Time To Get Personal: On Charity

This is a weird one to write for me, because usually even when I do these ones, it’s about me and my relationship to something. This is about that but it’s about something bigger. But last night as my brother and I almost got into a fight over a comment I made (this one was seriously on me. And I rarely take the credit when my brother and I fight.) I decided I should talk about this more.

I come from an exceptional family.

One where the values of our religion were taken above the dogma, although the dogma, not excluded.

One where, I actually once heard one of the more wealthy members say, “when you want to give away billions of dollars, you have to make billions of dollars.”

One where my conservative Catholic grandfather has spent 3 days a week of his well earned retirement  caring for the dying in an AIDS shelter.

I’ve lived a privileged life. But I was also taught that with privilege came an obligation to improve that world at large.

To put it in nerd terms, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

I don’t exactly have great power, but compared to most of the world, I have a good thing going. I will not ever go to bed hungry. I am incredibly well educated. I live at home rent free in an incredibly safe suburb.

To quote my new hero, Kelly Sue DeConnick, “I’m not playing the game on the easiest setting, but I’m not far down the ladder, you know?” She was talking about feminism and equality, which feature into what I’m talking about.

I want to talk about charity, about giving, about globalization.

A few years ago a friend of mine called me out for using the word, “charity,” as if it were an implicit good. She stated that charity as a value was condescending, and I cannot disagree with this more.

I really believe that if charity were taken more seriously, particularly in American society, we would all be better off. I run a charity, I’ve done it for five years, and the first time I felt challenged for it, a few months ago, I nearly lost my head. I was, luckily, at the time, too tired to actually lose it.

So last night, when I mentioned that it felt off that the media was talking about the American victims of Ebola and not the 10,000 in Africa who had already died, my brother pointed out that, immediacy causes a reaction. And also, that the doctor who has just been diagnosed in New York contracted the virus while working with patients in Africa who had/have Ebola. Of course, my psyche does not allow for my brother to have a point while he’s in my presence, so I had to fight him about it. (It’s one of the main reasons that we really shouldn’t live together. Like at all.)

But I was raised to think globally and act locally. It’s why cultural feminism always spoke to me, why conservatism always spoke to me. If you let people, give people the resources to take care of themselves, of their neighbors, they will. I believe that, somewhere in me, I believe that.

But them I look at the world. I look at Ferguson, Missouri, I look at the images of the NYPD, men and women I idolized as heroes my whole life, beating people, I look at a woman as harmless and unradical as Felicia Day, who always played the game by the fanboy’s rules, if only because the rules worked for her (I have no doubt that the minute they didn’t she would step up, and she did) getting harassed by Gamer Gaters, and I worry.

But then I remember that the minute I called my best friend and asked her to give away money we could have been pocketing to help the people of Haiti rebuild their country, she said yes without a thought. I remember that my grandfather’s cousin, who is an honored member of a deeply ingrained hierarchy and could have shut himself away years ago, is spending his 80’s pleading for the freedom of Christians in the Middle East and China. I think of other friends who spent precious social and career building years help the less fortunate through the Jesuit Volunteer Corp.

I was raised to believe that you have to give. Not to get, although what you do get is immeasurable. I was raised to believe that when you have more than you need, you have to give back. The world doesn’t work otherwise. The world will never work otherwise.

Give what you can. Catholicism has a thing that other people should adopt too. It’s called Stewardship. You are a steward of your time, talent and treasure, and you owe those things to God, if that’s what you believe, or to the world, if that makes it easier. I have time and talent, not much treasure. So I give those things back. I produce a musical and give it’s proceeds to people who need it more than I every year. That’s what I can give.

My grandpa, who I cannot speak enough of, spends his days working with AIDS patients. Just because it was something he could do.

I proud to come from this legacy. Really, really proud.

No Strings, Just Chills

So, are we going to talk about the big robotic elephant in the room?

Obviously, we have to talk about the fact that the first Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer was released to the internet because of leaking last night.

The office blamed the leak on Hydra, which is cute.

But the trailer itself, is kind of amazing. We see all of the Avengers in action, we see, what I can only assume is Ultron’s birth and hear James Spader’s creepy voice narrating what he plans to do, and why he hates the Avengers or at least I think that’s what’s going on there.

There’s Hulk buster armor, and broody shots of the Chrises (2 out of 3, at least.) and Ruffalo looking pained, and ballerinas, for some reason. (Probably because Joss likes ballet) but the line that stuck with me came from, no surprise, Tony Stark.

As everyone stand around, probably making some sort of plan, Tony says, “I guess this is the end of the path that I set us on.”

This line is hugely symbolic, I think of, well, The MCU as it exists.

“The path I set us down,” is the original MCU ethos, characters over ideas, taking the characters seriously, basing them in some form of reality, having rules and 10 year plans, and phase 1.

Those days are gone. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Guardians of The Galaxy shattered those plans. The MCU is much, much, bigger, more important than anyone could have possibly anticipated. It’s not about reviving Robert Downey Jr.’s career, and creating something special anymore. The special has been created. The star is born, we’re through the looking glass.

“There are no strings on me.” Ultron says. I feel like there’s something to that line too, but I don’t have time to get into it.

“I have memories, and then I don’t.” The Judge Steadies Us

The Judge

I went to go see The Judge on Friday night. I was looking forward to this movie in a big way and almost talked myself out of going a couple of times. (I wound up committing myself in a not so small way…but forget that at the moment.)

This is a well written movie about fathers, sons, brothers and the law, kind of? This is a terrifically acted movie by three very different masters of the craft.

There’s almost no link between the captivating screen presences of Robert Duvall, Robert Downey Jr. and Vincent D’Onofrio.

Duvall is one of those great 70’s leading men from the time in movies that is talked about in film critic and buff circles in hushed tones. He creates nuanced and beautiful and full characters. He inhabits them and gives them dignity and gravitas.

RDJ is, well, he’s RDJ, he’s one of those movie stars who has ceased to be a star. He is a movie supernova. He’s living the biggest second act in the history of Hollywood. Someday, I’d like to go to heaven and seen RDJ walked up to F. Scott Fitzgerald and say, “No second acts? NO SECOND ACTS! Screw you, Scott, screw you hard!” Can’t we all hear that it his voice can’t we see him, with a mineral water, and a stunned foppish Fitzgerald, with a martini. Ugh, it’s going to be beautiful.

I was discussing D’Onfrio with a family friend on Saturday and we couldn’t even find words. He’s so absurdly talented and in this role his quiet intensity makes the schlubby older brother/eternal good son role, that could have been really cliché and made it something special.

The story of the The Judge isn’t new or special, middle son of the Palmer clan Hank (Downey) comes home after the death of his mother. His stern judge father James (Duvall), and his brothers one of whom is mentally handicapped don’t exactly welcome him, and as his days at home drag on, his wrecked marriage gets pulled out of the shadows. The real story begins when James is accused of killing a released murderer in a hit and run and Hank takes on the challenge of Jame’s case.

The movie meanders down several paths it doesn’t need to, resulting in it being about 20 minutes too long, but it’s three lead performances and some really beautifully crafted scenes more than make up for that. It’s a good movie, bolstered from mediocre by some really transcendent performances.

Also, while I had a nice experience, maybe don’t go to see it on a first date. I was way more “intense and philosophical” and dinner afterwards, rather than, “sparkling and witty” which is obviously how I want someone I’m dating to see me at least at first. (I must have not been terribly bad, because we’re going out again YAY! But oof…yeah…)

RANKINGS!

  1. Guardians of The Galaxy
  2. Godzilla
  3. Chef
  4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  5. The 100 Foot Journey
  6. The Judge
  7. How To Train Your Dragon 2
  8. Lucy
  9. The Boxtrolls
  10. Jersey Boys
  11. Maleficent
  12. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Trailers:

I didn’t know much about Big Eyes, but I’m psyched to see Tim Burton take on something more reality based again. Big Fish is my favorite work of his and this looks similar.

I actually don’t remember any of the other trailers, except Into The Woods, again, and sadly, I did get a weird look from my date for singing along, especially since there’s no singing in the trailer. But when you whisper, “more than moon,” under your breath with someone you just met…look, I’m just saying I have a good feeling!

Sailor Moon Check In: That’s What I’m Talking About

So Sunday morning I decide to get all caught up on my Sailor Moon. I did so begrudgingly and mostly because I couldn’t find my remote to go into my DVR and watch Doctor Who. (I did find it. I did eventually watch Doctor Who…) and well, I have some crow to eat.

Not Phobos and Deimos, but still, crow.

Sailor Moon

Manga

Still no. I’ve been reading a lot of Neil Gaiman, sooo, yeah. Not so much with the Sailor Moon short story collection.

Anime

GUYS! Remember that plot development that I wanted? Did I ever get it. The 4 episodes that I had to watch this weekend were the wrap up of all of this Legendary Silver Crystal nonsense, which involved Sailor Moon fully becoming Princess Serenity after the rest of the Senshi and Tuxedo Mask are killed by a giant tentacle monster. So, yeah, that happens. But powered by the love and memory of her friends, Princess Serenity defeats Queen Beryl and resets the timeline, so that they can all live nice normal lives, with no memories of each other. If this had been the end of Sailor Moon altogether, it would have been lovely and bittersweet, but of course it wasn’t. Quite quickly, in the episodes I watched last night, Usagi caught on to the fact that the new bad guys are around and that she has to stop them and became Sailor Moon again. She decides to spare her friends, which leads to several very funny interactions, including accosting Mamoru on the street. Then they have to awaken the others because without the Senshi or her Moonstick, there’s not a lot she can do. So this is going to be fun.

Crystal

GUYS! Minako! So badass. So NOT THE MOON PRINCESS! But frankly, this episode of Crystal had some really great stuff. Minako, who is now Sailor Venus, and pretending to be the Moon Princess to trick the Dark Kingdom away from Usagi, shows up and tries to do things on her own. The other four are kind of not having it and show up to help her anyway. Meanwhile Momaru is very conflicted because he loves Usagi like so much, you guys, you don’t even know, and he can’t protect her, and also turns out his destiny is to be with this other girl? Of course during the big fight they takes hits for each other and in a fun bit of genre based gender subversion, Usagi tells Mamoru that this is too dangerous and kisses him and sends him packing.

It’s a really great moment and once again I can’t stress enough how great it is that being in love is part of what gives Sailor Moon her strength. It’s so great. I can’t even deal with how much I loved this scene. So, so, so, so, so great!

So that’s our Sailor Moon check in! Hooray!

Time To Say Goodbye

Blood of Olympus

The thing about Blood of Olympus, 

No, the thing about Percy Jackson,

NO wait, the thing about Jason Grace

That’s not right either, the thing about Annabeth Chase,

The thing about Leo Valdez, Hazel Leveseque, Piper McLean, Frank Zhang,

The thing about Nico DiAngelo…

Is that they’re all my favorite character.

I can pick a favorite Harry Potter character, easy. That’s McGonnigal. I can pick a favorite Superhero, Batman on the DC side, Captain America on the Marvel. I can pick a favorite Disney Princess, it’s Cinderella. A favorite Sailor Scout, it’s Mars. But I can’t pick a favorite demi god.

Because that would mean choosing between Percy and Jason as to who bears the burden of being a leader better, choosing whether Annabeth or Piper can execute a side mission best. Whether Nico or Leo handles their crushing sadness and loneliness better. And I can’t make that choice.

I took longer than I should to finish Blood of Olympus, partially because of Comic Con catch up and partially because I really didn’t want this series to end. I knew that there would be death, and I didn’t want to see any of my favorite characters die.

No one died.

Well, Leo died, but he got better.

Here are things that did happen.

Percy and Annabeth made out on top of the Acropolis in Athens, but they also got cut so they woke up Gaea.

Jason decided to build shrines to every god at both Camp Half Blood and Camp Jupiter (this way he maintains his Roman roots and still be with Piper.)

Piper charm spoke Gaea back to sleep. Which is the coolest and most badass thing in the entire world.

Leo called Percy “Aquaman.”

Leo came back to life because Piper and Jason believed in him, and he flew Festus to rescue Calypso and they ran away together AND THAT WAS THE END OF THE WHOLE BOOK AND IT WAS PERFECT.

But the best was when Nico realized that he and Will Sollace are perfect for each other and then he came out to Percy and Annabeth and Percy was super confused and Annabeth gave him a high five. It was such a great way to do that moment.

Reflecting on this series is weird for me. I really love it, and it’s been such a huge part of my fandom vocab, that I’m not really sure where to go next. I mean, this world is clearly not going anywhere. Announced on the last page of The Blood Of Olympus is the new series, which is going to be about Norse Mythology.

Which is cool, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I mean, if you like adaptations of those stories…that take place in a modern setting.

For like a comic book.

Or a movie.

Or an epic amazing novel.

I mean, like, if you’re into Thor, or Loki, or American Gods, you might like a story about Annabeth’s cousin Magnus and his relationship to the gods of Asgard.

Maybe.

OMGOMGOMG ISTHISREALLLYHAPPENING? WHATSGOINGON?

Quick Note: You’ll notice no more comics write ups. I realized that it was putting me on too strict a reading schedule and keeping me on a sort of “comics only” path. I like reading comics. I like it a lot. But it can’t be the only thing I read. So I’m cutting back on a lot of monthly books and waiting for trades, I’m reading when I get to it and feel like, rather than every week as soon as I pick up. Rather than speeding through my comics this weekend, I finished Blood of Olympus, and finally finished Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys and started (and got mostly through) Neverwhere. After all it’s October, no better time for reading Neil Gaiman. Also Jim Gaffigan has a new book coming out, there’s a new Veronica Mars book coming out and I watch too much TV. My reading time has to be split. It’s just the way it goes. When something really clicks, I’m still going to write about it. It’s just going to be a little bit more loose, giving myself more space.

 

The Basic Geek Girl

Earlier in the week I posted an article about the term “basic bitch” and how it’s use is casually misogynistic. And it got me thinking about niche “basic” girls, specifically, what does the “Basic Geek Girl” look like? I think I’ve nailed her (and I might share several characteristics with her)

  • She loves the MCU. It was probably one of her big nerd gateways. She’ll more than likely will tell you that Loki is her favorite character and definitely ships Black Widow/Hawkeye. She is obsessed with figuring out exactly what happened in Budapest.
  • She’s a Whovian, but probably only Nu Who. 10 is her Doctor, but she cosplays as Amy Pond.
  • If you bring up Sherlock, she will declare that she is a Cumberbitch.
  • She loved Twilight. She will deny it. But she definitely did.
  •  She went bonkers of over Batgirl #35
  • She owns at least one piece of jewelry with The Deathly Hollows on it, and may have “I solemnly swear I am up to no good,” tatooed on her someplace.
  • She loves Donald Glover. She probably has Childish Gambino stuff on her phone, even though she doesn’t really listen to rap.
  • She’s on Tumblr
  • If she goes to conventions, she always carves out time for the Women of Marvel panel
  • Christian Bale is her Batman
  • She owns at least one “Keep Calm” tee shirt.
  • She lives and dies by her ships. LIVES AND DIES.
  • She watched Firefly, maybe Buffy, probably not Angel or Dollhouse.
  • She plays Wii, and definitely played games as a kid, but probably didn’t keep up on hardcore gaming.
  • She has a crush on Chris Hardwick. And Chris Hemsworth. And Chris Evans. And Chris Pratt. LOOK if his name is Chris and he’s prominent in geek culture, she likes him.
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell made her cry and she’ll tell you all about it.
  • She’ll tell you all about her house, be it at Hogwarts or in Westeros.
  • Her pets are named after book characters
  • She owns many books. She’s read most of them. Some of them were gifts or bought aspirationally.
  • She identifies deeply with Jessica Day, Liz Lemmon and Leslie Knope.
  • Her bookmarks include, Cracked & The Mary Sue
  • She probably had a crush on Jon Stewart at some point in her life.
  • Don’t bring up Neil Gaiman around her. Trust me.
  • She went through a “goth” phase that mostly consisted of wearing black eyeliner and watching Tim Burton movies.

So those are the characteristics that I landed on. I’ve met these girls. I am these girls in a lot of ways. But if you run in geeky circles you know exactly what I’m talking about. What are some other ones that you can think of?

Wonder Woman

If you thought that I’d let this pass y’all haven’t been paying attention.

In 2017 we’re getting a Wonder Woman solo movie.

This is happening people. This is real.

THIS IS NOT A DRILL!

Look at her all badass and ready to take over the world!

Look at her all badass and ready to take over the world!

No more excuses, no more, “she’s too complicated,” no more…well, OK, we don’t know much about it, really.  But we do know that some time in 2017, we’re getting a Wonder Woman movie.

Wanna bet within a few weeks we find out where Black Widow and Captain Marvel fit into the 10 year plan? Wonder Woman is a huge move in the studio verse studio arms race. I’m looking forward to see how things go from here.

This one is a big Girl Power win. A BIG one.