Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Mr. Roosevelt, or: Lost in Austin

Another week, another pick that we don’t have to explain to you.  Due to the nature of our free spirits (and inability to make decisions), we’re kicking off 2018 with whatever the hell we feel like watching.  This week’s film has significantly fewer sharks.

The Film:

Mr. Roosevelt

The Premise:

Cats.  Brunch.  Hipsters.  Must be Austin, TX.

The Uncondensed Version:

After Emily learns her cat Mr. Roosevelt is in poor health, she jets back to Austin right away.  Having set off for LA several years before, she left Mr. Roosevelt in the care of her now ex-boyfriend, Eric.  In this time of crisis for the cat parents, Emily crashes with Eric and his serious girlfriend Celeste.

By the time Emily makes it to Austin, Mr. Roosevelt has passed on from this life.  A group of Celeste and Eric’s hipster friends have a dinner out and honor Mr. Roosevelt.  At the dinner, Emily learns Eric is focusing on becoming a realtor rather than pursuing his dreams of being a musician.

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Hell is other hipsters.

Emily hoped to have more to show for her time in LA, but so far she’s doing cringey auditions, editing videos with a group of men who may or may not be part of a real company, and coasting by on the popularity of several of her Youtube videos.  When Celeste asks how things are in LA, Emily freaks out and causes a food-related accident.  Jen, a server there, helps Emily and befriends her, leading to several hipster adventures.

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IDK where you go to catch up with your friends if not the women’s restroom…

After aforementioned hipster adventures, Emily gets a call from the vet’s office that Mr. Roosevelt’s ashes are ready to pick up.  Unfortunately, Celeste, who was also a parent to their cat child, arrives first and claims the ashes.  She invites Emily to a brunch she’s planning in Mr. Roosevelt’s honor, which makes Emily lose her shit.

Eric helpfully takes Emily out to get tacos, and they later go to a party where Jen is playing with her band, the Leeks.  What is meant to be a fun night out takes a dive when Eric and Emily have a heart-to-heart about their breakup, shattered dreams, dismal future, etc, etc.

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TACOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOS

The next day is the brunch for Mr. Roosevelt, and let’s just say it does not go well.

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Reasonably entertaining with some funny moments (the brunch is an exercise in the absurd), this film suffers mostly because Emily is so unlikeable for 95% of it.  She does find some redemption at the end, but it feels like too little too late.  Most of the time, she bicycles around doing self-destructive things that have consequences for other people, then acting surprised when there’s not a lot of sympathy being tossed her way.  I usually relate to the feeling of being an eternal fuck-up, but it takes Emily a reeeeeeeeeeeeeally long time to stop acting like an asshole.

I imagine this is a bit of a Portlandia for Austin, though all of the time Emily spends judging hipsters feels a bit hypocritical because she’s just a scarf and an oversized pair of plastic-rimmed glasses away from being the biggest hipster in Texas.

Jen is fucking cool, and I wish a lot more of the focus had been on her friendship with Emily.  Sadly, it takes Emily a really long time to appreciate when she’s got a good thing going.

Would my blog wife toast this one with mimosas or bicycle far away at top speed?  Find out here!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Grey Gardens, or: The Hallmark of Aristocracy Is Responsibility

We’re rounding out January with a classic that we have both officially watched now.  No more looking away uncomfortably at parties when someone asks if we’ve seen this week’s pick–not for these bloggers.  And btw, if you’re not attending the kind of party where Grey Gardens comes up in conversation…you are probably leading a quite interesting and fulfilling life.

The Film:

Grey Gardens

The Premise:

The classic documentary about the aunt and cousin of Jackie O who lived together in a decaying old house features much bickering, singing, flag waving, eating corn, and so many cats.

 

The Uncondensed Version:

Big Edie and Little Edie live together in an old mansion that has fallen into disrepair since their days of being wealthy, high society types ended.  The two women eventually cleaned up the house with the help of Little Edie’s cousin Jackie O, but still seem to be constantly on the verge of eviction.

It’s really difficult to gather an accurate picture of what happened in the past because of the constant bickering and one-upmanship of the two women, but it’s easy to sympathize with them.  Both seem to believe the lifestyle they assumed would be theirs forever is still relevant and sustainable.

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One sustainable lifestyle choice: wearing big floppy hats.

Big Edie achieved some success as a singer in her prime along with her accompanist Gould.  Little Edie herself was a talented dancer…so there are A LOT of song and dance routines in this, some more cringey than others.  Their sudden financial decline was a result of Little Edie’s father, Phelan, leaving the family and getting what she calls a fake Mexican divorce(???).  Her point being that the Edies, as Catholics, do not acknowledge the divorce, but rather consider it a separation.

It’s really never clear to me what (if any) support Phelan provided to his family after leaving (very little, it would appear), and where Little Edie’s brothers are in all of this.  She mentions 2 brothers, but they never seem to visit or even attend Big Edie’s birthday party.  God fucking dammit, men.  Do better.

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Here’s a cat to make you feel better.

Little Edie reveals she always wanted to marry and had many proposals from well-to-do gentlemen back in her day, which were all sabotaged by her mother.  Likewise, as she was about to get her big break in NYC when she had to return home to care for her mother.  It’s believable, but it also begs the question of the role of fear and comfort in Little Edie’s life.  She seems just as reluctant to leave the house as her mother and gets downright paranoid about someone secretly coming in to the house and moving her books.  Though she talks constantly about returning to NYC and never looking back, she hasn’t done so in the decades she’s lived with her mother in Grey Gardens.  Besides which, she seems unable and possibly unwilling to support herself, claiming she wants to be free and supported.

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“Free and supported” sounds like an ad campaign for bras or elastic-free underwear. 

This mother-daughter relationship is extremely complicated, as Little Edie has cared for her mother for years but also blames her mother because she feels she has missed out on the opportunity to really live and enjoy life.  Big Edie oscillates between insisting she had men to take care of her and admitting she didn’t want Little Edie to leave her alone.

Little Edie is a self-described staunch character—and it becomes clear her mother matches this description too.  The two women appear to engage in a battle of wills daily, but make amends just as often.

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I’m not sure that’s a fair rating, but there’s something deeply unsettling here that is difficult to shake.  The documentary itself is fascinating to watch, but I found myself alternating between the type of fascination from listening to someone tell a really great story and the type you experience when you’re watching a train wreck.

There are many shots of the raccoons and cats that inhabit the house, and of the house itself.  It’s beautiful but covered in ivy and has gigantic holes and visible structural problems, which seems to be a metaphor for the Edies and their mental/emotional state.  Both are very sharp but live in a world they’ve created entirely separate from reality, willfully blind to how dire their situation is in many ways.

In a scene that captures this tension perfectly, Little Edie remarks that one of their many cats is going to the bathroom behind a beautifully painted portrait of a young Big Edie.  Instead of becoming upset, Big Edie remarks she’s glad someone is doing something they want to do.  It’s a moment full of humor, tenderness, heartbreak, and disgust all at once, and the very essence of this film—simultaneously in horror and admiration of these staunch characters.

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Aforementioned cat giving zero fucks.

Was my blog wife staunchly in favor or opposed to the multi-cat lifestyle depicted in this film?  Find out here!

 

Arts and Crafts, books

And Now for Something Completely Different, or: Making a Book Stash

Inspired by Hayley’s project (in turn inspired by Miss Vicky Viola‘s blog), I decided to make a book stash from an old volume of poetry I bought years ago at a book sale.  So yes, my 4/20 post is about a place where you can stash (among other things) your weed.

Supplies:

  • A hardcover book that holds no emotional attachment for you (that part is really important)
  • White glue (I used Elmer’s; I think more arts and crafts-y people use Mod Podge or perhaps a glue personally melted down from horses [gross, sorry])
  • A paintbrush (again, that you have no emotional attachment to)
  • Pen/pencil
  • Ruler
  • X-Acto knife
  • Plastic wrap
  • Drill
  • Heavy book and/or telephone book (if you still get one)

The Process:

  1.  Wrap the front cover and first 5 or so pages in plastic wrap to avoid everything sticking together in one big mess.  Do the same with the back cover and last 5ish pages.  You may want to wrap a few extra pages if, like me, you are sometimes overeager with a blade.20160101_173518.jpg
  2.  Hold the book closed and brush glue on all three sides of the pages. Miss Vicky Viola recommends thin, even coats over a thick blobby coat (paraphrasing).20160101_174717.jpg
  3.  Leave to dry for at least half an hour under several heavy books.20160101_182053.jpg
  4. After it has dried, make a box indicating where you will cut.  I measured about an inch from each side, though others have advised closer to 2 inches.20160101_173534.jpg
  5. To ensure even lines, use a drill to make holes in each corner of your box.  Drill only about 3/4 or into the pages to be sure you don’t drill all the way through.

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    Unintended advertising for Esther Price chocolates.
  6. Start cutting!  (This takes forfuckingever.)  Use your ruler and X-Acto knife to cut a few pages at a time, carefully lifting out pages as you go.20160102_171333.jpg
  7. Keep going until you’ve cut out 3/4 of the pages (full disclosure:  I went a bit overboard and cut out way more than 3/4).  Or, you know, stop and eat some ice cream.20160420_210829.jpg
  8. After you’re satisfied with your work (or until your hand starts cramping), coat the book with glue again.  Coat the inside pages where you have cut, around those 1 inch (or more) margins, and along the 3 edges of the book.

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    I don’t have pictures for this stage, so here’s an artsy picture from Unsplash.
  9. To tidy up the top page, glue down one of the front pages you had wrapped in plastic wrap.  Let it dry under heavy books again, then cut a hole in that first page. (I feel like this step didn’t make a whole lot of difference for me, but at this point the X-Acto knife had become almost an appendage and my cutting was probably not as precise as it could have been.)
  10. Let the glue dry completely, and DONE.

Important Notes:

  1. Do this only with books you have absolutely no emotional attachment to. This is harder than it sounds.  I spent nearly 2 years sending journals to their inevitable deaths, and I still felt insanely guilty cutting into this book of American poetry.  Even though it’s been sitting unread on a shelf for 6 years.
  2. You can use your book stash to store valuables, secret documents, or (if you’re me) shit your cat usually bats off end tables (coasters, remotes, laser pointer).20160402_135130.jpg
  3. Also I’m telling you from a completely objective perspective that these are 10,000x cooler when you use old books or books that are deliberately designed to look old. Also a good use of Twilight (I acknowledge that Twilight jokes are about as original as criticizing the presidency of George W. Bush).

I had fun making this, but don’t get used to it on this blog.  I’d rather be making overly critical and borderline inappropriate comments about films that are embarrassingly aware of how terrible they are.

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Barbara, or: There’s a Lot of Good Hair in East Germany

New year, new tag: Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab 2016! In approximately 6 weeks, the collab will be 1 year old! Sniffle. I’m so proud of you, blog collab.

My goal was to start out J&CGBC with a bang, but I may have inadvertently picked a whimper.  I TRIED, okay?!

The Film:

Barbara

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

The titular character, a doctor in 1980s East Germany, arrives in a small town for mysterious reasons. Hint: it has to do with communism.

The Uncondensed Version:

As Barbara arrives in the small East German town, it becomes clear that there are 2 types of people here: those who are friendly and interested, and those who irrationally hate Barbara for being a stranger. There is actually really only one person in the former category: the doctor with really nice hair who smokes. But it’s 1980s East Germany, so all of the doctors smoke.

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[Insert inappropriate doctor joke here]
One of the other doctors says Barbara doesn’t have many friends since her incarceration. Incarceration—say what??? Do tell us more.

So the next day, Good Hair Doctor continues to make friendly gestures while Barbara remains aloof. This is how their relationship goes for most of the film.

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Riding in cars with good hair, all around.

After work, the landlady introduces herself and says she has to show Barbara the cellar right then and there. Possibly because of our recent-ish viewing of Rosemary’s Baby, this scene freaked me the fuck OUT. DON’T TALK TO ANY OF YOUR NEIGHBORS EVER, BARBARA.

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NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

Anyway…this doesn’t end with the birth of Satan’s baby, so my fears all came to naught. Barbara sort of bicycles around a lot and looks mysterious.

There is some sort of exchange Barbara participates in every week or so in which she receives quite a lot of money in exchange for leaving some unknown parcel hidden by a cross in the middle of nowhere. She also meets up with her lover, some blonde guy who is not as attractive as the other doctor and likes to have sex outside. The two are planning to go West together soon.

However, complications arise because it’s East Germany. Barbara spends a lot of time discussing a Rembrandt painting with the doctor. More’s the point, she gets to know a teenager who is pregnant and at risk of having her baby taken by the government. Plus she’ll end up in a communist extermination camp—probably not the most fun ever.

Barbara FINALLY makes out with Good Hair Doctor just before she prepares to leave for the West, but it’s kind of a “meh” scene.  They do ride bicycles together, though, which is pretty damn adorable.

Okay, I sort of wasn’t paying the most attention ever at this point b/c I was also shopping for end tables at the same time. I think I’ve settled on round nesting end tables.

The point is, there is growing tension between Barbara’s plan to escape East Germany and her attachment to the town and its people. And by “people” I mean literally just the two mentioned above, as everyone else in the town is kind of terrible.  But still with hair so good it’s unreal.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I probably should’ve given this one more attention, but end tables are important. This is one I’d been meaning to watch for a while, and when Christa told me this was on several lists of feminist films, it sealed the deal. However, plot. I could’ve stood a bit more.

On the bright side, I think Bertha Mason enjoyed this week’s film.

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Either that or the fuzzy blanket. But let’s say it was the film, shall we?

Does Christa think this one is worth being sent to a communist extermination camp for?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Wolfpack, or: Cereal Boxes and Yoga Mats

Christa has decided to ramp up the classiness of the blog collab with our first foray into documentary. Bear with me as I’ve never reviewed a documentary except maybe as a school assignment.

You will probably want to read Christa’s review.  Not required reading, but it should be.

The Film:

The Wolfpack

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

In a small apartment on the Lower East Side, seven siblings who aren’t allowed to go outside live under the rule of a controlling father. This is almost a fairy tale, isn’t it?

The Uncondensed Version:

Homeschooled and permitted to leave their apartment on rare occasions (under adult supervision), the Angulo siblings reenact their favorite movies to pass the time.

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Exhibit A: Reservoir Dogs

It’s quite impressive, as they have little access to technology and equipment. One of the brothers writes down every line as he watches films and types out scripts on a typewriter. He also makes a Batman costume from cereal boxes and yoga mats and talks about the magic of film. It’s quite adorable.

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Seriously…cardboard and yoga mats.

Their parents are free spirits, giving the children Sanskrit names, long hair, and the sense of being a tribe. Or, as one of the brothers puts it, it’s like a prison. The tribal mentality seems to come from a rejection of the world and their father’s belief in his own enlightenment. This would be cooler if he weren’t so controlling and abusive to their mother.

However, the siblings use the power of film to escape until they begin to venture out on their own when the eldest is 15. As you might expect, the decision to go out exploring leads to some big changes in the way they see the world. The Angulos try to balance their longing for new experiences with the fear of strangers and the outside world instilled in them for the entirety of their lives.

I think the power of this documentary rests with getting to know the Angulo siblings and admiring how genuinely sweet and introspective they are, so I’m going to stop.

Also they have a cat.

Untitled
Cat!

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Quite moving, and those siblings are so adorable it hurts.

It’s so hard not to want to punch the father in the face, esp. when he starts talking about Jesus and forgiveness in the context of him being the Jesus figure, essentially.  It is the absolute worst part of this film.

Thankfully, this documentary focuses on the siblings and their creative power, which is really much more interesting than yet another controlling, emotionally manipulative middle-aged dude.

Does Christa agree? Find out here!

Blogging University, Writing

Writing 101: I Know You’re Just Here for the Food (and/or Cats)

This prompt I’ll do even though it included a quote from a fortune cookie (please tell me you rolled your eyes too, Christa).

Based on my poll, all 3 of you who read this blog are evenly divided between the topics of cats, books, and food.  It’s like you’ve kept hanging on with this blog because we have something in common.

Under more typical circumstances, I would be happy to talk about books, but stress brain is making it impossible for me to concentrate on reading.  Or really anything, but at least I have reliable coping mechanisms that require little concentration:  bothering Bertha Mason (and, indirectly Joey [who now gets the dubious honor of being The Other Cat]), stress baking, and throwing things away.

I’m really tired of writing about me, though, and I don’t understand how you guys aren’t sick of hearing about me.  You must be extremely patient souls.

Let’s combine the subjects of cats and food by talking about a cat who loved food, Cowboy (named for his black-and-white spots rather than a familial obsession with the western genre or the Dallas football team).  Cowboy was the cat who was around for most of my childhood and with whom I had a love/hate relationship. He was a terrible cat, you guys. Terrible. I was afraid to sleep because Cowboy attacked my hair and liked to murder sparrows and hide under my bed growling like a maniac. Fucked up when you’re 7, right? I also lost a friend because Cowboy chased her down a hallway during one of my birthday parties. Seriously, she never spoke to me again.  Thanks, cat, but I do well enough embarrassing myself in social situations without your help.

Cowboy was a feral cat, so he never really settled down until he was too old to care (and had to have most of his teeth taken out because he would never let the vet look at his rotting teeth). Basically he was afraid of nothing and motivated only by food…which I can respect.

Action shot!
Action shot!

Let’s make a list of things Cowboy ate that he shouldn’t have because why the fuck not:

  1. My hair (see above)
  2. A plant I was supposed to grow for a science project (and really plants as a whole)
  3. Loaves of bread left out on the counter
  4. Brownies my friend JG made when she visited from New York
  5. Barbie feet (though, in retrospect, I probably should thanked him for his hostility towards the patriarchy)
  6. All things dairy even when they made him vomit
  7. Cardboard
  8. Rubber bands
  9. Catnip (the only normal cat thing he ate, but it made him extra aggressive)
  10. Basically all non-fruit objects

Truly, I admired his spirit.

One lonely person who voted for books, I will make a real effort to do another book review. I promise. Hopefully The Heart Goes Last.

Blogging 101, Writing

Writing 101: The Fashion Blog You Never Knew You Needed

I can’t pretend I’m even a little bit interested in the prompt for today (and by today I mean Wednesday). One of the suggestions: a series of vignettes connected by drinking your signature drink. This would be easier if my signature drink wasn’t tea and sadness. And by that, of course, I mean tea brewed with my tears and sweat. (Ugh, I’ll stop, I promise. I don’t want to be responsible for you being unable to drink another cup of tea again.)

So let’s talk about what I’ve been doing with my thrilling weekend. Today’s task (besides getting caught up with blogging, cooking, and watching Filth): sorting out my closet/making room for my nice new professional wardrobe (ha).

Honestly, I really, really like throwing things away. I have too much stuff, largely comprised of books, kitchen gadgets (you will pry my brûlée torch from my cold, dead fingers), and clothing. I also have a large collection of Beanie Babies in the basement that I was completely ready to donate, but my mom didn’t want to get rid of them (you’re part of the problem, Mom).

Since I know this sounds like the most fun ever, let’s play a game where you guess if I kept that piece of clothing, threw it away, or denied all knowledge of its existence (as in went back into old photos and edited it out, Stalin-style). Except not really a game because I’ll tell you immediately what decision I made. It’ll be more like I invited you over and told you we’d have a fun afternoon, but instead you got stuck with me interrogating you about my wardrobe decisions (and then completely disregarding everything you suggest).

We’ll start with an easy one:

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Keep. Obviously.
Outfit I wore for the freshman dance in high school. Throw away. Why do I even have this still?
Outfit I wore for the freshman dance in high school. Throw away. Why do I even have this still?
This one was hard because the fish are so cute, but the shirt is a bit on the short side. Throw away.
This one was hard because the fish are so cute, but the shirt is a bit on the short side. Throw away.
Felt weird about throwing away since I'll be working for my alma mater in a few short days (4!). Keep even though I have never in my life worn spirit wear except when gardening/cleaning. As my mom helpfully observed,
Felt weird about throwing away since I’ll be working for my alma mater in a few short days (4!). Keep even though I have never in my life worn spirit wear except when gardening/cleaning. As my mom helpfully observed, “You could wear it when you’re outside. Welllllll, you’re never outside, are you?” Thanks, Mom.
20150927_154457
I have no recollection of ever wearing (or buying) this. Why on earth do I have anything with such a large bow in my wardrobe? Throw away. Really not a bow kind of person.
Much as it pains me, throw away. Those owls are adorable, but this shirt is much too short.
Much as it pains me, throw away. Those owls are adorable, but this shirt is much too short.
Keep. Duh.
Keep. Duh.
Bertha Mason passed judgment on this one, so throw away.
Bertha Mason passed judgment on this one, so throw away. “I call this a statement piece. It makes the statement ‘I have no taste in fashion.'”

How did you do?  And, more importantly, how did I do?  In 10 years am I going to look back and think my life could’ve been completely different if only I’d kept that dress with the giant ass bow?