Happy New Year! Wishing you the very best.
We're midway through January already. Last weekend, I had a somewhat impromptu trip to my grandma's house, and this delayed my newsletter writing. I also struggled with a New Year stomach bug.
The image above is my best nine Instagrams from 2017. Photos featuring me continue to be most popular, even though, let's be honest, I mostly post photos of my cats.
Anyway, highlights for 2017 for me personally:
• Kicked off 2017 with a new job at CMX
• Went to Disneyland with Julia and Kerri Santo
• Got to see Lisa twice, including for my birthday 💜
• Through a very successful CMX Summit in September
• Grew a badass garden and learned to can
• Wrote 30,000 words for an event management book
I've kicked 2017 off with joining a 52 book reading challenge, hosted by my friend Sue. I'll still be doing my Goodreads reading challenge, but desired to mix it up. We're using this template. I'm going in list order as making a decision about what to read next is hard enough.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll ⭐️ 3/5 stars
Challenge #2 (a childhood favorite) in my 52 challenge. I cheated a bit here in that I wanted to read something I hadn't before. Carroll definitely foreshadows a lot of future literary techniques, but I'm still a little puzzled over its continuing popularity, and I'd bet Disney has helped with that. Disney is certainly why I read it. Full review to come soon.
Animosity Vol. 2 by Marguerite Bennett and Rafael de Latorre ⭐️ 4/5 stars
Unsurprisingly to everyone who knows me, I still very much enjoy a book about what would happen if all animals could talk and communicate to humans and each other.
Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples ⭐️ 4/5 stars
Challenge #1 (Canadian author) in my 52 challenge. Full review here
Supergirl Vol. 2: Escape from the Phantom Zone by Steve Orlando and Brian Ching ⭐️ 3/5 stars
I'm just not a fan of a lot of the trappings of Superman, including the Phantom Zone. The crossover with Batgirl didn't do much for me as Orlando and Ching were still establishing who this Supergirl is.
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates ⭐️ 5/5 stars
While Coates’ essays can be found online, here they are collected and each with a brand new introduction. Since these essays were written over almost a decade, there’s certainly flaws Coates acknowledges in them as any writer will tell you about their work. I do think that more here than Between the World and Me, the neglect of acknowledging gender intersections in critical discussions about African American life stands out. However, these essays are a fantastic understanding of America and the history of how one of our original sins race-based slavery (the other sin being Native American genocide) is embedded in our culture and systems and why white supremacy destroys the fabric of our nation still to this day. And there is almost no one with a louder voice who I agree with more about his assessment of Trump’s rise.
Things I wrote recently
The yearly round ups!
Books I Read in 2017 & Think You Should Read in 2018
Exactly what you think it is. Out of the 119 books I read in 2017, I give you my top 10 and then some bonus ones that also got a 5/5 star rating from me.
The Best and the Worst of 2017 Comic Books
These are specifically the comic books I read AND reviewed in 2017. (I don't always review every comic I read, and like my book list, not everything was necessarily published in 2017.) This list is always kind of fun for me because of how I review single issues, the ratings get very precise in nature.
• Preview: tomorrow's newsletter opener
• Q4 2017 Wrap Up
• New header for my comic book review site
• My reading recommendations
• Preview: Bingo Love Review
• Preview: Taproot Graphic Novel Review
• Preview: Saga Vol 8 Graphic Novel Review
• Preview: Elements: Fire Anthology Review
Reviews on my comics blog:
• Bingo Love, book by Tee Franklin and Jenn St-Onge, rating 5/5 stars
• Elements: Fire, book by Taneka Stotts (editor), Shing Yin Khor, Kou Chen, Maddi Gonzalez, Sara DuVall, Myisha Haynes, Rashad Doucet, James F. Wright, Aatmaja Pandya, Der-Shing Helmer, Jaide Mandas, Marisa Han, Ash G., Chloe Chan, Nina Matsumoto, Mildred Louis, Melanie Ujimori, Tee Franklin, M. Victoria Robado, Deshan Tennekoon, Isuri Merenchi Hewage, Jemma Salume, Chan Chau, Genue Revuelta, Orunmilla Williams, Christina “Steenz” Stewart, Shivana Sookdeo, Tristan J. Tarwater, Michelle Nguyen, Veronica Agarwal, Jy Yang, Yasmin Liang, and Kiku Hughes, rating 5/5 stars
• Moonstruck #1, #2, and #3, book by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, and Kate Leth, rating 4.6/5 stars
• Saga Vol 8, book by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, rating 4/5 stars
• Taproot, book by Keezy Young, rating 5/5 stars
Drain your brain with TV Film
Here are my Top 15 movies I watched in 2017:
#1 - Wonder Woman
#2 - Moonlight
#3 - Coco
#4 - Get Out
#5 - Hidden Figures
#6 - Thor: Ragnarok
#7 - Hot Fuzz
#8 - Allegiance
#9 - Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
#10 - Selma
#11 - Logan
#12 - Atomic Blonde
#13 - Kubo and the Two Strings
#14 - Star Wars: The Last Jedi
#15 - Colossal
What stands out most for me on this list is that these films not only feature women and minorities as leads, but also feature them behind the camera. In my top five alone: female superhero film directed by a woman; gay black man writing and directing a story about gay black men; a Mexican culturally specific story written, animated, and voice acted by Mexican and Mexican American people; a horror comedy about racism written and directed by a black man; and a biopic about three black women who made it possible for NASA to go to the moon, cowritten by a white woman.
Even films with less normalization to our world, like Logan, still featured a middle aged man with PTSD and a possible terminal illness going on the run with his 11-year-old clone daughter, who has her own PTSD, and a paraplegic, nonagenarian with psychic dementia. (Yes, this is still an X-Men movie.)
All 15 films have both great stories and great cinematography. They all give access and insights to characters and worlds that may or may not be like our own. But that's the whole point of stories.
I've always been a TV person over a film person. (Surprise to no one, I love serial storytelling.) But this past year and thinking about what's coming in 2018 — Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, and Ocean's 8 — film may be catching up with TV's second golden age.
Follow me on Letterboxed. (I'm glad there's not a TV version of this tracking app; you don't want to know how much TV I watch every year.)
The most important thing to me is to able to write and deliver my words to you. This has led me to do several things, including this newsletter and launching my Patreon. It’s also very important that I keep my words on my own properties, like my website, and that if I write for others, I am paid for my work.
Where I’ve been lagging is my website maintenance. Once upon a time, I built websites, and some of my early jobs involved front end web development work. Or plugging holes my former employers were too cheap to hire anyone else to do. I stubbornly wade through those waters every time my site needs an update.
In an effort to consolidate, I moved my WordPress blogs to a proper multisite (running multiple WP blogs on one WP install), and am moving my comic book reviews off a subdomain. Because these are more than 10-year-old properties, a fresh install of WP was needed and then everything had to be migrated over.
Even though I keep WordPress updated, a fresh WordPress install is shinier. The latest default theme actually looks nice, is mobile-friendly, and they’ve made easy WYSIWYG adjustments.
I asked myself if the most important thing is to get my words out there, it is important that I have a custom design that I built? Or is it just most important that I’m able to update the content and that it looks modern?
It’s the latter, friends. I’ve tossed in my towel. I know I can customize some CSS if I get too cranky about a particular thing. But for now, I’m getting my minimal customizations done and my writing out in the world.
[COMMUNITY] How to Fix Facebook—Before It Fixes Us. There's been a lot of news stories about how much Facebook (and other platforms) played in the vast manipulation of voters in 2016 and more. There's been lots of talks directly from Facebook about how they are going to fix their platform. YMMV. This article I found most interesting as it a) offers solutions and b) comes from someone who was an investor and former advisor to Zuckerberg.
[#METOO] I Started the Media Men List. Before reading a hot take on the woman who started the Shitty Media Me list, read the story directly from Moira Donegan.
[INTERNET] My Internet Mea Culpa. The internet didn't turn society into a global utopia, and one of the internet's earliest influencers, Rick Webb, starts this off by literally saying sorry.
"We are biological organisms with thousands of years of evolution geared towards villages of 100, 150 people. What on earth made us think that in the span of a single generation, after a couple generations in cities with lots of people around us but wherein we still didn’t actually know that many people, that we could suddenly jump to a global community? If you think about it, it’s insanity. Is there any evidence our brains and hearts can handle it? Has anyone studied it at all?"
[FILM] “This is Not Going to Go the Way You Think”: The Last Jedi Is Subversive AF, and I Am Here for It
[ECONOMY] Generation Screwed. Both an interesting piece on Millennials, wealth, and America. (We are screwed, along with Gen Xers and Gen Z.) But it's also an incredibly well-designed and executed article.
Stay well, my friends,