Let’s Get Epistolary (Novels)

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My spring break ends tomorrow and I’ll be heading back to Yale, so naturally my thoughts are turning to correspondence and keeping in touch.  I’ve never been a dependable letter-writer, enthusiastic as I am about it as an art.  I blame advances in technology- email, texting, phone calls- that make writing (and asking people to write to you) feel pedantic, obsolete, and kind of unrewarding.
I wish I didn’t feel that way because there is something so gratifying in receiving a letter in the mail, something very grand in ‘conducting a correspondence’, and something so much more personal about handwritten thoughts tucked into an envelope just for you.
It makes you shiver, thinking of the things we stand to lose: heartfelt love letters, correspondence between great thinkers… We’ve replaced the first with sexts and FaceTime. The correspondence of Anais Nin and Henry Miller will be replaced by an endless chain of “U up?”s night after night.  We replaced the latter with… I don’t know? Tweets to followers?

And I love letters as a frame for novels. A lot of the earliest novels were epistolary and it’s a tactic that pops up every now and again in fiction (though I haven’t read many (any?) contemporary examples- hopefully I’ll get to House of Leaves soon). Continue reading “Let’s Get Epistolary (Novels)”

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A Handful of Spring Perfumes Sneaking Into My Icy Winter Heart

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I’m generally feel most myself in thick and wintery fragrances- scents that wrap you up in a musky blanket or a whirl of fireplace smoke.  But we always miss out when we try to play exactly to type- and most often delightful things come to surprise you from unexpected directions…

That’s probably why my collection of bottles is neither here nor there- it covers a lot of bases, with little overlap in genre or category- no easily articulated cohesion beyond that indefinable something that makes them feel like me and like mine.
And that has a certain logic to it, but when you trust to fragrance love and the vicissitudes of perfume fate your collection comes together a little spuriously.  You end with more of some type of fragrance, a few of another, and none of a third. The classical spring fragrance- the fresh floral- has historically been poorly represented in my cabinet.
(Which is not entirely fair: A bottle of vintage Diorissimo holds the ‘fresh spring floral’ banner; beautiful, proud, and tragically alone. She could use a little company).

But I don’t sample much anymore, even if I do keep up a massive list (classic) of fragrances I’d like to try.  My acquisitive feelings about perfume have subsided and I feel very content with my collection as it is. But I’m lucky enough to have a few friends who look out for me and send things over, and when I travel I do try to stop by local fragrance shops: in sort, samples do somehow find their way to me.

A few of them have sort of caught me unawares, winnowed their way into my affections, particularly during this particularly cold-snappy March, when I’m most in need of a hint of spring.  So maybe I was a bit vulnerable, but isn’t so much of love finding the right thing at the right time?

That was a long-winded way of introducing these four- four underrated and little discussed fragrances this side of quirky and that side of beautiful, and sure to please you whether it’s the snows or cherry blossoms falling. Continue reading “A Handful of Spring Perfumes Sneaking Into My Icy Winter Heart”

How ‘Great Illustrated Classics’ Ruined My Life

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Okay, so that is a bit melodramatic and more than a bit unfair.

For those of you who don’t know, Great Illustrated Classics is a series by Baronet Books, a “treasury of 66 classic titles, a collection of books beautifully illustrated and adapted for young readers.” They carried a ton of them in my elementary school and my middle school. And I read a ton of them.

The problem is that they’re really just dumbed down versions of books that are great creations in their own right, true classics that deserve to be read and appreciated for themselves, without having read a scrubbed clean and stripped down outline beforehand.  I read almost all of the Illustrated Classics. I now wish I had waited a few years to read the original works or had read the original works right then and there- some of them are annotations of books that were children’s books to begin with!

That said, my feelings are a bit unfair because I’m very much aware that the Illustrated Classics, all being gathered in one place, facilitated my love of literature, particularly classics. Would I be so into catching up on the classics now if I hadn’t had those easily digestible finger foods back in the day? (To stretch this analogy to the breaking point- if an Ilustrated Classic is a Hostess Ding Dong (another thing I haven’t had since elementary school), the original books are usually Triple Chocolate Tortes- do those even exist?)
You can see the complete library of Illustrated Classics here. But I’m going to break down the ones that I read into two categories: books I wish I had waited to read in their original form and books I wish I had just read in their original form right then and there (late elementary to early middle school)- the books that my kids (Mashallah) will have on their shelves. Continue reading “How ‘Great Illustrated Classics’ Ruined My Life”

Top Films for Graphic Violence

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Don’t hate Quentin Tarantino; hate the game.

Actually that’s completely hypocritical of me; I can’t stand Tarantino’s particular brand of brutality. I made it through Pulp Fiction with only a feeling of resignation. And I think I stopped Kill Bill during the fight scene between Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu.
But Tarantino aside, blood and gore aren’t things I shy away from in movies.  I’m much more likely to avoid a movie focused on overblown and manipulative emotional scenes (i.e. why I haven’t watched Room yet) than a movie that unflinchingly shows blood and guts.

The criteria for this list? The film has to actually be good. No pain porn- an excellent plot is a necessity. The violence should enhance the plot, even if it does so a bit gratuitously.
No straight up horror.  That said, horror can be hard to define.
Lastly? Blood spatter.

And a disclaimer: I don’t claim to have seen all of the graphic films the world has to offer. I haven’t seen Sin City. Or Oldboy. Or Lady Vengeance. But what I’ve heard suggests that those might be at home on this list. Continue reading “Top Films for Graphic Violence”

Disney Princess Showdown

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(Pocket Princesses, a comic I love. Look them up!)

There are a lot of arguable Disney princesses, but only a few in the Disney Princess line, which is a collection of the most elite, popular, and franchise-able characters (Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel and Merida).  But none of these people (with the exception of Mulan) are favorite Disney heroines of mine.
It’s kind of unfair, because they’re chosen for overwhelmingly commercial reasons.
So here’s a ranked showdown of all of the Disney princesses I could come up with.  The princesses are ranked on a few basic qualities: 1) born into or marries royalty, 2) has animals sidekicks, 3) sings songs, 4) inspirational/powerful.
Honestly I think Disney is a little too focused on the ‘princess’ designation- there are so many more things to celebrate about women than royal status.  I’m rewarding half points for incompletely achieved criteria. Continue reading “Disney Princess Showdown”

Ice Cream Flavors

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Ice cream is a delightful thing and I like having it for breakfast (or lunch or dinner). Because  rarely have dessert and if you keep your meals normally balanced and healthy, what could be wrong with setting aside one of them to feed your soul?
While these aren’t necessarily my favorite ice cream flavors, they are the ice cream flavors of my life. My life, as told in ice cream. You know how you can tell when fossils come from based on what stratified rock layer they’re located in? This is like an ice cream layer cake, with the bottom most being the ice cream of my youngest youth and the top layer the scoops I get these days, at FoMu. Continue reading “Ice Cream Flavors”

An Odd Pairing: All The President’s Men and Watchmen

 

I watched Watchmen the day before yesterday and All The President’s Men the day before that.  The two interlocked in unexpected- even uncanny- ways. Continue reading “An Odd Pairing: All The President’s Men and Watchmen”