The Most Dramatic Dog Rescue Ever

I recently remembered the absolute best, most dramatic dog rescue story from work ever, and here it is, in blog form.

I was minding my own business at work, working, and then glancing at our new dog that day, a small, elderly, Scottish terrier crossed with x, y, or z. She was quiet and seemed a little sad.

My coworker materialized behind me and said, “OH MY GOD, DID YOU HEAR THE STORY OF THAT DOG?”

I said, “… no?”

So she launched into it. A woman was jogging along, as you do, when she spotted a dog dangling like Mufasa from a balcony just above her.

She stopped and called us, because the dog was too far up for her to just grab. We were sending someone out to help the dog, but obviously she wasn’t going to be able to dangle there for fifteen minutes, so, thankfully, the good Samaritan stayed. And caught the dog, when she fell just minutes after the woman hung up the phone.

She couldn’t get into the apartment to return the dog and there was no one around to help, so she brought the dog to us for the owners to pick up.

The dog was blind and deaf. When the owners arrived to pick her up, they were horrified. They hadn’t realized that she had slipped quietly out the door onto the balcony. So then she was just stuck out there, with limited senses to figure out what was even going on, and she was small enough to slip through the rails, which she did, almost falling, and it probably would have been to her death.

So, hey, if you spot someone in distress, that’s your chance, I guess, to be a complete and utter superhero. I hope that lady is having an excellent day today.

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A Mini Adventure in Raw Apple Pie

Due to the magic of the internet I started 2018 off right, by receiving an email in error from an Italian woman gifting me with three raw vegan recipes.

The second of those is a raw apple pie recipe and I was skeptical, but also intrigued, especially because I had a tip from the lady: “Yesterday I think I blended the apples too much. If you can shake them a little I think the “cream” might remain consistent.”

So I have no clue what she actually meant in her actual Italian version of this email by “shake them a little.” But. I tried.

I used a huge trifle dish or whatever the hell this horrible thing is. I bought it to make tiramisu in and I don’t know what it’s really for, but the point is that my pictures end up awful because the dish is always in the way.

But this is what it looked like:

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lookit that masterful decoration there

I did not blend the apples too much.

Here’s my translation of the recipe:

Il Tortino di Mele

Ingredients:

6 Apples
1 cup Raisins
1 1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds
12 Medjool Dates
3 tablespoons Coconut
1 or 2 tablespoons Cinnamon (adjust the quantity to taste)

Instructions:

Soak the dates for one hour. Soak the raisins for 15 minutes.

For the crust: blend the sunflower seeds in a food processor to reduce them to a powder. Place the sunflower seed powder in a small bowl. Next, use a food processor to blend the drained raisins in into a paste, and then mix with the sunflower seeds until a solid and homogeneous dough is obtained.

Spread the dough thus obtained in your monstrous trifle dish or something else suitable to hold the shape of a raw apple pie. The dough should have a thickness of about one centimeter and will serve for the base.

For the filling: use a food processor or a blender to blend the drained dates into a paste. Place blended dates in a medium bowl. Peel and cut the apples into reasonable slices, then place them in a food processor or a blender. Blend gently and not too much. Shake them a little. I guess. Add the apples to the dates and then add the cinnamon. Mix carefully so as to mix the ingredients and their flavours well. The whole thus obtained has to be poured over the previously prepared base and then leveled with a suitable spatula.

Add the coconut to cover everything. To finish decorating, arrange nicely sliced pieces of apple in a decorative fashion (see photo) (for what not to do).

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

I bolded the parts that are AMAZING thank you Google Translate and also the Italian Language.

What I didn’t leave in are that “soak the dates” is my translation from “put the dates in the bath” and once again I have to mention that the direct translation from Italian of “food processor” is “robot of the kitchen.”

ROBOT. OF. THE. KITCHEN.

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I honestly don’t know if the apples were supposed to be blended more thoroughly than that, but the way I did it was pretty good. Surprisingly, with zero flour and zero vegan butter and zero cooking, this tasted like apple pie. It tasted like a simple apple pie that had gone in the fridge after cooking. I liked it.

Well, next up is the cheesecake.

This is not a Defense of JK Rowling

(but it is in favour of waiting and seeing, for me, anyway. You do what’s right for you.)

(imagine that the Jude Law Dumbledore leaning back with that slightly disappointed expression on his face is looking at that David Yates article and the entire way JKR handled Dumbledore’s sexuality reveal)

Re this.

If you’re inclined to be angry and disappointed because Yates said Dumbledore’s sexuality isn’t “explicitly” going to be in this upcoming HP extended universe movie, I understand. Maybe Yates spoke clumsily, maybe he means that Dumbledore’s complicated past with Grindelwald will be onscreen, just in a sneaky, hinty kind of way that maybe isn’t “explicit” but that doesn’t leave room for heteronormativity, but even so, it’s disappointing. Dumbledore is gay, he’s gay, he’s gay. There should be some way of placing that onscreen without jumping too far ahead into the Dumbledore/Grindelwald backstory or whatever.

Gay people don’t magically become heterosexual when they’re single or not infatuated/in love with someone. If Dumbledore is focused on other things and only sneaky/hinty focused on his past feelings for Grindelwald in this movie, there are other ways of throwing queer fans and viewers a bone and nodding to Dumbledore’s identity onscreen unambiguously because of course it’s well past time for that. It should have been in the books, explicitly.

But.

(OK first it was Yates who said everything. He’s the director. If “Dumbledore is gay make it clear” wasn’t written in the script he could certainly have added it in himself. He’s not getting a pile-on, I noticed. Nobody is “done forever” with David Yates. Just the successful lady writer. I’m not saying don’t call my favourites out for things because they’re women and my favourites, but do note that we seem to expect perfection from her and not really from him. Guys. Come on.)

(Second, everything everyone has said about “you need to be explicit otherwise no one will know they’re queer” is absolutely true but I kind of sort of a lot think in this case it… isn’t)

(Everyone knows Dumbledore is gay)

(Ask everyone you encounter tomorrow about Dumbledore; they all know he’s gay)

(In A Very Potter MusicalSequel, and Senior Year Dumbledore is explicitly gay. In the Epic Rap Battle between him and Gandalf, Dumbledore is explicitly gay. It’s like… a thing that everyone knows. Voldemort is bad, Dumbledore is good, and he’s gay)

(It wasn’t in any of the books or the movies explicitly and yet everyone knows he’s gay)

(Very few authors can pull that off. None of them should, really. It isn’t fair that it worked in this case. But it did. It doesn’t mean Dumbledore is great representation, because he isn’t. Because he can’t be, if the only confirmation of his identity is a footnote. But there is an overwhelming sense of “Well people just won’t know that the character is gay unless you state it explicitly,” and yes that’s true, in all cases but this one. This is the exception that proves the rule, and it’s the exception that proves that even if you can pull this off, you shouldn’t. His orientation should have been explicitly in the book. It wasn’t. It’s annoying. It’s heteronormative as hell and honestly it’s hurtful. But everyone knows Dumbledore is gay.)

(97% of the people who watch Grindelwald’s Crimes or whatever it’s called are going to be watching it knowing Dumbledore is gay even if there isn’t so much as a wistful glance in Grindelwald’s direction on Dumbledore’s part. Doesn’t let the filmmakers off the hook, but, we should be honest about that. Gives us a chance to say, hey, look, do the actual hard work of getting representation right rather than just having it be a footnote, because this isn’t good enough. Leaving it at “Dumbledore doesn’t count because it’s not explicitly in the text” will cause a lot of people who won’t do basic extrapolation (and you know they won’t… because you know you have to tell them in the book that the character is whatever marginalized identity explicitly for them to accept it, so of course they need this one thought all the way through for them as well) to look at this situation and think, “Um, everyone knows Dumbledore is gay so this is clearly wrong.” The problem isn’t that no one knows he’s gay. The problem is that JK Rowling, because of decades of heteronormativity, didn’t think it was necessary to make it explicitly clear in the book that Dumbledore was in love with Grindelwald even though that sort of detail actually does add to the themes and character development, but it’s made explicitly clear that Madame Pince has a crush on Filch, which is not important at all. Dumbledore counts and is super useful to the representation conversation because he counts precisely as an example of how you do it wrong: yes, he’s gay, personally I think it’s generally good for the world that he’s gay, but his being gay is apparently an unimportant bit of trivia and doesn’t need to be known explicitly for readers to understand him, and that is the problem.)

All right. So. People seem to be under the impression that there won’t even be a nod to the complexities of Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s romantic and/or sexual past in this movie, which is about, I think, the war between them. If that’s the case, yeah, that’s stupid. Personally, I think what Yates means is that Grindelwald and Dumbledore aren’t going to make out onscreen in this one. Because. Well. Grindelwald is a genocidal dick and Dumbledore isn’t. So.

Personally, I think it would be pretty much impossible for JKR and Yates to have made a movie about their war without nodding to the complex history of the two characters. I do on the other hand think it’s possible to say something worded badly in an interview about your upcoming movie that you can’t spoil because it isn’t out for another several months and you weren’t planning on detailing exactly how the complex relationship shows up onscreen because you want people to pay the money to see it. I’m not saying all the people complaining should shut up and wait and pay and go see, because it’s up to you what you spend your money on. I understand if you’d rather spend it on queer creators’ stuff. That’s great. That is obviously the better choice, especially considering that it’s pretty much a given that Dumbledore/Grindelwald is going to be problematic. It’s just that I’m struggling to understand how it’s even possible for there to be not even a nod to the context of the Dumbledore/Grindelwald past here, and I’ve landed on, “He just misspoke.”

Maybe I’m naive. Maybe they really did try to get away with depicting Dumbledore’s famous defeat of Grindelwald without any clear reference to their romantic history.

What I do know for sure is that if they ever actually get around to depicting that relationship, Dumbledore and Grindelwald is… not going to be a nice story.

But I’m still looking forward to it, I have to admit.

I’m looking forward to it because: it is going to be fascinating, fitting into a pattern of tragic romances that JK Rowling has already written into the main story as well as a couple of peripheral stories, all of which are heterosexual. It is going to be a bit of a mess, too, simply because this romance is going to be at the very least tragic and it’s probably going to be way worse than just “tragic,” and, well, why is the only gay relationship depicted in the Harry Potter universe going to be a tragic, toxic sludge? And once it is depicted, there will probably be specific aspects of this relationship that will fit into typical bad tropes and stereotypes about gay men and their relationships, unless JKR manages to pull off the frankly impossible and avoid all of those entirely. Ultimately, I think the whole thing will be useful to dissect and critique. Especially because, before I knew he was gay, I thought Dumbledore was ace. And I think, given what we know for sure about Dumbledore, he could still be somewhere on the ace-spec. THIS DOESN’T EXCUSE ANYTHING. I’m not trying to say that my head canon ace Dumbledore solves the problem of his gay identity not being explicit on the page because OF COURSE IT DOESN’T. I just mean that JK Rowling does interesting and maybe a little bit problematic and maybe still sort of intriguing things with her tragic romances, as far as ace and aro people are concerned, and this relationship is going to shed more light onto what and how I think about all of that.

(But yeah, I don’t like that Johnny Depp is in it. I don’t like that JK Rowling defended keeping him in the movie. I really don’t like that.)

And as much as I’m looking forward to the inevitable critiquing, I’m also extremely wary of how this is all going to turn out, with regards to Dumbledore himself. I love that he has flaws and weaknesses, yes. I’m worried that he’s going to turn into a tragedy, romantically speaking. He is a tragedy where his family is concerned, and that’s important and needs to stay. I don’t want him to be a romantic tragedy, though, and I kind of think that’s how this story ends.

I think that because I saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I saw the extremely creepy, unsettling relationship between Grindelwald and Credence. I saw how Grindelwald was manipulating Credence’s obvious feelings for him. He used the word “friend.” They both used the word “friend.” But. I saw what I saw.

I was looking for it, too, because I also read Deathly Hallows. Yates, in his movie version, skimmed almost entirely over the Grindelwald/Dumbledore’s past thing, but I still remember the book. Dumbledore got all white-supremecyish as a young ‘un. Partly he was inclined towards that because of what happened to his sister.

The other part of his anti-Muggle bigotry is that he was in love with Grindelwald. And Grindelwald, it was strongly hinted at, had manipulated Dumbledore.

My prediction for their relationship onscreen is that it’s going to be extremely toxic. We know it ends horrifically. The details of it that we have so far seem to suggest that it fits into a pattern of romantic tragedies that are already explicitly detailed in the books as romantic tragedies.

There are several of them. And they’re all heterosexual and explicitly and unmistakably romances in the actual text. So. Yeah. Here are the ones I remember off the top of my head:

Snape and Lily

Super toxic. Snape is definitely in love with Lily, his best friend, but he’s also convinced that becoming a Death Eater is the only way forward for him. He wants power, being so powerless himself. He chooses that over her. Because it’s a book, of course it’s literally him who gives Voldemort the information he needs to eventually kill Lily. Snape begs for her life, which is why she’s able to die and save Harry.

As far as we know, he wasn’t in love with anyone else, ever. He maybe never had a romantic and/or sexual partner, ever. I’ve seen a lot of people criticize that for being juvenile or unlikely but, no, it fucking isn’t. It happens, it’s a thing, for a lot of different reasons. And sometimes people rarely or never feel those feelings that compel someone to seek out those relationships to begin with.

(JK Rowling seems to know that without really knowing that there’s a word for it. See Charlie Weasley for the best example. This is a periphery story, just like Dumbledore’s sexuality is. I know people like to read opportunism into her post-publication declaration of Dumbledore’s being gay, but I’ve always seen Rowling as curating a huge amount of backstory information for all of her characters. I believe her when she says she always saw Dumbledore as gay. I assume she knew he was in love with Grindelwald before she name-dropped the dude on the Chocolate Frog card in Philosopher’s Stone. I don’t think she was trying to score “ally points.” I think she was just being clueless. Which is not an excuse, but there is a difference. But apparently these things, like Dumbledore being gay and Charlie being ace, are not explicitly stated in the text because she considers those details to be trivia, irrelevant to plot and theme. That’s a pretty large problem because, first, Dumbledore being in love with Grindelwald absolutely changes how we read that history. Dumbledore being romantically in love with Grindelwald explicitly absolutely would have enriched the thematic resonance and all of the character development we were getting there with him. And second, I think most of us these days understand that separately from theme and plot, a fictional character’s identity matters. And that JK Rowling seems to not understand that, or that she seems to not understand that there’s work that authors need to do to ensure that people don’t just read white, straight, cis, able-bodied, thin, allo, and so on and so forth into every single character because they’ve been trained to do that through decades of the huge white canon, is the actual problem here. Dumbledore could easily have said to Harry, “… oh and I was also in love with him.” It would have worked, it would have been explicit, it would have been easy, and ultimately it seems that JK Rowling didn’t think it was important to make sure the readers knew what she was implying, whereas in other, hetero, quick little romance stories it’s absolutely clear that it’s a romance.)

(Honestly, though, considering how many characters of hers I can read ace into, I maybe have a little niggling about a certain author and a certain ace-spectrum and I’m not even a little bit sorry)

(If she is an ace egg, that doesn’t excuse any of this, of course. And I know we’re complaining about needing more than just our head canons. Still. It’s not often that fictional characters fit so easily into being read like this and I can’t separate it from how I interpret all of the romance, tragic and not tragic, implied and explicit, in the story.) 

On the other hand, maybe the tragedy of Snape’s first and only love compelled him to live a life of self-loathing and self-loathing–induced celibacy. Which is kind of silly, or it’s kind of Arthurian Romantic, take your pick.

I’m picking a-spec Snape because it makes more sense and is less sad, but you do you.

The Grey Lady and the Bloody Baron

We get this one in a whirlwind reveal while Hogwarts collapses around Harry and company. The Grey Lady was beautiful, narcissistic, and a thief in life. The Bloody Baron was some guy who was in love with her in life. He confessed dramatically, she was like, “Ew,” and then he murdered her. And then, overcome with remorse, he killed himself.

What sticks out to me for this one is that Rowena Ravenclaw was the Grey Lady’s mom and the broken relationship between her and her daughter was the actual tragedy here, rather than the Bloody Baron being terrible, which is kind of nice.

Merope Gaunt and Tom Riddle

Merope is a victim of constant abuse. She brews a love potion in order to catch Tom Riddle’s attention. It works. It’s a love potion. It’s rape.

They get married, have a baby, she stops feeding him love potion, maybe, Dumbledore speculates, out of remorse, or maybe she was hopeful that he might really have fallen in love with her by then.

But no. It was rape.

Voldemort had been conceived, though. Tom Riddle leaves, Merope gives birth and lets herself die from heartbreak after naming the baby after his father.

Voldemort grows up not understanding “the power of love.” Deliberately, I think. I think somehow he understood that hopeless, delusional love for his father was ultimately a horrible experience for his mother, and that a love potion had taken away his father’s ability to choose, and that both of his parents chose not to love him because it was too much. I’m open to other interpretations, because Voldie was a bad dude even when he was a little kid, but Dumbledore gives him a bit of the benefit of the doubt while he is a student at Hogwarts and I think that means he was capable of turning out differently, but, upon learning the sad, twisted story of his family, he started making some wretched, soul-mutilaty choices to try to avoid the same fate as his parents.

I think JK Rowling is saying, with these three doomed love stories, that love is painful. It’s hard. It’s almost not worth it, except, in the end, it is. Because even if you mess up and then you have to live as a regret-ghost because you did a terrible thing, or as a regret-living person because you did a terrible thing, your only other option is to cut your soul into eight pieces and your greatest ambition in life becomes trying to murder a baby, so, love people however you do that, and try not to get them killed indirectly/directly murder them.

There are also lots of non romantic, non sexual, also doomed love stories that aren’t tragic in the same way as those romantic ones are:

Harry and Lily

It all comes back to this, again and again. Lily loved her son enough to die for him, of course she did. She saved him doing it. Eventually he emulates her and dies for everyone he loves as well, to save them. Lily’s last moments are horrifying and not your typical awesome, self-sacrificing hero standing between a monster and the innocent. She’s begging, crying, powerless without a wand. She endures it anyway, dies anyway, because she loves her son, and it’s what saves the wizarding world, eventually.

Sirius and James

I think Sirius is aroace. You want him to be gay? Go for it. But I think all of the telling “not interested in the hopeful girl in the exam” and “pasted posters of Muggle women and motorcycles to annoy bigoted parents, not out of interest towards the women” hints can be read either way. And either way, Sirius loves his friends. He thinks he’s doing the right thing, making Peter be the secret keeper. When it turns out he was wrong and his mistake gets Lily and James killed, Sirius pretty much gives up on his own life. A lot of factors beyond Sirius’s control come together to land him unfairly in Azkaban, but those factors that he can control he misuses out of rage and grief.

When he escapes, he does a lot of sulking and almost ruins his newfound relationship with his godson because he won’t grow up and be responsible. It’s very understandable. The murder of his best friend ruined his life. Still, it’s clear, made clear all the time, every time Sirius talks about James, that having James in his life makes it worth living for Sirius, who had been miserable right up until he met and was accepted by James on the train. Love is messy and Sirius doesn’t navigate it as gracefully as he could have, but ultimately it’s his core, making him different in all the ways that matter from his evil cousin as she kills him.

Harry and Hedwig

I’m not over this.

Harry and Dobby

I’m not over this either.

What Harry keeps learning, every time someone dies, is that love is awful. But worth it anyway. Knowing that you might very well lose the people you love doesn’t mean shutting yourself off from them and choosing not to love.

But do note that in the romances, Snape doesn’t love again, ever. The Bloody Baron certainly doesn’t. Merope couldn’t even love her son after Tom left. Tragedies, the lot of them.

So… what’s going to happen to Dumbledore, after Grindelwald?

Dumbledore and Grindelwald

I’m convinced we’re going to see this onscreen. And here’s how I think it will go.

They probably are going to have a whirlwind romance. It might be cute. For a bit. But they start feeding off of each other’s bigotry, and eventually it will become clear that Grindelwald is manipulating Dumbledore’s feelings for him in a way that is disturbing but not as disturbing as the Credence thing because at least here they’re the same age and neither of them are troubled, abused teenage boys.

Dumbledore cuts off their relationship when he realizes that he doesn’t actually want to be an “Enslave the Muggles” kind of guy. Or is that why he cuts it off?

Is it actually only when Arianna almost kills them all, and when one of them, accidentally, maybe, kills her, that Dumbledore ends it?

And then Dumbledore is idle. He won’t confront Grindelwald as he begins his atrocities, because he is terrified that Grindelwald will confirm that it was Dumbledore’s spell that killed his own sister. Probably also because of all of the complex romantic/sexual feelings, too.

When I was a kid and had no idea that asexuality was a thing, I still always picked up on and paid special attention to characters that didn’t have romances. Dumbledore was an old guy, unmarried. It seemed right to me, that he should be unmarried. At some point I thought to myself, “I just don’t think he feels that way about people, and that’s why he never got married.”

And then JK Rowling said he was gay.

I think Dumbledore can be a-spec too. Maybe the type of feelings he has for Grindelwald are rare or almost absent, and for him they strike only once. Because while it’s possible that post-Grindelwald Dumbledore did some dating and romance and stuff (which he could still have done even if he is actually some sort of ace and/or aro), I kind of sort of a lot think he absolutely didn’t. Maybe it’s because he usually doesn’t think of people in romantic and sexual ways, like I thought when I was a kid.

Or, maybe, and I think this is the winner here, it’s because it fits into the pattern those other tragic romances all fit into and he fell in love young with a guy who turned out to be manipulative on the one hand and genocidal on the other and they got into a fight that killed his sister, and as punishment for himself, he chose to never love again. Something like my interpretation of Voldemort, but much less extreme. He chose to never pursue romantic love again, because he didn’t consider himself worthy of it.

That’s what I’m expecting, anyway.

Based on all the Harry Potter I’ve consumed throughout the years, I think I’ve picked up on Rowling’s Harry Potter love and tragic love and tragic romantic love patterns. As much as I think she’s kind of writing her way around the a-specs, I think she really does love a tragic romance where it goes bad and the one partner decides never to do it again maybe because they’re broken now, and maybe it’s because they’re still trying to grapple with the after-effects, and maybe it’s because they only feel those things rarely and it just doesn’t happen again for them. All of that is there, possible, to read into these romances. When we finally get Dumbledore and Grindelwald it will probably be there too.

There’s a lot to say about this story, the way I’m expecting it to happen. There’s good stuff there, maybe, and there’s some problematic stuff as well. Maybe it will happen completely differently. Maybe Dumbledore did love other men afterwards and it was never discussed because it wasn’t relevant to the plot but, like, pepperup potion is though. And also firecrabs. And flobberworms. And Sir Cadogan. THERE IS A HINT AT A ROMANCE BETWEEN MADAME PINCE AND FILCH. SO.

Whatever happens, it’s kind of crucial that Dumbledore is stated to be gay, and that this statement comes separately from his complicated and very likely toxic relationship with Grindelwald. Because the Dumbledore/Grindelwald love story is a tragedy, and Dumbledore being gay is not a tragedy.

I’m looking forward to analyzing this love story, critiquing it, wondering about what went wrong and what could have been better and what, hopefully, works about the portrayal of this relationship. But Dumbledore’s identity should be its own thing, not only onscreen tied to a toxic romance. That I can say right now, without waiting to see any of the movies or waiting to see how the relationship itself is portrayed.

I hope Yates apologizes to Rowling about that interview, btw. Also I hope both of them do the thing, or that they have done it already, because it honestly isn’t that much to ask for. And I hope we all keep reading and recommending stories that are explicitly about queer people and those that are written by queer authors, because that is always a good thing. This tag contains all the ones I read last year. So far, this year, I’ve read Let’s Talk About Love which has a biromantic asexual protagonist, and I’m reading Beneath the Sugar Sky of the Wayward Children series which features an ensemble that includes a trans boy, an ace girl, and maybe the lesbian girl shows up again. I’m only halfway through but I’m hopeful because she’s my favourite.

In Favour of the Babe Article

Katie Way, the author of the Babe article about “Grace” and Aziz Ansari, is currently being dogpiled on Twitter for a couple of reasons. Mainly because she wrote the article, in huge part because she sent a blistering email insulting journalist Ashleigh Banfield, and maybe a little bit because her piece was sort of amateurish and potentially caused unnecessary damage to Grace, its subject.

I read the email to Banfield and found it a little bit cringey, because Way does attack Banfield for her age and makeup and for being irrelevant, which is untrue (and is also the problem), but I thought her rage was justified. Banfield, wagging her pen at the camera, goes on and on speaking directly to Grace and tells her that she should have this, should have that, and now she’s damaged the #MeToo movement by being a not-good-enough victim of an experience that wasn’t quite traumatic enough to qualify it as worthy of discussion at all. If Way’s email had omitted all of the unnecessary attacks on appearance and age, and had admitted that Banfield’s relevance is a huge problem if she’s going on TV and declaring that a woman sharing her story about being coerced is somehow harmful to the movement, then it would have been perfect.

Not “professional” or anything. Not “respectable.” But perfect. Right now is a time for anger, and it’s regrettable that this anger is sometimes directed at older women, but, hey, maybe don’t victim blame. CC Margaret Atwood.

Anyway, Banfield said this in response: “The reason I want to share that is because, if you truly believe in the #MeToo movement, if you truly believe in women’s rights, if you truly believe in feminism, the last thing you should do is attack someone in an ad hominem way for [her] age or [her] highlights or [her] lipstick because it is the most hypocritical thing a woman who says she supports the women’s movement could ever do, and that’s the caliber of the woman who was given all of this power, and was able to wield this power.”

Noooooooope. Slightly more hypocritical, I humbly think, is the victim blaming. Is the failure to understand that sometimes a woman can’t just leave, sometimes she feels unable to just say outright in harsh language what she thinks, because she’s trying to minimize and not hurt the guy’s feelings, which she has been socialized to do, and he has been socialized to pursue, pursue, pursue, you know, because of the misogynistic culture we live in that allows Trump to be elected president.

In the case of the Babe story, there was more than a ten year age difference between Ansari and Grace, and Ansari is famous and respected and is kind of known for being one of those “feminist” men. Also, she liked him. She probably wanted to have sex with him, maybe not that night, or maybe that night, if he hadn’t turned her off by his hearing “I don’t want you to force me because I’ll hate you,” as an invitation to KEEP GOING.

One more thing on the older feminist/younger feminist divide that is apparently happening here, in this piece Tracy Loxley concludes with, “If there’s one thing I’ve come to dislike about where #MeToo has gone, and the backlash that has emerged, it’s the disconnect between younger women, and those of us who are middle-aged and older. In learning more about Banfield’s history, I can see she sees #MeToo as a godsend, and sees Way and her subject as ungrateful whiners, not to mention a historical blind spot to the gains women before us have won. To us old ladies, Grace’s apparent helplessness has struck a chord, in that she seemed so disempowered to tell her possibly receptive date what she wanted. Then again, it also read like the story of a girl who didn’t know what she wanted.”

I’m not entirely sure what this… means. Rather, I know what it means but I don’t know what I’m supposed to take away from it, apart from frustration. I’ll admit that some of us millennials could sometimes word our thoughts better to avoid sounding dismissive of the work older women have done to create the climate we have now where we can even discuss these things. But I think most of us understand that we’ve come a long way. Do we need to prelude every statement of “We have much further to go,” with, “Not to take anything away from the progress of the past, but…”?

For my part I’m horrified by the apparent inability of some of these women to understand that Grace was trying to communicate what she wanted. Multiple times, either in words or by getting up and walking away, she communicated that she wanted to slow down and probably stop. Not once does Ansari ask if what he’s doing is OK, if she wants to keep going. Where is these women’s shrewd focus on that communication failure? Why characterize him as “possibly receptive” when he hears, “Whoa, let’s chill,” to mean, “keep going”? The inability to understand that if Grace appears to be “a girl who didn’t know what she wanted,” it’s because she liked the guy, respected him, wanted to have sex with him at some point if not that night, and she had to endure him refusing to pay attention to her clear signals, clear even though she tampered down on them to spare his feelings, or her own. Millennials are just asking that the burden of this communication not solely be placed on women. It shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Banfield may be all about #MeToo as a movement SOLELY about rape and other, more minor sexual assaults and harassment, as long as those more minor things are career-stifling, but her inability to acknowledge that being coerced into sex during a date is a huge, very common problem that women who date men have is, in my opinion, an incredible disappointment. Liking someone and having them not take you at your word, not listen to you when you say you want to slow down, ignoring your body-language cues of discomfort (like REPEATEDLY PULLING YOUR HAND AWAY FROM HIS DICK), is dehumanizing. Maybe it doesn’t have a direct effect on a woman’s career but it’s a problem. It needs to be discussed, because, though this sort of thing is comparatively minor, it happens all the time.

This is why I’m glad that Way’s piece exists. I’ve been seething all week, but I’m glad. I’ve muted SO MANY men and women who think that a woman going home with a man means she is legally obligated to have sex with him and legally obligated to never ever complain about his, at best, lack of consideration for her. I’ve muted so many victim blamers and slut shamers, but there are always ten more to pop up like freaking Whack-A-Mole. I’m still glad this happened. If #MeToo didn’t include this story, if we decided as feminists to only focus on instances where consent was clearly absent, we wouldn’t be pushing forward towards a brighter, kinder future for everyone to enjoy however they want to.

This from Laurie Penny goes into how this story AND the backlash that’s been heartily fueled by it push #MeToo forward into fighting for sexual liberation for EVERYONE. Sexual liberation for women requires access to contraception and abortion, AS WELL AS women feeling as though they can go on a date with a guy, go to his house, even, and he’ll respect them and their boundaries. If women are afraid of their potential partners, they aren’t sexually liberated. This isn’t new, not at all. Penny wrote this in September of last year, and there have been plenty of others like it before. But in the wake of the Babe piece, there are more pieces from more sources more clearly connecting that the burden of communication and ensuring consent are not only women’s responsibility is an essential tenet of feminism. “This is not an anti-sex movement gone off the rails. It is a pro-sex movement just laying the tracks,” from this by James Hamblin. “It may feel like the rules shifted overnight, and what your dad called the thrill of the chase is now what some people are calling assault. Unfortunately, no one — even plenty of men who call themselves feminists — wanted to listen to feminist women themselves. We tried to warn you. We wish you’d listened, too,” from this by Lindy West. “If #MeToo somehow brings about a world in which sex has to be excellent and much-wanted in order to happen at all, bring on the puritan dystopia,” from this by Sady Doyle.

The one thing I disagree with in Penny’s piece and in others that have highlighted that requiring men to pay more attention to their partners is an important part of this new women’s movement are the complaints about Way’s piece. On the one hand, I do agree that it needed some trimming. The wine part at the beginning just doesn’t need to be there, for example. On the other hand, the lurid play-by-play that some suggest lacks integrity for a sexual assault piece, I think may actually be essential here. I think it should have been written and edited more carefully, definitely, but even in some pieces that begin by criticizing this aspect of the reporting, the author ends up pulling details from the play-by-play to explain why and how this encounter is coercive and where there is nuance and why it is important to discuss it. It’s possible that with a more experienced and tactful writer the same thing would have been achieved but without leaving Grace as exposed as she’s been, but, I doubt it. I think this story has made so many people angry because it’s a very common experience, and now plenty of men are panicking that they, too, will be held to account for coercing or trying to coerce women. No matter how tactfully the story was told, it would have caused the same backlash. I think, anyway.

A bit more on the backlash:

Here is Katie Way’s pinned tweet.

Read through the responses, if you can stomach it. Her crime is being rude to a prominent journalist, which I’m absolutely certain 100% of the people screaming at her or even simply casually mocking her have done. There are also a couple of tweets from me, at the grossest of people I saw there, just saying “fuck you” but with extra vowels. I wish I could have been more eloquent, but I was mad. I was also not brave enough to reply directly in praise of the part of her email about Banfield that I liked. I was the only dissenting voice, apart from two people who liked this article she wrote on prison life, and one person telling her the dogpiling would eventually pass.

Twitter is a gross place.

We also did a thread, here:

jumping off of a Nora Reed thread on how they think Way’s email kind of rocks because it shows sexual assault survivors that their rage at the frankly disgusting victim blaming Banfield and other prominent, older women have done is shared. Survivors whose stories resemble Grace’s aren’t alone. Katie Way is prepared to, somewhat clumsily, sure, lash out on their behalf. That, too, is why Way’s original piece is so important. A lot of people have had this experience. For many of them, Grace’s date with Ansari is how their rape started. After the piece, many more people went through their memories of uncomfortable, possibly traumatic sexual encounters, and realized that they had been coerced and/or raped. And they aren’t alone. And it isn’t right. Just because what Ansari did wasn’t AS BAD as what plenty of other men have done, it’s not to be dismissed as “revenge porn” or “attention whoreing.” It’s integral for anyone who is interested in having sex without hurting anyone to see stories like this, to learn from them. Grace liked Ansari, I’ve said before, and I’ll repeat. She probably wanted to have sex with him. Instead, she went home crying and traumatized. We need to dissect encounters like this to begin to change the culture.

I am all about reaching out to older woman and for celebrating all that they have accomplished with fewer resources, but right now what I’m seeing is a 22-year-old woman whose career is just beginning being shouted down from all corners, even though her piece has been a jumping off point to discuss the central point of having a feminist movement at all. There will always be time for measured critiques of how she wrote the piece and why she wrote it and why she wrote that email, but right now, I’m on her side.

Anne Episode Recap: Tightly Knotted to a Similar String

This episode opens with the grossest spelling bee ever.

The horrible, horrible teacher is setting words for the teams (girls vs boys, because of course) while staring at Prissy. The words he chooses start with stuff like “gorgeous” and “ravishing” and then “callous” and “cruel” (because she isn’t simpering, and is instead looking distinctly uncomfortable), and then it’s “contrite” and, ugh, “engagement,” which she perks up about.

Uggggggh.

It finally ends because Gilbert lets Anne win. Later in the show, his father is dying, she figures it out, and feels some sympathy.

Also, she gets her period.

She screams and yells things about it that I want to scream and yell about it also every month. Marilla gets all affectionate. She and Rachel have a nice conversation about menstruation and Anne and the girls do the same. It’s nice. Rare, I think, for media to show women talking long enough to get around to discussing experiences they have that don’t revolve around men.

Matthew buys Anne her dress, from a lady who is apparently the girl he was *supposed to end up with* if only *tragedy* hadn’t struck and made him, and Marilla, apparently, *tragically unwed forever.*

I don’t want to complain too much because there are allo people who remain single and their experiences and feelings about them matter also. There are probably also lots of ace and/or aro people who have relationship woes of various kinds. I just think it’s kind of sad. I wish Matthew (and probably Marilla) didn’t have to be portrayed as such tragic figures just because they don’t have romance and/or sex.

This story line hasn’t progressed, though, so who knows what I’ll think about it later.

Anne and Diana accidentally get drunk, then Mrs. Barry declares that they can never associate with each other again, and it is very dramatic. Anne and Diana declare their love for one another and then Anne’s all happy because she gets to wear her puffy-sleeved dress to church, the end.

Mostly, I liked it. I like that Anne gets to act moody and ridiculous like a teenager would. Rare, refreshing, cleansing, etc.

Anne Episode Recap: An Inward Treasure Born

(changing up the featured image because of this)

All right so:

People determined to excuse Aziz Ansari because the woman he was super aggressive towards didn’t just leave the apartment entirely or say explicitly “no” or “stop” was annoying today. Based on the discussions I saw about it I was expecting it to be much grayer than it was when I actually read it. I was thinking, “Really, guys? You think she wasn’t being clear enough?”

There was also some Margaret Atwood nonsense. She wrote an op-ed called “Am I a Bad Feminist?” and the answer is yes. She really is, if indeed she’s a feminist at all. Her shtick is calmly, gently restating over and over that feminism makes us all want to insist that women are angels, victims always, forever blameless.

  1. No.
  2. To me, feminism is the radical notion that a woman can be flawed and complicated and that human experiences can be gray and SHE SHOULD STILL HAVE HER BASIC HUMANITY RESPECTED.
  3. I honestly thought, until recently, that was kind of what Atwood meant, to a certain extent. But apparently no.
  4. To Atwood, “women aren’t angels” means “we need to always always always mistrust sexual misconduct allegations especially if they’re against well-respected and powerful men I like. Because women aren’t angels.”
  5. (Nobody is saying we need to instantly convict every person accused of sexual misconduct. Nobody. NOBODY IS SAYING THAT.)
  6. (False accusations are rare.)
  7. (Rapists and sexual harassers never facing any consequences whatsoever for their actions is PRETTY COMMON.)
  8. (That NEEDS TO CHANGE.)
  9. (We can start by getting rid of judges who excuse rape because of what the victim was wearing or because there was previous flirtation or because “she didn’t look like a thirteen-year-old.”)
  10. (Holding more terrible men accountable for their actions is PROBABLY NOT GOING TO HURT ANYONE WHO ISN’T A TERRIBLE MAN.)
  11. Fuck you, Atwood.
  12. Ten bucks several Atwood controversies down the line is going to be one that is her going full TERF. I’m calling it now.

Also the thing she retweeted the other day, apart from the Sullivan shit piece, was a shit piece about how #metoo goes too far in that workplace flirtation can be hot.

There’s a little paragraph that’s like, “Straight women like when men are sexually aggressive because it confirms our desirability and can be thrilling and unexpected.”

OK so kudos to this writer for discovering what kinks are.

She should have followed through with her research to determine that acting on those kinks with a partner still requires consent if it’s being done, like, right.

I find it hard to believe that – look, I don’t care how kinky you are. You aren’t always, in every context, with any potential partner, up for being grabbed and kissed, or even just flirted with. Which is where the millennial feminist affirmations of “FUCKING ASK” or “enthusiastic consent” come in. It should not be that hard to understand that none of us are asking you to not have your romance and your sexy funtimes the way you like them. And MAYBE, a conversation about harassment and assault, particularly where women are just trying to go to work and do their jobs, is NOT THE PLACE FOR YOU TO SHOW UP AND SCREAM INTO THE VOID THAT YOU LIKE FLIRTING.

Nobody cares. Do your thing. Do it consensually. THAT ISN’T WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT, BRENDA.

I’m finding it legitimately exhausting that the backlash so far has been people itching to do a bad take looking at a movement revolting against the silencing and horrific sexual harassment and assault of women in the workplace and going, “But, but, but, how will we do romance, then?”

THAT. ISN’T. ROMANCE.

IT ISN’T ROMANCE.

THAT YOU JUMP SO QUICKLY TO EQUATING IT TO ROMANCE IS SCARY AND AWFUL.

STOP.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK

So on this episode of Anne, a pastor shows up and says Anne doesn’t need to go to school anyway because she can just stay at home and learn how to be a wife, and then Marilla gets PISSED and yells at Matthew, who basically just asks if she’s OK, “Now, is there anything I can bake or clean or mend or fetch for you?” before storming off, and then when Billy jokes that “girls are so useless” and they should “stay in the kitchen” and that they should “leave the men to their work” Anne screams, “Why don’t you give me that hammer and I’ll finish the job myself if YOU’RE too busy being a bully to GET IT DONE?” And then all the men laugh.

Last episode I thought Ruby and Josie smiling in a rather shocked way meant that they admired Anne for smacking Gilbert with the slate, but apparently I was wrong. This time, I’ll say I guess it’s possible that the men think Anne is just being silly, but it still plays to me as though they thought it was legit great that she screamed that at him.

When it comes to Ruby (and Josie, probably, but she isn’t here this episode), I still think she does admire Anne. I think she just understands that Anne’s behaviour and personality and orphan status make her stick out, and that it’s socially unacceptable to be seen publicly liking her.

I’m going to hold onto that because the smiling/awe from last time really, really doesn’t make sense to me as the girls laughing at Anne’s expense. Do they not know what to make of it? Are they shaken to their cores? Yes. You’re not supposed to loudly, violently, publicly rebuff Gilbert Blythe. But Anne did. Upon further reflection they decide to uphold status quo and keep treating her badly because she’s too dramatic for their delicate sensibilities (or so they’ve been taught).

So apart from the screaming, this episode was fairly dramatic in other sort of overblown ways. Anne gets to be a hero and I like it, but it is kind of out there. I prefer the budding friendship with Ruby. I also like the moments she gets with Gerry, who keeps hinting that he really wants to go to school and be educated but he doesn’t have that opportunity. My prediction is that Anne will lobby for him to go to school at some point, or that she’ll teach him herself, or both.

Well that’s all. Hopefully news won’t be as aggravating next time I recap an episode, or, if it is, hopefully Anne will scream at someone again because it’s so rare to see girls and women in media fully let loose with their rage. It’s CLEANSING, I say.

Anne Recap: But What Is So Headstrong as Youth?

WELP.

This one is a winner. Truly and completely a winner.

Finally, Anne is settled at Green Gables so she goes to school and it’s THE BEST.

While at school she learns the complicated politics of being friends with girls and enemies with boys and also insinuates that Prissy Andrews is fucking the teacher OOPS.

There’s a scene in which her new girlfriends are enthralled and giggling listening to her explain sex without having her even having the faintest clue that sex is what she’s describing, and it starts off as hilarious (ANNE SHIRLEY IS TALKING ABOUT SEX!!!) but then it gets dark because now she’s describing the alcoholic abuser she lived with and all the times she listened to him rape his wife without really understanding that that’s what she was listening to. So. Oops.

The girls are scandalized – not because it’s rape, but because of Anne’s impossible-now-to-ignore proximity to sex and alcohol, because it’s 1908, of course.

Parallel to this is Marilla, joining a progressive mothers’ group.

MARILLA. JOINS. A. PROGRESSIVE. MOTHERS’. GROUP.

THEY DISCUSS FEMINISM.

Then Rachel gets mad at her for “being a suffragette.”

Marilla: There was a lot of civilized talk about women’s education social reforms.

Rachel: Next you’ll be telling me you all burnt your corsets and danced naked in front of town hall!

Marilla: We ran out of time.

marillarachel

Oh and also Matthew: I reckon every new idea was modern once… until it wasn’t.

I love Matthew.

Marilla and Rachel are snapping at each other as Rachel is leaving but then Anne bursts in and congratulates them for being such good friends for so long and then they sort of forgive each other. Aww.

But Marilla gets kicked out of the progressive mothers’ group because of Anne’s Prissy Andrews teacher-fucking insinuations, as Mrs. Andrews is kind of one of their leaders. But near the end Marilla goes to visit Mrs. Andrews and declares that it isn’t Anne’s fault that she’s witnessed so much, and, also, too bad progressive parenting doesn’t have any room for compassion. Rather than looking scandalized and obstinate, Mrs. Andrews appears thoughtful.

So. I hope Marilla gets to be in the progressive mothers’ group again and I hope she stays there forever.

Meanwhile pedophile teacher is the actual one at fault and it seems pretty clear that this show is going to hold him to account, which is delicious.

Oh, and Gilbert shows up.

He saves Anne in the woods, she gets told off because Ruby likes Gilbert so she isn’t allowed to talk to him, she promises not to.

All this while, by the way, Diana has been working hard trying to make sure Anne can be part of the group and she is a goddess. She is amazing. I love her so much.

Making Diana’s job harder and perhaps ensuring that Anne can’t be friends with these girls is the fact that Gilbert thinks Anne is cute, and he’s popular, and he’s not used to rejection, so he persists. And finally, at his lowest, bewildered that she’s determined to ignore him (BECAUSE SHE WANTS FEMALE FRIENDS!!!) he does that thing where he pulls her braid and calls her “Carrots.”

And she cracks her chalkboard over his head. Screaming, “I’M NOT TALKING TO YOU.”

And then Ruby and Tillie and Moody stare at her in awe.

ruby

Even Josie is impressed.

josie

I think… I think Josie might actually be a little bit in love with Anne in this version?

Maybe she’s actually of the opinion that Anne is ridiculous and is laughing at her, but as of the end of this episode, to me, this is reading as admiration. Which is cool, because I think we need more adaptations where female characters who supposedly hate each other in the original are just going to be friends in the new version. Why not?

Rebecca where the narrator and Mrs. Danvers become BFFs, for example? Yeah. I want that. Would it change the entire story? Yes. Good.

In this case Josie was always more of a Kate Sanders to Anne’s Lizzie McGuire, which makes the possibility of their friendship make even more sense.

I’m hopeful.

ANNE SHIRLEY HAS A VERY BAD TEMPER.

YES.

The episode ends with Anne running into Marilla’s arms and sobbing that she’s never going back to school.

This was perfection. LM Montgomery would be fucking proud.

I’m sorry I’m swearing while talking about an Anne of Green Gables adaptation but MARILLA IS IN A FEMINIST GROUP NOW AND ANNE HAS JUST BECOME THE ENTIRE CLASS’S HEROINE FOR REFUSING TO INDULGE GILBERT’S NONSENSE AND WALKING OUT ON THE PEDOPHILE TEACHER. SO.

Oh hey it’s the 1985 version AND the 2017 version.

What I think I’m also really liking about this episode as opposed to the others so far is that while everything I said last time about how Anne was always great because she just does what she does and says what she says without worrying about judgement, in this episode, she’s completely worried about judgement.

That is, she’s struggling to tamper down on her big personality in order to have friends and succeed. I have to assume, because it happens in the novel, that she ultimately finds a balance between being who she is and thinking about others. As in, there are some moments where she shouldn’t just talk. Like when she’s basically slandering Prissy Andrews. That’s not good. But sometimes she should absolutely be who she is and not worry about societal norms, like when Gilbert is being mean and the pedophile teacher is being misogynistic and unfair. In order to get through life without being exiled or hurting people you have to care a little bit about fitting in with the people who matter to you, but you do have to find ways to be true to yourself.

So, yes, she’s like if a manic pixie dream girl were actually written to be a human being. Which is awesome.

Anne Recap: I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me

OK, first of all, these episode titles are unreal.

Secondly, that Anne official image I’m using as my header is unreal. I always feel like she’s looking straight into the depths of my soul.

As much as I think both of these things are super pretty but also a little much, it’s still kind of amazing that, as I said somewhere in the episode 1 recap, if Anne Shirley was real she would very much approve of this adaptation.

As far as the second episode goes, though, I thought most of it was a little “meh.” Approximately 3/4 of it is mostly unnecessary – Anne has taken the train back to Halifax but didn’t return to the asylum like she was supposed to and is instead trying to make her own life as a thirteen-year-old with no money and no adult.

Which is, to recycle the phrase, a little much.

Matthew finds her at a train station selling poetry readings so she can get to… New Brunswick? I can’t remember. She yells at him about how if she goes back with him like he wants, her place at Green Gables will always be precarious and that’s unfair. I’m with her, honestly, but I think a heartfelt conversation between her and Marilla would have sufficed instead of this lengthy adventure.

Anyway. Matthew calls her his daughter spontaneously, shocking himself and Anne, and so she chooses to go with him. I know Matthew likes her right away but I’m a little skeptical that he’s already at the point of spontaneously referring to her as his daughter but I’m OK to go with it because portrayals of adoption are rare and often are in fact horror movies.

I call this whole thing unnecessary because in the book, the brooch does go missing and Marilla does force Anne to confess and then punishes her, but she punishes her by not letting her go to picnics.

Sending her back to the asylum and then freaking out for most of an episode out of regret and fear of what might have gone wrong while Matthew is away fetching her back is A LITTLE MUCH. It’s a much bigger mistake. It’s only sort of forgivable because Marilla hasn’t bonded completely with Anne yet, but even still, what she does is pretty cruel.

But I am willing to forgive the show for this because it leads to a very good final five or so minutes.

Before that, Anne has to be told by like ten different people that Marilla was extremely worried about her, and she still doesn’t believe it because Marilla is against showing her feelings. It was kind of tiring, but on the other hand I like that the focus is on the difference between “Shout it from the rooftops” Anne and “Never say it ever” Marilla. I’m looking forward to this continuing.

And then she and Marilla have a nice conversation in the nice woods.

And finally, Marilla and Matthew ask Anne if she would like to take their name, so she signs their family bible as “Anne Shirley Cuthbert” but keeps making mistakes and she wants to add “Cordelia” in there as well and although I can’t even begin to explain how amazing this moment is, I’m still going to just state for the record: I was delighted and I still am. Anne is the best. Amybeth McNulty who plays her is the best.

Anne Shirley (or, apparently, now: Anne Shirley Cuthbert) is like if a manic pixie dream girl were written well. Which – to be fair – sometimes they kind of are. I think the reason she works where others are grating and kind of insulting is that the whole thing is her own story. She is open and honest about every single one of her feelings and people are confounded by her and in awe of her. People are always trying to get her to contain herself, but she doesn’t. She is unrepentantly Anne of Green Gables.

As a young girl who kept everything to herself, I really loved Anne for being unashamed and unafraid of externalizing the wonder she feels just from existing.

Aaaaand now that I’ve fully remembered why I love this story hopefully I continue to love this version. Considering a flawless five final minutes saved an entire episode for me, I probably will.

A 2018 Mini Adventure

On New Year’s Day I got an email from an Italian woman that she was trying to send to her friend, but I guess our email addresses were similar so I ended up with it instead.

It went like this:

Buongiorno, 

Ecco il pdf della ricetta della torta di mele. Ieri credo di aver frullato troppo le mele, se riesci a frullarle un pò meno forse la “crema” rimane più consistente..Ti allego anche la ricetta di una torta crudista al cioccolato che ancora non ho provato a fare ma sembra mooolto golosa…

Sotto trovi il link al sito di ricette crudiste da cui ho tratto quella del cous cous di cavolfiore + tante altre.. (a proposito mi sa che ho dimenticato l’insalatiera di vetro che lo conteneva. Non ho fretta di averla, alla prossima occasione..)

http://www.ricettecrudiste.it/ricette/couscous-crudista/

Dalla classica ricetta Nordafricana un couscous crudista a base di cavolfiore e ortaggi. Una meraviglia per la vista e per il gusto, scoprite la ricetta!

Grazie ancora per l’accoglienza e la gradevolissima serata. 

Di nuovo Buon 2018 a tutti.

In other words:

Hey.

Here is the pdf of the apple pie recipe. Yesterday I think I blended the apples too much. If you can shake them a little I think the “cream” might remain consistent. I also attached the recipe for a chocolate cake that I haven’t tried yet but it seems soooo decadent.

Below is the link for the website I got a lot of raw recipes from, like the cauliflower cous cous (btw I know I forgot the bowl, I’m in no rush to have it back, next time).

Thanks again for the reception and the pleasant evening.

Again Happy 2018 to everyone.

So I checked out the recipes, using Google translate because though I am Italian I’m nowhere near fluent. As luck would have it, they’re all vegan. All of them. Also raw, which, I think, was more the point, but still. I’m always saying I could use more raw vegan in my life.

I replied and told her she got the email a little wrong but thanked her for the recipes anyway because I’m going to try them. I replied in English, and then she replied with “Hey sorry thanks for telling me enjoy the recipes there’s no gluten or dairy in any of them,” also in English, so I felt like a jerk for not trying to reply in Italian. But it’s fine. Google is a thing.

Look. This is perhaps the most magical thing that’s happened to me via email. And I’ve been offered jobs via email. A job I like, even, once. The first time I talked to my long lost brother was via email.

BUT THIS TRUMPS EVEN THAT.

It probably has something to do with that one terrible guy who has texted me by accident twice now thinking I’m his (probably) terrible friend, telling him to date exclusively virgins, sometimes virgin sixteen-year-olds.

I keep meaning to reply one day pretending I’m someone he knows and say “Bro help I keep obsessing over whether the hotties all my friends are dating are virgins is there a support group do you know help me” or “Bro I’ve started dating this teenage virgin hottie but bro help if we have sex she won’t be a virgin anymore do I then have to dump her and find a different teenage virgin hottie but then if so the cycle starts again or I get arrested so what do, help.”

But I never get around to it.

The point is, someone contacted me by mistake and bequeathed three raw vegan and gluten free recipes and one of them is a chocolate cheesecake.

Thank you, internet.

Anyway. I’m going to blog the three recipes because unlike some people I could mention I’m not worried about anyone’s virginity status, and therefore I have lots of time to do things where otherwise I would be occupied thinking about who’s a virgin and who isn’t a virgin. Fancy that.

I’ve made the first one already! Technically I should have started with the apple pie, and then done the cheesecake, and then the cous cous, but I started with the cous cous because I’m a lot more excited about dessert so I figured I’d just get the vegetables out of the way.

INGREDIENTS

For the cous cous:

1/2 of a cauliflower
Cumin
Turmeric
Curry
Salt
Pepper
Olive oil

For the toppings:

1/2 of a bell pepper
1/2 of an onion
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons olives
5-6 cherry tomatoes
1/2 T of peas
1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
The zest of half a lemon

Blend the cauliflower with the food processor*** so as to obtain a grain similar to the classic semolina. Transfer the cauliflower couscous into a large bowl and season with cumin, turmeric, curry, salt, pepper and oil.

Cut the pepper, the onion into cubes (you can marinate it with salt and vinegar first), the tomatoes, the carrot and the celery. Add the capers, previously desalted, the peas (fresh or frozen) and the olives. Season with salt and pepper Add the cous cous to the dressing, top with the lemon zest and decorate with fresh mint.

***Food processor in Italian is “robot da cucina” which is pretty great news. A direct translation of that is “robot of the kitchen.”

I forgot the peas and cherry tomatoes. I also “forgot” the lemon zest and the mint (I was too lazy for that) but it would have been good. Even without those four ingredients, I actually liked this a lot. The fact that there aren’t any measurements for any of the spices meant that I just added until I liked the taste and I have to say, that makes a difference.

I also DID NOT marinate the onion and pepper in vinegar first, because I HATE THAT. I HATE THAT SO MUCH. I HATE WHEN I BUY FUN LITTLE SALADS ONLY TO FIND OUT THAT IT ALL TASTES LIKE VINEGAR AND ONLY VINEGAR.

But if that’s what you like then go for it. It’s definitely missing a tang and that’s probably because I didn’t add the zest.

Well, that’s it for now. Next time is a raw apple pie. So. Yeah.

Anne Episode Recap: Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny

In 2017 I fell disastrously out of love with two popular shows, Game of Thrones and Stranger ThingsSo to start 2018 off better, I decided to watch Anne on Netflix. I’m going to watch it properly, slowly, and recap each of its seven episodes because I might like it a lot. Or I might not. It’ll be fun to do this with something that I’m not convinced about yet so I don’t end up feeling betrayed.

Anne is based on Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery, and I’m mostly familiar with this animated version of the story:

Which is delightful.

Also the musical version:

Which is also delightful.

So I think my main problem will be that this new Netflix show seems so far to be the dark and gritty reboot of Anne of Green Gables.

On the one hand, Anne Shirley, whose picture is the dictionary definition for both “precocious” and “melodramatic,” would absolutely love this version of her story, if she were real and not a fictional character in a children’s novel. She’s enthralled by gothic romance and is just a little bit quixotic. She’d love her story to be told with more excessive darkness than it usually is.

On the other hand. It’s still a children’s story. Do we really need the scene where one of Anne’s previous “foster fathers” whips her in the front yard? Do we really need the scene where a group of girls dangle a dead mouse in front of Anne and basically threaten to murder her?

No, I’m going to say.

But that’s just me.

Other than that, I really like it so far. My two worries for the upcoming episodes are as follows:

  1. Now that Anne’s (almost) situated at Green Gables, we shouldn’t need anymore harrowing examples of how difficult life would be for an orphan in the Maritimes in the early 1900s. But I suspect they’ll grittify other things to make up for it, and I don’t know how I’m going to feel about it.
  2. If they make Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert into tragic figures just because they’re single and childless I might get more than a little mad. First, they aren’t childless anymore because Anne, and second, if they had done what people are “supposed” to do and settled into heteronormative relationships, then Anne would be stuck with Mrs. Byrd or worse, because they probably wouldn’t have had a need to adopt her. Third, it doesn’t need to be portrayed as a tragedy just because it’s not the usual depiction of what a “happy” 60-something’s life should look like.

To be fair on that second point, Marilla does, at one point in the novel, think wistfully about the beau she had when she was young. Once. She can do that once, and she can be anxious about aging without someone to eventually care for her (again, until Anne is cemented there) and still be more or less fine with her life choices. Please.

And on the plus side:

The Mrs. Lynde apology was amazing. The song from the musical is probably my favourite from that show:

“Just make my headstone commonplace. And print my name in lowercase. Without an “e.” Just… leave a… space.”

Amazing.

And yet this show’s version manages to be just as good, without there even being a song!

In this episode, we covered:

  • being picked up by a bewildered Matthew at the train station and waxing poetic about a cherry tree;
  • crying a lot;
  • being overly dramatic about how “ugly” she is;
  • being insulted by, insulting, and apologizing to Mrs Lynde;
  • Marilla’s constant attempts to be meaner than she is and to not laugh out loud;
  • being rude to the hired French boy, who is likely unique to this adaptation;
  • meeting the Barrys and pledging eternal love and friendship to Diana;
  • and being accused of stealing Marilla’s broach and being sent away.

There’s still green hair, drunk Diana, Gilbert in his entirety, and other school drama to get to.

Well. So far I’m into it.

100 Books: December

Jan Feb March April May June July August September October November

Phew.

I was reading up until midnight. And past midnight. But I count anything I finished by 1:15 a.m. on January 1st as something I read in December because, come on.

I’ve also been counting anything I finished in early hours of first days of any month as being from the previous month, so at the very least I’m consistent.

I read 17 books this month. Really it’s 16, which makes this an even 100 (I’m almost sure and I’m afraid to go back and do the math and find out I’m short). But there was one horrible extra book that counts on a technicality and so I’m including it to complain about its existence.

Here are some notes from the end of this journey:

  1. As December wound down someone on our Twitter timeline was talking about having finished *365* books this year. *365* BOOKS. And she finished before the month was over, so that’s MORE THAN ONE BOOK PER DAY. HOW. But despite a little bit of jealousy, mostly I feel very proud of that person. I hope one day if we happen to be in the same vicinity I’ll just spontaneously be struck with the desire to shake her hand and congratulate her and then we’ll both be really confused. But anyway.
  2. Reading 100 books in a year was a little much. I think now that I’ve proven to myself that it can be done, I’ll read more books than I so far have been reading per year, but the deadlines make it hard to enjoy things. I have a bad habit of skimming that I picked up while studying English Lit in university, and also from being a Harry Potter fan and needing to know everything that was going to happen as quickly as possible but still understanding what was going on in the story, and that habit reared its very practical and useful head here. I want to slow down and enjoy things that I read from now on, though.
  3. Kids’ graphic novels are good.
  4. I have some favourites. And I’ll probably blog about them at a later date.

For now, here are the last 17 books of my 101 books read in 2017, a not good year, but an OK year. With books.

Lumberjanes: Volume 5

lumberjanes 5

CTRL C CTRL V: It’s good it’s Lumberjanes so it’s very Lumberjanes and good.

Lumberjanes #21 & Lumberjanes #33

lumberjanes 29  lumberjanes 33

Same as above, but here I read two chapters that will eventually be added to their own volumes. I prefer reading it as a whole thing, and also I missed a chunk between the end of Volume 5 (I think) and the beginning of #21, and obviously there are several chapters missing in between the two I picked to read. But anyway. When they’re added into their own volumes I’m sure I’ll reread them and be just as happy with them as I was reading them separately.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

a christmas carol

It’s basically the Jim Carrey mocap movie adaptation, but obviously it’s just a book and it doesn’t have the overdramatized chase scenes and screaming, so, I loved it, but I also missed the overdramatized chase scenes and the screaming. I know why this is a classic but of course I already knew why it was a classic. Despite the fact that there are thousands of movie adaptations out there to choose, even if you don’t like the mocap one, I still recommend it because it’s nice, short, seasonal reading and all it asks is that you be a generous person if you’re totally capable of being a generous person, both in money and in simple kindness to the people around you.

You Can’t Punch Every Nazi by Mike Isaacson

you can't punch every nazi

This is a 30-some odd page zine that contains information on modern fascists and some strategies on how to talk to them. I personally don’t know any people who have been completely seduced by fascism but we’ve all seen the slow slide into rather harsh far-rightism, and most otherwise good, decent people do harbour slivers of white nationalist opinions. I decided a while ago that I would try to speak up when someone I know espouses harmful opinions, and I figured this would help.

It’s the beginning of 2018 and somehow, I think it’s pretty useful, and also, it’s available here for free.

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erica Johansen

invasion of the tearling

My Christmas gift to me was waiting until December to read this. It mixed it’s high fantasy main story with a modern(ish) day dystopia kind of like early-stage Handmaid’s Tale, which was very surprising and also very surprisingly well done. Kelsea is a teenager on her way to very young adulthood and she acts like one, and so far, I love everything about it.

It was especially good to read this book now that I’m completely disenchanted with Game of Thrones and even A Song of Ice and Fire. My sister said in her review of the first book in this series that it’s like if A Song of Ice and Fire was only about Danaerys. That was how she sold me on the book, too. And I agree, that’s pretty much what the Tear universe is so far. After watching the seventh season of the show, I’m going to go so far as to say that the Tearling series is like if Game of Thrones had any reason for existing whatsoever. (I’m sorry but I’m so done. I wish I wasn’t.)

Because Tearling is grappling with how to be a good leader, how to be idealistic, how to create a just society in ways that Game of Thrones is certainly not. Not at all. Maybe the books. Not the show. The show is a pile of rancid cynicism with good acting, music, and CGI.

OK, so, positivity: this series so far is gold. It’s not without it’s uncomfortable faults, but it’s good stuff.

Reasons to Vote for Democrats by Michael J. Knowles

reasons to vote for democrats

I realized as I was writing this post about some really good books that I could technically include this incredible waste of paper because the joke is that it’s blank.

Like.

There are chapter headers and then just blank pages.

It’s.

Look I think all books need to be printed on recycled paper but I think this book especially is an incredible waste of forest.

In some ways I understand that it’s kind of funny but the joke is actually on you if you pay your hard-earned money for a blank book that took a bunch of jerks pretty much no effort to create.

Anyway. My sister and I were shopping for a book for our frighteningly conservative-minded (which means racist) (maybe it doesn’t always mean racist but in this instance it really does) cousin and that’s why we even saw this waste of space.

I’m one of those people who thinks there’s no halfway understandable reason to vote Conservative apart from racism and hatred of air but I’m going to say this too: a book called “Reasons to vote for Republicans” or “Conservatives” or “Donald Trump” that’s completely blank would ALSO be bad. Just as bad, actually, because surely at least our side can come up with some arguments and counter-arguments like reasonable people who don’t want to cheat people out of money and trees in exchange for negligible artistry.

Anyway. We bought Humans of New York for our cousin and maybe he’ll glance at it twice. Whatever. That one actually took effort to create.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

eleanor oliphant

I don’t think there’s praise enough for this book.

This book is all over the place here – and I don’t mean huge eye-catching displays at Chapters, because no, but it’s everywhere else. It’s in big box grocery stores. Usually, to me, because I’m still a bit of a snob (but I’m working on it), if there’re two solid shelves of a book at Walmart or a substantial stack of them at Costco it’s maybe not the best book, or it’s a blockbuster book like Harry Potter or Twilight or A Thousand Splendid Suns.

I’m not sure if Eleanor is a blockbuster but I hope it is. It was exactly what I needed, in any case, and I’m sure lots of other people could get something they might need out of it. I picked it up because I liked the cover and the summary sounded OK, but it exceeded all of my expectations enormously. Eleanor is instantly likably unlikable. I love her, and I love that she’s sometimes a little bit difficult to love. Pretty early on there are hints that all is not well and the more you learn on that front the more lovable she becomes. It doesn’t hurt that as we learn more about her she learns more about sensitivity, which is excellent.

It’s worth pointing out, mainly because of how much I loved this book, that it deals quite a lot with child abuse, depression, suicidal thoughts, and domestic violence. I think it handled these various topics really well, but obviously your mileage may vary.

There are two big reasons that caused me to decide that this is probably my favourite book this year.

  1. The climax/”conflict is now at peak levels of intensity” moment. I was waiting from the first few pages for the conflict to blow up and be ridiculously dramatic. But, no. It’s handled with a lot of maturity. Eleanor figures out what she needs to figure out without making a huge scene the way she would have in a different book, or maybe in a quirky rom-com version of this same story. It’s not that she faces her problems squarely and with heretofore unseen inner strength, because she doesn’t. But neither does she act like many of the lovely teenagers in all of the lovely YA I’ve read this year would have, bless them. I was torn because while I felt bad for Eleanor, I was also thrilled at how calm everything was. The fallout is also handled really well, I think. There’s just enough drama, it’s nicely paced and rather cathartic and it’s everything.
  2. I like how the one potential maybe romance thing ended – small. And potentially… not romantic. Although it’s clearly implied that it’s romantic and I’m all for it being romantic but I think it’s exactly the right way for that subplot to have ended. Again, maybe it’s just that I’ve read loads of YA but I’m comparing this really quite beautiful slow progression into romance (that maybe is going to stay friendship, who knows) to a climax in which two characters make out furiously in a tree in front of all of their family members, and, yeah, this is more my speed. Also, it’s so important that “romance” is not a thing that fixes everything. I know there’s a place for that, but I prefer when it doesn’t happen.

I didn’t want it to end. And when I did finish it I wanted to just reread it, since that was my only realistic option. But I had more to do before the year’s end so I COULDN’T.

Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel

dog

I learned that labs are terrifying and that dogs are ridiculous.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

binti

This short novel/novelette is really cool. It’s science fiction, which is not close to being my favourite thing in the world, but it does what science fiction is supposed to do, as far as I’m concerned, anyway: it challenges things. This is a challenging story that has pretty much all of the characters reevaluate their initial feelings and biases and work together. I kind of think this shouldn’t work (I can’t give away why). But it does.

There are a few sequels to this and I’m definitely interested in reading them. Sci-fi so rarely captures my attention but this one was really really cool.

Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh

spirit hunters

We bought this for our youngest cousin. It’s a ghost/possession/haunting story for children and it’s super creepy.

I read it quickly before wrapping it (I usually try to, because sometimes a book will seem like a good idea on the shelf and then you bring it home and it’s full of unfunny rape and animal cruelty jokes for literally no reason and then you have to go back out shopping again because this trash is not worthy of our baby cousin) and I’m a little worried that it’s going to give him nightmares.

On the other hand, I kind of hope it gives him nightmares. When I was a kid I loved scary stories and getting spooked. Well. It was a love-hate relationship, maybe, because I never loved the part where falling asleep at night was impossible. But in the end it’s always worth it. I recommend it for the kid in your life who wants to get scared but because horror movies usually have unnecessary sex/gore/etc. they aren’t allowed to watch most of them yet and they therefore need to resort to scary books. This one will do.

Insane Clown President by Matt Tiabbi

insane clown presidency

We bought this one for another cousin! Mostly we think he’ll like the cover art. There are also illustrations along those lines for each and every chapter, which, unfortunately, is the best part of the book.

That’s not to say it’s not good, because it is pretty good. It’s just that the subject matter is so bleak and ultimately not funny.

Notably, Tiabbi’s discussion of Bernie Sanders/the young progressive vote/Hilary Clinton was by far the most palatable pro-Bernie thing I’ve read. Usually pro-Bernie stuff is condescending because it kind of has to sneer at the Democratic base for choosing “an establishment candidate who isn’t really that progressive personally” while ignoring that the Dem base probably went for Clinton because she was the more realistic choice, and they wanted the more realistic choice. For reasons. That need to not ever be dismissed.

HOWEVER. My reading, and other pro-Hilary readings, can often be condescending the other way, towards the young progressives who rejected Clinton. I’m still sure some of them are ridiculous and would never have voted anyway, even if Bernie had won the nomination, but the reality is, it really really is a good sign that a candidate like Bernie Sanders, no matter how tiresome hearing his name has kind of become, did so well, especially with young people. Their reasons for picking him were good ones. Tiabbi’s stuff made that clear without being awful and unnuanced and broish.

Anyway. Let that be the last I hear about the 2016 primaries and the 2016 election. It’s 2018 now and all I want to hear about is the impeachment.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

sisters

This was kind of wrenching. I really liked it, except for the part that involved dead/dying pets. One more time: the 2017 lesson is that graphic novels for kids are awesome.

Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook by Mark Bray

antifa

giphy (1)

HHHHHHHOMG. So.

I have a lot of thoughts, but they don’t really matter. Basically, if you’re interested in antifa at all, and, I said this earlier when I talked about reading the book about terrorism but I’m saying it again now, if you’re living in today’s reality then you probably are at least somewhat interested in the topic, I highly recommend this one. It places current antifa tactics and groups in their historical contexts, which is really unnerving when this book demonstrates all of the similarities between what’s going on now and what went on right before WWII. I don’t think the book is scaremongering – in fact I just think it’s being honest. I took away some fairly hard-hitting points from it, the most important of which is, if we’re serious about “never again,” we need to understand all of the different facets of how we actually make “never again” the reality… and this book suggests that antifascist action, some of which is violent, is a crucial part of it.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

radio silence

We intended this book for our little cousin but thankfully I read it first. It’s just a touch too old, but we’re lending it to her in a year or so because it’s so good.

First of all, I think it’s the most accurate and realistic depiction of being a high school student I’ve ever read or watched or encountered anywhere. And while that means it was delightful to read – the feeling of “so someone else felt like that once too!” is always so beautiful to stumble upon – that also means it goes to some very dark places.

This and Tash Hearts Tolstoy are high on my list of books I wish I’d been able to read when I was a teenager, but no matter. I’ve read them now.

Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral by Phillis Wheatley

poems on various subjects

It’s available online to read freely, like, right now. I suggest you check it out, even just one or two poems, because the backstory on this one is intense.

I can’t really say anything about it except “how did I take two American lit courses and we never were assigned even one of these poems,” but here’s a thing you should definitely read about it.

Assholes: a Theory by Aaron James

assholes a theory

I don’t really know what the theory is, but this was a fun read. It will actually make you feel a little bit better about having to put up with a certain type of person you might often have to put up with.

Also there’s reference to Donald Trump, but he wasn’t even running for president when this was published (do you remember those glorious days), so it was kind of sad.

Arrival (but really, Stories of Your Life and Others) by Ted Chiang

arrival

Science fiction! Not my favourite.

I hadn’t realized that this is a collection of short stories, only one of which is the basis for the movie Arrival which I really like. The story is good – it’s probably my favourite in the collection – but I prefer the way the movie handled the alien aspect of things.

However. Amy Adams’ storyline in that movie kind of bugged me. In this version the character makes a similar personal life choice, but you get to see her thoughts and nightmares about it, and everything makes more sense. There’s a significant change in the adaptation as well that makes me frown a bit. SPOILERS FOR BOTH VERSIONS: In the movie, her daughter is fairly young, maybe a teenager, when she dies of an illness she was always going to contract and suffer through. In the story, she’s 25 – still young but an adult at least – and she dies rock climbing. Maybe the movie makers thought the rock climbing thing would make audiences go “Wait why couldn’t she go with her to the cliff or tell her not to go on that particular day” and sure, those would be fair questions. The illness makes it clear that there really isn’t anything she can do to prevent it.

Buuuuut the point is she can’t? The way we perceive time, when someone dies suddenly, we don’t see it coming and couldn’t have prevented it. The way Amy Adams’ character sees time, she can see a thing coming and yet she still can’t change it. She just knows it’s going to happen.

This bugs us because we can’t understand how a person could be able to see bad things coming and not be able to prevent them, what’s the point etc. etc. but the point here is that aliens will have vastly different ways of existing in this universe than we will, so. Shut up.

Ultimately I like this story, I like what it says about us and our one way of living in the world, but I think it’s fundamentally flawed because we can’t just magically escape our narrow understanding of the world to write or to read a story, not fully.

Also I wrote a bit about the heptapods and how I think they look like squid, but I forgot to talk about how they also look unnervingly and I think purposefully like human hands, but with one extra digit.

Anyway. The other stories were all a lot like this too, where I liked them but they were challenging and, I think, sometimes kind of too bold for their own good. But I definitely think this collection is a worthwhile read. Again, as with Binti, I think any sci-fi that properly challenges me is worth my time.

AND THAT’S IT! Time to… read. More. Again. Yey!

That One Quiet Moment in The Last Jedi

Spoilers.

This is a short one.

Also Merry Christmas and/or happy December 25th!!!! ❤

There are a bunch of quiet moments in The Last Jedi, and I know, because my sister was sitting next to me digging in a bag of popcorn during almost all of them so it was hard not to notice. Most of them are when Rey is talking to Luke or Kylo.

But there’s one quiet moment that’s also a huge epic action moment, and that’s where Vice Admiral Holdo drives her ship, at light speed, through the First Order.

So I was sitting there, making my impressed face,

gen10

looking at the silent aftermath, and because it’s so quiet I heard a few kids, all over the theatre, one by one, in hushed tones, go, “Whoa.” It was kind of like, after the first one spoke up, the other few had to answer, or maybe they were just all compelled to go “Whoa” at various times.

What was already a really cool moment became even cooler because of those few kids and their pure reactions.

Confession Time

(The featured image today is Aurora singin’ with her critters because 100% that is me, in the woods behind our house, singing these stupid modified lyrics while surrounded by friendly woodland creatures. It happens. Shut up.)

I try, I really do, to not be obnoxious in the veganism. I’m relatively new at it, after all. Sure, I’ll judge OFAH and stuff, but otherwise I try to be nice and not easily offended by things so that the people around me start to lose the stigma of “vegan=humourless moralist.”

But. OK. So when “The Christmas Song” comes on, and it gets to the line about helping to make the season bright, I sing,

Tofurky and some mistletoe

Help to make the season bright.

I’m sorry. I don’t even eat Tofurky, but it doesn’t ruin the meter like “just scads of Christmas cookes, French toast, scalloped potatoes, lasagna and I guess some mistletoe but that’s kind of not important” would.

It’s a thing I do often, actually. I rewrote some of the lyrics to Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young” which is about pestering an apparently chastity-committed Catholic girl into sex. I changed it so it’s from her perspective.

You think not having morals is badass and so great

You say you’d laugh with sinners and scoff at the saints

But there’s Hitler and Stalin and Pot and Hussein

Not all sinners are that much fun

Some of them made the good die young

-this next part gets wailed-

MY MOM THINKS YOU’RE A LOSER AND SHE WANTS TO KNOW WHAT YOUR DEAL IS

Now are you even sure you’re into me,

Don’t alienate me from my family.

Whoa-oh-oh-oh

It’s a catchy song so this way I can sing along to it, just this part though, without getting mad about random Catholic girl fetishism and, like, blatant coercion. TBC the church needs to get over itself on this and many other issues but no means no, Billy Joel. It doesn’t matter if you don’t agree with her reasoning because her reasoning is based on weird misogynistic sex-negative beliefs about human nature, it’s HER BODY.

Also I don’t for a second buy that he’s concerned about her sexual freedom in the name of feminism or out of concern for her as her own person. Dude’s looking for a naive girl to manipulate so he doesn’t have to actually navigate a relationship with someone he respects.

(I don’t care if the point is that she wants to have sex too and just needs a bit of cajoling I AM SO DONE WITH ROMANCE NARRATIVES EVEN IN SONG FORM THAT PULL THIS WHINY SHIT GIVE ME ENTHUSIASTIC CONSENT OR I WALK.)

(PS WE CATHOLIC GIRLS GET CONFIRMED AT AGE 13 YOU SICK FUCK NOW PISS OFF FOREVER.)

I want to rewrite the entire song from her point of view but it’ll take too much time uuuuuugh I’m so laaaazy.

And “Cheerleader.”

Ooh, I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader

She has literally no wants and needs of her own.

I tried.

Not really.

Sorry Paul McCartney, but…

Well she was just seventeen,

Well you know what I mean.

(What I mean is that I’m a pedo-FY-YULL.)

How could I be expected to not act creepy (WOOOOH) when I saw her standing there.

“You know what I mean,” is the part that gets me. It just sounds so lecherous and leering, fetishising of the young as well as just kind of creepy, and it’s out of place in a song that is otherwise apparently a simple song about meeting someone at a dance and falling in love.

Why not: “We were just seventeen,/well you know what I mean.” Problem solved.

And after the election I rewrote “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria.”

How do you get a woman into power?

How do you get the jerks to come around?

(I skipped a chunk here)

You just need someone who’s a bit like Thatcher,

A bit of a fascist

And maybe like Palin:

A clown.

Many a thing you know you’d like to tell them (the electorate),

Many a thing they ought to understand,

But how do you make them stay;

See the truth in what you say,

Get them to take the pill and keep it down?

Oh how do you get a woman in to poweeeeeer,

if she’d actually be awesome… at the… jooooooob.

(And Sister Margaretta comes in with the alternative lyrics harmony)

And be way better than the guy they chose insteeeeeeeeead.

I don’t know guys I’m bored a lot.

Also three rewrote some lyrics for “Would You Still Love me the Same” because the song offended her, making the singer do increasingly horrible things and still expect to be loved unconditionally.

If I stole all your cash, if I burnt down your house,

Tell me honestly, would you still love me the same?

If I punched a puppy, if I murdered your mom,

Tell me honestly, would you still love me the same?

(why the two of us get annoyed enough at ridiculous song lyrics to reference genocide and murder is beyond me but I guess it has something to do with the fact that we go all in on things we feel moderate distaste for)

PS: don’t try singing along with these. There are lots of extra syllables and/or the meter is all off.

❤ erm

A Coco Complaint

I FINALLY went to see Coco and I have one extremely important complaint:

WHY ARE THERE NO FULL-LENGTH SONGS SUNG BY ANTHONY GONZALEZ ON THE SOUNDTRACK????????????????????

Ahem.

I suppose, technically, both “Proud Corazón” and “Poco Loco” are full-length songs, but “Proud Corazón” is only two minutes and “Poco Loco” is LESS than two minutes and in the movie that performance 100% gets interrupted. And “The World es Mi Famiglia” is less than ONE MINUTE long! What is this nonsense?

Pixar basically made a musical without making a musical, and the short bursts of song throughout the movie definitely work for the pacing BUT I WANT FULL-LENGTH AND MAYBE EVEN LIKE 20-MINUTE VERSIONS OF THESE SONGS ON THE SOUNDTRACK AT LEAST, COME ON!

Pixar what are you doing to me.

This is not OK.

I am not OK.

The Polar Expressay

Anecdote time.

A few years ago, my younger cousin was beginning to doubt, so one day, finally, he went to his mother for reassurance.

“Mom? Do you believe in Santa?”

This is a tough situation because, first of all, the kid has trusted you with one of his innermost fears, a sneaking doubt that he wishes would just evaporate, a sneaking doubt that he never used to experience when he was younger. Now you have to answer properly because this is a big deal question and it has taken a lot of courage for him to trust you with it.

Next, it’s hard because he’s at the age where it’s too early to just rip the band-aid off and admit the truth, but at the same time, he’s too old for a bald-faced lie because he’s going to remember asking this question and that you bald-face lied and he won’t trust you ever again.

So what do you do?

My aunt, thinking quickly (and amazingly), said, “… I believe… in the… spirit… of Santa.”

And he nodded sagely and said, “Yeah, I believe in the spirit of Santa too.”


Belief is a pretty big deal this time of year – not necessarily in Santa, or even in the religious aspects. I always try to believe in the spirit of the season, and the importance of family and friends, or whatever. The inherent gentleness inside all of us. The potential for peace. That stuff is what all of the songs are about, anyway.

This year I’m in a bit of a funk. It’s not down to any one thing, but these days it seems like it’s a little difficult to believe in all of that in general. Due to that, I wanted to look at the Christmas animated movie that is entirely about belief, but that also leaves me with too many questions to be comfortable.

If you want to be an awful cynic about it, you can do a surface reading of The Polar Express (the movie, anyway – I haven’t read the book and I don’t know if or how it differs) that goes like this:

  • The Pol Ex tells kids it’s a buzzkill to be skeptical
  • No, really. Main Boy is always questioning Main Girl and it’s depicted as if Main Boy is a huge buzzkill and Main Girl is always right anyway and all his questioning does is make her doubt herself, but what if she one day is wrong? Is she really not supposed to listen to criticism or “sober second judgement” ever? So when her ticket says “LEAD” at the end, what, is she supposed to be a dictator?
  • Billy is told to just buy into Christmas™ because everyone else is doing it, it doesn’t matter what his lived experiences are
  • Billy is told to trust some elves and a magical gift dude who has never given him a present before because everyone else is doing it, it doesn’t matter what his lived experiences are, and also, all of those previous Christmases that didn’t work out were… his fault?
  • There’s a ghost on this train
  • No, really, there’s a ghost and he’s extremely creepy, and there’s also a room full of terrifying marionettes and the ghost makes one of Scrooge move and yell existentially terrifying things at Main Boy for kicks
  • There are so many potentially child-murdering fuckups on this magical journey, and the conductor, engineers, and all of the elves should get fired

But I’m not an awful cynic. All of the “don’t be skeptical” messaging that seems to be going on is rather undercut by Fourth, Arrogant Kid’s entire existence. It’s not that you shouldn’t be skeptical or curious or even self-conscious and doubtful – all of those are essential things. It’s just that there are times, such as when you’re about to die for the fifth time in a row on this bullshit train journey, that you need to kind of just trust yourself. And your friends. And, I guess, God, or something. Whatever your guiding light is. And on Christmas Eve at 5 minutes to midnight, your guiding light is “The Spirit of Christmas.”

Billy’s subplot is strange, though. If you’ve got nothing productive to say about poverty or neglect or whatever is going on with Billy, then, um, maybe don’t include it and give it a simplistic magical solution.

As for the ghost and the terrifying stuff, I really like it. I find it quite comforting, actually. Whenever the ghost shows up I feel inexplicably safe (yes, even when he’s marionetting Scrooge). It’s likely because the ghost’s entire existence is to mock the kid for being skeptical. Sometimes skepticism needs to be mocked (because you’re being a dick, Declan), and the times to mock skepticicm are basically Christmas time.

I also like all of the almost-death because it’s fun to watch, so sue me. I’m not a fan of “In the real world these people would be so fired” criticisms in general because, first of all, duh, this is a movie, if you meant to watch real life for an hour and a half you took a wrong turn somewhere, and second of all, IDK, have you seen the White House lately aidhfjsdnkandcka

But here’s some less awful cynical critique.

The culmination of Main Boy’s doubt vs belief conflict has him turn away from struggling to see Santa behind columns of elves, and turn away from reindeer anxiously trying to fly while their bells jingle absolutely silently, and close his eyes. “OK. OK. I believe. I… believe…”

It’d be a pretty shallow movie if just seeing Santa confirmed Santa’s existence. It’d be pretty shallow too if the sound of the sleigh bells is what did it. But no, it’s neither of those things. Main Boy can’t hear the bell until he lets himself believe, tells himself he believes, insists that he believes. It’s more about the fear of believing in something in case it turns out to not be true, or if it turns out to not be all you imagined, and you get hurt.

The sound of the bell becomes concrete evidence of Main Boy’s belief, instead of being concrete evidence of the existence of Santa and all of the magic around him. This is all well and good, because although concrete evidence of the magic is what Main Boy has been looking for this whole time, finding that evidence can’t possibly give him what he needs. The problem is, once you prove something with concrete evidence, you can’t really believe it anymore, not truthfully, because then it’s just a fact. “The Spirit of Christmas” is something you believe in, not something you prove.

What I don’t like about the sound of the bell is what’s said about it at the very end of the movie. Main Boy, having grown up into Tom Hanks (like everyone else in this universe), talks about how his friends and even his sister all one by one found that a year finally came around when they could no longer hear the sound of the bell, but Main Boy always could. That’s the part that just doesn’t work for me, because if it’s supposed to be a point about kids having a specific way of believing as opposed to adults, then Main Boy Who is Now Tom Hanks should really not be able to hear it as an adult. And if instead it’s supposed to be about how the Polar Express experience itself was a lasting thing that ensured he would always be a little bit more childlike and believey than everyone else, I’m not a fan of that either, because that’s weird, and the train almost fell through ice and went down a roller coaster, and, I don’t know, it just doesn’t work for me.

Maybe they just didn’t know how to end it otherwise, so they went with, “Our parents couldn’t hear it but we could but then all the other kids grew up and couldn’t and while I grew up into Tom Hanks I still could, TA-DAAAA.”

(that has nothing whatsoever to do with this, nothing at all, but I can’t even think the “word” “ta-da” without thinking about this so)

I’d rather think about the duality of what’s strictly, factually real here, and what’s not but still kind of is. All of that junk is firmly on my playlist: magical realism, Life of Pi, etc. When Main Boy wakes up on Christmas morning, he rips his pocket, even though at 5 to midnight the night before he already ripped his pocket as he made his way outside to see the train. There’s some concrete evidence that the polar experience was a dream.

But then his sister finds the bell wrapped under the tree, with a note from Santa referencing that he lost it the previous night.

Two pieces of evidence, proving two different and conflicting realities.

Their mom comes over and asks what he’s got, and asks who it’s from.

“Santa!” they tell her, and her “Santa, really?” answer sounds really skeptical. I don’t know how it’s possible to instruct an actress to read that short little line and somehow convey that she knows Santa isn’t real while humouring her kids and being a little bit confused but not overly worried about it, but, they did it. Or maybe I’m just reading that into it, but it really does sound like she’s doing double duty there.

And if she doesn’t believe in Santa, and if it’s her and her husband who are putting the gifts under the tree and pretending they’re from Santa, and if the bell is not from her and her husband, then Santa is both real and not real in this universe, which is… interesting.

Belief is a tricky little abstract concept. The duality of “Santa is real!” and “But he’s not, actually!” and then again “But he still kind of is, ultimately!” is interesting but it doesn’t have much to contribute on the subject. It probably comes back to the important climactic moment where Main Boy decides to believe. Deciding to believe in something is big, important, crucial, but in this movie, it also happens right before Main Boy sees Santa up close and actually talks to him. Metaphorically it’s nice I guess; it grants catharsis. But choosing to believe in something, even if it’s “The Spirit of Christmas,” is not a thing that you do one time and then that’s it, you’re set. Faith gets shaken. Time moves on, you get older, you lose people, unexplained things happen in “free and fair” elections, and it takes near-constant work to remain believey, no matter what it is you happen to choose to believe in.

I’m of two minds, fittingly. I like that The Polar Express illustrates belief the way that it does, but I also think its conclusion is a little too simplistic for the big concepts it’s trying to discuss. It’s why I prefer A Christmas Carol and Arthur Christmas – both of those have pretty simplistic ideas at their hearts. A Christmas Carol meshes generosity of spirit (and wealth) with the Christmas season, and Arthur Christmas is about doing your job for the right reasons and very much masculinity all day with the masculinity oh my God it’s entirely about masculinity. Simple ideas expanded with detailed stories and characters. Pol Ex is more about simple characters grappling with big ideas, and, maybe it’s just me, but I like the “simple ideas, complex characters/exploration” type better. They seem neater, cleaner, and ultimately more satisfying.

But there’s really nothing like the train materializing out of the mist.

100 Books: November

Jan Feb March April May June July August September October

WELP.

This was easily my most productive month, reading-wise. 17! That means I have 16 left. To be read in one month. That’s just grand.

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova

awkward

I started the month off right with a graphic novel from Svetlana Chmakova. It’s heart-wrenching and adorable, and tackles bullying and uneasily navigating friendships, but mainly it looks at what happens when you make a mistake. Can you make up for it? How?

It does such a good job. I hope this book is widely available in school libraries everywhere because it’s fantastic.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

my brilliant friend

I’ve been reading this for probably at least a year and a half now. It’s lovely and fascinating but it’s also really dense, and at times a little emotionally draining – nothing extremely horrible happens, but because of how vivid the characters are and how well Ferrante illustrates the relationship between Elena and Lila it’s an intense read.

When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

when the moon was ours

This one requires a long, wistful sigh before going any further.

I *wanted* *so* *badly* to capital “L” Love this book. I almost did. But a lot of McLemore’s prose is floaty and dreamy and beautiful and some of it doesn’t work for me.

This is absolutely a failing on my part, and I’ll cop to it. I love magical realism and I *want* to love dreamy, floaty, beautiful prose, but I often get stuck on it if it isn’t exactly the way I want it to be. At present I can’t even think of an example of an author who pulls off this sort of thing stylistically for my stupid, particular tastes, but I will say that there are certain passages in here that are breathtaking.

When it works, it works. It makes a love scene twenty thousand times more romantic, it makes the setting entirely more beautiful, and there are enough of those moments for me to decide that I’m the problem here, not the prose. But there are some moments, like this one that stuck in my craw: I’m not actually going to quote it but basically Sam has observed that two characters have a bunch of similarities that are probably due to their being blood relations. One of the things in the list is that both women wear out their right shoes before their left shoes, and, come on. Why would he know that? I know him and Miel are close but, who on earth is close enough to know how exactly their friend/lover’s shoes get worn out, and why would he also know it about her guardian?

Anyway, it’s such a little thing, meant to be stylistic and not taken literally the way I, a ridiculous person, took it, and got frustrated. What’s way more important is that this love story between a girl and a trans boy is stunning. It’s so good. It’s written so well. I just wish it had been a tad less dreamy/floaty/beautiful because I suck.

Oh, I also LOVE the way the conflict was resolved. So, so much.

Indexing by Seanan McGuire

indexing

Seanan McGuire is a national treasure. I don’t think I get to say that, actually, because she’s American and I’m not but I’m saying it anyway. And to think I found her because some brocialists decided to mock her for using Harry Potter as a cultural touchstone to form a rally cry about Trump’s election. Her tweet was basically a call for everyone to assemble and she used the Hogwarts houses to talk about how people with different strengths should play to those strengths in the fights to come.

I mean. It was cutesy and harmless and a lot of people, especially young people, enter and familiarize themselves with politics through popular art but the brocialists didn’t like it and she got dog piled. For using Harry Potter in real-life political talk. (Everyone does that guys.) I followed her immediately and I’ve so far loved every book of hers I’ve read.

I actually started out not liking this one very much – the premise is that fairy tales are trying to happen every day and there’s a Bureau that tries to prevent them, staffed by almost-fairy tale leads. So. It’s wacky. But halfway through it grew on me, mainly because the characters were so likable and I felt the need to stick with them, and once the stakes got high I was hooked. I have the sequel downloaded and am really excited to get back to this world, it’s cool and deadly.

Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanna Betasamosake Simpson

islands of decolonial love

This is angry and impossible to turn away from. Because it’s a collection of short stories I’m having trouble remembering specifics, but I do vividly recall one part in one story where the characters do some civil disobedience by picketing the OFAH headquarters purely out of spite with a sign that says “First we’ll kill your animals, then we’ll fuck your women (with their consent, of course)” and though I am not a fan of hunting at all I am a huge fan of consent, and of antagonizing the OFAH (which spends an uncomfortable amount of time whining that First Nations have limited or no regulations on their hunting) and I laughed out loud and heartily.

“it takes an ocean not to break” was my favourite. It was strikingly beautiful and hard to face, dealing with mental health, suicide, therapy, and the systemic racism behind it all.

Sistah Vegan compiled by A. Breeze Harper

sistah vegan

Sistah Vegan gets its own post!

What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat by Louise Richardson

what terrorists want

giphy (1)

If the subject of terrorism interests you, and, it probably does, considering the time in which we’re living, I highly recommend reading this because it puts everything into perspective. The main takeaways are that the post-9/11 “War on Terror” was a gigantic missed opportunity to better understand the “why” and “how” of terrorism, which, you’d think, would be essential for combating it. This was not a surprising conclusion, but it’s still an important one.

It was written when Bin Laden was still alive, and one thing I missed here was a look at unorganized angry white man terrorism which is becoming the norm in the United States, but which has also touched Canada. I’d be really interested in Richardson’s take on how something disorganized fits into the definition of terrorism, and the similarities and differences.

Yikes. Heavy stuff.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

brown girl dreaming

This is absolutely beautiful.

A Pussycat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown and Anne Mortimer

a pussycat's christmas

This isn’t cheating what are you talking about.

OK, so it’s an extremely short children’s book that I’ve read many times before, what’s the big deal?

It’s important seasonal reading, though, and, whatever, I’m close and yet far from the goal number so I have to do things like this.

It’s a good book. This is one of my favourite Christmas images ever.

cat

I want my kitchen table to look like that, always.

Also this cat is perpetually horrified and I love it, she’s like my Chili.

Brave by Svetlana Chmakova

brave

I read this sequel to Awkward in ONE SITTING and it was incredible.

INCREDIBLE.

It’s mostly about bullying and the bigger problem of isolation, and it tackles these issues gently and realistically and also it ruined my night, here you go:

jensen1

jensen

*cries forever*

Seriously, though. I’m thinking about buying this for my little cousin for Christmas because I think it’s both really well done and important.

A Song for Quiet by Cassandra Khaw

a song for quiet

FIRST OF ALL: Cassandra Khaw’s author pictures are the absolute best things ever.

I read one of hers last month, and it was chick lit, so this extremely dark novella was a bit of a shock although now that I’ve browsed through her available work, it looks like this sort of thing is her normal.

I only wish I had read this earlier this year, or maybe last November. Its apocalypse stuff and apathy stuff and cynicism and despair are very late 2016 – early 2017 for me – but then it ends fairly optimistically… and I don’t think I’m there yet. So maybe I actually should have waited to read it until late 2018 (fingers crossed).

The Pemmican Eaters by Marilyn Dumont

the pemmican eaters

Finally, I read some Marilyn Dumont! Her work kept being referenced in that anthology I read earlier this year so it was nice to actually find out what everyone was talking about.

I’m a sucker for Canadian history, and these poems are about the Riel Resistance. I’m also a sucker for rhythmic poetry and whenever her meter kicked in I was reminded specifically of “Puerto Rican Obituary” by Pedro Pietri, one of my favourite ever poems, so, overall, I guess you could say this worked for me.

Farewell, My Queen by Chantal Thomas

farewell my queen

Just as dense as My Brilliant Friend and also intensely about women’s relationships. I found this pretty strange, overall, and that’s fitting considering it’s an intimate look at a really strange moment in history.

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

the weight of feathers

I read this other book from McLemore this month and I liked it better – but I liked the ending a lot less. I liked how it ended – I agreed with the choices the main characters made and all, but as to how the conflict got resolved, I was a strong “meh.” When the Moon was Ours definitely has the better conflict resolution – that was my favourite part of that book. Here, it’s a Romeo and Juliet situation but between two circus families, and basically the two kids get everyone to leave them alone so they can run off together by making out furiously in a tree in front of everyone. And I thought that was stupid. Call me cold-hearted, but, meh.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

we are never meeting in real life

This was everything. Some of it was heartbreaking, some of it was hysterically funny, a lot of it was relatable – I loved it. I’ve never read a collection of personal essays before, and yet I still suspect that if I started doing that regularly this would find a spot and remain on my top five list, at least.

Lumberjanes Volume 4

lumberjanes vol 4

What is there to say about Lumberjanes apart from that this series has been the highlight of my year and no, I don’t think that’s tragic. In fact, I’m delighted. I can’t wait for it to be a TV series (come on, something this fun and lovely HAS to be made into a cartoon dramedy), but I love it as graphic novels in the meantime.

In this volume, it looks like maybe things aren’t as idyllic at Camp Lumberjane (I don’t actually know if that’s what it’s called) as we may first have suspected, but I trust that the girls will fix everything in time.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

smile

Telgemeier’s Ghost was the first graphic novel I read this year, and I loved it so much I decided to give things like Lumberjanes and Awkward and Brave a try and they’ve been some of my favourite things ever. I grabbed this one and read it in a sitting. It brought back many painful memories of braces – though my tooth “problems” were not nearly as severe as Raina’s (all I’ll say about hers is ouuuuuch).

It also reminded me of the time I dumped all of my friends and got an entirely new group of friends, also while wearing braces, also determining that it improved my life tenfold. So this was a nice trip down memory lane to probably the most fraught couple of years of my life so far (which makes me very lucky, that the worst I dealt with was stupid preteen-teen angst in grades seven and eight).

I think if I’d had this book at the time, it would have soothed me a little bit, so bless Telgemeier for it.

November’s lesson is that kids’ graphic novels are amazing. That will be all.

Sistah Vegan: A Review

(Image is from Wishing Well Sanctuary)

I finished Sistah Vegan this month and decided it was worth its own post so here are my very inexpert thoughts on intersectional veganism and the book that compiles some essays dealing with the topic.

sistah vegan

**Disclaimer: am white person whiting it up over here.

Prologue: The Uncomfortable Reality of Racism in Animal Rights

Here are a couple of comments I stumbled upon recently, in response to an animal advocacy group sharing an article that said Canada was badly ranked for it’s treatment of animals (unsurprising).

halal comment

The first comment is frustratingly ignorant. The SPCA can only do so much, guys, because the laws suck and need to be updated. Pay attention to who you’re voting for. The laws also require law enforcement officers who are actually interested in enforcing the laws in order to be effective. Pay attention to who isn’t doing the enforcing and give them hassle when they fail to act. Don’t break into people’s houses and steal animals and ruin animal cruelty cases that the SPCA are building up legally. Come on, now.

The second comment is, you know, racist.

It’s ignorant, too, because, really. What is the SPCA supposed to do about an industry practice that is entirely legal and defined as “not animal cruelty” and instead one of the acceptable methods of slaughter?

I should expand on the “racist” thing though because I happen to know some people IRL who would take issue with that label, annoyingly. “It can’t be racist if it’s about a religion” OK Brent, best case scenario you’re a bigot, congrats, but I’m still going to call it racism because Islamaphobia gets directed at anyone who looks vaguely brown.

Why is it a problem that people are against Halal? Well – it’s not. Halal is not a great thing where animals are concerned. It requires animals being slaughtered for food to be alert during slaughter whereas otherwise the animal would be stunned first. Personally I think it’s not the biggest difference because animals slaughtered for food tend to be at least somewhat aware of what they’re heading for before they get stunned, especially if the slaughterhouse is badly designed or not following the top guidelines, but it makes enough of a difference to the individual animals that really that sort of practice shouldn’t be allowed.

But why single out Halal? Kosher is exactly the same. Also, why single out either Halal or Kosher? Why not single out the industry standard practice of grinding up male chicks while they’re still alert? That is not done because of religious laws, just for, I don’t know, expedience, maybe. Or what about gestation crates for pig mothers, which is a practice that causes immense suffering for years on end rather than for just a split second at slaughter? How about going after gigantic quotas that lead to massive stress among the already stressed-out workers, which of course leads to physical abuse of the animals, either as a necessity for reaching quota or as an outlet for frustration?

How I deal with Halal and Kosher is that I’ve just resigned myself to being mostly silent about it, because there are, in fact, animal advocates of both the Muslim and Jewish persuasions who are having these conversations within their own communities and it isn’t my place as some rando Catholic to butt in. Why not allow them to take care of their own cultural practices, particularly these days, when their communities are under quite a bit of stress because of certain unmentionable somehow elected officials? Really, ever since September 11, 2001, it hasn’t been the opportune moment to start browbeating Muslim people about one of their cultural practices that isn’t good for animals. Especially when non-Muslim Canadians aren’t exactly lining up to tidy up our own garbage practices.

Canada has plenty of animal rights issues to tackle that are not specific to our Muslim communities. Like the seal hunt. Like all of those other meat industry standard practices I mentioned. How about the transportation of pigs for slaughter? That was kind of a big deal a while ago.

Also, Islam is in many ways a pretty animal-friendly religion. Sure, Halal requires animals to be alert for slaughter and there are the sacrificial animals during Eid, but Muslims are technically not supposed to eat pork ever (good for pigs), and a lot of their fasting rituals require them to abstain from meat for lengthy time periods each year (good for food animals in general). Christianity could learn a thing or two.

I don’t know this commenter and for all I know “Halal” was just the first thing that popped into their head when it occurred to them to email the SPCA. But probably not. I think it’s more than safe to say that this is an example of someone who probably does care about animals, but who also is upset about Muslim people existing nearby and has decided to kill two birds with one stone and join the two pet causes.

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t speak up here. I seriously considered it. I think things like this hurt everyone, because first of all, it’s racist, which is never good, and then there’s the fact that there easily could be a Muslim person scrolling through these comments, and animal rights needs allies, and to have allies we need to make people feel welcome, and not make them feel like they do anywhere people enthusiastically voted for Stephen Harper and his low key Islamaphobia. Finally, it does delegitimize us a bit. People are looking for any excuse to dismiss animal rights as a thing worth discussing, and if you’re using it as a platform to be racist, you’ve basically handed them a perfect reason to stop listening forever.

The reason I didn’t speak up is sort of complicated. The first problem is that Facebook will then plaster that conversation on the walls of my friends, some of whom are my coworkers, and I didn’t want them to see me calling a stranger an Islamaphobe. And that’s basically what it would have been, because the second problem was that I couldn’t come up with anything calm and reasonable to say.

I still think the right thing to do was to think about it for a while and then post something along the lines of, “Hi there – Islam is a pretty animal-friendly religion, actually, considering the fasting and such, and there are lots of other, non-Islamic and totally legal industry practices that cause a lot of suffering to food animals, none of which the SPCA is capable of ending on its own. We need to vote smarter and put pressure on our elected officials so that they know we want animal welfare improvements. Have a LOVELY non-Muslim-hating day!”

Alas. Next time.

And that said…

The Actual Review

The book is a collection of personal essays about the broad experience of black women vegans. A lot of the essays focus on health veganism. Health veganism is cool and all but for my part, I’m not really interested in hearing about the health benefits of being vegan these days. What I actually want to hear about are the pitfalls. I’d like in depth examinations of B12 deficiencies and where to get calcium, vitamin A, omega 3s, iron, and zinc, because although I do have vague ideas about all of those things, being nutritious is really tricky and I think it can only help to be honest about how complex it is. My sister has talked about some of that before but I’d like to see more of that from vegans regularly because it’s helpful stuff. (HERE’S THE PART WHERE I UNSUBTLY SHOUT OUT TO THREE TO WRITE MORE NUTRITION STUFF.)

Health veganism, from the perspective of all of the essayists is especially beneficial for black Americans, however, and that’s where my own perspective is limited. I may not be all that excited about how useful a vegan diet can be for combating obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, but because black Americans are disproportionately more likely to die from these health problems than other races in America, it’s clearly worth more discussion.

There was also a really intriguing conversation near the end of the book between women discussing being fat, black, and vegan/vegetarian, and that was one of my favourite parts. Fellow vegans: FAT SHAMING. IS NEVER. OK. FAT SHAMING. ONLY. DOES HARM. THANKS.

Perhaps my favourite essay was “Being a Sistah at PETA” because I’m a PETA apologist. I love PETA criticism and here was some really well thought out criticism written by a former employee. She says she wanted to apply the intersectional message of a vegan diet being good for black Americans’ health considering they are more likely to face certain health problems made worse by animal consumption, but PETA wanted to focus on fur-wearing in hip hop and getting various black celebrities to be publicly anti-fur. It seems clear from this essay that their goals were really short-sighted and, like, extremely white. Outreach to any community that focuses on “what animal rights can do for you” would probably be more effective in the long run than patronizing “let’s get celebrity role models to say stuff for us and that’ll do it.” Sigh, PETA. While you may like your bad publicity and your celebrity partnerships, sometimes maybe try reaching out in a thoughtful manner. Cover your bases, is all I’m suggesting.

Finally, we arrive at “the dreaded comparison.” The biggest takeaway I got from this collection was that it’s really, really important to be thoughtful about rhetoric. Comparing animal exploitation to human atrocities is important, and probably essential, both for understanding how animal exploitation works AND for understanding how human exploitation works, but, especially if we’re white, we need to think carefully about when and why we’re doing it. Mainly, we need to not scream all day about how the meat industry is just like slavery or the Holocaust, because in doing so we may be hurting marginalized people. There are several accounts of hearing black people say they were viscerally disgusted by “meat is like slavery” rhetoric and never gave the issue more careful thought afterwards. If someone has observed throughout our culture that animals are worth far less consideration than humans, and also that their own humanity will always be up for debate because of systemic white supremacy, this sort of rhetoric will never help animals, and instead will always hurt people. If we’re doing comparison, it needs to be in specific contexts only, thoughtful, studious ones, looking at the similarities and differences between human and animal exploitation. We can still ask people to begin to value animals more and to consider their suffering when they make decisions, and we can absolutely use strong rhetoric to do so, but I think white animal rights activists especially need to take several steps back if we’re going to use human atrocities that didn’t affect our ancestors and don’t affect us currently as easy rhetorical devices, and, like, not do that.

Sistah Vegan is good reading for anyone who wants to help make the animal rights community less racist and therefore much, much better. We need to be accommodating and intersectional. It’s the only way forward.

Anatomy of a Traitorous Disney Opinion: We Liked the Beauty and the Beast Remake

Hi there! Here we all are on this fine day, finding ourselves parked on this web page which belongs to two people who preferred the 2017 Beauty and the Beast to the 1991 Beauty and the Beast. It’s not the first time we’ve liked the newer, live actioner version of a Disney classic better than the original version, but our preferences tend to run against the grain of how, like, everyone else in the universe feels about these live action Disney remake movies.

We wanted to discuss our B&tB feelings in depth but were too lazy to write another long-winded post about it, so we went on a Canadian staycation and had an actual verbal conversation about it and recorded it, probably while black bears lumbered around outside looking for snacks. But we didn’t bring the right equipment for the microphone so the sound is not great; only one of us is properly audible. So, this is an extremely informal transcript/summary of that conversation. It’s really important that we share it, guys. We were totally insightful. *shifty eyes*

First, we complained about our internet names and how weird they are instead of actually introducing ourselves.

To fix this I’ll just stick this here: hi, I’m erm, I had a stupid day today and it involved a lot of dying animals. Three is my sister and she’s currently making a video about Michael Scott for a class for her MBA.

So then we yelled at each other about who should start talking. Then Three tried to hum the iconic Disney opening “When You Wish Upon a Star” notes and it was really bad. She may actually be tone deaf and/or she doesn’t remember 3/4 of the notes and the order they go in of that song. But then we started, right off the bat, with something important.

Erm: I think you’re too harsh about Belle.

Three: I think YOU’RE too harsh about Belle.

Erm: Wow, good counterargument. You said, that she – she’s elitist. I think you’re right, but I think, sometimes –

Three: Did I say she was elitist?

Erm: No, that was between the lines. I think that sometimes, in a movie, your character has to kind of be elitist.

Three: Well, I think that’s why Belle works for so many people. Because everyone wants to believe that they are the one person –

Erm: That’s what you were saying, and I think you’re being harsh.

Three: How is that harsh?

Erm: Because –

Three: I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m just saying it’s a thing.

Erm: Well, you have to keep pointing out that it’s not a bad thing.

Three: OK, well, next time I write a post about B&tB I’ll point out that it’s not a bad thing. But it is the whole – look, it’s not a bad thing unless it’s the entirety of the character, is to be better than everyone else.

Erm: But that’s not really the entirety, because she’s so isolated from everybody most of the time, and then, OK, so, in the town, that’s what it’s about but when she goes to the castle that’s not what it’s about anymore, now she’s just at the castle.

Three: But she doesn’t do anything in the castle.

Erm: OK, but that’s your other thing, is that she does nothing, so –

Three: Well that’s my – that’s what I’m saying is when the entirety of your –

Erm: She does go off and save her father twice.

Three: Yeah, that’s something, but, why is her only personality saving men?

Erm: That’s not a personality, that’s actions.

Three: Sorry. Why are her only actions saving men?

Erm: … because… that’s just… how it is.

Three: At least in the live action she saves herself, or tries to.

Erm: Yeah, I think she has more to do in the live action, but not that much more.

Three: And she tries to teach a little girl to read.

Erm: Yes, but still, these are small things, like her story doesn’t change all that much. It’s just little details that they added that make it a little more –

Three: I like to see little hints of a personality in there because I know that she’s there to perform a specific role for the audience to make you feel like you could be put in this story, she’s the avatar character, she’s the Bella Swan of this story, and you can be like, “I can be her,” and, yeah, you probably could, but it’s nice to see her occasionally do something other than be kind of a blank slate, save men from themselves.

Erm: *mutters unintelligibly through that whole speech*

LATER…

We argued about whether the Beast was going to save Belle from the wolves or apologize or just to get her back in the animated one, and basically decided that it doesn’t matter. But we note that in the new version everyone knows about the wolves so it’s clearer that he is trying to save her, not just recapture her.

We compared how the servants cower while Belle is yelling at the Beast for not cooperating with the hurt/comfort she’s trying to provide him with, whereas in the new version, while the servants are still occasionally scared of him, mostly, they don’t let his dickish behaviour go uncommented upon.

Three: So, you say that in the animated version it’s not clear what lesson he’s supposed to be learning, ’cause it’s almost like there’s two stories happening simultaneously, like one about appearances and one about controlling your temper, and he doesn’t seem to learn either.

Erm: Yeah.

Three: So what lesson would you say he’s learning in the live action?

Erm: He does learn that – he’s a snob, and that goes away, and that’s all that happens. Basically, he learns a lesson she should have been learning if they had made her character flawed and needing an arc. It could start with her being a snob, and she has to learn.

Three: That not being able to read doesn’t make you less of a person.

Erm: Yeah, but, I don’t think that’s what she believes, but, sure.

Three: She believes it about Gaston.

Erm: No.

Three: Although, he is a terrible person.

Erm: She knows that he’s a terrible person because he’s a terrible person.

(We agreed to disagree)

We talked about how we haven’t seen Gaston apologists ever. But there are a lot of Scar and Frollo apologists and we’re unimpressed. I informed Three that there are Ratcliffe apologists – more like, there are people who are honestly impressed by Pocahontas for showing how “both sides were wrong.” When, y’know, one side was clearly the wrong one.

Erm: We also complained [in the blog post we did on the animated movie] about the town and how it’s designed to be awful. Um. I don’t know. Is it that big of a deal? Is there anything like that in a Disney movie, ’cause that is a thing, like, if you live in a really intolerant place and all of your neighbours are horrible people…

Three: I think we wrote that in a time before Trump was elected, where we were a lot more likely to look at these people and say “Oh I bet there’s human inside of them and they’re probably very nice and have a lot of real problems and insecurities,” and now we’re just like “Ah you know what, they probably would have voted for Trump.”

Erm: Yeah. But in the live action version they do have – I think it’s in the spur of the moment that they [form a hate mob], but then the magic breaks and then they remember that they’re married to these people. So, it’s weird, the hate mob that just showed up is a bunch of good people.

Three: The hate mob is just like, “Can we kill my wife and child?”

Erm: It’s just really bizarre.

Three: It is really bizarre. I don’t – that’s true, maybe that doesn’t work.

Erm: A lot of the story doesn’t work in the live action and the animated one.

Three: I really enjoyed the fact that some of them were married to the servants, though, because why wouldn’t they be?

Erm: Because it’s hard to be married to someone who lives in castle.

Three: Well maybe they all lived in the castle. I don’t knooooow. I’m just saying they have families and lives, they’re not just servants, like there’s more to them than that.

We debated whether three’s description of Belle in the post was too harsh, because erm thought that you could do that with any of the Disney princesses (at least until the early nineties), and we didn’t really get anywhere except to suggest that maybe Belle seems “worse” (for lack of a better word) than the others in terms of agency is because it isn’t really her story, she just serves a narrative purpose in the Beast’s. Falling in love with the Beast is important, because it shows that she’s compassionate, but the act of falling in love is also really passive. It almost seems to happen against her will, in fact.

Erm: And we already know that she’s capable of [falling in love with the Beast] because she knows Gaston is an idiot despite the fact that he’s pretty.

Three: I think the reason I go out of my way to say that Belle is a bad character as opposed to any of the others is because –

Erm: Is she a bad character or is she just not the focus of the story when she seems like she should be?

Three: I don’t know. She doesn’t work for me as a character. And the reason why I always have to fight that is because the understanding is she’s supposed to be ours. If you’re a brunette, she’s supposed to be yours. If you like to read, she’s yours. If you’re quiet, she’s yours. If you’re an outsider, she’s your princess, she’s for you. She’s supposed to be our favourite.

[Three is apparently very angry about the several people who assumed her favourite princess is Belle]

[Shoutout to all the Middle Eastern, Native American, Chinese, African American, Polynesian, and, we’re assuming, Scottish women who dislike the movies/princesses that people must automatically assume they love, because apparently this is a problem]

[Seriously, though, we imagine that, for example, being Native and having to hear about Pocahontas all the damn time when it’s not a good look – like, at all – at colonialism, would be kind of a nightmare]

Three: There’s just nothing to her.

Erm: It’s because it’s not about her, it’s about the Beast.

Three: Yeah. And I guess what it is is that the story that could have been didn’t happen, and I feel like I was cheated out of a princess.

Erm: I don’t think I was cheated out of a princess but I do think that Beauty and the Beast is a missed opportunity. To have a female character who has to learn something and who starts out as unlikable because this would have been the opportunity to do that.

Three: They’re never going to write an unlikable princess. They get chewed up and spit out every time they try.

Erm: I don’t know that they try.

Three: Merida?

Erm: That was Pixar. But yeah. When Brave came out I saw people arguing that she was wrong, she should have just gotten married and why was she so mad, and it’s like, are you serious? Do you want to actually think about that for a minute? I just think – when you’re used to all the princesses being nice people from the start and then you have one who is slightly selfish – and I think Merida was right.

Three: Yeah I think she was too.

Erm: And I think the movie doesn’t think that she’s right, but she was right.

Three: She was right.

Erm: She’s basically Ariel. She does exactly what Ariel does. She goes and finds magic to solve the problem of her parents not letting her do what she wants to do and then it ruins her parents’ life, and then in Brave it comes down to, she has to apologize. But they were kinda going to ruin your life, and they weren’t listening to you, so what were you supposed to do?

Three: Yeah, I don’t even think she is selfish.

Erm: No, and I think that her parents have a lot more power than she does, so it is more their responsibility to actually listen to their kid.

Three: But, for some reason, people can’t handle seeing a princess who isn’t perfect. And this comes back to the fact that female characters are held to a much higher standard than male characters. We’re fine seeing male redemption arcs all the time but when do you ever see a female redemption arc, especially in children’s lit?

Erm: And this would have been perfect for that, because in the original fairy tale – it’s not like she really learns anything, it’s just that the beast is a good guy except for the fact that he sentences people to death for picking a flower, but other than that, he’s a good guy, and she lives in the castle, and over time she learns that he’s good even though he looks scary, and then she leaves, and decides to come back. So all you had to do was add some personality, so that she would be resistant to liking him, even though he’s nice, because of the way he looks, and there you go.

Three: So she learns that appearances don’t matter.

Erm: Yeah, it’s not about him. He’s like any of the cursed princesses in any story. He just needed to be saved.

This said, we still like that they fleshed out the Beast’s story for the live action, which they did because the Disney version really is his story. And we felt that they should have just committed to that.

Cinderella was Jack Jack and Gus’s story, according to us, which is a thing we’ve said before.

So then erm wanted to talk about masculine self-hate and managed to not talk about it very well.

Erm: I think that, mainly in the animated one, most of the Beast’s conflict is just about masculine self-hate. He’s just wounded and he lashes out, and he recognizes immediately that she could break the spell but thinks it’s also impossible.

Three: And tries anyway, and when it doesn’t work he’s like, “Of course it didn’t work.”

Erm: He’s afraid of rejection so he asks her in a really aggressive way.

Three: What part in particular is the self-hate, is it the end?

Erm: Yeah. Yeah! Because she leaves and then he gives up on life.

Three: So he literally lies down and lets Gaston try to kill him.

Erm: And still doesn’t get up despite being beaten to death and shouted insults at, he’s like, “Ah, it’s fine. This is how I die.” I don’t know – it’s hard to talk about because I don’t think I understand it at all, being female, but I know that it’s a thing, like, that’s why they put women on pedestals, that’s why Belle doesn’t have a character, that’s why most of the princesses don’t have [unintelligible – but, maybe something along the lines of flaws, arcs, idk].

Three: So what is the man and the beast archetype?

Erm: So it’s a dichotomy – I think that Disney does masculinity really well, usually, but here, they’re kind of relying on – it’s a really old model of perfect masculinity against animals. So everything that’s perfect, like, being logical, and – uh –

Three: Gaston?

Erm: No, because he’s not. He is and he isn’t. But like, being at the top of the food chain, and logical, and smart, and thoughtful, are all on the man side, and then everything chaotic and hysterical and emotional and – violent is usually on the animal side. But then what happens is that they put anybody – so like women: women are considered to be emotional, so they get put on the animal side. And then, anyone who isn’t really rich is more like an animal because they’re uneducated, so they can’t be as logical, and then anybody who isn’t white is obviously more like an animal – that’s how they justify everything to do with colonialism, that’s how they justify slavery, obviously anybody who’s gay – anybody who isn’t a really rich white guy from Europe, is more like an animal. So this system hurts everybody, except the extremely rich white guy, basically. And the way that they do it in Beauty and the Beast is that the Beast proves that he’s not a beast by not being violent towards Gaston, and not caring about his life anymore, and being tamed by femininity, and Gaston gets put on the animal side – and the problem with that is that he’s uneducated, and a brute, and he’s a villager. I think that they’re not trying to do that, but in some ways it’s still connected.

[this stuff is more complicated than this]

[and is 100% the basis of the intersectionality of animal rights, btdubs]

Erm: And I don’t think that – Hunchback doesn’t do that.

Three: No. Well, Frollo is clearly a powerful white man.

Erm: He is, and he’s religious, and virtuous, he thinks.

Three: He seems to be nonviolent – until he doesn’t anymore, but still.

[“Seems” is a good word here. Frollo is torturing people and genociding from the very beginning of the movie. It starts with him killing Quasi’s mom and attempting to drown an infant. He just thinks he’s justified, and despite the fact that the audience knows he isn’t, right from the start, his authority and self-righteousness kind of makes us forget what a reprehensible and violent person he is, which is exactly how logical powerful rich European white men got away with all sorts of atrocities – it was for everyone else’s own good, because those dudes knew best. Or at least, that’s what they kept saying.]

Erm: Oh and, um, Tarzan. Because the guy – he’s British, and like, really British, with a pompous accent, he’s got the gun, he’s the logical one, he’s manipulating everybody –

Three: But Tarzan, the uneducated ape-person, is – so, Disney likes to ask the question, who is the monster and who is the man, not just in Hunchback but in a bunch of different movies, and in Beauty and the Beast, the answer was, the blond-haired, blue-eyed prince with the expensive education, who happens to be having a bad hair day, is the man, and Gaston is the monster.

Erm: Well, in this one, he says, “I am not a beast,” [it’s a really good impression of Dan Stevens, for real] and it’s like, where did this conflict coming from? You haven’t discussed this at all. And even, in the Mob Song, LeFou gets a line that we both like, which is, “something, something, something, something,” [it’s a less good impression of Josh Gad, to be honest].

Three: It’s written really cleverly and I can’t remember what it is. Something about, yes there’s a beast, but I’m afraid the true monster has been awoken or something, it’s way better than what I just said.

[It’s: “There’s a beast running wild, there’s no question/but I fear the wrong monster’s released.”]

Three: So, saying, sure, there’s a beast out there somewhere but this guy is the actual problem, which, thank you, LeFou, for being all of us, at all times.

Erm: Well, yeah. I think Beauty and the Beast lends itself to masculine self-hate which is probably why it didn’t do as good a job at showing the healthy version of masculinity – I don’t know that there’s one healthy version of masculinity but they do show you the unhealthy version and they reject it.

Three: Well. Certainly Gaston is unhealthy.

Erm: Yeah, and I think they do that really well, it’s just a little bit uncomfortable how clear it’s made that he’s stupid. But now, I’ve changed my mind a little bit, because of what happens in politics, when you don’t uphold intelligence.

We talked about the wardrobe joke and how it’s a little, tiny bit better than the animated version of the same joke, but it’s still a joke at the expense of men in women’s clothing which isn’t cool and is sort of low key transphobic. Or not low key.

Also we liked Gad’s LeFou; a simple matter of taste. We acknowledged that he isn’t good representation at all but we liked him anyway.

Three claimed she doesn’t like Olaf, erm said, “Three of House OwlMachine, I name you liar.” Because she couldn’t stop laughing at the part where Olaf says, “I don’t have a skull.”

She continues to claim that even though she thinks that is one of the best lines in the movie, she doesn’t want Olaf to be there. And then she forgot that Hei Hei exists. But she likes Hei Hei. She just forgot him.

We talked a lot more about upcoming live action Disney movies, but we had very little else to say on the actual topic so for now, I’m going to stop transcribing.

Maybe I’ll pick it back up for when the next live action remake comes out.

In conclusion: we liked the live action one better, probably mostly because it was longer and fleshed out the side characters a lot and we responded to that. Because the main thing that we learned here is that our fundamental problems, mainly, that Belle doesn’t drive her own story/have an arc/learn anything/have to self-actualize, and that the Beast is a bit of a strange depiction of masculinity, for Disney, at least, didn’t really improve in the live action one.

Emily’s Best Christmas Present Ever: Whoo Boy

emily's best christmas present ever

oh my goodness

So.

I found this on my bookshelf a while ago. It was written for me when I was in Grade 1 or something by two Grade 3 students who were my reading buddies. It felt vaguely familiar as I was reading it, but there are definitely things in here that went completely over my head (and, most likely, they went over the authors’ heads too) when I was little.

But it’s delightful so I’m writing a blog post about it. Merry very early Christmas.

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So, first of all, excuse my pictures. I was too lazy to not do this while giggling on my bed, and the result is that they’re all really badly cropped and whatnot but it’s fine.

Next, we have to wonder whether the main character is supposed to be me. She does kind of look like me. Honestly, even the parents look a bit like my parents. And if so, it’s lovely that in a book written about me for me, the authors chose to portray my family as being too poor to afford milk. That’s a really fun and not stressful at all imagination game.

Milk is bad anyway, family, no worries.

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Page 2 was just Emily’s mom yelling at her that they’re going on a walk. So here’s page 3, on their walk through a dystopian nightmare without any trees or plants at all. And if it’s supposed to be near Christmas, well, I guess they’re also too poor to afford outerwear.

I’m sure the subject of poverty will be treated sensitively by the authors. I can tell by how Emily says sadly that she wants to live in a house “like that,” which probably means, a house that people who can afford milk can afford.

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For dinner, they had little pieces of bread.

What.

I’m not going to touch the continuity error. The miserable dinner is enough for me on this page.

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Um.

You know what. I’m not going to say anything.

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I think the authors were heavily influenced by every Christmas special ever in which some lucky kid gets to go with Santa to do his grueling job. Also, Santa has a beard on this page.

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Everyone is bug-eyed on Christmas morning, seems legit.

I do have some questions.

Why are they running downstairs if they’re expecting there to be nothing under the tree?

Also why is that chair so horrible.

Also the dad needs a better outfit. Hopefully one of his presents is an outfit that doesn’t match his chair.

Also I approve of the overalls, which are what Emily is wearing on this page, I assume.

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Oh wow, that new chair is even worse than the other one, and it matches the dad’s outfit even more and I’m exponentially more horrified by that and also the fact that Emily changed her sensible overall outfit into a dress that ALSO matches the terrible furniture.

And the wrapping paper changed colours. It’s the magic of Christmas day.

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Poverty solved, everyone! Just learn how to build a house, and then if you have lots of kitchen supplies you can eat stuff that isn’t just pieces of bread. Also a doll.

Honestly, though, it’s pretty much on par with every well-meaning Christmas thing that tries to tackle this subject. Remember Billy in The Polar Express? What was that? Why was that? And that was made by professionals! Professional adults! Talk to my sister about it, she has the bluntest takes ever on that aspect of that movie.

Anyway. Hopefully this year is the best Christmas ever to all of you who celebrate it. And to those who don’t, hopefully your December 25th is still really really good. And also, it’s kind of early for Christmas wishes but I’m not even sorry.

And thanks very much to Krista and Amanda. Ladies, you are amazing. Thanks for being my reading buddies. And also for writing me into a story in which my family is destitute and basically starving but it’s OK because Santa fixes it with tools and a how-to book on home construction.

AND. It’s the giving time of the year. Inspired by this story and its extremely naive take on poverty, I’m reminding me and you that food banks exist! They’re easy to give to because many grocery stores have bins for donations all year round, and I basically live at the grocery store so, cool. Check out their most-needed lists.

(Also, as someone who works at a non-profit I can tell you that financial donations are always the bomb) (seriously, cash is good) (non-profits have bills to pay and as nice as it is to get the stuff on the wishlist – and as easy as it is for people to do that if they happen to be at a store with bins or if they happen to be cleaning stuff they don’t need out at home – cash is the most useful thing)

The Saga of the Terrible St Catharines Vet

… has come to a close, for now.

To summarize, there’s this vet who was (and still is) practicing in St Catharines (a city in southern Ontario that has a really good vegan doughnut place). He is not a very good vet. His staff members took covert video footage of his particular brand of veterinary medicine, which included slamming animals, choking them, and punching them.

The College of Veterinarians of Ontario disciplined the vet by suspending him for ten months, slapping him with a fine, and are requiring that he gets retrained on how to restrain animals.

So, here’s the thing about that.

There’s already quite a lot of mistrust of veterinarians and vet medicine in general. When a doctor or an RVT takes your pet to the back to do a few procedures out of sight, pretty much their most important job is to ensure that the human client trusts them to be kind, gentle, humane. While it’s true that restraint is usually required to get procedures done safely, and that even minimal restraint can be upsetting for doting humans to see, for the most part the staff at the back are good at what they do and are doing it right because to do it wrong would go against their entire being.

Now people have seen this footage of a vet slamming animals around, and of course every time they drop off their pet for surgery or even just to get a vaccine done they’re going to worry on some level about what’s going on back there. They also know that the CVO didn’t revoke his license, which is absolutely what they should have done, if only to protect the profession. But also because, yeah, dude needs to not be practicing medicine. It’s going to be hard to convince people to trust veterinary medicine as a whole when the CVO won’t even suspend someone who is on camera punching a chihuahua.

Earlier this week this story somehow got worse, because the Crown decided to drop all sixteen charges of animal cruelty against the vet filed by the OSPCA. They decided to do this because the CVO had already investigated and disciplined the vet.

There was also something about the OSPCA officer investigating without a proper complaint being filed. The officer says he was responding to the video footage that had been released to the public and was widely viewed.

Laws are complicated, but for animal cruelty laws in Canada and Ontario specifically, it really does come down to whether you have sympathetic law enforcement on your side or not. And precedent. Precedent is key.

The crown could have pursued the animal cruelty charges. There was evidence. Crimes had clearly been committed. There are lots of precedent-setting cases of dogs and cats being struck and the abuser being found guilty of animal cruelty. And as for the CVO, well, it isn’t the CVO’s job to prosecute veterinarians for animal cruelty. That task is left to the OSPCA and cooperative prosecution. Alas.

Everything went wrong here. The CVO should have taken a more decisive stance, and law enforcement should have actually enforced laws. By not doing so, the next case of an abusive vet (and it’s coming) will be harder to prosecute, not easier. It will be harder, not easier, to obtain justice for the animals who are abused next, and it will be harder, not easier, to prevent something like this from happening again without demonstrating that there are tangible and appropriate consequences.

The vet in question and his family have received death threats, so I guess I should add that that’s never cool. The dude is garbage and he should find a job that doesn’t involve animals, or humans, really, but no death threats, thanks.

Also, his clinic is still open and people are still going there. Hint: don’t. There are vet clinics everywhere; find a new one.

Further reading on this depressing case of maximum apathy: St Kits, CBC, OSPCA.

Don’t watch the video, though. Instead, watch this.