.

As mentioned, I was a high school freshman then and quickly finding out how crappy it was to be a teenager. My teachers were mean, my peers were assholes, and the self-loathing was settling in. I retreated into my own world to keep myself from losing my mind, and getting to see even a small daily reminder that the entire world wasn’t all uniform-wearing robots was unbelievably helpful. For the next four years, every student ID I got was christened with a bunny skull and crossbones sticker. It was a sort of talisman, and it helped keep me sane.

Junko-Full1_2-Laptop-sig

Exhibit B: Sanity

Remember those personal sites I mentioned? Another web site relic of internets past was the collective, a bunch of sites often hosted on a single domain, dedicated to things like fictional characters, real life celebrities, obscure movies, etc. They were hand-coded by fans, and really only served to help spread information and promote the things they liked. It was a labor of love if there ever was one. And some of the most popular versions of those sites were fanlistings, which strove to bring together all the different fans of a certain thing. Like a rudimentary Facebook fan page, fanlistings asked people to submit their names, emails, and web sites to be listed – pretty much what the name suggests. And of course, for years, I owned one for Junko Mizuno.

I talk about fanlistings as if they don’t exist anymore, but they do. Just click the link above and you’ll be shown tons. But I haven’t used them properly in years, in the same way I haven’t made hand-coded websites since college. But for a good six years (2002-2008, RIP) when I was still making them, I kept up the “approved” Junko Mizuno fanlisting, which I first called “Ideas from Hell” and then “Hellish.” I often had people contact me via the fanlisting, asking to speak to or book Junko, and I had to explain (sometimes very slowly) I did not represent her. The “fan” part was clearly lost on them. (Junko’s then-official site did link to my fanlisting for a little while though, which was kind of amazing!)

I closed my websites in 2009, and the fanlisting along with it. Very few people were keeping up their hand-coded sites by then, social media was becoming prevalent, and Tumblr’s star was just starting to rise. I joined right before I moved to Philadelphia to finish up college and not long after created Fuck Yeah Junko Mizuno, because I couldn’t stay away. Maybe I didn’t run her fanlisting anymore, but I still wanted to keep updated with her work, and what better way then running a multipurpose microblog that provided art and news?

Exhibit C: "Something Blue"

Exhibit C: “Something Blue”

(And if the name sounds weird, sorry, calling a fan Tumblr “fuck yeah [blank]” was pretty popular around the end of the 2000s. I just haven’t come up with a better name for it in the meantime. If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears.)

In 2012, as detailed in previous entries on this blog, I won a contest with the jewelry designer Morphik and received a free blue leather cuff bracelet with Junko’s piece “Wedding” on the inset. I plan to wear this during my wedding as my “something blue.” A few months later, I got to meet Junko herself at the Kid Robot store in San Francisco, where she signed the cuff and I told her I planned to wear it when I got married. According to the Morphik designer, she as “blown away” to hear that:

This is really special for me as the owner and designer of this bracelet. Thank you for honoring morphik by being selected as a item for such a special day. Junko told me you got to meet her in SF. She was really blown away that you pick her work to be in your wedding.
a comment left on my wedding Pinterest board

When I met her, Junko recognized me as the person who won the cuff and we spoke briefly about the “essay” I wrote to win it. The theme of the contest was keeping art in your everyday life, and I wrote about how putting her bunny skull and crossbones stickers on my student IDs kept me sane throughout high school. She told me she did the same sort of thing when she was in school and hating it, and that looking at the work of her favorite artists made it bearable, too. I was touched to have something like that in common with her. I might have been out of high school for six years at the time, but I like to think learning that made my high school self feel retroactively better.

This entry is already pretty long, and I haven’t even talked about why I like Junko Mizuno’s art so much. But suffice to say I do. Maybe that’s a post for another time…

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Another Meme, This Time About Books

I can’t resist a good meme. Especially when it’s about reading.

Literary Pursuits of a Young Lady by Harlamoff Alexej.

Literary Pursuits of a Young Lady by Harlamoff Alexej.

A. Author You’ve Read The Most Books From
Erm, probably Neil Gaiman. Though I’m not sure I want to admit to that any longer. Though if we’re counting comics, there are lots of mangaka I’ve read a lot more of.

B. Best Sequel Ever
Book series don’t usually feel like separate novels to me, but I have to say all the sequels in the Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey are great. They just get better and better as they go!

C. Currently Reading
Oh boy. I’m reading “My Gringo Cabron” by Jeannette Gau Stone and “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’ve been halfway through “World War Z” since last summer because I loaned it out and just recently got it back. I just picked up “Horns” by Joe Hill and “The School for Good and Evil” by Soman Chainani from the library. I am always reading something.

D. Drink of Choice While Reading
Arizona iced tea.

E. E-Reader or Physical Books
I’m happy with both, though I admit I’m better with physical books. Sometimes I forget I’m reading things on my iPad.

F. Fictional Character You Would Have Dated In High School
Harry fucking Potter, man. I would have dated the shit out of him in high school. Now? Not so much.

G. Glad You Gave This Book A Chance
“Ruby Red” by Kerstin Gier. The back cover has pretty much the worst write up ever, but the writing inside is amazing and hysterical! Such a pity it’s got a terrible jacket blurb, because I’ll bet it’s made a lot of people put it down.

Reading Girl by Gustav Adolph Henning.

Reading Girl by Gustav Adolph Henning.

H. Hidden Gem Book
See above. The entire trilogy is amazing, honestly.

I. Important Moments of Your Reading Life
I can’t think of many of them, but my recent decision to break up with Neil Gaiman was a pretty good one. It was just time. He no longer loves me like he used to.

J. Just Finished
Anne Jamison’s “Fic.” An awesome exploration of fanfic and fandom. Mostly Western fandom, but still pretty interesting. I can’t wait until someone starts writing academically about anime and manga fandom. I honestly worry it might have to be me.

K. Kinds of Books You Won’t Read
I can’t read a lot of really popular stuff. 99.9% of time it’s terrible. I read “The da Vinci Code” once. That was a mistake I won’t make again.

L. Longest Book You’ve Read
Maybe “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell”? Or “1Q84”. I forget which is longer.

M. Major Book Hangover Because Of
It took me NINE WEEKS to read Grant Morrison’s “Super Gods”. I don’t know why. It’s a ridiculous fucking book. I don’t know if that’s what this means by “book hangover,” but it feels appropriate.

N. Number of Bookcases You Own
Five. Two of them are short, only two rows, and one is small and mostly holds CDs and Erik’s cookbooks. The fourth is maybe a little shorter than me and holds mostly video games, DVDs, and some manga. The fifth is the tallest, and holds books, a printer, and some of Erik’s stuff.

O. One Book That You Have Read Multiple Times
Ugh, I’m not a re-reader. It’s really hard for me to reread books. That said, probably the “Alice” books.

P. Preferred Place to Read
On the couch, but I’ll read anywhere.

Q. Quote From A Book That Inspires You/Gives You Feels
“We have no idea, now, of who or what the inhabitants of our future might be. In that sense, we have no future. Not in the sense that our grandparents had a future, or thought they did. Fully imagined cultural futures were the luxury of another day, one in which ‘now’ was of some greater duration. For us, of course, things can change so abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents’ have insufficient ‘now’ to stand on. We have no future because our present is too volatile. … We have only risk management. The spinning of the given moment’s scenarios. Pattern recognition.” – William Gibson, “Pattern Recognition”

R. Reading Regret
So much time and money spent on Neil Gaiman, I s2g.

S. Series You Started and Need to Finish
The Lunar Chronicles by Marrisa Meyer! The last book isn’t out yet though, sob. Also the Monster High “Ghoulfriends” series. The library only has books one, two and four, ugh.

Morning Reading by Zelio Andrezzo.

Morning Reading by Zelio Andrezzo.

T. Three Of Your All-Time Favorite Books
Ooh, so hard. I forfeit, because this is constantly changing.

U. Unapologetic Fangirl For
A young adult novel series with well written female characters.

W. Worst Bookish Habit
Having too many! I’m working on it though. And I mean it this time!

V. Very Excited For This Release More Than Any Other
Ooh, the new Ever After High novel! They have a lot of upcoming books I’m excited for. The series about Lizzie and Duchess is going to be amazinggg.

X. Marks The Spot (Start On Your Bookshelf And Count to the 27th Book)
“The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin. A fantastic children’s puzzle mystery.

Y. Your Latest Book Purchase
Purchase? I don’t actually buy books much, if you can believe it. I usually go to the book exchange, get given books, or borrow from the library or friends/family. I think the last book I *bought* was Ruth Ozeki’s “A Tale for the Time Being” last summer. Which was great, by the way.

Z. ZZZ-Snatcher (last book that kept you up WAY late)
Again, Anne Jamison’s “Fic”. SO GOOD, GO READ IT.

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Blog ABCs: P through Z – The End!

Fact: updating daily is impossible. Let’s finish out this nonsense.

P is for Pink

Pink is the color my bedroom was painted when I was a wee thing. I whine and moaned and told my parents that I want a red room, but they weren’t interested. I was getting pink walls (and subsequently, a pink bed, since we had enough paint left over) whether I liked it or not.

Fast forward a good 20 years and it’s now one of my favorite colors. As a kid, I knew my favorite color. And it certainly wasn’t pink. As an adult, I hate the question; how could you make me choose?! But pink is definitely up there.

Exhibit A: A semi-bad hair day from college.

Q is for Quiet

I’m not gonna lie, I’m just trying to finish this thing. But damn do I love the quiet. Now hush and let me be.

R is for Reading

I wish I could say I’ve loved reading all of my life, and though I did spend a lot of my parents’ money on books as a child, I almost never read them. They just kind of sat on the shelf and sometimes I flipped through them, but I didn’t really read them. I don’t know what exactly I thought they were good for,  but eh. I’ve learned.

Now, reading is, in fact, my jam. I try to read at least 50 books a year, and though I’m not always successful, it’s not for lack of material. I have a stack of at least ten borrowed books on my desk. I have an iPad with five apps dedicated to ebooks. I abuse my library card. The local book exchange can’t get rid of me. I don’t want to get up and count the number of bookshelves I own, but it’s definitely more than a one bedroom apartment should have.

S is for Sailor Moon

from bishoujosenshisailormoon.com

from bishoujosenshisailormoon.com

Wow, this is kind of a big subject. Let’s start with history.

On a summer’s day in my youth, I was hanging out with my cousin in park near her home in New Jersey, when she asked me an innocuous question “Do you like Japanimation?”

I had no idea what she was talking about, but not for long. She introduced me to Toonami, an after school programming block Cartoon Network showed on weekdays in the 90s and 2000s, which was populated by shows like Dragon Ball Z, various Gundam series, and yes, Sailor Moon. I recognized SM as a show I had sometimes caught very early in the morning years before when waiting to go to school, and happily began rewatching the original series and R season. In the early 2000s, Cartoon Network bought the rights to the S and Supers seasons, and though I knew all about them from doing lots of “research” online, I watched them all anyway, immediately dropping everything when I got home from school to turn on the TV.

To say Sailor Moon was a big part of my childhood would be incorrect. Sailor Moon is a big part of my LIFE. It was one of the first times I had ever seen a show, cartoon or live action, that was almost completely populated by girls and women. Books did it sometimes, but no one really liked those – and as I mentioned, I wasn’t great at keeping up with my reading as kid. But there was Sailor Moon on Toonami along side other cool action shows, with it’s femininity front and center.

And now, 15 years later, Sailor Moon Crystal is being simulcast all over the world, and it and the original series will soon be released on DVD with a new dub for an entirely new generation of girls to find and fall in love with. I’m elated for them.

And for  me too, of course. ;)

T is for Tattoos, planned

Hi, I’m Michelle and I don’t have any tattoos. But I want them.

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Above is the first tattoo I plan to get. It’s the signature of mangaka and fine artist Junko Mizuno, whom I talked about a bit in the last post. I don’t want the entire picture above, just the bunny skull and crossbones, perhaps on the inside of my forearm. I’d love if Junko herself could sign it and I could then get that tattooed on as well, but I’d like to focus on just getting the tattoo first and seeing if I want to make any alterations later.

eye tattoo

The next one has a bit of an interesting story. When I was very young, maybe in kindergarten or first grade, I found the above drawing in my backyard. It had blown in on the wind and stuck in the grass. At first I thought it was amazing, and I was surprised by the two numbers written on the paper, since I was learning something similar in math class at the time. (That would be, having two numbers and circling which one was the larger or smaller number. Very difficult stuff when you’re six.)

And after 20 years, I still think it’s pretty awesome. I may redraw it to make it look cleaner, but I think I’d still like this somewhere on my body. I’m not sure where yet, but I’ll figure it out.

I’ve always wondered if this was someone’s original design and who they were, and if it’s not original, what it might be from. Watch, it’s just from a CD cover or something. But even if it is, it’s pretty damn cool.

Those two are so far my only planned tattoos, but who knows what else I might stumble across that I want to ink permanently on my body?

U is for Undecided

I really don’t know what to put here. I want to finish this meme. Here, have an appropriate image:

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V is for The Victorian Era

I’m not one to romanticize the past, but if I ever had too, I think I’d probably go for the Victorian Era. Everyone was much kinkier than you’d think and they all had amazing clothing. I mean, there was also a lot of disease and other horrible stuff, but hey. Pretty dresses!

W is for Wonderland

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You know what else happened during the Victorian Era? My most favorite books ever, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass (And What Alice Found There) were published.

Anyone who knows me knows I love these books, and the many pieces of media, et al. based on them. I own a number of editions of both books, books of academic essays about them, a few movie versions, an Alice costume and plenty of memorabilia. And of course American McGee’s games. Slap something Wonderland-themed on your product and I will at least gaze longingly at it. I also know a shit-ton of trivia. Ask me anything. I probably know the answer.

X is for XD

‘XD’ is my emoticon of choice. I will use it in any and all situations, guaranteed. Yes, probably even ones it would be inappropriate for. Sorry, not sorry.

Y is for YA

I think this kind of speaks for itself. I’ve been reading a lot of Young Adult fiction for the past couple years. Feel free to read some of my reviews. Next on my list is Soman Chainani’s “The School of Good and Evil.”

Z is for Zat’s All Folks!

Yeah, I’m done. So very done.

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ABCD… JKLMNO…

Wuh-what do you mean it’s not June anymore?! I swear it was just… ten minutes ago, tops!

J is for Junko Mizuno

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Junko Mizuno is a well-known illustrator and mangaka, and I do not suggest Googling her if you’re prudish or squeamish. The above picture is one of her more Safe For Work pieces, and even that is a kappa eating sushi – and if you know anything about kappa, it’s entirely possible whatever’s in those roles is pretty gross. She known for taking cute and girly imagery and turning it creepy and gruesome. Though everything is very stylized and nothing is particularly horrific, her art still often depicts things like naked women, monsters, chopped up body parts, organs and all sorts of unwholesomeness. While depictions of nudity and gore would usually make me assume the artist wanted to be shocking or controversial, with Mizuno’s art, I feel she’s actually depicting her thoughts and feelings. Instead of seeing a painting of a sexy woman with blood on her, I see a woman creating artwork featuring women looking gruesome and cute at the same time. It reads so much more as empowering than titillating.

K is for Kris

And now for something completely different.

Kris is my little brother. We don’t talk a lot, because he’s a college student and lives on the opposite coast, but my little brother remains very important to me. I never felt like some children do when they have younger siblings, that the new child is their “baby,” but I feel I had a big part in raising him, and even if we don’t talk and interact a lot, he remains a big part of me.

L is for ______

I have been racking my brain for something to put in the ‘L’ spot, and I think I’ve finally realized it’s not going to happen. I even originally forgot the letter L when I wrote out a paper list of ideas for this entry. I give up. L is too hard.

M is for Michelle

Hi, that’s me. I’m Michelle. I’m important to me. Or I try to be.

N is for Netflix

Ah, I know, isn’t this list supposed to be of stuff near and dear to my heart, or something like that? Well, I just started using Netflix a little over a month ago and I already really like it. And I totally didn’t just put it on here because I couldn’t think of anything to write about when it came to the letter “N.” Probably.

I guess I’m so into it, not only because it something new to me, but because I haven’t had actual television/cable in years. I’ve mostly kept up with TV through web sites like Hulu which only show you recent episodes if you don’t pay for the backlog. And while I do have to pay for Netflix, I feel like it’s actually worth it. I have unlimited access to their archive, no commercials to deal with, access to original content like Orange is the New Black, and I’m able to catch up on the back log of shows I’ve always wanted to watch while also keeping up with the newer stuff via Hulu.

And for someone like me who enjoys watching lots of terrible horror movies whenever I want, it’s amazing.

So yeah, maybe not as important as my dog or my hometown, but I still really like it. Get back to me in a few months and we’ll see how much I still like it after the honeymoon period ends.

O is for Olive

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Oh my God, let me tell you about my dog.

Olive is my two year old Chihuahua/Jack Russel Terrier mix, and she is my goddamn baby. She’s also the biggest brat in the universe, scratches, bites, growls, and stabs me with her knobby joints, but I will always be her mommy.

My boyfriend and I got her a year and a half ago in mid-2012 when I started my then-second job. I had been feeling lonely all by myself in our new apartment and, missing the two dogs I’d had as company when we were living with his parents, Erik and I came to the decision that we could get a dog once I got another job. I did, we met Olive through some connections with a local animal rescue, and we brought her home the same day we met.

She was very tough to take care of at first, because being both Chihuahua and Jack Russel meant she was extremely nervous but also extremely aggressive. She still has bad days where her inner jerkbutt takes over, but for the most part she’s mellowed out and has become our little butt. She still growsl/barks when she wants water and tries to scratch my face to wake me up in the morning, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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