I read a lot. This is a selection of what I read this week (11/30/20 through 12/06/2020) that I think you should read, too.
*Rebecca Davis’ China’s Gay Rights Stance Can’t Derail Demand for LGBT Films for Variety: There are a lot of misconceptions regarding film censorship by the Chinese government and what audiences in China are actually receptive to watching, if not demanding. Movies with LGBTQIAP+ content can and do get made and viewed there since it isn’t illegal like the myths seem to push. They do, however, have a near impossible time finding distributors or getting screened at festivals. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t a large and eager audience out there clamoring for more LGBTQIAP+ themes and characters in their movies, either.
*Maavni Singh’s How Snobbery Helped Take The Spice Out Of European Cooking for NPR’s The Salt: Europe’s taste for spices led it to colonize and brutalize nearly every continent… only to ultimately reject the plunder because flavor became more affordable to peasants and the nobles just could not have that. This is why food history is geopolitical history and you can’t really separate the two. Also make sure to read Singh’s amazing piece for some interesting insight into the science behind regional Indian cuisines vs. the science behind many European cuisines.
*Jordan Smith’s CB Radio QSL Cards: A 1970s Social Media Craze for Flashbak: The short-lived CB radio trend in the 1970s also came with the trade of custom-made cards featuring call signs and addresses for enthusiasts. Some artists even specialized in creating cartoons and caricatures specifically for QSL cards and made a pretty penny doing it.
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
*Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail
*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
A massive swath of my friends are Critical Role fans, and unfortunately for me, despite all of my improv training, I struggle to follow the story whenever I watch people play tabletop games. Doesn’t matter if it’s a livestream, a video, or in person. If I’m actually playing, it’s another story. It’s weird, but I’m bringing it up so I don’t get emails or messages asking me to comment on something I don’t know about or misrepresent my knowledge.
That said, I still very much like the cast and characters and do watch animatics since they’re better aligned with my cognition, and I plan to watch the animated series. I want to participate in my friends’ discussions about Critical Role. So the fact that comics exist as prequels give me some context, help me enjoy the characters more, and allow me to take part in more conversations. And the comics are a blast! Everyone wins! I like situations where everyone wins.
I picked up the two trade paperback volumes of Vox Machina: Origins. The first volume was written by Matthew Colville from a story by Matthew Mercer with art by Olivia Samson and colors and letters by Chris Northrop, while the second was written by Jody Houser from a story by Matthew Mercer with art by by Olivia Samson, colors by Michele Assarasakorn, and letters by Ariana Maher. Like many a D&D campaign, it’s about getting the band together with plenty of pitstops in taverns, near-death experiences, debts, and paid gigs gone bad. And like many a good D&D campaign, it’s less about the plot and more about the strong relationships between characters, which is something Colville and Houser both excel at. Bickering half-elf twins Vex and Vax and the found family siblingship between Grog and Pike are especially compelling and help move the story between moments of great comedy and great heartwarming, with Samson’s art and Northrop and Assarasakorn’s coloring adding considerable expressiveness to complete the scene.
Looking forward to volume 3 if there ever is a volume 3.
Finished Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-first Century, edited by Alice Wong, this week and it remains absolutely essential reading for… honestly? I rarely say this since people have such varying tastes, but in this instance I think the book genuinely should be read by anyone who can get their hands on it. Wong took amazing care in making sure that disability’s intersections with race, class, sexuality, and gender are all represented to show just how intricate the web of oppression can get. It also covers a broad swath of topics, such as mental health, adaptive clothing, accessibility, choreography, and so many more. Unlike many anthologies, this really isn’t one you can pick up and selectively read the best bits. This isn’t a showcase to discuss the “standout” stories. You really need the entire book, especially given that disability rights do not receive nearly the attention they require even in social justice circles.
The other book I enjoyed this week, because I am apparently using my PTO for reading and not life necessities like chores or eating or exercising or finishing Schitt’s Creek, was Yukiko Motoya’s short story collection The Lonesome Bodybuilder. Her narratives range from heightened mundane – like the titular tale of a housewife who takes up bodybuilding and her husband doesn’t notice her metamorphosis into a beefcake – to the bizarre and surrealist “The Fitting Room” and “The Straw Husband.” “Paprika Jiro” and “How to Burden the Girl” dissect and distort popular action movie and anime tropes to darkly humorous (in the case of the former) and grotesque (in the case of the latter). It’s a great collection for people looking for something dreamlike and more than occasionally Dada.
See you next week, fellow bookish buffs!
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