All posts by Karen

About Karen

Karen (she/hers) is a Culinary Literacies Specialist at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre library. When not in the kitchen, she can be found knitting, reading, and repeating.  |  Meet the team

Maximus Gluteus

Book Cover of Butts: A backstory by Heather Radke

Never skip a leg day, yes, but you probably shouldn’t skip a glute day either: the maximus gluteus is the biggest muscle in your body, and training your glutes can help with your posture, preventing back pain, and more!

I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover and all, but just look at it! The moment I saw the cover on a list of recent releases, I knew I’d end up picking this up. It might seem an odd pick, but I’ve found I tend to be interested in microhistories, especially somewhat cheeky ones, as you may already be aware, so obviously I gravitated towards it the moment I saw it. In this age of Instagram and scrunch butt leggings*, not to mention post-2014, which was apparently Year of the Butt(?), it might sound a bit disingenuous to say that I hadn’t really given butts that much thought, but I went in thinking exactly this. As I started reading though, I slowly came to the realization that I had, in fact, absorbed more about butts than I’d realized without much conscious thought: Radke covered the ground I expected to be covered for a book on the female butt – how it’s been viewed throughout the ages in Western culture, the history & symbolism of this part of the body – but I also found myself wishing it were more filled out, in part because a lot of this ground has been covered elsewhere. Granted, I would still recommend this book for the convenience of having it all in one place, for anyone who is interested in learning about our fascination with the maximus gluteus, as the nature of that obsession (as a society, if not as individuals) has changed over the years.

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Good Arguments

Book Cover of Good Arguments by Bo Seo

Does that sound like an oxymoron? A good argument. Think of the last time you argued with someone: did the conflict get resolved, or did you both give up and/or agree to disagree*? (Or agree to cut ties, even?) When was the last time an argument or debate that you had actually ended with both you and the person you were arguing with coming to an understanding of what the other had said, both of you knowing that each understood what the other meant instead of just repeating your own point and trying to convert the other?

I’m reminded of one time I took up a debate just for fun in university with my friend while we were working away in the print studio. I think of it as one of the examples in my life of how good a good debate can go and how fun it can be: no ad hominem attacks, no tempers flaring, no voices raised. We took each other’s arguments into consideration and came back with counterarguments, and when we ran into a case where it seemed like maybe we had too vague a term in place (“morality”), we decided to define it together in order to make sure we knew what we were debating about (just think of the last time the term “political correctness” was brought up in an argument: wouldn’t we do better to define our terms?). In part, I think this was because both of us knew that whatever side we were arguing for didn’t actually say anything about us as people (i.e. we weren’t committed to our sides and didn’t identify with them**), so we took it in good fun and really listened. There was also I think an implicit agreement that we both understood this exercise to be a debate, and that we would both adhere to the unspoken rules of being respectful, not interrupting, and not making it personal. Mostly, it sticks around in my memory because another friend of ours also working in the studio at the time said to us as we wound down our arguments: “I don’t think I’ve ever heard an argument go like this before. You two were so respectful, didn’t attack each other, didn’t raise your voices, and you’re actually listening to one another! That’s amazing!” And it kind of was. But it also occurred to me that that shouldn’t have been amazing at all: is the bar this low?***

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Oldboy, Remakes, and Korean Psychological Horror/Thriller

Cover of Oldboy (2003) movie

Have you ever watched a movie and only realized about 3/4 of the way through that… it feels awfully like I’ve watched this before? This was what happened not too long ago when I watched Oldboy (2013). Except I hadn’t watched this version of the movie, so I hadn’t watched it before, exactly. But I had watched the original Korean Oldboy (2003), and while there were some differences and to be quite honest I didn’t remember that much about the premise of it (or at least I didn’t remember enough to read the synopsis for the American remake of the movie and go “hey, I think I’ve seen this before”), by the time the big plot twist/reveal happened, I realized I’d seen some version of it, because I knew exactly what was happening – unfortunately not early enough to not have watched most of the movie, but it dawned on me that yes, I had watched the original, and that yes, even though I didn’t remember much of the original, it felt like the original was better*.

If you haven’t watched Oldboy, I won’t spoil it for you – it’s a bit of a doozy – but I’d recommend watching the original Korean one, if you’re interested in it. I feel as though we must’ve talked about Korean psychological horrors & thrillers before on this blog**, but there’s something about the art of psychological thriller, whether it’s going way beyond anything you might’ve considered in the realm of possibility for the film or in the subtle horror of seemingly nothing really happening in particular, that I find Korean cinema has perfected to a T, and with both TIFF and October coming up, this feels like a good time to share some unsettling recommendations.

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