As someone currently living in America, I am increasingly disillusioned and disheartened by the depths of idiocy and pure hatred that streams through the bloodstreams of too many of my neighbors. It makes today even more poignant – in spite of the prejudice, the sometimes willful misunderstandings and callous disregard of other people, it is possible to hold your head high and refuse to be just another such person. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazing man – an excellent role model, an intelligent, empathetic, caring individual. He wanted to bridge understanding between people in America regardless of skin color – and unfortunately, not only did he die without seeing that bridge develop, but that bridge has never been completed. It’s a partially built construction, hanging over the water, and not safe for anyone to drive or walk across.
There is reason to hope. Things could get better. Let’s hold on to the dream that things will get better in America, and try to be decent people who do not hurt other people and do not stand by while others hurt other people, either. And if you haven’t yet, today, I strongly recommend that you listen to the words of Dr. King.
Because I have children, one of whom is a toddler who likes all things that roar, I watch Monsters University on at least a weekly basis. For those who are not subject to the whims and tantrums of a two-year-old, Monsters University is a prequel to Monsters Inc. It was released in 2013, and despite being a prequel, is actually a pretty decent movie.
It includes 3 of the main characters from the original Inc movie:
These characters are voiced by the same actors, the very talented John Goodman, Billy Crystal, and Steve Buscemi. In addition, the movie nabbed other very talented actors, including Helen Mirren and Charlie Day.
The three characters we already know well from Monsters Inc are now younger – for the majority of the movie, they are freshmen in college, attending, as you have probably already guessed – Monsters University.
The music is catchy, the jokes are funny, and the storyline is a coming-of-age story that includes learning to believe in yourself and others, but also recognizing your strengths and coming to terms with not being able to achieve your dreams. The movie begins with a tiny, elementary-school age Mike Wasowski, who maintains his trademark positivity despite being ignored and overlooked by all of his peers, discovering that he wants to be a scarer. It is a dream he holds firm in his heart, and it is his plan to do whatever it takes to become one when he steps onto the campus of Monsters University, brimming with the naivete and optimism that often comes when you still have your entire adult life ahead of you. Nearly everyone he meets either overlooks him, or tells him he does not have what it takes to be a scarer – when he is not simply being dismissed or ignored, he is generally flat-out being told he is not scary. But he just puts his head down, and works harder. He doesn’t go to the college parties, preferring to study to make sure he can pass his final and remain in the scaring program. The one thing that does get under his skin is Sully – the innately talented monster who can likely graduate as a scaring major without even trying. Sully is automatically noticed and admired by other monsters, and is a legacy to boot, with a famous scarer father. Mike has to work so hard to even be noticed, and even then, although he knows the scaring information from textbooks back-to-front, and can pass a written test with flying colors, he’s still… not scary. So someone who is frightening without even trying really gets to him.
The thing is — everyone else, unfortunately, is right. Mike works the hardest, studies the right stuff, and has a can-do attitude throughout his brief time at university, but… it doesn’t matter. In spite of everything, he is not capable of being a scarer, because he is not capable of being scary. He improves his scaring stances, aces his tests, and even uses his knowledge to coach others into being more capable scarers, but he is still, and will always be, unable to achieve his dream. So a large part of Mike’s journey is actually coming to terms with who he is, and figuring out his new goal.
This lesson is actually fine. Most girls want to be a ballerina, for example, but most girls cannot actually become a professional ballerina. Most girls get breasts, or do not want to study dance with the focus required to become a professional, or get eating disorders that make their bones brittle and unable to actually perform, etc.
The thing is… Monsters University is not the only children’s film made around this time that deals with needing to understanding yourself and come to terms with not being able to achieve your heart’s deepest desire. In fact, it’s not even the first film that came out around that time with this thesis. Disney came out with another movie in 2012 about a rough guy just doing his job, and hated for it, and hating being hated for it, who befriended a cheeky rascal in a land made out of dessert. Who found out that his job was necessary, and he should keep doing it, but having friends made it bearable. That’s right, folks, a mere year-ish before, Disney released Wreck-It Ralph. Or what about another movie released in 2012 – Disney’s Brave? It is about more than accepting your position, but although Merida decides to make her role as royalty her own, she does have to come to terms with the fact that she is royalty, and that birthed her into certain responsibilities. In fact, failing to come to terms with this in the beginning of the movie nearly causes her to lose her mother forever because the witch she sought help from seems to only know a single spell (and how to carve, I guess). Then, there’s the 2013 Disney release Frozen, in which one of the main characters, Elsa, has to learn how to be honest with herself and others, and not merely isolate herself like an odd, sexy hermit, because she has responsibilities as a sister and a queen that she cannot, and does not want to, shirk. 2012 and 2013 feel like the years someone at Disney decided to explain to children that you can’t always do anything you want, but you can figure out a way to be okay with your employment, whether it’s glamorous like Elsa and Merida, or blue-collar like Ralph and Mike. I’m not necessarily against it, it just feels a little weird that instead of saying, “Keep making good decisions” or “You can be anything you want, if you only believe/work hard enough,” Disney was like, “Life’s not perfect, but you can settle and be cool with that.”
What do you guys think – am I reading too much into what I interpret as a slew of similarly themed movies? Is Monsters University actually terrible? Or am I a smart, savvy chick who has a point? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
If not, and if the reason why is anything other than:
because you are underage and as such, unable to legally vote
living too far from your voting locale to drive there within the remaining time left to vote (which means you should have requested, filled out, and returned an absentee ballot, so now I shall place an imaginary dunce cap on your head #feeltheshame)
Then go vote. Now. Get off your computer. Walk/bike/drive/skateboard to wherever you should be voting, and make yourself heard.
Unless you’re a sexist/racist/evil piece of shit who’s voting for Trump. You can stay home, and… I don’t know:
if you’re not wealthy, try not to get sick since you don’t think everyone deserves equal access to healthcare,
if you are wealthy – think about the best way to independently pay to fix our infrastructure since you don’t believe anyone should pay taxes, and therefore the government shouldn’t be doing it with taxpayer dollars
Have fun with that.
Here’s hoping there are more decent, civic-minded people voting this year than otherwise left in America.
When I first moved to the Bay Area, I was continually assaulted with this word I had not heard since I was… much younger (stop trying to guess my age, asshole): hella. I rolled my eyes, thought, What is this, the ’90s? to myself, and inwardly judged everyone I heard using it.
Hella, in case you haven’t spent much time in the Bay (or other areas of the country that still use it), is somehow able to be used as all parts of speech. It’s a tricky word, sneaking into your psyche until, after hearing and judging its’ spewing forth from the mouths of others continually, there comes the day when, unbidden, it leaves your mouth, and you realize you have been assimilated. I used it just the other day. Yes, I am a hypocrite.
But I also judge people much less for using this word, since I have realized that every area seems to have it’s ’90s slang word that has never left.
In the Metro Detroit area, where I’m from, it’s “bitch.”
Like the unassuming everyman, just blindly going through her day, I was blithely unaware that this was the case, until I had an argument with my husband. This time, it was over his taking the rest of the coffee I had made and not brewing a fresh pot. I had only had 1 cup so far for the day, and for those who incorrectly think I’m a normal person, let me assure you – I am a raging psychotic until I’ve had a few cups of coffee in me. I like to sit in complete silence until the caffeine level in my bloodstream gets high enough, like Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, but without all the push-ups. So while my flabby arms are in no way, shape, or form at all intimidating, the fury escaping my person as I fumed and grinded fresh coffee beans, got more water, retrieved a filter from beneath the coffee island was ridiculous. So, once I had consumed a couple additional cups of coffee and was once more safe to approach, my husband apologized, saying he realized Terry Tate would have tackled him.
If you’re saying: “… who? … what?,” I was in the same boat.
So we went to the internet, where half of our arguments are resolved (ahem: only one space is required after a period; two spaces is leftover from the days when everyone used typewriters…) or our pop culture knowledge is strengthened and shared. As YouTube will show you, Terry Tate was a football player (actual name: Lester Speight, T-squared is a fictional character) in the ’90s/early 2000’s who did commercials for Reebok where he used football maneuvers to handle common office problems (… like taking the rest of the coffee and not brewing a fresh pot). In addition to having abs for days (… yum!), this character is a funny reminder to, like, not be a dick, and guess what one of his slang terms is…
So, yes, watching old commercials with Terry Tate caused me to have a moment of self-realization and reflection, and I realized that – surprise, surprise, I am an asshole. I mean, I kind of already knew that, but in this case, I am an asshole for judging people constantly (constantly!) using “hella” in conversation in the Bay Area, when I still consistently use “bitch” in my own non-professional conversation with people I trust.
I remember having a conversation with someone from Boston, and asking what their word was – “wicked.” Not, like, “… witch of the west,” more like “wicked awesome.”
As a result of everything just detailed above, I have a theory that, whether you know it or not, your regular vocabulary includes a ’90s slang word that tells people where you’re from. If you use “hella,” you’re probably from the Bay. “Bitch” is Detroit. “Wicked” is Boston. Help me expand my geographical knowledge of America via ’90s slang vocabulary – those of you from other areas of the US, what is your ’90s slang word?
Noah Centineo (“NC” from hereon out, because typing out his full name every time I reference him in this post feels like too much effort) who made an adorable and endearing love interest in the Netflix adaptation of Jenny Han’s YA novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, as well as Netflix original Sierra Burgess is a Loser, continued to play a high-school aged heartthrob in The Perfect Date, along with the ineffably talented Laura Maurano, and went on to make more movies that I’m not going to list in this post. I often like YA romance movies, so I have seen all of the aforementioned movies.
Then, I noticed another movie, which also featured Centineo, and which also featured a dating app, both of which are components of The Perfect Date. I was intrigued. The movie is called Swiped, and before you leave to go look for it on Netflix, let me warn you – It. Is. Terrible. Almost unwatchable. I put it on, and couldn’t finish it, and I willingly watch Hallmark movies for funsies. Sure, I’m mostly making fun of them, like the years where the costume designers didn’t hem anyone’s pants, the predictable plotlines, or the fact that as I grow older, the protagonist of A Christmas Kiss increasingly seems like an inept she-devil hell-bent on terrorizing her unsuspecting, successful boss who was just asking her to do her job, goshdarnit. But I’m still willing to watch these undeniably slightly terrible movies from start-to-finish. But I couldn’t finish Swiped. So, you know – perspective.
It kind of fascinates me that NC chose to do both of these movies, with fairly similar concepts, so close together. I mean, there are subtle differences. Although both movies feature technologically proficient teens with the capability to fairly quickly develop an app, The Perfect Date features high school students, whereas Swiped takes place in college. Additionally, although both movies feature teenage characters who are socially awkward, The Perfect Date features that teenage character as more of an intelligent teen girl who is an appropriate love interest, whereas Swiped features that teenage character as a nerdy teen boy who develops the app (I think, again, I could only stand like 20 minutes or so of the movie), seems to have mommy issues, and in reality, wouldn’t get laid (although he’s probably got some love interest in the movie, since I think he’s one of the protagonists). Both movies feature NC, and both rely on his good looks and charm to sway the audience as well as make him seem worthy of redeeming, as well as being a love interest, in spite of his character’s flaws. But only one of these movies work.
The largest differentiator between the two films that I discerned based on my cursory introduction to Swiped was budget. Mainly, The Perfect Date seemed to have one whereas Swiped seems to have been made with considerably less money. Swiped has that noticeable vacuum of sound that low budget films often have, where there is no background noise, which makes the lackluster dialogue that much more apparent. It makes the quirks that the characters should have lack humor, because the person talking to him/her/their-self who would seem odd with the right music playing in the background instead seems more like that homeless guy you walked by the other day muttering to himself and pulling his hair out of his scalp (for some reason, the latter feels a little less cute).
So it’s not the same movie, but it is possible that NC chose both movies for the same reason. My theory*: the idea of developing a dating app with a friend that helps him become a better person and find love so enraptured NC that he immediately signed on to do Swiped (a 2018 movie), and then, when the opportunity to make a strikingly similar movie was proffered, he doubled down, and signed on to do The Perfect Date (a 2019 movie). So why is NC so enraptured by this idea? Maybe he has secret Tinder/Bumble accounts, or maybe his love life is solely arranged by his agent, so the idea of finding love in any other way is intriguing and fascinating, or maybe he wants to be the next Steve Jobs, but, cursed with good looks and a lack of turtlenecks, has to console himself in the arms of pretty ladies in movies and on television instead of becoming the technological visionary he knows in his bones he would otherwise be meant to be.
Those are my rambling thoughts about NC and the mystery of the two similar-but-not-quite-the-same movies. What about you? Have you seen one/both of these movies? Did you also compare and contrast these movies – and if so, did your thoughts coincide with mine? Or, better yet, do you have a conspiracy theory about NC and why he did both films? Please spill in the comments below!
So I was hoping one of the neighbor’s kids was screwing with me, because I was intermittently hearing this weird meowing sound. And, like, we don’t have a cat.
But then I realized, it was likely one of the baby’s puzzles. You know those magnetic ones, where it makes animal noises if you line up the puzzle piece the right way? We have one of those with farm animals, including a cat.
So I got up from my computer to look for it. And he must have, like, shoved it under the entertainment center or somewhere weird, because I could not find it.
And of course, my husband and kids were out of the apartment on a walk. So I had to go back to my computer and just sit in front of it, trying to work, only somewhat succeeding, and hearing random meows. And then moos (which at least confirmed it was definitely the baby puzzle).
The weirdest part? The cat sound hasn’t been working, even when my son does line up the puzzle piece the right way. I thought it was broken.
So what is the Internet Archive, and what’s the big deal? The Internet Archive is a project whereby media, including books, are scanned into this large database that is made freely available to the public. Since IA defines itself as a “library,” it stresses books the most. And that sounds great, right? Making literature and other stuff widely available to everyone with access to the internet? The problem is that a lot of the books available in this library are not yet public domain, and the IA obtains it’s digital copies via upload from literally anyone. So instead of a regular library, which still supports authors and publishers by ordering physical books, audiobooks, and digital rights, the IA is just sharing whatever anyone has uploaded without appropriately paying the creators and companies that helped these books to exist in the world.
I did a lazy, cursory search, and found I can borrow a Harry Potter book by simply signing up for a free account. I know Rowling does not need the money, but what about the average author? I was curious – I mean, maybe the Authors’ Guild and AAP are just being drama queens, right? (Don’t give me that look; we all do it.) So I did some research, and the average author makes $4,500 on a traditionally published book:
This infograph I whipped together assumes that the book is hardcover (royalty percentages are lower, on average, for paperback sales), and that the author was not paid an advance (since publishers need to fully recoup the advance amount before the author will see a dime of royalties post-publication). So, on average, an author makes the equivalent of about 4 months of minimum wage for 1 book. Considering the time that is poured into creating, editing, selling, and polishing a novel, that author has probably invested more than 16 weeks into the novel.
Now, most authors are not planning to get rich off of their novels. Only the very lucky get to just write novels for a living. (I guess this applies to non-fiction authors, as well; I don’t know, I rarely read non-fiction, because why wallow in reality more than you fucking have to…) So most authors are supplementing, not living entirely off of the royalty income from their books. But most authors are also already making less than minimum wage – is it really fair to rip a hole in their pockets, and follow behind to pick up the change that falls therefrom?
Hello, and welcome to my random blog about coronavirus, which roughly translates to “crown poison” (story prompt, anyone…?). If you’re not reading this from the comfort of home, you’re an asshole, and if you’re sick of your home, that sucks, because you’re stuck there for awhile.
I, myself, have been navigating the tricky waters of working from home while trying to prevent my older son’s brain from rotting. His school has provided resources on-line, including something called Lexia Core5, which is designed to help the kids learn to read and gain literacy skills. But secretly, Lexia appears to just be another roadblock on the road of learning, and, like, not allowing large companies to obtain and retain monopolies. For those who, like me, purchased Galaxy tablets for their kid to use instead of an overpriced tablet named after a fruit, you are out of luck if your kid is supposed to use Lexia Core 5, since the Company has released an updated version of the app in 2019 that is only available for iPads. So nice of this educational cog to try to force schools and parents to keep Apple in business even though the company has a history of purposefully slowing down its speed to try to get people to buy the latest version, as well as current lawsuits about artificially keeping the resale market high. Lexia, as a company, I now strongly disapprove of you and hope you, your developers, and especially your CEO eat a big bag of sweaty ol’ balls, because you suck so hard if you had a single penis or related paraphernalia in your mouth, you would pull it off of the unfortunate man trying to be pleasured.
In between worksheets, tablet-learning, and very chaotic, shout-laden, dubiously productive classroom meetings held via Zoom, my kid has been playing video games, and watching movies. Grandma got us a subscription to Disney+, which convinces me that Disney will win the streaming race, because who doesn’t love Disney? It has the classic Disney princess movies, some Kurt Russell as Dexter the college kid movies, and all of those slightly awful original movies, including the weird ones that you completely forgot about that now begs you to turn it into a drinking game. Speaking of Disney – if you haven’t heard about Vanessa Hudgens, she didn’t check-in with her agent before posting an Instagram live where she basically laughs because people are going to die of coronavirus, unlike her, since she’s, you know, young and rich and shit. This weirdly inappropriate session was likely inspired as a reaction to the possibility that quarantine could last through July or August and cancel Coachella, and was followed up by a bullshit apology (I love when people claim their words got “taken out of context,” which is almost never true), presumably so people can feel okay about liking High School Musical or something.
And with this time of year, and my increasing frustration with feeling like I’m not performing as well as I want to at work, not mothering my children as well as I want to at home, and not fulfilling my creative needs ever, I’ve been thinking a little bit about goals.
I know, I know, talking about goals sounds kind of lame. So maybe we shouldn’t call them goals – basically, I’ve been trying to figure out how do I stop feeling like such a failure and start getting shit done. And what specific shit would I like to get done.
So, here are my steps to identify what shit I am going to push myself to accomplish in 2020:
Take a deep breath, and think about what areas of my life I want to see changes for in 2020. You can’t come up with goals if you don’t really know what you want. I already mentioned the areas of my life I want to see changes: employment, family/motherhood, and creative/writing.
Think through what, specifically, is causing unhappiness in these areas. You can’t come up with appropriate goals if you are not specific enough. From hereon out, I will solely be discussing my creative/writing goals, because, like, everyone hates their job and all mothers feel like most of their actions are just fodder for their child(ren)’s future therapy sessions. So hopefully, focusing on my goal that is more likely shared by you guys will make this post more interesting. If not, my bad, but, like – thanks for reading.
Think about the large long-term goal I want to achieve in 2020 (i.e., what do I want to brag about achieving). For me, I want to begin writing more. I’m not planning to write my novel this year, or get published, etc. I just want to formulate the habit of writing more frequently. (Maybe next year, I can focus on getting published, writing novel, etc.)
Think about an appropriate, achievable short-term goal I want to achieve throughout 2020 that will help me with my long-term goal. Note the use of the adjective achievable. There’s no point in setting a goal that sounds so difficult that it will feel infinitely easier to lie in bed and stare at the wall than even attempt them. Should your “shit-I’m-going-to-get-done” list push you? Absolutely. Should this list be so difficult that the likelihood you will achieve them is akin to winning the lottery? Probably not. At least, that doesn’t work for me. I want to write more – it would be nice to be writing daily, or almost daily by the end of the year. And I think the way to do that is to get more organized and focus on completing the stories that excite me in a more timely manner. To assist with this organizational need, I went to Barnes & Noble the other day and purchased a planner (thank you, 50% off on planners now that Xmas is over). My short-term goal is to write at least one short story each month. To do this, I am planning to write in the story I’m working on in my planner, and marking the dates that I write so I can force myself to visually see how far I am getting with this goal. Writing one short story each month will push me, and will help me to create that habit of writing nearly every day.
So that’s it! Obligatory New Year’s reflection on the shit I’m going to get done in 2020 accomplished. My other reflections on 2019 posts will probably wait until February through March, because everyone’s doing reflection posts, and so I think it would be boring to do it now. Also, there is other stuff I want to write about that excites me more, so I’m going to do that (assuming I can find time to write blog posts, since accountants are a smidge busy this time of year).
What about you guys? Have any goals in 2020? Share with me in the comments below! Remember, the more people you talk to about your goals, the more pressure you will induce in yourself to accomplish those goals.