BOOK REVIEW — Nimona

A commissioned review from my GoFundMe! It’s been a while since one of these, huh?

giphy1

Basically.

For my birthday, an anonymous donor generously commissioned and recommended that I read and review Nimona, a book I’d never heard of. All the anonymous recommendation said was, “It’s fun!”

So I took a deep breath, bought a copy, and hoped it would, in fact, be fun.

SPOILER:

*

*

*

IT WAS IT WAS IT WAS

Image result for yayyyyy gif

YAYYYYYYY

Usually, the primary question to answer when introducing a book or movie or TV episode is: “What is it about?”

I’ll get to that, but with Nimona, I feel like I need to step back even further and first answer the question of: “What IS it?”

Nimona is not just a regular book made of words, like the ones I usually review here. Nimona is a graphic novel by Noelle Stevenson, based on her webcomic. I hadn’t heard of the webcomic, of course, so I approached it as a book, which it most certainly is at this point — it was even a finalist for the National Book Award in 2015. Are there a lot of graphic novels nominated for that? I don’t know; if you wanna research that, feel free to do so and then comment or tweet at me to expose my ignorance.

I have some thoughts on how I would have appreciated it differently had I read it as a webcomic rather than a book, but they won’t make sense until I go back and address the “What is it about” question, which I will do right now.

It’s about a small person named Nimona (surprise), who desperately wants to be a sidekick to the baddest supervillain around, the aptly named Balister Blackheart, and the psychotic shenanigannery she engages in to get the job and to keep it.

nimona-1Oh, and she’s also a shapeshifter.

It’s also about the fraught relationship between Blackheart and his archnemesis, the subtly named Sir Goldenloin, as Blackheart attempts to bring down the government and Goldenloin staunchly defends it. But is Goldenloin the hero and Blackheart the anti-hero, or is Blackheart actually the hero undermining a corrupt government, with Goldenloin being on the other side?

I’m just throwing out questions here, don’t read too much into it.

Or am I.

The book is, to put it simply, a delight from start to finish. (And start to finish are not that far apart — I read the whole thing in maybe an hour?) Nimona’s maniacal glee and Blackheart’s self-seriousness clash again and again in the most hilarious ways, and they make a fantastic team and even more fantastic comedy duo.

In summary:

Blackheart: “NIMONA DON’T DO THE THING”

Nimona: “I’M GONNA DO THE THING”

 

nimona-board-game

The setting Stevenson chose ought to be confusing, with its helter-skelter mashup of medieval knights and jousts juxtaposed with high tech (characters routinely communicate on screens via video chats) but at no point does the incongruity seem out of place. Nimona the character delights in flouting and breaking all rules and expectations, and Nimona the book consequently does the same, subverting convention after convention. It all works.

My one complaint, therefore, would be about the ultimately fairly straightforward logic of the plot, which, for me, lacked the sheer manic enjoyment of the rest of the book’s unpredictability. It was, for me, just a little too well-constructed and made too much sense, with various arcs wrapped up very neatly. Can a book be too satisfying?

But the heart of the book is the character interaction (which is something I am prizing EXTREMELY HIGHLY right now after having seen Rogue One and been deeply disappointed by the poorly conceived character relationships — READ NIMONA, ROGUE ONE WRITERS), and I feel like I could read a whole book with no plot if it just had Nimona and Blackheart talking to each other in their wonderfully odd-couple way. Well, maybe not a whole book. Well, I’m not sure.

Which brings me back to my thoughts about this being a book-vs-webcomic — if I had read this as a webcomic, I know I would have been looking forward to each installment for more glorious nuggets of dialogue and character interaction. I wouldn’t have cared much about plot. I would have just loved checking in and seeing what absurdity these characters were up to that week, and been perfectly happy with nothing happening. All plot would have been a bonus. But with books, plot is expected. And it’s certainly not a bad plot. It’s just not what I loved most about this book.

nimona-christmasA whole book of this, though. That’d be awesome.

____________________

Sarah Meira (SM) Rosenberg is a former auto mechanic and current jill-of-all-writing/editing-trades. She has a degree in Creative Writing, her very own Amazon author page, a podcast with some fellow nerdgirls, and a gofundme where anyone can commission her to write about anything — movies, TV, books, sports, you name it. Got anything you want me to review? Feel free to commission it through the GoFundMe! Otherwise, just sit back and enjoy.

SPOILER FREE REVIEW — Supergirl Pilot

(100th post!!! Ahhhh!!!)

Before I watch this episode that the world-renowned Anonymous Donor has commissioned me to review, I just want to say that I have no idea what I think about this show. I have not watched any trailers, leaked footage, nada. I made a choice some time ago to see the show only in its intended episodic form, not truncated or packaged promotionally.

And the reviews I’ve seen (headlines are unavoidable on Facebook) appear to be polarizing. I know that when the trailer came out, lots of people mocked it for being exactly like the SNL Black Widow movie trailer except without the irony, while others were adamant that that is the whole POINT of Supergirl, that she is “just a regular girl” with mundane girl concerns and mundane girl interests, who just happens to have superpowers. And that the show is trying to make a point that being a girly girl or being feminine is not a weakness; you can be a girl’s girl AND a superhero! Of course, my concern with that is that in their efforts to make Supergirl an Everygirl, the showrunners may forget to give her a unique personality and have her be more of a cipher than a character.

I’m also not sure what to expect of Melissa Benoist, whose character on Glee was pretty much the dictionary definition of “bland.” That may not have been her fault (the character was definitely weakly written) but put it this way: when Grant Gustin was cast as the Flash, I was thrilled because he was FABULOUS on Glee and I was excited to see what he’d do. Melissa Benoist, not particularly. I did like her in Whiplash, though, and her role in that movie was to represent ordinariness and normalcy in contrast to Miles Teller’s character’s obsessive pursuit of extraordinariness and greatness, so if that will be her job on Supergirl, to be normal and ordinary, she’ll probably pull it off just fine. I just hope it won’t be boring.

Basically, I’m not sure what to expect, what point the show is going to try to make or whether it will be any good at making it. I’m not prepared. Well, I’m prepared to be conflicted. That’s about it.

 

* * *

 

WELL. I guess it turns out that I did have expectations, because this was wayyyyyy better than I thought it was going to be.

First off, Melissa Benoist is perfect here as Kara, aka Supergirl. She has more life and verve in this role than she ever had a chance to showcase on Glee. Yes, the show does do the typical thing of making her kinda clumsy and awkward, but — take note, Aaron Sorkin and Newsroom staff — never incompetent. She has more passion and enthusiasm than I was expecting from an Everygirl character, which give her excellent screen presence. She is not boring. She cares deeply about things, from her job dissatisfaction to her newfound crush to her reverence for Superman to her relationship with her sister to her own heroics to her confusion over her place in the world. Yes, many of these things are mundane Everygirl concerns, but rather than turning her into a cipher or a Mary Sue, the effect is not that I project myself onto her, but rather that she feels like her own entity, definitely a full person, but one that I’d like to be friends with because we have some things in common. That scene on the couch with her squeeing over seeing her heroics covered on TV for the first time — total bff material.

I also love that they didn’t just make the protagonist female only to surround her with a mostly male ensemble, as is far too common. There seem to be two main ladies aside from Kara — a fantastic Calista Flockhart as Kara’s boss, and Chyler Leigh (Lexie from Grey’s Anatomy! With short hair!) as Kara’s sister — and don’t look now but the main villain appears to be female as well. There are also a number of background/one-line characters who could easily have been male but aren’t. The episode probably passes the infamous Bechdel test half a dozen times, easily. And even the clichéd “freaking out over what to wear on a date” scene isn’t really about the date or the dude; it’s about the supportive and reciprocal relationship Kara has with her sister. There are a couple of male regulars too, but they seem to be ancillary and side-kicky in relation to the women, who are the real driving forces of the show. It’s a flipped gender dynamic that is all too rare and therefore very refreshing. To me, at least.

I don’t want to get spoilery, so I’m not going to go into detail about the plot. Suffice it to say, baddies show up and comic-booky fighting ensues at some point, growing more and more prominent as the episode goes on. In my opinion, that’s the weakest thing about this pilot; I would have preferred to see more of Kara in her real life and her relationships with the other characters, because those were interesting and nuanced, whereas right now, these villains seem to just be flat and capital-E Evil because . . . they’re evil? EEEEEEVIIIIILLLLLL. *maniacal cackle*

 

for teh evulz

 

Also, I gotta say, Kara’s coworker who keeps trying to hit on her is kind of a jerk. Not a fan of him. I mean, at one point he mistakenly thinks she’s about to tell him she’s a lesbian and is like “so THAT’S why you were never into me!” Dude, no. The default setting on girls is not “into you unless lesbian.” Sorry not sorry to burst your bubble. Just no.

And the special effects are hokey. Probably the worst of the Arrow-Flash-Supergirl triumvirate. Wonder why that is. Different budgets? Different production companies? More challenging scenarios? Who knows.

So — the million dollar question — is the show empowering? Or *gasp* feminist? 

Well, purely by virtue of it being populated by multiple female characters who consistently interact with each other in meaningful ways, unrelated to the male characters, it is as feminist and empowering as almost any shows I’ve seen this side of a Shonda Rimes production. There are definitely some moments that ring false, like when a character heavy-handedly says, “A female hero! Someone my daughter can look up to,” but overall, it’s a solid start. And if the showrunners catch onto the fact that allowing multiple women to take center stage and go about their business is being feminist, and that waving your arms all, “HEY LOOK AT US BEING ALL FEMINIST OVER HERE!!!1!!” is not so much, there’s hope for it to get even better in that department.

Have you seen the Supergirl pilot? What did you think? Feel free to disagree with me in the comments 🙂

 

 

______________

Like this post? I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you, wonderful reader, that my GoFundMe campaign is still open — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive. The proceeds no longer go toward automotive school tuition, because I have paid off my loan in full, but you can still commission me to write anything you want. You can force me to watch ANYTHING and review it for you. Anything. Real-Housewives-of-Atlanta-kind-of-anything. Hit me with your best shot.

 

REVIEW — The Flash, Season 1, Episode 15, “Out of Time” [#SPOILERALERT]

 

 

I was commissioned way too many months ago by a generous [and patient!] donor to review an episode of The Flash of my choosing. (Commissioned post #8, booya!) First I thought I’d do the pilot, because it was a pretty darn good one and record-setting to boot. Then I thought I’d do the Flash/Arrow crossover, because it was pretty epic.
And then last night’s episode came along, and, well, I had to write about it. Not because I loved it, but because it is such a hugely important episode (a real “gamechanger” as the showrunners have been telling us), and ultimately, to me, a hugely frustrating episode. And I feel like most reviews are going to be going gaga over how awesome they thought it was, so I just have to come along and poop on everybody’s opinions before it’s too late.

[SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS I CANNOT BE HELD LEGALLY OR MORALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGES INFLICTED ON YOUR SPOILER-PROTECTED SOUL IF YOU READ PAST THIS POINT]

 

So on the one hand, I am really really glad that they FINALLY told us who Harrison Wells is (or confirmed it, anyway, since my comic book geek friends have been telling me for weeks that in the comics, Reverse Flash’s last name is Thawne, and thus he’s probably a descendant of Eddie Thawne — aka Mr Romantic Obstacle who will be discussed later — and that’s why Reverse Flash didn’t kill Eddie when he had the chance). And the show told us his main motivation: to pull a Marty McFly and get back to the future. He’s been trapped in this time period for 15 years, and he believes the Flash’s speed holds the key to him getting back to his own time, and he’s so desperate to return that he’s been sociopathically murdering anyone who might hurt or kill Barry, because that would destroy his only chance to get home.

 

Great. Got that. It mostly makes sense. (Except the part where he was going back in time to kill Barry in the first place. That one’s still a mystery for a later date.)

 

What I did NOT get:

 

What are the parameters of Dr Wells’ powers? Wtf is that speed mirage thing? How fast can he go and what else can he do, and also WHAT THE HECK was Cisco looking at when he was reexamining the containment field? That was what almost killed the whole scene for me — he’s running some kind of test on the containment field and then the Reverse Flash appears within the forcefields, doing and saying exactly what he did and said that first time, and it’s supposed to be this BIG REVEAL MOMENT, but I…didn’t get it? What was it? A recording? A hologram preprogrammed by Wells to do all that stuff, including beating him up (there were actual bruises on Wells; they treated him for his injuries) and killing all those cops? But can a hologram beat up a person and kill things? And if it wasn’t a hologram then what? Huh? Was it another application of this whole speed mirage nonsense? That Wells-in-the-Yellow-Suit was a speed mirage left over to beat up Wells-not-in-the-Yellow-Suit? But a speed mirage lasts seconds.

 

I haven’t looked up anyone else’s reviews or explanations of what that was, because I want this review to be about my untainted reactions at the time that I watched it, and my untainted reaction at the time was: Error. Error. This does not compute in any way.

 

 

 

So for me that whole scene was a fail because when your Big Reveal moment winds up being just a Big Huh??? moment, it’s incredibly distracting and not only takes away from the reveal but takes away from what comes afterward because I was still all WHAT IN THE NAME OF ZEUS IS SUPPOSED TO BE GOING ON HERE when Wells himself came into the scene and [SPOILERED] Cisco and I suspect that part had much less of an impact on me than it was supposed to, because my head was still stuck several minutes back.

 

Speaking of which!

 

The other awesome/gamechanging development in this episode came in those final seconds when Barry somehow punches a hole through the fabric of the spacetime continuum and travels through time. Woohoo!! And surprise, he doesn’t go to the future or the very distant past — he goes back, conveniently, to nearly the beginning of the episode, so that the writers have in effect hit a handy dandy reset button on everything that happened after that. Cisco isn’t [SPOILERED], Wells hasn’t revealed himself, the police chief hasn’t been struck by lightning to save Joe, Joe hasn’t been kidnapped by the Weather Wizard, Barry hasn’t revealed his powers to Iris AT LONG LAST, Iris hasn’t confessed her undying love for Barry, Iris and Barry never did something so abominably thoughtless as smooch each other while in relationships with other people — but more on that development later.

 

As for time travel, it’s still super unclear what the rules are. Like, are there now two Barry Allens walking around in the past or did he somehow merge and become only one, because I didn’t see a second Flash on that streetcorner when he appeared in the past? And can he alter history now, or not? Because if he could, then what we saw happen would never have happened, because there would have been a second Flash running around stopping it in the first place, because time travel is circular and paradoxical and totally makes no sense.

 

But I figure they probably won’t address that and just have him try to change things and have OTHER things go wrong. Which I’m looking forward to, for sure.

 

But I think it’s a bad thing when an episode makes you feel glad that it pressed a reset button if the reason you’re glad is because you think most of the choices made by the characters were stupid choices and phew, now they get a do-over.

 

Like, oh my god, I am not okay with the direction the romance on this show has taken. I am really not a fan of when a show presents alternate love interests who (a) might as well have OBSTACLE emblazoned on their foreheads and then (b) proceeds to treat them poorly, depriving them of development and having the main characters who are dating them instead of each other treat these disposable obstacle characters like crap. (This is what happened to Dean after Jess got introduced on Gilmore Girls and so much NOPE there too.)

 

Barry, you are dating Linda. Focus on that. Stop dwelling on Iris. Stop asking Joe for advice about her; ask a neutral party. (Joe gives terrible advice here that deserves to be erased from the spacetime continuum; he advises Barry to “hold onto those moments” when he thinks Iris loves him back, rather than pay more attention to the girl he is actually dating. You cannot date someone seriously — and Linda has made it clear she would like to be dated seriously — if you are actively holding onto hope for someone else. Bad, Joe. You should know better.)

 

Iris, you are living with Eddie. You know Barry has feelings for you. Stop feeding that. Stop inserting yourself into his love life, by crashing his dates, being touchy-feely, giving him your unsolicited opinion that the girl he’s trying to date is wrong for him. That is an area of his life that you need to butt out of, period. Let him get over you and build new relationships. Not to mention the discomfort you’re causing Eddie. Which has reached a point where he speaks up about it and calls Iris on it. (Aside: I really liked how he did it, btw, the way he phrased it: “I didn’t like how I felt when…” I didn’t like how felt. He doesn’t accuse and blame her, but he makes his feelings clear that he felt like a third wheel when he shouldn’t have to feel like that. He was much more diplomatic than my little sister’s assessment, who is only 14 but can still tell that Iris’s behavior is not okay: “Iris is really bugging me right now.”)

 

All of this detracts majorly from the moment at the waterfront where Iris confesses her feelings and they kiss — the whole time my brain was just screaming “WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS ROMANTIC??? You are dating other people! You are lying to them! This is not romantic! This is not okay!” But with the music swell and the camera’s loving, lingering shots, clearly the show is presenting this moment as romantic, and I am so not cool with that. (Also Joe was being held hostage and there’s an impending tsunami and why are you kissing. Also that.)

 

 

Also was not cool with Linda’s line to Iris that she thought Iris had told Linda about Barry’s feelings because that was “typical weird crap women do to each other” — that line just radiates Male Writer in a way that really rubs me the wrong way. Maybe a woman who sees herself as such an outsider compared to other women might say something like that, but we really don’t know enough about Linda for that to feel authentic to her character. It basically sounds like a man writing a woman, and doing it badly.

 

Female representation on this show is not its strong suit, which is a crying shame, because representation of other minorities is done so well. There are multiple non-white characters in the regular cast, and it was established in an earlier episode that the chief of police has a boyfriend, who is now a fiancée.

 

That’s the one moment that I am sad to see vanish into the ether of rewound spacetime: the way everyone reacts to the fiancée — that is, they don’t react at all. They treat him as anyone would treat any distraught significant other, with no mention whatsoever of the fact that this is not a heterosexual relationship and no “look at us, we have a gay couple on our show!” It’s presented as completely mundane and normal. The show made such a statement by deliberately not making any statement at all, and I loved, loved, loved that.

 

One final gripe: Dear lord, everyone is so stupid about the Weather Wizard. After Cisco makes that magic weather wand, and after it has been proven to work, WHY ON EARTH IS JOE GOING ANYWHERE WITHOUT IT? What is wrong with you?? And since he didn’t take it, why didn’t Barry take it when he went to the waterfront?! WHY ARE YOU SO STUPID. (I know, I know, gotta pass the Idiot Ball around because Plot.)

 

One final non-gripe: The Weather Wizard is pretty. So glad he’s the one who gets to have a recurring role, and not the creepy-looking dude who played his brother.

 

So…yeah. These are my thinky thoughts. Basically, most of what happened in this episode bothered me, especially the romantic subplots and the stupid way everyone dealt with the Weather Wizard, and I was glad it was stricken from the record of history. If it was the intention of the writers to make me feel that way, well, good job, writers. But that doesn’t make me any more thrilled with the contents of this episode.

 

______________

Agree? Disagree? Like my thinky thoughts? You can commission more of them via my GoFundMe campaign — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive — or subscribe on the sidebar, and thanks for reading! You can also buy me tools from this Wishlist but really I just like money.

 

REVIEW — Murder One, “Chapter One” (Pilot Episode)

 

I feel like I should start this review with an apology to the sponsor, Yair Rosenberg, because he was one of the very first to donate to my GoFundMe page and request a review, and yet I pushed it off until literally the next year. (Full disclosure: Yair is my brother so I can get away with stuff like that. Also, you should follow him on Twitter; I hear he’s funny sometimes. And he has a slight jewfro, which is always a plus.)

 

So, Murder One. Yair discovered this on Hulu (where it still currently resides, lurking) when I was in high school, and recommended it to me then. I in fact did watch several episodes and enjoyed them, but then somehow never followed through on the rest, and eventually I remembered almost nothing about it except my impression that there was an impressive lack of eye candy, which to me meant that it was clearly a really serious show with serious capital-A Acting, because the only people who can get away with not being eye candy on TV or in movies are capital-A Actors, like, I dunno, the guys in this show. (And comedians.)

 

Legit, that’s all I remembered. That and Stanley Tucci being in it. And Dylan Baker, better known to my brain as “that guy from other stuff.”

 

And upon rewatching, it turns out my recollection was kind of wrong? About the lack of eye candy, I mean. True, most of it is female — Kate Harper from The West Wing! Patricia Clarkson and her glorious hair! The older sister model! Other female defense attorney whose name I can’t remember! — but there is also that cute male defense attorney in the opening shot (clearly placed there strategically to keep shallow viewers like me from changing the channel in anticipation that he’ll be onscreen more) and now that I am older and wiser, I better appreciate Stanley Tucci as the attractive male specimen that he is, even with the balding hairstyle they let him have here.

 

Dat face.

 

I am also older and wiser in that I now have a much greater appreciation of why this is such a fantastic show, or at least a fantastic start to one. Because while I remember liking it the first time I watched it, I almost definitely did not evaluate it in the same terms that I did when I watched it earlier this week, and didn’t necessarily grasp what makes it so remarkable to present-day me.

 

And that boils down to: This is a pilot episode without a villain.

 

I have a weakness for fiction like that. A lot of my fiction doesn’t have villains, just people coming at life from different angles and making choices that are reasonable to them and clashing with each other because that is just the human condition. I just find it so much more compelling than your typical good vs. evil smackdown fights.

 

I’m sure this show will eventually have a villain (someone has to be the murderer, right?) but as of this episode, every character is likeable and sympathetic in some way (with one possible exception, which I’ll get to). The major ones that we’ve seen clearly have flaws, but they seem to have good sides too, and you understand them and you want to trust them, which is of course a great thing to have in a whodunit, which is, I presume, what this show will unfold into.

 

For instance, we have:

 

The main lawyer, Teddy — (Eye candy rating: 4ish out of 10) He has the unenviable, sometimes unscrupulous job of defending people who are varying degrees of guilty. And he does it really well, getting his clients off the hook even if they really did commit the crime they’re accused of *cough* Neil Avedon *cough* and probably don’t deserve to get off so easy. But he does have principles! The opening couple of acts reveal them to us — he has a line, a breaking point at which he will drop a client, and it’s pretty satisfying to see. He also has a wife and a daughter, and we see how gentle and caring he is with them. And of course, there’s this marvelous monologue he gives to a heckler in the bar, which is clearly the moral core of the show:

 

Do you think anyone in this bar believes you’ve got a full head of hair? We all know that’s a comb-over. But till you get so obnoxious you forfeit your right to civil treatment, no one here points it out. Think of the trial system like that. We know accused people aren’t always innocent. Maybe not even usually innocent. And even though we know that, we treat people like they’re innocent till they’ve had their shot in court. It makes us better people, it civilizes us to treat them that way. Civility is important. That’s why no one in here called you a self-deceiving fool till you opened your drunken mouth.”

 

 

The main detective, Polson — (Eye candy rating: 6/10, mostly for those baby blue eyes) This is a role that probably could have been done a lot more villainously had Dylan Baker chosen to play it that way. He could easily have decided to play Polson much more antagonistically with his tone and body language, and I’m glad he didn’t. He’s just a guy doing his job; he’s not trying to be hugely judgmental or frame an innocent person, but he has leads that he needs to follow up on and uncomfortable questions he needs to ask, and clearly has some hunches that he’s following. He makes a couple of smug remarks to Teddy about how he’s sure the suspect is involved “up to his hips” (which later proves to be true), but aside from that, he doesn’t seem to relish the unpleasantness of this case and what it’s doing to the people involved, so I like the guy.

 

The prime suspect, Stanley Tucci — (Eye candy rating: 8/10) You want to believe this guy didn’t do it. You really, really want to. Tucci just does such a great job seeming so sincere and upset, that even though you know he’s committed serial infidelity, and that he’s constantly withholding information from Teddy throughout the episode, you really really want to believe that he would never have killed anybody, much less a 15-year-old girl who viewed him a surrogate father figure. You want to believe he has his reasons for withholding whatever he’s withholding. You want to trust him. I REALLY HOPE HE DIDN’T DO IT, OKAY.

 

The victim’s sister — (Eye candy rating: 9/10) This is another instance of a character who we know has done things that are objectively objectionable — she’s having an affair with Tucci’s character, a married man — but since we see how much she cared about her sister when she breaks down at the photo identification, and given that we know she essentially had to raise her sister (perhaps resorting to prostitution at one point) because their parents are not in the picture, her character remains very sympathetic.

 

The suspect’s wife — (Eye candy rating: 7/10 because I love short hair) She only gets one brief scene in this episode and I don’t know if we’ll see her much later, but she had one very telling choice to make: whether or not to appear beside Teddy at the press briefing he’s holding in defense of her husband, Stanley Tucci. He’s not asking her to speak, just to be present and visible to imply support for her husband. She’s clearly very upset, because she knows her husband was having an affair with the victim’s older sister and that this will likely be public knowledge soon, and she appears to be on the fence about whether to show up at the briefing or not. Teddy pleads his case, and we see that she understands that not showing her support at this juncture will make Stanley Tucci look guilty, not just of infidelity, but of the girl’s murder, and as upset as she is, she doesn’t think he’s a murderer, and has the heart not to sabotage his case, even though it’s difficult for her to play the dutiful wife. I thought that was a very interesting character note, and I hope we see more of her.

 

 

The aforementioned one possible exception to this panoply of sympathetic characters is

 

Neil Avedon — (Eye candy rating: 8/10 for looks, 1/10 for personality) He is clearly a douchepants. And obviously not very trustworthy, judging from that scene where we see him pull out the puppy-dog face when we know he is anything but remorseful for the stunt he pulled (killing a swan, I think?). But the show thus far is painting him as douchey, not as evil. Mostly harmless, in the words of Ford Prefect. But is that a misdirect? Could that swan murder be foreshadowing a human murder? Could be! I HOPE IT’S HIM, GUYS.

 

There are also a bunch of minor characters like the other attorneys on Teddy’s team, and the subplot involving them vying to be second chair on the case does a good job establishing their personalities. And again, none of them do anything underhanded or vicious or anything like that. They behave passionately but professionally. These are likeable people, and I like that.

 

All in all, I think this was a great pilot. It’s very rare for a show to be able to introduce a complicated storyline AND a full cast of characters and get them all established this clearly, this quickly. I’m really looking forward to seeing the rest of this.

 

 

______________

Like my thinky thoughts? You can commission more of them via my GoFundMe campaign — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive — or subscribe on the sidebar, and thanks for reading! You can also buy me tools from this Wishlist but really I just like money.

 

REVIEW — Babylon 5, Season 1, Episode 10, “Believers”

 

Another long-overdue commissioned review (6th commissioned post out of god knows how many), this time SPOILER FREE and sponsored by an anonymous donor, who, lo those many months ago, wrote:

 

“Review any single episode of one of the following series: Doctor Who, Star Trek (any series, including Enterprise), 24:Live Another Day, Sherlock, Firefly, Babylon 5. I love them all equally, so it doesn’t matter which one you eventually choose. 🙂 .”

 

It was an easy choice as to which show I would pick, not because those others aren’t worthy contenders, but because Babylon 5 has a special place in my heart, and so few people I know have watched it that if anyone by some freak chance gives me the opportunity to review it, I’m taking it. (Caveat: This is not so much a review of this episode as it is a discussion of the experience of revisiting a favorite TV show. I mean, there’s a review in here too, but that’s almost beside the point.)

 

This show owned my soul in 9th grade. I’d never heard of it before then, but early in my freshman year of high school, my brother introduced me to it and told me that I needed to watch the whole thing, that it was one long story arc that had to be watched in order, unlike most other shows I’d watched before (which consisted of mostly Arthur, Sesame Street, and Star Trek: The Next Generation — my parents were a lot stricter about what shows we kids were allowed to watch then than they are now). Babylon 5 was my gateway drug into the world of serialized television, and honestly, my gateway drug into television shows as a whole since up until then, my experience of TV was clearly very limited, and this was before the days of efficient methods of online streaming (I think we still had dial-up internet at the time).

 

So me and my brother bought all 5 seasons of the show on DVD from some Chinese seller on ebay for about $35 a season, which I now look at and think, “holy crap that was expensive” but at the time, believe it or not, that was ridiculously cheap for a season’s worth of DVDs, which, if purchased from respectable American sellers could have cost us $50-$60 a season.

 

This was also before binge-watching had become a socially acceptable thing, and my parents limited me to one episode a day, after I finished all my homework. So my nightly schedule looked like this:

 

5:15 — finish school

6:00 — arrive home

6-9 — homework/dinner/novel writing

9-9:45 — Babylon 5

10:00 — go to bed

 

That was how it was pretty much every night — I mean, come on, it’s not like I had a social life. As I mentioned in a previous post, all my friends were school friends and all my schools were always far away, so friendship and socializing was a school thing, not a home thing. I was also too deeply closeted about my religious views at that time in my life to really attempt to make meaningful connections with anyone, especially not anyone I perceived as much more religious (“how could they ever understand my heresy?”) or less religious (“what if they corrupt me and make me even worse than I already am?”), and most of my classmates fell into those categories. I was lone wolf and a social floater — I could effortlessly sit down and have lunch with any group or clique (the ultimate in social acceptability) and everyone liked me, but nobody knew me. It wasn’t their fault; I just didn’t let anyone in. And I was sick a lot and didn’t have the energy to stay up later than 10:00 most nights (I got sicker between 9th and 10th grades; in 10th grade I could rarely stay awake past 9), and that’s a killer for a social life as well.

 

I also didn’t have my own computer or DVD player, so I couldn’t watch in the comfort of my own bed as I do now like a proper couch potato — I had to watch in my dad’s study on my brother’s computer, a room that no longer exists since we converted it to a bedroom for my grandmother when she lived with us for about six years before she passed away, and renovated the garage into my dad’s new library/study/thing which he actually rarely works in, preferring to do most of his work at the dining room table, which results in massive piles of books from the basement library teetering in stacks on the table and sometimes also the chairs, much to my mother’s chagrin.

 

None of this is relevant to Babylon 5 itself, but my point in including it here is to explain how far back me and B5 go, how deeply rooted and intertwined it is with memories and other bits of my heart and soul, regardless of the content of the show.

 

So, Babylon 5 it was.

 

Then the question became “Which episode?” and that was complicated, but mostly because I unnecessarily complicated it for myself. See, Babylon 5 is highly serialized, and I knew right off that bat that I did not want to do an arc-relevant episode, so that left standalone episodes. And the first one that popped into my head was “Believers,” because even from all those years back, I remembered how self-enclosed the whole story seemed and what a punch in the gut the ending was, but then I thought I should at least consider other options before making a final choice.

 

Fortuitously, I happened to make a new friend around that time who was an even bigger B5 groupie than me, and we started rewatching some of it, and a different B5 fan friend of mine got wind of this through our incessant B5-related posts on facebook and invited me to come rewatch the whole show from start to finish with him (which I’ve never done before), and we’ve been doing that on and off for the past few months. Between our busy schedules, we’ve managed to just finish Season 1.

 

And in a lot of ways, the show is better than I remembered it or expected it to be. Whenever you watch something that you have a nostalgic fondness for, your biggest fear tends to be that in the intervening years, the Suck Fairy may have visited and sprinkled suck dust all over everything, and you’re forced to confront the reality that when the two of you first met, you were simply too young and stupid to recognize bad acting, awkward writing, horrible CGI, or whatever it is that was always there but somehow escaped your notice and actually rendered the entire show/book/movie/thing complete crap.

 

So I was braced for the Suck Fairy, especially when it comes to one of my favorite characters, the central character of “Believers,” Dr Stephen Franklin. In the aforementioned intervening years, I’d heard plenty of people malign the character’s role and Richard Biggs’ acting of it, so I was ready for him to be awful upon revisiting this episode, which I actually thought showed up later in the series, but nope, it’s a Season 1 episode.

 

And then we rewatched this episode, and I was like, “Gosh darn it, I LIKE Franklin, and I LIKE this episode, and I AM going to review it! Take that, haters!”

 

Why do I like Franklin?

 

Well, firstly, I don’t think his acting is bad at all. I was worried that maybe I only thought this because Rick Biggs (may he rest in peace) had an incredibly beautiful face, but upon careful study and analysis of said beautiful face and all the rest, I really do think that his delivery was more natural than a lot of actors that have come and gone on the show, something which is made all the more impressive by the fact that Biggs was nearly deaf and so had to learn all his own lines and everyone else’s and lip-read for his cues. But even without that, I don’t find his acting to be bad or strained or wooden as the haterz would have me believe.

 

And aside from the acting, I like the character. He has a different vibe from all the other main cast members; he’s passionate and fiery. Each character in Babylon 5 brings something different to the table: Sinclair is solemn, Garibaldi is easygoing, Londo is bombastic, G’Kar is conniving, Delenn is dignified, Kosh is cryptic, Vir is bumbling, Lennier is adorably earnest — and Franklin is fiery. The man cares. He cares deeply, and he cares passionately, and it shows. I’ve seen some reviewers accuse him of seeming arrogant and unsympathetic in this episode, but I just don’t see it.

 

In case you don’t know or don’t remember, this episode is the one where Franklin is presented with people whose beliefs are entirely in opposition to his scientific worldview: their son is dying and needs surgery, but they believe that cutting open a body releases a person’s spirit and refuse to allow Franklin to operate.

 

Rather than verbally attacking them for this like his assistant does, he tries his hardest to work with them and be respectful, because he cares about his patients. It’s only as the situation becomes increasingly desperate that he begins to take less respectful and more drastic measures, but again, it’s because he cares so deeply about the life of this patient, Shon, that he simply can’t not do absolutely everything in his power to save his life. I’m not saying that what he does is right or wrong; I’m just saying I don’t see it as being an arrogant or unsympathetic motivation. I understood where he was coming from every step of the way.

 

And I also understood where Commander Sinclair is coming from, when he refuses to grant Franklin’s request for an executive order to override the parents’ wishes and operate on Shon. Being an orthodox Jew, I can tell you from personal experience that it is sometimes really nervewracking to see your religious practices come up for legal debate, to see people legislating things that they don’t understand and therefore deem “primitive” or dangerous. For instance, the process of kosher (and halal) animal slaughter has come up for debate in many countries and has recently been banned in Denmark, in a move that many have pointed out is pretty hypocritical, given the inhumane ways that animals are raised and killed in Denmark that have not been banned. I’m not trying to get political here, but my point is that there are all sorts of religious rituals, and a lot of them make people uncomfortable out of ignorance or knee-jerk reaction of “this is harmful,” and once you start legislating what religious rituals are harmful in accordance with your particular worldview, things can get very dicey and disruptive and alienating to a lot of people whose worldviews are different from yours.

 

So Sinclair’s choice to stay uninvolved even though he knows this may be condemning a child to death struck me as a profoundly humble one, a decision that recognizes the limitations of one’s own moral code in order to make room for one that one does not understand and to avoid setting a precedent that could later be abused. Again, I don’t know if I think he was right or wrong, but I respect his decision.

 

Another thing I really liked about this episode and what makes it so quintessentially Babylon 5 is how Shon’s parents approach several alien ambassadors to ask for help, and they each respond in such different ways that all make sense according to the internal logic of each society as we’ve seen so far. Babylon 5’s development of very distinct major alien cultures and attitudes is one of its greatest strengths.

 

I’m not going to discuss the ending because this is a spoiler free review, but yeah, it packs a punch, and I remember being shocked that the show went that far. A writing teacher of mine liked to quote someone else who said that the best endings are “surprising but inevitable,” and this one definitely felt that way.

 

So yay! A positive review! Let’s say 3 out of 4 stars? That sounds about right. Definite deduction for the unmemorable B-plot which involved Ivanova and some space raiders. But the A-plot, as discussed, resonated for me and picks up some of the slack.

 

______________

Like my thinky thoughts? You can commission more of them via my GoFundMe campaign — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive — or subscribe on the sidebar, and thanks for reading! You can also buy me tools from this Wishlist but really I just like money.

REVIEW — Supernatural, “Swan Song” (Season 5 finale)

This is a wayyyyyyy overdue review for Marsha L., who generously donated and sponsored it months ago. (Commissioned post #5 out of…I’ve totally lost count; there are a lot now.) SPOILERS AHOY!!!

I was only in season 3 at the time that this was sponsored, and I was watching along with my favorite reviewer/blogger Mark Oshiro of www.markwatches.net (check him out!), so that accounts for some of the delay. But then I finally got up to this episode when Mark reached it at least a month and a half ago, but I still didn’t watch it because I was super busy and wanted to sit down and watch it with my full attention, so as to properly review it. And by the time I had a chance to do that, I had practically forgotten what was going on in the season and decided that before watching the finale, I should rewatch the previous episode, Two Minutes to Midnight, so I wouldn’t be totally lost.

 

Aaaaand…I kinda wish I hadn’t done that.

 

Because as I was watching the finale, I realized that a big problem I had with it was that I found the setup so much more interesting than the payoff.

 

See, the past few seasons have been constantly introducing new and fascinating elements that expand upon the universe of Supernatural, flesh out its very nature, and what tasks have been set for our heroes.

 

Non-comprehensive list of super intriguing elements introduced in the past couple of seasons:

 

  • Angels exist
  • Angels are actually jerkfaces who want to bring the apocalypse
  • God exists
  • God is actually a jerkface who doesn’t want to help stop the apocalypse
  • Castiel has become a rogue angel and gradually loses his powers
  • The trickster from earlier years is actually the angel Gabriel
  • The archangel Michael wants Dean as his vessel
  • The devil, Lucifer, wants Sam as his vessel
  • John Winchester had another son, who died
  • jk, the angels totes brought him back as a substitute vessel
  • There’s this dude named Chuck who’s written a bazillion books on the Winchester adventures, including stuff that he can’t possibly know, thinking it’s all fiction he’s inventing
  • Chuck is actually a Prophet of the Lord and sees what will happen to the Winchesters before it happens
  • The four horsemen of the apocalypse exist
  • The four horsemen are actually superpowered dudes who wear rings and drive awesome Mustangs (because HORSES, geddit??)
  • The four rings from the four horsemen can put Lucifer back in his devil-cage in hell
  • Both Sam and the Death the Horseman think the only chance to get Lucifer back in his cage is for Sam to allow Lucifer to possess him, and then overpower Lucifer’s possession enough to jump into the cage

 

…and that’s what you missed on Glee! Er, Supernatural!

 

All these elements are firmly established going into the Season 5 finale, because, as Marsha told me when she sponsored this review, this is what the writers have been building toward for 5 seasons. And I understand that, I understand that this episode already has all the pieces laid out on the table and is just moving them around.

 

But that doesn’t change the fact that after all the fantastic developments we get in the preceding seasons, and even the preceding episode, we don’t learn anything nearly as new or intriguing here. Honestly, that 5-minute scene between Dean and Death the Horseman in Two Minutes to Midnight was more compelling to me than just about anything that happened in the finale.

 

I am NOT saying that the finale wasn’t entertaining (it was!), that it wasn’t immensely watchable (it was!), or that nothing surprising happens in this episode at all (it did — for instance, Lucifer knowing about the Winchesters’ plans with the horsemen’s rings and Dean’s “oh crap we are so screwed” face was a definite highlight). But the surprises are all on a plot level, regarding what is happening; the whys of everything remain just as opaque as before. There are no lightbulb moments, no epiphanies. Our level of understanding of why this is all happening is the same going into the episode as it is coming out. It doesn’t add up to anything more than a bunch of things that had to happen so that there would be a TV show.

 

Still, okay. It’s a TV show, an entertaining ride of conflict, resolution, drama, and humor — that’s what I signed up for, I guess. Ideally, the show could aim higher, considering the vast realm of religion and mythology that it has chosen to use as its playground, but it falls short of that. I get that sometimes as a writer, you bite off more than you can chew, set up more than you can pay off, and as a TV writer, you’re under a special kind of pressure to keep churning out episodes, and if there’s an arc and you think of something great later, it’s not like you can go back and plant it in earlier episodes, because they’ve already aired, so your continuity may suffer more than the continuity of a novel or a movie, which can be edited as a finished product before any of it is released to the public. So things in serialized TV often come out as less than that fabulous lofty ideal. I get that.

 

But what bothers me so much more than that is the fact that the writers KNOW it doesn’t add up, and they actively dismiss the viewers’ perfectly legitimate potential complaints about it, right there in the show. I’m referring, of course, to this monologue by Chuck the Prophet (whose narration in this episode I initially adored but eventually found problematic for several reasons, which I am about to enumerate):

 

“Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There’s always gonna be holes. And since it’s the ending, it’s all supposed to add up to something. I’m telling you, they’re a raging pain in the ass.”

 

Oh em gee, fans are so annoying, amirite? Them and their perfectly valid analyses and critiques of our storytelling and plotting and endings that mean they spent at least as much time thinking about the show as we did. Jeez, stop thinking, sheeple! Just worship unquestioningly at the altar of our creativity! Feel for us! We worked hard on this show, dammit!

 

 

It’s not the most audience-condescending monologue that I’ve ever seen on a TV show (that medal still goes to Aaron Sorkin and his thoroughly gratuitous diatribe against fandom [“that’s not being a fan; that’s having a fetish”] through Josh Lyman on The West Wing), but it’s in the top two. I mean, fall short and have a subpar finale if you must, but sheesh, be less obvious and defensive about it. Don’t complain about how hard endings are and how hard writing is; this is literally your job and no one wants to hear you whine about it. Of course finales come with expectations. Suck it up!

 

 

 

Naturally, this activated my contrarianism. I might possibly have been more forgiving if I hadn’t been told directly by the writers that I should be forgiving. As it is, I now feel more justified in complaining a bit more, so sit tight!

 

My two main complaints, one of which is even broken down into subcategories:

 

Problems with Chuck’s narration

  1. Insults audience for critiquing. Bad, show. BAD.
  2. Turns the car into the ultimate symbol of Winchester brotherhood by talking about stuff we’ve never seen on the show before, like the toy soldier stuck in the car door, the initials carved into the car, etc. I love car porn as much (or possibly more) than the next guy, but we’ve seen this car in every episode for 5 years and the writers couldn’t think of one previously established thing about it that could actually carry the emotional weight they’re slapping together and shoehorning in here at the last second? It feels like telling instead of showing. It feels lazy. It feels like a retcon to try and squeeze emotion from a place that doesn’t really have it in the way the writers want it to, and I was not impressed.
  3. It spells out the incredibly uninspired lesson of the whole shindig in this other monologue:

“So, what’s it all add up to? It’s hard to say. But me, I’d say this was a test… for Sam and Dean. And I think they did all right. Up against good, evil, angels, devils, destiny, and God himself, they made their own choice. They chose family. And, well… isn’t that kinda the whole point?”

 

 

Seriously? It was about choosing family? Wow. You know what other episode of Supernatural was about choosing family?

What’s that you say? “Every damn episode”? That is correct.

Obviously there’s nothing wrong with a moral of choosing family first in the face of dire danger. But in the context of this show, it’s deeply unsurprising because we’ve seen it so many times and expect nothing less. Having no narration would have been an improvement on pretending that this particular lesson is some kind of ultimate meaning.

In fact, having no narration at all would fix all these problems, and I do think that the car stuff could have been done better by using unnarrated flashbacks. But they’ve done that before and this is a season finale so the narration is the writers’ way of doing something new and different stylistically just for that, regardless of whether previously-used techniques would work better.

 

  1. Problems with the whole destiny thing

 

This, to be fair, is a problem I have with a lot of shows, and it’s more of a whole season problem than just this episode. Essentially, I don’t like being lied to about how much you planned for something, writers. I know and you know that you didn’t plan plenty of it, that you made up a lot of stuff as you went along — as I said before, it’s a reality of episodic TV, you have to work quickly, you can’t plan that far ahead, and you certainly can’t go back and set things up if you just came up with some new brilliant idea or new character, and I accept that! What I don’t accept is when a show lies to me about it, pretends that this was totally the plan all along yessireebob.

Angel did this a lot in later seasons and it bugged me, and it bugs me here too, every time that the angels or Lucifer claim that this is how it was always meant to be, that brother was always meant to fight brother, and especially that Azazel chose Sam for Lucifer and the devil has been keeping tabs on Sam through demon spies for his entire life because he is Lucifer’s ultimate vessel — gimme a break. Azazel put Sam in that Hunger Games thing at the end of Season 2, yes? The one where Sam DIED? There was nothing special about Sam then, not any more special than the other demon-blood children — he was expendable, one of many potentials. If Dean hadn’t brought Sam back with his crossroads deal, presumably whoever survived that survival-of-the-fittest contest would have been deemed Lucifer’s vessel. But did all of them have brothers that Michael could have inhabited to fight Lucifer, as per the brother-vs-brother destiny? What if Lucifer’s vessel had been a woman? WHAT THEN, SHOW.

Basically, you have to scrap anything that happened before a certain point if you want this destiny thing to make sense, unless you modify it and say that yeah, Sam was one potential and now he’s the only one left. But that’s not what the show did. It lied and retconned, and hoped that we would conveniently forget about the not-making-sense part, or figured that they could say, “WE’RE not saying that Sam was the plan all along; the ANGELS are! And LUCIFER! Can’t trust those douchefaces; of course they’re lying. Don’t blame us!” Weak, writers. Very weak. I’m fine with you pulling things out of your posteriors once in a while; just don’t lie to me about it.

 

 

Again, I don’t want you to finish this review thinking that I hated the finale. I definitely didn’t hate it; it’s just not an episode I feel compelled to rewatch anytime soon because there are so many episodes leading up to it that I enjoyed more. And I’m very glad that the show didn’t end here, because if it had, I’d have been disappointed, because this is not a great ending.

 

For the record, it is absolutely 100% better to have excellent setup and so-so payoff than to have poor setup and epic payoff. I disliked the book Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell for that reason — it was 600 pages of setup and 200 pages of payoff, and the setup was so uninteresting to me and such a chore to get through because it felt like I was just waiting and waiting and waiting for something to finally happen, and then it finally did, and it was good payoff, but I remember none of it, because all I remember was how bored I was for most of it and how I kept waiting for it to get good.

 

With Supernatural, I’m sure that in a few years I won’t remember the specifics of the plot of these past few seasons, but what I will remember is how fascinated I was by the gradual expansion of its fictional universe with all the new and surprising elements that caught my interest, and I’ll remember the characters and their dynamics, and I’ll remember liking so many more episodes than not, and I’d say that’s definitely a win for any show.

 

______________

Like my thinky thoughts? You can commission more of them via my GoFundMe campaign — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive — or subscribe on the sidebar, and thanks for reading! You can also buy me tools from this Wishlist but really I just like money.

Girl in Automotive School: On Symbolism

 

The High Holidays of Judaism always arrive at around this time of year: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, followed quickly by the less High but still 8-day long Holiday of Sukkot (7 days if you live in Israel).

 

And I’ve noticed this year, maybe even more than any other year, just how much each of these is rife with symbolism. There are unusual fruits eaten with their own brief prayers relating their metaphoric significance or at least puns about them and how they relate to the blessings we hope to have this year. There is apple dipped in honey for a sweet new year. There is round challah bread to symbolize the circle of life. On Yom Kippur, it’s a common custom to wear white to signify a fresh start. And don’t even get me started on all the things a sukkah may or may not symbolize.

 

Sometimes a sukkah is just a sukkah? Nope, never.

 

I’m not going to deny that symbolism can have great power, that seeing a physical manifestation or reminder of an emotional truth can be very effective. However, I think it’s largely true that the symbols that have the most power to us are not the ones that are passed down to us (not to say that there’s anything wrong them), but rather, the ones that we create for ourselves.

 

I am no stranger to making my own symbols. I’ve been choosing certain actions based on their metaphorical resonances since long before Augustus Waters made it cool.

 

[Side note: I recall reading a review of The Fault in Our Stars movie and the reviewer scoffed at Augustus’s cigarette metaphor, saying that it barely worked in the book and certainly doesn’t work on screen, and to that I say, “BAH. There’s nothing to ‘work’ or ‘not work’ about it. Either you acknowledge that there are people who create symbols for themselves or you don’t. And if you don’t, well, you’re wrong.” We may be unbearably pretentious but that doesn’t mean we don’t exist!]

 

For instance, a while back I took to wearing a fake engagement ring, first as a social experiment and then, as explained here, as a symbol to myself of all the times I have felt most wanted, chosen, or loved, by classmates, coworkers, friends, acquaintances, family, etc.

 

Lately, I’ve taken to wearing another kind of ring for symbolic purposes.

 

There is symbolism in my choice of hand pose and background posters as well. I’m just so symbolic.

 

The ring is a clamp from the inner tie rod of a car that we worked on in class. (Tie rods are what connect the tires to the car’s rack-and-pinion, which is attached to the steering gear and moves to the right and to the left to steer the car. Not important! Well, no, very important, but not in regard to this post.) Point is, it’s a piece of a car and I turned it into a ring. I even coated the outside with clear nail polish so that it would be shiny.

 

The symbol has a couple of major layers, which I was very conscious of while choosing it:

 

  • It takes something stereotypically masculine (car part) and turns it into something stereotypically feminine (shiny ring). This is important to me because it helps me fight my internalized misogynistic thinking that anything feminine or girly or pretty is inherently inferior or weak or useless. These are constructs that are pushed onto us constantly and — while this may surprise you, given my affinities for bright clothes and makeup — I am still deprogramming myself from my aversion to anything girly.

 

  • I made a very conscious choice to wear it on my left ring finger, where it is customary to wear an engagement and/or wedding ring. I did this even though occasionally my fingers swell up a bit and it might make more sense for me to wear it on a pinky finger or even the ring finger of my right hand, which may be slightly narrower. But I didn’t want to, because I absolutely want that symbol of commitment for myself. That this is what I am dedicating my life to right now. That even when it’s overwhelming, or I’ve had a bad day full of sexism and frustration, or when it’s a long weekend and school feels far away and it may feel easier to slip backward into a more conventional career, this nail-polished piece of metal around my finger provides a physical, tangible reminder for why I won’t do that.

 

I lost it a couple weeks ago, and I felt naked without it; kept tightening my fingers or reaching my thumb over to my ring finger to feel the ring but it wasn’t there, and I felt unsettled and anxious, like I’d lost an anchor, like I was loosing my grip on my commitment. It’s irrational, but that’s how much power symbols can have. I totally understood why Augustus would risk his life to get another pack of cigarettes to replenish his anchoring metaphor and regain his equilibrium.

 

bonus John Green
excuse to post gif of Augustus Waters being adorable

 

What was worse than losing it, though, was the way I lost it: I took it off to wash my hands before eating bread, as per the Jewish custom, and I forgot it by the water fountain where I washed. This was because the water fountain is in a fairly small, semi-isolated nook of the school and I don’t like being in that nook for any longer than necessary, because I can’t help but be aware of the fact that out of anyplace in the school building, that is the easiest one in which to overpower a girl. It’s not like it’s ideal for that — if I screamed they’d totally hear me in the shop — but it’s definitely not the most comfortable place to linger. So I get jumpy when I’m there, and as a result, forgot to put my ring back on and by the next day, it had been cleared away.

 

And I hated the symbolic significance of how I’d lost it — letting sexism and fear push me around to the point where my behavior was affected and I lost something valuable to me — I hated that even more than I hated losing it, and so I desperately wanted to replace it, to erase that negative energy and make sure it never happened again. Luckily, I take home lots of spare odds and ends from shop, and I found another inner tie rod clamp in my small collection, and that’s the one I currently wear.

 

So the symbolism on this one is three-fold. Better not lose it.

 

 

______________

Like my thinky thoughts? You can commission more of them via my GoFundMe campaign — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive — or subscribe on the sidebar, and thanks for reading!