This Things I Believe

Simpsons.

ANYWAY. I’m here for so many reasons. Because I feel like writing but don’t have words for the projects I’m actually working on. Because I can’t journal about the thing I’ve been journaling about again and expect to get the same level of fulfillment. Because it has been oppressively cold for the past few days and there’s ice under the snow and Ezra’s been too busy living his best life to keep my walkway clear, but MY GOD. [Preacher.gif] He gave me a balmy 23 F today and it makes all the difference.

Musically, I am currently* obsessed with Monica Martin (and all the groups she’s been in), Violents (sans MM), Tender. I’d post YT vids like I used to but I realize there’s a chance folks outside the US can’t see that anyway, so my laziness wins out.

*Surely you know me well enough to understand that this is a literal allotment of time. This may be applied with certainty only right now, at 12:59 PM EST, on January 15th. Please request a new list of artists if such time has passed.

But really, what I want to talk about are performances/projects that actually surprise you. It’s so rare, to be honest. Surprise is not something you get to experience often, and I don’t think that’s just me. We’re all in the same aquarium, which is why it can be so insufferable when people declare themselves out of the ordinary. Because we would love to experience someone who really is, content that really is, and we know from experience and disappointment how unlikely that is. And then sometimes you find it, and – again, in my experience – it’s not a wholly positive experience. Like I said, we’re all in the same aquarium and as much as we hate to admit it, [insert various qualifiers and contexts] it feels good to go with the grain. Aside from which, it takes very directed effort not to and not to have our expectations best satisfied by the familiar.

BUT ON TO WHAT I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT.

This.

zone one by colson whitehead

And this.

equals the film

My experience of these admittedly very different things actually has quite a bit of overlap, my apologies to Colson Whitehead (which is probably a very elitist thing to say, since I deem his project the more serious of the two, as an act of contrition I shall something something).

Anyway, to start, please keep this between us. 

Thank you.

Zone One was my second or third attempt at reading CW, because his concepts grab me immediately (The Intuitionist, anyone, c’mon), and his language is so satisfying. Until it isn’t, and I’m drowning. It’s not that it changes, it’s that it’s unrelenting. Which makes it feel intentional, it just occurred to me that I shouldn’t be writing this and that I intentionally don’t review things but I feel that Mr. Whitehead is doing well and shan’t be bothered, but also, it comes around.

And Zone One genuinely shouldn’t have been the one that worked for me – and to be honest, had I not gone against my nature and forced myself to finish it, it wouldn’t have been. But the reason it shouldn’t have from jump is zombies. I don’t do them. I do not understand the appeal, and the only zombie movie I’ve watched is I Am Legend, pretty sure, because the delightful melancholy! The inevitable tragedy of it all. Anyway, so Zone One.

Just like my other attempts, I started out like, “Why do I keep forgetting how good he is, homg, this is brilliantly worded” and then the words started to trample me, but I was like, I refuse not to be able to say I’ve finished a CW book, this is ludicrous. (I cannot explain this feeling, since I do not care about reading particular people or finishing books for the sake of it.) And I was legit angry at some point leading up to the middle. I literally told the book to SHUT. UP. Or Colson, probably. Like,

I GET IT. THE CITY IS A CHARACTER AND YOU WILL CONTINUE TO DESCRIBE BUILDINGS AS THOUGH THEY WERE BORN AND NOT BUILT AND THERE ARE SUCH LAYERS AND MUCH COMMENTATION FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND KEEP THE WORD SALADS AT BAY.

(I am so sorry, please remember that it is one of my five star reads and that I am courageous in my honesty right now.)

And then I read on (here I feel it’s necessary to say, no, this will not keep me from DNFing work that is not for me, be quiet). And sweet mercy, that is a come-around for the ages. That book. That heart-wrenching, devastating, foreboding and strangely hopeful book. There are so few times that I genuinely feel the main character was required for the execution, for the resolution. It couldn’t have, wouldn’t have been this story without them. But Zone One is one of the two times I’ve felt it strongly. Colson made me a believer. Ugh.

Excuse me while I just run through different scenes in my head, which is what inevitably happens whenever I try to talk about this book. Maybe I believed it before this book and I’m just agreeing with something I already felt, but he so masterfully composes a world and conclusion that believably proceeds from where we are, and demonstrates why the heroes we’ve mythologized for so long could not survive it, I CAN’T EVEN EXPRESS THIS PROPERLY, COME SIT IN SILENCE WITH ME, WIDE-EYED AND NODDING, KAY.

Me, upon finishing the last page:

bob unhinged

It … just kept escalating.

And then Equals.

So I wanted to see this movie because I like Kristen Stewart (a lot and in a way I probably can only admit because I never saw or read Twilight. I stand by my flawless judgment.) and also the dude, (though he’s only attractive from very specific angles, but he’s tall and isn’t it sad how far that takes some dudes) and because the trailer used a very devastating Aurora sample into which I was deeply immersed at the time.

Pretty immediately upon starting the movie, I was like. Oh. Okay, so this is everything we’ve ever already seen. It’d be easier to just say, “This is just We,” but since so many of you heathen are heathens, I’ll set my tongue on fire and say it in a way you’ll understand: This is just 1984 A Brave New World THX 1138 We. This is just We. Sorry, I couldn’t do it.

Like, I can see that they were really trying to bait me in particular, what with the slow, and quiet, and troubling, and yes, I do think I’m always the target audience, prove me wrong. But like. Justify yourself, Equals. Amirite. Like, why do you need to exist, exactly?

And I felt like that almost the whole way through the movie – which is, of course, much easier to tolerate in a visual medium – especially when the stakes weren’t what they traditionally are. They were stakes which, at first glance, were only stakes to the characters in the movie. Which…actually, I adore from a creator perspective even more, because otherwise, they’re stakes for the viewer’s expectations, which means they’re stakes with which we’re familiar and probably fit a formula, and this is the whole aquarium socialization I was referring to at the onset. They were only life and death if you refuse to live without love. Which. yeah, those are pretty high stakes.

And then – uuugh I wanna spoil this, you don’t mind right?

The end completely justifies the movie, and broke my friggin heart. It was such a Romeo and Juliet IF YOU HAD JUST WAITED TWO SECONDS WHYYY and then the heartbreak of loving someone who can’t love you back anymore. But still honoring the commitment. IT GOT REAL, VERY QUICKLY, IS WHAT I’M SAYING, MY HEART.

Me, at the end:

how

And I have been thinking of them, by myself, ever since. Both. Because I have exactly zero people in my life who have read or watched this, as far as I know, please prove me wrong, someone because I NEED. I have such feelings. Have mercy on me.

Enfin.

MEM releases in paperback in March. Click-y the pic-y to pre-order!

mem paperback cover

We Need To Talk About Jurassic Park

“Now we all know the thirteen stripes are for good luck, but why does the American flag have exactly 48 stars?”*

Hi, and welcome back to I will be your immediate bff if you use random, well-placed, hopefully obscure Simpsons quotes.

For instance, last time I was at a not-my-book-event and someone said, “Don’t you hate pants?!” and I almost kissed them on the mouth.

But on to super important things.

I recently(ish) saw the latest Jurassic Park movie – which my son exasperatedly keeps reminding me is Jurassic World, but like, shuttup, kid, you’ve been on earth for like a minute and stuff existed before you – and since it was only slightly better than the beleaguered third Jurassic Park film (you know the one where Tea Leoni won’t stop yelling and running despite no fewer than four people immediately being brutally destroyed by dinosaurs and an expert telling her to not do that)…. it feels like we need to finally talk about Jurassic Park.

But first: a walkabout. (This is me, friends.)

#5’s first and most egregious offense was using Jeff in the trailer when…it literally showcased the entirety of his involvement. Sucks to your asmar, jerks.

Secondly, it … wasn’t super smart. Again, it’s no worse than Jurassic Park 3: The One With Tea Leoni, but since that was the previous Definite Worst One, that’s not saying much. Like, what the franchise has going for it is that each movie has some additional trajectory or revelation, usually to do with raptors. A big issue with #3 (and something that happened in #5) is that, while that “something necessary” is still present, it largely became a horror/monster movie. I mean, the big, ridiculous mouth in the plane scene? Who. Why. How come.

Also this:

Jurassic-Park-3-7

I mean.

::deep breath::

Okay, but we were supposed to be talking about #5. Wait no, we’re supposed to be talking about the whole franchise.

Things Jurassic Park Does Well:

(1) Characters: First of all, shout out to B.D. Wong for holding it down as the scientist/innovator who is really not tryna worry about the consequences, yo. He is singlehandedly handing the planet over to ever-wilder dinos, and I love it.

The fact that there are always kids, and they’re always smart. Unrealistic? Sure. But since these kids are always in the proximity of the scientific community involved in bringing dinos back to life – and since they never cease to be kids – I’ll allow it.

Full disclosure: they didn’t really do great with Dallas Texas Ranger’s character tbh. She has a complete lack of backstory, actually, which. Huh. And I literally cannot remember if Dallas is her first or second name, help me out. I can’t be arsed to google.

(2) Have a bleak enough view of humanity to sell that yep, we’d still be doing this, even after what the world saw in the first movie. Going into #4, I was like, HOW. WHY. And then, as soon as it started, I was like, naw this tracks.

Reasons Jurassic Park Is Ludicrous:

And it’s not because Michael Crichton never really explained how we got from point dna in amber to point dino egg.

My issue with JP is the completely self-aggrandizing, narcissistic assumption of dinosaurs’ preoccupation with humans. 

Like. We are just REFUSING to live in a world where a dinosaur might pass us by because we are simply not sustenance enough to warrant the effort. We will not ABIDE the concept that if LARGEST POSSIBLE DINOSAUR had scores of its natural food source available and had NEVER SEEN A HUMAN, it might not recognize us or be interested in investigating our existence, much the way we don’t stop every bug and destroy it in creatively grotesque ways knowing we would need to eat them nonstop for hours to be sated.

WHO HAS TIME TO HUNT HUMANS?! Whom?!

It’s the same issue with like every skynet movie. Artificial intelligence would SURELY immediately turn homicidal and try to kill us because WE ARE THE MOST INTERESTING MAN ALIVE.

I dunno.

I’m over it.

In conclusion:

(1) Jurassic Park

(2) Jurassic World

(3) Lost World

(4) Fallen Kingdom ties with Jurassic Park 3.

I will likely switch second and third place for the rest of my movie-watching life.

*The opening line of this post had literally nothing to do with the title or the topic, and I can’t honestly defend its inclusion. Stream of consciousness, kids.

She Doesn’t Have The Range

The best part of 70s (and a bit beyond) futuristic/post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies are the pay phones.

Pretend to be surprised that this in some way had to do with the original Planet of the Apes series. Do it. Pretend! Also pretend I could find the picture I wanted, which is where Brent has a much less climactic realization that he is indeed on earth when he goes underground and finds himself in the NY subway system – the first clue to which is a destroyed and decayed payphone.

It’s one of those things that can send me deep into splintered and all-encompassing thought, tho, seriously. For so many reasons. It’s the idea that because we keep moving forward (which we’ll argue some other time), we can’t imagine what will exist moving forward. We can’t stop at any particular moment and project the future from that point, because the world or at least the way interact with it changes so drastically in such a short period of time. If today I made a film about tomorrow and tomorrow I made a film about the day after, they would not be film one and sequel, they’d be more related stories of potential futures in separate dimensions. If I make a future cast from this moment, I almost have to stay *in* this moment for that future to be “true.” Remarkable.

It’s why I am so intrigued by vintage scifi films, but also projects like Beyond the Black Rainbow, which was made in 2010 but made as though in the 80s at the  latest. I feel like I’ve talked about this movie before. When I find someone who likes long stretches and excruciatingly slow builds, I will know that I’ve found my soulmate. Or wait. Perhaps I already have.

 

…He likes long, quiet stretches.

Tomorrow – or my version of it which has yet to be determined – I will tell you what’s the haps with me, with Avrilis, with writing… yeah, just with writing. Stay out the rest of my business, kids, k, byeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Speed-Dating With Bethany

As an aside, I considered reusing the blog title “Rando Calrissian” because I just really feel like it didn’t get enough affection and is one of the most underrated of my clever blog titles. Shoulda timed it to coincide with episode VII. The following are equally random tidbits*, in an attempt to reconnect with you, dear reader. The things I do for England.

(1) Yesterday, during our Montreal Sunday Funday – which is what I call our weekly return to the city for church and fellowship…because I’m not great with titles *all the time* – I took a bite of chicken salad and immediately had a full sensory memory of the last time I’d eaten chicken salad. Which was like twenty years ago. I am 33 and feel it is far too early for this sort of phenomenon.

(2) Relatedly, I awoke with the theme to L.A. Law in my head.

So. That’s…

Yeah.

(3) REDACTED IN 2019 but I left this gif because I love it:

(4) This season’s marathon of the original Planet of the Apes franchise has left me with three truths thus far – because full disclosure, Ezra and I haven’t watched #5 yet, but will today! I do not apologize for how much space will now be devoted to talking PotA.

I will never apologize.

(4.1) The 2nd movie – Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the one in which a strange subterranean enclave of telekinetic radioactive humans worships a bomb and which includes an unnecessarily long “church” scene complete with organ and hymnal – which I would have *EASILY* said was my lowest ranking in previous seasons, actually went up in rating, if not ranking. I AM AS SHOCKED AS YOU ARE.

(4.2) The 3rd movie – Escape from the Planet of the Apes, in which Zira and Cornelius come from the future to 1971 and are first the toast of the town and then, well, not – remains the absolute highlight of the franchise. Period. I realize this doesn’t sound like new news, but it was confirmed. Favorite.

(4.3) The 4th movie – Conquest for the Planet of the Apes, in which Caesar begins the revolution in 1991 – tanked in my rating. Just tanked. I think due to the overall comparative strength of the story, I’d given them too great a pass on the complete and utter lunacy. No more.

But, you, beloved…

Yes, you, MacDonald. You were just grand.

(5) They opened a huge Dollarama on Queen Mary as soon as I left Montreal. Thanks a bunch, friends.

(6) There is no Popeye’s in Northcountry New York. The implications of which worked me into a nearly destructive lather at one a.m. Still adjusting to being back in the States, but nowhere near to what I’m accustomed. We’ll get through this together.

*If perchance you followed the link to Rando… you would know that my Planet of the Apes ….fixation, shall we say, is inescapable.

Watch. And Pray.

It’s not like there’s a lack of things to talk about. I just haven’t been sure I want to or I want to yet.

Some of that is because I have learned so much about the power of social media through having found a thriving, articulate community of people to hear and by whom I feel my identity – or aspects of it – reflected. Most people would probably never think I needed help speaking up but then I think people mistake hearing your voice ever with hearing it all. There’s plenty the world has succeeded in making me self-conscious to assert. Plenty of times I didn’t want to go through the work of replying to something unacceptable because I knew that the attention would be given to my response (with words like “here we go again”) and not to whatever caused MY “here we go again” moment – here someone goes undermining my beauty, worth, intellect, love, faith and identity as a Black woman.

And I’ve found so much – so. much. – relief in scrolling through my timeline in those times and “hearing” these people speak. Because the truth is, I have a right to not engage every time. Often, I think of Toni Morrison’s genius commentary on the work of racism:

“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”

Sometimes I will exercise my right to be heard, to respond, etc. Sometimes I’m not having it. Just like the woman who tweeted that a male scientist at her convention commented that her attire was not appropriate (let’s not even) – and then so many women responded by affirming that her outfit WAS appropriate. This is our socialized response, no? Not “You do not have the authority to make such a claim/approach me in the first place” but defending the outfit in question. (And I know, for myself, part of the reason for that type of response is also born out of a desire to let the other party know that I know s/he’s wrong. Hashtag: Just so you know. So it’s not like I don’t get it.)

But sometimes, as when a deserved artist wins a National Book Award for the first time, I (a) know that one of these people I admire will speak and I will read it and be able to breathe deep because someone gets it and someone spoke and that means I have the validation everyone who takes it for granted wonders why I need and I (b) am unsure how best to support the artist. Does she want another thinkpiece to come up when her name and win are googled? Does it bother her at all? (Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe they’re best friends and while she wishes he hadn’t spoken that way in mixed and streaming company, she knows his heart. Maybe he thought he was making social commentary on the ridiculousness of antiquated stereotypes – yeah, that one’s a long shot but remember when I said we’re socialized to give anyone but us the benefit of the doubt?)

Then there’s times when a new tv show comes on – particularly one with a problematic or at least confusing title – and it is everything you hoped it would be and you feel for the first time in a long time like the audience. You feel this way because instead of being about the gaze, it’s actually about things as we see and experience them. And it doesn’t have to be perfect just because it’s one of few, and did I mention it’s that pressure to be the perfect representation for a varied and diverse people group that demonstrates the problem with white-washed broadcasting.

Then sometimes kids give interviews and ho-my-word, I don’t even think I can do this one. Because they’re kids. And despite the fact that they are basically the embodiment of what I can only assume would have been one of Dr. Marvin Monroe’s social experiments (what happens when you are tragically wealthy, do not engage in agencies of socialization such as corporate schooling, are “trusted” by your parents enough to make and immortalize your own life choices as a pre-teen who will have one of two options going forward: a really painful period of realization during which you are haunted by your nonstop public declarations and images – or – refusal to undergo said very-public process and therefore stay the course and just…just be horrible) – it’s not fair to anyone to have such an exhaustive record of these years.

Or what about when part one of a two part adaptation of a third book comes out and people are so upset over that concept – which apparently and seemingly has been done unnecessarily before but this isn’t that time and it isn’t those books and it was so good and I’m not sorry that we might actually lose friendships over this discussion because you will NOT badmouth MOCKINGJAY PART 1.

Ahem.

Rando Calrissian

Like many writers treating this like a j-o-b, I have eleventy things out and about right about now. Novels, novellas, short stories. Only one of which I’m stereotypically worried-bananas-obsessed over because DID THEY GET IT, did they forget they said I could do that, Dear Savior please halp. Like, for real, I don’t even know what to do. And I can’t just leave it be and go submit elsewhere because you’re the one, the one I’ve been looking for, what’s your name?!

Eric WTF

Ahem.

And then anyway.

I just really wanna see Maleficent again. As much as I had ZERO intention of seeing it in 3-D and resultantly paying a grillion bucks to do so because it was the only showing that didn’t make me late to get to my little boy’s award ceremony (the things we do for kids, eh?) – I loved it.

Speaking of movies (of which this summer has a ton I cannot wait to see):

I mean.

I remember falling in love with the trailer for the Rise of the PotA movie – being so scared that it’d hurt me just like the trailer for Terminator: Salvation did. But it didn’t. In the words of Homer Simpson, it did rocketh my world. So much so that I endured the original five Planet of the Apes. (Yes, that’s three links in as many sentences.) And of course, I’m about to do it all over again. Because YAS.

Who’s comin’ with me?

 

 

Two Things.

First this:

Tweet

You have to know your story and – if they’re separate – your concept. Otherwise, yes, belabored, it will be. So I’m finding that if I’m writing in short 50 to 100 word spurts (if you can call it that) and then needing space, there aren’t very many words allotted. As in, each one counts and the story is trying to be captured in few. Which is happening with the new story, which means adjusting the expectations and because I’m me and excel is my lifeblood, noting the day and change in tracking. What once I gauged at 4k is looking more and more like 1200, 1500 at the most. Feels right. And to this point, never have I thought a story would be shorter and it ended up longer.

Pretend that’s the first time I’ve posted that. Because GAH.

Second thiiiiiing.

What if there were a movie… for real fans?

[Distant stadium cheers]

What if – finally – it wasn’t just about the love of the game? But the love…of the people in the office, on the phone, talking about the people who might potentially play the game?

[Distant, slight confusion]

Now there is.

 

It’s not about playing or watching or even commentating on the game …anymore.

*Totally gonna watch it.

 

You’re. Of. No. Consequence.

“I’m sick of being Nathaniel and you’re Mr. Lopez.”

I was just watching The Soloist while I did my hair because it’s my routine. It’s my routine because it’s brilliant – the film, the score, the leads – and it’s the soundtrack to that activity. It’s my ritual. I’ve tried other movies but they were too distracting or they were boring because I found I could entirely tune them out. Anyway, this is what I do. And every time this scene ends – if you’ve seen the film, you’ll understand – and the woman who is the primary aural hallucination says those words – You’re. Of. No. Consequence. – the scene ceases to be about one man’s struggle with mental illness and becomes the perfect summation for what it is to be Black American. And through that lens, the entire scene can be seen anew.

Renisha McBride was killed a week ago.

Jonathon Ferrell was killed in September.

Trayvon Martin was killed last year.

Dozens are killed every month, I’m sure, as participants of criminal violence. Maybe because of this some Americans think we shouldn’t be so upset about the three named above. Except these three were unarmed. Two of them were looking for help. One of them was denied justice already. All of them were Black Americans, part of a cultural group whose lives are very much impacted by the way the culture began. Beneath someone’s thumb, behind someone’s line, segregated in ways both explicit and not. Expected to be wrong. So when they walked back from a shop or sought help, their lives were ended. So expectation – is that not evidence of the otherwise supposedly invisible brand of institutionalized prejudice and oppression? Why would people who’ve not gotten the chance to open their mouths and explain themselves be so grossly misinterpreted?

I can’t make this make sense unless I’m preaching to the choir. Even sympathetic parties don’t know exactly what I’m trying to say.

But here comes the message all over again, from both sides – from the side confident and selfish enough to say they don’t see it and from the side who does and carries on with life as it is…otherwise, yes, we’d all be activists all the time. You’re Of No Consequence.

How have I escaped this notion when my own father’s history is too hard to process all at once? Grace. But my identity being elsewhere – in Christ – doesn’t justify that the message is still loud and clear. Be an exception. Make us see you differently or we’ll assume the worst. We’ll forget we stole your dignity and then lambast you for being undignified.

Sometimes it just hurts.

 

When I Come Around

Ezra was eating a banana. Whilst peeling it, he observed, “Peeling a banana is like saving the banana. It’s like something eated it and I’m saving it from the guy who ate it.” ~ Feb 1st, 2011

That was my peace offering. An Ezra-ism from two years ago. Poor little language-confused seven year old that he was. Adorabeezle.

So it feels like I owe you guys some big announcement. Or diatribe or rant, at least. And I have a few in mind – I watched After Earth and the super hainty attempt at covering up its M.Night connection was misplaced effort. The movie told on itself, IMMEDIATEMENT – but those are for another day. Just like, possibly, my ideas on Sleepy Hollow, Nicole Beharie’s apparent distrust of hair that originates in her own follicles (I’m increasingly judgey about this, given the alternatives she chooses/allows to be chosen), and the Ichabod Holmes attempt. Or the life being sucked from the Mindy Project and the way they almost lost me with that ridonkulously offensive “Christian pastor” boyfriend. I can’t even.

Come to think of, what have I been *doing*, people?? We need to talk, f’real, f’real.

For now, I leave you with a bit of wisdom from last night’s seriously serious dreams: You cannot quit at parenting; you can only fail.

O_O

Huh. I wonder if last night’s Nashville had anything to do with my dream’s subject matter.

Good questions, all.