Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Sista: You know what? I think I better go and check which ones we've read and which ones we might've given away to people. That way we can be sure which ones we need to order, and then I'll call you again.
Danielle: Ok, that's fine.
Sista: Now, what's your name again?
Sista: Danielle, ok─[to her friend in the background] Write that down! Her name's Danielle. We'll call and ask for her later.
Me [checking the time to see that I should've clocked out five minutes ago]: Well, you know, I actually won't be here for much longer today. But whoever answers the phone when you call back should be able to help you, no problem.
Sista [sounding disappointed]: Oh... But you're so good! We want to talk to you!
Me [laughing to keep from crying at how nice this lady is being]: Aww, thank you! I really appreciate that!
Sista: Yeah, you've been extremely helpful. So you will be in later, right? Just not today?
Sista: Well that's okay, because I probably won't be able to call again today anyhow. So I'll just call some other time this week and maybe we'll catch you.
Me: Alright then. Y'all have a great day!
Sista: You too. And thank you! Bye.
Monday, July 27, 2015
The biggest question is, though, is any of this real? Two characters point out that the story exists only because of the notes that are taken by any one character at a time, which means the events could have actually happened or they could just as well be a figment of the narrator/notetaker's imagination. Basically this novel is one huge troll, which you'll likely be tempted to give up on, as I was. But it's also an educative example of how unstable narrators in a novel can be made to be, and how sometimes as readers we're called on to participate and be discerning rather than just consume the story at face value. Sometimes we're called on to decide if what we're reading is believable or even real in the context of the story. I thought Murakami's stuff was mind-bending, but this book really messes with your head. By far, Abe Kobo takes the absurdist, surrealist, fantastical, mysterious, existentialist, brain-bending cake. Still, as much of a challenge as this book might be, I encourage anyone who's up for it to read The Box Man at least once, just to see how your particular gears will turn when faced with a book that consistently and purposefully refuses you the comfort of having things make immediate sense. Have fun. May the comprehension odds be ever in your favor.
"That the act of spying on someone else is generally looked upon with scorn is because, I suppose, one does not want to be on the side of being seen... Anybody would rather look than be looked at. The fact that they keep on and on selling endless instruments for "looking"─radios and televisions─is excellent proof that ninety-nine percent of men are aware of their own unsightliness" (86).
"When he realized that there was no reason to fear anyone's looking back at him... Every detail of the scene was pervaded by a soft but penetrating light, and everything that struck the eye was velvety smooth and graceful... The world was filled with a softness as of an early Saturday evening that would go on forever... Just by looking at it, the world was happy for him. In his imagination he put his signature to a peace treaty between himself and the world" (150-1).
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Nice Day in NOVI! photos
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Boy Meets Depression: Or Life Sucks and Then You
(on sale September 15th, 2015)
TED Talk in 2013 that brought him a lot of attention. I don't know if this book was already in the works before TED or not, but it's certainly helped give this project momentum. The back cover quotes some TV personality and author who claims that Breel "has single-handedly demystified depression" through this book. I would disagree for three reasons: 1) Kevin Breel is neither the first nor the only person out there to write about depression as he has done here. 2) In order to declare such a shift in culture, the book would have to have reached a significant amount of people enough to transform thought and discussion about depression, and since the public doesn't have access to this book yet, I don't think such a claim can be made. And 3) Kevin Breel does an excellent job of describing what depression feels like. As someone who also suffers from depression, I can vouch for this based on my own experience. But! Just because Breel's experience has some similarities with mine, doesn't mean that his depression story is altogether representative of mine or anyone else's. So to say he demystifies depression across the board for everybody is a stretch.
But anywhoo, moving on to the book itself. Boy Meets Depression is Breel's account of dealing with depression in his own way. And after having read it, I'm struck by how unremarkable his life is. Now, I don't mean this in a pejorative way. He grew up in suburbia (so did I). His parents had a terrible relationship and got divorced while he was relatively young (so did mine). He was an incredibly awkward and sensitive kid (so was I). But he still had a good group of friends and was decently involved in school (so was I). And his mom may not have understood all that he was going through, but she stuck by him and did her best to help him get through (so did mine). His life is unremarkable in that I'm sure many young people can relate. And I think it's that relatability that makes the depression part less taboo when he finally delves into it. An average guy with a relatively decently life, who's been through some things and has had a hard time accepting himself and processing his hardships. That probably sounds like a lot of people you know, right? That's what makes this book work. It's accessible without dumbing things down too much, which is a useful approach to educating people about not only what a mental illness is, but also how it can manifest in one person's day-to-day life.
Three chapters in particular are required reading, in my opinion. If for whatever reason you want to take the lazy route and get to the meat of what this book has to offer, chapters 4, 7, and 8 will give it to you. Chapter 4 ("High School, Hormones, and Hard-Ons") is about Breel's downward spiral in high school, and the guidance counselor named Mr. York who refuses to give up on him. Breel has a real advocate in his corner, but (*spoiler*) when things get too real, he pushes Mr. York away. I've done that many a time before, even though I knew I needed help. Chapter 7 ("Boy Meets Depression") gives you the ins and outs of what depression is, how depression can make one feel/think/act, Kevin Breel's hitting rock bottom and contemplating suicide, and his decision to keep living. He waxes a little too long on the warped depths that depression can take you to, which was triggering for me and thus made it hard for me to get through this chapter. But otherwise, it's the most accurate description I've read of what I know depression to be like, and though it may not be indicative of all depressed people's experiences, it gives quite the thorough picture. And lastly, Chapter 8 ("Leather Chairs in Sooke") talks about Breel finally taking the plunge and going to therapy, what he got out of his sessions, and how his perceptions of therapy changed as a result. This chapter reminded me a lot of my Sessions with Sue, which I remember fondly.
The book reads a lot like a TED Talk, which is okay in some parts but in others it just kinda makes me nauseous. A few too many cliches, and some lines wreak of trying too hard to sound profound. Some ideas are repetitive, and in certain parts I think he's trying to be funny in a self-deprecating way, but it reads like he's being too hard on himself. Like, Dude! Of course it took you a long time to figure out what matters most in life! It takes everyone a long time! You're only 21, man. Cut yourself some slack! And Dude! Just because you don't have the worst life ever doesn't mean that you have no right to be depressed! While this book may not be a stellar read, it is incredibly honest, helpful, and soooooo necessary. If you or someone you know is interested in learning about how people live with depression everyday, and want something that's accessible (no complex medical or specialized concepts to go over people's heads!), then this is where you start. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank Kevin Breel for the courage to tell his story. Thank you, sir, for doing your part. God bless you and good luck with the release!
"Sometimes I think of my depression as a fog... In a way, fog is both beautiful and haunting at the same time. It's hard to define, hold, or interact with, and yet it exists. It's there. You can't really clear it away just because you want it to be gone. At the same time, you always know that the fog is just temporary. It's always just rolling through. It will be here for a while and then it will pass. And eventually it will disappear completely and the world as you know it will come back in to plain view, like it never even left. But in the meantime, while it's still hanging in the air as thick as smoke, you can't see life the way you used to see it. The beauty is missing and the perspective is gone. You can only see the six inches in front of your face, and those six inches aren't pretty" (124).
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Friday, July 17, 2015
Seen Monday July 13th: Amy
Aside from her problems with addiction, what I got most out of the story is that Amy Winehouse was an artist's artist; and despite how famous she got, fame was never the goal. She just wanted to make music that was real and meant something to her, and the stuff of her life made up most of her material. "Some Unholy War", "You Know I'm No Good", "Love is a Losing Game", "Rehab", "Tears Dry on Their Own", etc. We get the play-by-play on the events that inspired all of those songs and more. And that affected me deeply. When they went into the background behind "Back to Black", showed her recording the song, and then played the actual mixed and mastered record that I've heard time and time again, I cried like a baby. And then at the end when they showed EMS carrying her body out of her apartment and loading her into the back of a truck, and then cut to a bunch of shots and clips from the beginning of the film that show young bright-eyed Amy all hopeful and hardworking and drug free, I wept. I couldn't not weep. As a casual fan I'd known that Amy Winehouse was different, but this film made me realize just how special and vulnerable of a person she was. We lost someone truly, incredibly, devastatingly special, and that's quite a beautiful and heartbreaking thing to have to acknowledge.
What I don't like about this film: As much as the documentary talks about Amy as an artist, I wished it would've focused even more on her artistry and impact than it did. Like how unique her voice and jazz inclinations were at a time where almost no young chart-topping woman was singing jazz or anything akin to it. Or how she was one of the artists who opened the door for British soul and R&B singers in the American and world markets during the 2000s. Before Adele, before Daley, before Sam Smith, before Emeli Sande, before Lianne La Havas, before Jessie J, before any of them hit it big, there was Amy Winehouse. And that's a huge deal. Like, she accomplished so much, and left such a huge mark, in so little time. And she only released two albums! I understand that the documentary is creating a narrative about someone who has passed away, which means it would make sense to acknowledge this person's death and what led to it. After all, she didn't just disappear into thin air; her choices and the choices of some people closest to her had consequences. I get that, so I appreciate the ins and outs that we learn about her addiction problems. I'm just saying that for as wonderful as the film is, I fear that it sells her short.
Would I recommend it?: Yes. If you care about real music or real artists at all, watch this film. You shan't regret it.
Seen Monday July 13th: Inside Out
What I really like about this film: I can't not give props to Pixar for creating a work of art with such an original concept, but what really sold me one this film was the message. For the most part people always try to be happy because they want to or they feel like they have to be, and in the process they try to ignore their sadness. But sadness is necessary too! Because if you don't recognize and express the sadness you're feeling, then even the people closest too you won't be perceptive of it, and then they won't be able to help you because they don't know what's going on. In other words, sadness, when not bottled up or hidden away, can bring you some of the happiest moments in life because expressing it allows people to comfort you, encourage you, and help you to move forward. Amen, Inside Out. Amen.
What I don't like about this film: This is pretty heavy for a children's film. Riley is not only moving to an unfamiliar place and leaving her old life behind, but she's also a pre-teen, meaning all around there are transitions and new emotions she has to learn how to process as she enters young adulthood. Obviously this is a story worth telling that is relatable to so many young (and young at heart) people. But it has quite a few moments where it gets deep. And dark. And just... heavy. Plus with all the neurological and psychological vocabulary, at times I felt the film would be more appropriate for a middle school, high school, or even first-year undergrad psychology course than for young children. I'm 22, and some of it even went over my head.
I was also confused about the structure and rules of the world within Riley's brain. If Joy is responsible for keeping Riley happy, but then Joy has a moment when she gets upset and cries, is Joy still Joy? And if Sadness is able to sit next to another figment of Riley's brain and comfort him without making him feel worse about the situation, is she still Sadness? Speaking of Sadness, I wasn't sure what to make of her character at first. From the beginning she's the bumbling, moapy, often unmotivated member of the team who's always forgetting (or choosing not to follow) instructions, but she gets in the way so often and makes so many mistakes during the first half of the film that it makes one wonder if she's trying to sabotage the team or not. Luckily she ends up being an invaluable part of the mission to get Riley re-stabilized, but I don't like how ambiguous her character seems to be at first. And lastly, speaking of good guys, there's no villain in this story. Not one. All the characters are, ostensibly, good. A children's film, a Disney/Pixar movie at that, with no "bad guy"? How can this be?? Of course this is noteworthy because it's something different. But it's also... odd. Perhaps the villain in the film is all the stress and negativity that's causing Riley to shut down and not act like herself. She goes through so much crap emotionally that maybe pinpointing a villain would've just been excessive.
Would I recommend it?: Absolutely! This film is a wonderful reminder that everyone needs help from time to time.You just have to be willing to express how you feel.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
No ma'am, no. No.
If you insist on continuing to use the archaic, otherizing, and racially derogatory term "oriental" (which you really shouldn't anyway, because 1) It's 2015, and 2) Why?), it applies to products and inanimate objects, not people. Not. People!
Rugs can be oriental. The market that people often visit to buy goods produced in Asian countries can be called oriental. What is not "Oriental" is the grown woman, who happens to be one of the managers of the store, who also happens to be Asian, who is taking time out of her busy schedule looking for a single book for you, while your impatient behind has got all the other customer service people (myself included) on the same wild goose chase by asking them to find that same book because the manager (who would know where things are better than anyone else) apparently isn't moving fast enough for you. She already has it covered. And she, ma'am, is not "Oriental".
"Would you happen to know where this book is? The Oriental woman said she knew."
That word rolled off your tongue so slick, I almost thought you were trying to be funny. You have no idea how hard I was trying not to roll my eyes, screw my face up, and catch an attitude with you. Like seriously, What did you just say to me? That wasn't even directed toward me, and I'm mad about it.
I don't care if you're older and white. I don't care how you were raised. I don't care about "the times" or "the way things were back then". I don't care what you meant or didn't mean by it. I don't care if you didn't know any better, because if you cared at all about what people who don't look like you prefer to be called these days, you could've asked somebody or looked it up (read: educated yourself) by now. And I certainly don't care that you're a customer and we're service people, because bottom line is the store is our house. Just because you are a potentially paying guest does not mean you get to disrespect us or hold everyone up due to your impatient assumption that the person already trying to help you is clueless.
No ma'am, no. Just. No.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Customer: Hello. Do you have that new Harper Lee book?
Me: Go Set a Watchman? No, that doesn't come out until Tuesday. The 14th. But we'll most definitely have it that day. We have a bunch coming in, so in the meantime I can reserve you a copy so that one will already be set aside for you.
Customer: Oh yes! Please do that!
[after having processed the reservation]
Customer: What time will you be open on Tuesday? I want to be there early.
Me: We're opening at 7am that day.
Customer: Whoa! 7am?! I'll be there early, but not that early!
Me: Haha well that's fine.
Customer: 7am, wow... Is there something else going on? Is Harper Lee going to be there or something?
Me (trying not to bust out laughing): ...No sir. It's just that the book is such a big deal, and people are so excited about it that we're opening really early to make sure anyone and everyone has a chance to get their hands on it here.
Customer: I see. Well thank you so much. See you Tuesday!
Friday, July 10, 2015
Scott Gwinnell for organizing the Metro Detroit Jazz Workshop to give students like me a space to learn and develop; thanks to Tiffany Toriumi for inspiring me to try singing jazz in the first place; thanks to Andre Thomas for the photos (see HERE) and for the advice about building rapport with photographers and how to perform when one is present; thanks to Ms. Yvette for showing support; thanks to Renee K. for being there as well, without you working with me all those times in high school I probably wouldn't still be singing today; thanks to Ma for also being there, without whom I REALLY wouldn't be singing because I wouldn't exist, haha. And big ups to Susan, Scott, and everyone else who went up there and made music happen tonight! Everybody showed out! Many thanks and blessings to all of you for sharing your art. Oh and thanks to everybody who wished me luck!
Sunday, July 5, 2015
Very Berry Smoothie and one of her Tropical Passion variations. I could've taken one at a time and just made the other next week, but I've got a lot of produce and was in the mood to just throw it all together and see how it would turn out.
30 blackberries, 10 cherries, one banana, one orange, one cup of chopped pineapple, 1/2 cup almond milk, and ice. Blend and done.
I really like the nifty purple color that this smoothie has. And the almond milk smoothes out the thickness enough so that it doesn't feel like I'm drinking straight puree. Quite the nice fruity little drink we've got here!
Check out pics of other foodventures here:
Peace, Love, and Food (Every Now and Then)
"This performance is dedicated to all the playa-hatin' teachers that won't let a lil' gangsta shine."
Mystikal. Sir. That unmistakable voice. I don't know what happened to you, where you went, or how you and Mark Ronson got linked up. But I'm glad you're back and I applaud you. This beats the pants off of "Uptown Funk" for me any day. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for coming back and showing the world that you still got it.
That is all.
Saturday, July 4, 2015
Welp, there you have it. Our week in Georgia has come to an end. And despite all my griping this week, I can't really call it a bust because I learned quite a lot about my family that I might not have if we all hadn't agreed to spend this time together in such close quarters. Don't get me wrong, I'll be glad to be get out of here tomorrow and return to Michigan where no drama awaits me. But I also feel bad that things got as
Friday, July 3, 2015
So today I decided to make it again, but do it right this time. As non-conventional as it looks, "Egg in a Hole" (or "Egg in a Basket"), is incredibly easy and simple to make. You can use any fixings you like, but at the bottom line all you need is a slice of bread, a tablespoon of butter, and an egg. Heat the skillet and place the butter in it so it can melt all the way. In the meantime, take any round surface, place it on the bread, and cut around its edge with a knife. (I imagine that if you had specially shaped cookie-cutters at your disposal, using one of those would make the hole look super cute! But I don't have any so I just used the bottom of a plastic solo cup.)
Check out pics of other foodventures here:
Peace, Love, and Food (Every Now and Then)
Thursday, July 2, 2015
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
But moving on! Having never been to a real dance club before, I was a little nervous and didn't know what to expect, but Opera turned out to be a pretty nice establishment! Either they remodeled an old opera house, or they just did an impeccable job replicating one when they built the place, I couldn't tell. But the decor was quite unique. Ever seen dance/stripper poles standing in the middle of an opera house? Yeah, neither have I until now! Once I
got a feel for the place I thought I'd twerk a li'l bit along with my cousins, but I just wasn't feeling it. It was a fascinating experience enough just to observe everyone in the club and take in the atmosphere. I thought I could move; you know, keep it under wraps and spring it on people when necessary. But mannn, these girls down here in Atlanta are masters at what they do. Masters, I tell you! My cousins already had me beat, but these Atlanta girls really put me to shame. I'd thought the notion was silly before, but now I'm convinced: twerking is indeed an athletic feat and an art form. I had fun just being a bystander, watching everyone else (cousins included) bop, pop, grind, dutty wine, shake, stomp, and sway the night away with the most swagger I've ever seen in one place. It. was. magnificent!
アルジャーノンに花束を(Algernon ni Hanataba wo/Flowers for Algernon) - TBS/2015
This drama obviously goes straight for "the feels", as it emphasizes how impressionable, lonely, desperate, and taken-advantage-of Sakuto is during the first half of the show's run before his transformation. Plus, rather than commissioning an original theme song from a current artist in the Japanese music industry, they chose Bette Midler's "The Rose", intermittently playing parts of her recording and a new orchestral version of the song during each episode to swell the heart strings and make you cry. They almost, just almost, got me at the end of episode 2, but I stayed strong. I could take or leave Yamashita Tomohisa's acting post-transformation, but I do appreciate his playing a mentally challenged man with dignity. It was also great to see him and the versatile Kubota Masataka reunited after co-starring in 2013's 'SUMMER NUDE'. All in all, 'Algernon ni Hanataba wo' isn't spectacular. It holds out that carrot for a hopeful ending a little too long, then snatches it away, while still rushing during the final episode to tie too many loose ends together. But it stays pretty true to the original story, and for that alone it's worth watching.
I'M HOME - TV Asahi/2015
swayed by the hype. In it, Hisashi (Takuya) is a salaryman who cannot remember the past 5 years of his life following a serious accident at a work site. The two recurring symbolic items that help trigger his memory are masks and keys. Hisashi holds onto a ring of keys that he's had since before the accident, which he uses to unlock (literally) doors to various rooms, buildings, and other spaces that play a role in his past and help him unlock (figuratively) his memory. Masks, for their part, have to do with the fact that upon returning home from the hospital, he can no longer recognize the faces of his wife and young son because they're both wearing masks. (Only he can see these masks, of course.) So each episode basically shows him delving deeper into his past and uncovering secrets not only about himself but also the people closest to him.
What I find most compelling about this drama is that while the lost memory premise is not new, Hisashi goes to great lengths to right his wrongs after having been quite the dastardly specimen. Like, he's genuinely and consistently invested in being a good person, becoming a better father and husband, and responding to whatever needs his family expresses. And for him this family includes his ex-wife and her daughter, who Hisashi adopted. Often in dramas they'll show a divorced man (or a man who's had an affair) and mention that he has two families, but he's always left his first family (or his "illegitimate" family) by the wayside, as if they never happened and aren't his responsibility. But Hisashi doesn't take that easy way out. Plus, he happens to be the best cook out of all the male and female characters on the show (not sure why this was chosen as such an important feature, but we see him cooking a delicious and often intricate meal in every episode), which is something that traditionally falls under "woman/wifely duties". So props to Kimura Takuya for taking on this character that both implicitly and explicitly challenges the traditional roles of Japanese men and fathers. This is one idol-turned-actor whose performances I can wholeheartedly get behind.
I would recommend both of these shows, but the winner this round is 'I'M HOME' hands down. Kimura Takuya really impressed me with the depth of his performance, and when his character realizes how much of a rider his wife is and crawls to her in the last episode? One of the most moving and beauifully-shot TV scenes I've seen in years.