Recap, only this time with the ramblings of … ME! Seriously, mostly a brain dump so I can get back to cute kid stories.

I’m pretty sure I can track the part of my dream where I was me only I was also Clark Gregg to the fact that I fell asleep listening a podcast interview with him.
But the part where Clark Gregg-me was somewhere in the north hunting skinless aurochs, that part I’m not sure about. My brain was VERY specific about the skinless part, which was super-gross. There was a teeny skinless baby auroch which was repulsive-cute, but then mama auroch was the size of a bus and REALLY MAD about people touching her baby and on a car and house-trampling rampage. My friend Holly who is real but not usually reckless came over to hang out and wanted to play music on her ipod really loudly only I was all NOOOOOOO THE AUROCHS WILL HEAR! and she was all damn-the-torpedos CRANK IT! Then I was Me-me, not Clark Gregg-me, and I realized that I had slept through family night out (where the kids go to the Y while Mommy and Daddy go out on a date) which meant it would be ANOTHER month before I could go out to dinner with just Jim and then I woke up, thank god, before things got any weirder.

***

So this is my post blabbering about the year’s cultural touchstones and the above is germane because this is the year I finally realized that I no longer go to see movies for the cute male lead but for the cute male lead’s dad and/or mentor. This would be a more bitter pill to swallow if the cute male lead’s dad/mentor wasn’t being played by the likes of Kyle Chandler, Robert Downey Jr. and Clark Gregg. All of whom I would go watch read a phone book.

Exceptions to this rule are the cast of Star Trek except not in Star Trek because the new movie makes me more livid every time I think about it. WHAT THE HELL. Seriously, I erased the rant I had here because I sound (more than usually) unhinged about the way this whitewashed POS film is a betrayal of everything Gene Roddenberry stands for and the way JJ Abrams sold out his early attempts (in Alias) to be Not a Sexist Dickhead.

***

So, in case you were still wondering:

Most Rage-Inducing/Terrible Movie of 2013: Star Trek Into Darkness
Movie I Refuse to See That Might Give It a Run For Its Money In Terms of Rage-Inducement: Catching Fire
I’m sorry, I can’t get over the casting of that dude as Finnick. Pretty sure Finnick’s not supposed to be white, and DEFINITELY sure he’s not supposed to look like an even douchier version of James Franco. Also, JLaw is a fantastic actress but her Real-Fun-but-Hot-Girl Schtick reminds me uncomfortably of the treatise on same written by Gone Girl’s protagoness in the diary in the first half.

***

This entry appears to be taking a while to write. Between that part and this, there have been several nights, the most recent notable for the fact that Eliza got in bed with us in the morning to snuggle. This is rather like trying to snuggle with an over-caffeinated baby horse, what with the constantly-wiggling pointy limbs.

***

I didn’t see nearly enough new movies for my taste over the past year, although it was better than it could’ve been. Jim’s birthday gift (he asked what I wanted, I said, “for everyone to leave me the hell alone so I can go to the movies) did put me in a theater on opening weekend for Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, which is now one of my favorite Shakespeare adaptations. Clark Gregg’s WHATIWASTOTALLYNOTSLEEPINGIAMPAYINGATTENTION flail near the beginning was worth the price of admission alone, as was Nathan Fillion’s “Remember that I am an ass!” bit. He’s the first Dogberry I’ve seen who implied that possibly, that line was sarcastic and that he was quite aware of what we all thought and by the way %^& you for underestimating him. It was refreshing.

I heard a review of the movie in which the guy said something about how these TV actors were pretty good for, y’know, TV actors, and I practically ate my tongue because more and more I’m convinced that TV (not the networks, but the idea of a long-form opportunity to tell a story of multiple episodes) is allowing for some of the best acting out there.

Aside from Much Ado, my favorite movie was Pacific Rim because robots! and monsters! Furthermore, the movie had the characters experience this telepathic link to steer the robots together, but you couldn’t do it with just anyone — and the writers’ explanation displayed an uncannily accurate understanding of how you can be practicing side by side in martial arts with someone for years, and you still flail at each other like goobers, whereas other people, you know they’ll come at you hard but will ALWAYS pull their punch a 1/4 inch from your nose. It’s a freaky thing that I’ve often marveled at, the weird way in which trust and skill work in martial arts, the way they have their own ironclad social contract and the weird things that will and won’t damage that.

Anyway, this goofy sci-fi monster of a movie hit a number of marks that made it a more emotionally resonant movie than I was expecting — by far. Also awesome: Not just white dudes!

***

Televisually I was right there with everyone else on the House of Cards, Breaking Bad and Orange Is the New Black bandwagons. So much love for all those series, especially the way the latter used the “white person as your guide to a new strange land” trope and then turned it on its head by making her far and away the least sympathetic and interesting character.

What did I not expect was that I would watch American Horror Story’s last episode in season 2 and find myself holding back tears. Emotional grace and redemption are about the last things I’d expect from the creators of that hilarious hot mess of horror tropes. Seriously, has Ryan Murphy ever let discretion be the better part of valor? I suspect the very idea is antithetical to his existence.

***

Huh. Eliza appears to be making a bid to turn into a cat, if her newest habit of stretching out on top of the nearest radiator cover is any indication. Moe is looking pretty disgruntled about this gangly interloper. In case you are wondering, it is cold here.

***

I was surprised that neither of my children picked Katy Perry’s Roar as their favorite song — or for that matter, Lady Gaga’s Applause. I certainly heard both of them enough times.

We listen to a top-20 station on Sirius at home a lot and over the past year, at least by Jim and my reckoning, there’s been a notable shift toward women on the pop charts.

I’m not so delusional as to consider Katy Perry a ground-breaking feminist and Gaga’s recent *art* affectations are fairly ridiculous. Still, vapid as some voices are, the very fact that my kids are becoming aware of pop music during a time when there are so many women being heard, when Beyonce has pop and critical cred, when Lorde blew all the boys out of the water artistically, makes me glad.

I’m not an album-buyer the way I used to be. I’m much more likely to find a song and fixate on that. One of the exceptions I made this year is Lorde’s Pure Heroine, and I am so glad I did. Part of the reason I don’t buy albums is that I’m not finding artists who use the form to make a statement that hangs together over multiple songs. Lorde, though, has a coherent overarching narrative to her album; all the songs have this amazing melancholy-nostalgic-defiantly-teenage feel to them. They could be bratty so easily, but they’re not, and I love that her subject matter is her circle of friends, and not “choosing boyfriends: the movie” as Joss Whedon so devastatingly characterized Twilight in an interview this year.

Anyway, I love the whole album but this is my favorite song all year, and it perfectly captures everything I love about her work:

That said, I’m awfully fond of the Kings of Leon’s new album as well.

This song:

has Caleb knocking it out of the park. He does all the yelp-y swoop-y cracked-voice-romantic stuff that first made me into a fan. I am super-tempted to get tickets to their New York show but my hair is so short that if I have another fan “incident” I won’t be able to cut the gum out.

***

Plus I have to save my pennies so I can get started on my “see Zachary Quinto and Cherry Jones in ALL OF THE THINGS” life plan.

My mom and I gave each other the gift of a bunch of theater for our birthdays/Christmas/possibly several other holidays this year, and went to New York together to see three shows: The Jacksonian, Waiting for Godot, and The Glass Menagerie. Any one of them on its own would’ve been a fantastic reason to travel to the city because they were all stellar.

Have you ever wanted to see Ed Harris hopped up on laughing gas and Bill Pullman play a skin-crawling creep? The Jacksonian had this and more and we sat close enough that we could see the spit flying during the extra-crazy scenes, which always amuses my mom.

Godot was awesome except Sam Beckett is one of those “hell is other people” types, and the obvious regard Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen have for each other made it into more of a “people you love are a reason to persevere” kind of play. The pair of them are just delightful. I feel reasonably sure that if I ever meet either one I will be seized with an uncontrollable urge to squish them because they are so adorable.

But then we went to see Glass Menagerie and I am on record as finding Tennessee Williams more than a little in need of a smack upside the head on occasion because MUST EVERYTHING BE SO GODDAMN DRAMATIC ALL THE TIME JESUS HAVE A JULEP AND CALM DOWN but wow. I legit hinted the other day that I wanted to go see it again before it closed (Jim saw through me and eyebrowed me into submission), because I loved it THAT MUCH. The sets, the lighting, the music, the amazing ways they tapped the best parts of that play. And Quinto and Jones, holy crap, their interplay as a mother and son fighting against their family bond was spectacular.

A couple of times, I’ve seen a production of a familiar work so boldly done that it becomes a new piece whose plot twists actually surprise me. Baz Luhrman’s R + J was one, this was another.

***

Literarily I belly-flopped into stuff no one else I know reads, or at least it seems that way.

I found Marvel’s Hawkeye series, written by Matt Fraction, and I want demographic figures on who’s buying this because I suspect it is ALL THE WOMEN. Clint Barton is a disaster of a person. If I were into terrible life choices I would date him in a heartbeat, because he’s totally one of those attractive losers but redeeming qualities that women like to tackle as fixer-upper boyfriends. But I am not, so I just read funny-sad comics about him and his mentee, the other Hawkeye, a teenage girl who is his equal as a super-hero and a functional human being besides. It’s also gorgeously and inventively drawn and why can’t they make them FASTER?!

Hawkeye is also the subject of the fantastic Hawkeye Initiative online (mostly tumblr, beware of that black hole, also not very worksafe) in which, to make a point about sexism, people swap Hawkeye into drawings of unfeasibly contorted and costumed female superheroines. Many of them are ugly-cry-laugh funny.

Lee hooked me up with Nimona, which is a webcomic that is so good words fail me. It has that ability, like Buffy and Dr. Horrible, to have you laughing and then sober you up real quick with a sucker-punch of careful-what-you-wish-for. I got Eliza hooked on it too, and we are nearing a denouement I suspect will prompt some interesting conversations about truth and power and how history is written by the winners.

Finally, I stumbled upon a series, starting with the book Cinder, that mashes western fairy tales into plots featuring cyborgs, sentient spaceships, biological warfare, political skullduggery, and what appears to be Chinese lunar mythology. It should not work, but it does. I cannot wait to throw it at Eliza to see what she makes of it.

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5 Responses to Recap, only this time with the ramblings of … ME! Seriously, mostly a brain dump so I can get back to cute kid stories.

  1. lee says:

    Ha HA!! moar Nimona fans!!!! – I’m working on the theory that if I get enough friends hooked on her I might win some sort of prize, even if it is simply a Nimona fan club lunch and squeefest.

    Also thank you for pointing out Cinder, I’ll try that over the weekend.

  2. elizasmom says:

    I think this is an excellent theory and I will join the lunch and squeefest when it happens!
    Curious to see what you think of Cinder and her crew. It’s very much a YA book in writing style but it has some very interesting things going on. I think the short stories on tor.com, especially the one about the wolf-soldiers and the lunar queen, are really good too.

  3. Melissa says:

    I really have nothing to say, not having seen nor read anything you mention here. But I like hearing you talk about it.

    Oh, wait! I did read Catching Fire, and somehow I missed that Finnick was supposed to be non-white. (I just typed non-shite. That too.) AND I just read Gone Girl and I get where you’re coming from.

  4. Meredith says:

    I may have missed your earlier rant about the JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot but what don’t you like about Into Darkness? I confess, and you might now hate me, but I was so totally entertained by it. I saw it twice! I also liked Pacific Rim :-)

  5. elizasmom says:

    Hey, no I haven’t ranted about it. Since you asked, though, um, brace yourself.

    It’s not the worst film of the year, and I actually love the cast and their chemistry onscreen (Sulu’s badassery and Kirk gulp-remind-me-never-to-piss-you-off-EVER reaction was gold). It just could have been so much more. The women are all window-dressing — Uhura has to be rescued? Really? In this day and age we’re portraying a future society that assumes women to still be damsels in distress? And Marcus in her underpants? Really? This is the second Trek movie in a row that has Kirk spying on chicks in their underwear, and Kirk has always been cheeseball with lothario leanings, but he’s not supposed to be a creeper.

    Also: I enjoy Bumpershoot Crumplepants, but Khan is not supposed to be a British white dude. There are plenty of good southeast Asian actors (Abrams had one on his other show ferchrissakes) who could’ve taken that role.

    Plus: In the last movie, Spock’s whole planet got wiped out. Kirk had a mindmeld that made him feel what that was like. Spock felt Pike DIE in this one. Kirk’s mentor/father figure died right after they had a conflict. KIRK DIED. WHERE IS THE EMOTIONAL FALLOUT????

    Wrath of Khan was my introduction to Trek. This was an actioned-up remix of that plot and old Spock has been reduced to a Deus ex Spockina twice now and Leonard Nimoy is too awesome for that.

    Anyway, TL;DR: Abrams doesn’t care about Trek as a fan, and it shows — it was a fun action movie, but it wasn’t Trek. It infuriated me because it fell so far short of its potential.

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