Fallen Heroes

This one stings, you guys.

I mean, there have been plenty of people who’s work I’ve admired unmasked as scumbags in the past year, who I’ve sighed, and moved on from. I’ll notice them pop up in something, shake my head, or excise them from my lists and that will be all. I leave it be. I don’t really remark on it, beyond a few bitch sessions with friends who share it in common with me, but not public because, me feeling icky watching The 70s Show reruns or Gossip Girl on Netflix is like, the least of the terrible things about Danny Masterson and Ed Westwick being rapists, ya know?

But this one feels different. This one was me holding my breath that Chloe Dykstra’s ex she referred to in this essay (who I will not name, as she didn’t, but I mean, we know…right? WE ALL KNOW!) was someone else.

Not that guy.

Not the guy, the one who I credit as the inspiration for this blog and everything I’m trying to build here. Who introduced me to like, half of the stuff I love. The one who I’ve had a dumb silly crush on since I was seven and watched him on MTV. The one who’s stand up special I raced back to a hotel room from Epcot to watch as it aired on Comedy Central.

Of course me losing a hero pales in comparison to Dykstra’s pain. Obviously.

And of course I still have This Is Rad and Doctor Who and The Meltdown and Super You and The Thrilling Adventure Hour, separate from this guy.

I try really hard to not let “being a nerd” or “being a fan” define my identity. I love my interests and I find them rewarding, but they’re not who I am. Who I am is deeper than that. What I value is deeper than that, that shit is all surface. Which is why, for the most part, while I’m made sad by the purging of scumbags from entertainment, because of the damage wrought, I’ve managed to you know, keep it in perspective. It’s not about me, or my likes, it’s about building a stronger world where the things I do value deeply will be able to thrive.

But I built a lot of things I do value on this guy’s public values. My work here, the whole “put forward what you love, don’t give air to the things you hate” ethos I’ve tried to cultivate, came in a big way from this guy.

So this one stings for me.  That is all.

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Ultimate Teen Drama FanFic: That Day At The Docks

A few weeks ago I put together what I consider to be the Ultimate Teen Drama Cast Of Characters. I mentioned at the end of that post that I might start playing with some fanfiction with them. Here’s the first attempt at that.

For some context notes. I’ve decided to set it in Capeside in the summer. This way I don’t have to deal with how the hell Blair is at a suburban high school, or Seth is on the east coast. (I’ve transplanted Dylan, Wallace and Brooke east and north respectively. And as Riverdale is both everywhere and nowhere by design, Jughead isn’t a problem) They’re summering there, problem solved! Also, having watched Dawson’s Creek about a dozen times, I know Capeside’s geography better than other settings. (The OC’s Newport seemed to grow and shrink as necessary and Gossip Girl’s Manhattan was completely nonsensical. Tree Hill and Capeside are quite literally the same place…) Other nuances of my imaginary mash up will come out in time. 

Joey Potter was not as excited as her classmates that it was summer. For her, unlike most them, the closing of Sophomore year meant working at both the marina gas station and a local diner to save for college, rather than lounging around at the beach all day. At least at school she got to focus on things she liked, reading and art. Work was just, work.

“Joey Potter!” She turned hearing her name and smiled seeing two boys approaching her dock. Wallace Fennell and Jughead Jones were her closest friends at Capeside High and at the moment, a week into the summer a welcome sight.

“Hey,” she said as they reached her. “How’s freedom?”

“Boring,” Jughead shrugged, jumping down onto the dock. “I thought you were at the diner today.”

“I was this morning,” Joey said, “then here until six.”

“Guess what we’re doing tonight?” Wallace grinned. Joey looked at Jughead who shook his head.

“Um,” she pressed her lips, “nothing, like always?”

“Mr. Fennell here has garnered an invite to the beach party,” Jughead rolled his eyes. “He’s spent the past hour trying to convince me to go. You’re the deciding vote.”

“We’re not going to that,” Joey laughed.

“Why not?” Wallace shrugged. “It could be fun.”

“It won’t be,” Joey said. “That party is just an excuse for Brooke Davis to scope out which summer people she’s going to sleep with until Labor Day.” Wallace shook his head.

“You two, need to broaden your horizons,” he said, “not all summer people are evil.”

“Just most of them,” Joey pointed out.

And Brooke’s actually really cool,” Wallace pointed out. “We hung out a bunch during basketball season. People misunderstand her.”

“OK, one,” Jughead chimed in, “I agree with Joey, summer people are like ninety percent evil. And, two, I don’t care how nice Brooke Davis was to you while she was in cheerleader mode, she is probably the devil.”  Joey nodded.

“Well, I’m going,” he said, “and I would like to go with my two best friends,” Joey sighed. “Just think of all the material for making fun of people you’ll get. Just in this one night, this will fuel an entire summer worth of snark, I bet.”

“Fine,” Joey sighed, “I’ll go but if one, I mean it, even one, douchey summer dude asks to show me his boat, I’m not speaking to you until the fourth of July.”

“I’ll go to protect Joey from said douchey summer dudes,” Jughead agreed, “and that thing you said about making fun of people.”

“Great,” Wallace said, “pick you up at 8?” Joey sighed and nodded.

***

Blair Waldorf sighed miserably sitting on the back porch of the large beach side mansion she’d arrived at the night before. What had possessed her mother to decamp them to this sleepy Cape Cod town for the summer instead of the Hamptons like everyone else they knew? Blair picked at the croissant in front of her and sipped her mimosa mindlessly. It was going to be a long summer, she knew that for sure.

“Miss Blair?” Dorota, her maid walked out. “There’s someone here to see you?”

“Who?” Blair said. “Dorota, we don’t know anyone here!” A girl about her age walked out the door and waved somewhat awkwardly. The other girl shared a few similarities to Blair, similar dark hair, and wide brown eyes. She was dressed in a pair of yoga pants and tank top that said “Minute Men” across the chest though, which Blair realized was probably from her school. So the similarities ended with the physical, because sartorially Blair wouldn’t be caught dead out of a gymnasium dressed like this.

“Hi, yeah, hi,” the girl said, “I’m Brooke, I live a few blocks away and I was going for a run and saw you and wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood.” Blair smiled placidly.

“Oh,” she said, at least the run explained the outfit. “Sure, I mean, whatever. I’m Blair Waldorf.”

“Right,” Brooke nodded and shook her hand. “Anyway, there’s this party on the beach tonight, we have one every year, to welcome the summer people. You should come.”

“We?” Blair said, her eyebrows raised. “So, you’re like what, a townie?”

“Unfortunately,” Brooke sighed, “but some of us are more civilized than others.” Blair smiled. At least this girl knew enough to acknowledge her lower social status. She could work with that.

“Alright,” Blair said, “so tell me about this party.” She gestured to a chair and Brooke smiled and sat down.

***

“Damn it,” Seth Cohen mumbled, as the sail boat he’d rented for the summer failed to catch the wind. “Once again, I have been foiled by Atlantic weather.” He knew that eventually he’d get the hang of east coast sailing, but for now, he was missing the calmer Pacific Ocean and the spots he knew in Newport.

He could almost hear his dad teasing him about it, though. He, Seth Cohen, who had always obsessed about moving to New England, bitching about it.

“Need some help, man?” A guy in a wet suit carrying a surf board jogged up.

“Sure,” Seth said, as the mysterious surfer helped him pull the boat into the dock. “Thanks for the help.”

“Sure thing,” he nodded. “You’re here for the summer? I don’t recognize you.”

“Yeah,” Seth nodded, “um, a couple of pushes to the parents and I managed a summer away from California sunshine. I’m Seth.”

“Dylan,” the surfer grinned and shook his hand, “yeah, I blew of Cali a few years ago too. Dad decided work would be better in Boston, and we wound up here.” Seth nodded. Something about this Dylan guy reminded him a little bit of his foster brother, who had not made the cross country trek with the rest of them.

“Alright,” Seth nodded. “You surf?”

“Whenever possible,” Dylan grinned, “you?” Seth shook his head. “OK, cool meeting you man, nice boat, and see you around.” He left and then turned around. “Do you want to go to this party thing, tonight?”

“Party?” Seth said. Yeah, definitely a Ryan.

“Yeah,” Dylan shrugged, “it’s the townies way of saying, ‘hey summer people, we can all drink cheap beer together. No need for dividing lines.'”

“Capeside is very different from Newport then,” Seth said.

“Different from Beverly Hills, too,” Dylan said with a laugh, “but in a good way mostly. You in?”

“Sure,” Seth nodded. “Party sounds good.”

The Great Work Begins

Probably the best thing about my 2017 New Year’s resolution of “be me more social” was having a regular routine of seeing a show, or concert or whatever that I’m interested in and checking in with Crystan to see if she wants to go and then the weeks long back and forth about when we’ll be going. (OK, that last one is just for theater!)

So when she texted me on Friday asking if we could finally get our dates for going to see Angels In America set, I gave her a few, only to twenty minutes later be told that she won the lotto and we were going I scrambled a bit but I was very excited.

love Angels In America. I completely adore the play on it’s own, and had seen Part 1 of this production when it was live broadcast as a Fathom Event from England last year. There were a few tweaks for Broadway (staging changes, and the character of Joe was played by Lee Pace rather than Russell Tovie, an upgrade, as far as I’m concerned. Tovie’s an excellent actor but I just don’t see him as Joe, where as Pace is damn near perfect casting for everyone’s favorite tortured hot gay Mormon Republican…)

Angels In America is just an exceptional piece of theatrical art. It’s absurdly long, packed to the gills with inspirational power, full of deep thoughts about the nature of faith, democracy, national character, humanity, and disease, and surprisingly, if you’re unfamiliar with it, riotously funny. To be fair, it’s a dark gallowsy humor, but it’s there, and an aspect that’s played down in the big budget HBO mini series that most people think of first for the work.

This production aside from having a stellar impossible to beat cast,  lead by a transformative and blindingly strong performance by Andrew Garfield as Prior Walter, and a career high for Nathan Lane as Roy Cohn, is deeply funny, and dirty and gritty and terrifying in places. Making the Angel herself (theirself?) a monstrous, gritty bird of prey, as diseased and confused as the play’s protagonists (Even though only two characters have AIDS, all are sick.) is a production decision that then shapes everything else. There’s a creeping despair that is only banished when Prior refuses his prophecy, gives back the doom visited upon him and insists, that no, he will live. Millenium Approaches, apocalypse and destruction, we have to stay put, but the world only spins forward so we have to accept Perestroika, the thaw, and live, and thrive.

This play gets me thinking whenever I revisit it. (I’ve read it four or five times, and was actually planning to again before this production showed up, and decided to wait until I could see it.) I find something new in it each time, something grounding and profound. This time, I was happy to see a rejection of cynicism and doom in it. The final act of Angels In America is about hope in the face of darkness. And I’ve been carrying that with me for the past few days.

“The great work begins.”

Time To Get Personal: Day Job

I’ve dreamed of being a professional full time writer since I was about 7 or 8 when I saw the 1994 version of Little Women starring Winona Rider. (That movie quite genuinely changed and shaped so much of who I am.) (I still haven’t watched the new BBC mini series.) (I’ve heard it’s good.)

Other fictional and real life depictions of it have made he hunger dearly for that. It’s still a big someday for me, but I seriously long for the kind of mid day lounging with a laptop and big cup of tea that I assume my life will be when I can stop grinding at a 9 to 5 and magically turn into Norah Ephron or whatever.

It’s a fantasy largely, and one that I’m starting to make moves to make a reality but is a long way off.

So instead, I have a day job. One that I’m quite good at, and like a quite a bit, though I often say, “Oh we don’t have to talk about work, my work is boring to talk about.”

It is by the way, especially compared to my history in retail costumer service where there were people flowing in and out all the time, and fun stories and conversations, and I was in the city and young, and drunk a lot more.

There’s just not a lot to say about what I do now if you’re not also in the field. I’m an analyst and expediter for a mid size hardware company in suburban New Jersey. My main focus is inventory management and import administration.

On a day to day basis, I email people in China for shipdates, and move through no less than three spreadsheets containing stock status and determine when and if shipments need to be moved, orders need to be placed and then I put those recommendations on YET ANOTHER spreadsheet, and other people react to it.

The thing is…I like this work. Again, I’m pretty good at it, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment when I get something done, the pay’s good, and I think I’ve finally found a company that doesn’t make me feel like no one appreciates my skill set.

All that rocks.

But please God, don’t make me talk about my work socially. I’ll talk about writing, or art, or books, or movies, or TV, or music or hell even politics, (I also hate discussing politics except with people I know and trust, even if I disagree with them.) but dear lord don’t ask me to explain what my job is to you at a party, or on a date. It’s so so boring and it’s such a tiny part of who I am. I’ll tell you about my siblings, and friends, and Disney World, and my fantasy of turning into the lady version of Kevin Smith without the weed or movie making. (Just the part where he goes around talking to people about nerd shit on stage.)

Just not my day job please, anything but my day job.

Things I’m Obsessed With Right Now: It’s Been A Minute

Hey you guys! I didn’t blow through The Trials Of Apollo in a day, as I thought I might, and hey, I figured why not blow through what would normally be a day without a post to bring back an old friend.

Thing I’m Obsessed With Right Now!

Hooray!

  • I mentioned Etiquette, but seriously, this one’s come back around in a big way.
  • Rewatching ER. I’ve been watching it for months since it hit Hulu, though I took some long breaks. But oh god I’ve just started the arc with Mark’s brain tumor and I know how not OK I’m going to be as this all plays out, I’m also just really impressed with the show. Seriously, it feels hugely modern in a way that a lot of older shows I’ve rewatched don’t, even more so than The West Wing, (to paraphrase my Mom “Chrichton was special, that’s why.” She’s probably right) Anyway, remeeting characters I loved, and falling in love with Abby and Luca all over again this past week has been really fun. (ABBY AND LUCA FOREVER! CARTER CAN SUCK IT!) (I also love Carter) (Just Luca! OMG!) But I am deeply not ready for Mark’s death, an episode of television that so devastated me when I watched it originally, Mom and I slept in her bed clinging to one another sobbing that night. (You know how I say I come by some of my obsessions naturally?)
  • Rosé. It’s spring/summer border time, which means sweet pink wine to cool down in the evenings. I’ve been trying different bottles, sparkling when I can manage it, and I’ve even given some cans a try. I still haven’t gotten a hold of any of the Angry Orchard Rosé Cider, which as the Whitest White Girl thing I’ve ever heard of, I need to, but I WILL TRY IT! Honestly, I’m hoping to get a hold of it for the Taylor Swift concert I’m going to this summer. If I do so, I will achieve Peak White Girl, a status I nearly brushed in the fall, when I planned to drink a pumpkin spice latte on Main Street USA decked out in fall decorations while wearing yoga pants, but then our plans changed…but drinking Rosé Angry Orchard at a Taylor Swift Concert will also get me there. (I mean, can you EVEN? I CAN’T EVEN!)
  • My summer concert schedule. So far, on the agenda…Gin Blossoms, Flogging Molly & Dropkick Murphy’s, Taylor Swift and Ben Folds & Cake. More may pop up. I’m saying “YES” to live music this year. Without Mary being around, I had to do it on my own. I’m proud of  me.
  • Ducktales is back! YAY!
  • I’m cooking a lot. Still relying too much on my crock pot and not enough on the Instant Pot Mom got me for Easter. Maybe this weekend I’ll use it some more, since I’m going to be home a bunch.
  • Home made salad dressings. This is part of the cooking, but it’s a little bit different. I finally remembered to buy some Dijon Mustard yesterday so tonight I’m gonna try Norah Ephron’s Vinaigrette and I’m really really excited about it.
  • Running! I’m running again. It feels very good. I’m losing weight, not as quickly as I’d like but it’s coming. With a certain guest announcements for NYCC, I have to lose even more  than I originally planned for that, so I’m newly committed. There will be sit ups. I might even go for a Barre Class a few days a week! The fact is, beyond the aesthetic reasons, I miss how I felt when I was in better shape. I miss not worrying about what I’m eating and wearing whatever I want from my closet and not sighing whistfully at old pictures. That means I gotta run, I’ve got to hit the barre…they’re pretty much the only things that worked for me.
  • Decorating my apartment! Like in a grown up HGTV kind of way. Currently trying to come up  with a nice theme for my bedroom. My sloped ceilings make some things trickier. My living room is sort of fairyland themed, with twinkle lights, and my couches now have these pretty woodland slipcovers. I might go for something a little more rustic for my bedroom. Then I’ll do the bathroom.

So that’s what’s going on in my brain right now.

Old School Obsessions: Etiquette

I’m not sure when exactly I got obsessed with reading etiquette guides. I think it was during my semester off when I was reading voraciously, and found a deeply disposable British Chick Lit series about an etiquette expert who becomes a kind of sort of escort? (It was so disposable I don’t even remember what it was called. But I recall enjoying it. Also, this is why I now love Goodreads…) Around that same time I also read Tim Gunn’s Golden Rules, which is Mr. Gunn’s deeply lovely book about modern manners and behavior.

So it was somewhere in the 2009 to 2010 range.

Anyway, from there it was onto the hard stuff, like Emily Post and Miss Manners.

But for all of the stuffy rules my favorite thing about etiquette is that it boils down in most cases to “Don’t make the people around you uncomfortable, you asshole!”

As someone who doesn’t always pick up on social cues super quickly, and was raised by wolves (By this I mean I am an introvert who was raised by extroverts, not that my parents are animals) I find the shortcuts of knowing the basic proper etiquette helpful, and I think that this obsession has made me much better at being a friend, daughter, employee and certainly, guest and hostess. My current supervisor says that she was floored when they received a written thank you note from me the day after my interview. Also, the night I met Dom, at a birthday party at his house, he was surprised and impressed that I brought  3 bottles of Champagne, 1 as Juli’s birthday gift, 1 to thank him for hosting and 1 to drink at said party.  (I would now never bring Dom champagne as a thank you, I’d bring him craft beer. But I didn’t know him yet and champagne is a very safe bet, most people like it.) And if I have even 2 hours warning that you’re coming to my house, you can be sure that there will be a cheese plate out and your preferred alcohol choice available. Less time, I’ll order either pizza or Chinese app basics, and you’ll have to make due with red wine, champagne, vodka or Miller Lite, because that’s what I keep in my house.

Anyway, something’s brought the obsession out again. It was a little bit the Royal Wedding, and a big bit, me listening to the podcast Shmanners, which details the  history of various etiquette traditions, and how they can be applied in modern life.

I’ve also purchased the book, How Not To Be A Dick, which I am enjoying greatly. Overall, I think it’s an important part of society that most people overlook, but knowing the right thing to do, in different situations is incredibly freeing.

Does anyone have any specific etiquette or social guides that they love? I love checking out new ones!

[title of show], Killing My Vampires and remembering to be “Nine People’s Favorite Thing”

When I lose inspiration or the drive to create, there are lots of things I do. I watch Julie And Julia, or listen to Kevin Smith talk on one of his podcasts or specials, or sometimes I just take a break from creating and consume because I’m tired.

But in the past few months, I’ve found a new one to add to the rotation. And that’s [title of show] which I had vague memories of from my college fading theatrical obsession days (it opened on Broadway in 2008, I for sure watched a few you tube clips of it, but never saw it) and it came roaring back to me as something I needed in my life when the podcast that is my soul This Is Rad did an episode about it and I listened through the cast album.

[title of show] is a musical about writing a musical, and it’s whacky and silly and perfect and lovely and everything about it is great.

But it wasn’t until I posted a video of the particularly funny and insightful “Die Vampire Die” on a friend’s blog post about feeling creatively blocked that I realized how much in the past few months I’ve come to rely on [title of show]’s viewpoint to keep myself moving creatively.

Particularly I’ve been thinking about “Air Freshener Vampires” and the “Vampires of Self Doubt” which require you to sanitize your work and remind you that you’re not good enough anyway so just give up. (And to fight them, remember that if you clean up too much you’ll wind up with a tight paragraph about kittens that your grandmother will just love, and that if a stranger said those kinds of things to you, you’d think they were a mentally ill asshole)

I’m pouring a lot of my heart and soul into The Marina Chroniclemore than I even thought I would previously. That said, it’s not necessarily yielding the kind of returns I’d hoped for. (But that all of my closest friends are reading it totally warms my heart. Love you girls to bits!) And that was discouraging until I remembered that I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing than ninety nine people’s ninth favorite thing.

That is, I’d rather my original vision speak to only a few people than water it down or change it to make more people like it.

I wanted to write One Tree Hill in Westeros (not exactly, but that’s the gist!). I wanted to focus on the myriad of complicated threads that hold teenage girls who love one another deeply together. I wanted to talk about family, and heartbreak and getting what you want and realizing that it wasn’t what you wanted after all.

Most of all I wanted to create these girls. These infuriating, beautiful, powerful girls who are in control of their own lives and fates. These girls realizing that they have to forge their own path, because the carefully laid out plans of their lives don’t make sense to them, or are gone for whatever reason. That’s who Marina and Annalise are to me, and I won’t compromise on that, not for a minute.

And when that doesn’t work and I still have writers block, I remind myself that writing should be easy, like a monkey driving a speedboat.

Also! Read my thing. Next week is going to start an excellent jumping on point! (And a reprieve if Marina’s boy whining and Daddy worrying is not your thing!)