My Queen in the North

If you haven’t been living under a (Casterly) rock you know that the final season of Game of Thrones was… divisive isn’t quite the right word, unless it refers to the divide between the showrunners and good storytelling. While we may see more of Westeros if George R. R. Martin ever finishes the series, for now its watch has ended and most of us who have followed it for so many years are reflecting on it.

I certainly have a lot of criticisms about the series finale, the final season, and the show (and book series) as a whole, but there’s one moment in the last episode that completes a storyline I have cared so deeply about throughout, and it’s the one I keep coming back to when I think about Game of Thrones’ place in the canon of fantasy. Spoilers for all of Game of Thrones from here on out: Continue reading “My Queen in the North”

Maybe the real OTP was the friends we made along the way

In September 2005 I had just started high school. On Tuesday, September 13, I think I had an orchestra rehearsal, if I remember right, but there was this new show premiering on the WB that I was super excited about because I loved (and still love) all things paranormal. So I set up my VCR to record it—unfortunately the episode ran five minutes over so I missed the ending, but it didn’t matter, I was instantly hooked on this story of two brothers searching for their missing father and hunting ghosts and demons as they went.

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Anthony Bourdain was the traveller that I dream of being

I mostly try to avoid calling a celebrity a hero of mine. Being someone whose work I enjoy does not a hero make, and especially in recent years I am wary of heaping too much praise on (particularly a male) celebrity when I don’t know what they could have been doing behind the scenes on set or in the recording studio. But I have no hesitation in saying that Anthony Bourdain, who was found dead today of apparent suicide, is one of my heroes.

My three favourite things are travel, food, and writing, and Bourdain was an inspiration to me in all three. I’ve read several of his books, seen all of his shows (most episodes of No Reservations more than once), and any time I am going somewhere new one of the first things I do is check if Bourdain had done a segment there and what he had to say about it. He travelled the way I want to travel, and he ate the way I want to eat—not because of the variety and amount that he got to experience, but because of the way he honoured each place he went and each meal he ate.

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Anywhere that you tell me to, Gilmore Girls

When filmmakers want to retell a familiar story, it seems that they tend to turn to remakes or reboots, recreating a version of the original work with a new cast and crew, perhaps throwing in a cameo from the original star as a plot point or just a wink and nod to long-time fans. While there are occasional instances of many-years-later sequels, it seems that usually after a certain period of time filmmakers feel that audiences prefer to start fresh.

On the other hand, television seems to lend itself better to continuations of old stories, perhaps due to the ease of a next-generation series a la Girl Meets World or the upcoming Fuller House, or the procedural nature of a show like The X-Files (of which I have not yet watched any of the latest episodes because I’m saving them to binge watch all at once). Given that this tendency toward long-awaited continuations has led to Netflix confirming a four-part Gilmore Girls revival, I definitely can’t complain.

Like most book-obsessed, somewhat nerdy girls my age, my two fictional role models growing up were Hermione Granger and Rory Gilmore. We had so much in common: both of us always with a book in our hand, focused (sometimes overly so) on school—we even both studied journalism! Rory was smart, driven, and even if she wasn’t real, I looked up to her. I was devastated when her college years arrived and she turned off track (why did you steal that boat, Rory, why?!?!), and elated when she returned to college, with the finale sending her off on the campaign trail to report on Barack Obama.

Then there’s Lorelai. If Rory is who I was, then Lorelai is who I wanted (and still want) to be. Not the teen-pregnancy-with-awful-Christopher part or the terribly-strained-relationship-with-her-parents part, but pretty much everything else. She, too, was smart and driven, owning her own business and finding a perfect niche. She was witty as hell and enviably funny. She had great friendships in her town and an even greater relationship with her daughter. And our all-consuming coffee drinking habits are remarkably similar.

The minor characters are just as wonderful, with so many memorable supporting roles like Paris Gellar, Lane Kim, Luke Danes, and the only one of Rory’s boyfriends who really matters, Jess Mariano, but the titular Gilmore girls are by far the most important to me. When I was a kid I wasn’t much of a television watcher so most of my fictional heroes came from books—the aforementioned Hermione Grander, the Enchanted Forest Chronicles‘ Cimorene, and others, but Lorelai and Rory were the exception. To this day, I think that the more I am like them, the better.

In a way, this makes me nervous for the Netflix revival of the show. I remember my heartbreak when Rory “let me down” by stealing a boat and quitting my college, my devastation when Lorelai and Luke broke up. My diction may be slightly exaggerated here, but only slightly. What if Lorelai and Luke don’t get back together? What if Rory goes back to (ugh) Logan? More importantly, what if she’s not still writing? What if she’s changed? I mean, sure, I’ve changed too since 2007, but I’m a real person; I’m allowed. All revivals contain a certain amount of fan service; most creators aren’t as diabolical as to completely destroy everything their audience loved about the original, even in the name of progressing the story, and I’m totally okay with that when it means things turn out the way I want them to.

On the other hand, I do care about the story. Gilmore Girls wasn’t a generic show I watched for the eye candy. I cared  (still do) about the characters and their lives like they were people I knew in my own life. And so I’m willing to be disappointed in the name of good storytelling, if it comes to that. But, you know, ideally the storytelling is great and leads to Rory and Jess getting back together to write novels in Brooklyn. Regardless, as the theme song says, “Where you lead, [Gilmore Girls,] I will follow.”

Late to the Party: Broad City

I’ve written a lot about how much I love the ladies of Parks and Recreation, and one of the reasons I love the show is Ann and Leslie’s friendship, which reminds me so much of my relationship with my best friend Erin. We always say that we’re just like them, so much so that when I saw a Buzzfeed quiz titled “What TV BFFs are you and your best friend?” I almost sent it to her without taking it to say that of course we already knew the answer. Then I decided to take it anyway, made my choice for the last question, and waited as the results, Leslie and Ann from Parks and Recre… wait, what? Abbi and Ilana from Broad City?

Suddenly I had to reevaluate my life.*

*I did not. If a Buzzfeed quiz forced me to reevaluate my life, I would immediately have to re-reevaluate my life.

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February Microreviews

January Microreviews

February books

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Play it As it Lays by Joan Didion (1970): This is the second work by Didion I’ve read and I understand why everyone whose opinion I trust has been recommending her to me for so long. This novel is smart and bleak and some part of me is glad it was a quick read because I couldn’t put it down.

How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti (2010): At some points, I was annoyed by this book and it’s author. She’s petty, pretentious, probably watches Girls religiously. And yet in some ways I could relate, and it made me feel for her with all her insecurities and all her triumphs.

Between Dog and Wolf by Elske Rahill (2013): After seeing Rahill read at the Dublin Book Festival in the fall, I was intrigued by her novel. And it didn’t disappoint—although I admit I was turned off by the number of graphic sex scenes, the story overall is dark and compelling.

One More Thing by BJ Novak (2014): A funny but also bittersweet collection of short fiction. I wrote a full review HERE.

February films

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Fruitvale Station (2013): A harrowing film about the last day of a real-life young man killed by the police in California on New Year’s Day 2009. Michael B. Jordan is excellent as always as the protagonist—although I’m not going to lie, Chad Michael Murray’s appearance as one of the police officers pulled me out of the story somewhat.

Dallas Buyers Club (2014): This biographical film about a AIDS patient in Texas who goes up against the FDA when he starts a business selling unapproved medicines is has received both controversy and acclaim. I thought Matthew McConaughey’s performance was surprisingly excellent but overall I didn’t find the film to be that fantastic.

The Book Thief (2013): I was very disappointed in this film. It wasn’t bad; some of the cinematography was beautiful and the acting was good, particularly from the children playing Liesel and Rudy. However, I found the film lacked a lot of the emotional that made the book such a moving and powerful story.

Continue reading “February Microreviews”