Welcome to Level 7

So he was never dead? Is that how we’re going to play it Joss?

HE WAS NEVER DEAD?

OK, I’m going to move past this onto an actual review of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, except that I can’t get past that.

COULSON DIDN’T DIE!

NOT EVER ACTUALLY DEAD!

NOT EVER ACTUALLY DEAD!

I mean, I didn’t exactly want him to be a replicant, or brought back to life by crazy Asguardian magic or something.

No, wait, yes, that’s exactly what I wanted. I wanted that. You’re telling me that while Tony and Pepper were fighting for their lives against Not The Mandarin trying to contain the extremis virus their good buddy Phil was hanging out on beach in Tahiti, recuperating?

This information is not OK by me.

Did you hear me Mr. Whedon? I AM NOT OK WITH THIS!

Things I am OK with? Seeing Ming-Na Wen kick the crap out a guy as Melinda May.

Doctor Chen, FTW!

Doctor Chen, FTW!

Seeing Colbie Smulders back as Agent Maria Hill. She only had one scene but I love what she does with this character, who’s only real job is to give info dumps. Joss does beautiful things with his info dumps.

I love that our tech geeks are a team named “Fitz” and “Simmons,” this is hilarious. Just objectively so.

The entire character of Skye. I can’t wait to see what kind of sassy, fly in the face of the patriarchy things she’s going to do.

Agent Grant Ward is going to be a great character. He’s Wesley in spy form, stuck on the rules. Coulson is going to Giles him so hard.

Coulson’s monologue about the cost of being close to super heroes. We all know Cap broke your heart Phil. It’s OK to be sad about it.

Did Steve watch Phil while he slept? Or um, was he present when he was unconscious?

Did Steve watch Phil while he slept? Or um, was he present when he was unconscious?

Wait for it…

How I Met Your Mother

The hour long season premier of How I Met Your Mother was last night.

While I haven’t watched the show with any regularity in about two years, there was a time when I loved HIMYM so much I went out and purchased both The Playbook and The Bro Code and people then gave me copies of them as gifts. My friend Katie was living in an apartment over a bar and my friends and I all called the bar “MacClarens,” (it has a real name. I couldn’t tell you what that is.) Around this same time she was also dating a local news reporter. This is why we called her Ted for like a year. (Usually only when we were drinking…)

I loved HIMYM so much that I rewatched the whole series, not on Netflix, but by actually getting the discs sent to me on Netflix. I watched the commentaries. I learned that while they were creating the show, they decided they wanted to make continuity matter in a new way on sit coms.

I know all the words to “Let’s Go To The Mall.” All of them. (Join in now, “Everybody come and play, throw every last care away! Let’s go to the mall, today!)

I’m excited for the final season. Having taken some time away from the gang, I started to miss them and found their antics less irritating than I previously had. Ted’s wishy washy good guy thing was endearing again, Robin and Barney’s commitment phobia was funny, as were Lily’s neurosis and Marshall’s belief in the universe.

Also, Ted’s future wife, (played by Cristin Miloti, who I fell in love with when I saw her on Broadway in Once last year.) fits in seemlessly already. She soothed Lily on a train ride and the scene between her and Ted, a flash forward to a year later was tender and sweet. They work very well.

I was glad to see Wayne Brady back as Barney’s brother James, and of course that Ranjit drove Barney and Robin out to The Hamptons for their wedding was beyond perfect. I can’t wait to see other fan favorites pop up. I mean, I can’t be the only person who wants to see The Captain again can I? We got a teaser that shows we’ll probably see Stella.

I’m excited about a lot of things this season, but mostly that we’re putting this show to bed at long last.

It’s been a long and legendary road from when Ted first noticed Robin in that bar. I’m sure I’ll cry by the end. Series finales almost always make me cry. And HIMYM has never been afraid to wear it’s heart on it’s sleeve.

I’m psyched that the entire season is based around the days and weeks surrounding Robin and Barney’s wedding an event I’ve always been really excited for.

You can’t take the sky from me

I didn’t observe Browncoat day yesterday and here’s why:

Things like Browncoat day are the kinds of things that drive me up the wall about nerd culture. I love Joss Whedon. I love Firefly and Serenity. I’m all for having a random day designated throughout the year to talk about the crew of The Serenity, say everything is “shiny,” and wish that I way Kaylee Frye.

In a world of unlimited resources and time I would cosplay this for EVERYTHING. Just for normal days sometimes

In a world of unlimited resources and time I would cosplay this for EVERYTHING. Just for normal days sometimes

But that’s not what happens on Browncoat day for the most part. What generally happens is that everyone talks about the “injustice” of Firefly’s cancellation by Fox.

Injustice: violation of the rights of others; unjust or unfair action or treatment

It’s the same thing that bugged me while watching Salinger the other day. We didn’t have a right to more Firefly. There was no injustice here. Disappointment? Sure. Is it a bummer? Absolutely. But it wasn’t unjust, it just was. And, though Joss would hate this line of logic, due to it’s well, religiousness, clearly, there was a plan at work here.

Let’s say that in 2002, Firefly had been a massive hit. Maybe it didn’t run for seven years as Joss Whedon planned, but ran for like, four or five. I assume Wash still would have died.

I will never EVER forgive him for this. Or Anya.

I will never EVER forgive him for this. Or Anya.

I’m not saying that it wouldn’t have been great. But here’s what probably wouldn’t have happened.

Joss Whedon would never have directed his first movie and proved that he could balance a large ensemble cast and braid together a bunch of threads to create a unified story. He never would have shown that he could combine his whip smart mile a minute dialog with killer cinematic action sequences. (The difference between River killing those Reavers and the final sequence of Buffy is staggering.) In 2007, when the show had wrapped, he probably would have been taking a breather when the writers strike hit and wouldn’t have decided to change the way people consume their entertainment and make the world at large realize that Neil Patrick Harris is a musical treasure with Doctor Horrible’s Sing A Long Blog. Dollhouse would never have happened.

OK, maybe not the worst consequence

OK, maybe not the worst consequence

But here’s the big one. If Joss Whedon had been working on Firefly for all of that time, he wouldn’t have developed the reputation as the nerd genius. His legend would have been greatly diminished. And Marvel wouldn’t have given him The Avengers. 

Think about that.

The Avengers without Whedon’s touches. Without his ability to juggle several balls, without his understanding of the need for the characters to drive the story rather than the action, without that Galaga reference (probably.) I joke about how the only thing that I didn’t like about The Avengers was how Whedon-y it was, but still, the thought of what the movie would have been without him worries me.

I mean probably would have still loved it. But put RDJ in the Iron Man suit and I’d watch him do just about anything.

So that’s how I celebrated Browncoat day. Wishing I had Kaylee’s “Shindig” dress, and thinking about how if Firefly hadn’t been cancelled The Avengers probably would have sucked and Captain Hammer wouldn’t be a thing.

Hey look, we all cope with disappointment in our own way.

Holden, Seymour and Salinger

salinger-poster

When I say that I love Franny and Zooey, and Nine Stories I don’t think that it is a reasonable way of talking about it. The first time I read Banana Fish, I remember feeling like there was something stirring inside of me. I was in college when J.D. Salinger first spoke to me, through the remarkable Glass family.

I didn’t expect to like it, at all. I expected to feel how I felt when I read Catcher in The Rye in high school. “This? This is what everyone’s always talking about? This whiny teenage boy who I hate?” (By halfway through my junior year when I read it, I’d had it up to my eyeballs with angst-y teenage boys.) I reread Catcher later in life and enjoyed it a lot more, but I don’t love it the way a lot of people do. I do love Franny and Zooey that way.

Anyway, Shane Salerno’s documentary Salinger, is meant to be a biography. Salerno and his crew interviewed over 150 people to try to make sense of the bewildering author. The film feels a little disjointed, because there are so many versions of Salinger that people have concocted over the years in their heads.

My particular favorite

This is my particular favorite

It’s an interesting film and Salerno certainly is as in love with Salinger as anyone, and Salinger was definitely a fascinating genius. His writing has connected with three generations of people and changed lives. He is absolutely worthy of the kind of attention he’s received and his peculiar legend. Here’s what annoyed me about a lot of the discussion in this film:

I do think it’s bizarre that after writing the book that has defined adolescence for many people J.D. Salinger decided to move to the mountains and withdraw from the world. I also think that he threw the world’s biggest hissy fit when people didn’t like his final story and then decided to horde and not publish the rest of his work.

But here’s the thing. It was Salinger’s work. It doesn’t belong to us. We aren’t entitled to it just because when we (as a society, not me personally) were fifteen we connected with a character he created. We weren’t entitled to more J.D. Salinger, and he definitely didn’t owe people answers and nothing gave people the right to intrude on his life and privacy and demand that he give them. (The alarming number of people who felt like this was OK, terrifies me.)

As a person who loves literature, I’m very excited over the next seven years to read the complete stories of the Glass and Caulfield families. I hope they’re wonderful and penetrating and exciting. I hope that they say amazing things and make my heart flutter.

But my heart won’t break if they aren’t anything special. I won’t feel like literature has lost anything, because it won’t have. Holden Caulfield will still hate phonies. Seymour Glass will still never get over World War II. Zooey Glass will still gently and lovingly tell his sister Franny to snap out of it. Nothing can take those things away.

Salinger will still be that crazy, perfect, hermit, genius guy.

So there’s that.

Trailers:

Enough Said was probably going to make me cry anyway, and knowing that is was Gandolfini’s final work will just make it worse.

Rankings:

1. Pacific Rim

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The World’s End

4. Salinger

5. Kick Ass 2

6. The Butler

7. Man of Steel

8. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

9. The Wolverine

10. Iron Man 3

11. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

12. Despicable Me 2

13. Star Trek Intro Darkness

14. Elysium

15. Monster’s University

16. After Earth

Elysium?

Elysium

Yesterday, I went to go see Elysium. I’d put this one off for a while, mostly because I haven’t been feeling really smart lately, and I felt like there was going to be some serious thinking involved with this movie, you know, like District 9, which while being a totally awesome movie about aliens and blasters and all that sci-fi goodness, was also a very thought provoking look at xenophobia, immigration, and race relations.

So, here’s the thing, with Elysium. I think that Neill Blomkamp really wanted to say something with this movie. I’m just not sure what it was. Was it about illegal immigration? Or universal healthcare? I’m not sure. I didn’t get it.

Elysium seemed unable to make up it’s mind, whether it wanted to be a thought provoking look at anything, or a movie where two guys in robot suits that fight each other. Now, I have no problem with their being a combination of those two things, if you can make it a combination. I’m reading Orson Scott Card’s Ender Quintet right now. Obviously there are ways that you can do both. But Elysium doesn’t combine the two, it just keeps switching lanes.

The premise is simple enough, when the earth got used up, we left to explore other planets and teraform them…haha, just kidding. But it is staggeringly similar to Firefly. When the earth got overpopulated and polluted, the super rich built a space station to live on, away from the squalor. It’s called Elysium. People still live on Earth, one such person is Max, played by Matt Damon. My love of Matt Damon is such that I once spent two years calling him “my fiance,” but I don’t understand why they gave him this role. For one thing, it’s clear that Max is supposed to be Hispanic. He lives in a run down neighborhood in Los Angeles, his last name is Da Costa and every other character around him is Hispanic. I mean, I love color blind casting probably more than the next person, but this was one of those cases where I found it distracting.

Anyway, Max wants to go to Elysium really badly, and even more so when he has an accident that leaves him only five days to live, since on Elysium they can cure any sickness with a miracle technology called a med bay. Also, it turns out his childhood sweetheart, Frey’s daughter has leukemia, so that doubles his drive.

He makes a deal with a coyote named Spider to steal the data of a CEO in order to get to Elysium. Then things get hinky. Max’s best friend Julio (Diego Luna, ah, how I forgot him), gets shot , and the data that was downloaded into Max’s brain turns out to be far more valuable than previously anticipated.

The plot also involves the Secretary of Defense for Elysium, played by Jodie Foster, trying to overthrow the president because he’s too soft on illegal immigration to the station, or something.

Freaking, something. I don’t know. To me, this whole subplot was where the movie got too full of itself and confusing and couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. Already, Max has a ticking clock, with his 5 days, and an emotional push in Frey’s daughter. Plus he has the ability to override the station. That should be enough, but we’re also thrown a psychotic secret agent played by Sharlto Copely, and, I don’t know, it just all became too much for me.

All in all, I spent most of the movie scratching my head, trying to figure it out.

I don’t know, maybe I wasn’t smart enough for it.

Trailers:

Thor: The Dark World, Captain Phillips, Bad Grandpa, Yes, God Yes, and Please No

The Monuments Men: Chronicling the story of the army unit that’s main mission was to protect the cultural artifacts in World War II. The team is made up of George Clooney, John Goodman, Matt Damon, & Bill Murray. This movie will be a classic.

Rankings:

1. Pacific Rim

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The World’s End

4. Kick Ass 2

5. The Butler

6. Man of Steel

7. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

8. The Wolverine

9. Iron Man 3

10. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

11. Despicable Me 2

12. Star Trek Into Darkness

13. Elysium

14. Monster’s University

15. After Earth

Of The TARDIS and Old Friends

Last night I had dinner with my college roommate Jen. I’ve talked about my relationship with Jen before, and last night she summed it up even better, “There was just no filter in that room. We just talked about whatever ridiculous things came into our heads.”

Usually, it was about this.

Usually, it was about this.

Dinner was about twenty minutes of us catching up, (Jen is working for the New York Public Library, I’m at the hotel. We both live at home. We both kind of can’t stand it, but can’t afford to change the situation at the moment. Hooray!) and then five minutes of reminiscing about a trip to Florida we took sophomore year, and then an hour and a half of talking about Star Trek and Doctor Who.

Jen was not happy with the way Star Trek Into Darkness turned out. “But I did go to see it…twice.” We chatted about the things that annoyed me, and she agreed with most of them, (She also thinks that bring Spock Prime in was pandering. HOORAY! I had a correct Trekkie response to this. To me this is like when “The Rain in Spain,” minus the dancing.)

There might have been some dancing

There might have been some dancing

Then we moved into Doctor Who. I always love talking to people about Doctor Who, because even among geeky people, it’s like having a secret password into a club. And that club is bigger on the inside.

We talked about Davies VS Moffat. (We prefer Moffat episodes, but Davies story archs.) Why 10 is better than 11. (He just is.) And God almighty, was there ever some Rose Tyler love being passed around that table, our distaste for River Song, and how weird it is that even though we don’t really care either which way for Martha Jones, all of her episodes are great. This may just be because of Captain Jack.

Always being on the same page with Jen about so many things has been what keeps the fact that we’re not on the same page about so many others from getting in the way of being friends. (I won’t get into those other things, I love her so much, that’s the important part.)

What strange about my friendship with Jen is that she doesn’t have a facebook. So when we see each other, the catch up time isn’t nominal. I actually had no idea what was going on in her life for the past year, because except for the occasional text or email we didn’t have much contact. So these dinners, lunches and quick attempt to reconnect are actually amazing.

And being around people you can just pick up with is always great.

Like, always, always.

“Two Kids Flirting in a Way that only a few people in the world understand”

Sometimes I do something so unfathomably fangirly, I surprise even myself.

I mentioned that I’ve been on a Bat-binge lately. I go on them from time to time, usually spurred on by something big happening in Bat-news, or just because I decide I want to watch Batman: The Animated Series again, or because one of the 90’s Batman movies is on TV, or well, I think you get the idea.

This time it was a combination of watching Justice League and Justice League: Unlimited on Netflix, watching Beware The Batman on Cartoon Network, and Batfleck.

It’s been a doozy, and it’s been a more intense (and expensive) trip than my usuals, which usually just consist of watching Batman Begins and the episodes of B:TAS  I love again.

So, things got kicked into high gear when the boy that I loved in high school got some awesome news. A year ago he got engaged, and now he’s about to make his Broadway debut. This is amazing, and I’m actually really excited for him.

Or like 98% of me is really excited for him,

The other 2%? The totally irrational, stuck at 17 part? The part was ROYALLY pissed off.

While the 98% of my brain was saying, “hey, this is cool. He’s a talented guy. And I bet his fiance is great. And we HAVEN’T SPOKEN TO HIM IN 7 YEARS, so I bet he’s not a huge shit head anymore, and maybe even his ridiculous 2% totally regrets stomping on our heart for four years,” the ridiculous 2% was screaming back, “NO, NO, NOOOOOOOOO!!!! He stomped on our heart for four years, and now that shit head is getting married and his dream is about to come true? And what the hell are we doing, missy? We’re still single! We’re working a dumb retail job (I actually love my job), and we’re wasting time with our blog, because no one takes us seriously anyway.”

I’m not proud of this part of my brain. But I’m more than a little grateful for it. Rather than doing nothing and feeling sorry for myself and drinking a lot, (How I would have handled this feeling a year ago) when I went on my break that day, I marched up 5th Avenue to the nearest Barnes and Noble, and I decided I was going to buy some Batman comics. (This was a way of contributing to people taking my blog seriously. I don’t know. I really wasn’t thinking clearly at the time.)

I really wanted to buy The Dark Knight Returns, because even though I’ve read it before, I wanted to read it again. But alas, it was sold out. So I went with Knightfall: Volume 1. I consumed it really quickly, in about a day and a half. This isn’t spectacularly quick for reading comics, but each volume of Knightfall is about the same size as a phone book. I went on Amazon that night and ordered the other two volumes.

I loved it. I loved Bane and his bizarre and totally bonkers fixation on destroying Batman. I loved Jean-Paul Valley and his crazy mind ghosts. I loved the father/son conflict between Dick and Bruce. I loved Dick becoming Batman, even if it was just for a minute, I loved Tim Drake’s hero worship of Dick.

I found my inner fangirl again. (Aless and Ivy get credit too. So much credit.)

Anyway, after Knightfall, I was at a bit of a loss. Where to go next, you know? But Barnes and Noble called again, and I responded by picking up Batgirl/Robin: Year One.

And it was when I finished that one, that I realized it. This wasn’t a Bat-binge at all. No. Bat-binges were more simple than this. Bat-binges ended in me watching Mask of The Phantasm and crying in my bed by myself at 2 in the morning. (Oh shut up. It’s a very emotional film.) This was something different. Because when I was picking B:TAS episodes to watch, I was picking ones like, “Robin’s Reckoning,” and “Shadow of The Bat,” and “Old Wounds.” The parts of Knightfall that I was most interested in? When Dick took over from Bruce as Batman. I was watching season 2 of Young Justice again.

Gone too soon.

Gone too soon.

I was getting annoyed at Beware The Batman, not because of it’s strange animation style, but because they had the nerve to introduce Barbara Gordon but it didn’t look like Dick Grayson was going to be within ten miles of the show. (They’ve established Katanna as Batman’s sidekick, which, awesome, but then leave Babs out of it too, ya know?)

This wasn’t about Justice League, or Ben Affleck. It was barely even about Batman.

It definitely wasn’t about a boy who broke my heart almost ten years ago.

This was about shipping.

This was my inner fangirl crying out for a couple to root for, and not finding it anywhere on TV lately, and knowing how it already felt about The Mortal Instruments. (Simon/Isabelle, FTW!) And bless her twisted little heart, she wanted it to be the police commissioner’s daughter and the orphaned acrobat.

Now, obviously, shipping Barabara/Dick isn’t a new thing. I’ve always kind of loved them, even before I knew that shipping was a thing. Watching reruns of the 60’s Batman, as a small child, I’m pretty sure that I thought, “Is Batgirl Robin’s girlfriend? She should be.” If Batman And Robin hadn’t completely butchered Batigrl’s origin story, (She’s Alfred’s niece? Or something? I remember she really hated Bruce though.) I’d say that Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone’s parts were the only defensible in the movie.

Also, anytime Clooney was in straight up "Bruce Wayne" mode.

Also, anytime Clooney was in straight up “Bruce Wayne” mode.

But seriously folks, this. Like the only good thing in the movie.

But seriously folks, this. Like the only good thing in the movie.

If this were high school, I’d go on livejournal and find a “Babs+Dick4eva!” group and make icons about them. If I had the time or inclination to write fanfiction anymore, I’d write it about them.

As it is, I’m just going to read that scene in Batgirl: Year One where he gives her her first Batcycle over and over again, and sigh happily.

Or that scene in Battle for The Cowl, where even Vicky effing Vale, (The investigative reporter who was boning Bruce Wayne for a while and still couldn’t figure out he was Batman.) realizes that they’re in love with each other.

Or the part of Batman and Robin: Batman Vs. Robin where Dick as Batman tells Kathy Kane (Batwoman) that he has a thing for redheaded crime fighters while trying to awkwardly flirt with her. (It’s not just Barbara, it’s also Starfire, but that’s not bring her into this conversation.)

Or the entire middle sections of Batgirl: The Darkest Mirror where they beat the crap out of each other, and call it “playing tag.”

Pictured: Vigilante Foreplay

Pictured: Vigilante Foreplay

Or the scene in Nightwing: Traps and Trapezes where Barbara walks in on Dick and his childhood circus friend (who he’s been boinking) and makes sarcastic comments at him. (I just finished this book, and I loved that part so much, I went back and reread it immediately.)

I think you get the point.

So I would like to welcome Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon to the my shipping party. Go to the bar and chat with Julie The Cat Gaffney and Dean Portman, they’ve been here a while and can show you around, be careful though because Serena Vanderwoodsen and Nate Archibald are having sex on that bar. Lucas Scott and Brooke Davis will probably want to take a break from Seth Cohen and Summer Roberts constant bickering, so they’ll be around too. Looking for someone to brood with? You’ve got Jess Mariano and Rory Gilmore to talk with, although Jacob Black and Leah Clearwater are also great for that. Or maybe you feel like avoiding your feelings and obvious attraction for a while? Emma Swann and Captain Hook are around somewhere, and that’s what they’re doing. And hey! If you miss your friends and family, there’s good news! Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are on the roof, fighting and probably making out, and Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance are in the corner making fun of everyone.

Enjoy yourselves, I certainly will.