Monday, November 4, 2019

October Favorites: Wajas, Gachas, and Guts

Will is in the next room right now freaking out that she apparently read ONLY 26 books during the 31 days of October. Such laziness, lol! Just between us, I think the main contender for her valuable free time has been this very dry, very strange genetics and commerce web game that she's become increasingly obsessed with this year. Here's a sort of walk-through of it and yes, it REALLY is that dry and strange to play. Will let me play it for a minute, but then she stood over my shoulder and wouldn't let me do any of the stuff I wanted to do and when she did let me breed two of the wolf thingies that I wanted to breed, she didn't even let me see their puppies before she'd fed them some aging pear thing she'd scored and then traded most of them away!

Syd has a similar obsession with a similarly dry, strange digital avatar design app, and she spends most of her free time listening to audiobooks or music while creating elaborate avatars and then animating them into music videos. Here's one of her creations:

She kind of let me make an avatar once, but then when I was done she "helped me fix it" by changing basically every single detail on it. Teenagers are really fun!

On the positive side, I actually recognize a couple of Will's favorite books of October! (Psst! I'm using Amazon Affiliate links here, primarily because they're hella convenient, but if you click through one to do your Amazon shopping, it doesn't cost you anything extra and Amazon sometimes rewards me with, like, half a cent, so that's pretty cool...)

I read through the Alice books back in the spring, when Syd was planning a Wonderland-themed birthday party, and I read a biography of Lewis Carroll back then, too--he was an odd fellow, alright. But his books are nothing but fun, and I'm not surprised that this is one of Will's favorites of the month.

This book is one that Will recommended to me, and the first couple of chapters are really, really, REALLY scary!

Later chapters calm down a little, but the book is thrilling and beautiful all the way through. I promise you, it is something special.

Here are Will's other favorite books from October:

And here's the rest of what she read in October. I think this might be the first month this year without a Tom Swift in the lineup!

I had several books that I put down partway through--I wanted to learn more about Hermann Rorschach, for instance, but the biography of his that I tried was just. Too. Dull. I read, enough, however, to learn that he was, randomly, really, really, REALLY HOT.

Don't believe me? LOOK AT HIM!!!!

Okay, right?!? Like, what on earth? How is that even real?

Most of what I read turned out to apparently be children's and YA literature, but honestly, that IS where most of the most innovative and creative fiction is to be found. Raina Telgemeier's newest graphic novels was one of my October favorites:

She has become just about my favorite author these days, as I'm really into writers who can talk about the complications and bad spots of real life without devolving into purple prose. #ownvoices, you know? I also love the phenomenon of "being seen" through cultural artifacts. You know that realization you get, watching a movie or reading a book, when you're all, "Hey! That's just like me!" For us grown-ups who didn't get to grow up already woke, maybe it's that time you were a young adult and read your first novel with a fat or bisexual or nerdy protagonist and were all, "Huh. That actually... explains a lot." I often think about when Matt and I took the kids to see Wonder Woman in the theater. The kids and I came out of the movie absolutely fired up, talking over each other about all of our favorite things Wonder Woman did and wasn't it cool when she fought that person and did you see when she did that cool thing and all of a sudden Syd said, "Is this what Dad normally feels like after we watch a movie?" Matt actually said only sorta, so then we decided that guys are so used to watching movies in which guys do cool stuff that they're immune to it by now.

Anyway, fun fact about me: I have emetophobia. Yes, it was caused by a traumatic experience in my past (in my case, hyperemesis gravidarum all the way through both of my pregnancies, and if you want to know why I didn't have a third child, that's why). Yes, I have a full-blown anxiety attack when I think that I might be exposed to a stomach bug. Yes, I have lots of coping mechanisms to address my phobia, and none of them are even remotely healthy. Whee! So imagine my ecstatic shock when I started reading this book and discovered that it's about a kid with emetophobia who develops a bunch of unhealthy coping mechanisms! #ownvoices, indeed!

And honestly, I think that just the act of reading this book about someone else coping with my same phobia chilled me out just a little bit. Last week, everybody in the family (except for me, fingers crossed, probably because first I bolted across the house and hid and then I stopped breathing in rooms in which other people exist and got SUPER crazy about touch and sprayed Lysol in the general direction of all other humans at all times; see: my unhealthy coping mechanisms mentioned above) came down with a stomach bug and if you think the stuff in the parenthesis is crazy then you do not know what it's normally like to live in my brain when someone around me vomits.

Here's what else I read in October!

So whereas I had a lot of books that were misses in October, my podcast game was ON POINT! My favorite subreddit has started doing a weekly post of podcast recommendations, and I have gotten so many good podcasts from it. My current favorite is a podcast about the American Girl books, of all things, but hey--it's a cultural analysis through a feminist historical lens of children's literature performed by two PhDs. THAT'S why I like it. Also it's super funny.

Here's a podcast that I completely finished--and LOVED--in October:

This recommendation actually came from a friend whose kid is in ballet with Syd, and it is so good. It's about a court case currently in the Supreme Court right now, in which Oklahoma is attempting to make a death penalty stick solely by dissolving every single Indian reservation in their state. Although I didn't know this until I'd already started it, this is actually located relatively next door to where I grew up in western Arkansas, and since I grew up there, I know probably a tiny little bit more than your average non-Native American about what an absolute shit deal the government has forced them into. This case is outrageous, the podcast is fascinating, and believe me, even if it doesn't sound interesting, you WANT to know about what's happening here.

Also, even if you know nothing else about Native American rights, know this: Native American citizenship is a political designation, not a race thing. They are literally Indian NATIONS, with citizens thereof, and if a lawyer or a judge tries to say that someone can't be part of that nation because they're only 1/256 Cherokee or something, that's bullshit equivalent to white supremacists trying to convince each other that only white people should get to be part of America. And I have had enough of that bullshit this year!

We watched a LOT of YouTube together this month, but eh, whatever. We all come home exhausted at night, and it's a nice way to hang out with the kids in that half hour between when we get home and when I fall asleep in my clothes on top of my bed.

Syd has been into these "day in the life of a ballerina" videos lately, and I have to say that they're usually pretty interesting!

Also, they give me tips about hairstyles and natural deodorant and what kind of makeup normal people wear, so that's fun.

As often as I can, I get everyone to watch Broadway performances with me. My shining moment was when I was able to segue from Lin Manuel Miranda to Les Miserables to this awesomely funny performance from Mean Girls:

Syd has been playing Nintendo with Matt lately, and getting more into figuring out how to beat Mario levels. I don't usually have a lot of patience with video games--I ADORE Mario, but I really only want to play for a few minutes at a time--but I can watch speedruns endlessly. Matt and I introduced Syd to speedruns with this Super Mario version, and the impressiveness of the guy's performance is only matched by how adorable his reaction is when he wins... until you realize that he's all alone and there's nobody in his physical life celebrating with him in that moment...

I think I first found this YouTube series based on my interest in theme parks, but, and I don't even understand why, we all LOVE IT. It's just this one person eating and drinking a bunch of stuff in different theme parks, but she's nice and charming and the food is truly interesting and you can't stop wondering what she does with her leftovers:

You guys, I am SO excited about November! The kids and I have a staycation planned, one in which I'm not allowed to make anyone do anything productive, and so I think I'm going to get a lot of reading--as well as podcast listening and YouTube watching--done.

What have YOU read and watched and listened to lately?

P.S. Here's what we read prior to October!

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