OOPS! All Recommendations

I’ve read several bangers recently, so my dry spell is officially over! In fact, I wanted to recommend so many things this time that I realized I couldn’t add anything else. I may have questionable taste, but I sure enjoy telling people all about things I like. Isn’t that what the internet is literally for? So, here’s a bunch of stuff I’ve been enjoying.

Books (OOPS! Almost All Romance)

  • Keep This Off the Record by Arden Joy
    This sapphic retelling of Much Ado About Nothing was a solid win. Former high school enemies, now a television newscaster and a therapist, find themselves in close proximity when their respective best friends get romantically involved. (One of the side characters is also nonbinary, which I love to see!) Although it had a lot of humor, there were serious themes involved. I believe this was the author’s first novel, and I hope to read more from her.
  • Let’s Pretend This Will Work by Maddie Dawson
    They say fiction is an empathy machine, and one of the things I enjoy in my reading is gaining an emotional understanding of characters that aren’t at all like me. Sometimes, this means learning to empathize with an “unlikeable protagonist,” and sometimes, it just means feeling my way through a plot with a protagonist who makes very different choices than I would or has very different aims than I do. This book was one of those for me. I believe this was a Kindle First Reads selection last month, and I’ll tell you the truth: I probably wouldn’t have gone out of my way to find this book. But I gave it a shot because it was free, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I mean, the main character is kind of a love-starved dingbat, and much of the story is about a co-op daycare in 1982. Kind of not my thing! There’s also a love triangle, one of my least favorite romantic tropes. And yet the emotional journey was truly satisfying! I love a good character arc and a happy ending.
  • Role Playing by Cathy Yardley
    Modern romance novels are widening their scope, and I am here for it! This one is about a very curmudgeonly half-Asian woman who meets a bi and demisexual cinnamon roll of a guy in a video gaming guild. And they’re middle-aged! I LOVE IT. One is a new empty nester, and the other is struggling to care for an aging parent. Romance isn’t the exclusive province of people between 25 and 35, and it’s nice to see some age variety popping up alongside queer representation. This is a well-crafted and humorous modern romance. I highly recommend it!
  • The Far Reaches Collection
    This collection of six science fiction short stories by various authors is available in the Amazon Prime library, so they’re free to read with a Prime account. And they’re so good! I think my favorite was “Void” by Veronica Roth, though I feel guilty about singling one out, as they were all so enjoyable. Read ’em — you won’t regret it.

Movies (OOPS! All Horror)

  • “Late Night with the Devil”
    This was better than I expected! The plot: A grieving late night talk show host presents a live Halloween special in 1977 with some, um, unexpected side effects. Maybe it’s a bad idea to exploit a possessed child for ratings, but when has that ever stopped an ambitious celebrity? Anyway, this was a fun watch. It’s available to rent and as a current selection on Shudder.
  • “Ghostwatch”
    I finally saw this infamous 1992 mockumentary, which was excellent. Though fictional and filmed in advance, it was presented like a live special when it aired on Halloween night and prompted an estimated 1,000,000 calls to the BBC! It has a veneer of reality that most mockumentaries lack, partially because they had real television presenters portraying themselves. Everything seems pretty believable… up to a point when things get really wild. Many of the plot elements were lifted from the (real life) Enfield poltergeist case from the 1970s, but I can forgive that. This one was an absolute banger, and I’m so glad I finally saw it. This one is also streaming on Shudder.
  • “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It”
    I re-watched this the other day and still enjoyed it quite a bit. It may be the weirdest entry in the Conjuring franchise, but that’s not a bad thing, in my opinion. It has almost a supernatural procedural vibe, with a bizarre court case (a real one, though the screen version is highly fictionalized) and Lorraine investigating a malevolent demon-worshipper. I have a lot of things to say about Ed and Lorraine Warren in real life, but their fictional counterparts make for compelling horror cinema. All three Conjuring films, including this one, are streaming on Netflix.

Music (OOPS! All LGBT)

  • Chappell Roan – “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess”
    Lennox turned me on to Chappell Roan recently, and that may seem pretty funny from a gender/sexuality perspective, but he’s always had great taste in music despite being a cis straight man. (LOL!) This video is how he got me hooked. Pop music can still be fun! Sometimes my gloomy ass forgets that.
  • Pet Shop Boys – “Nonetheless”
    I’m so out of touch that I didn’t realize Pet Shop Boys had released a new album in April, but I ran right out and got it as soon as I heard. I mean, I’m a super fan, so of course I like “Nonetheless.” Very danceable! And also sometimes sad. They say that if you want to dance and cry at the same time, put on a Pet Shop Boys album, and this is a good one for that particular vibe. I love that these guys are in their sixties and still producing fantastic new music. I also loved revisiting the four older tracks on “Furthermore,” the included bonus EP. You’ll probably like this album if you like EDM with throwback disco roots. And if you don’t, you likely won’t. Them’s the breaks! My favorite track (so far) is “Loneliness.”

Finally, A Recommendation to Avoid a Clothing Company

Though I’ve shopped with eShakti since about 2010, I no longer trust them. They seem to have stopped delivering orders altogether, although users have been experiencing long delays for about a year. Customer service is no longer responsive, and although they may get back to you after several attempts at contact, the excuses vary, and no refunds are being processed. It has been 4 months since I placed my order, and I only received one update after badgering customer service for 2 weeks straight. I’ve accepted that this final order was an expensive error and that I’ll never get the garments or my money back. I can afford to eat the damage, but I don’t want anyone else to have the same problem. So, buyer beware! I’m really gutted. I relied on eShakti for many years, especially for special occasion outfits, as they did both a wide range of standard sizes and made-to-measure custom orders. Please let me know if you know of other online clothing retailers offering custom sizing. I’m going to try out Ureshii, a Canadian custom clothier, but I’d love to hear about any others you folks have encountered.

Anyway, that’s it for today. OK, BYE! 🖤

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