Home again. I was greeted by the dog, who seems to only love me for the treats I give. He runs to get in front of me, herding me, hoping for something, anything.
My younger son tells me that we need to do something ASAP about the wifi in his room and that he has repetitive strain injury from the mutes on his drum set — lower noise means less bounce and more wrist movement. (Yes, we bravely bought him a used acoustic drum set for Christmas, replacing the electronic one that he has outgrown. Surprisingly, the noise is not much worse than the electronic kit.)
My husband, on the other hand, spares me about 30 seconds, all with his finger hovering above the play button, waiting to resume the show he is watching. (In his defense, he actually was more attentive on Sunday, so I’ll give him a pass.)
Anyway, day 3 of the great escape was good. I stopped in at a glass blowing studio that I’ve always just passed by before, and I watched the artist at work. Amazing how a lump of glass can become something beautiful in the right hands.
I didn’t buy anything, though, not being able to justify it, even to myself, as a worthwhile expenditure. After all, I have my 99 cent flower to take home!
More Shopping: I had a gift card for Chapters, so I browsed the remaindered books, something I love doing but hadn’t done in so long, and I picked up Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing by Jennifer Weiner. Weiner is one of my favourite authors of women’s fiction, with funny, relatable characters navigating life and relationships, often while battling self-esteem and body-image issues. One of her books, In Her Shoes, was made into a movie and I wrote about it here.
I’m interested to read about her background and what lead her to write such compelling stories, as well as to understand something about her writing process and her life as a reader. She has been outspoken in advocating for equal time for women’s popular fiction as compared to men’s popular fiction, and she asserts in the first chapter that, “Women’s stories matter. They tell us who we are, they give us places to explore our problems, to try on identities and imagine happy endings. They entertain us, they divert us, they comfort us when we’re lonely or alone. Women’s stories matter. And women matter too.” An embraceable thought following International Women’s Day.
A Book and a Kickstarter Campaign: I’ve also been rereading another book by a female author, who is also a fellow-blogger and Armitage fan, Alyssa Marie Bethancourt. (If you’ve never read her very personal essay on Lucas North, it’s well worth the read.)
Last year, Alyssa self-published her debut novel, Mornnovin, and it is a wonderful book for any lover of fantasy, magic, and epic quests. It has all the required elements — elves, fairies, humans, a world that needs saving — as well as a strong female lead and a perfect romance that shouldn’t be happening. The characters are all very distinct and well-developed, even down to highlighting nature/nurture personality differences between two siblings. The book follows three groups of people, each with their own trials to overcome, who must all come together for a vital quest, gathering members as they travel. Alyssa calls herself an Autistic Wordpainter, and has incorporated autistic traits into her race of elves, which adds an interesting element to the nature/nurture question.
Those of us who have read Mornnovin, are eagerly awaiting the series’ second book, Trajelon. To date, 53 of us have supported the Kickstarter campaign, to the tune of $2,886 USD, to see Trajelon published. With just over a week to go, Alyssa needs to raise another $814 USD to reach her goal. If you contribute $20 USD or more, you will receive not only a digital and a trade-paperback copy of the new book, but also a digital copy of Mornnovin so that you can read the whole series to date! Please visit the Kickstarter campaign here, check out the rewards at the various levels, and make a contribution if you are able.
After watching Richard Armitage in The Stranger, I discovered the music of Walking on Cars, an Irish band whose song Monster was used as the theme song for the series. I absolutely love the voice of Patrick Sheehy, who is also the band’s lyricist. Their album Colours has been on repeat throughout my recent stressful time at work and on my escape too.
Before taking the ferry to get home, I went to see Ben Affleck’s new movie, The Way Back. For some reason, I have a soft spot for this big bear of a man, who I think has had a bad rap in terms of his acting ability. I particularly appreciated his performance as the autistic contract killer in The Accountant, alongside Anna Kendrick, and I also enjoyed seeing him bring the husband to life from the book Gone Girl.
In The Way Back, Affleck plays a functioning but miserable alcoholic whose life has become nothing but drinking and getting by. His first beer of the day is drunk during the morning shower, coffee cups hide the booze during his working hours, and he is carried home to bed from the bar each night. His performance is excellent and really true-to-life, incorporating his own personal experience as a recovering alcoholic into the role.
Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is not great. He is offered the chance to coach the basketball team at the high school where he was a star as a teenager. This is the beginning of the road to redemption, of course, but despite good performances from the young actors and the actors playing his family, the lackluster story can’t be overcome. To me, there are things that are unrealistic, too, such as the way he easily puts the drinking aside for a time to focus on the boys and the amount of swearing done by him during the coaching. I’ve been around a lot of youth sports and I don’t believe that would have been tolerated. Again, though, Affleck’s performance itself is very believable.
Speaking of drunks, I have of course been watching Season 3 of Castlevania on Netflix. I’m only halfway through, though, so no spoilers please! I have to say that I am enjoying this season much more than Season 2. Once again, I have been struck by how light and colour is shown so vibrantly and beautifully in this series, to the extent that some scenes (e.g. purple flowers) look almost like photographs. I really love that Richard Armitage’s Trevor Belmont is back to his snarky beer-loving self (interesting how this is not so funny in real life) and that the series is exploring the relationship between him and Sypha, with a lot of snappy banter back and forth. While in solidarity as a woman, I like that Sypha is in charge, I’m not sure that I like how our man Trevor is being lead around by the… hand by Sypha. Show a little initiative, man! Again, the vampires are too cartoonish for my liking (where is Dracula when you need him?) and the gore is a little much. However, I really am liking the season so far.
Back on the home front, I did a massive grocery shop today — while I think the coronavirus panic is a bit out-of-hand, I do see the merit in a little bit of extra buying, especially since we also live in a potential earthquake zone. I don’t know what the stores are like where you are, but our stores are all out of all hand sanitizer, many cleaning products, toilet paper, and… Spam. I thought that was pretty hilarious. For those who don’t know, Spam is a canned meat immortalized in a Monty Python song.
It’s a crazy world. And already I am missing my home-away-from-home.
Back to work in the morning. Back to reality.