The new IT, and my complaints

WARNING: This post will be discussing the new IT film, the old TV movie, and the book. That means all kinds of SPOILERS — just a warning, in advance. I am gonna be talking details, so if you are hoping to be surprised by one of the three, this is where you should check out.

 

BEGINNING OF SPOILER POST (you’ve been more than fairly warned):

DISCLAIMER: Okay, so a LOT of things bothered me about this movie. I will admit right now though, I am a bit biased. I grew up on the TV movie, and have watched it with my closest friends over the years. The old IT wasn’t the greatest movie by any means, but the dialogue and delivery was so bad that it was funny, and I always had a great time watching it with me friends whether it was with my neighborhood gang in middle school, or my best gal pals in college. Also, I watched IT when I was way too young, so Tim Curry’s Pennywise occasionally makes appearances in my nightmares to this day. It was the first movie I watched where I completely recognized and understood how bad it was, and why, on my own (without just adopting whatever opinions my older siblings had). It was one of the earliest examples of a role played so well that I couldn’t find the actor in it. (Was this mostly because it was a terrifying clown, and recognizing the underlying actor would have helped assuage some of my fears – maybe. But even now, Tim Curry’s performance is undeniably fantastic, so that may have only been a small factor.)

Not only did I love the movie as a kid, but I love the book and have read it multiple times. The first time I read it, I was living alone in an empty apartment. My roommates wouldn’t move in for another week or two, so I pretty much had my bedroom set up. The rest of the two bed, two bath apartment was dark and empty. I didn’t have internet or anything, so I figured a good thick book was the way to go. So one night I was reading “IT” in my bed, which was next to a wall of windows showing off the amazing view from the 22nd floor of the Park Evanston (it was an AMAZING apartment). Outside, there was a crazy thunderstorm raging. I didn’t mind one bit since thunderstorms are one of my favorite things, and my view was incredible. Anyway, every so often I would glance up from my book to look at lightning or watch the rain lashing my windows. During one of these glances, I watched as a single red balloon floated up, right past my window. My window on the 22ND FLOOR! IN A THUNDERSTORM! WHILE I WAS READING “IT”…so yeah, I have a lot of fond memories associated with IT as a rule, and naturally had some affectionate bias when I went to see the new one.

Okay, onto business! I had so many problems with this movie, so I’m just going to try to keep them as clear and organized as possible.

1. The Basic Plot

If you are gonna complain about a movie, why not start with the framework? This new film was certainly based on the Stephen King book, much like The Shining was — that is to say, he laid the groundwork, and then the director changed a whole bunch of stuff. The problem is, Kubrick absolutely nailed it. It was not necessarily the movie that the book-lovers wanted, but once you accepted it as it’s own piece, it was an amazing film. That wasn’t the case in this movie. The changes that the director made often felt unnecessary, and what little plot managed to escape the cutting room floor was not from the book. Well, that’s unfair….the character’s did have the same names. But that’s about it. In the book, Georgie’s mutilated corpse* was found directly after the attack. Bill wasn’t on a quest to find Georgie’s body — he wanted to take vengeance on who (or what) -ever killed his little brother, and to bring his parents back. When they lost Georgie, Bill’s parents became empty and hollow. Bill believed on some level that if he could get rid of the evil enveloping Derry, he could snap his parents out of it and make them love him again. Bill remembers what it was like.

“‘Go on, Bill,’ Zack said, and Bill could feel the coldness again. The coldness that made suppers a kind of torture as his father leafed through electrical journals (he hoped for a promotion the following year), and his mother read one of her endless British mysteries: Marsh, Sayers, Innes, Allingham. Eating in that coldness robbed food of its taste; it was like eating frozen dinners that had never seen the inside of an oven” (673).

Bev’s dad was physically abusive, but not sexually abusive. That is why it was so scary in the book when he became sexually threatening toward Bev — IT had essentially possessed him so he could attack Beverly and she wouldn’t** be able to fight back. As a child, she believed that her father loved her, and that his abuse stemmed from a sort of parental concern. In the chapter “June of 1958” Bev remembers a specific incident when her father claimed his abuse was for her own good.

“She felt her love for him. never hit you when you didn’t deserve it, Beverly, he once told her when she had cried out that some punishment had been unfair. And surely it had to be true, because he was capable of love. Sometimes he would spend a whole day with her, showing her how to do things or just telling her stuff or walking around town with her, and when he was kind like that she thought her heart would swell with happiness until it killed her. She loved hime, and tried to understand that he had to correct because it was (as he said) his God-given job. Daughters, Al Marsh said, need more correction than sons. He had no sons, and she felt vaguely as if that might be partly her fault as well” (397-398).

Yes, it was still abuse, but changing it to sexual abuse so that Bev could chop off her hair and (possibly) murder her father was a significant change in Bev’s family dynamic. Maybe this was just a quicker way to establish that home was not a safe place. That her father could supposedly “love” her and hurt her….still it felt out of place. Like there wasn’t time for her and her father’s relationship to begin with, but they wanted to squeeze in some backstory as quickly as they could.

In general, the plot was breezed over or altered. It was like they tried to reference things from the book and old movie, but didn’t have time to explain any of it so the editors were like, “Eh, the ones who have read/seen IT will get it” Pennywise says, “Beep Beep” to Richie in the new movie, despite the fact that no one else has ever said it. It was creepy of him to say that in the other versions because his friends said it, which meant that he had been watching them or could read their minds. If Pennywise is the only one who ever says it, it doesn’t mean anything. The same goes for the bloody note on Bev’s wall that says, “You’ll die if you try.” In the book and old film, Pennywise threatened Bev, saying, “You’ll die if you try to stop us. You’ll die if you try. You’ll die if you try…” In this new film he never said that, and Bev was the one who was kidnapped so…whoever gets the note will die if he/she tries…to stop Pennywise? To rescue Bev? To wash the bloody note off the wall? Who’s to say?

2. The Characters (or lack there of)

So some of the characters in the new movie were under-developed, or just flat-out wrong. For example:

Eddie

Eddie was a wheezy and weasley little kid with an overbearing mother who had serious hypochondria on his behalf. He was little and he looked up to Bill. He was not the quick talking kid who carried an inhaler around but didn’t really seem to need it. In the book, Mr. Keene the druggist informs Eddie that his inhaler (which he depends on) is really just a placebo that Eddie receives because his mother is determined that he is sick and fragile, and his doctor is too weak and cowardly to stand up to her. When Eddie realizes Mr. Keene must have been telling the truth, he has a very cool and calculated showdown with his mother in the hospital, where he essentially blackmails her into letting him continue seeing his friends.*** He doesn’t go off of the word of some bitchy teen who told him he was taking placebos before graffiti-ing “LOSER” on his cast, and he doesn’t just yell that he knows they are “Gazebos!” and throw a pill bottle. Yes, this was a funny addition to the new movie, but the actual conversation that he and his mother have in the book is awesome. Eddie is determined and forceful without being a rude or temperamental kid. In fact, his calmness is what scares his mother into submission. When I saw in the previews that Eddie’s arm gets broken, I really hoped that this fight would be included, but instead it was reduced to a gag followed by Eddie behaving rudely to his mother and running out without her permission. It didn’t fit the character.

Butch and Henry Bowers

Henry Bowers is the main bully in all takes on IT, and his father is a crazy man named Butch. Butch is notoriously closed minded, blaming others (the Hanlons – a black family – in particular) for the fact that he is poor and unsuccessful. He was not intelligent, nor sane enough to be made a police officer. He was always crazy, and that crazy rubbed off on Henry. His dad raised him to be a racist, closed-minded bully and he had his father’s pre-disposition toward mental illness.

Henry’s descent toward insanity was much clearer in the book, and was even touched upon a bit more in the old TV movie. At first he was a bully; then he became more violent and tried to carve his name into Ben’s stomach (a moment that was REALLY downplayed in this new film), then he chased down Mike, hurling small sticks of dynamite and rocks forcefully at him and the rest of the Losers. After losing the rock fight, he caught Eddie on his own and beat him, shoving gravel in his mouth and breaking his arm.^ A shop owner (Mr. Gedreau) tried to stop him, but Henry was past worrying about consequences.

“Mr. Gedreau looked back at Henry and got just as far as ‘You get on your bikes and–‘ when when Henry gave him a good hard push…Henry’s shadow fell on him. ‘Get inside,’ he said. ‘You–‘ Mr. Gedreau said, and this time he stopped on his own. Mr. Gedreau had finally seen it, Eddie realized — the light in Henry’s eyes. He got up quickly, apron flapping. He went up the stairs as fast as he could, stumbling on the second one from the top and going briefly to one knee. He was up again at once, but that stumble, as brief as it had been, seemed to rob him of the rest of his grownup authority. He spun around at the top and yelled: ‘I’m calling the cops!’ Henry made as if to lunge for him, and Mr. Gedreau flinched back. That was the end, Eddie realized. As incredible, as unthinkable as it seemed, there was no protection for him here” (783).

While this is him on the more extreme end, there was a clear deterioration . The Henry in the new film was strange and underdeveloped.

Mike

Honestly, they pretty much deleted Mike’s entire character, or gave it to Ben. Instead of being the one who gives them the history of Derry, and notices the pattern of violence that happens roughly every 27 years. As an adult, he is still passionate about the history of Derry, and interviews the older people in town to learn as much as he can while all of the other Losers are off living life and not remembering anything. In this new film, Ben does all of the research and groundwork, so Mike is just…the one who brings the cattle killing gun I suppose. Also, his dad lived through “The Black Spot” Massacre and gave Mike a first hand account. But he and Mike’s mom are dead in this film for some reason…so I guess we’ll just ignore that, just like this film sidelines a lot of the racism from the book and old film by instead disliking Mike for being homeschooled. I think that trying to make your fifties (or even late eighties) bullies politically correct is a bad move. They weren’t. They were racist, anti-semitic bullies, and you can’t change history. (Yes, these bullies were fake, but look at the news…they are still out there now, and they were a lot more vocal before the early 2000s.)

3. The Minimization of Violence

Part of the reason Henry’s insanity was underdeveloped in the new movie was because the violence in the film was downplayed and a bit cartoonish. His character literally carved an “H” into Ben’s stomach, and it just sort of happened. It was fast, and immediately followed by Ben flying backward down a hill. It was an incredibly violent and sadistic thing for a MIDDLE SCHOOLER to do, and this movie just rushed through it as wasted time between the endless jump scares.

Another example of this weird downplay of violence is the rock fight that the Losers have with Bowers and his cronies. They are standing about ten feet apart and hurling rocks at each other with all of their strength. One hits Henry directly in the head, and bounces off forcefully and cartoonishly. Henry is unfazed by the blow, which minimizes seriousness of the confrontation. In the book, Henry was throwing rocks along with small explosives. The protagonists were defending themselves (and the new addition, Mike) from serious injury or worse. Before Mike makes it to the group, Henry throws an M-80 at him, and even Henry’s cronies are stunned and visibly frightened.

They’re ascared of him now, Mike thought suddenlyand a new voice spoke inside of him, perhaps for the first time, a voice that was disturbingly adult. They’re ascared, but that won’t stop them. You got to get away Mikey, or something’s going to happen. Not all of them will want it to happen, maybe — not Victor and maybe not Peter Gordon — but it will happen anyway because Henry will make it happen. So get away. Get away fast” (688).

4. The Lack of Grounding

Alright, so the old movie is not particularly scary, but it was grounded in a sort of reality. Yes, Pennywise was a monster, but the things he did were real. Tim Curry was dressed as a realistic clown. They didn’t CGI the way he looked, the way he moved. He was a real and believable threat that felt like he could be around the corner, or in the basement. When blood gurgled out of Bevvie’s sink in the old movie, it exploded out of a balloon. It was gross and realistic looking. The sink was covered in blood and Bev was spattered with it. In the new film, the sink spews a CGI geyser^^ of blood that covers every inch of the room, and Bev. But somehow she is perfectly clean the next day, (though her bathtub is still a bloodbath) and her and the boys manage to completely clean the entire room. IN another seen, Ben looks out the window of his cab and sees Pennywise pointing and laughing at him while holding a bunch of balloons. When Ben turns back, there is a balloon in the car with him. It doesn’t matter that it is just a balloon because it is startling and eerie. Georgie’s boat shows up in the sewers during part two, and it is simple and creepy and ACTUALLY THERE! In the new film, the boat, the balloons, Pennywise most of the time….it was all CGI. It would have been easier, cheaper and far more effective to just use the real things.

5. The Clown

I know that everyone new that no one was going to top Tim Curry, but I still have to mention it because this clown was pretty annoying. He was usually looking in two different directions, and somehow the lack of eye contact managed to make him less threatening. His movements, face, teeth, etc. were generally CGI-ed which, as I mentioned, made it cheesier and less haunting. Also, this clown relied on looking scary and popping out suddenly, whereas Curry’s Pennywise was scary all on his own. The reason that Tim Curry’s Pennywise was so scary is that he felt like a clown. He could be kind and encouraging toward kids, he made jokes and faces throughout the film that were genuinely funny (even if it was just because he was so clearly annoying the characters around him), and he could be terrifying and threatening without the help of special effects. Also, he just had a great laugh (just watch from 17 seconds to 33 seconds). Being threatened by Tim Curry is already a terrifying prospect. Once you factor in the greasepaint…more than enough to give you nightmares. Skarsgård’s Pennywise was creepy looking from the get-go, which is already not what you want. You want him to become creepy through his actions, but start out friendly like a clown at the circus. The whole reason IT takes the form of a clown is to lure in kids and get them to let their guards down. This clowns scary face and whispered, “Hi” followed by his Gollum-like speech style wouldn’t exactly set a child at ease. I think Tim Curry managed to really give Pennywise a character, while Skarsgård was just designed to look scary and pop out ever ten minutes. This is how the book describes Georgie’s encounter with Pennywise. Beneath that is a link to Tim Curry’s. I don’t think there is any good clip of that exchange from the new film online yet, but you could always go see it and find out. Theaters tend to have deals on Tuesdays.

“He saw himself getting up and backing away, and that was when a voice — a perfectly reasonable and rather pleasant voice — spoke to him from inside the stormdrain. ‘Hi Georgie,’ it said…There was a clown in the stormdrain…’Want your boat, Georgie?’ The clown smiled. Georgie smiled back. He couldn’t help it; it was the kind of smile you just had to answer. ‘I sure do,’ he said” (13-14).

For Tim Curry’s version, click here

The interaction is much longer, but this gives you an idea of how it felt. Pennywise was not creepy and drooling and off-putting. He was a friendly clown, just like the ones that made Georgie laugh on TV. Making the new Pennywise super creepy was kind of the exact opposite of the goal.

Anyway, these are just some of the things that bugged me. There were others, but they were much more the complaints of someone very bookish, like the newer Dumbledore yelling at Harry about the Goblet of Fire, or Tom Bombadil not being in the Lord of the Rings movies. I would be happy to go through them, but I won’t for everyones sake. While I definitely have my biases, I also genuinely disliked this new film, and wanted it to be more than just “Well…because it was bad!” I completely agree that the child actors were good, but they weren’t good enough to make the movie enjoyable for me.

P.S. For those of you who assumed that Pennywise called himself “The Dancing Clown” because he did acrobatics down the street (as in the TV movie), I am sorry to say that that was not the new director’s interpretation.

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*Pennywise grabbed Georgie when he reached for his boat, and ripped his arm out of it’s socket. Georgie died immediately.

**I emphasize “wouldn’t” because a normal person (or writer) works under the assumption that a daughter wouldn’t be able to beat the living shit out of her father with a heavy chunk of porcelain, and later ram a pipe down a facsimile of him. This film had no such assumption.

***I wish I could include the fight here, but it would require multiple pages to do it justice. Maybe Google it?

^This bugged me in the new movie — Henry broke Eddie’s arm, not falling through the floor of the house on Neibolt Street.

^^CGI-ser

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Abandonment Issues

So, I am not the most secure person. (Yeah, it’s one of those posts today. Not too late to bail.) I’m not good at asking for help, and hesitate to accept it when it is offered. I am uncomfortable with being taken care of and that is largely because I worry that, if I’m not always fun and easy to be around, people will just decide I’m not worth the effort and leave. When I took a quarter off from college to try to get a handle on my depression, one of my — let’s say, camp counselors* — said that it is not uncommon for people with depression to feel this way. We (the depressed) are constantly burdened by this huge, seemingly unconquerable thing.

And it doesn’t go away.

You aren’t just depressed one day. It’s all the time. The people who know you best are aware of it, and just that already feels like more than is fair to put on another person. So you do things for other people. You are always willing to help a friend move, pick them up from the airport at 4:00 am, cover lunch that day — because then they’ll stay. It’s not that you are trying to buy their affection — you are just constantly trying to make-it-up in advance, preparing for the day that you have to cancel plans because you can’t leave the house, or you feel too hollow to act “normal.”

Here’s the secret though: if you are depressed long enough, this becomes a habit. I have my depression under control – my medicine works, I don’t binge anymore, I leave the house – all that good stuff. But that fear of being a burden hasn’t gone away in the slightest. I still have the occasional bad night (like anyone**), but I am always afraid that if I bring it to someone else, that person will decide I’m more work than I’m worth.

I know there are people who care about me. I know that I would never desert a friend going through the same. But on the bad days it feels like they’re allowed to feel like that, and I’m not. It is my job to be the fun, easy one all the time so that people will like having me around. Unfortunately, the best cure I have managed to find so far is faith in the people you care about (which is not very satisfying – sorry loved ones, IT ISN’T). The people who are worthwhile aren’t going anywhere, and the ones who do abandon you are not people who deserve your friendship anyway.

Oddly, what brought this up was the idea of imposter syndrome which, when I started this sentence had a very clear connection…hmm…OH! Both are kind of like you are faking it, worried that if people find out the truth about you…something. I guess it was kind of one of those train-of-thought connections that, when put on paper, is kind of a leap. Well whatever. For anyone who doesn’t know, imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are not actually as good as people think you are, and you are just faking it. At any moment the teacher will realize you are making it up, your boss will realize you are under-qualified, third example, etc. It is INCREDIBLY common because, as we all find out around age 20, everyone is faking it. Seriously, if middle schoolers new how much of adult life was BS and dumb luck…well, then they would know. Oof, this paragraph is really wandering. I’m watching Whose Line Is It Anyway and the coherent ideas stopped after burdening others….

So, to summarize: you aren’t a burden, the good ones stick around, most people are faking it, those ideas are totally connected, and the only real cure to these problems is GET MORE CONFIDENT. So, good luck with that everybody! Peace! Here is a picture I took during a walk one evening a few weeks ago.

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*The hospital program that I went to was not right for me. It was for people who were learning to cope with things that made life difficult, not with people with depression. It was not a particularly pleasant experience for me, but it got me back on a schedule. I didn’t let my dissatisfaction for the program over-all prevent me from picking the occasional smidgen of wisdom.

**I’M NORMAL

 

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Flirting with the Devil in the Chicken Pit

Okay wow, I haven’t posted in like six months. I guess it really is like the saying goes: Time flies when you aren’t posting details of your life onto a widely accessible internet forum. A lot has happened since I last talked to (at) you all. On the opening night of that show I was helping with in my last post, I went out with a guy for the first time, and we have been dating since. I graduated from college and walked with my class. I found a new apartment…It has just been crazy! Instead of trying to catch you up on the past six months, I’m just gonna leave it at that and talk about what has been going on this week.

When I got back into town after the Fourth of July, I was in-between apartments and promptly started moving. Believe me, I know that moving can be stressful, but the upside is that it is a great workout. And you can’t just skip it because then you don’t have your belongings. I am a huge fan of necessary activities that have a workout built in, and this week in particular has been great for that. Once I moved all of my things to the new place, I had a bunch of furniture to put together. I “built” a shelf, a coffee table, two end tables, and a counter-height table for my kitchen. On days that I wasn’t homemaking, I was at my job where we are cleaning the building of all of the big, heavy stuff that has been lying around, unused, for the past ten years. Needless to say, (but I am going to) it has been a very physical week. Here are some photos of the stuff I assembled (or, as I like to say, built — it implies a lot more ingenuity on my part, when really I just followed instructions.)

IKEA Shelf:

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Kitchen Counter Table Thing:

My kitchen has next to no counter space, so I got this to give me some room to work.

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“There, it’s done. Whadda ya think?”

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Getting there

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Pew pew — done!

If you are curious about the metal things hanging on the wall, they are just that: metal things. We found them at work while cleaning, so I snagged three for my kitchen. We also found a cool old Shure microphone from back in the day when they were still called Shure Brothers. Unfortunately, my boss’s friend beat me to it, but I love it!

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For the last bit of this hastily written post, I would like to call your attention to this amazing casting call I came across yesterday while looking for acting gigs.

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I wish…

Anyway, I will check back in soon! Or at least, probably sooner than six months from now! Bye all!

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Under-Indulging

So this past week and a half has been CRAZY! My friend and I spent most of last week working tirelessly (and by that I mean in a constant state of pure exhaustion) on the lighting for the show Little Shop of Horrors. It is not a show I am involved in in any way. I just like helping out. Food-wise, there is only one way to pull four all-nighters in a row: eat all sugar, pretty much non-stop. So, needless to say, not the healthiest week. But it was definitely fun, and therefore worth it. For those of you who have been with me for a while, this is a HUGE shift from my high school, and even early college, stance on eating poorly. I used to be obsessed. I couldn’t eat poorly without freaking out. If I had multiple unhealthy days I would fall apart. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret though; you really can be too healthy (therefore, unhealthy. There’s really no winning.) It is an eating disorder called Orthorexia Nervosa and, much like Binge Eating Disorder, it isn’t one you hear about much.

Just to be clear, it is okay to be extra careful when you are dieting. It’s okay to have a strict regime. What isn’t okay is when you physically CANNOT give yourself a break. When eating something you consider “unhealthy” can bring you to tears, because you feel so sickeningly guilty. No one tells you that part. They tell you about Anorexia and Bulimia, but diets train you to think the healthier the better — period. People who say that are assuming that you are going to continue eating lean meats and peanut butter and a reasonable portion of mashed potatoes now and then. They don’t warn you how easy it is to become obsessed. A (god-awful) teacher of mine once spread a rumor through my high school that I was anorexic. I was furious. I ate all the time! I constantly had snacks on hand! The problem was that it was always carrots, red peppers, or a carefully measured two tablespoons of mixed nuts. I had never heard of Orthorexia, so I wrote her off as being crazy and petty (which, to be clear she was) and went on with my unhealthy-healthy life. (Kind of like the Undead — HOW ARE THEY DEAD AND NOT DEAD!? Exactly.) If my mom wanted to go out to dinner, I needed several days notice so I could plan my eating around it, and figure out in advance what I could eat.

Wow, that went off into a direction I wasn’t planning. I was just gonna talk about eating junk and making lasting college memories. But since I’m on a roll here, I’ll just say that this blog has seen a lot of changes and battles which, in hindsight, I am incredibly grateful for. I started it happy and newly-healthy, already on the path to becoming too healthy. I gave tips and encouraged portion-controlled treats. I never took that advice, however, because I was different. I was healthier than that. When I got depressed I disappeared for a while — after all, I was starting to gain weight and was no longer active, so what right did I have to give other people advice? When I started college, I finally recognized that I had severe Binge Eating Disorder. Since every blog I’ve ever read has been a success story, I thought it could be helpful to be real with people during the weight-loss battle. I wrote about the healthy weeks, the resisted temptations, and I wrote about the “bad” nights, which just kept happening, despite my best efforts. This blog has seen me slowly recover from depression and work toward a reasonable diet that is healthy, but not too healthy. This blog met me after I lost 64 lbs, followed me when I gained 90 lbs, and is still with me now after losing 75 lbs. I still am not a model of health. I’m nowhere near active enough and I still put a frustrating amount of thought in the way I eat as I try to find the balance. I’m still here though. I’m not going anywhere. OH, and I got Celiac’s, which I feel like is probably your fault somehow. Don’t lie to me!

So I guess what this is all adding up to is, remember to cut yourself some slack. It is easy advice to give and hard advice to take, but it really is important. I created memories this week that I know I will hold onto as one of the highlights of my college experience. Living off of junk food and coffee was part of that experience, and that’s fine by me. Didn’t change my lifestyle. Just a crazy week.

If this post seems at all stilted, it was originally the introduction to my previous post, Reviewing the Reviewer. After writing everything, I realized that they were to very different and complete posts that deserved their own posts. This blog has touched on a lot of eating disorders and other challenges facing those who are trying to be healthy. If you ever have any questions, or want me to talk about something I haven’t covered, please let me know. Also, I am fully aware of the fact that I often cover the same territory more than once. After six years, I’m bound to repeat myself a bit. Also, there are occasionally new readers (I imagine), so I like to think it eases people in a bit. As always, it has been a pleasure writing for you.

Also, look at this gluten-free pizza I had in Indiana. It was so good and had “butter cheese crust” — Just sayin’.

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Reviewing the Reviewer – Sherman Ave Edition

Well hi there! For those of you just joining us, this is going to be me picking apart a poorly written review. Now I have worked as a theatre reviewer, and the first review I wrote was a negative one. So I completely understand that negative reviews can be important and informative. My negative reviews were not, however, unnecessarily mean, and I was not desperately trying to sound clever. So, let’s get started.

  1. Alright, so right of the bat, the beginning of the review has NOTHING to do with the show. The annual production is known as The Dolphin Show, so it’s only natural that your mind would jump to sex. No? Huh. Well, that is where this review started off in a ham-fisted segue that says dolphins (the animal, not people working on the production…I’m pretty sure) are an animal that has recreational sex, but you wouldn’t want to after…seeing the show. If you’re a little lost, welcome to the club. I get it, the website Sherman Ave likes to seem raunchy and edgy. They don’t play by the rules! This review quips that, “It’s quite a feat for a musical to lower the sex drive of its audience members.” Is it though? Call me crazy, but when I hear “musical” my first thought is not about how hot it gets me. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I mean, I haven’t seen it personally, but I hear Seussical gets pretty crazy. Still, this opening paragraph just seems like it really had to reach on that one. With enough effort, absolutely everything can be connected to sex. Waa-mu? Like cats? Cats in heat? (and that’s just the cleanest thing I thought of). My Daily ‘Gurts? Yogurt is a food that you could eat off of a person, or post hanky-panky. You’ll notice I never have made this connection until now because it is irrelevant and has nothing to do with my blog. But that’s me.
  2. Next, the weird and unnecessary comments about the house not being full. Little Shop did not have a full house opening night, that is completely accurate, and was pointed out by other, more professional reviews as well. It was what followed that came across as…well, you read it. It read, “In those empty seats, one might have seen the empty dreams of the actors–soon-to-be service industry workers–that were about to take the stage of this theatrical tour de bores.” Soon-to-be service industry workers? Really? Say what you will about theatre majors (hell, I am one and I have said PLENTY), but these ones did still get into Northwestern…That is a weird insult to begin with, and it covers a lot of bases. It simultaneously makes assumptions about the talented actors on stage, and insults service industry workers. I’m not easily “offended,” but no one deserves to be insulted for the job they have. So if you want to throw out oddly personal insults, say that they will work as the staff in YOUR home or company, since clearly you are not a very kind and would likely be a difficult employer to work for. (By the way, that was an educated guess based on the review I read, not a random jab at a group of hardworking students.) I am a HUGE pun fan, but “tour de bores” had no kick because of the sudden and radical change in tone. Unnecessarily mean commentary to dad-joke-esq. puns? Why?
  3. I’m just going to skim over the complaints (and I am paraphrasing) about “how much did this production cost?” and “is this what my tuition money is going toward???” The show did kick off with tech problems, completely accurate. The sound wasn’t working and people were confused. Then, after about two minutes, the show was paused and the sound was fixed. The show started over and went off without any big issues (which is a feat for ANY live theatre). As far as your tuition money…really? All of our money goes toward everything. That’s what happens when you attend a college that offers multiple majors. If you were so worried about your tuition money, you should have looked into the school before attending. This is the 75th year of the Dolphin Show and, I hate to break it to you, but that means it has happened 74 times already. Some might even say it is associated with the theatre department of this school (but that’s just conjecture). Also, I know the editor’s note was added later, but I cannot help but chuckle reading, “Throughout the play, the plant grows and grows, much like my anger at knowing that my tuition money went towards building a giant, green, political statement” and then reaching the bottom of the page and seeing, “Editor’s Note: Congratulations to all who performed in and worked on “Little Shop of Horrors,” you were marvelous.  Also fuck Trump.” First, thank you to the thoughtful editor who gave the actors a shout out. That was sweet. But back to the point, my anger just keeps growing that my tuition goes toward student groups like Sherman Ave, smacking me in the face with political opinions right after complaining about exactly that.
  4. Alright, next comes a paragraph complaining about the plot of a notoriously goofy play that was based off a film by Alan Menken (not written by students). Really? You are going to nit-pick about whether it is romantic to grow a flower, (which, for the record, is also not what happens, but whatever) in a show about a talking plant that SPOILER: eats people and then takes over the entire world? An interesting approach, though not a terribly effective one.
  5. I think my favorite part of this review is referring to the show as, “a major offense to American musical theater as a whole.” That is assuming a lot about musical theatre. I mean, I have seen some ROUGH productions. But since you have apparently seen all of it, I would like to speak on behalf of all Sherman Ave readers and thank you for your insights.

Not only is this piece needlessly hostile, it doesn’t flow well. My advice: nothing sounds stupider than trying to sound clever. Just write. For reference, picture a little kid who just learned a bunch of big words. They use them constantly to try to seem grown up, but it just makes them seem younger and more naive than ever, because they are reaching and you can hear how hard they are trying.

If you think this review was too mean, it is very possible. Which is why I wrote it on my personal blog — because people read this with the full knowledge that they are getting my take on things (or, they choose not to read it because they are getting my take on things).

Also, I realize that I did not provide the full text. If you are curious, it can be found on the Sherman Ave website.

mismaloya

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New Schedule

Hey Everybody! So, things have been sort of weird since the holidays. Not having classes after having them all the time (even 2 out of 3 summers) is very strange. Also, I tend to work nights, so it’s just a whole new schedule. I’m hoping to start nailing down some kind of regular routine next week. Until then though, I just thought I’d check in.

The holidays are pretty much in the rearview at this point, and I’ve managed to shake off almost all of the holiday weight. If you haven’t yet though, don’t worry about it. From everything I’ve seen and heard lately, the world may well end in ten days anyway. Might as well enjoy what’s left of it. Not to make a blog that is ostensibly about food political, but come on. How is this even real? But let’s not do that. I generally write when I’m in a good mood, so there is really no point in rehashing America’s NIghtmare-That-Just-Won’t-End.

So…um…work has been fun. My school is putting on Little Shop of Horrors, which is also the show that my high school put on back when I was a Freshman. Wasn’t in that one and I’m not in this one — so we’ve really come full circle. This is related to work because I have been using my shifts to help build sets, hang lights, put up train tracks, etc. I love when my work happens to get me involved for several reasons. First, it’s just fun and second, I am getting paid to do it while everyone else there is not. Hahahahaha. I win. There isn’t much else kickin, but if anything interesting comes up I’ll let you know. Until then, just gonna be figuring out how to have a life outside of work. Maybe. We’ll see. Work life is pretty entertaining. Talk to you all soon!

In the meantime, enjoy this horribly haunting comic that I came across online…

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Holiday Tum

Hey ‘gurts fans! ‘Tis the season of finals, holidays, and a dangerous blend of stress and decadent holiday foods. I don’t know about you all, but I have definitely felt the physical effects of the season. That’s the thing about not being as overly-obsessed with my eating lately, sometimes my weight can fluctuate. But ya know, it is the holiday season. It is cold and dark and all we want to do is curl up somewhere warm, eat, and hibernate. It’s okay to indulge a bit. Just, try to pay attention to how frequently you do it. For instance, I have been making my fair share of excuses, which is why I have gone up a bit. First, I was in finals, and not just any finals – my final finals. So of course I was gonna cut myself slack that week (or two). Once I finished, well come on; I was DONE COLLEGE! I had earned some lazy days of just eating and not really moving…at all. In my head, it was kind of a week by week thing, but now I realize that I’ve been eating poorly and not moving for like a month…it creeps up on you.

Honestly though, it happens. I am hoping to start working in acting, and am very aware of my physical appearance, but I’m not letting it make me crazy anymore. I am spending the week with my family in California, and I’m not going to obsess over feeling bigger the entire time. I’ll try to keep the junk food in check, but I’ll still have fun food with my family as we celebrate Christmas and later New Year’s Eve. We have “resolution season” for a reason. Besides, no one really sees you under all that winter gear anyway.

I know it sucks. I know that you are more aware of your size than anyone else. I am eager to lose the weight I have put on, too. Just don’t let it wreck your holidays. The diet regime can wait (I promise that the extra pounds will still be there). Just make the smart choices when you can, and cut yourself some slack.* Meanwhile, my plans for this week include trying to be relatively active and the following:

Good luck, enjoy the holidays, and if I’m not back within the next two weeks – HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

*Feel free to do what I do, and befriend your food baby.**

**Mine is named “Meatball.” Adorable, I know.

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