I read a lot. This is a selection of what I read this week (9/28/20 through 10/04/2020) that I think you should read, too.
*Shoshy Ciment’s A high-profile murder case hinges on an alibi involving a googly-eyed grocery-store robot named Marty for Business Insider: Look, 2020 got off to a strange start long before we had to shelter in place.
*Victoria Clayton’s The Needless Complexity of Academic Writing for The Atlantic: Overly ornate writing is usually deployed to help academics impress their peers and superiors in competition for bigger and better opportunities. However, this ends up making important research inaccessible to lay people who can benefit from the knowledge, too. Many individuals and organizations seek to democratize learning by lobbying for legislation for and encouraging authors to use more straightforward language and putting cracks in some of the ivory towers’ foundations.
*Cora Harrington’s Yasmin Benoit: The Asexual Model Redefining What It Means to Wear Lingerie for The Lingerie Addict: Yasmin Benoit is a crucial voice for asexual recognition and an incredibly talented lingerie model. This thoughtful profile discusses how her career has challenged common misconceptions about who and what lingerie is for, and how it may be enjoyed.
*Chris Patton’s The Queer and Mysterious Houston I Know for Spectrum South: A celebration of Houston’s unapologetically queer, punk, and artistic roots from a writer and performer who lived right in the middle of it during the ’80s and ’90s. The city has always been these things, but suffers from bad PR. We need more first-person accounts like this to keep our valuable cultural and subcultural history alive.
*Ashley Post’s How to Give: Restricted v. Unrestricted Funding for Charity Navigator: A valuable resource when you’re making charitable donations! Nonprofits have to distribute their funding in specific ways, and adding too many restrictions may actually weaken the quality of their services.
*Daniel Vaughn’s Two Austin Women Hope to Build the First Lab-Grown Brisket for Texas Monthly: Beyond Beef and the Impossible Burger both receive oohs and ahhs from consumers interested in learning more about hearty vegan alternatives to meat that still maintain the texture and flavor of flesh. BioBQ hopes to outpace them all, with two scientists applying their collective expertise in chemistry, biology, and cellular and biomolecular engineering to lab-grow a brisket indistinguishable from one harvested from a cow. With so many concerns about cattle farming’s impact on the environment, an alternative that tastes just as great as the inspiration may prove a game-changer.
As always, my weeklies/weeklies-ish:
*Huda Fahmy’s Yes I’m Hot in This
*Phylecia Miller and Jules Rivera’s Hi, Phylecia!
*Taejoon Park’s Lookism
*Linda Sejic’s Punderworld
*Jessi Sharon’s The Sea in You
*Rachel Smythe’s Lore Olympus
*Sensaga’s Ham and Mat
*Steenz’s Heart of the City
Bianca Xunise wrote a quick, fun comic overview of the incomparable Poly Styrene, lead singer of legendary punk band X-Ray Spex. It’s a fun tribute to an amazing woman and performer.
I haven’t made much in the way of progress on Shurtleff’s Audition – apologies to my lovely (and endlessly patient) acting coach – but I have started on Japanese for Busy People‘s third edition, romaji version. Japanese was my second language in high school. I only made it to level two, largely because of colleges’ expectations that you take part in every extracurricular activity possible while only getting left slightly dead. Now that I’m not performing on stage right now, and probably won’t for a long while yet (thanks, America’s trashgarbage COVID response!), I’ve enrolled in Rice University’s continuing education Japanese class to continue my studies. Enough of my original lessons stuck to where I started in their level two class.
First off, my high school Japanese didn’t have a textbook, so I never knew which to eventually purchase as reference. Having one on hand right now is making all the difference in the world with my memory retention, even if I’m still stuck on remembering when to use the で, に, and を particles correctly. The class started on lesson 10, but I’ve been going back and slowly working my way through the previous nine as a review. It’s helpful. Romaji throws me off whenever I read it, though, however I completely recommend the Japanese for Busy People series so far. At least the first book for beginners. A kana version is available for advanced beginners. The third-level class advances to book two, with hiragana, katakana, and kanji… which is good, because kanji is probably my biggest hurdle after a few grammar hangups I need to master. Even if finances make it impossible or difficult to sign up for the next class, I’ll at least do personal study on my own time with that book until I can.
That said, I still set aside some time for pleasure reading before bedtime, and I’ve been re-reading the gorgeous Raw: A Hannibal/Will Fanthology, edited by Aimee Fleck and Tea Berry-Blue. Fanfiction doesn’t get enough appreciation as its own unique, thoughtful, and often high-quality medium, especially when compared to fan art. My enjoyment of it should surprise nobody, considering how obsessed I’ve been with retellings of Hades and Persephone this past year (Lore Olympus, Punderworld, Hadestown, and don’t think I don’t have Hades planned as my next game). I love the imagination that goes into recontextualizing familiar characters and finding ways to fill in the blanks of their stories. I don’t actively participate in fandoms, but I’m a proud consumer of what fandoms centered on narratives I love create, and I’m wanting to include more in my reading mix and share my favorites here.
The Raw anthology appropriately reflects the same balance of equal parts brutality and elegance that attracted so many to the now-sorely-missed Hannibal TV show. Punctuated with lush art, stories like Selected Excerpts from the Pillow Book of the Chesapeake Ripper by Disenchanted and Straw Into Gold by Wildehack explore the mindsets of leads Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter in a tone at once detached and mythic while also devastatingly intimate. I’m hoping to avoid spoilers here – and let it be known that the book does contain spoilers for the finale – so all I can say without accidentally ruining someone else’s good time is that yes Hannibal fans should pick this up on Gumroad, but only after they’ve watched the entire series.
See you next week, fellow bookish buffs!
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