Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock Bring “The Heat” Back to the Buddy Cop Genre

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My dear friend, co-conspirator, -blogger, and all around initiator of great ideas, D3Z, mentioned over dinner that she wanted to see the new comedy by the creators of Bridesmaids called The Heat. True to form, I had a moment of reluctance. Apparent to many of those close to me, this moment is my customary exhibition of what I like to refer to as “Resistance to Awesome.” To paraphrase what I was thinking in my moment of hesitation while watching the trailer: “Well… I
don’t usually like to laugh or have a good time at the movies. I may have really liked Bridesmaids and I may have only been waiting my WHOLE LIFE for a well-done buddy cop movie starring two strong female characters but…. I surely won’t like this obviously good time, right?!” Like I said, that was a bit paraphrased. All I have to say now is thank goodness I have friends with better instincts than my own or I’d never do anything worthwhile.

If I tell you The Heat is a buddy cop comedy brought to you by the director of Bridesmaids Paul Feig, written by the up and coming female writer Kate Dippold starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, I’ve pretty much told every child of the ’80s what they need to know to put a movie ticket and a box of overpriced popcorn in their hands. The Heat has gotten a lot of attention for gender bending the rules of the buddy cop genre and rightfully so. But what I really want to know is “What the Hell Took So Long?!!!”

It is the first buddy cop movie featuring two female leads I can think of. There is precedence on the small screen dating back to Cagney and Lacey and maybe Charlie’s Angels. Recently in comics, an all female teams has been coming into its own in Brian Wood’s The X-men and the team-up and friendship between Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) and SpiderWoman (Jessica Drew) has been growing in popularity but even it is mostly within the context of The Avengers. Many female teams in popular literature, Nancy, Bess and Georg(ia), The Friday Society, The Finishing School are all well done but often restricted to young adult fiction.

One trope that we get to see a lot in buddy cop fiction is the “I would die for my law enforcement partner/queen/country/career/American Way” dynamic. Examples are rampant in Hot Fuzz, James Bond, my husband’s Warhammer Novels, and cowboy fiction. We also definitely get this in The Heat, no problem. However I don’t often find this quality in traditionally female literature. More often the female protagonist is fighting to save her love interest, child, or family in general, no doubt highly worthy motivators but this exclusivity is suggestive of a more worrisome disturbance in the female force. It’s almost if women are blatantly viewed, even in their own fiction, as people who, after puberty, can’t form the same bonds men do in bromances with other adult women. If that’s the case, it’s really really lame and disappointing and I for one would like to see this trend bucked further in the future.

Finally, one obvious reason we haven’t previously gender bent the buddy cop genre is ridiculously simple: Hollywood doesn’t like to mess with moneymaking formulas. They do not believe women (or men) are willing to pay to see strong female characters not driven by family or romance in an action setting on the big screen. While it pains me to tell you to continue feeding money to a broken machine, the best advice I can give on how to generate more movies like this one is to go, pay the money, eat the overpriced popcorn. But then come home and open the dialogue. Tell them with money and buzz what we want to see. And don’t forget to let me know in the comments what you thought and to recommend any movies, books, or graphic novels that contradict my sweeping generalization of women’s lit because I would love to be more wrong than I think I am.

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Early Summer Round Up

Greetings, friends!

I woke up feeling like posting on the Easel but have few creative endeavors to share to date so the format this morning is much more stream of consciousness than anything with purpose or intent. So we’ll call it a round-up, shall we?

Summer: I am so thankful summer is here. For the excess vitamin D, the outdoor pursuits, barbecues, and movies. Speaking of movies, I have so far loved Star Trek and Iron Man and am hoping to catch up with The Great Gatsby soon.

In Star Trek, I thought Benedict Cummerbatch made the transition to ruthless villain flawlessly and naturally. I found him to be quite the bad ass in Sherlock but can appreciate that many characteristics of the ingenious but harsh super detective translate well into a driven and unstoppable science fiction super villain. I also find This incarnation of Star Trek to be refreshing and inspiring because it features the youth of a civilization driving the efforts for exploration, making the key decisions, and all while they are still discovering their own potential and pushing the bounds of their limitations both in ability and protocol. It really makes me want to get out there and DO something.

I know not everyone agrees, but I really enjoyed the time Tony Stark spent outside the suit in Iron Man 3. I think it helped to ground someone who was prone to giving into impulses like handing out his home address to terrorists. He needed that. But that’s Tony Stark for you: a little bit of Batman, a little bit super science, and lot of Rock n’ Roll. I also loved the give and take of aid between Pepper and Tony. She was bad ass herself, was she not!? Three cheers for strong female characters being given their due in mass comic media!

Comics: Speaking of comics, recently, in an effort to understand a friend’s favorite old comic book character, I gave Journey into Mystery featuring Lady Sif and Beta Ray Bill a chance. There is some great and positive interaction between Lady Sif and Jane Foster but Beta Ray Bill was only introduced in the final few panels so we’ll have to wait until next month to comment on him. I’m also sticking with Captain Marvel, and a few Adventure Time Titles which are all going pretty well. I’m a little worried about the new Batwoman arc in which Batwoman is charged with unmasking Batman by the evil morally ambiguous behind-the-scenes supernatural organization that currently holds her previously-thought-dead sister captive. Too much of the family is involved in the story but that is always an important theme in the Bat-verse. Captain Marvel is currently in an Avengers Assemble crossover called The Enemy Within. Lots of good teamwork so far and I’m looking forward to where this goes.

Books: My most recent reads of the summer have been the Night Circus by Erin Morganstern (finished) and Cosmos by Carl Sagan (in progress). I highly recommend The Night Circus which is highly immersive and builds and builds until the end. The visual images are so striking and the ties between the characters are strong and emotional. Cosmos amounts to a non sequitur in my reading habits. Standing in Half Price Books during their Memorial Day Sale, I decided I wanted to know about Space again. We’ll see how long this lasts.

Anyhow, I hope everyone is kicking off their summer as they wish. How is everyone else faring?

Classical Romances and knitting

Lately I have been indulging in some romantic movies! (don’t judge me, everyone enjoys a good romance, I’m just not afraid to admit it!) these aren’t just any romance movies though, I have been watching the classics. Amongst them are: Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson, Kate winslet, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman) Much Ado About nothing (also has Emma Thompson, she’s obviously pretty awesome, Kenneth Branaugh, Keanu reeves,Kate Beckinsale, Denzel Washington, and the amazing Michael Keaton!) Wuthering Heights (Tom Hardy, Andrew Lincoln)…and that’s all I think I’ll discuss before you get too bored. So before I talk about my awesome knitting, let me sum up romance as I have learned from these movies based off classical novels…if I was high class society, when I turned at least 17? Or I look pretty and able enough, I’m introduced into society A.K.A lots of men ranging from 20-infenity, then when one caught my fancy, I’d flirt or whatever it really doesn’t matter because if I has monies…they all love me! One asks me to marry him, he’s rich enough I oblige, and in a fortnight we will be wed! The cool thing about these classics though, is the heroine typically had a strong mind and they took a bit of a stand on their marriage, BUT! It’s a WAM BAM thank you ma’am deal….Me and Adam would have been married more than 8 years ago….eek! The only cool thing about these ladies lives is they get to read and be educated and learn music and sew and knit…

So onto my knitting escapades. I have been dabbling with some patterns trying to get in the groove of things, and I decided I needed a sleeve for my iPad case, and I found this amazing pattern on revelry (cabled iPad sleeve) and it is so much fun! Lots of cables but it’s not overwhelming, and the pattern works out fast. The neatest thing about this pattern is the way you cast omits done in a magic loop type deal where the bottom is knit closed from the start, so there’s no sewing at the end, which I think makes the sleeve seamless, and awesome! So here’s what I have so far!

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The Adventures of Tintin — In which the author overcomes great ignorance and is reminded of her love for pulp

“I seek above all to tell a story…and to tell it clearly.” -Hergé

Stephen Spielberg must have been chanting this mantra while directing his first animated film and homage to the pulp comic strip of the same name “The Adventures of Tintin.” Tintin, a gallant young reporter, and Snowy, his faithful canine sidekick, become entangled in a quest for treasure and redemption when they fortuitously purchase a clue-concealing model of the good ship Unicorn. The plot of the film was driven by action sequences  as quick, crisp, and convoluted as is expected in the pulp genre. Tintin makes for a fun hero who uses his wits, investigative instinct, and often his strong right hook to solve his problems.

Do not be mistaken. I held many prejudices, all of them as unfair and unfounded as prejudices tend to be, walking into the theater to see this movie. It was animated.There was an animated dog I assumed to be the main character (I mean really, what kind of name is Tintin? Of course it must be a dog’s name, I presumed.) And worst of all in my mind, it was attached to Nickelodeon.  Recalling my personal disappointment in and generally lukewarm feelings toward Nickelodeon’s movie adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events, I arrogantly refused to place faith in the folks that introduced me to three engrossing seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender. How ignorant on all accounts.

My husband did not understand my reluctance. “It’s kind of like if Superman comics were told from the perspective of Jimmy Olsen.” And he was kind of right. Instead of a character traditionally driven only by his reaction to a greater being’s initiative and orders, Tintin catalyzes all of the action. From his impulsive purchase of a model ship concealing clues to pirate’s treasure to his uncanny ability to know who to punch when, the storyline progresses like a freight train. In contrast to modern action icons who tend to be portrayed as more rugged (think Daniel Craig as James Bond) was a little jolting to see such a baby-faced hero pull a gun so instinctively, but it was appropriate to the source material. There were other nods to Herge including framed newspaper articles detailing Tintin’s adventures from the comics and the use of Herge’s likeness to depict the caricaturist in the opening of the film. From these tributes and the preservation of the spirit of pulp adventure, it was evident that Spielberg, Wright, and others working on the film were fans of the source material.

I ended up loving the animation in the film and the convoluted plot of the story. I have had a long time appreciation of pulp elements in book series including Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, classics like Around the World in Eighty Days, and television shows such as The Lost World. Of course the appreciation depends on not demanding too much from the genre. Pulp adventure is not particularly known for character development, so don’t expect too much here and you’ll never miss it. If you like pulp adventure, globe hopping, and quests for treasure, or as Brad put it “an hour and a half long episode of Duck Tales,” you should make a point to see The Adventures of Tintin. Or in the words of Thompson and Thompson: To be more precise, you should make a point to see The Adventures of Tintin.

It’s been a while…

Shirt I'm using for new artwork

Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down to write or do anything beyond go to school, teach, coach, come home, but I’m trying to get back on track.  Hopefully, if I can get my mind to where I want to be my life will get back to where I want it to be (I hope that makes sense to you reader…sometimes I believe I’m making perfect sense when really, I’m not).  But I’m getting off topic….

I really want to work with the idea of using t-shirts as a base for paintings that don’t reflect my family or friends, like most of my art does.  I’m starting off with a Darth Vader shirt with the words “The Empire Wants You” written in red across the front.  My goal is to use gesso to attach the shirt to a piece of plywood (instead of canvas) and then paint a scene around it based on the t-shirt used.  Now, this isn’t a one-off deal – I have many t-shirts that I can use for some pretty neat paintings.  Yes, I have a confession to make: I’m a t-shirt junkie.

I LOVE fun t-shirts.  Comic shirts, Star Wars shirts, Monty Python shirts, University of Kentucky shirts, movie shirts – I LOVE LOVE LOVE them.  I wear them under my “work” shirts (aka: button up).  Being an Art teacher, I get a little leeway.  It also doesn’t hurt that the most awesome principal ever, Mark Leet, is a Star Wars fan and doesn’t think my Boba Fett hoodie is a problem.  ANYWAYS….

I’m using the t-shirts that I know I need to clean out of my closet BUT can’t really give away.  I’m sorry to those of you who wait knowing I’ll eventually clean out my closet – I’M KEEPING THEM ALL!!!! hahahahahahaha!

This is ONE of my shirts

Sorry.  That wasn’t very mature.  I’m just excited about this new project – a new start on something.  Now, despite my depression about things beyond my control, I haven’t been completely out of the loop or trapped in my Dark Hole of Questioning My Future.”  Besides time with family, friends, and good, quality time with Doug, I’ve been coaching a 6th grade boys basketball team AND patiently waiting for The Muppets.

If you are not aware that there is a new Muppet movie out there in the world – THERE IS A NEW MUPPET MOVIEOUT NOW!!!

To be Amy Adams in this film....*sigh*

It is a blast!  Written by Jason Segel (who also stars as Gary) and Nicholas Stoller, the movie is, in brief, about a young Muppet Walter who, with his brother Gary and Gary’s girlfriend Mary, go to L.A., discover an evil plot to destroy the Muppet studios, and help round-up the original Muppet lineup to do a telethon to save the studios.  There are many cameos (Jack Black’s is awesome but Dave Grohl’s is my favorite) and the story is very self-aware.  I love the fact that while the film acknowledges that the Muppets are popular with an older generation (the now 30 year olds of while I’m included) and that television is not as wholesome as it once was, it shows that funny is funny.  The Muppets are FUNNY and this movie is well worth the watch for ANY generation.  It would probably be great for as many younger children to watch it as well.  Still, that’s only my opinion and while I’m not an expert….it’s the Muppets! (PS: Chris Cooper is AWESOME as the villain)

Thank you all for your patience and understanding with the lack of posting on my part.  I’m trying to swim out of my pool of self-pity and doing some art for myself and not for teaching or the hallways (Christmas decorations for the main hallway is KILLING ME!) is my life saver.  Still, I appreciate the support of my family, friends, and Doug.  No matter what, I know I’m loved and at the end of the day, that’s good enough for me – and more than I ever expect.

Now, GO WATCH THE MUPPETS and if you see Jason Segel out there somewhere in the world please tell him Staci Gilliam said “hi.”

Link Round Up! *Beware…Mind blowing ahead*

So, since I am between projects (the painting and the new sock…which are both coming along beautifully!) I thought I would share with you some of my favorite links! Of course they are mostly photography and knitting, but peppered in there are some other fun sites that I know you will love! Enjoy! Oh, and Thanks to all those people that are reading our blog! I know we are all excited that our creativity excites more that just us!
okay….here’s some links!

Ravelry  If you like knitting, most prolly already know about this site…but it’s one I am obsessed with! Oh, and this place is especially good for patterns from movies!  That’s where I go for all my Harry Potter inspired knit patterns! The people that are on this site are amazing! Most of them see the garment and make the pattern off of memory…they are that awesome!!….hmmm…one day…I will do this…yes…

photojojo This website is amazing!! I buy so much from these people.  This is a very modern photography site, and they understand budgets!  Don’t get me wrong, there are some expensive stuff, but they offer a lot of accessories to meet you half way to the new lens you wanted, or that rare film you couldn’t find anywhere!  I normally find everything I need on this site! They also have a facebook page, and they have really great articles!

DIY photography So, as a photographer on a budget, I love love LOVE! sites such as this one!  When you put all your money into things like a camera or a new lens, you have to save money else where such as studio lighting!  which they have a tab specifically for that!  They also have a lot of extremely useful tips for your camera and photo editing, and other techniques!

Indie Rock Cafe So, when I am working on anything…I mean ANYTHING (cooking, cleaning, blogging, working, photo editing, knitting…etc) I have to have good music.  Indie Rock Cafe is one of the best sources for indie artist of all kind!  I have found so many new favorites through this site.  My favorite part of this site…they make mix tapes of songs….they have had anything from winter music to help beat the winter blues (one of my personal favorites) to now I remember seeing a mixed tape for Bonnaroo.  Indie Rock Cafe also has a podcast that’s always a pleasure to listen to!

Knitting to stay sane I recently found this blog on one of my crazy pattern hunts for something, and right away what I love about this lady and her site….there is a tab that says FREE!….I didn’t care what was free….but I loved it before I clicked on it….I mean I am American….I loves the free stuff!  Well, of course it’s free patterns, which is like gold to knitters….if good yarn was ever given away for free…then that would be gold….but until that happens…the free patterns will do! This is a lady after my own heart! She knits beautifully, and I really enjoy looking at her work, and seeing what she is doing in the knitting world!

Rebelle So this is one of our local yarn stores, and so far it’s my favorite!  all the ladies that I have seen in there so far are all knitters, and I love all the patterns they have around the shop, and of course I love all the yarn they have! yarn heaven.  Oh boy and do they sell everything for your knitting/crocheting needs!  I  have to watch going in there when I have extra cash!! We (ladies of Errant Easel) are hoping to take a spinning class there at some point or another…drop spindal style.  We support local here hard core, so I had to show some love to one of my favorite places to shop!

 

Well, I guess that’s all for now…there are oh so many more places I frequent on these here internets….but I don’t want to blow your mind completely! I DO want you to come back!