Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Best : February 2015.

I made two dishes in February that have ended up being some of my favorites this year that I've since made and enjoyed again. One is almost exceedingly simple: Baked Italian Eggs from the Budget Bytes cookbook, the yummiest breakfast you can make yourself if you're obsessed with Italian food, and also an excellent use of the ramekins I got for Christmas last year!

The other is much more time consuming, what with the cutting of the chicken strips and then the breading and then the frying--always an extremely messy affair--but mmm, this lemon chicken is delicious.

The ALA Youth Media Awards are announced each January and are always a Big Deal for youth librarian folk such as myself. I still haven't read a lot of the winners from this year, but one I was glad I picked up was El Deafo, which earned a Newbery honor. A graphic novel that dramatizes author Cece Bell's own childhood growing up deaf in the '70s and having to wear a ginormously embarrassing hearing aid, this adorable book also deals with all the other stuff that comes along with being a young girl, particularly when you are "different"--figuring out which friends are real friends and what makes you happy. I also heart when graphic novels win non-graphic-novel-specific awards, especially big ones like the Newbery! Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier. 

Even though I don't write about TV on a professional level anymore, it almost means more to me than it ever did. Being able to just let my mind go blank and be taken over by a crew of characters after long days at work or just long days of whatever is such a privilege, and anyone who knows anything knows that TV > Movies x 1000 these days. And hands down, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been my favorite new TV experience so far this year. Which is shocking, because when Brooklyn Nine-Nine won at the Golden Globes last year for best comedy series I was like whuuuuuut and I feel like a lot of other people were also like whuuuuuuuut. Maybe it's because I never considered myself a huge Andy Samberg fan in the past, and the ads for it never exactly drew me in. But after hearing some good things--specifically, a bunch of gif sets on Tumblr that always made me laugh--I Hulu-ed a couple episodes and then couldn't stop Hulu-ing more and more episodes in many winter Friday nights of bliss until I realized there have only been two seasons and I had watched all of those two seasons and I was very sad.

B99's ace ensemble cast begs comparisons to Parks & Rec, yet I can't think of another show where I acutely love each and every character so much so equally. Obvs I love every character on Parks & Rec, but we also all know that Leslie Knope is our heart and soul and reason for being. While I enjoy Jake Peralta, Samberg's leading character, a lot, I don't watch the show for Jake Peralta. Some days Captain Ray Holt is what I live for, other times it's Rosa Diaz; sometimes I can't get enough of Amy Santiago, and I can never, ever get enough of Terry Jeffords! You guys, I just love them all SO MUCH!

The real story of February 2015, though, is all about these badass bitches who sneakily, out of nowhere, got together again and released a record for the first time in a decade, kickstarting my almost dormant riot grrrl heart. I mean, my volcano of feminist punk rock love will never actually be extinct, but feeling that magma rise up to the surface again felt all kinds of empowering and right and good.

My Top 5 No Cities To Love tracks as of 7/15:
  1. A New Wave
  2. No Cities to Love
  3. Bury Our Friends
  4. Price Tag
  5. A tie between Surface Envy and Fangless sorry I know that's cheating but they're both really good!

Along with releasing a new album, Sleater-Kinney also had the audacity to go on tour. While their Portland and Seattle shows, after first being non-existent, sold out in seconds, we trucked ourselves all the way to Spokane to see their very first show in almost a decade, which felt special, as Kathy and I had seen one of their very last shows in NYC way back when. Spokane is a kind of a weird town and ended up depressing me a bit but once the show got in full swing everything was adrenaline and Carrie Brownstein and nothing hurt. They played so many good songs and their energy was just the same and we had a perfect view and they were so happy too and I can't put into words how it made me feel other than a true and 100% alive and better version of myself.

The next day before the looong drive home, we did stop by a few of the more uplifting Spokane highlights that we had missed the day before, such as a diner inside of an old train car and the world's largest Radio Flyer and the Garbage Goat. So on second thought, Spokane isn't that bad after all.

February may be the shortest month, and looking back I can't remember at all what I did at work then, but man, it was a good one this year.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Best : June 2015.

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva was not particularly deep--although as the main character is Armenian-American, it does delve into some Armenian Genocide history--but geez, was it cute. And romantic. And gay. It was the best romantic cute gay YA book I've read in a long while! And reminded me that reading not-particularly-deep romances is just FUN and good and I'm vowing to spend more time reading them this summer.

This One Summer is a graphic novel about friendship and family and growing up and (obviously) summer. In fact I loved this one so much because I felt it wrapped up summer, and summer when you're a particular age as a kid where you feel kind of adult but also very much not, so very well. The art is gorgeous, and I liked the story a lot more than the previous Tamaki collaboration I read, Skim, even though Skim is a lot gayer.

Our new-to-us-restaurant-of-the-month in June was The Whole Bowl, a Portland vegetarian institution that started as a food truck but has had a brick and mortar location on Hawthorne forevah, where we enjoyed our lunches on a day that I remember as being pleasantly warm, before the hot-as-Hades heat wave enveloped us for the rest of the month. The concept of The Whole Bowl is pretty simple--it's just a lot of healthy stuff in a bowl. This is a concept that also forms the basis of Cafe Yumm, although Cafe Yumm takes it to a much more expanded and commercial level. Both bowl concepts also really depend on the secret sauce that forms the base of the bowl--in The Whole Bowl, a lemon-garlic concoction known as Tali Sauce, and in Cafe Yumm, Yumm Sauce, a more creamy and tahini based sauce.

My conclusion was that I like Cafe Yumm bowls more, but that The Whole Bowl undoubtedly tastes healthier and more, you know, whole-some for you. Yumm Sauce is...not good for you. Which is why it is SO DELICIOUS. But in general I am a big, big fan of bowl-based meals. I hope you enjoyed this bowl meal analysis! Bowl bowl bowl bowl!

Inside Out, Pixar's newest, was essentially made for me. It is about FEELINGS! And memories! It is so good! I cried so much! Ahhhh I LOVED IT! Leslie Knope as Joy and Phyllis From The Office as Sadness was also the most perfect casting I've ever seen.

One day this month I walked into the Kennedy School and as I waited for Kathy and Manda and Manda's parents for dinner, Rosalie Come and Go started playing from the speakers above my head and I was suddenly swept into that slightly bittersweet but comforting place that hearing a certain song you haven't heard in a long time takes you to, where you remember a person you used to be. And I realized that even though I haven't actively listened to any of his records in ages, and even though the critical part of my brain dismisses the age of my Ryan Adams obsession as melodramatic, and even though I am devastated that he and Mandy Moore broke up and am certain that it was his fault because he is kind of an asshole, in the end I will always, always love Ryan Adams.

Some songs that I will always love the most that I made myself remember this month: To Be Young! Let It Ride! Easy Plateau! So Alive! Rescue Blues!

Pride is always the best thing. It really really is. Made sweeter this month by the Supreme Court, but I've already told you all about that.

To celebrate finishing my first year as a full-time teacher-librarian, I also completed the whole hiking loop at Silver Falls this month, something I've wanted to do for quite a while, which I wrote about on my dorky hiking blog.

<3 you, summer. Here's to more of you.