The Handmaid’s Tale is a grim story. Watching the appropriately dark and terrifying Hulu series adaptation of it is not something I would normally think of as a “party”, but I did organize an event to watch the first 3 episodes the week that they premiered with several friends. The purpose of the party was twofold: to provide mutual emotional support and validation for each other while we absorbed the trauma onscreen, and to raise money for the Center for Reproductive Rights in the hopes that what we were seeing would remain forever fiction. I think it was a success on both counts.
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Nearly two years ago, President Obama gave a speech on the 50-year anniversary of the march on Selma, Alabama (dramatized in Ava Duvernay’s 2014 Oscar Best Picture-nominated “Selma”). I remember thinking at the time that it was a fantastic speech, beautiful and inspiring. I even saved a copy of it in my “speeches” playlist; (there’s no way to make that not sound nerdy, but I don’t care. I’m a student of rhetoric and it’s a great speech.)
Over the past two weeks under our new President, as many citizens mobilized to resist the extremism coming from the White House, this line from the Selma speech kept echoing in my head:
A couple weeks after the election, I ran a 10k. The course was a down-and-back route and the race event included a 5k, half -marathon, and marathon as well on the same route with staggered start times, so as you ran, there weren’t just people in front of and behind you but also crossing paths beside you headed the other direction. I was running with a friend, and we were apprehensive about maintaining a respectable pace because our training hadn’t been particularly rigorous, but something happened that made running non-stop both easier and more enjoyable than I had anticipated.
Last Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an unclassified version of the report on “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections“. I recommend that you read it yourself, as I have just done. The pdf is 25 pages, but the body of the report itself is only 5 pages (not including the appendix), plus a 2-page introduction that should not be skipped that explains the context and how to understand the terminology and assessments presented in an intelligence briefing. It includes “analytic assessment drafted and coordinated among The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and The National Security Agency (NSA)”, though this declassified version does not include all of the supporting evidence from the three agencies that are in the classified version.
Things We Now Know:
When you want to have an Anne of Green Gables party, (because it is of course when, not if), here are my suggestions for elements that you can include, based on recent parties I’ve organized for myself and some of my friends. First of all, PUFFED SLEEVES! Don’t let Marilla tell you that it’s a waste of fabric. You know watching Anne recite “The Highwayman” at the White Sands hotel and Gilbert lead the standing ovation afterward will be way more fun if you and your friends are wearing giant puffy sleeves while you watch it. My easy, no-sew tutorial video for sleeves that you can pop on over any outfit is below, (filmed & edited by Bianca Brown–thanks, lady!). The elastic should keep the sleeves on well enough for movie-watching, but if you’re going to be wearing them while being more active, such as three-legged-racing with your new bosom friend or climbing onto roofs to walk ridgepoles on a dare, you may want to use a safety pin or two to hold them in place.
Even though I had already decided that The Hobbit definitely didn’t need three films, I just want to reiterate that position; having seen the final installment, I remain utterly convinced that it never should have become a trilogy. The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies is entertaining for sure, but like in a “let’s get drunk and watch it with friends while we make sarcastic comments” kind of way. Remember how the last one failed to include the desolating of a certain dragon, even though that was the title? And originally the third film was supposed to be called “There and Back Again”, but it became “Battle of the Five Armies” in a change that Jackson called “completely appropriate.” I have some suggestions of my own for alternative titles that I believe would have also been completely appropriate:
The Hobbit: More Thranduil Please!
The Hobbit: Every Creature In Middle Earth Is Probably A Mount: A Pig, A Moose, A Goat, A Bat, You Name It!
The Hobbit: My Strange Addiction: Dragon Sickness
The Hobbit: Do I Have To Try To Melt A Dragon To Get A Solid Gold Floor Like That? Because It Looks Awesome
The Hobbit: Everything In Middle Earth Has Been Bred For A Single Purpose (And That Purpose Is War)
The Hobbit: The Laws Of Physics Don’t Apply To Legolas
The Hobbit: Only Half Of The Dwarves Get Speaking Roles
The Hobbit: Martin Freeman Is A Treasure In Every One Of His Scenes Even In This Stupid Movie
The Hobbit: Thirteen Dwarves Without Helmets Make All The Difference In A Literal Battle With FIVE F–KING ARMIES!
The Hobbit: Elvish Fathers And Sons Are Too Pretty To Hug It Out
The Hobbit: It’s Always Eagles To The Rescue At The End Of A Middle Earth Story. IT’S ALWAYS F–KING EAGLES!
(Seriously, can we get a story that is just an exploration of the eagles inner politics and why they never get involved until the last dire minute?) I did like seeing Galadriel wield her ring of power, I LOVED Thranduil and his ostentatious moose, Smaug was terrific, and the credits sequence was beautiful. But all the good, necessary parts in this bloated, fan-fictiony trilogy could have easily fit into two films, An Unexpected Adventure and There and Back Again. And the titles would have made more sense.
i plan to write about stories and stuff. books i’ve read, movies i’ve seen (which i think still counts as being a ‘page’ lady because, you know, screenplays). perchance even a few pages from my own writings.