Jenny Reads Fifty Shades Of Midnight Sun: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 or “I would like to move along, but nothing is actually moving along here.”

Stephenie Meyer has announced that she’ll be releasing a new novel, a thriller called The Chemist. So I guess keep a look out for The Botanist, an erotic thriller from E.L. James.

Unrelated, I apologize for the delay on this recap. I recently got my driver’s license and I’ve found that all those people who drove you around when you didn’t have a license? They want you to drive them places now. Fancy that. Also, I’ve been shirking at my job a little bit to enjoy my new freedom. It was a lot easier to stick to my schedule when I wasn’t able to leave the village, anyway. The day after I got my license, I couldn’t figure out a reason to drive somewhere, so I took my dogs to McDonald’s.

Anyway, the novelty is starting to fade on the whole “putting pants on and going outside of the house” thing, so I plan to return to responsible workingness.

Onto the recap!

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The Ghostbusters Reboot Is Better Than The Original

You read that headline and gasped, didn’t you? I know, it came as a surprise to me, too. When I sat down in the theater on Friday, I expected a cute movie with lots of nods to the originals that would call upon my 80′s kid nostalgia in an attempt to win me over. Ultimately, I was braced for disappointment. Ghostbusters is a classic, after all, and the Melissa McCarthy/Paul Feig dream team isn’t for everyone. Their humor is hit-or-miss for me, so I accepted the very real possibility that, despite how much I wanted to like the new Ghostbusters, my initial impression of the trailer and the entire reboot concept would prevail.

For two hours (that passed far too quickly), I was gleefully proven wrong at every turn. The movie is funny, with more gags per minute than its predecessors. The production design is more exciting, the ghosts scarier (though nothing will ever top the horror of Winston’s phantom train encounter in the sequel). Ghostbusters‘s plot is, in essence, the exact same as the plots of the first two movies: a ragtag band of heroes that nobody takes seriously must save Manhattan from a siege of ghosts, and also there’s some kind of vortex. But this installment adds much-needed fixes to holes audiences have politely overlooked for thirty-odd years.

For example, the lack of a clear antagonist. While all the movies are, at heart, about bustin’ some ghosts, the first two featured villains who were either long-dead (only in the second movie did the villain actually appear on screen) or pasty bureaucrats. The reboot gives us an antagonist who shares the bleak motivations of Ivo Shandor, architect of the doomed apartment building in the first movie. Rowan North, played with twitchy perfection by Neil Casey, is connecting the dots on ley lines around the city, intending to open a portal to a ghost dimension in the basement of the hotel where he works. Though Shandor’s goals and North’s are ostensibly the same, North proves a more effective–and memorable–villain because he actually gets screen time, and the audience sees his evil plan acted out, rather than half-sketched in some jail-cell banter. When the villain isn’t dead and off-screen, or on-screen but confined to a few scenes of evil leering from a painting, watching him get his comeuppance is far more satisfying.

The mechanics of ghostbusting make more sense in the reboot, as well. By the mid-point of the first film, the storage unit where the ‘busters dumped their ghosts was filling up, and it took two to four members of the team to capture each ghost. In the reboot, the aim is to contain just one, for proof of the paranormal. Extraneous ghosts are disposed of with new weapons like proton pistols, grenades, and even a hand-held wood chipper. Without the need to indefinitely contain each spirit, the action sequences are bigger and more dramatic. The extended climax is so reminiscent of a FPS video game that you can imagine where the save points would be.

Of course, no movie can stand on the strength of its action sequences alone. When the cast was first announced, it was tempting to assign the role of Egon to Kate McKinnon’s wild-haired Holtzmann, or to equate Leslie Jones’s Patty with Winston Zeddemore based on race alone. Though Holtzmann and Egon share a common archetype, McKinnon wisely doesn’t confine herself to mimicking Harold Ramis’s performance. While Ernie Hudson was relegated to the role of the guy who occasionally asked questions as a way to spur more spoken exposition from the white characters, Patty comes in with enthusiasm for the work and a speciality of her own: she’s a brilliant historian whose knowledge of the city is integral to the plot.

As for McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, they’re as far from Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd as could be. And that’s a good thing. Murray’s Peter Venkman was a creepy, wannabe-womanizer. Aykroyd’s Ray constantly proved himself a liability. It would have been easy enough to build a new Venkman from McCarthy’s weirdo performance in Bridesmaids, but the script doesn’t push her to act in such broad comedic strokes. Her short-tempered, long-suffering Abby is more interested in exterminating ghosts and getting a decent cup of soup than she is in romancing clients. As the ambitious but clueless Erin, Wiig shares straight man duties with McCarthy, and her buttoned-up attitude is as far from the affable Ray as could be.

Some have claimed that Chris Hemsworth’s sexy secretary Kevin is misandry on par with the misogyny of the originals, but while Wiig’s Erin has a cringe-worthy crush on him, no one ends up actually bedding him. Contrast that with Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barrett, a smart, independent woman who is relentlessly pursued by Venkman and Rick Moranis’s Louis, and later ends up in bed with both of them (albeit possessed during her encounter with the latter). Even the ghosts in the original movie didn’t escape sexual objectification; in a scene that was always embarrassing to watch with your parents, one comely spook gives Ray a spectral blow job. You’d be hard pressed to find sex in the reboot at all, aside from Holtzmann’s aggressive charm. There are no clumsy romantic subplots, no Magic Mike-style ghosts. For all the allegations of estrogen ruining the franchise, there’s less romance in the female-led reboot than in the male-driven originals.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking the script spends its time trying to prove to us that girls can be ghostbusters. Apart from a few sly asides, the misogynist complaints from seething fanboys are largely ignored. Ghostbusters makes no attempt to win them back into the franchise, but it also doesn’t play up the rah-rah feminism angle it could have relied on. Before audiences even had a chance to see the movie, critical fans wanted to reduce the new characters to “just women”, while enthusiastic feminists exalted them as “yay, women!” Yet somehow, torn between these two extremes, Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold deliver fully fleshed-out characters with their own goals, motivations, and conflicts. These ladies aren’t anyone’s banner. They’re here to bust ghosts, crack wise, and build dangerous nuclear toys. Proving any kind of sociopolitical viewpoint is a fourth-place priority at best.

So, what about all the nods to the originals I was relying on to get me through what I expected would be just an okay-ish movie? There were tons of them! And they were all fun. At no time did they feel as though they were being used as a crutch; their presence felt more celebratory than nostalgic. Every time an original cast member appeared on screen, it felt as though we were being given their blessing to enjoy the movie, even though it isn’t the classic version. And I did enjoy it. I enjoyed it more than the originals.

So, what happens now? Now that I’ve seen the new Ghostbusters, found it funny and smart, and gotten myself in such a blasphemous position? Well, not much, really. I can still watch the original movies, and they’ll still fall flat for me in the same ways they’ve always fallen flat. But that’s never made me stop loving them before. My childhood is still intact. No one has confiscated my DVDs and banned me from ever watching the originals. Accepting that the new Ghostbusters is superior in several respects does nothing to tarnish the originals. In fact, it frees them. Now that we’ve seen that the originals could be improved upon, we can love them for what they are–flawed, dated, but ultimately fun comedies–and not the sacred cows of nerd culture they’ve become in the twenty-first century.

True Blood Tuesday S01E07 “Burning House Of Love”

So, there’s some stuff in here that gets way too true-to-life about child sexual abuse, so heads up. It’s in the scene where Suckeh is in the bathtub with Beel. There’s also some too-real KKK like terrorism behavior.

I’ve got a head cold this week, so enjoy my stuffy nose and my mouth breathing, with a side bonus of naughty dogs.

Download here and start after the HBO logo/music go away.

The Doctor Wishes The Author Happy Birthday!

Now, you may not have picked up on this (because I’m so subtle about it), but I love Doctor Who just a teensy little bit.

Me, wearing an ugly sweater with a dog on it, showing off fresh knuckle tattoos that spell out "Time Lady"

So much so that, in addiction to mutilating myself in tribute, I also legally changed one of my middle names to Gallifrey, the Doctor’s home planet.

Friday was my birthday, and my friend Petra (who comments on this blog, you’ve probably seen her around) and her son, Connor (who know of my love for The Doctor) had a connection who could make my entire birthday:

When I first saw this in my Twitter DMs, I was like, “Oh, cool, Petra sent me a video of Peter Capaldi.”

Then he said my NAME.

The screaming, the shouting, the running around. Everything was high pitched. It was beautiful.

So, first of all, I’m going to say that Peter Capaldi? Is a freaking stand-up guy. He didn’t have to do this. He was at work, he had other things on his mind. But he did it anyway, for a fan. That’s how much he cares about Whovians. He had the opportunity to make a stranger who loves his show happy. What a great dude.

Second, how awesome are Petra and Connor and their super secret connection? The super secret connection, by the way, was a guy who was nervous to approach Capaldi in the first place, so big hugs and thank yous to that guy, too.

This was one of the most thoughtful birthday surprises ever, and I’ve only watched it about a billion times. The best part? He says I went to the Academy. So, basically, I’m an official Time Lady. I’m insisting this is canon. Fight me.

You can all refer to me as The Author now.

Don’t Do This, Ever: “Please Stop Scrolling” edition

On Monday, writer Camryn Garrett shared a piece she’d written for MTV News. Her essay, “Black Lives Matter Is The Bare Minimum” poignantly describes the frustration that she, a young black woman, feels when comparing her hopes for the future against the injustices of the present, and her anger at watching civil rights activism reduced to slogans while the oppressive machine of white supremacy grinds on.

So obviously, someone had to run in and take her to task for it.

Julia Nielsen, in response to Camryn Garret: Go back to 1965 and see how far we've come in race relations. This institutionalized racism is shit. Get"

Julia Nielsen tweets in a reply to Camryn Garrett: over it and move on. You're not being targeted. Stop the race baiting. Whites are shot more than blacks."

Neilsen 3

[NOTE: I’ve omitted Camryn’s tweets here, simply because white supremacists have been out in force, and the last thing I would want is to be the person who led a whole bunch of them angrily into her mentions intent on proving her statements to Nielsen wrong.]

Though Garrett handled Nielsen’s tweets with poise and without coddling Nielsen’s racism, other writers and bloggers stepped in quickly to take Nielsen to task, not just for her racism but because Nielsen is a YA author.

Garrett’s writing speaks for itself; I don’t need to add to that to explain why Nielsen’s racist tirades were unacceptable. But there’s an added dynamic here that further appalls me, and which we’ve seen before. And we saw it play out with Camryn Garrett.

After she wrote a piece for The Huffington Post in 2015 titled “John Green, YA Authors, and Rape Culture”, in which she addressed the YA community’s troubling response to a Tumblr user who likened Green to a creepy dad at a pool party, Garrett became the target of YA authors who felt the need to defend Green. These authors and their lack of self-awareness as they tried to shame and silence Garrett only further proved her point; Nielsen has done likewise with her hateful screed.

Nielsen, for her part, is not a name. Before she deleted her Twitter account, she had less than three hundred followers. I’m sure she felt that Garrett was an easy target. After all, she’s just a teenager. But she’s a teenager with two-thousand followers and a passionate group of authors, readers, and activists who immediately stepped in to set Nielsen straight. They set her so straight that she tweeted a panicked defense:

Nielsen: "Shit! I just found out my account has been hacked and someone has been posting about the #blacklivesmatter [emoji of fists in shades of brown] and making a fool out of "me."

Dozens of Twitter users were quick to point out that the hacker’s beliefs were bizarrely in line with Nielsen’s own white-tears-and-all-lives-matter POV, as evidenced from other tweets she’d made that day:

Nielsen 6 Nielsen: "We are all sickened by the horrible and senseless killings of both #AltonSterling & #PhilandoCastile, but remember not all whites are racist"

Nielsen tweets a link to an article about racial bias and lethal force, adding: "For the #BlackLivesMatter [emoji of brown fists] movement, you may be surprised to read this article that states no bias in cop shootings."

She’d also favorited tweets describing Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization and made other anti-black statements in the days leading up to this incident, which Garrett’s defenders were quick to point out.

It’s easy to find some humor in watching Nielsen’s ham-fisted attempts at damage control. Her claim that she’d “just found out” about the alleged hacking of her account came only two minutes after the “hacker” had sent their last vitriolic tweet at Garrett. In a now-deleted tweet, Nielsen claimed that as a Mormon, she wouldn’t be allowed to use the foul language the “hacker” used, despite her exclamation of “Shit!” in her own tweet. She insisted she’d only started her account a few months before, until another user screencapped racist tweets dating back to 2014, at which point Nielsen desperately pleaded, “Please stop scrolling.” There’s something satisfying and even comical about seeing someone so nasty thoroughly self-destruct, but it made me wonder how many other teenagers Nielsen has gone after.

Nielsen clearly felt safe attacking Garrett. She knew to use Garrett’s age against her. And at no point did Nielsen, a YA author whose targeted readership is made up largely of teens, decide that this behavior was inappropriate. This troubles me deeply. Yes, people were there for Garrett, and the response to Nielsen’s comments came swiftly and decisively. But how many authors like Nielsen are out there? What kind of reader interactions are they having? What are they putting in their stories? And how do we find them and call them out before they come into contact with young readers who may not have the same support system Garrett had?

I wish I knew the answer. I suppose I could end this by saying that Nielsen’s racism, her claim about the hacking, her embarrassing back-pedaling and eventual deletion of her account were something to not do, ever (and they are), but I’m horrified that she even provided us with this example in the first place. I’m angry that she targeted Camryn Garrett, and I’m terrified that next time, this will happen to a teenager who doesn’t have anyone to speak up in support, or that other authors might join in. If black teenagers can’t be assured of safety in the real world or safety on the internet, the very least we in the book community can provide is safety from attacks by the very authors who write for them.

Edit: It’s rare that I have to edit a post before it even goes live, but it seems that Julia Nielsen just can’t stay away from Twitter. She reactivated her account to make amends:

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Because of Twitter’s reverse order of postings, I’ll quote her apology in the corrected sequence for easier reading, though I’ll keep the inconsistent punctuation so you can tell where each tweet began and ended:

For anyone and everyone that I hurt or lied to yesterday, I am very sorry. I have done much reflection and have to check myself. I have no excuse, I just lashed out without really understanding. I’m sorry for the young lady that I vilified and hurt. I hope she can One day forgive me. I have done a lot of reading up on the police brutality and was very much in the dark before but now have seen what Has been happening. I got scared because so many people got angry with me and said that I was hacked, which I wasn’t. I raised three kids To be honest and have integrity in their lives. I’m full of shame and guilt for what I did. I feel bad that there’s so much hate and I don’t Want to contribute to it. Again, please forgive me. You can threaten and boycott me, I guess, but I hope that you can forgive me. I fucked up. I hope you realize that this is a sincere apology.

Nielsen’s apology quickly shifts the narrative from her racist attack on a teenage girl to her own values and her desire for forgiveness. She refers to herself twenty-five times. She fails to name Garrett. She also sidesteps the issue of her racism. She’s sorry for lying about being hacked, and wants everyone to know that she raised her children not to lie, but that wasn’t why people wanted an apology. Sure, she did “a lot of reading up on the police brutality” and feels “bad that there’s so much hate,” but she doesn’t actually apologize for her racist attack. Even her apology for the hacking claim is insincere and insufficient. “I got scared,” she says, passing the blame for her actions onto the mean, mean internet people who forced her to lie out of self-preservation.

When her “apology” received an unfavorable reception, she returned twice, hours later, to portray herself as the victim of the situation:

Julia Nielsen tweets: "Listen, I apologized for yesterday. If I keep getting harrassed and abused, I will report and block you. Let. It. Be." and "I will just say this. Harassing, threatening, and blacklisting someone because of their opinion is wrong. And forgiveness is the higher road."

Now that she’s pseudo-apologized, Nielsen wants it all to go away. And of course, the best way to do that is to prove just how much you’ve learned:

Nielsen tweets: "Supposed? Tell me? How are blacks unequal? They have every opportunity as a white person. Stop the race baiting. I'm done."

Nielsen also reached out to Garrett directly, which Garrett confirmed to another Twitter user, describing the event as “creepy” and “uncomfortable.”

 

Black Lives, Black Voices Matter

There isn’t a lot I can say about the recent police/state violence against black people just trying to live without being harassed and murdered by law enforcement. It’s wrong, it’s evil, and it’s being perpetrated by our government on local and federal levels all the time. Black people are working against a tireless machine of white supremacy that’s aided not only by the state, but by the media, social media, and the inaction and indifference of white people.

I’m angry. Furious. But my anger and my fury mean absolutely nothing when compared to the pain, the frustration, the hopelessness, all of the awful that steals away the joy and safety from black people every single day. So rather than write another white person thinkpiece about how all of this affects me, me, me, and my white feelings, here are some links where other people share perspectives that are more pertinent and important. If you have any to add, leave them in the comments, but please, no links to tweet threads/Facebook posts (that aren’t your own), because there’s a hostile environment on social media right now.

A Heavy Load, Camryn Garrett

In the Turmoil Over Race and Policing, Children Pay a Steep Emotional Price, Yamiche Alcindor

Michael Brown’s Mom, on Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, Lezley McSpadden

Dallas Shootings Deal Black Police Officers A Double Heartbreak, Christopher Mathias

Being a cop showed me just how racist and violent the police are. There’s only one fix., Reddit Hudson (I hesitated to link to The Washington Post after their Tweet mistakenly identifying DeRay Mckesson as the Dallas shooter, but this take was too compelling not to include it.)

Dallas is a tragedy for all of us – and shouldn’t shut down calls for justice,
Ijeoma Oluo

4 Ways White People Can Process Their Emotions Without Bringing the White Tears, Jennifer Loubriel

VIDEO: StoryCorps Animates a Story of Police Violence From a Black Man Raised by White Parents, Sameer Rao

 

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S03E06, “Band Candy”

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone has revised her opinion of bullet journals and now owns one. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander
  19. Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
  20. Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
  21. The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
  22. Smoking is evil.
  23. Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shit is homophobic as fuck.
  24. How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?
  25. Technology is used inconsistently as per its convenience in the script.
  26. Sunnydale residents are no longer shocked by supernatural attacks.
  27. Casual rape dismissal/victim blaming a-go-go
  28. Snyder believes Buffy is a demon or other evil entity.
  29. The Scoobies kind of help turn Jonathan into a bad guy.
  30. This show caters to the straight female gaze like whoa.
  31. Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world.
  32. Faith is hyper-sexualized needlessly.
  33. Slut shame!

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it. 

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True Blood Tuesday S01E05 “Sparks Fly Out”

Happy True Blood Tuesday. Prepare for more of my fascinating dog drama, as well as a surprise appearance by a kid who was supposed to be at Baba’s.

Download it here. Start it when the HBO logo and sound fade.

And if anyone can tell me what the book I’m thinking of at the end of the episode is? That would be super great if you could tell me. It’s driving me cra–TUCK EVERLASTING. GOD DAMNIT OF COURSE I REMEMBER IT NOW.