this is my culture man, this is my home.

Tags

, , , , , , ,

This past weekend marked a few firsts in my life, all revolving around music and concert-going. 2017 is the year of the “real me” and my goal is to pepper the year with new experiences and adventures outside my comfort zone. I recognize that a few of the things I did were firsts for people when they were teenagers. I was only concerned with school and grades as a teenager. I got a great GPA in everything but social skills and having fun.

Frank Turner show 2018 in #yeg #frankturner opening for the #arkells

A post shared by Kat (@xanister) on

Last year I bought a ticket for a concert featuring Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls opening and the Arkells headlining in Edmonton this month. This was less than a year after I saw Frank and the Souls for the first time.  Also less than a year after I went to my first concert by myself.

Frank and the Arkells have been touring together in the US and as the Arkells are better known here it was decided Frank would open. I hadn’t heard of the Arkells (despite their Canadian-ness), but a quick youtube search revealed music that was pretty good. Frank’s set was only going to be an opening act which is not long enough for me so, despite my overly cautious nature I bought a ticket to the show in Calgary about a 3.5-4 hour drive from where I live with no idea how I was going to get there or where I was going to stay. When I chickened out on posting to the music facebook groups I belong to for either a ride or a floor to stay on I knew what I had to do. I bought a bus ticket and a hotel room for a night. All this for a concert I was going to see the night before. Frank Turner & the Souls are by far my favourite band so if I was going to do this for any band it would be them.

Part of putting myself out there is occasionally asking someone else to lock the door behind me to make sure I actually go through with it. I covered any reasons I might use to say I couldn’t go. Stuff in Calgary was paid for in advance. I reached out to a friend I had made at a previous Frank Turner concert who I hadn’t really spoken to in a year and asked if she wanted to be gig buddies at the Edmonton concert. She said yes. I also reached out to a different friend and offered to split the cost of the hotel room if she wanted to spend some time in Calgary. She said yes, although she wasn’t going to the concert.

I waited in line (with my awesome gig buddy!) for over four hours to get a good spot at the Edmonton concert (thankfully we waited inside). I had a comfortable spot just behind a row of people at the barricade surrounded by people who had to google who Frank Turner was before he came on stage. Gig buddy and I danced and sang our hearts out and ignored the confused stares.

I got lost twice looking for the line to get into the Calgary show, the BMO centre and surrounding buildings are so confusing, but I asked strangers to help me and eventually found my way. I waited in line for two hours OUTSIDE in -20C weather to get in. This time I had a goal: to not hold back. For the first time I got a spot in the crowd that was in the center, not along the sides or at the barricade. It felt like skating and not holding onto the rails, still a little unstable but the only way to get better. A year ago I would NEVER have done this, you are surrounding by people and based on past shows I had seen, this is where moshing and slam dancing starts.

Opener: Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, show 2019. #frankturner #yyc

A post shared by Kat (@xanister) on

Two songs into the set, five bigger guys pushed in so they were closer to the middle in front of me. I spoke up (politely but assertively) between songs to the tall guy in front of me after he almost elbowed me in the face twice. His elbow was unfortunately at my nose level. I asked him to just watch his elbow when he was dancing, he did without a word or a fuss. It’s amazing how just speaking up accomplishes things. Now (mostly) surrounded by people who were there to see Frank, I sang and just let my heart and soul pour out.

And I still believe that everyone
Can find a song for every time they’ve lost, and every time they’ve won.
(I Still Believe)

Now I only mention these guys were bigger (close to twice my size) because they could have blocked my view or been complete jackasses at any time and physically there’s little I could have done except move or get security. Except they wanted the same thing I did, to see Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls perform and let off some energy. I found myself not worrying if I looked “punk” enough. Afterwards I realized I also didn’t care if they “accepted” me as long as they respected my space. This is huge for me because I always care what others think.

I was my loud singing, punching the air, dancing self and after a song I realized I wasn’t just the short girl standing outside their group, they had moved out of my way a bit instead of just standing in front of me. There was moshing and slam dancing and I joined in. My first time being in the center of it instead of just viewing it from an second level. I have bruises, but I had so much fun. Everyone was looking out for each other, one of the guys, who sounded a bit younger than me, but still taller than me checked in once to see if I was alright when a shove was a little harder than I expected and I didn’t immediately jump back into it. When I nodded I was he didn’t ask again, but it was cool he checked in.There was a level of respect and common sense for those twenty or so minutes that I didn’t see outside the crowd for the rest of the evening. (In fact an idiot grabbed my ass AFTER I left the crowd and then took off. I told security and went back to having fun.)

I made a point of looking out for the younger and smaller girls behind me who wanted nothing to do with slam dancing/moshing. That was fine with me, they were clearly there for the Arkells and seemed irritated and bothered by us and the music in general. All they cared about, and I heard them talk about it throughout the whole set, was just wanting to get a better spot for when the Arkells came on. I was on the edge of the group so I did my best to not let it go any further than me. When I talked to them after the set and made sure everything was cool they were a lot nicer than I expected. They thanked me for not involving them and for making sure they were OK. They didn’t expect me to be so nice. Judging a book by its cover doesn’t get anyone anywhere. After Frank’s set I practiced self-care and removed myself from the crowd to drink water and get my heart rate down. I had already seen the Arkells in Edmonton and the girls behind me were very happy to take my spot.

We’re not trying to shape the world so people think like us,
We just want our own space to dance, no favours no fuss. (Four Simple Words)

It was everything I wanted. I won’t say that I know much about punk shows other than what I’ve experienced at the few I’ve been to. I’ve never been in a circle pit or a designated mosh pit and I’ve never done a wall of death. I hope if I ever do that the other people are as respectful and punk as the guys at the Calgary show. Frank is big on saying over and over that we make up a community and need to look after each other. Treating others properly is good gig etiquette and gig etiquette is almost entirely common sense, respect and remembering to look out for each other.

Even at the back of the room, I had a great view for the Arkells to test Frank on his Springsteen karaoke knowledge.

I know it’s possible that for all the fun and good times I was having, someone else could have been having an awful time. I hope that isn’t the case, and for now I’ll keep promoting and donating to Safe Gigs for Women and hopefully, someday a North American off-shoot.

Show 2018, Edmonton AB

A post shared by Frank Turner (@frankturner) on

Show 2019, Calgary.

A post shared by Frank Turner (@frankturner) on

Self Care: A Happy Things Post

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hey there reader, doing OK? I know a lot of crap is going on right now regardless of where you live. Some places have it worse than others. We need to stand together, there’s a reason #resist and #persist have been trending on twitter and people are striking out to make sure their voices are heard.

However, self care is important. Pepsi agrees.

file-2017-02-02-10-13-33-pm

With all that anger and sadness in the world I find myself posting pictures of fluffy animals and silly fangirly things to try to help those that just need a break. It’s not meant to take away from the serious stuff going on; it’s important to keep fighting, but if you don’t have a light break once in a while the darkness is harder to hold back.

So I bring you a “Happy Things Post”. Like on Verity! These are things making me happy in the world right now. They’re from different fandoms and some will indeed be blushingly fangirly. Some are old and only now grabbing my attention. No shame people. No shame. Just happiness. Let these happy things inspire you to find your own or share in mine.

Things Making Me Happy:
Hodge Podge Edition

(not the soup kind, the variety kind)

My new haircut – I love it and it makes me feel way more like me than long hair ever did.

For those interested in my new haircut… not a huge change 🙂

A post shared by Kat (@xanister) on

Green & Black’s Hot Chocolate Drink

Doesn’t contain milk as an actual ingredient but it’s manufactured in a facility that also processes dairy so it might not be vegan. Hot drinks are best.

413hufgzxtl-_sx425_

Mixed with vanilla almond milk, omg so tasty.

Frank Turner’s new song “The Sand in the Gears” It’s political but empowering.
We can’t just spend the next four years in a safe space / I’m going to spend the next four years getting outraged

Learn to play mandolin is really making me happy. I still suck a lot but the notes sound like notes! I can play chords and scales. (Secret: If I commit to this I’m letting myself get a bass guitar.) Goals and rewards.

Podcasts

Verity! Extra: In Defence of… The Gavel Edition

verityextraido6

And not just because [SPOILER] I win, but because it was fun and stretches the brain muscles.

Hi My Name is Mark Podcast

1200x630bf

EP #004 – What the hell is a Matt Skiba?
EP #009 – The Feldmann Interview

Remember how I said there was some older stuff on here? Here it is. There were thirty four episodes released on iTunes of this podcast prior to what now shows as episode one, but they were lost to the great iTunes scourge. (Copies do exist if you google.)

While all nine, ranging from 2014 to six months ago are great I highly recommend starting at either episode 9 or episode 4.

Things I love about this podcast: it’s a great introduction to music I might otherwise look over and interviews with the bands that play it. Their older podcasts were “enhanced” with pictures as you listened, now they just provide tons of pictures and show notes on the website. It’s super funny, crass and has lots of swearing. Episode 9 goes into producing music and episode 4 talks to Matt Skiba and his thoughts on joining Blink 182. It’s so different from the Doctor Who podcasts I listen to that it makes for a great change of pace. Also, Mark Hoppus’ voice is dreamy. 

Conventions!

Gallifrey One: 28 Years Later

I’m always excited when Gally comes along, but this year I get to interview three amazing actors: Danny Webb, Gareth David-Lloyd & Naoko Mori. Plus I get to be on three amazing panels including the Verity! panel. This will be my busiest Gally yet! If you will be at the convention, come and see me! Check out an interview or panel or just say hello!

Doctor Who – Black Orchid

200tumblr_ndsygoaxbr1th7h16o8_2505ep11who13wh0fv8

Chris and I watched Black Orchid for the Terence Dudley miniscope episode of Radio Free Skaro coming this Sunday. Those gifs pretty much summarize the episode. Dance, Adric eats, cricket and then a smattering of plot happens. It’s what makes the episode so glorious because it would never work for New Who today AND it’s got a nice crowded TARDIS (which is how I like my TARDIS teams, plentiful and good at Maths.)

TUMBLR/YOUTUBE

Aside from being Canadian, the Modernettes have/had a lot going for them. I love all their songs. The thing that really gets my attention is their female bass player, Mary Jo Kopechne. I’ve been wanting to learn bass and her playing is a big inspiration for that.

Okay, last but not least this video has inspired multiple gifsets and kind of encapsulates what I’m really enjoying about Blink 182. Chemistry, fun, good song and two grown men being dorks on stage. There’s a Collegehumor sketch about bass players being boring on stage there’s a reason Mark Hoppus is the lecturer in that. He is skipping around when he’s not singing. SKIPPING. It’s adorable! If the day should ever come that I’m even briefly in a band, I wanna be that person.

Is there something you’re turning to when you need a little lift up? A favourite tea, book or  playlist? Share in comments!

dalekpep2

BellLetsTalk Day

Tags

, , , ,

Mental health & illness is something near and very dear to my heart. Every year on this day people talk and share about their own experiences with mental health, in hopes that it maybe helps someone. Here goes…

I have rapid cycling type II bipolar disorder, anxiety & panic attacks. That diagnosis are labels that I live with just like I’m also a big sister, a daughter, a partner, and a Maritimer. Like other diseases I take meds everyday and I will never be cured.

Thanks to the meds there are long spells of “level” when everything is going fine (like right now) and I worry when and how will it end? Because it will end. There will be a high or a low, dampened by the sum of little everyday things (meds everyday, talk therapy once a week) that keep me from going too high or too low, but enough to disrupt my normal life. Being type II I’m more likely to go low (depressed), rather than high (manic).

It means I have to be responsible for myself when it comes to situations that could stress me, whether good or bad stress and walk away before it gets to be too much. This disorder has meant that I have to talk about my problems as soon as they start whether that’s with those people I care about or with professionals or else they can spin out of control.

Bipolar or not, talking about your problems and taking care of yourself is a v. good thing, but please talk and listen all year round, instead of just one day because a company agrees to give money to charity. #BellLetsTalk

This song still makes me sad. “Please tell Mom this is not her fault,” gets me every time.

Turquoise Flavour, You Know Dirty Ocean Flavour.

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

I try not to make New Years resolutions. This year I made two promises to myself.

  1. I would make more of an effort to stretch my wings with things I enjoy. Sometimes I’ll be the only one that wants to go to those concerts. That’s OK. That shouldn’t stop me.
  2. I would embrace being a fangirl and write about things I’m super excited about in this blog. I may feel it’s a silly post and it’s rambly, but someone might learn about a new thing and learn they like it!

So, that said…

I’ve been fangirling over Blink 182.
large
-exhales-

I’ve been holding back fangirling publicly about this band. Avoiding talking about the great videos I’ve watched, how amazing the new album is or how they left in Travis saying “ah!” when he thought he screwed up the opening of the first song. (0:37 in)

So here’s your warning:

VIDEOS AND GIFS AND FANGIRLING THOUGHTS AHEAD.

In part I worried because for some stupid reason I actually worry how other people will see me and judge my taste in music. It’s also because I really, really adored the band when I was younger and told myself to stop liking them because it was “immature” and “not real music…” (Honestly, I thought listening to Linkin Park was cool, I knew nothing.)

atst-klip-parodieIn high school I would watch their music videos on Much Music (Canada’s MTV) and the interviews they would use to promote the Warped Tour. I fangirled before I knew what fangirling was because tattoos, guitars*, and cute guys being dorks were essentially the best group of things for me at that age (and to a point now if I’m honest). I’m pretty sure Tom DeLonge’s lip ring was the first lip ring I ever saw. I read that he did for the lip ring what Slash did for top hats. Lots of people got them after he did.

Their videos were always interesting. They made fun of cheesy boy band videos, gave away money, and did videos naked.

They bantered in interviews and on stage like good friends, something I would come to appreciate with NOFX as well. Banter is important. Their songs also had two things I required in a good song: clever and catchy.

Then grade eleven came and my priorities turned to grades and only listening to the music my boyfriend at the time wanted to listen to. I stopped watching Much Music as living in a small town in the Maritimes without access to a vehicle meant every mention of the Warped Tour was like a stab in my heart, reminding me I’d never get to go**. I heard music and I would recite lyrics, but the songs didn’t click. So I ignored music. That’s why I say I wasn’t into music as a kid, my heart wasn’t in it. -cue aww-

Fast forward to loving punk music in Edmonton and I get an email from Ticketmaster that Blink 182 were coming to Edmonton as part of their new album tour. They were still together?

2016 was not the year for stretching my wings. Here are the bullshit excuses I used as to why I didn’t get tickets:
– I didn’t know anything about their new album
– I hadn’t listened since I was a teenager ergo, I wouldn’t know any songs!
– I’d be at the back!
– They were too expensive! (They really weren’t)

Those are awful excuses. However, true to the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon I happened upon Travis Barker’s autobiography “Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums” when I was looking at punk biographies. The book is fantastic, I didn’t know he had been in a plane crash or the extent of his injuries. It made me realize I knew NOTHING about him, just that he was the drummer for Blink.

The tales in the book about joining Blink and playing shows made me regret not going to the concert. Teenage me would have freaked out at the thought that she could have gone and didn’t. I thought maybe it was time to give it a listen? Spotify introduced me to the new album (and the stuff I had missed between Take off Your Pants and Jacket and now). I was surprised, the new album: California was great and it sounded grown up, while still sounding like the same band I loved so much when I was younger. It didn’t sound exactly the same, but my uneducated ear assumed it was just the 15 years difference.

Tumblr, however, broke the news that this wasn’t the same Blink 182 from my teenage years. The tags and some googling explained Tom DeLonge wasn’t in the band anymore, instead the spot was filled by Matt Skiba (of Alkaline Trio and recently of NOFX videos I had been watching as he’s friends with Fat Mike). I found myself upset about it. The band was the three of them, why didn’t they start ANOTHER band instead of going on with the same name. I knew about some of the ups and downs the band went through from Travis’s autobiography and the off-shoot bands had different names such as Boxcar Racer (Tom & Travis) with only two of the three members. It didn’t matter if they sounded good, it wasn’t the same. Then I had an epiphany – Katrina feels entitled to her opinion, but thankfully doesn’t express it to the world because she couldn’t tell the difference on the new album in the first place.

If you can see the similarities to the Doctor regenerating here: good.

tumblr_mcoddacfae1qf8tvdo1_400

Truth is, bands break up and reform and lose/gain members all the time. The way the band is now is pretty damn good. I’ve done some Youtube hunting and hearing Matt Skiba play songs from Enema of the State (my favourite of their albums), it’s easy for me to nitpick the mistakes or comment how he doesn’t sound like Tom. Just like Capaldi doesn’t talk about jelly babies the same way Baker did. It seems so obvious, of course he doesn’t, he’s a different person. The important thing is he seems to care about getting the songs right and the chemistry on stage is fantastic. Their music videos aren’t quite as crazy as they used to be, but this one is really good:

I’ll leave you with a live show I found and enjoyed, that has some talky bits in between songs. It’s professionally shot and you can see what I mean about Skiba doing his own thing and Mark checking in, which is something he did on stage with Tom too.

I just wish Skiba would walk away from the mic once in a while.


*It didn’t hurt that I had a huge crush on a guy who played guitar in my high school.
**There was one year it was in Woodstock or Fredericton, New Brunswick and it was the only time I ever considered ditching school and hitchhiking somewhere.
Title comes from an interview Matt Skiba did, where he said a song added “Turquoise Flavour”

Some of Us, We Have Tattoos…

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

In July 2003, I got my first tattoo.

I was 16 years old, worried more about school than anything else and I wanted to “rebel” safely. My stepfather’s brother (step-uncle, I guess?) has a tattoo shop* so he did it in just under an hour. There wasn’t any hesitation, I knew straight away that I wanted a wolf on the back of my shoulder. I picked out a friendly looking wolf from a big book of flash art on the shop’s coffee table. The only alterations I requested was for it to be coloured to match a character named Salvaged Eternity I had created for a play-by-post roleplaying game. The wolf had brown, white and black fur with bright green eyes which I thought looked far better than the black and white wolf with red eyes in the book.

Due to my age my mother came with me to sign the parental consent form. True to her style she didn’t protest my getting a tattoo and actually got her first one a week before. A mother dragon clutching two eggs with name and my little brothers on them. I don’t think she stayed the whole time I got mine, I may have asked her to go. This would start a trend of always getting tattoos alone. I won’t lie, it hurt like hell. I remember my step-uncle having a heavy hand, this is now compared to the three other tattoo artists I’ve gotten inked by since then. Whether this is because of my age I can’t say. I do know I almost “whited out” about halfway through. Apparently this is the precursor to fainting, but all I needed was a very cold hand on the back of my neck and time to breathe.

The only picture I have of this tattoo.

I had known something was happening before it did, and I was too full of myself to tell him I needed a breather (another reason people under 18 shouldn’t get tattoos). I maintain that it was the spot that he was tattooing at that time that caused it, I have bony shoulder blades and the less flesh on a spot the more it can hurt. The rest of the tattoo went by without incident, thankfully, and I was left with a piece that I’m still proud of. I still judge tattoo shops against his for cleanliness and ambiance. And yes, I picked out my prom dress mostly because you could see my tattoo.

A week ago I got my fourth tattoo, it’s on my forearm and it’s the first tattoo that’s easily visible with what I normally wear. In between these two dates, I’ve gotten two designs that take up a good amount of real estate on each of my legs. Both are Doctor Who related, one drawn by an artist I knew from the aforementioned play-by-post role-playing game and the other designed by the tattoo artist who inked it based on some ferret photos and a scarf knitting pattern.

 

The first of the two, a TARDIS and husky, I had originally thought my step-uncle would tattoo. Although he was willing to do it he didn’t think it was a good idea to tattoo it on my bicep/arm like I had originally planned because of all the straight lines. He recommended a place like my calf where the design could fit smooth and flat and said it should be bigger than the original design or the detail would be lost.

First thing first: he was completely right. I, however, thought it was ridiculous that he would tell me where I should and shouldn’t put a certain design. So I said forget about it, and left the design to simmer on the back burner of my mind until I found the right shop in Alberta. Not surprising at all when the tattoo artist there agreed.** Two against one – it’s bigger and on my leg and I’m very happy with it. This exchange opened my eyes to working with an artist instead of being set in stone. Sometimes they know better.

I’ve come to realize how often tattoos have played the role of markers of how much I’ve grown. The latest tattoo looks nothing like what I had been thinking about getting. I’ve come a long way from picking out flash art from a book. My original idea was lyrics from a Frank Turner song, which morphed into getting one of the barn swallows from the album cover of “Poetry of the Deed” f413731a0adf2fa191aeef6f82fa611cinstead. Like Whovians with their TARDIS tattoos, I’ve seen quite a few of these tattoos on Frank Turner fans so it seemed apt. (Further investigation into it revealed that barn swallow tattoos are some of, if not the oldest nautical tattoo design and they have a great backstory to boot). After discussions with the tattoo artist – he knew what I wanted even if I didn’t at the time, the artwork turned into something more realistic and more stylized. If that bird from the cover came to life I like to think they would look like the one on my arm.

 

I can only speak from my own experience, but the process of getting the tattoo is usually easier every time. It still hurts, after all it’s skin and needles, but it’s easier to slip into a head space where it’s less noticeable. I’ve gained some confidence because of it and learned to speak up when I need a breather or tap out entirely if it’s a bigger piece and I’m done for the day. I love that roar of a buzzing sound that the tattoo machine makes, it’s comforting and exhilarating all at the same time. Maybe I’ve gained a Pavlovian response to it and my brain connects it with the Adrenalin released while being tattooed. I may fear getting blood work done, but I look forward to getting tattooed. The artists I’ve met have been great too, and they understand having passions and being geeks.

I don’t think I’ll ever be someone covered in tattoos, or someone with a lot of visible tattoos, but they are important to me. They have gone from being used to try to be a rebel, to being pictures that need to commemorate something big and super important, to being like stickers on a suitcase. They chart my growth as a person and tell a story of who I was and the journey I’ve been on. I’ve even given up my defensive reply when someone asks why I got a certain tattoo. The best answer I’ve come to realize is: because I wanted it.

It goes without saying that I’m not an expert and I have far fewer tattoos than friends of mine. Just wanted to share my experiences. I’ll leave you with some lyrics from the song Tattoos^, let me know which camp you fall into. Share your tattoo stories & pictures!

Because the ink in my skin where the needle went in
However many years ago
Has left marks on my arms and they say who I am
Everywhere that I go.
Some people have none, some have one they’re ashamed of,
Most people think that we’re fools.
Some people don’t get it and some people don’t care,
And some of us we have tattoos.


* He no longer tattoos anyone under 18, regardless of parental consent. This was 13 years ago, after all.
** My step-uncle will not tattoo just anything on just anyone.
^ I tried to find other tattoo-based songs, but they all seemed depressing. I’m looking at you The Who. This one is upbeat and happy.

Book Review: NOFX – Hepatitis Bathtub & Other Stories

Tags

, , , ,

nofx_2

From back of tub: Melvin, El Hefe, Smelly and Fat Mike

NOFX – Hepatitis Bathtub & Other Stories (goodreads)
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press (April 12 2016)
Amazon.ca | Amazon.com

In April 2016 when this book first came out in Canada I knew the name NOFX, but I knew nothing about them. I didn’t even know who was who on the book cover. NOFX were in the same realm as Rancid, Bad Religion and Misfits, bands lots of people talk about so I know OF them, but I couldn’t name any of their songs*. I trusted the people tweeting about it, who said it was, to use just a few words: amazing, crude, disturbing, disgusting, eye-opening and wonderfully vile. Those are things I like in my books! So I put it on hold at the local library** and thought OK, I’ll learn about them this way. I also turned to Spotify to see what this over 30 year old band was all about musically. Spotify has a fantastic playlist out called “This is NOFX,” I highly recommend it.

Word of advice: Some bands should not be listened to chronologically. Sometimes you should start with the really popular songs and then work backwards. They are usually popular for a reason. I didn’t like their super early stuff at first.

Before I get into the meat of the review I will tell you two things upfront:
1. The book is all those things mentioned previously and then some.
2. I returned the library copy and now I own both the book and the audiobook (and most of their albums…) That should tell you right away that I enjoyed it.

While the book on its own in either print or e-book is great, hearing the stories told by the guys in their own voices is way, way better. Fat Mike, Hefe, Smelly and Melvin read their own parts with Tommy Chong & Jello Biafra guesting for former band members Dave & Steve. With the audiobook, not only do you get the story, you get little jokes “Dave’s not here, man” from Tommy Chong and giggles from the guys (mostly Fat Mike) while reading it.

(An except of the audiobook)

The book is divided into chapters with each band member telling their own story to the reader separately, and sometimes with asides to the rest of the band. They were all extensively interviewed (15+ hours according to interviews) by Jeff Alulis (you may remember his credit from NOFX: Backstage Passport) who then wove the stories together. Some of the stories they recount have never been told to their bandmates before, they learned about them through this book. This isn’t a book of “Ha ha, we trashed a hotel room,” we’re talking serious shit that happened to them and those around them like addiction, assault, suicide, murder, etc. Smelly dominates the book with his story of drugs, from addiction to later recovery as well as Melvin opens up about being molested when he was a child.

Parts of the book are so out there it’s hard to believe, especially when it comes to the nature of the L.A. punk scene back then: full of violence, death and police riots. As someone naturally afraid of being stabbed or beaten up for no reason, I kept thinking: who the hell who would go these places (or let their KIDS go to these places) knowing what may go down?! I’m nervous going to certain clubs now and I’m almost thirty and they HAVE security, these clubs did not. Numerous times in the book you will wonder, as they do too, how in the hell they’re all still alive as they recount knowing people who have died from overdosing, gangs, or just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The book isn’t all doom and gloom though. Sure, there’s a lot of dark stuff in it, but it’s well-written and there are really funny parts. It’s heartfelt and ultimately it’s about friendship with a chosen family. There’s lots of hope in it and perseverance to keep making music even when they’re playing shows to four people and those four people leave after the first song. I really felt for El Hefe when he first joins the band. He’s the last to join, he’s a trained musician and he comes from the furthest away from the punk scene.

There are bits that may make some people squeamish (just one for me, set in Tokyo) and if they do, please skip ’em and keep reading anyway. Also, keep reading past the first chapter, it’s just pee (you’ll understand when you get there) and settle in to take one hell of a ride.

Lastly, I tried to not read too many reviews of this book before I wrote my own, but the few I did read seemed to note how we “learned way too much about Fat Mike’s sex life”. I get that near the end Mike seems to focus on it, but it’s part of who he is. I don’t know whether it’s because he talks about BDSM and his discovery of his brand of kink or what, but I think it’s a little unfair to single him out when they all talk about having sex, repeatedly, in less than normal, vanilla circumstances. Also, come on the beer bong butt-plug is hilarious.

Needless to say, read the damn book and maybe get a copy for someone for their preferred winter holiday. I read it cover to cover in two days and I couldn’t put it down. Then I read it again (slower) in about a week. You don’t have to like their music or know who they are to enjoy their book, but you may find yourself listening to some tracks with a new perspective and liking it a little more than you did before.

5/5 – if I had a rating system


*I had heard Linoleum at this point though, as Frank Turner covers it on one of his albums, I just didn’t know that yet.
** And end up waiting almost three months to get it because of the high demand.

Writing & Not Feeling Qualified

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing recently. Possibly it’s because of NaNaWriMo, maybe because my coworkers have been asking how my novel has been coming along. They’re excited about it.  I’m too ashamed to tell them that I haven’t looked at it in 3 months, even though I think about the main character, Sydney, every time I listen to a punk song. So, I asked myself, “I love this character, why am I not writing her story?”

writingishard-supernatural-chuck_zps545977fd-300x201

More than that, there’s something about the process that has made writing difficult lately. The act of showing my thoughts to the world and what may come back to me isn’t that frightening. I don’t usually start out to open a dialogue between myself and the reader. I write just to get the words out of my head. At least once a day I compose an essay style piece in my brain around a topic that I’ve been mulling over. It’s one way I process things I’m currently obsessing over and if they have substance I want to share them. They very rarely, if ever, make it down on paper. Why?

I’ve determined it’s a mix of confidence and feeling like I shouldn’t have an opinion on certain topics (music & improv are the big ones). I still need to get the words out, but there’s actual fear holding me back from publishing it. After all, don’t you need experience to write about stuff? I read that on the internet somewhere. I mean, I’m only taking improv classes, what do I know? I’ve only listened to punk music for a couple years. Apparently two years ago today I talked about my first punk mixtape on this blog. Sure, when I find a band I like I try to jam 10+ years worth of being a fan into two months, but I still didn’t know them before. 

When I type this out it’s so silly sounding, but it’s exactly the way I think!

It’s not just essays. These feelings also exist in my fiction. Continue reading

Star Trek TOS – A Change of Opinion

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m think I’m starting to become known as somewhat of a contrarian.

That may be an understatement. I don’t usually set out to be seen that way, but it often happens. I enjoy not seeing something because everyone is recommending it. I generally end up seeing things in the wrong order and as is often the case I prefer the first thing I see.  I’m trying to break out of this pattern though, it’s one of my resolutions for 2016, and while there’s no way to see certain series in the correct order I’m trying to give the “originals” a chance. That’s why I started at the beginning of Star Trek: The Original Series and currently sit somewhere around the middle of season two. I’m really, really enjoying it, so why is this a problem? Well…

I was recently on Star Trek: Romulans Bearing Gifts talking and thinking about the newest Star Trek reboot movie Star Trek Beyond. During that discussion I said that I preferred the reboot cast to the original cast. I said it was difficult for me to connect to the original series and my Kirk and crew would always be Chris Pine, Quinto, Pegg, etc, etc. Just like my Captain will always be Picard, my Doctor is the Fifth, and my preferred Obi-Wan will always be played by Ewan McGregor. So, here comes an admission of guilt of sorts: I said that knowing full well that I had seen maybe six episodes total of the original series. That includes the pilot and the Trouble with Tribbles. It was a blanket statement and a hasty one at that. Opinions can change sure, and you never have to see everything to make a decision, but now I’m stuck in a strange circumstance where it seems like I’ve totally changed my mind about something. I haven’t changed my mind; it was never really made up in the first place. Ugh.

tumblr_mzo5mr0e941rf9eyuo1_400

It’s a potential peril of podcasting, I guess, especially with group reviews, where you find yourself maybe agreeing a little bit more, or disagreeing simply to freshen up a conversation and actually bring in some discussion. I’m sure many, many podcasters are completely honest, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with stretching a review here or there. If you haven’t listened to the episode I still recommend it, just take what I say in it with a grain of salt. In fact, always take what I say with a grain of salt and that way I won’t feel the need to write any more of these. What follows are more, let’s say, informed opinions (from 2.5 seasons of the show) on the reboots vs TOS. More informed than before, less informed than any proper Star Trek fan.

Continue reading

Let’s Talk about Strong Female Characters: My Top 10 Kickass Ladies

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

joss-whedon-strong-female-characters

There’s been a lot of talk lately (and rightly so) about feminism, fandom and the lack of “strong” (3-dimensional, interesting, complex, REAL) female characters in mainstream media. The above quote has been going around for a long, long time and I encourage you to find similar quotes from female writers. I just adore that quote, so I put it there.

There was a very interesting post about female protagonists here that I encourage you to read. The author talks about looking at the books she was reading to her child and her attempts to balance male and female protagonists, but they fall very short of a 50/50 split. (It ends up being more like 60/30)

When I saw that my spreadsheet project featured exactly zero actresses I realized I needed to do something. As an exercise I decided to put down my top 10 favourite female characters. Surely there were ten lady characters that kicked ass from TV shows and movies I love. Ten fictional ladies that I’d want to have a drink with, or at the very least were played by actresses I really enjoyed?

The first five were a breeze, and then suddenly I was struggling to come up with female characters that I liked, let alone strong female characters I admired or that I could take traits from to help me in my everyday life. I looked. Leading ladies didn’t suddenly come out from the woodwork, but there were strong, awesome characters that I was over-looking because I was too busy watching the leading men on the show. (Leading men talk a lot and the camera likes to spend lots of time pointed at them.)

A lot of these characters are supporting characters, in fact they all are except Rey* and an argument can be made for Clara and Sara Lance who are both part of an ensemble of sorts. Yet they are kick ass in their own way, furthering the plot and embodying traits that I want to emulate in my everyday life.

So here’s my list, I know I’m forgetting lots and I’d love to see your lists in the comments.

(In no particular order)…

Continue reading

Feeling Fake Fangirl Feels.

Tags

, , , , ,

I feel like an imposter or a fraud.

tumblr_inline_mrur87rdn21qz4rgp

Not quite. More like I feel like a fraud for calling myself a fangirl. A fake fangirl if you will.

Let me explain. When I wrote “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Being a Fangirl” it felt very important to me to reach out into the void and talk about this great label “fangirl” and how it applied to me, because I had gone so long without knowing and I didn’t want anyone else to feel that way if they didn’t have to. That hasn’t changed, that label is still an excellent one for me. In fact, if given the opportunity I will happily extol the virtues of it as an important part of your complete lifestyle. That article has received the most views and comments of any article on this blog and I love that people have responded so positively.

However, the truth is that sometimes I hate being a fangirl and I keep all my fangirly thoughts to myself out of fear of how others will treat me. Sometimes I wish I watched all shows once, had no immediate need to see them again and just moved on. Sometimes, I wish I didn’t need to watch the full filmography of an actor because I need to chase the acting trends that are apparent in their work. (ie: Norman Reedus so often having a cigarette in hand.) Occasionally I think, damn all these feels, why can’t I just watch a show for the CANON PLOT.

The truth is I can’t do any of those things, they aren’t part of my personality and I feel like a fraud to want these qualities and at the same time to receive happy, thankful comments on something I’ve written.

For example, I took half an hour to write this tweet:

20161

I almost didn’t post it on my own twitter. Silly, huh? It’s just… using words like “feels*” and talking about fangirling over a TV show in front of people who know me still makes me nervous. I regularly hear people joke or mock about how stupid/foolish/immature people are that use “tumblr words” like feels, ships, and OTP.

“Those aren’t even real words,” they say, and sometimes I laugh just because they are silly words. That doesn’t make them fake, Bumfuzzle is a real word but it’s very silly.

I feel like a hypocrite and I hate it. I say how proud I am to be a fangirl, and then worry every time I mention spreadsheets or a random fact about an actor on Verity! or in casual conversations because I want to be taken seriously. Spreadsheets and data collection is difficult. Researching all that stuff is hard dammit. But, it’s one thing to say what I want into the tumblr-sphere, (seriously look at these tags) but on twitter and on facebook, there’s people there who I might see tomorrow face-to-face. They might (might) laugh at me.

So what’s a fangirl to do? Well, I’ve devised some basic things for me to remember when situations like this happen. Feel free to steal and personalize:

  • Marathoning TV shows and building filmography spreadsheets has led to new friendships and opened the doors to new media.
  • You joined improv because Kids in the Hall started in improv but you kept going because you love it.
  • The English language evolves (TEDtalk), Shakespeare started using words that are now commonplace today. Your turn fic writer.
  • Does this TV show/spreadsheet/music make you happy? If it’s something to look forward to after a bad day and helps you, then you shouldn’t be ashamed of talking about it. Take it and USE it to make yourself a better person and to change the world around you.

It’s not easy being a fangirl but it can be fun and hella rewarding.Think of it like playing a difficult video game, finding lost episodes of Doctor Who, or introducing your favourite show to a friend. Or, in the spirit of my recent House M.D. rewatch, dealing with a difficult friend.

A great fangirl-needs-answers resource is Fangirl Therapy, the author Kathleen is a licensed therapist and big time awesome fangirl. Have a look at her site, she takes questions and gives great real answers.

Now I’m off to read fanfiction and try to decide which is the best House M.D. ship**.

tumblr_mqrgyo5lr11r5yep8o1_500

*Yes, I realize I used the word ‘feels’ at least twice in this blog post alone, I’m coming to terms with it.
**Opinions are welcome, although all three I’ve read have been amazing.