Category Archives: movies

The Importance of Being Alix’s Friends: Film Class

Hello friends! So remember that time I went to a Hanson concert a month ago and then you never heard from me again? Well basically, a bridge went out on my way home and I was forced to live in the wilds of Connecticut, skinning squirrels with my teeth to survive. I only just made it back to DC alive! Or something like that happened. I’ll tell you the whole story later this weekend. But for now it’s time for another installment of The Importance of Being Alix’s Friends Family!

Last week, I received an email from a friend who was interested in seeing more films around Transgender topics. Knowing that I have never met a gender-switching plotline I haven’t loved, she contacted me. But sensing that she was perhaps looking for a little more high-brow content than I habitually watch, I forwarded her request to my father. Dad is a philosophy professor who, among other things, has a particular interest in both LGBTQ issues and film. Despite all his protests, he is probably as close to a subject matter expert in transgender film as lay people like me and you will ever find. In my request, I accused him of having a Netflix recommended viewing category calle“Obscure Transgender Art House Films from 1963-1978.” The following is his most excellent response, which I enjoyed so much that I decided to post it here. Get ready to queue up Netflix/place holds at your local academic library!


I’m afraid I won’t quite live up to Alix’s billing. For starters, I can’t name a single instance in the category of “Obscure Transgender Art House Films from 1963-1978.” That was the era of Myra Breckenridge (1970), starring Raquel Welch as Myron/Myra B., and Freebie and the Bean (1974), a James Caan/Alan Arkin police action movie which features a cross-dressing seductress in a secondary villain role (who James Caan blows away in a public restroom–doubtless to the cheers of mid-seventies audiences). These were both commercial Hollywood exploitation efforts, not art-house, and quite execrable films. I wouldn’t recommend either for actual viewing.

If it’s obscurity you want, I would recommend Glen or Glenda (1953), Ed Wood’s very first film, and absolutely, tragically, terrible–so much so that it’s good camp entertainment. (As in, if you thought Plan 9 from Outer Space [1959] was bad…) Glen or Glenda was conceived as an exploitation film motivated by the press frenzy over Christine Jorgensen’s sexual reassignment surgery. But the execution was something else again. It’s actually pretty interesting as a period piece about what passes for (Ed Wood’s own) socially “progressive” attitudes about gender back in the early Fifties. But as an art form, be forewarned: it is really, really bad. (It’s also featured in Tim Burton’s 1994 biopic, Ed Wood, which features Johnny Depp as the title character, and includes Martin Landau in the role of Bela Lugosi (of Dracula fame), who Wood persuades to play an absolutely ridiculous gratuitous part in this film at the end of his life. But I digress.)

 

Another obscure example, even more interesting as a period piece, is Sidney Drew’s silent era kind-of-sort-of transgender film, A Florida Enchantment (1914). It’s a cross-dressing romantic comedy of sorts, but unlike Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959), there is a “real” gender switch involved. (Again, of sorts.) It might be a little hard to find, but it is available now in DVD, in a collection with other silent films, and also on its own. Your public library might not have it, but a DC-area university might. Sidney Drew is a member of the Barrymore acting clan on the distaff side, incidentally. He would be Drew Barrymore’s great-great uncle, I believe.

 

I assume that what you’re really interested in though, would be more contemporary films (last two decades?) that are reasonably sympathetic to the transgender characters that they portray. Many of them you may have already seen, or you already know about, but here’s a reasonable list of readily accessible films that are generally pretty good, and some of them absolutely wonderful, in my opinion. I’m putting asterisks next to the ones that I think are most compelling…

The Crying Game (Neil Jordan, 1992)*
This film, one of the earliest commercial films featuring a trans character, as distinct from a cross-dressing character, gets some criticism in the gender studies academic world for being manipulative of audiences (which it is), and for portraying it’s transgender character negatively (which it doesn’t–readings to this effect are just ideologically obtuse, in my view). It’s interesting to think about the impact of this film on 1992 audiences who didn’t know what was coming (because, at Neil Jordan’s request, film critics played along; there is a lot going on in this marvelous film, so they had plenty of other stuff to write about anyway).



The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Stephan Elliot, 1994)
Terence Stamp plays transgender character Bernadette,
 travelling with a couple of cross-dressing (but not transgendered) pals in a quixotically quirky road film.

Ma Vie En Rose (Alain Berliner, 1997)*
Belgian tragicomedy (upbeat ending) about a little boy who is determinedly transgendered in the face of a hostile world. It’s an absolutely priceless gem.



The Adventures of Sebastian Cole (Tod Williams, 1998)
Clark Gregg plays the title character’s transgendered father, Henrietta
, in this coming of age comedy.

The Brandon Teena Story (Susan Muska, Gréta Olafsdóttir, 1998)
Compelling documentary about Brandon Teena / Teena Brandon’s life history. Should be watched in conjunction with Boys Don’t Cry (below), but definitely after seeing the latter, so as to get the full dramatic impact. It’s interesting then to think about what gets included in the dramatization, and what gets left out–how the tale gets modified.

Boys Don’t Cry (Kimberly Pierce1999)*
A dramatization of Brandon Teena’s last few weeks of life. This is the film that made Hilary Swank famous. Didn’t hurt Chloe Sevigny’s career, either. It’s absolutely gripping, and will 
tear you apart. So if you haven’t seen it, you might want to think twice about watching. 


Better Than Chocolate (Anne Wheeler, 1999) 
A charming Canadian romantic comedy featuring Peter Outerbridge’s square-jawed big-boned Judy as a secondary transgender character who does a great musical number. (It’s not a musical, but there are some musical performances in it.) The central characters are a young lesbian couple, and the film takes place in a Vancouver BC counterculture gay neighborhood: what happens when oblivious straight mom and uninformed but open-minded younger brother come to town to stay.



Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001)*
Very quirky (& wonderful) musical featuring Mitchell in the title role. There’s at least one academic article criticizing it, quite fairly, as using transgender identity as a metaphorical vehicle for a discourse on gay identity. (Mitchell is gay, not trans.) I personally 
don’t think that’s all that’s going on here, but the view is well argued.



Southern Comfort (Kate Davis, 2001)*
Very moving documentary about the last year in the life of Robert Eads, a trans man living in rural north Georgia with his trans woman partner, Lola Cola. He is dying, ironically and tragically, of ovarian cancer, after being turned down for treatment by various unsympathetic doctors because of his trans status. The title refers to the Southern Comfort trans conference held each fall in Atlanta, a pretty big deal in the trans world in our society (and quite fascinating; I’ve been once). Eads attends So-Con with his partner and friends for the last time during the film. The film will make you sad, but it is also very beautiful.



Normal (Jane Anderson, 2003 [made for TV: HBO])
Tom Wilkinson’s non-comic role as the awkwardly masculine Roy/Ruth Applewood going through transition in the rural heartland with his wife’s help (Jessica Lange). This film is a sympathetic effort, but a bit too earnestly didactic. 

Soldier’s Girl (Frank Pierson, 2003, [made for TV: Showtime])
Story of the tragic real-life romance between Calpernia Addams (played by male actor Lee Pace), a trans woman working as a professional showgirl when she first met Barry Winchell (played by Troy Garrity), an enlisted soldier residing at a not-to-distant military base. Calpernia Addams, who worked as an advisor for Soldier’s Girl, is a model of feminine beauty by western cultural standards. Lee Pace, a male actor, does an interesting and credible performance as Addams. (The real Addams appears as the fiddle player at Mary Ellen’s house party in Transamerica [below], if you’ve already seen that film. All the actors at the houseparty, with the exception of the “GG”, are actually transgender individuals, incidentally.)
 Be forewarned, though: like Boys Don’t Cry,Soldier’s Girl has a very grim ending that you might simply prefer to avoid.

Transamerica (Duncan Tucker, 2005)
Starring Felicity Huffman; quasi-comic road film. Huffman does a good job in her role as the very repressed MtF Bree Osborne on her way to California for reassignment surgery, although like Normal, it tends to be a little too didactic in its aim to reach mainstream audiences. 
But not quite as heavy-handed in the education department.

Breakfast on Pluto (Neil Jordan, 2005)*
Patrick “Kitten” Braden (Cillian Murphy) is the ambiguously-gendered central character in a wonderfully weird odyssey through life in 
this film. Kitten Braden is a liminal case, illustrating just how porous the boundary is between transgender and transvestite. Is Kitten a gay man engaged in expressing his feminine side, but ultimately self-identifying as male? Or does she think of herself as fundamentally female? The character’s performance is ambiguous on this point. For much of the film, Kitten goes back and forth between woman and nellie gay man. Her female presentation is sometimes performative drag—e.g., Braden’s Little White Dove act, early in the film, when she joins Billy Hatchett’s Mohawks for their cover of the J.P. Richardson/Johnny Preston 1960 hit, Running Bear. By the end of the film, however, she appears to be presenting exclusively as female. Dil, the trans character in Jordan’s earlier Crying Game(above) is, by way of contrast, much more unambiguously female. 


[Editors Note: This is my contribution to the list! It’s awesome and everyone should go watch. If you live in DC, I have a copy you can borrow.]


Boy I Am (Documentary; Sam Feder & Julie Hollar, 2006)*Absolutely wonderful documentary which explores the challenges experienced by twenty-something individuals Nicco Baretta, Norie Manigult, and Keegan O’Brien, as they struggle with the real-life economic, psychological, and socio-political issues associated with undertaking top-surgery to become, in their own eyes, more fully integrated trans men. There is also some discussion of the significance of hormone treatments (two on, one not, until an epilogue at the end). This one again may be available only at university libraries. Definitely worth watching.


Happy viewing, everybody!

Neville Longbottom: Year 3

I am very sorry it has taken me so long to write the next Hipster Neville installment. I actually reread book three over a week and a half ago, but I’ve been a very busy lady: playing host to some friends, visiting museums, dying of heat exhaustion several times over, writing to my pen-pal, studying up on Hanson’s discography, getting hooked on a new Korean drama and even doing work on occasion. Then, there’s my new boyfriend, Ján Mucha, who is a terrifying Slovakian man. I call him Slovak for short, and because I can’t remember his real name from one minute to the next. He may also be a vampire if his proclivity to hide from sunlight is any indication. My very own Slovakian Edward Cullen! Here is a picture of him with my other new boyfriend, Cartoon Vanilla Ice:

Now, you’re probably thinking, “two new boyfriends, Alix? You fictional slut!” I know! I’m kind of a serial polygamist in that respect. I tend to juggle several fake relationships at once. And since Glee has officially jumped the shark, a couple new spots have opened up. (Sorry Darren and Other Asian! Would this be a good time to mention that we’re breaking up?) But of course the best place on my imaginary boyfriend shelf will always be reserved for my one true love, Mr. Darcy Gilbert Blythe Neville Longbottom.

Y’all, I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t see Neville Longbottom and the Sword of Gryffindor yet, but let me just say that fair isle cardigans have never looked so sexy. I went to a midnight showing with CS, to which we didn’t have tickets until about 8:30pm the day of. I set up a craigslist notification on my phone, and while I was on my way to dinner, I literally stopped in the middle of the street in Dupont Circle to respond to a posting for tickets. This scheme also involved me sending the shadiest text message of my life that went something like, “I need you to get some cash, call this number, and meet a girl in Chinatown immediately.” But it was totally worth almost getting hit by a car to participate in my first (and regrettably last!) Harry Potter Midnight Experience and join the whole theater in raucous applause for “NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!”

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re only in the third year of Neville’s journey through Hogwarts! During the first two years, Neville maintained his cool factor despite being a perpetual punching bag for the rest of the school (haters gonna hate!) and started a really sweet rock group that’s way too underground for you. Unfortunately, Justin Finch Fletchley ate all his bandmates at then end of last semester, so we’re back to square one for 8th grade.

So how did Neville do this year? The good news is that he shows up in more than six sentences in this book. The bad news? We’ll see how well I can spin this…

Neville Longbottom and the Klepto Cat

Dude, the weirdest thing happened to me the other day. Gran and I were headed to Diagon Alley via Knight bus (floo powder makes her queasy), and when they asked our names, this creepy guy with a monster case of acne kept insisting that I was lying. “‘Choo talkin’ about? I know Neville an’ you int him. Neville is ‘arry Potter’s name.” He kept asking what I was really called until Gran finally hexed him to shut him up. Thank God I’m not a complete fuck up like that guy. He’s the kind of moron who would join the Death Eaters just because You-Know-Who promised he’d make him a flying tricycle. I’d better focus a little more on my studies this year or I could end up as the crazy person harassing children on the bus.

Unfortunately, I think I might have some residual memory problems from that time my uncle dropped me out a window. I keep forgetting things. Gran got really pissed when I lost my booklist. I don’t know what happened to it! It was in my pocket when I went to buy some Magical Toad Serum in the pet store, and now it’s gone. I also saw Granger in there buying the world’s ugliest cat. Like this thing is possibly unloveable. And people make fun of me for Trevor.

The Hogwarts Express was way more exciting this year since there’s an escaped magical mass murderer named Sirius Black on the lamb. I was just getting to the end of the On the Road when the train stopped and all the lights went off. I went into Harry’s compartment to see if they knew what was up, but it was dark in there too and I sat on Hermione’s cat by mistake. Then, the Azkaban guards appeared to look for Black and it got really cold and depressing until this homeless guy shot silvery stuff at them and gave us some chocolate. I guess he’s our new Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher! I feel a little better about my future prospects, because even if I end up like that weirdo on the Knight Bus, Dumbledore will probably still hire me as the DADA professor. Dude is desperate! But in the kerfuffle, I misplaced my copy of On the Road. Now how will I ever find out what happens!?

As it turns out, the homeless guy is not a bad teacher! The first day of class was pretty intimidating. I’d just come from Potions class, where Snape threatened Trevor with my crappy potion and then took points away when Hermione helped me fix it. (side note: damn! that girl’s taking a lot of classes! How is that even possible?) Before that, Professor Trelawney kept predicting my failure in Divination. It was not exactly a stellar day. And then Professor Lupin called on me to battle a boggart, even though we’ve learned approximately nothing in two years of DADA classes. But guess what?! I was awesome! The boggart came out as scary-as-hell Professor Snape, but I imagined him in Gran’s clothes and it was both hilarious and disturbing! Ten points to Gryffindor! This almost as good as the time I won the house cu–Hey! is that Hermione’s cat reading my copy of On the Road? Wait a minute, cats can’t read!

I think I’m starting to lose it. I thought I saw that cat walking around with my Hogsmeade permission slip last week, too, but Gran sent a copy directly to professor McGonagall. Lucky, too, because security’s much tighter now with Black on the loose. Harry has to stay home with the first and second years cause his uncle didn’t sign his form. Sucks. Butterbeer is awesome.

Despite all the security, Sirius Black showed up at the castle last night and tried to get into Gryffindor tower. He slashed through the Fat Lady’s portrait when he didn’t know the password, and now she’s been temporarily replaced by a painting of Sir Cadogan the Useless and his Fat Pony. It’s really difficult to get into the common room now because he keeps challenging everyone to duels and changing the password every five seconds.

Meanwhile, my memory is getting worse, as is my sanity. My remembrall disappeared, and I could have sworn I saw Hermione’s cat petting it like Gollum in the corner. I started making lists of everything to help me remember stuff, but those have been disappearing too. Then I thought I saw the cat hanging out with a dog the size of a pony over by the whomping willow, but that can’t be right either. I also keep imagining seeing Hermione in two places at once lately. I don’t know what’s up with that. Maybe it’s because Snape is being extra scary lately and I’m really stressed. He started taking over DADA classes once a month whenever Lupin wanders off mysteriously, and this time he assigned us two whole rolls of parchment on werewolves!!! We’re not supposed to study those for ages! I’ll never finish this work and I’m totally going to end up like that weirdo from the Knight Bus!!!

Holy crap! Sirius Black is back! IN OUR FREAKING DORM ROOM! Ron woke up the other night with him standing over him with a giant knife! Turns out he somehow got hold of my missing list of passwords and Sir Cadogan let him in. Great. Now even McGonagall is against me and the other Gryffindors have been forbidden from giving me the password. I just have to wait outside every night for someone to let me in. Don’t mind me if Sirius Black comes looking to kill random students again! I’ll just be sitting out here in corridor, easy prey!

The year finished as it always does. Me: social leper. Harry, Ron and Hermione: some crazy shenanigans way beyond the magical ability of third years that involve several near death experiences and Sirius Black escaping via hippogriff. Miraculously, no one dies or has their soul sucked out. None of it really makes sense.

But what DOES make sense is that I TOTALLY CAUGHT HERMIONE’S CAT STEALING MY ENCHANTED DOCTOR WHO NEEDLEPOINT GUITAR PICK HOLDER I BOUGHT ON WIZARD ETSY! That damn cat has been stealing my stuff all year and I AM NOT A CRAZY PERSON! Maybe I won’t end up like that weirdo on the Knight Bus after all!

Most Badass Moment of the Book

Obviously the boggart scene. Despite being constantly bullied and threatened by Snape, even in front of other teachers, Neville still manages to finish off the boggart with the help of his gran’s stuffed vulture hat (scary in itself). That pansy Harry can’t even try to fight a boggart because he’s too busy convulsing and hearing his dead mother’s screams in his head.

#1 Reason Neville is Cooler than You

Neville gets some some automatic cool-by-association points from his grandmother. Anyone who can pull off that hat is fierce.

Neville Longbottom: Year 2

Hello again, folks! When we last left off, we’d just finished Neville’s first year at Hogwarts, or a year of being shat upon by the entire school, including his so-called “friends” Harry, Ron and Hermione. I guess they must be jealous of Neville’s inherent coolness! Let’s see where year two takes us!

Neville Longbottom and the Mandragora

It’s year two and I’m back at Hogwarts! I am laying low this year because I couldn’t handle all of Harry & Co’s shenanigans last term. It’s only five minutes into the back-to-school feast when Harry and Ron fly a car into a belligerent tree instead of arriving by train. Those two are shining examples of how to make good life choices.

Our dreaded classes have begun again. Remember last year when I said Snape was the worst teacher ever? I was wrong. Since Harry offed our Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher last year, we got a new one in the form of celebrated author Gilderoy Lockhart. Only, I think he pathologically lied on his resume because it’s painfully clear that even I would be more qualified to teach this class. The first day, he let a cage full of pixies loose in the room. I ended up falling from the chandelier.

But there’s always Herbology. The only downside is that we have class with the Hufflepuffs. Justin Finch-Fletchley suuuuckkkks. He tried to name-drop Eton last week. Um, Hogwarts is the coolest school in the universe,* Justin. No one here has ever heard of Eton, and if they had, they wouldn’t be impressed. But apart from having to listen to him and Ernie MacMillan compete for gold in the Tool Olympics, Herbology is awesome. We’re working in greenhouse 3 this year, which is where they keep all the good stuff. I’ve been hanging out there a lot, especially since I formed my new band, Neville and the Mandrakes. We’re pretty underground; no one can listen to our music or they’ll die. I haven’t even heard any of our songs.

Back at the castle, weird shit has been going down. Filch’s cat was petrified, followed by some dopey first year with a camera, Justin Finch-Fletchley and Nearly Headless Nick. But that’s just a normal Tuesday at Hogwarts. The strange part is that Harry, Ron and Hermione have been spending all their free time in an abandoned girls’ bathroom, hanging around with ghosts. And Ron is not the only Weasley off his rocker–his little sister keeps wandering around covered in chicken blood and writing in her diary like some sad, friendless emo girl who also happens to torture animals in her free time.

The story behind all the petrifications is that some secret room in Hogwarts has a 1000 year old monster in it that’s trying to purge the school of muggle-borns. Everyone is freaking out and rounding up protective talismans to ward of the unspecified monster. Harry made fun of me for buying a pointy crystal, an evil onion and a newt’s tail because I’m a pure-blood and shouldn’t have anything to worry about. I was too embarrassed to tell him that the real reason is that I have an addiction to Wizard Etsy. I nearly bought a purple denim fanny-pack with an undetectable extendability charm the other day, before I remembered that fanny-packs are never not a terrible idea.**

Since Harry and his friends do nothing but attract trouble, right as we were about to win the the Quidditch cup for the first time in about a billion years, Granger and Percy Weasley’s sad-sack girlfriend were attacked by the unnamed monster. School really started to suck after that–Dumbledore got fired, we have to be escorted to all our classes, and curfew is 6pm. I can’t even go to band practice anymore, but we still have exams because McGonagall is a sadist!

And all the curfews were for naught, because Ginny Weasley ended up in the Chamber of Secrets anyway. I guess she was being possessed by Voldemort this whole time and no one noticed? As usual, there was no one more competent around than a 12 year old wizard to save the day, and then everyone was happy. Everyone but me, because Madame Pomfrey cut up my band mates to feed to Justin Finch-Fletchley. I’ll need to be finding a new hobby next year.

I gotta hand it to Ginny Weasley, though. Getting possessed and almost murdered by Voldemort was a necessary sacrifice for exams to be canceled.

*Second coolest. +1 Pigfarts

**Actual roommate bought actual non-magical product off Non-Wizard Etsy this week. If you see a diminutive sandy-haired woman tooling around the District with aforementioned fanny-pack, please confiscate it and light it on fire for the good of society.


Most Badass Moment of the Book

I’ll be honest here. Neville was only in approximately six sentences of this entire book, and in one of those, he got strung up on a chandelier by some pixies. But for argument’s sake, let’s assume that he was pulling extra hours in the Herbology lab helping to cultivate the mandrakes, thereby ensuring the revival of Hermione, Colin Creevey, Penelope Clearwater, Mrs. Norris, Nearly Headless Nick and (regrettably) Justin Finch-Fletchley. Neville saves the day once again!

#1 Reason Neville Is Cooler Than You

I tried really hard to come up with something from the actual book, but I didn’t have a lot to work with. When he does show up, he mostly just says things like, “Hey Harry! Someone broke into our room!” and that’s the end of the scene for Neville. So we’ll just have use our imaginations here:

Apologies for my lackluster photoshop effort.

UPDATE: Year 3

Neville Longbottom: Love of My Life

Yesterday, Go Fug Yourself posted the above picture of the Harry Potter cast, featuring Neville Longbottom aka Matt Lewis. Let’s review the past decade, shall we?

His taste in ties has also markedly improved.


WHOA. As the Fug Girls wisely noted, this development is both unexpected and AWESOME. I linked the original post in my gchat status yesterday and received several comments on it, including one from a friend who asked if Young Draco there was Neville, because she couldn’t fathom that Hottie McHotterson Clive Owen, Jr. there is everyone’s favorite dumpy Herbology enthusiast. But he is. The only thing that makes me happier than an adorably homely kid implausibly growing into his doofy eyebrows (see Hoult, Nicholas) is when that adorably homely kid represents one of my all-time favorite, deliciously awkward, oft-maligned characters. Poetic justice is sweet, my friends.

My love of Neville is so blinding that I never even considered the possibility that he is not everyone else’s favorite, too, until I had this conversation over gchat this morning (abridged for your sanity):

me: OMG HAVE YOU SEEN HOT NEVILLE?
Friend: ahahahah ive been internet stalking him since gfy put that picture up
 he should have been harry
me: No!
 Neville is my favorite
 Neville was always my favorite
Friend: heheh that is why you are strange
  but ultimately vindicated
  by hotness
me: And badassery!
 I’ve been saying since about book 4 that JK should just kill harry and make the next book “Neville Longbottom and the Herbology Hut”
  he’s such a BAMF in book 7
Friend: yea
  it was kind of hard to believe for me actually
  like WOAH all of a sudden
  i felt like she should have given more clues that he had that potential
me: Um, maybe you just missed the clues
Friend: well he was always a doof
  up until book 7
 like he tripped and broke that prophecy ball
 and everyone was like “oh neville, good job you stunned someone (except they werent even paying attention at the time)”
me: No! he was so cool!
  I am re-reading right now
  I’ll tell you whenever he does something cool
Friend: hahaha good
  because i never noticed really 

So now I’m on an official mission to prove to this friend that Neville Longbottom is, always has been and always will be a Bad Ass Motherfucker, one book at a time. For each book, I’ll give you a brief plot summary from the perspective of the real hero of these books, and then a detailed analysis of exactly why Neville is cooler than you in this book. It goes without saying, there will be spoilers.

Neville Longbottom and the Disappearing Toad

Toad is absent because it vanished. Obvi.

Oh my gosh, it’s my first year at Hogwarts and I’m so excited! If for no other reason than I get to get away from my terrifying grandmother and my maniacal uncle who keeps dropping me out of windows/trying to drown me. But they’re so proud of me, they even gave me a pet toad named Tr–hey! Where’d he go? He was JUST here…


I got sorted into Gryffindor! I took the longest of anyone, actually, because I possess so many good qualities, the hat couldn’t decide where to put me! Plus we had a nice discussion about song-writing, because that poor hat just sits alone in a cupboard all year with nothing to do but consult his rhyming dictionary and muse over the fact that nobody ever stops to say, “hey hat, how’s it going? Have any new songs you’d like to try out on me?” We bonded over being severely under-appreciated as characters, and I get the sense that this little chat will prove really useful in about 7 years time.

The school year’s going ok, except that everyone treats me like a moron despite being in no way the worst in my class. We were supposed to be making feathers fly the other day and Seamus lit his on fire. It’ll be a miracle if Crabbe and Goyle pass a single class, and everyone knows that only idiots get sorted into Hufflepuff. The only thing I’m exceptionally bad at is potions and well… you can’t win them all. The first day of class, my cauldron melted and I got boils all over me. Worst of all, Snape was more concerned with taking points away from Harry for some asinine reason than getting me to the hospital wing. Worst. Teacher. Ever.

Speaking of Harry, my friends are pretty cool most of the time. I say most of the time, because for kids that sneak off in the middle of the night all the time, you’d think they’d be better at it. I got locked out with them recently, and not only did we almost get caught by Filch, but we got locked in a room with a three-headed demon dog, like the River Styx is hidden in the third floor corridor or something. Apparently it was standing on a trap door, and Harry’s all, “Let’s find out what’s underneath!” Because I guess he forgot about the DOG FROM HELL, LITERALLY, standing on top. 

I swear, that kid has an invincibility complex. You’d think he’d be a little more cautious after that first incident, but noooo, he tells Malfoy a story about some dragon and then goes prancing around on the astronomy tower late at night with Granger. I tried to warn him that Malfoy was sending Filch after them, and then I got caught too, because the world is an extremely cruel and unjust place.

So as a result of just trying to be a good friend, I lost 50 points for Gryffindor, became a social leper and got stuck with Forbidden Forest Detention Duty looking for hemorrhaging unicorns. To make matters worse, Hagrid went frolicking off with Hermione and Harry while I was left with Fang and Malfoy, because that makes TOTAL SENSE, Hagrid. Leave the sociopath alone with the world’s most useless boarhound and a defenseless kid! Well, that punk snuck up behind me and I panicked, but can you blame me? It’s like Hell as envisioned by Lisa Frank up in that joint, all schizoid centaurs and unicorn-eating monsters. Who wouldn’t be a little twitchy?

After that delightful experience, I just focused on passing my exams and laying low, seeing as everyone hates me now for ruining our chances at the House Cup with my my craptastic roommate Harry. Then I heard that asshat of a friend was sneaking out with his cronies AGAIN. I tried to convince them not to, since their last little excursion resulted in a creepy detention and social suicide for all, and what happens? Granger HEXES me. So thanks for that, amiga. I had to spend all night paralyzed on the common room floor because of you. Fred and George drew all over me in sharpie.

Meanwhile, the three stooges were off to fight Voldemort, because that’s a BRILLIANT idea when you’re 11 and have mastered approximately three spells. Miraculously, they only slightly mangled themselves in the process. As a reward for their idiocy+luck, Dumbledore gave them back all the points they lost jaunting around the castle at night, but we were still only tied for the House Cup. Until I tipped us over the edge when I got 10 points for not succumbing to peer pressure. Yeah, that’s right, I WON THE HOUSE CUP. And if you’ll excuse me, I need to take advantage of being the most popular boy in school for five minutes before everyone forgets about me again in the next book.

Most Badass Moment of the Book
During a Quidditch match, Malfoy is busying himself by insulting Ron and Neville. Ron and Neville start a Gryffindor v. Slytherin rumble, with Ron going after Malfoy and Neville singlehandedly taking on Crabbe and Goyle. Unfortch, it lands Neville in the hospital, and yeah, it was a bad idea for runty Neville to take on those overactive pituitaried goons, but it’s the thought that counts. Plus, it shows he has his friends’ backs; even in the face of abject failure, he’s willing to throw a few punches for a fellow Gryff. 

#1 Reason Neville is Cooler than You
He has a toad. Toads are notoriously uncool:

“Sorry,” he said, “but have you seen a toad at all?”
When they shook their heads, he wailed, “I’ve lost him! He keeps getting away from me!”
“He’ll turn up,” said Harry.
“Yes,” said the boy miserably. “Well, if you see him…”
He left.
“Don’t know why he’s so bothered,” said Ron. “If I’d brought a toad I’d lose it quick as I could.”

The uncoolness of Trevor the Toad and the fact that Neville doesn’t even care automatically makes it round the corner back to coolsville. Neville is the original hipster. And not those awful hipsters who stop listening to a band or switch canned beers because they became too “mainstream.” Neville is a legitimately cool hipster who will drink PBR no matter who else is drinking PBR because he. likes. it.



Stay tuned for Book 2!

UPDATE:
Year 2
Year 3

Puffiest in the World

Several months ago, before I actually started publishing things on this blog, I wrote this entry after spending a weekend being all sad-sack and watching Anne of Green Gables because I had a cold. It just sat there in my drafts folder for ages, but after reading Forever Young Adult‘s reviews of the books and the movies, I felt inspired to go back and post this.

When I’m sick, I enjoy being pathetic and helpless and part of this process involves reliving my childhood by watching things like the Anne of Green Gables movies. I love these movies, but can never convince anyone but my sister to watch them with me. Like many things about which I proselytize (Doctor Who, This American Life, graphic novels, whatever YA book I am currently reading), I frequently come off too strong and have the opposite of desired outcome. And since my sister lives in Texas, I usually enjoy Anne’s puffed sleeves all alone.

On this particular occasion, however, my awesome friend Bright Contradiction came over and was like, “Omg I love those movies SQUEEE Marry Me Gilbert Doilies Currant Wine Rollings Reliable Baking Powder Puffed Sleeves!!” or something similarly (and appropriately) enthusiastic. We debated the pros and cons of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel but settled on the latter because Gilbert Blythe: Original Flavor is starting to make me feel like a pedophile. I hope I never reach a point where Med School Gilbert seems too young and I have to start watching Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story. Ready to swoon over my first fictional crush, I popped in the DVD.

I think because I was watching with Bright, I was no longer in this pathetic, illness-fueled, childlike state, and for the first time, I was watching through adult eyes. Up until this point, I’d always been able to view the movie through my 10-year-old-colored glasses. This was… different.

I know from experience that those glasses can be hard to put back on. Five or six years ago when, cleaning out my bookcase, I discovered one of my favorites–The Boxcar Children–and made the mistake of rereading it. As a child, this book was exciting and adventurous. I wanted to go out in the woods and collect berries and sleep on a bed of pine needles! As an adult, this book makes me question the mental health of the author, because the plot is illogical in a way that no sane adult should ever be able to conceive. Similarly, upon re-watching after many years, Swiss Family Robinson turned out to be kind of racist/generally offensive, and isn’t it really weird how a married couple addresses each other as Mother and Father? No matter how cool coconut bombs are, there are some things that are hard to overlook as an adult.

So, can my love of Gilbert Blythe endure the list of things I never picked up on as a child? Let’s assess the gravity of the situation.


Captain Morgan Harris is like SUPER old, comparatively. At this point, the writers of this movie started playing fast and loose with their source material, so the time-line is a little hard to gauge. But by my best guess, Anne is max 18 or 19. When you’re small, all adults seem like they’re the same degree of oldness. Too bad I realize now that Captain Morgan is old enough to be Anne’s father. His own daughter is like 14!!! That is not an appropriate distance between potential step-mother and daughter. There’s no explaining away that age difference. Captain Morgan, you are a creeper.

By the way, only old men wear hats like that. Which is fitting, because you are old.

“Alabaster brow,” eh? When I was younger and didn’t understand half the words Anne used, I thought that meant she was a really thoughtful and talented writer. She is not. At least not at this point in the story.

I just noticed that that watch makes no sense, either. How do you read such a thing?

Diana ends up with this guy: I know Anne shares my opinion of Fred Wright, but why does the Best Friend always have to end up with Mr. Collins?

Is Dianna offended by Anne’s comment about the doilies? Or about how incredibly dull she just realized her fiancé is? You be the judge.

That dress is not as beautiful as I remember. There are like weird shoulder holes! And wtf with the rosebuds everywhere? It reminds me of that season of Project Runway where Awful Angela (who Wikipedia tells me is an organic farmer??) kept putting rosettes all over everything. And then she won the Macy’s challenge and they actually sold her stupid be-rosetted clothing in stores. Point is, this dress is not. good.

Essie and Blonde Pringle (Myra?) disagree with me.

In general, the clothes are not always as cool as I remember. Some of them are legitimately cool. Some of them are this corduroy vest that Gilbert wears:

Even Gilbert seems to be regretting the decision to propose in this outfit, which admittedly you can’t see very well because what I learned tonight is that the director of this film did not like medium shots. 

Gilbert says “sorry” funny. Nah, just kidding. Even as a little kid his accent was hilarious. You Canadians! You’re so funny!

Poor Gilbert. He really is sore-y, Anne! And you just knocked him down with your flower basket!

The hair in this movie is insane. Seriously, seriously insane. I guess this particular look is good in that it represents the level of Anne’s distress, because she looks like she could be institutionalized here.

It’s so big it doesn’t even fit in the shot!

Jen Pringle will give you nightmares. Seriously, just look at her crazy eyes. She will definitely grow up to be some kind of murderer. As Bright pointed out, she probably already tortures animals in her spare time.

“Hello, I’m a psychopath. I’m going to grow up and eat someone’s internal organs for fun.”

    At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t matter that Gilbert is wearing a corduroy vest or Morgan Harris is old. This movie still has so many awesome parts, like the picnic with Mrs. Harris, or Pauline hiding her fancy outfit from Mrs. Harris, or Mrs. Harris on the train, or really anything involving Mrs. Harris. But most of all, it doesn’t matter that Gilbert wears a corduroy vest because he’s still the dreamiest dreamboat ever to come out of Canada. And I will gladly take all of the ludicrous parts of this movie just for the way he gazes at Anne in the last scene. It’s really hard to capture with one frame, but this is the look of someone totally, irrevocably smitten:

    And if I can’t get over those other things, there’s always booze.

    Plus I finally figured out why I like Hailee Steinfeld so much:

    Megan Follows = Hailee Steinfeld.
    They make the same. facial. expressions. all. the time. Seriously, go back and watch. It’s uncanny.