Categories
Books

Queen of Air and Darkness

What if damnation is the price of true love?

Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they never could have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.

At the end of Lord of Shadows, there’s a deleted scene. If that scene had not been deleted, this book would not exist.

Like its predecessor in The Dark Artifices series, this is politically topical, at least as far as what is currently going on in the United States. It’s almost scary how much it mirrors reality in the respect. However, it’s balanced out by occasional humor and family dynamics that tug at the heartstrings when it’s least expected. And of course, there’s plenty of adventure and will-they-won’t-they love drama.

One thing that seems to be unique to this book is the world building. The other books in the Shadowhunters franchise. Realistic fiction with magic and demons thrown in. Queen of Air and Darkness travels to another dimension, essentially a parallel universe in which almost everything is opposite than how it exists in the normal world. It’s interesting, to say the least, but it would have been nice to spend more time there and explore. Maybe Clare can work it into future books somehow.

This book definitely doesn’t disappoint, but it doesn’t exactly tie everything together with a pretty bow. There’s more storylines just waiting to be written.

Categories
Plays

The Big Picture in Waitress

On February 2, I saw Waitress.  And it really should come with a viewer discretion is advised warning.  At least then I’d know what I was getting into.

I had a panic attack because Jenna’s relationship with Earl was eerily familiar; it was basically the marital version of my relationship with my mother.  All of the signs of abuse were there:  physical violence, financial control, and verbal abuse are just a few.

Even though it was hard to watch – it was an out-of-body experience wherein I found myself thinking “What the fuck am I watching?” – I freaking love it because I can relate to Jenna. Other reviews, however, only mention the abuse in passing when they talk about how great the show is.  Don’t get me wrong, it is great, but I’m here to unpack the pervasive theme of an abusive relationship.  Let’s analyze some songs, shall we?

From the get-go, the audience knows something is off about Jenna’s relationship with Earl, because in a normal, healthy relationship, Jenna would be excited to find out she’s pregnant.  We only begin to see the true extent of the abuse during “You Will Still Be Mine”.

Remember my clean shave

Back in our old days?

We were just kids

I had my six string

And you had your own thing

Though, I don’t remember what it is

Earl wants to reminisce about the beginning of their relationship.  The truth is, he doesn’t care enough about her to remember what she cares about, and he’s only focused on himself:

Man, what a whirlwind

So much is happening

And mostly to me

We’ve come such a long way

No turning back now, babe

You’re my family

In fact, during the scene, Earl tells Jenna, “You better not love that baby more than me”.  Earl can tell Jenna “You’re my family” all he wants, but it’s not about loving her.  It’s about control.  He thinks just because they’re married, she can’t leave and he should be the most important thing in her life.

My mother is like this as well.  She’s jealous of my friends because I go to them for advice.  Once, when I mentioned how important Emily Blunt is to me, she said “Moms are more important”, which doesn’t even make much sense.  While Emily Blunt isn’t my mother, she does have two girls of her own.

“Bad Idea” is another song that really struck a cord with me.

Heart, stop racing

Let’s face it, making mistakes like this

Will make worse what was already pretty bad

Mind, stop running

It’s time we just let this thing go

It was a pretty good, bad idea

Wasn’t it, though?

I feel like my whole life is one giant bad idea.  My mother doesn’t have a nice thing to say about anything I choose to do.  Sometimes, you gotta double down on what makes you feel good.  I knew taking on the Spanish minor was a risk, because I was burned out.  I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I knew something was wrong.  However, I also knew Spanish was the thing that made me feel better, so I couldn’t give it up.

“She Used to be Mine”

I’d write about specific lyrics, but I can’t choose.  This song hits me with a ton of bricks.  It’s about Jenna remembering who she is and trying to get back to that confident place.  In college, I knew who I was.  I found myself.  My whole self.  Everything felt right, despite the mistakes I’d made along the way.  Since I’ve been home, I’ve had to fight every day to hang onto the shreds of dignity I still have.

Even though it was hard to watch, I’ve been able to process all of this, and I really appreciate Waitress.  Because it showed me that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Jenna found her way out, and so will I. In fact, later that same week, I got a job. Things are definitely looking up.

Categories
Music

Randy Rainbow

When I was younger, I was obsessed with Mamma Mia. I played the cast recording so much, my friends probably got sick of it. Looking back, I can’t say I blame them.

So when Randy Rainbow released his parody of “Mamma Mia”, all the nostalgia came rushing back. And, politics aside, Randy Rainbow is hilarious. I always get excited when I recognize the songs in his parodies.

Enjoy!

Categories
Movies

Little Women

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Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women each determined to live life on their own terms.

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This is a good movie, but it’s hard to follow because it jumps around a lot – it’s difficult to tell what’s a flashback and what’s present day – although it does seem to be a frame story. It begins with Jo writing her story and ends with her publishing it.

Each March sister gets her own vignette, and the vignettes tie the story together. Meg (Emma Watson) is the oldest, and she marries for love, regardless of status. Jo (Saoirse Ronan) is the writer, a free spirit who doesn’t think about love until it’s almost too late. Amy (Florence Pugh) is the drama queen who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to get it. Beth (Eliza Scanlen) is the youngest, innocent, a gifted piano player, and, unfortunately, sick for most of the movie. The head of the house – at least while their father is away fighting the war is Marmee, their mother (Laura Dern).

And of course, there’s Aunt March (Meryl Streep). She’s the crotchety old lady who has to have things just so. Streep’s make-up was really good; it made her look really old – appropriately old for the character.

Theodoore “Laurie” Laurence (Timothée Chalamet) might be described as the general love interest in the story. He starts off as a bit of a bad boy, but by the end of the movie, he’s changed his ways.

The theme of this movie is family – the March sisters might not have much, but they have each other. It’s definitely a warm and fuzzy feel good movie.

Categories
Podcasts

Office Ladies

After watching A Quiet Place for the sake of Emily Blunt, I realized it wouldn’t really be fair if I didn’t go down her husband’s rabbit hole as well. I knew he got his start on the office, but that’s where my John Krasinski knowledge ended.

So I started watching the show, and I was already on season 3 when Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey – two other stars of the office – decided to start their podcast about it called Office Ladies. I backed all the way up to season 1 so I could watch along with the podcast.

Each week, Pam and Angela – Fischer and Kinsey, respectively – watch an episode of the show and break it down. The show is about an hour, but it’s worth it to hear all the fun behind-the-scenes anecdotes. It’s also interesting to learn what it’s like to work on TV. I just finished listening to season 1, and they’ve already started to break down season 2.

If you love the office as much as I have come to, you’ll really enjoy this podcast.

Categories
Movies

Ford v Ferrari

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American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.

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In two words, this movie is both intense and frustrating. Not to mention really loud. Tires squealed constantly. It had a surprising amount of emotional highs and lows, but it was also laugh-out-loud funny.

This movie is frustrating because of the aforementioned corporate interference. Ford wants to win at Le Mans, of course, but they also want to project a wholesome image of their company. Ken Miles is, well, a bit rough around the edges. However, he’s also the one of the best race car drivers in the world, so as much as they might not like him, they need him.

Christian Bale plays Ken Miles. His British accent was so thick it was almost unintelligible. But the difficulty in hearing it may have also been because he was shouting over the noise of the cars.

Caitriona Balfe – as Ken’s wife, Mollie Miles – is really good at being angry. Mollie Miles isn’t someone to be messed with. Even though Mollie is British, Caitriona’s natural Irish accent was audible at times, which was cool.

Noah Jupe plays Ken and Mollie’s son, Peter Miles. And he actually got to use his voice this time, which was nice to hear. He did have some lines in A Quiet Place, but as that the dialogue in that movie is mostly sign language, he didn’t speak much. Ford v Ferrari was a smaller role for him, but he was adorable nonetheless.

This movie is definitely worth seeing. It keeps the audience of the edge of their seats for an entire two-and-a-half-hours. It puts the pedal to the metal and doesn’t let up.

Categories
Plays

The Band’s Visit

The Band’s Visit is definitely underrated. It’s fairly new – the Broadway Cast Recording was released in 2017 – but it’s not very well known, even though it won the 2018 Tony Award for best musical.

Set in Israel in 1996, The Band’s Visit is

a delightfully offbeat story, set in a town that’s way off the beaten path, a band of musicians arrive lost, out of the blue. Under the spell of the desert sky, and with beautiful music perfuming the air, the band brings the town to life in unexpected and tantalizing ways.

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Because the majority of the story takes place in the small town of Bet Hatikva, the set wasn’t elaborate, nor did it need to be. The main set pieces rotated around a single turntable. However, what this play lacked in set decorations, it more than made up for with its story and characters.

In a word, the characters were captivating. Not to mention hilarious. Probably the most interesting person, though, was Dina played by Bligh Voth. She’s the owner of a small café in the town. When the band first arrived, she didn’t really want to have anything to do with them, nor they with her. As the play, progresses, however, she opens up to the band’s leader, Tewfiq (played by Sasson Gabay), about her life. The common denominator was “Telephone Guy”. That’s actually the character’s name. He was in almost every scene, standing at a payphone, waiting for his girlfriend to call. What was really cool, though, was that the characters occasionally spoke Hebrew. Obviously, there’s no subtitles, but the audience is able to get the gist of it.

The music was another interesting aspect of this play. The members of the band were off to the side in every scene, actually playing their instruments. It would be interesting to find out how much of their music was supplemented by the orchestra.

Another thing that was different about this play was it didn’t have an intermission. It’s about 100 minutes long, and it went by really fast. Time flies when you’re having fun, right?

Categories
Podcasts

Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad

Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad is an “interactive” podcast on the Exactly Right podcast network run by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark of My Favorite Murder.

Each week, journalist Billy Jensen and Detective Paul Holes – who helped catch the Golden State Killer – take a deep dive into an unsolved murder or missing person case. At the end, they give the listeners an “assignment” to gather any new information about the case to help solve it.

When the first episode premiered, I was super excited to look at all the information to try and help solve the case. As soon as I got to the website, however, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. I had absolutely no idea where to start looking for information. This is probably my own fault – I’m really good and doubting myself, and other people are really good at reinforcing said doubt.

But two recent episodes of the podcast reignited my passion for investigative journalism because they hit close to home. They discussed Jesse Matthew and the disappearances of Morgan Harrington and Hannah Graham, as well as the fact that Matthew might have more victims.

This hits close to home for me because Hannah Graham was a student at the University of Virginia, and I live in Virginia. I remember Hannah’s case making national news. So, I want to help get justice for the other potential victims.

You can listen to episodes 29 and 30 of Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad on Apple Podcasts, or wherever else you listen to podcasts. Please send all relevant information to thereviewingfangirl@gmail.com with “Murder Squad” in the subject line, and I will pass it along. Or, you can skip me as the middleman completely and submit tips to themurdersquad.com

Let’s serve up some justice!

Categories
Uncategorized

Hurricanes and Blogger Burnout

Dear Alexander,

The eye of your hurricane may be quiet, but mine is not. Mine is making my head spin. I’m trying to write my way out though. My writing is the only thing I’m sure of.

Your obedient servant,

MG

I wish I knew how Hamilton did it. All his writing. He wrote 51 of the 85 Federalist Papers when there were only supposed to be 25 in total. How did he never burn out? If I were writing all of that, it would be impossible not to. It would probably be easier if I weren’t a one-woman blog. But I am. At least for now.

I commented on this post the other day when I realized something: with all the mental and physical energy that it takes for me to come up with topics and write about them consistently, I should be getting paid. But I don’t have enough followers for anything of that sort yet. Even if I did, I doubt it would be a big paycheck.

When I get burned out, my content quality suffers. I hate having to post something for the sake of posting something just to stick to a schedule, because the output isn’t something I can be proud of . I want to produce content that I’m proud enough to show people.

It doesn’t help that I feel like hardly anyone takes me seriously. My friends think all I do is sit in my room all day and complain. In reality, I’m coping the best way I know how: writing. My imagination is essentially a form of therapy. I can channel whatever I’m feeling at the moment into any story I want. Right now, it’s mostly fan fiction. Hopefully I’ll be able to find my own story in the future.

Writing and job prospects? Don’t even get me started. People don’t think my writing counts as doing anything just because I’m not making money from it. I’m doing the thing I know how to do (I like to think my writing is at least halfway to decent), and yet they’re disappointed, because, for some reason, money makes the world turn.

Before my blog burned me out not even halfway through the year, it felt exactly like a full-time job. I was spend my days writing and planning multiple posts. I knew I was going to hit a wall, but I was hoping I’d avoid it somehow. Wishful thinking, I know. I’m slowly dipping my toes back in, though; I’ll definitely have to find a way to pace myself.

Categories
Movies

Downton Abbey

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Chaos ensues when the servants of Downton Abbey learn that the king and queen of England plan to bring their own servants with them to Downton during their royal visit.

This movie is the culmination of six seasons of the TV show on PBS, with all of the original cast signing onto the project. Even though they took a few minutes before it began to explain all the characters and storylines, which was nice, it was still sort of hard to follow.

The movie is bit slow, but that’s not for a lack of action. The action is there, it’s just subtle. Paying attention to the dialogue is a must. Otherwise, it’s easy to miss Maggie Smith’s sassy humor. Violet Crawley and Minerva McGonagall may be characters in two different franchises, but they seem to be similar in everything else.

Imelda Staunton was there, too, except this time, her character was the outcast in the story. Even so, she and Maggie went back and forth as if they were still playing Umbridge and McGonagall.

Laura Carmichael also reprised her role as Lady Edith. She didn’t seem to have a lot to do with the movie’s main storylines, but she didn’t get nearly enough screen time. Because frankly, she’s amazing in The Spanish Princess.

This movie is definitely worth seeing. Whether someone has watched the show or not, it’s a good time.