teevee

The Unbearable Brightness of Seeing

When I was a kid, I remember my parents renting a mini-series called The Jewel in the Crown from our local video store. It was a prestige drama made in England, with fancy people in it like Geraldine James and Tim Piggott-Smith, and it had won loads of awards. The main reason they got it was because it was about colonial India and, although it was full of white people in almost every role, there were actually a few Indian actors. Actual Indian people who would play Indian people. Like, speaking roles and everything. The tv people were going to let some of us have screen time and say words, y’all. Stop the presses! It was a big deal. I remember feeling this sense of dread before we watched it, both for myself, and for my parents. We wanted those Indian roles to be good, those Indian actors to hit it out of the park, and for the script to not dehumanize them and therefore us. Please, let it not be terrible. It doesn’t even have to be great. Just let it not be terrible.

Recently, I heard the hosts on the NPR podcast Codeswitch use the term “rep sweats.” This term, as far as I can tell, was coined by writer Jenny Yang. In this article for Flavorwire about the show Fresh Off the Boat, she is quoted as saying “you get the ‘rep sweats’…[Asians] are so invisible, every time you have the opportunity to see yourself on TV, you hold your breath.” From that, co-host of Codeswitch Gene Demby adds his version of this feeling of POC-specific nervous anticipation: “I don’t know if I like this, but I need it to win.” This is what my parents and I were wobbling with as we popped that VHS in. I don’t know if I’ll like this, but I need it to win. Rep sweats. It is the perfect term for that feeling.

I know that I am becoming ever more ancient by the day, but let me remind you that this Jewel in the Crown viewing was not that long ago. It was in the late 80s. But this was a time when we never saw Indian people on tv, ever. I remember my mom calling me in my dorm room a few years later when I was in college just to tell me to turn on the tv because the barista on Frasier was Indian, and she got a line every once in a while. I would not be surprised if other Indian Americans my age remember the Frasier barista or had similar moments with their families. The character didn’t have a name, I don’t think, and she never had a story line, and she talked maybe a couple times per season, but she was there. I don’t know how to convey how much of a buzz we got from this. It was like seeing a shooting star. Did you see that? Just for a minute, it was there!

Although we are living in a time where we have a little bit more to go on than the barista at Cafe Nervosa, it is still a small handful, rare enough for the family alert system to go off for each and every one. In fact, I can probably name off every Indian person who has ever had a role in a major American tv show. Not probably. I could do it. And it would only take a few minutes. However, I think I may have, in 2017, for the very first time, had an experience that I need a term for, like rep sweats, but not.

Some months ago, I got a text from a family member saying: GIRL DID YOU HEAR MASTER OF NONE SEASON TWO IS COMING OUT?!?!?! The Indians-on-tv alert system occurs in all caps text format these days. In the weeks that followed, I started seeing publicity about it, and the descriptions alone sounded pretty great. Then it came out, and the alert system legit blew up. I got text after text over the next week or so. “OMG, have you seen it?” and “I cried, it was so great!” and “exceeded expectations, dude” and “it’s not just good, it’s maybe the best” and “maybe some of the best tv that’s ever happened?” and many more like it. My community had gone from I don’t know if I like this, but I need it to win to simply we need this to win, and it doesn’t just win. It fucking MURDERS.

I read a bunch of reviews, I listened to podcasts where people talked about it, I listened to interviews of the creators, writers, actors. I looked at all the plot summaries, and listened to my friends talk about their favorite parts. I didn’t care about spoilers. After a while, I knew all about every single episode of Master of None in detail, from beginning to end. But I hadn’t watched it.  I couldn’t watch it. Time went by, and more time. “Have you seen it YET?” my peeps kept asking. I kept putting it off because of this new feeling I was having. Not rep sweats. I wasn’t dreading feeling let down. I felt a giddy sort of heightened sensitivity. Like I had to prepare myself, emotionally, to see it. Like I was going to experience a way of feeling representational joy that I maybe had never had before. Having some part of my worldview portrayed on tv felt like being in the sun for the first time after a lifetime of being in a downpour. Exciting, lovely, beautiful, but one doesn’t just run out into the sun like that. I had to marinate in the idea of it before actually experiencing it. Does that sound dramatic? It was. Have you seen it yet?…Give me a minute, y’all. I need a minute.

Part of what was happening in my mind was that this was more than just seeing another Indian person star in a tv show. We have a couple of those out there already, doing amazing work that I love. But this time the representation was about a specificity regarding Indian-American-ness, about a sensibility, an entire lens and way of being in the world. This is what felt new.  I am not trying to say that Master of None precisely represents me or my family. The lists of ways we are totally different is long. But the pieces that feel familiar make up more familiarity than I have ever gotten from American pop culture in my whole life. Consuming pop culture for me is always an act of building a bridge in order to connect, and all I am saying is, this time I still had to build a bridge, but the bridge was shorter. It was the shortest one I have built yet.

So, I don’t know what you call this feeling I was having, but I do know that as delicious as it was, I wait for the day that I won’t feel this anymore.  Some point when there are all sorts of representations out there and it will be an everyday feeling to see them. When the brown peeps alert system is no longer in use. When seeing a really great rep doesn’t feel like squinting at the sun. Now that I’m seeing some sunshine, I feel like the rain could actually clear up. I needed a minute to prepare, but now that I’ve seen this, I’m ready.

 

 

Not Dead Yet

Before we do this, let’s listen to this. TRIBE 4EVAH y’all.

Ok. So I made a list of 50 pop cultures that I loved in 2016, but before I tell you about them, let’s close out this ball-kicker of a year right quick.

There was this one time, when my dad was still alive but very sick, where I talked to him on the phone and I said, with concern: how are you? And he said, in an unexpected sort of joke: NOT DEAD YET! And we laughed hard, kind of surprised. It was so not funny, but yet, jeez louise, it was. It may have been the last truly hearty laugh we shared, pops to kiddo, kiddo to pops.

In the time since he’s been gone, there are a few things that have changed about me. For one, my sense of urgency has gone way, way up. I want my days to be as full, my eyes as open, my mind as awake as can be (insert Morgan Freeman voice get-busy-livin quote here). Life is so, so short, y’all. Time is ticking and we are in a sprint. No dicking around! And now, with the world all fucked up and on fire like it is, my shit is even more ramped up in the urgency department. So, now is the time to say the things I want to say, hear the things I need to hear, do the things that are right to do, find the joy, see the art, create, be a good friend, face the painful stuff, listen, make justice happen, organize, and love: truly and deeply and persistently.

My sweetheart and I will sometimes clink glasses and say to each other, as my dad said to me: “NOT DEAD YET!” like, instead of “cheers.” It’s still funny. And not. I look at that beautiful, kind, steadfast partner of mine and feel deep down in my gut how many years we have been together (it’s a lot of years), how fucking great he is, how short it all seems already, how much I want time to stop for us, and how much it can’t. We have things to do, all the things. So let’s get doing.


50 Pieces of Art That Gave Me Joy in 2016

Lizzo Coconut Oil EP is perfect.

And speaking of perfect: Moonlight.

Atlanta! Donald Glover is the only Donald I want to deal with, honestly. See also: Have Some Love, Childish Gambino.

Blk Girl Soldier by Jamila Woods is the kind of song that makes me feel better about the world, which maybe you need right now too, just guessing?

Insecure. Watch the first season and then let’s fight about how we thought things should have turned out.

Your Best American Girl, Mitski. “Your mother wouldn’t approve of how my mother raised me, but I do, I finally do.”

Queen Sugar is beautiful on so many levels but I will just say this: is there a finer man than Ralph-Angel? Good god. FOINE.

Kiss the Sky by Jason Derulo is like, primo wedding reception dancing music. Your kid brother and your grandma will love it.

The night I went from big fan to rabid Beyhive was during the Formation concert tour.

Nadiyah Hussein from Great British Baking Show, I JUST LOVE HER, thas all.

Cranes in the Sky: is there a Solangehive because I would like to join that also.

Two Dope Queens. Your dream BFFs. Or mine, anyway.

I am so Sorry the Beebs makes bangers but we have to stop fronting like he don’t.

Sooo Many White Guys podcast. I may have a medium-to-heavy obsession with Phoebe Robinson.

All We Got, Chance the Rapper. Actually the whole dang album, front to back. Hiphop artists are really bringing the concept of a cohesive album back.

There are so many ways our shit is broken and most of them intersect in OJ: Made in America.

Too Good, Drake ft Rihanna. Work-chair head-bob dancing, wut wut.

I saw Ghostbusters in a movie theater full of 13 year olds, which was kind of the best way to see it.

My parents came from tiny places and did things outside of power structure expectations. Queen of Katwe made me think about that.

Lie 2 My Face. Kari Faux takes me to a very JJ Fadd place, and I love that place. I could live in that place.

Mainstream American Comic, Hari Kondabolu. “Some people ask me why, when I do impressions of my parents, I don’t do their accents, and the answer of course, is ‘fuck you, that’s why.'”

If you said goodbye to some people in your life this year, like I did, Alaska by Maggie Rogers fits the bill.

SJP is so great at being horrible in Divorce. Actually everyone in this show: GARBAGE. Plus the 70s soundtrack is to die.

All Night, SG Lewis. On repeat.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople. THIS KID.

Who’s a muhfucking Starboy? Me.

Loving. This basically happened five minutes ago, history-wise, and we better not forget it.

Spotify science tells me that I listened to Into You by Ariana Grande a lot, and I can’t argue with that. I apologize in advance to those who go to karaoke with me in the future.

Don’t Think Twice. Or as I like to think of it: “I regret everything, party of one.”

Hotline Bling, covered by Ceresia. This was my walk-into-work-from-busstop-song for a few solid months.

Sister Wives. I CAN GIVE YOU A CLASS ON WHY THIS IS A GREAT SHOW BUT YOU WON’T BELIEVE ME SO JUST FORGET IT.

What am I doing Here is a universal feeling sometimes, amiright.

Weiner. Ugh, this guy. But also, ugh, this system. And also, ugh, us, all of us.

Southside with You. People of color don’t get a lot of movies that just show us just dating, romancing, or talking about things as the main plot points.

Death, Sex, and Money are things we should talk about more.

There are lots of things to criticize the Kardashians about, but most people focus on the wrong ones entirely. I hold all the knowledge on this, trust me.

This is cheating because although I Am Not Your Negro was in limited release in 2016 I will not see it until its wider release in 2017 but I CANNOT WAIT.

13th. As an American, this is devastating, required watching.

Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce on BET awards. HOOOOO LORDY

Luke Cage. Bulletproof hoodie-wearing black man superhero? HECK YES.

Get all your cathartic rant needs met via Full Frontal w Samantha Bee and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Please watch The Fits so I have someone to talk about it with.

Judge John Hodgman is usually right about everything, is the thing, and while always funny, is also often moving in his wisdom.

I Can’t Give Everything Away, David Bowie. *sob*

And this wasn’t released in 2016 but Sometimes It Snows In April. *double sob*

Two days after the election my friends and I had a religious experience dancing to Freedom 90 where George Michael convinced us for a few minutes that we would maybe be ok. *triple sob STOP DYING, CHILDHOOD*

Another Round podcast. If you haven’t listened to these, I am jealous that you get to start.

Lion ALL OF THE TISSUES IN THE WORLD HAVE BEEN USED BY ME BECAUSE OF THIS MOVIE AND MY FACE HAS LEAKED OFF COMPLETELY

Would you like some joy? Here’s some joy. Down by the Singing Sea video by Walter Martin.

Hey, everyone, I guess this is in question these days but SCIENCE IS A THING, LIKE A REAL THING. Listen to Story Collider for stories about it.

2016 out, 2017 in.

Consumables #158 Watching: Gilmore Girls Revival

I have been so busy being preoccupied with, you know, the world coming to an end, that I neglected to talk to you about the Gilmore Girls revival. If you haven’t seen it yet, I may be about to do some mild spoilering, so hold onto your butts. I have thoughts that I just cannot hold inside. Jerry, I’m BUSTING! (Two 90s references right off the bat, for some reason. UH DOUBLE UP UH UH! Oops, there’s another one. My inner Gilmore is showing itself).

Because the interwebs have already chewed up most angles (Emily turns out to be the best Gilmore, Jess OF ALL PEOPLE turns out to be among the most likable, Logan’s rich douchey steampunk friend group is truly insufferable, etc.), I shall spare you my play-by-play although trust me it’s on the tip of my tongue and I pity the foo’ who I corner at an upcoming social gathering because odds are high that I will get into it, all of it.

The thing that bothered me the most about the Gilmore Girls revival is that it suffered from a thing I call Takedown of Uppity Ladies (TOUL). This is when a tv show gives us smart, witty, confident women and then the writers do everything they can do to bring them low. To teach them a lesson for thinking they are so smart. And, by extension I suppose, teach us a lesson too. Let me give you a prime example of TOUL: Sex and the City. Four confident women, successful in their careers, sexually liberated, in control! But, not so fast. Over the course of the six seasons, each woman learns that everything she defined about herself was wrong, because ladies, pshht, what do we know? Independent Miranda thought putting herself first in life was the core of who she was? NAH all she needed was to move to Brooklyn, a place she has always despised, and devote her life to caregiving for everyone, including her cheating ass husband, and put herself last. Bless her heart for thinking that she wanted something different; what did she know? What did any of them know? NOTHING, BC LADIES BE DUMB Y’ALL, ESPECIALLY THE SMART ONES. Good thing the writers are here to set them all straight.

This is different than a character having flaws, or a character learning and growing. Leslie Knope learns how to navigate her job, how to deal with being an intense person, how to collaborate better. She is not perfect. But, the writers never try to convince us that she isn’t as smart as she knows she is. Even characters as warped as Liz Lemon or Alicia Florrick get to stumble around making mistakes, but the point of their story arcs isn’t to show us how much they aren’t as accomplished as they know themselves to be.

Which brings me back to the ladies on the Gilmore Girls. We loved Lorelai because she was scrappy and opinionated and she dumped her rich parents to work her way up to being her own boss in her own career. Except, it turns out, none of those things. None of her coworkers want to work with her anymore, apparently, and she doesn’t know anything about anything in her life: how should she save her business? Is she happy with the love of her life? Does she want to have a baby? Does she want to go hiking? NOTHING SHE KNOWS NOTHING. Plus, she’s mean. She is mean to the other Wild ladies. She fat shames at the pool. The cool mom is, we find out, so deeply uncool.

And then there’s Rory. Ok, sure, she was a little Special Snowflakey as a teen, and also a little lost in a teenagery way, but we rooted for her because she was a brainiac- at least, book smart, and working on the other kinds of smart. All the nerdy ladies in the audience loved that she read books and thought school was important ansd wanted to get a great education. Except now none of it has born any fruit. She is terribly spolied (just expecting her fam to put her up indefinitely), and doesn’t seem to know anything about her career (showing up to a job meeting with no pitch ideas?), and is rude to the town that she used to love so much (“I’M NOT BACK!”), and is still sleeping with LOGAN just because she doesn’t know what else to do.

And do not get me started about how Paris is left to pathetically have a meltdown about a high school boyfriend and how Lane is trapped in a marriage to a man who refers to their children as having “Korean vitriol” because my NOPES are so giant that you will surely be crushed by the weight of them as they fall out of my mouth.

If you would have said that a thing I would see in the Gilmore Girls revival was misogyny, I would not have believed it. This show is about women who love each other, love their town, and for all their misadventures, are smart and competent. We want them to continue to be smart and competent. My question is: why weren’t they allowed to be? It felt like the writers were trying to punish them for something. And by taking them down a notch, I felt diminished as well.

PS EMILY WAS GREAT THO

Consumables #156: Watching Nostalgia

I am sorry to be that tiresome dingus who constantly talks about the weather but it was in the mid-90s for the past few days in this city of reptilian vampires and people were Fer-eaking Out. I did my utmost to keep my glee to myself, and I have done well with that, but I will tell you, my close personal peeps, that it was glorious to me. As my dear Mary Berry would say on the Great British Baking Show, I am getting an even bake through and through and it’s quite delightful.

Aside from evenly baking, I have been having an attack of the nostalgias lately. There is something about hot weather that makes me think of childhood summers when I lived in less mild places, so maybe that is why. It also just so happens that I have watched, read, heard some nostalgic things as well. Such as what? Such as these.

Stranger Things: Has there ever been a piece of art that is so meticulously constructed to pluck a certain generation’s nostalgia bone than this? Methinks not. However, I have a confession to make, and it is this. I did not, even as a kid, like Stephen Spielberg movies. Not ET, not Goonies, not even Stand By Me. BEFORE YOU THROW YOUR TOM-AH-TOES: I am not saying I actively disliked them. I thought they were fine. As an adult I can look back and deconstruct that perhaps this was because Spielberg wasn’t really connecting with my arty POC girl heart, but that could be hindsight. All I know is that I was a little girl that was starved for representation, and when I say starved I mean I was WRINGING rep where there was none to be had. Like, I decided Jaclyn Smith was my favorite Charlie’s Angel because she was the most tan. Also, when I read the Anne of Green Gables books I was FIXATED on the fact that Diana had black hair. OMG BLACK HAIR IT SAYS SHE HAS BLACK HAIR I HAVE BLACK HAIR ALSO PLEASE KEEP TALKING ABOUT THE BLACK HAIR. There was not a brown person to be found hardly anywhere so I was grasping at straws. Most of the time, again due to lack of options, it was hair-related. I can name off for you all of the pop culture black-haired touchstones of my youth (Dear Veronica from Archie Comics: in the words of Whitney Houston IIIIIIIIIIII-eeeee-IIIIIIIIII will always love yoooooooooo). Anyway. My point is that although the nostalgia in Stranger Things definitely worked on me, it was a weird feeling. Like, I loved it because it reminded me of being a kid, but also I felt that same disconnect. The same one that I feel with John Hughes movies, by the way (DON’T THROW THOSE TOMATOES I SAID).

Don’t Think Twice: This is that one starring Mike Birbiglia and Keegan-Michael Key, et al and the first thing that I have to say about it is that I can NEVER REMEMBER the gee-dee name of this movie. I keep wanting to tell people to go see it but I’m like: Stop Thinking Now? Who’s Thinking Twice? Twice Thinking Tales? Stop Thinking Sense? Thinks and Thinksability? Ugh, my brain. So, a thing you may have forgotten about me because I am decripit and can barely remember my life before librarianship anymore so why should you remember it, is that there was a time, in my youth, where I was a bonafide theater person. I worked in the THEE-AH-TAH, like in a for reals way, and trod boards and was pretty good at it and comedy was my thing and I loved it with all of my heart. Maybe not as much as I loved the career I had before that as a tippy toe dancer, but pretty dang close. It was such a beautiful time in my life, I could cry if I think on it too much, which I kind of don’t. This movie is about people who love that stuff too, and how some of them succeed and some of them don’t and some of them just decide to quit. It’s the Some of Them Decide to Quit part that pretty much ripped my guts out. OH HI, MIDDLE AGED REGRETS MOVIE, WHAT, NO I AM JUST CUTTING ONIONS IN THE MOVIE THEATER, NEVER YOU MIND.

The Get Down: I put off watching this because honestly I wasn’t convinced that I needed to know what Baz Luhrmann wanted to say about hip hop. However, given the setting, the topic, the actors OF COURSE I was going to watch it. I am only two episodes in and it is a hot melodramatic mess, but sort of in a good way, I think? I guess I don’t care about the story that much. I do care that the 70s hip hop fashion is on POINT, and I do care that there are dance battles, and I do care that there is a sort of Kung Fu wielding graffiti superhero, I guess? These are things that will make me happy, despite how much scenery is being chewed every second of the dang thing. I am going to stick with it, at least through the first season. It makes me want to wear bell bottoms and halter tops, which in my parlance is an endorsement.

That’s a lot of nostalgia items, is it not? Let’s add one more. A jam from the turn of the 21st century, still on heavy rotation on my current playlists. Takes me back. So good.

Angie Stone, Wish I Didn’t Miss You

 

Mani-clobber

Hey BooBoos! I have so many things to share with you that I am CLOGGED. My blogging needs to Ex-Lax and Chill. Where to begin? IDK. Let’s just dunk ourselves into it. (Can I make these opening sentences sound any more vaguely disgusting? I AM DOING MY BESTICLE).

I took myself to the local manicurist establishment the other day. I am not one to do that very often because I can pretty much do my own nail paintings to my required level of satisfaction and regular manicuring seems like fancy lady Mrs Howell times to me, but I had a stressful week and wanted to do something nice for myself. I went to a place near my house that had good online reviews and asked for a plain manicure which came with a hand, arm, and shoulder massage. And you guys! That massage was the kind of massage where the lady was prrrrrrrrretty much beating me up. I also am not a big massage connoisseur (see Mrs Howell cheapskate comment above) so maybe I just do not understand such things but OMG. WHY AM I PAYING FOR THIS PERSON TO SMITE MY RUIN UPON THE MOUNTAINSIDE. I came here for sparkles on my nails. I did not see “reenact the Rocky-in-the-meatlocker-scene with yourself playing the role of The Meat” listed on the website. YEESH.

So many pop cultural goings on! First of all, what I really want to do is a close read of the Swift/Kimye sitch but I shall spare you the agony. The problem is that my knowledge and interest in the Kardashians is really at genius levels at this point; I mean I am the Neil De-Grasse-Tyson of Kardashians and no one else I know is into it and so conversing about it is too hard. Like, you know how a movie will come out and DeGrasse-Tyson will be all “THAT ISN’T HOW SPACE WORKS, SANDRA BULLOCK IN ‘GRAVITY'” and everyone sort of rolls their eyes because that’s annoying, Uncle Neil, but also Uncle Neil KNOWS WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT AND WE DO NOT. That is me. Only I am Uncle Neil and the Kardashians are space and my friends are Sandra Bullock. Someone will say something about a Kardashian and I will say “ACTUALLY WHAT KIM DID THERE WAS SUBVERT THE RACIALIZED DYNAMIC OF SWIFT’S COMMENTS ABOUT KANYE IN A FLAWLESSLY THOUGHT OUT AND IMPECCABLY TIMED WAY AND LET ME TELL YOU MORE ABOUT THIS AND I CAN ALSO DRAW DIAGRAMS WITH TIMELINES IF THAT HELPS YOU” and then people want to body check me, manicurist style. So, just know that I want to talk more about this but I am going to stop now AS A FAVOR TO YOU. Trust me, you should thank me. I have a problem.

I went to the movies to see some ghosts being busted last week. It was super fun, and it was pretty cool to see the stars– who usually do much more over-the-top kooky, adult-oriented humor–skew their comedy to a younger, PG-13 audience. I wish I would’ve had this movie when I was 10.

Also seen by these eyeballs: Bed, Bath, and Star Trek Beyond. People who like Star Trek movies like it through various access points, and for me the main one is the relationships between the characters. The more they get to interact and develop nuance, the happier I am. The recent reboots have done this pretty solidly, and I have to say that although I liked this one a lot, it didn’t have as much of this as I wanted. That’s the down side. The upside was that there was a lot of fun chasey chase and explodey booms that were quite enjoyable, and also John Cho. I like a large heaping dose of John Cho, which, I know, so original.

If all that weren’t good enough! Great British Baking Show is BACK. BISCUITS, SPONGES, AND EVEN BAKES FOR ALL. The parade of colorful jackets on one Ms Mary Berry, the thoughtful, always kind but always tough judging, the disgusting looking food (NO PRUNES IN MY BREAD THANK YOU), mwah! So great.

So much more to share, but Ima get going for now. Summer is in full swing, y’all! I hope you are having a ball and not letting any manicurists wallop your neckbone. Here’s my current jam for your earball pleasure.

Good as Hell, Lizzo

 

 

Take care

It has been a hard, raw week in our world, my darlings. How are you all doing? I hope you’re taking care, and that goes double for my POC brothers and sisters. It’s a traumatizing time and the shit just keeps coming, and for those who see times like these and galvanize, organize, and push even harder for positive change, please take some time to decompress, take care of yourself, lean on your loved ones, clear your head as much as you can.

It can be a fraught thing to have a little project like this here blog, whose reason for existing is pure silliness, during times when nothing feels worthy of lightness. I kept thinking about writing, but I didn’t want to because of the heaviness in my own heart, so this week just went by without any drafts being started. It’s been a busy week anyway- my niece came to visit from the east coast, plus I had a nasty cold all week at the same time, and interwoven into that was what felt like a frenzied loop of checking twitter and other sources for news, reading, checking in with friends, writing legislators, making calls- all the things we do to try to push back against the wave of despair and worry that are so much larger than any one of us at times like this. Why would I take any time out of my week to write you some ha has about Veep, or whatever? It seems absurd.

Today was a day that I took some time for myself to try and stop the cycle of reading, checking, doing, and acting and remember that it’s ok, and healthy, to try to think about something else. Unplug from the news. Take a walk. See a movie. Hug and kiss someone. Watch lots of car karaoke on youtube, if you must know. We need that.

So, in that spirit, I’m posting some things that I took in today, and yes, my goofball tone will stay in tact. I flatter myself I am sure, but I’d like to think that checking in with this corner of the internets could function as a sliver of that self-care space that you might need. We’ve got a lot of work out there in the world to keep ourselves informed and moving forward, but in between, I am here for a few seconds of dippy joy.

Love and Basketball: I love this movie so much that I don’t even care that it has sportage bouncey ball at the center of it. Monica is a basketball star who falls in love with her childhood neighbor Quincy, a basketball hotshot in his own right. I think what is missing for me in most romantic movies is the sense that the couple are truly friends, equals, and partners in their relationship and this one has this in piles without losing any sexiness. Plus! Sweet 80s and 90s hip hop and r&b soundtrack is just TO DIE FOR. Watch it and feel better about things.

Love, Loss, and What We Ate: This memoir by Padma whats-her-face from Top Chef gave me the rep sweats (THANK YOU NPR’S CODESWITCH FOR GIVING ME THIS PERFECT TERM. Rep sweats = that anxiety you get as a person from an underrepresented group who sees someone on tv or movies that is from your group and you want them to be great SO BADLY). I could have gotten past a lot of things for Padma, but you guys she went and insulted Fiji, where my folks are from. An Indian-American lady (yay, I identify with that!) takes time out of her life to make a very specific reference to Indians from Fiji (gasp! a level of specificity that never happens! REP SWEATS ENGAGE, WHAT WILL SHE SAY), and then all she does is talk about how people from Fiji are coarse, speak terribly, are embarrassingly backward, hate women (WHAT) and beat their children (DOUBLE WHAT). EXSQUEEZE ME PADMA BUT YOU NEED TO SHUT UPPPPPPPPPP. Ignorantly shit-talking an entire culture is the sign of a horrible person, so Padma, my rep sweats were warranted. You are an epic, epic fail.

Clue: Tim Curry as the butler, Michael McKean as the nerdy scientist, Leslie Ann Warren as a Susan Sarandon doppleganger, ALL GREAT. If for nothing else, watch this just for the line where Madeline Kahn talks about how mad she is.

2 Dope Queens podcast: I could not love it more and am now just mad that I listened to them all too fast and I have no more to hear. SAVOR THEM.

Hip Hop Family Tree comics series: Chock full of hip hop artists from mega stars to deeper cuts, this will make you want to make playlist after playlist.

Mr. Robot: Despite the feeling that comes over me when I am watching this that it could’ve been written by a really smart but overly serious ex-boyfriend of mine in college (IT’S ALL CORPORATE CONSUMERISM, MAN, WE ARE ALL PAWNS, NO LISTEN) this enjoyably conspiracy-ish world of smart weirdos who are all half terrible but not wrong about things (oh hey, like that ex-bf was) is fun to binge, just in time for the next season to come out later this month.

Refill your souls, friends.

 

Consumables #154 Game of Barca Loungers

First of all, the weather people in my city are fucking fibbers right now, ALL OF THEM. (Whoa, I am coming in hot, guys, but it’s been a frustrating week on a few levels and I am going to project it onto weatherpeople of the world, as is only right). I get up and look at the dumdum weather report and get dressed and go outside and my knickers grow icicles on them throughout the day and I am SICK OF IT. It’s not that it’s chilly that bothers me. It’s the LIES. SO MANY METEOROLOGY LIES.

Can we talk about Game of Thrones for a second? I feel like there are two types of viewers of this show. One group of people who love it and touch it and feel it and hug it. Another group of people are like 50% in and 50% just like why am I even watching this. (Don’t you love it when someone sets up their own opinion like it’s actually a whole group of people rather than just saying that it’s them? That’s what I just did. I am the people who is only 50% in and I do not know of any others. It’s not people. It’s just meople.)

Here are the things I do not understand about Game of Thrones. I shall try to do this with no spoilers because people go apeshit about spoilers.

Timelines. What in the what is going on with the Game of Thrones calendar? Like, people are traveling, most often by foot or if they are lucky by horse or boat, across kingdoms CONSTANTLY and yet no time seems to really have gone by. Shouldn’t that stuff take months? When juxtaposed with other scenes, things happen too fast. People are just popping over from one kingdom to the next like they are all in the same cul de sac.

When there are big battle scenes, how are hordes of battalions sneaking up on each other? Like, there will be a battle going on in an open meadow (who mows the meadow in prep for big battles?) and right at a crucial moment another army of people will SWOOP IN and surprise everyone. Like, how is no one in the original battle noticing that from a mile away? Also, how does an army pull off a surprise like that at just the right moment? Often the surprise army is supposedly coming from another kingdom (see also: TIMELINE PROBS) but yet they are busting in on just the right day and time? I once threw a surprise party for a friend with 20 people and I could barely wrangle that up on time.

When there is a crowd scene or a battle scene or any large group scene, people are always speechifying to the crowd. Ain’t no lavalier mics in Westeros  or what have you so nobody can hear that stuff! PEOPLE OF WINTERFELL! I KNOW YOU CANNOT HEAR ME BUT I SHALL GIVE YOU DIRECTIONS ANYHOO! [cheering]

Riding dragons, Neverending-Story style. Are the spikey parts on dragon backs soft? They look not soft. Seems like you would want to rock a side-saddle, is all I am saying. OR MAYBE YOU DON’T, AM I RIGHT LADIES

I feel extra sorry for the characters that just get dragged on for five minutes just as a murder-plot device. Like poor Rickon. Nobody watching you gives a shit, Rickon. (I guess that was a mild spoiler, but if you haven’t seen this episode yet, trust me, you won’t care about Rickon). I guess this is not really a “thing I don’t understand” but still. Rickon was such a redshirt and I feel bad for redshirts.

A lot of times, there will be a male character who doesn’t want to do something. A lady character will try to convince him otherwise. He is like “no, thanks.” And then the lady will literally open her dress up and be like “LOOKY MY HYPNOTIZING BOOBIES” and the guy will go “WHATEVER YOU SAY, BOOB MAIDEN” and there you go, argument won. Keeping in mind this is also happening in a world where dudes can basically do whichever lady they please with no consequence and often do not give a shit about consent even, so boobs seem to be a dime a dozen. IDK, people. IDK.

There are hardly any people of color in Game of Thrones and when they are there, they are such tired stereotypes I cannot EVEN TAKE IT. You guys there are even middle-eastern looking people that are called SAND SNAKES. LIKE, EXSQUEEZE ME? There is a second group of people that are tribal savages that basically wrestle and hump each other in the streets all day long. There is a third group of people that are slaves. I MEAN, LET’S DO THE MATH ON THIS. So much of the time I am just having to breathe deeply and lean on the baby Jebus to get through that sort of thing so I won’t get into all that mess here except to point out one small thing that bugs me: all GoT people of color have a very strong need to wear lots of eye makeup. No one else is wearing eye make up but if a brown dude or lady shows up, SMOKEY EYE ALERT. As a lifelong recipient of weird racialized things getting put on me and thinking about that a lot, I have never once thought about smokey eye as a signifier of brownness. I FIND IT SO WEIRD. Why, Game of Thrones, why.

So many questions.

Consumables #153 Terrible People and Miserable Wretches

Well, I think the blog may be magic, because no sooner had I written some shade about my neigh-bros, they cleaned off their front deck completely. No more ping pong table, no more garbage, no more red solo cup string lights, and no more yelling. ALL GONE. That is some Game of Thrones red witch stuff, people. Is this how you make shizz happen, by being a complainy whine-dog? What should we make happen next? Ok, how about this. I AM SO PERTURBED THAT I DO NOT HAVE TICKETS TO SEE TWO DOPE QUEENS IN PERSON. Ok, there. Now, we wait.

I have been watching two shows lately in a binge. Show number one: Veep. I am fascinated with it merely because it is able to make me laugh despite the fact that every last character is made up of internal garbage. Like, they are hhhhhhhhhhorrible people. Also depressing because, as a reflection of US politics, it seems like a totally plausible representation. There is a scene in Season 4 where they get news of a mass shooting and President Elaine Benis says something along the lines of “we need to get a statement out; there should be a ‘thoughts and prayers’ template you can use” and I wanted to lie down on the floor in a ball about how it’s supposed to be a farce but it is so, so not.

I have also started watching The Leftovers. I am one episode away from being done with Season 1 and I keep hearing that Season 2 is what you really want to hang in there for but LORDY I NEED SUPPORTY. This may be the most unrelentingly joyless show I have ever seen in mah lahf. Every last character in each episode is having the worst day of their life EVERY DAY EVERY EPISODE. And there is not one second of levity anywhere to be found. I mean, The Wire is depressing but they threw in things like Senator Davis saying “sheeeeeeeeeeeeeet” every now and then. Not so, Leftovers. The only relief I get out of that show is looking at close-ups of Justin Theroux and wondering if he is always wearing perfect eye makeup or if his eyes are just that pretty. If it is the former then I want to know what brand of mascara, homeboy. Hook a girl up.

After a couple of weeks where I am watching these two shows in the middle of so much grim real life nonfiction news, I am thinking I need to switch over to something that isn’t full of people with garbage souls or oppressive hopelessness. Suggestions welcome.

 

C0nsumables #150 Watching The Good Wife and the Bad Debates

I can’t watch another debate, people. I just can’t DO IT NO MO. What are we even doing to ourselves? It’s like, every damn day with these foolios. I am a politically engaged person and I am being crushed. This can’t be good to entice non-engaged people.

Speaking of deadly repetition, can I tell you a little something about one of my fave shows, The Good Wife? There isn’t much I don’t love about this show; even its missteps are usually more interesting than most tv I watch. However. How many times is Hostile Takeover of the Firm going to be a plot point? I can’t even count how many times everyone and their meemaw wants to hatch a scheme to take over the firm. Diane and Will, David Lee, Cary, Alicia, Louis Canning, David Lee again, Cary again, on and on. There are many things to care about on the show and who is sitting in the big office ain’t a one. Like, what does being the boss of that firm even get you? It is not clear. Anyway, they brought that shit in AH-GAIN last week and I just want them to PLAY A NEW TUNE Y’ALL STUCK ON REPEAT. Anyway. At least they brought in an investigator to distract us with hotness. Not as hot as Kalinda but who is.

I went and saw this lovely singer/songwriter last weekend and now this is stuck on repeat in my earbuds. Now this repetition I can handle. Take a listen. Happy Friday!

Consumables #136 Reading and Watching Sister Wives

I don’t even remember why I started watching Sister Wives on TLC, but you guys, I AM IN IT NOW. I have watched seven seasons and am not even sick of it yet. I also checked out the book that they wrote from the library and read it in two days. I NEED HELP, MAYBE?

Here are the things about Sister Wives that I find compelling.

1. There are four wives, one husband. WAIT, JUST STICK WITH ME.

2. These are not the Ingalls-dress-wearing, child-bride-having sister wives. The Brown family distance themselves way, way far from that and present themselves as a progressive form of polygamy. Diversity within polygamy family structures- FASCINATING.

3. Division of labor! Everyone works outside the home except one wife who does not wish to, but she wants to take care of all the littles so everything is taken care of. OK KIND OF BRILLS.

4. Polygamy seems patriarchal, right? But when watching this show, it seems pretty clear that the husband is hella inconsequential to anything and the ladies are running it. He sees each of them maybe once or twice a week and they seem so, so good with that amount because they are busy doing their own damn thing.

5. On the downside, I do not feel like the ladies are all besties. They do seem like sisters though- just the kind of sisters that love each other but don’t really necessarily like each other.

6. They are big on polygamy being consensual and they aren’t into any brainwashing stuff, so they have all these kids who are teens and young adults that are not pressured to be polygamists at all. One of them so far wants to be a polygamist, one of them doesn’t want to be married at all, and the rest are wanting monogamy. They all seem like totally well adjusted, happy young people, so you’re not watching kids in peril, which I could not deal with.

7. They all share this dude but there are so many, many boundaries. Like, they all live separately and he just rotates where he stays. There is no kissy face stuff in front of any of the other sister wives, or even a mention of kissy face stuff. The wives discipline their own children but have ways of dealing with how to handle when they are taking care of another wife’s kid. They all have their own money but they have ways of sharing when needed. Like, so much structure to think through, and they have thought it through.

8. COOPERATION. Oh, so much of it I am exhausted just thinking about it.

9. Talking about sexy business is totally off limits which is super smart of them but also super difficult for the viewer because THAT’S WHAT EVERYONE IS THINKING ABOUT IS HOW THE SEXY BUSINESS POLITICS WORKS.

Basically, I can’t say I am a fan of polygamy, BUT I am not mad at the Browns. They seem like fine people. And the show makes me think about big things: like how we are socialized the way we are to think about relationships the way we do, and how gender is performed based on the ways we think about what a woman is supposed to do (and also a man, but this show is really about the ladies), and what it means to be a parent and not expect kids to make the same choices that a parent makes and let them be their own people, and what parts of a relationship are dependent on the partner and what parts we can choose to remain independent. and the ways that each person in a family has different types of status for different reasons, and the ways in which we use that status, consciously or not. Yeah, that’s right, all of that.

GETTING EXISTENTIAL WITH THE SISTER WIVES, Y’ALL. THIS IS HOW I ROLL.