The Bachelorette Season 11 Premiere, Part 1: Subtle Shade

“Tonight, we will have not one, but two beautiful women meeting 25 of the most eligible men in America… will this be awkward and probably a bit painful? Sure.”

This is host Chris Harrison’s surprisingly blunt opener to season 11 of The Bachelorette, one of the jewels in the crown of reality television. Each year the show tells a tale as old as time: a woman with the complexion of a Starbucks Blonde Roast and the personality of a coffee cup sleeve wades through a veritable ocean of personal trainers who love their mothers in hopes to find “the one.”
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.26.37 AMThis season throws us a curveball by kicking off with two prospective bachelorettes. The 20-odd hopeful men must cast their votes and decide who among the ladies will be the bachelorette.

I skipped out on the previous season of The Bachelor where bachelorette contenders Britt Nilsson and Kaitlyn Bristowe were first introduced. In fact, my only exposure to The Bachelor/ette series was season 10 of The ‘ette, where most recent bachelor Chris Soules was pulled from.
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.28.10 AMChris is like a walking, talking piece of plywood, so my assumption was that any woman trying to win his love on season 19 of The Bachelor was a dumb dumb. BUT in approaching a brand new season of the series, I have to put aside my preconceived notions and take these hopeful bachelorettes for what they really are (or for what the showrunners make them out to be).
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 10.12.53 AMApparently Kaitlyn Bristowe is “funny, sexy, and sometimes completely inappropriate.” They show clips from her season of The Bachelor where she makes dick jokes and generally seems like a good time gal. She’s got a slight snaggletooth and too many teeth for her mouth, which in my opinion is the mark of a fun woman. She also has an ankle tattoo! Let the games begin!
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.29.45 AMBritt Nilsson is described as “sincere, emotional, and very loving,” i.e. boring. But she is BEAUTIFUL, if not in a boring way. She has that kind of Disney Channel starlet beauty that we’ve grown all too accustomed to: gigantic eyes, a perfect sheet of silken hair, the silhouette of a bobblehead doll. Compared to firecracker Kaitlyn, she seems like a dull choice to carry a show. But Britt is a beautiful cryer, which is a must for any bachelorette (I made reference to this in my only other online commentary of The Bachelorette).

It’s time to meet the eligible bachelors!


Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 8.51.55 AMJonathan seems gay and has a cute 5-year-old son with some badass rockabilly hair.


Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.36.26 AMJoe is from Kentucky and his eyes are a little close together/move at different paces. There is a significant dent in his forehead that may or may not correlate with his brain functions.


Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.39.20 AMJosh is a law school graduate and stripper with hella tattoos. Also seems gay. Has American Psycho eyes.


Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.42.50 AMBrady “has melodies inside him. Songs that marry together both pain and joy.” Soulfully sings aggressively mediocre soft rock songs at the piano. Trying to jumpstart his music career through The Bachelorette.


Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.44.38 AMJoshua is another country boy. But he welds! Put him and American Stripper Psycho together and we could have a genderswapped Flashdance! He has fuzzy dice hanging from his rearview mirror 😦 But he did weld a fucking rose for the ladies! A beautiful one at that.


Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.46.46 AMJared looks like Ashton Kutcher’s evil, Steve Jobs-ier brother. Nicely sculpted eyebrows. Has created a superhero alter ego called “Love Man,” who, in his words, “represents trustworthy and understanding.” He’s obviously not “Sentence Structure Man.”


Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.48.40 AMTony is a healer.

… I’ll repeat myself: Tony is a HEALER!

Tony keeps talking about how “disconnecting from the world” is great, and how each moment in his life is like a piece of a puzzle that will one day “reveal itself.” The words “connection” and “energy” get tossed around a lot. Tony definitely has followers. And not in a Twitter way.


Before our bachelorettes meet the men for the first time, Chris Harrison takes them aside to address the awkwardness of the situation (after all, this is the first time in Bachelorette history that men have emerged from a limo to greet two women). And how does the show handle this? Why it ups the discomfort, of course! Making the two women stand yards apart so that the men will have to choose who to greet first.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.06.57 AMBritt tries to be peaches and cream towards everybody, including her competitor. She smiles and shrugs sweetly at the awkward and haphazard nature of it all.
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.36.49 AMBut Kaitlyn acts somewhat bitchy towards her… and I LIKE IT! While Britt tries so hard to please everybody and seems aware of every blink of her Bambi eyes, Kaitlyn casts some major side eye at her and freely busts out less-than-flattering exasperated expressions.

She would intimidate the hell out of me in real life, but this is good TV!

She would intimidate the hell out of me in real life, but this is good TV!

When the first wave of men emerge from the limo, all eyes are on Britt. Kaitlyn purses her lips in frustration as guys beeline to Britt. One man claims that he liked Kaitlyn but “lost his words” around Britt. Another greets Britt with “Hi, Disney princess,” which is upsetting on many levels.

While Britt tries her darnedest to play the humble “I can’t believe I’m here!” girl-next-door, she can’t resist the urge to throw some subtle shade at Kaitlyn. She says: “I almost feel bad being so excited because Kaitlyn is so nervous. She doesn’t seem quite herself right now. That’s kinda sad.”

SHAAAADDDDEEEE!

SHAAAADDDDEEEE!


I don’t like Britt, let’s just get that out of the way. She seems totally insincere and bland and I just don’t get why she’s here. Well, obviously to further her own career—that’s why anybody goes on these shows—but Britt is just so boring, I don’t see what her possible future in the media could be. I’m guessing her five year plan involves becoming a mommy blogger and developing her own “lifestyle brand.” But I just don’t get that kind of thing. I guess it’s useful or inspirational to other vapid and untalented women who hope to “break through,” but bigger picture: Who really needs that?

What we need is a bachelorette who’s gonna cause some hot tub controversy. A woman with sparrow tattoos who lives every day like it’s happy hour at T.G.I. Friday’s. A woman who can really contribute something to the pop culture trash heap that endlessly fascinates, disgusts, and inspires us.

To clarify, I don’t think Kaitlyn is trashy, and I don’t think mommy bloggers are the worst. But I don’t think we should make role models out of bland, inoffensive women who just want desperately to be everyone’s piece of cake. For better or for worse, we need women on the screen who are willing to take risks and shake up the usual order of things. We need women who will stir the shit and get people talking. Enough basic bitches with perfectly-parted ombre hair. Let’s hear what the jokester with the ill-advised tattoo has to say!


Back to business: Britt meets single father Jonathan, who is the first man of the evening to grab her attention.
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 10.08.49 AM“He has a little sparkle in his eye,” Britt says. “There was some little twinkle going on. I just felt something.” Yeah, that was your gaydar pinging.

The men who are now in the house start talking about their impressions of the girls. The consensus seems to be that they’re bowled over by Britt. Thankfully, there is soon a shift in limo exit patterns, and the new crop of guys start to gravitate towards Kaitlyn. One man goes straight for Kaitlyn and doesn’t even try to whisper that he hopes she wins. Kaitlyn shoots Britt a bitchy side smile.

LOVE IT.

LOVE IT.

A hockey player greets Kaitlyn with a pun about wanting to “puck” her. She then meets Ol’ Kentucky Eyes who brings her moonshine. Now I see why I identify with Kaitlyn so much. These guys’ attempts at “wooing” her really hit close to home for me.

Both ladies are feeling this personal trainer, Shawn B., who reminds me of a doofier version of Ryan Gosling. But har-de-har-har, he’s here for Kaitlyn!
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 10.36.00 AMKaitlyn, who has emerged from her nervous funk and, let’s be honest, is excited for the dick parade that’s passing through, runs inside to say hi to everyone who’s arrived and remind the previously Britt-mystified men that she’s also a person, and a charming one at that. It’s a power play, for sure, but she’s playing to win, dammit!
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 10.42.21 AMStarting to feel the burn of Kaitlyn’s shift in fortune, Britt throws even more subtle shade. She says, “I know [Kaitlyn] wants to win and be bachelorette, but I want to play by the rules and be fair. I just have to play the way I feel is right.” BOOOOO, hush, Britt. (Actually, I totally feel you, Britt. I just don’t want to watch you for the next 10 weeks).

Britt adds: “If you asked me before the limos came, I would have said I think I would be the bachelorette just because of… how good I feel about this. But some of these guys are on team Kaitlyn.” (i.e. “I thought I was the hotter one!)

Tony the Healer arrives and Britt totally buys into his new age spiel. “He seems so sweet. He seems like a really sincere guy,” she says. She would totally join his cult.

We also meet Corey, an investment banker who looks like a brunette Max Headroom. Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 1.44.47 AMI should point out that in addition to having two personal trainers, the cast also touts two men from the world of finance. One an investment banker, and the other a former investment banker. So we know whose coke addiction is under control and whose isn’t.

A man known as Shawn E. who is an “amateur sex coach” drives onto the premises in a hot tub car. You would think this vehicle would carry its water in some sort of flatbed or something. Nope. The car is just straight up filled with water. And Shawn E. emerges, his suit drenched from the breast pockets down.

I'd like to think

I’d like to think “Amateur Sex Coach” means he just informally watches a lot people have sex and puts in his two cents.

This is absolutely one of the more amazing things I’ve seen, but hot-tub-car-sex-coach is immediately one-upped by a man driving a CUPCAKE CAR. I’m not making this up!
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 10.57.19 AMBack inside, gay single dad Jonathan contemplates what might happen if he falls for both women: “If we don’t make that genuine connection with one, maybe we have it with the other, or maybe we have it with both, and then we move to Utah or something like that and have a dual wedding!”

“And then, maybe we have to marry GUYS! Hahahaha wouldn’t that be crazy?!”

Both women come inside to greet the bachelors all together and get in a little one-on-one time. Britt, the future mommy blogger that she is, is hopeful that in her earnest quest for true love, she will be chosen as the bachelorette. She says of Kaitlyn: “We’re just different and maybe that’s something that’s different about us, is what we’re looking for and how serious we are about it.” Subtle shade for days.

Tony the Healer has a sit down with Britt and confides in her. “When you hugged me… I really needed that at that moment.” He came to the competition for Kaitlyn, but Britt’s just one of the universe’s puzzle pieces, you know? And he’s gotta respect that. So he changes his tune and is now gunning for Britt.

“… to follow me and my fellow believers to the next universe.”

Also, I think Tony the Healer was recently punched in the eye. A rogue follower, perhaps?
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 11.30.00 AMChris Harrison asks the men to cast their votes for the bachelorette at a shrine-like altar, where framed portraits of Britt and Kaitlyn hang above carved wooden boxes shrouded in candlelight. This is totally Tony’s scene and he jumps at the chance to be the first to vote. I am not shitting you, Tony lays hands on the boxes and reads their energy before making his decision.
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 11.25.09 AM“The energy coming from the chest with Britt’s name on it was pulsating,” says Tony.

Kaitlyn charms her suitors with dirty jokes and plenty of hand touching. Apparently this is a turn-on for men, while I find that a strange man touching my hand elicits a reaction of near sprinting away while threatening, “Back off! I learned about self defense class in middle school! I never took one, but I meant to!”
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 11.52.05 AMBritt’s approach during one-on-ones is more blinking her giant wet eyeballs as many times as she can at a potential mate. This also proves effective for her, as many men come away in awe of her beauty, and let’s be real, not much else. I think there’s someone off-screen who wets Britt’s eyeballs between takes because those babies are consistently sparklin’.
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 11.56.02 AMAlso in the mix is Ryan M., who heckles his competition and takes full advantage of the free bar, which, like, duh, isn’t that point of being on reality TV? He gets pretty hammered and yells “Is this the gay Bachelor?” This moment is meant to show how obnoxious and disrespectful he is, but between Jonathan the gay single dad and American Stripper Psycho, homeboy has a point.

Ryan proves to be an actual asshole when he gets inappropriately handsy with the ladies (but truth be told, I wasn’t entirely sure of his dbag status until a few minutes later, when he decided to take a drunken dip wearing a tiny black speedo).
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 11.36.55 AMChris Harrison takes the sloppy Ryan M. aside and suggests he return home. For the first time all night, Ryan is stoic and quietly receptive to the words of another. While the engine of a van awaiting his entrance runs quietly,  Mr. M stands still for a few unnerving moments. He reaches into his pocket for something as Chris Harrison looks on nervously.
Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 11.42.56 AMMy gut feeling is that he’ll throw a fast punch at Chris or throw a molotov cocktail at the house! But The Bachelorette isn’t quite at that level of exciting. He just pulls out a hanky and climbs into the van. Lame.

Anyway, votes are cast and the fellas seem decidedly split between the two women. I have a horrible feeling Britt will be chosen and lead us through a season of endlessly talking about the child she sponsors while flipping her hair and frolicking through the autumn leaves in a $500 “casual” sweater. But I also have a suspicion that the show will carry on with two bachelorettes, because, well, why the fuck not? This series is tired and America is ready.

But of course, we won’t find out until the next episode.

I’m team Tony the Healer, tbh. How about you?

Posted in Humor, Pop Culture, Reality TV, Recap, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Year The Oscars was just like, “Fuck it.”

Lupita Nyong’o looked beautiful as she gave out the first award of the evening. She stumbled once, saying “And the actor goes to…” The audience laughed, trying to break the tension, but you know anyone who actually cared about that award was not having it. They were just like, “Bitch, did I WIN?!?!” Anyway, she’s lovely and had an awkward handshake-or-cheek-kiss? moment with J.K. Simmons, whose speech was nice. I thought, “He’s come a long a long way since that Hitler moustache in Spider Man.” Also that episode of Nip/Tuck where he got female breast implants for the shit of it.
Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.32.45 PMAs Neil Patrick Harris did a bit with Octavia Spencer (actually, I think he more did a bit at her, since she seemed mildly annoyed by the whole thing), I thought about The Help, which had some great performances but didn’t really add anything new to the conversation about race in the 60s. Except the part where Octavia Spencer stuck it to her boss by shitting in a pie and feeding it to her. WHAT?! Who wrote this stuff? And can we just process the fact that Octavia Spencer shit in a pie and won an Oscar? If that’s all it takes, I should be an Oscar winner 3 times over!
Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 9.00.17 PMBradley Cooper brought his mother to the Oscars, which is sweet. And listen to J.K. Simmons (and Mr. T), folks, and treat your mama right! But I think Bradley Cooper is gay. Gay, but not publicly out, possibly for fear of losing leading man roles. I spend a lot of time on gay gossip forums at work (because life is short, dammit, and we find joy where we can), and I am simply convinced he’s gay. Though, I’ve wanted to believe it ever since I saw him have sex with Michael Ian Black in Wet Hot American Summer. I think it was meant to be funny, but that was not the effect it had on my 13-year-old self—just beginning to dip my toes in homoerotic waters and, man, the water was fine! Anyway, my point is I hope Bradley Cooper is happy and that he gets what he wants out of life.

I don’t like J. Lo, but I liked her dress a lot. And how does she still look so youthful?
The blood of her back-up dancers.
Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 7.35.26 PMAlso, J. Lo and Meryl Streep seemed to be having a surprisingly fabulous time sitting next to each other. When Patricia Arquette took the stage and said some things about equal rights and wages, Meryl Streep stood the fuck up and was like “YASSS GIRL!” which was fun, and J. Lo seemed excited, too. Though I think she was more excited by Meryl’s energy. How couldn’t you be? Meryl’s like a chill older dog that’s seemingly been around forever, and you think “This old dog ain’t got any new tricks. I’ve seen all your tricks, dog,” but then the dog will bust out some hind leg work, or star in a couple movie musicals, and you think, “Huh. Well, you’ve still got my attention.” Go Meryl.

There was an elaborate ruse where men dressed like lobby boys from The Grand Budapest Hotel would escort lady presenters to the mic to distract from the fact that they straight up couldn’t walk in their dresses. Take a cue from Shirley MacLaine, ladies, and just go full Minnelli with a loose sequined pant!

sdss

Ol’ Shirl and Milena Canonero, who won Best Costume Design for The Grand Budapest Hotel, were bringing it in their sequined pants and chokers. Though I prefer Canonero’s take. She’s like a classy European disco queen and I want her to be my mentor.

Tegan and Sara and The Lonely Island came out to sing some “Awesome” song from The Lego Movie. It was very loud and colorful, and I felt like I was being visually assaulted by subliminal meme and internet imagery and I did not like it. And I just felt bad for all the older people in attendance. Clint Eastwood is a tough dude, but I bet even he sat through this with a bewildered expression, remembering growing up with a victrola. It’s a miracle Maureen O’Hara and Harry Belafonte didn’t full on seize in the aisles.

The best part of The Oscars may have just been my dad’s commentary. At one point Jared Leto came out and my dad said, “If somebody killed him, he’d be alive three days later.” And he was right. Jared Leto really did look like Jesus. Jesus in a Carrie prom tux.

Nothing behind the eyes. Nothing. He'd turn your water into wine, all right. But he'd totally slip something into it.

Nothing behind the eyes. Nothing. He’d turn your water into wine, all right. But he’d totally slip something into it.

They should give out an Oscar for “Best Nervous Energy” to the more reserved halves of Oscar-winning teams. This was the first time in all my years of viewing that I mainly focused on people who had just won Oscars, but had to wait their turn to speak while their more eager partners delivered fucking monologues into the mic. Their faces were canvases painted with elation and anxiety: “I won! Oh my God! I can’t believe it! Ok, Jeff, you almost done? Wow, this is great. Ok… we know there’s starvation in the world, Jeff, just let me thank my family!”

Michael Keaton and his gum share a love that can’t be denied. Any time the camera cut away to Michael Keaton, there he was just a-chompin’ away. Theater etiquette be damned! Michael Keaton was in a kick ass movie and did his mama proud and he’s back in our living rooms after too long and he’ll chew gum if he damn well pleases! I was donezo after about an hour of The Oscars but I once I saw Keats and that gum, I vowed to stay awake to see him accept Best Actor while chewing Nicorette.

Not sure if you can spot the gum in this pic, but either way, this is definitely the face Keats makes she nye finds an extra piece in his pockets. It's the simple things.

Not sure if you can spot the gum in this pic, but either way, this is definitely the face Keats makes when he finds an extra piece in his pocket. It’s the simple things.

Rita Ora came out & sang a song that wasn’t particularly exciting. My dad can confirm this.
0222152203Big Hero 6 won Best Animated Feature and I was like, “Not Frozen?” And then I realized… Frozen came out in 2013!! And people still can’t LET IT GO! Womp womp. But seriously, after a full year and some change, it’s still the most talked about, sought after, parodied animated movie around. That’s how starved America was for another Disney princess. There’s only so many “Which Disney princess are you?” quizzes you can take before you just don’t know anymore. Finally, Disney bestowed a generation of young women who waste of countless hours of their life on the internet with a princess who has no self-control. Elsa is our rightful champion. Though I have to say, I’ve always felt drawn to the darker Disney movies and Quasimodo will forever be my own version of a Disney princess.

Disney-Quasimodo-5929So the voice-over artist who says things like, “This is Jennifer Lawrence’s first win and second nomination,” and “The 87th Annual Academy Awards will be right back. Sponsored by JC Penney. When it fits, you feel it!” Which by the way, GROSS. Worst slogan ever. Or best? Depending on how jaded and disgruntled that ad person was.

Anyway, that announcer actually fucked up! And I have never once heard that happen. The presenters are always unpredictable when it comes to reading the teleprompter and pronouncing foreign names, but the actual announcer lady whose voice is so clear and whose cadence is so perfect she’s almost robotic ACTUALLY MESSED UP! I think she said “Mominated” (Freudian slip?) and then backtracked a little and corrected herself.  And my brain shut down a little. My world changed a little. And that woman hit the bottle hard that night. You know it’s true. She sat in a sound booth digging her nails into the palm of her hand, bleeding a little and trying not to cry before she squeezed out the last syllable. “Fuck you, MOM! YOU DID THIS TO ME! I “MOMINATE” YOU FOR WORST PARENT!”
And later that night, she crossed paths with Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy, who was like, “It’s been a great run, hun, but we have a reputation to maintain.” Meanwhile, Sean Penn presented Best Film like a cavalier, glassy-eyed dildo and made an immigrant joke and everyone’s like, “Whatever, it’s Sean Penn.” And poor announcer lady whose name I don’t even know (how unfair is this business?) drank herself into oblivion that night and drove her car off a bridge while Pearl Jam’s “Last Kiss” blared from the radio.

This is my own mythology, by the way. I’m sure she’s fine and Cheryl Boone Isaacs probably didn’t care. But you know that moment sucked for her and her impeccable track record.

Not lastly, but close to lastly (consider this the written version of the Oscars wrap up music, if you will), I would like to address John Legend and Common’s performance which was absolutely the best of the night. Everyone stood up, everyone cried, Chris Pine cried beautiful tears out of his pretty boy eyes.
Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.51.46 PMJohn Legend is a sexy man, so that’s what I would want to call his voice, but the mental images I have when I hear him sing are of eating a good stew in the winter or watching a kitten play with a ball of yarn. And it’s confusing to tie that imagery up with “sexy.” I think what I’m shooting for is more comforting and satisfying. That’s what his voice is. This post is going off the rails. The wrap up music is swelling and crescendoing—get off the stage, bitch! Ok, just a few more things!

When The Sound of Music segment began, I thought “Jeeeeesus, who better to commemorate The Sound of Music than Lady Gaga?” and was internally eye-rolling. But homegirl BROUGHT IT. LORD. I had no idea she an upper register like that and she appeared to just be having a ball twirling around in her dress and swinging her arms around with her crazy gray (?) hair flying everywhere. And then Julie Andrews came out and I couldn’t handle her interacting with Lady Gaga. I was jotting down notes for this post and actually wrote this:
Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.49.14 PMBut I really was touched by the moment Julie and Gaga shared. They had a warm hug that was just so familiar, like they knew one another’s journey. Well, I can’t speak for Gaga, but Julie Andrews definitely had some words of wisdom for her about that time she showed her boobs in a movie in the 80s.

Also, I’ve had my qualms about Gaga in the past, but I admire how hard she worked to reach the I don’t give a fuck stage of her career. Most performers don’t get there until well into their 50s, and Gaga is fucking living it at 28. Many young female performers start strong, have a career lull, and try desperately at comebacks. Gaga started strong, kept coming back stronger, and now is like, “Maybe I’ll be 20 pounds heavier for awhile. Maybe I’ll be BFFs with Tony Bennett and just channel 1980s Cher for awhile.” She was a painful perfectionist in every way for about four years, and frankly seemed a little batshit. Girl still seems crazy, but seems like she’s having fun and doing what she wants! And let’s marvel for a moment that she’s reached the IDGAF mentality before Miss Britney Jean!

John Travolta tried to make fun of himself and just set himself up for more of the same by cooing at Idina Menzel and touching her face like she was a small child or pet. It was weird. And he has all the sex appeal of a youth pastor.
Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.54.54 PMMatthew McConaughey presented, and appeared to be preparing for his upcoming role as Father John Misty.
Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.56.37 PMEddie Redmayne won Best Actor and I was kind of bummed Michael Keaton didn’t win, but Eddie’s speech was lovely and gracious. And then he started talking about ALS and I was just waiting for one of those faux lobby boys to enter stage right with a tub of water so he could cap off his speech with the Ice Bucket Challenge. Because that’s just the kind of year we had.

And Julianne Moore won Best Actress. And God saw that it was good. And God saw The Kids Are All Right and really liked it. “That Mia Wasikowska’s gonna be big,” He said.

Posted in Film, Humor, Pop Culture, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Before We Make Resolutions, Let’s All Pat Our 2014 Selves on the Back

Well, well, well, lookie what we have here—another year bites the dust (imagine me as a 90s TV bully in a skull cap for full effect).

So this year was a pretty significant one full of many “life changes” (in the occupational sense, not the menopausal). Of course there were some rough patches, some down days, some tough lessons to learn. And though I may look back on some of the more difficult or painful moments from this past year and well up, cringe, or just plain guffaw, I don’t regret any of them.

Where I once brushed past the aftermath of mistakes I’d made or obvious red flags ahead of me, dismissing them as roadblocks getting in the way of my carefree youth (though let’s be real, I’ve always been 45 at heart), I now accept the lessons they have to offer. I’m still an idiot like 63% of the time, but I’m working on it, and trying to become the best me I can be, or some Dr. Seuss shit like that. Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 6.23.14 PMSomething I’m trying to do is treat myself more kindly. I can be a real hardass dad to myself sometimes, especially when the year is coming to a close. I get mad at myself for not sticking to resolutions I’d made, for being lazy or not daring enough, and for the year not having some sort of overall wow factor to it. When you’re too focused on taking inventory of what went wrong throughout the year, it’s easy to lose sight of the victories, however small, that the year held for you.

I didn’t become a totally new person this past year, equipped with more charm, self-assurance, and good fortune than is innate for me (which is what I secretly hope for every new year). But I grew up a little. I allowed myself to let go of some baggage and negativity. I took more chances than I ordinarily would. I was bold (if not in my own reserved way).

Thinking about the rough stuff that happened throughout the year is inevitable, and an important part in shaping our goals for the new year. But I think we all deserve to give our 2014 selves a pat on the back. Let’s not reprimand ourselves for every mistake or missed opportunity, and hope for perfection in the new year. Let’s instead think about the good things, and hope for more of the same.

Here’s the stuff I’m proud of in 2014:


Graduated College!
My actual graduation day was a surreal experience. I showed up kind of late, but excited, to the Baltimore Arena where the ceremony was held, was herded into an awkward line of fellow English majors with whom I never really made friends, and, for lack of small talk, stared at a large poster of Stevie Nicks hanging on the wall across from me for a good 15 minutes. 0522141219However, when I finally entered the enormous arena, Pomp and Circumstance thundering throughout, I did indeed feel triumphant. This was it. The end of a long and perilous journey.

I felt this less so as the 3+ hour ceremony wore on and I had more time to concentrate on how uncomfortably snug my graduation cap was, how my cool and aloof crush from semesters past was sitting behind me, and how I probably wouldn’t feel up to a hubcap margarita once this bitch was over.

BUT after the ceremony let out, and after I spent about seven minutes weaving through crowds of camera-ready moms and sun-hatted grandmas, I finally made it to my family. I saw their faces, and could feel that, yes, this whole thing was real.

I don’t think about it often, but I used to be a really shitty student and struggled through half of my educational career. I think for a long time there were many doubts that I would even go to college, let alone stop attending summer school (which, I might add, I was bomb at… although I don’t know if there’s much pride in being the best at summer school). I improved a lot once I started high school and had more control over my schedule, and once I started college and could really choose my own path, I don’t think there was ever any question that I would graduate. Still, thinking about how far I’ve come, how impossible school used to seem and how second nature it became… well, it’s a trip.

And when my dad came to hug me, with this expression of immense pride that I’d never seen before, it all came together for me, like, “Fuck, I made it!” The day had been so long and weird and full of half-hearted attempts to properly express my emotions to people sitting next to me who I only sort of knew from that one class. But here were the people who saw me through the whole journey, knew the unfocused, daydream-y student I’d been since preschool, and remembered when the odds were against me. And here I was with a damn college degree. And that’s when I finally had my graduation aha moment. It was great.

10398078_10152531427284595_4542944881072280715_n

My wonderful family. The man behind my dad looks like he is tipping his hat to me, but he is probably not.

The day ended as surreally as it began, with me strangely throwing up profusely (after half a quesadilla and only a reasonable sized margarita) and falling asleep by 9. Big days for me just never turn out the way I expect them to. But in hindsight, it wasn’t all that bad. In a way, it was a reflection of my college journey itself: weird, confusing, exhilarating and boring all at once, peppered with vomit, and ultimately offering something to reflect upon and learn from.

To top it all off, when I received my grades for my final semester a month later, I learned I had gotten straight A’s— a first for me. And I really thought I would never see it happen. Stay in school, kids. It just might be worth it. 10511269_10152602941709595_8250247727781574817_nPut My Degree To Use
For how rewarding graduating college felt, the first few months of being a postgrad sure sucked. I didn’t start looking for work right away, as I wanted a little r&r. But I often forget that for me, this turns into restlessness & remorse. I was bored out of my mind and convinced my degree was useless and I would never be employed (even though I had only applied to two places).

Of course, I found work within a few months and was indeed employable. I even had to turn down some offers! (Although these were mostly from movie theaters and Chipotles in my area that somehow had my email)

The full story of my first postgrad summer is really a post in itself. So I’ll give you the brief version: I did find an internship for which my degree was useful. I write articles for a K-12 educational database. I also do recordings for the website’s ESL programs and write some marketing stuff (i.e. “You don’t want to miss out! Subscribe today!”). It’s great experience and to my surprise, and the surprise of any older adult I’ve encoutnered, I’m actually using my English degree. That’s what you do with a B.A. in English, bitchez!

On the weekends, I work at a book store, which is a job that my degree also helped me get (“I studied English literature, therefore I would be a great asset to your store, which sells literature”).

I’m grateful to be employed. Times is tough. And both work experiences have given me great material to write about in the future. I’m most definitely going to write about the Washington Times building where my internship’s office is located. The building, while beautiful, is very sparsely populated (except at night, when I am certain it is populated by ghosts… the ghosts of print journalism! BOOM). Seriously, though, I don’t know how Stephen King discovered the secret to time travel, all I know is that in the 70s, King was somehow able to see the present day Washington Times building and use it as inspiration for the hotel in The Shining.

Another great thing about my internship is that I get a lot of entertainment out of my work. Here is some of the clip art I have come across in the search for images to accompany my articles:

I search for "friendship" in clip art yields shoddily drawn images of menacing looking kids, who appear to be plotting world domination.

A search for “friendship” in clip art yields shoddily drawn images of menacing looking kids who appear to be plotting world domination.

Played Open Mic Night
During my time at college, my friend and I lazily mused about participating in one of the monthly open mic nights on campus—he’d play guitar and I would sing—but something always got in the way; I had a paper to write, or he had to work. Now my final semester was coming to a close with only a few open mic dates left. A part of me really wanted to do this before I graduated, but I was a little terrified of the whole thing

Although I spent countless hours of my youth on stage, I still get hella nervous performing in front of people, especially small crowds. There’s a difference between performing in a darkened auditorium, mugging and shouting for the approval of a faceless entity, and performing in, say, a well-lit coffee house, where you can see the faces, sense the anticipation, smell the french fries… you get it. I am not comfortable in front of small crowds.

The final open mic night arrived, and I was still unsure if I was going to do it or not. Two hours before it started, my friend informed me that he needed to work on a project and couldn’t make it. I was bummed that I wouldn’t be able to say I had played open mic during my time at school. But then the part of my brain that isn’t a self-defeating sad sack was like, “DUH, you can still do the open mic night! Just get your guitar and go!”

I never had any intention of accompanying myself. From entering college with the ability to only plunk out one Modest Mouse song on the guitar, I had actually developed into a sufficient player by the time I left. I was in no way confident enough in my skills to show them off to strangers, but I was determined to do this one thing before I graduated.

I signed up for the 6th or 7th slot in the night, thinking others would write their names in the blank spaces above mine. They didn’t, and I was the second to perform. Unprepared and shaky, I took to the stage. I broke the tension with a joke about puking on the stage (next stop stand up, am I right?).

Heightening the embarrassment is the fact that I don't have a guitar case. Yep, I carried this bad boy in hand all the way from my apartment to the Commons. 10 minute walk. Awful.

Heightening the embarrassment is the fact that I don’t have a guitar case. Yep, I carried this bad boy in hand like a douche all the way from my apartment to the Commons. 10 minute walk. Awful.

I played a fast, short version of Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own,” and killed it. Well, I fucked up some of the chord progressions and straight up didn’t play the bridge and final chorus, but I belted my heart out and was happy to be up there. Yes, it was terrifying and kind of embarrassing, but so worth it. I finally did that one thing I’d been so on the fence about and boy, it felt güd.

Couldn't have gotten through the open mic without my fan club! Pictured with me are Alex and Rachel, and a small trophy I was awarded (for being a senior and not, as my friends insisted, "winning open mic night.")

I couldn’t have gotten through the open mic without loyal supporters! Pictured with me are Alex and Rachel, and a small trophy I was awarded (for participating as a senior and not, as my friends insisted, “winning open mic night”)

(Finally) Started Making Videos
I actually wrote a whole blog post about this, so I won’t go into it too much, but this was a pretty big deal for me. I’ve wanted a camcorder for many years and have notebooks filled with video ideas (that are probably unusable due to dated references to Justin Bieber’s hair and the 2008 Golden Globes or something).

Point is, I finally got a camcorder and for the first time, am able to see all these dumb ideas I have come to life in a new way. People, who before could only enjoy my Full House fan fiction or crude drawings, can now be enthralled by the gifts I have to offer as a director and cinematographer *tosses hair*

I’m basically Martin Scorsese, guys.

It’s a lot of fun, and who knows? Maybe someday I’ll actually produce something worthwhile!

Below are some other fun/cool/semi-daring things from 2014 I can smile about:


Had One Last Hair-rah
For about seven years, destroying my hair has been a favorite pastime of mine. I have dyed, bleached, hacked off, and shaved every healthy swath of hair that has ever grown on my head. And it’s a damn joy. If you’ve never done it, and you don’t have a job that would reprimand you for it, I highly recommend it. I’m not one for tattoos. I think they look cool and can certainly have real significance… but I mean, one time I saw a picture of a guy with a KoЯn tattoo. So I’m all about playing with your hair. You may do something silly or immature with it, but it grows out.

Photographic evidence of silliness and immaturities past.

Photographic evidence of silliness and immaturities past.

By my last year of college, my hair experiments, as well as my general attempts to appear edgy, had come to a stand still. I set my Doc Martens aside and instead donned a pair of impossibly comfortable fake Ugg boots. And I mostly wore the same Monkees tour T-shirt every day. Though there is something to be said for shrugging off the pressures of looking hip, my new look could have best been described as “extra on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”

When my final semester rolled around, I began to realize that once I graduated and set out on the mythic “job search,” my fashion options would be limited. If I wanted to do something crazy, I’d better do it now. So I went to beauty supply store, bought a bleaching kit and a jar of Manic Panic Infra Red dye, and had at the ends of my hair. My hope was that I could create some sort of alternative ombre effect, but I am neither knowledgeable enough about hair numbers, nor skilled enough with dying tools to pull that off. So I just turned out a brunette with chunks of bright hair. And that was cool. This was after all, my last hair-rah. And it was fun while it lasted. IMG_7174Now I’m back to my roots, quite literally, although instead of fake Ugg boots and a Monkees tee, this bitch is wearing a smart blazer and sharp boots! Marginally paid intern Working woman in the house!

“Getting Out There” in the Dating Sense/Taking More Chances
My experiences with guys were not great in college (i.e. terrible). Let’s just say I was not often on the same page with any of my “suitors,” and as a result, was wary of dating for awhile. Now that I’m out of college not as surrounded by assholes, I feel more optimistic about the whole thing. In fact, I’m being pretty bold. I made a dating profile. I may have even exchanged numbers with a guy via said dating profile and made boring small talk and a flimsy plan to “meet up sometime.” Things are happening. blammo_zps7fe9cb5dFacetiousness aside, I am actually excited about this dating stuff. It’s kind of terrifying, but just allowing myself to try this has made me feel bolder in other parts of life. Allow me to bore you with a story…

Not too long ago, I was at a somewhat awkward work dinner. I was sitting across from a cute former intern with whom I’d never actually worked, but had hoped to meet. I first saw him when I interviewed for the internship and was immediately struck by his floppy hair and ironic loafers. When I told my future boss about my upcoming vacation plans, cute former intern guy chimed in “I heard Asheville is cool.” So I mean, we really hit it off. Then I started my internship, and was dismayed to find out he’d found another job. But here he was! At this weird ass dinner!

I have no idea how to behave in front of someone I’m interested in, but when cute former intern guy mentioned the Korean karaoke place next door, I was actually able to behave like a human being and, in turn, make a joke. He responded to my sterling sense of humor by inviting me to the karaoke place with him and his friends after dinner. I was taken aback. Was he just being polite, or was this an invitation of genuine interest? If so, the scenario still seemed unappealing to me. Singing in front of strangers? Hanging out with this dude’s friends? But in a rare moment, I was able to swat those thoughts away and have some balls. “Sure,” I said, excited to step out of my comfort zone, and possibly into this dude’s comfort zone if you know what I’m saying (gross).

But alas, cute former intern guy’s invite was heard round the table, and after a collective silence, he politely extended the invitation to everybody. So, you guessed it, I went to karaoke with cute former intern guy, his friends, my boss, coworkers, and some weird IT dudes.

I’d never been to Korean karaoke before, but it’s done in a soundproofed private room (like the one in Lost in Translation). Your music is accompanied by videos that seemingly have nothing to do with the song. For instance, Frozen‘s “Let It Go” was paired with a video of a drug-addicted girl begging for money on the streets. My Korean coworker told me that the videos used were clips from popular Korean dramas, so that makes sense (kind of).

I was excited to discover there was a Prince song in the songbook, so when my turn came, I sang “Kiss.” I don’t know if you know this, but the lyrics in “Kiss” include “I just need your body, baby” and “I know how to undress me.” So singing that in front of my boss was kind of the worst.

At least the music video for "Kiss" wasn't playing along with the song. Don't know if my boss could've handled Prince in a belly shirt. Who can, really?

At least the music video for “Kiss” wasn’t playing along with the song. Don’t know if my boss could’ve handled Prince in a belly shirt. Who can, really?

But later I redeemed myself with a tamer selection, and received a perfect score on the song (being the only one to do so all night)! I also sang a duet with cute former intern guy and thought he was smiling at me the whole time, but later realized this was because the lyrics were on a TV right above my head.

Though the night was strange, and didn’t result in me making out with cute former intern guy, I had fun anyway. 90% of the time, if I’m already out, I’ll say no to the proposal of another outing. I am an introvert who needs a good weekend of down time after one night out. But for whatever reason (cute guy), on this night I said yes. And I’m really glad I did! The karaoke got everybody loosened up and laughing after a stiff dinner, I sang in front of a small group (!), got to know some of my coworkers better, and my boss got to see a new side of me (though unfortunately had to listen to me sing “Kiss”).

It was awesome. And I owe it all taking a chance!

Swam Next to a Waterfall
My sister and I were on a trip in Asheville, North Carolina, where there are a lot of beautiful sights to be seen (also a lot of white dudes with dreads). One day, we walked down some rocky steps in a forest to check out a waterfall.

The only other waterfalls I’ve seen were the ones at Niagra Falls, which are almost too big to wrap your mind around. Although you can look right at them, hear thousands of gallons of water crashing onto the rocks, and feel the mist, you still feel like you’re looking at a postcard. They feel far away. This makes for a lot of tourists stepping onto railings to “get closer” and weird desires to jump in (though you would absolutely die). I’m pretty sure this is some kind of phenomenon that has its own Wikipedia page.

Anyway, this waterfall in Asheville was no Niagra piece of work. It was big, but not overwhelmingly so. It was loud, but in a way your ears could process and fuzz out (like, for lack of a better analogy, a setting on SimplyNoise.com). It had a tangible greatness to it and I wanted to get as close to it as I could.

A lot of other tourists stood around my sister and I, all staring at the falls from a close but safe distance. I noticed one or two people approaching the base of the waterfall, and I decided that’s what we needed to do. So I led my sister across some slippery ass rocks (this was a bit of a first as she is usually the instigator of adventurous pursuits). On our walk crawl to the waterfall, we looked like idiots, slipping and falling all over the place, bruising and cutting up our legs, but we made it to the other side.

Once there, I plunged into the freezing cold water and emerged at the foot of the waterfall. I lost myself in the sound and the mist, trying to spot individual droplets before they disappeared back into the sheet of rushing water. It was truly peaceful—one of those “one with nature” moments that I haven’t had many of, as I didn’t grow up in a Jack London story. photo (3)Again, the year wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops, and many of the strides I made were small. But as 2015 is on the horizon, I want to think about the good stuff that made up 2014. Hope everyone else will do the same. Have a happy new year!

"Auld Lang Syne" karaoke! How appropriate!

“Auld Lang Syne” karaoke! How appropriate!


*The 3 of you who read this (though perhaps I’m overshooting), feel free to chime in with 2014 stories of your own!*

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Sometimes I Make Videos

For the past six years, I’ve wanted a video camera. I have innumerable scraps of paper tucked away covered in years of ideas for sketches, characters, compilations, and music videos. I was a theater kid for the better part of my adolescence and I think it affected the way I view the world. I’m always looking at things through a kind of lens, observing the different characters I come across and discovering the potential for a story even in the most mundane of situations.

Although I’ve dipped my toes in nearly every creative pursuit, I’m still figuring things out and trying to “find my voice” (barf). Sometimes I get an idea for a drawing or piece of writing, sometimes I get an idea for a video. I haven’t been diligent about sharing my ideas with others, mostly due to a lack of self-confidence (I’m a regular George McFly), but it seems, nowadays, due to a lack of time. With the free time I do have, I’ve decided I want to see the things I’ve dreamed up come to life, even if it’s not worth anyone else’s time.

There’s a part of me that’s already settling into that curmudgeonly adult sense of “Stop wasting time on your ‘dreams’! No one cares!”

"Thank you. Most interesting. And now I think we've had quite enough of this nonsense."

“Thank you. Most interesting. And now I think we’ve had quite enough of this nonsense.”

But I find my ideas aren’t so easy to shrug off. Every day, there’s something new. Even if it’s just an idea for a series of drawings featuring famous people with verbs for last names (ex: Tom Waits for a bus, Dane Cooks for one, Jeremy Irons his dress shirt, etc.)

Damn it, someone already thought of Walken in Memphis!

Damn it, someone already thought of Walken in Memphis!

As a graduation present, I finally got a video camera. During the unemployed months of my first postgrad summer, I spent hella time filming anything and everything. Some trees! My neighbor’s cat! A drive to Chipotle! It was a ridiculous waste of battery life, but a wonderful release, as I was now able to capture things in a way I’d only imagined.

So I’d like to introduce some of the videos I’ve made over the past few months. They’re not perfect, they’re definitely silly, and they’re probably drawn out at times. But I’m just really excited that I’m finally doing this shit!


With this heartless winter weather starting way too early, I thought I’d take a moment to appreciate the beautiful autumn we’ve had. This video consists of clips from early October to early November, and represents fall in more ways than one (womp womp… stick around till the end and you’ll see what I mean). This was fun to make, though Youtube made the quality a little janky.

Over the summer, I started watching The Bachelorette for the first time. That got old pretty quickly, so I started watching with the sound off and dubbing over the episodes. A bit long, but worth a watch. No context necessary (I certainly didn’t have any)!

Another music video.

Title says it all.

Hope to have more soon! Enjoy Thanksgivin’, y’all.

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So I Stopped Watching American Horror Story (or, A Failed Drinking Game)

**Contains spoilers. Do not read ahead if you wish to avoid AHS spoilers or verbose, pointless ramblings**


“Oh, I don’t really watch TV,” she said smugly. What she meant was, “I don’t watch TV on a TV set. I watch hella TV on Netflix.”

Every few months I will devour an entire TV series on Netflix. I’m no better than anyone who tunes into “their shows” each week. But, I can still say with an air of superiority, “No, I haven’t seen that commercial.”

My point is, I watch very little TV on TV. I have to really care about a show to actually turn on the TV for it each week. I haven’t done it for years. That is until…
American-Horror-Story-logo-wide-560x282I shied away from American Horror Story for awhile because, as you know if you read my previous post or know me in real life, I am the pansiest of pansies. But curiosity got the best of me, and I dove into AHS season 1 (a.k.a. American Horror StoryMurder House) on Netflix on finished it within three or four days.

It was a quick and dark descent. I now knew what the big deal was about AHS: Murder House—and it wasn’t that it was scary! Psh. There are way scarier things in the world.

tcurry

Tim Curry, b. 1946

What Murder House is is frothy, somewhat horror-tinged fun! Beautiful people looking beautiful together
Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.15.04 PM     Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.19.21 PM
Crying beautiful tears over campy, recycled horror tropes
tumblr_inline_mv7g6dVh2J1s3d3lsAnd Jessica Lange mesmerizing us all by being the Second Coming of Sass.
Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.27.21 PMOh my god, Jessica Lange is this show. This show without Jessica Lange is a like a limp, wet noodle that Connie Britton, with her weak smile, desperately tries to feed you over candlelight. This show with Jessica Lange is like a rich, zesty lasagna bursting with a symphony of flavor that Jessica Lange will side-eye you for scarfing down in her presence. A lasagna that is only served in the dark recesses of some beautiful underground Italian cave-restaurant (you know the kind I mean).

Sure, Murder House has other stuff going for it. There’s a hot murderer guy (who every girl watching the show wants to bang, which is troubling because he’s a murderer, and we, as a society, really need to stop romanticizing violence and mental illness and making sexy Charles Manson movies, but hey, let’s forget about that and look at the hot murderer guy some more). There’s also real-life murder cases woven into the story, which is kind of fun (wrong word?). But often the only genuinely sinister and compelling force is Jessica Lange. She drives this show and God help Ryan Murphy when she leaves. God grant Ryan Murphy the serenity to cancel the show when Our Lady Jessica is gone.

God, could you also do a solid and help Ryan Murphy in the hat department? Good Lord, even a fedora would do.

God, could you also do Ryan Murphy a solid & help him in the hat department? Good Lord, even a fedora would do.

I assumed season 2, Asylum, would be worse than season 1 (like other Ryan Murphy shows that just got progressively worse). But I was mistaken! Asylum was bomb ass! Stylistically on point, tonally consistent, and at times, very frightening.

american-horror-story-asylum-logo-scroll J. Lange is fantastic as an evil nun, Farmer Hoggett plays a convincing mad scientist, there are some amazing (and weird) guest performances, and while Murder House struggled to strike a balance between true crime and the paranormal, Asylum skillfully merged religious/demonic themes with psychological horror (though the alien plotline could have been scrapped).

But season 3… Coven… whew, boy. I can’t even begin to cover all the wrong.
Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 7.09.44 PMBy the time it aired, I was all caught up and tuned into the first episode on an actual television! This season certainly had promise and more star power than ever. I was also excited about the focus on witches, since they haven’t really been done well in the past decade (what with the hyper-focus on vampires). And though it was stylish and had some great performances, it was a hot ass mess.

I'm sorry, J. Lange.

Sorry, J. Lange.

Was it about witches? I think it was supposed to be, but all I got was “Hi, I’m Ryan Murphy, and here’s Jessica Lange!!! She’s back! And she’s still a fabulous bitch! And even though she’s just playing a less developed version of her characters from the past two seasons, you’ll still watch, because like Superman, Jessica Lange can take a lump of shit and turn it into a lump of diamonds, or whatever it is Superman does. God, can you believe she came back? What luck! I mean, we don’t even have to write a script, right? We’ll put her up there and she’ll make something happen! And, uh… oh, we can put Stevie Nicks on the show! … Huh? Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but we’ll make it work! … well, I love Fleetwood Mac, so you’re just gonna have to deal with it.”

Coven brought in several formidable actresses and had no idea what to do with them, never fully developing their plot lines, killing them off too early, and giving them lazy and inconsistent characterizations. Though I can dig the “girl power” direction Coven tried to take, it cast just one too many divas who pulled the story in so many directions it became exhausting to watch.

Ultimately, Coven approached witchcraft with a really disappointing lack of imagination. And at some point, the season became more focused on pushing its underlying “big message” (intolerance is bad, or something else obvious), and the supernatural elements that were meant to guide the season felt like a footnote.

Though I was almost certain season 4 would be an equal disappointment, I turned on a physical television yet again.
american-horror-story-season-4-freak-showLike the seasons before it, it looked cool, was sufficiently eerie, and had Jessica Lange. But for some reason, I had zero interest in it. It could be that I had just gotten a new laptop and was distracted, trying to figure how to work this damn thing (what are you, Mac?!), or it could be that I was tired after a long day of work, and Ryan Murphy seems to think 10-11:30 pm on a Wednesday night is the happening time slot. But truly, I think I was just bored. Woo, Jessica Lange is a saucy older woman with a weird accent again. Woo, Evan Peters is hot but “different” again. Woo, this promo just told me I’m gonna have to sit through Emma Roberts’ acting again. No. Three seasons was enough. More than enough.

No, I’m not trying to be cool and hop off the AHS train before everyone else. As proof, here are ACTUAL LIVE NOTES I jotted down while watching episodes  1 and 2:


-I can already tell where this season is going: accept people who are different. Sometimes the real monsters are the so-called “normal people.” Because what would a Ryan Murphy show be if not painfully obvious?

-“I’ll tell you who the monsters are! The people outside this tent! My monsters, the ones you call depraved, they are the beautiful, heroic ones!” Yep. I was right.

-“From the cabarets of pre-war Berlin.” So J. Lange’s character is Sally Bowles? God, Ryan Murphy wants this show to be a musical so bad AND WHAT THE FUCK SHE IS SINGING DAVID BOWIE

-Kathy Bates is a bearded woman, and looks very natural with said beard. Like a founding father.

-Evan Peters is a hot guy with strange hands, not unlike another misunderstood societal cast-off we all know and love.

-Wtf are the twins doing singing Fiona Apple? Ugh, Ryan Murphy.

-Damn, J. Lange could slice cheese with those cheek bones.

-NOT about this clown.

-But he does play by his own rules, which I respect.

-Kinda already giving up on AHS. It’s happened. Sorry, so sorry. But fuck clowns. And I’m an old lady now with a 10:30 bedtime. You can’t make me do this one, Ryan Murphy!!!!

-Oh, I think we’re edging into misunderstood clown territory! Perhaps he had a difficult childhood and assumes the role of clown to bring others the merriment he never had? (I mean, perhaps…)

-Are all the AHS’s gonna be an hour and a half long???? People have to work in the morning! Ugh. Why am I still here??


There you have it. A chronicle of the very moment I decided to give up on the one show that still had me turning on the TV.

                                                                          BUT …

Several weeks later, I got an idea (I got a wonderful, awful idea).
grinchI could tune back into AHS and try to summarize the show thus far, without actually having seen the past few episodes. The idea was that I would be able to call Ryan Murphy out on AHS’s predictability. However, like so many of my ideas, this one was tainted by alcohol. I decided to throw a drinking game into my task (and by “drinking game,” I mean “more liberal sips of wine,” because I’m not a lunatic who thinks Wednesday night is the night to get down). The game was that I would have a sip of wine every time I didn’t know a character’s name. I thought I was in the clear… I had only missed three episodes. But y’all, chaos ensued.

Mary’s Wild Guesses or Humble Hypotheses about AHS: Freak Show/A Drinking Game


-All I can think of when I hear Kathy Bates speak is The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She swam away from the lifeboat and joined the circus!!!

-Ok so here’s that mama’s boy who’s into the circus. Ew his mom bought him condoms? A mother’s gift always keeps on giving (note to self: contact Trojan w/ commercial idea)

-Kathy Bates and J. Lange don’t have a lot of on-screen chemistry. They’re both powerhouses, so it just doesn’t gel. It’s like watching two big, proud birds try to pick over a dead deer. That dead deer being this show’s writing.

-Woah, J. Lange. Get it with this tattooed man. Smoke that opium.

-Two gulps sips of wine because these two seem to be primary characters and I haven’t a clue what their names are.

-One twin is optimistic and one is skeptical. OH MY GOD, TWINS LOOK THE SAME, BUT THEY ARE DIFFERENT PEOPLE! Ryan Murphy, you’re breaking all kinds of ground!!!

-What is this mama’s boy’s name? 1 sip. Pembly. That is what I will call him.

-Why is The Simpsons still on? #commercialthoughts

-So let me guess: This tattooed man has a heart of gold and is in a somewhat one-sided and emotionally abusive relationship with J. Lange. He cares about her, but she’s cold. So he takes refuge in the arms of the young woman who J. Lange lured to the freak show to have sex with all the carnies.

-Ughhhhh Emma Roberts…

-1 sip for E. Roberts, 1 for Denis O’Hare.

Into the Woods!!! This is the only movie I’m in any way excited to see! Meryl Streep will warble her way through every song and Johnny Depp will do his Johnny Depp schtick and Disney will Disney up the ending. But who cares? Sondheim! Anna Kendrick! Fairy tales! I’d go see this shit on Christmas day! But then, I would hate to work on Christmas and maybe the right thing to do would be to not patronize any places of business on Christmas and give people a break and build towards societal change… but I’d love to see this movie on Christmas. I could even sneak in some egg nog. Who’d be checking? They’d all be preoccupied with going home to their families. It’s the perfect crime! Mwahaha! #commercialthoughts

-Oh my god, another song?? I’m willing to bet ($1.90) that Ryan Murphy has incorporated a musical number into every episode I’ve missed. Someone hold me to it!

-Is J. Lange wearing a wig? … Are we all wearing a wig? #deepthoughts

-Tattoo Man is gonna die or be seriously wounded on the wheel.

-Yep, there ya go. He was so likable, yet he was the one to be injured! What a paradox! Ryan Murphy! Always full of unconventional ideas!

-Ok. I still have to drink for the little woman, Evan Peters, tall woman, Frances Conroy, and like 5 other people I think. Yeah. Maybe 7. Let’s go.

-Tattoo Man is alive, but barely. And I think he’s gonna die within the next 10-20 minutes because his sweet young thang just showed up to profess how much she cares for him, and come on, he isn’t allowed to be happy.

-What’s the deal with all these macho food commercials? Like a super manly, almost comical voice having to say “filet” in the most gravely tone possible? Jesus, it’s food. People are gonna eat it no matter what. No need to gender it! #commercialthoughts

-Pembly actually has a cool bedroom. I get that it’s supposed to look disturbingly childish, but a life-sized tiger stuffed animal?? Sign me up!

-“I wish you could be inside my body for one minute” -Pembly to his mother. Good lord, they have some problems.

-Pembly looks like he could have very easily been on a 90s teen drama and played a heartthrob called Jake Skylar, or Skye Jakeler, or something. He’s got that kind of 90s-teen-boy-beauty.

-The only thing I’m sure of in life: When Kathy Bates says, “I’d kill you with my own two hands,” followed by a tender smile, she means it.

-K, so I guess it’s over? I’m kind of disappointed. Not much happened. I’m not even watching this show, and I can tell this was just a transition episode. Laaaame.

***30 minute intermission***

Ok, I’m back. I tried to edit what I wrote, but now I’m just kind of drunk and watching Passions on Youtube.


So tell me, did I make some correct guesses about the show so far? Any worthwhile predictions? What I can tell you is that this was one of the silliest ways I’ve ever spent an evening. It was born from a genuine place of spurned fandom and (still genuine, though less noble) writer-y self-righteousness. I thought I’d make all the right guesses and “win,” but really, Ryan Murphy won.

You win this round, Murphy.

You win this round, Murphy.

He got me to stay up past my bedtime. He got me kind of drunk (I know what you’re thinking, but shh. Let’s not point fingers). He also gave me a horrible night’s sleep in which I dreamt I was back in college living a prison cell-like dorm with an absentee roommate named Hero (#deep) and was repeating my undergrad education for the sole purpose of getting free library resources. To top it all off, I woke up with wine breath.

However, the way in which Ryan Murphy truly won was that he brought me back to American Horror Story. Sure, I wanted to be right. Sure, I wanted an excuse to drink. But I was also just curious to see what was happening!

All in all, the show is compelling. It’s not perfect. Although Jessica Lange is some kind of cold, “I don’t do hugs” version of Wonder Woman, she’s not enough to save the show from tiring itself out. But the show is full of strong performances, surprising moments, scary and touching alike, and striking visuals.

That having been said, I probably won’t be back for more. After all, I gotta get up in the morning.

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Things You Must Do During the Month of October (or, How to Not Celebrate Halloween Like a Messy 18-year-old)

The transition from “kid Halloween” to “adult Halloween” happens without us really knowing it.

Stage 1: We have a truly golden period from about ages 2-11 (or 12/13, depending on how happy or sheltered your childhood was) where any adult you encounter on Halloween straight up gives you candy and there is a whole day at school devoted to the holiday, complete with a costume parade, themed games, and plenty of disgusting yet delicious orange colored treats. While towards the end of our run as trick-or-treaters, we may bend slightly to tween peer pressure and opt for costumes that show off our assets rather than weird costumes that truly speak to us (dolphin, wizard, Marie Curie), we generally still appreciate the childlike whimsy of the holiday and brazenly demand treats from strangers.

Trick or treaters on the porchStage 2: We have an awkward, frustrating stage where we think trick-or-treating is lame and instead look for Halloween parties with people of the opposite sex. Most of us have no success with these kinds of functions, so we either become the assholes who smash pumpkins in people’s yards or the sheepish homebodies who reluctantly help our moms hand out candy.

Stage 3: We turn 18. We go to college (or at least to college parties) where Halloween becomes fun again. It’s a distinctly dignified and proud experience as you’re finally asserting your independence with like-minded adults (i.e. you don’t have parents around to stop you from binge-drinking and everyone is horny).

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAIn general, the cycle is pretty seamless. Halloween goes from magical and untouchable to truly confusing to plain rowdy (which we mistake for being “awesome” since our vision of the golden years has become clouded).

But, guys, let’s face facts: “Grown up” Halloween is a rip-off!

When I went to college, I was underwhelmed, to say the least, by the way 18 to 22-year-olds celebrate the holiday. There are costumes, there are treats, there is a general sense of mischief and merriment, but unlike the “kid Halloween,” no adults are in on it (and that is half the fun, as I’ll explain later). I had been led to believe that Halloween got fun again in college, but really it’s just like any other weekend night on a college campus. There’s alcohol and sloppy grinding and mistakes, but this time with wigs and makeup! It’s like Vegas! Costumes and liquor and broken dreams abound!

Again, I am told this is all fun, but, like Charlie Brown, I can’t help but feel like everyone else is riding the joy train and I got a rock in my candy bag.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.32.35 AMI guess I still want Halloween to be what it was when I was a kid—one of the coolest nights of the year when you get to dress up as whatever the hell you want and every adult is contractually obligated to give you candy, whether it be your usually crotchety bus driver or your normally reclusive neighbor. You are having the time of your life… and the adults are totally in on it! You would think they would be jealous of all the fun kids get to have, but no! They revel in it! They help them get all gussied up and walk them from neighborhood to neighborhood and even fill up giant bowls of candy at their own homes, gamely offering it to all children, no matter how bratty or insistent they are (“I wanted a chocolate one!”).

When it comes down to it, there is something straight up delightful about seeing kids ecstatic with joy. Sure they’re up past their bedtime. Sure this candy’s gonna mess them up like a jug of Carlo Rossi. Sure they’re not really “learning anything” from it. But it’s one night of pure, unrestrained joy and fun for kids, and we’re all loving it. Plus, parents can eat their kids’ Halloween candy. In short, October 31st is the best night to be alive when you’re a kid. There’s just an air of merriment and a communal celebration of youth and freedom and the insatiable greed and gluttony that comes with that.

So the thing with “grown up” Halloween is that no one is condoning our bad behavior. Though the transition is fairly smooth, the holiday itself dramatically changes from the one night a year you’re allowed to get crazy to the one night a year you choose to get crazy. And that’s all fine and good—adults gotta kick back, too. But it seems we’re all desperately grasping at this feeling that’s escaped us. That old time feeling of Halloween night. A feeling of complete condoned abandon.

I feel the best way to capture that feeling is to build to Halloween night throughout October. Spend time doing those simple, innocent enough autumnal activities that make your night of abandon feel warranted.

Hey, you don’t need no one’s permission. You’re a grown ass person and you can do what you want—no excuses! This is more a guide for me and people like me who yearn for those bygone moments and feel deep, deep shame waking up in a cat costume, whiskers smudged and mouth tasting like old wine and Doritos.


Watch Hocus Pocus
If you have never watched Hocus Pocus… what the hell are you doing with your life?!?! Raising kids? Backpacking through Europe? Well stop that and watch this movie! It has come to be a seminal Halloween classic (to nobody except my generation). Older generations have respectable Hitchcockian Halloween classics, with nuanced characters and terrors of a psychological nature, but we, my ADD-addled friends, have three loud overdrawn witches that were pretty much invented so they could be impersonated by drag queens. And we like it that way! Who needs subtlety? We don’t need no depth of character. Make the bad guys bad and the good guys good. And make every line a knee-slapper.

What’s great about Hocus Pocus is that the premise is actually pretty terrifying—three witches suck the life out of children to maintain their youth. At the beginning of the movie, we see them straight up kill a little girl. This should be horrifying. But the witches are so bug-eyed and bumbling and full of one-liners, that everything they do, including murdering children, seems like a lark. As a movie, it’s just a good time. Plenty of jokes, musical numbers (!), people in costumes, some super 90s bullies, a pretty hot Sarah Jessica Parker, a talking cat, all the good stuff.

But Hocus Pocus is something more: It is Halloween. According to Wikipedia, “the traditional focus of All Hallows’ Eve revolves around the theme of using ‘humor and ridicule to confront the power of death.'” Then isn’t Hocus Pocus the very spirit of Halloween? They’re killing kids, but they’re out of brooms and Kathy Najimi has to ride a vacuum! Oh-ho-ho!

This is Halloween, people. Horrifying undertones drowned in frivolous fun.

Hocus-Pocus-19Go on a hayride
Everybody nestle on in! It’s time for a crowded, bumpy, all-too-short ride with screaming infants and frail grandparents alike! What looks like a soft, welcoming bed of hay will poke, prod, and stick to every part of your body. You may wonder, “How did all this hay get in my hair? My head was definitely above hay level.” Well cause hay’s the devil, that’s how. And hay will find its way into your asscrack, no matter how many clothing items you’ve layered on. This sounds unpleasant to say the least, but hay rides are actually the tits! It’s similar to being pulled in a wagon as a child. Your expectations are much higher than the experience itself. You think you’ll be flying through your neighborhood without having to do any work. In reality, it’s a much slower, labored ride, but you enjoy it nonetheless. You’re just chillin’, taking in the scenery and the fall air, and moving while sitting—it’s like magic!

gatlinburg-tn-hayrideEat pumpkin pie
Just eat pumpkin pie. Put a dollop of whipped cream on it. Place a dainty silver fork next to it. Upload pictures of it to Instagram. And then shovel it down in 30 seconds like the monster you are.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 10.59.45 AMDo something actually scary
Once at a sleepover, my friends decided to watch a scary movie and I, being the shameless pansy I am, lay on the couch behind them with my back to the TV. I even borrowed my friend’s iPod so I wouldn’t have to hear the movie. And her selection consisted mainly of Kenny Chesney and The Pussycat Dolls. In short, I’ve endured some trying things to avoid being scared.

I have since become less sensitive to scary movies, after being peer-pressured to watch them fairly often in college. It’s still not my favorite genre and I still get scared, but I’ll watch them now (especially around H-ween). And I no longer lie on the couch with an iPod or have an irrational fear of Tim Curry… actually, I still kinda do.

tcurry

Tim Curry, b. 1946

My point is—do something that will give you an appropriate good old fashioned scare during the Halloween season! It might be a scary movie marathon, or a trip through a haunted forest, or maybe getting blackout drunk in a zombie costume (I advocate this the least). Just do something that takes you out of your comfort zone and rattles you a bit. Shake them Halloween bones!

Spend more time than necessary on a Halloween costume
We’ve all been in that place where we just throw a bunch of stuff together and call it a costume (ex: me the last 3 years).

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.07.00 AMBut it’s rewarding to put in some time and effort and look bomb ass on Halloween night. I kind of tried this year. Ok, I’m proud. Whatever. Leave me alone!
Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 6.24.07 PMDo stuff with pumpkins
I have never been a pumpkin carver. I carved my first pumpkin when I was 17, and while it was fun, three days later, my pumpkin had a shriveled visage and slugs coming out of its mouth.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.10.58 AMThere are ways to better preserve your carving work, but I’m lazy and, instead, will advocate for painting or Sharpie-ing your pumpkin!

Try to score candy from someone
It ain’t Halloween if no one gives you candy! You may not be a little kid anymore, but there are ways to get loot. Around this time of year, your workplace, local library, and different fixtures around the community usually have a mini Snickers or two to give out. Listen to the greedy 5-year-old goblin that lives inside you and gather ALL THE CANDY YOU CAN and hoard it in a pillowcase! Get crazy! Grab a mint on your way out of a restaurant!

OTC-mintsFind an off-kilter spooky festivity to attend
A screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Halloween karaoke (SCARYOKE!)

Eat some stews and sweet breads
You’re gearing up for winter. Just do it.

Find a way to see some kids in costumes
That sounds really creepy. But (hopefully) you know what I mean. Kids in costumes are the best. I once saw a two-year-old boy dressed up as Po from Teletubbies and I have never been the same. Maybe give out candy in your neighborhood. Even if you have a party to go to, it’s worth it to stay local for an hour or two just to see all the cute costumes, though this year I imagine you’ll be seeing Elsa’s for days.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.14.18 AM

*******!*!*!*!*!*Bonus Viewing Materials*!*!*!*!*!*******

“Anything Can Happen on Halloween” from The Worst Witch
I have never seen this movie, and you probably haven’t either. But let’s just enjoy this clip for what it is: Tim Curry at his finest. He dons a magical, bad special effects-laden cape and he busts out some sick rhymes (Favorite: “Has anybody seen my tambourine? I may start playing Begin the Beguine!”). You gotta give it up for Curry, though. This song is utter nonsense and he still performs it to the hilt. A true professional. Fun fact: I once looked up the lyricist of this song and it was a man who had actually won an Oscar for music. Ah, the world.


Sexy Sax Man from The Lost Boys
When it comes to selecting the emblem of Halloween, many people favor a grinning jack-o-lantern or a white-sheeted ghost. Me? Well to me, the true spirit of Halloween is the sexy sax man from The Lost Boys. His greased muscles, his equally greased hair, his gypsy skirts, his soulful saxophonal moanings, his undulating hips. The man is a vision. A relic of 1987 that was meant to dissipate into the fabric of time with neon legwarmers and teased bangs. Yet the fleeting primal demigod was, as if by magic, captured forever on film. We see him now, and it is as if we are looking at something from another world. We see Jami Gertz’ hair, we see Kiefer Sutherland’s leather jacket, we see Alex Winter, yet we are not taken aback as we know these are signs of another time. But this man—this saxophone-wielding, gold chained, purple panted creature—when did his kind ever exist? He must be supernatural. Of another land, another dimension even. He only comes out once a year, with the vampires in Santa Carla, through the humble TV screens of our homes.

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Post-grad posts coming soon…

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