January 20th, 2017 #18

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January 20th, 2017

Hello hello. Another week has flown by – tick tock. Here on the island the snow and the skating ponds have (mostly) melted and the rain has set in. It’s hard not to feel old and tired at this time of year in all the darkness. All I want to do is sloth around, eat hot chips and watch bad TV.  Feeling the drag set in, I clicked through and read this article which highlights the dangers of sitting down too much and the direct link to ageing. As a result this newsletter took me twice as long to write as I had to keep springing up to prevent wrinkles.

When I googled the spelling of ageing (aging?) I got this as the top return: “Ageing, also spelled aging, is the process of becoming older. The term refers especially to human beings, many animals, and fungi, whereas for example bacteria, perennial plants and some simple animals are potentially immortal.”

So, like all smart human beings, many animals, and fungi, leap up and run around for half an hour. Your flawless skin will thank you.


1) Looking: Juxtapoz x Superflat at the Vancouver Art Gallery until Feb 5th, 2017. Conceived by Japanese neo-pop, superflat luminary Takashi Murakami and editor of the underground art journal, Juxtapoz, Evan Pricco, this group show brought me so much inspiration and joy. I think this is one of the best things I have seen at the VAG in the six years we have lived here. I love this aesthetic. The works selected are fresh, edgy, humour-filled, curious and irreverent. As the VAG description says, Murakami and Pricco’s aim is to flatten high and low cultures,  drawing on traditions such as illustration, manga, graffiti, skate, surf and digital art. The show is packed full of strong and completely engaging work. I wanna go back!

Top to bottom, left to right: James Jean Bouquet, Swoon Edine,  David Shrigley Life Model, Parra Anxiety, Mark Ryden Anatomia, Rebecca Morgan Pittsburgh Joely Jug and Ochre Jug.

2) Watching: Sing Street is a fabulous family film (perhaps for an older family, as Commonsense Media says 13+) dripping with 80s nostalgia in both subject matter and stylings.

It’s a solid household favourite around here at the moment and reminds me of classics such as The Commitments and School of Rock. The mixture of genuinely good music and off-beat yet relatable characters facing all the expected challenges creates something familiar but totally entertaining. Watch the trailer… see? How can you resist? On Netflix. (thanks Carrie Cogan, editor-at-larger-and-larger)

3) Reading: Ed Emberley – The Kids Are Alright in Juxtapoz magazine. If you were a kid who was into drawing and were born some time around 1970 and beyond, chances are you discovered and loved the Ed Emberley drawing books, full of step-by-step instructions on how to draw pretty much everything in his kooky, distinctive style. This interview is chock-full of interesting snippets and opinions about art, children’s book publishing, Ed and his wife Barbara’s life and process, the history of print and the direction social media is pushing us in.

“…when you draw, you go away. You go to another place. It’s a safe place. And it’s a real place.” – I hear ya, Ed.

4) Inspiring: The Songs Birds Sing is a sweet and inspiring video from Montague Workshop about trusting your own voice, ignoring your self-doubt and going for it. I showed it to Lily, who watched it with a smile, and I recommend it to you because it’s a message all of us need to hear from time to time.

5) Podcasting: The Washington Post encourages you to upgrade your podcast playlist in 2017 and features a list of suggestions from their staff podcasters. I am excited to try this episode of No Such Thing as Fish as it features one of my favourite comedians (read: genius) Tim Minchin.

6) Listening: This is a pretty, pretty sad song; Phoebe Bridgers Smoke Signals. And this song is a kinda sappy but I do love it; No One Knows Me (Like the Piano) from Sampha.

7) Slow-cooking: Sorry vegetarians….  but on these grim winter evenings, this beef stew is really good and so easy.

If you have a slow-cooker it takes about 10 minutes to throw together the meat and veg, herbs and sauces and then it bubbles away all afternoon, making the house smell incredible. Even the kids like it. This in itself is miraculous.

8) Icelanding: Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse – and it’s not just about looking super serious in a tracksuit when you get your photo taken.

10) Quoting:  “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” — Georgia O’Keefe

Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Laura Gluhanich

Community Manager, Rock Climber, Owner of a small, cute dog and the person I steal all my good music suggestions from.
Most often found at A Song A Day, Twitter and GluFactory

I have never actually met Laura, she is my internet-imaginary friend and I have been keenly following her ideas and suggestions for years. I feel when we actually meet one day (you never know!) we will get along like a house on fire. I couldn’t resist asking her what her Friday Five Favourites are because I knew they would be excellent. Thanks Laura!

1) A Woman to Know Tinyletter by Julia Carpenter: 
AWtK is my favorite daily newsletter (as opposed to weekly, ahem). It is so affirming to start each day reading about the fascinating women history overlooks. The cadence of one per day is just right, and Carpenter’s commitment to showcasing diverse perspectives is refreshing.

2) Silent Book Club:
#Humblebrag – I am a cofounder of SBC. Even so, it is a favorite online online community and IRL meet up, filled with readers of all ages and backgrounds across various social channels and cities around the world. I can’t wait to see where it goes in 2017.

3) Elaine Page singing Nobody’s Side:
It seems like a good time to brush up on US/Russia history, and what better way than through musical theatre? Elaine is such a powerful performer, she leads the entire orchestra and outshines the forgettable 80s video recording to boot. I love this performance and come back to it regularly. In fact, I just included it in my Stronger Together playlist, highlighting strong, female-led songs.

4) Cards by Hailey
My favourites of these keep changing. I want all of these delightful, punny cards.

5) Franny & Zooey by JD Salinger: 
I read this book at least once a year, and have gifted it numerous times to friends and family. I love the humor, the characters, and ultimately, the optimism that pervades, despite covering Big Subjects.
Incidentally, it’s clear that Wes Anderson would not exist as the filmmaker he is if not for Salinger, and specifically, Franny & Zooey.

Thank you so much Laura!


Have an excellent week and drop me a line if you feel inclined. I was a bit slack towards the end of last year and didn’t get back to a few kind emails (thank you to you!) but I’m back feeling relatively organised again.

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! Last week it was from Tennyson’s The Foresters – Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Congrats to Dave French who mentioned it on Facebook. If you knew it from memory, I am well impressed!

p.p.s. Happy Birthday to Rob!

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