Yetis, Megan, and a suitcase full of won
Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, it's a round-up!
Before we cruise into spring and prepare our cherry blossom viewing bento boxes, I thought I’d take a moment to recap some noteworthy nuggets I’ve enjoyed this winter.
I’m currently reading The Abominable by Dan Simmons, which is about a deadly 1924 climb up Mt. Everest. These mountaineers must face altitudes of 28,000 feet (which apparently causes your brain to start to die), sub-zero temperatures, and…yetis?!? Thus far I’ve found it enjoyable, and while it took a little longer to get into than The Terror, it’s been quite entertaining.
Episode 13 by Craig DiLouie is about a ghost hunting reality TV show that finds a house that is legitimately haunted. The crew goes missing and nobody knows why or how. I liked this book even though I don’t really care for ghost hunting shows. I used to work at a “haunted” place (Eastern State Penitentiary) and amateur ghost hunters asking me about “orbs” every day got old real quick, especially since the actual scary thing about that place is the real-life horrors of the American prison system. In the story, the crew’s fate is pieced together from found footage, tapes, and dairies, and it does keep the plot rolling along at a suspenseful clip.
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M3gan. I’m sure you’re already familiar with the precocious AI doll that’s dancing her way around the internet. But if you haven’t seen the film, what you may not know is that it is hilarious! Gerard Johnstone, who also wrote and directed the horror-comedy Housebound, brings a campy sense of humor and puts a whole new spin on the haunted doll trope. I didn’t expect the movie to be as laugh-out-loud funny as it was, but I DO expect to see lots of M3gan drag queens in 2023. I’ve seen a few interesting takes on the film, like how it’s about the fear of motherhood, and I definitely got that sense from watching it. My take was that it was also about the damages of parentification (when a child becomes a caregiver for their parent and/or sibling) because Megan is basically in charge of raising Cady, and that goes to shit pretty quickly.
Beasts Clawing at Straws. I missed when this film debuted in the 2020 Asian Film Festival, but I’m so glad I finally got to catch it on MUBI. In this snappy Korean thriller, storylines intersect as several desperate people try to get their hands on a suitcase full of money. There’s dark humor and a lot of violence, but what really makes it special is the way the plot unfolds. Anyway I won’t spoil anything, just watch the trailer.
Lately, I’ve had the Hermanos Gutiérrez on repeat. As their bio puts it, “The music these two brothers make evokes expansive plains and rough wildernesses, saguaros and surfs, spaghetti westerns and Morricone soundtracks, Lynch and Jarmusch.” As somebody who likes to listen to mellow instrumentals when I write, these brothers create the perfect vibe.
Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? Dr. Julie Smith
In recovery meetings you’ll sometimes hear people say, “It seems like everyone else was given a book of instructions on how to be a normal person, but I never got one.” In many ways, this is that book! Dr. Julie Smith talks about tools you can use to recognize, understand, and navigate emotional pain, self-doubt, fear, and stress. Essentially, how not to flip the fuck out or spiral when something goes wrong or you get criticized, as well as how to cultivate some preventive mental health practices. I found a lot of it helpful—her tone gets a little cheesy sometimes and her metaphors are kind of hokey, so I skipped the personal anecdotes and went right to the tools.
In a recent NY Times opinion piece Maia Szalavitz wrote about the need to separate church and state when treating addiction. For folks who are court-mandated to go to 12-step programs, (or people like me who had no other option), going to meetings where people talk about god and praying may not be helpful, and in some cases, cause harm.
“To make real progress in fighting overdose and addiction, we need to separate medical care and religion in treatment, as we do for every other health disorder,” writes Szalavitz, which is a pretty good argument. For folks with opioid addictions, taking a harm reduction approach can make a huge positive difference, and supplementing treatment with medication can save lives.
My opinion is, if prayer helps you, do it! But it should be your choice. Peer support can be great, but any kind of 12-step program should be accompanied by therapy with a licensed professional.
If you’re like me and you believe reading is life, and anti-trans legislation is fucked, you can now use your bookishness to help others. Learn more and donate here. There’s also a bevy of fantastic books by trans authors available through Word Bookstore, my favorite is Nevada by Imogen Binnie.