Monday, 1 August 2016

In Defence of Pokémon Go

The other day I was treated to a lunch hour filled with one of my esteemed (no longer) coworkers waxing eloquent about the absurdity of the latest video game trend. Obviously she was harshing on Pokémon Go. Now, I’m not a very adept player of video game in general, but it was all I could do not to reach across the table and slap her. Not so much because she was being critical of a game which I find rather enjoyable, but because she was doing what so many others are also doing in relation to this specific game - criticizing it and its players ceaselessly and without due cause. 

This seems to be such a trend - the dismissal and criticism of Pokémon trainers - that even the 7-ring circus of the coming American election has fallen in popularity as a ridicule-filled conversation topic. But why are so many so quick to put down this specific game and its players? It’s just a game, so why are the opposition taking it as so much more than that?

Oscar & Felix made friends
with a Growlith!
So what if some avid trainers are taking the games’ mantra a bit too seriously (it’s “Gotta catch ‘em all!” for those of you not in the know)? Is that any more addicting than any one else’s collection? Be it shoes, cars, or rare bottles of Scotch, we all spend our time and money on things that others deem to be a waste. 

So what if there’s packs of teenagers (or millennial grown-ups haha) roaming the neighbourhoods? They’re actually getting outside and exploring their city - which is more than many people would do voluntarily these days. 

So what if they’re busy discussing how many 10km eggs they hatched this weekend? Is that really any different than the people who obsess about cross-fit, marathons, or how many steps their pedometer has logged? That 10km egg hatch means they got their asses off the couch and walked 10km - and that 10km leads to another 10km, and another, and another once people get into the swing of it. 

Really people, it’s just a hobby, so maybe it’s time to take off your judge-y pants and take a long hard think about why your criticizing something that makes someone else happy and isn’t causing them any harm* (*though certain people need to learn to look both ways before crossing the street before they go galavanting across the city in search of their next catch). Let people enjoy themselves - especially in this case, since Winter is coming and I doubt that many are still going to want to cruise the parks for that elusive Pikachu in -40°C. And if you can’t take my advice and shut up, then expect those of us who don’t put up with people criticizing the things we like to take you down a peg - my inner-bitch was a Master long before I became a Pokémon Trainer! 

Go Team Instinct! 
(Not that I really know what that means haha)

Some apt advice from a trash bin in the neighbourhood

Sunday, 17 July 2016


Let me tell you a story. A story of long ago, and a tale as old as time. A story of girl meets boy. 

Just kidding - though there is a girl and there is a boy, and surely do they meet. 

So. Once upon a time a girl met a boy. A boy who her best friend said was waaaaay too much of a punk for her (sorry for the Avril Lavigne reference, but it’s true high school trope). So the girl told her best friend that she would become a punk rock girl, so that the boy would notice her. 

If you haven't figured it out already, the girl in the story was me, circa age 15. Now, me at age 15 was kind of a loner and definitely a weird kid, and as with most high school kids I generally tried to fit in. The trend in my high school was very influenced by the early 2000s emergence of gangster rap, led in large part by Eminem, Swollen Members, and pot, and I will absolutely admit to liking Swollen Members and buying their album (they had some catchy beats, so sue me), but besides hearing it on the radio I never bought into this white-kid adoption of black culture. On the surface I mostly conformed to the remnants of 90s pop culture - it may not have been popular with the "cool kids," but it was socially acceptable within my small group of friends. Little did they know that the alternative lifestyle was already deeply embedded into my soul. 

I'll never forget seeing the music video for Green Day's “Basket Case” for the first time; I laughed so hard I cried at their shenanigans, and promptly went in search of their music at our local library. I couldn't have been more than 11 or 12 at the time, so I can't believe that my parents let me come home with (and subsequently make a bootleg copy of) Nimrod, what with songs like “Hitchin’ a Ride” and lyrics like “Nice guys finish last… your sympathy will get you left behind”… I subsequently spent the next few years covertly watching Much Music's Friday punk show, searching out obscure metal albums like Closet Monster on trips to Vancouver’s Virgin Records store, and being immediately obsessed with Yellowcard's breakout single “Ocean Avenue” when it hit the Internet radio airwaves. 

So it really wasn’t much of an intellectual leap for me to want to translate what I had been listening to and feeling inside to my external appearance. The cute punk rock guy in my class was just a handy excuse that my boy-obsessed best friend could get behind (she of the ever-changing personality  to suit the needs of whatever current boy she was crushing on). So a plan was hatched, band shirts & a pink plaid skirt were bought, and I debuted the new look at the first school dance of the year. 

The whole stunt was totally lame in retrospect (except for the shock factor, since that never ceases to amuse), since I didn’t get the guy, but the change in out style was more symbolic for the shy high school girl I was. From that point on I felt like I had more of a voice, a voice which could be one of dissent within a very controlled social situation and one which gave me my own individuality outside of the herd mentality that dominates any group of friends when we’re young. 

My dressing like a rebel phase lasted for the majority of high school, and since then it’s come and gone depending on my mood. The look is one of my favourites, but I’m not really the kind of person who can be defined by a single “style” (which is awesome for expanding my wardrobe exponentially, but terrible when it comes to choosing how to dress) - which over time has led a lot of people questioning exactly who I am. The smart ones figure out that I’m not definable, but the rest of the population that only perceives a narrow part of my personality throws out the accusation “fake” faster than you can say “punk’s not dead.” 

Which of course, brings me to the thesis of this entire expose: it’s not how you look, how you sound, or a single instance in your life that defines you. Like the punk movement itself, we are each a swirling vortex of contradictions that seeks to find freedom among the banal and incredible experiences that are life. We are the riptide and the tidepools, eyes lined in sooty black with a welcoming grin on our lips, being swayed by people that surround us as we stand still as a stone and alone in the crowd. We can be defined for a second, but then we change to suit ourselves in the next moment and become a new being entirely. Through rebellion we find the freedom and understanding to make our own way in this world.

So to all the haters (and that’s what you’ve always been) - bring it on. I know who I am, and while I may not wear the uniform of your suicide girls during my 9 to 5, I’m still a punk rock girl deep in my soul. And a million other selves as well. 

*image from Tumblr

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Summer of Wonder

Things I really need to get back on track with this year: blogging, writing in general, and being channelling my creativity. It’s just over halfway through the year, and I’ve blogged a  grand total of twice. Which is poor form considering that I used to blog 3 times a week (or every single day for a while). 

It’s become rather clear to me that to a certain extent that I’ve lost my writer’s voice. I never lost my creative eye, since I continue to enjoy the art of fashion in everyday life and I’ve been successfully channeling some photographic output into my Instagram feed, but somehow putting that all together with an exposé into a cohesive blogpost has fallen by the wayside. Some days I chalk up this lack of output to the fact that I have a full time job (that mentally exhausts me) or that I find the prairie landscape to be an uninspiring locale (I’m too tied up in the variety of being a BC girl at heart to really understand the monotony of the flatlands). But these are just excuses to a certain extent, since for a while I pulled through all these hold-ups and created some wonderful things and wrote some great pieces. 

As those of you who follow me on other social media outlets (or know me in real life) are well aware of, I recently spent a few weeks on my first trip across the Atlantic to the beautiful South of France and the ever-interesting streets of London. I found myself revelling in the new-ness of the entire situation, even when many of the places were familiar through my reading or I was exhausted from not enough sleep.

What they say about travel changing you is absolutely true. Not so much during (I was still awake at 6am and ready for bed by 9pm - old habits die hard or not at all), but when I returned to reality I found myself very much wanting. Wanting more from the life that I had settled into. Wanting more from the people around me. Wanting more from myself. And ultimately realizing that it’s time to find a new voice. 

I may not have achieved this goal yet, but what is abundantly clear is that I won’t find it by letting the status quo lie. So here’s to the beginning, based on the present & the past, the good & the bad, and on an end that I can’t even see yet. 

Let the new wild rumpus begin!

** image of Shakespeare's Globe interior, Southbank, London, UK; 2016-06-12

Sunday, 10 April 2016

On Turning 28

27 was an incredibly crazy year to say the least. A lot stayed the same, but there was so much kinetic movement centring around work that it felt like nothing ever really settled down. And just when I thought it did, another piece of kindling was added to the fire. Thankfully the dragon is a creature born of fire, so instead of burning up I channeled my inner wingéd beast and rose above the flames. Goddess help the poor knights who get in my way. 

It is abso-fucking-lutely possible to become more fabulous every year. 
Puppies make everything better (even if they can’t actually solve your problems for you).
Taking notice of those fleeting moments when the light hits the trees just right. 

Social anxiety is bullshit, but you learn to work through it if you ever want to get takeout.
When the guy you’re dating sums up his perfect vacation as “Salt Lake City, heavy-biking through the desert, and eating spaghetti and meatballs at the Old Spaghetti Factory” and your perfect vacation is a variation on “Paris, leisurely tours of the Louvre, and eating copious amounts of pain au chocolate at street side cafés” it’s never going to work out. 
My high-school punk-rock/bitch/do-what-I-want attitude wasn’t just a phase. 
Being the “bigger person” is really easy when you’re always right. (Letting others destroy themselves with their neuroses is also equally pleasurable to actively ruining people). 
People are part of your life (or not) for a reason. #squadgoals

I still really don’t like when people tell me what to do, and having someone treat me like I don’t have my own opinions, goals, and capabilities is the quickest way to make me cut you out of my life. i may still follow Peter Pan’s philosophy of refusing to grow up, but I am a goddamn independent adult and I expect to be treated like one. 
I didn’t believe him before, but Andy Warhol totally had it right when he said “The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting.” Though I still haven’t quite learned patience in all things…
All you need is cheese. #smokedgouda
Mold on cheese is negotiable, but not having chocolate in the house is unacceptable.
It’s all about the pillow count. 
I may be a girly girl, and I refuse be a basic bitch, but an explosion of pink flowers is what Spring is all about. 

You can still go home, but it won’t be quite the same, since everyone who counts has left town (including you).
Happiness is a cold Beck’s on a Friday night, a caramel frappucino on a hot Saturday afternoon, and a fresh batch of cookies on a Sunday afternoon. 

Guilt is still a useless emotion.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Other Places, Other Worlds

Unlike some years where I struggle to choose a mere five books to make the top 5 of the year list, this year the books seemingly chose themselves. Sure, I read a lot, and a lot of it was good, but these five were a step above the others and took it to a whole other level of enjoyable literature. 

The Hunger - Whitley Strieber

I’ve been a fan of the film version of this novel since I saw it back during my undergrad years - who doesn’t love David Bowie as a vampire, a Sandman-inspired musical intro, and a completely different take on vampirism - but until last year I had no idea that the movie was based on this stunning novel. A lot of the themes are the same between both mediums, and the general feeling of both book and film is well adapted, but the focus Strieber’s focus on the character of Miriam Blaylock heightens the tension to a point where it’s almost impossible to put the book down. This is definitely one of the seminal books within the vampire genre, so I’m incredibly glad that I finally read it (and added it to my collection - yay Value Village score) this year. 

All the Light we Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

This novel is kind of a slow burner, but it’s one of the best WWII-era books that I’ve ever read. Doerr weaves a compelling tale that really gets to the heart of the German-French conflict through the characters of two young children - each on opposing sides of the conflict, and neither with any real interest in the war besides the fact that they are in it. At times the story feels like a caper, with it’s plot line of a cursed jewel secreted away from Nazi looters, and at others like a human interest piece, with its family drama in a multi-story French household, and is all-together an absolute gem. I can’t wait to see more from Doerr, since it’s clear that he has a way with historical stories. 

Paris: The Novel - Edward Rutherfurd

Something about reading this book at the peak of the mid-summer heatwave made it incredibly easy to devour this lengthy and complex book in only seven days. Maybe it was the synergy with Paris in the summertime (not that I would technically know, since I have yet to set foot on the banks of the Seine), maybe it was Rutherfurd’s style of prose (which is impeccably detailed and historically accurate, yet easy to engage with), or maybe I was just caught up in the stories of one of the most fascinating cities in the world (even if they are fictional). Either way, this book made me an official fan of Rutherfurd and piqued my wanderlust for the City of Light. 

Harry Potter : The Creature Vault - Jody Revenson

When I read Rowling’s bonus book to the Harry Potter series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I wanted it to be exactly like this one: full of fantastic illustrations, carefully written but humorous text, and all the magical beasts that you could ever want! It came out just in time to pique all of us latent HP fans for the coming film adaptation of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them next year as well, so I would say this book had perfect timing. 

A Madness of Angels - Kate Griffin

It’s been far too long since I’ve read a truly wonderful urban fantasy novel, but thankfully I stumbled upon this fantastic series by one of my favourite authors, who had been writing under a pseudonym so I had no idea that she had a whole bunch more books published than the four that I was aware of. In this book we get London, truly urbanized magic, an intriguing protagonist, and a horrifying but relatable villain, all wrapped up into a wonderfully rollicking adventure that sees a truly unique magical world realized - one that is right under the noses of modern Londoners. So far I’m three books into the series, and I never ever want them to end!

*images from Amazon

Sunday, 20 December 2015

A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Before I get into my top 5 movie picks for 2015, I have a confession to make. I haven’t yet seen the Star Wars: the Force Awakens, even though it was a pretty sure pick for the list. It literally opened just a few days ago, and my love for Star Wars isn’t quite enough to deal with the infestation of nerds that is sure to be packing the theatre. I like nerds just fine (hello, I’m definitely one of them), but theatre mania and opening weekend madness is not something I have any interest in. I’ll likely see it in like a month, when the hype has calmed down; here’s hoping that I don’t stumble across any spoilers in the meantime! Okay, and now to the films that actually did make the list!

Kingsman: the Secret Service (2014)

There seemed to be a lot of spy movies out this year, ranging in seriousness from the latest in the James Bond franchise (Spectre) to the Melissa McCarthy-led Spy, but the one that really stood out from the genre for me was Kingsman. I saw this relatively early in the year, and was immediately charmed by the careful balance of action-packed stunts (I don’t think any of us will be able to look at Colin Firth the same way again) and the slightly less-than-subtle jokes (mostly centring around Samuel L. Jackson’s well-meaning villain), so it was a sure pick for the list. It might have had to compete directly with Spectre if I had managed to see it in time, but the library is keeping me waiting, so the dilemma of potentially having two spy films in the list was nonexistent!

Song of the Sea (2015)

This movie was totally adorable! Like I haven’t seen an animated film be this good since the peak of Studio Ghibli circa Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Not only is the animation style absolutely stunning and unique in a  world washed with Disney and claymation (which are totally fine, but there’s a touch too much of it sometimes), but the mythology adds a whole other level of sophistication to the storytelling. Most of us who know anything about folklore have heard stories of the Selkies - seal-women who can shed their skins to become human for a time, but who ultimately return back to the sea, leaving their loved ones bereft - but this is the first film that I’ve seen which really explores this legend in-depth successfully. To top it all off, the protagonist’s brother, Ben, has an adorably charming large mutt who looks like he could be related to Oscar & Felix (the large and silly pups I babysit). 

Woman in Gold (2015)

This film was at the very top of my watch list this year, and even after having to get it from the library twice (note to self: always check that you’re putting a hold on the DVD version since you don’t own a blu-ray player…) it was totally worth the wait! Not only is this film about art theft during World War 2 (a topic that intrigues me very much) and specifically about repatriation of the art that was stolen by the Nazis, but it’s a totally true story that manages to translate well on screen. Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds play surprisingly well opposite each other, and it’s ne’er impossible not to get complete caught up in their struggle to take down the Austrian government in court. Not bad for a little old lady and her lawyer, eh? I have yet to see the documentary that chronicles the entire story (Stealing Klimt), but that’ll go on my watch list for next year.

Age of Adaline (2015)

For a film that isn’t actually very complex, I absolutely loved the experience of watching this movie. The story is simply that of a woman who stops aging, and the complexity of her falling in love in the modern world and potentially having her secret revealed, but the way that the story is told makes the film feel like it’s a book. There’s careful placement of outside narration, the characterization is subtle, and the imagery is simple but effective, which culminates in elevating the emotional quality of the film to a place that it would not have been able to achieve otherwise. Plus, this film is absolutely perfect for Blake Lively, as it gives her the vehicle to prove that she’ll become one of these classic woman (a la Tilda Swinton, Helen Mirren, and Cate Blanchett) who will continue to be fabulous for the entirely of their lives with seemingly little effort. 

Cinderella (2015)

Even with the success of Maleficent last year (a sure shot for the top-5) I was very sceptical of this film going in. Unlike it’s predecessor, which focused on the untold story of the villain, the story of Cinderella is something that I much prefer to see given a relatively traditional spin. It is a classic fairytale after all, and messing with the story too much can potentially end in disaster. But Disney kept it pretty simple this time around, and didn’t even allow for the odd choice in fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) to throw the story - though I will admit that I was less than thrilled with Carter’s lacklustre performance. Even though I’m still a die-hard cynic when it comes to romance in the real world, I didn’t find myself wanting to throw up too often while watching this film, since both Cinderella and the Prince are given at least some realistic personality traits besides both being beautiful and fated to fall in love. And really, even the die-hard cynic needs some fairytale romance in her life!

*images from IMDB