The Funny Side of Instagram

A couple of weeks ago, Jane and I discussed some of our favourite instagram accounts. As I was scrolling through who I follow, I realized that I keep tabs on quite a few comic artists, so I put together a list of some of the ones I think are especially hilarious. 

adamtots

His topics are varied, from pop culture references to politics, and you may have seen some of his comics on Buzzfeed and similar sites, but oh my gosh, they crack me up. I laughed for about 48 hours after this particular image popped up. 

introvertdoodles

I'm probably not as introverted as Marzi is, mostly because I work in retail and am forced to interact with other humans, but she speaks a lot of truth - I too rarely want to leave the house because I'm in the middle of a good book.

poorlydrawnlines

There's a certain dry humour in these comics that make me laugh so hard, I can't even explain it. My favourite is whenever an animal gives someone the finger. HILARIOUS. 

chrishallbeck

For such simple drawings (they're literally stick figures), he manages to pack so much humour into a handful of lines. If you're into bookish humour, he also has a secondary account that depicts what it's like to work in a library (aptly named "library comic"). 

There are lots of others, including lunarbaboon, sarahandersencomics, and barelyfunctionaladult, but I'll leave you to chortle over these ones for now. 

Your Next Podcast Obsession: Missing Richard Simmons

What happens when internationally beloved exercise guru Richard Simmons goes missing? That's what podcast host Dan Taberski (and friend of Richard's) is investigating. On Feb. 15, 2014, Richard Simmons didn't show up for his class at his gym, Slimmons. This was completely unlike Richard. No one knew where he was and how long he'd be gone. Three years later, and we're still not much closer to finding the answer.

"Missing Richard Simmons" is an examination of the life of Richard Simmons, who he is (was?), his impact on people and what his disappearance might mean. Though only four episodes have been released so far, I'm completely and utterly hooked. I'm not even a Richard Simmons fan but after listening to the episodes, I'm coming up with my own theories of why Simmons might have fallen completely off the face of the planet. 

It's incredibly interesting to hear first-hand accounts of Simmons from his friends, clients and even a Hollywood tour bus driver. Each person has their own take on Simmons but the overarching fact between everyone seems to be this: Richard Simmons was a genuinely good person. He would come and greet the Hollywood tour buses and take pictures with everyone. He would befriend people from across the world and keep up with them, giving them hope. He seemed to be a truly altruistic and selfless person. So why would someone like that just leave without telling anyone?

"Missing Richard Simmons" is a thrill ride. You can catch up on all the episodes aired so far here.

Music in My Head

Since February is finally over (for such a short month, it lasted AGES for me), I'm ringing in March with a playlist of all the songs I've been jamming recently. Some of them are new (counting down the days until I get my pre-orders of The Maine/All Time Low), some are throwbacks ("CHECK YES JULIET, ARE YOU WITH ME?"), one is from my new favourite pop-punk band ('sup, Waterparks?), and there's at least one cover, just to keep things interesting. 

Have a listen below and then let me know what songs are currently taking up residence in your head.

Travel to "Parts Unknown" with Anthony Bourdain

If you're thinking of taking a trip, chances are, Anthony Bourdain has been there, eaten the local cuisine, met the local people participated in local rituals. And chances are, he's going to do it all better than you can on his CNN show Parts Unknown.

Granted, I'm pretty behind on the Bourdain train. His CNN show has been on for 8 seasons and he had a Travel Network show, No Reservations, on before that, as well as having written a slew of bestselling books, one of which spawned the short-lived TV series Kitchen Confidential, which brought Bradley Cooper into our lives. Thanks? I guess?

On Parts Unknown, Bourdain travels around the world, sometimes with a companion (I particularly relish the episodes where he drags Chef Eric Ripert around with him, terrorizing him sichuan spices), sometimes not, and he explores the local eats and the local scene. Bourdain's "no fear" approach to travel is inspiring and a little terrifying. He's willing to go into war-torn countries for a good story... and a good meal. Each episode, depending on the location, has a different feel. An episode about Los Angeles ends up being all about Koreatown and the LA riots of the 90s. An episode about Peru leads Bourdain and Ripert up mountains to give their chocolate crops some good juju. In Hanoi, Bourdain shacks up with the President himself to share some noodles and a cold beer.

The show has awakened the tiny adventurer in me, the one that desires to try all sorts of food without abandon, the one that doesn't worry about that one mussel that might send her running to the toilet for 12 hours straight, the one who can travel freely... well that one might be less attainable, considering I'm not a 60 year-old man who no one is going to fuck with. All that to say is that learning about the parts of the world that were previously unknown to me is a joy and I can't wait to live vicariously through Bourdain on his next advent

Sam Finally Watched Stranger Things and is Now Obsessed

Because I’m 2390702 years behind on TV shows, I only just watched Stranger Things in January for the first time (in my defense, I’ve only had Netflix for two months). I was really worried because there was so much hype built around it, and I was afraid I’d hate it. But guess what? I loved it. 

Jane talked about the music of the show back in August and I agree that the soundtrack was pretty great. The other thing that was great, though? THE ACTING. 

First of all, I’m pretty sure this was the performance of Winona Ryder’s life (except maybe that time she played Goth teen Lydia in Beetlejuice) because her portrayal of a grieving mother punched people in the feels. 

But most importantly: why are all the kids so dang talented??? The boys were totally believable as a gang of friends who’ve been together for years, and Eleven...oh Eleven. My heart weeps for Eleven, she’s the most precious thing, and I’m not saying I cried when she - SPOILER - disappeared at the end, but I was definitely devastated (I’m 100% certain she’ll be back, they’d be really stupid to get rid of their best character). 

Speaking of Eleven, I ship her and Mike more than is probably healthy, considering how young they are. They don’t have to be a couple, but I want them to be best friends for the rest of their lives. Every time she repeated a word that he taught her, I wanted to cry. 

My only issue with the show is the Nancy/Steve/Jonathan storyline. They ended up having a stronger role by the last couple of episodes, but up until then, I felt like they were just pulling our attention away from the boys and Eleven. Most of the time, I just felt frustrated that we were spending so much time with Steve (even though he gets redeemed at the end, he’s still a douche) when I’d rather watch the boys fight over Dungeons & Dragons

While the show wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be, it was pretty creepy, and surprisingly emotional, and I, like everyone else in the world, am now eagerly waiting for the second season. 

You shouldn’t like things just because people tell you you’re supposed to.
— Jonathan Byers

Your Next Podcast Obsession: Matt and Doree's Eggcellent Adventure

I'm not pregnant. I have never been pregnant. I don't plan on becoming pregnant any time soon. And yet, I am completely and utterly fascinated and obsessed with one couple's journey to conceive through IVF. That couple is Matt Mira and Doree Shafrir, and every week, they detail the trials and tribulations of having sucky sperm and old eggs.

Each episode brings new anecdotes of ultrasound wands, implantation, NOT peeing on sticks (... or at least, try not to), stories from other couples who have tried and succeeded (or failed) with various non-"miracle" conceptions, and emails and voice mails from listeners with their own queries about making babies in the 21st century.

I'm not sure why I'm so enamored with this podcast. I truly can't relate to anything that Matt and Doree are going through, but I'm totally compelled and invested in their journey. It's almost like a thriller - should they use the girl embryo that is less viable than the boy's just in case they can never create another female embryo? Will the implantation work? WILL DOREE PEE ON ANOTHER STICK?

The show is frank, funny and informative for IVF seekers and weirdos like me, alike. Catch up now at https://www.doreeandmatt.com/

Very British Problems

I’ve been following the Very British Problems Twitter account for a few years now (and own the books), and once I heard that it was being made into a show, I lamented (not for the first time) that I didn’t live in the UK to watch it. Then a couple of months ago, I found it on Netflix, and here we are!

The show – like the Twitter account – talks about some of the flights and foibles of the British peoples. Narrated by Julie Walters (Mrs. Weasley!!), and featuring a host of British (including Irish) personalities, there are seven episodes split across two seasons (one of the episodes is technically a “Christmas special” – how very British), each one built around a certain situation during which the British have their own particular ways of reacting. 

For example: there’s social interaction and making “friends” (S2  Ep2), feelings (S1 Ep3), going on holiday (S2 Ep3), and more. With so many people sharing their experiences, I’m sure you’ll find someone you recognize, including James Cordon and – my personal favourite – David Tennant. 

I’m not sure what the best part of the show is (apart from David Tennant, obvs): the fact that it’s 45 minutes of delightful accents (barring the one American guy who offers hilarious insights into what it’s like living in the UK as a “foreigner”), or the fact that it’s SO RELATABLE. I’m fairly certain I’m British on the inside, because they talk about a lot of things that ring true in my own life. Mostly having to do with the anxiety of interacting with other humans when I’d rather not leave the house ever. Or having issues with other people handling my tea (I’ll just do it myself, thanks for offering). Or panicking about possibly missing a flight even though it’s not for another week (that’s actually my sister more than me).

I suppose a lot of these problems are universal, but clearly the British are more introspective and self-effacing than the rest of the world, since they all seem to feel these emotions on a higher level. But darn if I don’t love and appreciate every awkward thing they mention because I feel the same way. 

GIVEAWAY

Since I accidentally bought two copies of the second book, Very British Problems Abroad (renamed to More Very British Problems in paperback, which is why I got confused), I'm hosting Mind the Gap Zine's first giveaway! Enter below, and you could win a hardcover copy of Very British Problems (US/CAN only, ends Feb 28, 2017). 

Travel Thursday: Phoenix

By the time this post goes live, I’ll probably be running around my house, throwing last minute items into my carry-on before fleeing to the airport because I have a 10:50am flight to Phoenix, Arizona. I’m going mainly to see The Maine, but there’s a lot to see and do in Phoenix, so here’s a list of some of the things I hope to experience in between screaming about John O’Callaghan and lamenting over how much warmer it is in Arizona compared to home (their “low” is 7 degrees Celsius, which is still like 20 degrees warmer that it is right now).

Arts & Culture

There’s a street (West Camelback Road) that has SO MANY cool stores on it, including All About Books and Comics, Stinkweeds (a music store), and Changing Hands Bookstore (attached to First Draft Book Bar), all within ten minutes of each other, so I might just have to move there for the week. There’s also a selection of museums and Old Town Scottsdale - I know it’s a cliche, but I’m really hoping for swinging doors so I can burst into a saloon and pretend I’m in a Western (maybe I’ll just buy cowboy boots from Saba’s instead). 

Food & Drink

I didn’t even think of this until my sister pointed it out, but since Arizona is in the southwest and near the Mexican border, you know what they have a lot of? MEXICAN FOOD. I looooove Mexican food, so I’m particularly looking forward to Barrio Cafe, but we’re also there at the same time as Canada Week, and it will be cool to see how our American neighbours fare at making traditional Canadian foods. There’s also multiple bars I’d like to visit, for their selection of cocktails and fancy drinks, including Shady’s Fine Ales and Cocktails, Angel’s Trumpet Ale House, and Bitter & Twister Cocktail Parlour

The Great Outdoors

We are, by no means, outdoorsy people, but Phoenix is bursting with natural wonders. There’s Desert Botanical Garden, and loads of mountains (one of the most famous being the Camelback Mountains). But mostly, I’m not passing up the opportunity to see a saguaro cactus up close and personal (you can beat I’m going to try and touch it). 

8123 Fest

The real reason we’re going to Phoenix is for The Maine’s 10 anniversary (aka 8123 Fest), and I’ll write another post about that in the next few weeks, but just know that I’ll be spending at least a full 24 hours weeping over how much I love those boys. 

Your Next Podcast Obsession: Call Your Girlfriend

I decided I wanted to do some weekly podcast resolutions this year, a resolution that I figured would be easier to accomplish than anything yearly. This week, I resolved to listen to more lady podcasts. The show I listened to by far the most was "Call Your Girlfriend", hosted by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. It's a podcast about long-distance besties, who chat about everything from feminism, the Kardashians, to weekly discussions about periods. It's like being let into a private conversation that is real, raw, and no-holds-bar. Listen to their latest episode, all about the Women's March in DC happening this week.

 They also have an incredible newsletter which you must subscribe to immediately, called "The Bleed." Check it out here!

Sherlock: The Six Thatchers

I know it's Thursday, so you might not be expecting a post about a TV show, but since I've been losing my mind since the much anticipated fourth season of Sherlock premiered on Sunday, I'm breaking down that first episode, "The Six Thatchers", for you. 

I’ll tell you straight up that there WILL be spoilers in this post, so if you’re not caught up on the show, I’d close this page right about now. 

Since I just re-watched the series a few months ago, I remembered what was happening, though they helpfully had a “Previously on Sherlock” bit at the beginning of the episode. From there, we’re thrown right back into Mr. Holmes’ London, picking up immediately where The Abominable Bride left off. 

I’m positive that there are other well written, more coherent reviews of the episode up and about on the interwebs (here are links to a spoiler-free recap and a spoiler-full recap, if you're interested), so I’ll spare you a rambling synopsis. Instead, let’s pretend that I’m the type to live-tweet an experience (I can’t do it, I get distracted so easily), and relive my reactions basically scene-by-scene. 

There are many capital letters and spoilers here, so again, I beseech you to LOOK AWAY if you haven’t watched this episode yet. 

  • I’m going to squeal every time someone mentions Moriarty until he actually shows up on screen (probs not until the third episode, though). 
  • Mycroft and Sherlock have the most ridiculous relationship and I love it. 
  • What are the odds that all these headlines are based on real Holmes’ stories?
  • Sherlock: “It’s never twins.” BUT WHAT IF IT IS?
  • AWWW, BABY WATSON.
  • AWWW, GODPARENTS. 
  • AWWW, SHERLOCK AND BABY WATSON AND A RATTLE. 
  • “Giles” Lestrade is such a great character. 
  • Sherlock faking ignorance at Margaret Thatcher’s identity is literally me every time I get drawn into a political discussion (except I’m not always pretending). 
  • Maybe it’s because I’m an emotional mess, but the son’s seizure and unexpected death is making me super sad. 
  • Mycroft hates humans and I feel him. Such a classy gent. 
  • Petition to make Toby the dog a major character. (Is Toby an important name in the original stories? Because I think the dog in The Great Mouse Detective is also named Toby, and it can’t just be a coincidence). 
  • Sherlock pool scenes are always so dramatic but also I’m just hoping Jim from IT shows up.
  • Nope, no Jim. Not in this episode, anyway :(
  • WHAT DOES A.G.R.A. MEAN????????
  • I have now learned what A.G.R.A. means.
  • Mary's new alias has the same birthday as me (April 16). 
  • Hahahaha, classic Sherlock, always one step ahead of the game (or is he?).
  • Bye AJ. It was nice knowing how you were connected to Mary. 
  • Kinda hoping the English lady is Irene Adler, but I’m pretty sure it’s not (it's not).
  • JOHN HAMISH WATSON. I don’t care if you’re a silver fox, you DO NOT cheat on your wife, especially after she just birthed your child. 
  • We all should have known it was this woman, but alas, we looked right past her. The lesson is: never trust a secretary. 
  • OH DANG, MARY’S DOWN. 
  • NOOOO, MARY (I guessed her end was near when the trailer came out in August but this is still SHOCKING). 
  • Martin Freeman deserves all the awards for this show, my gosh, his acting is just A+. 
  • DID MYCROFT JUST MENTION SHERRINFORD (who, I learned on Wikipedia many months ago, was supposed to be the third Holmes brother? Presumably older, since I’m fairly certain Mycroft refers to Sherlock as being the baby, though maybe he’s younger? Or in the middle?)???
  • I’m glad Molly gets to take care of Rosie, but where is John???
  • John’s message for Sherlock is breaking everyone’s hearts right now. 
  • Not gonna lie, I, like Sherlock, got very excited when I saw the blank disc with “Miss Me?” on it. Well played, Mary. Well played. 
  • I read like four spoiler-free reviews that told me to stay after the end credits, so unless Masterpiece Theatre cut it off, the post-credit scene was a bit of a let-down. 
  • I mean, yeah, I have SO MANY questions, but I was hoping for more than three seconds. 

Basically, half of the trailer was scenes from the first episode, and judging by the "Next time on Sherlock" preview, the other half of the scenes are from the second episode, so now I'm REALLY intrigued about the third episode and I just want them all RIGHT NOW. What did y'all think of this episode?

My Year in Podcasts

I listen to more podcasts than I do listen to music, watch television, or see movies. I know this, because I decided that this would be the year that I would calculate the exact amount of minutes that I spent listening to podcasts in one entire year (minus, I'm sure, a few hours of some comedy podcasts that I have definitely forgotten about). 

For the most part, I believe I've listed every single episode that have graced my eardrums, and here's what I've found.

Number of Podcasts Listened To: 36

Number of Podcast Episodes Listened To: 1,061

Number of Minutes of Podcasts Listened To: 56,123 

Number of Hours of Podcasts Listened To: 935.38

Number of Days of Podcasts Listened To: 38.97

Number of Months of Podcasts Listened To: 1.3

Percentage of the Year Devoted to Podcasts: 10.8%

Podcast with the Most Minutes Listened To: Gilmore Guys with 9,907

Podcast with the Fewest Minutes Listened To: CANADALAND with 29

Podcast with the Most Episodes Listened To: My Brother, My Brother and Me with 145

Best Podcasts of the Year: Gilmore Guys, West Wing Weekly, Reply All, The Flop House, Throwing Shade, Rose Buddies

The Pros and Cons of Jess Mariano

As you already know, I’m no fan of Dean Forester. So when it comes to picking the best of Rory Gilmore's beaus, who do I prefer? I have to admit I’ve been on Team Logan ever since Matt Czuchry joined the Gilmore Girls cast way back in 2004, but I’ve always had mixed feelings about most people’s favourite: Jess Mariano (Milo Ventimiglia). This is partially because my eldest sister (the one who got me hooked on GG in the first place) never liked him, but also because the first time I watched the show, my 12 year old heart couldn’t understand the appeal of Jess’ “bad boy” persona. Even though I’ve been appreciating him more during my current re-watch,  I’m still not entirely convinced that Jess is the best, so I pulled a Rory and made a list of his pros and cons. 

P.S. I enlisted two of my GG-loving pals to give me some insight as to why they’re charter members of Team Jess. Special thanks to Alex and Emillie for trying their hardest to get me on their side (P.S. It's working).

PROS

That Chemistry

When it came to chemistry, Rory and Jess were explosive. Perhaps it was because they were dating in real life, or maybe it was just excellent casting. Either way, their romance was palpable, even before they were officially together. It was obvious from the start that Jess was super into Rory, and she fought it for as long as she could, but they couldn’t resist their attraction to each other. If nothing else, at least his attention got Rory out of her semi-abusive relationship with boring Dean. 

Jess Mariano wasn’t always the boyfriend Rory wanted. He didn’t call on time, he didn’t always show up, and he didn’t take pride in the town festivals. Still, he was the boyfriend Rory needed—and still does.
In his teenage years, Jess was the picture of troubled youth. Not that you could blame him, with a flighty mom, a whisper of a dad, and a life spent growing up alone in one of the world’s biggest cities. He stole gnomes and skipped school and took life as it came to him. In comparison to our favorite doe eyed seventeen year old (at the time), he shouldn’t have fit at all. But he was witty, and he read like she did, and he listened to her music, and the two fit better than a coffee cup in Lorelai’s hand.
That almost nonsensical compatibility isn’t what made Jess Rory’s OTP, though. Instead, it was the fact that he challenged her. When she was dating Donna-Reed-daydreaming Dean, Jess disrupted their (already doomed) relationship by reminding her of all the things she wanted that three kids and a mortgage weren’t going to give her. When she dropped out of Yale, stole a yacht, and followed in the footsteps of silver spoon bred Logan, it was Jess who reminded her where she came from. And when she found herself back in Stars Hollow at 30, running a long dead local paper, and still searching for her underwear, Jess reminded her that she was still a contender. Jess showed up at all the pivotal times of Rory’s life, whether as a boyfriend or a trusted ally, because Jess is the only person who got what Rory was about. He was the only person who loved her enough to set her back on the track she’d lost sight of. He was the only person who made her see that life wasn’t all town adoration and Chinese takeout. Jess is the boyfriend that grows up with you, and helps you become the version of yourself you always wanted to be. Jess is the boyfriend we all need, and I like to think he’s the Luke to Rory’s Lorelai, the ultimate endgame, the man who will raise Rory’s baby into another generation of strong, powerful, Gilmore’s. (And I definitely have not started dating anyone because of their likeness to Jess, whoever told you that is a liar.)
- Emillie Marvel

He’s Smart

I mean...he reads a lot so he can keep up with Rory’s literary habits (though I still can’t forgive him from stealing/borrowing her book and then WRITING IN IT, WHAT KIND OF MONSTER DOES THAT??), and he’s just an overall intelligent guy. Even though he drops out of high school, he proves to be an above average student...he just lacks the motivation. We know that, in the future, Jess works in publishing (owns a publishing house?) and is a successful writer, so at least he puts his brains and talents to good use. 

Forever Encouraging

Whether it was convincing her to go back to Yale in season six, or giving her the perfect idea for her book in the revival, Jess always had Rory’s best interests at heart. He encouraged her to be her best self and, even if she didn’t end up breaking her own boundaries like she did with Logan, Rory’s life was admittedly better with Jess in her corner. He didn’t hold her back, but he didn’t pressure her either (in that way, at least...), and they were very comfortable with each other.

Out of the three boyfriends, Jess was the best for Rory. He always pushed her to be the best version of herself, and to chase after what she wanted instead of following others. He was the only one who'd tell her how it was and didn't try to protect her from the world, or manipulate her for his own gain. Sure, he did some stupid things and was problematic just like all of Rory’s boyfriends, but back then he was a kid with a troubled life, and he grew out of that—in the revival he’s shown to be possibly the most stable and together character out of everyone. Not letting his past define him is a mark of true growth and character.
He was intellectually her equal, and challenged her—which is really important in any relationship. In doing so, he represented everything Rory could be: fearless, independent, and unapologetically herself. Instead of trying to change her, he was always the one asking what she wanted, to think of herself more. That kind of selfishness is healthy; it stops you from getting backed into a corner where you make rash decisions and act out (*cough* yacht joyride anyone?). There’s a difference between being nice and being supportive—Rory’s always been coddled and sheltered, and a bit of tough love from him has always been exactly what she needed. Shielding someone from the actions of their decisions isn’t a viable or healthy way to go through life, and it shows an enormous amount of respect and integrity to stand up to the ones you love and tell them the truth. It’ll only make them better people; as much as I love the citizens of Stars Hollow and their quirks, over-coddling was their biggest flaw when it came to Rory, and I only wish Rory had more people in her life like Jess. Maybe she would have made better choices.
Team Jess all the way!
- Alex Bear

Growing Up is Hard

Jess isn’t the easiest person to get along with (see CONS), but he grows and matures as the series goes on. His relationship with Luke was one of the best parts of the revival – when they (SPOILER ALERT?) hugged upon his arrival in “Summer”, I just about wept. They had their rough moments, but ultimately Jess gave his uncle the love he deserved. Just like with Rory – it wasn’t always smooth sailing between them, but he tried to make it work, even when everyone else (*cough Lorelai cough*) was against them. 

He’s Attractive (I Guess)

I’ve never been super into Milo Ventimiglia, but I can see why people are attracted to him on a physical level. He does the broody thing very well, but that’s a trait I seem to find more appealing in (stereotypical YA) novels and less in real life. 

CONS

He’s a Jerk (at first)

During his first few appearances, Jess is not the nicest person. He’s straight-up disrespectful to Lorelai (in his defense, even HE could see she and Luke were Meant To Be...he just didn’t point it out in the nicest way), and is constantly rude to poor Luke who is struggling to give this kid a break even though he’s in over his head when it comes to raising a teen. The worst, of course, is when he comes back in season four and basically makes Luke feel like a complete failure and it makes me so mad every time. And while it is somewhat romantic, you have to remember that he tries to woo Rory while she’s IN A RELATIONSHIP. 

Of course, Jess's attitude led to one of the best scenes in the entire series, so I guess it wasn't all bad:

"Mr. Reliable" is a Bit of a Stretch

Jess is referred to as “Mr. Reliable” during his time working at Walmart and it’s hilarious on so many levels. He’s not actually that reliable – he takes off at least three times, without talking to Rory about it (admittedly, the first time, they’re not together so he doesn’t owe her anything, but still), and that last disappearance really throws her for a loop. There’s also the time she goes to a hockey game because he said he’d call and then he ignores her for most of the day (he makes up for it with concert tickets, but you can see their relationship start to crack).

Pressuring Someone isn’t Cool

The number one moment that makes it hard to be fully Team Jess is that time at the party when he tries to pressure Rory into having sex...even when she distinctly says “NO”. He makes her (and the viewers) uncomfortable when he reacts poorly to her rejection and then he picks a fight with Dean (who always wants to fight so it’s not actually Jess’ fault) and it all gets very messy.

Jess does have more pros than cons, and Alex and Emillie present some extremely convincing arguments, but I’m still waffling. I have a feeling that by the time I finish my re-watch, I'll be firmly on Team Jess. 

Travel Thursday: Ireland

I just spent a week in Dublin and now my liver needs a break. Long story short: I drank a lot. However, being an amateur writer, I also took the opportunity to drink in the Irish literary culture (did you know it's a UNESCO city of literature?). Rather than bore you with a complete play-by-play of my trip, I picked a highlight from every day I spent drinking whiskey and quoting Oscar Wilde. 

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.
— Oscar Wilde

November 23: Teeling Distillery

The first night we were in Ireland, we walked to the Teeling Whiskey Distillery. Along with a tour that taught us how whiskey is made, we got some samples. We also participated on a second tasting which paired the three main types of Teeling with (wait for it) gourmet marshmallows. You haven't lived until you've tried whiskey-infused marshmallows. 

November 24: Jameson Distillery

On a day trip to Cork (about 2.5 hours by train from Dublin), we spent an afternoon at the Jameson Distillery. You can maybe see that there was a theme to our trip (the theme was Irish whiskey). If you're going to Jameson and plan on doing an extended tour/tasting, you should probably bring a snack with you - multiple shots of whiskey on an empty stomach can leave you feeling tipsy.

November 25: Book of Kells/Long Room/Oscar Wilde

Admittedly this day also started with a whiskey tasting (at the Irish Whiskey Museum) but then we spent a lot of time nerding out over books. The Book of Kells (the beautifully illustrated gospels), the Long Room at Trinity College (which looked like the library from Beauty & the Beast), and later, the statue of my dude Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square Park.

November 26: Afternoon Tea/Biffy Clyro

I make it a point to indulge in afternoon tea whenever I'm in the UK. This time, we tried the Not Afternoon Tea at the Clarence Hotel (it's owned by Bono, but alas, we didn't see him). It was delectable, though the savoury course was better than the sweet. And then in the evening, we saw Biffy Clyro who put on an explosive show as always (seriously, they’re SO GOOD live).

November 27: Phil Coulter/Dun Laoghaire

Most of the afternoon was spent in Dun Laoghaire. I guess it's technically part of Dublin, but it was about a 20 minute train ride out of the city center. It was pretty cold because we were close to the water, but it was still lovely. In the evening, we sat in the third row for a performance by my dad’s favourite musician, Phil Coulter (an Irish legend!) and even met the man himself after the show (I finally learned that I get my fangirl-y ways from my dad who was jittery with excitement). 

November 28: Guinness Storehouse

What’s a trip to Dublin without popping into the Guinness storehouse? Our last day in Ireland was spent mostly walking around, including a tour of Guinness and a freshly pulled pint in their Gravity Bar (on the seventh floor, offering a 360 view of the city). I’m not usually a Guinness drinker, but it tastes a lot better there than it does here, since it doesn’t have to travel all the way across the world. 

There was still so much more we could have done in Dublin itself, and we didn’t even get a chance to visit Belfast...so I guess that means I’ll have to make my way back to Ireland again!

For more photos, you can check out my instagram: bellsiebooks!

Gilmore Guys: A Stars Hollow-Cast

I wasn't emotionally preparing myself for the upcoming Netflix season of Gilmore Girls. I wasn't doing any preparing at all. I wasn't even all that excited. Yes, I'd watched the entire series (mostly with my mom, for some mother/daughter bonding over mothers and daughters) but many moons had come and gone since I laid eyes on Stars Hollow and I no longer felt its quick-witted banter effect. Then I watched the Netflix trailer.

So. Many. Feels. 

I binged the first season last week and am already onto season two. I'm determined to finish the entire series before November 25. That task isn't completely impossible, but I'm also attempting to listen to the entirety of "Gilmore Guys", the podcast dedicated to recapping every episode of Gilmore Girls

Hosted by Kevin Porter and Demi Adejuyigbe (who also created one of my favourite Vines ever... RIP Vine), "Gilmore Guys" (a Stars Hollow-cast... a joke that I didn't get until Demi did) breaks down each pop culture reference (Peyton Place? Who was that reference for?), fashion choice (oy, with the rhinestones already),  and the grumpiness of Luke versus the smarminess of Max (... Ma-deez-nuts).

As I refuse to listen to episodes of the podcast before I've rewatched episodes of the show, I've only listened to season one so far, but I'm already regretting not starting the podcast when it first began, in 2014. I feel like I've totally missed out on going through the show slowly over the years, instead of blasting through a bull in Mrs. Kim's antique shop. However, I WILL be able to catch up before new content arrives, in three weeks. I'll be able to watch the new episodes when Demi and Kevin do, and my FOMO will be lessened slightly. The podcast is hilarious, snarky, full of freestyle rap and undying love for a one Mrs. Emily Gilmore. I wasn't there when they began to lead, but I am sure following now.

Colouring Outside the Lines

Last year, Jane mentioned that colouring books, which were all the rage at the time, are a fun way to relax and pass the time. I’m in total agreement to that (I’ve always enjoyed colouring), but I do have some issues with the adult colouring book game in general. 

For one, why are the lines so tiny? The more detailed the picture is, the more indistinct the lines – sometimes body parts end up weird colours because I can’t figure out where the clothes end and the body beings (this is especially a problem with the Sherlock book. I can’t tell you how often poor Watson has ended up with teal hands). AND, just because I’m an “adult”, doesn’t mean I’m super neat. I’m not saying I colour outside the lines, but I’ve been known to give up and scribble across one section in the same colour because I get impatient with the teeny tiny lines.  

For another, who decides on which pictures to include? The biggest culprit is the Harry Potter collection – some of the images are so boring. Or they’re not at all something I’m interested in spending time on – it took me ages to remember where the tapestry of dancing trolls came from, but it was apparently important enough to include as an image to be coloured. I also don’t approve of the spreads where the same image is repeated over and over – how many different ways can I colour flowers before they all start to look the same? 

Speaking of flowers, do the artists (illustrators?) understand the pressure of being realistic? My siste takes her Secret Garden book very seriously, which means her green pencil crayons are basically stubs at this point. Personally, I take a more whimsical approach to colouring, which is why my Enchanted Forest is a riot of colour (I like using purple whenever possible), but I could totally see people being frustrated at trying to recreate a masterpiece in the same colours. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are few things in life more enjoyable than colouring and watching TV, but I find that I have to work twice as hard to make the most out of my “adult” colouring books than if I just picked up a Barbie book at the dollar store (I LOVE colouring Barbie’s shoes). And while I thought the "adult colouring book" trend was waning, about once a month I see an announcement for another pop culture tie-in or a holiday special edition. I didn't realize the demand was still there!

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

When I first read Ransom Riggs’s creepy Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, I immediately thought “If this gets made into a movie, it'd better be a Tim Burton production." Cut to this year when that very thing occurred and I was stoked. 

Short review: it was good but not great.

Long review: Well, visually it was, as I've come to expect from Tim Burton, gorgeous. The costumes (heck yeah, Colleen Atwood, coming in with the beautiful clothes as usual), the scenery, the sets in general (I wanna live in that house)...it was atmospheric and gothic and basically looked exactly how I pictured it. 

The biggest problem I had with it was the children. They weren't bad - in fact, most of them were really good - but for some reason, they decided to switch up some of the peculiarities (and ages) of the characters, and I find that so annoying. Like, why did you give Emma Olive's floating power and give Olive Emma's fire power? Why was Olive aged up (answer: so you could push a relationship between her and Enoch) while Bronwyn was aged down (I was actually okay with that because she was SO CUTE)? Why make Mr. Golan a woman (even though it meant giving us a few minutes of Allison Janney)? And I'm not even going to get into the Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson) controversy (not now, anyway). 

If I show you the rest, you have to promise not to run away.
— Emma Bloom

There was also a scene near the end that cheapened the whole escapade. I won't spoil it for you, but there are reanimated skeletons and it looks like something out of an eighties mythology movie. And while I can appreciate that they crammed three books worth of material into two-ish hours, the ending felt super rushed (and I don't think it was how the series ended, but I honestly can't remember). 

All in all, it was beautifully done, but I can't say I loved it. I did, however, love Eva Green as Miss Peregrine (even though she was a lot younger than I imagined her while reading the books) because she was too cool with her blue hair and Victorian-esque outfit. 

Why Did You Wait So Long?

I fly to Japan tomorrow, where I will be spending 10 days trying not to think of all my various responsibilities that I'm leaving behind, like this website. I promised myself that I would get all of my posts done early so that I wouldn't have to worry and I could just let them go online on their own. But I didn't. They're not done. And I want them done. I find myself asking me that question that plagued me through high school and university: why did you wait so long?

Sam and I actually have a post about procrastination, but she is a little bit more on top of things than I am. Leaving things and letting them pile up is something that affects me at home and in my creative life (luckily, at work, things somehow get done). My home and my creativity are two of the most important things to me. Why do I let them slide? I love having a clean apartment, and yet, I almost never do. I love having posts up and written, but I put off writing them for days. 

My brain feels cluttered. I haven't been on vacation in over 3 years. I miss it. I NEED IT. I need to get out of my headspace for a while. Maybe it'll bring me some clarity. But first... I have some writing to do.

Concert Withdrawal - It's Real and I Feel It

It’s been a month and a week since I last went to a concert, and I can’t even tell you how terrible that makes me feel. To help me explain my feelings (and possibly help you identify why you’ve been feeling off), I’ve compiled a list of concert withdrawal symptoms:

Blink 182 in August - the last show I attended as of this writing. 

Blink 182 in August - the last show I attended as of this writing. 

The Jitters

When I haven’t been to a concert in a while, I tend to get really jittery. It’s like I have all this pent-up energy that I would normally expend in a circle pit (okay, fine, circle pits scare me, but I do love dancing at a show) and since there are no available circle pits, I end up keeping it in until I start shaking. Alright, maybe I don’t actually shake, but I tend to roam around aimlessly and often have trouble focusing on anything not music-related.

Jealousy

The worst thing I can do when going through concert withdrawal is look at other people’s social media because then I see THEM at a show and I’m overcome with jealousy. Why don’t I listen to that band that’s in town this week? Why don’t I like that type of music too?? And so on. It’s even worse when you happen to see people attending your favourite band’s show in another country...like salt to the wound. 

Listening to Live Music to “Get Your Fix”

This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but let’s just say that my live DVDs are played most often when it’s been a few weeks since I last attended a concert. 

Trolling All the Ticket Selling Sites

I am definitely guilty of spending time on Ticketmaster/TicketWeb/Ticketfly/other sites that have the word “ticket” in the title looking for possible shows to attend. I do it partly in the hopes that I’ll have accidentally missed a tour announcement from one of my faves (even though that’s next to impossible), partly in the hopes that a band I just “discovered” will be in my city in the next few days. Of course, sometimes that backfires, and I find out I missed a “new-to-me” band by a handful of days and then I get even more sad. 

The only way to overcome concert withdrawal is to physically attend a concert...and thankfully I have four lined up next month (October 5th can’t come soon enough!). 

What Makes a TV Show?

What makes a television show? I found myself asking that question when the news broke that Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, hosts of the fantabulous Great British Bake Off, would be leaving the show in the upcoming season due to the move of the show from the BBC to Channel 4. The Beeb was apparently not forking over the funds to keep the show as “great” as it is, so it is going to be making the shift next year to an advertisement-full station. Because of that, Mel and Sue, the cornerstone of goodwill and punny hilarity of Bake Off, will be making their farewells.

 

So why is this a big deal? Hosts leave shows all the time and the audience will eventually adapt. However, can you imagine Jeopardy without Alex Trebeck or Wheel of Fortune without Pat and Vanna? That’s like imagining Bake Off without Mel and Sue: impossible. No, they’re not the judges, and they’re definitely not the contestants, but the show just wouldn’t work without them. They raise morale, they take us on historical baking journeys, and they provide a light-heartedness that many (or probably most) cooking competitions severely lack. According to Sue, that is completely intentional. Apparently, Bake Off was more similar to those far more intense cooking shows, with drama and tears galore. Mel and Sue didn’t approve of this kind of audience and contestant manipulation and threatened to leave if things didn’t change. If a contestant does break down in tears (for any reason), Mel and Sue will often cover the contestant with their jacket and shout expletives and brand names, thereby ensuring completely unusable footage.

Mel and Sue are the heart of Bake Off. Without them, I fear for what the show could turn into. Bake Off is probably one of the most wholesome competition shows on TV. Without Mel and Sue bringing their own brand of comedy and their protectiveness over the contestants, how will the show cope?

UPDATE: Just as I was finishing writing this up, I learned that Mary Berry, cookery book specialist and judge of Bake Off, will also be leaving the show. I’m truly not sure what the point of watching it will be anymore.