kill yr idols so they can’t surprise u & die in the middle of what’s already a bad week

I want to write something about Prince, but I’m not sure what I want to say yet. It hasn’t even been a full day yet. I was barely awake when I got the news. A friend asked me if I was alright, and I didn’t what it was about, and I already wasn’t. I’ve had a cold for half a week, the Wild played some exceptionally sad hockey, and there was a thing about having to do the dishes when I got home around midnight last night that I’m not going to try to explain, but made me cry. So waking up and finding out one of my favorite rock gods had ascended to another plane was not a fun morning.

But honestly, I think I’m alright? I mean, I listened the “The Cross” on a website called GodTube and cried some, but like, other than that, I’m alright. I turned on the Current, which was playing all Prince, in chronological order. It was still in the early eighties. I got dressed — purple jeans, purple striped socks, purple hoodie, purple lipstick, and my awesome Minnesota Nice shirt with a picture of Prince on his motorcycle. All that purple was able to protect me from the terrible world. Work was quiet. We talked about how sad we were, and I kept on listening to the Current’s stream, through the highlights of his career. The DJs shared their Prince stories, and everyone talked about how sad they were. It helped.

Tonight I could have gone out and done something. There was a block party, and then dancing at First Ave, but I have a cold, and I hate crowds, and rain, and sad drunk people. My sweetheart came over and put up with me being sad and sick and clingy. We watched half of Purple Rain on MTV, and then caught up on The Outs. Maybe I’ll regret missing some sort of landmark occasion, but tonight I’m too tired to care. I’m doing alright. I’m maintaining my fragile alrightness. If I tried to go anywhere I definitely would have cried more.

When musicians I adore die one thing I think about is how when Lux Interior died in 2009 I started listening to the Cramps. I had heard of them before, and I knew it would be something I’d like, but I hadn’t taken the time to really explore their music. But then seeing the collective mourning from other people I respected motivated me to check it out.

There’s some kid out there who’s really listening to Prince for the first time today, and it’s changing their life. And sure, he didn’t have to die for another kid to realize how great he is, but at least there’s something good coming out of this. He might be gone, not throwing parties or showing up out of the blue, but his music is still here. I’m not going to run out of Prince music to be fascinated by any time soon.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.

I decided to read this after I finished Patti Smith’s M Train because of the way she wrote about her experience falling under this book’s spell. I’d heard many good things about it, and was in no ways disappointed. It’s beautifully written and absolutely enchanting.

I don’t really want to talk about the plot, which is interesting, and wandering, and not worth summarizing. There’s a man named Toru Okada, who’s unemployed and bored with life. He has a wife who he loves very much, and they have a cat that’s missing. Things happen. There are fortune tellers with made up names. I learned things about Japanese history that I didn’t know before. It’s all very interesting, and you should read it yourself.

I’m sort of skeptical about how Murakami writes women — they’re always mysterious and sexy and flawed. I enjoy this, but think that if I spent more time staring at this critically it’d bug me. It’s been five years since I read Norwegian Wood, but I remember having a similar reaction to that. Every woman is some sort of femme fatale, which is sort of awesome, but also? Women can do a lot more than that. The women are all fascinating, but not of them seem like real women, or really, like real humans. They’re literary creatures, representing different things for the male protagonist. I’m sure there is a very interesting piece of literary analysis written about this, and if I had JSTOR access/more time I’d go looking. This would bother me more if it wasn’t so beautifully written.

It’s beautiful and enthralling enough to distract me from a lot of my criticism. The prose is just… ugh. Really great.

A lot of the times I’ll find magical realism really grating, cause a lot of the time it feels like literary authors playing around with fantasty without getting dirty and acknowledging the genre. This was great though. It was actual magical realism, where the exact nature of what was going on is never entirely clear, and leaves you with questions.
It’s a really long book, my paperback copy is like six hundred pages, but I didn’t want it to end. I enjoyed everything and wanted it to keep going. I didn’t want to leave behind this world or these characters. It’s really great. You should read it.

Clariel by Garth Nix

Clariel is the latest book by Garth Nix set in the Old Kingdom. It’s a prequel, set hundreds of years before the others. I love Sabriel and the other Old Kingdom books so much. I read them when I was in middle school, and I’ve read them over and over again, and they’re so important to me. I love the characters, and the world, and just about everything.

So obviously I was pretty excited about this book. It wasn’t disappointing, but it isn’t as great as the others, though that could be bias and nostalgia talking. It got stronger at the end, when it became clearer what kind of narrative it was going to be. (vague spoilers: it’s about an anti-hero and the world crumbling, which is honestly a really interesting story. But at the beginning it’s set up to be a renegade coming of age story, and the beginning sets up expectations that don’t get fulfilled. The actual the meat of the book comes in late enough in that it feels mildly disjointed, even if the new course is much more exciting.)

Sabriel comes in the middle of a world with a rich history, and seeing the past of that world, when it was only starting to fall apart, was really fascinating. Nix has a way with setting up a system of magic and a society around it that makes sense. The high society of the capital city is very intricate. Clariel finds it absolutely baffling, but as a reader it’s a believable world? Or something. There’s a lot going on.

I definitely read Clariel as asexual and aromantic, and felt that this is supported in the text, which is super cool. Representation matters, and this is an identity that usually gets ignored or pathologized. Instead Clariel’s lack of interest in relationships is presented as common sense from her point of view. She doesn’t need a partner to be happy, just the forest and her freedom.

Clariel is an enjoyable addition to the world, but I wouldn’t recommend it as an introduction. But if you haven’t read Sabriel you definitely should, the Old Kingdom is waiting.

knitting a lot

I haven’t been blogging, which isn’t the same as saying I haven’t been writing. I just haven’t been writing enough. I should be writing more. I should always be writing more.

I’ve been knitting a lot. I finished a sweater to send to my newest baby cousin, and it turned out a little bit lumpy. This shade of green looked better as a skein than it looks all knit up, but I added cute silver bear face buttons that make it work. It was made with love. I bought the yarn the day after the baby was born, the fact that I’ve finished anything is an accomplishment. Now I just need to get it in the mail. That should be the easy part.

I’m fairly sure I have my cousin’s right address. Like, ninety percent sure. But ten percent uncertainty is a lot when you’re trusting hours of your life and pain in your wrists to the US Postal Service. It would be easy enough to check. I could message her on facebook, or if I want it to be a surprise I could ask her brother. It wouldn’t be hard. It shouldn’t be scary. This is family, I love these people, I even like them quite a lot too. It shouldn’t feel as daunting as it does.

If that’s how anxious I get about messaging one of my lovely cousins, imagine what’s going on in my head when I think about sending someone my writing. There was a thing recently where I could have sent in some samples and applied to possibly get paid for writing about books. It looked like a really cool opportunity. And I didn’t get anything put together. Because it’s easier to hide in my little corner with a blog I don’t link anyone to where I can say whatever I want. There isn’t any quality control here. No risk of rejection. No attention paid to me at all.

I should write more, and perhaps just as importantly, I should put my writing out there more. The write ups I stick here are partially for my own records, because I know I benefit from making myself process in words. I could do better at making those words hold together. I could not go a week without posting anything at all. I should be writing all of the time.

But I’ve been knitting a lot, and that’s been good. This sweater might be done, but my other cousin’s wife is having a baby in a couple months. I’ve got a lot of cousins and they’ve got a lot of babies, and I want to make them all lumpy sweaters with love. It’s an offering. It’s a way of showing love.

Just like a blog post is, kinda sorta. I dunno. I should write more.

Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL

My girlfriend and I watched these ridiculous ridiculous movies, and it was such a fun time.

The first movie is a little bit terrible, or at least far more serious. Steven Soderbergh has a very distinctive style, which unfortunately I had to think about in a film studies class and now I can’t ignore it so it bothers me. Everything looks a little bit sad, which is fair, the world is pretty messed up. There are some great scenes, but overall a strong sense of melancholy. It’s a serious movie about male dancers, which okay, that’s a fine thing to be, but I didn’t love it.

The second movie is just incredible. It is so much fun. It seem like everyone in this movie and involved in its making is just having a blast, and that’s super enjoyable to watch. Most movies aren’t so fucking fun, or so silly.

Channing Tatum is so great. Both movies work because he’s charismatic and a really good dancer. I appreciated him before, but after watching these movies I’m definitely a fan. He makes this ridiculousness work.

This movie was so clearly designed with the female gaze in mind, and that was incredible. It just felt amazing to watch things that were hot that women were meant to find hot. Not only was it well done, but it also feels powerful to be catered to like that.

All of the women who show up are really cool. Jada Pinkett Smith’s character, Rome, is so sexy and mysterious and cool, there should be a whole movie just about her. I would pay money to go see that movie in a theater. Andie MacDowell plays a rich southern lady, and it was so perfect. She should be in more things. I loved the acknowledgement that middle aged women are interested in sex too. Channing’s love interest wasn’t very interesting, and didn’t do much, but it wasn’t really a movie about romance. It was a movie about friendship, and creativity, and being yourself.

If I’m going to complain about anything, it’s why did Donald Glover always wear pants? He is so good looking, and so talented. I understand why maybe he would just want to sing and not strip, but really. I would have appreciated that. But he was still great, everyone was great. This is a very minor quibble, but I brought it up to my girlfriend at least three times, so it would have felt disingenuous to not include it in my review.

This movie was just a blast. It’s fun and sexy and a real good time. Watch it with someone you love.

My Real Children by Jo Walton

Jo Walton’s My Real Children is about Patricia. It begins with her as an old woman, living in a home, and “very confused” according to her doctors. She forgets things, but she also remembers plenty, including two different pasts. The novel goes back to explore her childhood, coming of age during World War Two, and schooldays in Oxford. There is a man that she does or does not marry, and from here the narrative divides into two realities.

Walton balances the historical and the speculative. In both lives the personal is political. Patricia is influenced by second wave feminism, nuclear disarmament, and LGBT rights. Walton came up with two interesting alternate histories, but more impressively she created two complicated fascinating families. In both worlds Patricia is a loving mother, who wants the best for her children. The circumstances are different, both families dysfunctional in different ways, but Patricia’s family is the center of her world. In both timelines Patricia is nearing the end of a long eventful life, full of love and sorrow. It’s heart wrenching as she loses track of her past, and her meaning disintegrates, unsure what family is real, of what she is forgetting or had only imagined. It’s a beautiful and fascinating book.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Some authors are a bit like old friends. Maybe don’t talk to for a while, but you really do love them, and then reading something of theirs is a nice remember, an opportunity to get reacquainted. Neil Gaiman is such an important author to who I am today, and what my interests are, but I don’t usually think about him much now days, and I regret that. It’s easy to be distracted by Neil Gaiman who will say things I’m not sure if I agree with, who’s married to a human lightning rod, who’s fallible and not all that magical, and underestimate how much I really do love him as a writer.

This is such a Neil Gaiman book. It’s creepy, and there’s magic around every corner. It’s a story about being a child, and about getting older and losing that sense of wonder. It reminds me of A Wrinkle In Time. It’s been a long time since I read that, but it seems like there are some echoes in the world building, and certainly a shared spirit. It was a captivating story. I started it one evening right before I should have gone to bed, and stayed up far too late. It creates a world that’s vast and scary while still staying focused on an intimate little story. It’s very efficient — there isn’t’ any unnecessary sprawl.

I really enjoyed The Ocean at the End of the Lane for what it is, but it also made me nostalgic for when I read Gaiman when I was younger. The first time I read Coraline I didn’t enjoy it because it was scary. Sandman was the first graphic novel series that I started reading. His sense of fantasy and writerly point of view has been a huge influence on me in ways that I’m not usually conscious of. Remembering why I’ve loved his writing was a real treat.