Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Was TV in the 90's more feminist than it is today?

I was somehow raised in a golden-era of feminist television
Photo by Paul Townsend

I think I may have passed my formative years in an oddly-feminist alternate reality of television.

Despite my parents' best efforts, I watched a lot of TV growing up. Once we got old enough to stay at home supervision-free, I pretty much spent my summer days jamming out with my Geocities Titanic/Kate Winslet fan site, Kraft Dinner, and lots and lots of television.

This is going to be a bit of a time-meld, because picking apart the memories of which shows I watched at which ages is going to be way too hard, but here is what my smooshed-together memory of "TV for Young Andrea" looks like:

Talk shows! Maury Povich, Jenny Jones, Ricki Lake, Oprah, and the Rosie O'Donnell Show!

Reruns! Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Golden Girls, That Girl, and Designing Women!

New shows! Family Matters, Fresh Prince, Murphy Brown, Moesha, Sister Sister, X Files, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Breaker High, Blossom, Seinfeld, and ER!

Yes, this line up is almost entirely devoid of intersectionality. Yes, the talk shows were largely trash. Yes, the teen-geared shows were silly. Yes, there were still lots of problematic tropes of women as victims or emotional wrecks or desperate for male attention. And YES! Out of 21 shows, FOURTEEN are either named after women or have a female pronoun in the title. Several of the remaining shows have gender-balanced lead casts.

I grew up awash in stories about women of all ages working hard, living life, and having fun. I didn't have to try to look for them, they were just there! Everywhere! Want a show about old(ish) women living together and supporting each other? You got it! Want a show about women living on their own and working cool jobs? There's more than one! Want shows about teenage girls trying to figure out who they are? Here are several! Don't worry about it, they're just on TV with everything else as if they are perfectly normal things to watch and not special programming to make women happy.

How did this bizarre intersection of women come into my television? I somehow got caught in the crosshairs of older shows, played on constant loop on the "older classics" TV station, alongside new shows about women ranging from Murphy Brown to Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

It didn't occur to me to select for shows that featured cool women who were more than props. They were just the shows that were on TV. It seems like they were the ONLY shows that were on TV!

No wonder I grew up to be a feminist killjoy.

"Haven't you seen three vibrant, healthy, sexually-active women before?"


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Monday, May 22, 2017

Cute! Roundup: Problem solving dogs, a posse of opossums, and more!

Here's another photo of Gertie being a curious little champ at the vet. Because when they leave you alone in the room with your cat for 10 minutes, there's nothing to do but take a thousand pictures of her.


OTHER CUTENESS:

This bulldog has some sweet problem solving skills.

In case you didn't think a cow sticking his tongue out would be cute.

Mumma and bubba koala!

A posse of opossums!


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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Singalong! Shine by Collective Soul

When this song was new on the radio, I was still living in my fairly sheltered Christian music bubble. If you're unaware, imagery of inner lights shining is big in the Christian music bubble, so I naturally was impressed that this clearly Christian song made its way onto the secular airwaves. I asked my sister if Collective Soul were Christians and she said "definitely not."

I have to say, though, looking at the song now, I still think it could fit in perfectly to the Christian music-o-sphere, if the slightly more "open-minded, appealing to secular kids by being indirect about God" corner of the market.


SHINE
by Collective Soul

Give me a word
Give me a sign
Show me where to look
Tell me what will I find
Lay me on the ground
Fly me in the sky
Show me where to look
Tell me what will I find
Oh, heaven let your light shine down

Love is in the water
Love is in the air
Show me where to look
Tell me will love be there
Teach me how to speak
Teach me how to share
Teach me where to go
Tell me will love be there
Oh, heaven let your light shine down

Give me a word
Give me a sign
Show me where to look
Tell me what will I find
Lay me on the ground
Fly me in the sky
Show me where to look
Tell me what will I find
Oh, heaven let your light shine down

I'm gonna let it shine
I'm gonna let it shine
Heaven send a light, let it shine on me

Hey yeah
Hey yeah
Heaven send a light, let it shine on me

It's gonna shine on
Shine on me
Its gonna shine on
Well come on and shine

Photo by Ankered182



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Friday, May 19, 2017

Learning! Roundup: Ancient comets, online bubbles, bone implants, and only children.

Great Comet of 1577 Woodcutting

A Giant, Ancient Comet

Ancient carvings in Turkey show that the earth was hit by a cluster of comet fragments around 11000 BC, resulting in widespread death. This was, possibly, the actual worst day in history since the ice age.

Online Bubbles and Partisan Politics

Here's an interesting piece, challenging the notion that our social media bubbles are increasing partisan politics.

New Bone Implants Generate Blood Cells

In a huge advancement for synthetic implants, a newly-developed synthetic bone implant can make blood cells in its marrow. This could be huge for treating a lot of blood and immune disorders.

Only Child Syndrome

Planning on having kids? If you just have one, it is likely to be more creative and less agreeable.

Save the Seals

With the changes in the climate, come changes in the diets of polar bears. Instead of eating seals, animals that are now very difficult to catch with the changes to the coastline in the arctic, polar bears are noshing on goose eggs. They are also traveling farther to find food than ever before.


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

How much is a healthy pet worth?


A couple of weeks ago I had to take my Gertie to the vet. She got a blood test, two x-rays, a shot, and some antibiotics.

The whole thing cost almost $500.

FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS! For some basic vet care!!!

I walked away wishing I had asked how much things were going to cost before getting them done. Were all those tests really necessary? Maybe I could have shaved it back a little bit.

Most pet owners know that at some point they're going to have to face a decision that pits money against the life of their furry family member. It's just a part of the deal. Unless you are super rich or your pet gets hit by a car five years in, one day you're going to be adding up the costs of meds or surgery and weighing them against the value of their life.

"Well, she's old and she's really sick," we say, "I could spend thousands of dollars on a surgery to keep her alive, or I could pay $50 to have her put down. She only has a few years left anyways and then I know she won't suffer."

Not that it's a light decision - it's heart-wrenching to balance your bank account, your pet's comfort, and their life, but it must be done.

The first time I went to the vet as an adult who paid her own bills, I was SHOCKED at how much it cost! Indignant, even! I couldn't believe that I had to pay so much for PET care, when MY OWN health care didn't cost nearly as much! How could care for animals be so much more expensive than care for HUMANS???

Then I remembered... Oh yeah. I live in a country where we don't want to watch people die just because they're poor, so I don't have to pay my human medical bills. They get split up by everyone.

Without making further political statements, I'm just going to point out that I'm really glad I won't have to make the same decisions about my grandma or sister as I do about my cat.


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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Inspiration! Roundup: Art in the breakdown, flute beatboxing, the world's largest book, and more!

Inspiration: I could use some tree time. Also, the moving art of Ida Applebroog, flute beatboxing, and doing things after your thirties
This Week's "I want to go to there":
I could use a little sun-dashed tree time.

Art in Breakdown

Artist Ida Applebroog had a mental breakdown in 1969 and was hospitalized twice. She drew some truly evocative pieces during that time.

Flute Beatboxing

At first, I honestly thought this was going to be a joke, like Will Farrell's jazz flute on Anchorman. It's so so so good.


Data-Free Communication

In countries that never got the infrastructure for landlines, cell phones were a lightning strike of communication. In crises, like the Syrian refugee crisis, smart phones have become a key way to keep in touch with loved ones, no matter where you end up. But what if you're in a country without free and open internet, or you just can't afford data? FreeCom is a new app that allows people in disaster situations to communicate without the internet.

The World's Largest Book

I just came across this article on the methods used to digitize the world's largest book, and while it's great that the British Library is investing effort into preserving the content of this book, I am most amazed by the fact that someone made this book in the first place! Does anyone else find it super inspiring when someone makes something like this, that is so impractical it can only be the result of love? (And perhaps some grandiosity.)

Human Rights Lawyer Wins South Korean Presidency

I realize I could be stepping in a huge landmine by commenting on international politics with absolutely ZERO context, but in a time when politics really feels like a zero-sum game at times, it is really encouraging to see that some countries are not setting themselves on fire. South Korea elected a former human rights lawyer as their president! (Now I just hope he's not a "former" human rights lawyer because he was disbarred for murdering babies or something.)

It's Not Too Late

In a world of "30 under 30", it's nice to remember that some people accomplish greatness in the many years that come AFTER they turned 30. It's not only reserved for the young folk!


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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How many light sabers do YOU own?

Sometimes DIY blogs go into territory I never would have expected. I mean, it just didn't even occur to me that someone might have so many light sabers they needed to come up with a storage solution.

Star Wars Room, via Quite Contrary blog

I mean, hey, using a mop hanger rack is kind of brilliant! Well done, you Star Wars-loving folks.

And truly, no judgement for all the Star Wars stuff. My house is full of fossils and cat paraphernalia. I don't even have one leg of judgement to stand on.


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Monday, May 15, 2017

Cute! Roundup: Morning cuddles, a prairie dog in a vest, beware of dog, and more!

Work from home days sometimes involve an improvised workspace, in order to meet the snuggle needs of all office-dwellers.


OTHER CUTENESS:

These are some good morning cuddles right here.

There's something about holding puppies like babies.

This prairie dog is wearing a tiny little vest. I just can't even.

Sometimes you need to take the cuddles you need.

Beware of dog!

I've been going on a lot of trips lately, and this is good packing advice.


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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Singalong! Something to Talk About by Bonnie Raitt

I've always loved this song for the way it captures that initial "what if?" moment when you suddenly realize that maybe you're interested in someone else. Of course, for most of my life, realizing I liked someone was a horrifying event when I was suddenly open to all sorts of agony, but songs like this let me know it can be fun for other people.

Besides, if you're going to give people something to talk about, why not make it love? Love is great!


SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
by Bonnie Raitt

People are talkin', talkin' 'bout people,
I hear them whisper, you won't believe it.
They think we're lovers kept under cover,
I just ignore it but they keep sayin' we...
Laugh just a little too loud,
Stand just a little too close,
We stare just a little too long.
Maybe they're seein', somethin' we don't darlin'.

Let's give 'em somethin' to talk about
(Somethin' to talk about)
Let's give 'em somethin' to talk about
(Somethin' to talk about)
Let's give 'em somethin' to talk about
How about love?

I feel so foolish, I never noticed
You act so nervous, could you be fallin' for me?
It took the rumor to make me wonder,
Now I'm convinced that I'm goin' under.
Thinkin' 'bout you every day,
Dreamin' 'bout you every night.
I'm hopin' that you feel the same way,
Now that we know it, let's really show it darlin'.

Let's give 'em somethin' to talk about
A little mystery to figure out
Let's give 'em somethin' to talk about
How about love?

Let's give 'em somethin' to talk about babe,
A little mystery to figure out.
Let's give 'em somethin' to talk about,
How about love? Ooh...
Listen to 'em baby
A little mystery won't hurt 'em
Let's give 'em somethin' to talk
How about our love, love, love, love
Whoowhoo mmmm hey oohh whoowhoo
About love, love, love, love
How about they talk about it? uh huh
Talk about love........

Photo by David Gans



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Friday, May 12, 2017

Learning! Roundup: Scary clowns explained, artificial wombs, book-based ethics, robot overlords, and more

Photo by Commander Keane

Scary Clowns

Whether it's the remake of Stephen King's It or the fact that people were dressing like creepy clowns and terrorizing suburbanites a few years back, we all seem to accept that clowns are scary. Why? Here is a video with the potential explanations, including the uncanny valley.


Artificial Womb

A premature lamb was kept alive for four weeks in an ARTIFICIAL WOMB. It looks like a giant ziplock bag. It's so weird. Also, they are now looking into human trials of this artificial womb business.

Ethics and Books

Turns out that you can pretty accurately predict someone's ethical leanings based on the genre of books they like to read. People who like literary fiction and science fiction are more likely to be open to considering morally dubious situations as acceptable, as opposed to the more rigid compasses of those who read romance or crime thrillers.

This makes the "what books do you like?" an even better first date question.

Robot Overlords are Practicing

In early steps towards ruling the human race with an iron (or perhaps titanium) fist, a robotic parasite can control the turtle it lives on by giving it snacks. Pavlov would be proud.

Star Travel

Want to catch a star? The closest one is 69 years away, and we could visit it.

Sleep Loss and Post-Fight Inflammation

We all know that lack of sleep can make us more grumpy and more likely to get into a fight, but new research says that being tired also worsens the physical impact of a fight. Apparently, it's already known that marital conflict increases inflammation in our bodies as a stress response. Well, now it's also known that lack of sleep increases the inflammation that comes after a fight. So, hooray! Everything makes everything else worse.


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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Welcome to My Messy Home: My latest attempt to "live authentically"

Does your home ALWAYS look like this?
Image source: mnmal

Last weekend I had to leave town for a wedding, and like a good little cat owner, I had a friend come in and take care of her. Before leaving I sent her this message:

"I'm on my way! I didn't have time to clean up before leaving, but I just read this article, so having you in my messy home is basically a spiritual practice of friendship."

To nobody's surprise, she responded later with the claim that my home didn't even qualify as messy. (Not because my home is so clean, but because that's what friends do.)

Then later, when I went to her place to pick up my keys, we had the same exchange in reverse:

Friend: "Your home wasn't dirty at all, I mean, look at mine!" (She gestures towards a clean home with a few shopping bags in the middle of the room.)

Me: "No way, my floors and counters were all dirty and there was clutter all over my place, yours is fine!"

So here is the question:

What on EARTH is our problem? The only thing wrong with either of our homes is that they were not showrooms. They were actual homes that human people live in. We were both driven to apologize profusely for the egregious notion that it's okay for your home to look inhabited.

Then I remembered: I haven't always been this way.

In high school, I was confused by people who insisted on full-blown cleaning before friends came over. "They're FRIENDS!" I would insist, out loud and to myself, "the whole point of friends is that you don't have to be fancy with them."

Time-jump: these days I clean my bathroom and floors, vacuum cat hair off furniture, put away dishes, and generally tidy and spruce every single time someone comes over. It's kind of exhausting.

Do you clean your home in a frenzy before anyone comes over? I do to. But it seems like a bad way to live.

How did I get here?

First came university, and with it, lessons in basic hygiene. I would crash at friends' places, and sometimes the bathroom sink was so gross I didn't want to get close enough to wash my face. That's when it clicked for me that cleaning is, at least in part, done to make sure other people feel comfortable in your home. To make sure they can grab a plate from the cupboard and not find it's greasy or wash their face in your bathroom sink without worrying about what might jump out of the grime and infect them.

Then came independence. I moved from multi-roommate basement suites to my very own home. Lifestyle blogs became a thing and Instagram flooded my consciousness. I ate up all the cool, clean, and creative homes I saw online. I wanted so desperately for my home to reflect my inner self - or, more accurately, my aspirational inner self. The quirky, intelligent, creative, got-it-together person I hoped to be.

So basically, my transformation from understanding that friends are supposed to want to hang out with you even if your room is kind of messy, to needing my home to be a perfectly clean and curated space was all thanks to the evil brain-worm of comparison and image projection (and a little hygiene).

Well, crap.

What now? I still want a home that is the perfect representation of the person I wish I was, AND I want to "live authentically" and "let friends into my mess", because of honesty and vulnerability and real community and all that crap.

Sure, okay. I can convince myself that I don't need to go into a frenzied rush of cleaning every time someone steps into my apartment. That's fine. But it's also not that easy. In between the extremes of making people wait outside while you arrange the snack bowls by colour (too perfect) and making them to walk through a sea of cat litter that covers the floor in your entry hall (too gross), there is a middle ground. I DON'T KNOW WHERE THAT MIDDLE GROUND IS. The venn diagram of hygiene and obsessive image curation has a LOT of overlap.

What is living authentically, and what is being a slob? What is being considerate of your guests and what is false image projection?

Ugh. I don't know. I just don't want to be Ross' messy girlfriend.



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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Inspiration! Roundup: Synchronized swimmers, a mobile hotel, wooden giants in Copenhagen, and more!

This Week's "I want to go to there":
Right here, snuggling with my sweet Gertie!

Synchronized Swimmers

Get ready to be amazed and hypnotized: this is the part of synchronized swimming that hides under water.


Mobile Hotel!

I generally scoff at the whole "shipping container home" trend that tries to trick us into thinking it would be great to live in a tiny space instead of have affordable homes. HOWEVER! I kind of love this shipping container hotel.

Wooden Giants

Thomas Dambo makes wooden giants and hides them around the woods of Copenhagen. Each one comes with a poem that hints at the next location. He also created a map if you want to go on a treasure hunt (scroll down to the bottom for the map).

A post shared by Thomas Dambo (@thomasdambo) on


Dance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

In the past, dance was considered deviant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now a dance culture is emerging, and it's super amazing!

“Dancers and musicians used to have a reputation of being deviant in Congo only a few years ago. Now young people actually see the arts positively.”

Honoré Sharrer

I love the artwork of Honoré Sharrer, a relatively-unknown surrealist painter who was known as a "dangerous woman."

Honoré Sharrer, “Nursery Rhyme” (1971), oil on canvas
Image: Hyperallergic, courtesy of the Columbus Museum of Art

Hobby Horsing!

If you ever wondered if other people want to participate in your weird hobby, just know that Finland holds national hobby horse championships. Contestants simulate traditional equestrian events with toy horses. Anything is possible.




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Monday, May 8, 2017

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Singalong! Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes

Remember The White Stripes? With their super weird are-they-married-or-are-they-siblings intrigue and shunning of all the instruments people typically expect a band to have? Well, this is a song of their I always really liked.


SEVEN NATION ARMY
by The White Stripes

I'm gonna fight 'em off
A seven nation army couldn't hold me back
They're gonna rip it off
Taking their time right behind my back
And I'm talkin' to myself at night
Because I can't forget
Back and forth through my mind
Behind a cigarette

And the message comin' from my eyes says, "Leave it alone."

Don't wanna hear about it
Every single one's got a story to tell
Everyone knows about it
From the Queen of England to the hounds of hell
And if I catch it comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do

And the feeling coming from my bones says, "Find a home."

I'm going to Wichita
Far from this opera for evermore
I'm gonna work the straw
Make the sweat drip out of every pore
And I'm bleeding, and I'm bleeding, and I'm bleeding
Right before the lord
All the words are gonna bleed from me
And I will think no more

And the stains comin' from my blood tell me, "Go back home."

Photo by Fabio Venni



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Friday, May 5, 2017

Learning! Roundup: The creepiest font of youth, loneliness and alcohol, playing dead, and more!


Baby Blood: The Font of Youth

A new study has shown that giving mice blood from human babies' umbilical cords makes them younger. Sort of. It reverses some of the impact of aging on the brain, making them able to learn faster. So... does anyone see a dystopian future wherein we farm foetuses for their blood?

Ask What, Not Why

Sometimes when we're dissatisfied with something, we just sit around reminding ourselves why we're unhappy. Here's an idea: try asking "what" instead. What makes you unhappy? What makes you happy? Then you'll get some actionable ideas.

Loneliness and Alcohol

In further evidence for the notion that loneliness is linked to addiction (the rat park experiment, for example), a new study shows that crayfish who are lonely have higher alcohol tolerance than those who are not. Higher alcohol tolerance is a predictor of alcoholism, which is a comfort to cheap drunks everywhere.

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Despite the fact that every famous artist seems to say that the reason they succeeded was because they had no "plan b", research says that you'll be more likely to achieve your dreams if you keep your day job for as long as possible. Turns out that when your livelihood isn't riding on your dream, you'll take more risks, which can lead to big reward.

Women In Leadership Save Babies

As much as I'd love to see headlines that don't intrinsically link femaleness with baby care, here's something: States with more women in the legislature have fewer infant deaths.

Playing Dead

Here's one that the snarky feminist internet couldn't get enough of: female dragonflies fake death to avoid unwanted male advances. Insert joke about dating culture here.

Evidence-Based Self Help

 You could follow the self-help advice of someone who spouts platitudes hidden underneath fancy catch phrases, or you could do things that evidence shows will actually improve the quality of your life. Here is a handy guide to self-help tips that are backed by research.


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Thursday, May 4, 2017

This Week in Church: Spirituality

Welcome to the series wherein I share my take-aways from church. The things that, I think, are beneficial to all of us to know or think about, whether or not we believe in any church-related things.


This week in church, we talked about spirituality.

I don't remember if this quote is direct from the pastor, someone else, or a crappy paraphrase, but here's what I wrote down: "spirituality is what we do with our loneliness, unrest, and thirst."

The first thing this reminded me of is the Louis C.K. bit where he talks about the fact that we all, deep down inside, have a sense of emptiness and being all alone in the world. (The whole video is good, but the relevant part starts around 1:15.)


Right? Okay, so we all have a deep emptiness somewhere inside. Or maybe not all of us, maybe just those of us who are too aware or too sensitive or too naturally inclined towards depression. I don't know. Regardless, I know the feeling he's talking about.

So spirituality is whatever we do with that feeling.

If that's the case, then my spiritual practice primarily consists of Netflix, reading, Reddit, and social media/my cell phone. (Confession: I put reading second in the list to feel better about myself, but really it should be last considering how I actually use my time.)

Oh, actually no. That's not my spiritual practice. The primary way I avoid feeling lonely and sad is by being so busy I don't have time to see it and collecting more friends than I have time for. (There's safety in numbers!)

Wait, but there's another problem with that statement. It's not a spiritual practice. Practice implies at least some level of intentionality. Most of the time I am not intentional about filling the holes in my heart. I default to distractions and avoidance.

When I am intentional about feeling whole I do "properly" spiritual things like pray, meditate, do yoga, journal, or just actually experience my feelings. And honestly? Those things work a lot better than the distractions.


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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Inspiration! Roundup: Calling in, beyond-human movement, boob haikus, men and girls dance, and more!

This Week's "I want to go to there":
I'm feeling up for some Snow White time, communing with the woodland creatures.

Call Out or Call In
“I picture ‘calling in’ as a practice of pulling folks back in who have strayed from us. It means extending to ourselves the reality that we will and do fuck up, we stray, and there will always be a chance for us to return. Calling in as a practice of loving each other enough to allow each other to make mistakes, a practice of loving ourselves enough to know that what we’re trying to do here is a radical unlearning of everything we have been configured to believe is normal.”
– Ngọc Loan Trần
The whole article is good: Calling In: A Quick Guide to When and How

How? Seriously, How Does His Body Work?

It's been a while since my jaw dropped in awe of how someone moved. And yes, it's a bit creepy - exacerbated by the fact that the video is silent except for the sound of his body hitting the floor.


Boob Haikus

The excellent magazine Man Repeller had 16 women write haikus about their boobs. It's awesome.

She Dances on Northern Lights

Check out this stunning photo essay on a contemporary and Métis dancer named Maddie. Such stunning images.

Men and Girls Dance

I love this show for its combination of recreational and professional dancers, as well as the way it creates a space for men and young girls to dance and play together - something that our society is unfortunately suspicious of.


Choreographer Magic

I have a HUGE choreographer crush on Mandy Moore (who I just learned is not the singer Mandy Moore, but an entirely separate human being), who did the choreography for La La Land. Here she is, explaining everything that went into that opening number. Regardless of your feelings about that movie, the opening was a FEAT.


If you have any trouble with the video embedded here (I'm not confident it will show up on all feeds), you can go to Vanity Fair's interview here.


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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The post-Europe blog post: I may not be a hip lifestyle blogger, but I still did some things

I'm a blogger, and I went on a trip.

I think I'm supposed to write a post about my travels?

Other, hipper, bloggers would have a cool travel guide post with hidden gems, exciting stories, and artful photographs. I feel not nearly cool enough for that, so instead I'll share some random notes and observations along with a string of clichéd Euro-Pics.

Travelling through Germany, Belgium, and Serbia on a budget!
Obligatory Cathedral Picture. (Cologne)

Holidays and Opening Hours

I always forget when I go to Europe that instead of seeing holidays as an opportunity for capitalism, they actually respect days off. As a human person, I admire their commitment to giving employees high-quality lives. As a traveller, I am not so generous of spirit. We happened to be travelling through Germany and Belgium over Easter weekend, and that meant that a looooot of stuff was closed, including restaurants.

So remember: while planning a trip over a holiday might seem like a good idea because you miss less work, you may have less options of things to do. At the very least, research a bit more in advance if you're travelling over a holiday and plan to see a natural wonder over that time, not an urban romp.

Research

Speaking of research, what are the mystical search phrases these hip bloggers use to find their sweet restaurants and events? I spent long hours with Google and still somehow missed the Puppet Passion Play happening over Easter, the theatre museum in Brussels, and the circus that was swinging through town while I was in Brussels! The CIRCUS! COME ON!

We had a great time travelling across Europe to a variety of cities.
Obligatory Old Building Picture. (Belgrade)

Cheese

One of the greatest joys in life for a Canadian traveling to Europe is the cheese. THE CHEESE! It's so plentiful, high quality, and cheap! JOY!

Just so you know, if you're in Germany and want a gouda cheese sandwich, it's spelled exactly the same, but they pronounce it "gowda." The waiter may be completely dumbfounded by you pronouncing it "gouda".

Languages

Speaking of languages, I felt both relief and a bit of Dominant-Culture Guilt that people generally spoke English everywhere I went, making my token efforts of learning "hello", "please", and "thank you" in their languages sufficient for communication.

Every once in a while, though, we would run into someone who spoke not a word of English, and that's where the fun began! I feel like I'm cheating at travelling if I don't have to deal with a language barrier at some point.

In retrospect, as much fun as it was to try to pantomime that I wanted a personal-sized Margarita pizza and wind up with a ham and cheese, next time I would use technology to my advantage and just take a picture of the menu posted on the street to point out what I wanted.

We spent the most time in Brussels out of everywhere on our trip - there is so much art to see and the Natural History Museum is incredible!
Obligatory Cool Graffiti Picture. (Brussels)

Vegetarianism

In some countries, vegetarianism isn't really a thing. Serbia is one of those countries. When we were out with our Serbian hostess, she could communicate with servers on my behalf to explain my bizarre dietary choice (met with confused "it's your funeral" looks), but it seams saying "no meat" translated to "meat is fine", and I got to learn the art of acceptance by relaxing my vegetarian standards a bit.

The aforementioned ham and cheese pizza? I gave the nice vendor my money and then carefully picked the ham off of it. It was an unideal situation, but nobody died. Except the pig. The pig was dead.

Buses

Trains are all the rage in Europe, for good reason, but if you're traveling on a budget, take a bus. They are only slightly less comfortable and way cheaper. Flixbus has wifi.

A couple of hours in Frankfurt included a walk by the river and some public art.
Obligatory Public Art Picture. (Frankfurt)

The Cities

Okay, I can give a FEW suggestions:

Frankfurt: We flew into Frankfurt and had a few hours before our bus to Dusseldorf. We walked along the Main River and it was really pretty! There are a bunch of museums on the riverbank, some of which have art installations outside the buildings. Wander!

Dusseldorf: The old town and river are pretty. The pubs are genuine (I could tell because we walked in and they were full of old German men.)

Cologne: There are Roman Ruins in Cologne that are definitely worth checking out. You can climb Cologne Cathedral's tower, and it's only sort of worth it (all the safety mechanisms really ruin the view).

Brussels: The Natural History Museum is amazing, and there are about a thousand art galleries. The Musée des Fine Arts is wonderful, and the Bozar has changing exhibitions regularly. And yes, go see the Mannequin Pis, mostly because everyone will get mad at you if you don't. Eat all the street waffles. The Bois de la Cambre is a gorgeous park with a lake and some natural woods. Also, look up Agenda for things to do - they have event listings in English, French, and Dutch.

Belgrade: The Fortress is their main tourist site and it's totally awesome. The National Theatre is gorgeous and cheap. Totally worth seeing a show, even if you don't speak Serbian. Downtown Belgrade is a pedestrian-only area full of both regular and tourist shops, right next to the fortress. Drink lots of rakija. Note that the Nikola Tesla Museum has English tours, but only if you call in advance, and there's not a lot to look at without the tour guide.


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Monday, May 1, 2017

Cute! Roundup: Gertie at the vet, bats, savage dogs, and kitten academy live streams!

This weekend I had to take my poor, sweet girl to the vet! While I was gone she went from being a sort of noisy-breather to so congested she couldn't meow! Poor baby. Here she is at the vet, handling the new environment like a pro. (She is also recovering like a pro, thanks to the wonder of antibiotics.)


OTHER CUTENESS:

Adorable comics drawn by animators of The Simpsons in their spare time.

25 adorable bats!

This savage dog will slay your heart.

Kitten academy live stream!

Red panda stumbles along.


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