The Nineties Blogfest

For this blogfest, hosted by Dave, we are supposed to list one favorite thing for each year of the 90s decade: film, television show, song/album, book, whatever. So without further ado, here are some of mine:

1990

To put it in perspective, this is the year I finished junior high (May) and started high school (August). I’d say the book Good Omens is a favorite from this year, but I didn’t discover that book until years later. I can tell you in all nerdiness, however, that Star Trek: The Next Generation was my favorite television show at the time, with MacGyver a close second.

1991

I was still watching ST:TNG and MacGyver. In fact, I was that utterly uncool kid who brought in a VHS tape of “Good Knight MacGyver” for my Honors English Lit class to watch during our unit on King Arthur. Yes, you can thank me for the fact that you got two “free” days of no work. I am equally sorry to admit I really liked Richard Marx’s Rush Street. Balance that against the fact that I also enjoyed the Spin Doctors, and Genesis’ I Can’t Dance album.

1992

It was my “annus horribilis” as much as Queen Elizabeth II’s. For personal reasons. Meanwhile, I do recall sneaking into Dracula . . . And suffering a giggle fit in the middle of it that irritated my friends. But come on, when Anthony Hopkins looks up and says, “Dracule,” it’s just silly. School Ties was more my thing. And New Miserable Experience by Gin Blossoms. Because I was having a miserable experience.

1993

My bad year continued until the spring, when I finished my junior year of high school. Meanwhile, my reading continued to be largely defined by curriculum. However, Jurassic Park burst onto screens that summer, prompting me to read the book as well as repeatedly view the film. (JP holds my personal record for number of times I’ve seen a movie in the cinema: 10). I went to see Sting in concert—second-row seats for the Ten Summoner’s Tales tour. I was as much a nerd as ever, and the same Spielberg-loving girl I’d been all my life, but I’d also broken through some kind of invisible barrier, making 1993 a banner year for me.

1994

The year I graduated from high school and went away to uni. The year of Stargate and Interview with the Vampire. A good year.

1995

I met a lot of my best friends this year. We bonded over Highlander: The Series and The X-Files and Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes (even though it was older). I had the best job I’ve ever had. I loved the show American Gothic with Gary Cole as a pseudo-Satan. I was introduced to Neil Gaiman’s work, so 1995 counts as the year I discovered Sandman. It was also the year I started watching some anime like Fushigi Yuugi and reading things like Tokyo Babylon. I was going dark but in a good way.

1996

The Pretender aired on NBC. I remember my dorm mate’s boyfriend calling and asking (much to both our surprise) to speak with me instead of her. He said, “Turn on this show, I think you’ll like it.” And he was right. I was also late to the Babylon 5 party but a friend clued me in and I was able to catch up in reruns and friends’ recordings. Meanwhile, film school meant I wasn’t seeing many first-run movies at the time. But I was loving Matchbox Twenty’s Yourself or Someone Like You and Sting’s Mercury Falling. And I enjoyed Anne Rice’s Servant of the Bones.

1997

The summer I interned on the set of Hope Floats. The year of living in just about the worst place I’ve ever lived (it’s at least on par with a basement apartment I once inhabited in Boston). I had crazy Evangelical roommates that were angry when I went out with friends instead of having a group dinner with them. I almost lost that awesome job I’d held since 1995 due to budget cuts, but they found a way to keep me (though I was making next to nothing and almost couldn’t live on my income). Were there any bright spots to all this? Anastasia, which remains one of my favorite animated feature films of all time. And I got to attend the premiere of Contact. Also, Anne Rice’s novel Violin really spoke to me. And Shoujo Kakumei Utena was awesome, as was the manga Cardcaptor Sakura.

1998

I graduated from university as a Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television-Film studies. I traveled to Europe for the first time. I had the luxury of moving to a brand new apartment. I held on to that great job. But had no idea what to do with the rest of my life. In the meantime, though, I was devouring quantities of Cartoon Planet reruns and reading more Anne Rice (Pandora, The Vampire Armand).

1999

The year I changed my life by moving to Boston for graduate school. I met the man I would marry. He introduced me to bands like Marillion and The Refreshments. Our first date was to see Princess Mononoke, followed shortly by a viewing of Being John Malkovich. But of course the big movie of that year was The Matrix, which holds the second-place record for movies I’ve seen most in a cinema (7x). That one remains a favorite of mine, the two terrible sequels notwithstanding.

That was my 90s. I’m sure I’ve missed or forgotten a lot of stuff here, but it was a big time in my life, a coming-of-age era with many ups and downs and ins and outs. Life now is boring in comparison. (Some days that’s a good thing.)

Past Lives

I’ve often asked myself whether I believe in past lives. Honestly, some days I do and some I don’t. It’s up there with “soul mates” and “love at first sight” in terms of things I turn over in my mind and try to make sense of. There seems to be a divide between my logical and spiritual selves that I’ve yet to fully integrate.

I’m only writing about this because (a) I didn’t want to disappear from the site too long, and (b) I keep hearing that “A Thousand Years” song on the radio. It’s funny because I hadn’t heard it in ages, and then suddenly it’s on every time I get in the car. What’s that about? Is it a message?

I know what it means to be struck with a feeling when first seeing or meeting someone. It’s actually not at all pleasant (at least, not for me). All the red lights start flashing and the klaxon sounds in my brain: “Shields up!” I don’t mean to be difficult. I don’t want to be unapproachable. I don’t know why, what it is about me that makes defensive my default setting. I’m trying to get over that, get better at being open.

Truth is, a lot of people tell me I’m very personable and friendly and kind, and that’s what doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t find myself to me that way at all. But I’d like to be.

And here I am, about to go off to my first big film festival. Time to try out being the kind of person I most want to be.

As for past lives and soul mates and such . . . I’ve had psychics and Tarot readers assure me of my connections to these things. I was told by one that I switch off being the male and female in a mated pair of souls throughout different lifetimes. Huh. Interesting.

Well, whoever I was then, this is me now. Plowing ahead. Thinking about what to pack. Hoping my flights aren’t canceled or delayed. Must. Do. Laundry . . .

Stuff, No Nonsense

Looking for something to read? Go check out spooklights. New layout, lots of random stuff to read about (Sherlock, Parade’s End, Matchbox Twenty, books, &c.), so there’s bound to be something you’ll find interesting.

Also, the AFF finally posted the conference schedule. At the moment, it looks like most of my evenings will be open for those hoping to meet up. However, they have not yet posted the film screening schedule, and there are some films I want to see if possible. So some things remain up in the air.

Other fun news: I will be guest posting on Christine Rains’ blog on Monday, September 24. Go over there on Monday to read my little article about Sherlock Holmes as filtered through horror and the paranormal.

Genre Favorites Blogfest

As hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Favorite Movie Genre—Romantic comedy, I think. I watch plenty of other kinds of movies; in fact, I probably watch more other kinds of movies, but rom-coms are my favorite.

Favorite Music Genre—Pop/rock. Yeah, I’m not edgy. I’m mainstream and pretty boring. I grew up with Jimmy Buffett and The Eagles and Paul McCartney & Wings . . . And now I listen to stuff like Matchbox Twenty, Maroon 5, Train, and The Script.

Favorite Book Genre—This is actually really difficult because I like to read a lot of different kinds of books. It mostly depends on my mood. But if I have to pick just one? Historical fiction, probably.

A Guilty Pleasure—(can be from any of the three categories) . . . My Best Friend’s Wedding. I love that movie. Its soundtrack, too, holds a special place in my heart for very specific reasons that I won’t go into here. (As a secondary guilty pleasure, I’ll admit I read a fair number of biographies, which is rather voyeuristic of me, I feel. Also: self-help/psychology books.)

Now go get your free Amazon Kindle version of “Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of Ichabod Reed”!

Matchbox Twenty’s North (Initial Impressions)

I’ve been having a lot of dreams with Rob Thomas in them. This isn’t all that uncommon, as I’ve explained before; he turns up when I’m stressed out. And right now I have a lot going on in regards to my writing, and then there have been some disappointments too, so maybe I’m feeling a bit stressed.

But maybe it’s just that the new Matchbox Twenty album is out. And my subconscious is trying to get me to sit down and listen to it. Normally I would have already done so. I would have ordered an actual CD, too, instead of the iTunes download or whatever. But for whatever reason that hasn’t happened this time.

So I’m not writing a review yet because I haven’t actually heard the entire album. (Also, when I write reviews, they go up on spooklights—right now you can go over and read about how I’ve been mentally rewriting Parade’s End to be all about doughnuts.) It’s on my iPhone/iPod, and that is perpetually on shuffle, so a few of the songs have popped up while I’ve been driving around. (I do so love piping my tunes through my car stereo.) My iPod seems especially fond of this “English Town” song, which it’s played almost every time I drive somewhere. I’ve heard “Radio” and “Parade” and other nouns as well, I think. Oh, “Overjoyed”—I saw that video that was really more like a half video played backward then forward. And “Our Song” and “I Believe in Everything.” So that’s not even half the album, I guess.

Anyway, my initial impression has been, “What the hell is this shit?” But that’s always my initial impression of a new Matchbox Twenty album. They have a history of reinventing themselves; no one album sounds like another. Which is weird when you consider they continue to make the same sort of unoffensive pop rock they’ve always made. It’s not edgy. It’s not even original. It’s sort of . . . friendly? I’d say it’s comfortable, but it isn’t at first—always, when first listening to one of their new albums, I’m strangely uncomfortable, as if I’m putting on an unfamiliar piece of clothing, or something too starched. Eventually it wears in and becomes comfortable, though. Which is kind of the point maybe.

Okay, so some of what I’ve heard so far has a weird throw-back vibe. You know, like “Radio” is this sort of bubble gummy thing, and then so is “She’s So Mean.” A lot of the tunes have been catchy, but the lyrics are remarkably weak, being either vague or cliché (or both) . . . I like to be able to feel the music I listen to, I see music as a way to transfer emotion over time and space, and I haven’t really had that with any of these songs so far. Maybe I do really just need to sit down and focus and listen, but I’m not sure truly good music should require so much concentration. It should really grab you of its own accord.

I don’t know. I guess the jury is still out. I will post something on spooklights once I’ve heard the whole thing. (Would it help to think the entire album is about doughnuts, I wonder?)

Matchbox Twenty’s “She’s So Mean” Video

Normally I post this kind of thing over on spooklights. But then again, I’m really not going to review this video. What can be said about it? Except: why do they have a desk/table with a bunch of junk in a crate, all covered with a tarp? I mean, really?

It’s a catchy, dumb, bubble gum kind of song, which means the video is the kind of thing that makes my six-year-old son laugh like a maniac. Though he’s at least kind-hearted enough to worry about Paul once the drums catch fire. (“Is he dead?” my son asked. I assured him Paul would be fine and the band would be touring—intact—soon.)

The Winedale Parting Song

Shakespeare at Winedale is a Shakespeare program through the University of Texas at Austin of which I am proud to be an alumna. I believe it’s grown since I was there, but back then (if not still now) we lived in an old farm house and spent many late hours sitting on the porch and singing. “Rocky Raccoon” was a favorite for some reason, and of course “I Will Survive,” as well as “A Lover and His Lass” and “Sigh No More.” But on the last night, tradition calls for the Winedale Parting Song:

I want to linger
A little longer
A little longer here with you

It’s such a lovely night
It doesn’t seem quite right
That it should be my last with you

And as the years go by
I’ll think of you and sigh
This is goodnight and not goodbye

Tidbits

Have a couple script treatments to write, but with my office not even half unpacked and sorted I totally don’t feel like it. My physical space isn’t right, so my mental space isn’t right, either. Gah.

Wondering what I thought of Frankenstein? Wonder no longer: my thoughts are here.

And if you’re wondering what I think of Matchbox Twenty’s “She’s So Mean” you can read a short musing on it here.

Now I am off to continue excavating, and to possibly even do some work (namely writing).

Poking Fun

We all know I love my Matchbox Twenty boys (and yes, you can accuse me of having lousy taste in music if you like, but whatever, that’s beside the point). But when they launched their special little “announcement” on their site, I couldn’t help laughing. Because in my head I was picturing the band members—all of them a few years (some more than a few) older than me—sitting around coming up with ideas and saying stuff like:

“Maybe we could do, like, you know, some webisodes or something.”

Or:

“It’ll be like magnetic poetry with lyrics, only on the computer.”

And they’d be so earnest about it, too, as if these were really cool things.*

Oh my God, I love them. I want to invite them over and cook dinner for them. Except that would just be mean because I can’t cook.

“She’s so mean,” they’d say after hazarding whatever I happened to make.

Har.

_______________________
*I’m not saying their site and “webisodes” are not cool. I just don’t think they’re as cool as the guys think they are. Either way, I’m excited for a new album and tour.

First Loves Blogfest

First Movie

My parents have told me my first movie was Bambi. I don’t remember this. And I don’t like Bambi, so even if I did remember it as my first movie, it certainly wasn’t my first love.

The first movie I can remember really having an impact on me—a movie I loved and still love—is Raiders of the Lost Ark. This is, in fact, the first movie I can actually recall seeing in the cinema. I was all of five years old and, say what you will about my parents’ judgment or lack thereof, my childhood would be defined in large part by Steven Spielberg movies, Raiders being just the first in what would become a long list of loves. Raiders introduced me to “movie magic” and made me fall in love with movies as a whole, and in a way that would define not only my childhood but my path in life.

No pressure there, Mr. Spielberg.

First Song/Band

I grew up listening to my dad’s records. By the time I was three or four, I knew how to work the turntable on my own, and there were three albums I played often enough for my parents to want to hide them from me:

  • The Eagles, Greatest Hits
  • Paul McCartney and Wings, Band on the Run
  • Jimmy Buffett, Volcano

I don’t know which of these I’d count as my “first love” in the music category. I’ve always liked music in general. Now, if we’re talking about music I liked well enough to buy for myself? Using my very own allowance? Music I for which I would sacrifice the chance to purchase a brand new My Little Pony? Well, the first cassette tape I ever bought for myself was Invisible Touch by Genesis. That was the first time I liked a band different from what I’d grown up with, what my parents listened to. So that one probably wins the prize.

First Book

Ooooh. Geez. I grew up in a house full of books. My parents are readers, and I was reading for myself at age three. I remember really liking I Can Read With My Eyes Shut by Dr. Seuss . . . I was also known to sit down with my two-volume World Book dictionary and read that. So maybe there’s no accounting for taste.

But the first book I remember really loving, the one that had a huge impact on me, was The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I didn’t know at the time the book was controversial, and I’m guessing either my parents also didn’t know, or else they didn’t know I had a copy, because I’m sure my mother would not have let me read it otherwise. All Snyder’s work had a strong influence in my childhood because, reading her stories (The Changling is another that really stuck with me), I had for the first time in my life the feeling that maybe I wasn’t the only person in the world who felt the way I did, or thought the way I did. Sure, I read my share of Judy Blume, too, but I had a very different experience in terms of “the social,” and so while I understood and enjoyed Blume, her work did not resonate with me in the same way as Snyder’s. The Egypt Game (and The Changling) spoke to the kind of imagination I carried with me and the kinds of games my best friend and I made up and played. It was wonderful to know that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t so strange—or, rather, that my brand of strange was worthy of acknowledgement, and that I had just as much of a story to tell as the popular girl down the block.

First Person

Oh, sweethearts. At the risk of getting existential, do any of us really know whether we’ve truly been in love?

Fine, okay. The first person I might have had semi-romantic feelings for (or maybe just attraction)—and I’m thinking of people in my life, not actors or pop icon crushes—would be Joel. That is to say, he was the first boy I actively sat around (if one can “actively” sit around) and thought about for long stretches of time. I was 11 at the time. But I had also just moved to a new town and had nothing much better to do than read, watch television, and daydream. So Joel may only have been a way to kill the boredom. Thanks, Joel!*

*Joel and I did become a couple near the end of the school year, after he kissed my cheek while we were co-captains at Field Day. But after that year I switched schools and his family moved, so . . .