Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MixtressRae's Top Ten TV Shows of All Time.

You've waited with baited* breath (what does that even MEAN, baited breath? like your breath is the bait or you have bait in your mouth or...?) for almost two whole weeks.

*Turns out, < thank you Richie!! I owe you yet another drink. > that the term is "bated breath" and it means that your breath stinks of anticipation and suspense.

I scored each episode on five different criteria (characters, story, quotability, emotion/laughter, and feminism) on a scale of 1-10. I then scored the series as a whole on similar criteria (characters, story arc, "stickiness", coping, and feminism), also on a scale of 1-10. I averaged both the episode's score and the series' score, then averaged those two scores to get my total. For more on what my criteria mean, go to here.

Here they are, my top ten TV shows of all time: 

Coming in at #10 is Star Trek: The Next Generation
Favorite character: Data
Final Score: 5.8

#9: Gilmore Girls
Favorite Character: Lorelai Gilmore (ha, they're BOTH named Lorelai Gilmore!)
Final Score: 6.1

#8: Firefly
Favorite Character: Wash (above)
Final Score: 6.3

#7: F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
Favorite Character: Phoebe Buffay
Final Score: 6.4

#6: Dollhouse
Favorite Character: Topher Brink
Final Score: 6.5

Are you ready for the Top 5?!?! No? I think you can handle it. The following television is the best that television has to offer. I know, because I did a very scientific experiment. ;)

#5: New Girl
Favorite Character: Jessica Day
Final Score: 6.5

#4: Rupaul's Drag Race
Favorite Character: Sharon Needles from season 4
Final Score: 7

#3: The Office (US version)
Favorite Character: Dwight Schrute
Final Score: 7

#2: Parks and Recreation
Favorite Character: Leslie Knope
Final Score: 7.3

yes, I will use this gif of Buffy for any reason whatsoever.
#1: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Favorite Character: Buffy Summers
Final Score: 9.4

The last Four: Final Thoughts.

The Mighty Boosh is like an ice cream sandwich. It is talented at being an ice cream sandwich and tastes delicious, but it’s not a more high-brow dessert like tiramisu. It’s not meant to be. You don't even want it to be, because you're having so much fun eating the ice cream sandwich that it is all that you feel. This is a show that’s meant to make you laugh (and possibly feel like you’re tripping a ‘lil bit?).

There are so many memorable bits in the show. Just in the episode I watched for this project entitled "Charlie", there are at least four joke segments I think of often in my everyday life. I could bore you with the description of said shenanigans, but instead I shall pick my favorite. At the beginning of the episode Vince and Howard are talking at work as they distribute seeds. They work in a zoo. The following exchange occurs:

Vince: Come on Howard, put some energy into it! Get involved!
Howard: I'm carrying a bucket of seed. How am I supposed to get involved in that?
Vince: This is the best job in the zoo! Millet distribution.
Howard: There's something wrong with you. You know that, don't you?
Vince: What do you mean?
Howard: You're always happy, aren't you? Everything's "fun" for you. You see a peanut, the day's off to a good start. You witness some soil, it's a jamboree for Vince Noir. I need something more.
Vince: I think it's this poncho. I mean, it's impossible to be unhappy in a poncho.

The "plotline", in as much as The Mighty Boosh ever employs a plot, follows with Howard attempting to become a writer, Vince annoying him, then getting his children's books about a wad of gum named Charlie published himself.

The episode ends with the following:

The Mighty Boosh is this exact flavor of cute insanity all the time. It, like the ice cream sandwich, makes no sense, but once you've experienced it you won't ever forget it. Most of the jokes are visual. If you enjoy the clip above, more can be found on YouTube if you hunt around a bit. There's no need to watch the episodes in any kind of order.

What I like most about Star Trek: The Next Generation (besides space, one of my top five onscreen settings of all time) is the philosophy. The show regularly questioned everything, turning the ideals we've long held in our society on their heads, picking issues apart and putting back only the most logical, moral, and righteous elements.

“The Measure of a Man” questions the personhood of Data, the show’s android. Is he the property of StarFleet or does he belong to himself? Data may profess to not have feelings, but he has attachments and he has opinions. He’s kind of like an autism surrogate. Data is my favorite character in any Star Trek franchise, because I feel I can relate to him more than any other character. I’m not fiery like B’Elanna (from Voyager, she’s half Klingon). I’m not authoritative like Spock. I’m not as unfailingly good as Picard. I'm not as kind as Deanna Troi (the empathic Betazoid). But I can see myself in Data; mostly sexless (though “fully functional”), logical, uncomprehending-of-sarcasm, cat-having Data.

Though this episode does not pass the Bechdel Test, like the rest of the series, there are women in authority and no sexism present anywhere, so I shall let it slide. Star Trek, the entire franchise (even, for its time, the original series), represents females in a positive and (sadly still) forward-thinking light.

This episode speaks to slavery and personhood in a very succinct manner. It delivers morality in that sophisticated way that Star Trek is known to do. The episode is of course focused on Data, but there’s an Emmy-worthy smackdown by Captain Jean-Luc Picard during Data’s trial at the end that is an absolute show-stopper. I looooooove watching that man lay the smack down!

This show was a pioneer in forward-thinking diversity. I noted several characters of non-white races in just this episode alone, not to mention the entire franchise’s use of “alien” presence to denote diversity acceptance. Most shows today don’t have such a diverse cast and this show aired in the ‘80s. Oh how we have backslid.

It was difficult for me to pick a favorite episode of this series, not because I had so many, but because I don't remember them individually. I've only been through the series once, over the course of a few years with Michael, usually before bed. I've slept through many of these episodes. I like the show a great deal, but putting it on feels like hanging out with the characters to me. I don't feel the pressure to pay attention to all the details. I just enjoy the process of wishing I were among them. 

That said, this episode truly had my attention, both the first time I saw it and last night when I watched it again. It's a great stand-alone episode. Watch it on Netflix if you've interest. If you like it, the series is for you and congratulations. You are now a trekkie.

I find the premise of Dollhouse to be very intriguing. A person signs a five year contract with a company that will back your brain-substance and personality up on a hard drive before wiping it, leaving that previously occupied brain-space to imprint personalities as paying clients see fit. In return, you will be wealthy for life after your five year contract. As a bonus perk, traumatic memories can be left out of your self-imprint before it's put back into your head. It’s essentially slavery and prostitution, but you won’t remember any of it and you’ll be rich and happy when you wake up. That’s a job I might consider signing up for…which I guess makes me a whore. Whatevs.

I think the parallels between prostitution and acting are at the surface of the metaphor. Each episode of this show takes you deeper into the rabbit-hole of this premise. It is so intriguing. This is definitely the most morally-ambiguous and philosophical of the Whedon shows, and I still haven’t sorted out if Joss is an asshole or a pioneer for making it. I’ve only watched the show through twice, and it only survived two seasons, but there was no question that "Echoes" is my favorite episode.

I particularly enjoy episodes of television that take the characters out of their typical personas. It is the foundation of Dollhouse to do this every episode, though watching Eliza Dushku become varying shades of Eliza Dushku isn't quite as enjoyable as the performances of almost every other actor on the show. I love Eliza as Faith on Buffy, but she doesn't have quite the range that this role demanded of her. "Echoes" uses her a bit less while using Topher and Adele a lot more, as accidentally-drugged playmates. They are so much fun together, like stoned teenagers. It is almost as enjoyable as watching Giles become a teenager again in Buffy's "Band Candy". 

Being a Joss Whedon enterprise, there isn't a problem with female representation. Every group of characters has equal numbers of men and women. At this point (2009) in Whedon's career, there's not a problem with racial diversity here either. The show is enjoyable, pretty, and makes you think. Enough said about that, for now.

The episode of Gilmore Girls I watched is "Those Are Strings, Pinocchio". It's the one where Rory graduates from a very prestigious high school as valedictorian and the entire town of Star's Hollow shares in her joy, like they've shared in all the joys of Rory Gilmore throughout her entire existence, 'cause she's got beer-flavored nipples.
Gilmore Girls is a fast-paced witty-dialogue show about the relationship between a young mother (she had Rory at 16) and her daughter. It reminds me of how close my mom and I are, except we are not from money and the entire town of Joplin doesn't adore me like Star's Hollow adores Rory. Like Rory, I read a lot, though I was no valedictorian.

My mother and I watched this show as it was on and then started it over, watching an episode a week almost every week since then. It's so much our thing that we call Thursdays "Gilmore Girl Night". There are great characters in this show, including the cutest Melissa McCarthy as a klutzy chef.
Every female character on this show is an excellent example of a woman that is intelligent and carved her own path ruthlessly and without assistance from men. Also, there's so much family drama in this show that one doesn't need to fulfill their own family dramatic moments. It's like if reality TV were a scripted feminist whirlwind. There's a lot of walking-while-talking scenes in this show. I love those.

I think you've waited long enough. My Top Ten TV Shows of All Time will appear on this very blog...sometime before midnight, 'cause they HAVE to be done by then.

The Results Are In...

But I'm not tellin' my top ten...yet. First, I must bore you with more assessments!

The last four TV shows on the chopping block are:

*The Mighty Boosh
*Gilmore Girls
*Star Trek: The Next Generation

I'd like to talk about something even more important. Let's take a little break from the shows themselves and dwell for a moment upon the beautiful, the swoon-worthy, and the dreamy. I will be truthful with you. I watch television mostly to laugh and to look at pretty people. I like my laughing to be produced from the self-deprecation of good-natured gorgeous people. I may need to go even further back...

The people in life that I find to be of the finest in eye candy don't have to possess any specific visual qualities, save perhaps for a rebellious spark in the eye and unkempt hair. The people I crush upon are self-driven individuals with distinct personalities which usually include a specific-to-them style of dress, however this is not a requirement, as you shall see with #3 below. I have fallen for men and women of varying races, sizes, and sexual orientations (sadly, not all orientations point towards me). One of my only turn-offs is close-mindedness, and you won't find that failing in the following,

MixtressRae's top five TV crushes of all time (in chronological order of appearance into the culture's consciousness): 

*Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

     Personality: Oz is taciturn, loyal, respectful, witty, perceptive, and smart. When Willow throws herself at him for the wrong reasons, he respectfully declines her advances (before their first kiss and before their first sexual encounter) because he's a stand-up guy and he's perceptive enough to see the motives behind her actions. Oz rarely says anything, but when he does, his words have economy and meaning.
     Visual Appeal: What makes Oz a cutie in my eyes is that he paints his nails black most of the time and dyes his hair different colors frequently without calling attention to it.
     Best Life Companion For: high school boyfriend. Oz would be a most wonderful mate for someone in high school. He respects a girl's autonomy while also being willing to pull out the sweetness when necessary. He'd take you to prom AND give you your space when you want to curl up with a book and the quiet alone on a random Friday night. This is one member of the male gender that was taught that "no means no" and every teenage heterosexual girl could use a guy like this in her corner early on in her dating life.
     Bonus: Oz is a werewolf that later learns meditation techniques to control the wolf within. Hot!

*Vince Noir from The Mighty Boosh

     Personality: Vince is basically a sweet-natured simpleton that has the exact same music taste as me. His ringtone is a midi version of "Cars" by Gary Numan.
     Visual Appeal: He's a gothic-leaning pretty boy not afraid to wear makeup, glitter, or anything current society would think "girly". Vince is also not afraid to accentuate his cleavage and I'm similarly not afraid to tell you, I'm into that. Crossdressing is hawwwwt. He also has a smashy hook nose that I like. If Robert Smith was as visually gorgeous as his voice sounds, he'd look like Vince Noir.
     Best Life Companion For: bestie. Vince is the kind of eye candy you might choose not to sully by eating. He'd be a brilliant best friend, maybe the kind of bestie you sometimes accidentally make out with -- I would also gladly accept his nuggets of positivity as a "life coach" kind of BFF.
     Bonus: Vince gets along with every single weird creature (half of those weird creatures are played by Noel Fielding, thus ARE him, essentially) in the Boosh-universe and has a very optimistic outlook on life.

*Jim Halpert from The Office (US)

     Personality: Kind, mischievous, inventive, respectful, quick-witted, and (there's that word again) loyal. Jim is just as good of a friend to Pam as he later becomes a boyfriend, then a husband, then a co-parent. This character is legendary for a reason.
     Visual Appeal: That smile and those kind eyes. Halpert just has that genuine good dudeness aura about him. Generally, I don't fall for normal-types, but Jim is relatable and cuddle-worthy even to an oppressively weird girl such as myself.
     Best Life Companion For: ever. He's a great friend, great boyfriend, and a wonderful husband. Jim is a keeper (reminds me a bit of my Michael). Jim + Pam = 4eva!!!
     Bonus: His hair is real messy most of the time. I can get behind that, if you know what I mean...what?

*Moss from The IT Crowd

     Personality: Moss is a nerd that seems to have never tried not being a nerd, and that is just the coolest.
     Visual Appeal: He wears plaid shirts, has amazing glasses, sweet cords, and the best hair on any television character EVER. I can't even describe his hair. It's super fluffy and curly, but it also contains this strict side-part (not pictured) that makes the whole thing just too insanely amazing for words. He also wears his backpack all snug with his hands on the straps and it just, it kills me. On cuteness alone, were I to rate these boys, Moss would win, no question.
     Best Life Companion For: work mate. I want him to be my best work friend. I want to wait outside nerd-movies in costume on opening night with him. Basically, I want to be Roy.
     Bonus: Moss and I would probably have a lot of nerdy tech and pop culture things to talk about. I think we'd be great friends. Be real, Moss! Be real, so that I can have a completely asexual relationship with you.

*Topher Brink from Dollhouse

      Personality: Topher is the smartest neuro-nerd of any fictional neuro-nerd I know. He talks fast, he's confident, he's of questionable morality (but eventually redeems himself), he's a bit nuts, and he's unintentionally funny in that way only true nerds can achieve.
     Visual Appeal: Do you see that sweater vest? Also, even in high-necked shirts, you can see a bit of chest hair peaking out. Mmm-hmm. Messy hair? Check.
     Best Life Companion For: having really complicated arguments/debates while playing video games and eating snacks from his "drawer of inappropriate starches".
     Bonus: Nice pointy nose. 

Honorable Mention: Tara Maclay from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

     Willow gets the best companions ever. Tara is beautiful, sweet, smart, and kind of goth. She is the most compassionate/empathetic of any of the Buffy characters, I think.
Now, it's 1am and I'm too tired to tell you about those four TV shows I promised, so you'll just have to wait until tomorrow, babies.

Maybe I'll edit this tomorrow, but tonight I shall post now and ask questions with it!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I'm kinda terrible at it. I do have a few things that I'm doing with my creative life. I feel kind of good about the things I'm doing. I realize that the name Mixtress Rae is in like a LOT of places (and it's all ME!), but I don't really tell people about it. I am actually starting to get a few followers in some of these places.

Today is a day in which the output of words I type feels juvenile, like the words I typed years ago. It's a regression day, but I still need to get my words in for April's CampNaNoWriMo, so I type on. I need to get about 1500 words a day the last three days of the month to hit my goal. That's a LOT, if you want quality...but wait, I don't do QUALITY work. Pfffft.

I'm going to use this opportunity of having no desire to think about the damn TV shows, just for one day, to get some words in promoting myself. Without further adieu/word dribble, I give you...the places on the internet that MixtressRae hath infiltrated:

     {Did you even know Instagram has a website now?!}

     {Ok, a small informational statement on Facebook. I kind of hate it. I mean, I love how useful it is and that everyone is accessible and everything, but there's just something icky about EVERYONE being at the same site all the time. I feel creepy using it sometimes. I'm a child of the '90s! I want to hide behind my username in vampire chat rooms, gawwwd! Ok, that's really just too much information. What I really mean to say is that for some strange reason Facebook repulses me so I don't use it that much. I deleted it from my phone a couple of weeks ago. I do still have the messenger app, however, so if you ever need me to see something on Facebook, MSG it to me and I'll get it.}

     {Tumblr is the place that I spend most of my online-time. I don't post a lot of original content here, but I reblog cute gifs of kittens and feminist rants a lot.}

     {This is where I'm posting my ASMR videos. I've made a deal with myself that if I don't have 25 subscribers a few days after posting my tenth video, I'll stop. I've got three more videos to shoot and only have 19 subscribers. If you please, check out my channel and subscribe if you like it. Thanks!}
     {This is the place where you can see ALL my music stats, almost everything I've listened to in the last 4 years! What, that doesn't sound exciting to you? Why not? I wanna know what YOU listen to! Seriously, if you have a lastFM, tell me!}

I also have a zine called Chickweed. You can submit entries for the next issue until about May 15th via I don't yet have a theme...I think the next one will be a lot of ranting and vadge-talk, as per the usual. The next issue will be out June 1st! Yeayyyyy! If you want to give me money for the production of my zine, there's a PayPal donate button to the right somewhere.

Ok, self-promotion over!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Free Music.

There’s little reason to pay for digital music these days, especially if the artist you're seeking is signed to a major label. By all means buy it if you can, but the artists don’t get much money from digital sales. Support them by buying concert tickets or better yet, find them and put money directly into their hands (or PayPal accounts) to show them you care about their art. If you’re too poor to financially support the artists you love, do not fear. Music is your inalienable right as a human being. Feel free to stream, and sometimes even download, music for free. All five of these methods are tested by your expert Music Advisor and completely 100% legal.

Spotify — The app has recently become completely free on all (Android, iOS, computers, etc) devices. There are only two known downsides to Spotify: You’ll have to listen to some ads every few songs and if you’re on a smartphone as opposed to a smart tablet or a smart computer, you’ll be limited to a shuffle of album, artist or playlist. Spotify has approximately (MixtressRae’s verrry scientific evaluation of guessing) 80% of everything, has excellent sound quality, lots of ways to discover new music, and did I mention FREEEE?

Freegal — Anyone living in the states of Missouri or Kansas can get a Kansas City library card at They’ll mail it to you. With your library card information, you can log into and download (to keep, FOREVER) 5 songs a week. You can also stream for unlimited time-stuffs from their site or app, though the interface for both is a bit clunky.

Groove + — this smartphone app just came out a couple of weeks ago. It’s basically an interface with YouTube that allows you to stream any of YouTube's music content for free with only small banner ads. The app automatically plays the videos associated with the track, but if you lock your phone, you’ll be able to listen to the audio only, which is something you can’t do through the traditional YouTube app. This is a free way to gain mobile access to almost ANY song, because YouTube has EVERYTHING. Only available on iOS, so far. 

speaking of YouTube — You really can find almost anything on YouTube. You can create playlists too. Even from a non-iOS mobile device there are wayyyyys to listen to music through YouTube on the go. Google it…or email me and I’ll Google it for you.

NPR — Through the app or, one can access lots of free music. NPR regularly features the streaming of entire albums (a feature called “first listen”). If you poke around in the music areas of their site, they sometimes have playlists with tracks that can be downloaded to keep in your music library.

With these five methods, you should be able to find anything you want to listen to with only an internet connection and a dream. You’re welcome.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The F Word.

Memorize that definition, children. You don't have to be a girl to be a feminist. You don't have to hate men to be a feminist. You don't have to be a lesbian to be a feminist. You don't have to be angry to be a feminist...

But I am. I am angry and I'm not going to hold your hand and speak in dulcet tones explaining sweetly why you should consider me an equal.

Last night Jill and I were attempting to speak about feminism to a few different men, all of whom would say they believed in equality, but maintained they weren't feminists -- "humanist"s maybe, NOT feminists. No, never. The evil letters F, E, and M put them off. Guess what, boys? If you're really a humanist, you're a feminist too.

This is a common issue. I'm probably the millionth blogger to begin an entry with the above definition of feminism followed by a similar rant.

In my frustration during last night's drunken conversation, I pushed a man. A man I didn't even know. He kept talking over Jill and me and then he said that feminists were "all butt-hurt" and I didn't even hear what he said after that because I pushed him. I didn't think first. I was so furious that a man that has no idea how much suffering is felt by women simply for being women would have the audacity to call me "butt-hurt" that I just HAD to push him. Apparently I'm angry AND violent. I'm not sorry, because he wasn't letting me talk, so I took other action.

Dear Dude I Pushed Last Night and Many Other Dudes Like Him,

I can't comprehend what it must feel like to be generally allowed to talk over women about issues involving them. You're not a woman. You're very adamant that everyone around you knows this. You can't even associate yourself with a word that includes the prefix "fem" 'cause gee, that sounds girly. And then YOU act all "butt-hurt" when I defend myself.

Fuck you.


I don't hate men, but I will admit that I am strongly suspicious of them. It seems so many people in our society lack basic empathy. If you are a white man that lacks basic empathy, you have only the feelings and thoughts of a (relative to women, gay people, transgendered humans, disabled individuals, or any other marginalized group of people) privileged individual immersed in a sexist society with a heaping spoonful of rape culture mixed in. That scares me. I don't trust you if you can't put yourself in my flowery Doc Martens.

I'm done associating with people who aren't feminists. If you truly think women should have all the rights of men, call yourself a feminist with pride. If you don't, I might just beat you up. ;)

I was so pissed off last night. I was like Courtney Love! Later, when I was walking by 502 (scary, rape-y dance club) a guy standing outside asked me about the burlesque show that was supposed to be at Blackthorn last night. I informed him that the leader of the troop hurt her back and the show was cancelled. He said, "Man, how big do your boobs have to be to hurt your back?" I replied, "Really? Really?! Fuck off!" and walked away. He didn't stop talking. I told him to fuck off a couple more times and kept walking. I'm becoming more audacious, and I like it!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Disappointment in Analysis, volume 2.

I'm not entirely certain, but I think my favorite episode ("Fancyman, Part 1") of New Girl doesn't pass the Bechdel Test. I'm distraught, dismayed, disappointed. The Mighty Boosh and The IT Crowd rarely pass. So many of my favorite things are becoming tainted by an underrepresentation of women...and that tainted tint is evident simply because I've opened my eyes to that harshly glinting light, the source of which is a crippling patriarchy piercing every aspect of my life.

Before the event was cancelled, I was due to attend a burlesque show this evening. I was all atwitter worrying about whether or not I would get outraged at the objectification of women, even if they're objectifying themselves. I've been to a burlesque show before, several years ago. I really enjoyed it the first time, finding it empowering and exhilarating, but I'd be bitching about the lack of men taking off their clothes. Now I'd be noticing the comments of men in the audience. Now I'd probably be storming out of the bar, blood boiling. I'm angry all the time these days, simply because I am paying attention.

Examples of television with very small casts, such as The Mighty Boosh and The IT Crowd, would be acceptable forms of entertainment not passing IF it wasn't such a problem everywhere else. If only every media representation of people in the human race (casts) included non-sexist humor, equal numbers of women to men, well-rounded character representations of women, trans-people, racial diversity, sexual orientation, size-variance, and people enduring disabilities of various kinds. I could enjoy so many more things! I would spend all my money buying entertainment! Is this too much to ask? How are we still a humanity that barely includes HALF (women) our human race on television and in movies?! How have we maintained this white dude dictatorship for so long? How have intelligent people such as myself been brainwashed to not see it for so FUCKING LONG?! I'm so outraged to have to live in a culture of obscured truths and obfuscated perceptions. I will always stand up for those being slighted/de-humanized, but it is exhausting to realize how often this needs to be done.

In the last couple of days I've watched five more episodes in my search for my top ten TV shows of all time. Three episodes passed the Bechdel Test, and that's counting Rupaul's Drag Race, a show that includes a cast that is about 98% men.

I just went back to the New Girl episode and rewatched the two scenes including women talking to each other. There was a very BRIEF paragraph wherein Jess is telling her boss something about assembling a group of kids together for a fundraiser, but really, everything in both conversations is about a man...I'm stretching it to let it pass.

Most of the time, New Girl is very great about representing race, size, gender, and feminism. Of the five main characters (Jess, Nick, Cece, Winston, and Schmidt) two are women and two are of a race other than white. Often, side characters represent many different aspects of humanity as well. The jokes are usually not sexist and the "minority" characters are represented as well-rounded people with nuance. They're not there to be the butt of jokes, at least not any more so than Nick and Schmidt, the two white dudes on the show.

In an episode called "Jess and Julia", Julia is a lawyer dating Nick who is intimidated and hateful towards Jess because she makes cupcakes and brakes for birds. Julia is a woman that has made her brand of feminism about distancing herself from everything "girly". This is exactly the type of dismissive attitude women like Zooey Deschanel have to endure daily. I am this type of girl. I like unicorns and glitter and Hello Kitty, but I'm also a fierce feminist who will rip you a new asshole if you say something sexist to me. I am not less of a badass bitch because I like hearts and have a baby deer tattooed on my forearm. Don't call us "manic pixie dream girls"! Jess notices this attitude and attempts to be nice and make friends with Julia, being met only with disdain and passive-aggressive insults. Finally, Jess makes this speech:

"Ok, HEY. I've got something to say to you, man! I brake for birds. I rock a lot of polka dots. I have touched glitter in the last 24 hours. I spend my entire day talking to children....and that doesn't mean I'm not smart and tough and strong...I'm about to go and pay this $800 fine and my checks have baby farm animals on them, bitch!"

This was a moment for me. Perhaps this is really my favorite episode of New Girl. Later in the ep, Julia goes over to the apartment to hang out with Jess and they become friends. It's ok to be a Julia in pantsuits but it's also ok to bake cupcakes and wear Rainbow Bright t-shirts. Never forget that.

It sucks to want to put a shit-ton of glitter on your face but feel hindered knowing the comments you'll have to endure by doing so. Because Jess represents the exact type of girl I feel I am in my glittery pink heart, I will always love this show. Also, it's really hilarious most of the time. Lately, they've been stumbling, but I still watch the show every week.

Whatever slight feminist failings New Girl possesses, Parks and Recreation has none that I can see. Passes Bechdel Test? Check. Half the cast is women? Check. Racial diversity? Check. Size diversity? Check. Well-rounded, flawed, nuanced characters of all kinds represented? Check. Non-sexist humor? Check. Feminist agenda? Check. Feminist icon? Check!
This show is just, perfect. It is lacking in vampires and ass-kicking, but not every feminist show can be Buffy. I'm learning to accept that. This show is like if The Office were more feminist. This show, sorry Tina Fey, is what 30 Rock wishes it could have been. Oh, God, I just pitted two wonderful, iconic, fierce women against each other! I take it back!
{Lately I've been asking myself if my life passes the Bechdel Test. I have spent the entirety of my adult life in relationships with white men. I've internalized a good chunk of my personality based upon the reflections I make in the men that I have loved. I have to genuinely ask myself how I feel, when it is easy to think about how someone else feels. Nauseating, isn't it? I'm at least 75% the doormat society wants me to be, but I'm LEARNING.}

The episode of Parks and Rec I rated is called "Pawnee Rangers" and it involves a men-only camping trip headed by Ron versus Leslie's all-girl camping trip. Leslie's is much more fun and eventually all the boys from Ron's group want to join, so they are then initiated as "Pawnee Goddesses". There wasn't a single second of this episode that wasn't enjoyable to me. It's also the one with
No spoilers, but this show will be on my top five, which is a feat, because the show isn't over yet, so it loses points for not having a complete arc to judge and it STILL made the top five.

"Just a little prick in the mouth." 
Judging the feminism of Rupaul's Drag Race proved a more interesting and difficult task than I originally anticipated. Fortunately, most episodes include at least two women judges, though they're mostly critiquing/talking about men, men dressed as women. The men refer to each other by their female drag names and female pronouns most of the time. One could argue that drag queens are men making fun of women, but I think they're really making fun of the over-the-top expectations of women. Much of the time they're honoring female icons that they identified with as young gay boys growing up in our sexist culture. I would argue that many gay men that often dress as women would consider themselves feminists. So, do I judge Rupaul's Drag Race as a show about men, a show about men so in love with women that they want to become them, or perhaps the more important question, is a show whose premise is about gender really the LEAST about gender of any of the shows I love? Each episode you get to see these men as men, these men as women, and these men in every stage on their way in and out of Dressing As Girls (drag).

At the very least, this show is eye-opening, gorgeous, and fascinating. At its very best, it's a pun-filled punch of eye candy that humanizes gay men (more than Will and Grace EVER did) and is schooling a nation in acceptance of gay men both as themselves AND as women. If you've never seen this show, it truly is extremely entertaining. These girls are gorgeous and witty and campy and talented and they cry backstage when their parents Skype them telling them they accept them for the first time since they came out two decades ago. It is heartwarming, breathtaking, and hysterical.

You will be amazed at how fishy (feminine, mistaken for women) these queens can be.

I've learned more about charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent from these lady boys than I have from most female icons in the media. I think the way men imitate women can teach us a lot about how very NOT seriously we can take ourselves. Sure, for them it's a costume they can take off, many of them reverting to masculine white men that can "pass" if they wanted to. The "otherness" of gay men, all other things being white, can be hidden. However, there is something refreshing about men doing women better than I can. Being beautiful is baldly an act for these men, but it's an act for women too, only we're supposed to be "authentic". You're not supposed to see beyond our mask, but this show exhibits that mask for what it truly is. It is ARTIFICE, children. Employ it whenever you wish, do as you please, but boys and girls, don't ever forget:
Ultimately, I came on the side of Rupaul definitely being a feminist show. The episode I watched is called "Snatch Game", an episode played each season wherein the queens impersonate a famous female celebrity. I used season 4's version of this episode. It was delightful. I can't believe I almost didn't consider Rupaul's Drag Race in my quest for best TV shows ever.

Next, I watched Firefly's episode entitled "Our Mrs. Reynolds". This episode's premise involves an accidental marriage (custom confusion on a planet the crew visited) between captain Mal and a woman who, by all appearances, seems to want nothing more out of life than to be a very good and submissive wife. Throughout the episode, almost everyone on the ship's crew attempts to teach her a bit of autonomy, tries to lift her up, and treats her like a human being. It turns out that she was playing them to steal their ship, but she was gooooood.

Firefly is a Joss Whedon enterprise. It's basically space cowboys, if you're into that, and who ISN'T, amiright? Don't judge it by the ATROCIOUS theme song. Being a Whedon show, it passes the Bechdel Test with its hands tied behind its back. Nearly every shot involves men and women on equal footing. Women on this show are to be respected, even if they're prostitutes. This show has the most interesting portrayal of a prostitute I've ever seen in television, actually. In this universe, courtesans are trained in a very high class and sophisticated way. In fact, they are considered among the highest class in the caste system. Inara is constantly getting the crew (who are mostly thieves and law-breakers) out of deep shit with her aristocratic influence. She chooses her clients (men and women) very carefully and takes pride in her job. There's this whole involved ritual process in her seduction techniques that sometimes don't even involve sex. Inara has complete control and can back out at any time she feels her work is not progressing to her liking. She's one of the most beautiful (pictured above) women I've ever seen in my life, and she's a PROSTITUTE, but she's not treated with less respect or objectified by the fellow members of her crew. When someone does treat her derisively, she shuts them down. She is principled, funny, and is seen cultivating genuine relationships with other members of the crew.

The show itself is like any other Whedon show. The characters are funny and well-developed. The show is thought-provoking, feminist, and entertaining (did I mention space cowboys?!?). I am among the legion of fans outraged by she show's cancellation after only one short season. We could have had so much more time with this wonderful troop of outlaw space explorers!

"The One With the Football"
Then there's FRIENDS. Despite the obvious criticisms of the show (no racial diversity, some sexist humor, some backhanded gay jokes, etc), I really enjoy FRIENDS. It employs pure physical comedy that lasts 10 seasons without getting stale, in my opinion. I'll rewatch this show forever. Almost every episode is quotable and accomplishes the biggest goal of entertainment in my book: total immersive distraction. There are definitely things to not like about FRIENDS, but I forgive them a lot of these things having grown up with Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler, Joey and Monica. The show is also wayyyyyy less sexist than the most popular sitcom on television now (Big Bang Theory).

In conclusion, I like TV a lot, though I'm learning to see the terrible injustices within the things that I love, a fact which is both disappointing and sadly, not surprising. I'll take painful truth over blissful ignorance any day if it makes me appreciate fabulous feminists such as Amy Poehler, Joss Whedon, and Zooey Deschanel even more than I already do.

Monday, April 21, 2014


The hardest part of "scientifically" picking apart the art that you love, besides the obvious ramifications of infusing intellect upon something that maybe shouldn't be thought about quite so much, is that you have to decide how to define your parameters at every turn, a task that's sure to give you pain in the membrane. Yeah, I said it.

The first question I had to ask myself was how a show even gets to be on my top shows list. At first, I decided not to include reality competition shows such as Project Runway and RuPaul's Drag Race, using the lack of a plot-driven storyline as my reasoning. Earlier today, with my composition book, a pink pen, and many scribblings I realized that RuPaul has to be on my list. It's no less plot-driven than Daria or The IT Crowd. I love it because it represents a chunk of culture that's entertaining, moving, and beautiful to look at. I've never missed an episode. I watch it every Tuesday night with my girls Kim and Lindsey in a Facebook chat box nearby. I've rewatched seasons. So
Ru, your show was added to my quest for the top ten TV shows!

As a newly-more-aware feminist, I couldn't include Big Bang Theory or That '70s Show in my list, though I have previously considered them favorites and are both shows I've spent many hours enjoying. On both shows the females are outnumbered and sexist jokes are sprinkled throughout the dialogue like glitter at a strip club. Donna and Penny are both fierce women with their own agencies for the most part (and two of my favorite female characters on a sitcom), but they both make and endure sexist jokes with a smile most of the time. Their male counterparts (Eric Forman and Leonard Whatever-His-Last-Name-Is) are lauded as wonderful boyfriends and sweet men, though they are both contemptible, arrogant, sexist assholes, if you ask me. You didn't, so I'll move on.

Then I wondered if fluff shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Beavis & Butthead, and Sifl 'n Olly could count amongst my favorites. These are shows I enjoy without higher levels of thinking...well sometimes my levels of thinking while watching these shows are, ahem, high, but not intellectually so. Under these considerations, even Daria skirts the line of "Is this GOOD enough to be a favorite?" I'd say Daria represents the type of outsider-feminism me and my friends exhibited in high school in the late '90s, so that means something, I suppose.

Sifl 'n Olly means a lot to me, but the lack of DVD releases of the seasons leaves me with the arduous task of tracking down as many episodes as I can find dubbed from old VHS tapes onto YouTube, so unfortunately, it's out of the running for a stupid reason. If anyone has all of these episodes on VHS, please mail them to me and I will upload them to YouTube and send you a package of amazing kitschy things and love you forever. I live for these hilarious sock puppets!

In the vein of television that simply makes me laugh uncontrollably, I have a soft spot in my giggle bones for Beavis & Butthead and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Shake reminds me of my brother Sagan, the presence of which both comforts and fills me with overwhelming outbursts of love. Beavis and Butthead were two figures that were there as I grew up, reminding me of my male friends. They were the way I came to understand adolescent boys to be, and overall, I think that's still a pretty accurate portrayal. I always identified with Beavis more, myself, if you care to know such personal details.

Even after my top 13 and their rating parameters were finally decided upon, I had to figure out a way to apply my ratings of the parameters so that they could make the shows numerically comparable to one another. It got complicated, as I tend to make things. I decided upon a point system of 0-10. As described in an earlier blog entry, I knew I'd be averaging the scores.

FEMINISM: I decided that for an episode or show to be deemed (by me) as feminist it would be judged upon five parameters. It would get three points for passing the Bechdel Test, two points if the show as a whole represented well-rounded female characters (women with personalities, flaws, and agency), two points if the ratio of females to males was at LEAST 1:3 (being generous on that point), two points if the show overall had non-sexist humor, and one point if one of the characters was a feminist icon.

CHARACTERS: For a show to receive top marks in character development, I have many requirements. First, I will isolate the Core Four characters in each show. For The Office, that would be Jim, Pam, Michael, and Dwight. Then I give the show one point for each of the Core Four that I like. I then give the show two points if at least two of the Core Four are women. The show then gets one point each if it portrays/represents the following people in a positive light: trans-individuals, people of varying body types, people of varying sexual orientations, and a variety of race representation.

STICKINESS/INTEGRATION INTO MY DAILY LIFE: In order to receive many points in this category, a show must be quotable (three points), memorable (four points) and re-watchable (three points).

COPING: I watch television to either escape (comedy) or learn skills to cope (fantasy/drama) with my life. A show gets up to five points if it allows me to be sufficiently distracted from and/or better equipped to cope with life. The other five points are allotted when I feel that a show as a whole has achieved a specific goal. This "goal" is one I perceive as the viewer and may be a "goal" it achieves for me specifically, and not one any of the creators intended. For example, Buffy has a very clear goal of being a feminist show with a feminist icon. Buffy has achieved that goal, completely. A show like The Office on the other hand, doesn't have an obvious goal, though I do find it to be a good-natured show that's HILARIOUS and awkward and changed the way comedies were created from then on. Without it, we might not have Parks and Recreation or New Girl.

With all parameters set, I've settled in for some serious television watching/scrutinizing. Today I watched three episodes.

Let's begin with Daria's "Malled". It's the fifth episode of the series wherein everyone takes a school-enforced field trip to the Mall of America. Honestly, I still have no idea what my favorite episode of Daria would be. Unfortunately, plots in the show are not memorable enough to choose a favorite, for me anyway. What I like about Daria is what I like about my good friend Lindsey, dry sarcasm and a fierce wit. Daria is a feminist icon, to be sure, but her day-to-day activities don't make big statements or quotable impressions most of the time. I can watch Daria with the type of partial attention my teenage-self-on-the-phone probably paid it the first time around. Daria and Jane (and even several other secondary characters) are great characters and high schools and malls are two of my favorite settings in film, but there's not a lot else with which to assess here.

I was very disappointed to find that what I typically list as one of my favorite episodes of television ever, The Office's, "The Injury", does not pass the Bechdel Test. Pam talks only to Jim, Michael, Dwight, and Oscar in this episode. Angela talks only to Dwight. Phyllis only talks to Michael. Kelly doesn't even have a line in this episode. As a whole, the show represents females in an honest way, though they are often outnumbered and out-shined by their male counterparts.

With that said, I quote this episode almost every day. "I can feel the blood coursing through my foot veins!" I find several scenes to be laugh-out-loud funny. It is an excellent example of comedy in exactly the way I take my comedy: weird, awkward, and sweet-natured. It's the one where Michael clamps his foot on a George Forman grill and Dwight gets a concussion and is really nice to Pam all day.

The characters on this show are very endearing to me. They are all essentially good human beings and I prefer them to the assholes of It's Always Sunny... or Seinfeld. I have rewatched the entire series at least twice and will do so again and again throughout my life. Getting swept up in Jim and Pam's love-story is something I look forward to doing over and over. It is one of two popular heterosexual love-arcs I enjoy as much as the rest of the world. (The other is Pride and Prejudice, btw.) If I was the type to channel-surf, I'd watch The Office anytime I found it on. I suspect the show will make my top five.

The IT Crowd is a new favorite for me, having only just watched it twice through in the last few months, but I liked it immediately. What started as a huge crush on Moss (above, quite possibly the cutest boy on television EVER, in my opinion) blossomed into a genuine appreciation for both Jen and Roy, the other two main characters of the show. A British comedy about a nerdy tech-support trio working in the basement of a big corporation, all three of whom are pretty to look upon? Sign me up! I think I have a predilection towards workplace comedies because they tend to stay in the realm of not-too-emotional and not-too-serious. In fact, all three kinds of television I enjoy (workplace comedy, high school drama, and fantasy -- hey, Buffy is all three!) have barriers to bald emotions of an intense nature. I have no problem dealing with intense emotion if I am tricked into it by falling in love with a vampire, but don't show me real tragedy and sadness.

I don't seem to have much deep thought about The IT Crowd. I enjoy the eye candy (and humor, because Richard Ayoade's character is perfection) of Moss while laughing often at every other character/situation of the show. The episode I watched today was "Aunt Irma Visits". The boys get sympathetic-PMS alongside Jen and hijinks ensue, basically. This episode also includes the rare cameo from a sexy gothed-up Noel Fielding. I'll talk more about my crush on HIM in a different post.

Sadly, this episode also does not pass the Bechdel Test. However, as the show typically deals mostly with the three main characters, two of whom are men, this is not as big of a slight to me as it is when a show with a larger ensemble cast, such as The Office (a show that has NO excuse to ever have a non-passing episode) doesn't pass.

Once The IT Crowd has been seen by me four and five and six times and inevitably become part of my vocabulary, I will have more to say about it. For now, enjoy this, my current favorite quote from Moss:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Buffy's "Restless" Revisited.

As described in my last blog entry, I am on a quest to find my top ten TV shows of all time. I have a chart and there's math involved. It's all very organized and methodical. I chose to watch my favorite episode of each of the top 12 contenders, assessing both the episode and the show as a whole on several different criteria.

There's no contest for the top spot on my list of television. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has crawled into my lizard brain, coating the bean of my being (what?) with a light glaze of Summers' blood. I couldn't escape the power of Buffy even if I wanted to, and I'll never want to escape the Slayer's superpowered grip on my psyche. There's a black hole in my personal history that occurred during the last couple of years of high school followed by the couple of years after that. I was in a dark place with a terrible man at my side. In 2001 I was reunited with Buffy Summers when the show appeared on UPN late at night after it wasn't available to me for all of seasons 4 and 5. Mercifully, I got to watch seasons 6 and 7 as they aired. If you're not familiar with Buffy's arc, season 6 was the season that each character was their own "Big Bad". Their angst was so pervasive that they destroyed themselves episode after episode. It was heartbreaking. I cried every week, copious tears of recognition and solace. I saw my boyfriend in Spike, the character that mentally manipulated/verbally abused Buffy. Spike attempted to rape Buffy that season. I started using the name in my online blogs in place of my boyfriend's real name. I wouldn't leave my Spike until 2003, about five years too late. Were it not for Buffy I would have sunk, maybe irretrievably, deeper into that hole.

Am I attributing too much to a TV show? Perhaps, but I say all this to express that my relationship with Buffy is emotional. She is an icon that's imperfect, badass, and relatable. The character was only two years older than me. Her struggles were my struggles, though mine dealt far less in metaphor, unfortunately.

I'll reveal the scores I gave each episode and show at the end of my assessments, but I wanted to speak to my feelings while viewing each piece of entertainment.

Buffy's "Restless" is the last episode of season 4. In atypical season-ending fashion, the "Big Bad" of the season had already been defeated. This is an episode of dreams. We get to see into the psyches of Xander, Giles, Buffy and Willow and it is fantastic. Joss Whedon is the only writer that has ever successfully filmed dreams, in my opinion. In this episode alone, he gets the odd flow of the dreamworld exactly right. Things are said that make sense only in dream-speak. Words are spoken in languages not understood by the dreamer for a character that often doesn't understand in real life (Xander). Metaphors are employed in the ridiculous way of dreams. It is an episode filmed as if underwater, as restorative as a nap.

The score of this episode is minimal, meditative, and sensory. There's a sequence wherein Buffy reaches into a medicine bag full of clay, then rubs it into her face and walks slowly through the desert. The music and picture above are from that scene. It's breathtaking. I don't think I've ever watched this episode out of sequence. It was a fantastic experience. It was a breath. In one episode, the psyche of each character was revealed, mostly through images. Almost every one of my favorite characters (Tara, Oz, Anya, Harmony, etc) makes an appearance here. Tara is sort of the spiritual guide of the dreams, speaking in low-ASMR tones saying things like:
which is equal parts foreboding, as to the later-revealed nature of the Slayer, and simply gorgeous dream-flavored existentialism revelatory of Buffy's view on herself. This statement is so wholly indicative of identity's fluidity over the span of one's life, too. Go ahead, try to grasp what you are. You can't, though we'll spend our lifetimes trying.

In the best episodes of Buffy, most symbolism employed within works on several levels and can be applied upon many different situations. The best art leaves itself open for the viewer to impose one's own interpretation upon it, without the burden of authorship intent impeding, trampling your experience. Buffy is seldom ever heavy-handed in its approach to symbolism. Even inside the dreams of specific characters you've known for four years, one doesn't feel oppression from already knowing their history conflicting with your projections of their dreamworld. In other words, it's easy to tell what their dreams mean to them while simultaneously pulling what YOU need from their dreams into yourself.

Without question, this is my favorite episode of television ever, which makes it hard to quantify it with worrrrrrds. Words pale in comparison to the feeeeeeels. I feel existential calm when watching "Restless". I feel warmth and peace. I am in awe and completely engaged every moment. Most television and movies I enjoy have those parts that you dread or want to fast-forward through. Not "Restless". Nothing in this episode is wasted. Every image, everything going on in the background, every sound, every word uttered is carefully placed and multidimensional in meaning.

Plus, it's a really funny and quotable episode.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Quest to find my Top Ten TV Shows...

Buffy is #1 of course, but what are the remaining nine slots of my favorite TV shows of all time? To determine the all-important answer to this question, I've made a chart.

On the chart I've listed my top 12 shows:

*Buffy the Vampire Slayer
*Gilmore Girls
*The IT Crowd
*The Mighty Boosh
*New Girl
*The Office (U.S. version)
*Parks and Recreation
*Star Trek: The Next Generation

The second column in the chart, next to show's name, is what I think might be my favorite episode of each show. This turned out to be a more difficult task than I thought it would be. Some shows I knew right away. The Office's "The Injury" I have watched probably a dozen times. I quote it often and enjoy every bit of it. Buffy's "Restless" immediately came to mind as my favorite Buffy episode. Most shows I had to painstakingly look through the episode lists to find the possible favorite ep of each. The aspect of each show that I like usually boils down to the characters and isolated situations that make me happy. For example, I love the fight between Monica and Rachel on "The One After the Super Bowl", but the whole episode isn't gold. The thing I love the most about "The IT Crowd" is Moss. So anyway, I picked an episode per show. An episode I know I like, though in some cases I couldn't choose a favorite.

I will rate each episode on the following five criteria, then average the score for an overall episode total:

*character development/representation within the episode
*times I felt genuine emotion or high-level intellectual thought in response to the episode
*feminism (like does the episode pass the Bechdel Test and represent chicks well?)

I will then rate the overall scope of the series on the following five criteria:

*character development/likability
*story development/overall engagement in the series
*how often do I think about the show in everyday life/quotability/has the show become a part of me?
*identifiability: how well did the show teach me to cope with something in my own life?

THEN, I will average the two averaged scores together to get an overall score for each show. Then I shall have my ranking. At that point, I will probably watch a few more episodes of each of the top five to analyze them more thoroughly.

Here we go!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


*The Lana Del Rey song above is just 'cause I'm obsessing over it this week. Listen while you read, if you please.

I read this intensely long article on Pitchfork today that describes the evolution of streaming music. Apparently, back when telephones were the new and scary technology, one could pay to hear an opera over the lines, if they were like REAL rich, I'm assuming.

In America, artists have never been paid for airplays on the radio (we're the only country that this has always been the case). Plays on the radio are considered "promotional". So, the outrage about artists not getting paid very well for streaming web services, which is basically the new radio, is less of a blow perhaps? I don't know what I think about this because:

1) I'm too poor to not stream before I buy and I NEED music to live.
2) I'm pretty into the Swedish model of people having a right to things for free. Apparently you can camp in people's backyards in Sweden for free as long as you leave everything the way you found it. I feel I have a right to listen to any music I want, and a Swedish company called Spotify provides this for me.
3) I also think people should be able to make a living off of making music. The record industry model was born broken, and this has always been a struggle for musicians. Always. I twitch a bit every time I pay for an album because I know my money is barely going to the right place.
4) If I made music, I would provide it on a donation-basis on SoundCloud or BandCamp. Because the people I know are as broke as me and I am practical enough to be aware that people aren't going to buy something they can't first listen to...

It's a new time. You don't have to buy a CD with your fingers crossed anymore. This is a good thing. I respect artists pulling their music from streaming sites and taking a stand when they feel they're not getting adequately compensated for their art, buuuuuut not being in the streaming game means not being heard a lot of the time. David Byrne and Thom Yorke can get away with it, for sure, but not littler bands. If I made music, I'd never get heard without making my music free. And if I signed to a major label, I'd be giving them the control over my art. A free model would be the only way I could succeed. Maybe it's not fair. To be sure it's not fair, but I know what it is.

I also, here's a controversial opinion, think artists tend to overcharge for their art in general. I will never pay thousands of dollars for a painting. I will never pay $200 for a concert ticket. I'll never pay $500 for a pair of shoes or a purse. I believe in paying for quality, but not for prestige. You should totally be able to make a living doing your thing, but no one needs to be paid multiples of thousands of dollars per month for their living. Don't get me started on the way wages are "earned" in America.

I think a lot of things should be free. I think television and radio should be free. I understand it costs money to make art, but I want to give the money after I know I enjoy the art. I will TOTALLY buy the DVDs and the music files. I'll buy the shit out of the things I love. I will buy the merch and fund kickstarter-projects for people I respect. I believe I vote with my money, but I have VERY little money with which to vote.

Until the whole system is fixed (like people like me can make living wages with a bit of cush and corporate monsters no longer exist), I will continue to enjoy my Swedish websites filled with gorgeous-sounding music for free, buying only the albums that really bewitch me. To be fair, I am easily bewitched by music. I still spend hundreds of dollars on it every year...more than I can afford.

comfort culture.

You know how you eat macaroni and cheese when you’ve had a bad day at work, or maybe drink a beer? Of course you know, because comfort FOODS are often mentioned in America’s vocabulary. But what about comfort culture? What’s your personal pizza of television, the mashed potatoes of movies, and the fish sticks of sound? While you’re contemplating the dark chocolate paperback that calms your addled mind after a stressful day, I’ll share with you some of my pop culture comforts.

*TV series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer — It’s no secret that Buffy is my favorite nugget of pop culture ever. Joss Whedon’s vision of girl superpowers has entertained my eyes, ears and soul since 1998. The Slayer has lulled me to sleep through some of the darkest evenings of my life, quite possibly the only reason nightmares didn’t engulf me in my early ‘20s. If you’ve avoided this show because of the title’s cheesiness alone, stop denying yourself one of the most influential shows of the 20th century. Buffy could change your life.

Get it: Netflix, Hulu, video stores

Me today celebrating National Library Workers
Week. I'm part Vulcan, you know.
*TV franchise: Star Trek — For the past 4 years or so, Star Trek has been my before-bed ritual. Not every night, but at least a couple of nights per week. If the plot is peaceful, I might fall asleep to the gentle hum of the starship. The DVD menu screen of “The Next Generation” is like white noise bliss to me. Don’t misinterpret, falling asleep to Star Trek isn’t a diss. I LOVE the franchise, but I have this calm and familiar relationship with it. I know I will rewatch each series of Star Trek over and over until I die of really old age, so there’s no sense of loss if I dream through episodes here and there.

Get it: Netflix, video stores

*Album: Air // Talkie Walkie — This album used to be my study soundtrack in college. When I hear the first notes of “Venus” I am instantly transformed back to that space of settling in for a quiet night with books, coffee, and gritty knowledge. Yeah, thinking about studying chills me out. Obviously, I’m a nerd.

Get it: Spotify, iTunes, Google Music, music stores

*Movie: Bandits — Not many people realize the brilliance of the 2001 film starring Cate Blanchett, Bruce Willis, and Billy Bob Thornton. The performances are buzzing with anxiety, emotion, and genuine crazy, an aspect of pop culture that always soothes me…to see others fraying onscreen makes me feel less nuts. Plus, this movie is hilarious if you like understated David Letterman-type humor.

Get it: Netflix, video stores

*Book: Drawing Blood // Poppy Z Brite — In the summer, my brain turns to a soupy-slosh of jumbled thoughts and baking grey matter. It is my least favorite season. To get through the sizzling flames of August, I usually end up reading this lurid tale of two young lovers surviving a summer in New Orleans. The pages are filled with ghosts/psychological demons, children of the night, and early ‘90s-style computer hacking.

Get it: the Joplin Public Library (the very copy I first read in high school!), bookstores

Email me your comfort culture items:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

self-sabotage and procrastination

I've been agonizing about my definition of self lately. I used to consider myself a writer and then I:

*wrote a "novel" in November
*stopped turning in articles to The Current, Etc at the beginning of 2014.
*failed at revising my novel in February.
*signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo April and have only amassed 2000 words just posting to my blog because I have no ideas for how to tackle anything anymore.

Projects I used to consider fun exercises in writing feel like they're not taking me anywhere anymore. I know what I really NEED to be doing is revising that damn novel, but I'm not. I'm not and I'm in



All I've ever known how to do, which is to say that all I've ever practiced doing, is free-association journal-writing. I come to sound conclusions about my insights into self by writing. I don't make up characters that aren't me. Shit, the main character in that stupid novel is just me if my life had a purpose. My instinct is to admit I'm not a writer and stop writing.

This is what I did back when I was an art major. I tapped into a well of creativity and instead of riding that wave, I stopped myself from getting better. It's almost as if I see cultivating talents as an addiction I must squelch.

I know in my soul that the happiest most productive version of me is a person with an entire room to herself. A person that uses this room to glue jewels to things. A person that uses this room to read sci-fi/fantasy novels. A person that uses this room to sit in a comfortable recliner and drink coffee while staring out a window. A person that uses this room to listen to podcasts and knit a mediocre scarf. A person who uses this room to type zine articles on my typewriter. A person that creates as much as she takes.

I am marginally good at several things:

*making zines
*making mixes
*writing off-the-cuff semi-inspirational articles posted to zines/free publications/blogs
*sloppy artistic statements such as collaging, Barbie alterations, and the like
*putting together bitchin' outfits
*customer service/anticipating needs of coworkers to reduce their stress-levels at work (basically taking care of background annoyances so someone else can do stellar things, like a muse)

But the majority of my time is spent reading, binge-watching great television, and putting off creativity. I absolutely know that talent takes time and hard-work, but I don't focus on one thing long enough to cultivate it. I perpetually put out unfinished work because if I didn't, I'd put out nothing. I feel that this is a necessary first step in learning something new, but I don't ever move past that step into beginning to put out work that's less sloppy. I have this strange aversion to polish.

Perhaps I'm a secret chaos worshiper. When I paint my nails and mess up, I KNOW I've messed up. I have a good eye for detail. I know I CAN fix it, but I REFUSE. Fuck the system...but what system? The system of an organized nail-polish job? Yeah, that's an oppressive one, Stephanie. Better defy that. I mean, whaaaaat? Rebel without a cause is an understatement. I have this fierce commitment to flaws that I can't reconcile.

I really am quite at peace with this outlook on life, but there's got to be SOMETHING I'm willing to get better at doing. There's got to be at least one thing that I can let myself buff into submission. It's almost as if I feel like a fake if I don't have holes in my sweater. Because who I am is very flawed, very hole-filled, and substantially unkempt.

A few things I REFUSE to do for large chunks of time, for no apparent reason:

*brush my hair
*paint my nails (not that I let them be naked, which is fine, I just let them chip away for weeks before repainting them)
*stop wearing pants to work when they have tiny holes on the seams of the inner-thigh area
*fill out paperwork
*get my teeth cleaned
*go to the gynecologist
*do ANYTHING I've said I'll do, either to others or myself

Sabotage and procrastination. It starts with a middle finger to "the man" and simmers into a dose of self-hatred that eventually gives me the energy to rebel against myself which sparks me into doing a project that mostly sucks, but at least I did it, damnit!