While debating literature’s greatest heroines with her best friend, thirtysomething playwright Samantha Ellis has a revelation—her whole life, she’s been trying to be Cathy Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights when she should have been trying to be Jane Eyre.
With this discovery, she embarks on a retrospective look at the literary ladies—the characters and the writers—whom she has loved since childhood. From early obsessions with the March sisters to her later idolization of Sylvia Plath, Ellis evaluates how her heroines stack up today. And, just as she excavates the stories of her favorite characters, Ellis also shares a frank, often humorous account of her own life growing up in a tight-knit Iraqi Jewish community in London. Here a life-long reader explores how heroines shape all our lives.
Thank you, Gene, for being a bright light and making us smile. Not only did I enjoy your performances in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, YoungFrankenstein,and Blazing Saddles, but I really enjoyed your small stint on Will and Grace as Will’s boss Mr. Stein. The world will be a little less bright without you. Gene was 83 and died from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease.
I am so excited to have The X Files back in active rotation. Just caught up with the first episode, “My Struggle,” and found it close to form. It generated a lot of new questions, barely answered any old questions, and gave us a whole new revised version of the old conspiracy to theorize about. All I know is I am locked in for the next episode, because I have just got to see how this mini-arc ends.
It was lovely to see Scully and Mulder “back together” and in the most awkward of consequences. They were more often trading barbs than kisses, which I’m okay with either way, but they did a fine job of simply making it feel awkward to watch them together. Again, not a bad thing, they are actors, after all, and it would be awkward to be called by a former boss to find a former lover, who is also a former co-worker, wouldn’t it? And, then, after more than a decade, hang out like it’s old times? Yep, definitely awkward.
We also get to see Skinner and the Cigarette-Smoking Man. Sans awkwardness, but with heated exchanges and statements of the obvious, respectively. And then there’s Joel McHale, playing buddy believer with Mulder, as a conservative TV host, who the New York Timesfelt was miscast here. But I thought he brought just enough energy, zeal, and overt seriousness (I mean, sometimes it felt like he was just trying too hard there.) to bring that character to life. It just reminds me that I need to start watching Community.
Overall, I was pleased, and I’m looking forward to where this little reboot takes us.
Oh, Alan Rickman, not you, too. So sad to see another favorite leave this world a little darker due to cancer. Master Rickman was 69 and will be greatly missed. Like Master Bowie, it has been a delight to share this time on Earth with you. Read the lovely Guardian article here.
Two of my favorite comedic actors of all time share the same birthday! Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman were born on the same day 13 years apart, Andy in 1949 and Jim in 1962. Jim was in his early 20s when Andy “departed” this living realm. And I only heard about their shared birthday from Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally written by Bob Zmuda and Lynne Margulies–a book I happened upon buried at the bottom of a seemingly unrelated Google alert (as if I should expect anything less from Andy). I can’t believe I didn’t notice this when the biopic was released in 1999. It’s even listed on IMDB under trivia about Andy. But, who knows? If I’d known about their birthdays, I might not have found out about this book. Stranger things have happened, right?
Happy 66th Birthday, Andy! and Happy 53rd Birthday, Jim! All the best to you both (just in case Andy is reading this)!!
You can see their first cover post-attacks here. There was an NBC Nightly Newsstory that I caught last night about Charlie Hebdo that prompted this blog.
In one week, I’ve seen various responses to this attack. The only thing I can think to say is that Freedom of Expression isn’t something to take lightly, but it’s a two-way street. Even the language we see as “offensive” is protected, and that is because language is used to transfer thought to speech. Yes, America is a land of censorship and Puritanical morals, but we revere freedom of speech above nearly all things. We know how important it is to have a sense of humor about things like radical political leaders and horrific political attacks. It’s an added dose of perspective that we cherish, that we require in order to get some reality, some understanding out of the tragedy that can occur when people lack a sense of humor or an ability to laugh at themselves.
No, I’ve never read Charlie Hebdo, not once. I don’t even know what the political cartoon from 2005 looked like. I just know that it caused an uproar, for the folks who don’t know how to look at things outside of their own connection to them. How to take a figure of great religious import and realize that he may not be that important to other people–but that doesn’t inherently negate the importance he has to you. That also doesn’t mean you need to kill those people. Negating the different doesn’t stop people from being different; in fact, I would say it calls them to it. Murdering someone for having a sense of humor about something you don’t find funny is pointless and only makes people want to distance themselves from you.
Unless they already feel laughed at, mocked, or put down for being different.
It’s easy to say lighten up and have a laugh, but when you’ve been the butt of jokes your entire life you start to think of laughter as a weapon. It can hurt; it can isolate; it can alienate. Laughter itself and the things that incite it can be hurtful to people on the receiving end of it. Especially when the jokes come at the expense of individuality, self-esteem, and unique expression.
This isn’t about censorship–can’t stand the shit. This is about having a little understanding for the other side of the fence. This just keeps proving how important and powerful words actually are, and how dangerous they can be when the people receiving the message have a different worldview from those delivering it.
Being able to speak your mind, even if it’s aimed at someone of great political or religious import, is a beautiful thing. And I would hate to see that get stunted, limited, or stopped entirely because people can’t take a step back and consider what the agenda is behind a message, because people don’t know how to carry around an ounce of perspective for someone else’s point of view. Am I going to be incensed or angered at a narrow-minded perspective? Of course, but I would never rob a person of having that narrow-minded perspective. (Un)fortunately, they are entitled to it. All I can do is try to understand why it’s so narrow and offer to broaden it.
That’s all anyone can do. And, in that light, I have to say, “I am Charlie.” Because I revere freedom of expression over the freedom to defend that which is religiously important to you because that will always be at odds with someone else–and it is that inherent diversity that makes us a richer people. We need this diversity to prevent becoming an autocratic, oppressed race of automatons who don’t care, don’t have passion, and can’t fight for anything.
Should you stand up for what you believe in? Unabashedly yes, but that doesn’t mean you have to fight every single battle to the death. Killing people in retaliation to media they created is an act that can never be erased and will never be stood for by the good people defending and promoting the freedom of expression.