Category: General (Page 2 of 68)

Here’s to the fools who dream

Over Christmas, my parents came to visit, which meant that Andy and I were able to sneak away for a few hours while they watched the baby. First we dined at our friend’s new restaurant, which was amazingly delicious, and then we went to see La La Land, which I really enjoyed.

  • The colors. From the opening scene to the final montage, the film makes really good use of vibrant color. It’s a refreshing choice for a “serious” film, particularly in contrast to the dark tones that seem to dominate current popular media. I especially loved the visual of Emma Stone’s character dancing with her roommates, each in a different brightly hued dress, the four women moving in prismacolor around their apartment and through the street.
  • The chemistry. I was already a big fan of both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and this film really underscored why. Ryan is naturally suave and radiates charm. Emma’s doe eyes captivate. She’s also in that special category of actress whose face can convey a hundred subtle things without her having to speak a single word. In every movie I’ve seen with either of these two in it, they manage to inhabit their roles in a way that somehow makes me forget who they really are, and yet simultaneously feel like no one else could play the part so well.
  • The theme. Most of all, I loved that this movie was about the ups and downs of creative life, and the costs and rewards of pursuing your passion. Obviously that is a topic that hits quite close to home. I found myself in tears, not over the love story, but over the hopes and hurdles that the two characters face throughout their careers.

It wasn’t a perfect film, but it was fresh and ambitious and intentional. I can only hope that people would say the same about my work.

So bring on the rebels
The ripples from pebbles
The painters, and poets, and plays

And here’s to the fools who dream
Crazy as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that break
Here’s to the mess we make

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Small protests

Sorry, more politics.

Actually, not that sorry. Politics are personal. Politics impact us all. And lately, politics have been weighing on me heavily.

I’m not normally a march-in-the-streets kind of person. Heck, I’m not even a bumper sticker or yard sign kind of person. But these days, I cannot in good conscience do nothing.

My protests may be small, but they are full of good will, determination, and hope.

  • I am calling my representatives. This is reportedly one of the quickest, easiest, and most effective ways to have an impact. If you’re interested in doing the same, I highly recommend the site 5calls.org. It offers a brief overview of various issues you may care about, as well as the numbers of your representatives, and sample scripts to use when calling.
  • I am donating to causes and organizations that champion my beliefs. For example, tonight I donated to the ACLU in celebration of their success in halting the immigration ban. (There is much more left to go in that particular fight, but the court’s decision offered a swift jolt of hope.) There’s a lot of money going toward things I don’t support; it’s going to take a lot of money to counter them.
  • I am reveling in art that honors my experiences and my values. Because art reminds us of our humanity. Art broadens our humanity. Because art strengthens our empathy.

Tonight, in a stroke of serendipity, I happened to be watching Brooklyn, the quiet, moving story of a young Irish immigrant making her way in America.

I don’t know if this is enough. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as enough, right now. But I think that if we all do whatever we can, it will make a difference. I have to believe that.

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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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