A blog for all things personal, informational, educational, and fun.
Here at my personal blog Thoughts & Things, I share a wide variety of, you guessed it, thoughts and things. Anything that sparks my interest is up for discussion. For those who are uncertain of what that might cover, I'll generally talk about reading, writing, books, movies, music, games, history, current events, and feminism. I talk about my personal emotional and health struggles from time to time. I'm also a big fan of lists.|
This is the place here at WDC where you can get to know me best, as I talk about the things that interest me, impact me, and amuse me.
|The cello makes for some incredible music much of the time. I won't pretend I don't have a soft spot for grand orchestral pieces, or string quartets. I also have a pretty big soft spot for the cello when it makes much more modern styled music. If you ever wondered who you could market cello pop or metal or anything to, wonder no more, for I am that person!
I have found quite a few modern musicians who feature the cello as a major part of their music, and I thought I would share a few of them for those who like the cello, and for those who are uncertain about the cello.
Tina Guo is a cellist and erhuist originally from Shanghai and now based out of the USA. She has performed with numerous orchestras and symphonies, and on dozens of film and game scores. Most recently you might no her for her work on the Wonder Woman theme music with Hans Zimmer. She has released original solo albums of cello based metal, including her album Cello Metal.
Jorane is a French-Canadian cellist and singer. She creates original cello based rock music, sung both in French and English. Unlike most cellists, she sings while she plays. Her style is similar to if Tori Amos sang in French instead of English and played the cello instead of the piano. Jorane also performed on a Sarah McLachlan album and composed the film score for Louis Cyr.
Vitamin String Quartet
Vitamin String Quartet is a Los Angeles based string quartet group that has been around since the late 1990s. As a string quartet, they feature a cello. Their music consists of covers of a variety of pop, rock, and electronic based genres, not traditionally associated with classical instruments. They have done approximately 260 albums of these covers, including artists such as Metallica, Lady Gaga, Peter Gabriel, and many more.
2Cellos (or 2CELLOS) are a cello duo, as the name would indicate. They are Slovenian and Croatian. The pair of cellists perform a variety of pop and rock hits most of their albums, with their most recent album, recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra, featuring songs from various film and television scores.
Cello Fury is a group of cellists from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Originally a group of four cellists, they now consist of three cellists and a drummer. Cello Fury creates cello based rock music, that they blend with a variety of influences. This ultimately results in a sound that is equal parts progressive rock and modern classical.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Ninety. Eight days of leave taken total.)
|As I have previously mentioned, I am in a long distance relationship with a wonderful man who is from Northern Ireland. He is currently visiting me here in Canada (he has been here since Late May, and will be here until the end of July), and since he arrived he has found that there are many things here that feel incredibly foreign to him (as things tend to feel in a foreign country). Many things that have given him a bit of a culture shock have been things I honestly didn't even spare a thought for. He has provided me with assistance in creating a list of things that shocked him in coming from Northern Ireland for a visit in southwestern Ontario, Canada.
1. Bagged milk.
2. Corndogs being called Pogos.
3. Pogos being readily available in many places.
4. LGBTQ+ acceptance being widespread.
5. Root beer is delicious.
6. The visual design of houses is different.
7. Cars drive on the right side of the road instead of the left.
8. The driver's side of the vehicle is on the left instead of the right.
9. Houses having basements is normal here.
10. "Walkers" chips there are called "Lays" here, and offer different flavoured selections.
11. Menthol cigarettes are illegal.
12. You can't smoke on bar/restaurant patios.
13. Bongs are available for sale in many convenience shops.
14. Banks charge monthly fees to users to keep the account running.
15. Paper money is actually plastic.
16. Coin money is just plain different.
17. Poutine is delicious.
18. Sex clubs and strip clubs exist.
19. There are sex shops with clean and friendly environments.
20. Cashiers are super friendly.
21. Taxes are not automatically included in prices.
22. Harvey's is a fantastic fast food place.
23. The summer heat is too much for his Irish skin.
24. Electronic crosswalk signs having timers.
25. Nerd specialty shops are widespread and popular.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Eighty-Seven. Eight days of leave taken total.)
|As a total bookworm, I read a lot. This year I have been on something of a roll. Over the last few years, reading has become harder as my health has declined, and so I have read less overall books per year than I might have when I was healthy. Books have always been my heart and soul, so this has been particularly painful. This year, I have managed to read more in between January and July than I did in all of 2016, and I am ready to keep tackling books. In my renewed fervour for books and reading, I have run into a dilemma: Do I catch up on older releases, or do I read everything from 2017 as it comes out?
Despite being a long time reader, there are many books I have not read. There are countless classics I missed out on while growing up, and just as many things that have been released in my lifetime that I failed to read as it was released. A person can only read so much. When there are hundreds of thousands of books released every year, on top of all the millions of older books, somehow my Goodreads book total of 834 (which I am sure is missing books I read too long ago to recall the titles and authors of) seems like a piddling number.
On the one hand, I have a lot of catching up to do. I think we all do. As I said, there are millions of books out there. I have read under a thousand, which hardly counts for anything, despite my being a bookworm. The only Jane Austen book I have ever read was Northanger Abbey, and it was ten years ago. The only Oscar Wilde book I have ever read was The Canterville Ghost, and I read it for the first time this year. The only thing I ever read of Charles Dickens, despite being very aware of his work acting as a social commentary of 19th century London, and being incredibly relevant to my interests both in literature and history, is A Christmas Carol, and that was probably fifteen years ago--I have read more about Charles Dickens than I have read works written by Charles Dickens. I have only read poetry from Margaret Atwood, I've never read LM Montgomery outside of the Anne of Green Gables series, and I haven't read anything at all by Alice Walker. Other than classics, there are tons of more current authors I have never read anything from. I have never read a book by Dan Brown, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, or Nicholas Sparks. I have read a few things from Stephen King, but it really is very few, especially compared to the bulk of his work. The list could go on all day. There are so many things that I haven't read that I feel like I should be reading to get a well rounded experience out of books and life.
On the other hand, new books are constantly coming out, which makes me feel like I am not only behind on books in general, but as if I have fallen behind the book community that feels like it's my home. Since I last posted about books, I have read two 2017 releases, and I am on my third, but that totals for three books for the entire year. I have managed to miss out on many big releases I am dying to get to. This past weekend I made an entire blog post about 2017 books on my to read list (which you can see here: "2017 Book Releases on My To Read List" ). These are only the ones that were on my mind at the time, the ones I have wanted to read most. This doesn't factor in that there are dozens of others that have caught my eye, and hundreds more that I would probably enjoy that I know nothing about yet. Plus all of the upcoming 2017 releases! This also doesn't account for what seems to be an endless list of series that I have not read the first book of yet, but have new releases within those series released this year. How am I supposed to stay caught up on all of these new books if I am reading nothing but previous releases?
I've realised that ultimately, in order to get the best experience possible, I can't stick to one or the other. I need to read a mix of current releases, as well as older releases, and classics. Maybe I need to dive into one of those series that is ongoing, or revisit older series I abandoned that are still releasing new volumes. I have to come to terms with not being able to have it all, no matter how much I read. For now I need to tackle what I can, and try to get the best mix possible.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Eighty-Six. Eight days of leave taken total.)
|60° north is pretty far to the north. Let's use this map as a reference point for anyone who is uncertain of just how far north 60°N is. This is just a little bit south of the Arctic Circle (66°N). It's safe to say that most music that the average person listens to falls below the 60°N marker. I enjoy hearing music from places all over the world, and so I thought I would share some of the interesting artists I have heard that originated in the northern part of the world.
Note: I haven't listened to much music from the parts of Russia that are 60°N or above, so nothing from that region appears here. It wasn't intentional neglect, the area just doesn't have as much music due to the sparse population, and what's there isn't the easiest to find. If you know of music from Russia that is further north than 60°N, please feel free to suggest it in the comments.
Tanya Tagaq originates from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada. She mixes her incredible throat singing with folk, rock, hip hop, and generally experimental stylings, often with topics in relation to her Inuk background.
Track to try: Aorta
Lucie Idlout is from Iqaluit, Nunavut. Idlout's rock singer-songwriter tunes, with a beat to tap your toes to, often have a focus on First Nations issues based on her Inuk background.
Track to try: E5-770: My Mother's Name
The Jerry Cans
The Jerry Cans are a folk rock group out of Iqaluit, Nunavut. Their music combines folk and country influences, while their vocals are mainly sung in Inuktitut, the Inuit language. Their vocal stylings also include throat singing.
Track to try: Ukiuq
Small Time Giants
Small Time Giants originate out of Qaqortoq in the southern portion of Greenland, although their drummer is from Denmark. Their music is alternative rock.
Track to try: We Are the Arctic
Amiina is an all woman Icelandic band based out of Reykjavik. Their music blends post rock with folk stylings, with several string instruments involved (including violin, viola, and cello).
Track to try: Lóri
Lene Marlin originates from Stordalstrand in the northern portion of Norway. She is a singer-songwriter who makes catchy pop rock tunes perfect for toe tapping and singing along.
Track to try: Sitting Down Here
Mari Boine originates from Gámehisnjárga in the northern portion of Norway. Her music blends the traditional Joik stylings from northern Europe with contemporary folk.
Track to try: Oktavuohta
Eivør Pálsdóttir is from Syðrugøta in the Faroe Islands, located about midway between Norway and Iceland. Her music is incredibly experimental at times, playing with her vocals as she makes art pop, folk, and big band tunes.
Track to try: Trøllabundin
Moon Safari is from Skellefteå in the northern portion of Sweden. They make symphonic progressive rock, complete with perfectly harmonised vocals and lengthy tracks.
Track to try: The Ghost of Flowers Past
Emiliana Torrini originates from Kópavogur in Iceland. Her music is soft dream pop with folk and trip hop elements. She is best known for performing the credits track Gollum's Song in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers film.
Track to try: Telepathy
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Eighty-Five. Eight days of leave taken total.)
|The city I live in celebrates Pride during the last week of August every year, and we always turn it into a spectacular event. I live in Canada, where marriage equality has been nationwide for over a decade, so people tend to be a lot more accepting here in general. At least accepting enough that Pride events can be run with little fear of harassment, but harassment is still enough of a reality that Pride is still necessary.
In the weeks/months leading up to Pride, our downtown crosswalks get painted in the rainbow flag, and rainbow flags are hung up about the area as well. Events run all week long to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. There are celebratory nights at the LGBTQ+ nightclub, including an all ages dance night where teens are welcome (I have been to these nights, and it is the most magical thing in the world to see teens who might be outcasts at home or school feel totally free to be themselves).
There are fun events like Bitchy Drag Queen Bingo, and more serious events like hearing those in the local LGBTQ+ community speak about their experiences over the years. Earlier tonight I attended the city's Pride Film Night. This amounts to a little over an hour's worth of short LGBTQ+ themed films shown for free. Last year's was amazing, so this year's did underwhelm me a bit. There were still some pretty great films shown, although it opened on a video featuring blackface, which put a damper on the whole evening.
The whole week culminates in a weekend long free festival in one of our major parks downtown, full of food, vendors, and live music. On the Sunday, we have our Pride Parade, which is quite the event. I've managed to miss it every year so far, which is a shame because I'm sure the stunning pictures don't even do it justice.
Overall I feel like it's really refreshing to live in a city that makes such an event out of Pride. Things like these feel like such a spectacular way to combat the hate that still unfortunately permeates our modern world. The events also make for an absolute blast, filled with fun activities that anyone can enjoy.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Eighty-Four. Eight days of leave taken total.)
|We all have certain media we don't like. A show we couldn't stand, a book that was a nightmare to get through, a movie that made you fall asleep, a song that annoyed you, and so on. It's really easy to decide you can't stand that particular thing, and avoid it indefinitely. I do it regularly, quite honestly. That said, I think that sometimes it's important to re-examine things we previously didn't like.
It's all to easy to simply forget about the things we didn't like. Over time, though, our opinions change, our interests change, and we change overall as people. Being human means constantly changing, and evolving into a new you. It stands to reason that if we have changed as people, even in the most subtle way, that our opinions of things might have changed as well. Maybe you've gotten sick of your favourite song. But maybe an old song you couldn't stand before has become something you connect with.
As we change, our perspectives change. I know that while I am essentially the same person I was five years ago, I am also a very different person than I was five years ago. My interests have changed, matured, adapted, just the way I have matured and grown to care about different things than I once did. In some ways, the change over five years has been drastic. If I look further back than five years, I know a lot of things have changed. That said, if I look even two years back, I've still changed in even that much time.
Recently, I have definitely grown very interested in revisiting the media that I previously wasn't fond of. I plan on restarting books that I previously did not like enough to finish reading (mostly classics). I have returned to TV shows that I previously didn't care for, and although one of them only cemented my negative views (Seinfeld is overrated as heck), I have absolutely fallen in love with another (King of the Hill). I am also looking at returning to movies I had a hard time watching before.
As we change, we need to re-experience things we previously disliked. It's okay to still dislike them. I just think it's vital that we continue to give things a chance as we grow as people. It isn't fair to ourselves if we treat all of our opinions as solid. Our opinions of media are just as fluid as we ourselves are. The best thing we can do for our own interests is to continue to try new things, and to re-examine things from our past.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Eighty-Three. Eight days of leave taken total.)
|So far in 2017, I have read exactly zero books released this year. I have read fifty-eight books and short stories released between 1842 and 2016, which I think is pretty good, especially given that it's only July. Although I do intend to read many more previously released books, I have started to develop quite the backlist of 2017 releases that I am getting more and more eager to read. I thought I might share those current releases that have most caught my eye so far this year.
By Amanda Hocking
This YA paranormal romance is set in a traveling carnival with a super-powered heroine, all of which appeals to me. I actually won Freeks in a Goodreads giveaway (yes, I actually won one of those!), and I still need to read and review it.
By Ibi Zoboi
Telling the story of a teenage Haitian immigrant to the US, this YA release makes use of magical realism. American Street was on the new releases shelf at my local library, and I couldn't resist its beautiful cover or intriguing blurb.
By Hena Khan
Amina's Voice is a middle grade novel telling the story of a Pakistani-American girl trying to stay true to her family's culture while also trying to fit in with her friends. This is another one that caught my attention with its beautiful cover after I saw it online.
By Min Jin Lee
Pachinko is a Korean historical fiction novel that details the story of several generations of a family in the 20th century. I came across several glowing reviews of this one that brought it to my attention and piqued my interest.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
By Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay tells her own personal story in relation to her body and its size. Gay's books always receive glowing reviews, and what I have read of her writing online is fantastic. I have been meaning to read one of her books for quite awhile, and this new one has sparked my interest.
Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes
By Anne Elizabeth Moore
Body Horror is a feminist and anti-capitalist non-fiction work from small publisher Curbside Splendor. I heard about this one on a list of recommended new releases from small presses, and the concept, title, and cover art captured my attention right away.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Eighty-Two. Eight days of leave taken total.)
|Whenever an artist of any kind is known to be doing or having done something less than savoury, there are calls from the artist's fans to separate the art from the artist. Whether it be filmmakers, authors, musicians, visual artists, or so on, many people think we should focus on the art created rather than on whatever it is the artist has done wrong. I must admit, I can agree with this, but only in part. I don't think that separating the art from the artist can necessarily be a blanket thing that we can apply to every situation.
I don't think that the bad cancels out the good, or that the good cancels out the bad. I think to claim it does benefits no one. We have to take the good with the bad, and vice versa. It would be easy to ignore one or the other, but that simply isn't looking at the big picture. There are many situations where I think that many people would prefer to ignore one or the other, and I don't think that's right.
A person who does something questionable, or even undeniably awful, doesn't automatically have their beautiful art negated by that. Roman Polanski, for example, still makes wonderful films despite his undeniably awful background. I wouldn't propose we pretend those films are anything but good. However, some people believe that Polanski should be able to return to America without impunity despite his crimes simply because he has made good movies over the years, and I think that's foul. Beautiful art should never be a reason to allow a person to escape justice.
That said, sometimes it can be difficult to look at a person's past and still enjoy their art if their art ties too closely to their questionable behaviour. It is hard to accept Woody Allen's art, for example, knowing about his penchant for too young women when many of his films focus on a relationship between older men and younger women. Even in looking at the music industry instead, it can be hard to stomach R. Kelly's music as he sings about sex, but we know he has been involved with underage girls.
In other instances, however, the art doesn't necessarily reflect the kind of person the artist is. Going back a little further, Charlie Chaplin was involved with many teenage girls throughout his career, which is awful. Even knowing that though, it isn't something one would typically think about when watching any one of his films.
I think that when it comes to separating the art from the artist, it can depend specifically upon whether or not the art is reflective of the bad behaviour or crimes of the person who made it. I also truly believe that that art should never be a reason for the artist to escape justice if their wrongdoings are criminal.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Eighty-One. Eight days of leave taken total.)
|I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the beach. I definitely think it's overrated. I have always been more of an indoorsy person, preferring books to going out (although I do have a soft spot for hiking and pretty scenery). The beach is frankly one more reason to prefer staying home.
The beach definitely has its benefits. I live in southwestern Ontario, so I am a comfortable distance from three of the five Great Lakes. I live quite close to Lake Erie, which has always where we've spent the most time. Most of the time, beaches offer up a beautiful scenery, especially at the Great Lakes where the water goes further than the eye can see. The temperature and low waves make for comfortable swimming.
Even with benefits, I can't fully get behind going to the beach, especially local ones. The sand is too hot, and full of sharp bits. The water and sand are both unclean. There are too many people around. Beachwear leaves so much skin exposed to sunburns. Sand gets absolutely everywhere, and in everything. Half of the day might be fun, but the other half of the day is kind of miserable.
In case you can't tell from my whining, I went to the beach yesterday. I'm recovering from a nasty sunburn, and fully expecting to continue to find sand in places. As I have health problems, I also feel like it's a very strenuous activity to recover from.
I think some beaches are definitely better than others. I find the water at Lake Huron to feel a lot cleaner than the water at Lake Erie or Lake Ontario. I love going to Georgian Bay, because it's all very rocky, and I don't have to deal with sand at all. Georgian Bay is also freezing cold, which feels nice and refreshing. I do have a lot of nostalgia for Georgian though, as it was one of my favourite places to go as a child.
I don't understand people who spend half their summers at the beach. Even my sister goes to the beach regularly, and it baffles me. Sure I can read a good book at the beach, but I'd rather read that good book from the comfort of my home. Maybe my yard, if I'm feeling outdoorsy.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Eighty. Eight days of leave taken total.)
|Anyone who has paid attention to my blog for even a day knows I have a soft spot for classic films. Not even just classic films in a really specific category either, but classic films as a whole (not that I like every classic film ever, but that I don't have a specific preference only, and oh you get what I mean). Rather than a specific category, I wanted to talk about classic film on the big screen.
Earlier tonight I went to see Some Like It Hot (1959) at the movies. For those who are not aware of Some Like It Hot (and pretend I'm not judging you for a moment), it stars Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon, and tells the story of a pair of musicians in prohibition era Chicago who witness a brutal gang massacre, and flee town disguised as women as part of an all-girl jazz band to avoid being found by the gangsters looking to tie up loose ends. The film is one of my all time favourites, and has been for many years. It is an absolute laugh riot, far saucier than one would ever expect of a fifties film (even one with Monroe), and is a gem to watch over and over again.
Before tonight, I had never seen any classic film on the big screen, although I've always wanted to. One of Canada's major theatre chains, Cineplex, will typically play a classic film once a month, depending on location, and I have wanted to attend for years. Decades ago, film was played in theatres and nowhere else, and there was no way to bring one home. Now we can watch just about anything from the comfort of our homes, including classic movies that audiences could once only see at the theatre. I think there's something incredibly special about having the opportunity to see one of those classic films in the format it was originally meant to be seen in.
Some Like It Hot absolutely thrilled me to see on the big screen. It was the same hilarious film I grew up with, but it was fifty feet high, louder than I had ever heard it (although not as loud as I am accustomed to at the average movie experience), and I was surrounded by dozens of other people enjoying the film as much as I was. I generally am a big fan of the theatre-going experience, as the size and volume are something else, and the connection with other people enjoying the same movie I am makes me feel at one with the world. The added joy of it being over a half century old and still getting to experience this kind of took my breath away.
I also took my significant other to see it with me, and he had never seen it before. He loved it too, but I was glad that I could give him an experience that was something else. Plus he had also never seen a classic film on the big screen either, so he got to experience that joy for the first time with me.
If you've never had the opportunity to see a classic film on the big screen, I definitely recommend it. The film that Cineplex will be playing in August is North By Northwest (which I actually haven't seen!), and I am looking forward to experiencing it for the first time the way it was meant to be seen.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Seventy-Nine. Eight days of leave taken total.)