It’s not even 9 am as I’m typing this, but the gears have been turning ever since I discovered I got trolled on Facebook – all for making a post about timing when, really, I was guilty of the same issue.
The back story: singer Chris Cornell unexpectedly died this past week, and as happens as soon as someone famous dies, the tributes and lists of the artist’s best work are all over the media. The golden-throated Ann Wilson of Heart sang “Black Hole Sun” on Jimmy Kimmel as a tribute to her friend, and because she was reading the lyrics off of a music stand, she got blasted for it in Rolling Stone’s video post (and I’m sure there were other posts as well).
I’m one of the people who blasted her – but not specifically for that reason. While I don’t deserve being called an idiot or other nasty names for what I said about it, I did need the reminder to slow down and think before posting.
As much as I enjoy what technology has brought into my life – a freelance career, new friends, fun gadgets – I am also aware that it’s made me impatient. I demand answers and satisfaction and I want them NOW. The laptop slows down, the tablet freezes up, the wifi goes down and I lose my shit.
This isn’t healthy. For anyone.
With Ann Wilson’s cover of “Black Hole Sun,” I came in with certain expectations. The cover she and her sister Nancy did of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” at the Kennedy Center is so good it gives me chills and makes me cry. It made Robert Plant and Jimmy Page get emotional. It set the bar so freakin’ high that I expected a heartwrenchingly beautiful version of Soundgarden’s song in a way that only Ann Wilson can do.
But Chris had just died. There was no time to rehearse and prepare a performance that would come even close to the shock and awesomeness of that Zeppelin cover. No time to craft something so masterful that music fans would be enraptured for years to come.
I’m inclined to think it’s because of the collective impatience we all have thanks to technology. It’s this impatience that the media plays into, time and again. It’s why stories and performances get rushed into existence. It’s why commenters like myself jump in with first-blush thoughts and feelings when we really need to slow down and process.
That said, I stand by part of my original comment: a well-rehearsed cover of “Black Hole Sun” by Ann Wilson would have been amazing. One using her own band, who know her and how to arrange a song for her voice.
But in order to do these things, we all need to be invested in slowing down. In not requiring immediate gratification. In being willing to wait for the good, the beautiful, the expertly crafted.
Until that happens, though, we’re going to need more moments like this to remind us of the value of slowness.
And now, the things I really liked about Gilmore Girls – including how a scene in the final episode allowed me to forgive many of the show’s missteps over its seven-season run – and what I hope we’ll see in the Netflix reboot, which will be four seasonally themed episodes of 90 minutes each.
These are the characters I loved watching. They took the clever dialogue and ran with it, making the character their own.
Sookie St. James (Melissa McCarthy) – She steals every scene she is in, from her banter with Lorelei to her kitchen mishaps. The courtship of Sookie and Jackson is fun to watch, as they are both so inept and clueless at dating, which I can relate to more than I’d like to admit.
Kirk Gleason (Sean Gunn) – Kirk’s deadpan delivery and full on commitment to everything he gets involved with, whether it’s Taylor’s latest scheme to improve life in Stars Hollow or an entrepreneurial venture, won me over. In some ways he’s a small town Cosmo Kramer on sedatives.
Taylor Doose (Michael Winters) – While Taylor was often annoying, his commitment to Stars Hollow and his ongoing battles with Luke and other townspeople about the most ridiculous things was truly amusing.
Gil (Sebastian Bach) – Who would have thought that the lead singer of Skid Row would make such an awesome character on GG? As soon as he showed up to audition for Hep Alien and brought the band sandwiches, I knew he was a keeper.
Richard Gilmore (Edward Herrmann) – Richard was a stuffed shirt with a soft underbelly, as could be seen in his interactions with granddaughter Rory. He was erudite without apology and witty beyond measure. I can’t imagine anyone else having played this role so well.
Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop) – Emily’s ongoing battles with her maids and her commitment to keeping up appearances often had me laughing. I also appreciate characters who love a good martini. The chemistry and banter between her and Richard (Edward Herrmann) was fantastic.
A special shout out to GG for explaining the significance of owning a Birkin bag. Regular readers of GWM know how upset I got over Mindy Kaling’s use of Birkins on her show, so when I got to the episode in which Logan gives Rory a Birkin, and Emily’s reaction to hearing that Rory got a Birkin, I was very pleased.
As an aficionado of pop culture, I enjoyed all the clever pop culture references. There were many I missed or didn’t understand, but they added a lot of brevity to the show. According to a December 2015 article on Vulture.com, there were 284 references to movies, 339 references to books Rory has read or is reading, and 396 songs heard on the show. Amy Sherman-Palladino has said that she wanted the show to be something everyone could enjoy, and I think the references added a little something extra to students of pop culture, without alienating those who aren’t.
What got me to forgive all the show’s missteps with plots and characters? The final episode, which demonstrated what GG was really about: the relationships between the townspeople. The Gilmore Girls may have been the focus and the pitch, but the true star of the show was the town of Stars Hollow. This collection of quirky characters was a true community, loving and fighting and coming together to support each other when it was really important. It was a scene in the final episode, “Bon Voyage,” when Babette, Miss Patty, and several other characters were gathered under the tent, looking at Rory with love and pride, that got me all choked up and saying, in true Gilmore referential fashion, “That’ll do, pig, that’ll do.”
The Netflix Reboot: My Wish List
The four-part reboot of Gilmore Girls is currently in production. According to TV.com, each 90-minute segment focuses on a different season of the year, and the first segment will be “Winter.” While the roll call for casting is pretty well known at this point, the plot lines are sketchy at best. Here’s a few plot lines/scenes on my wish list:
Kirk is married with kids and one of his kids is just like him. This has the potential to be very funny and charming, with the right child actor in the role.
Lane & Zach are managing a Christian rock band with their twins as members. Maybe one of Kirk’s kids keeps trying to convince them to let him/her into the band.
A Mr. Kim appearance, even if it’s a visit to his grave (in the same cemetery as Richard Gilmore, perhaps).GG viewers never saw Mr. Kim, and nothing was ever said to indicate if he was alive, dead, or if he had left the family. We want to know!
Luke has completed the boat. After all that fussing over the damn boat for so long, let’s see it out on the water, Luke at the helm, with Lorelai pretending she’s Rose from Titanic on the boat’s bow and falling overboard.
Jess and Rory reconnect as lovers. He’s matured enough by now to be a good partner to Rory, even if just for a short time, and after all this time away, she may need someone who knows her back story as well as her passion for good music and books to show her some affection.
LUKE is behind the counter, wiping down equipment. The diner is deserted except for LORELAI sitting at the counter.
He holds the carafe above LORELAI’s mug, waiting for her answer. She looks up at him, waits a beat. Their eyes are locked on each other.
She lifts the mug with her left hand. An engagement ring is on her finger. Luke pours the coffee into her mug and smiles coyly at her. Lorelai smiles coyly in return. The camera pulls back to show the couple talking and laughing through the window of the diner.
Now let’s move on to the ugly stuff of Gilmore Girls: the plot points, characters and situations that added nothing of value to the show, were a complete departure from how the writers had originally depicted the character(s), or general commentary on stuff that wasn’t working for me. Plus, a bonus look at Rory’s boyfriends!
April Nardini, Luke’s long-lost daughter. April makes her first appearance in S6:Ep 9, when she approaches him for a DNA sample for a science project. (We’ll ignore the question of why any junior high science teacher, fictional or real, would allow a kid to go all Maury Povich for a science fair project.) If there ever was a cousin Oliver character that should have been eliminated, it was April. Her presence relegated Luke to becoming a caricature of himself. If the showrunners didn’t want him and Lorelai together, they could have found a better way.
Jackson Belleville and the Case of the Invisible Vasectomy
There are so many problems with this subplot that kicked off in S5, Ep 21. First off, where is this magical universe in which a tired wife and mother is allowed to schedule a vasectomy for her husband without his knowledge and consent? Cause I know a lot of women who would like to live there. Secondly, dedicated viewers of GG know about Jackson’s “four in four” wish/demand (meaning four kids in 4 years), and the non-conversation he and Sookie had about children. Why didn’t the writers address this as a point of contention early on? I’ve read that Sookie’s surprise third pregnancy was more about accommodating Melissa McCarthy’s real-life pregnancy, but surely the producers and writers would have known about this early enough to create more of a real-world plot in which the couple realizes how different they are when it comes to family size, child rearing, etc., they briefly separate, come back together (with at least one scene involving Lorelai and Sookie talking intimately about her marriage, of course), and decide to have baby #3.
Luke’s sister Liz, her husband T.J., and new baby were pointless and annoying. Were they supposed to be comic relief? An annoyance to distract from the craptastic plot lines going on? I think I just answered my own question. You win, showrunners.
Lane’s wedding and subsequent pregnancy with twins. Huh? This seems like the most unfair of all the subplots, because it flies in the face of Lane’s rebellious streak. C’mon, Helen Pai, I’m sure you knew plenty of Adventist girls who secretly went on the pill and had premarital sex. I know I did. If she’d had premarital sex with Zach, I bet she would not have married that idiot.
Plot issues starting in S5 through S7. Before I began watching GG, I read a lot about how awful S7 was, and how many fans feel they are owed a do-over because S7 was so awful. Now that I’ve binged on the series and done some research, here’s my hypothesis: the plot lines, especially related to secondary characters, were the problem beginning with S5. Amy Sherman-Palladino is pretty outspoken when it comes to the issues she had with network brass about her future with GG during S6. I suspect her relationship with the network started going bad during S5. I can’t prove that she and her husband, co-producer Daniel Palladino, ruled with an iron fist when it came to secondary character arcs, but considering how cohesive the show was up until the whole Jackson vasectomy incident suggests to me that they were distracted by dealing with the suits to be paying much attention to the little details. When I looked at S7 writers on IMDB, there was at least one long-time GG writer, Rebecca Rand Kirschner, who continued writing episodes, and Sherman-Palladino said it herself:
We left it in the hands of our writers. We had smart and strong writers who had trained with us, so we felt like if we can’t be there, it’s at least in the hands of people that we know are going to honor the spirit of the world that we set up. – Amy Sherman-Palladino, ET Online
With all of this in mind, I suggest that the shark was jumped starting with S5, Ep 21, thanks to the Sookie/Jackson vasectomy subplot. Some may suggest that any shark-jumping started with S4, Ep 22, when Rory lost her virginity to an unhappily married Dean, and while that was pretty awful, Rory often put herself in the role of “bad girlfriend” with him, so it only fits that she would do it again by being the other woman.
Lastly, I’m just gonna say it: Alexis Bledel is not a good actor. She is beautiful to look at, but she cannot act.
The Many Loves of Rory Gilmore
I can’t write a blog post about Gilmore Girls without weighing in on Rory’s boyfriends. That would be sacrilege.
Dean Forester (Jared Padalecki)
Dean was a sweet guy, and the ideal first boyfriend for Rory in many ways, but a hot mess in the end. For Dean to be Rory’s first sexual experience while he was still married was perhaps inevitable, as Rory always seemed to see herself as being unworthy of him and his devotion when they were dating. As the sad sack of a young husband working too hard, Dean’s finally at a level where Rory doesn’t feel “less than” (she is a Yale undergrad, after all).
Jess Mariano (Milo Ventimiglia)
Jess was a hot mess all around, but a good match for Rory in that he pushed her to try harder, do better. Smart girls like bad boys, and if they are reasonably well read and know about obscure pop culture stuff? OH YEAH. Do not ask me how I know this.
If Rory had lost her virginity to Jess, GG would have been a completely different show – but would it have been better for it? Maybe. I think it would have actually grounded Rory in the reality of relationships in a way that being with Dean and Logan never did, and that her mother could never get across. But because having Jess as her first lover would have added a level of gravitas that GG was not about to embrace – it’s a dramedy that wants to stay lighthearted and fun, after all – it could never happen.
Logan Huntzberger (Matt Czuchry)
Ahh, Logan: he’s charming, cute, yet a hot mess. He’s Rory’s match in that he understands the “poor little rich kid” scene in a way that Dean and Jess never could. Logan reflects the worst of Lorelai and Christopher in his own reluctance to grow up, and while he makes some strides by not exactly following in father Mitch Huntzberger’s footsteps, he’s still tied up in family money, because that’s all he knows.
Next week, Part 3: the Good, including the scene that made me appreciate GG despite all its flaws, and what I hope to see in the Netflix revival.
Back in the early ’00s, I saw a few episodes of Gilmore Girls, the dramedy that launched the careers of Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel with their depiction of an overcaffeinated, fast-food-eating, wisecracking mother-daughter team. For whatever reason, however, I didn’t fully commit to the show. In late 2015, I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about and I binged on seven seasons of Gilmore Girls. I use the term “binge” a little loosely here, because I’d watch up to six episodes in a stretch, then I needed the pop culture equivalent of a Valium, such as a slow foreign film with atmospheric music and long segments of silent melancholy. Sweet cheese on a cracker, those Gilmore women are exhausting.
As I got closer to the end of the series, I decided to write a review/critique post of GG: the good, the bad, the ugly, and what I hope will be part of the revival coming to Netflix. If you’re a huge fan of GG and believe nothing bad should ever be said about the show or its characters, I suggest you move along, because some of what I’m going to say may piss you off. Go ahead, it’s okay. Same holds true if you’re weird about spoilers for shows that have been off the air for years. I’m going to start with the things I didn’t like or that didn’t work for me, aka the bad.
Gilmore Girls‘ premise, for those who are unaware, is this: a mother and daughter who are friends. According to my research, that’s how show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino pitched the show to network executives. If we dig a little deeper, the show is about mother-daughter best friends who are only 16 years apart in age and live in Stars Hollow, a quirky little fictional town in Connecticut that’s about 30 minutes from Hartford, where the wealthy Gilmore grandparents reside.
Let’s get two things straight from the start.
Gilmore Girls is a show about rich white people problems.The back story: Lorelai Gilmore is a rich white teenage girl who gets knocked up by Christopher, her high school boyfriend who’s also rich and white, and she runs away of sorts (30 freakin’ minutes away from home) to have her baby and raise the child away from her rich white parents. The issues Lorelai Gilmore faces as a single mom of a teenage girl – in the snippets viewers see on the show – are never life-or-death situations. The first episode is about Lorelai deciding to re-establish a relationship with her parents because she wants their money help in sending her daughter, Rory, to Chilton, a private prep school. Even the references toraising baby Rory in the potting shed at the Independence Innsmack ofMarie Antoinette escaping from court life in the Petit Trianon: with just a word, Lorelai can return to the family home, or even live in better quarters at the inn, thanks to her compassionate boss, Mia. But she’s a stubborn, spoiled, rich white girl, and this fact colors every decision Lorelai makes throughout the course of the series. (One example: in S7, Ep 19, her Jeep dies and she doesn’t like any of the newer cars she test drives or looks at, so ex-fiancée/diner owner Luke finds the same model and says he will fix her car using parts from the other Jeep.) Same holds true for the problems Rory Gilmore, Lorelai’s daughter, faces. She may not have grown up with a silver spoon in her mouth like her mother, but she certainly didn’t suffer from hunger, not having a safe place to sleep at night, or lack of clothing and other creature comforts.
Stars Hollow is the West Coast person’s fantasy of life in New England.Sherman-Palladino is from Van Nuys, California, essentially the heart of the San Fernando Valley. She makes no secret of the fact that she based Stars Hollow on a small Connecticut town she vacationed at with her husband.But as we all know, being a tourist in a small town is very different than living there. I grew up on the east coast and spent many a summer in New England, from Massachusetts to Connecticut to Maine. I went to summer camp in a small town in Massachusetts two years in a row. Many of my friends from camp, not to mention my friends from college, were from small New England towns, and they were all relatively normal in their quirks and weirdness. So I feel pretty confident in saying that not every little town in New England is full of the nosy, weird folks that populate Stars Hollow. There are actually normal people living in normal towns with normal civic issues. (That said, I’m a hugeJohn Irvingfan and he writes many books set in New England, with plenty of quirky characters. But he’s FROM New England, so he’s allowed to do this, just as I’m allowed to be contradictory.)
I point out these two things, because for me, it helped a little in suspending my disbelief about some of the situations that Lorelai and Rory get themselves into (especially point #1). In my opinion, Lorelai has never really grown up, even though the viewer is supposed to believe she had to grow up too soon, since she was a teen mom. Running away from home – and again, I want to point out she didn’t run that far – put her in state of arrested development. Let us count the ways:
she is rarely, if ever, shown cooking a meal at home for herself or Rory, completing a household chore, or dealing with any sort of adult task without lots of whining and pouting
she is committed to eating junk food, including pizza, candy, ice cream, Chinese food, and burgers, and often complains about having to eat anything resembling a vegetable
Do I hate Lorelai? No. She’s just a hot mess, which is okay. Flawed characters make for popular TV shows, especially in sitcoms or dramedys. But Lorelai is high maintenance, and for that reason, I needed to take extended breaks during my Netflix binges.
These are my nit-picky continuity issues, including a look at how Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs) are depicted in the show. As someone who was raised SDA and attended SDA schools and churches until I was 18 (and I still have many friends and family members who are practicing Adventists), I think I can speak to this topic with some authority. But first, a few random items:
I counted at least two instances where Rory says “could care less” – she would not have done that, she’s too smart & well read. I also noted one instance where Doyle says “could care less” – again, he’s way too smart to do that.
Hep Alien tour – As the band is in the van heading out on their tour of churches, one of them refers to “the 95” – NOPE! East Coasters don’t preface highway/interstate numbers with “the.”
And now, on to the SDA related mistakes and continuity issues. Based on my research, Helen Pai, producer and BFF to Amy Sherman-Palladino, was raised Adventist. More meticulous GG watchers are welcome to correct me on this point, but I don’t remember a specific instance in which Lane or Mrs. Kim said definitively that they were Adventist. That said, there’s plenty of allusions to SDAs that could have been tweaked for more accuracy and still would have been funny.
SDA References that Worked for Me
Lane’s cache of music, clothing and makeup. I knew a few kids who had to hide any secular music from their super-conservative parents, and at least a few girls who put on makeup once they got to school and wiped it off before they went home. At many SDA schools, colored nail polish was not allowed.
Lane’s secretive nature about boys. One of my closest friends at SDA school never told her parents when she had a boyfriend because they would have flipped out. I remember how her dad raged when she had co-ed parties in the basement rec room. I think this was partly a cultural thing (she was East Indian) more so than Adventist, but it could have been both.
Vegetarianism. The references to the meals Mrs. Kim served and her scorn of anything with meat are pretty on point. While I do know a number of SDAs who eat meat, many Adventists strictly follow the vegetarianism that’s a SDA identifier. There was one Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ house where my young vegetarian cousins yelled DEAD MEAT DEAD MEAT when Grandma brought out the turkey. Good times. The salad water, though, is an Asian thing.
I wore a bracelet to school today. My parents were called, there was a special service in chapel, and I’ve been ordered to a soul-searching seminar next week. I’ll be sitting between the nail-polish-wearing girl and the spicy-condiment user.
SDA References that Didn’t Work for Me
Lane’s availability on Friday nights, Saturdays before sunset, and a throwaway reference to church services. For those who don’t know, a key component of Seventh-Day Adventism is observing the Sabbath, which for them is Saturday. SDAs observe the Sabbath in the same way as the Jews do, which is that Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday. A truly devout SDA parent wouldn’t let their kid run amok with their non-SDA friends on a Saturday before sunset, and yet looking at timelines of a few early episodes, that seems to be the case with Lane. I also remember a conversation between Rory and Lane about Lane being available to hang out after church on Sunday. Uh, if she’s really Adventist, Sunday is fun day. (I don’t have specific episodes to cite here, so you GG devotees can school me on this point.)
SDA pastors don’t wear clerical collars. In one episode, the Stars Hollow church in town cycles through a Jewish service and an Adventist one. They showed the SDA minister wearing a black and white clerical collar. Adventist ministers in the U.S. wear suits & ties, or a blazer or jacket with dress pants. Never a clerical collar.
Rock music in SDA church community rooms. I remember a time in the ’70s and ’80s when the progressive, more liberal-minded SDA church I attended was resistant to featuring any music that involved electric guitars or, heaven forbid, drums, during the main service. By the late ’80s, we had a couple Christian rock bands in the youth room, which got all of us secret (and not-so-secret) rock music fans excited. The more conservative churches in our area were slow to get on that bandwagon (no pun intended). Considering Mrs. Kim’s conservatism, I’m assuming she would have sent Hep Alien to perform at more conservative churches (she set up the Hep Alien tour in S5, Ep 22), so I question whether this could have happened. (If any readers went to a conservative SDA church in the early 2000s and had a Christian rock band perform in the community room, let me know.)
Alcohol. Devout, conservative Adventists don’t drink alcohol. Period. That said, the most egregious error comes in S6, Ep 11. Lane is living at home again after a bad breakup with Zach and is pretty much impossible to deal with because she’s so upset over the breakup. Near the end of the episode, Mrs. Kim has Lane sit down at the kitchen table while she closes the blinds and gets out a hidden bottle of alcohol, pouring herself and Lane each a shot. While this is a nice moment of bonding between Mrs. Kim and Lane, a super conservative Adventist, like Mrs. Kim is depicted to be, would not have alcohol anywhere in their home.
Next week: Moxie’s Review of Gilmore Girls, Part 2: The Ugly
Back in January, I watched Man on Wire, the documentary about how Philippe Petit fulfilled his dream to walk a tightrope stretched between the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center. In 2009 this film won the Oscar for Best Feature Length Documentary – and with good reason. It’s a compelling story about dreaming big and not being afraid to fall – figuratively and literally.
The story seems simple yet so ridiculous: in the early 1970s, a rebellious young man with a love of heights sets his sights on the then-tallest building(s) in the world, the World Trade Center in New York City, as the location for his next high-wire act. With the help of his friends and an “inside man”, he manages to sneak up to the roof, get his equipment set up and actually crosses back and forth between the towers for 45 minutes. He’s 1,350 feet up in the air, without a net. Just typing that last sentence makes my heart race.
While the entire movie was incredibly captivating, there was one scene in particular that stood out. It’s right when Petit is preparing to go out on the wire and he is having a crisis of faith. It isn’t until he gets out to the middle of the wire – did I mention it’s 1,350 feet up IN THE AIR? – that Petit begins to smile. He ends up walking – nay, dancing – between the two buildings for nearly 45 minutes. While there’s no video footage of the event from the aerialist’s perspective, the still photos show the incredible rapture and joy Petit felt as he finally achieved his dream.
After watching this film I sat for a while, just thinking about the courage involved in making this walk happen. Not only did Petit have to be fully committed to doing this, he had to have buy-in from his partners in crime, as it were. One close friend had to bow out of the mission, it was that intense.
How many of us are not taking that chance to step out on that wire, to go beyond the feats of derring-do already accomplished? Yes, it is scary, and there’s no guarantee it will end well. But just as Philippe had a support team helping him achieve his dream, we all have people who are ready to help us create that path to success, even if that path is narrow and treacherous. I’ve learned this firsthand over the last couple of years.
When I first started writing this post back in February, I knew it was time to step out on that wire and I was scared shitless. It was high time to leave LA, but where to go and what to do was unclear, at least to me.
And then the answer came. In late March, while I was in meditation at my favorite place in Los Angeles County, the answer came. And the answers kept coming…in the form of a place to live up north, in the form of friends and strangers and opportunities.
To put it simply, I’m here to tell stories. My stories, others’ stories. And by sharing these stories I help myself – and others – process and heal and move forward.
As my first step in honoring this path, I applied to attend the Tomales Bay Writers’ Workshop this October. It’s run by Pam Houston, an amazing writer who also happens to be the director of the creative writing program at UC Davis. I’d never tried to get into a workshop before, as I always thought my writing wasn’t good enough. But this time, with the help of a great friend who read a piece I’ve been working on and gave me unwavering support, I stepped out on the wire and applied.
And I got in. Holy cannoli, I GOT IN.
Now comes the bigger challenge: paying for this shindig. I applied for a fellowship, but with only one per genre (fiction, nonfiction and poetry) there was a slim chance I’d get it. So I have to look for other funding, which is where you, dearly devoted blog reader, come in.
T-Wizzle advised me that I put a PayPal link for donations here on the blog. “You never know what people are willing to do to help,” she said. And while that’s another big step forward, I keep finding, over and over again, that she’s right: you never do know what people are willing to do to help.
With that, I’m taking another step forward on the wire and telling the world: I want to go to this workshop and I need $1550.00 before July 15 in order to attend. The Donate button is in the right-hand column.
The more I think about how far I’ve come, as a writer and as a person, I wonder if I’m truly ready for the next step. But like Petit, I know I have prepared myself. I have set my sights on other goals and achieved them. So I’m going forward with my own high-wire act. I don’t know if I will reach the other side safely, but I’ve gotten this far, dammit, and turning around now would just piss me off. And more and more I have this sneaking suspicion that, like Petit, I will reach the middle and realize just how effortless it is to reach the other side.
To me, it’s really so simple, that life should be lived on the edge. You have to exercise rebellion. To refuse to tape yourself to the rules, to refuse your own success, to refuse to repeat yourself, to see every day, every year, every idea as a true challenge. Then you will live your life on the tightrope.
Earlier this week, I watched It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time. I actually owned a VHS copy of the movie at one point, but never got around to watching it. Now I think I know why: I wasn’t ready to hear – or believe – its message.
I admit to having some issues with the film’s structure – blame it on studying screenwriting and being an avid film watcher. The back story on George Bailey took way too long and I wanted to choke Uncle Billy. Didn’t George’s father know it’s rarely a good idea to go into business with family members, especially one as daft as Billy? Shouldn’t the string tied around nearly every damn finger be your first clue that this guy should not be allowed to handle money?
What required no suspension of disbelief, however, was the message of not being a failure if you have friends. I have learned the truth of that lesson over the last two years – more than any other time in my life. Starting in December 2006 through now, I have struggled with some heavy issues: being fired, having a boyfriend who turned out to be absolutely horrible, having my car repo’ed, finding a job only to be laid off less than a year later, losing my grandfather and my mom in the same year.
But in 2006 I started making friends for real…and I continued to make friends in 2007. Anyone who’s lived in a major metropolitan area for any length of time knows how difficult it can be to meet people and make friends. If it wasn’t for T-Wizzle encouraging me to join Meetup, I would have never met my current circle of friends – and I wouldn’t know the blessing that comes from being part of such a warm, loving community.
Over the last two years these friendships have grown stronger, even when I thought I wasn’t being the best friend I could be. These are the people who have risen up to meet me where I am at, in ways I did not expect. When I have felt lost, they have found me. When I have felt down, they have lifted me up. When I needed to sit and be sad, they let me do that. And when I was being an absolute pill, they forced me to buck up.
It took a visit from an angel to teach George Bailey the value of his community, but it took me a couple hours with a classic film to fully appreciate my amazing friends.
And if you’re reading this, yes, I’m talking about you.
I’ve been working on the details for an Oscar party. Nah, nothing like the Governor’s Ball or Vanity Fair’s big blowout at Morton’s. But it’s a pretty big deal for those of us that have been planning it for the last few months. We have a private room in a local restaurant, and tons of prizes we’re raffling off throughout the Academy Awards. Now all we need is the people to show up, so say a little prayer for us, will ya? Thanks.
This year’s Oscar races are quite interesting. With a lot of very strong performances, it’s hard to predict who will win. What makes this year even more interesting is that Mercury is retrograde.
As we already know, Mercury is a trickster. He loves to play jokes and quite frequently, his sense of humor is not that funny, especially to those people who have their cars break down on the freeway. (Yep, Mercury rules automobile trips.)
Mercury was retrograde during last year’s Oscars as well, and look what happened: everyone thought Brokeback Mountain was a lock for Best Picture, and instead Crash won. And remember how many plot points in Crash were focused on cars? Good one, Merc, you had us all fooled. We should have known better.
So based on this, I’m going to predict the following wins: Babel for Best Picture, since it’s all about being able to communicate (and Mercury rules communication), and Cars for Best Animated Feature, for obvious reasons. In a few hours, we’ll see if I’m right.
Let me preface this list by saying that I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day, which is why I refer to it as V.D. It is similar to a social disease in that the feeling of “Oh crap, I gotta get something for my girlfriend/wife,” reaches pandemic proportions in the days before February 14. No one should ever feel pressured to be romantic or sentimental, if only because the gifts and platitudes born of guilt are never that satisfying to give, nor to receive. Love is a perennial verb, not a one-day-a-year emotion.
That being said, at this time of year I can’t help but think of some of my favorite romantic scenes from movies. Happy V.D., lovers.
10. Moulin Rouge – I don’t need to talk about how I obsessed over this movie for a very long time. What I do need to talk about is the scene near the end, where Satine (Nicole Kidman) starts singing the song “Come What May” as Christian (Ewan MacGregor) is walking away from the stage. Written as a way for the secret lovers to communicate with each other, the song and Satine’s pleading delivery stops Christian in his tracks and he rushes back to the stage, singing the entire time. A hot man singing to you? Lord have mercy.
9. 10 Things I Hate About You – We already know how I feel about a good-looking man that can sing, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that my favorite scene in this movie is when Patrick (Heath Ledger) gets on the PA system and sings “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” to Kat (Julia Stiles). It gets even better once the school marching band kicks in after the first verse. It totally won her over and it did for me, too.
8. Bridget Jones’ Diary – It’s the final scene where Darcy (Colin Firth) leaves Bridget’s (Renee Zellweger) apartment that gets me. Why? Because he’s gone to buy her a new diary. I love office supplies, so any scene that involves a man buying paper goods for his beloved is bound to make me weep with joy.
7. Say Anything – Yes, the scene where Lloyd (John Cusack) holds up the boom box playing their song “In Your Eyes” is very romantical. But I always remember the scene where his best girl buddy Corey (Lili Taylor) tells him, “The world is full of guys. Be a man.” Telling someone you care about to step up to the plate is a very loving thing to do.
6. The Wedding Singer – Again, my favorite scene involves a man singing. This is the one where Robbie (Adam Sandler) is singing “Grow Old with You” to Julia (Drew Barrymore) on the plane, with the help of Billy Idol and a couple flight attendants. Sing to me about your feelings for me and I’ll even forgive you for having bad 80’s hair.
5. Notting Hill – The scene where Anna (Julia Roberts) admits the depth of her feelings to William (Hugh Grant) is very real to me. Saying to someone, “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her,” as she did, takes a lot of courage.
4. Monsoon Wedding – While the main story is about the arranged marriage, it’s the love story between the hired help, P.K. Dubey (Vijay Raaz) and Alice (Tilotama Shome), that is the most compelling and beautiful. My favorite scene is Dubey going to see Alice after he is embarrassed by his colleagues in front of her. He goes to her door, lingers a moment, then walks away. She comes outside and finds him kneeling on the grass with candles lit behind him and holding a heart made of marigolds, a traditional Indian wedding decoration. Makes me cry every time.
3. The Full Monty – Great film that shows that even men struggle with self-acceptance and body image issues. My favorite romantic scene is when Dave (Mark Addy) , the token fat guy, tells his wife Jean (Lesley Sharp) that he’s been working on a striptease routine with his mates. “Who would want to see someone like me strip?” he says, his voice full of pain. “Me, Dave,” she says. “I would.” That’s love, man.
2. When Harry Met Sally – Another all-time Moxie favorite. The most romantic is the scene where Harry (Billy Crystal) tracks down Sally (Meg Ryan) at a New Year’s Eve party and tells her he loves her: “I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
1. Like Water for Chocolate – This is, by far, my all-time favorite romantic film. (I love the book, too.) As such, I can’t pick one scene. The heroine, Tita (Lumi Cavazos), can barely contain her love for Pedro (Marco Leonardi), but because he’s been forced to marry her older sister, she can only show her feelings through her cooking. Seeing the effects of her culinary masterpieces on her family and friends is humorous and fascinating. And the chemistry between Tita and Pedro is so intense, the screen just sizzles. Read the book, watch the movie, then go eat something fantastic with someone you love.
I’m not quite sure when my love of James Bond films started. When I was in junior high, I remember going to C.’s house and she was watching the end of Thunderball. I was fascinated by the fact that James Bond was dangling in midair and was holding on to an attractive girl, who looked rather happy with the situation. I would hope so, considering the alternatives. Add to this the fact that I was a big fan of the New Wave band Duran Duran, who styled many of their videos after Bond films. That peaked my interest more. I watched Octopussy at my friend A.’s birthday party and argued with her over which girl was married to bassist John Taylor.
I have yet to buy any Bond DVDs, and I still haven’t seen all the films. But every time there’s a Bondathon on SpikeTV or TNT, I am glued to the TV, watching Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, and Moonraker. It doesn’t matter how bad the plot is, how terrible the acting – if it’s a Bond movie, I will watch it, over and over again. I love the gadgets, the girls, the ridiculous action sequences. I love Bond’s witticisms. And I love the way he always triumphs in the end with 7 seconds to spare.
And the villains, lord, the villains. They are the most fun. Goldfinger, Scaramanga, Dr. No, Blofeld: the more psychotic they are, the better. When there’s a James Bond marathon, I have a game I play with my black longhair cat, Mossimo. I tell him, “Look, kitty, Blofeld is on! Time to play Evil Genius and His Cat!” And Mossimo gets on my lap and purrs while I pet him and say things like, “This laser is so powerful that it will cut you in two, Mr. Bond,” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”, and “Very soon, SPECTRE will take over the world!” Mossimo loves this game.
When all this talk started about finding a new actor to replace Pierce Brosnan as Bond, I was confused. Pierce was great as Bond: he was sexy and fierce and funny. He seemed to really enjoy himself. But the idea of having Clive Owen or Hugh Jackman in the role, dressed in a snazzy tux and tossing back martinis, got me all ferhoodled. As the ZZTop song says, every girl’s crazy about a sharp-dressed man, and your girl Moxie is no exception.
When the producers gave Daniel Craig the role, I was disappointed that my favorite hotties didn’t make the cut, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Because when I really think about what I love about James Bond films, I realize it’s the franchise I love. Each movie is a slice of James Bond’s life – aside from recurring characters, none of the films share a connective thread. Each movie asks you to suspend your disbelief for a couple hours and join Bond on a fantastic adventure. And I like adventures, especially when it means I don’t have to wear a sports bra in order to participate.
Last weekend, as you may have already guessed, I went and saw Casino Royale. I’d been following the film’s production via entertainment magazines and gossip blogs, so I was eager to see how Craig was in the role. Would Craig, and the film itself, pass Moxie’s muster?
Yes, yes, and yes. In that order. The plot was engaging and the film was very good, although it could have been edited a bit more in the middle, and I felt like a vital scene was missing. Not only does this film ask you to suspend your disbelief, it also asks you to drop all of your stories about who James Bond is and what makes him tick. We find out how the shaken martini got its start, how Bond got double-0 status, and a suggestion as to why he doesn’t have any Bond Girl babymamas running around. (Think about it: he’s bagged a lot of babes and yet there isn’t even one child? Apparently he’s not a sharpshooter in the sack.)
More importantly, Daniel Craig is excellent as Bond. He didn’t imitate anyone, and he didn’t contort himself. He captured the essence of Bond, loaded it into his Walther PPK, and shot it all over the screen. All I can say is, Ohhh, James.
Last night I went to see The Prestige with some friends from my Tarot Meetup group. If you haven’t heard about this film, it’s about the rivalry between 2 magicians, played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, and the lengths they will go to in order to be the better, more successful magician. Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, and David Bowie also have roles in the film.
Having just come from a meeting on Tarot, I watched this movie thinking about The Magician card. It’s part of the major arcana, which consists of 22 cards that represent archetypes. The major arcana also represent situations and psychological states of being. One of the most well-known cards in the major arcana is the Death card, which symbolizes transition, transformation, and letting go of the old so that the new can come forth.
The Magician card in Tarot represents manifestation. It’s about applying your will to a situation and calling forth what you want. In many Tarot decks, the Magician card shows a man standing in front of a table that has several tools on it. He’s got one hand raised to the heavens and one hand pointing downward, as if to say “As above, so below.” Whenever this card comes up in a Tarot reading, it’s an indication that you have the tools at your disposal to create whatever you want – you just have to make the choice as to what you desire, ask the universe or God for it, and then allow it to unfold. There’s a shadow side to this card, though: you can also use magic and manifesting to manipulate or trick others. If you lack confidence in your ability to actively create what you experience, you may end up in situations that are less than ideal.
The movie illustrated both the light and the shadow side of the Magician card. The desire to be the greatest magician was so strong for Jackman’s character, Robert Angier, that he could not listen to reason. While he was loved, talented, and well-respected, Angier was so consumed with knowing how his rival, Alfred Borden (played by Bale), performed a certain illusion, that he manipulated and tricked others into helping him find out Borden’s secret. In the end, he learned the secret, but not without first manifesting a lot of pain and suffering for himself and those around him. While Borden wasn’t exactly a saint either, he released his desire to be better and focused instead on making a better life for his child.
Michael Caine’s character, Cutter, stated the 3 parts of a magic trick at the beginning and the end of the film:
The first act is called the pledge. The magician shows you something ordinary—but of course, it probably isn’t. The second act is called the turn. The magician makes his ordinary something do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret, but you won’t find it. That’s why there’s a third act called the prestige. This is the part with twists and turns, where lives hang in the balance, and you see something shocking you’ve never seen before.
When I relate this structure to the Magician card, I think the 3 parts go like this:
The pledge is the vow you make. You want to create something new, better, or different in your life. The turn is where you turn over the pledge to a higher power and say “If this is for my greatest good, make it so.” The prestige is the part where your pledge is made manifest. Be careful what you wish for, though, because the vow will be taken very literally, and if you leave out important pieces, the prestige may not turn out exactly as you had pictured it.
I can tell you from personal experience that this method works. Try it out yourself with something small, like getting a great parking spot at the grocery store or shopping mall, and see what happens. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.