Hello there, Dear Reader. Whoever and wherever you are, love.
How magical it is that we’re meeting here in cyberspace. Complete strangers, living our little lives.
Perhaps we’re a continent or two apart. Or maybe we’re neighbors unbeknownst.
Yet we’re in each other’s homes, in each other’s lives.
And maybe by the time your eyes skim these uploaded words, your blue light glasses trying their damndest to let you read just one more post, chapter, or page, I’ll have curled up beneath the comforter and drifted to a much-needed dreamless sleep.
And yet our words stay up. Alert. Dedicated.
. . .
SnapDragon X. Writer of fictions, writer of poetry. Lazy painter of cartoonish women in the nude. Homemaker just barely keeping her head above the dishwater. Out-of-the-traditional-classroom educator. Atheist. CD-lover. Former makeup-wearer.
(she writes down her precise mailing address in neat, all-capital letters)
All of the todays.
Doesn’t want to be someone who blindly goes through life, unquestioningly eating the fodder before her. Wants to consume the arts with abandon but also create with purpose. Wants her house, her clothes, her tastes to be unapologetic reflections of her chipped-teacup kind of soul.
Sixty seconds. Sixty minutes. Bit by bit by bit by bit by bit by bit by bit by bit by bit.
. . .
SnapDragon is a weirdo artist who self-identifies as a curvy-petite badass.
A short critique of Meg Elison’s Big Girl and other works
Hooray! Snap actually finished a book!
And I am very pleased with this one!
In fact, I think I’ve found a new writer to love!
Which, of course, means more books to add to my ever-growing list.
But so be it.
‘Cuz this girl’s got it, yo.
. . .
Big Girl* by Meg Elison (2020)
*Okay! So, I should begin by saying this is a short anthology of some of Elison’s work, published by PM Press. It’s Number 25 in their Outspoken Authors series. In addition to the titular story, there are six other excellent pieces of hers to enjoy.
Oh. And you should definitely check out PM Press.
Yes? Good? On we go!
. . .
In the spirit of this short collection (It’s 111 pages) I’ll keep this review short and sweet.
Meg Elison is friggin’ awesome.
She’s a good writer. Very good.
Her fiction is bizarre, yet eerily not-so-outlandish.
Her work is carefully constructed, with descriptions that made me wish I had written them.
And as the name Big Girl suggests, the selections in this volume artfully explore the absolutely fucked-up, we’ll-do-anything-not-to-be-fat culture in which we live.
As I read this book, I was reminded to live my friggin’ life.
“Katya looked as beautiful as ever. She wore her blonde hair up and out of her face in the frank privilege of her own home. She used the same mandated cosmetics as any woman Omar had seen in recent months, but she seemed more skilled with it. A few times, Omar had glimpsed faces through the windows of women’s motorpools, their mouths like sore pink slashes, their eyes buttered in black. Almost as if they used their requirements with menace rather than compliance” (Elison, 2020).
Dude. Read this book.
And meanwhile, I’ll just be ordering all of her other work!
Happy Reading, friends.
. . .
SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and non-gum chewer.
I’m sneaking in a quiet moment, as Baby Snap is upstairs snuggling with Papa. (Or, more likely, kicking him in the face with his adorable baby feet.)
I left the “ambient ocean sounds” playing here in the kitchen, because, well, I like it.
Anyway, as I’ve been on break for the past month, I’ve done a bit of soul-searching. (And by ‘soul-searching’ I mean drinking iced coffee, reading Elton John’s autobiography, and wondering why in the fuck I don’t live in Helsinki.)
And so, I’ve decided it’s time for a re-evaluation.
Top to bottom.
No holding back.
Snap as she truly is.
. . .
SnapDragon’s Re-Evaluation of Her Life, Yo:
Jesus Christ. They weren’t lying: age is a cruel joke.
The cold, hard truth is that I’m overweight. Also, it’s probably worth noting that according to the textbook definition, I’ve been ‘overweight’ since the eighth grade. I’ve always had a thick body frame. I’m strong. And, I like to eat. I’m Petite curvy, shall we say?
Anyway, me and my metabolism aren’t getting any younger. So aside from running up and down our stairs roughly 14 times a day, Mama Snap’s gotta get movin’. Stat.
In my heart of hearts, I am An English Teacher.
For the past five years (!) I’ve worked behind-the-scenes at the university level, on programming that aims to support “under-served” high school students. And I don’t begrudge it. I’ve accomplished some important things, and have had some meaningful moments. I have also greatly appreciated a flexible schedule, and even more so now that I have an infant. But at the end of the day, I want my classroom back. My kids. My projects. My little utopia of fiction reading that occasionally houses a fist fight or two. You know: real life.
I will go back. Someday.
It’s probably no surprise that I don’t believe in anything divine. (Except for, say, Paul McCartney in 1969.) But I do, however, believe in the magic of art.
I love stories. (It’s why I became an English teacher.)
I love music. (I’m obsessed. I’ve been known to scowl at people for skipping a track on an album.)
I love painting, photography, and basically anything conjured through vision, time, and expertise.
So I will continue to dig. Bit by bit. Page by page. I will create.
Snap’s a work in progress, yo.
Aren’t we all?
. . .
SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and the complete opposite of a know-it-all. (Most times.)
Normally I would be excited to draft up the latest Book-of-the-Month post, but, um. . .
Snap dropped the ball, yo.
(she shrinks away in shame, like a vampire repulsed by the sun)
For whatever reason, I could not finish a book this month.
I did try, though!
SnapDragon’s Failed Attempts at This Month’s Novel Reading & Why She Gave Up:
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (1985)
I started reading this as sort of a little book-club assignment with a friend of mine. The descriptions were beautiful. But my frazzled mind could not focus, and everyday I failed to read made me feel like a loser. It felt even worse to back out, despite my friend’s reassurance that truly, it’s like not a big deal.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (2017)
I loved this book. I was very much into it, until I got about halfway through, and there was a NICU scene. Nope. #PTSD.
The Blue Bedspread by Raj Kamal Jha (1999)
Another good start. Riveting first-person narration. Then there was a Game-of-Thrones-style brother/sister thing, described in far too much detail. Yeah, done.
Three strikes*, and Snap is out of the Book-of-the-Month ballgame!
(For May, anyway.)
But of course, Dear Reader, she’ll be back.
. . .
SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and dedicated cat-mom.
* Oh yeah. I also started A Clockwork Orange. I even highlighted the slang terms and wrote the definitions in the margins. I do appreciate it, but again, will have to revisit it another time. (You know. Frazzled mind, and all. . .)
A short critique of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables
Good morning, Dear Reader!
As usual, I intend to keep this review short and sweet.
Because that is exactly how I would describe this absolutely lovely piece of literature.
. . .
I’m not really sure how this one escaped me all these years. As a white girl from the northeastern suburbs of the US of A, you’d think this novel would have stumbled into my backpack somewhere along the lines.
For those of you who’ve never actually met me, you need to understand something:
While I am very much an opinionated, embracer of curse words and rock n’ roll, I’d say 75% of me is a combination of librarian, Mother Goose, and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.
Hot, I know.
I absolutely love “innocent” things, and Anne has a delightfully-innocent appreciation for. . . well, pretty much everything.
She gets excited about the weather. The trees. The possibility that each day brings.
She reminds me of everything I hope to be:
Optimistic. Loving. A gentle spirit.
And she has vibrant red hair.
. . .
“But Anne, with her elbows on the window sill, her soft cheek laid against her clasped hands, and her eyes filled with visions, looked out unheedingly across city roof and spire to that glorious dome of sunset sky and wove her dreams of a possible future from the golden tissue of youth’s own optimism. All the Beyond was hers with its possibilities lurking rosily in the oncoming years–each year a rose of promise to be woven into an immortal chaplet” (Montgomery).
(hugs herself and smiles thoughtfully)
Yes, Anne. Yes.
. . .
SnapDragon is a woman who refuses to live life in fear.
Yep. I’ve never hit a punching bag in my life, but this series called out to me from the first time I saw it on my parents’ wooden-framed television set.
While people love to make fun of it, the story of Rocky Balboa will always be a part of me. It’s about heart, yo.
And during these crazy times of being stuck in the house, I decided a helping of my favorite Italian Stallion might be just what the doctor ordered.
. . .
A few months ago, I re-watched all six films. (Please note I do not consider the Creed movies to be part of the series. You’re welcome to debate me on this. It’s a spin-off, friends. But that’s a topic for another day.)
Anyway, from Rocky to Rocky Balboa, I enjoyed my favorite parts all over again, and undoubtedly savored new moments that were somehow forgotten over the years.
And so, here is my (brief?) analysis of the complete story of Rocky. (Again, I realize that Rocky is in the Creed films. But I will always view those as a separate story.)
**Wait, you haven’t seen them? For real? Then stop reading. Now. Come back to this another day, love.**
Okay. Here we go!
. . .
If I had to choose the “best” film overall, it would have to be the original. I love how each character is patiently and thoughtfully introduced, in that 70s-film-kind-of-way that is sadly missing from most movies today:
-Of course, we get an intimate view of Rocky himself, as he lives a simple, yet difficult life in the heart of Philadelphia. While his loan-shark hustle pays most of the bills, his dedication and passion for boxing is evident in every scene. He’s a kind-hearted man who wants more for himself, and more for his community. Respect.
-We then meet the lovely Adrian, and slowly learn more about her as Rocky peels away her layers of shyness. Her ignorant, alcoholic brother Paulie is never far from view, stirring up drama from what’s probably a textbook case of repression issues. Their dysfunctional sibling relationship is frustrating, but I suppose we owe Paulie a cold one for essentially getting her and Rocky together. (Also, it’s hard not to love Paulie as the series continues. He’s tremendously flawed, but has his redeeming moments. I cry every time in Rocky IV. But of course, I’m getting ahead of myself.)
-And then there’s Mickey. Dear, dear Mickey. He’s such a delightfully-cranky character, who in my mind will always be a cinematic icon. His gruff voice, strong northeastern accent, and no-frills tough-love antics are truly one-of-a-kind. I love him so, so much.
-And, of course, we can’t forget Apollo. Gun to the head, he’s my favorite character. His voice, his confidence. . . he’s got it all. While he’s technically the antagonist (or perhaps a secondary one; I feel like the conflict of this first movie is really man vs. himself) he’s got a personality I just can’t shake. He’s absolutely magnetic.
Favorite Scene: When Adrian surprises Rocky with Butkus, the lovable hound she rescued from the pet shop. He has a beautiful red ribbon tied around his neck, and it always makes me smile. So. sweet.
. . .
Rocky II (1979)
Oh man. Love this one. It miiiight be my favorite to watch. (I know, I know. They all seem to be my favorite.)
Anyway, you can definitely tell the increased budget was put to good use in this sequel; you can feel the quality. I also love the 70s music of the opening credits. And of course, the boxing choreography is noticeably better, with one of the most suspenseful knock-out scenes of the series. I still find myself holding my breath! Get up!
While Rocky II is often criticized for being “slow”, I think it works, just like it does in the original. We get to experience Rocky and Adrian’s wedding, his struggle with advertising and, in turn, his struggle with the simple act of reading. We’re rooting for him even when he’s working in the meat house!
Meanwhile, Apollo is growing evermore bitter after the split-decision fallout from the first film. He wants a rematch, damn it, and he’s going to get it. (Again, even though he’s the opponent, he’s likable. Lovable, in fact. Or maybe it’s just me. Okay, I have a serious crush.)
Favorite Scene: When Rocky visits a very-pregnant Adrian at the pet shop and helps her pour the dog food into a bin. It’s such a simple act of love.
. . .
Rocky III surprises me every single time. I always seem to forget how much I love it.
While I used to describe it as a “necessary part of the story”, I now view it as crucial. Rocky, of course, has gotten soft with his title defenses and has lost The Eye of the Tiger. As Apollo takes him under his wing after what may be his lowest moment (RIP Mickey) we see our Italian Stallion at his most vulnerable. He gets back to basics, gets a much-needed reality check from Adrian, and then goes on to defeat Clubber Lang.
Favorite Scene: When Clubber calls out Rocky during his award/retirement ceremony. I just love Clubber’s cadence, and his no-frills attitude. Bad. ass.
. . .
Rocky IV (1985)
This film also surprises me every time. While I love it on a scene-by-scene basis (how many inspirational montages can they squeeze in?!) as a whole, it’s definitely the outlier of the series. (gasp!) Come on. It’s true.
Embarrassing propaganda aside, I think this movie suffers from a lack of dialogue. It needs that quintessential, “punchy” Rocky moment. Sure, one could argue that his snails vs. nails comment before Apollo’s exhibition served this “bone head” need, but I think that’s a stretch. We need a “take you back” moment (doo-doo doo doo). We need some Philly-style love, and its absence is notable. Even a pinch would do.
Favorite Scene: When Rocky is walking out to fight Drago and Paulie tells him, “If I could just unzip myself and step out and be someone else, I’d wanna be you. You’re all heart, Rock.” My heart. . . Every. single. time.
. . .
Rocky V (1990)
People hate this one. But you know? I love it. (Yes, more than IV. Sue me.)
The classic Rocky/Philly influence that was lacking in IV was delightfully bountiful in this one. The Balboa Family is back in the neighborhood, and despite their financial hardships, it feels good, yo. They’re home.
I think a lot of people struggle with this movie because Rocky is no longer in the ring. It’s hard to see a new (albeit, paper) champion, and I suppose the street fight at the end just doesn’t cut it for most folks. Me? It makes me so happy, Dear Reader. I could watch it again and again. Having lived in the city, and ridden a SEPTA bus* like the one Tommy Gunn is knocked into, adds a special layer of meaning to this climactic scene.
Favorite scene: After Tommy Gunn is named champ, and he goes to the bar to confront Rocky. An argument ensues, and Tommy punches Paulie and (of course) knocks him to the ground. The look on Rocky’s face at that moment? Priceless.
*When we were college sophomores, my best friend and I nervously took the SEPTA bus into Philly. Stallone himself was making an appearance at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and afterward we got to watch the original film while sitting on the steps. Yes, it was as cool as it sounds.
. . .
One more to go, friends!
Rocky Balboa (2006)
As any true fan might feel, this final chapter made me both excited and nervous. Please, Sly. Do not royally screw this up.
And he didn’t.
Every time I watch this one, I find myself wanting to critique it. I want to find some glaring mistake, perhaps in the same fashion as critics of Rocky V.
It’s too cheesy, unrealistic, blah, blah blah.
But you know? It’s an absolutely perfect, imperfectly-Rocky finale.
We’re reminded once again of what this story’s truly about: love.
Love for ourselves; love for our neighborhoods; love for the flawed yet beautiful people who come and go in our lives.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go put on my comfy pants and get this Rocky Party started.
. . .
SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and admirer of freshly-picked flowers.
There’s a New Feature here on Snippets of SnapDragon!
It’s called “Tuesday Talks”. As the name suggests, each Tuesday I’ll offer a post with a specific question to spark discussion among us blogging friends.
Please note that while passionate, lively discussion is welcomed, disrespectful hate speech is NOT. But I’m sure you’re better than that, and this disclaimer is overkill, right? Okay, good. I thought so.
Anyway, stay tuned!
. . .
SnapDragon is a writer, painter, and lover of wine and exotic cheeses.
A short critique of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies
I’m not gonna lie, Dear Reader.
I bought this book for two reasons:
1. It was in the discount bin.
2. Stephen King called it “A hell of a good book”.
And, despite popular opinion of King, and the fact that IT might be his worst publication ever, he’s my literary god.
So I gave it a whirl.
And, let me say, I was extremely satisfied with this piece of fiction.
In fact, I have that rare, extraordinarily-giddy feeling of discovering a new favorite author.
. . .
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (2014)
Big Little Lies provided the perfect blend of plot and character; I seamlessly flipped through the pages, genuinely eager to find out what happened next.
The combination of abuse, a murder mystery, and ridiculous gossip and game playing among elementary school parents, kept me invested.
I hope the television series lives up to the book. (But, who are we kidding. You know bookworms like me wear pins on my lapel exclaiming The Book was Better or other such literary snobbery.) Anyway, one can still hope.
Favorite passage? Hmm. This is another paperback now filled with dog-eared selections of delight.
How about this one:
“It wasn’t beautiful people like Celeste who were drawing Jane’s eyes, but ordinary people and the beautiful ordinariness of their bodies. A tanned forearm with a tattoo of the sun reaching out across the counter at the service station. The back of an older man’s neck in a queue at the supermarket. Calf muscles and collarbones. It was the strangest thing” (Moriarty).