Category Archives: Reviews and Commentary

Spring 2019: My Media Diary

This memo exists because it’s only March, and 2019 has already been the longest year on record, with February clocking in at the longest month of this or any year.  New Year holidays from any calendar are celebrated in my house as fresh-start milestones, and 1/1/19 did not work.  Turning over to the Year of the Earth Pig didn’t do it for me, either.  So I just celebrated Nowruz a new way: some inexpensive impulse purchases that were fun but still practical; buying small quantities of excellent cheese; keeping the house clean but doing a few special extras to improve our general lot; and re-reading an old favorite book.  (The book was Bingo, by Rita Mae Brown, and let’s just say we aged in different directions.  But the book is decades old, Miz Brown’s craft was still being honed, and I will forever love the world of Runnymede.)

The trials and tribulations of the beginning of the third year of the Trump administration are abundantly documented elsewhere, and my personal issues are heavier than usual, but better tolerated (for now) — due in part to my current most-effective escape mechanism: television.

UMBRELLA ACADEMY  was released on 2/15, and it was an unexpected groovy treat.  Klaus, Hazel, and Number Five are helping me keep the faith.

RuPAUL’S DRAG RACE (S11) premiered 2/28, and oh, did I ever need it! We just saw Ep3 and I agree with Ross:  Miss Vanjie is so fun to watch.  Even when she’s struggling, she is hilarious, gorgeous, and scene-stealing.  Even the stunning Scarlet Envy, who was everyone’s favorite to LOSE (except mine; she reminds me of Julie Newmar as Stupefyin’ Jones in Lil Abner) has risen.  Everyone is doing better than expected, except for poor darling Soju, who died but still inspires.

TIN STAR came back on 3/8.  It was a long wait, but the show is *so* lovely on all fronts, I don’t know which way to run.  Easy to pick out Tim Roth because of his stellar resume, but I’m pumping the setting as a character: the northern Rockies, my home.  This show gets (ahem) ten stars.  It alone will justify the Amazon Prime membership.

AMERICAN GODS returned 3/10.  Hella better than Season 1, at least judging by the first episode.

BILLIONS on 3/17 was a different story.  This show is always a thrill, but Things Changed at the end of the last season.  Feel free to call me immature, but I don’t enjoy Wendy as a Carmela Soprano type, unethical and okay with it.  I don’t enjoy Chuck as a powerless buffoon, struggling to be relevant with his parking pass, empty without his court and his vengeance. Of course, I would watch this show for Wags alone.

I also don’t enjoy Taylor as an adversary for Bobby — I always enjoy mentorship story lines and thought that one had farther to go.  But I sincerely appreciate that Bobby continues to refer to Taylor by their preferred pronoun, even though they are now enemies.  Modeling behavior in TV is the way a lot of Americans learn changing mores.

QUEER EYE dropped 3/15.  The first couple of episodes weren’t my favorite, but it was such a pleasure to see the gang once more that I paused it after Ep3 to space it out.  I do want to give a special shout out to Bobby, since we seem to share Exvangelical trauma, as evidenced by his Bible Belt version of naughty pics.  I fully respect his choice, and Tan is not wrong about his eyes.  I can vouch for the glory of a Missouri boy who wants to drag you into the tall grass, but you’re both in church, and all he can do for now is give you that hadouken look.

Looking forward to so many things:

4/5: CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA

4/14: GAME OF THRONES, which deserves a separate post on Things I Need To See Before The End, including the knighting of Brienne, and the knighting of Podrick; the confirmation that Varys is a Targaryen; the glorious death of Lady Mormont; the terrifying return of Sexy Jesus (aka Jaqen H’ghar), because a girl needs to hear that voice one more time; and all the family reunions, like coming home for your own funeral.  (I would also be intrigued to see Tyrion find out Tysha was not a whore, and to see if he let Jamie live after that.)

5/19: HAIR (the live musical)

5/31: DEADWOOD (my favorite series of all time, probably, including Rome, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and all the other glorious small-screen gems, ahem, and please let it not break my heart with a failure of writing.)

6/5: HANDMAID’S TALE, even though it is often too painful to watch, like Orange is the New Black.

6/6: XMEN

6/9: TONY AWARDS

7/4: STRANGER THINGS

And lord keep me alive to see the continuations of

OZARK

SUCCESSION

OITNB

THE DEUCE

HOMELAND

… basically, if I make it to the Emmy’s on 9/22, I’ll declare the year a qualified win based on survival alone.   People need enough wins, early in life, to learn that winning is possible; age can teach the lesson of survival from the other end.  Made it this long, didn’t I?  All I can say is that TV is helping me live right now.  Thank you, TV. ♥

By way of closing doxology, I give you Gay of Thrones with Jonathan Van Ness, courtesy of Funny or Die, by way of YouTube, presented through the good offices of WordPress.  It takes a village.

 

Prelude to a Prelude

Grad school:  completed.  Too much to say.  Careers and current events and curiosities will have to wait for another day, and they deserve a prelude of their own.  Right now, I am suffering PMS and perimenopause, another separate topic, but one related to this post’s irks and irritations (not including insomnia and a period that is irregular for the first time in my life).  This is just an incomplete list of the raft of things acting like a cheese grater on my nerves lately, some of them due to hormone transitions and Passages and ch-ch-ch-changes, if it’s not wrong to mix Gail Sheehy with David Bowie.  In no particular order:

BUFFALO HOT WINGS.  I love them when they’re good but they almost always suck.  First, a “drummette” isn’t a wing.  Second, if the meat is even slightly undercooked, my throat swells shut.  Third, soggy skin makes me want to have a frickin’ tantrum.  Fourth, the proper garnish is celery and carrot sticks, and that does not mean rusty celery and dried out so-called “baby” carrot knobs.  Fifth, blue cheese is normal and ranch is an option, but if you include that nasty eggy mayo in either, my throat swells shut per my second point.  Sixth and last and I cannot stress this enough: it is not a Buffalo wing if it does not come in a sauce that is a vinegar-based chili mixed with butter, such as Frank’s.  If you are ordering wings with sauces such as lemon pepper, BBQ, or Greek herbs, they are not Buffalo and they are not hot.  They are just wings.

TERMINOLOGY.  Eight million discussions of ideas on FB, particularly, have deteriorated before my very eyes in the past few weeks.  Today’s topic was meritocracy.  People get going on rants easily enough, but each person goes down his or her own rabbit hole and calls everyone else wrong.  It’s maddening.  Defining meritocracy (for example) is not the same as endorsing it.  Approving the idea is not approving the poor application of the idea.   Loathing the idea is not to presume there is something better — perhaps it’s something awful with no superior alternative.  It’s really a clash of imagined scenarios (best case, worst case, most common case, etc.,) the clash of realism and idealism, the clash of the just versus the kind.  And it always boils down to “I like it” or “I don’t like it”, for personal reasons — as most things do.

MY TESTIMONY MAY BE ANECDOTAL TO YOU BUT IT’S EVIDENCE TO ME.  What are you going to believe if statistics don’t support your body of experiences?  Some numbers on a page, which may or may not be correct or complete, or your own life?  The less first-hand knowledge people have, the more they seem to rely on statistics — when it comes to making other people do what they want.

CONTROL FREAKS.  Of course I am one.  And I am exceedingly stubborn.  But there is a huge difference between controlling my own self / life / environment and trying to control anyone else’s.  My life lately has a lot of people who are Very Very Disappointed in loved ones who are doing what they want to do rather than what my friends and family would like.  Example:  my mother is relatively young, for my family, but frail.  She relies heavily on one of my sisters and my brother-in-law for chores.  In exchange, they live rent-free on her property while they save for a house.  They both have demanding jobs and Mom also cooks a lot of their meals, takes care of their dogs, and runs interference.  Sister wants to move but feels Mom can’t survive without her.  Mom hates to see the kids go, but says “do what you need to do”.  Sis feels that this is passive aggression on Mom’s part; an attempt to guilt trip her into staying.  It isn’t.  It’s Sister feeling guilty for wanting to leave Mom and resenting it.  But she, as a control freak, is incapable of owning her feelings OR her decision.  Instead of copping to it and acting accordingly, she stays — and grouses — and blames Mom for the whole mess.

(Why won’t you do what I want you to?  Why are you keeping me from doing what I want to do?  — My dear, no one is stopping you.  Wash, rinse, repeat.)

CANDY CRUSH: level 275 is both boring and hateful, but if I don’t beat it, I can’t play new fun ones.  But playing a game I hate, for a purpose, seems like work.  Ugh.

PUSH NOTIFICATIONS SHOULD BE OPTIONAL.

BIG BANG THEORY:  ever since Howard and Bernadette married, things have gone horribly downhill.  The women are shrill jerks, the men are resentful whiners, there is drama where there should be fun, and the jokes are often cruel, nasty, sexist, misogynistic, and what they are not, unfortunately, is funny.  There are no more laughs whatsoever.  It’s a cringefest.  And it breaks my heart.

OTHER BANGS THEORY:  I rocked Bettie bangs for a while during my stay in the Bay Area, and they looked great…until my stylist magically forgot how to do them and gave me Cindy Brady bangs instead.  For the past year I have rocked self-inflicted bangs, and for the past few months I’ve been growing them out.  It seemed best, to allow the new stylist more options to even out the overcorrections and the general mangling.  But hair that is long enough to hang in my eyes but not long enough to put in the knot drives me up a wall and gives me terrible headaches.  My hair-around-the-house has been a style much like Zippy the Pinhead’s.  (Hairbands don’t work thanks to my perfectly cube-shaped head.)  It’s finally getting long enough to stay in the bun, and it occurred to me that I could just end the era of bangs in my life.  Cautious thrill, hopeful imagining, but no.  To borrow Tyra’s phrase, I don’t have forehead, I have fivehead — and instead of a flawless oval mug I have the front of the giant man-sized meat cube that passes for a head.   Wearing bangs in rain county, particularly when those bangs are stick-straight, clingy as lint, and subject to unflattering cowlicks and hairlines, is smart.  But not on this face.  Alas and alackaday.

THE LIST:  too much to do.  And I should be doing it while there is time.  But right now, puttering and not worrying about things, even things I really should worry about, is what I’m doing.  R&R is sometimes necessary, but it still doesn’t get the storage unit organized.

And I can feel a rant about work, licensure, school, experience, and all that jazz coming on, so I had better stop.  (I got a single B and the rest As and still didn’t make the Dean’s List.  Yeah, it makes me pouty.)  And there is a rant about aging, health, and my reservations concerning the “being fat is being healthy” crowd.  (Look, folks:  chubby girls can be lush and glamorous and attractive.  They should love themselves as much as anyone should and like anyone should not feel bad about their fat — it’s not a moral state, for crying out loud.  But I used to be a jock and I don’t like being out of shape and if one more person tries to tell me I have simply been brainwashed by a society that wants me to hate myself so it can sell me things, I will implode.  They tell me OF COURSE it’s healthy to weigh twice what I used to!, that it is not a strain on my joints, that it is not a stress on my internal organs, that fat is not the cause of illness — on and on.  It’s all I can do not to unleash a sternly worded, peer-reviewed-journal-citation-rich reply, along with a lesson in the difference between correlation and causation with regards to the assertion that body fat is unrelated to heart disease, cardiopulmonary disorders, or the family of cancers.  That is the sort of fact-skewing self-serving apologia functional alcoholics use to rationalize their overindulgence — after all, it’s not causing me to miss work, hock my watch, miss a rent payment, or beat my kids, so It’s Just Fine.  Maybe It’s Actually Better For You Even.)

But I digress.

Pinterest: a love-hate relationship

Pinterest has lots of useful reference tools, instruments, infographics, etc., for a budding social worker.  Yay.

Pinterest has the best of past and current humor, which provides instant, round-the-clock, therapeutic yuks to stressed-out grad students.  Yay.

Pinterest has obscure, international, rare and hard to find images (yay) but I worry about infringement of rights and uncredited images (boo, uh-oh, eep).  It’s still wonderful (and more fruitful than Google Image Search) to find images of my hometown and ancestral villages at different points in history (and other rich stuff like that).

Pinterest has good-hearted folks with poorly documented assertions.  Sigh.

(I don’t want to go on Snopes patrol, but when folks with good intentions and sympathetic politics spout BS, it must be corrected or it makes the team look stupid.  But it’s easy to let go, since most of the problematic stuff is just trying to be heartwarming.  A named bullfighter “overcome with emotion who can no longer torment animals” is actually a completely different bullfighter who is engaging in a standard gesture of defiance and contempt for the bull, etc.)

Pinterest has evil-hearted folks with poorly documented assertions.  Bloody!  I don’t even know how they turn up in my feminist, left-wing feed, but the racist, sexist, religionist, every-other-awful-thing-ist junk abounds.  Strangely, those pages always seem to include lots of really misinformed health information (Cancer Cells Can’t Survive Without Sugar!) that are eerily reminiscent of the Weekly World News.  Sometimes these nutballs pick fights on my posts and it is both interesting and horrible to have political arguments with strangers.  Go get your own page!  Shoo!

But the thing Pinterest whips out that baffles me most is the strange bedfellows.  I posted a ludicrous snake-oil tract from the early 20th c. about Atomic Energy And Fasting (God’s Power for YOU!) strictly for its camp value.  I thought it was a scream.  Every single person who has repinned it put it on a sincere, very earnest board about the power of Christian fasting in intercessory prayer.  (Okaaaay…but…oh, well, never mind.)

The right wing nutjobs (the kind who blame Obama if it rains) are also often anti-cancer nutjobs (honey cures it, but sugar deprivation also cures it, whatever) who post at length about the evils of Monsanto.

The anti-gay folks who sneer at liberals for boycotting Chik-Fil-A but not OPEC (who operates under anti-gay Sharia law) also, themselves, hate Sharia law, hate OPEC, and drive cars just as much as liberals.  (Do not try to mention that driving is a work/life necessity and fast food is not.  Do not try to explain that while OPEC is the main source of petroleum for the US, domestic and Canadian fuel still make up a great deal of what we use.  Do not engage them at all.  It’s futile.)

But for all its freaks and fallacies and Photoshop, I love Pinterest.  It’s a treasure chest where people put things they find beautiful and meaningful and funny.  And when I find some stranger whose boards are a lot like my own, I feel connected and thrilled.  When someone on the bus is reading a book I love, I wonder if she’s being entertained or bored or offended or baffled.  On Pinterest, I know for sure, because she has pinned it to a board called “Fictional Worlds / True Love” and it’s right between Narnia and Earthsea.  The books on that board I haven’t read yet suddenly shoot to the top of my library list.  And there are other boards, for movies, TV, clothes, style, pets, humor, work, food, crafts, life hacks, travel, personal history, world history, pin up gals, art, war, animals, science, politics, tradeskills, and all the pursuits of humanity.

And if anyone sneers that I should get out more, it’s true.  But until I can travel to a 12th century battleground, 1970s Vegas, the British Museum, or that geothermal park in Iceland, I still want to look at pictures and get to know strangers who got to go themselves — or want to, just like me, and like me, and like me.

RuPauls’ Drag Race: Comments

Is it just me, or do some of these ladies remind you of past contestants?

Alisa Summers, a real stunner, reminded me of that Jersey bitch from last season, with the fierce bod and a blind spot for everything but how pretty she was — Carmen Carrera.  Who?  Me?  Eliminated?  But I’m so pretty.

Madame LaQueer = the looks of Mimi Imfurst, and the personality of Delta Work.

And again, we have the clusters of showgirls, tasty and satisfying meat & potatoes drag, an impersonator, and the self-made Creatures category.

Which is not to say that they can’t be brilliant, not at all.  They may well meet or exceed the standards set in previous seasons.  But I was really hoping that in addition to these breeds of cat, we’d see some stylish gender masala, more like Ongina, Raven, and Nina Flowers.  Gender neutral art persons are wonderful, but I love mixing it up from the deep end, too.  That high contrast paradox of rich masculinity and aggressive feminine signifiers is PO-TENT.

My great wish, which Santa might have ignored, is please, please:  more wit!  Pandora Boxx and Jujubee were delicious.  Raja invested great wit and imagination into the competition itself (really thoughtful presentation, using her traits and talents to best effect, etc.) (and completely deserved to win), but not so much into one liners — although, to be honest, that would have developed persona contrary to the finished product, sometimes; a bad idea.  No demerits, then.  Manila Luzon had brains for days, and was very witty, but in a shallow, bitchy person, it can only count for so much.

This season, we have some fine kinds who show more gracious poise  than one-liners — Milan, Latrice Royale, Jiggly Caliente — and they have great heart, which makes me root for them, despite a lack of snappy patter.  But if the only wisecrackers we have this season are Creatures, I’ll be sorry, since there seems to be a lot of Manila-style bitchiness in that corner of the room.  Throwing shade is very tiresome if it’s not more funny than mean.

Special mention goes to Jiggly Caliente, who earned, most beautifully, both halves of her name at the LS4YL.  I was delighted that she didn’t have to go up against Kenya Michaels, who is not just a beauty, but a damn fine dancer.  And yet I was sorry to see Alisa Summers go.  Her looks might have been her Achilles’ heel as well as her strength, but I still could look at her all day.

And finally, kudos to Shangela, for being able to laugh at herself.  This might be her excuse to put “hallelu” to rest forever.  One may hope.

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