binge-worthy tv

Posted on January 2, 2015

JOY!

It’s the sweet spot between the holiday season and the early days of the New Year. Closed shops, days off, and (for some of us) cold weather usher us inside to get toasty (and even toasted!) and finally catch up on some tv. While I’m no big shot yet, I have been working in or studying media for seven years. Here are my personal picks for the top five binge-worthy shows worth watching to catch up to 2015.

 

 

5. The Ren & Stimpy Show

 

 

An absolute favorite of many who spent their childhood gorging themselves on the sugary cereal and Nickelodean cartoons of the 90s, Ren and Stimpy is a saucy, artfully dark comedy that would doubtfully pass today’s stricter standards for children’s shows. Its critical acclaim and cult following are credited by some critics as paving the way for satirical animated shows like South Park. It’s also what makes Ren and Stimpy so fun to re-visit or see again as an adult, a viewing perhaps adapted as a stoner Saturday morning bong binge.

Created by Canadian animator John Kricfalusi, Ren & Stimpy debuted in 1991 as part of Nicktoons, right alongside Rugrats and Doug. The show has viewers tagging along with the adventures of the “emotionally unstable chihuahua” Ren Höek and his best friend, stupid and loveable kitty, Stimpson J. Cat.

 

 

4. Downton Abbey

 

A British period drama filmed in the very real Highclere Castle, this historic residence – re-named Downton Abbey for the show – serves as the set for the lives of early 20th century aristocrats and their live-in servants. It’s truly British in that it’s fairly tame; not a lot of big gun fights or bar brawls. As a cinematic geek, I think the costumes, characters and the gorgeous settings make it a delightful visual journey.

It showcases both American and British culture in terms of wealth inequality and worker’s rights that gives viewers a history lesson while also cleverly mirroring many of the same problems we face today. It’s also safe enough to watch with your parents, and hey, there’s a chance they’ll love it and that you’ll seem cultured and mature for recommending it. It also stars Maggie Smith, AKA Professor McGonagall, who I like to imagine retired from Hogwarts to Downton Abbey in order to continue giving us her wise advice for finding our way in the world.

 

 

3. Vikings

 

If you don’t like watching hot, fit, muscular men have it out with each other on the battlefield, this show is not for you. I never in my wildest dreams thought that the “History” Channel, the same network that churns out Swamp People and Big Shrimpin’, would put out something worth watching in my lifetime, but here it is. Starring former Calvin Klein underwear model Travis Flimmel, Vikings follows a story based around the life and legends of Norse ruler Ragnar Lodbrok.

And ladies, before you write this one off, there is definitely a shieldmaiden who is not afraid to knock people on their ass. Filmed in Ireland, the show follows Ragnar, his family and fellow vikings as they explore, conquer, and battle through the beginning of the Viking Age.

 

 

2. House of Cards

 

You’re probably really tired of hearing that you have to binge on this show, but consider it your patriotic duty. Kevin Spacey stars as a power-hungry Congressman Frank Underwood who, after being passed up for a chance at being the Secretary of State, sets a plan to attain the presidency with the help of his cunning and stunning wife Claire Underwood, played by Robin Wright.

A Netflix original series, it’s a political thriller that may have you binging for days. Set in present-day Washington D.C., the only seemingly unrealistic part of the show is not the corruption seething from the U.S. Capitol, but rather that politicians would be that attractive, smart, or intelligent. The Communist leaders of China are loving it, declaring it an example of how corrupt democracy can be.

“[House of Card’s] unflattering portrayal of U.S. politics affirms Chinese government propaganda about American hypocrisy and bullying.Like President Obama, who came out as a fan on Twitter last Friday, Wang Qishan, one of the seven most powerful leaders in China, is said to be particularly captivated, according to reports in Chinese media and officials with ties to his department, who asked to speak anonymously.”- Washington Post

 

 

 

1. Game of Thrones

 

Spain. Malta. Scotland. Croatia. Iceland. United States. Ireland. Morocco. All are filming locations for the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, weaving together a world with seven kingdoms and seasons that last years. Although it’s technically a medieval fantasy, the magic elements are subtle, keeping realism at the forefront of the show. The strong writing of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (the books I also recommend), a stellar cast and the production pocketbook of HBO made a masterpiece that is currently the most illegally downloaded show in the world.

What many people might not know about the show is how much Martin pulls from humankind’s own history – specifically the Wars of the Roses during 15th century England. The show is often criticized for its violence and sexual themes, so if you are not a mature adult with a taste for sinister plots and questioning human nature, you are missing out. Winter is here.

 

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ladies of the sky

Posted on October 21, 2014

Ellen Church was staring up at the sky, watching the aerial stunt pilots switch from plane to plane in mid-flight using only a rope ladder. One daring woman steadied her controls, and climbed right out of the cockpit and on to the wing of her plane, gazing down at the fields of corn and the cheering crowd at the Cresco Iowa county fair.

“If there was any one thing I wanted to do, it was to fly one of those machines just the way she did,” Ellen Church recalled.

Ellen Church was the first stewardess. She pitched the notion that having nurses on board would certainly ease passengers wary of flying that there was medical help on board, and she thought it could help convince the public that air travel was safe. After taking the idea to the company, Stimpson and Church were granted a three-month trial. Boeing hired eight nurses to work on flights with a wage of one hundred and twenty five dollars a month. They are nicknamed ‘The Original 8.”

The Original 8

The lovely lady nurses in their original green wool. Image via United Airlines Historical Foundation.

I tell you this my darlings because I have been knee deep in this story since the beginning of August and have had little time to write for leisure, though I miss you so. It is my graduate project, a big multimedia story about the history of the stewardess, women’s rights and the labor movement – with some fashionable fun, of course. I will post an excerpt eventually.

In the meantime, Halloween is approaching, and many people may need costume ideas, so why not turn my studies into a little bit of inspiration? I’ve been collecting photographs from museums and collections all over the country. Here are a couple more fabulous photos for any women daring enough to model an outfit after one of the first flight attendants.

 

“At first glance, the stewardess appears to have been a reflection of conservative postwar gender roles—an impeccable airborne incarnation of the mythical homemaker of the 1950s who would happily abandon work to settle down with Mr. Right. A high-flying expert at applying lipstick, warming baby bottles, and mixing a martini, the stewardess was popularly imagined as the quintessential wife to be. Dubbed the “typical American girl,” this masterful charmer—known for pampering her mostly male passengers while maintaining perfect poise (and straight stocking seams) thirty thousand feet above sea level—became an esteemed national heroine for her womanly perfection.” –Victoria Vantoch, The Jet Sex: Airline Stewardesses and the Making of an American Icon

 

Pan Am Server

Pan Am Stewardess serving flyers, 1960s. Image courtesy of the University of Miami Library Archives.

 

Pan Am stewardesses, 1960s. Image courtesy of the University of Miami Library Archives.

Pan Am stewardesses, 1960s. Image courtesy of the University of Miami Library Archives.

The early stewardesses had a more conservative look with wool coats and capes. In the 1960s, there was more of a focus on glamour, but the overall feel was still somewhat wholesome and refined. One of my sources, Merrinell Phillips, was a stewardess for Pan Am in the 1960s. These were the days of girdle and “grooming checks,” among many other outdated sexist practices that are mostly – or I should say, hopefully – eradicated at this point.

One good part of the job for many of my former flight attendants was their ability to travel. Women even in the 60s had few career options, some of which included a nurse, teacher, or a secretary. None of these, suffice to say, really expanded a woman’s opportunity to see new things. As a stewardess, you got to travel extensively to different places. Merrinell says the traveling that spanned her career helped open her eyes to many things, and even how fortunate women were here in the states, in comparison to other countries where women have even less rights. Traveling the world as a stewardess, especially for Pan Am, certainly had its perks. They were revered, considered to be the cream of the cop, constantly invited to elaborate dinner parties, meetings of states – all the hottest happenings of the Jet Age. “What it exposed us to was just seeing how business was done,” says Merrinell,”Which was something we probably wouldn’t have learned had we stayed in our respective homes.”

If you want something really loud and fun, look to the flight attendants of the 70s.

Pacific Southwest Airlines stewardesses. Image via www.psa-history.com.

Pacific Southwest Airlines stewardesses. Image via www.psa-history.com.

I’ve learned so much from these women and their struggles through aviation history. It really has been both enlightening and defeating to hear about how much progress we’ve made and how far we have yet to go. I hope to post again soon – in the meantime, happy travels…

 

“While the the stewardess appears to have been an airborne Donna Reed, a closer look reveals that she was also popularly represented as a sophisticated, independent, ambitious career woman employed on the cutting edge of technology. This iconic woman in the workforce was in a unique position to bring acceptance and respect to working women by bridging the gap between the postwar domestic ideal and wage work for women. As both the apotheosis of feminine charm and American careerism, the stewardess deftly straddled the domestic ideal and a career that took her far from home. Ultimately, she became a crucial figure in paving the way for feminism in America.”    –Victoria Vantoch

how – to headpiece

Posted on August 26, 2014

Ah summer, the season of sun, adventure, and big-ass American weddings. When called upon by your college girlfriend to be a bridesmaid, it’s time to suit up.

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If you’re trying to pinch pennies while fulfilling your bridesmaid duties, glue and a little creativity can go a long way. This summer I was part of an American and British wedding, and all bridesmaids were required to wear British style fascinators. On Etsy they can cost over forty dollars! As Clueless Cher would say, “As if!”

Our headpieces had to be black, so for just a few bucks I grabbed a headband, ribbon, flowers and some gorilla glue. Arrange and layer as you like, paste that glue and press and hold…

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I made mine feather-free and it worked out perfectly! I received many compliments and the bride was happy.

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Cheers!

50s flare

Posted on June 23, 2014

I certainly wouldn’t favor the social norms of America in the 1950s, but the fashion is certainly inspiring. A Reddit user uploaded this photo, no doubt fished from the infinite reaches of the Internet, of some of the most fabulous necklines from the 50s.

50s necklines

 

Aren’t they just divine? Perhaps we’ll see more of these glamorous looks recreated for a modern world someday soon.

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”
― Coco Chanel

want better service from the big banks? be an asshole

Posted on June 11, 2014

We’ve all had it happen. We go to use our debit card and it doesn’t work. Then our credit card, and that’s out too. Life sucks when you’re broke…Or is it your bank that actually sucks?

US Bank sent me a letter telling me that both my credit and debit card had to be canceled due to “possible fraudulent activity.” Let me say again that this was a letter from the bank, and it’s the year 2014. Not a call from the bank, as that would be too convenient and probably cost them more money, and certainly not an email, because that would be far too convenient. The letter explained that my cards would be canceled and my new cards would be sent to me in time. Surprise! They never showed.

The last time this happened I spent over two hours on hold while being fumbled around through the line to the various call center employees, each with no idea of how to really help me or what’s going on. You know, what usually happens when you call a bank to understand why you can’t use any of your money. This morning I decided to show off my cynical side with a snide little tweet, to share my frustration with the Twitter world, as many of us do from time to time.

Tweet1

 

I wasn’t surprised to receive an automated response from some kind of corporate US Bank Twitterbot. They’re all the rage these days, as I found out when I also tweeted about Bank of America before I closed my account. Something about, “your grandmother sucks eggs” or “Fuck you Bank of America, you suck Satan’s dick,” you know, Twitter stuff. But this US Bank Twitterbot seemed almost like a real person…

 

Tweet 2

Pssh, please Twitterbot, I know a fake when I see one. How will you find out what happened when I don’t even use my real name on Twitter? What a bunch of bullshit. Hence, my reply…

Tweet 3

I figured that would be the end of the conversation. Besides, it’s probably not the right moon for the correct corporate ritual to actually treat customers with decency, so I was already prepared to do the long, over the phone journey to a new card. And then, the Twitterbot spoke again…

Tweet 2

Wow, that’s awfully nice of her to put a smiley winky face after a #fuckyou hashtag, don’t you think? That is a Public Relations degree at work. My curiosity was piqued, and I had to do it. I DM’d (direct messaged) her my number, and waited.

A real lady then actually called me, minutes later, and she was really nice! She must have been fully confident that a blood ritual could be performed at US Bank near me, in order to give me new cards in spite of the new moon. Here is the best part – she did everything for me! She called the bank, notified the branch I would be coming in, made sure the correct cards were ordered and on their way to the right address, you know, everything US Bank should have done a month ago. But still! I didn’t have to wait on the phone for two hours because the bank fucked up! Instead, just because I sent out a nasty tweet, they called me, and then handled everything for me. Being an asshole totally paid off!

After walking into the nearest branch, a young gentlemen seemed to brighten up when I told him I had talked to someone from US Bank due to the tweet, and he explained that yes indeed, social media is a great way to reach the bank and get things resolved. Apparently, they have an entire division of staff, albeit a smaller one, dedicated to handling complaints on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks.

Tweet 5

Don’t worry @_Br_ad, I definitely won’t let them trick me. I know they’re a scum sucking, profit-seeking, Satan dick-sucking corporation just like the rest of the big banks, which is why I am content to shop around for a local credit union as a better place to keep my money safe. In the meantime, I just wanted to let everyone know that if they’re stuck with a big bank, there is a way for you to get out of a call center run-around and cut through some of the bureaucracy; be an asshole! Just like them.

hair

Posted on April 18, 2014

Walking into a salon for a hair appointment is supposed to be nothing short of a fabulous affair. You’re going to end up paying a lot of money, but it’s going to be worth it! You’ll stroll out with a new hairstyle making you feel like you can conquer the world…And then, the chemicals from your previous hair dye job react with the different chemicals from your new hair salon, and your dreams of bright red auburn hair turn to bright, bright pink.

Trolled

Luckily there are toners and other tools hairdressers can use to bring the colors back from the brink. Although the 90s are in, I’m not ready to commit fully to the troll doll look just yet. In fact, sometimes it’s more fun to have merely a streak of color teased through your hair. Take for instance, this gorgeous lady with a tease of blue woven through her beautiful braids.

Blue Braid

Luckily, my hair survived, and was toned down to a red I can live with for the time being. It’s fun enough to add to the sea of crazy hair colors in Portland, but not so pink that I look like a wannabe rockstar chick in an all girl punk band. Even though I would obviously love to be just that…

Redhead

I spotted another cool haircut in the elevator and snapped a picture of this fine gentleman and his hint of blue mohawk. I’d like to thank Portland yet again for its unending wave of wild individuals doing awesome things with their hair.

Blue-Hawk

Rock on Rip City!

“I just wanna be myself
And I want you to love me for who I am
I just wanna be myself
And I want you to know, I am my hair”

-Lady Gaga

poetry in the digital era

Posted on March 24, 2014

I can only speak for American students, though I am sure many of us throughout our studies growing up had Shakespeare shoved down our throats when learning about poetry, plays and the great literary works of times past. Shakespeare has never been a favorite of mine. If every artist has a “style,” Shakespeare’s was certainly predictable after a while….Spoiler alert: everyone dies. I’m happy that many poets are putting new works out into the world.  I caught up with one such writer, poet Christine Locker, who self-published through Amazon earlier this month, and asked about the challenges involved in putting your work out there sans agent or publishing company.

  • What makes you, as a young artist, willing to put your emotional art out into the world?

It’s commonplace for a twenty-something to share their life online, whether it’s via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr, but in all my experiences on those websites, I started noticing something – people only share the pretty parts of their lives.  Nobody wants to see the mess that all too often goes on inside because it’s awkward and uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but here’s the thing – everyone has their own mess inside, and nobody should have to feel alone in that.  If by sharing my own internal mess, I can make someone else comfortable enough to share theirs and find the friendship or perhaps get the help they need, all the work will have been totally worth it.

  • What have been the biggest perils of self-publishing so far?

The biggest thing I had to consider when I started the self-publishing process was that I was taking a huge chunk of my writing backlog and publishing it all in one go.  Most literary magazines won’t touch work that’s already been published, so I was essentially forcing myself into writing new material, which was too easy to put off when I had 60+ poems already sitting on my hard drive.

  •  What do you think poetry’s place in the world is right now?

Unfortunately, I think poetry has been relegated to high school English classrooms, where students are forced into reading Shakespeare and Wordsworth and Keats; to most teenagers, that is torture.  It was torture to me, and I opted to study English literature in college.  While I wrote a lot of poetry, I didn’t read very much of it until I came across the work of Billy Collins.  His poetry was simple, down-to-earth, and often hilarious.  If only high school students could read Billy Collins instead of Shakespearian sonnets, maybe poetry could return to the mainstream instead of being seen as homework.

 

Her collection of works, Variance, is available now through Amazon. Perhaps if we’re lucky, and young artists continue to put their work out into the world, in a decade or two we’ll have a new “classics” section in school classrooms.

Northwest writer and poet Christine Locker.

Northwest writer and poet Christine Locker.

“It’s commonplace for a twenty-something to share their life online, whether it’s via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr, but in all my experiences on those websites, I started noticing something – people only share the pretty parts of their lives.”

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