Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sorry I Summoned Cthulhu

I usually post about books on here, but today I wanted to write about the game Elder SignDavid got it for me this summer and has been trying to get me to play it for months (but I wouldn't let him open it until my birthday).  It's based on the canon created and followed by writers like H.P. Lovecraft.  In the game, you play a group of investigators trying to figure out how to defeat a monster from the canon (by luck of the draw, we got Cthulhu!) by completing tasks to earn Elder Signs.  It's terrifying and you die...a lot.  However, it's also a great game to play with people like David, who usually likes to make things difficult for others, because the game is collaborative.  Rather than being player vs. player, it's players vs. game.

We lost horribly, but we had a lot of fun.  The video above has a few clips from our fight.  Please let me know what you think of the game if you try it!  You can get it here:

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fifty Shades of Cray

My experience with Fifty Shades of Grey was very similar to what I went through reading Twilight.  I picked the first book up out of morbid curiosity, then continued to read with the kind of shocked awe one experiences when staring at a horrific car wreck.  It is sort of appropriate with the book's origins as an AU Twilight smut fic.

Part of me just can't help cringing, not because the book is sexually explicit, but rather because it's often so misinformed.  Part of my summer reading assignment for my volunteer job is a several hundred page manual called The Guide to Getting It On, which is a huge, awesome information resource on sex and sexuality.  The whole time I was reading, I wanted to yell at Christian "Oi, that could cut off her circulation!" or "That material is NOT body safe, you moron" (this is the reason my friends don't bring me with them if they're going into Spencer's anymore).

It also brings up a lot of the same issues that I have with Twilight regarding controlling and abusive relationships.  On one hand, I do appreciate that Fifty Shades is way more up-front about how abnormal Christian's behaviour is.  I appreciate that Ana realizes Christian is a control freak and feels threatened by it at times, whereas Bella sees Edward dictating her every move as sweet and a sign of how much he cares.  However, the way Christian's controlling tendencies are taken as a joke by Ana rather than how seriously they should be taken makes me uncomfortable.

This is not, by the way, a reflection of my feelings on regarding the BDSM community.  As long as both partners' needs are met and there is no serious danger involved, everything is fine and dancy.  However, in Fifty Shades, neither partners' needs are met.  Christian desires dominance over a true submissive, which Ana is not.  There are many people in the community who receive satisfaction from obeying a dominant, but Ana is not and probably never will be one of them.  Ana desires a more traditional relationship, which Christian cannot provide.  So Ana gets pressured into this contract just because she doesn't want to lose any chance of a relationship with Christian.  On the other hand, the relationship that she's so desperately fighting to keep makes her uncomfortable and horribly sad, not to mention the detrimental effects it has on Christian.  This is one of the most self-destructive pairings I've ever seen.

And don't even get me started on the fetishization of virginity in this book.  Ugh.

That being said, is the sex hot?  Sometimes.  Is it amusing?  Often.  Is it hilarious in its awkwardness?  Always.  Will I continue reading?  Yep.

Until next time, happy reading!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Once Upon a Blog


I am finally back. Sorry for the long absences recently, but I've spent a lot of time being ridiculously ill. One of my favourite pastimes when sick is go through all released episodes of a TV show ridiculously quickly. This time, Once Upon a Time was my show of choice, and after the Season One finale, I, as my friend Juliette would say, "just have a lot of feels."  There's something so endlessly fascinating about the way the characters are so familiar and yet completely alien when they are thrust into a magic-free world and a different side to their character is revealed.  It's especially odd to me after taking a class called Adolescent Literature and writing a thesis paper on how differences in similar fairytales reflect differences and similarities in their countries of origin.  What does Once Upon a Time's portrayal of Snow White, the home-wrecker, say about the United States?

I've noticed a huge trend lately in film and television of re-telling and re-purposing old fairy tales.  There are the two vastly different new Snow White movies, Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman.\  Maleficent, which will be out in 2014, continues with Once Upon a Time's MO of turning the stories we know so well inside-out, making the good guys questionable and the bad guys more complicated.  Joining Once Upon a Time on TV is Grimm, also thrusting story book characters into the harsh light of modern day America.

I love these newer retellings because they're so much more detailed.  They ask why the evil characters are evil, then go on to question whether they're really evil at all.  If these newer versions interest you, try reading the original Grimm's Fairy Tales.  The contrast between the original and the newer versions is stark; the bad characters hardly ever have a reason for being bad.  They simply are.  What has spurred this need to know the reason, to blur the line?

What do you think?

Until next time, happy reading!

Monday, February 27, 2012


Hey, look at that!  Me actually keeping a promise!  I am BACK, ladies and gents.  I now know that at least two males will read this, so I can actually say that.  I am LIVING THE DREAM.

Let's talk books, shall we?

I mentioned in my last video the idea of possibly doing a book club.  A few of you seemed interested, so I'm going to do a video about that on my main channel later this week.  I have two ideas for books, so I think we will put it to a vote.


Perhaps it is the fact that I went to sleep at 5:45 AM last night/this morning, but today I want to talk about zombie novels.

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld was probably the first YA zombie novel I read, and it is still one of my favourites.  I love the idea of zombies as a disease spread through kissing.  It's very well thought-out; the idea that there can be carriers for the disease, that being a carrier makes the individual more sexually active.  It's also one of the only zombie novels I've read in which the general public does not know about the outbreak, which I found interesting.

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters is one of my favourite in the genre because of three words: politically correct zombies.  In Generation Dead, teenagers that die aren't staying dead.  They come back to life slightly slower and more numb, but very much conscious.  A recently passed law is allowing those kids to return to the public school system.  As with most public schools, though, there needs to be a more PC term for anyone different.  In Waters' the reanimated teens aren't zombies.  They're living impaired.  Be sure to check out the other books in the series, Kiss of Life and Passing Strange.

Zombies vs. Unicorns is, hands down, my favourite anthology.  Ever.  The stories contained therein are so well-written, especially on the zombie side, that I actually switched teams.  They range from laugh-out-loud comedy to simmering romance to heart-pounding adventure, often within the same story.  These are definitely worth a read.  What team are you on?

If you're upset that John Green is not in Zombies vs. Unicorns, be sure to check out his zombie apocalypse novella, available for free here.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Triumphant Return

Ladies and, well, according to Insight, you're pretty much all ladies, I am back!  If any of you are gentlemen (or gentleboys), I am back for you too, I promise.  I missed you.  How's your aunt doing?  Is that a new haircut?  You look good.  SOrry I went on an unannounced hiatus, but I have returned!  Let's talk books.

This semester, I am taking a course entitled "Adolescent Literature."  I was psyched about the course.  I mean, it is pretty much being graded for what I do every day.  Much to my dismay, the class does not contain much of what I would consider current YA novels.  The most recent book on the syllabus is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (not complaining about getting to analyze HP, by the way).  The more I get into the class and the books, though, the more I like our reading material.  While I'm not sure that every book in the literary canon fully deserves to keep its spot and many contemporary novels deserve a lot more recognition, some classics are classics for a reason.

We started out the year reading Grimm's Fairy Tales.  Now, if you think you know your fairy tales and you haven't read this collection, I urge you to do so.  The version above even has other versions of the tales in the back of the book.  Did you know that, in one version of the story, Red Riding Hood strips for the wolf?  There's way more gore in Cinderella than you might think, and the Virgin Mary is apparently a kidnapper in her spare time.  Enjoy!

Speaking of fantasy tales you thought we read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass next.  I love these books because, while we were reading them, I was going through a particularly stressful time.  One of my favourite things about these books is that it's nearly impossible to worry about real life while reading them.  These topsy-turvy, completely illogical adventures are a form of pure escapism.

The most recent novel we finished was Treasure Island, a high seas adventure story.  I have mixed feelings about the book, but if you like pirate stories, this book is mandatory.  I remember a girl in the class complaining that the pirates in Treasure Island were too stereotypical.  What she didn't realize was that this book is where the stereotypes come from.  It's interesting, it's action- and gore-filled, and it's worth a read.

I hope you enjoy these, and I'll talk to you all next time!

Happy Reading!