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It’s been a long year, hasn’t it? But despite that, I don’t feel like I’ve personally done much of note with all that time. The house I started building this summer had to go on hold for the winter months, unfinished; I’m still working the same job; and I made a single short story sale this year – an important one for me, but I can’t yet announce where. I also learned, once again, that the tortured publication history of Zeppelins are What Dreams are Made of will remain tortured, after signing a contract with another publisher we got the sad news this year that the Book Smugglers will cease publishing ebooks/print books for 2019, so those novellas are back in the trunk. I’m still deep into art and illustration, but despite seeing steady improvement I’m far away from where I want to be and I expect I’m cursed to feel this way no matter how much drawing and painting I do.

Here’s what took my mind off turning 30 that let me wring some enjoyment out of troublesome times.

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happy-new-year-1899-2blog

So little of 2017 left, but just enough time to post our year in review! We discuss media we enjoyed this year, whether it was objectively good or not, including the University of Alberta murder-mystery-but-not-really-a-murder-mystery The Next Margaret, Haruki Murakami’s slow melancholy, Nausicaä  of the Valley of the Wind (again!), Roger Zelazny’s fiction, and more.

Download the Podcast (archive.org page)

Marie’s blog

Cory’s blog

Source of our theme song

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ut-1987-pb

In which we speak of books we never finished, or wish we had never finished. Normally, I would provide a list of the novels we talked about. But this time, I think it’s better if you go in blind.

Download the Podcast (archive.org page)

Marie’s blog

Cory’s blog

Source of our theme song

 

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janus1

I already did my year-end blog post, but my usual podcast hosts haven’t, so here’s the podcast edition! We talk about all the movies, books, television shows, comics, anime and art gallery shows we enjoyed this year.

Download the Podcast (archive.org page)

Marie’s blog

Cory’s blog

Source of our theme song

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states-of-mind-i-the-farewells-1911blog

States of Mind I: The Farewells, Umberto Bocciano, 1911

There’s a very good chance that historians will remember 2016 as the year we tipped the flusher on the toilet, leading to a long spiral into oblivion. Between Brexit, the Great Celebrity Die-off and the recent American election we have plenty of reasons to cast worrying gazes at the future. I did not want to see the re-emergence of fascism in Europe, and now a party founded by Nazi sympathizers who looked with longing at the Vichy regime is considered a viable option to lead in France. Based on demographics, I can’t help but feel like the previous generation has decided to stomp on mine with a giant boot to the face one last time before letting go of the reins, but with the added sting that there might not be a planet to piece together again after this latest experiment in pursuing ideology over practical concerns.

Couple that with a quarter-life crisis and you have quite the anxious mix. (more…)

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Used Bookstores

I don’t know where this is, but I want to go there.

I feel most at peace when surrounded by books. This isn’t much of a surprise. Either at school or at work, when I grew stressed I would unwind in used bookstores. Regular bookstores, even independent ones, are too clean, too orderly. I love libraries, but they too lack the messiness I crave. There’s nothing quite like close-packed shelves of ragged paperbacks shoved haphazardly together to set my mind at ease. That’s a feeling e-readers will never fulfil: the physical experience of the book, the weight of printed pages, printed words. The feeling that every book has another story attached to it, that of its previous owners, inscribed by fingerprints, cracked spines, smudges, fingerprints, mementos stuck between the pages. Add a cat or two to that mental impression, a set of musty soft chairs, and you achieve a perfect atmosphere of calm.

There’s another aspect: I can’t recall ever having any substantial conversations with the staff at a regular bookshop. Whereas staff at used ones have approached me to talk once they recognize my face (sometimes without knowing me at all, like when I wandered into a closing establishment in Edmonton during a two-week visit), and talk to me about my purchases–which authors they like, whether I snagged a volume they were looking at, etc. If you’ve listened to any of the podcasts here, you know I’m most comfortable talking about books or history, so it never feels awkward.

The only difficulty is browsing in a used bookstore for an hour or more, soaking in the good vibes, and not finding anything to buy. I always feel guilty leaving without a book, as if I owe the proprietors for just experiencing the place. Yet it was incomplete–the joy of discovery remains the goal of any customer. Finding something to read, to enjoy, to reread, over the course of years and years.

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A Bookshelf Tour

And now for something a little different, I present a guided tour of my bookshelf:

 

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