In my last post, I mentioned that there were some manga I was excited to share with you all. Since nothing else took my attention this time around, let’s talk about them.
I should note that I haven’t yet read a lot of manga – I really enjoyed Ranma 1/2 when I was just getting into comics, but that was nearly 25 years ago, when the selection of good translations in America weren’t as plentiful as they are now. Additionally, there are SO many manga, in every genre you can imagine. Separating the wheat from the chaff, or even just what stories might be interesting to you in particular, can be a daunting task. Luckily, there are folks out there who can help. Comicazi has a manga book club – I learned about one of these titles from their list. Another I learned about from my pal Morgana, who is the manga maven at Comicopia, a store with a great selection of manga. The last was given to me by my husband, who thought it just looked up my alley. So here are my three picks – don’t be afraid to ask your local shop for other suggestions!
It seems that over the years I’ve gained a bit of a reputation. I’d like to say that it’s totally undeserved, or at the very least that it’s greatly exaggerated, but the pure fact of the matter is that the rumors are true. I’m every bit as bad as they say…if I recommend a book to you, it’s probably gonna make you cry.
Lest you be too shocked, let me explain that I read plenty of other kinds of books. I’m a huge fan of comedic fantasy, I like the odd mystery, and I’m a sucker for food writing and popular science. And certainly, I know folks who like these things too, and I pass them along accordingly, typically with great success and smiles all around. But the books that really get around, the ones that seem to be universally acclaimed and enjoyed? They’re almost always crying books.
Lest we be confused by terms, let me explain here the kind of crying I mean. We’re not talking about a slight lump in the throat, nor a single tear that might roll softly down your cheek at a touching moment. We’re talking about an ugly cry, the sort of sobbing that’s embarrassing and inappropriate in public. The fantastic Forever YA blog has coined a term for these sorts of stories – DNRIP: Do Not Read In Public. For a frame of reference without having to read an entire novel, here’s a story from The Moth (you listen to The Moth, right? Remind me to do a post on all of the podcasts you should be listening to soon) that gives a pretty good example of what I mean. Go listen to it, but don’t make the same mistake that I did and do so on the MBTA. You’ve been warned.
Last month Cartoon Sara kicked off a four-part series on the origins of the Ladies – how we got into comics, into Comicazi, and how we came to be the merry band who bring you this blog. It was like a Behind the Music, but with far fewer drugs and car crashes and far more comic books and trivia nights. Here’s my installment!
My love affair with comics started in 1993. I was 16, a sophomore in high school, and kind of a weirdo (though as it turned out, really no MORE of a weirdo than anyone else was in high school.) Sassy Magazine (remember Sassy?!) ran a review of Neil Gaiman’s Death: The High Cost of Living and it sounded like something I’d be into- I was reading all sorts of fantasy novels, myths, and fairy tales already, so it was hardly a huge leap. Death led me to Sandman, which led to all the rest of the Vertigo lineup at the time, and that was it – I was comics reader for life.
So sometime in late 2000, when I was walking to the T and noticed a jam packed new store had opened up right down the street from me, it only made sense to check it out. And thanks to the way the store embraced me, I’ve never left. From the early days of pizza and beer on new release day to the anniversary parties and Comicazi Book Club of today, the shop is a community. Comicazi was the first place I ever made friends based purely on shared interests, rather than proximity. And while I still have wonderful friends from grade school and college and jobs, there’s something special to me about this connection.
Many years after that first visit, I started dating one of the friends I made at the shop, and in a few weeks, I’ll be marrying him. Comicazi is more than a store or even a community of people to me – it’s part of my family.
Today’s post is inspired by a feature in B*tch Magazine called Love It/Shove It. It’s a quickie round up of what the editors are particularly digging or hating on at the moment. I haven’t thought of a better title for this feature than the delightful rhyme of the original, so I’m taking their titles this time around, until inspiration strikes. If any of you have any amazing ideas, leave ’em in the comments! I am, however, going to flip the order and tell you what’s irking me first – I’d rather end on a note of positivity. Here we go!
Raining On Other People’s Parades: I couldn’t think of a pithy, one-word phrase for this, unfortunately. What I mean by it is bashing the things that other people like, often on social media. (Yes, I’m aware of the irony of putting this on a list of things I dislike, but we’ll work through the cognitive dissonance, I promise!) Examples include but aren’t limited to: making snarky comments about sports when everyone is cheering their team, making fun of bands, movies, or comics that everyone else you know likes, most grumping about pop culture. It bugs me because it’s a basically negative mindset, moving from what someone loves to what the person doing it dislikes. Additionally, it seems to be the way of centering attention back on yourself – if everyone’s talking about The Sports, and you don’t like The Sports, this is your way of jumping into the conversation anyway. It’s important to have your opinion, of course – this is more about timing. In preschool it’s called “yucking someone’s yum;” basically, it’s not cool to shout “ew, disgusting” just as someone is tucking into their metaphorical lunch.
Sexism Apologists: (Also applies to racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.) – this person is always out there. You know the ones – they’re not making the rape joke, or designing the creepy pillow, or hitting on ladies at conferences. They’re the ones who come in after the fact and say things like “You really just need to know the context of that joke,” or “what did you expect, dressing up in that costume?” or “what are you complaining about, there are bigger problems in the world?” At their worst, these are the guys and gals are more insidious than the actual sexists, because they make you doubt the things you know in your heart are wrong. They tell you that you just need to lighten up, to stop seeing things in those terms, that with how women are treated in other countries you are just being petty for being upset that some dude hit on you. Don’t listen to them! Micro-aggressions matter, too, and it’s okay to call ’em like you see ’em.
“No Offense”: Why does this phrase even exist? If you feel the need to follow up a statement with one telling me I shouldn’t be offended, that means you know damn well that I will be. So why did you say it? Simply asking me to ignore my rational reaction to your bad manners doesn’t negate them. Either keep it to yourself or fully own your statement – and then be prepared to deal with the consequences of my offense!
The Ladies Night Out Run: Oh man, this makes me crazy. Why should a woman want to run a 5K more because wine, flowers, chocolate and a theoretically handsome man are involved? Have ladies “everywhere” been waiting for this, not running races because they didn’t offer these things? I mean, I like all of them well enough, but they sure aren’t motivating me to run. Flowers give me asthma attacks, wine and chocolate after a race would make me throw up, and I have a perfectly handsome man at home. I’m not really into gender-separated races, period – and I especially don’t like the idea of separation based on some weird 1950’s idea of what women want. (I love the Tufts 10K for Women, but men are still allowed to race that and they have a really inspiring slogan.) Ladies, like fellas, run races to challenge themselves, to be fit, because they love it. If you’re into this idea I don’t mean to rain on your parade, as it were, but it seems unnecessarily silly to me.
And now the fun part – things that increase my joy lately, and that I want everyone to know about so that they can make you happy too!
I’ll admit, I’m a little obsessed with this polish, and I’ve drawn all of the other Ladies into my madness. The colors are just too good, and they have great staying power. Lately, they’ve been putting out these wax-finish colors 0 not shiny but not quite matte – that are just stunning. The company is pretty cool, too – it’s mostly just one woman, Maria, living her dream and making great nail polish, although her whole family seems to be part of the act. They have great sales and promotions and really promote a feeling of community. Besides, how can you not love that this perfect Tardis blue is called “Time Traveler?”
Sriracha Popcorn: I made this for the first time just this past weekend, for a very impromptu gathering. I am ashamed and delighted to admit that I probably ate most of the bowl. It was fast, easy, and at least for me, involved ingredients that I always have on hand. Spicy, garlicky, and a tiny bit sweet, it’s pretty addictive and would be appropriate at all but the most formal occasions. Or, you know, if you were in a room full of people who hate popcorn or spicy things. But when would that ever happen?
Even though these two places aren’t that close together, I’ve been running a lot on both of them lately and so they’re linked in my mind. They’re a nice change in routine – I’ve been running seriously for seven years and had been stuck in a rut on my routes – the Minuteman Bike Path, the Charles River, Fresh Pond – I’ve done them all so many times that they’ve become dull. What’s nice about the Mystic Valley Parkway (besides being right behind my house – I have lived in the area for 6 years and never run it!) is that it provides a bit of nature without being too woodsy – there’s only a few tree roots to keep an eye on. Minuteman, in Lexington, has more curated, sandy paths -it’s designed more with the history of the area in mind – but the fields and woods it winds through are gorgeous. Both paths are a truly lovely way to find the more contemplative side to running.
My Friends: Oh, sure, it’s a little sappy, but I really have just been appreciating the amazing community of people I’m surrounded by. I know folks through so many different hobbies and activities in my life, from running to work to Comicazi to college to high school and more, but they all feel like part of one huge, wonderful network. They support my crazy projects, like this blog, donate money to my causes, share my outrages & delights, and are always up for an adventure. In just the past week, I’ve trekked to visit Bigfoot, run track in the pouring rain, painted sailboats, had crazy phone messages, and watched cartoons with some of the best people on the planet. It’s a lot easier to focus on the love it side of things with a community like this one.
So now you tell me, what are you shoving/loving lately?