An epic fantasy world, a Nigerian-Canadian romance, savory Japanese pancakes, and more.
Digest #27 - May 16th 2021
Hello lovely readers,
How are you on this fine Sunday?! That’s right - I’ve decided to return to Sunday emails. The overwhelming consensus from long-time readers is that it was a treat to receive these digests on Sundays, when other email newsletters are quieter, and when they have more time to read through the links. As I have readers in multiple timezones (analytics tell me that the majority of you are in Australia, England, the US and South Africa) I will aim to send these first thing when I wake up in Atlanta, so it’ll hit everyone on the same calendar date, at least. If you have any feedback on this or anything else, please let me know, as I always take it seriously.
Sending sunshine from Atlanta,
Shadow and Bone
This show is SO good. The best fantasy show I’ve seen in years. I hate spoilers so I’m not going to tell you what it’s about, and I think you should jump in and discover that for yourself. I went in blind and came out with zero regrets. The lore is complex, but easy enough to get immersed in quickly because the show is extremely well written. The plot is tight and makes sense, despite moving at a good pace, unlike many complex world-building fantasy-genre shows. There are several ongoing narrative threads with different sets of characters, all likable, many lovable, who get you invested in the show very early on. I haven’t been so attached to fictional characters on the screen for quite some time and I was so into it. If you love the fantasy genre, or even if you don’t but you’re open minded, you need to get on Netflix and watch this show. Like many good television offerings, this is based on a young adult book series, which I’ve just started and am way too invested in already.
Ties That Tether
I recently finished this novel by Nigerian-Canadian author Jane Igharo; a sweet, funny, heart-wrenching, and emotionally complex story that examines themes like interracial/ intercultural relationships, grief, trauma, culture, familial obligation, and the psychological pressure that social norms and family customs can place on us. The book passes quite quickly through time, moving between pivotal scenes with momentum. You get right to the core element of the plot quite quickly, and then get to work through all of the multifaceted elements that surround it in 300 pages and change. If you’re looking for a romance novel with a twist, especially one that doesn’t center on exclusively on Western/Eurocentric cultures and norms, this is a delight.
I love making okonomiyaki, colloquially referred to in English as savory Japanese pancakes, as a really quick lunch with pantry staples and whatever green vegetables are on hand. All you need is flour in the pantry, some eggs, some vegetables (ideally cabbage, leafy greens and shaved carrots) and some okonomiyaki sauce. A big squirt of Japanese mayonnaise (we keep Kewpie on hand) seals the deal. The concept might sound intimidating, but you’ll realize with practice that it’s not. It’s a matter of carrying basic staples to make this fresh, healthy, absolutely delicious Japanese dish whenever you want it. We have it around once a week for lunch and I’ve never had a complaint. My 16-month-old Leo is also big fan, so it has the kid stamp of approval.
The Tragedy of Harry Uzoka
This article was a long, intricate and devastating read. It outlines the tragic murder of rising star and popular male model in the British modeling world, Harry Uzoka, by another Black male model. It unpacks ideas around Black masculinity, toxicity, poverty, identity, the fashion industry, competition and expectation with underpinnings of racism and classism. Nothing in this world worth discussing is simple, and this is no exception. This might be a story you’re already familiar with, but this article explores the added complexity of competition and pressure on Black male models in a world that only creates so much space for Blackness. This piece gave me a more layered and nuanced understanding of the psychology that created this horrible situation.
What We Do In The Shadows
I really hope you’ve already seen this movie, so you’re side-eyeing me right now like “duh”. But on the off chance that you haven’t, YOU’RE WELCOME. No matter how much time passes, this movie never stops being wildly funny whenever I watch it. It’s the specific kind of dry, ridiculous humor we have in Australia and New Zealand, plus vampires, as a mockumentary. And if you love the film there’s also a TV show that’s been running in America a couple seasons now which is actually just as good as the movie. Likely because it isn’t a remake, but a continuation that takes place in the same universe, by the same creators. Start with the movie, then watch the show, and get ready for loud cackles.
I’m sharing this (embedded below, and link in title above) with you because I think it’s so important, and so obscene. Many people’s reaction to this entire email is “this can’t be real”, but that feels a lot like minimizing marginalization. It is real and that’s the problem. Many people do think and behave this way. It’s not enough to just be shocked. We all need to be mindful of the ways that different people experience the world so that we can be more effective allies, no matter what the topic or the type of identities a person has. I hope that you read this post, understand why it’s so problematic, and then take some action to learn something or to do something to become more empathetic. If you live with a disability and have experienced this kind of language (which unfortunately I don’t doubt you have) I’m sorry that you have to endure this crap. But I know being sorry doesn’t achieve anything, so I’m going to keep trying to learn. Again, I need to insist you click through to read the full post (multiple images) because when you think it can’t get any worse… it does.
Jesus turns water into wine
This absolutely cracked me up. I’ve played it a dozen times. All the wine snobs (or people who’ve ever had the unique joy of passing time with a wine snob), this is for you.