Category Archives: Pop culture

Rory Gilmore and the 30-somethings

Gilmore Girls was one of those shows that I found by complete accident and have since fallen in love with.  I was an intern at the Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE) where one of the other interns was a watching the show during a rare break.  Having already finished all of the Harry Potter books that summer and with nothing else pressing to do, I decided to sit down and watch with her.  And I was hooked.  It became a daily ritual: get up, water the cats, do the chores, schedule lunch around Gilmore Girls reruns so that I could watch it.

Lorelai Gilmore became my spirit animal.  I wished that I could be as sassy and quick witted and coffee-fueled as this ultra-super mom.  She was (and still is) who I want to be when I grow up, partly because she can eat anything, but mostly because she was a self-suffiant woman who worked hard for her accomplishments.  At the same time, she wasn’t afraid to ask for help when she needed it, even if she needed to ask her parents.  Lorelai Gilmore was how I thought people were supposed to adult correctly.

I know many of my friends don’t like Rory Gilmore and have never liked Rory Gilmore.  I tend to have a little different view of Rory.  Yes, she was annoying, but what teenager isn’t annoying (I work with teenagers, so I know how annoying they can be).  She made some stupid decisions because we all make stupid decisions in our teens and twenties.  No, she shouldn’t have dumped Dean for Jesse.  No, she shouldn’t have slept with Dean after he was married.  Yes, she treated Marty like shit and he really didn’t deserve it.  But she wasn’t so bad, either.  She worked hard to go after her goals, she befriended Paris Geller, she supported Lane in her music career.  At the end of the seven season run, I was on team Rory.  I supported her decision to leave Logan and find herself.  I wanted to see her succeed.

You can image my disappointment when Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life showed Rory as a selfish, entitled little girl with no goals and apparently no job history.  For as much as I loved Lorelai and Luke’s relationship in A Year in the Life, for as much as I loved watching Emily Gilmore find herself after the death of her husband, for as much as I missed seeing Richard Gilmore, I really hated Rory and the way the show producers decided to portray 30-something year olds.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the run down: Rory Gilmore is lost. She doesn’t have an apartment so she is moving around between Lorelai’s place, Emily’s place, Paris’s place in New York, and Logan’s (yes, that Logan) place in London. For a person with no job, she certainly travels a lot, though. How the freak does she afford the plane tickets from New York to London every other week? Is Logan paying for it? Her grandmother? Anyway, that’s not the point. Her main source of accomplishment is writing a piece for the New Yorker, which is great. In ten years since leaving Yale, she has finally written a piece for a prestigious magazine and is now using that to help propel her career forward. Except she’s not. And I think that is my main problem with Rory in this new mini-series. She thinks she is above an internet magazine, but takes the interview anyway and has nothing to say about herself. Really? You are a 32 year old woman and you don’t know how to sell yourself to a potential job? I don’t know any 30-something year old who doesn’t know how to do that. Maybe they are out there, but I’ve never met them. So Rory moves home and meets the 30-something club (or whatever the hell they call it).

I understand being down on your luck. I understand losing a job and having to scramble to figure it out. I understand not knowing what to do and going home, but this is where the show lost me. I don’t understand any of the motives of the 30-something club. Here’s a bunch of 30-something year olds with no jobs because “the world chewed them up and spit them out” according to Taylor Doose. But more than that, they seem like they don’t even care that they don’t have a job. They seem perfectly happy with sipping on milk shakes and letting their parents take care of them. Maybe I take this to heart because I am a 30-something year old and most of my friends are 30-something year olds, but I actually found that group in the show offensive.

I am a 33 year-old woman. Many of my friends are 30-something year old men and women. None of them live with their parents. None of them are content with drinking milk shakes while their parents try to help them find a job. None of them wander around the town like lost puppies with nothing to do. All of them are hard working individuals with jobs, apartments or houses, children or pets. Some have spouses, some have significant others, some are single. All have dealt with lose and tragedy and frustration, yet they have struggled on to meet success. This is how 30-somethings deal with the difficulties of the “real world”, by staring it in the face and shouting, “fuck you” while drinking some wine (or craft beer). We build our friendships, relay on each other, ask our parents for help or advice when we need it, and generally kick ass because we know all about the harsh realities of the real world. We know all about crippling student debt and bad job markets. We know all about losing jobs and being rejected. And we still go out there every day and fight for what we want. We definitely don’t sit in the candy store and drink milk shakes and pretend that we don’t have to worry about the world because our parents will take care of us.

Advertisements

Supergirl

I’ve been watching season one of Supergirl on Netflix recently.  I have to admit that I love the DC TV shows while not really enjoying the movies.  I think Arrow, while sometimes problematic, is an enjoyable show about this man who is trying to be different. (Side not, Felicity can leave.  I really dislike her after the end of season four).  The Flash is amazingly charming and fun while still having that “dark side” of Barry Allen because of his background.  But Supergirl, that is just on a different level.

So, full disclaimer, I am a season behind on all of the CW shows because I watch them on Netflix.  This is because, besides being a full time teacher, I am also a graduate student and don’t have time for live TV.  So, all of the spoilers, and there will be some, will be for season one of Supergirl.  You have been warned.

I wasn’t very impressed with Supergirl at first.  Kara seemed super bubbly and all smiles and kittens and rainbows.  Her sister, Alex, seemed all angsty and frowns and rainclouds.  And Henshaw seemed to be all bully and hard-ass.  I expected Winn to be doe-eyed for Supergirl and Jimmy, excuse me, James Olsen to be Dashing Love Interest man.  And Cat Grant, don’t  get me started on Cat Grant.  She was the tyrant boss who was going to make Kara’s life a living hell.

But the show did something to surprise me.  It took these characters and actually didn’t turn them into pigeon-holed stereotypes of themselves.  It actually made them human and made me care about them, damn it.  And it made me see how the movie version Superman just couldn’t live up to his exceptations.

I grew up watching “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”.  While there may be some miss remembered nostalgia involved, I remember loving this show.  Clark Kent was so much better than any other person, not because he had to be but because he wanted to be.  See, the thing about Superman, and Supergirl, is that they are so much stronger than any person on Earth.  They could so easily take over because who among us could stop them.  But they don’t.  They chose not to.  They chose to take the harder path and help people.  Supergirl embraces that choose.

I didn’t realize this until episode 16 of season.  Here’s the spoilers if you’ve never seen it.  Kara gets infected by red kryptonite.  This basically took all of the good out of Supergirl, took all of her inhibitors out, and turned Supergirl into a real asshole of a person.  She said and did whatever she was feeling instead of doing what she knew was right.  This, of course, caused some issued with her sister, with James, with Cat, and with Henshaw.  But jackass Supergirl wasn’t the part of the episode that made me see what Supergirl was all about.  It was the last 10 minutes of the show, when Alex removes the effects of red kryptonite and Supergirl realizes all that she did.  There were so many feels in that moment.  Supergirl breaks down because she is so sorry.  She can’t articulate how sorry she is for her actions.  She can remember all of it, and she knows that the worst part of her bubbled to the surface, but the remorse she shows is so real and genuine.  Even beyond the remorse, she realizes how much she fucked up and is willing to do whatever it takes to make things right with her friends and her city.

That is the thing that is missed in the new Superman movies.  Sure, Superman was sorry he had to kill Zod, but there is no remorse for his other actions.  There is zero talk about how he utterly destroyed Metropolis.  There is zero remorse for not being able to save people.  There is no comment on his commitment to be so much more than human.  Supergirl did that in episode 16 of season one.

Some of the characters were turning for me.  Cat Grant has turned into one of the most interesting and believable characters on the show (yes, I’ve seen IMDB and am very sad about it).  Henshaw’s story took an amazing turn for the unexpected.  Even Alex is a multifaceted character with issues and love her for adopted sister.  But showing the remorse and the anguish that Supergirl experiences after her realization that she was a super asshat was what really made this feel like a Super TV show.


Mad Max: Hidden Agenda

I wasn’t very interested I seeing Mad Max: Fury Road. I never watched the originals with Mel Gibbson. I never really cared about the world of the story line. That was l, until I read this. Basically, this blog posted about how the new Mad Max movie was part of the feminist movement and had all this propaganda about women’s rights. Their thoughts was that all men and “real women” (their line not mine) should boycott the movie. So of course I had to go see it. 

It was actually a good movie. Like, I actually really enjoyed watching it. First off, Charlize Theron was great. She really carries the movie. Tom Hardy was good as Max, but Theron was the real star. 

Spoilers ahead!!

The movie centers around Theron’s character, a driver for a gang who’s main purpose seems to be to rule their small plot of land with an iron fist. It’s a world with limited water and limited fuel and Immortal Joe wants to keep his property to himself. He deems everything his property: the water, the fuel, the food. Oh, and his harem of breeders, aka young women who he bangs to produce an army of warrior boys. 

Enter the feminist agenda! Turns out that these young women don’ liike being used and abused. They want to go to “the green place” where Theron’s character grew up. It’s an isolated place where trees still grow and is ruled by a matriarchy. They beg Theron to take them and she does. Along the way, they run into Max and fight the bad guys and shit blows up. A lot of shit. I’m pretty sure something blows up everybody 5 minutes or so. 

So Theron and Max and the women are on the run from Joe and his warriors. Finally, they meet up with the old mothers only to find out that “the green place” was destroyed. The only logical solution is to go back to the community where Joe was holed up (because his whole army is out looking for them) and take it over. Decided, they go back, more shit explodes, Theron almost dies, and they kill Immortal Joe. Everyone lives happily ever after. Oh, except the pregnet girl who Joe had cut open so he could save her baby while she was dying. That’s the bad guy in this movie: a dick who values the life of an infant baby boy more than the mother who birthed him. 

So you can see that this movie is dripping with anti-male sentiments (enter sarcasm here). These women want to leave an oppsive tyrant who basically rapes them so he can have more sons. Shame on those women (more saracasm folks). And heaven forbid that Theron held her own in a fight against Max. What is this world coming to?

I really enjoyed Mad Max not because of the supposed feminist twist, but because it was actually a good movie with decent character motivation, great fight scenes, and a pretty believable plot. Can we please just enjoy a movie based on those and not look for hidden agendas?


4 Life Lessons Learned While Owning a Disneyland Premium Pass

disneyIt’s no secret that I love Disney and everything the mouse has to offer.  I’ve seen every animated movie multiple times and can still sing along to with all the songs.  I have a “shrine” in my office – the walls are littered with prints, posters, collector pins, stuffed animals, toys, and figurines.  The only thing I’m missing is a Disney tattoo and I’m working on that.  The crown on my Disney obsession came in August of 2011 when I went to Disneyland with a group of friends, all of whom had an annual pass.  They knew of my Disney craze and decided to gift me with my very own annual pass.  And the tradition of going to Disneyland, a place I have all but worshiped since I was 5, monthly became a reality.

Every time we get back from a break at school, my students ask “Did you go to Disneyland?”  The answer is usually yes.  Last year, I went 8 times, which is more than I have ever gone in a single year before.  And while there, I have stopped taking pictures and started to just look around.  That’s the beauty about having an annual pass: I’ve seen the castle and have so many pictures of the castle that I can put the camera down and just focus on the magic of Disney.  Here’s what I’ve learned, in no particle order:

1) Details Matter

Next time you go to Disneyland and you’re walking up Main Street, U.S.A, look around you.  I mean, really look.  The buildings are all different, down to the material they are made out of.  Walt wanted it to look like a small town main street and he wanted it to be realistic.  There are store names written over some of the second story windows.  If you take a trip back to the lockers, there are sounds of pianos playing and a man visiting the dentist.  There’s even a small pouch with a rocking chair (prime parade watching area if you can get it).  Nothing is out of place.  Head over to Adventure Land, and you’ll find the same thing.  There are cracks in the bazar walls, making it look older.  The open air fruit stand has packing crates and faded paint.

Even the rides pay attention to detail.  Let’s jump on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  The que line has old machines and generators running in front of the temple.  The status out front are of giant cobras and snakes.  The rickety bridge leads you up to the entrance, which take you down through a network of caves (watch out for bats!) and booby traps (don’t step on the wrong brick!) until you come into the temple itself.  There, you see vast murals painted on the temple ceiling with scaffolding for the archeologist to use.  Nothing is left out.  If you look really close, you can even spot a hidden Mickey or two.

Details matter and Disney knows it.  Somethings it’s the smallest detail that you didn’t think about that ruins the experience, no matter what that experience is.  It’s a lesson that I’m applying to my own work and life.  I often find in lesson planning that there is a small detail I did not think of that makes the work that much harder for my students and for me.

2) Whistle While You Work

Disney has a special name for all employees: cast members.  You are not an employee of Disneyland, you are a cast member.  It makes a little difference.  As a cast member, you are supposed to be on stage, ready to perform for the audience, aka the customers.  Disney cast members, for the most part, always seem happy to be there.  They smile, they wave, they chat politely with you.  You rarely hear cast members complaining about their jobs while they are “on stage”.  And the few times I have, it’s honestly ruined a little of the magic for me.  I have openly complained to cast members when I hear them ragging on their jobs.  I understand that all jobs have their bad side (I’m a teacher, after all), but I see no reason to complain about it in front of the very people who are helping to pay your wages.

But that’s not the point.  The point is most cast members seem to really enjoy their jobs.  It’s an important lesson to be learned.  There are lots of things about jobs that annoy and bother people, but I think people should at least act happy to be there while they are “on stage”.  Complain behind the scenes all you want, but show the customers a smile.

3) Scream Like You Mean It

It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been on Space Mountain, I still scream every time.  It’s fun to yell  out loud as the roller coaster races through the dark.  I do the same for all the roller coasters at Disneyland.  Actually, I do the same for most of the rides at Disneyland (except Small World, I just sing along then).  To me, Disneyland is a place to let loose, to sing along, to dance in the streets, and to scream like I mean it.  I’m not worried about what other people  think because I don’t really care what other people think.  I’m having fun and that’s all that matters.

It’s harder for me to live like in this every day life.  I have to care a little about what people think about me (naming my bosses).  It’s also helpful as a teacher to have your students like you.  It’s not required, but it makes the classroom run a little smoother.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t be “me” though.  I can tell bad puns and be silly and enjoy life rather than just going through the motions.  Not only do I scream like I mean it, I laugh like I mean, cry like I mean, love like I mean it.

IMG_20184) Believe in the Power of Imagination

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a scientific skeptic.  Basically, I don’t take much on faith, I want to know the science behind it.  I don’t believe in ghosts, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy The Haunted Mansion.  I know the anatomy of insects, yet I still love Bug’s Land (probably my favorite of all the areas in Disneyland).  Just because I like science and want to understand how the world works doesn’t mean that I can’t also enjoy the magic of Disneyland.  That’s what Disneyland is all about!  I wave and smile and love getting my pictures with the characters because, when they are in that costume, they are the characters from my childhood.  I’m going to a character breakfast where I will be the youngest person in our party of 4.  And I’m super excited about it!

I can never understand the people who can’t immerse themselves in the story.  It’s the story that makes Disneyland the happiest place on Earth and my own personal laughing place.  And I’m excited that I get to keep going back.


Silence

I often wonder if we have lost our ability to sit in a comfortable silence with friends.  I went to Disneyland last weekend (cause what else am I going to do over a three-day weekend).  While people watching as I walked through the lines (because, you know, it’s a 30 minute wait for Pirates) and I noticed that most people were not talking to each other.  Most people in most groups, with a few exceptions of course, were playing on their phones.  There was a lot of Facebook checking, Twitter checking, Instagram posting.  There wasn’t a lot of chit chatting.  And there wasn’t a lot of just sitting in a comfortable silence with companions.

This was something I noticed within my own group as well.  We did chat.  The two ladies I went with are amazing and we had great conversations.  But any time there was a lag in the conversation, out came the cell phones.  Gone was the observing, watching, and just being with the people around you.

I find this very interesting.  Mostly because I wasn’t on my phone a whole.  Of course I still checked into Facebook and posted pictures to Instagram, but I actually set a challenge for myself this Disney trip: no cell phone unless I want to take a picture or someone texts me.  I didn’t quite hit my goal – like I said, I did check into Facebook and Googled some things while in line – but for the most part, I tried to keep the phone in my purse.  With the phone away, I seemed to notice more about the park in general.  I found new Hidden Mickey’s, I noticed more details that I hadn’t seen before, and I even found a small area behind the Tiki Room that I’d never been in before.

I don’t know if this need to check devices all the time is a good thing or a bad thing.  I’m not sure if I got more out of the trip because I didn’t have my phone out all the time.  It might have been a bit more stressful because I wanted to check what was happening with friends and family in between the action of rides and conversations.  At the same time, I do feel like I saw things I would have missed had my face been staring at a screen.  I also kind of miss just standing in line with friends, not having to worry about saying anything but not feeling like I’m being ignored because they happen to be interacting with other friends online.  It’s an interesting dichotomy that maybe reflects the larger polarized opinions of the world.

As I teacher, I see this a lot.  Students don’t like to sit in silence.  They want to listen to their music or check Snap Chat or text their friends two classes down.  There seems to be a need to be connected to everyone all the time.  And if you’re not saying anything important (which, let’s face it, teens rarely think anything that adults say is important) then I’m going to focus on something that is more entertaining to me.  And that’s okay, I guess.  It’s just a changing world with new technologies and new priorities.

Maybe it’s a sign that I’m getting older.  I did just turn 30 after all.  Maybe I just want things to be simpler.  Maybe I just wish for a time when I didn’t have to compete with 100+ friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Or maybe people need to take a small break for devices and appreciate the world around them.


NeuroLogica Blog

DaynaJD's Blog

Paleocave Blog

Trust us, we're scientists

Brachiolope Media

The best podcasts in all of SCIENCE!

Sara Dobie Bauer

Author of BITE SOMEBODY and other ridiculous things