Misselthwaite Archives

The Misselthwaite Archives: A Secret Glade in Portland

We had a trio of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s books on the shelf from as early as I can remember – A Little Princess, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and The Secret Garden. I read all three when I was pretty young, and saw at least two movie adaptations of each one. All three books feature child protagonists who’ve lost at least one parent. In A Little Princess, Sara Crewe is known for her brave forbearance and her devotion to princessly virtues throughout her riches-to-rags story. In Little Lord Fauntleroy, Cedric Erroll remains the sweet-natured, charismatic apple of his mother’s eye as he goes from being a street urchin in Brooklyn to an English aristocrat.

The Secret Garden stands out among Burnett’s works (and classic children’s literature in general) in that ten-year-old Mary Lennox, orphaned while overseas with her parents, is a total bitch. She’s unlikeable, and I love her for it. Mary has the kind of behavioral issues you’d expect from a kid raised by neglectful narcissists whose idea of “parenting” is giving the kid whatever it takes to shut her up. Not to mention this child has gone through the trauma of finding her parents’ disease-ravaged bodies and being the only one left alive in her home.

So, when I was asked to review The Misselthwaite Archives, I was pleased to see that #MisselArch’s Mary is traumatized, depressed, and a total bitch. Though, as you can see, she’s not ten.

Sophie Giberson as Mary Lennox. Image via The Misselthwaite Archives.

In this adaptation, 17-year-old Mary is sent to live at her widowed uncle’s home in Misselthwaite, a small, preppy town somewhere in Oregon. Teen angst and Portlandia snark suit this character beautifully.

As does the series’ framing device. Most of Mary’s talking-to-the-camera videos are letters to Dr. F.H. Burnett, the therapist she left behind when she moved to Misselthwaite. Others are study exercises with her perpetually cheerful tutor, Phoebe Sower (Martha Sowerby’s counterpart). Phoebe is the one who first introduces Mary to the legend of The Glade. She also introduces Mary to her little brother, Declan.

Dickon Sowerby was one of my biggest “How is a modern webseries going to handle this character?” characters. With his entourage of enchanted woodland creatures, Book Dickon is pretty much a boy Disney Princess. It’s easy and predictable to take him in a Manic Pixie Dream Guy direction. The 1987 film went full Purity Sue/Too Good For This Sinful Earth, telling us in an epilogue that Dickon died in the first World War. (I like to imagine that version of Dickon actually ran away with Walter Blythe and they lived feyly ever after, but I digress.)

#MisselArch goes the opposite way with Declan Sower. He’s a wildlife sanctuary intern who’s brilliant at ecology and animal care, but shy and awkward with humans. He’s as good-natured as his perky sister, but quiet and thoughtful in a way that connects better with Mary’s withdrawn snarkitude. In fact, Declan connects so well with Mary that every video he appears in is inevitably followed by “I ship it!!!!” comments. I have to agree. I’ve always loved Mary for feeling like a real kid, and for once, Dickon feels as real as she does.

Bryce Earhart as Declan Sower. Image via The Misselthwaite Archives.

My biggest question, though, was how #MisselArch would handle Colin Craven. I can’t tell you the answer without a ton of SPOILERS. You’ve been warned. Continue reading

#AmethystForPrez – All About My Base

Last month, I formally declared that I am running for president in 2020. (I won’t be old enough to run in 2016, but hey, everyone else is announcing that they’re running in a year that is not this year.) In that announcement post, I said that my platform would be “platform shoes.” Now, obviously, I can’t run an entire campaign on platform shoes alone. I can’t run very far at all in platform shoes.

So, what is the full platform of the TROLL party, alias Thalia’s Representatives Of Liberty & Lulz? Like any politically savvy presidential candidate, I’ll tell you once I find out what our voter base wants.

What srs bsns do YOU want to see on my platform? Let me know here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in a YouTube comment!

poll results

About the Black Widow thing in Age of Ultron

Warning: This post contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Age of Ultron. Proceed at your own risk.

“Widow,” by deviantART user alicexz

So, there’s been some controversy about Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff’s backstory, specifically that her Brainwashed Soviet-Ish Killing Machine training was concluded with a routine sterilization and she feels un-good about this. As for the scene itself, I don’t see how it’s being framed as a gendered issue. Bruce Banner has already told Natasha about his own infertility, and they’re having the discussion in the first place because they’re seeing the family life that their male friend has deliberately created and likely gone through an insane amount of effort to keep.

However, other bloggers have already done a great job analyzing the scene and the overall movie, so I’m not going to spend much time on that. Instead, I’m going to talk about my experience as a medically sterilized woman. Continue reading

Jem and the Holograms: My First Time

Like the rest of the internet, I have now seen the trailer for the new Jem and the Holograms movie. It looks like a painfully cliched made-for-TV band flick written to reassure its young audience that they’d hate being rich and famous. As to how it compares to the original cartoon, I can’t say.

I’ve never watched it.

I KNOW, RIGHT??? I love 80’s pop culture, 80’s pop music, cartoons, and over-the-top pink girly glitter, and my name is a gem, so Jem and the Holograms seems like it should be an obvious win for me. I don’t remember ever being aware of it when it was on originally. I saw commercials for the dolls, but I thought they were knockoffs of Barbie and the Rockers. I’ve known for awhile that Jem is on Netflix and that there’s a new movie in the works, but haven’t taken the time to check it out.

Well, luckily for you, dear readers, I am sick and insomniac, so I am embarking on an all-night binge watch. I’ll be writing random impressions below the cut as I watch each episode. Here goes! Continue reading

Netflix’s Marvel’s Daredevil

I want to preface this review by saying I know virtually nothing about Daredevil lore. I know there’s Daredevil and he’s blind and lives in Hell’s Kitchen and his girlfriend is Sydney Bristow whose alias is Elektra and that’s pretty much it. I never saw the Ben Affleck movie. All my knowledge thereof comes from riff reviews like this one.

But, like billions of other nerdy pop culture consumers, I’m loving the new Marvel era, and I’ve enjoyed several of Netflix’s original series, so I had high hopes for this one. My hopes have been rewarded.

Our hero, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), is indeed a blind man headquartered in Hell’s Kitchen. He protects his innocent neighbors as a defense lawyer by day, and masked vigilante by night. He’s the son of a boxer who supported his family by taking falls in the ring. It’s every bit as noir as it sounds, and yet the show still injects just the right amount of optimism and levity to keep from feeling overwhelmingly bleak.

Murdock’s blindness is handled pretty well, imo. The same accident that took away his sight heightened his other senses, which is how he’s able to pull off his vigilante stunts. The scenes highlighting his superpowers do a great job of showing that he’s relying on senses other than sight. The staging and effects let us inside Murdock’s head where we feel him focus on the sound of a faraway cry for help, or the vibration of an attacker’s footfalls. Yet his lack of sight still comes across as a legitimate handicap; something that, as a disabled viewer, I feel is important to acknowledge in-story.

As of the second episode, Team Daredevil includes Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), Murdock’s pragmatically materialistic law partner; Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), Murdock’s former client and current office manager who I’ve since learned is a canon love interest; and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), a Night Nurse who saves Murdock when he’s injured in a vigilante mission. Everyone in the cast inhabits their roles perfectly, and there’s a strong chemistry between the characters.

So far I only have one nitpick with the show. In a scene in the pilot where Murdock and Foggy are interrogating Karen Page, Murdock concludes that Karen’s improbable story is true because he hears her heart rate remain slow and steady while she’s telling it. In this scene, she’s also traumatized, stressed, crying, and in emotional and physical pain. It strikes me as totally reasonable for a person under those circumstances to have an elevated or irregular heart rate even if they were telling the truth, especially if they were stressed about being accused of lying. In real life, lie detection technology isn’t considered 100% reliable for exactly these reasons.

However, one problem with one scene isn’t enough to keep me from enjoying this show. If you’re a fan of the Daredevil comics, I don’t know what to tell you, but if you’re a fan of film noir, TV crime dramas, and the new Marvel cinematic universe, you should definitely check this out. All 13 episodes are currently streaming on Netflix. Here’s hoping life and my internet connection will finally let me binge-watch the rest of them.

Presidential campaign announcement (SRS BSNS)

That glorious season is upon us (in the US, anyway). The time when people officially announce that they will be running for president in a year that is not this year. So, without further ado, it is with proud humility that I share with you the glorious purpose with which I am burdened.

I am running for President in 2020.

Why 2020? Because the President of the United States has to be at least 35 years old, and by November 2016, I will only be 34. Plus, this gives me plenty of time to start building my PAC. So far it’s up to $5.28, and I might use that to buy paper towels instead.

I suppose you’ll want to know paltry details like what party I’m running for. It’s a lesser-known third party called Thalia’s Representatives Of Liberty and Lulz, more commonly referred to by its acronym, the TROLL party.

My platform will be platform shoes. They’re coming back in style. Skechers and Doc Martens are both being considered as campaign sponsors.

I will participate in any televised debate that does not actively bar me from the stage. My debating tactics may or may not consist entirely of repeating, “u mad bro? u mad?” to my opponents. Depending on how well the PAC comes through, a Trollface mask made of poster board and a paint stirrer may be involved.

However, given that the lamestream media is a puppet of the two-party lameocracy, it is likely that my campaign will be limited to internet outlets such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and this humble blog. Follow me on all of the above for more updates on my valiant write-in campaign.

amethystforprez

See you at the polls! Write-in the TROLLs! Do it for teh lulz!

Olympus: Green Screen, Red Corn Syrup, And Blue Feet

Hey, did you know Syfy has a new drama set in mythological Greece? No? Me neither, until my parents texted me while they were watching WWE on Thursday night and said I’d probably like this Olympus show that’s coming on afterward. I’m glad they did, because I had a great time watching the pilot, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

This post’s title is an accurate description of the show’s production value. (As an indie author, I know all too well how much people LOVE sinking money into weird Greek mythology adaptations.) It’s tempting to throw Olympus into the “so bad it’s good” category, where I lovingly store many of my favorites, but the female lead and the villainess make this show unironically fun to watch. olympus The Oracle of Gaia, played by Sonya Cassidy (whom BBC fans may recognize as Clara from The Paradise), has divine visions that don’t always come when she needs them to, so she’s learned to appease her petitioners by becoming a master of deduction. This, imo, should be the entire premise of the show. I have dubbed The Oracle #GreekSherlock. She’s resourceful, rational, dramatic, and prone to complicated schemes that can snowball into something way more complicated than she foresaw (damn uncontrollable visions).

And somehow, #GreekSherlock is not our designated hero. That role falls to our male lead known only as Hero – or Mercenary, or You There, or whatever the other characters decide to call him, since saying his name aloud will turn the speaker to stone. He has an intricate backstory that literally makes him the MacGuffin. He gets his feet painted blue for reasons that still aren’t entirely clear to me. He’s a valiant warrior who can kill people with rope. Ultimately, though, he’s there to be eye candy (a role newcomer Tom York fills quite well) while #GreekSherlock steals the show. So basically he’s a Moffat woman.

But the biggest show-stealer of them all is Olympus‘ Big Bad, Medea (played by Sonita Henry). She’s resourceful, rational, dramatic, and prone to complicated schemes that she’s usually completely on top of unless Fate throws her for a loop. As the evil personality counterpoint to #GreekSherlock, I have dubbed her #GreekMoriarty. (Except Hero is her ostensible nemesis, so I have no idea if she and #GreekSherlock will ever officially acknowledge each other.) Medea’s portrayal goes beyond pure camp, although there’s plenty of that. She comes across as clever, in control, and legitimately dangerous. And (SPOILER?) it looks like she has designs on goddesshood. I sort of want to see that.

I think there were a bunch of other people, too. But as far as I was concerned, it was all about #GreekSherlock and #GreekMoriarty.

So, anyway, if you’re looking for Game of Greek Thrones, you’re not going to find it here, but if you miss Xena and Hercules, you’ll have as much fun with Olympus as I did. Check it out on Syfy on Thursday nights at 10/9 Central, or stream full episodes here.