I have a naughty confession…

A Book Mark Would Be Better! old vintage retro library poster toronto public library tpl

 

I totally fold over corners in my own personal books.  I was rabidly meticulous with my books as a kid, but somewhere along the line I became really fond of marking my spot and also marking sections I wanted to revisit.

People who fold corners or WRITE NOTES in library books should all be exiled to an island somewhere, though.  Yes, even in pencil.  Yes, even “just” underlining, you deviant.

// vintage poster via the Toronto Public Library’s Instagram account

paul kidby banner illustration discworld

… JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.

How do I write this one?  Christ.  Don’t expect a structured tribute, this will probably be more an emotional tearing of hair and rending of clothing.

When I was twelve, I was part of a four person book club at my school (and one of those people was the principal, so that tells you plenty about how super cool we were).  One of the author picks was Terry Pratchett, and we each had a different book– I picked Wyrd Sisters, aaaand very much did not “get it.”  It was dry and a bit challenging and I wasn’t familiar enough with Macbeth to follow along, so I bailed on it and lied through my teeth at the next meeting.  I was excellent at pretending to have read books I didn’t finish, wretched little deviant that I was.  A few months later, I was a-wanderin’ the stacks at my local library, like you do.  I stumbled across a book that could not have sounded more up my alley if it were also full of pictures of Ryan Gosling as Sean Hanlon on Breaker High– it was about witches AND vampires.  Come on.  I carpe jugulumed the fuck out of Carpe Jugulum, and tore through the rest of the Terry Pratchett shelf at my local branch.

Beck and Terry Pratchett at the first North American Discworld Convention 2009 in Tempe, ArizonaI have some Discworld novels that I’ve read so many times that they look like the lining of a gerbil cage.  I have lent out (which usually just turns into “given away,” because nobody returns books) more individual volumes than there are Discworld titles.  I’ve bullied countless friends into “at least trying” “just one” book, like a really dorky drug dealer (who stands to earn nothing but maybe some book conversations).  Hell, my brother and I went to ARIZONA to attend the first ever North American Discworld Convention in 2009 (I actually had to take a 17+ hour bus journey to get there from San Francisco, and it was worth every cramped smelly second).  We geeked out and had a great time, and met the man Himself.  This is all to say: a very intense one-sided relationship.

Terry Pratchett came to me at an age where I was malleable as dough, and has never left.  His work is a fundamental part of who I am as a person.  My sense of humour, my critical thinking skills, my value system… all tremendously informed by this one man.  As someone who values character much more than personality, I can offer no greater compliment than that he makes me always try to be a better person.  There is no possible way for me to overstate how much he and his work mean to me.

Through him, I learned the importance of kindness and the complete uselessness of niceness.  I learned that personal is not the same as important.  I learned that I watch the watchman AND I also watch me.  I learned that it’s okay to have a grubby soul.  I learned that doing the right thing isn’t glamourous, sometimes isn’t popular, and often feels like shit.  I learned that the “right thing” looks a lot more like cutting an elderly woman’s toenails than it does crusading through town with a banner and sword.  I learned that resenting hard work and being petty in your own head is okay if you’re still doing the work that needs to be done, because who the hell else is going to do it.

I learned that being a Good Person has absolutely fuck-all to do with being sweet.

Terry Pratchett’s last few years also speak to the darkest fear of us bookish folk– for a man of that intellect and wit, who valued words and language and narrative, to lose his faculties starting with something as simple, as fundamental as typing… it’s a sick practical joke from a cruel universe.  It feels like every nightmare ever caused when a quiet kid watched the Twilight Zone episode Time Enough At Last.  Pratchett fought like a badger against The Embuggerance, managing to put out some truly brilliant work (with a fourth Tiffany Aching book to be published posthumously this fall) and did huge things for the Right To Die movement, Alzheimers research, and development of dictation technology… but how dare anything have come along to make him have to struggle so hard against it.  And he did so with humour and rage and indignance and dignity.  But if Terry fucking Pratchett can’t make it to 85 doing crossword puzzles, than what chance do we have?

Terry and Rob tweets

I couldn’t bring myself to read any tributes to or reminiscences of him until now, a month later.  I even have an email from a dear, dear friend (who was in that four person book club, half a life ago) that I have not yet opened because I know it’s about Pratchett.  I literally wept every time I sat down to write this post, and finishing it today is no exception– the front of my flannel shirt is soaked, and I really should not have put on any mascara today.

More eloquent people than myself have written absolutely beautiful eulogies, so take a look at:

Review: Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book One audiobook) by Jim Butcher

Let’s address the racist elephant in the room… yes, super unfortunate name, but no, the title Storm Front is not in any way related to good ol’ David Duke or white supremicism.  I seriously cringed a little bit every time I saw the title in my phone.

Storm Front Dresden Files Book One By Jim Butcher cover

HARRY DRESDEN—WIZARD  Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other Entertainment. Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in.”

Made-Up, Oddly Specific Genre: winky post-Buffy hardboiled detective novel, WITH MAGIC and COKE-DRINKING.

Stream-Of-Consciousness Notes: I love reading first person perspective when it’s done well.  Harry Dresden is kind of a grumpy tomcat.  This is probably a book for cat people, whatever that means.  Vampire escorts!  Really dumb fairies!  Coke-drinking!  Gotta love a sassy talking skull, too.  Did not give a care about the plot, but enjoyed most of the individual scenes a lot.  Ridiculously easy to listen to.  James Marsters sounds appropriately tired and bored, which sounds like a bad thing but is totally a good thing.  I will probably only ever “read” the rest of these books as audio.

But… definitely drags a little at times, and the characters are not exactly nuanced.  The noir style can feel forced when you’re not carried away with the plot. Supposedly the series get much, much better as it progress, though.

“It is the prerogative of wizards to be grumpy. It is not, however, the prerogative of freelance consultants who are late on their rent, so instead of saying something smart, I told the woman on the phone, “Yes, ma’am. How can I help you today?”

“Paranoid? Probably. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face.”

Why Should You Care? Not a single one of the fifteen books in this series has less than a 4/5 average rating on Goodreads.  James Marsters reads the audiobooks, which means you can mostly just picture Spike, soooo… y’know.  Big bestselling series.

Recommended If You Liked: The Southern Vampire Mysteries (True Blood) series by Charlaine Harris, Pushing Daisies AND Law & Order, Hellboy.

Book: 7/10

Audio Recording: 9/10

Overall: 8/10

A wee tweak… (my last “paragraphs of explanations” post for a while!)

Bill Pullman dog Alaskan Malamute White Swiss Shepherd Berger Blanc Suisse Samoyed direwolf puppy ttc subway

My first children’s book will undoubtedly be Baby Direwolf Rides The Subway!

 

I have to be kinder to myself.  Like, I should probably apply the sentiment of the tattoo on my damn arm to my self-care as well as treatment of others, right?  I set this bizarrely rigid standard in my head, and if I can’t meet it, I kind of shut down in a panic– gee thanks, various anxiety disorders and OCD!  I decided this blog was daily Monday to Friday, so that turned into “if I miss Monday, then I HAVE to start from scratch next Monday instead,” and “if I don’t post before 4pm, it’s a wash and I NEED to start from scratch tomorrow, or next Monday”– not even as procrastination, but because I would feel like a fuck-up if it weren’t tidy and regular… so we’re chucking that arbitrary stuff for the sake of me actually relaxing and posting anything at all (it’s batshit that I’ve been doing this, by the way, because I have a number of blog post drafts just waiting to be published, which have been ready for WEEKS).

I’m now going to be posting when I feel like it.  That may be at 10am, or it may be at midnight.  No particular days, but I’m setting a goal of at least three posts a week (the good news is that it very well might be much more frequent than that, because I’m capable of being enthusiastically productive when I ease the pressure a little.  I actually have a very strong work ethic when I don’t let myself get paralyzed by unrealistic completionist baloney.)

I have written a ton about the death of Sir Terry Pratchett, by the way.  I’m just not clear on how much of that to share… his work over the years informed a very, very significant chunk of both my character and my personality, and godfuckingdamnit I’m starting to cry writing this measly little paragraph.  I’d love a little feedback on what you’d like to see in tribute to Him– a cheerful Best Of, a reading guide to Discworld, my maudlin personal elegy (complete with rending of garments and tearing of hair), whatever.  It’s all written, so just let me know.

I’m putting up one or two more posts tonight.  Love you, babies.

xo Beck

Some Comic Relief

gangsters and gun molls comic cover

The internet is my favourite thing, and Public Domain (as always) freaking RULES:

Comic Book + is a site for reading or downloading more than 26,000 Golden and Silver Age comics LEGALLY and FOR FREE.  Detective stories, superheroes, romance, horror, cowboys… anything your lil heart desires.

(Fun Beck Fact: when I was about six, I wanted to be a “gangster’s moll” when I grew up.  I really liked the combo of old cars, champagne, and fluffy maribou high-heeled slippers.  Weird kid.)

For Lack Of A Better Comic - Simpler Times ebooks e-books

 

“Aw, you made me ink…”

I went seven years between my first and second tattoos, not quite two years between my second and third, and then the third through sixth over eight months.  After my first two (somewhat discreet ones), it took til I was almost 27 to feel like I was a grown-ass woman who could get away with getting the bigger and more obvious ones without my mother disowning me (I mean, not literally, but the two rules were no tattoos and no motorcycles, and my I-swear-actually-wonderful mother did make me cry when I came home with my first at 18 because it looked “like a barcode”…). And then I fucking went for it.

I already had my first lit tattoo, my Kurt Vonnegut quote (see here).

The ones I got in the last eight or so months:

1. Direwolf

neotraditional tattoo direwolf game of thrones a song of ice and fire george r r martin travis driscoll archive tattoo

Last June, I did the single most impulsive thing of my life and got a giant piece on my outer thigh with less than a week’s notice. We took some artistic license and strayed from some details because I loved the artist’s neotraditional style (the wight hand should technically be black, not teal, and in the book it was a pure white direwolf who found the hand, anyway).  It was my first colour tattoo/my first tattoo with any shading, and took about five hours (I think?), which is four and a half hours longer than either of my first two.  Designed and tattooed by Travis Driscoll guesting at Archive Tattoo.  I plan on getting him to do Iorek (armoured polar bear!!!) from His Dark Materials on my other thigh someday.

2. Mockingbird

to kill a mockingbird harper lee atticus finch tattoo the one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience angie fey archive tattoo

In July, I got an arm piece that I had wanted for a bonkers long time (I booked that appointment in MARCH)– it’s a mockingbird with an Atticus Finch quote from To Kill A Mockingbird: the one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.  Designed and tattooed by Angie Fey at Archive Tattoo over two sessions (totalling about four hours, I think?)

(I have a real blathery post coming about the latest Harper Lee shenanigans, by the by.)

(pic on left was after first session, right after second session)

3. Frey pie

american traditional frey pie meat pie the north remembers game of thrones a song of ice and fire tattoo george r r martin okey doke tattoo franz stefanik

Then last month (January), I ended up doing an unexpexted double-whammy day… I got an Algonquin Park tattoo (based on an AJ Casson [Group Of Seven] painting) on my arm, and another A Song Of Ice And Fire piece on my hip above the direwolf.  An American traditional-style meat pie (a Frey pie with a Wyman Manderly quote), designed and tattooed by Franz Stefanik at Okey Doke in an absurdly fast session.

To come eventually (not soon– my bank account and my mother’s poor heart need a break for a while): a neotraditional Iorek on my other outer thigh. An american traditional Terry Pratchett Discworld piece near my knee. A Quentin Blake illustration from Roald Dahl’s The Witches. A couple of quotes. And then a couple of non-book ones, too (including a traditional “mum” one, as requested by my mum, which is A HUGE DEAL.)

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 11.32.31 PM

“It’s Hard To Explain…”

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.”

I find these satisfying in the same way as these. My few of my favourites…

anemoia - 

n. nostalgia for a time you’ve never known. Imagine stepping through the frame into a sepia-tinted haze, where you could sit on the side of the road and watch the locals passing by. Who lived and died before any of us arrived here, who sleep in some of the same houses we do, who look up at the same moon, who breathe the same air, feel the same blood in their veins—and live in a completely different world.

dialecstatic -

adj. hearing a person with a thick accent pronounce a certain phrase—the Texan “cooler,” the South African “bastard,” the Kiwi “thirty years ago”—and wanting them to repeat it over and over until the vowels pool in the air and congeal into a linguistic taffy you could break apart and give as presents.

semaphorism -

n. a conversational hint that you have something personal to say on the subject but don’t go any further—an emphatic nod, a half-told anecdote, an enigmatic ‘I know the feeling’—which you place into conversations like those little flags that warn diggers of something buried underground: maybe a cable that secretly powers your house, maybe a fiberoptic link to some foreign country.

Lemme know if you look at the site and find other favourite ones!

 

Miss me?

Um, hi.

It’s been a minute, huh?

blue lipstick blonde hair selfie

Being busy and distracted turns into being those things AND burnt out, which turns into being those things AND guilt about neglecting the blog, which turns into anxiety, avoidance, insecurity… even when the “busy” part goes away.  I’ve been in a dip for a while (ooh, check out that casual euphemism!)  It’s been a really hard few months.  Not to blather on, but the kind of “hard” where, in waves, I would find it impossible to read books, sit through a whole movie, see people I like, cook food…  Some great stuff has happened and I’ve had lots of lovely moments!  But my neutral default setting in between has been more like “stare into space while a cat headbutts you, eventually get up to eat a can of soup for dinner.”

But I’ve been trying.  Putting in the time on the fucking tedious process of figuring out the right med combo for me.  And I’m starting to get back into the swing of things.  It feels amazing to be doing things.

Allie Brosh (Hyperbole And A Half) on depression. sun birthday sounds not sounds your hair is spiders everything is spiders

Allie Brosh (Hyperbole And A Half) on depression.

I have written and prepped over a week’s worth of posts, so I can get momentum into blogging again.  I’ve had some false starts, so I hope you’ll bear with me and maybe trust me enough to check back in on the daily.

I have a whole bunch of updates, including another couple of book-related tattoos I got (whoops!), where The Gonq is at, and my puppy, Bill Pullman.

Love love love, Beck xo

p.s. a lil sneak peek of my baby direwolf:

Bill Pullman Alaskan Malamute White Swiss Shepherd Berger Blanc Suisse Samoyed direwolf puppy in the snow