Johnson County Fair 2016

The county fair has been an essential part of my summer for as long as I can remember. Even though I gag at the smell of livestock and make fun of all the deep-fried food-on-a-stick and hate coming home covered in dust from the hay and the dirt, it’s still one of my favorite parts of each summer. All the sights, sounds, and – mostly importantly – SMELLS are what I’m used to. I get weirdly nostalgic about it even as I’m making fun of it.

I knew I wouldn’t be home in time to go to the fair in my hometown so when I made my summer 2016 bucket list several months ago, I included “visit the Johnson County Fair.” Well, I went there last night with my roommate and it satisfied that weird nostalgia/fair food craving.

We ate a funnel cake and bought overpriced lemonade and basically made a ginormous, glorious, sticky mess.

We took pictures of all the cute animals and debated which ride was the coolest. (But rode none of them, because we are broke college students and the ride passes cost like $10, which was $10 more than we wanted to spend.)

We watched some kind of horse competition we didn’t understand. If the goal was to fall off the horses as much as possible, these riders certainly excelled at it.

We laughed at the tacky ears of corn carved out of wood that were for sale all over the place.

We got lost.

We oohed and aahed at the fireworks. (They accidentally set the grass on fire. Oh, Iowa. You tried.)

johnson county fair 2016All in all, it was a super fun, super dorky way to spend the evening. My roommate and I don’t have much more time together since she heads back home to Brazil in just a few days, so I’m really glad that we got to do this. We haven’t known each other very long – we only moved into summer housing in May – but she’s really nice and we’ve had fun finding things to keep ourselves amused this summer in between my classes and her internship.

She said the fair reminded her of home, actually, that they have similar fairs where she’s from. Mostly the smell, she said, but also things like the food – she didn’t know what a funnel cake was but once she took her first bite she said it tasted just like a Brazilian dessert with a different name. I’M GLAD PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT CULTURES CAN BOND OVER FRIED DOUGH.

The fair reminded me of home, too. As I said earlier, it’s been a major part of my summer for so long, and I’ve been very involved in it due to being a member of 4-H. I graduated from the program last summer, so this is my first year as an alumni and it felt really weird to not be involved in it anymore.

It felt so weird to not have to scramble to finish a million and one 4-H projects at the last minute. To not have my parents breathing down my neck, pestering me to finish. To not spend hour after hour and day after day at the fair.

The last item in that list struck me as particularly strange. For the past few years, I’ve been at my hometown county fair for all ten days of its duration, plus some time before and after, due to volunteering commitments, 4-H events, my job as an office clerk, et cetera. Naturally I was always sick of the fair by the end of it, so it was lovely to go there last night for a few hours and know that I didn’t have to get up in the morning and do it all over again. (I can’t handle that much country music blasting from the loudspeakers.)

So, yeah. It was fun to go there. It was fun to hang out with my roommate. It was fun to talk to all the cows. (DON’T JUDGE ME.) I’m still kind of judging the Johnson County Fair because they didn’t have a Ferris wheel – what’s up with that? what even is a fair without a gigantic Ferris wheel? – but otherwise it ended up being one of my favorite items from my summer bucket list.

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5 Ways In Which Acting Class Surprised Me

summer 2016 acting class - production in progress signHey everyone! I just finished week five of my summer acting class and since there’s only one more week left, I thought this would be a great time to tell you some of the things I’ve learned in it! I’ve wanted to take an acting class for YEARS and so it’s been pretty cool to finally get the chance to do so – and to have it count as a gen ed course as well!

Since this is something I dreamed about for a long time, I naturally had a bunch of expectations, preconceived ideas, et cetera. So this post is all about the things that surprised me about acting class!

1. It’s strenuous

I have class three afternoons a week and while that originally made me sad because I wished it were more often… I’ve changed my mind. Not because I don’t love the class (I do!), but because I leave the theater building absolutely exhausted on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. It’s definitely not an “easy A” type of class!

2. It requires a constant, intense focus on what’s happening

You can’t let your attention wander – at all. This is why it’s so strenuous! The work you do here requires you to put forth your best effort physically, mentally, and emotionally. Imagination is a wonderful thing to have, and is key to acting, but if you daydream while you’re supposed to be practicing you’ll quick find yourself crashing and burning.

3. Everyone in the class bonds really quickly 

First of all, there are only thirteen people in the class, not including the instructor! Secondly, because acting requires so much concentration and effort, we spend a lot of time practicing and observing minute changes in our classmates’ actions and speech. In a little under six weeks, we’ve already grown more familiar with one another than I have with some of my classmates in semester-long classes.

4. Lines are actually quite easy to memorize

I was SO stressed out about this part of the class, because it’s worth a huge percentage of our grade. Happily, though, I memorized all my lines within about three weeks! (My partner and I are performing a scene from Proof by David Auburn, if you’re curious. I’m Catherine and she’s Claire.) It was a challenge, to be sure, but also quite doable. Between in-class practice, the three out-of-class practice sessions required each week, and any practice we do individually, it’s not all that hard to get the lines down quickly.

The tricky part is remembering everything else you’re supposed to be doing as you say the lines! From moving about the stage to changing the tone and volume of your voice, there sure is a lot to keep track of there… but it would be impossible to improve THAT unless you first had your lines memorized, so I’m glad that everything just sort of fell into place for me in that regard.

5. It improves writing skills

That’s what I think, at least! Lately we’ve had a bunch of assignments that ask us to identify a character’s objective, tactics, and more, or to break down a scene into units of action. All this is immensely helpful to think about in the context of my own stories. While I can’t say that I’m going to start writing every scene according to an outline of objectives and tactics, it’s definitely a useful thing to refer back to from time to time as I figure out what exactly it is that my characters want and how they could go about getting it.


Have you ever taken an acting class? The one I’m currently in is one of my favorite classes I’ve ever taken, so I’d love to hear about what your experience was like! What was the most fun part? Was there anything that you really struggled with? (I struggle with yelling my lines at appropriate parts in the scene, for instance. I’M SO SHY AND SO THIS IS HARD FOR ME.) Be sure to let me know in the comments below!

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Spoilers & Sayings In “Hamlet”

We’ve been studying Hamlet in my Shakespeare class lately. I’ve had a… fun? interesting? unusual? experience with it, which is what prompted me to write this post. I still have to figure out how I feel about it – I gave it a three-star rating but may end up changing that to four, and I have the distinct feeling that it’s one of those stories that I’ll come to appreciate more over time – but right now I’m kind of overwhelmed with oh so many papers and quizzes to complete that I haven’t had a quiet moment to really figure that out.

Anyway, reading it has been an Experience for two reasons.

First of all, I knew very little about the plot. Oh, I knew of all the famous soliloquies, and I knew about the ghost, and I knew that Ophelia killed herself by drowning – but I didn’t know the rest. Somehow. I’m not quite sure how. I didn’t read the play in high school, but that still doesn’t really explain how little I knew about Hamlet. I didn’t know that his mother married his uncle. I didn’t know that by the end of the play, four people are dead. I was ignorant of so many MAJOR plot details.

And I don’t suppose that even matters now, since I’ve finally read it. My point is not to complain or to scold myself, because it was actually super fun to experience the play in this way. I watched a film adaptation first – with David Tennant and Patrick Stewart as Hamlet and Claudius, which I highly recommend – because I thought it would help me to visualize the events of the play.

The movie was over three hours long, but I didn’t get bored because so much of it was brand-new to me. This play is over four hundred years old but to me it may as well have been written today.

And that’s not an experience I often get to have.

Part of that is due to being, well, a person who was born some four hundred years after Shakespeare’s plays were written – spoilers tend to spread far and wide when you’re dealing with such a vast expanse of time.

And part of that is due, I think, to being an English major. My professors constantly reference other literary works, either with a vague assumption that we’ve already read them, or with the knowledge that it’s something we’ll have to study in required classes further on down the line. They’re always discussing other books and then it’s just like, “Oh, thanks for telling me THE ENTIRE PLOT of this novel.”

The other reason reading Hamlet was an Experience is that I had no idea just how many common sayings come from it. “Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” “to thine own self be true,” “the play’s the thing,” et cetera. I’m not going to list them all because there are so many, but let’s just say that I went scarcely more than four or five pages without stumbling upon another phrase I recognized.

I was surprised by how many were said by Polonius, actually, because I… wasn’t even aware that he existed before reading this play? (HE IS THE GREATEST, THOUGH. So annoying, but he – and the others’ reactions to him – make me laugh.) Like, he prattles on and on and rarely says anything of importance, but quite a few of his lines have made their way into common use in modern English? That’s so weird.

So, yeah. Hamlet was full of surprises for me. That doesn’t often happen, especially as an English major, so it was fun to go into the play with very few expectations: I was in suspense the entire time, and was delighted to find many famous quotes that I had never associated with the play before. The final play we’re reading in this class is Othello and that’s another play I know very little about, so I’m looking forward to that.

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First Reactions To The “Wonder Woman” Trailer

Hey, everyone! So I know that the Wonder Woman movie is still almost a year away and so I was going to wait a little while longer before publishing any type of reaction post, but then the San Diego Comic-Con trailer happened and NOW I CAN’T WAIT ANY LONGER. This is the #1 movie I am looking forward to in 2017!


P.S. You can find my earlier film trailer reaction posts here.

Warning: Spoilers ahead! Read/watch at your own risk!

0:06 – WELL I’M GAY.

0:09 – WTF I have the same haircut as Steve Trevor???



0:40 – Listen… I’m going to level up in gayness upon seeing this movie.

0:47 – Oh my god she has a sword in her dress. A SWORD in her DRESS.


0:55 – I don’t know who she is, but that look on her face… SAME.

0:57 – Ohhhh, so this is set during World War I after all! I’m so excited – I think it’s a really fascinating period of time that isn’t portrayed as often in pop culture as, say, WWII.

0:59 – “Have you never met a man before?” No, Steve, you fool, she is a lesbian and I’m gonna fight you.

1:08 – OK, Steve, you have redeemed yourself. Somewhat.



1:21 – Literally no one cares about you, Steve.

1:27 – Fun fact: Wonder Woman carries that shiny, shiny Lasso of Truth because William Moulton Marston, the man who created her character, was A) instrumental in the creation of the first lie detector and B) really into bondage. I LEARNED THAT IN MY WONDER WOMAN CLASS THIS SPRING OMG.

1:33 – [Insert happy sighs because YAY FOR INCREDIBLE COSTUME DESIGN]

1:39 – I LOVE MY WIFE.






2:15 – Oh this is her theme music from Batman v Superman! Yesssss.

2:24 – I am now even more excited for this movie than I was previously, and I hope anyone who accompanies me to the theater is prepared to have me whisper “!!!!!” and “look at this #iconic lesbian” the entire time.

2:28 – OH MAN IT’S ETTA CANDY. I forgot they were including her in this movie!



Looking back at what I’ve written, I see that this must certainly be one of the least coherent film trailer reaction posts I have ever written. Normally this is the point in the post where I go a little more in depth and talk about other things that have me excited about a particular movie, but since this post has disintegrated into me talking about how much I want Wonder Woman to scoop me up in her arms, I’m going to stop here and leave you with these lovely tweets from comic book author Gail Simone:

My feelings exactly, Gail.


What’s your opinion of this trailer for Wonder Woman?

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Five Truths & Four Lies: Part Two

Earlier this month Heather @ Sometimes I’m A Story tagged me in a blog game, and last week I published part one of the game. I listed five truths and four lies – not in that order, though – about myself and asked readers to guess which was which. Today I’m going to reveal the answers, say who had the most correct guesses, and nominate some other bloggers to participate!


1. I have three cats

FALSE. I only have one, and I haven’t seen him in months because he lives with my parents and my brother. (Pets aren’t allowed in the dorms.) My favorite bookstore in Iowa City has two cats and I go there at least twice a week to pet them but they’re not actually mine, however much I wish that were true. I want to befriend all of the cats everywhere.

2. I once considered triple-majoring

TRUE. I’m double-majoring in English and journalism, but I originally wanted to get a degree in Gender, Women’s, & Sexuality Studies as well! I plan to graduate a year early – in 2018 instead of 2019 – to save money, though, and I don’t have time to earn even a minor in that subject now. It’s fine, though. I can always study it on my own, or maybe even go back to school one day.

3. I know ASL

FALSE. I’ve tried to learn it off and on for the past few years, but have really struggled to find the time or motivation to regularly practice my skills. Earlier this month, however, one of my friends mentioned that he has been trying to teach himself ASL and would love to have a partner to practice with, so I hope to start working on that with him this fall!

4. I am shorter than all four of my grandparents

TRUE. I mean, at 5’2″, it’s not exactly hard to be taller than me. I’m only, like, an inch or so shorter than my shortest grandparent, but basically I am tiny. My grandma says that maybe I’ll have another growth spurt but I think that if I ever do eventually surpass her height it will be due to the fact that she’s been slowly shrinking in height as she gets older.

5. I often buy books on a whim, without knowing anything about them beforehand

FALSE. I never do this! What if I spend money on a story I end up not enjoying?! I only buy books that I’ve read before, and even then typically only my absolute favorites. I guess one exception would be when I have to buy books for class, but I don’t really count that because I usually sell them back at the end of the semester.

6. I don’t have a car

TRUE. I borrow my parents’ cars when I’m home. Here at college I either walk, take the bus, or ask one of my friends for a ride. I don’t really see the point in buying a car – and paying for insurance, gas, and a parking space – at this point in my life since I hardly ever go anywhere.

7. I have met one of my favorite authors before

TRUE. I met Alison Bechdel this spring and she autographed my copy of Fun Home! I was super awkward and shy when I talked to her because I’ve never met an author before, but oh well. It happens.

8. I have a dairy allergy

FALSE. And I’m so glad I don’t! If I did I wouldn’t be able to eat cheese… and yogurt… and forget about drinking milk! And what is pasta, one of my favorite foods, without cheese?!

9. I enjoy making lists

TRUE. Who doesn’t? I make lists almost constantly because not only because I love them, but because I forget things really really really easily. I make lists in blog posts and in real life. I list the books I want to read, the things I need to buy at the store, the homework assignments I need to complete over the weekend, and more. I just really love lists.


Of the five people who participated, Matt @ The Little Engine That Couldn’t won the game with nine correct answers! Well done! Everyone else who played got either two or three answers mixed up, but overall I was really impressed by how well you guys know me! (Or should I be scared?)


I’m tagging:

And as always, feel free to participate whether or not I tagged you. (Or ignore this tag, if you so choose.)


Have a lovely night, followers!

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Short Hair, Don’t Care

haircut 7-18-16I chopped my hair off yesterday.

It was something I’d considered doing since shortly after my sixteenth birthday, so I’ve been thinking about it for almost four years. Finally I just decided to go ahead and do it. I wrote “donate hair” on my summer 2016 bucket list to give myself motivation – crossing things off a to-do list is very satisfying to me – and now it’s done.

I’ve donated my hair once before, to Locks of Love when I was about ten or so, but this time I donated it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths instead. I chose Pantene because their services are free – they don’t charge customers for the wigs they provide, while Locks of Love charges on a sliding scale. Their business practice appealed to me more than that of Locks of Love because… like, the way I see it is that if I’m doing this for free, the least they can do is to do the same for, say, cancer patients whose hospital bills may be too much for them to afford anything more, such as a wig.

I will add, though, that the act of donating my hair was less important to me than was simply cutting it off. I mean, I want to help people in any way possible, so cutting it and leaving the clippings strewn all over the floor of the hair salon was never going to be an option, but mostly I just wanted it off. Donating it was just a fun bonus.

The fact that I have short hair now still hasn’t quite sunk in. It doesn’t feel real yet. It will eventually, I know, but right now my own reflection surprises me every time I see it, and I keep reaching up to touch the place on the back of my head where normally a ponytail or messy low bun would normally be.

I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVE AN UNDERCUT NOW! It’s longer (and floofy!) on top, while the back and sides are shorter. Actually, they’re not short enough for my tastes, because the lady who cut my hair left those parts longer than I would have liked, so my friend Jill is going to buzz it shorter sometime later this week.

I love having short hair. It dries AMAZINGLY fast, and I can use less shampoo now. It doesn’t get tangled anymore, and going outside on these humid Iowa days isn’t nearly as miserable now that I no longer have to struggle with long hair. I’ve been fluffing my hair and making it do wild and floofy things ever since I got it chopped off. Jill recommended mousse and something called finishing paste to style it, and I’m looking forward to experimenting with both. I do miss the curliness/waviness that my hair had when it was long, but I’m also excited to see what new things it will do.

The reactions have been fun to observe, too. I got so many compliments when I posted a picture on Facebook yesterday morning! Some of my IRL friends didn’t recognize me when they saw me later that day, while my roommate thinks this haircut suits my personality better. (Not sure what that means, but hearing that made me happy anyway?) When I headed to acting class that afternoon some of my classmates thought that we had a substitute teacher and I was like, “No, it’s just me, but I’m a tiny floof now.”

(Floof is one of my favorite words. I apologize if I have overused it in this post.)

I’m both excited and apprehensive about the idea of being read as a lesbian more frequently. I’m worried about getting harassed, and at the same time I’m also looking forward to (hopefully) not being perceived as straight nearly as often because I WANT CUTE GIRLS TO NOTICE ME, DANG IT.

I do love long hair and will doubtless go back to it eventually, but not any time soon. I have a feeling that I’ll be more comfortable changing up my hairstyle from now on, and won’t procrastinate almost four years before making another drastic change, so that’s cool. It’s a fresh new #look just in time for me to move into my twenties. (Oh shit, that’s a scary thought. Forget I said anything about it. I’m in denial. I feel old already.) I’m SO glad that I chopped my hair off because I love the way I look now, and doing this has given me a boost of floofy self-confidence.

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The Space Between Us | Apparently “Romantic Science Fiction Adventure” Films Are A Thing Now?

My roommate and I went to the movies last week – yay for student discount days! – and saw The BFG. This post is not about that movie, however. I might write about it later, but then again I might not: It wasn’t that great but it wasn’t that terrible, either, so I don’t feel like I have anything particularly interesting or witty to say.

And besides, I’d much rather talk about a trailer that we saw before the movie. I’ve been thinking about it a lot these past few days because oh my god, it’s such a trainwreck. I keep thinking that it had such a good premise and then the writers really screwed things up.

This is the trailer for The Space Between Us, which is scheduled to be released in December. It bills itself as a “romantic science fiction adventure film,” which should tell you something about why I have some problems with it.

Let’s begin with what I DID like, though! I daydreamed a lot as a child, and many of my favorite daydreams centered around a theme of “exploring a place where no one has ever been before.” I particularly loved imagining what it would be like to visit the deep sea, such as the Mariana trench, or else another planet. Mars was a fairly common choice!

It’s always bothered me that I was born too late to set foot on the Moon and (probably) too early to set foot on Mars. Like, that was the theme of my final project in the Travel Writing course I took this spring: I get so frustrated that there is so much uncharted territory that we simply don’t have the means of exploring. Our technology hasn’t yet reached the point where it is possible for us to venture to those places.

So, yeah. I’m a sucker for basically any movie, book, TV show, et cetera whose premise revolves around the idea of exploring a place where we have never before set foot. It’s a form of escapism, I suppose, that works just as well for me as does reading, say, Lord of the Rings. Only this is a fantasy that has its basis in the real world.

This movie is about a kid who grew up entirely cut off from Earth culture, too, and that interests me as well. I like the idea of seeing what differences develop between the Earth and Mars – or the Earth and the Moon, or the land and the deep sea colonies, or whatever – over time, because those differences are inevitable. They were one of my favorite parts of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, for instance.

What would it be like to grow up on a completely different planet, knowing so few people and having no friends your own age? What would it be like to wake up every morning to a view that was so drastically different from the one that 99.9% of people see each day? What would it be like to then travel to that planet and encounter all kinds of things that are completely new to you but utterly ordinary to literally everyone else?

All that is present in this trailer. It made me go “!!!!!!” inside because this is EXACTLY the sort of thing I love. I daydreamed about this when I was little. (I still do today, sometimes.) I’ve written a few stories about this, and I have more planned.

This trailer also falls apart upon repeat viewings, unfortunately.

For example, it gives away basically the entire plot of the movie. Even if it had no other problems – even if this was its sole fault – I probably still wouldn’t go see it because I already know everything that happens in it. More and more movie trailers do this now, and I don’t understand it: Never have I ever heard anyone say that they like having the entire plot laid out for them in the trailer that way. In fact, they usually complain about it. Loudly. There’s no sense of suspense with trailers like these. Why spend approximately 1.5 hours watching an average-looking movie if you’ve already seen the three-minute trailer for it?

The plot is also… well, admittedly it’s kind of cool, but it’s also very contrived. Like, no one noticed that the protagonist’s mother was pregnant BEFORE she boarded the spaceship? That seems rather improbable, to say the least. Thinking about that distracted me from the actual plot of the movie/trailer and that isn’t good, because a good story is grounded in reality. It can be as fantastical as you want to make it, but if it’s not at least somewhat believable then it fails.

The writers also seem to have ignored basic physics. Now, physics is something I very nearly failed in high school but I do understand that there is a time delay when communicating from Earth to Mars, or vice versa. It takes anywhere from three to twenty-two minutes for either planet to receive messages from the other, which makes the characters’ live video chat implausible. This is something that really bothers me when watching science fiction movies/TV shows: I know it’s supposed to be more dramatic, but it’s also not realistic if you stop to think about the science of it all for even two seconds!

I’m not too happy with the fridging of Gardner’s mother, either. (Gardner is the protagonist.) There still aren’t as many female-led science fiction movies as there should be – especially in terms of the ones that are more grounded in reality, vs. something fantastical such as Star Wars – so I was momentarily excited to see a female astronaut within the first few seconds of this trailer. And then they killed her off.

Last but most definitely not least, there’s the problem of that romantic subplot that comes out of nowhere. It’s like, here is this fun adventure story and then, boom, you’re walloped by heterosexuality! A story about two cis straight white people and their “forbidden love”? Wow, so revolutionary.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve probably gotten the impression that I have read and watched enough straight love stories to last a lifetime, which is true. It’s also true that I get a little – OK, a lot – frustrated – when campaigns to write more LGBTQ+ characters get shot down and straight people accuse us of making everything about romance. Like, you never seem to have a problem with romance when it’s about people like you.

I’ve seen more than enough straight love stories. I’ve seen enough white love stories, too. To tell the truth, I don’t really have a problem with the romance in this story. Three genres in one story does seem like a lot to juggle, but that’s beside the point. Mostly I’m just like… hasn’t this type of story been done to death for characters like these? How many more movies about misunderstood straight white teens do we really need?

No discussion of the need for diversity seems complete without someone complaining that they’re being “forced” to write diverse stories, and part of me wonders how many writers would stop inserting romantic plots/subplots into their stories if it actually were possible to “make” people include diversity. (Just for the record, I don’t think it’s actually possible to force people to do this, but I also think it’s important that we examine why so many people regard the suggestion to, you know, include everyone as a punishment.)

I really wish straight people would stop telling us that social media campaigns such as #GiveElsaAGirlfriend and #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend are ridiculous – they eat this kind of plot up as long as it’s about them. When it’s not, they say it’s “pandering” or that “it seems a little forced” to have romance in a science fiction adventure film.

Concept: The same basic plot of The Space Between Us, but Gardner’s love interest is a boy. Also, the writers don’t fridge his mother. Also, better physics. But mostly… GAY GARDNER. “I love cliche love stories as long as they’re gay” should honestly be emblazoned on my forehead because OMG IT’S SO TRUE. We need more LGBTQ+ genre fiction. I want that male love interest to be all like, “There’s no way you’re REALLY a Martian” and I want the two boys to go on a wild cross-country trip to experience all the things that Gardner missed out on.

I want more diversity in EVERYTHING, essentially. And that includes cheesy, contrived, relatively low-budget romantic science fiction adventure films, too. I wish I had more choices when it came to picking out something to read or watch. Right now we’re still at the point where stories with LGBTQ+ leads – or, for that matter, POC leads – are so few and far between that they basically all become iconic. And very few of them are genre fiction, either.

Huh. I seem to have written 1500+ words about a movie I’m not even going to see. (Because the plot, as it stands, doesn’t interest me, and because I am continually broke due to spending all of my available money on books.) And I’m not even done, probably – I want to talk about some other recent movies in terms of race and gender and sexuality, so you can expect to see another post or two like this one later this summer.


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