Favourite Movies: 2016

I was looking over my movie-watching log before sitting down to write this post, and it turns out that this was an exceptional movie year for me. I watched all of the Mad Max movies, I rewatched Galaxy Quest after far too long, I finally saw Groundhog Day, and I went to the theatre enough times that I have three stand-outs from among the year’s new releases. The three are: Arrival, Love & Friendship, and La La Land. You’ve already talked about Arrival (so beautiful, so heart-breaking, so uplifting, I loved it), so I’ll tell you about Love & Friendship and La La Land.


Love & Friendship is hilarious, and I saw it twice in theatres in the space of a week. The main character, Lady Susan, talks and runs circles around everyone else, and is the most manipulative and delightful person I’ve seen on screen in ages. She’s awful and I love her. At the beginning of the movie she has everyone absolutely wrapped around her finger, and even though the others have largely learned how to play the game by the end, she still gets everything that she wants. She’s someone who would normally be powerless and subservient – she’s a relatively poor widowed mother – but she uses her wit and cunning to get by and it is so much fun to watch. It’s based on a book by Jane Austen, which my cousin is now reading and says is just as excellent as the movie is, and I’ve added it to my to-read list. Here’s the trailer, please watch this movie, you will not regret it I promise.


I saw La La Land on Boxing Day. I knew it was going to be at least reminiscent of some of my favorite old musicals – The Pirate, Singing in the Rain, basically just any Gene Kelly movie – and it ended up being this exuberant and lovely look at movies and music and Los Angeles and it was built almost exactly like a classic movie musical, complete with a nonsensical dream-like dance number in the middle. I’m still at the point where I only have superlatives to describe it, since it was only a few days ago that I saw it. It was gorgeous, it was smart, it was so well lit, the songs were beautiful, I want all of Emma Stone’s clothes, I should probably take up tap-dancing, what an excellent film. It’s joyful and it’s poignant and JUST SO GOOD. I don’t know if you would like it, but that may be a result of Drive differences.

My favourite movie of 2016


I know that it looks like I am just suffering from a huge case of recency, but I have to say that Arrival was the best movie I saw in 2016. You recommended it to me and told me it was Vonnegut-y. That was enough to get me in the theatre (I really love Kurt Vonnegut). It has been more than a week since I saw it and I still cannot shake the “in awe” feeling.

This movie was so good! Seriously. I need to watch it a few more times, but I think it is a contender to become one of my all-time favourites. Yes, I am still in that period where I am reeling and in wonder. But I think it is still a sound judgement. It is one of those rare movies that catches you off guard and is somehow what you expected and not what you expected at the same time. When you told me it was Vonnegut-y, I knew that meant it had aliens but wasn’t scary. I also had a feeling it would have something to do with time. You know that I love Slaughterhouse Five and that the reason I love it is because of how the Tralfamadorians talk about time.

I was sitting in the movie theatre about half way through the movie and I started wondering why I automatically assumed those things from you telling me it reminded you of Vonnegut. I realized that the only Vonnegut’s that I was sure you had read were Slaughterhouse Five and Galapagos. And I realized that Galapagos, while it was completely different from the aliens and time concept of Slaughterhouse Five, still dealt with time in a abnormal and uniquely Vonnegut way.

I would go into more detail about the movie, but I really don’t want to wreck it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. It is one of those movies where the first time you see it is almost magical. The movie will be amazing to rewatch, but you only get to see it for the first time once. It was such a beautiful thing that I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. But I will talk about some non-plot things. Usually I am not one to get all, “mmhm yes, the colours and the soundtrack were so beautiful.” But seriously, “THE COLOURS AND THE SOUNDTRACK WERE SO BEAUTIFUL.” I don’t really know what I am describing when I say the “colours” but THE COLOURS! And the cinematography. Everything was so beautiful and misty and just beautiful. Please stop making me try to describe things I don’t know much about and just take my word for it and go and see this movie.

Dear Raiah

You’ll remember that I was debating whether or not to put a post about harassment on my blog. I gave it some thought, took your advice into account, and asked Josh what he thought, and ultimately published it. Some people on the facebook commented about me being “brave”, but I didn’t feel that way. I just felt icky, but also kinda good? Like it was good to share, but I didn’t want to? It’s all confusing.

In class this week we talked about residential schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and how revisiting and sharing stories about past trauma helps to heal trauma (true in personal cases and cases of national trauma)(guess what, there’s lots of German scholarship on this). It made me think of your confession session, and how confession takes power away from sin. Storytelling and information sharing takes power away from trauma. Exposing things like the everyday occurrences of harassment takes power away from them, or at least makes them more visible so that the problem can be addressed. It’s like the book you were telling me about (and that I definitely need to read) about vulnerability counteracting shame etc. I still don’t feel 100% great about that post, but I’m glad I published it.

I’ve been thinking about other things that I don’t do because a) they are scary, b) I’m not willing to make myself vulnerable, or c) I don’t think I will be “good enough”. For example, I love movies and like writing and I love reading writing about movies and I often say to myself, “I should start writing essays about movies.” Because I have thoughts, and I think they’re (at least sometimes) interesting/original. But I also don’t think I’d be very good at film criticism. What if I’m not interesting or insightful enough? What if the things I take away from movies are trite? What if I like dumb movies? And let’s not even TALK about submitting stuff to film magazines and the like. TOO DAUNTING. But I still want to write about movies, but I still don’t write. I don’t know if you’ve seen it already or not, but there’s an essay about Noah that I absolutely love. I wish I could write like that, and then feel confident enough to submit my writing.

This is kind of the same way I feel about us making a podcast. I think we’d have fun and it’d be good but at the same time I’m like “what if I’m not interesting enough? And what would we talk about?” Basically what I’m saying is that I need to be braver.

Josh is in Edmonton now, and we have been to IKEA three times since he moved here. The third time was yesterday before going to see Arrival, and I am definitely full up on IKEA. Here is a selfie I took of me looking imperious after the second trip:

   Please go see Arrival. I think you would like it. It was quite Vonnegut-ian. I’ve decided that I need more non-horror aliens and sci-fi in my life asap.

I’ve started using the story feature on Instagram. My mom sent me a text after a day where I posted a flurry of things to my story saying how much she liked it, and I’ve decided it’s a good way to keep my family in the loop while I’m in Edmonton. Plus, I think I’m good at it. I was feeling a bit weird about it, and then I discovered that you can make your story invisible to people if you want and I was like “HEYO, I’m totes on board now” and blocked around 30 people from being able to see it. Now I am happily story-ing away.

I wish I had something as beautiful as those videos to add to the end of this letter. Alas, I do not.

2016 in Review

We are both going to try to work through these topics over the next few weeks. They are all a look back on 2016 and they may appear in any combination or order:

  • Best book(s) you read
  • Best movie(s) you saw
  • Best music you listened to
  • A great decision you made
  • A bad decision you made
  • Something you learned
  • A time that was good
  • A time that was not good

Dear Glynis

I feel like it has been a while and I have a lot to catch you up on.
None of it is particularly important.
I read this article and it made me feel so much better about liking my hair blond. Look how great this naturally dark haired lady looks with blond hair. And look how happy she looks. It made me feel less guilty about liking my hair dyed.
I went to a wedding. While at that wedding, pre-dance, there was a couple who was leaving. She asked me to dance a song for her. He said, “well, she is a really great dancer” in an actually serious and not sarcastic voice. I was both flattered and convinced he was just being nice and/or had never seen me dance.
Last week at work I was sitting in the crew talk and a guy asked our supervisor if you had to wear a high-vis vest if you were just going outside the back end door to go to the bathroom that is right there. The supervisor said, “technically you have to wear one any time you go outside the building.” The guy expressed annoyance. The supervisor then said, “well, we all have our cross to bear. And if you have to wear a high-vis to go to the bathroom, well that’s just too damn bad.”
It was probably funnier if you were actually there.
I spend a few weeks on night shift. I took this photo on one of them. I feel like it accurately portrays night shift.
I have spent a ridiculous amount of time cleaning out and moving in. I have rearranged my room and gotten rid of years worth of clutter. I think I am at about 7 full garbage bags of donated stuff and a 2-3 of stuff I just threw out. I am almost done. I am loving the de-cluttered life though. It is so amazing to have my room be open and clean. I am working on the final areas that need to be cleaned and then I will get everything back up on my walls. That is another thing I am doing: new artwork for my walls. Except for a few staples (Dylan, DiCaprio, and lion astronaut of course) I am changing things up. I’ll send you some photos when its all done.
You informed me a few months ago of the very sad fact that Towers and Trees was calling it quits due to a band member moving away. It was very sad news for me. Mostly because I was looking forward to more music and more shows. But also because when we saw them last I didn’t buy a t-shirt, or a vinyl copy of their album. So I decided the best thing to do was to just randomly email them through their website and ask if they would ship one to me. And they did!! It was so exciting. The main guy, Adrian, he sent me photos of all the shirts, and put everything together and mailed it to me himself. It was so wonderful. And he even sent me a bonus extra shirt. And the package arrived on my actually birthday. We were emailing to work everything out and his last email to me before he sent it ended with “Cheers and hope our paths cross again soon 🙂” I thought, that’s a nice thing to say. But I mean, obviously, the chances we will ever see each other again are slim at best. Then, when the package arrived on my actually birthday and had an extra shirt, I felt like I had to just send a quick email back to say thank you. He sent a quick reply back that ended with “Cheers Raiah! Here’s to hoping we cross paths again sooner than later.
So basically, I’m pretty sure we’re friends now. That’s how it works right? He said twice that he hoped we would see each other again. Haha. I am almost sure he doesn’t actually know who I am or remember meeting me. But why would he say it twice if he didn’t mean it, right?
Just before I left camp, me and Carlin filmed some fun videos.
Backstory: We found that we both had a certain mug at camp that we hated with a fiery, burning passion. We decided we would smash them. We spent a bunch of time talking about how we might smash them in a fun and epic way. We never actually got around to smashing them. On the last day of family camp we realized we hadn’t smashed them yet. We decided to throw them into the lake instead.

Dear Raiah

In class this week we spent a lot of time looking at the ethics and politics of cataloging and classification, and it was a really good and really affirming conversation. It made me feel more confident in choosing librarianship. If I’m cataloging something, I have the opportunity to decide what the book is about, what and how many subjects to assign to it, and whether or not I’ll create as many access points to it as I can or not. The Library of Congress adds a few thousand new subject terms every year to the LCSH list, and every time a term is added or a term is replaced or removed, it is a chance for the list to become more inclusive, to create more access, and to respect more people. For example, there’s a push to change the subject heading “Illegal Aliens” to “Undocumented Immigrants”, and there’s a push to replace anglicized names of First Nations peoples with their non-English names, and a push to add subject headings around movements like Black Lives Matter, so that information on these things is represented accurately (and justly) and easy to find. Basically, I’ve been thinking about cataloging as a way of constructing access, and helping people find what they need in a library, and about the power behind naming things.

I’m not sure how well I’m explaining this, but it was a good week at school.

It’s been snowing in Edmonton, and there’s a good three inches of wet, heavy snow everywhere. I am not looking forward to winter. The dwindling light situation has been difficult already. I have a hermit weekend ahead of me though; I’ve got a ton of schoolwork to do and not a ton of time to do it in, so I don’t have time to be frustrated by the snow.