Monthly Archives: February 2015

Lots and Lots Going On!!

Hi Everyone-

Wow, it has been a crazy few weeks! I haven’t even had a chance to read Harry Potter recently, that’s how busy I’ve been. How are you all doing out there? Staying warm? Try to stay warm. Be safe. Wear layers and warm socks.

Since things are so busy, I thought I’d share some highlights, basically in bullet form:

-I got promoted on the suicide hotline from volunteer to supervisor! This is a big deal for me. I have been volunteering there since 2012 and logged over 300 hours. It’s something I do weekly and care passionately about. I had a chat with the director about things I thought we could do to improve the hotline and get more visibility and he was very interested in my suggestions. It looks like I will be getting more involved there and I couldn’t be happier! For those of you who don’t know, I volunteer for imalive.org, the world’s first text-based crisis hotline. It’s like gchat, only with trained volunteers! We are actively trying to spread the word and get more volunteers, so I will be writing more about my work there and the things we do. Check out the website if you’re interested: https://www.imalive.org/

-I got hired as a freelancer for BuddyTV.com! It’s not a website I was familiar with, but they do a lot of traffic. It’s a big everything-TV website that has recaps, polls, op-eds, and news about pretty much every TV show under the sun (but not Call the Midwife…yet. I am still working on them to convince them there’s a following!). The recaps are posted 1-2 hours after the show is over, so it’s a very quick turnaround. It’s a high-octane writing experience, but I like the adrenaline rush. Please check out my first piece on “Empire” (which honestly, if you’re not watching you should be. I really really like it and I think it’s important to watch shows that are not aimed at you demographically. There are tons of crazy guest stars like Snoop Dogg, Jennifer Hudson, Patti LaBelle, and Courtney Love! It’s breaking records for viewership on FOX!): http://www.buddytv.com/articles/empire/empire-recap-can-the-lyon-55789.aspx

-I am doing a presentation for Watson’s Tin Box, my Sherlock Holmes society! They asked if anyone could do a presentation on pirates. Since this is likely the only time anyone will ever be clamoring for my expertise in a piratical-themed emergency, I readily assented. I am VERY NERVOUS because many members of this club are huge bigwigs in the Sherlockian world. I myself am very new to the club and don’t want to seem impertinent. Hopefully it all goes well! I have been doing a lot of research. I will probably publish my notes here after the presentation next month, so stay tuned!

-My pirate book is going well! I have to have my formal proposal to my agent by 3/13 so I am writing like the wind on it. That takes up the bulk of my day, and all these other things happen either very early or very late at night. 🙂 And sometimes I see my husband, too!

I love you all and wish you warm and happy thoughts 🙂

-Laura

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Fabulous Femme Friday

Hello Everyone!!

Hope you’re staying warm out there, wherever you are. It is the WORST here in DC. I have been worried sick about the homeless people out on the streets in this weather! Worrying and praying are not enough, I know, but I have been doing both. A reminder–practically every state has a “fuel fund”, which you can donate to in order to pay someone’s heat bill that would be shut off otherwise. A wonderful charity!! Here’s ours in DC: http://washingtonareafuelfund.org/   Find one where you live, if you are so moved! Maybe in the spirit of Chinese New Year, where people give red hong bao envelopes of money to younger (poorer) people, you could give some money of your own to help someone in need. Anyway, just a thought 🙂

I am thinking about a new series (since Movies Monday seems to be such a hit)–Fabulous Femme Friday!! Here we will celebrate amazing women–any time period, any achievement, just so long as she’s fabulous! You can suggest people you’d like to see covered. Do y’all like this idea?  I will see how this goes.

My first Fabulous Femme is Alice Guy-Blache, the founder of narrative film-making. She was born in France in 1873 and was trained as a secretary. As a 23-year old, she saw an exposition of the Lumiere Brother’s moving picture equipment, brand-spanking new at the time. She persuaded her boss to let her borrow it so she and her girlfriends could make a moving picture, and a 24-year career was born. She and her husband eventually moved to America to get a jump on the movie business.

She founded her own studio, Solax Pictures, and wrote and directed 2 to 3 films per week! (These were short, single-reel films, but still…) She is thought to be the first person to make a film with a plot. Her movie motto was “Be natural”, which was very different from the cartoonish acting of the day. She was a pioneer in so many wonderful ways: synchronized song, split screen, double exposure, and even color film were all invented by her.

When her marriage ended, she moved back to France and was not able to make a career in the film industry there. She did however teach film, and mentored Louise Weber, who would go on to be another great woman in film-making. Sadly, much of her work has been lost and she is rarely, if ever, mentioned in film history studies. She died in 1968 at age 94. Just another example of a woman being swallowed up by history because nobody sang her praises.

Well, I am singing them! And I’m not alone. There is a documentary being made about her life called “Be Natural”, which Jodie Foster is a part of. Here is the trailer for that film: https://vimeo.com/70380930

I await its premiere with high anticipation! I can’t wait to learn more about her. Here is one of her movies called “Madame’s Fancies”, which is about a pregnant woman who steals food out of people’s hands. At the end she finds her baby in a cabbage patch and all is right with the world. It’s pretty hysterical. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCGVu9LHWxA

Any other women the world needs to know about? Did you know about Alice before? Have a great weekend!!

xx,

Laura

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Movie Monday

Hello All,

A quick one today because it’s President’s Day (aka Washington’s Birthday) and Tom and I have some shopping to do!

First, a shout-Out to the cast and crew of “And then there were None”. You did a wonderful job and I thoroughly enjoyed the show!! Thanks for a great Valentine’s Day.

I saw three movies this weekend: The Last Five years, Thelma and Louise, and I Do I Do I Do (a Hallmark original). Worst first:

“I do I do I Do” is basically Groundhog Day, only for a wedding. A woman has to relive her terrible wedding until she gets it right (aka Marries the Groom’s Brother Instead). This movie was laughably silly, as all Hallmark movies are, but the real gem was that a major plot point in the film is the hot brother teaching the girl how to swim. Which he does, in a lake. Did I mention it’s a valentine’s Day wedding? I wager there is no place ON EARTH where you can learn to swim in a wooded lake on 2/15. I tweeted at Hallmark about this blunder…as yet, no response 🙂

last five years was incredible. Damn near perfect, actually. My best friend and I discovered this CD as 16 year olds and were OBSESSED for roughly 2.5 years. We went right from Moulin Rouge to this. It seemed like this album laid bare all the truths about love–from dizzying highs to lowest lows–and someone had let us in on the secret. It has shaped more of my views on love than I’d like to admit 🙂 so I had some baggage coming in, suffice to say.

There are some too-long lingering shots a la Tom Hooper in Les Mis. Anna Kendrick’s voice is not 100% up to this (extremely demanding) role. In the beginning, their obvious lip-synching bothered me (because these songs are HARD, yall, and their faces showed none of the exertion necessary to sing them.) But all in all, a gorgeous, faithful representative of the original. Some songs, notably the Schmuel song, I watched on the edge of my seat, experiencing them as if for the first time. It was amazing.

Towards the middle, the perspective gets a little muddled for a minute. Tom and I actually had to pause it once to figure out if we were in Cathy’s or Jamie’s timeline. (Tom didn’t even know the concept–you know my story). It’s not s lingering problem, but it does jar you. Also, the conceit of the show (she goes backwards he goes forwards) is not explained in any way shape or form, so if you had no idea (and weren’t watching with a friend) you might be horribly confused for a second.

It was great to watch it with a newbie, because I forgot years ago that some of this is funny! Cathy’s audition, for example, had Tom guffawing. I was delighted by his reaction. I sort of relived my first time hearing it with him.

Jeremy Jordan is wonderful. Funny note–his real life wife Ashley Spencer (SPOILER ALERT) plays his mistress. I could see that conversation: sure, babe, make this intimate movie with a Hollywood star. But I will play your mistress. 🙂

Go see it! What are you waiting for!!!

Lastly, Thelma and Louise was on TV last night. That movie is so damn good. Every time I watch it, I get mad at how topical it still is. Why have we not advanced in our rape culture wars to a point where it seems dated and silly to have to go on the run post-rape because nobody will believe you weren’t “asking for it”? I am ashamed at how much I enjoy when they blow up the tanker. Violence is never the answer. But it sometimes feels like that’s the only way to get heard. And those women get HEARD.

Let’s make more movies like that, Hollywood? It is a travesty this is THE feminist movie. We deserve more than one!! Maybe if we had more, this 20+ year old one wouldn’t still feel so timely.

See you later, gators!!! Stay warm out there.

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Girl Meets Boy Who Lived, Part 3

Hello Everyone!

Well things are heating up in the Harry Potter universe, and I am finding myself getting more drawn in, in spite of myself. I liked this book more than the other two! The conflict felt a little manufactured at the beginning, but all came to a satisfying end.

1. Oh man, this storytelling structure is getting old. NEWSFLASH: if everyone is afraid of someone/something on Pg. 1 of a HP book–THAT IS NOT THE ACTUAL THREAT! It’s like on Law and Order when they arrest someone ten minutes in. THAT’S NOT THE PERP! GET MORE CLUES!!! Suffice to say, I was never, ever concerned that Sirius Black was a bad guy. So a lot of the “tension” was more tiring to me than anything else. I wanted to shake the Weasleys. “Harry will be fine! The bad guy at the beginning is never the real bad guy! Look out for some unassuming minor character instead!!” Sheesh.

2. Professor Lupin is pretty cool. He knows an age-old Muggle secret–everything can be cured with chocolate. I liked him immediately. I did know he was a werewolf because my sister told me, but he is still cool. He’s like Dumbledore, except he ACTUALLY TALKS to Harry and tries to equip him for the shit that is constantly thrown at him. So, snaps for Lupin!

3. Trelawney. I don’t get all the shade everyone throws at her. This is a school for WITCHES and WIZARDS. But fortune-telling is a little too out there? So turning shit into other shit and potions: totally legit, but divination is only for weirdos. Check. I wonder if JK had a bad experience with a palm reader or something. There seems to be a lot of unjustified hate for Trelawney.

4. Side note–how does Hogwarts, the BEST school, have so many subpar teachers? Shouldn’t they be drowning in applications? D-dore is all “oh well, Trelawney means well but she’s batshit cray” and I’m all “why did you hire her, then?” What must it be like at the other, second-best wizard schools? I shudder to think.

5. Hermione spent this book being distant and frustrated. This annoyed me. I thought they all got somewhere with their friendship! I thought Useless Ron decided they were friends! And now they all ignore her and fight with her. I know she took away your fancy broom, Harry, but grow up. She’s trying to save your life. Boys and their broomsticks, amirite? Hermione is supposed to be this feminist icon…I’m just not seeing it yet.

6. I hate to harp on Trelawney, but every other major female character hates her. Hermione and McGonnagal both think she’s stupid. Why all this girl on girl rivalry? I mean, everyone hates Snape but the other teachers treat him with respect for the most part. Why can we not have an array of powerful, talented ladies? Why must they always fight? This was my problem with “Bridesmaids” and it’s bugging me here, too. Can we only have one interesting lady at a time? I demand better.

7. GRYFFINDOR WINS THE QUIDDITCH CUP! FINALLY! This is probably why I like this book so much. Because I ❤ quidditch.

8. The Marauder’s Map thing was cool. I was so glad Harry finally got to go to Hogsmeade, really. I just feel bad for the kid. He’s like “I’m the KING OF WIZARDS somebody sign my permission slip, please?” I just want there to be a book “Harry Potter and the Totally Normal Day”. He deserves it. At least he won quidditch cup. Maybe that’s why I like it so much…it makes Harry happy. He can just be a kid, not this symbol for other people with the weight of the world on this shoulders.

9. The confrontation with Snape/Pettigrew/Lupin/Sirius was a little boring to me. i was like, somebody do some magic! Quit whining at the Shouting House (or whatever it’s called). But then there was the whole Patronus thing and Harry thinks he sees his dad, but it’s himself, and that’s deep…or something. It’s just a little disappointing to me because it seems like James Potter was sort of a dick. So Harry misses this dad he never knew, but it doesn’t seem like he was all that great. I wish Harry and Snape could have bonded and talked about his mom and Snape could have been a protector for Harry instead of a *secret* protector that makes Harry feel bad all the time. Isn’t that sad? I feel bad for Snape. And Harry.

10. HERMIONE SAVES THE DAY! Of course she does. With useless Ron out of commission, Harry and Hermoine get shit done. I liked that part. And I want a time turner. Even though it could have Back to the Future-like ramifications, and I know better than to mess with time travel. But welcome back to this book, Hermione. We’ve all missed you.

This is probably a good time to mention The Ronbuldore conspiracy. If you haven’t heard about it, there is an actual person on the internet who thinks Ron is a time-traveling Dumbledore. Mallory Ortberg, bless her sainted heart, is dutifully covering the conspiracy. This groundbreaking scholarship can be found here: http://the-toast.net/tag/ronbledore/   Don’t say I never did nothing fer ya.

See you next time! Stay safe out there.

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“Je Suis” Everyone

My heart is broken this morning. I woke up to the news of the UNC Chapel Hill terrorist attack…on my twitter feed. No mainstream media outlet was at that time (and perhaps still) covering it. Here’s the biggest article I found covering the story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/02/11/reports-3-young-muslims-slain-in-chapel-hill-shooting-n-c-man-charged/

I am devastated that these three young, bright Muslims were murdered by (allegedly murdered, but the shooter turned himself in) a white supremacist. I am ashamed people of my race regularly kill people of color. And I am sad, very sad, there is little to no coverage of this event in the media.

A while ago when the satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” was attacked, the slogan “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) became very popular. Well, just for the record,

I am Muslim.
I am trans.
I am black.
I am gay.

I am any minority that fears terrorist attacks. If you come for them, you are coming for me.

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Jupiter Ascending, 50 Shades, the Hunger Games: Monday Movie Madness!

Hi Everyone,

I think Monday is just going to turn into Movie Monday, in which I discuss the movies I saw over the weekend. Because man oh man, do I see a lot of movies! And I like to talk about them 🙂

1. Jupiter Ascending. I have to say, I really enjoyed this! Like, non-ironically enjoyed it. Was some of the dialogue laughable? Absolutely. Were there some plot holes that left me scratching my head? Totally. But it was really, really pretty. The special effects were jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The 3D was perfect (and I don’t even like 3D). And it was fun! I laughed, I gasped, and occasionally got emotionally invested. Who could ask for anything more?

The husband was less enthusiastic. He thought it was super stupid. I pointed out that it was about as stupid at the Matrix or the Terminator, which made him really mad, to put it lightly. We almost had a little argument about it. It got me thinking–why is a movie that women are enjoying in far greater numbers than men derided as junk, while classic “guy” films like the terminator are sci-fi classics?

I could be going totally conspiracy theory here, but hear me out. I think that “Jupiter Ascending” may be an action movie aimed at women who like action movies. Lana Wachowski, a woman, is one half of the Wachowski siblings directing duo responsible for this film. Could it be that this movie, featuring a female protagonist who yes, does get rescued, but who also makes her own choices, does not have a gratuitous sex scene, and has secret powers, is the kind of thing a woman would make for other women? (As opposed to what Paul Feig or Joss Whedon think what women want?) Throughout the film, I did enjoy copious amounts of shirtless Channing Tatum. And I ogled the minute details on Mila Kunis’ several ornate ball gowns. These details were lost on my husband–because they were not put there for him. They were there for me. Is this why men are  by and large disliking this movie?

I invite your refutations and criticism. I don’t think that any man who dislikes this film is a misogynist. I just think that, given some of the details of this movie, that perhaps it is subtly subversive–a movie for women that’s not about “girl power” and female friendship, but about blowing stuff up and sci-fi majesty. It hits people in a weird place–they’re not sure why they don’t like it. Perhaps it’s because it wasn’t made–unlike most movies in Hollywood–for their enjoyment? What do you think, readers?

2. 50 Shades of Grey is coming out soon, have you heard? I just want to make something very clear about it, which I feel is a viewpoint that’s getting lost in the right vs. left shuffle. 50 Shades isn’t bad because it’s porny, or because it depicts a BDSM lifestyle. It is bad because it depicts an abusive relationship and pretends it’s romantic. There is nothing inherently bad with S&M, so long as it is “safe, sane, and CONSENSUAL.” (emphasis mine) There is nothing about this “relationship” that’s consensual–he ignores her safewords, belittles her feelings, threatens her, stalks her…this is Stockholm Syndrome if it’s anything. It is abuse–it is not love.

I am glad that some women (including women I know) enjoyed this book because it allowed them to be bold about sex. It introduced them to written erotica and made them feel like it was okay to like sex, to enjoy it, to be turned on by less than vanilla things. Anything that allows women to think positively about sex has at least some good in it. But I am very concerned about the harm this will do to a)women who look to this for romantic inspiration (it’s so hot when he ignores my safeword) and b)people in the BDSM community who will be ostracized by those who don’t understand that this book/movie is NOT an accurate representation of that community. So if you enjoy this book–enjoy it! None of my business what gets you off. But be aware of what it does and does not represent.

3. Hunger Games was on last night. HUNGER. GAMES. I love this book and this movie so darn much. Every time I see it/read it I find something new to love. Katniss Everdeen is a gosh-darn miracle and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. She is the real-est hero I’ve ever come across in YA lit. We’re talking Huck Finn levels of realness, here. And this series says so much about the political process, the power of the media, the people we follow, what it really takes to change things…sigh. So. darn. good. My only regret is that ABC did not show “Catching Fire” right afterwards, because I could have totally done a marathon. I would drop everything when this movie is on. That’s how much I love it.

What do you think, readers? Am I overselling Hunger Games? Or Jupiter Ascending? Let me know! I finished “Prisoner of Azkaban” last night, so there should be a Girl Meets Boy Who Lived post coming your way before Friday!

Love you all.

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Christian cleavage

Yes!!! Yes yes yes! This article is fabulous. Just wanted to share it with you all!

I love that this article cuts through the BS and says “women’s bodies are not shameful. They shouldn’t have to cover them up to protect me. I should be responsible for my own urges.”

What do you think? Agree/disagree? Don’t care?

Let me know!
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/worldview/christian-cleavage-probably-isnt-problem?utm_source&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=1%20Title&utm_campaign=RELEVANT%20Newsletter

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