In which I have feelings about book adaptations

The other day, Netflix revealed some of the cast for their series adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s comic book series, The Sandman. I am a fan of that series, and was really excited to hear that not only would there be an adaptation, but that Neil Gaiman would be heavily involved. I knew the author himself would be able to do the very best to bring the comics to the big screen.

There’s been a lot of book adaptations over the years, and I have watched a lot of them. The quality of these vary. Sometimes a great movie or series isn’t always a great adaptation. Sometimes it’s both a great adaptation and a great movie/series. Sometimes it’s neither. There will always have to be changes made when going between mediums, but sometimes these changes are for the better and sometimes they are not.

ADAPTATIONS THAT MAKE ME GENUINELY MAD

Howl’s Moving Castle: Now this is going to be a controversial opinion, because this movie is generally very well loved. But here’s a confession: I’ve never actually watched the full thing. How could it be on this list then, you ask? Because even the parts I have seen, even the trailer, are so far away from the book I love that it makes me angry. The book “Howl’s Moving Castle” is written by Diana Wynne Jones, an author I have sung the praises of before, and is one of my favourite books. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s touching, it’s strange, it’s set in an interesting world with interesting and imperfect characters and cool and new ways of looking at magic and doing magic. And yet that’s all thrown away because the movie wants to be…whimsical. It’s not true to the humour of the book, or to the spirit of the book. The characters are softened around the edges. Not even THE MOVING CASTLE ITSELF is done right. The world in the book “Howl’s Moving Castle” feels like a real world, even with its use of magic and spells and demons. The movie doesn’t show me that world. Maybe it’s a great movie in itself, but I know I will never be able to enjoy it.

Ella Enchanted: I will forever list this as one of the worst movie adaptations of a book I have ever seen. If I hadn’t read the book, I wouldn’t think the movie was a masterpiece, but it’s harmless and fluffy enough. But having read and loved “Ella Enchanted” by Gail Carson Levine?? I am genuinely offended by its existence. The movie takes the rough concept of the book and some character names and basically creates its own early 2000s family friendly fantasy movie with it. That’s annoying enough, but doing that to ELLA ENCHANTED? A beautiful novel with a bleaker take on the story of Cinderella with fleshed out characters who change and grow and an interesting love story and a detailed universe?? YOU HAVE ALL THAT AND YOU GIVE ME SINGING CHRISTMAS ELVES? The insult! I await the day when Neflix or Amazon prime or the BBC or someone does a proper mini-series adaptation of this book.

Artemis Fowl: I read all of the Artemis Fowl books growing up, and there were always rumours of a movie but it did not come to fruition until 2019, released in 2020 on Disney Plus. I could not believe that after all those years…this is the movie fans of Artemis Fowl got. They really took some rough plot points and the character names and descriptions and said “good enough” and proceeded to make a generic kid hero movie. The worst part about it is that the Artemis Fowl books should be SUPER EASY to adapt. You can easily picture the action, scenes, and dialogue while reading the books. But the movie didn’t even maintain THE MAIN CONCEIT of the series–that Artemis is a 12 year criminal mastermind who captures a fairy for his own gain. THEY COULDN’T EVEN KEEP THAT. That’s the whole point?? It’s not like it wouldn’t be “appropriate” for kids, because KIDS READ THE BOOKS. It’s just laziness and a lack of respect for both the source material and the intelligence of their audience. Maybe I will have to wait another two decades for a proper adaptation.

ADAPTATIONS THAT ARE GREAT IN ALL WAYS

Good Omens: We started this post with Neil Gaiman, and we are coming back to Neil Gaiman. “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett is one of my favourite books. It’s funny and weird and irreverent and it’s about the apocalypse. I was really excited when I heard that it wasn’t getting a movie, it was getting a whole mini series to be released on Amazon Prime. Gaiman was heavily involved, writing the series and acting as showrunner because he wanted to make sure the adaptation was done right not only for the fans, but in honour of the late Terry Pratchett. He absolutely did that. The series was amazing, managing to capture the comedy of the book, the emotion, the tone, the weirdness. Everyone was flawlessly cast and put in fantastic performances, from the child actors to Frances McDormand as the voice of God. I absolutely recommend it even if you haven’t read the book, and I recommend reading the book too.

His Dark Materials (the HBO series): I may be jumping the gun a bit since the third and final season of this series will not be released until next year, but for now I feel safe putting this here from what I have seen. His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman were books I read over and over growing up, and can always return to. They’re pretty intense and serious in a lot of ways, but I was always so drawn in by the world and the characters and how it tied in magic and religion. I was so glad when it got a series, because although it’s a trilogy, there’s no way to capture the full scope of even one book in a single movie. They were able to include scenes and characters that would not fit in otherwise. I’m also glad they did it when there was enough of a budget that it LOOKS beautiful. I’m really interested to see the visuals for the next season and hope they do just as well adapting the final book as they have the first two.

Emma (2020): I’ve watched pretty much every Jane Austen adaptation out there, but I have to give a shoutout to this 2020 adaptation. The costuming was flawless, it was so well acted, and it was engaging and clever and funny, just like Jane Austen’s writing is. I think it also let its leads be less than perfect while the audience still roots for them. I even mentioned it as one of my favourite films of 2020.

I DON’T FEEL AS PASSIONATELY ATTACHED TO THESE BOOKS BUT DAMN THESE ARE GOOD MOVIES

Stardust: And Neil Gaiman makes his third appearance on this list! I don’t remember this book very well for some reason (maybe I will make a point to read it this year), but I adore this movie. I think it’s massively underrated and should be a fantasy movie classic. It’s just full of joy. Please watch it if you haven’t.

The Princess Bride: Yes, this is actually a book adaptation! I would say this is one of those movie adaptations that has overtaken the book in the public consciousness. It’s an absolute classic and I’m fairly certain I can recite every word of it. I can’t even remember the first time I saw this movie, that is how much it is a part of my brain. If for some reason you have lived under a rock and not watched it, do so.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World: I’ve only read the first few graphic novels in the series that this movie is based on, so I honestly don’t know how the hardcore fans view it as an adaptation. I know it does make several changes, although to me the movie still feels true to the spirit of the graphic novels. It’s a really fun movie with a hilarious cast. It’s also very stylized, and I know that isn’t for everyone but I am one of those people who LOVES a visually stylized movie. Give me all the aesthetic. It’s also set in Toronto, so special points for that. Again if you haven’t seen it, do it.

SOME QUICK MODERN ADAPTATION SHOUT OUTS

Clueless: Another Emma adaptation, but set in Beverley Hills in the 90s. It’s somehow still a better adaptation than Ella Enchanted. Fun and cute and funny and a fave always.

10 Things I Hate About You: This classic teen movie manages to adapt one of the most sexist Shakespeare plays, “The Taming of the Shrew” into a hilarious non sexist teen comedy where Heath Ledger sings a Frankie Valli song. We love to see it.

West Side Story: Another Shakespeare adaptation, this time turning “Romeo and Juliet” into the a battle between two gangs in 1950s New York City. It’s also a musical with iconic songs and beautifully choregraphed dance numbers.

I could keep talking about adaptations for hours, I really could. I love books and I love movies and I love television and it’s inevitable that I have opinions when the worlds come together. Including some very passionate opinions!

Why true crime?

Tonight I finished watching the Night Stalker docuseries on Netflix. it followed the case of Richard Ramirez aka the Night Stalker, who committed a series of murders, assaults, attacks, and kidnappings in Southern California in 1985. The story was told by the detectives who worked the case, as well as members of the press, some families of victims, and some survivors. It also covered the court case for Ramirez and everything that followed. It was a really well done docuseries–informative, straight forward, and interesting.

I’ve always been interested in true crime stories. I was reading a lot of mysteries and murder mysteries at a young age and also enjoyed various procedurals and mystery shows. These were all fictional of course. But I was also very interested in history from a young age, and with that came real life mysteries, real life crimes, real life unsolved and solved cases, real life murders. I know I’m not the only one. There are so many docuseries and documentaries and YouTube channels and books about true crime because it captures the interest of so many people. What is it about true crime stories that interests some of us so much?

I think part of it for me is the mystery solving aspect of it. I like stories and I like puzzles. It’s fascinating to see pieces come together, to see exactly how detectives solve the case, or to see what stops them from solving the case (often: bureaucracy). I like seeing the historical context and how that might help or hinder the case. It’s all really fascinating.

But I can’t pretend there’s not some morbid part of me, as I think there is in many others, that is fascinated in a horrified kind of way at how many terrible acts some human beings are capable of committing. I’ve read and watched stories of people doing such awful, shocking things, ranging from the truly over the top (if you haven’t looked up Ed Gein…you know what maybe don’t, save yourself) to the simply vicious. These horrible things are committed by people, people who have jobs and go grocery shopping and have families and had childhoods. Sometimes the monsters are just…humans.

I think I consume these things in a pretty healthy way. It doesn’t impact my life, or my mental health, nor do I feel anything but horror and disgust for these people. But that doesn’t mean everyone is the same. Richard Ramirez was a genuinely evil human being–and he had groupies. He had women writing him love letters and sending him raunchy pictures, some even getting off on the fact he was “dangerous.” There are also people who are inspired by these stories–copycat killers, internet attention seekers, etc etc etc.

But does that mean we shouldn’t have any of these documentaries or television shows or long write ups in newspapers? I don’t know if anything would be accomplished by doing that. I think despite living in the age of internet fame and notoriety, the kind of person who would kill for attention would be doing something damaging no matter what. Maybe what’s important is making sure these stories aren’t romanticized, or sensationalized more than they need to be. Maybe if these stories are to be told, we should make sure that they are told with respect to the victims, with consent from families and survivors. Maybe it’s important to make it about facts and problems and not headlines. Maybe we need to be reminded when we learn about true crime and serial killers that these aren’t myths, these aren’t legends, these are people, not bigger than anyone else, but capable of real, human, horrors.

Doing a Quiz

So my friend Paul has set a bit of a quiz challenge. I was originally going to respond to this in his comments, but my competitiveness got the better of me, and I realized I couldn’t get all the points while answering in my comments. So I will be posting my answers here. I’m being reminded of my high school years, when I used to fill out quizzes and questionnaires constantly on Facebook notes. Those were the days.

THE FIRST 10

In the movie, Space Jam, Daffy Duck sneaks into Michael Jordan’s house to pick up his lucky basketball shorts. What animated character would you trust with your personal belongings and why?
I think Belle from Beauty and the Beast would be decently trustworthy. She’s certainly clever and I have faith she wouldn’t steal my things or even snoop.

What is the chorus of your favourite song?
I don’t think I have a singular favourite song, but here are lyrics from “I know the End” by Phoebe Bridgers, which I have been really into lately:

But you had to go
I know, I know, I know
Like a wave that crashed and melted on the shore
Not even the burnouts are out here anymore
And you had to go
I know, I know, I know

Complete the sentence: I wish I could ________.
Travel

The singer, Meat Loaf, said he would do anything for love, but he won’t do that. In general, what are three things you won’t do?
I won’t eat wet tuna, which I find deeply appalling as a food, I won’t smoke or do any kind of drug (no judgement if you do, but it’s not for me), and I won’t, at this current time in my life, drive (the idea of being in control of a car makes me nervous, maybe that will change)

What is the worst thing about pockets?
Only a man would ask this question

Should I be concerned about your most recent Google search?
Probably.

If there was an eighth day of the week, what would it be called, and where would you place it amongst the other seven?
It would be between Saturday and Sunday to extend the weekend, it would be called Starday. Everyone would be annoyed that it sounded so close to Saturday.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see behind you?
Why would you curse me like this? Now I’m going to worry I’m haunted for the rest of the day.

You can have dinner with any three people in the world, but you must dine at a fast-food restaurant. Who are you bringing and what does each person (including yourself) order off the menu?
Predictably, I would order chicken fingers and fries. I would invite Queen Elizabeth because I want royal gossip, and also because it would amuse me to see her eat fast food fish and chips, which would obviously be her order. I would also invite Zendaya, because I love her. She is a vegetarian and would probably order fries and a veggie burger. Finally, I would invite Chrissy Teigen, because she seems like a good time and I feel like I could get some great celebrity gossip from her. She would obviously order a burger.

Think of a word (in English) and create a new, alternate spelling for it. What is the new word you have created?

Sykick.

BONUS QUESTIONS

On a sheet of paper, draw your happy place. Do not include words or numbers. You have 60 seconds to do this. Share the picture in your blog post.

Hope you are ready for my artistic genius:

No description available.

Text someone, “Knock Knock”. What is their reply?

The reply is simply “what” because I guess everyone assumes I’m doing something weird at all times

In your place of residence, pick up a book and turn to Page 50. What is the third sentence on that page and how does it relate to your life?

From the novel “Red White and Royal Blue” comes this sentence from page 50: Henry sighs. “Is that the time you threatened to push me in the Thames?” While I have never threatened to do this to anyone specifically–mostly because I have only been to London twice–I do think it’s possible that someone could annoy me enough that I would, indeed, threaten to push them in the Thames. I promise I wouldn’t do it though.

Re-reading childhood favourites: Witch Week

As a child, one of my all time favourite authors was Diana Wynne Jones. She wrote very British, kind of quirky, youth-oriented fantasy and magical realism. And I read every single one of them. A lot of the books are ones I have re-read throughout my life, and I think they really hold up. I didn’t even read Howl’s Moving Castle, for example, until I was an adult, and it remains one of my fave books of all time. One of her ongoing series was books set in the The Worlds of Chrestomanci, the name for the position of a very powerful enchanter with nine lives. Many of the books are set in the would Chrestomanci exists in, but others are in other worlds or countries. The book I re-read this time around, Witch Week, was set in another world, and Chrestomanci doesn’t show up until the end.

Witch Week (Chrestomanci, #3) by Diana Wynne Jones

I’ve always loved witches–my name is Sabrina, so this should not be surprising–and I remember reading Witch Week over and over when I was younger. Even so, for some reason it wasn’t one I had returned to in a while, so I thought it was the perfect one to go with. Even though it had been a while, I was surprised by HOW well I remembered character names and descriptions and events in the novel. It wasn’t the case where I could have listed off the plot before the re-read, but as I was going I would be thinking “Oh yes and then this happens later.” It didn’t ruin the reading experience for me, however. While I love reading and watching new things, I don’t have trouble getting invested even when I know exactly where the story is going and what happens.

Witch Week is set in a world very much like our own, but where magic is outlawed even though it is fairly common. Even though it’s set in around the 80s, witches and witch sympathizers who are discovered are still burned at the stake. We experience this world from the perspective of students and teachers at a British boarding school called Larwood House, specifically class 2Y. The book opens with one of the teachers finding an anonymous note that says “SOMEONE IN THIS CLASS IS A WITCH” and it’s not long before we find out just how true that is.

While the book is all written in third person and with the same humour and style throughout, each character who gets a main focus has a specific perspective. This was something I probably noticed when I read it when I was younger, but could only appreciate and put a name to reading it now. It made it easier to understand the motivations of the characters–especially the children characters. This is also one of those books where you learn about the world as you go through the eyes of people actually living in it, instead of explained through an exposition dump, and some things you just kind of figure out as you go (for example, the word “magic” is used as a swear word in this world). I generally enjoy that in a book. Closer to the end of the book, when Chrestomanci arrives and they have to explain things to him, we as readers have a pretty clear grasp on the world, so it’s pretty comedic when the child characters are trying to explain things to him when they aren’t even sure what he needs explained.

The rules of magic and the rules of multiple universes are quite consistent in these books, both individually and as a group, and I love that. I know that sounds almost contradictory, but I feel like it’s important to have an internalized logic that makes sense, even when it’s magic. I really like the brand of magic in this world, and the major spells cast in this book are pretty interesting. There’s one that stood out on re-read that they call the “Simon Says” spell. One of the characters casts a spell on another boy he hates who is named Simon, so that everything Simon says is true. At first Simon has fun with it when he discovers it–turning things into gold coins or diamonds, for example. But he soon discovers it’s EVERY SINGLE THING he says, and it suddenly gets a lot more dangerous. It’s a spell that makes sense within the logic of the world, within the story, AND that a kid would cast it and not consider the bigger consequences.

Maybe I should re-read a book I don’t remember as well. But I have no regrets re-reading Witch Week. It’s still fun and well-written and a quick read. I will always enjoy Diana Wynne Jones’ books and recommend them even to adults.

I don’t know what this is

I struggled a bit in writing this. Is it too personal? Is it too depressing? Does anyone even care? Does everyone feel this way and I’m over reacting? Are these just first world problems and I sound whiny and spoiled? But in the end I needed to get it out, so here I am.

We have gone into another lockdown, meaning only leaving the house for essential purposes. This honestly doesn’t change how I’m living my life much. I was working from home, I wasn’t exactly meeting up with friends or going to the gym or doing much of anything. So why does it feel like it does?

I think because by this point I wanted to have it more together. Well I wanted it all to be over, but by fall last year I knew that was a pipe dream. But I wanted to have it more together. I wanted to have a more solid routine and I wanted to be more productive. I wanted to stop feeling sad.

This isn’t me saying I’m sad all the time, I’m not. I have friends and family that make me happy and make me laugh. I have interests and I have music and entertainment. I live in a warm house and I don’t have to worry about rent. But I feel, for lack of a better word, like I’m failing.

I haven’t picked up any new skill. I thought I would find something I wanted to dedicate myself to learning, but the truth is almost everything I wanted to do is something that isn’t possible right now. I desperately miss dance classes and acro classes and the ability to pick up any active things I wanted to do. I don’t have the space to do the kind of dance or exercise I would like to do, and have only certain pockets of time to do what I DO have space to do, and then I get disappointed in myself the times that I don’t take the chance to do it. I know I am privileged to be able to take classes or do any of these things in the first place, but that doesn’t mean I miss it any less.

But it’s not just that. It’s not just me being sad that I can’t go to a concert or travel or take a dance class or do a lot of the things I like to do. I just feel like everything has been at a standstill. Yes, it’s comforting in a way that it’s been that way for most people, but the truth is before COVID I felt like I was at a bit of a crossroads. By the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, I was struggling with the fact that I felt that even though I enjoyed the jobs I was doing, there was no space for growth. It was a long time coming, but after being very sick at the end of 2019, it finally felt like the time to actually do something about it. I considered a few options. I considered going back to school to get another Masters degree or to get a PhD, but while I love learning, I didn’t have anything I was feeling passionate enough about to commit to doing. None of the programs spoke to me. So I started job searching, which as anyone who has done so knows, is a frustrating process. But I applied and applied and applied. I was even considering applying for jobs outside the city, even outside the country. This is a big deal for me, someone who has never moved to another city for work or school, never even studied abroad like my brother did. Even taking a summer job in NYC or LA or wherever would be a big deal, and I was looking into it. It would be an opportunity for something new.

And then COVID hit.

Like many, I felt completely rocked off centre. What would this mean for me and my future plans? What would I do? How long would this last? I think the last question was the hardest to deal with. How do you make future plans, especially as an anxious person like myself, when you don’t even know when those plans COULD start? As time went on, I just felt more lost, more off centre, more unsure, more like I was running out of time for something. Even as I talked to friends, or as I got a work-from-home job, or as vaccines started arriving in Canada.

Last night, I sent something I wrote for work to a friend, and she said she sent it to her friends, and I burst into tears. And it was then I decided I needed to write this down somewhere. This isn’t all of it, it’s not everything. I don’t know if I’ll share everything. But my name is Sabrina, and sometimes I feel like I’m failing both at something I never expected to happen and at something I did. I know that if someone else said the same thing to me, I would tell them they were doing just fine. But it’s a lot harder to convince yourself.

I can’t wait for the day I can safely travel or go to a concert or go to a dance class. But even when I can do all those things, where do I go from there? And how do I figure that out right now?

Even writing all this out, I feel like I’m just throwing a temper tantrum like I did when I was three. I feel like I’m just in my own way and can’t figure out how to get out of it. I feel like there’s something obvious I am missing that I should be doing but don’t know what that could be. Maybe it will hit me the minute I press “publish,” maybe things will get clearer now that I’ve said out loud (kind of) what I’m feeling.

And maybe not.

Re-reading childhood favourites: Dial-A-Ghost

As a child, I was a voracious reader. I learned how to read fairly early and was working my way through libraries and book stores and book fairs from an early age. I accumulated quite a collection of books, and of course, could not bear to part with many of them. While there have been faves I’ve re-read often in recent years–Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, The Merlin Conspiracy, just to name a few–there are some books I re-read over and over as a child and as a teen I haven’t picked up in a while. So of course, I decided now, when I just got a new job, would be a good time to get to some of them. If only I had thought of it last year.

The first book I decided to tackle? Dial-A-Ghost by Eva Ibbotson. I thought of it randomly the other week, and how often I read it as a kid, and decided I absolutely had to re-read it.

Dial-a-Ghost - Wikipedia

Dial-A-Ghost is mostly the story of a family of ghosts, The Wilkinsons. The whole family dies in World War 2 and become ghosts–very pleasant, very polite, very clean ghosts. They continue to live in their home, even as other people move in, and adopt a young ghost girl who has amnesia who they call Addie. Eventually their family home is torn down so, to their displeasure, they have to go live in a “knicker shop.” They soon come across a business called “Dial-A-Ghost” which works to give ghosts a good home (in this book, some people can see ghosts, and some cannot. the ladies who run the business can see ghosts, the knicker shop owners can’t). We are also introduced to a boy named Oliver Smith, a ten year old orphan who is discovered to be the true heir of a stately home belonging to his ancestors, the Snodde-Brittles. Most of the Snodde-Brittles were horrible people and died in terrible ways (run through by a rhinoceros, strangled by their tie, etc), so Oliver (whose great grandfather changed his name and left the family) is the last true heir along with his cousins. His cousins are awful people who try and hire some ghosts to terrify Oliver to death so they can inherit the estate and the money that comes with it. There’s a mix-up and so instead, Oliver (luckily for him), gets the Wilkinsons instead.

This book has always felt very British to me. The names are British, their manners are British, the Wilkinsons in particular are a very proper British family, the class lines are British. I think a lot of the humour is rather British too, although that could be the wrong way to describe it. It was a type of humour I really responded to as a kid, and still enjoy today. A lot of the jokes are a bit more subtle, a bit off-centre, don’t hit you over the head. Of course because it’s a book for younger readers, there’s some more blatant comedy and a lot of that comes from visual descriptions. This book has a lot of really clear imagery, which I think is part of the reason I enjoyed reading it so much as a kid.

It’s not just humorous imagery that’s clear in Dial-A-Ghost though. I was surprised at how dark and violent some things in the book were, even reading it now. This was mostly in the scenes with the Shriekers, two ghosts who Oliver’s cousins INTEND to send to scare him. They are a married couple of ghosts who have gone mad (the woman is named Sabrina so that’s fun) and not only are the physical descriptions of them disgusting, but they are known for murdering children and animals. And their THIRST for this is described, how they want to strangle them or slice them open. I’m amazed child me wasn’t more disturbed by it. On a more down to earth level, Oliver’s cousins mistreat the children at the boarding school they own. This is almost harder to read.

While the book mostly keeps a lighter jovial tone, with a lot of fun and absurd elements, the book talks a lot about death and loss, for obvious reasons. Some of this is dealt with lightly or glossed over, but the subject matter naturally leads to some quiet or somber moments. Probably the somber moment that sat with me most, however, was when Oliver was first living in the tower of the new estate he owns, all alone. He’s lonely and scared and almost resigned to the thought that he’s going to die there.

The book has a happy ending, of course. It could almost be considered too happy if the more absurdist elements of the story weren’t in play. And when finishing, I concluded that I still really enjoy this book. Sure some of it could be the nostalgia factor. But it’s different. Despite being clearly for younger readers, it never feels like it’s talking down to them. It deals with death and loneliness but it’s also weird and clever and very very British. I get why I liked it as a kid and I get why I like it now.

Youtube channels that made me laugh, smile, and think in 2020

I have a longer post coming up soon about a book (yes, a book! yay!) but I thought that on this chilly Monday, when it’s still not too far into the new year, I would share SOME of the YouTube channels that brought me entertainment in 2020–it’s been a long year, so this isn’t even close to all of them. Some of them get rather niche and I have a tendency to enjoy pretty long videos, but there’s a good variety of channels here if you have time to check some of them out.

Bailey Sarian

Bailey Sarian has a series on her channel called “murder mystery and make up mondays,” in which she shares true crime stories, murders, and mysteries all while doing her makeup. Her tone is conversational, almost gossiping, like a friend sharing these stories with you. I love it.

Jack Saint

I am only sharing one video for each creator, and it was hard to even know where to start with Jack Saint. He does video essays about pop culture that manage to be analytical and political and funny and tongue in cheek as well. Can get very specific, and I even love the videos about things I am not familiar with.

Tasting History with Max Miller

On this channel, Max Miller researches historical recipes–ranging from Ancient Greece to the early 20th century–and tests them out for himself, all while sharing how he does it and historical facts and context. Really interesting and also fun.

Billiam

Mostly discussing nostalgic 80s, 90s, and early 2000s cartoons and toys, this is one of the newer discoveries for me this year. He has an entire series where he is watching all of Scooby Doo, what’s not to love??

Yhara Zayd

Another more recent find, Yhara Zayd talks about movies, television, music, and themes and connections through the years. Her voice is also very relaxing and great to listen to for narration.

KennieJD

KennieJD has a series called Bad Movies and a Beat, where she reviews and discusses bad movies while doing her makeup. She’s funny, charming, and watches movies I would definitely never watch otherwise.

Lost in Adaptation

Dominic Noble compares books to their film and television adaptations. I have been watching for years and love his humour and style, especially as someone who has many strong feelings about adaptations.

Jenny Nicholson

I don’t even know how to describe Jenny, but she takes very niche concepts or specific interests and talks about them in the most hilarious way. She’s been tweeting about how she is releasing a 2 hour video about The Vampire Diaries next and I am absolutely going to watch it.

Defunctland

This is an entire channel about the history of fairs, theme parks and theme park rides, and old childrens television shows. So of course, I love it.

Todd in the Shadows

Another one I have been watching for years and years, Todd in the Shadows talks about hit pop music as well as the history of one hit wonders and disaster records. If you have any interest in pop music, Todd is always one to check out.

MicTheSnare

Another music channel, MicTheSnare talks about current music, the history of genres, and full discographies of artists. I especially enjoy the deep discog dives because they introduce me to songs and albums of artists I thought I knew.

coldcrashpictures

Another channel I more recently stumbled upon, I really enjoy his discussion on film, film history, and genre. Yes he is currently doing a series on dinosaur cinema, as he should.

Bernadette Banner

Bernadette Banner is a fashion channel focused on vintage and historical fashion and clothing. I love learning about these historical details I didn’t know before, and her delivery is very engaging.

Kurtis Conner

Love supporting a fellow Canadian! Kurtis consistently makes me laugh out loud with his videos and I always have fun watching them.

Jarvis Johnson

Jarvis is another one who always gets me laughing with his video topic choices and his delivery. He has a second channel which is just as funny and fun.

“Wow Sabrina,” you may be thinking, “this list got really long.” It did and yet, I could still keep going! I’ll leave it here for now. If you too love YouTube, feel free to share channels you enjoy, or tell me if you enjoy any of these channels or videos.

Bye bye 2020

I thought about making a post about all my thoughts and feelings from 2020. I thought about reflecting, and being introspective, and talking about 2021 and how to move forward.

But instead, I’m going to make a list of things that made me happy in 2020. Just random things that made me happy. I’m not going to list movies I talked about before, or songs that I also posted about before, or TV shows (I attempted to make a list of every show I watched in 2020. It uh. Got long.).

The novel “Red White and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston

Red, White & Royal Blue: A Novel: Amazon.ca: McQuiston, Casey: Books

This is a story about the Prince of England and the son of the US President falling in love. The description was enough to sell me on reading it, but it also turned out to be cute, funny, heartwrenching, and heartwarming. It made me feel warm and happy inside. It was like reading a really excellent romantic comedy.

The explicit version of the Potential Breakup Song by Aly & AJ.

This song was a jam and still is a jam. A dance around your room kind of song. Now with swear words.

Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit

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I really didn’t do much this year. I played it very safe, as one should. But this summer, when cases weren’t as high as they are now, I attended the socially-distant, mask-required Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in downtown Toronto. It’s a massive warehouse space with shifting images projected on the wall, immersing you in Van Gogh paintings combined with light and music. I went twice, once with one of my good friends who got a job there and got us free tickets, and once with my mother. It was worth it both times.

Walking by the lake

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I took a few walks this year around my neighbourhood. There are some lovely parks and pockets that make you feel like you are much farther away from the city than you actually are. Those were all very nice walks. But the two times I was able to take a walk by the lake downtown get a special mention. There’s something about it that just can’t be matched by the streams in the parks.

Soul (2020)

If I had watched this before yesterday, it would have definitely made my list of favourite movies of 2020. It was so beautifully animated and stunning to look at. The concepts and lessons really resonated with me. I had a mini existential crisis and then got put back together again. I laughed and cried and hummed along to music. Beautiful!

Visiting the Bloodsukers and Winnie the Pooh Exhibits at the ROM

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This was my last proper outing pre COVID. Me and one of my close friends got tickets to see some exhibits at the Royal Ontario Museum–one about bloodsuckers, which included everything from leeches to vampires, and one about the Winnie the Pooh books. They were both beautiful and educational exhibits, and we had a great day. I miss it. (And yes, in a first for this blog, that is my back in the picture).

I built a Lego Harry Potter Castle

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I only have a good image of the full thing in video form but it was 400 pieces and it took ages and it looked cool and it was a fun project.

Hamilton on Disney+

I lied before, you’re hearing about this one again. I was supposed to see Hamilton live this year. I had gotten the tickets in October after waiting years for the show to come to Toronto. So the recording of the original show coming to Disney+ this summer, earlier than it was supposed to, felt like fate.

On to 2021!