A brief announcement about my spawn. (Also: Britney Spears)

brit

I should have known that I was pregnant because, about 12 weeks ago, I became deeply moved by the Britney Spears video for Make Me.  I’d heard about La Brit’s new album, Glory (on NPR of all places), and felt curious as to why the auto-tuned warbling coming through my speakers was making me feel so warm and nostalgic.

I quickly looked up the video for Make Me and slowly crumbled into tears.  My God! I thought.  This poor woman!  She’s taken so many knocks that she just can’t trust guys any more!

This rather hysterical (heart wrenching!) observation seems borne out by the action of the Make Me video in which a strangely distant Brit holds a casting call for what is either a music video or a one night stand.  She struts past a bunch of hunks loitering outside a sound stage (giving them an endearing “in your dreams, buddy!” glare) and then stands with a bunch of her girlfriends on a studio floor while one hunk after another tries to act sexy for her.  Finally, she picks the most harmless seeming one and has some very tender, soft-focus, mostly clothed sex with him–while her girlfriends watch on a monitor (comically freaking when the signal goes out).

When I heard the song at the gym the following evening I wept like my favorite cat had just died.

I have a soft spot for Ms. Spears.  She’s actually quite funny and self aware.  Maybe that’s why Make Me made my cry (I mean, other than the fact that there is clearly a baby in my tummy).  Britney has always been the vamp of the pop world.  She drips sex for a living, but you get the feeling she just wants to dance and shop and eat ice cream like everyone else.  The oddly business-like atmosphere of Make Me is depressing because, even when Brit nails her burlesque dance moves, she’s just going through the motions.  Expertly and flawlessly–she’s the best at being Britney Spears–but when she’s done she’s clearly going to go home and forget about the fantasies she embodies living.

This clear distinction between work and the actual woman, leaves one a little melancholy.  Compare Baby, One More Time Britney to Make Me Britney and you’ll see she’s become both more technically accomplished and more reserved.  No more care free sex kitten here.  She’s been tempered in the merciless glare of the public.  Oh, she’ll give you what you want, but she’s not giving you her soul–and I’m happy that she won’t and sad that she has to think that way.  In a recent interview she said her goal in life is to be a good mom.  This is awesome–I hope to do be the same!–but, Jesus!  When did Britney grow up?  I miss her in her fuzzy pig-tails and sexy gym clothes, pining for some loser on the high school quad.  She was having a ton of fun back then.  Now, like the rest of us, she just has to work, bitch.

Anyway, I’m pregnant.  12 weeks out.  We’ll find out the sex sometime in November.  Other than dissolving over Britney videos, I have experienced very few side affects.

Now, please send all chocolate and potential one-nights stand candidates to the address I’m imagining in my head.

 

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The Art of Mr. Robot

mr-robotMr. Robot is a show so artistically brilliant that even its opening credits give me heart palpitations.  Each frame of this dark and defiantly artsy thriller has been carefully considered to ramp up your unease. Much like its hacker collective (fsociety), Mr. Robot wants to get you where you live. And where we live is in helpless isolation, marooned with cold-comfort technology in a sea of political impotence.

Mr. Robot is the story of a lonely hacker named Elliot who, despite his social awkwardness, founds an Anonymous-like organization that, in Season One, succeeds in temporarily disabling America’s #1 corporate bad guy (and Goldman Sachs stand-in) EvilCorp. (Yes.)  Already it’s a kind of revenge fantasy for angry liberals like me who long for 1%er perp walks.  But the story is complicated by Elliot’s considerable unreliability as both a narrator and a “real” person.  By the end of Season 2 it’s becoming increasingly hard to decipher how much his perception of the world has skewed our own.  Played by the fantastic Rami Malek–whose huge eyes and poignant acting stab you–as they say–right in the “feels”–Elliot is both an unreliable narrator and a stand in for the every-hipster who can’t believe their failed society.

Mr. Robot’s signature shot is of Elliot’s face: cocooned in its hoodie while the (ecstatically wonderful) soundtrack throbs.  The extreme close-ups and thrashing music–both prone to quick cuts–serve to underscore the instability of the world of the show.  But the musical cues especially  also emphasize the egocentricity of a set of characters increasingly dependent on technology for comfort.  A frequent Mr. Robot bait-and-switch is for the soundtrack to decay into tinny static as we realize the rapturous, all-consuming sound is actually being played on someone’s headphones. In Season 2, a power anthem underscoring a sequence of a FBI agent Dom DiPierro (Grace Gummer) putting on her makeup , abruptly shuts off when DiPierro, disheartened, commands her Alexa to stop the tunes.

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H and T

At the beginning of the year we had no hot-running water and drove a car we’d nicknamed “the Piss Mobile.”

The plumbing: that was hilarious.  It had broken beneath the slab foundation of our newly-acquired house sometime in 2013.  Water pipes that rust to death beneath slab foundation houses are apparently the Apocalypse Now of plumbing problems so, while we struggled to come up with a $10k “fix it!” budget, we showered at the gym for a year and a half.

 

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Game of Thrones’ Terrible Parents

drogon and dany

**Here There Be Spoilers!!!! (For Season Five: Episode 9 of HBO’s Game of Thrones)***

One of the less remarked on things following last Sunday’s immolation-rific episode of Game of Thrones was the skillful way the show-makers painted parallels between the episode’s parental figures.

On first watch, of course, I was too horrified to give this credence.  Did we seriously just watch a child burn to death as part of Sunday-night entertainment? As the ever-brilliant Tyrion Lannister says in this very episode: “There’s always been more than enough death in the world for my taste. I can do without it in my leisure time.”

Once the flames subsided, however–both in the show and my heart–I watched the showrunners explain their decisions and  decided that, though I still feel Stannis’s decision was more bait-and-switch than actual character development (as Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson of Westeros.org point out in their video discussion of the episode: the stakes in Stannis’s doomed camp don’t feel nearly desperate enough for him to pull an Agamemnon on Shireen), his decision is more than of a piece with the themes of the show.

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Objects in the Game

sansa**I want to preface this by saying that the passionate outpouring in response to the rape scene on Sunday’s Game of Thrones is, for all it was spawned from darkness, inspiring.  There have been many beautiful think-pieces, from a variety of viewpoints (I’ll reference some of them below).  No matter how we read Sansa’s rape, it seems clear that we’d all want a better world and more intelligent art.  It is reassuring, in this Golden Glut of television, that so many writers, fans, viewers, and artists, rather than act as passive consumers, are actively engaged with storytelling and art.**

For myself, I’ve had my issues with Game of Thrones and feel that many of the criticisms leveled at it are legitimate.  This is a show, after all, that has taken every opportunity to ramp up the sex and violence of a series of books notable for their sex and violence.  However, I have a different take on this specific scene, one more in line with the analysis of Alyssa Rosenberg at The Washington Post, or Sean T. Collins (a humane and thoughtful blogger who reviews the show for RollingStone). As the calls for the show to “do better” sound, I find myself in the ironic position of thinking that, Sunday night, the show actually did.

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Where I Work When I’m Not Working

Taking a page from the fabulous Terri Windling this week.  Her Myth and Moor blog is that rare creature of the internet: content (**shudder**) that refreshes rather than deadens.  She post gorgeous photo-collages of her life, work, and dog (Tilly!), together with inspiring quotes from things she’s reading.  Here below is my poor imitation. And an attempt at refreshment after an exhausting week.

I’ve been a writer for going on twelve obscure years now, and in that time I’ve slowly carved out a room of my own.  Currently, it resides in Sacramento, CA.  Dartmoor it’s not, but it has its own panache.  Here’s my study, full of favorite novels and personal totems – quite a few of them related to A Song of Ice and Fire.

Where the magic happens.  Sometimes.

Where the magic happens. Sometimes.

This year's board: Firefly valentines and Patti Smith quotes!

This year’s bulletin board: Firefly valentines and Patti Smith quotes!

At the beginning of each year I put up a bulletin board wherein my random thought detritus shall be collected over the long-haul.  Rock-quotes, plot-notes, puppy valentines…It all goes here.  Here’s what it was last year:

Board 14

Several favorite books attend me….

Les livres

Ned Stark and Marie Antoinette have some things in common.

 

The Hound is the guardian of my style guides.

The Hound is the guardian of my style guides.

And, of course, there is the inevitable muse.

Hi.  I sleep in here sometimes.

Hi. I sleep in here sometimes.

The view is good.

Den view.The garden is in bloom.

Double hued rose.

 

No, not Dartmoor.  But mine.

Full view

You should be writing.

 

 

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Costumes: Part II

As a followup to my award’s season post:

As for the costumes, I imagine that the Academy Award already has Sandy Powell’s name on it, and has been shoved in a drawer until she can swing by and pick it up next year. To date, she has ten nominations and three wins. One more won’t hurt. (From the New Yorker)

And the moral is: when Sandy Powell says to recognize more modern-era films, she’s not just whistlin’ Dixie.

Postscript, regarding Branagh’s Cinderella:  The fact that they remade Disney’s  (DISNEY’S!!!) Cinderella in 2015 and knew it would be a huge success says everything you need to know–I don’t care if Cindy was wearing sack-cloth and locusts or Scarlet’s corset from Gone With the Wind. If you have enough mental energy to write an op-ed about Lily James’s 22 inch waist, or to make such claims as “that corset is emblematic of everything that’s wrong with gender relations in America!!” you may want to re-evaluate what you find truly terrible about modern life.  Your underpaid, no-pension, no maternity-leave office job, for example.

Anyway, the costumes look exquisite.  The very thought of watching a remake of a 1950s Disney cartoon makes me want to drink heavily in remembrance of days when we went to the movies to see the work of artists instead of crack marketing teams.

Bibbity-bobbity-boo-y’all.  Now help me carry these pails!

cindy

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