Posted by: rocketbride | December 22, 2017

a short programming note

I’m in the process of going through my drafts folder, finishing pieces that I wrote and stashed. If you’re getting notifications whenever I publish, you’re going to be confused as to why I’ve suddenly started to talk about TCAF 2015 or Jian Ghomeshi (especially with all the new shit that’s buried his scandal in the last year). I’m just tying to honour the stuff that was important enough to say but not important enough to remember. 😉

Posted by: rocketbride | December 20, 2017

Thoughts on the Last Jedi (2)

Having spent so long pouring over jokes, thinking about possible scenarios, reading theories and getting ready for anything, I was pretty excited to hit that opening score. The movie itself was a barrage of input, one I’ll need at least one more viewing to fully process. The sunny optimism of the new kids in TFA is gone, and I’m not sure I like Poe & Finn as much as I did. Ultimately, though, I don’t complain about stuff like this; it’s the story that has me hooked, and not liking characters quite as much is sort of like your uncle being a jerk one Christmas: you’re taking the long view, and he wasn’t why you came to dinner anyway.

Even in the worst of my Kylo/Adam fixation, I tried to keep myself from committing to any one version of his relationship with Rey, and TLJ gave me so much more to think about without fully shutting any narrative door. That throne room scene, oh my God. I could never have imagined that a Star Wars movie could make me that elated. People sneer a lot at the idea of “fan-service” – a term which is as overused as genius – but that throne room scene was clearly the work of someone who loved Star Wars and wanted to test the limits of what he was allowed to do with characters who had previously just been samurai set dressing. For a story to be any good, the writer needs to be a fan of the story, which makes criticisms like this particularly meaningless.

I almost wish that they had doubled-down on the Kurosawa influences, that Lucas has always claimed but rarely done justice to. I would have happily sat through a long, slow movie on Ach-To, a nearly-silent story of with the sky and the earth as much main characters as Rey and Luke (and Chewy and the porgs, of course). I loved the new characters but I was never that interested in the goings-on of Poe and Finn, not when there was blue milk to be guzzled. That said, the horse-alien jail break was magnificent, and Laura Dern killed it in her perfect purple ensemble (Hallowe’en!!) and Leia taking up a blaster once again was a sorely-needed punctuation.

But it’s the Kylo-Rey stuff that stays with me. Their indelible connection. How lost they both are. How much sense Kylo makes when he wants to stop the hero-god madness in its tracks, but still can’t free himself from the nonsense of wanting to be Darth Vader II, a stupid idea that Rey quickly shuts down. I had wanted this to be a definitive redemption for him, but I’m ok with the way it was clawed back. Ben Solo will have to work on himself for a long time before he’s safe to play with the other children; it would have been unrealistic for a few conversations with Rey to bring him back from spittle-flecked foaming mouth villany. For one thing, he needs to put on a towel. (I’m really amused by the shocked reaction to the shirt-less scene; it’s not like it’s hard to find pictures of Adam Driver without a shirt. That was kind of his deal for the whole first season of Girls.)

adam sackler

I’m left with a lot of lingering questions about the Rey/Finn/Poe dynamic. This movie seems to have walked back the gay/poly aspects of the characters, something that’s barely subtext in TFA. Is Rey going to reject the celibate Jedi thing as just one more piece of legacy bullshit? Does Poe fall in love with everyone because he was so traumatized by the First Order?


Ultimately, I’m glad I still have so many questions.

Posted by: rocketbride | December 19, 2017

Some thoughts on The Last Jedi (1)

If you’re unfortunate enough to live in my house, you already know that a switch was flipped when I saw SW:tFA in late December. I plunged headfirst into a swirl of delicious obsession; at first with the new cast (taking a lengthy pause over Adam Driver) and eventually reaching back to my excitement about the original trilogy. I collected jokes and fan art on Pintrest. I used the Machete Order to work through 4 of the previous 6 (I still have RotJ to look forward to), which meant that I had to watch Revenge of the Sith for the first time. I traded batshit insane fan theories with my brother, who only reads SW novels and maintains a high level of investment/obsession at all times.
– an unpublished post from May 27, 2016 called “Sad Wars: the Sulk Awakens”

Seeing The Last Jedi on Saturday with two of my three boys at times verged on an out-of-body experience. I can’t remember 1999 very well, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to see a Star Wars movie. Or any movie, really, with the possible exception of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I haven’t read all of the Lord of the Rings books, and I already knew exactly what was going to happen in the Harry Potter movies, so after the first one I wasn’t that thrilled. I had already gotten my story fix from Rowling, whenever a new novel came out. I needed to know what happened to those guys, and the Boy & I spent the intervening years speculating on what might happen to our little magical moppets. I’ve spent 6 years needing to know what happens next in the world of Percy Jackson but it hasn’t consumed me, exactly, in the way that The Force Awakens pulled me into a force-choke hold two years ago, one that has yet to relent.

I have always liked Star Wars, and even though I gave up halfway through the prequels, I knew I was going to see the Force Awakens in the theatre. I wasn’t expecting to be so thoroughly seduced by the sweetness of Rey and Finn finding each other, or the cocky bravura of Poe, or the brooding instability of Kylo. After that first viewing I started watching cast interviews, getting to know the actors who had touched me so profoundly.

Within a short period of time I fixated on Adam Driver, drawn to the awkward, mumbling mass of grey and black separates that seemed to lurk in the shadows of the brash and charming Daisy, John & Oscar. When he first took off his helmet, I couldn’t make sense of his face. I couldn’t stop staring. I went through his back catalogue in Netflix, hate-watched 4 seasons of Girls, found out when his other projects were released and went to see those as soon as I could, just to wrap my head around this mystery. I ended up seeing some pretty great movies, including Silence and Paterson, my first Scorcese and Jarmuch respectively (yeah, I haven’t seen Down by Law, I’m a bad Tom Waits fan.)


And through all of my subsequent watchings of the Force Awakens, I wondered what I wasn’t seeing, based on the layered performances I had seen elsewhere. Other people dismissed Kylo – my space friend – as a tantrummy brat, but I found his instability disturbing and magnetic in equal measures. As much as I hate Heathcliff and Catherine, Kylo is a space opera Heathcliff, and I was 100% there for future developments in the weird relationship he’d built with Rey, even if she was his sister. I have a whole line of thought on that. (And if she wasn’t related, she was the sensible Catherine we all deserved.)

Wuthering Heights Part 2” from Hark! A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton

On Saturday, the very best moment was the first moment, when the title rushed across the screen and the John Williams score thundered the first cord. As with H2G2, I had a moment of apotheosis, knowing that this might be the best it would ever get. I was wrong, of course, because I didn’t know about the throne room battle then, but that first moment of delightful anticipation, of feeling that my questions would finally be answered, was sublime. And I love, love, love all the new puzzles to keep me guessing into the wee hours of the long nights.

Of course, being a story junkie means that this full almost-three-hour 8-ball would blaze through me and dissipate before we got home. I need more story and this is the maximum amount of time before a new Star Wars movie. But let me see this one three or four more times, just to take the edge off that realization.

Posted by: rocketbride | October 23, 2017

dear maggie

Today you turn 6, my youngest child, and although it seems arbitrary to note one day as being fundamentally different from the one that came before it, it is good to stop and think about all of the wonderful things you open the door to in my life.

Here are the things you are best at. You are the best at setting up the house to put on a show. You are the best at remembering adults who aren’t in your immediate family. You are the best at showing the world the passion and fire spinning in your core. You are headstrong and bossy, you are sensitive and shy. You have claimed all of my purses – even the felted one – and all of my friends – even Death – as your own. You want to climb over everything. Up until a few months ago, you wanted to spend every day in a dress as fancy as your soul. You have strong opinions about food and family activities that are too old for you. You always want another stuffed toy. And while you can burn with the desire to consume everything, you also turn on a dime and comfort me when you sense that something is bothering me. You are both brash and sensitive. You are endlessly entertaining and often frustrating. We will never stop baking imaginary cupcakes under the stairwell to the library until you figure out some other game.

Posted by: rocketbride | August 9, 2017

Things I Loved About Seeing the Dark Tower Movie yesterday

  1. All of the in-world references, starting immediately from Tet Productions, the logo of which was a Turtle and Rose.
  2. Idris Elba as the Gunslinger. There were a few bad notes in the script, but I totally bought him as the ancient, wise knight.
  3. Matthew McCaunnehey as The Man in Black. I’ve never found that guy handsome, but his slick storytelling and waxy, lizardy looks were perfect for this.
  4. The focussed on the most important relationship: Jake Chambers
  5. Watching Idris Elba reload his gun and shoot things and then reload again. Before I went I watched the trailer three times in a row and I think it made me pregnant.
  6. The fact that the moments from the trailer were just as cool in the larger context
  7. The fact that it’s a sequel to the stories!! No more brilliant answer could have been made to the many many diversions and weaknesses when compared to the original series. Best explanation since “a wizard did it.”

The whole movie watching experience was an interesting departure from my normal MO. Mason had tickets to a fancy beer event, so we went in together and I met Dirk at the theatre. Scherezade joined us for dinner, and then she and I wandered the streets of Toronto eating desserts and discussing the untimely passing of Pixie. It was like the old days, if we had good taste in the old days and sense enough to visit the best ice cream shops and Italian bakeries instead of settling for what was local. We pursued three perfect desserts: hand-made ice cream (passion fruit raspberry tart), Italian cookies – the good kind, not the kind my family always buys (chocolate amaretti), and finishing up with what bills itself as the best Sicilian cannoli in Toronto. We split that last one. Even queens like us have a limit.

Posted by: rocketbride | July 2, 2017


Yesterday was Canada Day, and when I checked in briefly to Facebook there were a number of people celebrating, as well as a significant number of people writing about the flaws in our country. There’s a fear, I think, that we have in expressing happiness in something without a caveat, that we will be judged simple and worse, unfeeling of all the bad things that balance out the good. It’s part of being an adult, I suppose: looking at the shadow as well as the dazzle.

The best thing about the timing of Canada Day is that it comes hot on the heels of National Aboriginal Month in Canada. If you can get through the entire month of June without coming across an opportunity for education, or for appreciating the cultures of the First Peoples, well…it’s possible you’re not trying hard enough. I am uniquely privileged to be in education at a time when focus (and more importantly, money) is being devoted to integrating some degree of Indigenous perspective into the mainstream (i.e. settler) curriculum. There are manifold opportunities for me to learn more, and I’ve been deeply moved by many of these experiences. As a result, I think about First Nations much more than I used to, and all throughout the year. Canada Day brings all of this into focus.

I love history. Since most of my education was on Western European and colonial history, I still find myself loving that (although questioning it more closely than when i first learned the stories). As problematic as the history of Canada (a.k.a. the history of European settlement) is, I still cherish it. I look forward to learning more about the history that was passed over in the search for a simple narrative, in the search to justify civilization in a straight line from Athens to Rome to London to Toronto, but I will never fully abandon the patriarchal colonial narratives. I can’t; they shaped the current discourse.

I also love the current Canada, the big flawed timbit where I make my living and my home. I desperately want to see it improve, so that it embodies our best ideas about ourselves. I want clean drinking water and safe, spacious, well-designed houses, and innovative education and respect and hope flowing to and from the First Peoples. I want my seventh descendant to be proud of us for starting the hard work.

If you know me, then you know that I can be pathetically devoted. I am ride-or-die for Canada, despite its problems. Canada is like a beloved family member with some serious shit to work out. And my job is figure out where I can make the cracks wider, to provoke the breakdown that brings insight and inspiration. We need to run head-first into every uncomfortable conversation that stands in the way of right living. We need to get down in the shit and fix it.

Thank God we have something worth fighting for.

Posted by: rocketbride | June 27, 2017


You and me both, kid. 

Posted by: rocketbride | June 10, 2017

tutu disappointing

Eight months ago I signed up to run a half marathon tomorrow. I will not be running a half marathon tomorrow, for a few reasons. The first one is that my delightful cousin counter-scheduled her much-anticipated wedding shower on the same day, and I couldn’t figure out a way to hop off Toronto Island and get to a fancy ladies’ event in the same day, let alone on time. I tried to sell the spot, but no dice. I let my training stagnate, an easy decision when my stomach was not only siphoning sleep every night but showing up around the 3rd kilometre of my practice runs, giving me cramps and generally torching my motivation.

My feelings were further complicated when Toronto Island flooded. I was hoping for a cancellation/deferral, but they just moved the venue. As my spot stubbornly refused to sell, I entertained brief fantasies of just running the fucking thing. Who cared if I could finish the half, I’d just jump into the 5k. Oh, the 5k sold out? Still possible.

Today I’ve been floating around in a headachey daze, as my sleep debt all came due last night when my new meds kicked in, and I couldn’t get out of bed. 13 and a half hours of sleep later and I’m just not making good decisions today. So when I finally got around to checking out the possibility of changing events or whatever, I discovered that I had missed the end of packet pick up by roughly 90 minutes, and if I wanted to run I would be even more guerrilla than I had planned.

It’s a bummer, not just because I essentially set fire to $75 last summer chasing a cheap tutu that would never be mine. My crummy trailing record of late is just another side effect of the garbage way my stomach has been since the start of April, and I’m getting frustrated with all of the little thefts. I haven’t felt well for more than brief periods for months, I drink peppermint tea like it’s my job, and I spend the early hours before my alarm goes off praying for sleep, and if not sleep, that Mason won’t try to hug me when my stomach is at its angriest.

“I’m on warm milk and laxatives.” – “Penny Royal Tea”

I feel you, Kurdt. I feel you.

On the other hand, I had a suprise visit from therapy dogs on Friday, who remind me not to take myself too seriously. Nicky and Icon, meet everyone. Should I get a dog?

Posted by: rocketbride | May 29, 2017

memento morii

In 1979 I was just learning how to be thirteen. I didn’t know that I’d have to keep thinking about it until I was twenty five. I thought that once I figured out thirteen, then it was history, junk for the archeologists to find years later. I thought it would keep working that way, figuring out each year as it came, then discarding it when the new one came along. But there’s much more to the whole thing. I mean, I had to figure out what it meant to be a boy, a man, too. Most of all, I had to find out what it meant to be Indian, and there ain’t no self-help manual for that last one.

(Sherman Alexie, “Witness, Secret and Not”, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, page 211)

“Viva la Vida” by Brandon Maldonado

My 41st year is turning into a bit of a mememnto mori experience. Not in the sense that I am preoccupied with my own death (although I have been thinking about the death of my parents more than usual), but because claiming 40 means that I am officially Too Old For This Shit, as my death won’t wait for me to grow up.

In some ways this has been liberating: I’m constantly making lists of silly things I’ve always wanted to do but have ignored, like getting my aura photographed or having one of my moles removed for non-medical reasons. I have also been getting closer to a few life-long dreams: I took time out of writing this entry to register for a course that will qualify me to work in the library as well as the classroom, and I am inching closer and closer to taking a creative writing course and seeing if I can find my story.

It’s been a weird year socially. A few very long and cherished friendships seem to have died when I wasn’t paying attention, and I have been working on being mature enough to let them go. I have had trouble with this my entire life. I am not only super sad when I feel a friendship cooling off, but even when it’s going well I’m sometimes jealous of any other person that they seem to enjoy. Once my jaws are in you, do not expect me to drop off without a fight. I oscillate between thinking that I’m brave and loyal like a wolf or a terrible pest like a tick.

So it takes me a long long time to realize it when 1 or 2 rebuffed invitations turn into years without any contact from them. I am guilty of counting huge seasonal parties that are so open-door that it doesn’t really matter if I go or stay away as real interactions; they’re not. At this point, I inventory our past relationship, mourning the death of what could be. I do this in spin class, or when I’m in the middle of a run and have nothing else to think about and the grief rises up me like fumes.

Ultimately, being 40 means that I have to cut the shit and follow the same advice I would give to anyone else. If someone is acting like they don’t like you, they probably don’t. If someone doesn’t invite you to their gatherings, it’s probably because they don’t want you there, and no amount of affection you had or have for them changes that.

There are so many people-shaped holes in my heart that might never be filled again. I have to find a way to lean into this.

Posted by: rocketbride | May 20, 2017

Church yard sale

Woody and the rest of the toys had a good grasp on the existential horror of the yard sale. On the one hand, you want to get rid of the stuff that’s holding you back. On the other…my stuff!

I always come home from a church sale with a few dumb things. Usually it’s books: I can use my classroom library to excuse a multitude of impulse purchases. Maggie always wants some toy, just as her brothers did. Blake has aged out of most of the yard sale charms (this is a kid who once begged me for $5 so he could buy a VHS set of Back to the Future movies from out neighbours across the road), but he did fall in love with a sugar bowl and creamer set that look like ducks. I took home a plastic witch cauldron, because Macbeth and also I don’t have to answer to you! There are also baked goods to trap the unwary.

This year was extra upsetting because my grandparents’ flotsam were on most of the tables. I was helping the set up last night, and I rather aggressively “repossessed” a few things for myself: a 45 box with a dozen of the best 45s, a few LPs, my grandmother’s ceramic mixing bowls. Most of the family has had opportunities to go get mementos at this point, and I think my mom is right to let most of it go into the world (even if that means the dumpster) instead of hoarding it, but that doesn’t mean that I was spared a pang seeing the box with the glass Loch Ness Monster figurine, or four pen-and-ink pictures from a long-ago trip to Quebec. Sometimes I would recognize something and blurt it out, at which point the tender-hearted older ladies gave it to me immediately, no questions asked. I ended up throwing a bunch of cash into the kitty as a way of apologizing for my family’s caprice, and for my sudden onset sentimentality.

I was particularly struck by two things. There were personalized mugs, which made me comment on my grandparents to whoever was around setting up last night. One of the ladies heard the names and fetched a silver anniversary tray, which I immediately recognized as my mom’s half-hearted late attempt at an anniversary present. Their 25th anniversary was in 1982, and I remember going to the mall to pick something out with my less than enthused mother. “She’s upset that we didn’t do anything,” my mom explained at the time, my mother’s indifference to her mother’s second marriage palpable. I was a year older than Maggie is now.

This morning I was idly perusing the picture frames when I muttered, “that’s my brother…and that’s my cousin.” Sure enough, two tiny pictures of the younger avatars of my family beamed out from tiny frames I remember from the tv/figurine cabinet. The ladies handed them over, of course, and they’re currently safe on my piano, along with a few loose prints of the family that had migrated to the bottom of a packing box. Something about those tiny beaming faces seeking their destiny among strangers gave me an ugly turn.


I know that I need to give up these silly attachments. I know that the more I accumulate, the more uselessly complex my life becomes. But I’m helpless in the face of these cravings. Maybe it’s because I dream of long-gone family houses almost every night that I cling to their debris when I wake up.

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