5/14/19

"She does her own stunts."



"The studio doesn't like it. It makes them nervous, but when you can get that kind of action on camera actually performed by your leading lady, it's priceless."

Movies geeks know these beats well. We hear them in behind-the-scenes special features and documentaries allllllll the time, from Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider to Scarlett Johannson as Black Widow and most recently, the astounding Maisie Williams as Arya Stark.

Special features never cease to thrill me or remind me to throw some weights into my workouts. I love stunt actors and stunt performers and the actors who are willing to train for their roles. But this was happening much, much earlier than most of us realize.

Enter Lillian Gish, silent film star extraordinaire. Admittedly, I know more about Louise Brooks and Mary Pickford. But when I heard the movie Way Down East mentioned in an episode of Downton Abbey, I got curious. Silent London did a fantastic story about the film and the lengths Gish went to create a convincing finale. Very worth a read.

Here's Scarlett Johansson's Heidi Moneymaker

Too Busy To Post about GOT

Shocker, but I'm working a lot. This should suffice while I'm busy paying bills. 

4/29/19

Happy Monday! (no sarcasm intended)

I am emotionally WIPED OUT, in a good way, after Endgame and GOT this weekend and I just...I really needed this. Thanks, Last Week Tonight.

4/15/19

Three of the Beautiful, Jubilant Weirdos Who Got Me Through High School in the 90s

1. Imani Coppola


 2. David Bowie

People hate the techno-pop phase, but not me. I LOVED it and I'm not sorry.


3. Bjork


Bonus

Let's Dance

Last week was difficult, this week will be long. Most of my problems are happy. One can hardly whine for having too much client work, can one? But still, I sure did lose myself in a lot of World of Dance videos this weekend. The purpose was two-fold because I have my head in a dance routine I get to inform creatively for a client. Which is...a literal dream come true.

It's my second time working with dancers (at a distance and only in generating the initial ideas) and even though I've been dancing my entire life, I still feel so unqualified. When I feel unqualified, I have to hang onto joy by seeking inspiration. It's the only thing that keeps me from running out of the room.

I'm still feeling too vulnerable about the Star Wars preview to even talk about it. I can't even think about it without crying. But we're all fine here now thank you...how are you?

Let's start with a classic to warm up.


Now, onto the World of Dance. 


The song they're using is from this number, and it's phenomenal. Imagine if Lord of the Rings had musical numbers, that's what it's like.


And finally, the brilliant master craftsmen, Les Twins.

4/12/19

Sore Thumb


Howdy. This was a Patreon early release months ago. I decided it was time to publish since I'm in the process of searching for an editor. This essay was originally written for the spoken word and I haven't quite stuck the landing/ending yet. (That's where the editor will help.) It also means I'm presenting it to you with somewhat non-traditional paragraph chunking, a trick I learned at Hello Giggles to help with emotional emphasis.

I hope that even in its unfinished state, it makes you laugh.

SORE THUMB

When I was a kid, I was self-conscious. Not a great revelation, I realize. We were all kids, and to some extent, we were all self-conscious. But my sensitivity was different. How different?

Let me tell you a story.

One frigid February morning, our kind fireman neighbor gave me a ride to grade school in his pickup truck. He got into the driver's side. His two youngest daughters climbed into the middle of the front seat. These girls were everything I wanted to be. They were stylish, pretty, and popular. They were good at sports and they smelled like Jean Nate. Their family was comprised of five beautiful sisters with blonde, silky hair, just like Barbie. And whether I was wrong or right to think this, I felt like Igor anytime they were around. 

Because I was this:  



I hopped into the truck last and closed the passenger door behind me—on my right thumb.

But that’s not the weird part.

What’s weird is that I looked at it and decided not to say anything. It’s only a few blocks to school. It won’t be that bad. I turned to face front and when I did, in my peripheral vision, I saw our neighbor and his daughters staring at me, horrified.

“Is that your thumb in the door?” the middle daughter asked, her side ponytail jostled just a bit as she talked.

I tried to play it cool, “Huh? Look at that. Whoops!” I opened the door, calmly removed my thumb, which was happily housed in a thick knitted mitten, and shut the door again. I looked back at them and laughed a little, shrugged my shoulders and rolled my eyes like, what are you gonna do? The old body part slammed shut in a car door problem

When I got to school and removed my mitten, my thumb was red and bleeding. But I still didn’t say anything. That is the kind of self-consciousness I mean. 



You’re probably wondering why I so desperately needed to fly under the radar. That’s a question I still ask myself, but it’s at least partially because I faced a rising tide of social anxiety. I don’t mean run-of-the-mill self-awareness, like, “Oh, do I have something in my teeth?”

Nor do I mean the mild fear of disapproval your average Jane experiences from time to time. 

My social anxiety back then certainly didn’t fit the current definition of geek or nerd. Words that now make you imagine Tina Fey, Rivers Cuomo, or the latest Silicon Valley billionaire. I want to tell you what it was like to be a nerd before being a nerd was cool, and at risk of repeating myself here, it has a lot to do with self-consciousness.


The Other Side of the Geek Coin


This entry is vulnerable. You've been warned. It's 100% okay to skip this and poke around for the normal, happy geek stuff.


Well then, let's continue.

A few things have recently given me pause about claiming my identity as a geek. Not because I'm sorry or planning on changing it, and not because I'm deep and introspective, but because my therapist is literally making me. I struggle with anxiety in a way that's totally changed the course of my life and I think some of that has to do with the other side of the geek coin.

1. I've been editing an essay about the pain of standing out. It was originally part of my thesis...which was also about being a weird little kid. I'll post it after this. I want it to be funny. I want all the essays from my book to be funny. It's okay to laugh, healthy even. But there's something else.

Many people have remarked about how different the world is now and how much easier it is for those of us who love comic books and action movies and sciencey stuff. But it wasn't always that way. And it wasn't just pop culture that earned me my moniker. It was this.


This


THIS


Like...my face. And my clothes. And my clumsiness, social anxiety, and awkwardness. Everything was, in a word, terrible. (At school, anyway.) Until I met new friends in junior high who adopted me and taught me a little bit about how to blend. I desperately wanted to look like a girl and not like a sickly little boy, so the fact that my first new friend had a mom who was a professional hair stylist definitely proves there is a God and he is loving.

My efforts since that semi-traumatic childhood to reclaim those years of deep-seated vulnerability are what lead me to become a writer. I churned out nerd stuff for content farms starting in 2007.  It was my day job. Because what else are you gonna do with all that knowledge sitting in your head from years of watching movies and tv? That content came out as half movie/tv reviews and half deep, psychological, trauma-based tips and tricks.

We had a friend over recently and we were looking at terrrrrrrrible old YouTube videos we made for a laugh. Even within some of my early theme park stuff from a decade ago, I was talking about panic attacks as a "joke". There are plenty of embarrassing entries here where you can really tell I'm trying to work something out psychologically.

And still today, I try to shrink myself away. I hide. I'm over-sensitive. I'm certain people hate me. I'm desperate for approval and belonging. That makes me a perfect mark for bullies sometimes. I can't even believe I'm saying that as a thirty-six-year-old woman. But I still do people's homework for them in a lot of ways. I still wear a kick-me sign, even if it's invisible. I'm petrified of getting in trouble or doing the wrong thing. And I HATE victim noise. But I'm telling you what anxiety has done to my life. I'm working really hard to change it. But it's been shockingly difficult.

It's...it's not cheerful experience is what I'm saying. It's deeply, deeply stressful. And sometimes very sad to see people roll their eyes and look relieved when I walk away because I'm such. a. spaz.

2. Yesterday, when I was searching for some public speaking tutorials for a client, I stumbled across this. And it ripped my heart out. Please be warned, this isn't for the faint of heart. I cried for a long, long, long time after I watched it. Steel yourself.


I have a loved one who survived a school shooting incident recently. It changed them forever. They're resilient and young and funny and beautiful. They'll be 100% fine with time. Maybe not 100%. Life chips away at everyone, right? But definitely 99%.

I'm watching them deal with some of the feelings I once struggled with in my youth, but like...times a million. Because theirs is mixed with the very real fear that they might die because they stand out. I don't want to say anymore because I respect their privacy so much, but I know that millions of kids...kids, you guys...are feeling the same way. And it just breaks my heart.

It's not a coincidence that my career has taken me into the world of simulations, where I spent three years poking and prodding at people's feelings, trying to get them to be more compassionate. I don't know where this entry is going. I just know that I'm in a moment in time that I hope is brief. I'm starting a new kind of therapy called EMDR. I tweet and delete about it all the time. But I'm wondering if this journey I'm on might help someone else. So maybe more tweet, less delete going forward.

That's where I am today. Kinda raw-nervey. Kinda sleepless and anxious. Writing down bad memories and identifying triggers and looking, really looking, at how much my life has orbited around the sensitivity that developed from the early traumas of standing out in a negative way.

I don't have a neat little wrap-up for this right now. But let's see where this goes, eh?

File this under "late to the party"

I couldn't sleep last night and I just kept thinking about that Rambo meme where he's giving the thumbs up. You know, this one?


I got curious about where it started and found Thumbs and Ammo, an entire website/subculture where people replace guns from iconic movie scenes with the thumbs up gesture. The juxtaposition is always hilarious. Always. 


Go. Peruse. Enjoy.


It Was A Good Week To Be A Space Nerd



Here's coverage from: 

and Wired

Reminds me of this:


And this:


That video scared the bajeepers off me when I was a kid. How about you?

4/8/19

Time to Revisit That Viral High School Production of "Alien"



Makes me want to revisit Be Kind, Rewind, Michel Gondry's excellent treatise on how movie geekdom has the potential to unite the community. There's power in masses of people gathering to share an experience. We mostly think of film-going as an isolated occasion. Funny, isn't it? With so many of us sharing the same theater. The same mythos and emotional arcs.   



Here's another video that explores the subject of deeper meanings in familiar stories. The segment on Neverending Story, in particular, really makes you think.

The History of Myst...it's a Myst-Ory (I'm sorry. I had to.)

Back in high school, my friend Sara and I spent many a weekend crowded around her PC exploring the intrigue of Myst. We also spent a lot of time reenacting Tom Baker episodes of Dr. Who. Needless to say...we were pretty cool.

When I stumbled across this video yesterday, it made for an excellent, engaging Sunday watch. Definitely a time capsule worth opening.


Did you play? Do you miss it? What do you hope Cyan tackles next?

4/5/19

Kicking Around The Norway Pavilion at Epcot...in 2017


It starts with trolls and it ends with trolls, you guys. Prepare yourselves.

Hey, guess who was cleaning their Gmail account and found a million pictures from random travels? It was me. (You're a bad guesser if you didn't get that.) Enjoy a little tour of Epcot's Norway pavilion, by way of low res phone photos, from February 2017. That's right. It's your dream come true. I bet you feel like princess of the internet.

Let's begin with Exteriors, Exteriors, Exteriors: Live from Carnegie Hall!


This church and other churches like it have become a bit of a Pinterest fixation for me. Norway is definitely on my list of places to go. I knew a girl from Finland once. She was super nice and she brought us weird candy that had rum in it. Thanks, student exchange program.

3 Radio Dramas to Listen To After Indiana Jones and the Bridge to Yesterday


...and it's this fantastic live-action radio drama from IndyCast. I originally saw the news via IndyCast on facebook, but this post from MovieWeb covers the news pretty well.


Are you psyched? Will you listen? I may be listening right now. Are you a fan of radio dramas expanding on recognized properties? If so, scroll on my friends, scroll on.

1. As a very weird, but relevant bonus, I happened upon a Haunted Mansion radio drama via YouTube the other day. I was listening to this (it soothes my grumpy soul) and this auto-played afterward.


There's a long history of Haunted Mansion audio, this record came out in 1969, but I used to listen to it on the Haunted Mansion Live365 channel back in the day, you guys. Back. In. The. Day.

2. Here's my favorite Sherlock Holmes to listen to as I go to sleep.


3. There's a particularly fantastic radio broadcast of The Lord of the Rings from 1981 that I really love. You may notice that's a young Ian Holm on the right. Nifty, eh? HIghly recommend you track this down.



3.1 Oh, and there's also The Hobbit

3/27/19

This Private Italian Island For Sale Went Viral

Yes, your own private Italian island. If you'll excuse me...

Perpetually exhausted Eleanor Zissou is eminently relatable.

I'd settle for my own private Idaho. I'd settle very much, thank you. Also, look at this gorgeous poster by Jay Gordon for The Life Aquatic. I found it by accident while unsuccessfully searching for a still of Eleanor arriving to save the day in her rescue boat. (Why don't more of you internet people want to see that image?!)


You should get a poster. Go on, you deserve it.

3/22/19

Fundamental Life Truth brought to you by The Princess Bride




This is what depression and PTSD feel like. But the thing to remember about depression AND the torturer is that they are both liars. Lying liars who lie. Some of you will be freed by therapy, others by medications, some by both, others still by the passing of time. Or the reading of books, general intake of fresh air...you...you get the idea, right? It's different for everyone. 

But it's not forever. No matter how you may feel today. Hang on through the pain. Next time the monster takes hold, remember to talk back. 

Happy Friday - Keep the Faith (in every genre)

Well, okay. Not every genre. But you'll find at least one that's helpful.


Keep believing.


Keep on believing.


I'm a believer.


There can be miracles when you believe.


I believe in a thing called love.


Don't stop believin'.


Have a lovely weekend.

3/18/19

And now presenting...your GIF of the Week (3/18/18)

New Zealand, you are so very fiercely loved. I assure you, all of Orlando is here for you. If you need an ear or a break or anything at all. Say the word. Light the beacons. We'll be there.



Relevant Bonus Material










You're tough and beautiful, New Zealand. We love you.


3/17/19

Happy St. Patrick's Day

The Indian Detective Musical You've Been Missing - Jagga Jassoos


I love foreign film. Or as it's called in the originating country of each movie...film. I've waxed quixotic about the unsettling Swedish genius of Ingmar Bergman and the vulnerable, gut-wrenching glory of Francois Truffaut. Movies from Norway like Troll Hunter and New Zealand's Housebound blew my mind. The Host has one of the greatest scenes in modern movie history.

Heck, I grew up watching all the old Godzilla movies with my oldest sister...without subtitles. I just love movies. Where they come from is irrelevant to me.

But the Indian cinema affectionately dubbed "Bollywood" is what I return to most frequently. Anything lost in translation because of cultural differences only adds to the anesthetic effect of the world's most beautiful films. They remove you from your life so thoroughly, so pleasantly.

We meet Jagga the day his father adopts him. Their bond is immediate and touching.

That said, I want to recommend Jagga Jassoos on Netflix, a Disney-backed musical mystery (Yep. A musical MYSTERY.) situated around a clever conceit. The lead character, Jagga, lives with a stutter but can sing freely. Hence the musical format.

It's a film that's quirky, at times inscrutable, visually stunning, and highly rewarding. If you like Amelie or any of Wes Anderson's films, this movie is for you. Please know that you'll need one or two rewatches. So many people go into international movies expecting ultimate clarity. But it's okay to be confused sometimes. Bewildered, even. Rewatches help. They're good for your brain. Says who? Me. A brain scientist. And also, consequently, a rabid liar.


Brain science!

Just watch Jagga Jassoos with an open mind and an open heart. Please?

Anyway, about the lead character, Jagga. Anyone who lives with a quality or four that makes them different knows that uniqueness tends to push you to the fringe. And the fringe is where you develop expertise. In Jagga's case, he's become an observational mastermind. A detective, albeit an unofficial one.

I want to zoom in on two musical numbers and discuss how they demonstrate the film's refreshing sincerity. Here's the first.



This song takes place halfway through the movie. Jagga has already been on a major adventure with our heroine, a journalist named Shruti. Shruti was following leads and trying to solve the murder of a colleague which lead her to Jagga's hometown. Jagga helped Shruti escape safely after she got a little too close to immediate danger.

After this, he tries to get back to his regular life. But he can't get the tenacious, clumsy writer off his mind. So he leaves town to go find her. Upon arriving at Shruti's apartment, he discovers a party.

During the celebration (and this song) he's glancing around and gathering clues. He realizes the slain journalist was Shruti's boyfriend and this party is a celebration of his birthday, making it something of a funeral. The main chorus, in English, translates to:

They left
They all ate food, drank alcohol, and left
They left, they left

So the song is a quirky number filled with slightly inebriated party guests that works on a literal level. But it's also about a group of people trying to deal with the overall concept of grief and loss on a grand scale. It lends a lot of extra significance to the line, "They left, they left," if you read it that way.

Even the small bit of choreography showcases intentional awkwardness-the goofiness of being human. Temporary. The dancers form a conga line, symbolizing how everyone goes the same way in life. And some of the funnier facial expressions played for comedic effect could be seen as looks of fear if you press pause.

The performance of lead actor Ranbir Kapoor communicates intense compassion and sensitivity as he realizes what's unfolding around him. The bridge of the song leaves no doubt as to the intention. Translated into English, it means:

Ke Life Ki Simple Si Philosophy Yeh Jaan Lo
This is the simple philosophy of life
Hum Yahaan Do Din Ke Mehmaan Hai Yeh Maan Lo
We are just guests here(in this world) for a couple of days
Non-Stop Ek Party Hai
It’s a non-stop party
Jahaan Sabko Aana Hai
Everyone has to come here
I Agree!
Aur Khaana Khaake Daru Peeke Chale Jana Hai
And one has to leave after eating food and drinking alcohol
Khaana Khaake Daru Peeke Chale Jana Hai
One has to leave after eating food and drinking alcohol
Jeena Toh Unhi Ka Jeena Kehlaya (x2)
The correct way of living is indicated by those people
Jo Bhi Bina Chu-Cha Karke
Who didn’t argue/hesitate at all
Khaake Peeke Chale Gaye, Chale Gaye
Just ate and drank and left


It helps to have context, to know just how different this movie is from the standard big-budget musical, which never lost momentum in India like it did here in America. For the record, I'm a fan of the gigantic, glossy productions that regularly release there.

Here's a good example of the massive scale of some of these movies. This is the grand finale of 2014's Happy New Year:


Just like any other country, India has movies of every genre. Another favorite of mine was 2015's independent Angry Indian Goddesses. It takes, "I am Spartacus," to beautiful new levels of relevancy. Highly recommend. But back to the matter at hand.

In Jagga Jassoos, each musical number advances the plot. Average-looking people from every age group are featured throughout the movie and given places of significance in musical numbers. The actors aren't wearing elaborate costumes. The dances aren't always slick or perfect.

In fact, some of the moves reflect Bob Fosse in their intentionally awkward configurations. The entire movie is a celebration of connections and bonds. So the musical numbers reflect that intimacy in both scale and symbolism.

Here's a famous Fosse number, Rich Man's Frug from Sweet Charity. Here's another one from Damn Yankees.
True story, I attempted the second one for my sixth-grade talent show and my best friend Shannon
actually did it with me. We...did not win. 

What do I mean by awkward? Well, I mean it in a good way, a modern contemporary dance way. Check out a couple samples in the caption above before you watch the next number below, Ullu Ka Pattha, for an example. Here, our main characters are searching for Jagga's long lost father across Africa while also dealing with their growing, confusing feelings for each other.

The dance is joyful but jarring, just like falling in love.


I'm sorry to tell you this movie didn't do well in India. But I love it. Truly, madly, deeply. I tend to absolutely cherish the movies audiences in India are currently rejecting. I can't explain it. Thugs of Hindostan? Adored its extensive treatise on colonialism. Jab Harry Met Sejal? I thought it was a feminist masterpiece making a sincere effort at a progressive plot and a modern love story. 

The thing about art that reaches into your heart and squeezes is, it reminds you of who you really are. It holds up a mirror. Great film teaches us about its subjects. But humans are innately self-centered, so they also teach us about ourselves. 

Jagga Jassoos is a movie about a well-meaning weirdo who lives just to the left of society. He finds a way to retain his unique sense of self while helping others with his gifts and talents. He sings and dances his feelings. But maybe that's just what I want to see. Maybe he's who I wish I could be. And that's okay because great art should also push us to reach our potential and follow our feelings.

Watch it and tell me what you see. Two of the best musical numbers can't even be found on YouTube right now, so the movie still holds plenty of surprises. But how about one more for the road?

Here's Galti Se Mistake, a number ostensibly about puberty and the exuberance, self-consciousness, and the inevitable failure of first love. It's weird. You'll love it.


Kinda...Chaplinesque in its movement, don't you think?

What We Do in the Shadows is coming to TV

If you're a fan of the movie, if you like magnificent weirdos, or if you're a human person of any kind, I sincerely think you're going to love this. It's Spinal Tap for the horror genre. I love it already. I pre-love it.

Take a look at the trailer below:


I'd also like to encourage you to check out the New Zealand film and television scene in general.

Why?

2/28/19

When Captain Picard Met Sherlock Holmes (and Spock)


If you don't know Next Gen or Sherlock Holmes (from the books) this might feel like reading in a foreign language. Ancient Nerd, perhaps. (She says, beating you to the punch before you can mock her.) It's wordy and old-timey. If you're not into that kind of thing, it's best you mosey along.

We all know that Dr Moriarty met the crew of the NCC-1701-D. I always thought it was a shame that Holmes never got the chance. So I fixed it.

Actually, the first two parts of this can feel a bit claustrophobic. Internal monologues, amirite? Skip ahead to part 3 to get straight to some of those juxtapositional shenanigans only fanfic can provide. If you like nineties sci-fi, the original Sherlock Holmes, or gathering intel with which to mock me, by all means, continue...

Spaceship Librarian

Here's a five-page preview of a comic it's only taken me four years to make. I'm...you guys...I'm slow.

Story: Yours Truly
Art: Jen Hersey
Lettering: Justin Birch









P.S. Jen has a really great webcomic of her own titled The Sideshow. Definitely check it out!

2/27/19

1414

Story: Yours Truly
Art: Javi Laparra
Lettering: Justin Birch