Tamora Tuesday: Terrier (Provost’s Dog #1)

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The World: Provost’s Dog is set in Tortall… 200 years before the events of the Alanna books. Whoa, right? Tortall is still relatively the same… except that slavery is legal, female knights don’t have to hide their gender to earn their shields and the city of Corus is guarded by a troop of police officers called “Dogs.”

The Plot: 16 year old Beka is a Provost’s Dog in training. She’s done with her lessons and her training, and she’s about to start her year as a “Puppy” in the dirty, dangerous Lower City district–the same district where she was raised. Beka will follow around two seasoned Dogs: Matthias Tunstall and Clara Goodwin on their rounds. Her mission is to keep her head down, learn good Dog work and graduate to be a full-fledged Dog in a year. But that’s not going to happen, because when do things ever go the way a Tamora shero wants them to go?

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A special note on Father’s Day

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In a recent episode of Modern Family, Phil Dunphy tried to “create a moment” with his teenaged daughter, Alex. He despaired not being as legendary as astronaut Eugene Cernan, who claimed that he wrote his daughter’s initials on the surface of the moon (thus becoming the dad all dads hate). This Father’s Day, I wanted to highlight a wonderful man known as Mr. Steve, who has the distinction of being my father.

My dad tapped the maple tree on our backyard and made homemade maple syrup with me and my sister.

My dad was an honorary Girl Scout and a “Camp Dawg” who accompanied me and my sister’s troops on countless camp outs and field trips.

My dad can quote every single line from The Princess Bride and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Every. Single. Line.

My dad volunteers as a ham radio operative for the Head of the Charles Regatta, the Walk for Hunger and the Boston Marathon. He helps people who can’t finish the races and radios response teams to pick them up when they’re too tired, hot or sick to finish.

My dad has never once felt the need to apologize for his eccentric personality, and by his example he taught me that I never need to apologize for my personality either.

My dad wore Funny Nose Glasses and Dread Pirate Roberts masks to make us laugh. He knew that even when we rolled our eyes, it was our special teenage way of saying “I love you.”

My dad took my sister and I to the Museum of Science to exercise our brains and to the Museum of Fine Arts to exercise our imaginations. He waxes poetic about both the Vermeers stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the mysteries of physics and biology.

My dad has helped rebuild slums in Brazil, Mississippi towns after Katrina, and Habitat for Humanity houses in New Jersey.

He shovels snow for our neighbors, sands the church driveway and once threatened to put ice in my friend’s baptismal water.

My dad read out loud to me and my sister and filled our minds with stories of the Big Woods, Bag End, Rivendell and Indian Territory.

 

My dad has always supported his strange daughters, even though we’d rather be writers and readers than engineers like himself.

My dad enters an annual Fantasy Iditarod League, thus outstriping every other fantasy league ever created on the scale of awesomeness.

My dad raised me on a steady diet of Pink Floyd, Godspell and Don McLean. To repay him I introduced him to Mumford and Sons, Adele and Flogging Molly.

My dad drove across the country with both of his daughters. He took one to Idaho and the other to California. We traveled down Route 66 together, eating in themed diners and absorbing the rich history middle- and south-western America had to offer us.

I hate to say it, but… sorry Eugene Cernan; you’ve got nothin’ on my dad.

Bunheads!

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If I’m completely honest, I was a little apprehensive about Bunheads. I love Amy Sherman-Palladino with my entire heart and soul–I was practically raised on Gilmore Girls (with a helping of Friends and Dr. Quinn). I also love ballet and watching dancers dance. I’ve never been a very good dancer, and I’ve never been able to command my body the way dancers do, so I love watching people who can.

So why was I apprehensive? Well, in case you missed the ads while you were watching Disney movies on ABC Family (I mean, how else do you spend your weekends?), Bunheads is about an “aging” (read: 25) Vegas show girl named Michelle (Sutton Foster). She’s pursued by the rich, not very charming, businessman Hubbell (Alan Ruck, also known as Cameron from Ferris Bueller). When Michelle gets snubbed at an audition, she realizes that in the crazy world of dance (much like the crazy world of modeling and pitching baseball), people peak a lot younger than in other industries. So she gets drunk with Hubbell, and agrees to marry him.

Let’s re-read that last sentence: Michelle, who up to this point has been dodging Hubbell’s monthly visits like the plague (even, on one occasion, faking the flu), who referred to Hubbell as “basically a stalker,” agrees to marry him and move to his sleepy coastal town. And Hubbell, who buys Michelle expensive presents even though she avoids his calls and visits, accepts Michelle’s “yes” even though she is clearly drunk and upset. He meant well, but who on earth thinks that this will turn out well?

Plus in all the promos there was this shot of Michelle and Hubbell walking into their house and it’s just filled to the ceiling with knick-knacks and pictures and stuffed animals and if that doesn’t scream “serial killer!” (or at the VERY least “unstable!”) I don’t know what does. I mean, come on, one episode of Gilmore Girls totally centered on Lorelai and Rory housesitting for a guy whose house was eerily similar to Hubbell’s house, and he was definitely crazy.

So I was apprehensive. But I gave it a try because a) it’s Amy Sherman-Palladino, b) it’s about DANCERS, c) I like to support female show-runners as a female myself. And you guys. This show did not disappoint.

One of the best aspects of Gilmore Girls is the three generation dynamic between Lorelai, her daughter Rory and her mother Emily. On Bunheads, that’s the same, except it’s between Fanny, her daughter-in-law Michelle, and four of Fanny’s ballet students– Melanie, Sasha, Ginny and Boo. Fanny is played by the wonderful, the indomitable Kelly Bishop (who previously played Emily Gilmore in Gilmore Girls), and there are definitely flashes of Emily in Fanny’s character… if Emily wore flowing skirts, taught dance and decorated her house with stuffed animals and Buddha statues. You know how it is.

The four bunheads are all wonderfully different and vibrant and adorable. You can tell that the only reason they’re really friends is because they’re all the same age and they grew up in the same tiny town with no movie theater, where the highlight of your Friday night is when the librarian leaves the public library unlocked so you can sneak in and read. Yeah. The point is, they’re all very different girls, and their dynamic is honest and genuine. They bicker, they lash out, they show off, and they comfort each other.

My favorite is probably Ginny, who has to wear two sports bras under her leotard to quell her ample bosom (been there, sister friend!), and wonders out loud… why couldn’t she have inherited her mother’s nose instead?

Or maybe Boo, who wants to dance so, so badly, but she doesn’t have the “classic” dancer’s body. Her passion for her art and her willingness to work hard transcends the physical limitations other people place on her.

I also like Sasha–brash, bitchy, talented Sasha–who has all the talent and none of the drive. Michelle makes a brief comparison to herself at Sasha’s age. Sasha is a little too forceful (like Michelle herself) for me to love her wholeheartedly. And she must have proclaimed, in a loud voice, that she was BORED, DAMMIT, at least three times in the pilot, so that was kind of annoying, but I can see her potential as a character and I’m excited to see what happens. Sasha is the kind of girl who is a dancer because she looks like a dancer and because she doesn’t have to work at it. She doesn’t have Boo’s drive or passion. I’m interested to see how her relationship to ballet evolves.

There’s also rambunctious Melanie, but it’s a little hard to pinpoint her character. I’m sure her time will come, but right now she seems a little bit like a Sasha clone.

Besides the three generations of women, there are other obvious Gilmore Girls parallels–the same score (and I have to say, hearing that music again feels like coming home), the same snappy dialogue and charming town of quirky busybodies. But it’s also starkly different: set in California, not Connecticut; focusing on dancing instead of pop culture. Amy Sherman-Palladino’s fingerprints are all over this show, but it’s a different animal than Gilmore Girls–in the best way possible.

After 42 minutes, all of my apprehensions were washed away and replaced with pure, glowing love for Amy Sherman-Palladino, dancers, and Bunheads. I’m excited to have a new show to focus on this summer–even if it’s just for 10 weeks.

The pilot of Bunheads is available for FREE download from iTunes! This means you have very little excuse not to try it out. It’s also available on Hulu. Bunheads airs Mondays at 9/8c on ABC Family.

Prometheus: Answering the Unanswered

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So after I quickly published my glowing reactionary Prometheus post, I started scouring the internet for more reactionary Prometheus posts. You know, like you do. And I found out that people had a lot of unanswered questions. Which is totally fine. It means they thought about the movie enough to form questions about it. And they’re using the internet as a free forum with which to discuss them! Everyone wins!

Some of the questions were issues I had with the movie (why was Guy Pearce cast as an old dude?), but some of the questions were things that I… thought had already been answered. Not expressly answered in the movie, per se, but answered through further analysis. So I’m going to do that, because like I said before, the internet is a free forum. And I’m kind of addicted to blogging.

(Except for the first one,) none of the answers I’m providing are “official.” I’m just a girl who loves movies sitting in front of her computer telling you all her thoughts. And if you disagree, great! Come tell me in the comments and we can discuss it!

I think it goes without saying that there are a crap ton of spoilers after the jump. So be warned!

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Prometheus, you guys. Prometheus.

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What just happened.

Okay, so I’m going to put the cut really early in this post because of all the wonderful spoilers I’m going to discuss practically immediately. So if you want to remain pure before you see the film, then HOLD OFF! Bookmark this page, come back after you’ve seen the movie and then tell me what you think because I love discussing film.

If you don’t care or if you’ve seen the film already, then onwards and upwards. Onwards and upwards!

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Five Things Friday: Five Disney characters you never realized were total bitches

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For this week’s Five Things Friday, I’m reposting a piece I wrote for Ramen, the lovely Caro’s zine. Enjoy!

5) Aunt Sarah – Lady and the Tramp
Crimes against humanity: She put Lady in a muzzle!

I don’t care that she sent a box of dog biscuits to Lady and Tramp at the end of the movie. The only thing I care about is that she believed the worst about Lady and put her in a muzzle. And I use the word muzzle pretty loosely–what Sarah used was more like some weird snout-cage attached to a leash. I’m all for cat ladies, but cat ladies that are antagonistic toward dogs don’t get much sympathy from this camp.

She is literally seconds away from animated conflagration.

4) The Feather Duster – Beauty and the Beast
Crimes against humanity: Snotty, French

Let’s face it. The Feather Duster was a total tease! Lumière deserved so much better than a flighty maid in a fetish outfit. Besides, if they hadn’t been turned back into humans, how long would their relationship last? She’s a feather duster and he spontaneously bursts into flames.

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Tamora Tuesday: Trickster’s Queen (Daughter of the Lioness #2)

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The Plot: Aly fulfilled Kyprioth’s wager–she kept the Balitang children (Sarai, Dove and their younger half-siblings) alive until the end of the summer. Instead of returning home scot-free, Aly decides to stay in the Copper Isles and work with the raka conspiracy. The raka have a prophesy that fortells the rise of a twice-royal queen: a girl who is descended from both the luarin and raka royal lines. The only two eligible girls in the country are Sarai and Dove Balitang–their luarin father is cousin to the royal family and their (deceased) raka mother was descended from the old raka queens.

The conspiracy plans to groom Sarai (now seventeen) to be queen, but it’s not as easy as it looks. Aly has to build a network of spies, corral the high-spirited Sarai (who always seems to find an inappropriate man to sneak into the shadows with), unite luarin and raka conspirators despite long-standing, often violent racial tensions, and work through her new, confusing relationship with Nawat, the crow-turned-man.

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Five Things Friday: Five (real) eulogies for five (fictional) characters

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For this week’s Five Things Friday, I’m reposting a piece I wrote for Ramen, the lovely Caro’s zine. Enjoy!

5) Tara McClay – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
You know what? I just really hate Kennedy. If Oz is going to go off and be a werewolf in Tibet or something, then there’s only one person I want to give Willow sweet lovin’, and she’s not a bratty, brunette vampire slayer.

4) Denny Duquette – Grey’s Anatomy
When you’ve watched nearly every character played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan die, you start to think “who did he piss off?” And you laugh, because he’s basically a poor man’s Sean Bean. Then Izzie walks into his hospital room, dressed for the prom, and it’s not funny anymore. Suddenly he’s not Jeffrey Dean Morgan, he’s Denny. Denny, who played dirty Scrabble and flirted with Izzie and asked her to spend the rest of her life with him, only he spent the rest of his life with her instead.

3) Primrose Everdeen – The Hunger Games
The greatest tragedy of Prim’s death is that she was only thirteen. That she was blown up in an accident caused by a man she had known her entire life. That she died while her sister watched. Or maybe the greatest tragedy of all was that Prim never knew a world outside of the totalitarian regime under which she was raised. She never knew a life without fear, without violence, without the Hunger Games. She never got a chance to grow up. Become a doctor. Fall in love. She was a pointless sacrifice in a bloody war.

2) Fred Weasley – Harry Potter
I have long believed that it’s a sin to kill a sibling, but it’s even worse to kill a twin. When Fred died, half of George died with him. The half that laughed, that invented magical candy, that schemed and plotted and played Quidditch. And what’s left? Just a broken, scarred man remembering a distant time when his life made sense. Perhaps it would have been kinder to let George die alongside his brother in the final battle, because his world ended that night anyway.

1) Remus Lupin – Harry Potter
There comes a moment when you’re crying and someone asks you why, so you tell them that Remus Lupin died. They look at you strangely, because you’ve had four years to mourn, but four years will never be enough. Sometimes you wish J. K. Rowling killed Arthur Weasley in “Order of the Phoenix,” but only if it means that Lupin and Tonks would survive, and raise their son, and go to Sunday dinners at the Potter’s. Maybe someday Lupin would go back to teaching. Maybe someday they’d have another son (and name him Sirius), and he’d get Sorted into Gryffindor (or Hufflepuff). Then, finally, when Remus is old and even more grey, he would become the only Marauder to die at a ripe old age. Because his life was filled with too much tragedy to die at 38.

Spiders: An Ode (Of Hatred)

It’s a little known fact that I have a leg-limit for the creatures I like. Four legs? I love you! Three legs? Still awesome! (I’m looking at you, adorable three-legged cat who lives in my friend Whitney’s apartment complex!) Two legs? It depends on your personality.

Six legs? You’re on thin ice. Eight legs? Get away from me, you creepy ass arachnid. I don’t even want to TALK about the creatures who have more than eight legs, because as far as I’m concerned they have no business being anywhere near me.

There are a couple exceptions: Butterflies? Love ’em! Dragonflies? Gimme more! Lady bugs? Adorable! Those orange beetles that look like lady bugs but aren’t? Come rest on my finger, little buddy! (The exception to the exceptions are moths. I know they’re kind of like butterflies but I refuse to let them anywhere near me. They have FURRY ANTENNAE, which is something that should never be furry).

But I reserve a special place of fear and hatred in my heart for spiders.

I know that God created spiders and that they eat mosquitoes and all that jazz. I faithfully read (and loved!) Charlotte’s Web as a child. I just always divorced the fact that Charlotte was a character I enjoyed with the fact that she has eight eyes, pinchers, a furry body and eight legs. I think it’s the multiple-eye thing that really creeps me out. And the pincers. To this day I have a hard time watching the Aragog scene in Chamber of Secrets (and Half Blood Prince!) because of the pincers.

Last week I was talking with a friend online when I saw a black spider that was, legs and all, the size of the first digit of my pointer finger walking down my wall. I haven’t seen the spider since and part of me is terrified to move my bookshelves because I’m legitimately worried it has laid eggs in my bedroom.

I don’t consider myself arachnophobic, because a phobia, by definition, is irrational, and as far as I’m concerned, there is nothing irrational about a fear of spiders. The second month I lived in LA my roommates discovered a black widow spider and her egg sac in our garage. A black widow spider. In my living space. (We set it on fire) (well my roommate set it on fire while I stayed in my bedroom and refused to come out until I knew it was dead).

In short, spiders are horrible, often-poisonous little monsters who belong far, far, FAR away from any human being ever.

Tamora Tuesday: Trickster’s Choice (Daughter of the Lioness #1)

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The Plot: 16-year-old Alianne (Aly) of Pirate’s Swoop may be the daughter of Alanna the Lioness–a legendary knight–but she’s not a warrior. She not even much of a lady. She wants to be a spy, like her father George Cooper, the King’s spymaster. Her parents, however, have other plans. They want Aly to be a proper Tortallian lady. They want her to pay attention in school, to meet a nice, normal boy, grow up, get married and run a noble household.

But everyone’s expectations for Aly’s life go topsy-turvy when Aly is kidnapped and sold as a slave in the Copper Isles–a tumultuous island kingdom west of Tortall. Aly becomes a slave in a prominent noble house, and she makes plans to escape and return to Tortall… until a mysterious Trickster god makes Aly an offer she can’t refuse.

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