Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fight Boredom with Blondes, Cats and Comics!

Nailbiter: An Anxiety Zine anxiety_zineAThotmail.com
I mentioned in an earlier entry that I'd picked up this zine at the Ste-Emilie Skillshare and that it was ten dollars. I like to whine about overpriced zines, but I'd say that this one is worth it. Not only are there over 100 half-legal pages of text and drawings, but it's got amazing silkscreened covers and some pretty interesting content. It kept me occupied through the better part of a Greyhound trip from Ottawa to Toronto. There is a trigger warning at the beginning of the zine, and I would highly recommend reading it in a safe space. Although I insisted on reading it as travel material, I sometimes feel triggered when reading descriptions of panic attacks and my heart rate noticeably quickened as I read along. Sometimes I'd take breaks and watch the scenery from my window. I always feel a little antsy on the Greyhound because those routes bring up so many memories of the past and it can be overwhelming and sometimes upsetting. The zine opens with a piece by Kerri called "how i got anxiety" - it's twenty pages long and includes illustrations along with stories of childhood shyness, anxiety, medication and constantly moving to new cities with her family. There are various pieces on the pros and cons of taking medication, queerness and anxiety, addiction and mental health, therapy sessions, mental health and First Nations artists (including full-colour pull-outs), advice on getting better sleep, SSRIs and big business... quite a variety. One piece that really stood out for me was "anxiety and my bowels" by Kinneret, which is all about how stress / anxiety / nervousness can affect one's physical well-being, specifically in the from of TUMMYACHES, GRR. I have IBS, an illness that is generally caused by heightened stress levels and you guessed it, anxiety, and it's something that I don't read about often enough, so it's exciting and comforting to come across it in a zine, to be reminded that I'm not alone. Although there were a few tiny errors that annoyed me, like typos, using the wrong 'there', putting apostrophes where they don't belong, et cetera (and yes I know that those are small mistakes, but when you're paying so much for a zine, you want it to be perfect), it was a pretty great zine overall and I'd recommend it to anyone who's dealing with these issues, be it personally or as an ally.

Free, Blonde And 21 nurdstephATyahoo.com
This is a Mary Beth Hughes fanzine that was made a few years ago. Mary Beth Hughes was a film star from 1939 through the 1970s, though she never achieved the level of fame she'd hoped for. The author writes a short biography of the actress and includes reviews of her various roles, quotes, photos galore and a list of websites where one can find dvds of her movies - they're super cheap. This zine was super fun times and I admire the effort that went into it. Two thumbs up!

Black Carrot #6 tacoloveATgmail.com
Not exactly the most well-written perzine in the world... This zine feels like it was written on a caffeine high, just banging out the words without proofreading for better grammar or even interest's sake. But still, I wanna be friends with Dave. He writes about that creative high you feel after a zine fair, how working at a copy shop is actually not fun at all, and how much he loves bowling. He also includes a little bit of Finnish translation, which always excites me since Tukru and I talk about our favourite words in foreign languages sometimes, and she likes to tell me about various Finnish words. There are a few pretty neat photos in this one, too.

Rum-Muffel: A Rum Lad / Morgenmuffel Collaboration stevejipwitAThotmail.com / morningmuffelATyahoo.co.uk
I love this zine! Although I'd only read Morgenmuffel recently (after picking up a few issues from Alex at Canzine), I had read Rum Lad in the past and enjoyed it. Both Steve and Isy are excellent illustrators / comic artists and combining their efforts seems to have only made them even more awesome. Something of a split zine, each artist takes every other page to tell their story of traveling to Scotland, exploring the wilderness and tabling at zine fest. Also included are short biographies of The Anarchist Teapot Mobile Kitchen, The Cowley Café and information on industrial agriculture (bad!) and food sovereignty (good!). All-around excellent times.

1234V: Incidental and Anecdotal Stories About Vaginas 1234vzineATgmail.com
What to say? I go back and forth on this series. I've got three issues sitting on my lap right now. Each is about vaginas, with a theme; issue #1 is Firsts, issue #2 is Menstruation and issue #3 is Maintenance. I love writing about my cunt and I love reading about 'em too, so I was pretty excited when I found these zines at Canzine a few months back. I found the first two issues more interesting and varied, but I read the third issue more recently, so that's the one that stuck in my head. It's all about maintenance, which means it includes story after story of waxing and not much else. And yeah, what you do to your own cunt is your own business, but I would've loved it if there was a little bit of analysis going on... like discussions of pubic hair "styles" throughout history (there was brief mention of hairier girls in 1970s porn, but nothing really beyond a sentence or two). It would've been cool if they'd written about women's grooming habits being influenced by porn (where do you think the hairless trend came from?), or really anything beyond awkward Brazilian wax stories, which I can't relate to in the slightest. I think the piece that hit me the most was Francesca by Kim McConnell. She wrote about her cunt, whom she's named Francesca and describes her grooming habits at length, mostly highlighting how inconvenient and time-consuming they are, even saying she wishes she could do away with these rituals and call it Fran instead. She ends by calling for a revolution, yet makes it pretty clear that she's probably not going to participate in it herself. In an article on dos and don'ts it was even suggested, "Don't feel that just because you are comfortable with your V the way it is you shouldn't trim your pubic hair." Yes ladies, even if you like your cunt, there's probably still something wrong with it! It kind of just left me feeling hopeless. Plus, they went out of their way to say that it's not a feminist zine. Writing about cunts whilst totally ignoring feminist history seems a little ridiculous to me, but whatever.

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What I've Been Up To Lately: Hopping onto various Greyhound buses, hanging out with Amy and meeting some awesome ladies from Ohio (I have a huge love for the state of Ohio, in case you didn't know), eating grilled cheese sandwiches at two in the morning then waking up to breakfast burritos, having bizarre dreams about zinesters, visiting my grandparents (it's the holidays), hanging out with my sister lots, buying cheap movies and silly underwear, whiting out my old last name from the master copies of my zines, trying not to fall on the ice, wishing this ditch tattoo would hurry up and heal, watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, drinking Long Island iced teas, dancing to Madonna with Vincent and creating a Facebook for my cat.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fight Boredom with Hello Kitty and Zines!

Global Backyards : illustration and writing on environmental racism haberdasheriumATgmail.com
This is a well-written and informative zine. Yes, the title tells you what it's about. Topics include the colonization of America, and toxic waste and other environmental hazards which directly effect low-income neighbourhoods. My only criticism is that it seems choppy at times, though the author states that this is a shortened version of an earlier essay, so that explains it.

Angry Girrls angry.girrlsATeudoramail.com
This zine is haphazardly assembled, it came to me stapled out of order so I didn't manage to finish the entire thing. However, it begins with an essay on the gay movement's appropriation of the civil rights movements' language, which is hella interesting. Worth a read if you can find it.

This Kitty jeneration.yAThotmail.com
Cute perzine time! There is a drawing of a kitty on the cover. It's quarter-size, my favourite format. Begins with a story of two long-distance pen pals meeting up and having a hideously awkward time together - written in the third person, but one wonders... The author also writes about the changing of the seasons and includes a list of her favourite bands with Strawberry in their name. Sadly, Strawberry Alarm Clock was not mentioned. Still though, good times! Bit of the first-zine-jitters, but that's okay.

What I've Been Up To Lately: I guess it might be odd if I didn't point out the fact that it is Christmas Eve. Yes, I am updating my blog on Christmas Eve. I'm not much of a holiday person. I prefer to celebrate the changing of the seasons rather than the holidays, and my family isn't religious anyway. I remember last Christmas Eve-ish, I was at my aunt and uncle's for dinner and my uncle was answering telephone calls with a hearty, "Happy Winter Solstice!" It was pretty charming. I'm in a pretty good mood right now and I have a feeling it's because this is the first year since I was seventeen that I'm not working some crummy retail job during the holidays. What a luxury! David is a little more excited about Christmas than I am; there's been a stack of wrapped presents in the living room for the better part of a month now. A few nights ago, he came home from work to find me surrounded by all my letter-writing supplies and insisted I open a gift early. So I unwrapped the one he handed me and it turned out to be a box full of countless Hello Kitty stickers. He was like, "Now you can stick them to your letters!" So cute. They came in a plastic purse and you best believe I am going to be carrying that thing around in the New Year. We are each going to exchange a gift tonight and another one tomorrow. I don't generally do the gift thing, but when I do, I make sure it's either handmade, secondhand or useful. No knick-knacks or junk for me! I'm a pretty difficult lady to shop for, but I'm easily impressed by Hello Kitty, so I guess it all works out in the end. Since we're talking about Hello Kitty; if you haven't yet picked up a copy of Fight Boredom #3, please do! It's got an excellent essay titled "Why Doesn't Hello Kitty Have a Mouth?" by Kathleen Neves. It came up in conversation recently, so I couldn't help but mention it.

I got sidetracked this evening and spent a silly amount of time looking at Hello Kitty bento boxes on Ebay, then bought a whole ton of kawaii stationery from FromJapanWithLove. They're having a 40% off sale!!! I've been drinking whiskey and coke and I'm on a bit of a caffeine high.

Yes, Sebastian still loves zines!

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What I Got In The Mail This Week: Letters and zines from Jane, Melissa, Steve, Vanessa, Kira and Jen, money from the government, replacements of Placebo albums that I lost in a breakup earlier this year and a secret pressie for David.

In Other Zine News: Sweet Candy will be carrying issues 18, 19 and 20 of Culture Slut in the New Year. I will likely be making a happy times split zine with Jane Boston in the near future. Also, I got a gluestick tattooed on my arm the other day. Fuck yeah!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fight Boredom with Zine Displays and New Year's Resolutions!

What I've Been Up To Lately: I spent the better part of Sunday reorganizing my zine collection. I had actually already organized it earlier this year, but I guess I didn't do a very good job because the collection grew out of hand pretty quickly. I'd been keeping them on my milk crate shelves, they were standing upright book-style and were divided into genres, but it was still pretty difficult to find what I was looking for when digging through them, and the shelves filled up so quickly that it became impossible to file away any new zines. While it was a daunting task, it was also really exciting to go through them all and flip through zines that I hadn't properly read in years - like the Girls Are Not Chicks colouring book, and Turpentine, one of the first perzines I ever read. (Written by a girl named Ilana who disappeared off the face of the planet years ago. We used to exchange zines and mixtapes and I'd love to find her again one day). The reorganization isn't entirely finished because I only have so many shoeboxes, but it's a lot better than it was before. I've got my zines divided into genres (perzines, queer zines, feminist zines, art and comic zines, punk zines and miscellaneous), then categorized alphabetically from there. Although I have a feeling I'll be adding more milk crates to the stack sooner rather than later.

As well, David helped me with a project that I'd had in mind for years. One of those ideas where you're like, "Hey, that would be cool," but then you never really get around to it. Well, I finally have a small portion of my zine collection hanging on my wall, clothesline-style! It was really easy to do and it looks so good. I can't stop staring at the wall! See if you can find your own zines, or your favourites in there...

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Due to a thread on We Make Zines, I've been thinking about what I want to do zine-wise in the next year or so. Granted, I will still be attending my French courses full-time and I will still be broke, but I've made a list of things I'd like to accomplish. Of course, this got me to thinking about New Year's Resolutions in general, which I am ALL ABOUT. I really love resolutions. I love the idea of starting from scratch and trying to become a better person. I like to begin with a clean slate, so I've been cleaning the house like crazy (like, washing the cupboard doors and silly things like that) and making list upon list of what I want to do, what I want to make and who I want to be...

-finish Fight Boredom #4
-make Fight Boredom t-shirts
-perhaps another issue of Culture Slut
-try to organize / get involved in zine readings and zine release shows
-go on a zine tour and table at the Portland Zine Symposium
-table at the Montreal Anarchist Book Fair, Canzine and Expozine
-keep better track of where my money is going (not just the money that I spend, but also postage costs, Etsy and Paypal fees, et cetera)
-keep motivated and inspired (easier said than done)

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In Other Zine News: I'd been hoping to finish Fight Boredom #4 during the holidays, though I'm not so sure it's doable, as I'll be having several zinester friends staying with me and I know I'll be distracted by wine, dance parties and long conversations. UNLESS I THROW A ZINE PARTY. Maybe I will do that. Also, in the coming weeks, the latest issues of Culture Slut will be available at Things You Say and Stranger Danger.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fight Boredom with Yard Sales, Cameras and The Stolen Minks!

The Stolen Minks: The Comic Book! www.narwhalfactory.com
If you're not familiar with The Stolen Minks, they're a super fun all-girl band from Halifax. I saw them play at The Spill in Peterborough, Ontario last year and have been smitten ever since. So of course this zine grabbed my attention at Expozine. Plus, it has a bright orange cover. It's a comic about The Stolen Minks taking over some fictional Battle Of The Bands, which was a total sausagefest until they got on the stage. I traded with the zinester because I had an issue of Culture Slut where I also mentioned the band and I thought it was a pretty neat coincidence, but she was pretty snippy with me (as in, practically read my entire zine before agreeing to trade, so I said, "It's cool if you're not into trades," and she reluctantly accepted, though not until suggesting a trade for my Polaroid zine. Sixty-four full-colour pages for an eight-page mini-comic? Um, no thanks). She's probably a cool girl, but her attitude left a sour taste in my mouth. By default, I can't like her zine. I'd sure like to see the band again sometime, though!

Motor City Kitty #13 motorcity_kittyATyahoo.com
I received this zine in the mail this afternoon and devoured it immediately. Bri is kinda one of my favourite people. In her letter, she pointed out the fact that we've been friends for a ridiculously long time and she has every issue of Culture Slut going back to #4... So I'm pretty embarrassed about my older zines, but what a loyal girl! It's cheesy, but we have watched each other grow from awkward teenagers to, well, awkward adults. We've shared our zine escapades and relationship crises with each other. I love seeing her return address in my mailbox. *At this point in the review, I've stopped to dance to Fashionable People.* This issue begins by juxtaposing lists of what Bri's up to right now, as opposed to what she actually wants to be doing. Although she's currently doing a lot of awesome shit, like DJing, learning French and teaching poetry-writing to elementary school students, she wants to find the time to learn how to cook good vegan meals, be a better friend and become a better illustrator. The bulk of this zine is made up of letters to anonymous summer romances, owning up to shitty behaviour and writing about sexuality and queer (in)visibility. Entirely typewritten with some random clippings (cut and paste for the win!) and some excellent illustrations... A great zine.

I Am A Camera #9 vanessaberryworld.com
I'm reviewing another five year old zine, so what? I just read it last week and loved it. I'm pretty sure Vanessa only puts out one issue a year, so I may as well savour them while I can. I actually just read her most recent, issue #13, and it was really well-written, but this one spoke to me on a more personal level... just kinda stuck with me. So I wanna share it. She also made June Graveyard (about visiting Sylvia Plath's grave), which was reviewed a few entires back. This issue begins with a list of excellent characters that the author came across throughout the year, like the goth boy mowing his lawn in a leather top hat, and goes on to describe various adventures. My favourite part was where she wrote sort-of-reviews of songs that have meant a lot to her, like The Jesus And Mary Chain's Just Like Honey and Tears For Fears' Mad World. She writes about hearing these songs for the first time, falling in love with them ages ago and then that awkward moment when you haven't heard them in a long, long time, and then suddenly they throw themselves at you during the credits of a movie. I wish I could describe her style, she's a really great writer.

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What I've Been Up To Lately: Getting sick again (seriously, I just had a cold a month ago, wtf?), attempting to cure the cold with cupcakes and wine, working on Fight Boredom #4, writing a letter to my sister, listening to mixes from bernard? and Harley, being interviewed by Jenna Brager for her thesis, cleaning the house and procrastinating on the ten million photocopies I'm supposed to be making this week. Why can't there be a cheap copy shop closer to my house?

What I Got In The Mail This Week: Letters and zines from Bri, Keet, Erin, Nico and Harley, and a Christmas cheque from my dad, who forgot my birthday two months ago. I particularly enjoyed the passive-aggressiveness with which he refused to write my full name on the cheque, saying, "Fill it out yourself and have fun." I recently had my last name legally changed from his to my mother's.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fight Boredom with DivaCups, Graffiti and Snow!

I was recently contacted by a women's and gender studies major at the University of Maine who is editing the upcoming issue of her school's feminist / social justice zine, Ripple. The following piece (among others) will be appearing in the zine, as well as interviews with myself and other feminists.

I Love My DivaCup

Traditional menstrual products are no fun. It is estimated that 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons make their way into North American landfills every year. Not to mention the packaging they come in, the bleach and chemicals contained within and the energy that goes into the manufacturing of 'em. Fucking disgusting.

My foray into the world of alternative menstrual products began with cloth pads. If you're going to bleed onto something, it may as well be soft flannel. Plus, you can make pads out of all sorts of ridiculous fabric and walk down the street happily, knowing that there are polkadots and kittens and skulls in your underwear. Try searching Etsy for cloth pads, there are plenty. There are also online tutorials and pattern zines (such as How To Sew Your Own Cloth Pads and Be Rad Make A Pad) out there if you want to make your own. I've been using my DivaCup for a little over a year now. A DivaCup is a small cup made from silicone that is meant to be inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual blood. They are available at various sex shops and health food stores. I bought mine at Venus Envy, along with a leopard-print vibrator - that was a good day for my cunt! Menstrual cups cost around $40-$50 and are made to last 10-15 years. Fifty bucks may sound like a lot of money, but compare that to the $100-$200 the average woman spends on pads and tampons every year. Suddenly fifty bucks doesn't sound so bad! Ever since I started talking about mine, friends have been asking plenty of questions. I did a lot of reading up before I bought one and I've found the tales of other ladies' experiences to be quite helpful, so I figured I'd offer up a few of my own observations...

The DivaCup comes with detailed instructions for insertion, but it can still be tricky sometimes. I'm not gonna lie to you - I was extremely frustrated the first few times I used it. I was nervous, so my muscles tightened up, making it difficult to get it in and positioned correctly. I tried it out for a cycle, switched back to cloth pads for a few months, then came back to the DivaCup when I was feeling more determined. My point is that you need to relax. I find that if I'm particularly bloody (like on the first two days of my period), it slides in no problem, but if the flow is slowing down, or I've just hopped fresh outta the shower, it takes a little more effort to get it in right. Don't be afraid to play around with it. If it's inserted correctly, you should barely be able to feel it and you shouldn't have any problems with leakage. In fact, most of the time I forget it's even there. A lot of people complain about how finicky the thing can be, but the only way to perfect it is to try, try again. After a few cycles you'll get to know your flow. You'll know exactly how much you bleed on any given day and how often to empty your cup. Bear in mind that it shouldn't be left in longer than 12 hours.

I'm never gonna be the kind of girl who celebrates her period - PMS puts me on edge and leaves me prone to random fits of tears, and I get hideous cramps that leave me doubled over on the floor sometimes. But the DivaCup is helping me to live a greener life and it has made my period a little more fun. Frankly, I find my collected blood fascinating! I have a friend who paints with her menstrual blood and I've heard of people watering their plants with it as well (one friend swears it makes her tomatoes better). I don't have any houseplants at the moment, so you'll have to experiment with that one on your own. Have fun!

What I've Been Up To Lately: Catching up on my correspondence, writing my bi-monthly French exams, making delicious quesadillas, wearing many layers of clothing, making plans for the holidays and working on some zine stuff. I've been wanting to write some more on winter survival and the thoughts I've been having on the concept of home ever since I moved from small town Ontario to Montreal, likely for inclusion in Fight Boredom #4. I find myself constantly making lists of things I like and dislike about Lindsay and activities I'd like to do the next time I visit. Painting the town (literally) and hiding my zines in between books at the public library are on my list, though if all goes according to plan, my next visit will be all about watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and hanging out with my grandparents, which is almost as cool. I trust Maranda and Vincent to keep the town running while I'm away.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fight Boredom with Mixtapes, Perzines and a New Distro!

Brainscan #24 and #25 www.brainscan.etsy.com
I had the pleasure of meeting Alex Wrekk back in October when she was doing a whirlwind Canadian tour. After completing her Anchor Archive zine residency in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she made her way to Toronto for Canzine. We'd exchanged letters and traded zines in the past, but this was our first (and hopefully not last!) face-to-face meeting. twelveohtwo hosted a bit of a zine slumber party and we all tabled at Canzine together the next day. During her residency, Alex made some pretty awesome zines. Issue #25 is an epic half-legal, nearly eighty-page zine chronicling her love life (including her former relationship with an abusive partner) and the current state of her life, which is kinda of awesome. She writes about crushes and non-monogamy and feeling butterflies in her stomach and the zine is laid out in her classic high-contrast cut and paste style. In the back is a small envelope with a mini epilogue zine inside with a super cute cover photo. She also included issue #24 which is sort of a "get to know her" kind of zine and includes the stories of how she and her zine got their names, why people say she was "made in Canada", her favourite bands, her obsession with socks and beer, plus out-of-context quotes. Fun times! You can get them from her Etsy shop (and various distros) and read her blog here.

Drag & Drop alexquichoATgmail.com
Another zinester called Alex! This one is pretty neat. I believe I received this as a trade at Expozine as well. It's half-size, sixteen pages with pretty blue covers. Each page contains a tracklist from a mix tape or cd, a beautiful drawing and a little story about the mix. This zine is all sorts of pretty and the mixes seem pretty cool too. M.I.A., The Go! Team, The White Stripes, Rilo Kiley and The Kinks? Yes, please.

Everybody Moon Jump #5 everybodymoonjumpAThotmail.com
This zine began as an idea to write about issues with food, including addiction and abuse, but it turned into something else. Dave says he is a firm believer in writing about what's bothering you and he uses this issue to exercise (exorcise?) those frustrations. He calls this past summer the summer of Theodore Roethke and false starts, says that rather than spending his summer going on road trips and creating an epic playlist, it will mostly be remembered for Toronto's garbage strike and looking for a job. He writes about his anxieties and living in the city. "Whenever I daydream about my future, I'm either this iconic, historic, genre-defying artist, or a self-destructed maniac living off of government disability cheques." Maybe it sounds a little negative, but Dave's got the comical self-deprecation thing down pat and I know he's an awesome dude because he's talked me into lots of silly adventures. And, he adds, "It's called a per-zine, not a you-zine." Drunken rants for the win!

Pulse #9 littleacorns22ATgmail.com
This zine is put together by Kelly Rose with occasional contributions from other feminists. I want to like this zine, I really do. The author means well and she seems so sincere. It's kind of all over the place though. I guess I would classify it as a feminist comp zine, but it seems unable to make up its mind as to what it wants to be - Comp zine? Perzine? There are articles on everything from eating disorders to sex to fashion tips. Every issue looks the same to me, and with every article that I read I get the feeling that I've read it before. The pages are full of collages that look to be made out of teen magazines, and the clippings just seem out of place. I am all about subverting mainstream advertising through art, but that's not what the collages are doing. I don't understand the point of photocopying your own feminist zine whilst continuing to consume mainstream teen magazines. There is a short article regarding the mainly white models in Seventeen magazine, and how pleased the writer was to discover more diverse models in a recent issue... But what does that really mean? So advertisers wanna hawk their makeup and fashion and diet pills on more than just white people now? Wow, what a world of equality we are living in! Maybe the author is trying to create her own cooler version of Seventeen and that is a totally noble cause, but the zine needs to be a little more coherent and it definitely lacks visual appeal. Perhaps the messiness could be improved by using themes for each issue? Anyway, I'll try to focus on some positive points. I appreciate her honest writing and her ability to find hope in the mundane everyday. Oh yeah, and there's a pizza recipe included. I have a weird obsession with pizza.

The Wicked Which #5 punc.rockATgmail.com
Is this zine even still in print? 'Coz if so, I'd love to check out some newer issues. Maybe it seems futile to be reviewing a zine that's nearly five years old, but it's new to me and I enjoyed it, so why not? Quarter-size perzine, text-only, subtitled love and revolution. Vague, yet very fitting. It's about relationships, not just the standard kind, but friendships and families and all sorts of great connections. It's about secrets, lies, anxiety and activism. Izz writes about zines as activism and how activism isn't just about organizing protests because some people just aren't suited for that kind of work (due to other engagements, mental health issues, et cetera). All sorts of awesome.

Look, it's a beautiful yarn-bombed tree! Seen at a park on Mont-Royal.

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What I've Been Up To Lately: Went to a show in St-Jérôme on Friday night. My boyfriend's band was playing and I was tagging along for the adventure (it's nice to see new towns that I've never been to before). The highlight of the night was when Slaughter Slashing covered Roots Bloody Roots. Little known fact: I like Sepultura. I went through a goth / metal phase in my early teens, and some of that music still has nostalgic value to me. The next day, Sarala and I attended another workshop at Ste-Emilie, this one was all about making underwear out of old t-shirts. It was really great, except that the venue was too cold so we had to head out early (cutting and sewing are difficult with icy hands), but we'll finish up our projects at my place sometime. They were kind enough to make tea though! Besides that, I've been baking cupcakes and muffins, being interviewed for a feminist zine, and attempting to watch a Paper Heart dvd that just won't play.

In Other Zine News: Things You Say distro is finally open! It's run by Erin Hawley (formerly of Driving Blind zine and distro) and the website looks pretty good. She has some back issues of Culture Slut and Fight Boredom in stock, and will be carrying my new issues in the coming weeks. Check it out!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fight Boredom in Montreal!

Idiot-ology laurabooATgmail.com
This quarter-size zine is written by the same Laura who made Take Me Home, which I reviewed a few posts back. I quite like this one too. Laura kept track of some bizarre observations of hers over the course of seven months or so, then put them all into a zine. It goes from the mundane to the sad to the downright silly. A few excerpts:

"I want to know why it amuses me so much to go to Ontario and speak French in front of people I know don't understand me."

"Seeing somebody cry in public always makes me feel like I am attacking them."

"I cannot figure out if calling myself fat is an empowering action and honest acknowledgment of reality or just plain old, run of the mill self-abuse."


Stories From The Grocery Years strauss.pabloATgmail.com
I traded the latest issue of Culture Slut for this one whilst attending Expozine in November (yes, I'm still working through the ridiculous stack of reading material that I've accumulated over the past month or so). Although presented as fiction, Pablo is obviously inspired by stories from real life, as I learned from another zine that he actually worked (works?) in a grocery store. This quarter-size one-hundred-something page zine is made up of excerpts from a larger piece that he is currently putting together. It follows the life of Anne, a woman who's just moved from Quebec to British Columbia and found a job in a grocery store as well as the lives of her co-workers. I enjoy things like this because it reminds me of the short time I spent working in a quirky little grocery store in my hometown. Probably the same reason I also like reading zines about people who work in call centres, convenience stores, malls, et cetera.

Little Gardens For Invalids #1-#3 beelaveryATriseup.net
Clara Bee makes great zines and is a pretty excellent lady to boot. We actually just spent last Sunday together. She showed up at my apartment with a bottle of wine and a suitcase and I offered her my couch (and cuddles with my cat). After drinking a bit of wine and talking for hours, we suddenly realized that we'd never actually spent much time with each other before. We'd traded zines, tabled near each other at Canzine and exchanged a few quick messages over Facebook, but that was it. Yet somehow, we wound up telling our life stories and becoming good friends in an evening. This is what I love about the zine community. We had dinner at Commensal, a vegetarian / vegan buffet and my favourite restaurant in Montreal, then totally crashed when we got home. She was exhausted from the six hour drive here, I was exhausted from the ridiculous night I'd had on Saturday. But I'm supposed to be reviewing her zines! The first issue is subtitled airing my dirty laundry and is mostly about a boy. In the second issue, she writes about tummy troubles, her Italian family, and giving haircuts. Clara is an illustrator and she's good at drawing things like frames, vintage wallpaper, birds and people who wear glasses. The third issue is a Halloween special! It is all sorts of cute and hilarious, plus I totally love her self-portrait as Pippi Longstocking. (Fact: We both dressed up as Pippi Longstocking this year, but didn't see each other until the day after Halloween.)

Anyway. I've updated the links section in the sidebar and added a section just for Montreal. If you know of fun things happening in the city, let me know. Sarala and I went to the Ste-Emilie Skillshare last weekend to participate in a vermi-composting workshop. It was really awesome! We'd both read about vermi-composting in Dorian Shaw's zine Portaging In Purgatory (reviewed in an earlier post) and were eager to start our own indoor compost heap. It was nice to get up close, learn what to do and what not to do, and to dig our hands through the dirt and worms. Trudy Wong was kind enough to show us her personal compost heap and sent us all home with handmade notebooks and containers of worms (red wrigglers, to be specific). While I was there, I also picked up Queersafe Zine and Nailbiter: An Anxiety Zine. I should note that Nailbiter is 100% worth the suggested ten dollar donation. This was actually my first time at the skillshare. We'd meant to attend a workshop back in the summer called Are You Queer Enough? but never actually found the space. Rue Ste-Emilie is an awkward street divided by railroad tracks, which is probably a bit of a downfall for them (apparently we're not the only ones who've mentioned getting lost along the way), but now that I've finally found it, I'm really excited about its existence and can't wait to go back. I will likely be at this Saturday's Make A T-Shirt Into Underwear workshop.

Earlier in the week, I discovered a yarn-bombed tree on Mont-Royal. I don't care how many times I've said it, I love this city. I will always be a small town enthusiast at heart, but if I have to live in a major city, I'm glad it's this one.

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What I've Been Up To Lately: Drinking Boréale, reading good Canadian fiction, touring the CBC Radio-Canada studios with my French class and trying to figure out what the hell I wanna do with my holidays. As a sidenote, I mentioned in my last entry that I was debating whether or not I should call out a creep in the zine scene. Well, it happened.

What I Got In The Mail This Week: Letters, art and zines from Alex and Tracey and a massive package of zines from Niku (who's been de-cluttering her home), including older issues of CROQ, Black Carrot, Mister Fujiyama Loves You, The Wicked Which and other great ones. This package came as a surprise in the mail and totally made my week.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fight Boredom with French Pop and Zines!

Riot Don't Diet Suite 166 / 102-1240 Kensington Rd. NW / Calgary, AB / T2N 4X7 Canada
I picked up this quarter-size zine from twelveohtwo distro during Canzine weekend. Subtitled A mini zine on how I've handled the pressure to be skinny, Kay writes about the diet she started during childhood, after overhearing her mother calling her fat to a family friend. This led to years of unsuccessful dieting and general body hate. This is a pretty simple and straightforward zine, but it's good to get these kind of stories out there in order to start a meaningful conversation and to learn how to reverse the cycle by doing things like boycotting mainstream fashion magazines and and surrounding yourself with positive influences (in Kay's case, her local radical cheerleading squad). She also makes a little perzine called Invisible Strings. There is no email address included in the zine, so send her a few bucks or a trade. I wrote her a letter the other day.

Cheaptoys #4 xtramediumATlaposte.net
Although the majority of this issue is written in French, Gizmo has used a few pages to practice his English. As it happens, I use his zine to practice my French. This issue is mostly typewritten and laid out cut and paste style. Giz writes about being vegan in France, which is a rarity, and cooking vegan meals for local show-goers. This made me happy because I actually just went to a show last week where the loft-dwellers cooked up an amazing vegan buffet - there needs to be more of this sort of activity! Yes, the meat-eaters in the crowd made obnoxious comments that they always think are so hilarious, but they admitted that the food was damn good too. He also writes about old friends and that awkward moment when you run into them in the street and you're not sure if you should stop and make conversation (which will inevitably be generic and boring) or just continue on, as well as "home tourism" - exploring the secret places in your own town, which he admits (much to my pleasure) was influenced by my zine, Fight Boredom. I need to give this one another read for full comprehension, but I think it's a pretty cool zine and Giz is super friendly.

Tea Time xtramediumATlaposte.net
Another zine from Giz! This one is a 24-hour zine all about one of my favourite things - tea! It's got a charming little drawing of a teabag on the cover and contains tiny stories about why he loves tea, what to drink when you're avoiding caffeine and a reminder that tea is meant to be shared. Here's to punk rock tea parties!

BikeWrider #3 kwbikezineATgmail.com
I'm not quite sure what to make of this zine. It's all about bicycle rides, bicycle maintenance and bicycle love, so essentially it should be awesome, right? But between the messy layout and some almost illegible printing, I just couldn't get into it. There were a few cool pieces, like an open letter to car drivers, but they were offset by the incoherent comics and an exhausting three-page piece on brakes. Better luck next time?

The Exploding Boy #4
hellothisisvincentATgmail.com
Not only was Vincent already one of the coolest people I know (and one of few people who keep my hometown interesting), but he is quickly becoming one of my favourite zinesters as well. He's been sending me hilarious letters in the mail, full of pop song quotes and Hedwig doodles. This issue begins on a Sunday morning, when Vincent wakes up tired and hungover in his messy bedroom. He finds dirty dishes, banana peels, sweaters and VHS tapes strewn about. He thinks about cleaning it up, then says, "No! I'm gonna make a zine!" Although it began as a queer zine, it turned into more. He writes about slipping into another depression and his subsequent experiences with medication, his decision to stop dating meat-eaters (which may sound frivolous to some people, but I know that my life has become much less stressful since I moved in with a vegetarian boy - no more arguments and sarcastic comments at mealtimes, no more disgusting meat grease on my dishes and no more exasperation at wishing my lover believed in the same things as me), then lightens up the mood with tales of a new houseplant and trying not to feel defeated in his small town surroundings. The cover itself is pretty epic, but you need to set up a trade with him in order to see it.

Armless Women / Built Women / Ladys Of The Podium

I received this zine during a trade at Expozine, but there's no contact info inside, so I guess you're on your own. Not sure if that was intentional or simply overlooked during last-minute zine-making before the fest. Anyway, it's a pretty cool concept. All three zines are stuffed into this envelope, and once you get them out, you see these excellent little illustrations with short quotes next to them. Each issue is about women who share a particular feature in common - in this case, body builders, symphony conductors and women who are missing both arms. Although each zine is a mere 4-6 quarter-size pages, and contains a few spelling errors, they are interesting nonetheless.

What I've Been Up To Lately: Writing lots of letters, getting new tattoos, baking cupcakes, drinking tea, preparing for the winter, starting to feel a little less ashamed of my Wheel Of Fortune habit (and getting excited when they have a lesbian guest), and deciding whether or not to publicly call out a certain creep in the zine scene. This afternoon I'll be going to a vermi-composting workshop at the Ste-Emilie Skillshare with Sarala and perhaps going on a search for an aloe vera plant. Drinking and dancing tonight.

What I Got In The Mail This Week: Letters from Hannah, Ashlee, Molly, Katie and Ocean, some zines, and a handmade wristlet from The Dainty Squid.

So, I kinda really love 1960s French pop songs, even when I can't understand the words. Though it's all starting to make sense now that I'm learning. Anyway, just for fun I thought I'd share one of my favourite French songs, along with April March's English translation. Enjoy!