Monthly Archives

May 2015

The Sunday Letter

Sunday Sundries | Vol. 13

This kite-flying family knows how to best utilize Citadel Hill on a sunny Saturday afternoon in May.  Me myself, I caught some rooftop rays at the Halifax Central Library’s 5th floor patio yesterday while finishing this month’s edition of National Geographic (marijuana science, dolphins, Nepalese living goddesses… the best one yet this year!).

This week marks my FINAL WEEK at the law firm I’ve worked in for the last 1.5 years since finishing my undergrad. It’s surreal both that:

a) THAT MUCH TIME has passed sinced I graduated; and,

b) that I won’t be heading back to work there next Monday.

I’m really excited for what’s coming next in my life. That being said, I work with amazing, smart, witty, kind people at the firm, and leaving does feel bittersweet.  Pre-nostalgic prattling aside, here are this week’s suggested media!

Δ  50 Essential Mystery Novels That Everyone Should Read. I just bought ‘And Then There Were None’, the Agatha Christie masterpiece and am SO EXCITED to read it, considering it’s been quoted or alluded to by nearly every procedural drama at some point. Even if you don’t consider yourself a mystery fan, you should read some of this list for pure pop-culture referentiability.

Δ Korean tattoo artist Seoeon‘s minimalist and fine line work is precision beautified. I hope to have a piece done by her the next time I’m in Seoul.

Δ Has anyone ever been to this crazy looking place called Salvation Mountain in Southern California?

Δ The Cherry Blossom Girl is a fashion and travel blogger who posts both in English and French. I’ve been looking for more blogs in my niche to read in languages other than English. Does anybody have any good recommendations for travel or photography blogs in French, German, or Japanese?

Δ This is more of a ‘To Do’. I have this habit on Spotify that drives my boyfriend crazy, where I’ll search for one song and then listen to EVERY cover of it. Just FYI though, there are SO MANY versions of ‘Take Me to Church’ on Spotify. I can’t link to it, but just try it. Search your favourite song title in the bar and listen to all the covers. It’s fun. I swear.

Δ Ever wanted to know The Difference Between a Font and a Typeface?

Δ Maybe this makes me old, but I’m just really discovering Twitter chats. Here’s a list of 33 Social Media Groups that are internet goldmines for information.

Δ 5 Behaviours That Make You a Co-Working Space Pro. I really like public and co-working spaces. Coffee shops, libraries, and official ‘co-work’ environments are great not only for the socialization they offer to lone entrepreneurs, but because they get you out in public, where you’re accessible to potential clients. Just the other day I was working in the library café when I saw a contact and we spoke about a job. People are more likely to hire someone who they see regularly, who is easily visible and able to be approached in public. The more often they see you, the more often you’ll be in their minds, and then when they have a job they need someone to do, they’re more likely to think of you first if they’ve recently seen you. Get out of those home offices and into the cafés!

Δ Do you know what scrumping is?

Δ This is a really fun piece where the journalist goes in search of the meaning and history of the change trays used in Japan. Haha, I would always be such a foreigner when giving change in Japan. I’d try to hand it directly to the 7/11 clerk and they’d sort of slide the change tray towards me like, “Here you are, poor foreigner, I will teach you how to be civilized“. Love this.

Δ Robert De Niro’s Tisch School of Arts graduation speech. Summary: “Arts students, you’re fucked.”

Δ Even more amazing (and far more eloquent), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Wellesley Commencement speech from Friday. She will never cease being awesome.

Δ Additionally, here is Chimamanda’s NYT article about her father’s recent kidnapping.

Δ Women in Victorian era England dueling topless over flower arrangements? Yes please.

Δ Nobody Famous, what it’s like to have the social network of a celebrity without actually being famous.

Δ What We Do In the Shadows is an amazing horror comedy faux documentary. Watch it! I haven’t laughed out loud so much so often at a film in so long.

Δ Japan’s 31 Most Beautiful Places; because we all know I’m a sucker for Japan.

Δ I’ve already sung Postmodern Jukebox’s praises. Check out their cover of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’:

Δ For any Mad Max: Fury Road fans (has anyone not seen that movie?) there’s some awesome B-roll footage now available online here.

Δ This tweeting American politician is hopefully setting a trend for digital public access to government for the future.

Δ See how the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park 20 years ago changed the shape of the rivers.

Δ Did you know the Twitter account Tweet of God has been made into a Broadway production with Jim Parsons? So sassy.

Δ A $1,000 Day in Paris for $100? My wallet doesn’t mind if I do.

Δ Surf genius photographer Chris Burkard talks about the revelations of swimming and shooting in ice-cold Alaskan waters in his TED Talk.

That’s it! Keep it real and have a great week. Happy Sunday to you.

 

 

Lifestyle

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

ZADIE SMITH is one of the most beautiful writers I’ve ever come across. There, I’ve said it. I have shown my strong bias. Let fly the arguments for an impartial review! It is impossible to resist her charm, so why try?

Sometimes when I was reading White Teeth, I felt like I could describe the book as the lovechild of Salman Rushdie and J.K. Rowling. Zadie’s ‘magic’ here isn’t literal magic, but her ability to write characters like a motherfucker, across cultures. She writes an outspoken, old Bangladeshi-turned-English café waiter with equal candour as an awkward, teenage, Jamaican Jehovah’s witness.  She does multiple viewpoints like its nobody’s business (except hers).

Her people are written so, so good, and she’s a strong enough writer to carry them throughout their whole lives. The families in White Teeth are written across generations and continents. I love how she writes the awkward social fallout from interactions between immigrant, mixed race, and middle-class-white families.

Her families – I could read them forever. I didn’t want it to stop. I wanted to read about their children, and their children’s children.

Everything feels honest. No one is above mockery, or empathy, in its own strange way.

Dialogue, charactercraft, epic story arcs, and her ability to write sections of prose like poetry, as well as her huge brain (she goes on these wonderfully relevant tangents about things like Sod’s Law, only to loop it back in to her narrative, like some kind of logic knitting master) are why you should read Zadie Smith.

Also, FUNNY. Did I mention she’s funny? (I don’t have a crush, I swear.)

I wish I had some sober, pragmatic commentary to share, since she is already widely lauded for her books, but I don’t. They are just amazing. Quick now, go read one.

ps. She also gives great advice. See Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules of Writing here.

I’m reading 41 books this year. See original post here.

Lifestyle

Truman Capote’s Condiment Wisdom

YOU CAN THINK about this one the next time you’re eating diner food and reeling from your latest rejection. Squeeze that ketchup over fries and think, “This is HOW DELICIOUS it’s going to be when I finally succeed.” The world constantly throws shit at us so that we can rise above and become awesome people. Have you ever seen the movie Constantine? Yeah, it’s basically like that.

There’s no place like staring out a rainy window eating frites to draft your next battle plan to conquer life. In gamer terms, cafés and rainy diners are like save points where you can regroup and gather your thoughts. They are timeless, they are safe, they are fried things and milkshakes that whet your appetite for victory.

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Lifestyle

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki [And His Years of Pilgrimage] by Haruki Murakami

LIKE AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, Murakami’s latest novel did not take me where I thought it would.

The prose was beautiful, the characters extremely well-crafted, the introspections poignant, but the overall story arc was not pleasing. Whether or not this was Murakami’s attempt at a wabi-sabi style of writing, I’m sure I will never know, but I would definitely caution readers not to compare it to previous masterworks such as 1Q84 and/or Kafka on the Shore.

Did I like it? I liked the act of reading it. His words are so well put-together, that it could never be a displeasure to read. But I really didn’t enjoy the story all that much. Our protagonist moves, only to go nowhere. He hesitates, only to find out his hesitations were made in vain. Our story takes place after the action, and there isn’t really any apex to crest over our suspense. It’s a procedural uncovering of the truth.

The hardest part for me was that instead of closing on a definitive chord, the book seemed to sort of trail off… how very Japanese.  In a funny echo, the last paragraph of this book reminds me of The Great Gatsby. Pick it up for a read and tell me you get the same impression.

This book is surprisingly realist compared to a lot of his other novels, and yet I found it weird because of its realism. Sure, there are some weird dreams and an unexplained murder, but seen from the perspective of our main character, these only surreal elements of the book feel more like his over-active imaginations, than an active presence of surreal-ness in the world.

From a physical aesthetic standpoint, I want to mention this book is very well-bound and attractive. It’s slightly shorter than most books, and fits well in your hand. Also, the hardcover design beneath the cellophane-fingered dust jacket is very nice as well. I actually prefer it with the dust jacket off.

So, should you read it? Hmmm, I think you should. Despite its oddness, it definitely has a sad beauty about it. And its theme of unresolved issues from adolescence and the incredulity of where we all end up is one that everyone can relate to. Plus, as I said, it’s beautifully written.

Let me know what you think! Murakami is one of my favourite authors, and I’d love to hear some opinions of other frequent Murakami readers about this one.

I’m reading 41 books this year. See original post here.

The Sunday Letter

Sunday Sundries | Vol. 12

Good morning to you! Here’s your Sunday Sundries: fun and informative reading. Best enjoyed with a pancake breakfast and your favourite tea or coffee. Heck, even yerba mate for any Argentinians out there.

Δ Ever gracious, Paulo Coelho published this concise piece On Writing.

Δ Brazil’s overhaul of their nation’s food guide looks like they know what’s up with nutrition.

Δ 6 Reasons Modern CGI Looks Surprisingly Crappy – yes! Losing our sense of proportional grandeur can be a major temptation.

Δ Anna Kendrick’s Indianna Jones: The Last Crusade parody video.

Δ This Marcus Aurelius quote illustrated by Zen Pencils. Why don’t people talk like this anymore?

Δ This rant in the Coast sums up pretty well how a lot of 20-30somethings in Nova Scotia feel.

Δ 15 of the world’s craziest roads and I want to drive on all of them.

Δ Kludge is a great word.

Δ The Life of a Transgender Kickboxer in Rural Thailand – so, so good!

Δ The amazing news this week that Ireland voted YES to make gay marriage constitutional across the country.

Δ How to Support the Bloggers You Love. Keep us alive!

Δ Hage Life – this adventure photography blogging couple gets around the world like you wouldn’t believe!

Δ I really like this travel writer’s investigation of the two faces of Sri Lanka.

Δ Top 10 Marathons Worth Travelling For – I may be jumping the gun a bit here. I should probably try finishing one marathon first on my homefield before venturing afar.

Δ I’ve been really into Jenny Purr’s website for creatives and creative business owners. Lots of good tips here.

Δ For photographers, a short and sweet video explaining The Rule of Thirds vs. The Golden Ratio.

Δ This handy guide to tea flavours and aroma by tea type is really useful for any future Tea Sommeliers out there.

Δ  This amazing AirBnb place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is only $60/night… check out the rooftop infinity pool with a view you get for that price! Uuuuugh, I would pay that to swim in that pool alone.

Δ Florence and the Machine released a new album earlier this week, Delilah. Take a listen!

That’s it guys. I hope you’re all rested and gearing up for a great week ahead.

Best,

Mel

Lifestyle

No One Who Can Rise Before Dawn…

SOMETIMES, it’s all about showing up. Talent might get you noticed, but habit and dedication will build you a career.

I think it can be especially hard for artists. After all, we choose a career in the arts because it’s something we love doing. But what happens when it’s not so lovely? When it’s hard? And not the fun kind of hard.

Struggling to pay your bills, deal with an unhappy client, or with a lack of inspiration are a lot less fund that the ‘hard’ challenge of mastering a technique, or trying something new.

The best way to get through the hard hard times are to show up early, work hard, and keep plowing through it. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for being such a trooper.

Also, isn’t it cute how this timeless proverb only says 360 days a year? That means you get five days off – vacation time!

Every Wednesday I post one of my photos with an awesome quote on it. Click on the photo to access a full-sized downloadable for your desktop. Click here to see the rest in the series.

Photo this week: Dusk at Suncheon Bay in early spring.