I never sit down and watch The Daily Show, but over the years I have seen quite a lot from people just sharing the videos. Since Trevor Noah took overI never sit down and watch The Daily Show, but over the years I have seen quite a lot from people just sharing the videos. Since Trevor Noah took over, very few clips have made their way to me, so I wonder how well the switch from Jon Stewart is going. I imagine it'll take some time for him to find his stride on there, and I do hope he's given the chance, because, from watching his stand-up and reading this book, it's clear he's the type of person that needs to be on American television right now.
Trevor Noah was born in South Africa during the apartheid. His father is a white Swiss man and his mother a black Xhosa woman, which is where the title comes in. It was illegal to have a child of mixed-race at the time, and the stories of him growing up with parents who were not allowed to be seen with him in public are heartbreaking, but he also manages to make them hilarious. This whole book is a testament to finding the humour in dire situations.
If you're Native American and you pray to the wolves, you're a savage. If you're African and you pray to your ancestors, you're a primitive. But when white people pray to a guy who turns water into wine, well, that's just common sense.
One thing I really found interesting was how racial lines were handled during that time. There were, of course, black people and white people. Those of mixed race are classified as coloured in South Africa, which isn't the derogatory term that it is in North America. There are obviously racist attitudes towards those people, but the term itself apparently isn't treated as a slur. But just to drive home how ridiculous the classifications get, for convenience sake everyone was placed into one of these three categories. So Japanese people were labelled as white and Chinese as coloured, for example, and people could apply with the government to have their classification changed depending on their skin shade and economic standing. It really was idiotic, and I believe a lot of those attitudes still exist to a certain extent in the country.
This is his story of growing up poor in a country that didn't think he should exist. His father couldn't be seen with him, and his mother had to pretend he wasn't her son or risk him being taken away. He grew up with a violent and unpredictable drunk of a step-father and had a lot to struggle through, but he also grew up with an incredibly strong mother who clearly had a huge influence on him. It's not just his story that's interesting; it's his outlook and the lessons he learned from his family and his life experiences. This isn't a comedy book, it deals with some very dark subject matter, but it's written by someone who can't help but be funny.
I would highly recommend the audio book. Trevor Noah is a natural storyteller, his narration of this book is brilliant, and you also get the added bonus of listening to him speak phrases in Xhosa. That's the language with the clicks that you may have occasionally seen Robin Williams mimic, but it really is beautiful and mesmerizing to hear.
Nelson Mandela once said, 'If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.' He was so right. When you make the effort to speak someone else's language, even if it's just basic phrases here and there, you are saying to them, 'I understand that you have a culture and identity that exists beyond me. I see you as a human being.
Loved every minute of this. If you enjoy memoirs, I don't think you can go wrong with Born a Crime.
With the latest Star Wars release a few months back, I went down a black hole of interviews on YouTube anMore reviews can be found on my book blog. ---
With the latest Star Wars release a few months back, I went down a black hole of interviews on YouTube and was reminded of how hilarious Carrie Fisher is. I knew she had written an autobiography, so I thought this would be the perfect time to check it out. It turns out she actually has three autobiographies and a number of novels, and after reading this I think I'll eventually make my way through them all.
This first autobiography is based on her one-woman stage show, and it's basically an overview of why she is so messed up, starting right from the beginning with being born the child of two celebrities, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.
I am truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.
Carrie Fisher has dealt with fairly severe bipolar disorder her entire life. Before she was diagnosed, as happens with many who suffer the same, her use of drugs and alcohol got out of hand and she found herself essentially self-medicating without knowing it - uppers for when you're down, and downers for when you're manic. It got bad enough that she underwent electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) a few years before writing this, and I read somewhere that she has continued to use it to treat her depression since, which she goes into more detail about in later books.
ECT has come a long way from how it's portrayed in the movies, even current movies, where someone is strapped to a table as punishment and the lights dim and flicker in the room as the patient's body convulses. It is now done while the patient is medicated, they feel no pain, and it can apparently have incredible results in some people.
One side effect it can have is memory loss, which Fisher experienced, and she writes this from the perspective of regaining her memory after receiving ECT and seeing her crazy life from the outside - a fictional, drug-addicted princess with parent issues who not long ago awoke to find a dead gay Republican next to her in bed.
Resentment is like drinking a poison and waiting for the other person to die.
This is dark and hilarious, and Fisher's narration of the audiobook really added to the experience. Her delivery was perfect. One of my favourite bits was her telling the story of how George Lucas explained to her his scientific reasoning of why she couldn't wear a bra in space.
This is mainly stories from her childhood and her struggles with mental health, so you won't get many Star Wars anecdotes in here. She's actually been very outspoken about mental illness and the stigma around it for years now. It's clearly something that's affected her life and something she's passionate about, and she tackles it with a lot of humour, which is always the best way to talk about potentially awkward topics.
I thought I would inaugurate a Bipolar Pride Day. You know, with floats and parades and stuff! On the floats we would get the depressives, and they wouldn’t even have to leave their beds - we’d just roll their beds out of their houses, and they could continue staring off miserably into space. And then for the manics, we’d have the manic marching band, with manics laughing and talking and shopping and fucking and making bad judgment calls.
Fisher is brutally honest on this. I don't know how people can write so scathingly about their family and still be on speaking terms after, but she definitely doesn't hold back anything here. At times it felt like she was trying a little too hard with her jokes, and presenting stuff as a little more scandalous than they came across, but it was never enough to take away from the experience.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Her next is Shockaholic, which I'll be keeping an eye out for at the book sale next week....more
I first came across Felicia Day in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which I loved, and I later picked up aMore reviews can be found on my book blog. ---
I first came across Felicia Day in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which I loved, and I later picked up a copy of The Guild's first season on DVD at a signing, which was nearly a decade ago now. Not having seen the show at that point, I accidentally ignored Sandeep Parikh at the singing table. which is a shame because he was probably my favourite of the cast when I finally got around to watching it. We even all took an awkward photo together, which I made slightly more awkward by absentmindedly referring to myself as a cotton candy lumberjack, due to the bright plaid shirt I was wearing.
I haven't seen most of her latest television roles, but I do keep an eye on her YouTube empire Geek & Sundry. She has really created something cool there, and it hasn't been an easy road. She's had to deal with mental health issues and assholes on the Internet every step of the way.
Because if you can’t be your own weird self on the internet, where can you be? And what would be the point?
This autobiography doesn't go too much into her acting career, really just focusing on the experiences that relate to her Internet presence, and as much as I'd enjoy hearing stories from the set of Buffy, I think focusing the book in this way makes sense. If you're going to write an autobiography at a fairly young age, before you're winning lifetime achievement awards, there needs to be a very specific focus. Her acting career seems solid, but it's not groundbreaking, whereas she could be seen as a pioneer in successful online media.
An uncredited study she read once said, quote, “Girls become really stupid in science after they get their period, so you’d better learn as much as possible before that happens.” I had such anxiety about this “clearly proven” biological fact that I was studying calculus by the age of twelve. When I finally got my period, I cried, not because I was growing up, but because I had just learned derivatives and really enjoyed doing them.
It begins with her childhood, growing up without many friends, largely due to having been homeschooled by hippy parents. It sounds like her studies were very slack, but something seemed to work out because she managed to get a full university scholarship and graduate with degrees in both music performance and mathematics. Many of the friendships she cultivated were through online games, which kickstarted her love with the Internet. We cover her time with those games, included a very awkward meet-up between the players, her first experiences with the web in university, her addiction to World of Warcraft, the trials of making The Guild and publishing it online, and finally how she managed to create her latest Geek & Sundry YouTube channel.
Throughout this, particularly in the last few years, she struggled with depression and anxiety and developed a fairly severe thyroid issue. When she cut her hair quite short a few years ago, and people on the Internet went crazy the way they do when a celebrity does something like that (which, to be clear, is pathetic and sad), she was actually losing chunks of hair due to being ill. I imagine having legions of idiots commenting on how awful they thought her haircut was probably didn't help things, but I guess that's one of the joys of fame.
After finishing the book, she decided to add another chapter on Gamer Gate, which had just sparked up, and I really enjoyed that chapter. Gamer Gate, if you're lucky enough not to know, was a ridiculously convoluted flame war a couple of years back. From what I understand, the simplest explanation is that it was originally touted as a criticism on the integrity of gaming journalism, but really just became a guise for angry misogynists on the Internet to harass women. This included, but was not limited to, making public the addresses and phone numbers of any women who spoke out and sending them death and rape threats. The chapter was on how she was afraid to get involved, having been doxxed and threatened in the past already, and how she eventually decided to anyway, which resulted in her being immediately doxxed. That whole controversy left a horrible tarnish on the gaming industry, but hopefully it resulted in more people understanding what many women face when they jump into an online game or post a YouTube video, thanks to those who risked speaking out.
This was a fun read, despite the content described above. It's full of Felicia's quirky humour, and her narration of the audiobook was great and really added a lot. Joss Whedon also provided a nice foreword, but I found his narration really odd. It felt more like he was breathlessly narrating a harlequin romance novel. Definitely the most sensual introduction to an autobiography I've ever heard.
I enjoy reading about people following their passions and having success in personal projects, and I love a little nerdy comedy mixed with some serious issues, so this was a great read for me....more
Really enjoyed this. A great look into the extraordinary life of a foreign service officer and some of the history of Canada's foreign relations.
BartReally enjoyed this. A great look into the extraordinary life of a foreign service officer and some of the history of Canada's foreign relations.
Bartleman's work has taken him around the globe and into situations that are hard to even fathom for most of us. His work was exciting and important and varied - something I'd love in my own career....more