Hawkeye V Hawkeye: Making sense of AOU & Old McBartons Farm

hawkeye_best_superhero_header

I can admit it, I did it to myself.

Walking away from The Avengers: Age of Ultron with a mixed bag of genuine enjoyment and bewildered disappointment I had all sorts of thoughts, opinions, and feels about not only where I felt the film had done good but also where it had let me down and I freely own that I am, at least in part, to blame for that.

Intense discussions have been the theme of this past week as me and those close to me have debated just what it was about Age of Ultron that did not work for us. One of the main complaints (Outside of the Black Widow thing which I am still in the process of unpacking, and will be eventually addressing via the catharsis of bitching about it on the internet some time in the next week or so,) was the seemingly random inclusion of Hawkeye’s “SURPRISE!” idyllic family in their quaint, super-secret, farm in the middle of nowhere. It seemed pointless and seriously, Clint Barton? Wife? Farm? Family? WTH? Have you ever even met the man? Do you even go here?

confused gif
I mean Clint “Human Disaster” Barton, a happy father of 2.5 adorable moppets, with a home renovation fetish, and a seemingly sitcom perfect wife? What the hell? Where the hell did that come from? I was baffled by the choice and confused as to why Joss and Company would go so completely off book with Hawkeye. I was wronged! Betrayed! Sniff… (Okay perhaps it was not quite as dramatic as all that but with the shit storm the internet turned into post Age of Ultron, I kinda feel some over wrought feels only seem the thing to do. I wanna play too!)

It was only a day or so later, when I could sit back and see the big picture, that I realized my disappointment in this particular instance was not so much a result of a mismanaged character and more a matter of me projecting what I wanted on the previously constructed narrative. Namely, I fucking wanted Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye and instead I got Millar’s. Which honestly, is all on me.

There is no indication in any of the previous released content in the MCU that this version of Hawkeye is a hot mess of a human being with a pizza loving Dog named Lucky, a “I am most definitely not your fucking side kick, don’t make me kick you decrepit ass Barton!” named Kate, a run down apartment building in Bed Stuy plagued by tracking suited Russian goons who love the word Bro., and a romantic history with Natasha, Bobbi, Wanda, and Jessica Drew among many others (Dude gets around is all I’m saying, Evans & Renner might want to re think the definition of the word “slut”). I mean, come on! MCU Hawkeye doesn’t even have a boomerang arrow! And 616 Clint loves that thing! What was I thinking?

Bro 2.0

Seriously, Bro? What were you thinking Bro?

Instead of the redeemed bad guy, perpetual kid brother, and all around cock up, in the MCU we have an older, extremely component S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent, possibly with a dark past, who is established, well respected, and comfortable in the roll of team dad. So yeah, clearly he was meant to be the Ultimate’s Hawkeye. I mean yes they threw some snark at us, but really would anyone expect this version of the character to wake up in a dumpster?

dumpster clint 2.0

Clint and Dumpsters, it’s kinda a thing.

So yeah. Not Fraction’s Hawkeye. Or even the Bendis take on the character. Which I have to say is a bit of disappointment in and of itself, but again not a actual betrayal of the character, just a different character entirely. Why was I so convinced that the MCU was going to give me Fraction’s brilliant take on Clint? Perhaps because in the MCU there was previously so little to work with. I mean his blink and you miss it cameo in Thor really provided very little to illuminate who this version of Clint Barton was, and in The Avengers he spent most of the film a brainwashed cipher, so there were a lot of blanks to fill in.

hawkeye

And seriously? Like this man would ever wake up in a dumpster? I don’t think so.

Luckily for me at the same time all this was unfolding (or not unfolding as the case may be) on the big screen, Matt Fraction was busy writing one of the most entertaining and nuanced takes on the character ever seen in Hawkeye’s solo title. The universe abhorring a vacuum and all, I inserted tab A into blot B. Except it turns out it was more like I was trying to build an Ikea bookshelf with parts from an Ikea daybed and I ended up with something not capable of supporting anything.

pizzadogg

Oh Pizza Dog, I mourn what might have been…

So yeah, I did it to myself. So in theory, perhaps the whole Old McBarton’s farm thing makes slightly more sense. This is my mea culpa on that. I should not have expected Lobster when the menu was pretty much indicating all that was on offer was steak… Or something. Like it was a vegan restaurant, why was I trying to order buffalo wings? This is clearly a carpet store, there is no pizza here! Yeah, that sort of got away from me, but you know what I mean. Don’t judge my metaphors, I skipped lunch!

That said, and all of my knee jerk harumph aside, the new paradigm in play with the idea of Clint’s secret family only partially worked for me. It might have been the chemistry between the actors, or the fact that it was all a little too hallmark perfection, but it was all a little tries too hard. (Like anyone would not yell at their husband about potentially leading an army of murder-bots with daddy issues to their doorstep. Yes he was careful, but she is very pregnant and has her 2 young children to think about! I mean there is calm in a crisis and there is almost psychotically copacetic, and Mrs. Barton falls more on the side of the later than the former.) And also I just realized I don’t even remember her name, she and the mini Barton’s could have been lovingly crafted out of cardboard and bad green screen for all the impression they made outside of the shock of their very existence.

Which is the problem.

I did not care about them at all, and when it occurred to me that they might meet the same fate as their Ultimate’s Universe doppelgangers my main reaction was a brief “Huh, a family that fridges together I guess?” and to shrug it off. And I should care about these people. I should care that Mrs. Barton has to watch her husband go off and fight an army of killer robots with no idea if she will ever see him again. That last time stakes were this big he was brainwashed by an insane evil God, brought down a helicarrier and in the process killing many of his friends and coworkers, fought an army of killer aliens in New York, and had a nuclear missile shot his location by his bosses, AND NO ONE THOUGHT TO TELL HER UNTIL AFTER THE FACT! At least I assume that is the case as she is not even alluded to in the first Avengers. For all we know he went and had shawarma before he called his freaking wife! Seriously not cool dude.

shawarma gif

So yeah, a scene where she expresses some conflict, and yes legitimate anger, with the idea that her baseline normal human husband is going to risk his life AGAIN as a freaking superhero would not have been out of place. Instead of her taking a genuinely human moment to freak the fuck out and how is this her life even? We get her chiding him about home renovations, giving him the go save the world speech, and gossiping about Bruce and Natasha’s weird thing- like Natasha having girly feelings was a normal thing and she never even met Bruce before this VERY SECOND and knows all of his myriad of issues and has room to comment on it? (Breath. That is an entirely different post.)

Yeah. That would have made her seem like something, anything, more than scenery.

Advertisements

My Second Christmas in L.A.

My first Christmas in L.A. I spent alone and I never left my house. My first Christmas in L.A. I didn’t wear pants and had breakfast for lunch. My first Christmas in L.A. was all about marathon-ing Doctor Who and drinking two parts eggnog to one part Jameson.

My first Christmas in L.A. was a good one, a not particularly social one, but still a good one nonetheless.

My Second Christmas in L.A. I had a friend over for brunch. We watched Agents of Shield and drank mimosas. Because a third friend of ours had to work on Christmas Day we gathered up our gifts and headed out to surprise her. My friend drove down Wilshire and up another street and then across to a third one (I’ve been here a year and I still don’t have more than 30% of the city down in my head) until we parked off of Santa Monica Boulevard. I only know this because he informed me that was where we were, ask me how often I get lost on a weekly basis! The answer is,  A Lot!

We met with our friend and gave her gifts along with some Christmas cheer to take back with her once her break was over and having some time to kill we decided to wander around since I was unfamiliar with the area and I liked seeing the weirdness this city always has on offer. Not much was open, an Indian resultant and a Russian coffee house, but there were your typical weird L.A. window displays on the offer. There is an element of tries too hard, what with mannequins with antlers sprouting off of their boobs, which impelled me to inform one particular window that it was working way too hard for my attention, because while I may no longer live in Chicago, there are rules about that sort of thing that as a no nonsense windy city girl are still written in my DNA and I could not let that shit pass.

Then in the distance, illuminated like the star of Bethlehem or a carefully lit T.A.R.D.I.S, I see a Christmas Day miracle! A book store! And it’s open! On Christmas! Can my luck get any better? (Yeah, spoiler alert, this does not end well.)

I inform my friend that we MUST go there. It is required, if there is a book store present? I must enter it! It is in my bylaws, which are very strict about this sort of thing. (I really need to get a new edition of the Nerd Girl Rises Handbook printed up, but who has the time these days?) I am already planning my shopping trip, hoping it is a used book store (which really are my dearest loves) but I am game for anything.

Famous last words there.

As we approach the books store, I note the festive window displays but don’t look too closely as I barrel forward with my quest to commune with the books. I do however notice that while yes, there are the aforementioned festive window displays, there don’t appear to be any windows into the store. That’s odd I think, as I walk through the door of Circus of Books on Christmas Day.

Just FYI, I have since been informed that there is usually on one type of book store that would reliably be open on Christmas Day.

I get about five feet in when I notice the place does not smell like your usual book store. There is a marked lack of the aroma of paper products and ink mixed with coffee and self-importance that seem to be the signature smell of book shops everywhere. I get an additional five feet in when I look up and around, actually taking notice of my surroundings. The wall of cocks and shirtless dudes staring at me from the DVD display rack are my next clue that maybe I have just wandered someplace else entirely than what I was expecting.

Yeah. So turns out Circus of Books is a primarily gay “adult” book store. I say primary, because it also seems to be a head shop as well. And that? Would explain the smell.

Huh, I think, will you look at that. Porn. A lot of it. Definitely not what I was expecting. Happy Christmas?

I look back at the door where my friend had tried to follow me in. I say tried because he is vapor locked at the vestibule, his feet fundamentally unable to take him further into the book store. Given he is avowedly hetero, the fact that he is frozen in shock at the door, a human wall made up of equal parts confusion and I have no response to this, is a not totally unexpected response. I can see him fighting the war in his head. Do I man up and follow the clueless female into the place devoted to the celebration of penis’s touching each other? Will they think I’m gay? Do I care? This entire event is so far outside of his frame of reference I might have well taken him a teen mother daughter book club discussing “Our Bodies, Our Selves”.

So I calmly turn around, utter a matter of fact “And I do not belong here. Sorry about that.”, and exit the building dragging my shell shocked friend with me.

And now I know where West Hollywood is!

So yeah. That was how I spent my second Christmas in L.A..

I Read a Book & I Liked It: I Sometimes Wanted to Punch This Book In the Face.

IMG_3909

 

**Warning. This essay ended up being less of a literary critical analysis or even the book review that I had intended it to be and more of a recap of why I quite often wanted to punch this book in the face. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading it. It is very well written novel, filled with sentences that make you pause to re read them again to savor the words written there, but the main character. Ugh. He goes from being a rightfully naive and sheltered child who I liked, to a foolishly and often amusingly self righteous young man who I understood, to a self absorbed D bag who I wanted to punch in the face, to an obsessive jerk who blithely hurts those around him all the while crying himself the victim even though dude was the one making the call to stay where he is who I wanted to punch in the face and then kick in the nuts, who then some how turns into a decent human being in the last few chapters. It’s quite a ride and while there are parts of the book I loved, the second half was sometimes a difficult read. It is hard to care about someone bound and determined to constantly make the wrong calls in his life out of arrogance and blind privilege. So yes, lots of words are written here which I can basically summed up as this. I liked it, but I also wanted to punch this book in the face. Repeatedly.**

 

that-moment-when-chuck-norris-punch-you-in-the-face_998

 

The endeavor I began 2 months ago marches on. I am happy to say I have finally finished “Of Human Bondage” by W. Somerset Maugham, parceled out bit by bit in hours stolen here and there at my local coffee shop, and I still stand by my original judgment. In many ways this book is totally “Anne of Green Gables” for dudes. The two characters start out in the same place and truly they both end up in the same place as well, it is just how they get there and who they become along the way that is where the difference between the two stories lies. Both books are the stories of a life, set a particular time and place, told by a third person omniscient narrator who holds a certain amount of fondness for the subject of thier narration. Both of the main characters in each of the books start thier stories as orphans sent to live with a seemingly cold childless couple, a foster family for Anne and an uncle who is a Vicar for Phillip. They both grow up, go to school and spend an inordinate time lost in thier romantic idealization of life and it’s many meanings. Honestly, they walk remarkably similar paths for two individuals separated by the iron walls of the established gender norms of the times they lived in. Though the way they walk it and the toll it takes along the way differs, as Indiana Jones once wisely said to the lovely and tolerant lady undressing him, “it’s not the years, it’s the mileage”.  (And also I never wanted to punch any of my “Anne of Green Gables” books in the face.)

 

anne-of-green-gables

I mean seriously, who would? Look at that face!

Anne’s heart goes on a more steady journey, with a few small but memorable detours along the way, to end up in a more settled but still enthusiastic and passionate place where her love of life and belief in its inherent goodness finds a home and she finally marries Gilbert Blythe, the boy who loves her and whom everyone had been telling her to marry since book one. Philip however takes a longer, darker, path as he plots his own destiny. He does this never knowing where he wants to be but possessing a singular certainty that, despite the sometimes excellent and sometimes mediocre advice he is given by those around him, only he can decide it. He is often wrong about this point, among others. After failing to successfully launch on three separate occasions Phil finally takes the advice of those around him and becomes a medical student in London before falling in love with the Standard Issue Requisite Terrible Woman (TM) who does him wrong and ends in a bad way.

3

Standard Issue Requisite Terrible Woman, 1930’s movie edition.

Both Anne and Philip search for the truth of life along the way and neither is particularly hung up on the idea of god and church being the end all be all answer to thier big questions, but while Anne holds onto her joy and naivety Phillip dumps his some time after he gets back from Paris (Failure to successfully launch number 3, he went to Paris on his loving Aunt’s last dime to be an impressionist painter. Did not work out for him because, no matter what he may have thought, he was not that great an artist. This followed skipping university out of spite to go off to Germany just because and being a office clerk in London because business equals money, which also did not work out because he sucked at it.) and becomes in time a full on atheist who is often tormented by his attempts to figure out the big questions in life without faith or a belief in baseline human decency to fall back on. They live thier lives, figure themselves out, and both end up living peacefully far from the bustling crowds, raising families and supported by humble medical practices.

Honestly the only serious difference between the two is Phillip has more sex. Well that and he makes far more terrible decisions than Anne would ever dream of because he is kind of a d bag who has a lot of contempt for the people around him and because of that he ends up suffering more than she does. All of his mistakes are presented as part of the tapestry of his life and therefore are mistakes he had to make to live his life the way he did, but if dude had just once thought to seek the advice of a friend or even cultivated friendships that were with people other than fellow self involved d bags and neglecting or dumping the few kind and sane people in his life, he could have avoided much of the crap he brought on himself. I mean one entire quarter of the book is him falling in love with the Standard Issue Requisite Terrible Woman (TM) simply because she does not like him. That’s it. That is why he loves her so madly. Seriously. She’s mean to him and he does not get it.

When Phillip and the Standard Issue Requisite Terrible Woman (TM) meet it is though a sort of friend of his, a nice person soon vanishes from Phillips life as all nice people do, who has a crush on her so he stalks her at her job working at a tea shop. Phillip so does not get it. She’s green, literally she is bilious which he mentions often, and while she has a pretty face she has very little by way of boobs which is a deal breaker for the man and to top it all off she’s not that bright and kind of a bitch. She has all this going against her and still she dismisses Phillip because, shockingly, he is not her type. He is so arrogant and blind with the privilege of his class that the very idea that she would do so before even getting to know him is utterly infuriating to him and he quickly becomes obsessed with both her and the idea of winning her affections. The dude full on talks himself into being obsessively in love with a woman he is not particularly attracted to, does not even really like, and some times even actively hates, out of….. You know I can’t even think of a term that could encompass the levels of pathological arrogance this entails. At least Anne only tried to convince herself that she did not love Gilbert because she did not know any better. And Girlfriend got over that really fast once he got sick.

Phillip’s love of the Standard Issue Requisite Terrible Woman (TM) goes on forever, every time you think he’s finally figured out that she is toxic she shows up and bam. Love is in the air. Even after she has dumped him once again, this time for his best bud of the moment and after he helped her though her pregnancy with an illegitimate child, and he finds her working the street he still can not turn away though now he totally does not want to hit that because despite his epic love some things, like a sexual history with other men, are boner killers. He will still support her and basically treat her like his wife, just no sex or marriage because as someone who has been in gutter she is no longer worthy of his penis. She tries to get him to love her again, even though she is basically the worst that never bothered him before, but a fallen woman is damaged goods and as we all know Phillip thinks himself far better than that. This does not end well.

 

ed-nortan-punching

Seriously Phil, at this point you are only doing this to yourself.

 

If he had any friends that were anything more that accessories to his memory palace, there to allow him the artistic and cultural chatter he felt only he and a few others could understand, they might have told him he was acting insane but nope. No chance of that. He is an island, no one could truly understand the passions that drove him, the rarefied impulses of kindness that moved him, the yadda yadda yadda…. You get my drift. Not that I blame anyone besides other D bags for not sticking around this guy. At one point he was so caught up in his notions about the romantic life of an artist that he did not notice when a woman of his acquaintance, a fellow student and honestly, weather he liked it or not, his friend, was LITERALLY STARVING TO DEATH. For months, he did not notice anything was wrong. Just marked it up to her being all weird, bony, and dirty. He only figured it out when she told him via a note she sent right before she hung herself because it was quicker death than starvation on the streets. Dude.

 

tumblr_inline_mvbd8rcUyS1rjqfgp

 

Eventually Phillip, because he does nothing but make bad decisions because he is a d bag, loses all of his money and has to get a job. In retail. The shame, the horror, that he has been brought so low as this! How does he bare this indignity that gives him money, a bed to sleep in and puts food in his mouth so he does not hang himself rather than die of starvation or be forced to work the streets like a common whore because as a young woman he has no other skills to offer and so therefore must be shunned because he kinda deserves it for being such a bitch? Oh wait, he’s a dude with other dude friends, so of course he gets job. Just one he feels is utterly beneath him in every conceivable way. He is forced to leave his studies and it is through his friendship with the Self Absorbed D Bag Prime (SAD-BP), whom he met as he treated SAD-BP at the hospital for some vague man disease and bonded with over thier educational pretension and sense of superiority, that he even gets this job. He actually is even able to parley the skills he picked up as a failed art student in Paris, where he also failed to notice his poor friend, who clearly lacked his resources, was starving to death (Never going to let that one go),  to leap frog over his fellow workers into a higher paying a cushy gig as a designer, because art skills are something you are able to acquire when other people pay for everything. And still he bitches. Oh and he runs into Standard Issue Requisite Terrible Woman (TM) one last time and of course she is still working the streets because after things disintegrated with Phillip she had nowhere else to go. After all she was such a horrible person that is just assumed she has no one else to turn to besides the dude she used so egregiously, so she does as she has VD and needs help with that. Phillip is mad at her for daring to prostitute herself while she has the VD, which she most likely got from one of them men using her, and demands she stop. Because girlfriend clearly has other options. Oh and her baby died. His response is he is happy, heavily implying better dead than the child of a terrible no good destitute whore.

 

tumblr_lyo78zLKaR1r4xtcfo1_500

This is how I feel about your man pain Phil.

 

It is at this point that Phillips story stops resembling “Anne of Green Gables” and starts looking more like “Crime and Punishment”. He has a job, food, and a place to live but his existence among the common rabble is so terrible for him he begins to actively hope for his uncles death. By this point in time in the book it understood that his uncle is not a nice man even thought while he had a plan for Phillip, and was not happy when Phillip had his own ideas, he went along with Phillip’s plans anyway.  It is true did not support Phillip as he chased his dreams but did not throw him out either, Phillip was always welcome back at the vicarage. His uncle was always warning Phillip that the money he inherited from his parents would not last, but Phillip squandered it anyway and so when Phillip ended up broke of course he refused to lend him any. Which, cold, selfish, man whose authority and judgement Phillip ignored and disregarded wanting to teach nephew a harsh life lesson? Yep, that tracks. While this move did leave Phillip briefly destitute, he was not without resources, unlike some I could mention, he was just to proud to ask for help until it was almost too late. So for this reason he hopes and dreams of his uncles death so he can get his hands on his money. At one point, as his uncle lay in his sick bed, he actually thinks about helping him along because he is so impatient to get back to his life as it was before the bottom fell out. He does not, but it is a moment of real tension over if he would cross that line or not. Because training to be a Doctor.

 

giphy (1)

Dude. What do you not understand about FIRST DO NO HARM????

 

In the end his uncle dies, Phillip finishes medical school, gets a few nice jobs, thinks for a moment that he may have knocked up the daughter of Self Absorbed D Bag Prime (15 when he met her, 18 at the time of boot knocking), and decides that all his great dreams are silly and that what he wanted all along is to settle down with a nice simple girl with big boobs whom he does not really love but likes well enough, have lots of babies, and be a small town doctor because all of the endless hours he spent obsessing over life and it’s meaning and art and beauty and his path to his perceived greatness was just crap and everyone he had ignore his whole life had been right all along. The end.

So yeah. Would I read “Of Human Bondage” again? Probably, as I mentioned way, way above when I started this whole thing, it is a very well written book and the words within it sing. I just wish they had a better subject for thier song. Next up in my summer of reading for fun is the first book I grabbed out of the back of my car on my way to get coffee. (My car is littered with random books, like a very disorganized mobile library). It is “A Woman’s Life” by Guy de Maupassant. Which looks like another slice of life from an age gone by only with a lady who is French and how, though no real fault of her own, her life kind of sucks because men are D-bags. yay…..

 

128618

Next up in the Octagon.

 

Photo of Anne of Green Gables via © Sullivan Entertainment 2014

‘Snowpiercer’: Trainspotting at the End of the World.

snowpiercer7

The credits end and the lights go up. I turn to my companion, alight with enthusiasm. I freaking loved this movie, the pitch black gritty and grim allegorical fable where a social caste system born on twisted ambitions and totalitarianism births an ouroboros of humanity at its worst. Where the cruelty of the head crushes the feet with cold calculation, because some lives matter to the head more than others. I freaking loved Snowpiercer and I needed to share.

“That was amazing!” I gush.

“……..”

“Did you not love all of the amazing and things and stuff!” I continue, losing my ability to articulate my appreciation via the use of adjectives.

…… “meh.” He shrugs and gets up to leave. I try to continue my gushing but he’s not into it; the discussion devolves into a conversation about pacing and international film making styles and still more about pacing. When we part I think maybe we are sort of on the same page until I find out the truth a few days later. He hated it.

tumblr_n8dll1HQAI1t27ahco3_500

Well, okay then.

I am honestly confused. I how can he not see how awesome Snowpiercer is? The cinematography? The tortured grim fatality of Chris Evans performance? The master level class in character acting given by Tilda Swinton? The beauty? The horror? How does he not see it?

sp x1

Step By Brutal Unrelenting Step.

 

As more time passed and I read more reviews and criticisms of the film I realize that it was not a failing in either him nor me, this is just one of those movies. You know the ones I am talking about, the ones that engender two polar opposite responses in those who watch them. You leave them filled with either adoration or antipathy. Some films are like that, not in a the general public loves it and fans are unhappy sort of way or a wildly popular film that has a few fringe haters or even a meh film that while acknowledged as pap is at least mildly entertaining for what it is. No, this film is like Donny Darko, City of Lost Children or Where the Wild Things Are, the type of movie that either you connect with on some deep level and adore or find utterly pointless and hate. So I am not going to tell you how amazing Snowpiercer is and how you will love it as much as I did because you may end up believing me and then hating it.

This film is deeply dark, unrelentingly so. In the face of a planet killing global climatological disaster the center did not hold, but some how the idea of the totalitarian hyper enforced social caste system did. This is “Atlas Shrugged” taken to it’s inevitable horrific conclusion. Set on a luxury train that circles the globe built by a lone refugee of the lost oligarchy, who spent his fortune on a whim and holding a singular passion for trains, and was at the right place at the right time when the world ended. The train is powered by a perpetual motion machine with a horrible secret at its heart, which makes it like every other character in this film. It’s a very french nouveau concept, weird and creepy, odd and grotesque, it’s the type of film that you either opt into the premise and go with it or leaves you pounding your heard against the walls because how is this supposed to make sense? This film asks a lot of the people watching, especially an audience used to straight forwardly told tales that eschew heavy allegory and drawn out pacing in favor of a quick one two punch of plot and momentum.

My friend obviously did not opt in. I on the other hand? Was ready to buy a time share, so this review reflects my own  personal experiences with being stupidly enamored with both this movie and its premise.

The train has been running non stop for seventeen years, the rich and powerful live in obscene luxury at the front of the train and those few desperate souls who made it on board at the last moment are left to grinding poverty at the back of the train. They are fed, barely, living on protein bars provided by the masters of the class system and thier enforcers. We begin the story in the last three cars of the train, with the men and women who live and die there. Chris Evans plays Curtis, the grimly determined hyper focused nominal leader of the people at the back of the train who is driven by a coldly dark core, his motivations are deliberately kept unclear until the very end when you finally understand that there are no heroes here and survival makes monsters of us all.

The people corralled in back are counted and tracked at every meal, clicked off like tally’s on a spread sheet, then dismissed like living bags of garbage. After a strange woman comes back to take two of thier children, the only two who measure a particular size, a mini riot is sparked and we are introduced to Tilda Swinton’s Minister Mason, a bureaucratic cold fish who ruthlessly delivers what is deemed an appropriately horrific punishment with the bored irritation of a born middle manager, annoyed over the audacity of the furniture wanting to be treated like people. How dare the shoes aspire to be hats? The natural order deems only the privileged few may rest on the top, all others should resign themselves unquestioning with the animal like acceptance to the suffering of thier lot in life. To which the under class reply with a hearty fu*k that noise.

Eventually the people in the last three cars are pushed as far as they can be and make the move to fight back. The goal is to leave the squalor of the tail end cars behind them and take the engine so they can make a better future for themselves and thier children. From that moment on the film is a death march from one end of the train to the other, passing through cars that each reveal a new level of luxury, each topping the one that came before it, all of it bought by the poverty of those they left behind them. Each step is measured, cautious even, but with the feel of inevitability. Whatever it takes, whatever the cost, the front of the train will be taken and the old order throw aside in favor the new. The trick is to let the movie move at its own pace, to sink into each moment as it is allowed to linger as we breath with the characters as they experience every moment. There are no short cuts in this film, there is only one way to the front of the train and each step forward takes you closer to the end of thier world, because for better or worse the train is all that is left of thier world. What price will be paid for its survival and is thier continued existence worth that price?

All that said I left the film feeling hopeful, which in the face what I just watched is quite the hat trick.

So yeah, I totally recommend this film. Just be sure to go in knowing it is not going to make sense unless you buy into the rules of the world they have created. Opt in and you may just end up loving it as much as I and many other do. If you can’t do that? Then skip it and go see something else. I am hearing good things about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, go see that.

 

 

 

Random Life Things, Please Feel Free to Ignore.

I don’t know if this is the intent but this is pretty much everyday with ADHD for me.

I don’t know if this is the intent but this is pretty much everyday for me.

I remembered to grab a towel before I got in the shower today. Not only did I remember to grab a towel, I that noticed that my bathroom was towel free before I even turned on the water. This is something that has become utterly normal for me the last two months and it never fails to make me smile. This may not seem like a big deal to most, but to me it is a miracle. The fact that the same thing happened yesterday and with any luck it will happen again tomorrow and again the day after that makes me so happy I want to cry. Hello, my name is Nerd Girl Rising and I am an adult with ADHD.

Huh, you may be saying to yourself, that’s nice but what does one this have to do with another? Everything, an entire life worth of things as it happens. My life.

Historically I almost never noticed if I had clean towels, or any towels at all for that matter. And if I did notice and resolve to grab some before making myself clean? Yeah, that was not going to happen. Between one moment and the next, between deciding to get towels and actually getting them, that decision will vanish. Even the memory of it will be gone, lost amongst the whirl until I get out of the shower and look for a towel. Then I remember. Oh, yeah. I meant to do that.

My entire life has been an endless round of; Oh yeah, I meant to do that. Things, both little and large, slip through my fingers; thoughts falling through the cracks of my mind to live under the floors along with the stray hair ties and cat toys. For decades I have been told I am ditzy, dumb, clueless, or an airhead who could any moment be blown away, floating off on a stray breeze. Always with the added dig of it being so odd, especially for someone so smart in other ways. “She’s such a bright girl, if only she would pay attention.” “She could do so well if only she would focus.” The words “apply yourself” are etched in pages of my past, if there is such a thing as a truly permanent record they are probably all over it. Those are the words that dogged my childhood and followed me into adulthood, hanging around the corners of my life waiting for the best moment to pounce and remind me that I suck. It was always implied, never said allowed because that would be cruel, that I was either lazy or possibly not as smart I seem to be. After all I was a girl, how smart could I actually be? The best message I ever took away from these unspoken lessons was that my brain was a gift I was clearly squandering and that I was unworthy of it.

Because I had a choice in the matter.

As I became an adult I violently rejected the label airhead and instead called myself absentminded, it made me feel better to link myself to Fred MacMurray’s erstwhile professor than any of the dumb blond stereotypes the media loves so much. I mean Disney made a movie about him, how bad could that be? I mean sure I was not saving China, or breaking any curses, but still as far as associations go it could be worse. That said the decision to ascribe my organizational and memory issues to absentmindedness, instead of outright stupidity, did not actually change the facts of the matter at hand. As far as being a functional adult goes, in many ways I was a total failure or at least I felt like one. Everything always seem so damn hard.

The entire world and all of it’s things were in my face all the time and there was just too much going on and I noticed all the things and then I’d freeze. I couldn’t do anything because my ability to do so just got swallowed up by an avalanche of everything.

This sense of failure, the feeling that I was fundamentally unable to handle life, has held me back both professionally and personally. Everything, even the most simplest of tasks, has felt like a herculean battle and I was armed with a pea shooter. Everyone else I knew seemed to manage life just fine and here I was flailing about wildly try to accomplish even the most basic of adult activities. This effected my confidence and I found myself unwilling to move and grow. Instead I found a niche and stuck to it. I more than stuck with it, I owned it. I was very good at what I did but I never tried to do more. I did not want promotions or more responsibility, in fact when offered it I outright rejected even the idea of forward momentum. Not because I was necessarily happy where I was, but because I was safe there. I knew what I was tasked with was more than within my capabilities, the same could not be said of anything else I was offered. I knew my limits, even if I did not know why those limits were there in the first place.

I was stalled.

Then everything changed in my life so I was forced to change everything. I moved, I left my old life behind and began a new one and in the process of doing so I made a huge discovery. It was accidental, I read something online and it sounded so familiar that the words on the screen could have been written by me. Absentminded, forgetful, loses track of time, my inability to deal with sudden changes, being easily overwhelmed but also capable of remarkable focus at times. My perceived systemic baseline lifetime of  incompetence had a name, ADHD.

Now I take a pill once a day and I have a functional brain. I may not be at 100% but I now spend most days hovering around 80% as opposed to the 40% to 60% that was my norm before. Some days are better than others, but I had towels waiting for me when I got out of the shower this morning that I remembered to put where I could find them and that is more than I have ever had before so I can live with that.

Apparently When You Live in L.A. Award Shows Are a Thing That Happens.

Chicken pictured not actually the same as chicken eaten.

Chicken pictured not actually the same as chicken eaten.

Los Angeles. City of Angels. City of Dreams. City filled with people who can not drive worth sh*t. I live here.

Living in L.A. is not like you think it will be when you are dreaming of sunshine and palm trees in the midst of an endless Chicago winter. I really hate to say it, but television lied to me. This city is not not glamorous, there are not movie stars everywhere you turn, you do not eat every meal at In & Out, all the Trader Joe’s are great but the parking there sucks, the streets are really poorly maintained, and chunks of Beverly Hills are decidedly low rent. All in all it turns out that it is just a big American city, like all of the other big American cities out there, only with better weather and more earthquakes. I have lived here about 7 months now and have acclimated pretty well I think. I do my things and stuff. I am within walking distance of three awesome independent coffee shops (I maintain you can not trust a barista who does not have at least a half sleeve tattoo and some sort of facial piercing) and I found a place where I can fence. Also, the Valley is way more awesome than it gets credit for being, though could I think that simply because I don’t live there. All in all, it is a normal life most of the time only with more high speed helicopter chases.

And then there are the days you go to the Saturn Awards.

What in the what? I am still not quite sure how that happened. I am not a person who has what anyone would consider connections in “the industry”, and honestly I kinda gagged a little even typing out the words “the industry”. I am a contrary person by nature and the more I settle into L.A. the more I find myself turning into a crotchety old lady who resents having to share her space with “the cool kids”. That is my CVS and I deeply resent having to share it with REDACTED, even if REDACTED was here first. That said I do know a few people who work in entertainment, but that is their gig not mine, so it was the height of surrealism when a friend contacted me about going to an actual Awards Show as her camera crew. Go to an Awards Show, like that was a thing people actually did and not something E! made up to give the Kardashian’s something to do in between bikini waxes. Her normal camera wrangler couldn’t make it and I think I was the back up of the back up, which makes sense since I have not handled that type of recording device, pretty much ever. ( I know, this so could have ended in tears and me replacing a ungodly expensive piece of equipment and not eating for six months while I recouped the financial loss. Believe me, I cradled that thing Like my first born child when I held it in my arms.). Whatever the mysterious and foolish reasoning behind her kind act of asking me, I was game to go. What’s the worst that could happen? (Besides me dropping the camera?) These words will most likely end up on my tombstone.

So, that bit of introductory information said and done, what was the experience like? Unlike anything else I have ever experienced, but also kinda meh at the same time?

11505386-saturnawards-june-23-2011-in-burbank-ca

Fun Trivia Fact! The Saturn Award is apparently easily weaponized.

  • First off I had to dress up, like an actual human being going somewhere nice dress up. I have not dressed up, nor put on actual adult makeup in over three years. I usually fake it with BB cream and powder, throwing on some eyeliner if I am feeling particularly dowdy. Not this time, nope. There was eye shadow contrast involved, and non smoky smoky eye (I can’t actually do real smoky eye, when I attempt it look like like I just stepped out of an episode Law & Order: SVU as a middle aged Eastern European sex worker and I have since was 18), and lipstick that I am pretty sure had not seen the light of day since the last presidential election. So much primer went on my face I am still scrapping it off three days later. I HAD TO PUT ON MASCARA! I am lucky I did not lose an eye! And heels, my grown up ones, that were actual heels and not the wedges I usually fake it with when I want to feel tall. The most difficult part? I had to find a dress that fit and was not covered in cat hair. I was only partially successful on this front, which is why my friend was rubbing my ass with scotch tape as we waited in line to get her press credentials. Because classy. So, yes, dressing up to hold a camera because Award Shows require it.
  • The Red Carpet…. So weird. The only comparison my brain would provide for me was an assembly line. The press gathers on one side of this little walk way cordoned off with a velvet rope, each with their own assigned spot on the line and the famous product walks down the other side stopping at each station to do their bit of song and dance before moving a foot and a half down the line to do it all over again. The corridor they walk sports an actual red carpet which some how makes it less tedious for them to answer the same question over and over again I guess? Sometimes someone will wait desperately for someone to ask them something, anything, and eventually wander off to get something from the open bar when no one does. Publicists will work the line prior to their client, to pimp them out to the press, and there were one or two random hot chicks in great dresses who I found out later were there simply as set dressing. Because women are furniture in this industry. Once the “red carpet” was walked then the actors, writers, film dudes and the like just sort of milled around behind the press line up and hit the open bar as well. Some folks dodged the line completely, others slinked along back being seen but not heard as they avoided the press, and a few liked it so much they did it twice.
  • The food was…eh. Banquet food? Chicken with brown sauce and some veg on the side. It was exactly like what you would find at a Shriner’s dinner, only with less booze, or at a local rotatory clubs Woman of the Year banquet. And the water was sticky. Actually the entire evening had the feeling of a local club’s annual banquet meets a high school senior class dinner, the cool kids being forced to mix with the AV club in order to graduate.
  • My butt fell asleep.
  • Big Ass Spider won a Saturn Award and so did Hannibal, Revolution and Iron Man 3. I really can’t remember the rest of the winners, but I am sure you can find them online.

But enough about that, I know what you really want to hear about. The movie/television stars…. I apologize for my lack attention to this bit, I think I may have lost some fundamental part of my soul where I can get excited about this sort of thing. I should be. Excited I mean. I am that girl, the overly excitable fangirl filled with squee and the flailing? That is totally me. Or at least it used to be, I had a rough year and I think the part of me that could experience joy was a casualty of that. I hope I get it back. At least I still love Captain America, so there is that.

  • Mostly though my thoughts on the famous folks were of the “wow, that person is way taller/shorter than I thought they would be” nature. Seriously the dude who play Colossus in X-men? Pretty sure he actually a small skyscraper that wandered on to set one day thinking it was downtown Columbus Ohio and he had a skyline to settle into.
  • Ernie Hudson looks exactly like you think he should in real life, minus the proton pack, as does Brad Dourif and Malcolm McDowell, who killed it with his hilarious acceptance speech. That man knows how to work a crowd and curses like a longshoreman.
  • Kristin Chenoweth is super tiny and appears to be literally made of spun glass, I spent the evening thinking she needs to be kept in some sort of curio cabinet for her own protection.
  • Robert Rodriguez is stupidly tall, and when he passed by my chair my face was less than a foot away from his crotch. Words I never thought I would type in a million years.
  • The cast of Continuum seems really close and they spent the after party hanging out together instead of working the crowd which made me like them even more than their train-wreck award presentation did (It was such a hot mess, but profoundly adorable).
  • Jamie Summers (Lindsey Wagner) and Col. Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) got a standing ovation from at least 70% the dudes in the audience because I think they were responsible for for their sexual awakenings.
  • And also Jamie Summers hair is still as bouncy as it ever was while running in slow motion on The Bionic Woman. Full stop.
  • Robert Picardo is incredibly well spoken, as you would expect.
  • Shane Black is younger than I thought he was and Brian Fuller is taller, both gave great speeches.
  • James Gunn looks like he is 12.
  • I spent parts of the evening in a vaguely confused, mildly disgruntled fog of where the f*ck to I know you from? I ended up being a little resentful over the fact that this person and that other person over there in the cute dress and terrible shoes were faces my brain had committed to memory but I had no idea who they were.
  • Sorry if you are fans of what’s their faces, they seemed really cool and I am sure they are lovely, but I don’t know who they are enough to comment on them, I only know just enough to know they are in a thing.
  • And finally Robert Downy Jr made a C.H.U.D.’s joke in his video acceptance speech that I loved and also made me want to throw my shoe at him because I had a C.H.U.D.’s poster on the wall of my room when I was a kid and they were my thing not his. (Even I know that is me being unreasonable, but in my defense it was late and I was tired and irritable from sucking in my gut all night while trying to keep up good posture in a strapless dress. Stupid grown up cloths.)

Also of note:

  • The after party was cute and filled with adorable cos players who really were the hit of the night. Well done guys.
  • And then I went home and face planted.

There you have it, the Saturn Awards as seen through the eyes of someone who had no idea what the heck was going on. I hope it was enlightening or at least mildly amusing. If I do any other things of this nature I will be sure to give you all of the details, which will probably not be the ones you are interested in but hey you get what you get when you are relying on nerdgirlrising for your dish.

ares god of luvvvvvv

MAB, this gif is for you!

I would like to give special thanks to my friend for tagging me in on this adventure, I am glad I did not f*ck things up. Especially the camera.

I Read A Book & I Liked It!…. The Taste of It’s Cherry Chapstick Is Not Applicable.

boooooks

So I have embarked upon a quest this summer. It’s nothing too epic or  traumatic, which is good, because as my previous post may have mentioned my run in with Captain America was traumatic enough to last me the rest of the year in that department. No, this is going to be much easier. This summer I am going to read for fun and I honestly do not even remember the last time I did that. Which is odd because I read, a lot. As a hardcore book lover it is totally my thing, it is exactly my bag baby, but I noticed a while back that I had stopped taking any real enjoyment in reading. It was weird. I still read as much as ever, but the visceral pleasure I used to get from the act in my childhood was gone. I read to fill time, to keep occupied, to distract myself, to arouse myself, to kill time, to get it done and check said book off my bucket list, to find out what happens next because I swear to God George if you kill another of my favorites….

But fun? It was just not happening. As much as I enjoyed the stores being told, became (overly) attached to the characters and invested in the plot, the act of reading in and of itself no longer brought me any joy. So I picked up the first book on my to be read shelf, headed out to a local cafe with notoriously bad wifi and really great coffee, and read. I did not rush myself, I savored every word. It helps that I was ready W. Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage” which, don’t let the name fool you, is basically “Anne of Green Gables” with a dude and is all kinds of adorable. There is something relaxing about being able to sink into the arms of a good, old fashioned third person omniscient narrator. You care about the characters but with that wry, all knowing, and observant voice guiding you though the story you can savor the language and the way the story is being told without being caught up too closely in the suffering of the protagonist. I found myself smiling at the antics of the characters and even the drama of the protagonists early youth has been amusing as I look back at my own agonies suffered when I was Phillip Carey’s age and know that so much of it was self created. I was constantly smiling as I read, which dudes, I do not know the last time I did that.

After way too many years I am reclaiming the act of reading for fun, and so far so good. I am not going to stick only to the classics but instead I plan on reading whatever I pick up that look interesting. Margaret Atwood’s “Year of the Flood” is next on my list and after that who knows? Maybe some YA, or even more gauche in the eyes for the Slate Book Review, a Star Trek: TOS novelization. Ruth Graham would probably vomit in horror at the choice, but I have a bunch I picked up at used bookstore ages ago and they clearly need to be read and savored. Because reading should be fun, it should be enjoyed and not merely an exemplar of social status or intellectual elitism or because it is something we are told we should do, reading should be something we do because we want to do it. The act itself has an intrinsic value in and of itself and I can’t believe I ever forgot that.

So, yes. Summer 2014 is about reading for fun. I will keep the blog apprised at my progress along with what I am reading and my thoughts the text. I say text because I may end up slipping some fanfic in there as well because I am that sort of fangirl. You have been warned!