April is National Poetry Month, and poetry always makes me think of Sylvia Plath. Even though the only work I’ve ever read by her is The Bell Jar, I have long wanted to explore her poetry. Maybe this is the perfect time to do so. Thoughtfully added to my To Be Read list this month is Plath’s The Colossus.
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.
Pop singer-songwriter Lesley Gore, famous for the track “It’s My Party (and I’ll Cry if I Want To)” from 1963, passed away on Monday, February 16th. She was 68. Here’s a quote from the original article posted to Yahoo! News from Variety.
Gore’s partner of 33 years, Lois Sasson, told the Associated Press that she died of cancer at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.
I have classified myself as depressed since around the time I turned 12. This came as a shock to my mother when I told her, after I turned 19. I didn’t have words for the deep sensations of hopelessness, lack of control, and fear of the future I was feeling so long ago. Whenever I told my mother I was worried about something, she would say to me, “Stop it. You’re too young to worry. Go, have fun; be a child.” But I didn’t know how to be a child. I mean, I knew how other children acted, and though I’ve been called childish by demeaning people I like to think of it as being creative, imaginative. And because I spent so much time floating in a fantasy world as a child, I often felt like I had no idea what to do in the real one.
That translated into dead-end relationships and keeping people at arms-length so I didn’t have to feel the pain of their departure. I doubted that anyone could really love me because I could barely love myself. Though much of this is in the past, I do still struggle with feelings of inadequacy and failure. My friends and family tell me how “great” I am, but I always remind myself they are my friends and family.
In other words, I still need to find ways to remind myself that I am a productive and important person with worth: even if I’m not certain of my reason, my purpose yet. I need to remind myself that I’ve seen some pretty amazing things (The Art Institute of Chicago, I’m looking at you) and I’ve been to some pretty amazing places (Myrtle Beach, SC, I’m talking about you). There are so many places left to see, things to do, and goals to accomplish.
And on that path, there are five little things I need to remember. I received the list of Virginia Satir’s Five Freedoms while I was pursuing therapy the first time I attempted a master’s degree. I was studying Public Relations (totally the wrong field for me, but I loved the writing and event planning involved) really because I told a certain ex-girlfriend that I would and I still felt like I had something to prove to her. That I could do something without her. It was really the fallout of that relationship that guided me toward the Depression Screening Clinic the campus medical center was offering. That was a chance to really determine if the depression I saw within myself over 10 years before was really there.
It was. I had a great counselor and she was the one who told me about Satir’s list of freedoms. Reading them in that moment, holding a simple print-out, with no banner ads, all white-space, I felt a strange sensation rush over me: hope. Someone had heard me and finally understood what I was asking for: a sense of control over myself and my future. I thank the universe for that woman every single day of my life, and the power those five short statements gave me. Walking into the new year, running my own business, and keeping my head and heart above water will only be possible if I can remember the power I have over myself and actually exercise it.
From the PsychCentral Blog linked above, Satir gets a nice little introduction:
Satir keenly observed that many adults learned to deny certain senses from childhood, that is, to deny what they hear, see, taste, smell and touch/feel.
Noting the significant role our senses play in our survival, she devised the following “Five Freedoms” tool, essentially affirmations, to help people connect to their body and self in the moment, and focus their attention on their inner resources and creative choices in the present. (Here we see how ahead of her time Satir was; these are mindfulness concepts proven today by neuroscience research.)
The Five Freedoms:
1) The freedom to see and hear (perceive) what is here and now, rather than what was, will be or should be.
2) The freedom to think what one thinks, rather than what one should think.
3) The freedom to feel what one feels, rather than what one should feel.
4) The freedom to want (desire) and to choose what one wants, rather than what one should want.
5) The freedom to imagine one’s own self-actualization, rather than playing a rigid role or always playing it safe.
I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to get away with not playing it safe–I’m too thoughtful, doubtful, and purposefully cautious for that. But I do enjoy being spontaneous with people I love and with whom I’m comfortable. So, my New Year’s resolution is to remember that I’m productive, capable, and prepared to face the future, even if I don’t know what’s coming or where I’ll be when it’s over.
I had the distinct pleasure to see Tig live at the University of Northern Iowa in 2007, when she opened for Seth Meyers, and I really had no idea who she was. Her delivery and perspective took me over; I’ve never been able to forget her, though I’m terrible about keeping up with her. She probably misses me…
Here is a recent show of hers, coming right after some real tragedy in her life — and she faces it with grace, humor, and self-respect. Laugh, she wants you to.
With 21 dynamic, gorgeous, and amazing women to choose from, I don’t know how we’ll ever decide. SheWired would probably need the equivalent of a papal conclave; I know I’d request that level of assistance! Leaving it up to a popular vote must be easier than any committee trying to figure it out. You’ve only got one week left; so, hustle on over to the SheWired voting page (link below) after you read a little about each candidate!
Saw this on Yahoo! News and I’m so excited I can’t even find words…So, I’ll just use theirs. Enjoy!
Both well acquainted with the genre, the two actresses will headline the horror-comedy series “Scream Queens,” which is due to premiere on Fox in fall 2015.
Jamie Lee Curtis is preparing to reconnect with the genre that propelled her to fame. The actress whose career was launched in 1978 with John Carpenter’s “Halloween” went on to star in several other spine-chilling films, earning the epithet of “scream queen” at the time. So she was a logical choice in the title role of Ryan Murphy’s next series….
Fox has placed an order for the first 15 episodes, which are to focus on two female protagonists played by Jamie Lee Curtis and Emma Roberts. Julia Roberts’ niece is already familiar with Murphy’s flavor of horror, having appeared in the two most recent seasons of “American Horror Story”: “Coven” and “Freakshow.”
Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. Though I don’t think she’ll mind too much that I let the entire world know how old she is, I know she would just hate it if I posted a picture of her… So, I’ll be kinda sneaky about it.
That’s one of my favorite shots of her, and I know it’s one of hers (but that’s because you can’t really see her face). Though, if you look at mine, you can get a pretty good idea.
Anyway, yesterday was her birthday, and in her honor I’m going to celebrate it by choosing five of the songs that were on the Billboard Top 100 in the year she was born. The five songs I’ve chosen are some of her favorites to this day, and each one of them has a special meaning for me, as well.
These first two were a couple of the tracks on a cassette my mother would often listen to while we were cleaning the house. It wouldn’t be a rare sight for all three of us (my mom, my sister, and I) to start dancing right there in the middle of the kitchen when either of these two songs came on.
1) Peggy Sue – Buddy Holly & The Crickets (#50 on the Top 100)
The next two are featured in one of my mom’s (and consequently, one of my own) favorite movie musicals: Grease (1978). To see that they were on the Top 100 when she was born is pretty cool. We would, again, have no hesitation in singing along to each and every song from this soundtrack. I was always partial to “Sandy/Stranded at the Drive-In.”
3) At the Hop – Danny & The Juniors (#20 on the Top 100)
This last one reminds me of another movie my mom and I sat down and watched once, the Jerry Lee Lewis biography Great Balls of Fire starring Dennis Quaid and Winona Ryder. We were captivated by the compelling (and, then, somewhat strange-seeming) love story and the bold personality Lewis is depicted as having off-stage. It’s still one of my favorite bio-pics.
5) Great Balls of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis (#36 on the Top 100)
While I was doing research for the post “Symphony of Funny” to find Ms. Tenuta, I came across a bunch of female, musically-inclined comics who I’d never heard of before. Well, there was one girl that I recognized from a couple TV shows, but I didn’t know that she did stand-up and that she was the other member of quietly popular folk-comedy duo! There are 5 very funny ladies here, and I can’t wait to introduce them to you. However, I really, really, really hope you already know about them!
Jessica Delfino, I watched just a couple videos of hers, but my favorite is the one I’ve embedded below. When I discovered the humor of Any Kaufman I was paralyzed with awkwardness–and I believe, wholeheartedly, that he would have wanted me to be. We shared a childhood of talking to walls and dolls, and finding the strangeness of human nature hilarious. Jessica Delfino probably spent some time of her own talking to walls and considering the quirks of our nature, because she shares a brand of humor with Andy that tugs at the awkward strings of my heart. Not to mention, she has a melodic voice and great sense of style!
Katie Goodman, A strong, sarcastic woman after my own heart, at least as far as I can tell, and I watched several of her videos–only to land on the one I’ve embedded below, where she applies a very specific usage of my favorite word. It’s a live performance, so she interacts with the audience at very appropriate times–even asking them to sing along. She’s even gone so far as to start a troupe: Broad Comedy. Now, where did she get a name like that, I wonder?
Garfunkel & Oates, A folk-comedy duo comprised of Kate “Oates” Micucci and Riki “Garfunkel” Lindhome poke fun at the ins and outs of contemporary American life–from a sarcastic and witty women’s perspective. They’ve even taken part in a duet with Weird Al, performed live, entitled “Save the Rich”, quite satirical and quite sarcastic. So funny! Official videos can be seen through the rikilind YouTube channel, and more informal videos can be seen through The Grammy’s“Garfunkel and Oates” sub-playlist. But the video I’ve embedded here is a mash-up/medley/pretty good idea of what G&O offer in terms of tone and band chemistry, even though it isn’t any original material. That’s where the girls really shine!
Geraldine Quinn, As if Australia wasn’t attractive enough, I stumbled upon Geraldine Quinn, and now I think I might want to move there. Though, having her YouTube channel and videos keeps me sated so far. She’s witty, accessible, and talented! Listen to her sing her song “Gallipoli” or “No One Cares” and tell me that lovely woman doesn’t have a set of pipes. I’d probably knock you out if you tried. If you get a chance, watch some of her travel diary videos, those are some of her best material [and what made me call her accessible]. She’s real and damn funny; tune in! I’ve embedded a song called “Obsolete Me, Dear”, which has a delightfully warm intro. Enjoy!
I performed my civic duty today, and though I managed to hit a traffic slump while I was there I certainly wasn’t voting alone. There were many voices in my ear while I made my voice and opinion count.
Here are some quotes about voting and democracy from some of my favorite politicians and advocates.
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea – God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.” [From Goodreads]
Let’s just do what is right for the American people. And those of us who are involved in politics and government know that our responsibility is to the American people, that we have a responsibility to find our common ground, to seek it and to find it. [From BrainyQuote]
“Getting rid of women’s health care access is bad policy and bad politics. But we’re seeing, unfortunately, in some of these state legislatures what is the residual impact of the tea party sweep in 2010. These politicians don’t care about women or whether these matters are on the minds of the American people….The thing that’s incredible to me — North Dakota being case in point — is the thought that women’s rights in this country depend on their ZIP code”… “There are now states where it’s not safe to be a woman. The whole danger of this move to say that these are just issues to be decided at state level is that somehow women and their doctors are going to be criminals in some states and have rights in others.” [From Huffington Post]
Whether we agree or not, I hope that you all got out and made your voices heard. That is one of the most beautiful things about our nation: we have the power to voice our opinions and directly take part in the governing of our nation.
Some ultra-creepy, retro horror movie music. Enjoy!
So, I left this post for the end of the week because I thought it was going to be the easiest post. I’ve watched (and re-watched) so many different horror movies that I thought at least 5 or 10 would just come rolling off the tip of my tongue. But proverbials aside, I found myself stumped this morning. I mean, you already know that I pretty much adore the character of Freddy Krueger, and because of my feelings for the remake…before it even got to theaters. I don’t really want to retread a known rut in the road. But, I don’t want to drop a bunch of names because they’re expected names. Of course, Jason, Michael, and, hell, even Chucky are classics, but they are not the end-all, be-all of the horror world.
I mean, this t-shirt image from Fright Rags (click the link for image source) even includes Leatherface, who is an intimidating and frightful villain! But, when I say Leatherface, you know immediately who I’m talking about.
What about the villains who get almost no mention at all? Not because they weren’t scary, but because there may not have been as many movies made. Or maybe they only reach a niche market. It’s possible that I’m merely a sheltered child (even in the shadow of the Internet), and I just don’t realize how popular or widely known these figures really are.
All I know, is that I won’t be mentioning the villains that I assume people will expect to see here. Granted, I know what assuming can do, but in this case, I’m willing to take a risk and talk about movie villains that I rarely think of, though have enjoyed watching in the past.
So, where do I start? I’ve finally got a couple names boiling up in the old gray matter… I’ve got two pair and three queens. No, I’m not cheating at poker…
Angus Scrimm does little work at being ultra-creepy in the series of films that follow this dark mortician and his hunt for the young man, Mike, who mistakenly uncovers his dark tendencies toward the small town they live in. Mike’s brother and best friend, Reggie, work and try to survive at uncovering Tall Man’s tools for destruction.
I coupled these two characters, because they remind me of each other. Reverend Kane could easily be Carol Anne’s Tall Man. Towering over her, casting her in his shadow every time he arrives — he might as well be dragging a team of dagger-sharp silver balls around with him. Though, that wide-brimmed black hat and skeletal scowl does quite enough for rendering Kane creepy as Hell!
Julian Beck and Nathan Davis, in Poltergeist II and III, respectively, frighten poor little Carol Anne Freeling and haunt her supportive family members as the demons try their best to get the little bulb of heavenly light to guide them to the other side. She’s just so pure, so blonde — they simply cannot help themselves. Though the sequels catch plenty of flack for not being up to snuff in comparison to the first, I cannot deny that Reverend Kane gave me nightmares for a week!
Now, you might think I have this backwards. Because you’re seeing the movie name, but the villain listed is a set of human beings — not Cenobites. Well, in the first two movies, I don’t think the Cenobites are the villains. Frank and Julia are more villainous in this case, because it is their thoughtless and selfish actions which bring about the Cenobites anyway. Kirsty certainly didn’t call them (not until later, anyway) and Larry couldn’t have had a clue. He certainly didn’t seem to notice when his wife and brother started knocking boots. Though, for the sequel, it’s Julia and the good doctor who rescues her. That evil seductress!
Annie Wilkes, on the other hand, was no seductress. Though, she did fall in love with her favorite writer of all time, Paul Sheldon. The source of the image is a wonderful detailing of not only the movie (with book comparisons), but the character of Ms. Wilkes herself. She is certainly unstable, monstrous, and dedicated to the man who provides her with the stories she loves. A number one fan, of course, and a nurse, she takes care of Paul after a major car accident. Then, Annie finds out that Paul killed off her heroine — that’s when the story truly takes off. Though I’ve always wanted a number one fan, Annie makes me kind of wonder why.
If it is a Spoiler Alert for you, have my humblest apologies. But it has been almost 10 years since it was released, maybe it’s about time you knew.
Judy Greer really brought this character to life for me; I don’t know another actress who could have pulled this off the way she did. Joanie, a Type-A publicist, was so bright, bubbly, and blonde, that to reveal the bleak hairy beast beneath felt really defamiliar to me. I wish it could have been played up more monstrously, like the werewolf movies of the ’50s, but she definitely gives good gore and generous bite marks! (Plus, counter-pointing her with Scott Baio — which just kind of made me chuckle — was brilliant.) I assumed Jake from the beginning, but never did I see Joanie coming, which is what made her transformation and methodical killing scary. Though, this is another movie that is laughed at as often as watched (only 4.9/10 on IMDB), I loved that surprise element, that unexpected reveal, and it really redeemed the movie for me. On top of all of that, it’s got great atmosphere, and, you know, because Joshua Jackson and Christina Ricci and Wes Craven. C’mon, what was I supposed to do?
Betsy Palmer is damn creepy, and I don’t care who knows it. She really breathed some dark life into the mother of all villains. Her son, driven by the demons of vengeance and negligence, is eternally resurrected to take the lives of those who “were supposed to be watching.” And it is clearly her drive to avenge him that provides him the otherworldly power. But, there is truly no fury like the wrath of a mother scorned, and Pamela Voorhees is no exception to the rule. Taking the initiative, she begins offing her “old friends” and the counselors they hired because they had the audacity to start the camp back up where her son so tragically perished. I mean, who wouldn’t get pissed off about that?
Well, this is my list of favorite horror movie villains. I’ve seen each of these movies numerous times, but they aren’t always the names that pop up when I first think of horror movies. And I hope that maybe I inspired you to watch something other than the standard fare on this All Hallow’s Eve.
Today, October 15, in 1917, a famous courtesan was executed for her alleged interactions with various high-ranking military officials during World War I. Because those interactions were of a highly intimate and sensitive nature, the implication was that she’d shared, heard, or otherwise contained strategies and information for German progress through the war.
Mata Hari, born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle in the Netherlands, arrived in Paris around 1905 to make her name. She did so in March of that year performing her first striptease at the Musée Guimet, where she peeled her clothes off until all that remained was a jeweled bra and a body stocking matching her skin tone.
After being charged for her crimes by the French authorities in February of 1917, she was taken before a firing squad and refused the blindfold before being shot to death.
There is some evidence that Mata Hari acted as a German spy, and for a time as a double agent for the French, but the Germans had written her off as an ineffective agent whose pillow talk had produced little intelligence of value. Her military trial was riddled with bias and circumstantial evidence, and it is probable that French authorities trumped her up as “the greatest woman spy of the century” as a distraction for the huge losses the French army was suffering on the western front. Her only real crimes may have been an elaborate stage fallacy and a weakness for men in uniform.
I love to make people laugh; the sound of unrestrained joy is something I could do just about anything to get, to hear. Because of my stage fright, I would probably consider myself a frustrated stand-up comic… I guess I’m more like an armchair comic, and it really only benefits the people who talk to me directly. Though, it never seems to work when I’m “trying” to be funny; setting up a joke usually makes me look like a chump. But when those one-liners come up all clandestine, taking me off-guard, then everyone is in for a show! Now, having said all of that, here are some lovely lesbians who make observational stand-up comedy look easy!
Julie Goldman, I first discovered her while browsing LOGO.com a couple years ago. I came across The Big Gay Sketch Show and was instantly smitten with the curly-haired brunette who apparently hadn’t been introduced to a hair brush. She’s physical, intelligent, and hilarious. Her timing is impeccable, and she always makes me double-over in laughter. From YouTube, here is a playlist of just a few of her highlights.
Tig Notaro, I had the delicious opportunity to see her live when she opened for Seth Meyers a couple years ago; it was a small gig for an even smaller venue within a student union on the University of Northern Iowa campus. I was toward the back of the room, no arena seating, and it was almost difficult to see and hear her. Once she stepped up to the mic, though, I was never going to forget her. When it isn’t the tone of her voice, her comedy is all wrapped up in her aptitude for observation and delivery. You can’t help but laugh, you just can’t. From YouTube, here’s a highlight reel of some of Tig’s best work.
Elvira Kurt, I discovered Elvira with the special I’ve linked to here from YouTube. It’s her Comedy Central Presents special. Her wit and sense of mother’s disappointment will keep you rolling across the floor. When she takes on her mother’s accent (and her guilt!), you won’t be able to control the laughter. These two videos are just the audio set to a static image of the comedian; so listen to them while you’re working–you won’t regret it. Well, only if your boss walks in! (From Paul Verheijen)
It’s always funny to see someone offer the world a dash of perspective. Of course, this is satire. Of course, this is sarcastic. Of course, if I had a dollar for each time I’ve been asked one of these questions I wouldn’t have to work again, ever.
I’m not frowning upon asking questions to get to know something about someone better; I think it’s important to maintain an open channel for asking questions when someone feels uncertain about something that’s presented. But several of the questions or observations pointed out in the video above are legitimate inquiries lesbians (and people who fall within the rest of the LGBT spectrum) face from well-intentioned (albeit misguidedly in the dark) straight people who just want to understand (and see clearly, maybe?) the differences from heterosexual relationships. The point here is that every relationship meets different expectations and needs for the people in it; no two relationships are the same no matter the orientation of the folks sharing it. However, some of those inquiries need to slink off into the dark: “Can I watch?”; “That isn’t real/natural sex.”; “I just don’t want to see it.”; and “You just haven’t met the right man/woman yet.”–I’m looking at you.