I live by the philosophy that one’s birthday is actually a week-long affair. So even though I’ve been 30 (and flirty and thriving) for the past four days, it’s still all about me. I hearby bequeath you the same license for all of your Expulsion Days.
Earlier this week, I posted the first 15 of the 30 pop culture moments that explain why I am the way I am today. I now present Part 2, and suggest you try this exercise for yourself. Making a list like this is what I imagine therapy would be if it were cheap, fun, and punctuated by gifs.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Still my very favorite Jim Carey movie (yes, including Eternal Sunshine) and still able to reduce me to teary giggles. I begged and begged my parents to let me see it after it first came out, but was continually shut down. Then I broke my leg on the ice, got a cast up to my thigh and had to sleep on the couch and sponge-bathe myself in the bathroom sink. The silver linings to that cloud were: firstly, that cookie bouquets were having their moment and secondly, that I was finally given permission to watch this movie.
And oh, the joy it brought me in my pitiful state! The “instant replay;” the double-pane-sound-proof glass opera; the Siegfried/Roy dolphin routine; a young and adorable Courtney Cox; and yes, an original theme song courtesy of rapper/thespian Tone Loc. If you have teenage relatives you haven’t shown this to yet, do it now and be their hero.
To be clear: I’m talking about the books here. The films are lovely, to be sure. I say a little prayer of thanks everyday for the casting, in particular. But I’ll never forgive those filmmakers for their crimes against the source material, namely the manufactured Harry/Hermione tension and the complete destruction of Ginny Weasley’s character. (“AND THE SHAFTING OF REMUS LUPIN, ONE OF THE GREATEST CHARACTERS EVER.” – K)
But really, was there a better feeling than picking up that gorgeous new edition at a midnight book party? You were holding a non-alcoholic butterbeer in one hand and thumbing through it with another while waiting in line to pay, trying to decide if you would race through to see what happens or really savor it. You snorted at Harry’s snarkiness (another character detail left out of the movies, boo); flailed over every Ron/Hermione close call; held your breath through every “Deathly Hallows” battle scene; and, if you’re anything like me, sobbed when Dumbledore weakly said, “I am not scared, Harry. I am with you.”
I cringe when any other YA series is compared to this, because there has never been a global community of all ages like the one brought together by HP. (Don’t say Twilight, because I don’t mean a community of submissive weirdos.) We were all a part of the journey, and J.K. Rowling acknowledged that with her final dedication:
“and to you, if you have stuck with Harry to the very end.”
When I first watchedMoulin Rouge, it was like stepping from Kansas into Oz. Like seeing color for the first time. This is my answer when asked about my favorite film. I wrote my frickin’ thesis on it. I just really love this movie, okay?
We were learning about auteur theory in film class when I decided to spend a whole semester studying Baz Luhrmann. He is the very DEFINITION of an auteur – his vision is so clear and dramatic and creative as hell. I loved the idea of conceptualizing film as theater. He does this throughout his “Red Curtain Trilogy,” which also includes William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and his first film, Strictly Ballroom. ICYMI, Moulin Rouge is an adaptation of the Orpheus myth, with elements of opera, Bollywood, pop music, burlesque, classic musical theater, etc, etc thrown in. Therefore, when people describe his style as “MTV” or “smashcut,” I want to punch their faces. Sooooo hard.
Also: how, in the name of the narcoleptic Argentinean, were Baz AND Ewan BOTH snubbed by the Oscars that year? Where’s the justice?!
I’m obnoxiously proud of my quick mouse skills and ability to elbow my way into things that sell out in a matter of minutes. Without them, I wouldn’t have been at the 2012 New Yorker Festival’s Arrested Development reunion, where Mitch Hurwitz and the cast announced the unprecedented new Netflix-only season. The collective gasp in the room was priceless. Here was the return of a show that the cast loved as much as the fans, so much so that all of them were willing to put their other projects on hold to come back home to AD.
The show was often criticized (by stupid people) for being inaccessible (now, where have I heard that since?), but I didn’t start watching until the middle of the second season and it was still one of the most hilarious things I’d ever seen on TV. You don’t have to be a TV historian to know that David Cross slamming into a glass coffee table dressed as an elderly English woman is funny. What “inaccessible” REALLY means is that Arrested is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s exhaustively detailed, so every rewatch results in new understanding of old jokes and eyes opening to the ones that you hadn’t noticed yet, but were there all the time.
All 13 new episodes will be released on Netflix at THE SAME TIME, so take a personal day and meet me at my house for frozen bananas, unlimited juice, and an AD marathon. This party’s gonna be off the hook.
If you truly love boy bands, you don’t love them in spite of ridiculousness like this. You love them BECAUSE of ridiculousness like this.
David Tennant’s performance in “Christmas Invasion”
I am in love with Doctor Who.
But back in Season 1 of the modern series, we were just in like. I made my way through it leisurely. It was a perfectly healthy relationship and we kept an appropriate emotional distance.
Then Rose Tyler absorbed the time vortex, and Nine died so that Ten could live. I met MY Doctor, and now not even sunlight could get between us. The moment I pledged my life to this series was when Ten was pleading the case of the human race to the Sycorax and realized he was actually reciting the lyrics to “Circle of Life.” There is no possible way to resist his precious face in this scene, science has proven it.
Besides saving the Earth, Ten’s main duty in this episode is to convince Rose to trust and love him again. The side effects of that onslaught of charm and adorable is that every other person who bears witness to it is also dumbstruck by his Time Lord magnetism. We’re all victims here, folks. That’s why we call them “life ruiners.”
I was a touch offended when Go On dissed female alt-rock this week. I’m a veteran of two Lilith Fairs (the good ones, not the recent reboot), because those ladies just spoke to an awkward, 15-year-old white girl.
Singer-songwriters still dominate my playlists, but now they’re mostly dudes. Give me a little Mraz, a little DeGraw, a little Mayer (yes, still). Maybe it means that I’ve lost touch with my sisters, or maybe we just don’t have this visible of a platform for these kinds of artists anymore. If there were a magic button and would replace Rihanna with Letters to Cleo in recent music history, I would totally press that button.
The Cider House Rules
It’s no exaggeration to tell you that this book changed my life. I read it the summer before I left for college, and re-read it that year for class. I re-read it every few years and my copy (the movie cover edition, natch) shows its use with highlights and dogeared pages.
Coupled with my exit from my conservative hometown, The Cider House Rules made me realize that I couldn’t project my own morality onto people who are living vastly different lives. The book’s plot specifically deals with unwanted pregnancy, but the lesson reaches encompasses acres more than that. I’ve also never met a father/son love story that didn’t floor me with feelings, and the one in The Cider House Rules is no different. The relationship between Dr. Larch and Homer Wells is lovely, and so real. Like so many parents and children, they both keep this deep, fierce love for each other to themselves, because they’re separated by their own sets of priorities.
I’m also grateful to this book for introducing me both to John Irving, my favorite living novelist, and, via a class project, one of my very best friends in the whole wide world.
The Ashman/Menken Disney Era
The golden age of Disney animation for me was the run of films scored by the brilliant team of Broadway vets Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. I know that my lifelong love of musicals is a direct result of being raised on repeated viewings of Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin. These smooth bastards wrote “Part of Your World,” “Be Our Guest,” and “Under the Sea.” Have you ever seen anything more romantic in your godforsaken life than the “A Whole New World” magic carpet scene?? That’s a trick question, because no one has.
The Men’s Figure Skating events at the 2010 Winter Olympics WERE EVERYTHING. There was drama, intrigue, derpiness, and best of all, the fiercest bitch on two skates: Johnny Weir. Bow down.
Johnny Weir is aspirational. He’s from the most rural of rural PA and somehow grew up to be the queen of chicness. He’s got a biting sense of humor. He’s personal friends with Gaga. He’s fighting the good fight against the homophobia in the sport where you’d least expect to find so much of it. He’s basically a deity in Japan. And as a former figure skater, I have to shout out that he didn’t even START until he was 11, which is basically the age by which most Olympians have already dropped out of school, moved to a training camp, and caused their parents’ divorce. How bad ass is that?
Queer as Folk, especially Brian Kinney
I just saw the face of god. His name is Brian Kinney. – Justin Taylor
If real Pittsburgh were anything like QAF Pittsburgh, I never would have left. Queer as Folk introduced us to the Burgh as a gay fantasy land, populated with a loveable cast of characters whose headquarters was the finest club of all – Babylon. The real Liberty Avenue is nothing like this. Sorry to crush your dreams.
The gorgeous anti-hero of our piece is Brian Kinney – advertising exec, gay royalty, cynical bastard and able to have anyone he wants. Our ship? Brian and Justin Taylor, the 17-year-old high school student and aspiring artist that he meets and well, you know in the pilot. Justin and their friends will slowly melt the ice around his heart, but not enough for him to lose the edge that makes this character immortal. QAF is soapy and occasionally silly, but there’s enough real heart and soft-core sex scenes to make it worth your while. Cue the pulse to begin.
Dawson’s Creek/The OC
I almost feel sorry for kids today, as they’ll never know the feeling of calling a friend and tying up the family landline for the duration of Dawson’s and only talking during the commercials. When they were on the air, Dawson’s and The O.C. both caught a lot of flack for being vulgar and inappropriate. This is HILARIOUS to think back on, because they were tame as baby kittens. Still, I spent most of high school and college breathlessly following the lives and loves of these attractive, tan people. For the record, I am a Pacey girl and Team Atwood.
Eddie Izzard’s Dressed to Kill
Asking someone if they prefer “cake or death” is an excellent best friend test. If he or she looks at you like you’re nuts, no sale. If he or she says, “errmmm…I’ll have cake please,” then yell, “WELL, WE’RE OUTTA CAKE” and make up an elaborate secret handshake.
I went to see Eddie Izzard workshop some new material at the 45 Bleecker black box theater just last night. And he was genius, as usual. What a privilege to see a comedian who regularly sells out the Garden and Wembley in a space that small. If you’re looking for the type of stand-up who’s going to cleverly point out some astute differences between men and women, this is not your guy. Eddie’s material last night hit on topics from Clash of the Titans to Charles the 1st to human sacrifice to romance languages. He’s vocal about his atheism and has dubbed himself “an executive transvestite.” He’s a full-on delight of a person, and his brain works in the most wonderful and mysterious ways. I love all his stuff, but Dressed to Kill is by far the most quotable.
“Wild Card, bitches!”
And one more for good luck….
The X-Files Fandom
How can I possibly do justice to The X-Files and the joy and nerdity it’s brought into my life? My introduction to fandom, specifically of the online variety, was through my growing obsession with the FBI’s Most Unwanted. I fell into the internet rabbit hole; read my first fic (and my god, there was so much of it); and learned the lingo (MSR, UST, MOW). Just recently, Kim randomly asked me, “Do you remember NoRoMos?” and we railed about those party poopers for a good five minutes. My dad drove me from Pittsburgh to DC for my first convention experience. I won a trivia contest. Krycek signed my fan club magazine. Did I mention I was in the official fan club?
Being an XF fan didn’t get me many dates, but so what? I was too busy idolizing Agents Mulder and Scully and learning about the internet as a safe space for people who care too much about things. As an adult, I’m never surprised to find out that people who I admire for their taste and judgement were also huge X-Philes back in the day. We were literally too cool for school.
I’ve had a blast making these lists for you guys, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them! Thanks to everyone who sent me such lovely birthday messages. You light up my life, kids. Never change.