Brave

I had high hopes for Brave. After all, it’s Pixar, and the last Pixar movie I saw was Up, and I both laughed and cried multiple times and generally uphold it as a work of genius.

Brave is a new take on the princess tale. Merida is a certified badass who will have no parts of an arranged marriage her mother insists on because it’s tradition and whatnot. I’m on Team Merida here. Arranged marriages are silly, especially when your protagonist is a teenager with a free spirit. Free spirits need patient men, by the way, so thrusting that upon some poor soul is probably a bad idea.

I’ve always liked seeing girls kick ass rather than sit around, mope, and do all those girly things society and pop culture have traditionally had women do. Merida decides to take control of her fate, as we all should. The problem is things go terribly awry.

Aside from the ballsy princess, Brave was not at all what I was expecting, to the extent that I can’t even tell you because it will actually spoil the movie. Minor possible spoiler alert–there’s some Freaky Friday shit going on here. In that sense, Brave borrows from tales before, but so did Up. Like Up, though, the storyline holds up and the writing is tight.

It’s also really funny. While it’s more heartwarming and kind of action-packed than anything, the king and the mischievous three little princes are hilarious. I found them so funny that I’m probably alone on this one. Brave has charm, too, and does a lot really well, even if at first things seem like they’re getting silly.

That said, it’s still not the masterpiece that Up was. Similarly, short preceding film La Luna is super cute, but Up’s short, Partly Cloudy, actually makes me cry. Up just fills me with feelings. I can’t help it.

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Going Home

I went back home for the first time in over a month, I think, because Memorial Day and the weekend before was spent at Paul’s. I get to go back up next weekend, by the way, and I’m pretty excited. Not just because I get to see my boyfriend, who has also been absent from my life for over a month, but because on the agenda is Prometheus, Greek food, frozen yogurt, and all of my other favorite State College things like Green Bowl and Webster’s. We usually don’t make definite plans, but I have declared all of these places must be visited. I actually miss State College as a place, too. Go figure.

Anyway, my mom got me a cute, summery cake for my belated birthday, so we enjoyed that. I went with Brandon and his girlfriend to see Brave, and I’ll try to remember to do a review of that maybe tomorrow.

My dad has this ice-cream maker he’s very proud of, so I had some homemade chocolate ice cream. I hung out with Duke. I slept on the sleeper sofa in the sun room and was rudely awakened twice by the worst pounding rain I have ever heard. I went to Vinny’s.

A nice, lazy weekend. I’ll be back for the 4th. Sarah’s having a party. I’m a little apprehensive because it’ll be the first time I’ve seen and spoken to most of the Craigs since everything with Nemacolin, so I’m prepared for basically anything. Really, everyone will probably just pretend nothing happened and will wonder why I’m so cranky and don’t talk to them anymore. If Sarah wasn’t the one throwing the party, I wouldn’t even be going. That said, I’m not even 100% sure I won’t back out and not go.

Guilty Pleasures

“Call Me Maybe” is a catchy song. That doesn’t mean people aren’t justified in hating it. In fact, I understand the hate (I also think some people take pop music too seriously and are too hard it when it’s entire purpose is mass thoughtless consumption, which is why it’s so successful). But I like it. I have no shame in this.

For a while now, I’ve been moving past the idea of the guilty pleasure. What’s so wrong about openly admitting what we like? Everyone likes something outside of their usual standards or outside of what people think they “should” like. Why do people care so much? Thoughtful criticisms are one thing, especially if the content is problematic, but to actually put someone down because they like something and for no other reason is ridiculous. The songs I like have no bearing on anyone else’s life, and the fact that some people would ridicule me and try to make me feel embarrassed over a silly pop song is shallow.

Many of us are surrounded by people judging our tastes. Many blame society and the media, which is surely part of many problems, but this is one of those things I think is a problem on an individual basis. We’re too stuck on wanting people to be carbon copies of ourselves and convincing them that our tastes are perfect and everyone else’s are wrong. This is, essentially, criticizing us for who we are and making us ashamed of that.

This is somewhat related to my recent friend drama. As I’ve pulled away voluntarily, it’s made me an outsider looking in, to some extent–seeing the Facebook posts, the tweets, etc. I’ve known for a while some of those people were having very negative, damaging effects on me, but I’ve also realized the extent of that. Sometimes, my tastes and interests would be mocked. For the most part, it was only done to me, but the favoritism I noticed is another topic for another day. I saw something the other day that said true friends are people you can be yourself around. I’ve always agreed with that, but I never realized that at some point, I actually stopped having that. After all, if my true self was regularly made fun of, how could I fully, freely, and comfortably be me? Even if it meant something as simple as making fun of what I like.

Our likes and dislikes, to a degree, make us. They don’t dictate who we are, but they’re part of us. They’re what make us happy, inspire us, and help us to connect (or disconnect) with other people. Many of us will defend our favorite celebrities from attack, but we don’t consider we’re also then being forced to defend ourselves, in a way.

Criticizing other people’s tastes is a little selfish, isn’t it? We’re saying what we like is superior. If our music, movies, books, and clothes are better in our minds, aren’t we saying that we’re better for them? I believe some of these things can improve a person and help them to grow, but that doesn’t equal superiority. We’re saying, “You’re not as good as me because you like that musician instead of this one.” Humans love to undercut each other, and pop culture has just given us another way to do it that’s almost acceptable–in the form of the concept of the guilty pleasure.

We should be proud of what we like. Everything, even the worst-sounding song on the planet or the most poorly written book, has some sort of value, if only in that it makes someone happy or made the creator realize a dream. If we attack the dissenters with pride, we’ll win our own integrity.

You Say It's Your Birthday

Yesterday was my 23rd birthday.
First of all, I still love birthdays. I believe birthdays should be awesome. And I don’t mind getting older, either. In fact, I kind of like it. It’s a new age, new experiences, more credibility. Now, maybe one day I’ll want to stop getting older, but for now I enjoy it. And if I think too long, I’ll realize I’ve already lived longer than some people ever have, and I’ll get freaked out. Getting older is a good thing. It means we have time here to enjoy, even though time here isn’t always enjoyable.
I got gifts from my family Monday when we did a birthday/Father’s Day dinner (some years, my birthday does fall on Father’s Day). My mom got me this awesome cat ring I wanted, and Brandon got me a cute little bag with otters holding hands on it. My coworkers gave me a sweet card they all signed, and the company has cake every month on the next-to-last Thursday, which happened to fall on my actual birthday. I got a card from Pap Pap and Aunt Reg, and presents forthcoming from Meri, Paul, and Terra. I get more cake Sunday, and Scott wants to party together Monday to celebrate his birthday, too.
For the first time ever, I had some obligation on my birthday. Summer birthdays meant lounging until now. Last year, I was unemployed, and even the year before when I was taking a class I had the day off (although it was my 21st birthday and I did have an early midterm the next day). But it wasn’t terrible.
In the end, it was a good birthday. Here’s to many more!

On Sandusky's Case

Everything about this is disgusting.

I’ve been following the trial on Twitter–Pittsburgh’s @WPXI_Courtney has been doing a great job of posting updates on all the testimony–and it just gets worse and worse.

The victims’ allegations are terrible. Worst of all, I believe them. Some have witnesses, who unfortunately didn’t stop the abuse, and with 10 victims and 52 counts, it’s highly unlikely they’re all making it up. In fact, I’m sure there are more victims out there. And Sandusky himself has made highly questionable comments publicly about all this, including a recent clip of his infamous interview that was cut in which he more or less says he didn’t have sexual contact with all of the kids he helped. Oh, okay, Sandusky. So you only raped some of them. That makes it all better.

The thing is, I think the defense might be even worse. Character witnesses are insisting Sandusky is a great man, and after hearing all these things, I don’t know how someone could say that, aside from being in extreme denial. If nothing else, they should at least be side-eyeing the fuck out of that man. Worst of all, though, some are actually confirming that Sandusky showered with boys and make it sound like this totally common, normal thing. Except it’s not.

In no universe is it acceptable and appropriate for a grown man in a position of authority to be sharing a shower with children. That’s it. The end. And even if they say he has some mental disorder that explains all this, that doesn’t justify it. This is never justifiable.

I don’t think he stands a chance of being found not guilty. If he goes to prison without some sort of solitary or protective custody, he’ll likely be killed. Strangely, there’s a prison hierarchy, and child molesters are at the top of the shit list.

All that’s left to do is wait and listen to more horrible things from the stand.

Some News

I guess I should mention that I am now an editor over at InYourSpeakers. I was asked if I was interested, which I was, but I wasn’t sure if I could fit all that work into my schedule between my real job, writing, blogging, and of course, me-time! But after some discussion, I concluded I could handle it. Obviously, it’ll keep me super busy, but it’s also kind of fun and it’s a great opportunity. When I go looking for another day job, it’ll look awesome on a resume. If IYS can one day actually be my day job, even better.

I’ll be the features editor, a section which is currently a work in progress. As of now, I’m doing little editing things here and there, and I’m filling in for the usual news editor for the week.

It’s important and awesome but I don’t think it’s a particularly big deal. However, these kinds of things make moms and boyfriends happy and proud. My mom said, “Maybe Rolling Stone will notice you!” In fact, my mom seems to think that I will both become the managing editor of Rolling Stone and write the next Harry Potter. Not that I don’t want to do those things, but those are some big, time-consuming tasks. It’s cute, though. She and Paul both also seem to have this drive for me to kick ass in my career, both because I want to and because they want to silence my haters…who are actually people who should be my supporters.

I think perhaps I am a workaholic.

People to Make Your Life Seem Meaningless

Let’s talk about music. My life since Monday has been uninteresting, after all–work and being unable to stop thinking. I’m going to be at least semi hung up on this Nemacolin thing for a long, long time.

Anyway! If you follow Neil Gaiman on Tumblr, you’ve already heard of this chick. If you don’t, we can’t be friends.

She’s Gal Musette. She’s awesome. Inspired by The Magnetic Fields, she’s doing a series of 70 love songs. Oh, yeah, and she’s 14 fucking years old.

Basically, she’s writing and making music, just like I wanted to (and still may do) at the age I started wanting to. She’s better than I would’ve been, though. Also, she’s pretty much adorable.

The musically is pretty much pianos and acoustic guitars, and it’s all quite pretty and melodic with an indie sound, yet still quite polished. She sounds like a very young Regina Spektor.

Best of all, the songwriting is great. The songs are cute and sweet without being overly mushy and disgusting, but they don’t sound like something coming from a 14-year-old, either. Everything about these songs is more mature than 14.

So what does a 14-year-old know about love? Does it matter? Maybe everything and nothing all at once. I was pretty angsty at 14 and had terrible taste in men up until about the time Paul started chasing me, but I knew people were starting to date, I was receiving little to no male attention, and I wanted it. That leads to lots of thinking and dreaming about what love is like. The advantage to being such a romantic late bloomer while I watched friends’ relationships come and go was even without experience, it gave me time and observances with which to figure out what I wanted and what kind of lover I would be. While it’s easy for all of us out of and away from our teen years to say that these kids don’t know anything about love, it’s just not true. They know plenty, experience or not. And these songs are certainly better than most of what you’ll hear on the radio. Pop love songs, I think, tend to be the worst. All that said, I still stand by my statements that living a “Teenage Dream” sounds terrible.

I’m putting some of these songs on a playlist for Terra’s wedding music suggestions, and whether they’re used or not, they’ll go on my own playlist for my currently nonexistent wedding/engagement.