Jack Gleeson, best actor on television?

Before I say anything on the subject I have to warn you: There are HUGE spoilers ahead! If you have not seen the second episode of this season of Game of Thrones, do not read on.

In the season four episode “The Lion and the Rose” Joffrey Baratheon married Margaery Tyrell. Now, I know most of you know this, but I have to say it, just to get it out of the way. At the end of the episode, after piling abuse after abuse on his uncle Tyrion, Joffrey drops dead from poisoning.

Why did I get that out of the way? Because this is not about Joffrey’s death, it’s about how I and many, many fans, reacted to it. But most of all, it’s about what that reaction means about Jack Gleeson, the man who, until two weeks ago, portrayed Joffrey.

At just 21 years old, Jack hasn’t really done much acting. Having only ten credits to his name, and the most well known, in America, before Game of Thrones was his small role in The Dark Knight. So to Americans, Gleeson is a relative unknown.

The second Joffrey Baratheon, opened his mouth on Game of Thrones, everyone despised him. Hell, before season two, I barely watched game of thrones. After that, I only tuned in to see when Joffrey would die a horrible death. It wasn’t until about midway through season three that I started to really watch the show. What got me hooked was, of course, The Red Wedding.

But still, I was biding my time until Joffrey met his gruesome demise. And finally, in season 4 episode 2, it happened. And yes, I cheered. I cheered at the first cough and I cheered at the last. And I was outraged when his last act was to mark Tyrion as his murderer. But why did I cheer?

Because Jack Gleeson’s talent is ridiculous. Every second he’s on screen you hate him more, and that’s the exact reaction we’re supposed to have. I couldn’t picture another person as Joffrey Baratheon, I couldn’t even begin to try. Jack Gleeson was Joffrey. He was equal parts arrogant and cowardly, he was snide, just an all around ugly person. And every time he got his way, I wanted to smash the television, I wanted to kill him myself. That in itself is a testament to Gleeson’s Spot on performance. And I hate to say it, but part of me is really gonna miss seeing Joffrey’s smug face every week. But on the bright side, he’s finally gone.

 

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Late night ideas

So, I have insomnia. Which means my brain has decided to bombard me with ideas for writing. This would have been fine two weeks ago when I was unemployed, but I have a job now (seriously).  But why do our brains decide to work overtime when we least expect?

Maybe it’s because we’re not being inundated with information when we’re in bed. We’re not taking out the garbage, or watching kids, or working, and our minds aren’t preoccupied with what our hands are doing. So in response our brains proclaim their freedom by speaking up for themselves.

“You should add a new character!” my brain yells excitedly. I sigh.

“I’m trying to sleep, that’s why my computer’s off.” I say, rolling over as if it’ll help drown out the idea. But, my brain presses on

“No seriously, it’ll help sooooo much!” he says (yes, my brain is male) “It’ll fix that problem with how they’ll defeat the antagonist.” I roll back over, intrigued.

“I hadn’t even thought about that yet, I’m still on chapter three.” I say, opening up my word processor. “Okay, who’s this new character?”

And so I spend the next three hours incorporating this character into my story, setting up their backstory, and perfecting their personality. So it goes. Another late night idea turned into reality, and another sleepless night.

My thoughts on the How I Met Your Mother finale

I know this is about three weeks too late, but that was part  of the plan.  I was waiting to see people change their minds… and that time never came. So here’s my take on the finale of How I Met Your Mother. To tell the whole story I have to start at the beginning, the moment that Ted met Robin (spoilers ahead!)

Ted met Robin at MacLaren’s after being introduced to her by Barney (“Haaaaaave you met Ted?”) and instantly hits it off with her. They have a date that, despite be extremely successful, ends early with Robin being called to work. You know the rest: Ted steals the blue french horn, tells Robin he loves her, and misses “the signal”. Future Ted tells the kids that this is how he met their Aunt Robin Later, Ted meets Victoria (the first  fan candidate for The Mother) at a wedding, but she moves to Germany and he tries to cheat on her with Robin. Ted makes it rain for Robin and they start dating. Flash forward eight seasons and and an infinite amount of relationships for Ted (none with the Mother).

Season nine opened with Ted and Lily driving to Farhampton for  Barney and Robin’s wedding. Ted and Lily eventually get into a huge fight, and Lily ends up taking the train, where she meets The Mother.  Ted goes to L.A. to find Robin’s locket in a grand gesture to get her back (hint #1). After some business with Marshall getting kick off his flight to the Inn, we see a flash foward to one year later at the Farhampton Inn, where Ted and The Mother are commemorating the day they met. 

Marshall runs into The Mother,  who drives him to the Farhampton Inn.

Robin begins to have cold feet after her mother compares Barney to Robin’s father, and runs into The Mother, who calms her nerves. Barney makes a vow to never be dishonest with Robin, and they go through with the wedding.

Here’s where it starts to get divisive.

Barney and Robin divorce after three years of unhappy marriage.

After Ted meets The Mother (finally) and it is revealed that she died, the kids tell future Ted to go ask out Robin. They tell him that it’s time for him to move on. Ted goes to Robin’s apartment with the blue french horn in hand.

How do I feel about this? I’m one of the few who actually liked this ending. I saw it coming from a mile away. Why?

Because How I met Your Mother was never about The Mother in the first place, it was about Ted. One of the themes on the show has always been how important friendship is, especially in adulthood. That friendship dynamic is firmly established in the beginning stages of the series and it never goes away. As the kids said, The Mother is barely in the story at all. She is, at the end of the day, a framing device. The real story is in Ted and Robin’s relationship and how it effects the group as a whole.

When Robin appears to give up on trying to have a friendship with everyone, it is Ted that is the final nail on the coffin. She sees his happiness, and sees herself as a threat to that so she gives him, and The Mother as much space as possible. Even if that means sacrificing her friendship with Marshall and Lily. That is proof that she still loved Ted.

And about The Mother. Even if she was a framing device, she is still a great character. It’s clear from the moment we see her first interactions with Barney and Lily, that she is the perfect match for Ted. She likes the same things he does, has similar quirks and annoying habits, and is truly a great person. I was sad to see her go, but it was clear from the beginning that she wasn’t gonna be there to stay. 

But Robin was. She was a constant in Ted’s life. And yes it was set up for Ted to end up with her. Robin even told Ted that he was the one she should be marrying on she and Barney’s wedding day. There were humongous signs that her relationship with Barney wouldn’t last. From their constant scrambling to get things just right to her cold feet an hour before the ceremony. And yes, even the fact that they had tried, and failed, to make a relationship work in the past. 

So, I loved the ending. And the writers had it planned from day one.  I do have one thing to say, however, against the writers. If I were them, I would have made Victoria The Mother, just like they’d originally planned.

My experience living with two racial backgrounds (and why I love it)

I am biracial. My mother is black, and my father is white.

All my life, I’ve been living with two racial and cultural backgrounds. And while this has definitely given me a unique perspective on race and culture, it’s also affected the way I see myself, in positive and negative ways. Let’s start with the negative.

While my mother has fairly dark skin, my skin tone is somewhere in the middle, closer to light than dark. What does this mean? Well for starters, many people have trouble knowing what ethnicity I am, and they aren’t very subtle about it. I’ve had people ask me, straight up “What are you?” only for them to quickly backpedal and “helpfully” explain that they were talking about my race. And what do I get when I tell people? “Oh… I thought you were, like, Mexican or something…” Naturally this is a good way to awkwardly end the conversation.

My skin tone also caused problems for my mother when I was a child. When showing baby pictures of me and my (dark skinned) cousins to her friends, one of them asked “Who slipped the white baby in there?”  my mother had to explain to her friend that the “white” baby, was her child. This is a story that has gotten many laughs over the years.  There was also the time wher my mother wwas accused of kidnapping my (equally light skinned) older brother.

As a child, I was frequently bullied for my “bushy” hair, which is naturally in tight curls that appear unruly when a comb is taken to them.

I frequently found myself in the paradoxical state between not black enough, and not white enough. I would listen to artists and groups like Fleetwood Mac and Nirvana, while simultaneously enjoying Destiny’s Child an Missy Elliot. Usually I would find myself mentioning the “wrong” music to the wrong groups, and either get blank stares or outright ridicule.

These are things that effect me even as a (sort of) adult. And I still get weird looks from people when I show them pictures of my parents. But, like I said there’s a lot of positive about being biracial too.

Growing up with two racial backgrounds, I know what it’s like in both cultures first hand, and that gives me a unique perspective on things. I also have a greater understanding of a lot of the racial tension people like my parents have to face, even in a state like California. Plus, I have the pleasure of knowing that the civil rights movement was largely successful, and that I am living proof of that.

America was started as a place where people of any religious background could be free, and soon that evolved, and it became a melting pot of culture and race. I know it sounds kind of cheesy but, to me, people who are biracial are a vision of what the true American ideal is. multiracial families are the future, more and more research is supporting that as a fact.

I am a product of true diversity, and I couldn’t be more proud of that, even if it comes a few (minor) annoyances.

Movie review: The Host (2013)

So… today I watched a certain film based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer. Before I go any further I have to say this: I hate Twilight.

I read all the books, and I watched all the movies, and… they just didn’t do it for me. The plots were at times nonexistent, and at other times godawful, the protagonist is utterly unlikeable and useless, and the romance is completely unrealistic and downright scary.

But I didn’t start this review to complain about Twilight. I want to talk about The Host.

To be honest, I was sort of pleasantly surprised with this film.

Okay, okay, put the pitchforks away, I never said it was good. Just keep reading and I’ll tell you why I see this film the way I do.

First, let’s talk about the casting:

The casting in this film is excellent. Saoirse Ronan stars as the protagonist, Melanie Stryder (I know), and her performance was probably the best part about this movie. I’ve been a fan of Saoirse since The Lovely Bones. And I’ve never been unimpressed with any of her performances since. And she can hold her own playing against Diane Kruger.

Diane Kruger serves as the main antagonist of the film. She also gives an excellent performance. She’s never too over the top, and she comes across as a complex character. So, to me, it was a little bit of a disappointment that her talent was underutilized.

As for the love interests, (yes another love triangle) there’s Max Irons, an incredibly boring addition to the movie, you could replace him with a cardboard cut-out and he’d probably be more interesting. There’s also Jake Abel, who isn’t bad, but his motivation changes wildly in only one scene, with barely any buildup and maybe two interactions with the protagonist(s).

As for the rest of the cast, some of them are good, but most of them are so underdeveloped that they’re barely even there.

This brings us to the plot:

Melanie Stryder is a human living among others like her in a secret colony. One day she ventures out of the colony… for some reason that’s either not explained or I just flat out missed, and she’s caught by people  led by a woman called “The seeker”. They quickly equip her with a “Soul” an alien from another planet who relies on a host to coexist with humans. These “souls” have taken over a majority of the people on earth. Melanie discovers that she has a sort of co-consciousness with her “soul” (called wanderer) who can hear her thoughts. She returns to the colony and has to evade capture. Oh, and there’s a love triangle in there too.

I don’t know about you, but to me that plot has major potential. The whole idea of duality has been explored by many, many films, many of those films are good, even great. And this could have been one of those films. Instead, we’re “treated” to a ridiculous love triangle, which dominates most of the film. The ideas of duality, and the concept of these aliens having a symbiotic relationships with humans is barely explored. This is a film begging to be good, it races to the line that separates mediocre from decent, and chokes on its leash.

Having said that, I still kind of enjoyed it. There  were a lot of good things about this film: the acting, the direction, and the cinematography are all good. The sets are excellent, except for the colony, which is laughably bad, and I liked the ending. To be honest, this film should have been a hit, it is at least ten times better than Twilight even hoped to be. So why did it fail? That question is answered by seven words; “Based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer”.

 

Remakes are not evil

With the new Ninja Turtles coming out soon, people are once again whining about remakes. But why?

Why is every remake met with doubt and negativity? I understand there are bad remakes out there, but not every one is created equal.

Some of the best films in this century were remakes. And they have been gracing television screens as well.

Take 2004’s remake of Dawn of the Dead, which is widely regarded as one of the best horror films of the new millennium. It stood out as both a remake and a standalone film. And without it there would not have been a resurgence of the zombie horror genre.

But apart from whether they’re good or bad, there are other aspects to think about in a remake.

Whether good, bad, or god awful, remakes and the like make us want to see the original. This brings on new fans of things they might not have ever seen before.

Is this a bad thing? Shouldn’t people want to expose themselves to new things? New fans means new ways to relate to people, more diversity in the fandom, and more exposure for artists who truly need it. I just can’t seen that as a bad thing.

And before you ask me, no, I don’t have high expectations for the Ninja Turtles remake. But that doesn’t mean I hate remakes, it just means I know what to expect from Michael Bay.

What’s the problem with pink and princess? The marketing, not the moms.

This is exactly the kind of thing I rant about on my blog.

Dr. Rebecca Hains

This week, New York and Slate published pieces asking why so many moms have a problem with pink and with princesses.

“What’s the problem with pink, anyway?” griped Yael Kohen in New York. Then, building upon Kohen’s piece, Slate senior editor Allison Benedikt demanded: “What is it with you moms of girls? I have never met a single one of you who isn’t tortured about pink and princesses.” Her annoyance is palpable.

Both writers proceed to defend all things pink and princess. “We treat pink — and the girls who like it — with […] condescension,” Kohen states, while Benedikt adds, “Moms of daughters need to chill out.”

Oh… really? Let’s take a step back, please. I am the author of a forthcoming book called The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years, and Kohen and Benedikt’s arguments are wrong on several levels. By pontificating on the subject without actually talking to the moms they’re criticizing, they’ve missed the…

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How I became a writer

Those or you who read my blog are probably wondering how I came to call myself a writer, if not, too bad; I’m gonna tell you anyway. I’ve also got to warn you, this might be a long story.

It started when I got my hands on my first Shel Silverstein book. It was my first encounter with poetry, and also the first time I found writing I could truly identify with. I found myself wanting to write like him. It started with me writing similar poetry at 7 years old. It was mostly for class work, but some was for fun. 

By the time I was 12 I had filled several notebooks with my writing, whether it be poetry or unfinished stories, I had an insatiable imagination. As soon as an idea came to my head, I’d have it down on paper. The only thing I didn’t do with my writing was share it with others. My personal writing was for me.

That all changed in high school. I had been writing a story for months. I had several chapters written, and for the first time, I wanted to share, so I did. At a sleepover, I had brought the journal  used to write my story, and a friend was curious about it. Within an hour, my story had circulated around all my friends. Nervously, I braced myself for the ridicule.

To my surprise, everyone begged me to continue the story. My confidence was through the roof. I managed to finish half of a book by the end of the year. Of course, being sloppy, the book never saw the light of day. What did continue, however, was my appetite for storytelling. 

I found myself sharing more and more of my writing, among friends and strangers. I wasn’t surprised at the praise from those close to me; they weren’t the kind to give negative criticism. what shook me was the reaction I got from strangers. People I didn’t even know were praising my work, telling me I had potential as a writer, and asking for more.

I kept sharing my work online, and that’s how I got here. I finally found the confidence to share my thoughts, feelings, and random musings with the world. My passion has become my hobby; hopefully it will become my career. Only time will tell. The one thing I know is that without all of my supporters, I would never have this blog. I would never be writing this now, and for that, I am truly grateful.