Sunday Lowdown #149


Last week I wrote my Sunday Lowdown early because I was getting my booster shot on Saturday and wasn’t sure how I’d feel that night when I sat down at my traditional writing time. Turns out I was fine, though my arm hurt where I got the shot (some people compare it to being kicked by a mule, and I’m wondering if folks have ever been kicked by anything). Later, I had a very slight sour feeling in my stomach and a metallic taste in my mouth, which Biscuit pointed out is a rare side effect, and sure enough, they’re not even gathering stats on it because so few people get the ol’ metal mouth. In general? Totally fine.

Now that I am officially on winter break (I got an “A” in Deaf Culture — hooray!), I have four more weeks to occupy myself. I asked myself, “What if, in those four weeks, my brain dies?” So I’ve been watching videos in ASL and I signed up for every single virtual author event I can find. Powell’s books has one almost every night, including a rather woo-woo presentation during which a white man explained that in the 1980s a Native American cannibalistic spirit tried to kill him, and I had to leave because OMG. Charis Books remains my favorite spot for all things virtual and book buying.

The spouse and I also started watching the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, and we made it through number four, which was not good. I wish these franchises knew when to be done for the sake of the story. Michael Myers? Two. Freddy? Three. Pinhead? Just the one. Same for Jason. Chucky can have all the movies he wants. #FanGirl


Although I loved the hippos in River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey, the characters fell flat for me. My point about a character being a list of identity labels instead of a person made me feel bad, but then I read another book with LGBTQ characters and saw how an author can weave in identity with personality and do it so well. Sounds like most of you agree with me.

#ReadingValdemar only has one more post to go, and that will be a reflection on what my experience of reading Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series over three years with my friend Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku was like. Seriously, so much changed in our lives in those three years. The last book we read together was Beyond, and it was a wonderful way to end the formal aspects of our read-along (another book comes out in June 2022, so there will be a Valdemar novel here and there in the future).


Korean culture is everywhere in the U.S. right now, but I have no idea why! I’m astounded by their superior horror movies, like Parasite, #Alive, and Train to Busan. The Canadian series Kim’s Convenience taught me much about Korean culture. One of the virtual author events I attended that I mentioned above was by two Korean-American authors. I asked why Korean culture is all the rage in the U.S. right now, and they mentioned Koreans have a tendency to be sincere and vulnerable in their storytelling. After listening to the memoir Crying in H-Mart by Michelle Zauner, I would agree. Review Tuesday.

Comedy, volunteering, picture books, novels — Gail Aldwin does a bit of everything! Learn more about her work on Thursday when I post her Meet the Writer feature.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 242
Owned Books on TBR Today: 204

I am definitely reading my own books and ticking them off the TBR. But I’ve also bought a few lately in support of small presses and independent book stores.

Thanks to Michael J. Miller for his book recommendation!


  1. I want to read Beautiful Country too.

    I’ve never attended a virtual author event. I admit, the prospect makes me nervous. I don’t want to be on screen or ask questions, I’d just want to listen. Is that possible?

    I love how you don’t want your brain to die in the four weeks off from school, LOL. Very admirable! Enjoy your time off.


    • Actually, I’ve never been to a public author event where you’re allowed to be on screen or talk. You connect to Zoom and both your mic and your camera are already off, and you can’t turn them on. They don’t want people to be distracting or show something, uhhh, weird on screen. If you do want to ask a question, there is a Q&A text box that they address at the end, but you don’t have to do that. I love it! Check out both Powell’s and Charis, which I’ve linked in this post. I also like the Philadelphia Free Library, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on the A! I like that you’re checking out different author events over your break. I still forget how much is available out there and how we don’t need to be constrained by location.


    • Most of this stuff has come about because of the pandemic, for which I am grateful. I contacted Charis books, and they said before the pandemic they did not do virtual events, but they built up such a big virtual following during the pandemic that they’re now doing hybrid events for the foreseeable future.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s neat to see the ways that businesses and people have grown through this, in some cases. I’m glad so many places are still sticking to virtual events to reach that faraway audience.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Was it your armpit or neck? Mine for shots 2 and 3 were both the armpit on the side I got the shot.

      I saw on the news this morning Boris Johnson straight saying that two shots is not enough anymore. I appreciated that he just said it straightforward. We are hemming and hawing in the U.S. to avoid fuel to fire conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers. I mean, it’s not really fuel, but they cling to just about ANYTHING.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Both neck and armpit! And hm … yes, he said that as it was but he’s also on a massive PR drive after getting caught hosting parties at No 10 last Christmas when the ordinary people were missing Christmas with loved ones. Also he was even more unkempt than usual, a lot of people don’t trust him, and the NHS trusts weren’t warned, so the next morning you couldn’t book a booster or get home testing kits as the site had gone down under the pressure. So … swings and roundabouts!


  3. Congrats on the A! Boo on the metal mouth! (So weird.)
    Thanks to you, I am on a quest to revisit (or visit for the first time depending on which installment) those horror movie franchises as well. Starting with Friday the 13th obviously. 😉 It will take me forever to do so because I only watch about one movie a week and I skip around but I’m still excited about it. Rob wants to Nightmare on Elm Street with me whenever I get to it. For right now, it’s holiday horror themed movies starting tonight.


  4. Glad your booster went so well! Virtual author events are one of the best things that has come out of the pandemic, but wow, that guy! I’d be hard pressed to not make a wtf chat comment before leaving that one. Congratulations on your A!


  5. My booster is set for Friday – really hoping it doesn’t knock me out the way the second jab did, because I have lots of important Christmas errands to run this weekend that won’t wait. Enjoy your break and congratulations on your A!


    • I’m so glad you’re getting your booster, especially since you’re back working with people face-to-face. I have the same conversation with myself repeatedly when it comes to you: 1) I hope Lou the nurse is okay at the hospital! 2) Oh, yeah. Lou teaches. 3) Are they going to call Lou back to the hospital because they’re out of staff? 4) Oh, yeah, Lou is training the next staff, and that’s important to get more staff in general. I need my brain to just go to #4.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I’m back at work but there are very few people in, so I hope that soothes your concerns a bit! We’ve all been ordered to work from home again if we can. I’ve been given special dispensation to carry on coming in because it’s so much better for my mental health (and productivity) to have a daily routine and come into the office every day. I’m one of about ten people in the whole building today, and I won’t be seeing students in person again until new year at the earliest. Being at work is definitely what’s best for me, irrespective of any concerns about covid – so I’m being looked after really well by my manager 🙂


        • Wonderful! I’m glad to hear all of this, especially the flexibility. I was very worried about the 5 weeks I’d have off between semesters because I have chronic anxiety, so I made myself a daily calendar with things to do each hour. It helps tremendously, so I understand what you mean about routine.


  6. Haha Melanie, you do make me laugh – what would make your brain die in 4 weeks (when you are merely 30something!!) Still never hurts to be proactive I say.

    I had my booster shot this morning, so 15 hours ago. So far just a pretty sore arm but nothing much else. No metallic taste as far as I can tell. Fingers crossed nothing more develops.

    As for your books, some interesting ones there but nothing I’ve heard of!


    • I have moderate chronic anxiety, so any sense of not having a purpose or value or a place to be, or a place in the world, really takes me to a dangerous place mentally. Having an appointment on my calendar (the virtual event) makes me have a purpose, and then watching the event makes me connect to other people through active listening. It’s all a tool to mitigate scary and horrible side effects of mental health issues.

      I’m so glad your booster is going well so far; I’d hate to have given you a bum steer! How was the holiday party?


  7. Ah, sorry, Melanie. I hope I didn’t make light of your situation. I didn’t intend to. I certainly understand what you are saying – and love that you have strategies for managing your health.

    The party was really lovely. Nine reading group friends – what would not be lovely about that!


  8. Woo! Congrats on the A! 😀
    Was the whole metal mouth thing short-lived at least? That sounds awful.
    I already miss Kim’s Convenience. It was such a good show.
    I really need to start squeezing in some holiday horror movies before Christmas. I’m slacking and missing out! The burnout from work is real though. Ugh. D:


    • The metal taste kind of came and went for about a week. It was odd. It didn’t taste awful, per se…more like drinking well water, lol.

      I’m not sure which holiday horror movie I’m going to watch tonight. I saved several on Shudder, so I’ll just pick one, but I am saving the original Black Christmas for the 24th.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad it was only for about a week. Still sounds unpleasant, but at least it didn’t last longer than that. 🙂
        I have utterly failed at watching all the spooky Christmas movies I had planned to watch this year. Looking forward to finding out what you think of Black Christmas, so keep me posted! 😀 I can live through you for my holiday horror fix this year. lol


        • Ha! Sounds good. C&M was telling me that she and her spouse just watched Silent Night, Crazy Night and now keep saying, “PUNEEEESH” to each other, which is funny, because I was running around yelling, “NAUGHTYYY!”

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll echo everyone else’s comments when I say congrats on the ‘a’!!!! Your description of that woo woo book event made me laugh, some people be crazy, but that’s what I love about this world.

    I understand the fear of your brain turning off, but make sure to take time to rest and recharge too – don’t be so hard on yourself 😉


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