Black Lives Matter

Black lives matter.

If you break into an apartment and shoot a woman in her sleep, you are a murderer.

If you kneel on a man’s neck for 9 minutes, you are a murderer.

There are no circumstances that make this OK:

If you’re going to comment that he only aiming a flash bang, or that he wasn’t aiming at them but at a protestor standing next to them, f*ck off.

To my friends who say that the US police are scared for their lives because every traffic stop could end in a shootout I say: why aren’t these cops protesting the NRA? Why aren’t these cops pushing for gun control? Why did these cops have zero problems when a bunch of red necks with guns charged state capitals demanding that the state reopen so they can get a haircut? Exactly how threatened are these cops who shoot and mace and hit peaceful protesters?

I donated money to the Equal Justice Initiative, Black Lives Matter, and Black Girls Code. I’m actively working to educate myself and follow more black voices on social media. I strongly urge that you do the same at the very least.

Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter

Retro 51 Cat Rescue 3 Review

The last Retro 51 of the three that bought once I heard that they were retiring arrived: the Cat Rescue 3. I gave it a try as  part of my Retro 51 Challenge, and so far I’m utterly enamoured with it.

The Cat Rescue 3 shares a similar design and illustration style as the Dog Rescue 3. The illustrations on both pens are wonderful: adorable, full of humour and love for their subject.

Beyond cool cats in sunglasses (that go well with pirate dogs with eyepatches) the Cat Rescue 3 pen also has a hidden drawing of a mouse (the dog one had a hidden squirrel). That just makes this pen 1000% more likeable in my eyes.

The tube the Cat and Dog rescue is similar, as both donate 5% of proceeding to the same animal shelter, Operation Kindness. Unfortunately the cardboard tube mine came it was utterly crushed by the mail service, so I won’t be photographing its ruins.

The finial/top disc features the Operation Kindness logo, and I’m not bothering with a writing sample because there are only so many times you can read about me raving how great the Ohto FlashDry gel refill is.

As a bonus, here are a picture of my cats (brother and sister, both rescues) to make you smile. If you can donate or help your local shelter in any way, please do.

Retro 51 Cat Rescue 3 Review

Tournament of Books 2020: Fleishman is in Trouble

Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s “Fleishman is in Trouble” is a readable book. The pages fly by as you absorb them, looking for something, anything, more than superficial, entitled, dull misery. I kept waiting for the promises humour to appear. I kept waiting for the novel to get to even the basic insights in David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water” as it dug into the daily grind of its rich, white, healthy, able-bodied, cis-gendered, supremely selfish and childish characters. I kept saying, “so what, who cares?” and the novel didn’t answer. What things it had to say about women’s place had been said much more poignantly by authors with a better story to tell.
There is some attempt at narrative sophistication, but that doesn’t land. Akner chooses to use the second person for parts of the narrative, but she doesn’t commit, doesn’t fully create a witness account. Then there’s an attempt to mirror a fictional narrative within the narrative, a magazine article like telling of a divorce falling apart. Again, Akner pulls her punches, the comparison of “divorce story as written by a man vs. divorce story as written by a woman” doesn’t land. At some point I started hoping that she would pull off a trite move like revealing that she’s gender switched the narrative all along, just so I could have something to look forward to. Toby talks about rich people not knowing how to deal with tragedies or hardship in a novel devoid of any tragedies or hardship, as a character, in a cast, that has never truly dealt with the terrors of the world. The only character that has the potential for some depth, Rachel, is rendered as a selfish, driven, social climber with no empathy to anyone but herself.
The novel, like its characters, is pleasantly whiling the time as the world around it burns and it eats beef lo mein.
I read this book as part of the2020 Tournament of Books, where it’s up against Jami Attenberg’s “All This Could Be Yours” in the first round. Both novels are about rich, white people going through a crisis of sorts, but Attenberg’s novel has a depth to it, the darkness of Victor vs. the light of its post-Katrina New Orlean’s residents, that makes it worth spending some time with.
If you’re looking for a “Sex in the City Post Divorce” type of book, “Fleishman is in Trouble” may be what you’re looking for. Otherwise, I’d avoid it.

Tournament of Books 2020: Fleishman is in Trouble

Dare to Dream: Eurovision 2019 Tel Aviv Euro Village

A quick sketch on location of the Eurovision 2019 Tel Aviv Euro Village as it was filling up.

Leuchtturm1917 Sketchbook, Super5 0.7 fountain pen and Rohrer and Klingner Lotte ink.

Dare to Dream: Eurovision 2019 Tel Aviv Euro Village

Tournament of Books 2019: The Challenge

Each year for the past 15 years The Morning News has run the Tournament of Books — a March Madness like competition for books published during the previous year. It’s fun and light-hearted and super interesting because unlike other literary prizes, you get to see the judges’ thought process as they decided which book progresses and which doesn’t.

I first learned about it a few years ago through Field Notes, who sponsors the competition and issues a special, limited edition notebook to accompany it. At first I just bought the notebook, because I was a budding Field Nut and that’s what Field Nuts did. A year later I read and enjoyed some of the books that were in the competition, and I started to really look forward to reading the judges’ debates on each round.

Which brings us to this year, which is the year that I’ve decided to finally challenge myself to read every book on the Tournament of Books 2019 shortlist. That’s 18 books total, and as the tournament starts in March, there’s very little chance that I’ll be able to finish reading all of the books in time for their round. That just means that I’ll be following along a little later than usual, but I don’t think that it matters much.

What’s challenging isn’t just the sheer volume of books, but also their topics. There are no “light read” books on this list. There are books about death, prison, war, bigotry, racism and all the other “wonderful” sides of humanity. It would be a tough challenge on a regular year, but as I’m struggling with death and sickness in my family, this will be extra tough.

So why am I doing this? To challenge myself. To make myself a better, more empathetic human being, and hopefully a better writer. And because I can.

Tournament of Books 2019: The Challenge