Ada and Me at Dyke Day 2015

SHE SAID/SHE SAID 2: Demolition Man

I know, I know! It’s been a bit. So, sue me.  :) The Fiancee and I kicked back to watch another movie, and this time, it was one that she selected. One of her favorites from her youth, in fact…

Demolition_Man

The fiancee’S PICK: DEMOLITION MAN (1993)

Demolition Man t takes place in a future society where there’s no crime. But the story actually starts in L.A. in the “near future” (aka the Late Nineties), when L.A. has become a total crap hole. Sylvester Stallone’s “Demolition Man” aka LAPD Sergeant John Spartan is trying to take down a career criminal named Simon Phoenix, played by Wesley Snipes, who’s taken hostages in an abandoned building.

Spartan, being the kind of cop who “doesn’t follow the rules” in movies, makes an unauthorized call to go after Phoenix that causes the entire building to explode and Spartan to be charged with manslaughter for killing the hostages (PS – they were already dead, because Phoenix is not a nice dude). But rather than going to regular jail, they put him in their new “Cryo-Penitentiary” – the idea being that inmates are frozen, and rehabilitated through chemical conditioning while in deep freeze.

Cut to 2032 (the Future!), when Phoenix, who was captured and also put in deep freeze, manages to escape the cryo-penitentiary and goes on a killing spree! The cops can’t handle it. Why? Because in the future, there’s no crime, because after the Great Earthquake “San Angeles” (the new metroplex made up of L.A, San Diego, and Santa Barbara) has become a sort-of utopia helmed by pacifist Doctor Raymond Cocteau who has somehow made anything “bad” (which incorporates everything from swearing, to fast food, to sex) illegal, causing the city to turn into this overly-sanitized place where the police have become completely incapable of dealing with problems, because there “aren’t any.”

snipes

Except of course for the poor people who’ve been forced to live in an underground sewer city that no one takes care of or cares about. Called the Scraps (and led by Dennis Leary basically playing himself), these impoverished people who’ve been pushed underground for their free-thought and their unseemliness have begun pushing back against the society that wishes them gone by coming above ground to steal food and other resources.

Long story less long, Cocteau altered Phoenix’s chemical conditioning to give him even more of his bad traits and to embed a goal in his mind – Kill Dennis Leary, er, Edgar Friendly. Spartan is unfrozen to deal with Phoenix and is partnered up with Sandra Bullock’s cop, Lt. Lenina Huxley (Brave New World reference, whaaaat?), who is obsessed with 20th Century culture. Action, mayhem, and hilarity over seashells ensues.

Why does The Fiancee like this movie so much?

“It’s just a fun action comedy. Sort of like this absurd future society where everyone is very polite, and no one commits any crimes, but it’s all just a facade. I don’t know…I like it. It’s funny. It’s mostly the humor that I like. There’s good action, too, but I mostly like it as a comedy.” 

And why does she think I should or would like this movie?

“I think you would think its funny.” 

Aaaaand there you have it. :) That’s my laconic sweetie pie for you.

demolition man swearing

WHAT DID I THINK?

I had no idea what to expect when I sat down to watch this. But I have to say, that not only did I enjoy it more than I thought I would, but it was surprisingly more thought-provoking than I thought it would be.

This movie is definitely early-1990s. cheeseball action film. However, Spartan and Huxley are a great team and have awesome chemistry. You enjoy watching them navigate the case, and each other throughout. Wesley Snipes was a pretty stylized villain as Phoenix, but that’s pretty much to be expected for a movie of this type, and he looked like he was having a ball playing this part.

I especially loved Huxley. I loved that she was this extremely competent cop (for her time) who was also completely earnest. I loved that she was a 20th Century geek, and I loved her attempts at 20th Century slang. She was such a sweet character, which is rare for a movie like this.

The Fiancee was right, too, about the humor. Demolition Man was pretty hilarious, and a lot of fun! (and what IS the deal with the three seashells?!)

What really struck me about this film, though, is how much it made me think, both as the movie was going on, and long afterwards. I thought about the socioeconomic issues the film’s script brings up…and then I thought about the current issues that this film unwittingly embodies.

let's go blow this guy - demolition man

As for what’s in the film, you’re definitely forced to think about what a True Utopia would mean. After all, nothing can be completely perfect unless you silence/get rid of those who are less-than-perfect, and what does that say about your civilization? Perfection means marginalizing people: the poor, the weak, the uneducated, etc. The film also explores the idea that pleasure is sometimes “dirty,” and that that’s okay and what makes us human. Touching-each-other sex? Way better than sex via virtual reality helmet.

But then, there are issues that came up for me as I examined the film through a modern lens. Like, I thought it was a shame that the “criminals” in this utopia who were sympathetic (you understand them, because they’re poor and not being treated fairly) are led by the white guy and are mostly white themselves, whereas the “real” criminal – the psychopath – was played by the black guy. Granted, Phoenix is a bigger role, and I’m glad that Snipes has it, but it’s interesting to see the subtle messaging that’s happening here. White people who commit crimes are sympathetic, because they “probably have a good reason,” but black people are just crazy.

It’s the kind of thing that, had this film been made a decade later, a savvy screenwriter might have referenced in the text and used. Alas.

Bottom line, Demolition Man is hugely entertaining, and will reaffirm any progressive values you hold.

Well, that’s it for this week! Now that I’ve taken two weeks off to get over being sick as well as some other stuff that’s happened recently, I definitely hope to get back to regular blogging here at TJXP.

So there should be another She Said/She Said here next week! (Hopefully!)

This post is supported by Patreon.

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Sometimes, You Just Need to Stop DOING

 

Hey there, everyone!

I came out of the gate hard at the beginning of this year, and started the first week of 2016 with a blog post here every single day! It was great! It was exactly what I wanted my blog to look like!

Then I got sick. And after days of doing absolutely nothing (which I absolutely needed), I came into the following week feeling better, but needing to ease back into my routine. And do you know what? I didn’t feel bad about it. I basically did the bare minimum of what I needed to be doing last week. Worked at The Mary Sue. Went to a couple of meetings I’d had scheduled for a while. But other than that, I kept taking it easy, because I still wasn’t at 100%, and I wasn’t going to force myself to “be productive” for the sake of it.

All of this is to say that I’m feeling much better this week! Well-rested, well-planned, and raring to go! And so, here I am – back to my old bloggy ways.

Some things you should know:

1) I’m not going to be keeping up with the 52 Week Challenge here every week the way I was planning. I’ll still be doing it, but I’ve decided that I’d prefer that The Teresa Jusino Experience remain a Monday-Friday enterprise. Weekends are mine, and so I won’t be posting.  If you’d like to do the challenge yourself, head on over to Erin Dullea’s site and sign up!

2) Now would be a great time to consider becoming one of my Patrons at Patreon! Starting next week, I’ll be sharing the novel I’m working on exclusively with Patrons as I write it – 200 words at a time. :) Since January 1st I’ve been writing 200 words a day of the book I’ve outlined. Which isn’t a lot – until you consider that if I do that 365 times this year, that’s a 73,000-word manuscript. No one’s waiting for this book. There are no deadlines, and I have other scripts and projects I’m working on around it. But I’ve been putting this book on the back-burner for far too long. So, rather than waiting for the big chunks of time I thought I needed to devote to it. I’m going to chip away at it bit by 200-word bit until it’s done. It may be slower, but it’ll be way more effective than procrastination, don’t you agree?

So, if you’re interested in keeping up with my progress on this, and other works I plan on sharing exclusively with Patrons, check out my Patreon page and consider supporting my efforts there by pledging at least $1 per story I create. You’ll be able to read my novel hotter than hot off the presses and follow my progress and process as I work.

Surely, that’s interesting to at least some of you, right? :)

3) Lastly, I’ll soon be announcing a series of giveaways I’ll be doing here and around my social media feeds, so stay tuned!

And I’ll see you all back here tomorrow!

Ada and Me at Dyke Day 2015

She Said/She Said 1: In Bruges

When I’m not watching films on my own, I’m usually watching them with The Fiancee. There’s a five year age difference between us, which isn’t a lot in normal years, but can be a lot in pop culture years. We were teenagers at different times, in college at different times. So, films that are seminal and absolutely necessary to me are mere blips on her radar. Films that are absolute musts to her are films that I’ve either never heard of, or have been “meaning to get to” for years without trying very hard.

And thus, a new feature at The Experience was born! For She Said/She Said, The Fiancee and I are going to take turns choosing movies (or TV shows) for each other every week. Then, you’ll get both our takes on it.  It’s like two film reviews in one! However, she’s notoriously way less verbose than I, so it’s more like one and a half film reviews in one. 😉 Still, I’ll be very interested to see what she has in store for me, and I’m excited to share some of my favorites with her.

We started with one of my picks…

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TERESA’S PICK: In Bruges (2008)

Why is This Movie Important to Her?

First of all, I’m a Ralph Fiennes hipster in that I was a huge fan of Ralph Fiennes loooong before Voldemort. I was pretty much a Ralph Fiennes groupie from the first time I saw him in Quiz Show when I was, like, fifteen and liking an actor like Ralph Fiennes was so not cool. I was one of the few teenage girls who gave two shits about The English Patient. As a college freshman, I stole an English Patient cardboard cutout from a Blockbuster and put it in my dorm room:

Dorm Room Freshman year 1 - 1998

Freshman year dorm, 1998. Yup. The English Patient and Winnie the Pooh were my JAMS when I was 18.

 

Freshman Year Dorm Room - 1998

Dat Ralph Fiennes shrine, tho. 1998. Also, I apparently had a thing for those milk ads.

I was obsessed with everything this man was in. By 2008, my Ralph Fiennes love had waned…a little. But I was pretty much only interested in this movie because he was in it.

I also had severe wanderlust in 2008. In 2007, I’d taken a magical, once-in-a-lifetime (well, for most people – I totally plan on taking many trips like that again), month-long trip to France and Spain to visit friends, and coming home made me so sad. I missed the adventure of traveling somewhere new, and so In Bruges fed that urge as well, as it takes place in a truly magical-looking city.

OK, so it’s about hit men, drug dealers, and racists. Whatever.

Why Should The Fiancee Watch This?

In a weird way, this film gets at the core of who I am. Beautiful European location? Check. Sardonic humor? Check. Stylized violence? Check. It’s like everything I like about different movies in one movie.

That, and it’s the first time I’d ever seen Ralph Fiennes play a role so against type. Even in Strange Days, when he was supposed to be in the LAPD, he was still pretty much being Ralph Fiennes. But watching him play Harry in In Bruges was awesome and hilarious. The entire cast is great. Colin Farrell plays a surprisingly lovable asshole, and Brendan Gleeson is wonderful as a hit man with a heart of gold.

Lastly, I love films not made in the United States. This film was a British-US co-production written by playwright and screenwriter Martin McDonagh, and I love the film’s British humor and sensibility. Watching movies made elsewhere reminds me that there’s so much more that can be done with film than what I’m used to.

In short, I thought it would appeal to her weirdness the way it appeals to my weirdness. :)

inbruges

What Did The Fiancee Think?

Being that she’s not verbose, when I first asked her what she thought, she simply said, “It was good.” :)

Then, I got her talking and surreptitiously recorded her with my phone. (I told her afterwards, don’t worry. Her responses are in bold.)

“Just…what did you think?”
“I liked it.”
(long pause)
“Cool.”
“I liked it. I want some more wine. Do you want some more wine?”
“I’ve got, still.”
“Then  I’m gonna have some more wine.” 
“Okay.”

**she goes to get wine**

(from the kitchen) “There’s not a whole lot left. Do you mind if I finish it off?”
“You’re totally welcome to finish it off.”
“Um…why don’t you interview me about the movie, rather than telling me to think of thoughts?
“Well, I mean, it doesn’t have to be…I just wanna know what you thought. Your reaction to it.”
(loooooong pause)
“I liked it.” (laughs) “Um…I liked that there were no ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys’ really. That everybody was just kind of…I mean, everyone was a bad guy, really.”
“Yeah”
“There just weren’t any good guys.” 
“It was pretty hilarious, too.”
“Yeah, I kinda like movies where there aren’t any good guys.” (laughs)
“Yeah. I just thought this was like…it wasn’t what I expected when I watched it the first time. Like, I think I rented it from Netflix the first time. When they did DVDs? They still sort of do, but…”
“Yeah…they might have spun that off into another business or something.”
“Yeah. But, um, like, I expected it to be a straight-up gangster movie, and it was so funny and lighthearted in a weird way, and I was like Whoa! This is not the movie I thought I was gonna watch!
“But still dark in another way.”
“Yeah. And also, I love Ralph Fiennes as a thuggy hooligan.”
“Yeah, that was good.”
“I think this is the first movie where he, like, did that. Trying to get out of the whole WASP-y…fuckin’…upper crust parts he always gets. Or, you know, Nazis.”
“Well, he was something different in Red Dragon.” 
“Yeah, that was after this.”
“Oh, it was?”
“I think so…wasn’t it? Well, now I need to see when this was.”

**we both furiously consult the internet**

In Bruges was 2008.”
“OK, so it was late in the decade…”
Red Dragon was 2002.”
“Oh! Well then that was different.”
“Also, I wanna see what movie I was thinking of that had Ben Kingsley in it as like a gangster or something, like in Europe. If I can find it. He’s in a lot of fucking movies. I think it must have come out around the same time…”

**more internet searching**

“Oh! Lucky Number Slevin! That’s what I was thinking of.”
“Slevin? It’s called Slevin?”
Lucky Number Slevin. That’s the movie. It was two years earlier, but whatever.” 
“Oh, interesting. Similar type movie?”
“Uh, I don’t know. I never saw it either, but for some reason I was conflating the two…maybe it’s not even in Europe. It has Josh Hartnett and Morgan Freeman in it. Bruce Willis…”
“Yeah, that’s a lot of, like, Known People.”
“Lucy Liu….yeah I think it was like Ben Freeman and Morgan Kingsley play like two rival…”
“Wait, who?”

**WE BOTH BURST OUT LAUGHING**

“Ben Kingsley and Morgan Freeman (laughs). They switched last names. Ben Kingsley and Morgan Freeman….”

**MORE GUFFAWS**

“That was like the most perfect…like, I’ve never heard that in real life. That’s something that would be faked in like a movie.”
“Uh, I think – if I recall from the trailer – they played like two rival crime lords or something. Lemme look it up on YouTube.”
(as she looks it up) “So are you glad that you finally saw this?”
“Yes! It was good. I enjoyed it.”
“OK, good.”
“I don’t really know what the Belgian lady saw in Colin Farrell, ’cause he was kind of a dick.”
“He was…but he was like…a dick who was kind of like…a child? It’s almost like…It’s one thing if you’re a dick and you’re, like, super masculine and about to hit somebody?”
“That’s true.”
“And it’s another thing when you’re a dick and you’re like…she was treating him like a sixteen year old. Like You’re a dick, but you’ll learn. Like that kind of thing.”
“I guess.”
“Plus, she wasn’t no great shakes neither. She was gonna rob him, she does drugs, she sells drugs…like, she doesn’t actually work in film.”
“Yeah, no. I know.”

And then, we watched the trailer for Lucky Number Slevin, which is similar to In Bruges, but much more “American:”

So, this is the kind of film discussion you get between a pop culture critic and a production sound mixer. Take that for what it’s worth. :) Next time, I think we will do it more interview-style, and I like recording our conversation. Off-the-cuff and full of references to our drinking habits. Just the way I like it!

“Tune in” next week for more She Said/She Said!

This post is supported by Patreon.

Reise ins Labyrinth, Die
USA 1986
Regie: Jim Henson
Darsteller: David Bowie
Rollen: Koboldkoenig Jareth

The David Bowie Songs I Used to Not Realize Were David Bowie Songs

David Bowie has towered over not only music, but films (like the awesomeness that is his turn as The Goblin King in Labyrinth) my whole life. The funny thing is, his versatility as an artist kept me from knowing which songs were his exactly for a long time.

Mostly because I was totally uncool growing up, and didn’t really look into the music I consumed very carefully, nor did I consume much outside Top 40 until I got to college.

Now, I must have heard David Bowie in the background of my early childhood. After all, my siblings are 15 and 16 years my senior. They were in high school in the 1970s, and grew up with David Bowie as part of the soundtrack of their lives. It was through my siblings that I got to know Billy Joel, Led Zeppelin, and Kiss among others. I’m sure David Bowie was in there somewhere.

But again, Bowie was so versatile, that I never really put together his body of work at that age.

College was really when my musical knowledge started expanding, mostly because I was coming into contact with students from all over the country (and the world!) at NYU, who all brought with them their own experiences and musical tastes. That expansion continued into my twenties as I moved into apartments with roommates.

I’m not a music geek – I rely on recommendations, because while I love music, I don’t seek it out the same way as I do, say, good comics or sci-fi. So I relied on my friends to tell me what was what. So many of them had David Bowie CDs in their collections.

But I, being completely clueless and not realizing that I’d already heard so much David Bowie in my life, looked at those CDs and would think David Bowie’s totally one of those classic rockers I need to get to know better. One day, I’ll listen to him.

Not realizing I’d already listened to him.

bowie smiles

And so, with each of the following songs, I remember there being a point when someone would play it, and tell me it was David Bowie, and my response wouldn’t be “Oh cool. Now I know what David Bowie’s stuff sounds like.” It would be, “Oh! That song is David Bowie!”

Then, “Wait, that’s David Bowie, too?”

And then, “Hold on…that’s David Bowie, too?”

And finally, when I was living in Astoria with my friends Liz and Adam, each of whom loved Bowie – LIz probably more than anyone I knew until I met The Fiancee –  “Whoa. I guess I have listened to David Bowie before. I just didn’t realize all these awesome, completely different-sounding songs were written by the same guy!”

“Space Oddity” always spoke to my sci-fi, space-loving heart. It also speaks to my romantic side, both for its spirit of adventure, and the fact that the narrator’s last thoughts are about his wife, and he’s told that she knows how much he loves her. *sigh*

I’d always liked “Young Americans” when I first heard heard it, but when it was used as the end credits music for the Lars Von Trier film, Dogville, I loved it even more.

Oh my God, this fucking guitar on this song. I just can’t.

And of course, one of the coolest collaborations ever. I’d like to think that Freddie Mercury has been waiting for Bowie to show up so they can finally sing this song together again.

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The Fiancee has been excited about Bowie’s newest (and final) album called Blackstar. The knowledge that Bowie specifically created the album with is own impending death in mind and created it as a “parting gift” to the people who love his music is astounding to me, and makes me excited about it, too.

David Bowie was a true artist in every sense of the word, and I love that his final act of creation was so well thought out; that despite everything he was going through, he was an artist right up until the very end, leaving us a catalog of amazing music and films in various styles and personas to comb through and be inspired by forever.

Thank you for your art, Mr. Bowie. I know who you are now and exactly what songs you were responsible for. Took me long enough, right?

I’ll now leave you all with another one of my favorite Bowie collaborations, which also happens to be one of my favorite renditions of a Christmas song:

This post is supported by Patreon.

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DARING TO DARE: WEEK 2

Wanna know how I did for Week 1? Check out that post HERE.

Also, a reminder that these dares are not my content. I’m only writing about my experience with this. 52 Dares belongs to Erin Dullea, and you should totally check out her site!

How will I top being naked on the set of a TV show? Hmmm....

How will I top being naked on the set of a TV show? Hmmm….

THIS WEEK’S DARE: 

Write down your dirty dozen.

Oh yeah, you’re getting dirty this week!

Grab a pen and paper (let’s do this old-school) – and create a list of twelve daring things you’d love to do.  They’re called “dirty” because this list is NOT about writing down nice, this-would-make-my-mom-proud goals that perhaps you should do. You’re going for experiences that would make you feel alive.

Be prepared for some of these to have a “but…” attached to it. Like you’d love to learn to play piano, but you’re too old. Or you’d love to do a super sexy photo shoot, but you don’t have the body for it.

Never mind any of that.

Dream it up. Put it on paper. Hang it somewhere you’ll see it often. Let this list come to life.

And then take one step this week towards making one of the dirty dozen happen. One step, my friend. You can do it.


Let’s see what I come up with! I’m actually excited to brainstorm this! Have a great week, everyone! And if you’ve got things you’d like to dare yourself, tell me about them in the comments below!

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DARING TO DARE: WEEK 1 RESULTS

I meant to do this yesterday, but I was at a WriteGirl event all day and came back exhausted. However, last week I did manage to make a go of my first weekly challenge:

Go where you haven’t gone before. Or go a little further. Give yourself plenty of wide, open space without needing to go or be anywhere specific.

Just go. 

Who knows where it might lead you?

I had an evening of wandering on Wednesday…

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East Coaster with an umbrella walking in L.A.

I had an appointment in West Hollywood, and afterwards, I went to a cafe I’d never been to (Caffe Primo, which is pretty rad!) for dinner and free wi-fi so I could get you my Legend of Billie Jean post. After that, I decided to take a walk. Who says “no one walks in L.A?” Not only do I walk in L.A, but I’ll even do it in the rain. Though I don’t own an umbrella myself, The Fiancee had one in her car that I borrowed for the day. So I was prepared for the evening’s inclement weather.

Well, sort of. The umbrella was small, and my pant legs and sneakers ended up getting soaked, but weirdly enough that made me feel like I was at home. Moments of me walking through NYC in the rain, sitting in damp jeans on the subway, dodging away from traffic spraying water onto the sidewalk….I’d missed that. And so I found myself strangely enjoying the chill in my bones as I wandered around West Hollywood – an area of L.A. I’d been to before to get to specific places, but never really explored.

I ended up at Book Soup, a bookstore I’d heard of, but never been to. I really love it. It’s organized really well, they have a great selection, and the staff was ridiculously helpful. I found some familiar faces on the shelves in the memoir section…

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Two of my favorite ladies on the shelf at Book Soup! “Drawing Blood” by Molly Crabapple and “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)” by Felicia Day.

…and even though I’ve made myself a promise not to buy any books this year (except for Jonathan Safran Foer’s when it comes out in September), because I want to read all the unread books on my shelf first, I made no such promises about notebooks. Ended up buying a 3-pack of Moleskin blank books.

As I exited the store, I noticed this across the street…

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RIP Tower Records

At first, I thought Holy crap! Didn’t Tower Records close? Is this, like, the last one or something? It is not. It’s an empty store. I went over to investigate, and it looked so sad and empty, and suddenly I felt really old. I remembered going to the Tower Records on East 4th Street in the Village near the Tisch building after class when I was at NYU. That place was the jam.

Anyway, I proceeded along Sunset after that, and I decided I wanted to do something I never had before. Go to a bar alone for a drink. I don’t know why the idea of that made me nervous – I’ve eaten alone and gone to the movies alone before, but drinking alone is different to me for some reason. Bars are inherently social, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be social. I just wanted to sit and have a drink…

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After not feeling the vibe at several other bars, I ended up stopping at The Den for a beer. It’s a bar that lives up to its name – really cozy and homey. Even better, they had karaoke on that night! I thought briefly about putting a song in, but decided against it. I was sopping wet and would’ve looked like a stray cat at the mic.

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My beer keeping warm by the fire.

So, I got a Delirium Tremens and made my way to the outdoor area, which had picnic tables and a fire pit! It was the perfect place to warm up after being out in the rain, which had obviously stopped by this point: I sat with a beer and people-watched as I wrote in my journal, and it was really nice. It’s really difficult for me to shut my brain off a lot of the time, but doing this – wandering into a bar with no particular place to be and nothing to do just to sit and chill and write was exactly what I needed.

All in all, I’m glad this dare allowed me to do something I’d always wanted to do, while giving me a night where I could allow my mind to quiet down and simply take in the scenery without being the least bit productive.

Not a bad first dare!

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The Best at TMS: Week of January 4, 2016

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week, and that you get some well-deserved fun or rest and relaxation this weekend!

This year, I thought I’d end every week by linking to some of my best pieces over at The Mary Sue. Of course, you can always bookmark THIS LINK to keep up with everything I write all the time, but to save you scrolling time, I figured I’d point you in the direction of the pieces I’m proudest of that week.

So, here are this week’s treasures!

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Geek Culture and Consumer Culture: Does How Much You Spend Affect Your Geek Status? (1/4/16)

I’d been meaning to write this piece for a long time. I grew up lower-middle class, and money was often tight. Is it any wonder that I wasn’t able to do things like collect comics or toys or see any one movie multiple times when I was a kid? In this piece, I write about the connection between one’s finances and one’s geekery.

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Steven Universe Censored in the UK, Because Obviously Kids Can’t Handle Same-Sex Kissing (1/6/16)

This is a news item about Steven Universe in the UK, but as happens to many of my pieces, I use the news item as a jumping-off point for a short essay. This one’s about the double standard in children’s television that exists when we have no problem shoving heteronormativity down a kid’s throat, but withhold images of loving homosexual relationships, because they’re considered inherently “indecent.”

black widow party

Why Black Widow Shouldn’t Get a Netflix Show (1/8/16)
My most recent entry – inspired by a reader comment. Here are the pros and cons of a Black Widow movie.

That’s it for this week! If there are any topics you’d like me to write about over at The Mary Sue, let me know in the comments below!

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Teresa’s Pull List: Week of January 6, 2016

First new comics of the new year! I got to Blastoff Comics (my local comic shop and home to my pull list) later than I’d hoped this week, as I didn’t have time yesterday to get my books hot off the presses, but I went there today, and I wanted to share what I was reading this week!

First, there are the regular titles that are already reserved on my pull:

My pull list for the week of January 6, 2016

My pull list for the week of January 6, 2016

Bitch Planet #6 (IMAGE) – written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, art by Taki Soma
I’m really looking forward to reading this. Not only is BP one of my favorite titles (and if you’re not reading this amazing, feminist masterpiece, you should be!), but this issue tells us the backstory of Meiko Maki, an amazing character we said goodbye to in the last issue.

Toil and Trouble #5 (ARCHAIA) – written by Mairghread Scott, art by kelly & Nicole Matthews
I have to admit, I’ve fallen a couple of issues behind on Toil and Trouble. Nothing to do with the quality of the book (it’s a unique, intriguing female-centric retelling of MacBeth! Come ON!), and everything to do with the fact that comics have become like TV shows to me now in that there are so many titles I’m interested in, it’s difficult to keep up with them all. But the issues have been accumulating in my pull, so I’ll be binge-reading the most recent two issues this week so that I can be ready for the final issue of this limited series next month.

This Damned Band #6 (DARK HORSE) – written by Paul Cornell, art by Tony Parker
Though Paul Cornell is one of my favorite writers in any medium, I have to say that this limited series has not been one of my favorites. I’m not really into the 1970s rock aesthetic to begin with, so that might be the problem right there. But that, along with this being a very testosterone-addled story, and the fact that the pacing was a bit wonky and it feels like this is trying to be a film rather than a comic (complete with documentary film motif), and the result hasn’t been that successful. Still, this is the last issue, so I will finish the series regardless, and despite this not being a book I enjoyed all that much, I will never regret throwing money at Cornell’s work. Here’s hoping his next comic fits me better.

Paper Girls #$ (IMAGE) – written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Cliff Chiang
BKV is another one of my favorite writers in any medium (really, his only misstep in my book so far was Ex Machina, which I wasn’t crazy about), and Paper Girls is an amazing series so far. I can’t wait to find out what the deal is with the robot/alien teenagers! Hell, these pre-teen girls are so interesting, I’d read a comic about them on their own without the sci-fi trappings. This is one I’m excited to read!

And lastly, something that wasn’t on my pull. Whenever I pick up my reserved titles, I always give the shelves a quick glance to make sure I don’t miss anything new that I might be interested in. This week, I needed to pick up…

A-Force (MARVEL) – written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Jorge Molina
I gotta say, while I was so happy to read A-Force during the Secret Wars event, because it put all its focus on some of Marvel’s best female superheroes, I was a bit disappointed by the story. It was just so….boring. And because the cast of characters is so huge, I didn’t really feel particularly attached to any one. I did, however, love Singularity, both for her sweetness, and for her beautiful powers and character design. She’s pretty much what has me coming back to A-Force. She’s on the cover, so despite it not looking like she was coming back at the end of last year’s A-Force, it seems like she’s back after all, and I want to see how she evolves, as well as whether or not A-Force is something I’m going to want to read in an ongoing way.

Well, that’s what I’m reading this week! What I hope to do every week is tell you the new titles that I’ve picked up, as well as give short reviews on last  week’s titles, should you care what I think. :)

And now that that’s out of the way – what are YOU reading this week? I’m all about recommendations, so if you think there’s something I should be reading, make sure to let me know about it in the comments below!

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billie jean

Teresa at the Movies: The Legend of Billie Jean

The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)
Starring: Helen Slater, Christian Slater, Keith Gordon, Yeardley Smith, Barry Tubb, Martha Gehman, and Peter Coyote (with a big nerd shout-out to Dean Stockwell!)
Logline (from IMDb): 
A Texas teenager cuts her hair short and becomes an outlaw martyr with her brother and friends.

Two Christmases ago, I was at a friend’s White Elephant party, and I’d finally received my gift. It was a big box full of really random stuff. I’m talking magnetic tape, tissues, and a bar of soap random. Also in this box were two DVDs and a Blu-ray: Congo, The Last Boy Scout, and the “Fair is Fair” edition of The Legend of Billie Jean on Blu-ray.

I hadn’t seen any of these movies.

Later, my secret gift-giver, Sam, outed himself at the party, and I thanked him, genuinely grateful, because I hadn’t seen any of these films (and, to be honest, was glad that I didn’t have to pay to see them or know they exist). He immediately zeroed in on The Legend of Billie Jean, being all “Oh my God! You’re going to love this one! I think you in particular will really like it.”

Me in particular? Okay… :)

Others started gathering around and squealing enthusiastically. Oh my God! The Legend of Billie Jean! I love that movie! How had I never even heard of this movie before? And how is it that a bunch of people even younger than me had heard of it, and I was six when this movie came out?

It sat on my shelf unwatched until New Year’s Day this year, when I had some friends over for brunch and I busted it out after one of them said it was one of their favorite movies.

Billy Jean (Helen Slater) and Binx (Christian Slater)

Billy Jean (Helen Slater) and Binx (Christian Slater)

Meet Billie Jean and Binx (played by Helen Slater and Christian Slater – no relation), teenage siblings in Corpus Christi, Texas who live in a trailer park. Really the only thing they have going for them at this point are their looks and Binx’s awesome new scooter. Billie Jean gets hit on by a local bro (bruh? brah?) named Hubie. She shuts him down, and like any rational person would, he steals Binx’s scooter while he and Billie Jean are swimming in a lake, and totals it.

She goes to a mechanic, and gets an estimate for $608 to fix the bike, which is a really specific amount. Not $600, not $610, but $608. She tries to go to the police to get them to help, but Detective Ringwald is like ZERO help and gives her advice that’s the equivalent of when parents tell you that if you ignore bullies, they’ll go away. (Real talk to kids being bullied: They DON’T “just go away.” Talk to an adult you trust and get help!)

Anyway, she goes to Hubie’s dad, Mr. Pyatt’s shop to get the money she and Binx are owed for the bike, either from Hubie, or from his dad.

And this is where shit gets real.

Under the pretense of giving her the money, Mr. Pyatt lures her upstairs where he tries to proposition Billie Jean! A layaway plan in which he would get laid, and she’d get her money in installments. Obviously, she’s like NOPE. But then he tries to rape her right then and there! Thankfully, her friends and brother were waiting outside. They come in after Billie Jean after she’s fought Mr. Pyatt off and comes downstairs. Binx has found a gun in the shop, which Mr. Pyatt tells him isn’t loaded – but it totally is – and Binx ends up shooting Mr. Pyatt! He’s not killed, but he’s wounded.

mr pyatt and billie jean

 

Meanwhile, Billie Jean, Binx, and their friends Ophelia (Martha Gehman) and one of my favorite characters, not just in this movie but OF ALL TIME, Putter (played to perfection by Yeardley Smith) end up going on the lam as outlaws as Mr. Pyatt reports them for shooting him. Detective Ringwald sympathizes with them, and attempts to bring them in “for their own good” (and he’s probably just a little bit guilty that he was absolutely craptastic at his job and none of this would’ve happened had he just looked into it rather than dismissing her!).

Long story short, while on the lam, the friends meet a rich dude named Lloyd that Billie Jean sort of falls for and they hole up with him for a while. It’s at his house, after seeing their story all over the news and watching 1948’s Joan of Arc, she decides to give her self a badass makeover and lean into the legend that has started to come up around her and her friends, sending a message to news outlets demanding the $608 dollars from Mr. Pyatt that she and her brother are owed!

Wackiness ensues, and a Legend is born!

What amazed me the most about this movie is how feminist a movie it is! Sure, it’s in a cheesy 1980s way, but this film definitely has a feminist bent without hitting you over the head with it.

At the beginning of the film, we see Billie Jean scantily clad while swimming in the lake. Throughout the movie, pretty much everyone – from the people in her life, to people consuming her image in the media – remarks on her good looks. This film is about the price young women pay simply to exist (Hint: it’s way more than $608). They are taken advantage of by boys their age as well as older men. If they’re traditionally attractive, things are assumed about them that aren’t assumed about other girls. Their confidence is diminished, no matter how intelligent, beautiful, or assertive they are, because the world is constantly telling them that the only things they have that are worth anything are their bodies. We see all of this pummel Billie Jean in the first half of the movie, so that when she makes the decision to shed it all, it’s all the sweeter.

Even before her transformation, Billie Jean is a strong-willed, smart, kind-hearted character who goes all out to defend her brother, and later, her friends. She’s the one who goes to the police about the scooter, and when that doesn’t work, she goes directly to Mr. Pyatt. Yet, she’s not a “badass.” In Helen Slater’s performance, you see that she’s scared. You see that she’s unsure. She’s still a teenage girl figuring things out. Her bravery isn’t about not being afraid, it’s about acting in spite of her fear. It’s about not letting those who would take advantage of her keep her from her goal.

For her transformation into the “Billie Jean” that ends up becoming a legend and hero to young people everywhere, she takes her inspiration from an influential woman from history – Joan of Arc – who fought to defend her country with everything she had, and was burned at the stake for her trouble. No one convinced Billie Jean to do it, or gave her the idea. She was inspired and thought it through all on her own. Later, when things change, she makes her decisions based on what’s best for the safety of her friends. She never backs down, but she always remains considerate of others.

Billie Jean isn’t the only amazing female character in this. I’m absolutely in love with Putter, the youngest, tomboy-ish friend that tags along with them. Watching Putter go through this movie is one of the most interesting depictions of a young girl going through puberty that I’ve ever seen as we see her slowly morph from a girl who eats all the time and tries to steal candy by shoving it under her shirt, to a young woman who’s gotten her period, asks for a diaphragm, and stands up for her friend in a police precinct.  It’s rare that a female coming-of-age story is told at all, especially in the 1980s, and especially with such humor and poignancy and allowing the character such agency. Ophelia is less well-executed, but even she takes a journey as she is inspired by Billie Jean to go on the lam when she was only going to drive them to a certain point, and screams at the cops when they try to get Billie’s location out of her. Between those two and Billie Jean’s growth, we have a wonderful examination of young girls growing into powerful young women.

billie jean and binx

But seriously, do you hang out with your siblings like this? They’re just so…glisten-y and…close.

Equally impressive are the boys in the girls’ lives. Sure there are predators like Mr. Pyatt and Hubie, and the general public who would wear her image and sensationalize her story. But there are also guys like Binx, who supports and defends his sister, but defers to her when necessary. There’s no macho posing with him. Sometimes, he looks after Billie Jean, sometimes Billie Jean looks after him. And then there’s rich boy Lloyd (who’s also the son of Dean Stockwell’s DA), who comes off skeevy at first, but when we (and Billie Jean) get to know him, we realize that he has more depth than we thought, and that he values Billie Jean, not for her looks, but for her character. He supports and encourages her plans, and becomes a great sounding board for her. He genuinely respects her, in addition to being attracted to her.

And of course, there’s the fact that once Billie Jean becomes “Billie Jean,” both young girls and young boys are inspired by her. She becomes a larger-than-life folk hero in androgynous clothing and people of all genders start dressing like her and being inspired by her. This isn’t a “girl power” movie – it’s a “youth power” movie, and it’s nice to see a young female character as the face of that, without emphasis being placed on her Face.

Lastly, we have a rare instance in this film of a sexual predator actually being brought to justice by the young woman he victimized. Not only does Billie Jean force him to admit what he did to her in front of the whole town, but the town stands by and lets his store burn down. They have spoken – they will not tolerate this kind of behavior. It’s a far cry from what we read in the news today: media outlets and citizens alike being more concerned with the lives of alleged perpetrators than they are with their victims. No one tells Billie Jean that she “ruined this man’s life.” They stand with her.

The Legend of Billie Jean isn’t a perfect movie (there’s plenty in it that’s just ridiculous), but it’s an inspiring one. And really, isn’t inspiration what we want from our films? There’s a reason why this is a cult classic. If you push aside the cheesy 1980s trappings, there’s actually a movie that makes you think under there.

On a scale of okay to really fucking rad, I give The Legend of Billie Jean two fists up!

billie jean red-head kid

Oh, and you were right, Sam. I totally loved this fucking movie.

FAIR IS FAIR!

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The GF and Me. Dec 2015.

The Story to Tell the Grandkids

I’d been sick for days, and I was feeling like crap. So fancy-schmancy New Year’s Eve plans anywhere other than my couch were not going to happen.

So, The GF and I spent New Year’s Eve watching Masters of Sex on Hulu. Since we don’t have cable, we weren’t able to watch anything like New Year’s Rockin’ Eve to count down to the New Year, so we just set the alarms on our phones. I set mine for ten minutes before midnight so I could get the sparkling wine ready, then I set another one for one minute to midnight so that we could count down.

I got the sparkling wine and the wine glasses out and we continued watching Masters of Sex for a few minutes. Then, my alarm went off signaling a minute until the new year…

The GF and Me at Mother Dough. Dec 2015

The GF and Me at Mother Dough. Dec 2015

Now, here’s where I’ll give you a smidge of backstory…we celebrate our anniversary on December 4th – which was when we had our first official date: dinner at Mother Dough, followed by drinks at Public House (before it became a raging sports bar), and canoodling back at her place. :) Every year on our anniversary (all three of them that we’ve had so far), we go to Mother Dough for dinner.

This year, as we enjoyed our alcohol and fancy pizza, The GF brought up the fact that, up until then, whenever we talked about “marriage,” it always had, well, air-quotes around it.
She said “We always talk about ‘maybe if we get married’ like it’s a hypothetical. So…do you wanna get married?” And after I choked, I said “Like, right now?” Obviously not right then. But she did mean, like imminently.

At first I was like “I wasn’t entirely sure you wanted to ever get married at all, and since I don’t particularly care either way, that’s why it was always hypothetical.” And she said “The idea’s kinda grown on me. And so, I wanted to let you know my intentions.” :) Long story short, her mom came to visit later in the month, and apparently she had a family ring that she’s been saving for The GF for just such an occasion. She asked her mom to bring it with her on her visit.
So, at the time, I knew I was going to be asked, but I figured the actual, official asking was months away at least. And being the sucker for grand gestures and lover of surprises that I am, I said, “OK, so when we get engaged-engaged, I’d like it to be a surprise, and I want it to be A Moment. You know me. You know what I’d like.” And as is totally her way, she said “Copy that.”
IMG_0299

The Fiancee and I? January 1st 2016.

So, my alarm went off signalling a minute to midnight. As I was about to pour sparkling wine, The GF says “Come over here and sit in this chair!” I was confused. “Why?” “Just come here,” she said. “You have to sit in this chair right now.”

Please keep in mind, I was a stuffy, snotty mess who was hacking up a lung. I was in my pajamas, my hair looked like garbage, and I think I must have smelled at least a little.

I sat in the chair.
She got down on one knee, and pulled something from the pocket of her bathrobe.
I immediately gasped and started flailing my hands like an idiot as tears started to well in my eyes. It’s rare that I cry from happiness. This is one of the few times in my life that’s ever happened.
She looked at me and said “Teresa, you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I want to get old with you. Will you marry me?” She held up a small diamond ring and had the sweetest, goofiest, most hopeful smile on her face.
The alarm went off, heralding 2016.
“Of course I will! Get up!” I squealed. She stood, and I threw my arms around her, clutching her tight. At that moment, I didn’t care about the stupid ring, or about how sick I was, or how I looked, or any of it. I kissed her over and over. I said “Yes!” into her neck a jillion times.
Then I shut off the alarm, telling it to shut up.
It wasn’t the proposal I expected, but it was absolutely perfect. I’d asked for a surprise, and I got it. I asked for A Moment, and she proposed on the cusp between the old year and the new. And she showed me she loved me by not caring that I was snot-ridden at the time. She did everything right.
20160101_091609

The ring.

We’re gonna have a long engagement – like two years or so – to get our metaphorical shit together. So, you know SAVE THE DATE FOR 2018. :) The ring is very tiny – just look at it on my enormous pinky – so it will live on a chain around my neck until we get it re-sized.

And I guess I have a fiancee now. It’s weird. Good, but weird. I’m in my mid-thirties, and it still feels too grown up. But it’s right. There’s no one else I’d rather “grow up” with – or grow old with. I feel so lucky that I’m marrying someone who always manages to be perfect for me despite being nothing like any partner I ever imagined for myself. She’s confirmed for me that it’s the unexpected things – the surprises – that lead to the good stuff. She compliments me – is strong where I am weak – and vice versa. She’s the only person in the world from whom I’ve withheld nothing, and she loves me anyway. And I love her, even having seen her at her worst.

Not to brag, but even these two don’t have anything on us:

ruby and sapphire