Travel Thursday: Glasgow

About a month after we come back from New York City, my sister and I are heading to Scotland because YOLO (but also a music festival).

TRNSMT 

Heck yes we’re going to TRNSMT’s first ever festival. We only have tickets for Sunday, but that line-up is glorious and totally worth it (plus who knows what other small shows will happen on Saturday night!). 

Whovian Tour

You know how I recently fell into a Whovian black hole with no intention of coming out? Luckily, Glasgow loves the Doctor as much (or as more) as I do, and there’s a handful of Whovian attractions to see - including several TARDIS-es!

Afternoon Tea

Any time I’m in the UK, I enjoy partaking of their tea-lightful ritual of afternoon tea. I actually haven’t had afternoon tea in Scotland before, so I’m excited to try it - this image is from the lovely Willow Tea Rooms but there are so many other options out there!!

Edinburgh

Even though we fly in/out of Glasgow, we’re spending two days in Edinburgh. So far, we have dinner reservations at The Witchery, and I want to go back to the cemetery where J.K. Rowling pulled some of her characters’ surnames. 

Defending Logan Huntzberger

Because I’ve already trash-talked Dean Forester and waffled over Jess Mariano, I’ve decided to dedicate today’s post to my favourite of Rory Gilmore’s boyfriends: Logan Huntzberger. I know that Alex and Emillie are shaking their heads at me right now, but my sisters also prefer Logan, so I know I’ll have their support at least. Plus, while looking for images, I stumbled across this article (funnily enough, I was going to use a very similar title for this post) the other day, which proves it’s not just a family trait to be on Team Logan.

Rory’s Happiness

I would argue that Logan just wanted Rory to be happy. Even if quitting school “wasn’t like her”, he didn’t try to dissuade her or tell her how to live her life. He also (eventually) committed to her, even though it wasn’t his style, because he understood how much their relationship meant to her, and he was willing to change to make it work. He even proposes to her and he was definitely not the marrying type when they first met.

It’ll be fun, it’ll be a thrill. Something stupid, something bad for you. Just something different. Isn’t this the point of being young? It’s your choice, Ace. People can live a hundred years without really living for a minute. You climb up here with me, it’s one less minute you haven’t lived.

Her Provider

In that heartbreaking episode when Luke and Lorelai break up, Logan offers Rory his limo to save her the bus trip back to Stars Hollow. In the revival he also (probably) pays for her to fly out to London (that’s the only explanation I can come up with, because she sure as heck couldn’t afford those flights herself). Doesn’t everyone secretly want someone rich to provide for their every whim (I know I wouldn’t say no!)?

That Charm

I guess if you don’t like Logan you can’t see it, but he’s charming af (shout out to Matt Czurchy for that adorable smile). The way he calls her “Ace” is absolutely precious (did any of her other boyfriends come up with sweet/flattering nicknames for her? I don’t think so.) He has that delightful combination of intellect with a dash of bad behaviour, so you know any time spent with Logan would be an adventure. I mean, that first Life and Death Brigade event he takes her to? So much fun!

Breaking Boundaries

Speaking of Life and Death Brigade: Logan encouraged Rory to break out of her shell. Since her happiness was a huge priority for him (see point #1), he didn’t make her uncomfortable, but he pushed her to try new things, whether it was bungee-jumping using an umbrella, or, yes, stealing a yacht (I’ll get to that in a minute).

Now, to be fair, here are some cons:

Bad Decisions

Rory admittedly made a lot of poor decisions when she was with Logan (both in the original series and the revival), like stealing the yacht, quitting school, and carrying on an affair with an engaged man. But really...how was that HIS fault? Isn't she supposed to be an adult at this point?

f5bfb1309fcaeb89f7c25cdf3d924d6c.jpg

No Spine

The argument I often hear against Logan has something to do with the way he doesn’t defend Rory when his father upends her life by telling her she’s not cut out to be a journalist. Actually, he DOES offer to fight Mitchum, and it’s only at Rory’s request that he backs down. And if she assumed he agreed with his father because he didn’t expressly disagree...well, it’s mostly conjecture on her part. So unless Logan did something truly heinous in season six (which, I’ll admit, I’ve mostly blocked out because everything was garbage), I really don’t get this point. 

(I just remembered that he cheats on her, but I swear they were broken up at that point. Not that I'm condoning his actions, but is she really the best person to judge other people's infidelities *cough DEAN WAS MARRIED cough*?)

Master and Commander

Logan was a bit of a playboy when they met, and he wasn’t the most faithful of boyfriends when they first started dating, but, like I said at the beginning of this post, he DID change (only to revert back to his playboy status in the revival, but then again, literally everyone except Luke was garbage in those four episodes). So I can see why people were turned off when he originally made his appearance. 

And there you have it. While I acknowledge that he’s not perfect (but who is?), I’ve spent thirteen years on Team Logan, and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon. 

If I could, I’d also like to say a few words about my girlfriend of the last 3 years. You amaze me, Rory Gilmore. Everyday, everything that you do, everything that you are. This past year I learned that I don’t know a whole lot more than I thought I knew, if that makes sense. I’m sorry, I’m a little bit nervous and I didn’t think I would be. What I’m trying to say is, I don’t know a lot. But I know that I love you, and I want to be with you.

Though I’ll say that Jess has definitely grown on me during this most recent re-watch!

Norse Mythology

You already know that Jane and I worship at the altar of Neil Gaiman. So when I found out he was writing a book of Norse myths (aptly titled Norse Mythology), I desperately wanted to read it. 

I have an odd obsession with the word "Ragnarok", and have wanted to learn more about Norse myths for a while, so when I came across the book on promo for 50% off, I picked it up with great delight. 

Happily (for me, at least, but maybe not for the deities it involves), there is a whole chapter on Ragnarok at the end of the book. There are also stories about Loki and Thor and Odin, and stories about some of the other gods who don't have prominent roles in superhero movies.

Because...when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.
— Thor

Admittedly, I was picturing Tom Hiddleston as Loki, but even if I wasn't, I still would have liked the Loki-centric stories the best. He's quite the character (in more ways than one) and whether he's trying to trick Freya into marrying a giant, or knocking up a giantess himself, his stories are fascinating. 

Obviously I love Neil Gaiman's writing in general, and his voice is at its finest here. In fact, I'm considering investing in the audio book (which Gaiman himself reads) because it has an old storytelling vibe that is perfect for being read out loud. There's just the right amount of detail that allow the myths to flow smoothly, and the selection of myths is varied, yet connected.

The Norse myths are the myths of a chilly place, with long, long winter nights and endless summer days, myths of a people who did not entirely trust or even like their gods, although they respected and feared them.

Overall, it's a collection that can appeal to both children and adults - nothing too graphic to scare away younger readers, but not so innocent that an older reader would be bored. 

The fun comes in telling them yourself—something I warmly encourage you to do, you person reading this. Read the stories in this book, then make them your own.

General Do-ers of Things: Alex-and-Emillie of idobi Radio

So you know how I've mentioned a dozen times that I also write for idobi radio on the side (where, incidentally, you'll be able to find new writing from me once this site shuts down)? Well, one of the best parts of writing for idobi is the fact that I get to interact with other music fans, including two of my favourite people, Alex Bear and Emillie Marvel aka Vanilla Bear and Butterscotch Bear (respectively). You may remember them from that time they tried to convince me that Jess Mariano was Rory's best boyfriend. but Alex-and-Emillie (sometimes I refer to them as a single entity, like Turk-and-JD) are more than just pop culture pun-dits.  

A typical conversation between the two of them.

A typical conversation between the two of them.

Alex-and-Emillie are ridiculously talented and already super accomplished for a couple of twenty-somethings, so I asked them to be my final interview for Mind the Gap Zine, in the hopes that one day I can grow up to be just like them. And because it's Wednesday, you can also consider this my final Woman Crush Wednesday post (I can't be the only weirdo with girl crushes on her friends, right? RIGHT?).

Welcome to Mind the Gap, Alex and Emillie! Thanks so much for doing this interview!

Me, when Alex-and-Emillie agreed to do this interview. 

Me, when Alex-and-Emillie agreed to do this interview. 

A: Thanks for having us!

E: Thanks for embracing our madness!

Let’s start off with a mini introduction: if you had to tweet a description of yourself in 140 characters or less, what would you say?

Seeing as we usually spend YEARS crafting the perfect bios and we're on a deadline, we decided to "tweet" about each other (GIFs included, because...have you met us?):

Emillie on Alex: The real MVP who gives great history lessons, never sleeps, possesses pun skills beyond her years, & might actually be a vampire.

Alex on Emillie: Accidental Canadian with a bigger heart and brighter mind than her emo looks might suggest.

What musical moment changed your life?

A: Hearing Good Charlotte on the radio for the first time. (Anyone who knows me is rolling their eyes at the predictability of that answer.) I first heard “The Anthem” back when it first came out and *poof* before you know it my teenage years are a blur (quite literally, my swept fringe/bangs ruined my eyesight) of eyeliner, band tees and my mother asking me if I’d “caught the emo”. They were my intro into the pop punk/alternative world and to this day they’re still my favourite band—they shaped who I am and introduced me to a scene where I found more than just music; I found home.

E: I’m so excited you asked this, because I love to tell my music moment story. When I was fifteen, I won tickets to see a The Ready Set show. Little did I know when I arrived at the venue, I was also arriving at my future (corny, but true). I had never considered there was a crew who put on shows. Once I knew you could be in music without making music, it was life changing. Add that to the feeling of belonging the actual concert gave, and leaving that experience feeling more alive than I had in my whole life, and I was hooked. I immediately knew that this was all I wanted to do every night for the rest of my life. From there, I started interviewing bands, applying for internships and street teams, and now I’ve been happily consumed by this wild industry for five years.

How did you get started at idobi? What’s your job like now? 

A: I stumbled across idobi randomly when I was about 14—I was looking through internet radio stations and idobi was playing GC and I thought, well, this is the station for me. Fast-forward six or so years and I’m in my final year of university and they’re looking for interns. I applied on a whim thinking I’d never hear back, but…I did. (Obviously.) Emillie and I were hired at the same time, and soon became fast friends, all because of All Time Low…

E: Never tell Gunz, but I came across idobi thanks to The Gunz Show. He was interviewing all of my favorite acts (hello, Cady Groves), and I downloaded the app and quickly became of fan of the network. Intern applications were only open for a couple more hours when I saw they were looking, and I rushed to throw my name into the ring. Not too long after, I got the email that I was hired, and immediately celebrated by listening to “Trenches” by Pop Evil (because I’m nothing if not an emo kid). Not too long after, I was introduced to the Alex to my Jack, thanks to well, yknow, Alex & Jack. We both volunteered to put together the Full Frontal Season 2 Recap. We bonded over the guys’ ridiculous banter + pop punk tunes, and photoshopping that takes the word “pun” to a new level, and we haven’t stopped talking since (seriously, we’re up to a couple hundred thousand Facebook messages).

JAGK x Mammoth

JAGK x Mammoth

A: When it came to recapping season 3, we decided to take it up a notch—which meant replacing GIFs with our own…uh, homemade concoctions. We’re both big into Tumblr so we knew kids love badly photoshopped pics—which was handy, because that’s all we could produce. Long story short, there was a spectacularly bad photoshopped picture of Jack Barakat riding a pimped out wooly mammoth floating out on the internet…and I was approached by idobi’s wonderful Chief Creative Officer & CMO, Sherin Nicole, to join the creative team. My official title is now Junior Editor and Assistant to the Chief Creative Officer & CMO, but I think it’s safe to say both Emillie and I don’t really stick to our job descriptions. 

E: I believe it was Alex’s line that I inadvertently stole once (#sorrystillsorry), that we’re “general do-ers of things”. I was brought on as the programming assistant, and given the chance to work for our fantastic programming director Eddie Barella. I was also brought on as junior editor with Alex a couple summers ago. Since then, I think I speak for us both when I saw we’ve had plenty of cool tasks under our job titles, and then some. I also think I’m speaking for us both when I say the biggest part of the job is understanding that Wordpress does hate you, will always hate you, and you just have to learn to live with it.

A: Every day is different, and I wouldn’t have it any other way (except, like Emillie said, Wordpress will always be hell). As assistant to the CCO I have a hand in all things creative, corporate, and help brand the company and make sure our “voice” is being heard. Most of the work I do is behind the scenes, helping out on pitches, programming, and partnerships (try saying that 3 times fast), and on the front line helping to edit and put together editorial, and running social media. In my, uh, spare time (what’s that?) you’ll most likely find me working on our latest idobi show, Geek Girl Riot *shameless plug*.

[Good Charlotte] shaped who I am and introduced me to a scene where I found more than just music; I found home.
— Alex

E: It’s really hard to say what I do at idobi, just because it’s ever-changing, and my day to day schedule is almost never the same. There are the weekly tasks of posting podcasts on the website, premiering new material from up and coming acts, newsletter prep, etc. Then, there are the less regular but equally fun tasks. New music newsletters, interviews + editorials, reviews, holiday content, helping with idobi Sessions, and covering social media when I get the chance to share my (very lame) sense of humor with followers. I’m also starting a new column very soon, and facing my fear of hearing my recorded voice with my own Geek Girl Riot segment *doubles shameless GGR plug*. 

What has been your most exciting experience at idobi (so far)?

E: Everyday is an exciting moment, working with the team we have on music that’s close to my heart. If I had to pick one or two experiences, though, the first summer of idobi Warped Radio (back when it was called Warped idobi Radio) would definitely be up there. I was able to help out a lot, from helping Fish with day sheets and scheduling while on the road, to our social media and website posts for the features.

Aside from that, my Pierce The Veil interviews would also take the cake on excitement for me. When I was about 17, I remember thinking “I’ll never get to interview that band. They’re way out of my ‘league’, and if I ever do get to speak to them, I’ll have made it.” Last year, I interviewed bassist Jaime Preciado for the first time. Earlier this year, I spoke with him in person for the second. Those were definitely some real “dream come true” moments!

A: There’ve been a lot of highlights, but the one that’s coming to mind is getting to help coordinate a promo campaign for GC’s Youth Authority tour. I’ve been fortunate enough to interact with them on a professional level a few times now—and while yes, I’m British, so it’s in my DNA to be polite and professional down to a tee—it’s a very cool feeling to work with the band you grew up listening to. And it meant I could put all my years as a fan to good use!

First, remember you deserve respect just as much as [artists] do. Never go into an interview feeling beneath anyone.
— Emillie

When you’re interviewing bands you admire, do you have any tips or tricks to make the process go by smoothly?

E: Three. First, remember you deserve respect just as much as they do. Never go into an interview feeling beneath anyone. It’s totally okay to be a fan, and to tell them so, but remember you’re working in the same industry, and they’re your peers. Second, for me at least, do it in person. When I’m at a show, I feel more like myself. There’s something about the sound of the instruments and the environment of the concert that calms me down, and lets me speak easier. If you share that comfort zone, work your way to in person interviews, it’s worth it. Third, just make it to the interview. The worst part is the pre-interview stress, and it’s never going to go as badly as you worry it will. Once you’ve started chatting, the stress fades, and it gets much easier.

A: Just remember that they’re people too. And music is their job, and interviews are part of that—so they’ve done this a thousand times. Which means if you’re asked the same thing over and over again, it gets monotonous. So I usually have some ideas of topics I want to explore but try to stray away from having set questions. That way you just have a conversation with the band rather than a straight-up Q&A, and you get to see what their personality is like (which in my opinion, is way more interesting). Any band worth their salt has a set of answers they give out all the time, but if you just talk to them like they’re friends and make them laugh, they tend to give you an impression you won’t have seen before. 

Arrogance and egos might get you a headstart in this industry, but you’ll burn more bridges than you build, and it’s a very small circle.
— Alex

What's your dream job/what part of the music industry do you want to explore?

E: It’s all about the live shows, baby. (😸) For me, that’s where my interest has always been. I can’t get enough of the bass in my heart and the beat in my bones. I want to help give crowds that infinite feeling you get when you’re screaming along to your favorite song with four hundred of your best friends that you don’t even know. From side stage to load in, I’m completely obsessed with the process of being the crew on a show, and have researched it like it’s my college major. I also, of course, intend on staying involved with idobi for as long as they’ll have me. The station has become a home to me.

A: I really like where I am right now, and I want to continue down the path I’m on. I’m not the kind of person who likes doing the same thing, day in, day out, so having lots of different things to do suits me perfectly...but it also means I don’t want to have my future completely mapped out, because you never know what’s around the corner, or what you might enjoy before you’ve tried it. Currently, I’d really love to dive into producing and more of the programming side—and thanks to Geek Girl Riot, I get to dabble! I’m very much a behind-the-scenes person, and radio has turned out to be a good fit for me.

What's the best part of working in music? The worst? Do you have any advice for people who want to break into the industry?

A: The best part, for me, is getting to share the music I love with other fans. The worst part is that it can be very draining. You never really switch off. So be prepared to put in the hours! Coffee helps too. Other than that, just work hard and don’t ever think you’re too good for something. Arrogance and egos might get you a headstart in this industry, but you’ll burn more bridges than you build, and it’s a very small circle. If you want longevity in this industry, it’s all about how you treat people, your audience (if you have one), and your work. Each should always be approached with respect and courtesy, even if you don’t feel it’s deserved (and there will be plenty of those egos floating around to test your patience). The people who need to notice, will take notice. 

E: Once you jump into this industry, if you’re really meant for it, you can’t leave. Even if you try, you’ll always be pulled back. One time, someone said to me how we’re all a part of this really special thing that no one else gets. That special thing can drive you absolutely nuts, it can have you working yourself to death (ask Geoff), and it can definitely become a sort of love/hate relationship, but you’ve gotta appreciate it for what it is. It’s an incredible group of people, all come together for one reason—the music made them feel something. It’s a network of careers built off of emotion, passion, and feeling; and it’s the best place you’ll ever be.

Just keep doing it. Don’t be afraid. If you want something, ask. If you’re told no, ask again when you’re more prepared.
— Emillie

I’m not sure I have a specific worst part. Everything about the industry, I love in one way or another. I suppose at times, it can just burn you out, but that’s when you learn how you, personally, rebuild, and take the time to do it so you can attack even harder next time. The best aspect is being a part of this. It’s special, it’s important, and it means something, and if you’re drawn to it, you’re damn lucky. And finally, my advice would be what it always is: Just keep doing it. Don’t be afraid. If you want something, ask. If you’re told no, ask again when you’re more prepared. Find your place in the industry and stand firm—many will try to knock you down. If you don’t let them, you’ll find yourself in an even better place than before.

You know I love your writing (both of you!) and I want to spread that love - pick 2-3 pieces you're super proud of and link to them here: 

Alex:

http://idobi.com/editorial/this-is-maxs-hells-kitchen-angel/
http://idobi.com/editorial/welcome-back-gc/ 
http://idobi.com/review/simple-plan-taking-one-for-the-team/ 

Emillie:

http://idobi.com/editorial/pierce-the-veil-the-road-to-success-is-paved-with-misadventures/
http://idobi.com/review/album-review-the-maine-lovely-little-lonely/ 
https://idobi.com/editorial/ready-set-restart-the-story-of-i-will-be-nothing-without-your-love/ 

What is your number one song recommendation right now?

A: Can you just...not. There are too many. Do you realise just HOW MANY bands have dropped music in the past month? I’m switching between the new ATL and Paramore and The Maine and I’m overwhelmed. But seeing as everyone’s probably already spinning them just like I am, I’m going to go with “Young For The Summer” by DALES. Aka Brian Logan Dales from The Summer Set’s solo stuff. He just dropped this new track and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again.

E: I am currently on a major sappy binge for reasons that would totally make me seem like Taylor Swift, so I’m going to go on the total opposite end of that spectrum and go with “SFDD” by Stacked Like Pancakes. The band played the Warped Tour announce show, and from the moment their set kicked off, I’ve been obsessed. Ska got even better when they started making sounds, and these guys alone are worth heading to the show for (plus the dozens of killer other bands on this year’s line up).

Now we’ve reached the fun ones! If you could live in any fictional/fandom world, which would it be?

A: Middle Earth. Hands down, I’d be hanging out at Rivendell with Elrond and eating second breakfast with Sam (most important meal of the day, didn’t you know).

E: Hook me up with a letter from Hogwarts, because honestly, there’s nowhere else in this world I’d rather be. (Just um, keep me far away from the quidditch field. I’m not very coordinated even without the ability to fly.) 

QUICK TAKES: No need for long answers here, just hit us with the first thing that pops into your head.

Note: We decided to answer for each other, seeing as we spent so much time asking “hey, what am I currently ______?” because we know each other better than we know ourselves.

Current obsession? 

Alex for Emillie: Getting tattoos. Like gurl, you’re only tiny you’re gonna run out of space before you’re 25.

Emillie for Alex: Gracing her light box with the best puns. (PS Once I’ve run out of ink-space I’ll just start making suggestions for you.)

Current thing that makes you RAGE? 

Emillie for Alex: The American political system, which is why she’s preparing a room at her place for me.

Alex for Emillie: Her hometown. (Because it’s so washed up, and all her friends...you know the rest.)

Pop culture-y item that’s coming out soon that you’re too excited about? 

Alex for Emillie: I’m not sure on this one, because—not to make her sound uncool or anything because she is quite the opposite, BUT—she lives under a rather sizeable rock. We even started an editorial series about pop culture items she doesn’t know.

A rock house.

A rock house.

Emillie for Alex: Because Alex’s comment is totally true, I’m also not sure, but just because I have no idea what’s going on in pop culture. (Unless Rian Dawson’s jean jacket counts, in which case, sign Alex up for ten.)

Girl crush of the moment? 

Emillie for Alex: Cassadee Pope

Alex's OTP: Rian Dawson and Cassadee Pope

Alex's OTP: Rian Dawson and Cassadee Pope

Alex for Emillie: “Is anyone more of a bae than Lynn Gunn tho” - actual thing she said to me today. So, yeah.

[Sam's edit: Same, Emillie. Lynn Gunn is a goddess.]

What’s one thing that you love that you wish got more attention? 

Emillie for Alex: UK’s Netflix, because honestly it’s a crime how long it took for Gilmore Girls to stream across the pond.

Alex for Emillie: The feminist agenda. You watch her run for President. Yknow, once she’s done being a rockstar and stuff.

Guilty pleasure (though we believe no geeky love should ever cause you shame):

Emillie for Alex: I don’t think it’d be classified as a guilty pleasure, but something you might not expect is that Alex knows more history than your college professor, and gives great lessons on it.

Alex for Emillie: Hinder. To this day I question our friendship over the fact she…*whispers* likes them.

One recommendation that a fangirl just HAS to read/watch/play/ingest: 

Emillie for Alex: The two most recent movies Alex has insisted I watch are Fangirl and Love Actually. Do with that what you will.

Alex for Emillie: Those two recommendations Em listed are both hilarious...but for very different reasons. Emillie recommended Naomi And Ely's No Kiss List and Arrested Development...and honestly that just proves how well she knows me.

Time for plugs! Where can people find your content and chat with you?

A: idobi.com is usually where we can both be found. Other than that, tweet me at @AlexToEarth and I can guarantee the use of GIFs will be involved.

E: Seconded, if you’re not catching me on idobi.com, I’m not even really existing. On Twitter, you can find me at the very (un)confusing username of @EmillieMarvel (on the rare occasion I remember I have an account, that is).

Thanks so much Alex and Emillie!! 

Best Musical Moments of 2017 (So Far)

It's been a great year for music so far, so I've rounded up some of my favourite personal musical moments from the past five months (and I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year will bring!).

January: 8123 Fest

Basically, I flew to Phoenix to celebrate 10 years of a band called The Maine and it remains one of the greatest things I've ever done and I'm probably never going to stop talking about it. In fact, you can read my (lengthy) recap here

February: Waterparks

At the end of February, I won tickets to see Waterparks (literally four hours before doors opened), and, in doing so, I ended up finding one of my new favourite bands. Seriously, I can't stop listening to Double Dare because it's so dang good (also, my sister discovered Creeper and LOVES them now, so it was a win for both of us). 

March: 3 Concerts in 4 Days

Concert-wise, March was pretty epic. I went to three shows in the span of four days (Simple Plan, Bring Me the Horizon, and Moose Blood). And then a week later, we saw Bastille. So I didn't sleep for month, but it was hella worth it.

April: Biffy Fuckin' Clyro

I was absolutely honoured to interview Biffy Clyro for idobi in April. I had talked to their lead singer Simon Neil in March over the phone, but it was so cool to meet the other two members (twins Ben and James Johnston) in real life. They were an absolute delight, and you can read my interview with them here

May: (Un)Covering All Time Low

I write a weekly column for idobi about cover songs, and my first post in May was about All Time Low's INCREDIBLE cover of Lorde's "Green Light". And then their drummer, Rian Dawson, retweeted my post and I screamed for about an hour straight because THEY FINALLY ACKNOWLEDGED ME. 

But seriously, the cover is AMAZING, please do your ears a favour and listen to it.

Travel Thursday: New York

At the beginning of June, my sister and I are heading to New York for a couple of days, so, as usual, I’ve made a list of things I’m most excited about.

Kinky Boots

AKA the reason I bought plane tickets in April: Brendon Urie (more like BAE-don Urie, am I right??) is playing the role of Kinky Boots' Charlie Price on Broadway this summer and, as a die-hard Panic! at the Disco fan, I need to witness this in real life for myself.

The 1975

While buying plane tickets, we discovered that The 1975 is playing Madison Square Garden on June 1st. Since June 1st is an important date in the band’s history, I really don’t see why I WOULDN’T get cheap tickets for this momentous event.

Battery Park

Two words: SeaGlass Carousel. That alone is reason enough for me to head to Battery Park. But it’s also conveniently close to another thing I want to do.  

Staten Island Ferry

I’ve only see the Statue of Liberty from afar (and, obviously, on-screen). So this time, I’m determined to get closer to that fine lady, and that involves taking a ferry! 

The IT Crowd

A couple of Squeeing Saturdays ago, I mentioned how I had started watching The IT Crowd. After forgetting about it for a couple of months, I finally got around to finishing the series (four seasons, and an hour-long special).

The IT Crowd is about the adventures of Reynholm Industries’ IT department consisting of Roy, Moss, and their relationship manager Jen. And it is HILARIOUS. Seriously, I laughed so hard (though I feel like the fourth season wasn't as funny, which is probably why it ended when it did). And in between the LOLs, I also learned some valuable lessons, including the following: 

How to talk about football:

How to get out of a bad situation:

How to act in a social situation:

How to fix any technical problem: 

How to call for help in the UK:

And, as a bonus, the most important lesson I’ve ever learned: piracy is a crime. 

Blog Tour: The Bonaventure Adventures

Today, I’m honoured to be taking part in the blog tour for Rachelle Delaney’s adorable circus-themed middle grade novel, The Bonaventure Adventures!

Thanks so much to Vikki VanSickle for reaching out and sending me a finished copy!

I love a good middle-grade novel, and circuses are fascinating, so really, why wouldn’t I want to read a book about a boy attending a circus school? In Montreal no less!

Despite not having any discernible circus talent, Sebastian is part of the world-famous Konstantinov travelling circus alongside his father and the friends he’s grown up with. But with the circus struggling to make ends meet in Europe, Sebastian is desperate to find a way to boost sales, especially when his father releases the animals used in some of the acts.

That’s when he finds out about the Bonaventure Circus School in far-off Montreal. The directrice, Angelique Saint-Germain, immediately—and surprisingly—accepts Seb’s request to join her school without forcing him to undergo a traditional audition.

Circuses and stories together...It’s the best of everything. Imagine if we were to create shows that were more like plays, but with circus acts.

Once at Bonaventure, Seb realizes that it’s only a matter of time before the teachers discover his lack of talent. Luckily, he makes friends with two other “bêtes noires” who help him scheme and plan how to save his father’s circus without revealing his secret. Unfortunately for them, Bonaventure is falling apart and when the directrice starts hinting that Seb’s father can pay for the repairs, he and his friends have to come up with another plan to save their school.

As a protagonist, I liked Seb. He was plucky and good-natured, and resourceful, and determined to stay at Bonaventure because he wanted to help his family. I also liked that he was a storyteller, that he constantly lost himself in books, and excelled in his English class (heck yeah, book nerds!). He's the type of character you care about, one that you want to succeed because the poor kid deserves to have something good happen to him.

When you get to know your inner clown, you get to know the person you really are deep inside, not just the person you might sometimes pretend to be. It can be soul-expanding.

I also enjoyed Seb’s friendships. Frankie was so cool with her parkour-ing skills and sketchy past life, and Banjo was precious—I genuinely worried about his inability to calibrate his inner compass. I wish Maxime had made an appearance again because his bromance with Seb was super cute. I did like that there wasn't a forced romance between Seb and Frankie—because it's middle grade, their relationship was purely platonic and refreshing.

Delaney did a great job of balancing descriptions and action sequences. I could picture most of the characters (Seb’s father in particular) and the school really well, but she avoided bogging down the story with an adjective overload. 

[Writing] was hard work—very hard, in fact. Right up there with trying to master a handstand. But this kind of hard work left him feeling excited rather than exhausted. Most of the time, anyway.

The only thing I really had an issue with was pacing. Admittedly, I complained that four other things I recently read/watched were moving too slow, so maybe I was just having an off week, but it seemed to take a while for the ball to really get moving. That being said, each part had its fair share of up-and-down action, and there were a lot of twists and turns to keep me (or, you know, an actual middle grade reader) interested.

Rating: 7/10

***

As a bonus, here's my list of Top Ten middle-grade authors (in no particular order)—who are some of yours?

  1. Lemony Snicket
  2. Jenny Nimmo
  3. Gail Carson Levine
  4. Roald Dahl
  5. Eoin Colfer
  6. Judy Blume
  7. Susin Nielson
  8. Kate DiCamillo
  9. Louis Sachar
  10. Garth Nix

And I can't make any list of authors without mentioning my personal king and queen, Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling (respectively). 

Woman Crush Wednesday: DS Ellie Miller

I'm dedicating today’s WCW post to an incredible (fictional) woman: DS Ellie Miller of Wessex Police, brilliantly portrayed by Olivia Colman on Broadchurch.

When we watched the first season of Broadchurch, I was surprisingly more obsessed with Ellie Miller than I was with Alec Hardy (I didn't fall in love with David Tennant until I started season two). She is the strong, multi-faceted female character we all need in our lives.

Against all the odds, you swanned in with no training. You thought you knew it all, and yeah, my hackles were up because I had to work so hard to get into CID, so bloody hard. I took so much shit back then. You have no idea. And because I was new, because I was a woman, I fought all the battles you now benefit from. People like you wander into CID with six months’ experience, sod all training, and you think you own the world.

Ellie is a mother, but she's also a career woman with ambitions. She was the one gunning for Hardy’s position (and was furious when he was brought in instead) and, as she pointed out a handful of times in the third season, she worked hard to get to where she is today, to be treated with respect and equality as a woman in a mostly male police force.

She's obviously smart and observant, and it's telling that the notoriously grumpy Hardy looks to her for help and support. Their relationship is similar to my favourite Doctor/Companion relationship in that she gives him grief when he's being rude, and she harbours no attraction to him (again, I wonder if she can see his face because damn, David) so there's no awkward sexual tension. Plus sometimes she gets sassy, and I love it. 

For all her cold clinical view of a case, Ellie is still an emotional creature. I say it all the time, but her reaction at the end of season one is absolutely heartbreaking and so realistic. During the rape investigation, she's appropriately horrified and disgusted by the suspects, even breaking down when they finally find out whodunit because she's so invested in helping the victims. And you don’t want to mess with Ellie: she might seem sweet but when her buttons are pushed, she can be terrifying.

I also like that Ellie is constantly eating - or, at least, trying to eat before her boss interrupts her - because it makes her seem a lot more down to earth and relatable, because yeah, I like food too. And can I just talk about how Ellie, unlike stereotypical cops on American shows, is too classy to just shove a doughnut in her mouth and call it a day? Nah, our girl snacks on a Scotch egg which is amazing on so many levels. 

With respect, sir, move away from me now, or I will piss in a cup and throw it at you.

So while I’ll mostly miss seeing David Tennant rant in his Scottish accent, I’ll also really miss watching Olivia Colman deliver such a nuanced performance. But I guess I’ll just have to watch all the other things she’s done (next on my list: The Night Manager).

Kinky Boots: The Soundtrack

When I heard that Brendon Urie was going to be on Broadway this summer as the lead in Kinky Boots, I a) bought tickets almost immediately and b) looked up the soundtrack on Spotify.

With a songwriter like Cyndi Lauper behind the music, you expect big hooks and she delivers. One of the first songs, “Take What You Got” is an actual jam with the almost country-esque guitar line, while the very next song, “Land of Lola” is a sexy eighties-inspired synth pop tune.

While listening to the soundtrack, I obviously paid closer attention to the songs that heavily featured Charlie Price. His first solo song, “Charlie’s Soliloquy” is a mellow intro to the rock ‘n’ roll jam “Step One”, and I CANNOT wait to watch Brendon Urie prance around the stage singing his heart out. I can totally picture it, and if you don’t think I’m going to dance in my seat when it starts, you obviously haven’t watched me listening to a Panic! at the Disco song before.

I’ll also admit that Lola has some FABULOUS songs, so it’s possible the drag queen will be my favourite character. But most importantly, I want to know if Brendon Urie is going to fake an English accent during the show (it takes place in England), because I might actually turn into the heart eyes emoji.

Angry Scottish Rants: Broadchurch Season 3

A couple of years ago, I watched the first season of Broadchurch and have honestly been raving about it ever since then. The third—and, unfortunately, final—season concluded this past weekend, and I’m an emotional wreck.

First of all, how the heck is this show so good??? The writing is brilliant!!! The acting is phenomenal!!! The characters are so developed!!! There are plot twists EVERYWHERE—just when you think you’ve figured it out, something else happens, and you end up questioning everything you (think you) know.

You know what’s bothering me about this case? It’s making me ashamed to be a man.
— Alec Hardy

In case you didn’t know, the first two seasons dealt with the murder of a young boy and the subsequent trial. This season, however, takes the show in a different direction as DI Alec Hardy (my boy David Tennant) and DS Ellie Miller (my girl-crush Olivia Colman) investigate a rape. It’s not a light-hearted subject and they treat it with the appropriate amount of gravitas: in fact, everything from the first moment the victim makes a report to the moment they catch the perpetrator is handled as realistically as possible. And, most importantly, they treat the victim with respect: they believe her, and they mention, more than once, that it’s NOT her fault. It’s so important that they show that kind of support, and I love that their social media accounts have also been pushing links to support/crisis groups.

Typical. A woman gets attacked and all the men go around battering horns, making it about them.
— Ellie Miller

Each of the eight episodes see the detectives talking to possible suspects and reviewing evidence, but we also see how the victim—Trish Winterman (Julie Hesmondhalgh)—copes with the aftermath, including her reluctance to relive the experience, even when she knows it will help the investigation, and confronting the numerous men who could have been behind the attack. By the fourth episode, just as you start to narrow down your list of suspects, another plot point is introduced and it throws you for a loop (let’s just say Trish isn’t the only victim).

Alec: Can I ask you a question, Miller?
Ellie: ‘Course.
Alec: How long have they been calling me shitface?
Ellie: Since you first arrived.
Alec: Really?
Ellie: Yeah.

As I mentioned after watching the first season, the show is super clever: there’s almost no way to predict how it’s all going to be resolved, but they make sure they don’t leave you with any burning questions. The first season ending was an absolute shocker, and this third season still managed to surprise me in the last twenty minutes. And the plot is woven together so intricately, it’s impossible to talk about the show without accidentally spoiling anything, but watching it all come together is incredibly satisfying. Plus, they wrapped up the Danny Latimer story line in a realistic (if not altogether happy) way.

Ellie: You seem much happier. What happened with Daisy?
Alec: I tore up her ticket.
Ellie: You took my advice?
Alec: Know what I realized, Miller?
Ellie: What?
Alec: I'm too nice to people.
Ellie: No, uh.
Alec: Never works, being nice. Done with that.

Do I recommend this show? Heck yes! The second season is a lot slower paced, and not as strong as the first season, but this final case delivered the Broadchurch I fell in love with in the first place and left me feeling emotionally exhausted.

Watch Superstore and Have a Heavenly Day

Once again, I find myself watching (and loving) a show Jane recommended a year ago, but seriously, you guys need to watch Superstore. Especially if you – like me – happen to work in a retail store. 

I laughed so hard at this show, I can’t even tell you. Each actor has fantastic comedic timing and the cast is a diverse melting pot of distinctive types, from flamboyant new employee Mateo, to their well-meaning but sometimes oblivious manager Glenn, to flighty teen (and soon-to-be-mom) Cheyenne, and no-nonsense associate manager Dina (who had some of the best lines in the show...it’s been weeks and I still haven’t stopped laughing at her retelling of the first time she got her period).

Balloons are like our souls.They want to go up, but can’t, and when you pop them, they scream.
— Glenn

While my store is technically a department store, it’s thankfully not a “big box” (like Walmart, or Superstore’s fictional Cloud 9), but wow, do I understand these characters! At one point, an old man dies in the store, and the most Garrett feels is apathy – he just doesn’t care – and I’ve never related to something so much in my life because I too am dead inside from having to deal with customers all day.

I’ve taken four breaks today, so I guess we both got stuff to brag about.
— Garrett

Then there’s the idea that customers will alternate between needing you to hold their hand to find the simplest of things (“The dress on the mannequin? It’s on the rack right beside the mannequin. Under the giant photo advertising that same dress.”), and treating you like you’re completely inept because you work in retail (“I just put your friend in a fitting room and you want to use the fitting room beside her? Why didn’t I think of that??”). The Cloud 9 associates have one thousand times more patience than I do – especially Amy, who’s been at it for ten years – because they never seem to lose their temper, no matter how annoying people are.

Tomorrow is gonna be just like today, and I know that because today is just like yesterday.
— Amy

And, like Jonah, I’m stuck in retail in my late twenties because I can’t get a “real” job (actually, Jonah abandons business school and ends up at Cloud 9 by chance, whereas I simply chose a field that has very limited job opportunities). So it’s kinda nice to see a character on TV who is around the same age as me and going through a similar career-driven crisis. 

That doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun at work, does it? Or try to find some moments of beauty in the every day?
— Jonah

I’d probably still find the show funny even if I didn’t work retail, but having such similar experiences really brings it home for me. You can just tell that the show writers had miserable retail jobs at some point, but managed to turn that anger and resentment into a hilarious and realistic portrayal of department store workers in America who just want to make enough money to be able to follow their dreams. 

Also, on a slightly unrelated note: I ship Jonah/Amy so hard, and I don't understand how they're going to get around the whole Amy-being-married thing, but I can't wait to find out!!!

Thirteen Reasons Why

I’ve been picking it up (and putting it back down) on and off for nearly ten years, but since Thirteen Reasons Why premiered on Netflix last month, it gave me the push I needed to finally read Jay Asher’s best-selling novel.

Perhaps I’m too old to be reading it for the first time, or maybe I over-hyped it in my mind, but either way, I didn’t love Thirteen Reasons Why as much as I’d hoped. 

The premise is fascinating: a few weeks after his classmate (and crush) Hannah commits suicide, Clay comes home to a set of cassette tapes from Hannah, each side calling out a person who somehow contributed to her decision to overdose. Clay isn’t sure what he could have done to drive Hannah to such drastic measures, and the more he listens to the tapes, the more his eyes are opened to the dark secrets of some of his other classmates. 

You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.

Hannah also leaves a map marking certain places in their town, so, while he’s listening to the tapes, Clay wanders around, visiting landmarks that were somehow important to Hannah. The story is mostly told through Hannah’s tapes, with Clay’s reactions and explanations filling in the blanks. 

I guess I understood Hannah’s actions (to a certain extent, because suicide is never the answer), but because she rewinds her story back by two years, there’s a lot of setup before she starts to hint at her eventual demise. I guess it’s a suspense novel, but I don’t have a whole lot of patience, so I mostly felt frustrated by the way she dragged out the reveals of each classmate’s identity. 

But you can’t get away from yourself. You can’t decide not to see yourself anymore. You can’t decide to turn off the noise in your head.

My biggest problem, however, was Clay. He felt incredibly flat, and rather boring, and I couldn’t get a good grasp of his character. SPOILER ALERT (even though the book has been out for a decade): Clay is the only person mentioned on the tapes who didn’t negatively affect Hannah. In fact, he had a spotless reputation (unlike Hannah’s, a result of sordid rumours that were spread about her) and she had a thing for him, but he’s mostly blameless. And that kinda annoyed me – I’d have preferred if he’d had some sort of dark secret only she had uncovered, otherwise he has nothing at stake if these tapes are released to the rest of the school. Plus she makes him feel hella guilty. And drags other people's reputations through the dirt...exactly like how they made her feel.

Everyone I know binged and raved about the show, but I could only force myself to watch the first and last episodes. It wasn't as riveting as I thought it would be, and I didn't really like the characters (not in the book, and certainly not in the show). Basically, any issues I had with the book were magnified in the show because there was no room for interpretation. And don't even get me started on the suicide scene. Long story short, I was not into it.

A Britophile's Recommendations

I’ve said it many times: I’m a britophile. I love all things British (I’m including Scotland and whatever half of Ireland is part of the UK here) and spend hours working on my fake accent (which I would never use in front of a real British person for fear of offending them), often ending up sounding like an extra in Harry Potter (or, alternatively, a member of You Me At Six). 

So while I’m by no means an expert on the culture (I think I’d actually have to move to London to get the full experience), I have an understanding of their pop culture. Thus, without further ado, here are some of my recommendations for the britophile in your life.

Books

Harry Potter, obviously. But also Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant mysteries which present a (mostly) contemporary London that is clearly written by someone who knows the city like the back of his hand. Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) if you want a list of Tube stations to visit, and Jane Austen if you (like me) have an interest in the Regency era. If you want something younger, Philip Pullman often sets his middle grade/YA books in England, and you can't go wrong with Roald Dahl; plus V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series takes place in (multiple versions of) London. 

TV

Doctor Who is probably the most British thing to exist (which explains why I fell in love with it) so it’s a good place to start. If you’re more of a mystery person, I deduce that you’d be interested in Sherlock and/or Broadchurch, though there are literally dozens of English detective-y shows on Netflix. For the comedy lover, The IT Crowd is hilarious, or The Delivery Man, or classic A Bit of Fry & Laurie (and Fawlty Towers) while the historian might want to take a visit to Downton Abbey. Oh, and Very British Problems because obviously.

Music

Arguably my area of expertise, over half of the bands I listen to are British, so if you're looking for recommendations, I got you. I've probably talked about most of these bands on this site at some point, so they may seem familiar to you by this point.

  • Alternative rock fan? Try You Me At Six (or Twin Atlantic or Deaf Havana or Mallory Knox or Young Guns or Royal Blood or Arctic Monkeys).
  • Prefer indie pop? Bastille or The 1975 (I actually don’t know what genre The 1975 considers themselves, but “indie pop” is close enough).
  • Pop-punk? Neck Deep (or Moose Blood or Roam).
  • Metal/post-hardcore? Bring Me the Horizon (or Bury Tomorrow or Architects or Enter Shikari).
  • Grunge? Milk Teeth.
  • Something more dance-able? Don Broco.
  • A weird mix of genres? Biffy Clyro.
  • Stadium rock? Muse, of course (but also Nothing But Thieves).
  • Irish (seriously, which part of Ireland is included in the UK?)? Two Door Cinema Club or The Script.
  • Straight up pop? Olly Murs.

I’m probably forgetting someone, but I think you get the point.

What's your favourite quintessentially British thing?

27 Songs

I turned 27 yesterday, so I'm celebrating the only way I know how: with a playlist of 27 songs I love/songs that have affected me in some way. Spoiler alert: it's pretty pop-punk heavy, but take a listen and maybe it will explain a lot about me. 

Mystery Team

Before Donald Glover was playing the best character at Greendale Community College, he was part of an internet sketch comedy group, Derrick Comedy, along with Dominic Dierkes and DC Pierson. After a few years of putting out videos, they took a break to create their first feature film, Mystery Team.

The Mystery Team - Jason (Donald Glover), the master of disguise; Duncan (DC Pierson), boy genius; and Charlie (Dominic Dierkes), the strongest kid in town - are three teens who have been solving neighbourhood mysteries since they were children. They never quite grew out of their boyish innocence (much to their parents’ chagrin), and are generally teased by their peers, but they believe that, if they could only solve a legitimate mystery, they’d finally get the respect they deserve. So when a little girl comes to them with the news that her parents were murdered, they band together to solve the mystery and maybe woo the girl’s older sister (Aubrey Plaza).

It’s not the most intelligent movie in the world, but it’s funny, a parody of classic children’s mystery characters like Scooby Doo or Encyclopedia Brown. There are a handful of incredibly gross scenes - it’s rated “R” for a reason - but the majority of it has a sense of innocence as the boys struggle to “grow up” while still holding onto their childhood. It’s not a long movie, and you don’t necessarily have to pay attention to every second of it, but if you need to laugh, you could do worse than going on an adventure with the Mystery Team.

iZombie's Sophomore Slump

A month ago, I talked about how much I enjoyed iZombie. Now I’m unfortunately here to tell you how disappointing season two was (for me, at least). 

It felt a lot slower and it was fifty-seven times more complicated. There were subplots upon subplots: Liv’s mystery solving, of course, but also Major/Chaos Killer/Max Rager, and Peyton/Blaine, and Liv/Major (which was thankfully short-lived and happily traded for Liv/Drake...which was also, unfortunately, short-lived), and Blaine/his flunkeys…

Idle brains are the devil’s workshop.
— Liv

AND THEN there were sub-subplots, like the redhead from Max Rager who was Liv’s roommate, but also secretly banging Major. Oh, plus Clive’s FBI agent love interest, and probably something else I can’t remember because I was so bored. 

I was able to work (i.e. write) while watching this season, which shows how dull it was because if it was truly riveting, I wouldn’t have gotten anything done. With so many plot points, it got tiresome waiting for all the characters to catch up - we, the viewers, would find out something from Liv, but someone else (Major, for example) wouldn’t be clued in for another three episodes, by which point everything is in chaos because NO ONE communicates. 

And I still don’t get how Clive was so clueless re: Liv’s zombieness (especially after he literally mentions Liv’s personality changes to Ravi)...I mean, what kind of detective is he???

There were some good episodes, but they were few and far between - a lot of filler episodes, compared to the fast-paced first season. Basically, Ravi was the best part of this season, because even Liv was pretty dumb sometimes. 

The Maker of Music, The Dreamer of Dreams: Reading Roald Dahl

For the past few months, I've been binge-reading the set of Roald Dahl books I asked for for Christmas two years ago. I remember reading a handful of his books when I was actually in the target age range, but, as a kidlit enthusiast, I was more than willing to devote an hour or two to each of the 15 phizz-whizzing books in the set.

The Good

Some of his books are popular for a simple reason - they're GREAT. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda (which I re-read before seeing the musical last summer), James and the Giant Peach, The BFG...basically, if it was eventually made into a movie, it's creativity at its best. I was also super into The Giraffe, The Pelly, and Me, because it could be the basis for a random Adventure Time episode, and The Enormous Crocodile (which wasn't actually part of my box set, but was one I mysteriously had on my shelves), though that was largely due to Quentin Blake’s hilarious illustrations (the crocodile dressed as a palm tree is my favourite). 

You can write anything for children as long as you’ve got humour.

The Bad

Esio Tort is pretty lame and super problematic if you actually dissect the story (please read Patrick Rothfuss’ scathing review for a) a laugh and b) an idea of how sub-par this installment is). 

The Twits would probably be more entertaining if I was actually 7 and not almost-27…instead, I was just kinda grossed out.

And Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator felt like I was on some vaguely racist drug the whole time. So there's that. 

The So-So

There's nothing wrong with Danny: The Champion of the World. It's a cute story with a clever ending, but my gosh, I was bored. It wasn't as whimsical as most of his other work, which, I think, was my problem.

The box set also included Dahl’s two attempts at writing his memoirs: Boy and Going Solo. They're both well written and he only picked the good parts to talk about, but, being non-fiction, I didn't find his real life adventures as compelling as his made up worlds (though they're still impressive).

As for the rest of the books in the set...they all sorta fall into the "So-So" category. Still, it won't take you long to read them, so if you're looking for some light kidlit (or, you know, actually have children to read to), Roald Dahl is a master. 

Woman Crush Wednesday: Donna Noble

Now that I’ve finished the David Tennant years of Doctor Who, I think I can finally say with certainty that Donna Noble is my favourite companion, which is why she’s my WCW this month. 

(There are spoilers ahead, FYI). 

Donna’s first appearance in Doomsday/The Runaway Bride shows us a temperamental redhead who spends most of her time shrilly shouting at the Doctor. But by the time they’re reunited in Partners in Crime, we can start to see how meeting the Doctor changed her. She’s still feisty and has a sharp tongue, but she’s a little more level-headed, not as superficial as she had been before she was accidentally beamed into the TARDIS. And, of course, like most of us would be, she’s ridiculously thrilled to find the Doctor again, after a year of looking for him. 

I know a lot of people love Ten/Rose’s relationship (my sister doesn’t, and I’m on the fence mostly because I like their tragic storyline but I - unpopular opinion alert - don’t really like Rose herself), and Martha is pretty much universally disliked (she had such potential to be awesome but ruined it by being bitter all the time), but Donna...well, as the Doctor himself said, Donna is brilliant...if a little sassy.

Donna isn’t afraid to call the Doctor out when he says something disparaging about humanity or shows his insensitive side. And even if that throws him off a little, it grounds him, showing him that a lot of his actions have consequences that, despite his genius, he can’t always see because he lacks that human connection. And her compassion changes him in little ways too, like when she persuades him to save Twelve, I mean, Caecilius, and his family from Pompeii. She also insists on being treated as his equal, even though she’s “just” a human. 

Listen, I don’t know what sort of kids you’ve been flying around with in outer space but you’re not telling me to shut up.
— Donna

And because she’s not romantically interested in him (she may be blind because HELLO DAVID TENNANT *swoons*), she’s not held back by her emotions, unlike his previous companions. Yes, she does kiss him at one point in an absolutely hilarious scene (I need someone to start a game of charades so I can guess “Harvey Wallbanger”), but she was only doing it to give him a shock and then they never spoke of it again. Instead, they have more of a brother-sister relationship: they take care of each other, and she (literally) saves him from himself on more than one occasion. 

Donna is also the most “real” of the companions thus far. She starts off as nobody special, a fast-talking, fast-typing temp in Chiswick, but once she and the Doctor start travelling together, she becomes very Important - if the Doctor hadn’t met Donna at such a crucial moment, the world would have ended a lot sooner. And sure, Rose looked into the TARDIS (and the TARDIS looked into her), but did she regenerate a whole new Doctor out of a severed hand? And then absorb some of his energy and become a half-Time Lord, half-human hybrid due to an instantaneous biological metacrisis? NO, I DON’T THINK SHE DID. Even after Rose and the Doctor were separated, she still had her memories of their time together (don’t even get me started on the clone). But Donna? Poor Donna ended up with her memory wiped, and regressed back into her former superficial self in a truly devastating scene that makes me sad every time I think about it. 

They will never forget her, while she can never remember. And for one moment... one shining moment... she was the most important woman in the whole wide universe.
— The Doctor

I would also like to say that I enjoy how Catherine Tate is a busty redhead whereas the Doctor’s previous two companions were tres petite. Thanks for giving us pear-shaped girls hope that we too can travel with the Doctor. 

In the end, Donna Noble was a truly well-rounded character who deserved every magical adventure she had with the Doctor. If only she could remember them.

I was gonna be with you. Forever.
— Donna

Good Grief, You Should Listen to Bastille

So you probably know by now that I like recommending music, and today is no exception. If you haven’t already been introduced to Bastille via the radio, please do your eardrums a favour and check them out now. 

As I mentioned, you may have heard Bastille on the radio – a few years ago, their first single, “Pompeii”, was playing everywhere. I don’t really listen to the radio, but I didn’t mind hearing it any time I happened to be tuned in: it’s hella catchy, and it’s only too easy to choreograph an interpretative dance to it (not that I’ve done that or anything...)

Since then, the band has released a second full-length album, Wild World (not to mention a deluxe edition of their debut, All This Bad Blood), and gone on multiple tours. I caught them at their first Canadian show in 2013, and saw them for the fourth time a couple of weeks ago. I always love seeing Bastille live because they put on such a fantastic show: not only are they full of energy and enthusiasm, but, more recently, their stage setup has been a visual treat. 

Probably my favourite part of a Bastille show is the way the lead singer, Dan Smith, often finds his way into the crowd, usually during a rendition of “Flaws”, weaving through the people on the floor and even venturing up through the seats (depending on the venue). The last two times we saw them live, Dan sauntered right past us, and if you don't think I flailed around fangirling, you probably don't know me very well. As my cousin mentioned, watching bands interact with the crowd creates a positive connection with the audience, bridging the gap between artists and fans for a few minutes a night and leaving a lasting impression.

I guess the best way to describe Bastille’s sound is electropop – they have that indie pop vibe but their use of synths, etc lead them more into the electronic end of the spectrum. All I know is that every so often, there’s a bass drop that delivers a shock to my soul in the best way possible. It’s also wild because a lot of their songs are quite sad in terms of lyrics, but they’re presented in such boppy, poetic ways that you don’t really realize how depressing they are (I also like that Dan’s accent comes out even when he’s singing). In addition to their own songs, they’re also pros when it comes to giving other people’s songs the Bastille treatment – one listen to their Miley Cyrus cover, and you’ll never listen to “We Can’t Stop” the same way.