Gatekeeping Opinions That Suck

I was reading comments on a random Facebook post. This post was about audiobooks and how this particular person found joy in listening to an audiobook during their work commute. I’m not an audiobook fan myself as I prefer podcasts, however, I can see why audiobooks have gotten popular. One comment on this post was from a person who stated that audiobooks don’t count as reading. I could feel myself getting irritated once I read this. It inspired me to turn this into a full-blown post of gatekeeping opinions that suck.

Audiobooks Don’t Count as Reading

I completely disagree. Reading has evolved from reading physical books to kindles, and audiobooks making a huge comeback. This comes off as a gatekeeping opinion because it’s dictating what counts as reading. I’m a huge reader and I don’t want people to be criticized because they read differently. This opinion also discrimnates against disabled people. If someone is visually impaired leading them to listen to audiobooks, are they less of a reader due to a disability? Nope.

All Fans are Valid and Equal – (i.e reading the books or watching the movies only)

I see this a lot specifically in the Harry Potter or Game of Thrones fan communities. I do not have the bandwidth to handle reading all the Game of Thrones books, would I be less of a fan if I only watch the show? Not at all. Reading is extremely time-consuming, and watching a show or a film is a lot easier.

Playing Video Games on an Easier Difficulty

When I was younger, I had the time to play Halo Reach on the Legendary difficulty. Now, I barely have time to play a game for an hour. I don’t want to sit and struggle in my gaming free time. Therefore, I usually play on either an easier difficulty or whatever counts as the medium. I like a challenge, but I also like to use gaming as a way to unwind. It’s completely valid to be a gamer who plays in an easier difficulty setting.

Taking Six Months to Watch a Show vs. Binge-Watching

I’m a slow TV watcher. I don’t usually finish a show within a few days or a week. I have some friends that are able to binge-watch a show, and that’s cool. It doesn’t matter how much time it takes to watch a show, as long as you’re a fan of the show, you’re a fan! A good example of this is Schitt’s Creek. I love Schitt’s Creek, but I’m still on season #2 and it’s been at least four or five months since I watched. Planning a wedding doesn’t help with this as that has sucked up most of my free time. I’m still a fan of Schitt’s Creek even if it takes me the rest of this year to complete every season.

Those were all the gatekeeping opinions I have personally witnessed recently. Let me know in the comments if there were any I missed!

Ain’t Slayed Nobody – Call of Cthulhu Podcast

I go through phases when I listen to podcasts. Sometimes, I listen to podcasts daily or I go months without listening to a single episode. I’m in a phase where I haven’t been listening to podcasts as frequently as I used to. When I drove home from Kansas City, I found myself getting bored by listening to the same music. Instead of listening to music, I decided to get caught up on one of the most entertaining DnD roleplaying podcasts, Ain’t Slayed Nobody. Ain’t Slayed Nobody kept me on the edge of my seat while I drove through Iowa which is quite the achievement. I actually got to the point in my drive where I didn’t want to get home because of this podcast.

Ain’t Slayed Nobody is a Call of Cthulhu podcast. Ain’t Slayed Nobody takes place in the Wild West in the 1800s. There are five characters within this game: Sheriff Ellie Bishop (played by Alex McDaniel), Outlaw Lance Kilkenny (played by Jay Arnold), Priest Father Flint Westwater (played by Brandon Wainerdi), Miner Jeremiah Fensworth (played by Wes Davis), and Nomadic Drifter Johnny Rhodes (played by Chuck). The centered story arc is solving the murder of Ellie’s father. As the investigation continues, the group stumbles upon several bizarre incidents that test their sanity.

Ain’t Slayed Nobody does a brilliant job at storytelling. Immediately after listening to episode #1, I was hooked. The episodes often end on cliffhangers meaning I’m forced to wait until the next episode airs to find out what happens. As I listen to each episode, I feel like I’m in the Wild West with the characters as they learn more about each other. Eventually, Ellie does realize what happened to her father which leads to a shocking twist I didn’t see coming.

With the characters, it’s tough for me to pick a favorite. Jay’s Irish accent attached to Lance is so well done. Jeremiah is another fan favorite with his one-liners including “I’m going to turn his femur into mist”. Wes attaches an accent to Jeremiah as well which helps solidify his character. I’m listening to the season finale of Ain’t Slayed Nobody and it’s clear there are major character deaths. Out of all the roleplaying podcasts I have listened to, Ain’t Slayed Nobody feels like there are actual stakes. These characters could become insane, die a painful death or have another horrific event happen to them.

Listening to a role-playing podcast, the keeper or the dungeon master can make or break a podcast. For Aint Slayed Nobody, cuppycup is the keeper and he does a great job narrating the podcast. He speaks clearly into the mic along with talking at a steady speed. He doesn’t talk too quickly, so I never felt myself not being able to follow the story.

Ain’t Slayed Nobody made driving through Iowa fun which is not something I thought I would say. The last episode in the first arc is releasing on Tuesday, August 31st, and I have never been more excited for a podcast episode to air.

Pray Away (2021)

In one of my recent posts, I wrote about having a free weekend and being able to unwind. During this weekend, I devoted some time to watch whatever I wanted to watch on Netflix. One documentary I had my eye on for a while was Pray Away, a documentary detailing the rise of Conversion therapy and why it’s so psychologically damaging. For those who are unfamiliar, Conversion therapy is a form of “therapy” (I put therapy in quotes because I wouldn’t call this therapy) surrounding the idea that gay people can be cured and converted back into being straight. Pray Away was a heartbreaking documentary, but one I would highly recommend watching.

Pray Away interweaves the stories of survivors of conversion therapy along with several prominent Conversion therapy activists. As the history of Conversion therapy unfolds, it seems that what was being sold to the public was completely false. John Paulk was a major voice in Conversion therapy as he was a “former” gay man who was now married to a woman. His wife, Anne, also went through Conversion therapy and that’s how John and Anne met. John mentions in the documentary that he, “ached to be loved by a man”. Hearing him tell his story about how he was selling something he didn’t believe in made me feel for him. Today, John has divorced his wife and is now openly gay.

Another story that the documentary focused on was Julie Rodgers. Julie came out to her family at a young age and was taken to Conversion therapy. She was there for many years and was encouraged to speak at various religious conferences. During Conversion therapy, she was coerced into telling a deeply personal story in front of many people. Julie eventually was able to get out of therapy and has just married her lovely wife. This story showed clips of her wedding and how she was able to get married in a church. I will admit, I sometimes have a negative bias towards religion, however, seeing Julie reclaim her religion for herself was so endearing to me.

I couldn’t imagine what it must be like to not be able to love the person you’re meant to be with. As I spent time writing my vows this week, it made me think back to the lives shown in Pray Away. While many who survived Conversion therapy went to live long and authentic lives, so many didn’t because of the psychological damage of not being able to cure being gay. Suicide was prevalent amongst Conversion therapy, and I’m glad to see strides being taken to ban this form of “therapy” altogether.

Pray Away was a well-made, engaging and thoughtful documentary. This documentary did take an emotional toll, so I would only recommend it if you’re in the mood for something a bit more emotional. Pray Away can be watched on Netflix.

The Suicide Squad

The last movie I saw in theaters before the pandemic was Birds of Prey. It seems fitting that the first movie I see in theaters is The Suicide Squad. My fiance was all about watching this on HBO Max, but I missed going to a movie. I convinced him to see this last Friday and get out of the apartment. The Suicide Squad rocked and it’s probably one of my favorite movies DC has ever made.

The Suicide Squad is a ragtag team of supervillains sent out on literal suicide missions for the US government. Led aggressively by Amanda Waller (played wonderfully by Viola Davis), Waller puts chips in their necks. Any deserter gets their head blown off which is featured quite gruesomely in the first half of the film. The squad is sent to Corto Maltese to investigate Jotunheim where something of alien origin is supposedly housed. Their mission is to find what’s there and destroy it, so Corto Maltese doesn’t have access to it.

This movie is downright ridiculous. Harley (played by Margot Robbie) is flirtatious and fun to see on screen. Robbie does such a great job and seems to genuinely enjoy playing as Harley. While Harley is the one to watch, it feels like each of the main Suicide Squad members gets their time to shine. Ratcatcher 2 (played by Daniela Melchior) is one to keep tabs on. While controlling rats may seem like a silly power, she plays an important role later in the film. I found myself drawn to her when I didn’t think I would be. If you think controlling rats is silly, wait until you see Polka Dot Man. Yes, James Gunn the director of Guardians of the Galaxy brought Polka Dot Man into this movie. Polka Dot Man (played by David Dastmalchian) serves a purpose here. There are several hilarious scenes with Polka Dot Man that I won’t spoil.

John Cena plays the Peacemaker who is obsessed with peace and will kill for it. Hypocritical much? Peacemaker was written for Cena as he seems at ease playing this character. Rick Flagg (played by Joel Kinnaman) has a much bigger role in this film than the previous Suicide Squad movie. He comes off as a born leader and helps bring the team together to rely on each other, so they can all survive. As a fan of the Harley Quinn animated series, I was elated to see King Shark. King Shark is the MVP of this movie. He tears through enemies and gets to feast on flesh as he does so.

James Gunn does a marvelous job at balancing all these characters. There are several story lines going on simultaneously until everything converges at Jotunheim. This easily could have been a mess, but Gunn adds in various hints to keep the watcher aware of where everyone is at. There’s jumping around at certain times, but it doesn’t feel out of place. The Suicide Squad can be a lot to handle, and James Gunn was the perfect director to make this film.

Without spoiling, there’s a certain character death that completely shocked me. I was fully expecting this to be a joke and the character would get up and walk around, but no. This character was DEAD. This threw me for a loop.

Both me and my fiance were blown away by how good this film is. As many know, DC’s films are a hit or a miss. There’s no in-between. I’m happy to say that this is so worth the watch. I’m excited to re-watch this on HBO Max. Let me know in the comments who your favorite character is from The Suicide Squad.

My TV Watch List

I have a bad habit when it comes to watching TV. I can’t make up my mind on what I want to watch and I watch multiple TV shows at once. I start shows before I finish watching them. I’m currently watching six different shows on four different streaming platforms. My goal would be to finish what I have started before watching another show. I wanted to share what I’m juggling through watching and my goals for what I want to watch next.

Youtube

Critical Role

I have talked about Critical Role multiple times. I’m surprised at how invested I am in this campaign. I’m still on campaign #1 Vox Machina. I’m on episode #26 during the Briarwood Arc. Many fans of Critical Role started watching campaign #2 Mighty Nein, however, I’m a completionist. I wanted to start from the beginning to see how Critical Role has developed into the popular series it is today. I have become a big fan of this series and how each character serves a purpose in the group. I would love to finish campaign #1 by the end of 2021, although with each episode being 3-4 hours long, I’m not sure if I will accomplish this.

Disney+

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I have tried to watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars multiple times but never got past the first season. This time, my fiance agreed to watch with me. I’m happy I tried to re-watch this series again because now that I’m in the middle of season #2, I’m enjoying this show. I found season #1 to be slow to watch. Me and my fiance are in the Mand’alor story arc which plays nicely into The Mandalorian. This is another series I hope to complete by the end of 2021.

X-Men Animated Series

Earlier in the year, I started watching the X-Men animated series from the ’90s. I’m loving this series! It’s rejuvenated my love for the X-Men. I’m still in season #1 when Cable has been introduced. My favorite characters have to be Jean, Storm, or Gambit. I’m excited to keep watching especially because the Dark Phoenix story arc appears later on in the show. I’m inspired to reach more X-Men comics since I have started watching this show. I’m excited to finish this series.

Hulu

Scandal

I started watching Scandal back while I was still in college. I ended up getting to season #5 before moving on to another show. With Scandal off the air, I was determined to finish the show. Similar to my first time watching the show, I watched seasons 1-4 quickly and I’m stuck on season #5. If I don’t get through season #5 by the end of 2021, I will call it a loss and say that I lost interest in this show and be done with it.

Netflix

Hollywood

Hollywood is a series created by Ryan Murphy detailing the drama of Hollywood in the 1950s. I was looking for something steamy to watch and Netflix recommended this series. This didn’t disappoint and it was exactly what I was looking for.

Schitt$ Creek

This show doesn’t need an introduction. Almost everyone I know has watched this series and raved about it! When I was visiting a friend, she put on the first season. I don’t have anything to add. This series is phenomenal. The humor is witty especially when it comes to Moira and David. I’m struggling to watch this because I’m not in the mood for a sitcom of sorts. Eventually, my friend is going to give me shit for not finishing this show, so I do need to finish this.

Those are all the shows I’m watching! My goal would be to cut down on all the shows I’m watching by not starting anything new and finishing the shows I’m on. Once I cut down on the shows I’m watching, I can finally use my Funimation subscription and add anime to my watchlist.

Bond is Back! Restarting James Bond Blog Series

Towards the end of December, I started my James Bond: Movie and Science Series. I planned on re-watching all the Bond movies and making three associated blog posts. The first was a movie review, the second was a science themed post regarding a specific scene in movie and the final post was centered around the Bond women in that particular film. As I started this series, I found myself falling behind. I found the Connery era of the Bond franchise was a lot more excruciating to re-watch. With this being said, I’m going to be re-starting this series!

I’m making one change with the posts I write. Instead of writing three posts per movie, I’m going to lower this down to two. I still plan on doing a movie review, but instead I will either write a science themed post or a post centered around the Bond women. Three posts became a bit too much especially because I was watching other TV series or movies that I wanted to write about. I think this is much more doable than my original plan.

I’m excited to rejuvenate this blog series. The James Bond franchise means a lot to me and while I struggled to get the motivation to continue on, I feel more refreshed and ready to tackle this again. I needed a little bit of a break, and now I’m back. It’s time to watch the most quoted Bond film of all time: Goldfinger.

May the 4th 2021 – Revisited

Last month, I wrote a post about my Star Wars plan for May the 4th. Every May, I spend almost the entire month devoting myself to all things Star Wars. I do it every year and I find I look forward to it. I wanted to reflect on my month and what I accomplished.

Books and Comics

The main book I wanted to read was Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed. I didn’t finish the book. To be honest, I thought the book felt a bit bloated with too many characters introduced. It was hard to keep track of which characters were driving the story and which characters were supposed to be in the background. I’m disappointed because I have felt this way about quite a few of the new Star Wars novelizations. I put this one down and I don’t think I will try re-reading it.

Skipping Alphabet Squadron, I did finish Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston. I gave this book four stars on Goodreads. This lived up to my expectations for Padme and her story before Attack of the Clones. The end of Queen’s Shadow seems to set up further stories for Padme’s handmaidens, so I’m excited to see if more books will be written. I would highly recommend this if you’re a fan of the prequels.

Besides the books, I read every graphic novel I had set about reading except Lando Double or Nothing. It didn’t grip my attention and I ended up putting it down. I will highlight my rating for the other graphic novels down below:

Rise of Kylo Ren – four stars

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – three stars

Star Wars Adventures Vol. #1 – three stars.

Movies & TV

My goal was to continue in The Clone Wars. I ended up finishing season #1 and I’m halfway through season #2. I do think the seasons get better as I continue. I found watching Clone Wars helped when I was reading Queen’s Shadow because of references to the show popping into the book.

Gaming

I started with Star Wars The Old Republic. My laptop surprisingly ran the game without any forced restarts or glitches. However, I found the game to be repetitive and quite boring. I only finished one mission before uninstalling this from my computer. I can see why everyone raves about the game, but it wasn’t for me.

I switched over to Lego Star Wars and had a blast. I ended up getting through all the prequel levels and I’m now onto the A New Hope levels. I do need to take a break from this as I spent all of May playing through it. I do intend to return to it and finish it sometime this year.

I would say that this was a successful Star Wars month. Aside from not liking Alphabet Squadron, I set out to do exactly what I intended. I hope you all had a lovely May the 4th Be With You!

Favorite Female Animated Heroines

As I was coming up with my list for my Favorite Female Heroines Growing Up post, I realized a couple of characters I had come up with were animated. This caused me to create a separate list of cartoon, female characters from my childhood that I looked up to.

Powerpuff Girls

I loved the Powerpuff girls growing up. Me and my friend would play pretend in her backyard and run around saving the world. I would always be Blossom while my friend was always Bubbles. Poor Buttercup would be left unchosen. I think neither of us wanted to be Buttercup because we thought she was mean when really Buttercup stood up for herself.

Kim Possible

I don’t think there is a need to explain Kim Possible and why she’s on this list.

Sandy Cheeks

I had asked my fiance if I was missing anyone while creating this list. He suggested Sandy Cheeks. His reasoning was Sandy’s intelligent, inventive, and helps Spongebob on various occasions. I thought it was an interesting choice and one I probably would have picked myself.

Charlotte Pickles – Rugrats

I had a Rugrats VHS with some of the episodes from one of the seasons. My dad would have to constantly re-wind it because me and my brother would watch it all the time. I remember being disgusted at the episode where Tommy’s grandpa falls asleep and bugs crawl into his mouth. Anyway, Charlotte Pickles is Angelica’s mom and is a boss. This clip should give you extra context as to why she is on this list.

Fiona

Shrek came out twenty years ago which makes me feel my age. Fiona is a great pick for this list. She’s spunky, brave, and she wants better for herself.

Cartoons and animation were a big part of my childhood. I was surprised when brainstorming this list how many female animated characters existed. Let me know who your favorite animated heroes are down in the comments.

I,Tonya (2017)

I started figure skating when I was six. My aunt was a competitive skater who became an instructor. Figure skating became a big part of my childhood and while competition appealed to me, I wasn’t devoted enough to make it my whole life. The biggest scandal to hit figure skating was the attack against Nancy Kerrigan and how much Tonya Harding knew about the attack beforehand. I had I, Tonya on my watchlist for a while and last weekend I decided to finally watch it. I, Tonya is an intriguing biopic about Tonya Harding’s life while also bringing up various themes such as classism in skating.

Tonya Harding (played by Margot Robbie) was thrown into lessons at a young age by her mother, LaVona Golden (played by Allison Janney). LaVona is shown early on to be both physically and mentally abusive on multiple occasions while LaVona only admits to hitting Tonya once. Tonya’s father moves out, and Tonya is struggling to live under her mother’s roof. She meets Jeff Gillooly (played by Sebastian Stan) who provides enough charm and wit to bloom Tonya’s self-confidence. As Tonya moves out with Jeff, she soon finds that he is also abusive. Tonya, still trying to skate, is suffering from poor scores due to the judges thinking of her as “white trash” and not the best representative for competitive figure skating. As Tonya’s relationship with Jeff is explored, it’s shown how a simple death threat idea somehow escalated into the infamous knee blow with Nancy screaming “why why why”.

The acting in this was phenomenal. Allison Janney won a well-deserved Oscar for her performance in this. Each actor was invested in the role they were portraying. I became enthralled in the story as there was a lot I didn’t know about Tonya’s life before watching this film.

While this film does offer a lens of sympathy for Tonya, it exposes Tonya’s flaws as well. Tonya states several times, “it’s not my fault”. While Tonya grew up poor in an abusive environment, it also seems she blames everyone for her problems. It’s the judge’s fault she scores the way she does and it’s Jeff’s fault for planning the death threat, however, Tonya seemed on-board with the death threat if it meant succeeding in skating. This film easily could have been on Tonya’s side for everything, but I like the way this film provided a sense of balance. It lets the viewer know how rough Tonya’s upbringing was, but also reflects on how this upbringing made Tonya a flawed human being.

Another interesting aspect of the film was the idea of classism. Tonya was poor and her mother had to sew her costumes for her competitions. Figure skating and hockey are two of the most expensive sports to play. There’s the figure skates, costumes, ice shows, the lessons, the accessories for skating, etc. I did research Nancy Kerrigan before writing this, and while Nancy’s father struggled to pay for lessons, she also had private lessons at a young age. Additionally, once a figure skater becomes competitive, it’s all about the marketing deals. I remember Michelle Kwan was advertised on everything! She became this sweet, young, woman who was someone to look up to. Tonya was looked at as an outsider with a rough family background. I wonder if Tonya grew up rich, would her story be different?

I, Tonya was everything I wanted from a biopic. It discusses Tonya’s life, makes an interesting commentary on various societal themes, and had incredible acting from start to finish.

Favorite Heroines Growing Up

For my brother’s birthday, I went over to my mom’s house. We had steak, had family dinner debates, and played a board game. During our dinner discussion, we were talking about movies we would always watch growing up. This led to a discussion about strong female characters in the early ’00s. I wanted to create a list of my favorite heroines / kickass women in various forms of media.

Elektra

Elektra is a widely critcized movie and was considered a box office bomb. It’s not comic book accurate by any means, however, I loved this movie. I always requested watching Elektra. It features a female protagonist who kicks ass in a memorable red outfit. I liked her katana’s and I would play pretend in our backyard pretending to be Elektra. This is a movie I will always be fond of despite its flaws.

Hermione

While I have been trying to distance myself from Harry Potter, I can’t make a list like this and leave out Hermione.

Padme

This was when I learned female characters could be written so poorly. She was such a strong powerhouse in Star Wars politics. She helped Anakin see reason when he was acting out. I cannot believe George Lucas wrote in a script that she “lost the will to live” Give me a fucking break. I still believe the fan theory where Palpatine drew upon her life force to save Anakin. I know it’s not canon, but it gives her death way more clarity.

Evelyn (Evy) Carnahan

I cannot believe I didn’t list Evy higher on this list. Evy is first featured in The Mummy as a librarian who’s a bit clumsy. She is intelligent, capable and helps Rick (played by Brendan Fraiser) escape from the tomb. In The Mummy Returns, Evy is still the same except it’s clear Rick has taught her how to defend herself. She’s featured in more action sequences in the second film which I was a huge fan of. Both The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are movies I would credit as a reason why action movies are often my favorite genre of movies to watch.

Martha Jones

I’m cheating with this pick since I started watching Doctor Who as an adult. Although, I think I would have liked Martha still even if I saw Doctor Who when I was a kid. Martha Jones is the most underrated companion. I find a lot of people don’t like Martha because of her obvious crush on the Doctor. This isn’t the fault of Martha, but the writers on Doctor Who during her era. Martha calls out racism in one particular episode where she lists off the bones of the hand when a woman doesn’t believe she’s capable of being a medical doctor. In the GIF above, she calls out a Harry Potter spell because why not? Martha is easily the best companion of Tennant’s Who era.

Let me know which female heroines you loved growing up in the comments below!