American Born Chinese

24 02 2015

Read this all in one day. It was really good, but also it was a quick read. I couldn’t help but think of my book proposal while I read this and how similar (growing up in a conflicting environment between personal culture and North American culture) and yet different (my life is very gay) it is. I related a bit to this, and it was interesting to me because I didn’t have such an identity crisis growing up in Vancouver as the main character did in this book. I’m first generation, but there was never any racism in elementary school or with teachers. Then again, there were a lot more Asian/Chinese kids in my school, so I’m sure we all became normalized to the fact that Vancouver wasn’t a white city.

As for my underwear, I think it’s supposed to be a jockstrap thing built into the underwear itself. It’s kind of funny-looking in that makes my dick stick out, and not particularly in an attractive way. Not sure how I feel about it. Maybe I’ll decide once I wear it a bit more. What do you think?

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The 3rd Annual Aaron Book Awards

30 12 2014

Welcome once again to the 3rd Annual Aaron Book Awards! I will start off with some disappointing news: the total number of books I read this year is 23, down from 35 from last year. And I don’t really have an excuse, since I graduated from university earlier this year and should have had time to read lots… although I was working two jobs for a while. And writing (or procrastinating and pretending to write). And I did read a lot more novels this year than last year, so maybe I actually read more in quantity… anyway! I’m sure you’re not dying to know who won what, so I’ll just get to it.

Without further ado…

Best Play

Winner: The Normal Heart — Larry Kramer

Well, yet again, I only read one play this year, but it was a fucking awesome one. I had been wanting to read it for a while and it was only after watching Ryan Murphy’s film adaptation earlier this year — which left me in a giant puddle of tears — that I was finally able to get a copy from the library.

Can’t recommend this play enough.

Best Children’s Book

Sort of winner? A Pussycat’s Christmas — Margaret Wise Brown

I have to explain.

This book was not on my list of books to read (obviously. Really!). I happened to come upon it while working at the library one day, and took a picture of it to send to someone who looooooves cats. One thing lead to another, and I borrowed the book. But I couldn’t just not read it, so I did.

And honestly, it wasn’t very good. Yeah, the pictures are great because, well, there’s a fluffy cat in them, but the writing itself meanders and is, for a picture book, kind of underwhelming. But I didn’t read any other children’s book this year, and I don’t think this book deserves it. So… I’ll just leave it like that.

Best YA Novel:

Winner:  Openly Straight — Bill Konigsberg

First of all, this was a tough decision. I really enjoyed both Openly Straight and Just Between Us; they both had wonderful protagonists and dealt with a lot of topical gay issues. I have to hand it to Mr. Konigsberg for his fantastic characterization of not just his main characters, but to all of his characters. It’s a skillful technique that has definitely made me think about with my own writing. Plus, the witty humour throughout is simply irresistible.

Nominees: Just Between Us — J.H. Trumble
Openly Straight — Bill Konigsberg

Best Non-Fiction Book

Winner: Toxin, Toxout — Bruce Lourie, Rick Smith

I think this is a difficult category to judge because these books are all so different in their own right. I included It Gets Better because although it is made up of creative non-fiction narratives, its purpose is to educate and provide support to people, the way many self-help and sociological books do.

Ultimately, Toxin, Toxout, the follow-up to last year’s winning Slow Death by Rubber Duck, is our winner this year! Another informative, alarming, and Canadian (!) book about everyday invisible toxins in our lives. If Slow Death by Rubber Duck sounded the alarm on toxins, this book is the therapy session that provides us hope.

Nominees: Toxin, Toxout — Bruce Lourie, Rick Smith

Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities — Patrick Condon

It Gets Better — eds. Dan Savage and Terry Miller

Best Graphic novel/Manga

Winner: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (vols. 5-7) — Hayao Miyazaki

This might be unfair because I picked Nausicaa last year and I hadn’t even finished reading the series… but too bad.

Nominees: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (vols. 5-7) — Hayao Miyazaki

Artifice — Alex Woolfson

Persepolis — Marjane Satrapi

Scott Pilgrim (vols. 4-5) — Bryan Lee O’Malley

Best Memoir/Autobiography

Winner: Nothing to Envy — Barbara Demick

A sobering, devastating, horrific, shocking, and moving piece of journalism. Thanks to David Sedaris for recommending it. I think it’s one of the creative non-fiction books I’ve read.

Nominees: The Bucolic Plague — Josh Kilmer Purcell

Nothing to Envy — Barbara Demick

Persepolis — Marjane Satrapi

Bossypants — Tina Fey

It Gets Better — eds. Dan Savage and Terry Miller

Best Novel (Fiction)

Winner: The Year of the Flood — Margaret Atwood

This was the year of Margaret Atwood. Gotta hand it to her for creating such a frightening depiction of the future. This is what speculative fiction is all about.

I also want to give a shout-out to The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet for being ambitious in language and style. I’d argue that most writers today care more about characters or story or other aspects of writing, and less about language. Mitchell is all about language in this one. It’s not a book for everyone, for sure, but you do have to admire his dedication to words you’ve probably never heard of before.

Nominees: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet — David Mitchell

Oryx and Crake — Margaret Atwood

Fahrenheit 451 — Ray Bradbury

The Year of the Flood — Margaret Atwood

Maddaddam — Margaret Atwood

And the final category: Best Book of 2014

Winner: Nothing to Envy — Barbara Demick
Honorable mention: The Year of the Flood — Margaret Atwood

Goals for next year: read more plays and children’s books!

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Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4: Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together

18 11 2014

Almost forgot about continuing on with this series. Great book again, although I will have to echo what I mentioned previously about the pacing being a bit all over the place. It’s a lot slower than in the film, and I like that it takes time to explore things that never made it into the film, like how Scott and Wallace had to move out of their apartment, but the overall structure and pace suffers because the fights don’t usually build up. I still love the humour though.

Also, I bought these pants while I was in California last week. They look more salmon coloured in the picture than in real life for some reason; they’re a darker shade of pink (but still bright). I remember being doubtful whether or not to buy them, but then I thought, I want to buy something that I wouldn’t normally buy, so I got it. Definitely got looks from people when I wore them.

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Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return

17 09 2014

New underwear! Thought I’d show off some ass while I’m at it too.

Also, this is a good book although not as much as the first Persepolis. I think it’s because the struggles in this one were less traumatic, more relatable. Still a great read!

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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

9 09 2014

Man, this was a fantastic read. Highly recommend this to those who want to start reading graphic novel but aren’t sure where to start. I’ve seen Persepolis the film years ago and thought it was great, but I don’t recall a lot of the details. What I like most about the graphic novel is how Satrapi conveys her childhood so simply without needing to force the emotion she wants us to feel. Definitely left me thinking about how I should be writing and showing emotion in my memoir.

You may notice that I am 1) clothed, and 2) not in my bathroom. That is because I took this at work in the bathroom; all the copies of Persepolis were taken out except for one reference book so I had no choice but to do this in the library. No underwear for you all this time (I am also aware that my hair looks funny).

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The Young Protectors/Buying Time

14 05 2014

So I decided to give myself credit for reading more things.

I know technically both comics are updated and added weekly, but I’ve read up to the end of both of them and I think they deserve a spot on my completed shelf anyway. As I wrote previously, The Young Protectors, written by Alex Woolfson (who also wrote Artifice) is about a group of young superheroes, one of whom is gay. The other thing that is noteworthy about this comic is that the superheroes are of various ethnicities, which is always super great to see. The art is gorgeous and very much in vein with classic superhero comics (at least in my mind), and there’s a bit of skin-flashing as Kyle, the budding homo, dangerously flirts with The Annihilator. I like this comic for the art and the action, but there were some parts that feel a bit slow and that I questioned the logic of the story (ie. Why does Laampros just take off after that ritual thing is done? Where is he going? Why not take his new “son” with him? The Annihilator just wants to live longer? Really? I was beginning to see this as an allegory to the  post-AIDS crisis in the ’90s and the older generation disliking the younger generation for simply being young while many people still lived with the disease and death, but alas, I don’t think this really held up).

Read The Young Protectors for free! (and also find out more info) http://webcomics.yaoi911.com/archive/ete_title_page/

Woolfson recently posted a link to a web comic called Buying Time, created by Casey J (who is also Canadian! Woot!) and noted how he stayed up until 4am to finish reading it. I decided to give it a try and was so fascinated at the how webcomics can work! I didn’t know they could be interactive and designed almost like a film, with characters moving and changing facial expressions with the click of a mouse. I thought that was utterly brilliant, and definitely got me thinking about possibly writing a graphic novel/comic of my own (though I’d leave the artwork to someone who can actually draw more than stick figures). In some ways, I like Buying Time better than TYP. It flows better; it has a better sense of world and the rules; and the main character, Vinnie, is loner and has a quiet crush on a co-worker = complete relatability. I also really like the fact that he’s not tall and ripped like a lot of characters in comics (or any story, really), but is short and has a few extra pounds. But he’s just so freaking adorable and well-meaning, that it’s impossible not to root for him and fall in love with him. And when he finally hugs Galvin — let me say that having read a lot of romance stories, I don’t usually care much when two people get together. But I was swooning sooooo much when it happened! The build-up was just fantastic. And the idea of Vinnie having to work extra hours to literally pay for time to hang out with Galvin is just brilliant. Really looking forward to seeing where this comic goes.

Read Buying Time for free! (and also find out more info) http://buyingtime.the-comic.org/comics/first/

For those who have read both comics, which do you like more? Why?

Finally, since I can’t exactly post a picture of myself with webcomics, I took a picture of myself trying to look like a douche. Hope you like it.

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Artifice

11 05 2014

Two books done in two days! Wow!

To be fair, this comic is a fairly short, easy read — but one that is unabashedly gay, romantic, and fun. And I love that. I will admit that I was more than self-conscious reading Artifice on the bus and while waiting for the bus with people around me because I had just gotten to the part where Jeff and Deacon are, um, intimate, and I was afraid people might be thinking I was looking at porn or yaoi or whatever. It also didn’t help that I got a little excited at those parts too… *blush blush*

That being said, after I finished the book, I got a bit obsessed with author Alex Woolfson’s other comic, The Young Protectors. I discovered there was even a Kickstarter campaign last year for that comic, and kicked myself for not having heard of the project and contributing something (especially to get those romance trading cards and NSFW prints, my my). In less than a day, have now read everything and caught up to the end of TYP which I think is pretty good and should count for 2-ish books read in two days, but whatever.

I don’t think I’ve posed with this underwear yet. I took another closer shot to show how part of it is fishnet, which I think is cool. Also it’s super soft.

Looking forward to obsessively checking for the next Young Protectors page!

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Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Books 6 and 7

25 01 2014

Finished Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and oh god, what a ride. The ending was a bit abrupt, and I got the feeling Miyazaki thought the series could go on forever, but it was still a solid climax. And so much death… I found myself wondering how the same guy who made cute little Ponyo came up with this incredibly dark graphic novel full of people dying on every panel. What a brilliant and oddly disturbing man.

So here is me and my naked back. I was gonna show my butt but I thought that might be too graphic so I had the books cover it. My naked butt is behind there though, if you want to know… and no, it wasn’t actually touching the books, so if you kids end up borrowing these copies from the library, you’re fine to rub it all over your face.

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Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Book 5

11 01 2014

God, this series is surprisingly dark and violent. Hard to believe this is the same man who went on to make Ponyo.

Oh, and jockstrap. Ha.

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The 2nd annual Aaron Book Awards

30 12 2013

Welcome to the 2nd annual Aaron Book Awards, where I list all of the books I’ve read this year and pick out some of my favourites. Compared to last year’s total of 30 books, I managed to read 35, which surprises me because I felt like I didn’t read very much this year. So, without further ado, here are the awards!

Best Play

Winner: a Shakespeare play I should’ve read

It seems unfair to make My Chernobyl the winner for this since I only read one play this year. I had been meaning to read some Shakespeare but never got around to it, mostly because I feared the translation would be daunting and annoying. But next year!

Nominees: My Chernobyl — Aaron Bushkowsky

Best Graphic Novel/Manga

Winner: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind — Hayao Miyazaki

Okay, I know I’m not even finished Nausicaa yet, and yeah sure, the last three books could completely ruin the series, but based on what I’ve read so far, it’s a huge, complex, philosophical piece of work. Not that Scott Pilgrim isn’t, but certainly not in the same way. One reads Scott Pilgrim to be entertained; one reads Nausicaa to have their mind blown.

Nominees: Scott Pilgrim — Bryan Lee O’Malley
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind — Hayao Miyazaki

Best Children’s Book

Winner: The Secret Garden — Frances Hodgson Burnett

I will give a shout-out to Evan Munday again though, because I love his humour and his writing style. He’s my bro!

Nominees: The Secret Garden — Frances Hodgson Burnett
Dial M for Morna — Evan Munday

Best Non-Fiction Book

Winner: Slow Death by Rubber Duck — Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie

I would’ve picked A Brief History of Time but I will be honest: I know Hawking dumbed down physics, but there were still parts in there in which I stared blankly at it and just looked at the pretty pictures.

Nominees: The Illustrated A Brief History of Time — by Stephen Hawking
Slow Death by Rubber Duck — Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie
Expert Companions: Household Skills and Tips

Best Memoir/Autobiography
I have to say that this is really tough because I loved all of these books in their own way, and quite frankly, these are all books that everyone should read sometime in their lives.

Winner: i am not myself these days — Josh Kilmer-Purcell

When something makes me cry, I know it’s good. i am not myself these days has that perfect balance of great humour, drama, and tragedy that I so long to write. It’s an incredibly poignant look at a tumultuous relationship of a young gay man’s life and growing up. I only hope to one day that my memoir will be as compelling as this one.

Nominees: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother — Amy Chua
i am not myself these days — Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Me Talk Pretty One Day — David Sedaris
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls — David Sedaris
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times for Teens
How Poetry Saved My Life — Amber Dawn

Best Novel (Fiction)
I only read three novels this year? I thought I read more. Hmm.

Winner: Life of Pi — Yann Martel

Nominees: Life of Pi — Yann Martel
The Five People You Meet in Heaven — Mitch Albom
The Lovely Bones — Alice Sebold

Best Young Adult Book
I’m surprised this is the biggest category. I guess I didn’t realize how many YA novels I read this year.

Winner: Where You Are — J.H. Trumble

I thought there were great twists and turns, and the narrative was so compelling I couldn’t put the book down, which doesn’t happen very often. A really great novel in its own right, but a really good gay romance too.

Nominees: What They Always Tells Us — Martin Wilson
Hidden — Tomas Mournian
The City of Ember trilogy — Jeanne DuPrau
Six Earlier Days — David Levithan
Where You Are — J.H. Trumble
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times for Teens
Two Boys Kissing — David Levithan
Don’t Let Me Go — J.H. Trumble
Divergent — Veronica Roth

And for the final category: Best Book of 2013

Winner: i am not myself these days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Honorable mention: Where You Are by J.H. Trumble

Looking forward to reading tons more books next year!

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