The Road Ahead is Paved for Your Plunder

I love TV commercials. As a 12-year-old, I used to mansplain the gender dynamics of Mr. Clean ads to my brother, my captive audience of one, as we waited for Daria to come back after a word from her sponsors. Commercials are a 30-second tap of the Zeitgeist. They need you to buy and they have limited time to convince you to do it, so they get right in the vein.

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Surfin’ USA

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My husband bought me a portable radio for my birthday. I’d asked for it partially so that I could listen to WNYC in the morning (yes, I know they have a live feed but it cuts out all the time and I don’t want to miss a second of Brian Lehrer’s love of bird songs or poignant questions for the Mayor). Also, coming from an earthquake state, I felt having a non-outlet dependent form of accessing news would calm my pandemic panic somewhat. So, he got me a radio, which fairly quickly became his radio as he spent the afternoon caressing its antenna and surveying all the stations.

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Piloting Your Anxiety

Ok friends, hold onto your butts because it looks like this ride is going to go on for a while. Yes, you’ll be navigating this ride from your couch. It’s gonna be bumpy. It’s gonna be uncertain. It’s gonna be your best friend calling you at 9:30pm on a Tuesday to extrapolate the current situation to a Poland in 1939 scenario. (That might not be your specific reality, but if you like, I can have Rikki call you to lament the loss of her theoretical lifeboat, aka Canada). You’re gonna need a pilot. My guess is you’re gonna need several otherwise that shit is gonna get to you. (It probably will anyway as it’s very difficult to maintain the line between informed and hysterical).

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Steamy Punks Reveal Orientalism in Carnival Row

God I love I steampunk (not in a creepy cosplay way…although, some of these outfits). I loved Carnival Row. I need to tell you this now before its ads vanish from my Instagram feed and the show becomes irrelevant and I’m forced to admit that really, it was only sort of tepidly good and that though prognosis looks positive for the making of a second season, likely that season will be closer to outright bad.

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The Avengers Movies or What Scares you about the American Military?

The opening salvo of the Avengers series features Tony Stark, an irreverent playboy genius who, having spent his life training that genius on the making of money, weapons and clever quips, is suddenly forced to reap what he’s sown. During a trip to showcase his most recent brainchild and the movie’s first pyrotechnics display, Tony is kidnapped and told to make this weapon for the enemy. Bluster and prowess have taken him off American soil, where they brought him so much success, and landed him in a violent reality he helped create. The course of the story — the story that launched now over a decade of marvelous Marvel movies (to be clear, I also think the X-Men series is wonderful, and we’re on decade three of that) — tracks Tony’s change of heart, initiated because his literal heart is threatened and forced to evolve.

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Stealing Bechdels

The Bechdel Test is laid out very simply. For those of you who don’t know it, there’s a whole website that explains, but basically it’s three rules that actually fit into one sentence: There are two or more female characters with names (1), who talk to each other (2), about something other than a man (3). That doesn’t seem that hard. That happens to me every day, even if just me calling my mom to talk about myself. But, as any explanation quickly makes clear, precious few movies make it into this category.

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A Star Wars Manifesto or A Belated Thank You to my 6th Grade Teacher

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In 6th grade, Ms. Russell taught us how to read. I don’t mean the phonics, Dick and Jane kind of reading. I had made it to 12 years old with successful elementary school basics, though my penmanship stopped improving at age 10. I mean read in a way that treats the text as more than the lazy river of plot. Continue reading “A Star Wars Manifesto or A Belated Thank You to my 6th Grade Teacher”

Accusing Blonde

Warning: This post contains extreme spoilers for the movie Atomic Blonde (which, let’s be honest, you weren’t seeing for the plot anyway).

A friend of mine recently taught a short course called “Accusing Women,” which he was kind enough to ask me to TA.  The theme of the class was the recurring literary trope of Potiphar’s wife, the woman who falsely accuses biblical hero Joseph of raping her when in fact she is the villain who came on to him and, after being rebuffed, decides to make him pay for it. (Oh the guile of women!)

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