August Update

This summer has flown by! I still have the list of planned posts I made back in June, but I hope to get them out sooner rather than later. Since then here’s a little bit about what I’ve been up to…

Recent Release: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 3

Season 3 released on August 2 on Netflix with a whopping SIX episodes– down one from season 2’s SEVEN. I have a lot of thoughts about this. In one of my earliest posts, I expressed my frustrations with Miraculous Ladybug’s release schedule, and it’s no secret that Steven Universe dragged its feet, so I’ve actually found this rather refreshing. Since releasing season 1’s thirteen episodes November 18, 2018, season 2 dropped seven episodes on April 26. Although the episode count is still low, She-Ra has kept my interest piqued.

The problem with long wait times between new content is that it’s easy to get caught up in something else. Doctor Who is perhaps my favorite franchise, but these days I’m much more interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with its fairly constant stream of content and announcements, but even now that those have slowed and become increasingly unclear or ambiguous, I am looking for new content to keep me occupied.

Marathoning: RuPaul’s Drag Race

I may have done some marathoning while cleaning out my house and crafting like crazy and most recently I’ve been catching up with RuPaul and the several seasons I’ve missed over the last few years. The thing I like about this particular competitive reality television program is RuPaul’s commitment to promoting loving oneself and one’s weirdness.

The show routinely depicts contestants overcoming their own personal demons or how the show lead to family reconciliations. Regardless of the veracity of reality TV, these heartwarming messages are the kind of thing that we should see more of. With so much hate-speak and anger, promoting love and acceptance is hugely important.

Also, I just love drag queens and have a lot of connections to the LGBTQ+ community. While Drag Race was originally more concerned with poking fun at the question of gender, it has since become a safe space for all forms of gender expression. In recent years, former contestants have come out as transgender and there have even been openly trans contestants. At the start of season 9 (which is what I’m currently on) Lady Gaga makes an appearance and explains how drag has affected her life, elevating it as an art form and an important form of self-expression.

Personal Note

Next week I start grad school (again!) and begin working towards an MFA in Film & TV Studies (hopefully with more emphasis on the TV). I’m very excited, but also nervous. I still have a long list of blog entries to write and publish but have no idea how much time I’ll actually have. To those who keep reading, I deeply appreciate it. I don’t know if I can quite explain what it means to me.

This blog has been a way for me to find my voice and put it out there. Confidence is something I’ve struggled with for a long time and having this platform has been a way for me to work on raising my voice. Learning people are actually reading has been even more exciting. Hopefully, my next post will be a proper review rather than another update!

July Update

Over a week ago I announced my intention to post a review of Spider-Man: Far From Home. This is not that post. (The movie is excellent, though.) I had intended on a great many posts, but this is my first since May 26th. Honestly, I’ve just been incredibly busy and overwhelmed with home renovations and planning my wedding. It’s something that I’ve been really frustrated with, though I did find the time to make some updates to my site. Moving forward I hope to get through my backlog of posts and get back to posting regularly, but first I have some exciting news!

I’ve been published!

Yes, it is so small as to be considered micro-press, but a piece of mine is now in an anthology called Tales of the Dawnline. Tales of is a companion short story anthology to a tabletop role-playing game created by the very talented Richard Kelly. The premise is a world where sunlight is lethal and due to some messed up planetary alignment, the sun’s movements on the planet are highly irregular. Humans live in nomadic villages, and many opt to find guardians, vampires to help protect the village from threats beyond nature itself.

What’s really interesting about the world Kelly has created is the wide variety of vampires and monsters that inhabit this world. These are not Bram Stoker’s or Joss Whedon’s vampires, but something much more varied, mysterious, and otherworldly. Even if you aren’t interested in Table Top Role-Playing, the short story anthology presents a really fascinating world– one I’m excited to be a part of.

So this housekeeping/update post is one I’ve been planning for a couple of days, but it was the arrival of the physical book (with my name and words in it!) that inspired me to share this exciting news. Kelly and I have talked about future collaborations, but for now, this is an achievement of a dream I’ve had since I was a kid. While I had hoped to publish a full novel by age 13 like Amelia Atwater-Rhodes did, the story and work I contributed is something I’m incredibly proud of and very excited about!

I hope to have more posts out soon, but for now, I want to say that being published is surreal and I’m excited to have my words live on someone’s bookshelf! Also, I have a new air conditioner which is almost as equally exciting and life-changing!



Tales of the Dawnline is available for purchase both digitally and in print at DriveThruRPG.com and published by Voidspiral Entertainment.

Happy [Belated] Mother’s Day!

So originally, I had wanted to write about Classic Film/TV Moms for Mother’s Day. Then I was going to write about why I think there are so many Mother’s Day TV specials. But ultimately, I decided to do something completely different. This Mother’s Day, my mom was kind enough to talk to me about her favorite movies. (And now I know what I’ll be doing for Father’s Day!)

So, full disclosure, I currently have 3-4 moms: my biological mother, two step-mothers, and my future mother-in-law. This year, I am just focusing on my biological mother.

When I asked what my mother’s favorite movie was, two immediately came to mind:

1. Clue (1985): Stars include Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), and Martin Mull (Sabrina the Teenage Witch). Based off the classic boardgame, this film takes place in 1954 when a group of strangers are invited to a secluded New England mansion. Once there, they learn they’ve all been brought there for a specific reason and when other people begin dying, they need to find out who-dunnit, and where, and with what.

My mom said: “This movie still makes me snort out laughing.” This is still her favorite comedy nearly 34 years after it’s initial release. Although it didn’t do well at the box office, it has since become a cult classic. At the time of its release, each movie theater received a different ending, however all three are available in the home release, and Tim Curry shines in every one of them.


2. Life of Pi (2012): Directed by Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Yann Martel. In both the book and the movie, Pi survives a shipwreck on a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger in the Pacific Ocean. It is a story of survival against some really impossible odds.

My mom: “The prettiest movie I’ve ever seen. It’s also intellectual. It’s a movie that is visually pretty and makes you think.” I have not seen this movie or read the book, but my understanding is that it is a very philosophical movie. My mom said this is her favorite movie that makes her think. 


3. Recent releases: Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), A Star Is Born (2018), The Post (2017).

My mom loved Bohemian Rhapsody, but said that she felt like that had a lot to do with the music, since she loves Queen. Bohemian Rhapsody is a bio-pic starring Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) as Queen lead singer, Freddie Mercury. Since it’s release it has been nominated for 57 awards and won 21 of them, including Oscars for Best Actor, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing.

She felt that A Star is Born was great, really well-acted, and was really impressed with Lady Gaga’s performance. Star is the third remake of a 1937 film of the same name and stars Lady Gaga (American Horror Story: Hotel) and Bradley Cooper (The Hangover), who also made his directorial debut here. It too received several accolades including 218 award nominations and 65 wins. The film depicts a musician struggling with addiction who falls in love with and helps launch the career of a young woman.

The Post is a film my mother really enjoyed due in part to the fact that she actually remembers when the Pentagon Papers were released and the accompanying scandal. The film stars Meryl Streep (Kramer vs. Kramer) and Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump) and directed by Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark). It was nominated for a number of awards, including Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actress. The film follows the first female publisher of a major American newspaper and The Washington Post‘s attempts to publish the Pentagon Papers, classified government documents regarding the Vietnam War.


4. Groundbreaking films: Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), The Wizard of Oz (1939)

She described both of these movies as films she could watch again and again. She remembers when A New Hope was first released. At the time, it was unlike anything she’d ever seen before and began what is now a major media franchise and saga that has spawned movies, books, TV shows, video games, and more. The first film depicts Luke Skywalker after he encounters a message for help from a princess inside a robot. That is the most basic summary of the first film and any Star Wars fan will tell you that if you’ve never seen any of the movies before, that’s the one you want to start with.

The Wizard of Oz was already a classic when my mom was born, but at the time it’s use of color film was unprecedented. She described it as a movie she could sit down and watch any time.


5. Old Classics: My mom also listed a series of classic movies that she still loves: Gone with the Wind (1939), old musicals such Holiday Inn (1942), The Sound of Music (1965), and Fred Astaire classics such as Shall We Dance (1937) and Top Hat (1935).

Gone with the Wind to this day remains the most successful movie in box office history (when adjusted for inflation). It is a whopping 221 minutes long or 3.7 hours long (without overture, intermission, exit music, etc.). It’s based on a 1936 novel by the same name and takes place in the south during the Civil War and subsequent Reconstruction era. 

Holiday Inn is considered a holiday classic and is best known for its original song “White Christmas”, which won an Oscar. It stars Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

The Sound of Music is an adaptation of a musical by the same name, composed and written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II (Rodgers & Hammerstein), which is based on the memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers written by Maria von Trapp about her family in Salzburg, Austria and their escape from Nazi-invaded Europe. It stars Christopher Plummer (The Insider) and Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins), the latter of whom was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the film.

Fred Astaire was an American singer, actor, dancer, and choreographer. From 1934-1938 he made a series films with Ginger Rogers, who was an American actress, singer, and dancer: The Gay Divorcee (1934), Roberta (1935), Top Hat (1935), Follow the Fleet (1936), Swing Time (1936), Shall We Dance (1937), Carefree (1938), The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939). The films featured revolutionary choreography and were big money makers for RKO. They were also responsible for a number of classic songs including “The Way You Look Tonight”, which won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1936.


My mother described a lot of these movies as “comfort food movies, like mac & cheese”. This is an idea I think worth exploring. Everyone has that food that you eat when you want to feel good/better. There are movies (and in the age of streaming, I’d argue TV too) that do the same.


St. P, TTG, and DBZ

What’s fun about Teen Titans Go! is that this show can make an episode out of anything. Seriously. There have been episodes on rental property, quantum physics, and even labor day. As a result, it’s not surprising that there is a holiday special for almost every holiday. In addition to yearly Christmas and Halloween specials, TTG has also done two St. Patrick’s Day episodes. As a show meant to poke fun at the superhero genre, St. Patrick’s Day takes it up a level but parodying the anime classic, Dragon Ball Z

For those who are unfamiliar with the franchise, Dragon Ball Z began as something of a fairy tale in the form of Dragon Ball. The manga upon which both are based is just called Dragon Ball for the seven magical stones that, when brought together, can grant a wish. Though it has fairy tale elements, it’s also a technologically advanced society, which is why characters are able to use the dragon radar to find the dragon balls more quickly than the would otherwise. In the latter half of the manga, the Dragon Ball Z anime, alien species and planets are introduced, with some of the characters being retconned as aliens.

So, what does an Irish holiday have to do with a Japanese program? Well, let me tell you…

The first St. P’s special revolves around the superstition of someone wearing green pinching someone who is not. Beast Boy argues that since he wears his skin, that counts and doesn’t hold back on the pinching. When the other Titans retaliate (while not wearing green) they are cursed with Bad Luck and must find a leprechaun’s gold to free themselves from the curse.

So, do they have to use some kind of leprechaun gold radar? Nope!

SPOILER ALERT

Robin reveals himself to be a leprechaun! Which therefore enables him to power up and utilize leprechaun attacks, which look at lot like DBZ moves. For those who are unaware, one thing that classic DBZ is known for is the countless power ups. (We’re talking episodes spent yelling while the ground is shaking.) The primary alien race, the Saiyans possess the ability to ascend to a more powerful Super Saiyan form, during which their hair gets spikier and turns gold. Here, as Robin powers up his hair turns orange and a beard manifests along with green leprechaun garb.

Teen Titans Go!’s Robin (left) and Dragon Ball Z‘s Goku (right)

His most powerful attack is a parody of DBZ main character Goku’s attack, the Kamehameha Wave: the Shillelagh Wave. As Robin and the other leprechaun battle, they also parody the constant back and forth of evenly matched characters moving at extreme speeds, but instead of trading punches and kicks, they trade pinches. In the second St. Patrick’s Day special, all of the Teen Titans come together for the most powerful attack. Parodying Goku’s Spirit Bomb, they perform the Spirit Clover.

While there’s a lot of humor in this Irish-Japanese parody, both episodes poke fun in other ways as well– a common feature of TTG episodes. Although the show is aimed at children, it’s very aware of its older audience, something that is evident in both of these specials. In another post, I hope to go deeper into the commentary I believe Teen Titans Go! is providing. 

My Favorite Things

This week I’m talking about some of my [current] favorite things (beyond whiskers on kittens– though, to be honest, I prefer dem footsies). I have some exciting (well I think so) posts planned for the next few weeks, but in an attempt to get back to posting more regularly, I’m doing something a little mellower: my current favorites and why I like them.
Fair warning: this is a little bit rambling.

1. FanFiction

As a kid, I was a HUGE snob about this. I felt it was betraying the creator’s vision. I no longer feel that way for a range of reasons, not least of all the fact that characters are often rewritten by different artists and storytellers. Comic books are a prime example of different people writing different stories with not always different continuities.

It’s one of my favorite things and has been for a while for a few reasons.

  • First, it’s not limited by ability to publish or financial constraints. You don’t need a literary agent or to worry about selling copies.
  • Second, sometimes authors will do things with the characters that are better or more interesting than canon. For example, last week I wrote about the implied romance between Steve Rogers/Captain America and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier. It’s currently the most popular relationship to write fanfiction about. Another example is the Dragon Ball franchise, which ran in print from 1984-1995 and on screen from 1986-1997. It was recently revived in 2013 to… mixed reviews. To put it mildly, I am not thrilled with the choices the creator has made with the characters. I’ve read a number of fanfictions that do a lot more interesting things with the characters and the world established by the franchise.
  • Third, with sites like Archive Of Our Own, it’s easy to find exactly what you’re in the mood for. You search and browse through characters, relationships, tags; and now you can also exclude things you are not interested in. I don’t have to browse scanning titles and book jackets. I already have an idea what I’m going to get, beyond a simple description.
  • Fourth, this has to do with artistry. Some of the stories are amazingly well written. For new writers, it can be like riding a bike with training wheels. You can hone your craft without worrying about plot elements or character. Like artists/fanartists, there are communities. In these communities, it’s possible to make some money, either for yourself or for charity. There are also groups that will come together specifically for charity or to make a statement.

That’s just a few quick reasons why fanfiction is one of my favorite things. I’ve even tried my hand at writing them, which I’d compare to playing with action figures/dolls. It’s freeing to be able to make such expressions as an adult.


2. The Masked Singer

This show is so dumb! It’s ridiculous and I love it. I don’t watch a lot of reality TV, and I’ve never been a huge fan of singing competition shows, but this show adds some really fun elements that make you more invested and the show more fun.

The premise is this: twelve celebrities sing wearing costumes that hide their identities. A panel of judges (and the audience) tries to decide who is behind the mask, but each week someone is eliminated based on who the audience wants to keep seeing. Once eliminated, their identity is revealed. 

What’s been fun is that I actually know most of the songs. Rather than be concerned with what’s popular, it’s a choice made by the contestant. I also love a good mystery! I’ve actually been right about a couple of them, which was super exciting; it’s a nice little reward for the audience. The costumes are also gorgeous. They are completely crazy, designed to hide as much about the celebrity as possible. You have to appreciate the artistry that went into these intense costumes. 

The downsides are that the musical numbers are not always the most interesting, but I can usually get into it if I recognize the song. Then there are the judges. The show is presented by Nick Cannon, and judged by Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger, and Robin Thicke. I generally enjoy the judges commentary and interactions, but I have a lot of issues with Jenny McCarthy. She is part of why the anti-vaccine movement is so strong and, while I can appreciate her commentary, I hate that she’s on there.

Overall, it’s not really a show you sit down to watch, so much as something you watch when you’re wrapping gifts or crocheting dolls. It doesn’t require much focus, aside from the clues, if you want to see if you can guess who’s inside the mascot suit.

3. The Marvel Cinematic Universe

When I was little, Star Wars was super popular. Even before the prequels, I grew up on those films. I learned later, as I got older, that there was all this extended universe stuff mostly books. Later, cartoons were made. I feel like the MCU is like that, but a little more consistent.

The thing about comic book canon is that there is already so much of it. The standard, main continuity in Marvel is called Earth-616, so that should tell you something. The movies have their own continuity, but Marvel did something brilliant; not only are the movies all connected, but so are the TV shows. Because Disney is the distributor, it has allowed for media in theaters, online, and on cable and network television. While I love the world that has been created, its what they are doing that has me the most excited. There are even tie-in comics and books!

Above, I mentioned how and why I like fanfiction, citing a specific Marvel pairing. While I enjoy the work of fanfiction writers and like the worlds and scenarios they create, I’m never not going to be excited by what Marvel is doing. It’s brilliant marketing and storytelling and I love it. There’s other TV shows and spin-offs in the works, too. 
I don’t know if I can adequately express why I get so excited by this, but one way of looking at it is this: these are projects being written/filmed/produced all around the same time and often with different people working on each project, but they still have come together for a singular continuity. I doubt there’s some kind of show bible, but in the last 10 years, I feel like they’ve created the kind of interconnected content that Star Wars and Doctor Who could have, were they to expand, but already have in some ways just due to sheer amount.

I love the MCU from a lot of different perspectives: as an English teacher interested in plot and character development, as a film/tv student interested in plot and character plus the industry and surrounding politics, as a long time fan of superheroes. I think there’s a lot Marvel could do to improve; for example, more female-led projects (one area where DC DEFINITELY has them beat!), and content directed towards audiences beyond the PG-13 rating. R-rated films like Fox’s Deadpool and Logan, yes, but also it would be nice to see content created in the other direction. Now that Disney has purchased Fox, we’ll see if they continue with R-ratings, something rumored to be the case for the Black Widow movie, but I think from a commercial perspective, it would be a wide move. Disney is all about pure, family entertainment, but I think if they could diversify they could be the option that has something for everyone.