Author: Leah Lucci

2018’s Top 5 Books (So Far)!

After the heaving, gasping-for-breath disaster of 2017, I decided to spend 2018 embracing hygge, which involved less time on the Internet and more time reading.

The downside was fewer blog posts, which I’ve realized I missed writing. So let’s combine reading & writing, and talk about my top 5 reads of the year so far, out of the 26 I’ve read in 2018. (Wait, 26? Yep.)

Without further ado…

Jo Walton, Starlings

This short story collection contains: sentient AI, sentient mirrors, magically sharing pain with family members, nursing home biddies, Jesus clones, gravity-free ballet, and some poetry at the end I didn’t read

Daryl Gregory, Spoonbenders

This novel contains: Dysfunctional family, time travel, gambling, “fake” psychics who are real psychics, “real” psychics who are fake psychics, a magic ray, astral projection, and a character who keeps digging holes in the backyard for no apparent reason

Helen Oyeyemi, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

This short story collection contains: Mysterious keys, lesbians, constellation tattoos, a puppetry school, a celebrity bad boy, artists, library love, & witchcraft that works

Dan Harris, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics

This book contains: A non-pretentious, non-religious sass mouth; the mellowest dude you’ve ever met; a bus tour; easy advice for beginners; and a conversational tone

KC Archer, School for Psychics

This novel contains: a school for psychics that is NOT Harry-Potter-like, gambling, law enforcement training, betrayal, secret societies

As you can see, I mostly like the idea of magic & the mind. Even meditation is a sort of metaphysical thing where you’re using your mind to change the world.

When I read a book that has zero magic or science fiction* in it, I honestly get a little disappointed.

*The line between “magic” and “science fiction” seems to be narrowing as technology progresses. I have no idea how my car, the Internet, or my phone works. They might as well be made by sorcerers.

5 Pieces of Hygiene & Medical Advice I’ll Never Follow

Some of us are glorious bastions of self-care; others are sewer rats trembling against the cold that has pervaded their dumpster.

Come. Join me in the sewer underneath the subway grate. It’s slightly warmer there.

We can hold hands and learn beauty tips we will inevitably ignore.

Advice: Wash Your Face Before and/or After The Shower, Not During
Reasoning: You’ll strip the moisture off your face.
My take:  My face is part of my body, and it will be treated as such. I will only treat my skin like a princess if it starts cracking apart and sliding off my skull.

Advice: Avoid Brushing Your Teeth Right After You Eat
Reasoning: You can rub acid deeper into your teeth, and/or scrape off the enamel.
My take:  There’s no time in my morning for food, leisurely pause, brushing, then leaving. It’s a violation of the Geneva Convention to expose others to my morning breath, so I must simply brush and bounce.

Advice: Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
Reasoning: This allegedly works to fight obesity, tummy aches, colds, dandruff, your grandmother demanding you call her more, etc.
My take: I wasn’t placed on earth to eat gross things. I refused to eat hamburgers until I was in my twenties because I thought they were yucky. At 33, I still won’t eat slaw, seafood, sushi, cottage cheese, Jell-O, or anything gloppy, stinky or lumpy. There’s no way I’m going to just drink vinegar. You will have to mix that shit in with my embalming fluid to get it into me. 

Advice: Take Cold Showers
Reasoning: It assists with weight loss, good skin, and depression treatment.
My take: … But at what cost? I tried this for a week or two, actually. I’d take a shower at a normal temperature, then spend the last minute blasting myself with cold water. In a way, it did help with sadness — because I’d spent that minute just laughing maniacally at my own stupidity.

Advice: Don’t Let Your Dog Lick Your Face
Reasoning: Dogs are gross vectors of disease.
My take: I love dogs and they love me. If I’m going to die anyway, this might as well be it. 

5 Questions About That Netflix Will Smith Thing

Bright is an original made-for-Netflix film about Will Smith being Will Smith, opposite an orc, fighting fantasy evil. The film’s about as good as any cynical, world-weary person would expect. Which is to say, it’s not all that great. The argument I’ve mostly been hearing about the film is whether it’s good enough to finish. 

I have some other concerns.

Does anyone else miss the titular songs in movies that describe the movie? Like Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap” about the Ninja Turtles? Mc Hammer’s “Addams Family Groove“? Run DMC’s “Ghostbusters II Rap“? Will Smith’s very own “Men In Black” and “Wild Wild West“?

Listen, I know that Will Smith is probably still reeling from Wild Wild West, but he needs to recover. Writing another rap anthem for his blockbusters is immersion therapy.

Is Will Smith ever not a cop? He is an officer of the law/government in his biggest movies and series: Bad BoysMen In Black, Independence Day, I Robot, I am Legend, Bright, and — of course — Wild Wild West. Plus possibly some of his other movies I haven’t seen.

So, like… is racism… bad? In this film, humans constantly shit all over orcs (metaphorically). It’s weird to watch a person of color act racist. Shouldn’t he be more compassionate? Maybe the orcs were the slaves instead? 

Contemporary race/class structures among humans do still seem to exist.

For example, there is a Latinx gang we meet. They are a slapdash collection of uncomfortable-to-watch Chicano tropes. It’s fairly clear that, at the very least, these particular people are in a position to choose this unsavory life. So humans still have some sort of disparity within them.

But the orcs are still the worst.

While I was watching the movie, I was like “how the fuck is racism still a thing in this universe?” Then remembered that, in the real world, humans are shitty to other humans. So there’s that.

People are racist, maaaaaaan.

Was this written by a committee of 13-year-olds? The two legs that the plot stands on are: 1) Racism Is Bad; and 2) Violence Is Fun. The plot is so simple that it feels like a few young teens on Adderall came up with it.

“I want a bunch of shit to blow the fuck up,” Mike said.

“I think there should be magic,” Joe said. “Like, sexy, backflipping elves.”

“But, like, an underlying message, maybe about racism being bad?” Ella said.

“Can Will Smith do a rap?” Joe said.

“I don’t think he does that any more,” Mike said. “Don’t worry. We’ll include a gratuitous strip club scene. Tits.”

“And one of the cops is a centaur,” Ella said.

What now? Despite being torn asunder by critics, Netflix has ordered a sequel.

We can only hope the cop centaur gets a bigger role.

5 Favorite Books I Read in 2017

2017 wasn’t the year of the novel. Though I read many, I didn’t find any that spoke deeply to my heart. Instead, it was a year dominated by essays and short stories by women. If those genres are on your TBR list, here are my picks:

2 short story collections: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, and At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson.

Both of these stories feature otherworldly magical realism, unsettling elements, and lush prose. They’re stories you can chomp on and swallow whole.

2 essay collections: Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran, and Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling American Style by Cintra Wilson.

Both talk about larger societal issues — capitalism, feminism, self-expression — via the lenses of pop culture and fashion, respectively. Both authors have compelling, personable styles.

Nonfiction: The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton.

This is a great beginner’s introduction to how humans interact with their architecture. What it means, how it feels, why people construct buildings the way people do. It definitely gives me a leg up on understanding the basics (the very basics) of architectural types and theory.

The books I’m looking forward to in 2018 are here. Fingers crossed for another great year of reading!

5 Antiques I Managed Not To Buy This Year

Antiques stores smell moldy and they activate my asthma, but I can’t get enough of them.

I want to buy everything inside them, the creepier/uglier the better. I want to surround myself with these hardscrabble discards. We would form an army that eventually overthrows the system.

When my husband vetoes my selections, I photograph them so I can always remember them.

Here are 2017’s top 5 did-not-buy antiques:

This little Gloomy Gus got left behind in the Rapture. Look into his cold eyes. He knows something we don’t — something unspeakable.

This fella has the distinction of being the Mayor of Jaunty Walks.

This is the first of two horse items upon this list. Take a moment and just admire the normalcy of this horse, constipated as it is.

WHAT THE EVERLOVING —

WHAT —

HOW —

WHY —

I deeply regret not buying this.

And finally, the boobie portion of our show.

This “plus-size” mannequin reminds me of the Venus of Willendorf, in the best way possible. I don’t know where I’d put her, but I definitely would never clothe her. She deserves to present her glory all the time.

At some point, I’ll have to inventory all the stuff I did buy, which is an equally long list full of almost-as-preposterous crap.

My impulse control only goes so far.