rockinlibrarian: (portrait)
It’s time for the yearly roundup, and while 2016 is pretty universally known to have been a pretty crappy year, it’s had its bright spots too. As I’ve done for the past few years, I’ve rounded up events and reviews into Top Five lists for your perusal. It makes for a long post, but I’d love for you to read it, and chime in with comments on anything you see that you agree with, disagree with, or feel enlightened by, because I do these things to talk to people, you know.

First, the materialistic LOOT ROUNDUP.

Top Five Gifts I Got for Christmas
1. $95 in Jo-Ann’s gift cards! Three different cards from three different people: you can never have too many Jo-Ann’s gift cards. I dropped in Wednesday to maybe pick up some fleece to make myself a sweatshirt (since everyone else had nice new ones, see below), and… I ended up paying an additional $4.77 in cash. Oh, Jo-Ann’s.
1a. Oh, my brother got me this sweatshirt, which IS cozy (and snarky) and I am wearing it right now. I’m just going to make me a homemade one, too.

2. A Lego Yellow Submarine! My cousin Herb is a generous dude. Last year he brought me these Yellow Submarine action figures (okay, “action” is stretching it) that he just happened to have lying around. This year, though, he and his wife Karen flat out bought me the new Lego set, just because, as she said, I of all people HAD to have it. I didn’t let the kids build it. I got to build it ALL BY MYSELF.

2a. Relatedly, my sister got me Yellow Submarine refrigerator magnets.

3. Family Membership to the Carnegie Museums! This is obviously for the whole family. When I think how much one day’s admission to the Science Center is, the thought of having the freedom to pop by there or any of the other Carnegie museums any time we want in the next year is mindbogglingly awesome!

4. Agent Carter Season 2! I had searched, looking for the DVD of Season 2 of what I have decided is my FAVORITE TV SHOW EVER (see further below) to put on my wishlist, only to find it had NOT BEEN RELEASED ON DVD AND YOU WONDER WHY THE RATINGS NEVER WENT ANYWHERE ABC YOU SUCK, *ahem* so I put a note on my wishlist saying I WANTED it on DVD if anyone should find it. Well, my mother-in-law found it— in England— freaking Region 2-locked. But I Google-fu-ed it, baby, and found out how to hack our 14-year-old DVD player to be Region Free, and it works! I can watch it whenever I want! …technically. There is the time issue.

5. CDs that have been on my wish list so long I almost forgot they were there! My husband was pretty awesome with my wish list this year. He went WAY back, and got me some things I’ve been waiting on for years. A Shaun Tan book, some gel pens (actually, that was a fairly recent addition to the list), but mostly CDs. I’d put The Nutcracker on there one Christmas long ago, but it was extra awesome this year because Maddie has been learning about it in music class, so we were BOTH excited. The Best of Badfinger, which I’d kind of forgotten was there and given up on it— the library in the next town over, which I technically also belong to because we’re all on the same system, subscribes to the Freegal service which is this awesome thing where patrons can download FIVE FREE SONGS A WEEK, from a lot of totally legit sources. I had tried to get a lot of my favorite Badfinger songs from it, but the ones I found were lousy alternate takes. So, NOW I CAN NEVER-MIND THAT. And finally The United States of America, a classic psych-rock album that I put on my list pre-kids, back when I was actively trying to build my collection of psych-rock. I’ve heard some of it before, but I CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER IT NOW. I know it was pretty heavy-duty psychedelic though, so I promised my family I’d only listen to it when I was home alone. ;)

Top Five Gifts I Gave Other People
1. As you can tell by my un-prudent use of Jo-Ann Gift Cards, I like to sew. I sewed a lot of gifts this year, which is not out of the ordinary: found some awesome material for sweatshirts. But my sister had requested, if it was in my power, a yoga mat bag. I designed it from scratch, and from SCRAPS— the only thing I had to buy were the metal loops to hook the strap to— and it turned out PRETTY AWESOME if I do say so myself. She did love it, at any rate!

2. Tabasco.
I don’t know what inspired my husband to go to the Tabasco website two days before Christmas, but I had to smother a gloat when he cried, “Aw, they don’t even HAVE Tabasco Soy Sauce anymore,” because in fact they DID— I’d had to dig deep in their website to find it, but I already had two bottles of it wrapped up and hiding in my closet. I also got him a big jug of green Tabasco, because our dang grocery stores in this town have stopped selling green Tabasco, and green Tabasco is a STAPLE CONDIMENT. Why on earth would any store not sell it?
2a. Five Below had Tabasco Jelly Bellies. I got him that, too.

3. Sam is a video game addict. It’s pretty bad actually. But the thing he most desperately wanted for Christmas was— well, he SAID an “iPad,” but he really meant any tablet computer he could game on. Kind of rolled my eyes inside every time he insisted it WASN’T too expensive for SANTA… but then on Amazon, around Thanksgiving, when they were doing LIGHTNING DEALS for a few hours over the course of the week, I happened to get on when there was a simple small tablet, not big-name but with decent reviews, for ridiculously cheap. The Santa Claus in me— which already has very little self-control when it comes to buying gifts for the kids— shouted “THERE IT IS, THERE’S YOUR CHANCE,” and the selfish introvert in me chimed in “and then you’ll be able to get all THEIR games off your Nook to make room and also they won’t always be taking it from you!” Only… he has a REALLY bad problem with video game addiction. But dang, lightning deals. I had to get it, THEN decide. Well, finally Santa wrote him a cautionary letter, giving Mommy and Daddy permission to confiscate the tablet if he couldn’t make good choices. And so far, so good. It’s extra-awesome because he got a Minecraft Stop-Motion Movie Making Kit from his grandparents that requires loading the app onto a device, and yay, he doesn’t have to use one of mine! He’s made some cool little movies, too.

4. Speaking of creative pursuits, I made sure to indulge both my children in that area. Sam’s mostly involved Legos— considering getting the Holiday Train set made him literally jump with joy, he probably would have been perfectly content without the tablet! Maddie got a really nice art set, including oil pastels, which she just learned to use (and love) in art class. She also got a roll of self-adhesive chalkboard. Hopefully this will help curb her compulsion to write on the walls.

5. My dad was really pleased with the Easy Piano Selections from Hamilton book I got him (see more Hamilton way below). But while looking at the Hamilton stuff I spotted this T-shirt of a cartoon King George with just the lines “Awesome. Wow,” and it just SCREAMED OUT my brother to me. My brother (who lives at home) mostly just puts up with my parents’ love of Hamilton— which kind of puts him in the King George position— and I’m fairly sure King George STOLE that mildly-sarcastic “Awesome. Wow,” FROM my brother’s vocabulary— and the cartoon illustration was similar to my brother’s own cartooning style. IT HAD TO BE. Even if he may not quite agree with me. I swear, it’s him all over.

Top Five (Biggest, not necessarily Best) Real Life Happenings
1. We went to Disney World! We took the kids for their birthdays in April. I wrote up our Star Wars related experiences at Hollywood Studios for GeekMom, but we also spent two days at EPCOT and one at Magic Kingdom. I wish there was a way I could just post the photobook I made, for you to all see. Wait, let me look that up. Well, I can link you to all our pictures, but there are no captions or other narrative there. Sorry. Drop by and I’ll share the actual book! But the most notable event of the week was that Maddie got sick and we had to make an Urgent Care visit in the middle of the week. As this same thing happened to both her parents in Disney World at about the same age (except there were no Urgent Cares then, we had to do the Emergency Room), we were probably far more amused by this than she was.

2. We also took not one but TWO camping trips this year. We had rain both weekends, but enough not-rain to have fun, too. I have another GeekMom article that tells you sort of obliquely about some of these trips. Also, we broke our tent. Luckily Santa (and a good deal at Cabellas) just got us a new one.

3. Well, I guess I have to say it. Let 2016 be known as the year I actually cared about politics. Now I’m less concerned about politics and more concerned about democracy falling apart around us. You know, whatever. :P

4. Speaking of things falling apart, I am falling apart. I am a complete physical mess. I don’t think I want to go into ALL the personal details (and neither do you want me to), but it’s going to take a lot of work to fix, and most of that work is psychological. At least the wonky knee I had over the summer is finally healed. It’s just been replaced with a wonky wrist and wonky ankle.

5. So I gave you two good things, two bad things: we’ll balance number 5 out and talk about Births and Deaths. Goodness knows there have been a lot of big name celebrity deaths this year, but on the personal side we lost two folks from Jason’s family within a week of each other around Easter. First was his 97-year-old grandmother— the last of either of our grandparents. It was definitely her time. But just a few days later, his aunt from the other side of his family, who had been in the hospital for some other procedure, got an infection that killed her. It was NOT her time, and as she was a person who had always been very PRESENT whenever we saw her, I have to admit I’ve felt her loss more than I’ve felt MimMim’s, even though I saw much less of her.

But there have been more births than deaths in my life this year, most notably from Jason’s sister, whose little boy, my kids’ first (and so far only) First cousin, was born the day AFTER Maddie’s birthday. April is the big party month, all right! They also gained another second cousin, my cousin’s son whom I only met for the first time on Tuesday; and a third cousin, which sounds really far removed but his mother was one of my closest cousins growing up even if she was "just" a second cousin, closer than my first cousins on that side of the family because they were all older than me. In fact the cousin Herb I referred to above is also actually a second cousin, her first cousin. My Great-Aunt Edith’s grandkids were a lot closer to me in age than my own grandmother’s other grandkids were! There were probably more births, too, but these are the only ones I can remember.

But some of the biggest events in my life this year were actually:

Top Five Library Programs I Did

1. There’s no question what’s number one: my midsummer Back to Hogwarts party dominated my summer in the very best way. I kind of walked around in a daze for about a week afterward, wondering what to do with myself.
So the rest, being simple weekly Family Night storytimes, are a little anticlimactic:

2. Trains and Trolleys: I’d asked my regulars to suggest topics for upcoming Family Nights, and this is the one my son, of course, came up with. I read the very cool new book The Secret Subway (see below), and with Sam’s help designed a game where everyone raced to assemble a train before the time ran out. Then I got to pull out one of the toy boxes we’d just made available for checkout: a whole wooden railway set. The kids went nuts.

3. Go Bananas: my daughter’s suggestion had been mildly obnoxious, as bananas are just one of the things she talks about constantly just because she likes the sound of the word. But it really was a good storytime topic. We read lots of good banana books (I really like the Monkey books by C.P. Bloom) and exchanged banana facts (my son still likes to inform people that bananas are radioactive, but you have to eat 400 at once to get radiation poisoning). We played a feed-the-monkey game from another circulating toy box, colored, and ate a variety of banana muffins, which were a great hit, and I had a lot of grownups checking out muffin cookbooks that way…!

4. Pittsburgh: There aren’t a lot of Pittsburgh books of storytime length out there, but I took this, another audience-suggested topic, as a challenge to FIND them. The best I could do was Good Night, Pittsburgh, one of a series of board books that tour various landmarks of different locations around the US (for some reason we also have Good Night, North Carolina in our library and I have no idea why*). Then I read James Warhola’s picture book memoir Uncle Andy's (which mostly takes place in New York City even if it’s about a Pittsburgh family), to tie into our craft project: coloring Pittsburgh icons in the style of native son Andy Warhol’s pop culture silkscreens.

5. Imaginary Friends: I did this one so early in the year I almost forgot it WAS this year. The only book I remember reading now— although there were others— was The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend. Then everyone built their own Imaginary Friends out of junk. And I’m just so pleased by the results.

*But coincidentally, some of our Family Night regulars have family in North Carolina and so were actually excited that we DID have it.

Top 5 2016 Picture Books I Read:
1. Return, by Aaron Becker: Final book in the Journey trilogy of wordless books, so lovely.
2. They All Saw a Cat, by Brendan Wenzel: Simple (in words) and complex (in art) at the same time. A startling and occasionally funny look at perspective.
3. How This Book Was Made, by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex: Mac Freakin’ Barnett. Can he NOT stay off one of these lists for one year? But truthfully, it’s the little ironies Rex puts into the artwork that really make the book.
4. Frank and Lucky Get Schooled, by Lynne Rae Perkins: As a librarian I couldn’t get my head around this book: who is the audience? Younger kids or older kids? Reading out loud or independent reading? But the simple reader in me just kept squealing in joy.
5. The Secret Subway, by Shana Corey and Red Nose Studio: I just love Red Nose Studio and could stare at their work for hours. But the story is an amazing and amusing bit of history, too.
Honorable Mention: The Snurtch, by Sean Ferrell and Charles Santoso: because this book reminded me of Sam and so I wrote a review at GeekMom. It wasn’t a unfailingly positive review but the illustrator tweeted that it was the BEST review because I’d TOTALLY GOT what they’d been trying to do with it, so, that’s pretty awesome.

Top 5 Picture Books From Previous Years I Didn’t Read Until This Year:
1. Count the Monkeys, by Mac Barnett: DARN YOU MAC BARNETT STOP IT. So, my abovementioned second cousin with the new baby, her husband’s family is Chinese, so they had a Full Moon party for the baby. Being that it’s the Year of the Monkey, my mom asked me if I knew any good new monkey books to give them, and I immediately started laughing because all I could think of was this book, and the kid’s not going to appreciate it for a few years, but his parents sure will now. Which, they did.
2. Camilla’s New Hairdo, by Tricia Tusa: Pulled this off the shelf for a Crazy Hair Day Family Night. It’s a delightful twist on Rapunzel where Camilla’s tower-exile is self-imposed, because she’s an introvert who just likes to stay inside and make sculptures out of her hair, until a visitor suggests a new use for it (psst: it’s better than a rope).
3. In a Village by the Sea, by Muon Van and April Chu: oh, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover, but why does this book’s cover have to be so dull? Even the description at that Amazon link makes it sound dull. It totally betrays the humor and wonder on the inside, which is why I’d never bothered to open it up. I’m so glad I actually opened it up, and now if I could just get everyone else to open it up.
4. Trombone Shorty, by Troy Andrews and Bryan Collier: I love this picture book memoir. It’s so musical and full of life and is finally a story I can actually read at Mardi Gras-themed storytimes. Also there's a photograph of of the author as a tiny boy with Bo Diddley which is the absolute best.
5. The Biography of Bananas, by Rachel Eagen: I’m not sure this counts as a picture book? It’s no longer than a picture book, page-wise, and full of pictures, but it’s juvenile nonfiction in a non-narrative collection-of-facts style. But I LOVED it. I started flipping through it when planning the “Go Bananas” Family Night and got completely sucked in. “DID YOU KNOW BANANAS…?” I kept wanting to tell anyone in earshot. That’s why, although the book would be too long to read at storytime, I DID incorporate sharing banana facts into the program! (Okay, here's my favorite that the kids didn't appreciate as much: did you know bananas don't grow on trees? They're actually soft-stemmed HERBS?)

Top 5 Longer-than-Picture-Books I Read For The First Time This Year. Period.
The great thing is, I still don’t get much read on my own, but lately my kids and I have been reading books together, afresh, so I’m getting a lot of new ones in as I share them with them. All but two of the following were family read-alouds.

1. When the Sea Turned to Silver, by Grace Lin. Also Starry River of the Sky. I thought my kids would enjoy When the Mountain Meets the Moon* in our nightly read-aloud, and they did, but I hadn’t read the other two books yet and they were even better. But When the Sea Turned to Silver really hit me deep inside, when we started it just days after the election and found it was about a storyteller’s shy granddaughter who worries she’s not Enough, and her grandmother says she’s NOT worried because she knows the girl will finally Take Action when action is needed, and then everyone is fearing this tyrannical new emperor who wants to build a great wall against invaders. And I was like, whoa, I don’t think this has happened since I was much, much younger, that I’ve read a book that I so identified with at exactly the right time. It’s a wonderful feeling to have again.

2. A Tangle of Gold, by Jaclyn Moriarty. Gosh I love Jaclyn Moriarty. The final book in the well-named “Colours of Madeleine” trilogy is just as convoluted and original and wonderful as the rest. I want more! I suppose I will settle for whatever unrelated thing she comes out with next. Apparently she's working on one about pirates.

3. Horns and Wrinkles, by Joseph Helgerson. As the kids and I were discussing what book we might want to read together next, Sam kept suggesting the book his teacher was reading them in school. “It’s really good!” he said— and he’s not normally one to enthuse about books! So it boggled my self-righteous children's librarian mind that I’d never heard of it, if it's so good. So I requested it and it WAS really good-- further review about halfway down this post, just one of those small mid-listers that didn’t make much of a splash and faded away— the year BEFORE I took over collection development. So that’s why I hadn’t heard of it. Thanks, Sammy’s teacher!

4. The Hamster Princess series, by Ursula Vernon. Honorable mention to Castle Hangnail, which is a book truly in the spirit of Eva Ibbotson and the like. But the Hamster Princess books are even MORE fun. They’re dialogue-heavy (FUNNY, character-ful dialogue) and just SO much fun to read out loud. Harriet isn’t just your stereotypical anti-damsel princess (isn’t it funny that that’s a stereotype now), but quite a funny, often flawed character who is inexplicably obsessed with fractions.

5. The Shepherd's Crown, by Terry Pratchett. Finally read the very last, and it FELT like a swan song. Like a beautiful swan song giving us reassurance and direction in how to go on without our wise and irreplacable mentors (like the author). Then the Afterward kind of ruined that by telling us Pratchett HAD planned more books he might tackle after it, should he last that long. I still prefer to think of it as a very deliberate swan song. Another Between the Bookends review, at the very bottom.

Honorable Mention: Dog Man, by Dav Pilkey. It’s another of George and Harold’s ridiculous comic books, and the premise (a police dog and policeman are surgically grafted together to make one SUPER POLICE OFFICER!) is downright disturbing. But oh, Dav Pilkey, my first author crush, you sure know how to make a gal laugh. And I love reading the evil cat villain’s lines out loud.

*I thought I'd devoted a post to When the Mountain Meets the Moon when I read it, but instead I found it as just part of this insanely massive list-- how was I READING so much back then? I had both kids by then!-- so I promise my review is, um, SOMEWHERE in that link.

Top Five Music-Related Things
1. Hamilton: How does a hip-hop, Broadway, soundtrack to a far-off play, buzzed on the internet ‘til I had to google-play it, somehow entrance a million listeners without a hope of seeing it? It’s just good (better than I can do). First, being that it was originally conceived as a concept album rather than a play, the whole story is there— it would be awesome to see in person, but just listening to the soundtrack tells you a complete story, so you get thoroughly invested. Second, I was skeptical of the “hip-hop musical” label, because I don’t really like rap music, and the idea of an entire show being rapped sounded really dull— but ACTUALLY, a, there are plenty of fully-sung songs in the show, in a wide variety of styles too: I can totally imagine “Burn” in the book of soprano showtune-solos I used at singing lessons as a teenager, and “The Room Where It Happens” is a showstopper for the ages. And b, the rap that IS there totally fits in the structure of musical theater— it functions as recitative does in opera, or a Greek chorus, or Shakespeare, really. It makes you wonder why it hasn’t been done all along. Anyway, I can’t help it, I’ve listened to the dang thing over and over and over again this year. Maddie even chimes in quoting it sometimes.

2. Parry Gripp: So various actual songs pop up in the background of Roblox, the online game world the kids have been super into this year, and one of them was called “Raining Tacos.” It was short, cheesy, highly electronic, and relentlessly catchy. We all (except Jason, who just thinks it’s annoying) found ourselves singing along enthusiastically whenever it came on, and finally I said, “Who sings this song? Is it the people who do ‘Everything Is Awesome’?” And I looked it up. It was NOT the people who do “Everything Is Awesome,” but instead this Parry Gripp guy (that is not his natural voice, I assume. It is quite sped up), who had been releasing short cheesy highly electronic and relentlessly catchy songs online weekly a few years back. I don’t know what it is: they’re stupid songs, they should be obnoxious, but somehow they’re just cheerfully catchy instead. It’s kind of similar to They Might Be Giants, but stupider and yet more musically pleasing. We all (except Jason) fell in love. We burst out singing “Space Unicorn” and “Breakfast Burrito,” and I for one tend toward “Cat Licking Your Birthday Cake,” at odd moments. I bought the kids a CD for Christmas, signed "from Mommy, definitely not Daddy."

3. Google Play lists: I don’t know if I discovered Songza last year or the year before, but it was this cool streaming service that let you pick from various “stations” based on your mood or what you were doing. This year it got bought out by Google. Luckily, the “concierge” is still there, now in Google Play Music. But Google Play Music is also where you can BUY music, Hamilton for example. And if you already have a Google account anyway, which I do, and it’s already logged in, which it is because I use Chrome, it’s like, THERE, accessible from any device, whatever you buy from them and whatever your recent listens were. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE: you can also UPLOAD your own music to store in the cloud there, and then you have ALL your music accessible from anywhere. AND THERE’S STILL MORE, because you can put all that music into your own playlists to play wherever. For example, I put a whole bunch of movie themes and kid-fun songs (”Raining Tacos” is on it) on a “Lego Club Mix” list, which I often play on my phone in the background at Lego Club! I LOVE you, Google Play Music!

4. Re-”discovering” music I haven’t heard in years: Google Play also allowed me to buy one of my favorite albums from childhood, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, and it’s still awesome, and I totally get a lot more out of it now than I did when I was twelve. Then on Freegal (see— somewhere above), I found a band I discovered through a much older streaming service about a decade back, Apples in Stereo, and oh gosh I forgot how wonderful they could be! Now, I still haven’t gotten to listen to my new United States of America CD yet, but if that turns out awesome instead of completely unlistenable, then I guess it fits in this spot, too.

5. I don’t know if I’m allowed to admit this as a person over 30, but I actually rather like Twenty-One Pilots. They’re not perfect, and although my son loves listening to “Heathens” over and over I probably like that one LEAST, but they have a creative streak that I see a lot of promise in, if they keep working and don’t settle. I’m interested to see where they go.

Top Five TV Shows I Watched, Whether or Not I Watched Them On TV:
1. Agent Carter: DUH. IT IS MY FAVORITE TV SHOW EVER AND I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY THE REST OF THE WORLD DIDN’T GET THAT, OR WHY ABC TOTALLY LET IT DIE OFF INTO OBLIVION, OR WHY THEY DIDN’T RELEASE IT ON DVD IN NORTH AMERICA AS PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED. But I’ve written about most of this before. Here’s a link to the EnneaType-based Defense of PeggySous I wrote on Tumblr once as well, though.

2. Agents of SHIELD: is still my favorite regular-still-on-regularly TV show, even if my husband gave up on it. I enjoy how it’s never predictable, but not in an out-of-nowhere way. I enjoy how complicated it is, and how once when Jason asked me what had been happening since he left I kept backtracking and saying, “wait, you don’t know about THAT yet, either.” And I enjoy Mack’s thorough adoption of the shotgun-axe as a signature weapon. Mack needs his own comic book.

3. Drunk History: I in fact only watched this twice this year, in two separate long binges. The first time was through clips on YouTube. The second was when I discovered that the website actually streams full episodes, so I caught up on everything I hadn’t seen on YouTube (I was sick that week). It seems stupid. But what I love about this show is that it’s pure storytelling. The tellers love the stories so much that they’re SO DETERMINED to get them out no matter how out of touch with their own facilities they get. It’s enthusiastic and messy and all about stories, stories that are TRUE so can you believe it how wonderful ARE they hold on a minute while I try not to barf.

Hmm, this is where I get stuck, the possible finally slots are less clear.
4. Oh, the Sherlock Holiday Special was actually this year. ON NEW YEAR’S DAY. Season 4 friggin’ starts tomorrow. NEXT YEAR.

5. How about The Hamilton Documentary? Or the Olympics, particularly that Mario bit Japan did in the Closing Ceremonies? How about the good episodes of the X-Files revival? Or the various clips of Last Week Tonight I caught online? I don’t know, maybe any of them.

Top Five Movies I Saw This Year Whatever Year They Came Out.
I don’t think I’ve seen any movies in the theater this year. We were going to go see Rogue One today, but Jason ended up having to work.
Um, I don’t know how to rank any of these. I’ll just put them in alphabetical order:

Captain America Civil War: I still dig the MCU, though I wish the movies would acknowledge the TV shows a bit. Like it just didn’t feel right to have someone different playing Howard Stark. Also Martin was in this one. I mean not a major part, but he was there.
Deadpool: gosh, he’s obscene and violent but darnit if he isn’t funny. I am always about the meta-humor (see above reference to Mac Barnett who won’t get off my picture book lists).
I Am Big Bird: a documentary I’ve wanted to see for awhile because I’m a geek that way. It was lovely. Caroll Spinney does not cause me disillusionment. DID YOU KNOW HE ALMOST WENT UP ON THE CHALLENGER ON ITS LAST FLIGHT? CAN YOU IMAGINE THE INTERNATIONAL UTTER AND COMPLETE TRAUMA THAT WOULD HAVE CAUSED?!
The Martian: “You know the book was written by Andy Weir?” I pointed out to Jason many times. Because his middle name is Andrew. And his last name is Weir. Anyhoo, I’m never sure how interesting stories about solitary people stranded will be, but this was definitely well-done. Also, Troy from Community was in it. I mean Donald Glover. But I was totally all “IT’S TROY!” and Jason was like “okay whatever” and I was like “LOOK IT’S TROY AGAIN!”… I miss Community so bad.
Minions: kids got this one out of the library. I was ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED by the classic Brit-rock soundtrack. Also it was pretty funny for grownups, too.
X-Men Apocalypse: Have I mentioned I love X-Men storylines? I do. I’m reminded of it every time. And James McAvoy is still a beautiful, beautiful man.
That’s six. But I’m pretty sure that’s all the movies I’ve seen this year, and like I said, I can’t really rank them to figure out which one to drop off.

Top Five Celebrity Deaths That Moved Me The Most

In April I think—April!—I read an article that explained why it seems like there’s been a glut of celebrity deaths this year. Basically, the people who became famous once TV became ubiquitous and rock music became classic—which means MORE people became famous and STAYED famous over time—are now all reaching That Age. Which doesn’t mean there weren’t a lot of people taken far too soon as well, but in general. There were a lot of people I admired who kicked the bucket this year, but to make this list, their death had to AFFECT ME in more than just a “how sad” way:

1. Carrie Fisher: This yearly round-up is too long for me to write from scratch on December 31: a basic outline’s been hanging out in Scrivener for awhile. When Carrie Fisher had a heart attack last week, the jolt it gave me made me go, “Whelp, if she didn’t make it, it’s clear now who would’ve been number one on THAT list.” And then she didn’t. *long shuddery sob* Gosh. I remember looking at a copy of Postcards From the Edge as a child and, stuck in my youthful black-and-white morality, it just bewildered me. How could a book about movie stars with drug problems be funny? But over time, certain things became clearer: first, Carrie Fisher found her true calling AFTER she’d brought to life one of the most iconic movie characters of all time: she was not an actor who dabbled in writing, she was a writer who dabbled in acting. As a writer, that tickled me. Second, I finally got over the black-and-white morality, and I GOT it. Here was someone who struggled with so many horrible things, but instead of letting them eat her up, or playing a blame game, she fought them with humor. Like the subtitle of The Bloggess’s most recent book, “a funny book about horrible things.” Jenny Lawson in fact posted about Fisher’s inspiration on her, which brings us to number three, and most important: Fisher wasn’t afraid to talk about her problems. Her frank and funny bravery helped destigmatize mental illness, making it easier for others to speak up, get help, and stop hiding. One act of bravery spawns others. It helped Jenny Lawson speak up. It helped me.
Oh, also, fourthly: Gary.

2. Lois Duncan: With so much celebrity mourning going around, it seriously bugged me that this woman who had had such a formative role in my early adolescence was not quite famous enough to be showered with hundreds of gushing online eulogies. So I wrote my own.

3. Anna Dewdney: Confession: I don’t actually care much for the Llama Llama books. But Dewdney, who died far too soon of cancer and knew she was going, had especially requested that, in lieu of a funeral, everyone simply read a book to a child in her memory. And every time I read about that I would turn into a sobbing pile of blubber.

4. Ron Glass: This is totally a case of conflating an actor with their character. Aside from his guest appearance on Agents of SHIELD as a doctor on the TAHITI Project, the only thing I knew Ron Glass for was Shepherd Book. But when I heard he’d died, right in the midst of all the political turmoil, it was an instant gut-punch. Hit me way harder than I ever would have expected. Not our Shepherd, my brain couldn’t help thinking, we NEED him. We need his calm, wise guidance so badly right now! But I guess that’s what always happens to the Wise Old Mentor just before the Hero needs to knuckle down and save the day.

5. George Martin: As the great producer who shepherded the Beatles to Timeless and Influential Art, George Martin might have easily been number one on this list, had he not been 90 years old. When someone makes it to 90, you can’t really mourn their death. You just have to celebrate their life.

Honorable Mentions: You might ask who my number 5 was on this list before this past Tuesday. To be honest, I hadn’t settled on number 5 yet. At the most recent count I was waffling between Prince and Gene Wilder, and then the question became moot. So right. I also miss Prince and Gene Wilder, too. And lots of other people, but those two were farthest up the “affecting me with their death” list.

Top Five GeekMom Posts of Mine That Weren't Linked To Already In This Post (there were a lot, make sure you didn't miss 'em)
Since I officially became a Core Contributer this year (although they still haven’t changed this on the masthead— no matter, I still get paid), there are a lot more to choose from than last year.
1. Gonna cheat and give you a two-parter for number one. Diane Duane shared my post "Madeleine L'Engle On Courage From Stories," which was not only incredibly squeeish, but also gave it a LOT OF HITS. Less people then saw my follow-up, "Dispelling the Myth of Myth," which is a shame because I think it's even better, so there.
2. I've wanted to write this "Navigating Reading Levels Without Letting Them Sink You" post since, like, before I even wrote for GeekMom. I mean you'll probably recognize bits of it.
3. I was probably more fascinated with my "Enneagram: a Practical Personality Type System" than anyone else, but it was a lot of fun pairing each type up with famous characters. Makes it a lot easier to understand the basics of each type, too, I think.
4. "The House of Chaos: Surviving Family ADHD." Still relevant. Still SOOO relevant.
5. And finally, I got to give Billy 'Arrison a great big shoutout in "Comics vs. Superheroes: Notes From a 'Fake Geek Girl'."

Top Five Personal LiveJournal Posts That Weren't Linked to Already In This Post
Did less here, but, you know.
1. I DID already link to this, but I just want to reiterate the classic phrase "rabid weasel that slipped in through the mail slot." More heartfeltly, this is why I will never be happy about this year's political mess.
2. But of course, there's one way to cope: we all need a Samwise. Or is that, to BE a Samwise?
3. I don't want including this post to look like I'm tooting my horn about being an Ally, because I really love it because it's a loving tribute to two of my very best friends.
4. Here's an excerpt from the memoirs I started writing in college about college, about LITERARY ANALYSIS.
5. I was torn between "Unpleasant Histories" and the one about Sesame Street which is already linked to in an already linked to post, so I'll go with the first.
So yay! I hope you've stuck with me through this long, long post! Drop me a comment!
Identity URL: 
Account name:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
HTML doesn't work in the subject.


If you are unable to use this captcha for any reason, please contact us by email at

Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of people who comment anonymously.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.


rockinlibrarian: (Default)

December 2018

23242526 272829
30 31     

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Apr. 19th, 2019 09:20 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios