Using social media to distract me from an incurable addiction to chocolate
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MelGallant-#365feministselfie-projectFor the past 63 days I’ve been participating in the #365feministselfie photo challenge, created by Veronica I. Arreola.

I first heard about it through Instagram a day or two after reading James Franco’s New York Times article on The Meanings of the Selfie.

I loved that Veronica quotes from James Franco’s article on how “attention is power.” Because it is.

The project is about owning (and sharing!) images that represent our true selves. Who we are, what we’re feeling or focused on and how it can all change day-to-day.

This challenge is so fun. And so hard!

I’ve only been posting my #365feministselfies to Instagram so far…for some reason I feel more comfortable sharing myself there. Maybe that will change over time.

Here’s a compilation of my January and February selfies:

and…

Taking a photo of myself everyday, especially on days I feel crappy/grumpy/less-than-human, requires stepping out of my comfort zone. But stating those feelings when sharing such a photo is surprisingly liberating.

This is me at my best. And at my worst. It’s me telling the world to take me as I am. But it’s also me telling myself that. There’s a bit of self-forgiveness and self-acceptance happening here.

And I’ve met so many interesting women. Gained a short glimpse into their lives. It’s all so cool.

Check out what I’m talking about by following the #365feministselfie hashtag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

What about you? Are you participating in this project or a similar one? 

 

I am lost in the land of smut

September 28th, 2012 | Posted by Melany Gallant in musings | pop culture - (7 Comments)
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Okay not really. But kind of. Sort of.

Alright, yes it’s true.

My brain doesn’t want to think anymore it seems. Reading literature is too much work. I want mindless reading, thank you very much. And so, (for quite some time now) I’m hooked on romance novels. Yes I’m freely admitting it here. Smoochy, kissy, steamy there’s-always-a-happy-ending love(r) stories.

Sigh.

I now feel a need to defend myself by explaining I majored in English Literature. I’ve read the likes of Dante, Donne and Shakespeare. I adore Jane Austen (yes, Jane wrote of love and romance but also of Victorian society, its mores, etc.).

I’ll have you know one of my favourite books of all time is Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald. Oh and I recently finished The Night Circus* by Erin Morgenstern (will someone please make a movie based on this book?)

However, I’m a sucker for unrequited love finally fulfilled after misunderstandings are resolved, a painful past forgiven and/or a cruel foe is thwarted.

And it’s not such a bad thing to read smut when it’s centred around romantic love, right? Right.

Did you know? Love is in the air

According to the Romance Writers of America:

  • Romance fiction generated $1.368 billion in sales in 2011
  • From 2007–2011, romance was the second top-performing category (based on consolidated ranking across the NYT, USA Today, and PW best-seller lists)
  • Romance fiction sales are estimated at $1.336 billion for 2012
  • 74.8 million people read at least one romance novel in 2008. (source: RWA Reader Survey)
  • Romance fiction was the largest share of the U.S. consumer market in 2011 at 14.3 percent.

Wow. Oh and get this…while women make up 91% of romance readers…men make up the other 9%. We know you’re out there men…we know.

I’m 50 shades amazed!

Of course I can’t write about romantic fiction and not mention E.L. James best-selling erotica novel. While these stats are UK-based they do demonstrate how rapidly 50 Shades of Gray rose in popularity.

While people either love or hate this book, the sheer number of people who have read it is impressive. It’s also worth noting how freely people talk about it. How many romantic or erotic novels have you seen become “water-cooler conversation”? Not that many.

Check out the complete 50 Shades of Gray infograhic at mediabistro.com. The stats on Ana’s “drinking problem” are pretty funny.

I would say that the increasing adoption of mobile devices and e-readers has contributed at least in part to the surge in sales of romantic and erotic fiction.

For several years now we’ve been given the opportunity to download our romantic fiction fix as e-books. We can read these e-books in public (on the bus, in our doctor’s waiting room, at our fav café, etc.) with no one the wiser about what we’re reading.

Like say the story of one young woman’s journey into bondage, sadism/masochism…and the like…

This site right here is my case in point. These romance novel book covers do nothing but invite mockery.

With cover images like those, of course I’m going to keep my interest in this genre on the down low.

But I’m throwing my sheepish embarrassment aside. Because sometimes you just need to lose yourself in some mindless smoochy-smooch reading. So there. The next time you see me reading an e-book, ask me what I’m reading. We can laugh at the book title (and cover) together.

Now spill it (if you dare). Do you read romance novels? If so, who’s your favourite author?

* I need to acknowledge that Night Circus is a love story. But it’s so much more, and definitely worth reading.

250px-Bela_lugosi_dracula

And no I don’t mean the sparkly kind. I was Team Jacob all the way! No really, I was. I don’t have anything against sparkly vampires per se…it’s just wolf boy seemed the better choice to me (the better, kinder, warmer choice). But anyway…

My fixation with vampires starts with Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BTVS ftw!) – and before you nod your head and sigh “Angel” under your breath, let it be known I was – am still – a Spike fan. (more…)

What Women Want -is-the-same-as-men

Do you have a favourite food? Something you could eat again and again?

For me, it’s chocolate. The darker the better. I don’t need it fancied up with fruit pieces or caramel or sel de mer. Nope. Just give me dark chocolate. Straight. Up.

(Does this mean I forego the fancied up chocolate if presented to me? Ahem. Of course not.)

Anyway, I know a lot of women would agree that dark chocolate is the go-to favourite food for them too. I mean with all the antioxidants and flavinoids dark chocolate contains, and the fact it can help reduce high blood pressure and the risk of strokes and heart attacks – hey, it’s practically a superfood.

Which is why it came as such a surprise to learn that in a recent study (of sorts), online women rated ice cream as the number one thing they want.

(more…)

tolerance

Brian Burke, General Manager to the Toronto Maple Leafs was on George Stromboloupous last night talking about encouraging a more tolerant, welcoming atmosphere in the NHL for gay hockey players.

I’m no Leafs fan (Go Sens Go!) but I’m a fan of Brian Burke. He’s got what you would call a strong moral compass.

He talked about the courage it would take for a gay player to come out in the sport of hockey and his belief that it won’t be as hard or terrible as that player thinks it will be.

Athlete or not, I can only imagine how difficult this decision would be for a gay person uncertain of his or her support network.

What I liked is that Brian looked straight into the camera as he offered words of encouragement and support to any one watching who may be struggling with this decision. (more…)

Totally late to the party

January 18th, 2012 | Posted by Melany Gallant in pop culture - (5 Comments)
Little_Miss_Late

You know when you discover something and you think it’s new? You see yourself on the cutting edge of life. A purveyor of innovation, culture and experiences.

Yeah…well…

I discovered Game of Thrones last month and thought it was new, new, new. Turns out it aired on HBO last year and is based on a series of books by George R. R. Martin that have been around for ages.

Apparently I have been living under a rock. (more…)

grimm

Have you been watching the new NBC series, Grimm?

Two episodes in and I have to say, I’m hooked.

Brief plot summary:

The show is centered around Nick Burckhardt, a Portland homicide detective and descendant of the Brothers Grimm. Turns out those fairy tales have more truth to them than anyone thought. Nick inherits the responsibility of his ancestors – to protect people from the sinister creatures we all thought were make believe.

Uh-huh. For reals.

(more…)

I am one of many eagerly awaiting November 18th. What’s the big deal? Well…it’s the release date for Breaking Dawn…yes I know, I’m blogging about that movie franchise.

The one that has girls and grown women shrieking and swooning in movie theatres around the world.

Confession: While I haven’t shrieked or swooned myself (I swear), I did go see Twilight on opening night way back in November 2008. I will never do anything like that again.

It was chaos. Absolute chaos.

My friend and I dragged our husbands to the movie theatre where crowds and crowds of teenage girls rushed the theatre as the doors opened. It. Was. Ridiculous.

But I digress. Here we are, three years later and the release of Breaking Dawn is weeks away. And yes, I am still a huge Twilight fan.

I don’t know why I love it so much, but I do. The acting is wooden, the lines painfully awkward and the smooching scenes? Ugh. But somehow I keep coming back. I think it’s because I loved the books so much. I just need to see the movie franchise through.

Guess I’m a sucker for vampires love stories. Sigh.

Here’s a spoof of Twilight that SNL did a few years ago. It’s called Firelight. Have you seen it? It perfectly mocks the cheese of Twilight. In an awesome good way.

After a two-year hiatus I am back reading the Southern Vampire Mysteries aka Sookie Stackhouse novels that True Blood is based on. This time however, I’m reading them as e-books.

I wanted to test out reading off of my iPhone and boy was I disappointed to find the Sookie Stackhouse books aren’t available through Apple’s iBook app. (If I’m wrong – please correct me but I searched the iBook library high and low).

Last week I downloaded the Kobo iPhone app. After a rough start with the first book not downloading right away as it should, I was able to begin reading Dead and Gone, the ninth book in the series.

I thought reading off my iPhone would be hard – I figured the small text and small screen would not make it enjoyable.

Turns out it was hard to read…but not for the reason I thought.

While I had a niggling feeling for a while that I needed to get my eyes checked, reading off my iPhone made me realize there is something seriously wonky with my eyesight.

Glasses on: words on iPhone screen swim and eyes hurt from effort.

Glasses off: words no longer do synchronized dance routine and eyes can read just fine.

Quick visit to the optometrist revealed my eye sight has improved since the last time I had my eyes checked (two years ago à la Sookie reading).

Improved!

As in my  eyes don’t need such strong lenses to see the world.

That’s why reading off my iPhone was so hard. Ha!

The bad news?

My optometrist told me that sometimes – as people age – their eye sight improves, but it’s an indicator they will eventually need bifocals.

So my eye sight is getting better before it gets worse. Where’s the justice?

p.s.: @hotelqueen told me on Twitter that her eye sight improved after each pregnancy and that I should just have another baby. ;)

I’m reading The Painted Boy by Charles de Lint. It’s a jump-right-in read and I’m loving it. I plan to zip back into that book as soon as I’m done with this post.

I found it a couple of weeks ago while trolling National Post book reviews. The cover art caught my eye but so did de Lint’s name. I used to read his stuff all the time – my Ottawa Library card was never so busy as when I was reading his books one right after the other. I even have a signed copy of The Onion Girl.

For some reason though I slipped away from his work. Can’t tell you why. I just did.The Painted Boy by Charles de Lint

Without giving too much away, The Painted Boy follows Jay Li – a young boy part human, part dragon – as he goes on a journey of self-discovery. A quest really, where he meets all kinds of beings – some  human and some not – and of course, where he must face untold dangers as he learns who he really is and what he is truly capable of.

I’m so glad to have rediscovered de Lint’s work through this book. I’ve been on a vampire-werewolf train of late and it’s getting tiring.

I needed something like The Painted Boy to satisfy my addiction to the otherworldly without boring me to death with the push-pull of “boy meets girl but he’s undead or hairy but either way really wants to eat her – how will they ever make it work?”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge Twilight saga fan. I eagerly anticipate the cinematic release of Breaking Dawn Part I. I also like Bitten and Shiver but I just can’t be in that kind of storyline all the time.

The Painted Boy is written for a younger audience than some of de Lint’s other work but don’t let that deter you. While the quest storyline is nothing new, de Lint offers a unique spin by introducing his readers to characters you won’t meet elsewhere, and who are interesting to learn about – whether they hold mystical powers or not.