Category: General (Page 2 of 68)

Thanks, Obamas

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, sit for a family portrait in the Oval Office, Dec. 11, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)  This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.Ê

Today, this is what I choose to focus on: The Obamas are wonderful people who have, for the past 8 years, given us a shining example of family and leadership. I’m sure they will continue to do good work, though I will miss having them in the White House.

I will miss having a President who reads, writes, and thinks so deeply.

“Fiction was useful as a reminder of the truths under the surface of what we argue about every day and was a way of seeing and hearing the voices, the multitudes of this country.”

“At a time when events move so quickly and so much information is transmitted, the ability to slow down and get perspective, along with the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes — those two things have been invaluable to me.”

And I will miss having a First Lady with so much grace, passion, and intelligence of her own.

“Our glorious diversity — our diversities of faiths, and colors, and creeds — that is not a threat to who we are; it makes us who we are.”

“To the young people here and the young people out there: Do not ever let anybody make you feel like you don’t matter or like you don’t have a place in our American story because you do, and you have a right to be exactly who you are.”

Something better is always possible, if you’re willing to work for it, and fight for it.

They’ll never read this, but I want to say it anyway: Thank you, Barack and Michelle. Thank you.

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Let’s talk about TV

I… don’t think I watch as much TV as this post makes it seem like I do? But maybe I’m in denial. I dunno. What I do know, is that I really enjoy TV — good TV, that is — because at the heart, it’s storytelling, and I am all about stories.

Here’s what I’ve been into (and out of) lately:

SPRING AND SUMMER SHOWS

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Orphan Black is excellent, y’all. It’s character-focused sci-fi (my favorite kind) and features the incredibly talented and beautiful Tatiana Maslany as, like, a dozen different people. She’s so good that you will honestly forget it’s the same actress in every scene. (Hence, her recent Emmy win.) The show’s main themes are personhood, humanity, autonomy, and individuality, with nice streaks of feminism and family mixed in. I will say that Season 3 went darker than I would have preferred, but thankfully Season 4 returned to the direction and quality of Season 1. Part of me is sad that the upcoming Season 5 will be OB’s last… but I always think it’s better to have a planned ending than to just let a series ramble on indefinitely.

Girls is also coming to a close next year. I thought the most recent (5th) season was finally as strong as its first, possibly even stronger. The standout episodes for me were Shosh adjusting to Tokyo, and Marnie reuniting with Charlie.

Tyrant just got the axe after 3 seasons, which is unfortunate because, in spite of its flaws, I think the show was a very unique and significant offering. Basically: a well-to-do American family goes to the Middle East thinking they are superior in every way, and they get humbled — and they get changed — both for better and for worse.

UnREAL‘s 2nd season bit off more than it could chew, in my opinion. But it wasn’t terrible, and Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer are as captivating as ever, so I’m willing to see how Season 3 goes.

Season 6 of Game of Thrones was pretty fantastic (with one exception — that Arya episode, ugh) and I can’t wait to see what happens next, especially now that the show has caught up to the books (more or less), putting readers and viewers on fairly even footing.

NEW FALL SHOWS

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Pitch is practically tailor-made for me. Sports + a woman of color in the lead + social commentary, all with a fairly feel-good vibe. Even Andy likes it! Granted, we’re only 3 episodes in, but so far Pitch is at the top of my must-watch list, along with…

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From the creators of Crazy Stupid Love (a movie that I adored), This Is Us is mostly about the ties that bind us to the people we love — how lovely and how complicated they can be. But the writing is clever enough to make it more than just another family drama, and compelling characters and strong acting elevate it even further.

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Confession: I love Kiefer Sutherland’s glasses in Designated Survivor, and that is 1 out of the 3 reasons I decided to give this show a try. The other 2: an interesting premise, and Maggie Q. So far the show is entertaining but not exceptional.

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Featuring an entirely black writing staff, Atlanta is one of the most interesting, unexpected, and thought-provoking shows I’ve ever seen. It’s a “comedy” in the vein of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, or even Girls, which is to say, it won’t necessarily make you laugh out loud, but it pokes fun at modern life in a subversive way. Atlanta also has a streak of surrealism to it that’s hard to explain but fascinating to watch. And it co-stars Lakeith Stanfield, a brilliant actor who I first saw in the hauntingly wonderful film Short Term 12. All that said, I think I appreciate the show, from an artistic standpoint, more than I actually like the show…? But maybe that’s just a matter of semantics.

RETURNING FALL SHOWS

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Younger is a bit silly and not-that-believable… yet still so totally delightful!

Actually, Jane the Virgin falls into that category too, but with the added benefit of featuring a predominantly Hispanic cast.

On a related note, I must admit, I watch Fresh Off the Boat in large part because of its Asian/Asian-American focus. It’s important to me, for obvious reasons, to support those stories. Don’t get me wrong, FOTB is fun/funny. I just don’t typically prioritize sitcoms on a weekly-watch basis.

The 100 has been a pleasantly nuanced surprise of a CW show. (Based on a YA book series, by the way! Very loosely…) Again, its character-driven sci-fi, but with some of the ruthlessness of Game of Thrones, and set in a much less familiar world than Orphan Black.

Saved by Netflix, Longmire is one of the more unique procedurals out there, thanks to its setting, which lends an Old West vibe and Native American influences. Longmire too has dipped into darkness a bit more than I wanted, but I’m still looking forward to binge-ing Season 5 when I get the chance.

SHOWS I GAVE UP ON

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Season 1 of Empire was truly special, I think, but Season 2 lost the magic, and Season 3 seems to be continuing that trend, so I just let go. Sorry, Taraji. You’re still fabulous, and I will miss you.

Quantico was never great, but it was refreshingly diverse, so I tried to stick with it. Ultimately the melodrama and lack of substance wore me down. And worst of all, the writers seemed to think that misdirecting the audience week after week was the same thing as creating mystery. Um, no.

Grey’s Anatomy still has its moments, but I don’t think it will ever return to peak form (Seasons 1-3). Now I just read episode summaries from time to time to check in with the characters I still care about — namely April and Jackson.

For reasons that had nothing to do with the show, I stopped watching The Night Of shortly after I blogged about it, and I just never felt compelled to pick it up again. Then I heard about how the rest of it played out, and I was glad to have spent that time elsewhere.

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BAD FEMINIST by Roxane Gay (part 1)

Bad Feminist I read this book ages ago, and I’ve had two or three drafts with quotes from it sitting in my WordPress queue ever since. I keep thinking I need to add my own reactions or thoughts like I usually do, but whenever try to do so, I find myself thinking that Roxane Gay’s words are pretty close to perfect, and thus much more impactful on their own.

Feminism has helped me believed my voice matters, even in this world where there are so many voices demanding to be heard. (x)

I believe women not just in the United States but throughout the world deserve equality and freedom but know I am in no position to tell women of other cultures what that equality and freedom should look like. (xii)

Discussions about gender are often framed as either/or propositions. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, or so we are told, as if this means we’re all so different it is nigh impossible to reach each other. The way we talk about gender makes it easy to forget Mars and Venus are part of the same solar system, divided only by one planet, held in the thrall of the same sun. (96)

Disagreement, however, is not anger. Pointing out the many ways in which misogyny persists and harms women is not anger. Conceding the idea that anger is an inappropriate reaction to the injustice women face backs women into an unfair position. Nor does disagreement mean we are blind to the ways in which progress has been made. Feminists are celebrating our victories and acknowledging our privilege when we have it. We’re simply refusing to settle. We’re refusing to forget how much work there is yet to be done. We’re refusing to relish the comforts we have at the expense of women who are still seeking comfort. (102)

It’s hard not to feel humorless, as a woman and a feminist, to recognize misogyny in so many forms, some great and some small, and know you’re not imagining thing. It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away. The problem is not that one of these things is happening; it’s that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly. (189)

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Grow the heart

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Stuff worth reading

“In Defense of the Struggle” by Meg Fee

The thing about struggle, is that it inversely affects entitlement. It engenders gratitude and increases value. It gives shape and provides context. And yet we live in this culture that espouses ease and convenience above all else.

“Idea Debt” by Jessica Abel

Idea Debt is when you spend too much time picturing what a project is going to be like, too much time thinking about how awesome it will be to have this thing done and in the world, too much time imagining how cool you will look, how in demand you’ll be, how much money you’ll make. And way too little time actually making the thing.

“Ten Warnings About the Small Children You May One Day Have” by Chuck Wendig

I appear before you now: a specter haunted by the realities of life with a tiny human. Some of you are thinking of having children. Some of you are already on your way to having them, or have children who are not just small, but very tiny, and those tiny immobilized larvae will one day soon grow up. You’re not ready. I wasn’t ready.

But I am here to prepare you.

“What Makes Fiction Literary: Scenes Versus Postcards” by Donald Maass

One thing we’re talking about is the difference between scenes and what I call postcards. What are the building blocks of a novel? The term “scenes” is most often used, but that is imprecise. Scenes, summary and postcards are three different ways to shape the discrete blocks of narration that build a novel. These blocks are arranged either in strict chronological order, or in some other pattern, which taken together tell a story.

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