Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Passing Thoughts

My grandmother is in her last days, and I fear I've begun the grieving process already. She recently moved closer to my mother and I, after having been 1500 miles away for the past 20 years, and I find that what I most regret is those 20 years.

Because of the distance, and budget, I haven't really been around her much. When I learned that she would be moving down here, I got very excited, as to me, it meant a chance to bond with this woman whom I have always loved but never known well.

Sadly, this was not to be. About a week after she moved here, she entered the hospital with pneumonia, and it seems she will not be returning to her home.

I'm angry, I'm heartbroken, I feel guilty, and I'm a t total loss for what to say to her, or how to help my mom.

But beyond my feelings, which while justified and important are not particularly helpful, I have come to know something about myself.

You see, two days before I learned that my grandmother would be leaving us soon, I also learned that in 60 days, I would no longer have a job. Massive lay-offs. And I blinked, took a deep breath, and started updating my resume. That was it. No tears, no panic, not even anger, just acceptance and action.

Five days after the news about my Gram, and I'm a bigger basket case today than I was on day one. Stay with me here, because this isn't about my feelings.

The most important thing in my life is the people in it. This message has finally been driven home in such a way that it is absolutely unmistakable. No job, no salary, no dream, nothing is more important than my family and chosen family.

I'm not sure what this means for my job search, but I know that nothing is going to get me out of Southern California and away from my parents and close friends.

I do know that many of my friends and family will probably have to endure a lot of clinginess in the coming months, as I try to make sure they know exactly how much they mean to me.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

In Defense of Ben Affleck

None of the intellectual properties discussed below are mine, I have no ownership, claim or sponsorship and retain no rights beyond my own commentary.

"The Internet" exploded yesterday when Warner Brothers announced that the co-star of the next Superman/Man of Steel franchise would be none other than Wing Wearin', Argo-Directin', Lesbian Lovin' Ben Affleck. Hashtags like #betterthanbenaffleck and #benaffleck are still top trending this morning, and with good reason.

Batman and Superman have 75 years of portrayal behind them. Even with the top grossing film not made by James Cameron of all time coming out last summer, many would be pressed to tell you who Black Widow and Hawkeye are, however every kid who's ever seen a television knows what black ears and a cape, or blue tights and red briefs mean. Everyone loves Batman and Superman, and every fan, geek, nerd, and cosplayer has a very specific and meaningful (to them) opinion about their story and franchise. As someone who has at one time been all of the above, I fall into this category myself.

But here's the thing guys, and I want you to hear me out on this: We. Don't Get. A Vote.

Remember when this guy:
Got cast to be this guy:

And won the freaking Oscar?

Do you also remember when this happened?

For those not motivated to click, that link shows a fairly comprehensive collage of (pun intended) everyone loosing their minds. People HATED the idea that the pretty-boy star of Knight's Tale, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Brokeback Mountain would be touching their precious fandom and ruining The Joker. One blogger suggests "Johnny Deep," which, Porn Industry - if this hasn't happened yet, take note.  Point being, Heath Ledger shocked the world with how incredible his performance was. Honestly, there are days when I'm still pissed for hours that he died and can't make more movies.

But Claire, you say. Heath Ledger was a good actor. I mean, c'mon, Ben Affleck was DareDevil!!! Have you SEEN Surviving Christmas?

He loves that people remember this, by the way.

Yes. And Tom Hanks starred in Splash, James Earl Jones narrated Judge Dredd, and Robert DeNiro's work before the first Godfather movie was... well, it wasn't the The Godfather. Do you think any of those actors should have been limited by their early work?

Seriously. Look at the big climactic scene from splash, and tell me you can see him losing it over a volleyball 16 years later.

what's mermaid for "your hair's in my face?"

Moreover, anyone who thinks Ben Affleck isn't good actor has clearly never seen Chasing Amy, a fantastic film written and directed by Kevin Smith (and if you haven't seen it, go. Go now. Stop reading this blog, and go see that movie, because oh my god what are you doing with your life?). The film is also a good argument for Joey Laure Adams, Jason Lee - basically everyone in the film because Kevin Smith is amazing.

And since we're talking about amazing directors, let me point out that the man himself, Joss Whedon has endorsed Affleck as Batman, as has Kevin Smith. There are not bigger geeks in this world than those two, I checked. If they can get behind him, maybe give him a chance why not?

Incidentally, if anyone who reads this happens to know either or both of them, they should totally work together on something because it would make all the money ever. Just... all of it.

But there's a deeper issue here, one as old as reboots and franchise resets themselves, and that is the rabid, viral nature of fan ownership. Those of us who have followed a story or character for years, in some cases our whole lives, well, we're a little entitled. We feel like since we have such a personal stake in these characters that the franchise owners owe us, and are obligated to make us happy.

And now comes the part where I make the really unpopular point I've been heading towards: They're not.

So while I'm at it, let me say a few more unpopular things:

1) They're not making Firefly again, stop asking.
2) Man of Steel, judged on it's own merits, was quite good.
3) George Lucas has every right to do whatever he wants with his own intellectual property, and if you don't like it, don't buy it.

For anyone still with me, let me repeat that filmmakers, writers, and content creators are IN NO WAY obligated to make you happy. Tell me this: did you watch every episode of Buffy because you were laughing the whole time? Are you eagerly awaiting this year's Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special because you can't wait to see how the Tenth Doctor's Happy Ending is treating him? Did you see Revenge of the Sith because Attack of the Clones was such a stellar and fantastic film?

"Around the Survivors a perimeter create"? Come on.

But Claire, you say (again). These are good franchises! Their writers are amazing! Except Star Wars, but c'mon, it's freaking Star Wars!

Yeah, and this is freaking Batman vs. mofoin' SUPERMAN!!! And rumor has it they will be following this storyline, wherein hate on Affleck will be well deserved, but not because he's Ben Affleck. Actually, in a way, the casting was brilliant, because you're (spoiler alert) kinda supposed to hate him, at least if they follow the story above.

Maybe I will be proved wrong, and in 2015, I'll be writing about how much I hated this choice. But in the meantime, I'm going to wait, accept that this decision isn't about me, and well, just kinda move on with my life. Because seriously, new Doctor this Christmas. EPIC!!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Say Yes to the... wait, what?

I have begun and abandoned several entries about Wedding Dress shopping, mostly because they started getting very preachy, and that's not what I want to do here.

Suffice it today, I went shopping at two different places, and my experiences were very different. The first place I went to was a large national chain, like Shmavids Cridal or Blalfred Blangelo. Only real, and not ridiculous. My mom and I made an appointment about a month in advance, and showed up early, with an iPad and a Pinterest Account full of dress ideas, all pinned directly from their website.

We had to wait about 20 minutes for a consultant, who ended up being the person who greeted us in the first place. She asked me about the dress I pictured. I mentioned that I had gone through their website and pinned every dress I liked in their collection. She glanced at what I had, asked me more questions, and took off to find my dress.

A couple of caveats that should be mentioned:1) I'm a costumer, and a picky one.
2) I'm a big gal (I range betwee 12 and 16, depending on how much I work at it)
3) I'm a people pleaser

When our consultant came back, she carried three dresses, none of which were on the pinboard I had showed her. Remember the part where I said I'm picky? Well that goes double for my wedding dress. Even when I was single, I always researched wedding dresses. Because of reasons. Important not-at-all girly reasons.

Long story short, I hated every dress she brought me, and eventually settled on maybe liking one that I kind of didn't like at all. I told her I'd think about and we left. After thinking about it some more, my mom and I decided it was not a good experience overall. We felt rushed, they asked my mom to move several times while I was dressing, and the fact that we had to wait 20 minutes when we had made an appointment was frustrating.

Contrast to the place I ended up buying my dress: Jinny's Bridalin Huntington Beach.
I am not in the employ of or being compensated by Jinny's Bridal or any of its affiliates
First, if you weren't absolutely certain there was a bridal shop in the stripmall down and across the street from Bella Terra, you'd probably miss it. And from the outside, it's not quite as glamorous looking as some of the salons I've seen in Pasadena and Los Angeles, or even Downtown Fullerton. However. I arrived, and was immediately greeted by a friendly associate. Every person in the store made it their business to assist me however they could.

My consultant was an adorbable recent High School grad who was practically dwarfed by the dresses she carried, but she was helpful and thorough, and showed no signs of irritation when I asked to try two dresses on a second time.

My mom found my dress, and I'm kind of mad about it. I had this picture in my head of the dress I wanted to wear, and my mom picked something completely the opposite. Wanting to make her happy (people pleaser!), I tried it on. And I cried. This dress was so beautiful, and I felt beautiful in it. We both turned a little paler when we looked at the price tag, but we gulped and put down a deposit. I was so happy and pleased that this piece was done.


About a month later, I got a call. It was Jinny herself, the owner of the store. My dress had been discontinued. I was heartbroken. Not just because I had loved that dress so intensely, but also because darnit, I thought I was done! She offered to help me find a similar dress, and I told her I understood, having worked at a Bridal Salon years previous.

After I hung up, I cried. I called my mom. I called Scruffy. I thought some more. I called Jinny back. Would she sell me the floor model at a discount? Why yes, yes she would, I just needed to come back and make sure it fits.

I went back with most of my girls this time. We put me in the dress, we tried on veils and tiaras and all manner of things. And at the end, we got a $1300 wedding dress for about $800, and the store will split alterations with us. I was elated, not only to be done, but to have such a beautiful dress, at a great price, and to purchase it from such an awesome store.

The moral of the story (for me): 1) Shop Local
2) Try the weird dress your mom picks out
3) Be Flexible. Stuff happens with Weddings, sometimes you gotta roll with it.

So there you have it, my first in-depth planning entry. How'd I do?