Tag Archive | books

Links for everyone! Digital Dozen time.

Digital dozen – 12 ways to distract yourself with shiny internet things this hump day.

I think if I were to get married, this would be 100% the wedding ring I want. Yep. Adulting!! (via)

Though I’m not a fan of their coffee (it’s my last resort when there’s nothing else coffee..) I do love this Tumblr of Starbucks sleeves sketched on to transform them into awesome portraits.

This design is fantastic!! My keyring’s pretty slim these days but if I had more, I’d be into this.

These tiny creations are so delicate and wonderful. I don’t think I could ever have the patience for them.

I’m constantly amazed at how creative people can be when given a restricted set of materials to use to create something. Design Within Reach have a ‘champagne chair’ contest each year, and these are this year’s winners. Super!

Air safety is no joke.. but these are pretty funny, c’mon.

Pixar artists turns R-rated movies into kid’s book illustrations. GOLDEN.

While we’re in the Disney realm.. here’s some lovely Baymax cosplaying as other Disney characters. The best.

Rain-activated sidewalk art! Of course someone in Seattle made this.

New wave rock stars as Marvel heroes was built for my brain.

This artist is carving a wooden spoon a day, and sharing on Instagram. They’re so wildly diverse and interesting!

Old to new – discarded books carved into art.

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Goodbye to Sir Terry

Yesterday, there was some very sad news – Sir Terry Pratchett passed away – and it really hit me much harder than I thought it would. I haven’t by any means read all of the Discworld books (but the Death ones are my faves), nor any of his solo work outside that Universe, but he did co-write my favourite book ever, Good Omens, with Neil Gaiman.

The above is the title page of my copy of Good Omens (my cover is this one). I had it signed by Neil when I attended the Continuum convention in Melbourne in 2003 (oh man.. that’s forever ago) – I babbled at him about how it was my favourite book, and he signed it (top) leaving space for Terry, should I ever get him to also sign it. (I think this is one of the regular ways they’d sign it even if it wasn’t at the same event!).

Then a few years later, Terry was in Australia and doing a signing in Brisbane (where I lived) at the Pulp Fiction bookstore. I worked just across the river at the time, so had planned on taking a long lunch to go. I was hit that morning with one of the worst bouts of hayfever I’d had in ages (I distinctly remember how awful I felt) – I ended up leaving work sick, but couldn’t face not meeting Terry. So I went and waited in line, snuffling and sniffling and generally feeling miserable. I waited for ages. But then there was Terry, so lovely and friendly, taking the time to have a quick chat with everyone who was getting a book signed.

This book is one of my treasures! I wish that I had it with me now instead of having left it packed up at home. I will be getting it onto my ereader soon for a re-read, as well as filling some of the gaps in my Discworld reading that have taken me too long to get to. Sir Terry has really left a large void in the literary world. He had such a unique tone and humour, yet was so insightful even with a series of silly, fun books like Discworld. There’s nobody like him and we’ll miss him forever. I’m so glad he left us behind so many things to love.

Things I Love Thursday time!

Tofurky pockets! Dude, they’re vegan hot pockets. Oh man, so good. I have these ones and they’re handy for a quick work lunch snack.

I got myself a new water bottle recently, and I’m finding it is actually helping me drink more throughout the day! It comes with me to work, and the gym, and if i’m out for the day too. Solid!

I’m very fond of Isa Does It, and we’ve still got so many things to try. Right now our constant go to is her “lentil-a-roni” dish, which I LOVE and is so freakin’ quick to put together and you can tinker it if you really like. We use GF pasta, and usually throw in some kale or spinach at the end. It’s a treat with some almond parm on top! I don’t want to link to the recipe where I’m not sure it’s reproduced with permission, so get your hands on the book! It’s worth it.

I’ve started rewatching Twin Peaks (my shiny blu-ray set!) in advance of a trivia night at the start of Feb. I love this show so damn much. And I about flew out of my seat when I heard the news Kyle McLachlan will be back for the new episodes. COOP.

Book club! My friend MeShell started up the Toronto Veg Book Club, and I love it because it (a) gives me a chance to read books I might not normally think to and (b) I get to get together and hang out with lovely vegan folks and eat delicious food while we chat about the books! This weekend we’ll be chatting about the Lucky Ones, which I just wrote about. And eating all the things at Bloomer’s. CANNOT WAIT.

How’s your Thursday, folks?

TCAF 2014 Wrap Up!

This past weekend was the 11th Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF)! Held for free at the Toronto Reference Library (with some off-site events), it’s a veritable cornucopia of incredible talent. In addition to artists and publishers having stalls in the Reference Library, there’s also a buttload of workshops, panels & events to attend if you feel so inclined. I always try to get to some of the events each year just to hear people talk about the awesome stuff they create.

Lynn Johnston's TCAF poster 2014

Lynn Johnston’s TCAF poster 2014

Opening night was “Lynn Johnston and Kate Beaton, In Conversation”, a discussion moderated by Raina Telgemeier. Lynn Johnson created For Better or For Worse – I don’t know if this was ever syndicated in Australia, because I don’t recall reading it growing up. It was interesting to hear Lynn speak about her work, being in newspapers, and of her place in the industry when it was far more male-dominated than now, and the way she just kinda trucked through it dealing with it in a kind of “give as good as you get” mentality. This was in contrast to Kate Beaton’s career now, which is very internet-centric, instant gratification, and not without issues surrounding sexism being a female creator. I really enjoyed hearing the both of them talk about their creative process, their influences, and in particular what from their own lives influences their comics (be it in a roundabout way for Johnson, or a direct autobio way for Beaton). A fantastic and entertaining way to spend an evening listening to two fantastic Canadian creators!

At the #TCAF kickoff event! In conversation with Lynn Johnson and Kate Beaton (@beatonna).

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Saturday morning I decided to hit up some panels, as most of the rest of the day’s lineup didn’t interest me so much. First thing was a ‘draw-off’ between comic artists Jeremy Sorese (Little Heart), Liz Prince (Alone Forever), Britt Wilson (The Greatest Book On Earth), Joey Weiser (Mermin), plus two audience volunteers. Pictionary-style, one member of a team drew from a prompt (some kind of movie genre) and their team had to guess what it was. There was a lot of awesome creativity on show considering the 3-minute sketching limit! It’s really fun to watch people sketch on the fly like this. Here’s Britt Wilson & Liz Prince during their rounds (road trip and tearjerker were their prompts):

Britt Wilson kicks off the draw-off panel at #TCAF!

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Liz Prince's contribution to the draw-off! This is fun to watch. #TCAF

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Next panel (in the same room which became inexplicably hot) was “What Do Women Want? Writing Comics for a Female Audience” – moderated by Chromatic Press’ Editor Lianne Sentar, and with creators Laura Lee Gulledge (Page by Paige), Kate Leth (Adventure Time), Joan Reilly (The Big Feminist BUT), and Noelle Stevenson (LumberJanes) in the spotlight. This panel was full to bursting with amazing ladies from the industry with excellent perspectives. I liked a lot of the input the moderator Lianne had to the conversation, but unfortunately her moderation wasn’t too structured – the discussion flowed naturally, but much of what could have been discussed was covered only briefly or not at all. That’s not to say that the discussion wasn’t interesting, however! Lots of talk about male versus female gaze, females as consumers and a demographic, the portrayal of women characters in comics, and the like. Kate Leth is so smart, and dang articulate and knowledgeable, about this stuff!

There was a bit of discussion towards the end about what drove the people on the panel to create the titles they have, and it was great to hear the varied perspectives, because that means that there’s an enriched diversity of comics out there for female-identified audiences (especially younger ones!). I liked what Noelle Stevenson had to say about content – basically, not to shy away from things that have been typically portrayed as masculine (violence, for instance), but include those as well as more emotive stuff; this came up in a discussion of characters as well, that we need more female characters of all persuasions to balance out the inequity currently in comics. I’m really glad I sat in on this panel – while I haven’t done a great job at recapping it, there was a lot of inspiring stuff being discussed. It made me go in search of The Big Feminist BUT, too! I already read the Adventure Time and Lumberjanes titles & love them to bits. The panelists:

After the panels, I went into the Reference Library to browse. It was overwhelmingly crowded. And, I know how busy it gets, but it was a big mass of people to walk through, gosh… Downstairs it was really tough to get close to a lot of tables (like, three people deep). Luckily in the upstairs section there was a capacity limit, so once you lined up to get into that room it was much more manageable to browse.

Despite the hard work of browsing, I ended up picking up some totally rad stuff, primarily from female creators. I can’t wait to dig into the books! I had a quick flip through the Pugs Guide to Etiquette already and have read Cat People and I LOVE THEM. PS. I also flipped out when I realized the creator of Perry Bible Fellowship was there and had this strip (Unicorn Power) for sale, which is Adam’s most favourite. He even has the shirt.

In the evening was a screening of the Killing, prefaced by a discussion between Ed Brubaker (Criminal, Fatale) and Darwyn Cooke (Parker, Selina’s Big Score), hosted by guest interviewer Cameron Ashley (Crime Factor). They (mostly) discussed the noir genre & their interest in it, especially from a professional standpoint. They went off on tangents an awful lot, but at least it was entertaining. And the movie was really good! A little dated, but an excellent heist movie, and tense. I’d have never guessed it was a Kubrick.

Q&A with Brubaker and Cooke before Kubrick's 'The Killing'. #TCAF

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I had to get on with weekend-y stuff on Sunday mostly, but I did meet up with my sweetie to sit in on the Adventure Time panel at the end of the day. Michael DeForge, Becky Driesdadt, Kate Leth, Jesse Moynihan, and Ryan North were all on the panel, a mix of folks who work on the comics and on the show, moderated by Frank Gibson. First of all they had a Pictionary-style draw-off:

Kate Leth draws #TCAF as a prompt at the Adventure Time draw off / panel. #adventuretime

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Then it was time for audience questions. The perspective between the comics and show folks was an interesting one, especially when talking about creative control, and how much stories are planned out / tie into the other formats. What a lovely bunch of folks, and a nice way to end the festival!

See you again next year, TCAF – may I have more savings to spend, and more energy to navigate crowds/go to all the panels!

Reading reinvigoration 2014!

I used to read so much when I was a kid. Voraciously. As I’ve gotten older, hit university, full time work and the life of an internet junkie, I feel like I’ve read less. During Uni I didn’t feel I had time for leisure reading. I read a bit more when I had a commute, or was at the gym more, but it’s been a while since that’s been the case. When I’m at home now I feel like I don’t use my leisure time for reading, but for doing stuff (video gaming, RSS feed reading, general internetting, board gaming, cooking etc). Last year I read maybe half a dozen books all up, which is just rubbish. I read the first three books in the Game of Thrones series and I remembered what it was like to make time for reading, but that got interrupted.

After a few friends had recently mentioned Goodreads, I decided to check it out. I feel like having lists to check off motivates me, and helps remind me that there are specific books I’ve made note of to read. (A lot of the time I’m overwhelmed by choice and not knowing what I even want to read, so I avoid deciding at all.) I have a healthy ‘to read’ shelf on Goodreads now, have a few books on the go at the moment (a couple of cookbooks, and a couple of non-fiction pieces).  I’m looking forward to making my way through a list of stuff I have had recommended to me, or just remember seeing and thinking “Ooh, I’d like to read that!” and almost immediately forgot that. I set a pretty low target for reading, because I figure it’ll give me a couple of weeks per book and I won’t get to November and freak out, having 50 books still ahead of me 🙂 It also helps having a tablet for e-book reading/borrowing (Toronto Public Library has a great range of e-books available!).

Give me some suggestions for reading, if you’d like! You can get a decent idea of my tastes by looking at my rated/read titles on Goodreads. In general I like spec-fic, tech sci-fi or cyberpunk, fantasy, YA fiction,  biography and sciencey things. Throw at me and we’ll see! If I can set aside just half an hour each day for a little reading, I feel like I’ll be happier overall. I’m looking forward to it.

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Nicole has
read 0 books toward her goal of 26 books.
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Things I Love Thursday!

Hey, Thursday. You look nice today.

  • Although it’s not ’til next Wednesday, I love the activity planned for my work’s holiday/staff appreciation day next week. Indian for lunch, then off to the Gardiner Museum for some pottery making fun! I am super excited. I need to brainstorm what I might make. Maybe a dog treat jar 🙂 I’m so pleased I get to take part.

 

  • I love the Toronto Public Library! They hold so many great events for free (like the Chris Hadfield thing I went to, and the Toronto Comic & Art Festival just to name a couple), and have an amazing array of materials for access and loan. Not to mention the computer access and free Wifi in every branch. I’ve also just recently started to take advantage of their e-borrowing system for books on my tablet using Overdrive. Maybe it’ll help me read more in the new year.

 

  • Living somewhere that same-sex marriage is legal, and has been for many years is amazing. A no-brainer human right made legal! Who would’ve imagined. Not Australia, unfortunately – the same-sex marriage ruling that came into affect has been overturned by the High Court of Australia as being unconstitutional, as any laws ruling on same-sex marriage should be federal apparently. And when you look at the current federal government.. well, hope shrivels. Thank you, Canada, for not being shitty like that.

 

  • While I’m sure it’ll help them as a bit of advertising, this holiday video from Westjet is truly lovely. Giving for the sake of giving is always nice, no matter what time of year! The lady who got the camera made me tear up, she was so grateful. N’aw.

 

  • Yes, I love my dog. He’s always giving me new reasons to share it with you all though. Like, how adorable he is when he sits at the table with us, or snuggles up to my PJs on the bed once I’ve gone in the morning, and Adam sends me pictures that make my heart melt. Oh gosh.

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Digital Dozen! Quite a grab bag this week.

  • This time of year has already kicked off with the buying-buying-buying frenzy. Consider a charitable donation, too? Boing Boing have an awesome, huge list of recommended charities.
  • I am so in love with these surreal photos of everyday objects floating in landscapes. I want ’em all.
  • What’s more hilarious than bloopers? A trailer for a movie cut together with said bloopers!
  • This is some beautiful photography – ‘Touching Strangers‘ – which I’ve had saved for ages. I don’t know why I haven’t shared until now.
  • I love parents and kids being creative together. This dad does colouring on his kids’ sketches and the results are super cool.
  • What’s the biggest organism on earth? This is an interesting look at a variety of ’em.
  • If you enjoy advent calendars, and nerdy information, then this is the website for you! They’re posting a nugget of sciencey goodness tinged with humour every day til the 25th.
  • Speaking of feeling festive and nerdy, how about some Game of Thrones house snowflakes? I’m already thinking about where I can hang some.
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  • Mental Floss cover a bunch of common idioms and their origins:
  • Pretty in love with this Twin Peaks-inspired clothing line, especially this Welcome to Twin Peaks dress. Oh, for the figure that fits in a dress and looks good..
  • NPR put together a sort of ‘concierge’ for the best books of 2013, and oh boy do I need to read more! Jeez. Perhaps I should also check out the Sci-fi picks on Goodreads.
  • Let’s leave on this sweet note of Theo & his puppy napping. I wanna be like Theo.