July 2023 in Review

Sunshine and Fresh Air

✍️ 🕑 July 2023 • Series: Month in Review • Tags: film criticismBarbieBritish ColumbiaSunshine Coast, B.C.pride

Pebbles in the surf, somewhere near Gibsons, B.C.
Pebbles in the surf, somewhere near Gibsons, B.C.

After spending half of May and June in bed, July was about to be underway. Its main highlight was a visit to the Sunshine Coast, which constituted more than I care to cram into this post. But, I also got up to so much more, like…

A heartening message for all of us. (Disclaimer: not something I was actually up to.)
A heartening message for all of us. (Disclaimer: not something I was actually up to.)
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What I Was Up To

My upstairs neighbor invited me to the second annual pride bbq, which was a very lovely time, and which featured a charity raffle, benefitting the Gender Justice League. I won one of the baskets, which included a hat, two beer glasses, a growler, a t-shirt, and a gift card to a local restaurant, and I also had a lovely time chatting with folks about graphic design, Mario Party, Bulgaria, and the myriad of unique ways partygoers’ shirts could be styled.

A marmot with a view.
A marmot with a view.

I tremendously enjoyed July 4th at Mt. Rainier, especially getting to spend the early morning near Paradise with thinner crowds.

So close to the mountain!!
So close to the mountain!!

Just before catching mononucleosis in May, I planned an eighteen day trip looping up the Sunshine Coast and down Vancouver Island to Victoria with Chelsea. And, oh boy, it was time well spent away from work.

The highlights were Tetrahedron Provincial Park, the Princess Louisa Inlet, and some snorkling and kayaking around Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park, along with lots of lakes, and some lovely beaches, full of harbor seals. I also greatly enjoyed taking the time to experiment with a lot of different film stocks. I shot more rolls of film on this trip than any other I had been on before, and I’m excited to share the results.

Best of all, about half way through the trip, I finally started to feel like I had my full energy back (or close enough to it,) and I was really glad I was still able to get the time away from work after I had so recently been gone for so many days due to my illness.

Here are a few pics, as a teaser:

Image On Where-Is-Steve

Image On Where-Is-Steve

Image On Where-Is-Steve

And lastly, I started to really put a lot of energy into moving. I started staying with Chelsea back in May, because I was dreadfully sick, and it was a much nicer place to recover than my own increasingly grimy basement apartment.

I didn’t get fully moved, but I got a good start in!

Oh, and I visited Schmitz Preserve Park in West Seattle for the first time. It is lush.

Image On Where-Is-Steve

What I’ve Been Enjoying


I started reading Ursula K. LeGuin’s Always Coming Home, as well as the second volume of Allie Brosh’s work, which I found in a second hand bookshop in Comox. I finished neither of them in July, though.


Unlike last month, I found it real hard to pick just three songs to recommend. A lot of my favorite artists dropped big new releases, but some of these came out late enough in July that they weren’t able to worm their way deep into my skull enough yet to get picked.

So, here’s what we’ve got as my three songs:

1. Sacre - "01:00 AM PINK MAMBA" (2020)
Youtube Spotify

“1:00 AM PINK MAMBA” is some infectious and fun French dance pop, courtesy of Spotify recommendations. It slaps, and it was in rotation going up the sunshine coast.

2. Rue - "Relativity" (2023)
Youtube Spotify Bandcamp

Rue has been my favorite Pittsburgh based artist/group since I first saw Lee Burkhardt play in a flower shop basement seven years ago!?. Somewhat fittingly, they’re back with a song about the passage of time, and it is absolutely fantastic. Deftly ornamneted with banjo and sound effects. The right level of twee.

3. Astra King - "First Love" (2023)
Youtube Spotify Bandcamp
Check out the playlist page for all the songs I've highlighted in one place!

Lastly, but not leastly, Astra King dazzled me when they appeared on the PC Music label a couple of years ago. Their debut EP is solid, and this track is a highlight.

I particularly love the vocal effects, and the way the chorus rhymes “stupid me” with “you and me.” (Also, “irony” and “destiny”, to be fair.)

Exploring new areas in Western WA
Exploring new areas in Western WA


Continuing the Star Trek trend, much of Season 2 of Strange New Worlds was released this month. It remains the best of the NuTrek shows, with lots of solid character acting, and only a few creaks.

A mirror selfie (of sorts) on the way to see <em>Barbie</em>
A mirror selfie (of sorts) on the way to see Barbie


Well, Chelsea and I managed to join the masses and go see that Barbie movie that came out, a movie which is probably more about Ken than Barbie.

My feelings about it are mixed. Some of the humor is fantastic, but the film is too long and bloated to be a zippy comedy. (An hour and fifty-four minutes.)

The film tries hard to rebrand Barbie as a quasi-feminist icon, showing that women can do anything. A few characters effectively serve as mouthpieces for this mission. The whole thing leans far more pro-corporate and consumerist for me. What would you expect?

But, goodness, just like everyone else, I love Ryan Gosling’s Ken.

Chelsea's Barbie outfit.
Chelsea's Barbie outfit.

Articles of Note

For your reading pleasure, Tim Brayton’s review of Barbie is far more articulate than mine.

Nathan Robinson offers up his lefty take on the phenomenon in the article “Is the Critique of Consumerism Dead?”

And on a completely different topic, Smiti Nathan has an interesting article over at SAPIENS about ancient towers in Oman and modern tourism.

What’s Next

And with that, I hereby conclude this hasty review of July.

I hope you’ll stick around for the imminent reviews of August and September, and lord knows, October, November, and December, and of course after that, January and…