Does it matter if the mother is dead? YES IT DOES.

A couple of weeks ago, I read multiple posts about the theory that the mother on How I Met Your Mother is dead at the point when future Ted is telling his children the story. (If you are a fan and have somehow avoided this theory? Congratulations…)

I was not, and am not, okay with this.

Part of what’s fueling these theories, apart from clues and odd moments in the show, are the tweets and posts and comments from cast members regarding the series finale. Cobie Smulders, apparently, said in an interview that she “immediately started weeping” after reading it. Alyson Hannigan tweeted a photo from the table read, consisting of her script surrounded by used tissues.

Today, I read an article on TV Guide.com titled “Does it Matter if the Mother is Dead?” The authors thesis is, of course, that it does not.

I am not okay with this.

I was okay with the finale of Six Feet Under being what it was, because this was a show about death and mortality. I was fine with the end of Breaking Bad, because really…how else would a show like that end? But How I Met Your Mother is a sitcom, and at its heart, a love story. A romantic comedy, if you will. I have certain expectations from a story like this. Yes, the show has had moments that were heartbreaking and poignant, but ultimately, I will feel betrayed by an ending that tears Ted’s true love away from him…one that we have all waited SO LONG to meet. (and don’t even get me started on how I’ll feel if that happens and it leads to him somehow ending up with Robin after all. No.)

In the aforementioned article, the author says, “…sitcoms tend to feel forced to wrap up with a neat bow and rainbows and kittens because God forbid what would’ve happened if Rachel never got off the plane…”

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 She got off the plane.

Yeah? So what? I will fully admit with zero shame that I would have been upset and disappointed if Rachel hadn’t gotten off the plane. As I said, these are romantic comedies. In a romantic comedy, Rachel gets off the plane. In a romantic comedy, the mother doesn’t die.

I get that there’s a place for tragedy. I do. I get that people don’t always get to live happily ever after, and that in real life, loved ones die. But I respectfully disagree that all of our art needs to reflect reality. I know where to go for reality; I want stories that offer hope. I want Ted to get married and raise his children and grow old with the woman he loves. I want Ross and Rachel to find their way back to each other and finally make it work. I want Harry and Sally married and talking about their wedding cake at the end. I want Lloyd and Diane holding hands on the plane, heading off to England ready to defy the odds against them. I want Westley and Buttercup literally riding off into the sunset together.

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Wuv. Twoo wuv.

And I just don’t get what’s so terrible about that.

I don’t know if this has always been the case, but there seems to be this persistent idea that what makes for good writing is subverting expectations. (In this case, the expectation that the audience expects Ted and the Mother to have the happy ending I described above.) There’s also a persistent idea that the best love stories are the most tragic ones. I’ll bet you aren’t surprised by this, but most of the time, I kind of hate tragic love stories.* 

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I’ll never let go, Jack…

(Side note…don’t you dare even try to bring up Romeo and Juliet. If you think “tragic love story” is the point of Romeo and Juliet, well…that’s a whole different rant.)

My bottom line is this: we have enough heartbreak and sadness. In this sea of portrayals of bleak desolation, of horror, of darkness, of anti-heroes, and of tragedy, this show has been one of my bright spots. Over the course of this season, I have fallen in love with Cristin Milioti and her beautiful portrayal of the mother, and I have forgiven Ted for his past douchebaggery. Over the course of the past nine seasons, I have laughed and cried and loved with these characters…

Is it really to much to ask for it to not break my heart at the end?

*I still harbor some resentment over the way the movie Once ended. Seriously, ask my husband. 

Why I have not (and will not) watch/read GoT

Despite generally being a fan of fantasy, I really, really don’t want to experience Game of Thrones. I came upon this blog post that pretty much sums up why. Here’s one quote:

I HATED THE BOOKS. But I read EVERY SINGLE ONE. Hating it the entire way but not able to put them down.  And now with the show, I cannot stop watching.  Those who read and/or watch Games of Thrones know there is little sense of rules or mastery or fairness.  Instead, there is violence, abuse, systems of power that favor the powerful, good people dying, why are they ALWAYS dying?!  Good people die.  All the fucking time.  And no magic to save them.  Well, very little, and it is dark and scary and uncontrollable.

And another:

George R.R. Martin is such a different kind of fantasy writer.  Where is the hero(ine)?  Where is the arc of self-discovery and mastery?  Where is the MAGIC?!  I hated the books not because they weren’t well-written — Martin’s world and characters are some of the most (morally) complex I’ve seen; there is a terrible beauty to it all — but because of how they made me feel.  Constant anxiety and disappointment and rage.  And distrust!  I did not, could not, trust the writer anymore.  Horrible things could happen at any moment, betrayal and loss and trauma at every turn.  (Umm, the Red Wedding. What.The.Fuck.)  I found myself trying to disengage emotionally, trying not to care about characters as it became increasingly clear that Martin had an almost perverse interest in the exact opposite of character preservation.  But I couldn’t.  I kept reading. I’m still watching.  And I’ll await the next book, the next season, with both excitement and dread.

I would hate it. And yet I would find it compelling. And I would keep reading/watching with that sense of dread and anxiety. And I would be angry. SO VERY ANGRY.

The author ends this piece speculating about what has drawn people into this story…in particular, a sense of catharsis that comes from “loving and rooting for and mourning and even reviling these characters intensely.” And while I’m sure this (and her other points in favor) is valid, I just don’t think it’s for me. Trust me, we’re all better off this way.

You probably don’t want me to talk about my love/but mostly hate relationship with Breaking Bad either…

(Here’s a secret…I’m saying this out loud because sometimes not liking the thing everyone likes is lonely. If you feel the same way, please speak up and make me feel a little less lonely!)

And we have video!

So, last year I blogged about my and Rand’s concert at FilKONtario. Well, I recently got that DVD of the concert that Tom promised, and I managed to get some video posted on YouTube over the weekend.

Here’s a link to the playlist I made, which includes five of the songs we performed.

And directly embedded above is “Cliffs of Insanity,” our Princess-Bride themed parody of “Green Hills of Harmony.” (lyrics at the link)

Enjoy! :D

On big numbers and “bucket lists”

Y’know, I’ve kind of resisted the term “bucket list” since the movie came out, and everyone started talking about having one. And not just in terms of “things to do before I die,” which is, pretty much, the definition of the term. Suddenly, everyone had a “summer bucket list” or whatever. But, I digress…

Anyway, this year, I turn a big number. A big, scary number. (I was born in 1974–you do the math.) And while I’ve had a couple of setbacks, career-wise, I can’t really complain too much. The past decade has been really good to me. Last year, in particular, I took on some things that were a pretty big deal to me personally. I performed in a concert! On a stage! In front of people! I started learning how to play the ukulele. (still a work-in-progress, but I’m continuing to plug away!) I decided I was tired of waiting for someone else to create a local alumnae organization of my sorority and took it upon myself (with the help of my awesome and dedicated friends) to get it going. I wrote two songs. (Okay, co-wrote, and they were parodies, but still!) I also celebrated 5 years of marriage to an amazing man.

Looking ahead to this year, I’m finally going to take that ASL class like I’ve been talking about for ages. I’ve got some other song ideas that I want to work on. I’d like to get myself writing regularly again. I want to get back to yoga, too. And then there are some other things, some big things, that don’t necessarily need to happen this year or before the BIG NUMBER, but they are things I would like to do/see/experience at some point. So, here they are:

  1. Go to a Disney park (never been…bonus, go to a Disney park WITH SEANAN!)
  2. See the Northern Lights
  3. (this one has a huge question mark after it…) Get a Ph.D. (???? I think about it, but I’m not sure if I really want to do it. I’m not sure if it would be worth it…)
  4. See a show on Broadway. (I’ve seen lots of Broadway shows, but none of them on Broadway.)

I thought I had more things for this list, but that’s all that’s coming to mind at the moment…I reserve the right to add items as necessary. ;)

At any rate, happy 2014 to you, and please share what big (or small) things are on YOUR lists!

 

Grandparents

FilKONtario report posting has been interrupted because earlier this week, my paternal grandmother passed away. The funeral was today.

me & grandma

(This picture is from my bridal shower in 2008)

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My paternal grandfather (pictured above, at Justin’s wedding), died in 2009, and my maternal grandmother died in 2001, not long after I moved to Buffalo. I wrote about losing her here.

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(One of my favorite photos of her. I don’t have any more recent photos scanned.)

I know I’m very lucky to have known all of my grandparents, and to have them in my life as long as I have…but it’s very heavy on my mind that I only have one grandparent left. I’m too exhausted to put any more thoughts together right now, so I’ll leave it with this.

me & grandpa again

 

(at grandpa’s 85th birthday party in 2007)

 

Thoughts on FilKONtario Part 2: the concert

This is probably going to be a long one, so prepare yourself! Get a snack; I’ll wait…

I’ve always been a performer in one sense or another. I had a not-insignificant role in my 5th grade play. I was in a community theater production of Annie when I was in middle school. I was a cheerleader (don’t judge me! And if a cheerleader hurt you in your formative years, let me apologize on behalf of all nice-girl-cheerleaders everywhere…)

I never really thought of myself as a performer in the musical sense. I had been scared off of singing by an experience in middle school (Even after getting a role in Annie, I was cut from the middle school show choir. I ask you, who does that? It was middle school, and it’s not like I went to a performing arts school or it was super competitive or anything…but I digress.) When I went to college, I joined a sorority that took music very, very seriously, and I declared myself a founding member of the “tone deaf club.” Now, to be fair, I knew I wasn’t actually tone deaf, because people who are actually tone deaf have no idea that they’ve hit the wrong note. For us, it was about being people with no musical/vocal training among people who had been singing in choirs their entire lives. I was intimidated. I wasn’t very good at harmonizing. And so, I went merrily on with my life, singing when I had to (at things like Greek Sing, or other sorority events), but otherwise, singing along with the radio or my CDs was about it.

Well, it’s probably no surprise that the longer I hung around in filk, the more people started to express an interest in hearing me sing (*coughdebbieohicough*). I protested at first, but little by little, people started to wear me down. ;) The first time I sang at all was in a very tiny circle very late at night at GAFilk in 2007. I blame Amanda.

erin and jam banquet

Amanda is one of my co-editors at Toasted Cheese, and the reason I sort of kind of knew what filk was before I even met Rand. We had been online buds since…ummm…I’m going to say 1999? But this was the first time we had met in person. Anyway, Amanda had written a short filk of “One Singular Sensation” and she asked me to sing it with her. We practiced it a few times, and then went looking for a small circle to sing it in. So, a handful of people in that room heard me sing that night.

I think it might have been the following year (at GAFilk again) that Rand convinced me to sing a bit of a Flaming Lips song with him–not “Yoshimi,” but “Fight Test,” which has a chorus with overlapping parts that becomes counterpoint at the end. The Flaming Lips are kind of known for having a singer who can’t really sing, so I figured it was pretty low pressure. (Actually, here’s a post I wrote about that.)

After that, he convinced me to try “Yoshimi,” which would have me singing lead. We worked on it, and I sang it in a circle at FKO in 2009.

Yoshimi!!!!!

(Photo by Brooke Lunderville)

People seemed to enjoy that, so I was encouraged. Rand and I kept singing “Yoshimi” in circles, but I was a little worried that people were going to start to get sick of hearing it, so I never really pushed for it. ;)

In 2010, Rand and Adam were nominated for a Pegasus award, and Adam was unable to attend the convention to perform it. Rand asked me if I wanted to try to do it. “Um…” I said.  I agreed to work on it with him (and I think I only freaked out and had a meltdown once!) We went ahead and did it, and but for the fact that I was later informed that Rand’s microphone wasn’t working, I think it went okay.

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(Photo by Walter Korynkiewicz)

Fast forward to last year, when Tom contacted Rand to invite us to be this year’s Filk Waifs. We started putting together a list of things we might be able to sing together, as well as ideas for songs (mostly parodies) that we might be able to write. I bought a ukulele last August, thinking that I might get good enough at one or two things to play it in the concert. (that…did not happen. It will, but I was more focused on the singing. Did I mention I was nervous about the singing? I ended up taking voice lessons from a former colleague, which was a HUGE help. Thanks again, Shelley!)

Erin practising in our room

(practicing in UT’s room Saturday morning. I’m playing a melodica–also known as a hooter. Photo by Allison Durno)

Fast forward again to the day of the concert. The Filk Waif concert is the first concert on Saturday. After having breakfast, Rand and I met up with UT to rehearse a song they were going to be performing with us, and we showed them a couple of other things we were going to be performing as well. It was really, really good for me to have a chance to warm up.  After that, there were a couple of workshops. I ran one on calligraphy and paper crafts. Tim Walker ran a percussion workshop at the same time, which I am super bummed I couldn’t attend! I’ll write more about the workshop later. After the workshop, we grabbed a quick bite to eat in our room, and then it was go time!

Rand and Erin's Concert

(Photo by Debbie Ohi)

Here’s the set we played:

  • Star Wars That I Used to Know (parody of “Somebody that I Used to Know” by Gotye. Credits can be found at the YouTube link)
  • My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors by Moxy Fruvous
  • St. Brendan’s Way by Lowest of the Low
  • Actually Ironic (parody? sort of? of “Ironic” by Alanis Morrissette)
  • Dear Seanan (parody of “Dear Gina” by Seanan McGuire written by me and Merav Hoffman. Video and lyrics at the link.)
  • Crackstatic by Ron Hawkins
  • Yoshimi/Space Oddity/Major Tom mashup (Flaming Lips, David Bowie, Peter Schilling)
  • Cliffs of Insanity (parody of “Green Hills of Harmony” written by me with help from Rand and an assist from Amanda. More info in my previous post, linked.)
  • Still Can’t Buy Me Love by Ookla the Mok (with Urban Tapestry)

If you’re interested in the lyrics (other than the parodies I wrote/co-wrote, which can be found at the links), they can all quite easily be found by googling. I’m tired. ;)

I’m pretty sure it was a success. ;) After we left the stage, Tim and Annie (who knew how nervous I was) ran over to us and gave us gigantic hugs, and everyone we talked to seemed to enjoy the performance. So…singing! Win! Right now, the “Dear Seanan” video is the only one I am aware of. I’m sure other things will appear eventually, and I’ll let you know!

Here’s Allison’s post about Saturday at FKO. I’ll have more later. Stay tuned!

Thoughts on FilKONtario (part 1)

To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure where to begin. I guess I’ll begin here: FKO 23 was simply amazing.

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(I know that ribbon is hard to read, but it says “Guest.”)

I mentioned before, but I will mention again, that I’ve been attending FKO regularly since Rand first brought me there in 2005. (I appear not to have taken any photos at FKO 2005. I’m going to borrow some!)

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(Me with Debbie Ohi at FKO 2005. Photo by Allison Durno)

I had a wonderful time at my first FKO (which was also my first Filk convention); I got to meet/see/hear so many fantastic people, like Debbie, Allison, and Jodi of Urban Tapestry, and Carla Ulbrich and Joe Giacoio, and Tom Smith, and John Hall, and Tanya Huff, and Steve MacDonald, and Mary Ellen Wessels, and Kathleen Sloan, and…oh, man folks, we could be here all day. :) Let’s just say that if I met/encountered you at FKO in 2005, you were part of a very important moment in my life. What I can say, without a doubt, is that I felt immediately welcomed. I was afraid it would be awkward. Here was Rand, bringing in this new person. I didn’t sing or play an instrument; I am introverted and tend to be awkward in social situations when I don’t know many people. Those worries turned out to be unfounded, and needless to say, I kept coming back.

And fast forward to this…

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When Rand told me that Tom had contacted him and wanted us to be Filk Waifs at FKO this year, I was incredibly honored. I think I cried a little. (and let’s be perfectly honest…I was also a little terrified. Not so much about the hosting duties, but about the fact that the gig comes with a concert. I started to get all rambly here, but I decided that I’m going to move all the rambly bits about singing to a separate post, which will include details about the concert…look for that soon.)

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(Hanging out in the con suite Friday evening. Photo by Dave Weingart. I’ll be relying on the photos of others for most of this post, as I was a bit too preoccupied to take very many photos myself!)

Rand and I arrived at the hotel late Thursday afternoon and got to enjoy a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant with Tom and Sue Jeffers, Dave Clement, and Ju Honisch. And to tell you the truth, I have very little memory of what else we did on Thursday. It was nice arriving on Thursday, though, because it allowed us to have a pretty easygoing Friday. These details are also a little fuzzy, so I’m going to skip on ahead to the actual convention.

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(Photo by Phil Mills)

After an informal meet-and-greet, things kicked off with Kathleen Sloan performing her song “Take it Back.” The song has a beautiful message, and I think the world would be a better place if more people took it to heart!

The opening song was followed by concerts from Judith Hayman and Peggi Warner-Lalonde and Cat Faber, both of which were lovely. It was during Friday night’s concerts that Rand and I began our hosting duties, giving brief introductions for each of the performers and making various announcements throughout the weekend. As each of the performers took the stage, we asked them to answer a question from our Master List of Questions. (Sample questions: Flight or invisibility? Kirk or Picard? What product do you most miss from your childhood? And so on…)

I think the questions were a hit. ;) After the opening concerts, we headed into the night’s big event: Urban Tapestry’s 20th Anniversary concert!

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(Photo by Dave Weingart)

Urban Tapestry is always a pleasure to see and hear, and this concert was no exception! Here’s a link to Allison’s livejournal that includes a video of one of the songs they performed (“I Am Stardust”). Allison wrote more about Friday night at FKO here.

And…I think this is going to be a long one, so I’m going to call this part one and end it here. More coming soon!

More lyrics

This one is called “Cliffs of Insanity” and it’s a parody of “Green Hills of Harmony” (which is itself a parody of “Farewell to Sicily” (or “Banks of Sicily”) a Scottish song from WWII). Subject matter should be apparent. ;) Lyrics are by me and Rand.

The lady is kidnapped and Guilder is framed
The six-fingered man haunts my subconscious brain
The rhymes of the giant drive Vizzini insane
And that word doesn’t mean what he’s thinkin’

And it’s sail, sail away from that sailboat
He may be gaining, but we’re not afraid
As we sail for the cliffs of insanity
All of the eels are shrieking

We don’t want to kill her, but it’s hard to avoid
Vizzini has told us we’ll be unemployed — >
Fezzik offers a peanut — Vizzini’s annoyed
When we get to the top, we’ll be leavin’

And it’s scale, scale, the side of the mountain
Hang on to Fezzik — the man in black gains
As we climb up the Cliffs of Insanity
All of the eels are shrieking

It’s time for a fight now, and well-matched are we
But I’m not left-handed, and neither is he
I have to admit that he’s better than me
And I’m knocked on the head when he’s leavin’

And it’s sleep, sleep, sleep off the headwound
I’ll wait for Vizzini — I will not be moved
And it’s fare ye well, ye cliffs of insanity
All of the eels are shrieking

Some fight for the glory. Some fight for the pay
But I am the Spaniard, and fighting’s my way
It’s a hard life to live, and a high price to pay
When the six-fingered man is still breathin’

Hello — My name is Inigo Montoya
You killed my father — Prepare to die
And it’s fare ye well ye Cliffs of Insanity,
All of the eels are shrieking

This is rape culture

I wrote this a few weeks ago, after the Steubenville verdict and ensuing reaction from the press. I wrote it and I was afraid to post it here, choosing instead to hide it in some more secret, anonymous spaces. Well, today, I say “eff that.”

Because then I read this story (and others, but it was mostly this one). Every time this happens, which is far too often, I am heartbroken. Again.

I’m starting out leaving comments on but moderated, but I’ll close them if I feel I have to.

Soapbox on.

TW: discussion of rape and rape culture. not graphic

You’re fourteen, and you go with a friend to a party at some older kids’ house. One of the boys asks you if you want something to drink, and you refuse a couple of times before saying, “Okay, I’ll have a Coke.” They bring you the coke and it kind of tastes funny, so you take a couple of sips and leave it somewhere before slipping away.

You’re sixteen, and you’re with your boyfriend at a graduation party, and some of the guys are sneaking extra booze into that girl’s drink when she’s not looking, and they’re laughing and making jokes. You don’t think anything happened to her, but you’re terrified about what could have happened.

You’re eighteen, and you’re trying to break up with that same boyfriend. He threatens to rape you, because if you’re going to leave, you’re going to leave really hating him. You’ve never been so scared…but then he stops and begs you to forgive him. (And you do, sort of, because you’re not quite ready to get out of this mess yet.)

You’re twenty-five, and you’re on a beach vacation with your girlfriends. You and one of the other girls are dancing and having a good time, so you stay out while everyone else goes back to the house. The guys you’re hanging out with invite you to come back to where they’re staying, a few miles down the road. Your friend drives, and you follow them. The guy you’re hanging out with turns out to be very sweet, a total gentleman, and one of the last things you say to him is, “Thank you for being a good guy,” because you can’t stop thinking about how differently this night might have turned out.

You’re twenty-nine, and you’re going to meet a guy you’ve been chatting with on an online dating site. You tell your roommate where you’re going, like you always do, “just in case.” You make jokes about it, but deep down, you know you’re not really kidding.

A comedian makes a joke about a member of his audience getting gang-raped, and the Internet jumps to defend him.

A story breaks about the gang rape of an eleven-year-old girl in Texas, and the media writes about what she was wearing.

A story breaks about a gruesome gang rape in India, and the Internet won’t shut up about how we must do something about those horrible woman-hating rapists over there. People warn their female friends who are visiting India to be careful.

A story breaks about the rape of a teenage girl in Ohio, and even as evidence mounts against the rapists, people blame the victim. The rapists are found guilty, and the media wrings its hands about how those poor boys’ lives are ruined. They don’t say very much about the victim, except to point out, at every opportunity, that she was drunk.

Don’t wear a skirt that’s too short. Don’t get too drunk. Don’t let your drink out of your sight. Don’t walk alone at night. Don’t be a slut. (And don’t forget, you don’t get to determine what it means to be a slut. Everyone else does.) Don’t be out there looking to have sex, because everyone knows if you want to have sex with someone, that’s just as good as wanting to have sex with anyone.

Don’t get raped.

Because if you get raped, it was obviously your fault.

Because if we can believe that, we can believe that it won’t happen to us.

Because if we can believe that, we don’t have to do anything about this problem. We don’t have to try to do better.

Because we don’t have a problem, do we?

Some other good reading on this and related topics:

No, dude, it’s not bigotry

F*ck everything, let’s talk about rape

Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Speak) weighs in

UPDATE: this link is on the Laurie Halse Anderson post, but I wanted to add it here, too.

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