Friday, September 25, 2020

Off to Stars Hollow: Gilmore Girls S1E2

The Lorelais' First Day at Chilton
Season 1, Episode 2

Finally, Stars Hollow looks as it should, and Rory's off to Chilton. Things are starting to feel normal - with a few exceptions.

Okay Rory, I don't think time works the way you think it does. That would make your crazy aging make more sense, though. In the opening scene she shouts the time to Lorelai every few seconds as though whole minutes are passing. 

This guy hitting on Lorelai at Chilton is gross. I know this was filmed in 2000 but it always cracks me up to see what TV shows & movies considered to be attractive thirty-something men in the 80's and 90's. Not shaming anyone (eek, are we even allowed to discuss attractiveness anymore?), I'm just really thankful I grew up in the age I grew up in...haha.

Okay, you know how sometimes a line from something just sticks with you forever and it might be completely insignificant or stupid but it's just jammed in the depths of your brain regardless? A line from this scene where Lorelai and Rory walk up the headmaster's secretary is one of those for me. Every night when I take my makeup off I think of Lorelai saying, "See, that's what happens when you go to bed with your makeup on."

Now that we're in Headmaster Charleston's office I'm thinking about how different it looks in the revival. I can't remember now if they mention renovations at that point, but man does he get an upgrade eventually.

I hate how they make Lorelai take off her coat. Are some people really this insistent on things like taking your coat off?? I know that was a device for this plot line, but still. SO embarrassed for her...been there. (Sort of.)

This scare-speech the Headmaster gives Rory is very effective. I would have been terrified at her age...he makes it sound harder than college.

She's a journalism major? Their high school had majors?

Two uniform skirts aren't fine, Lorelai. I know she's thrifty but let your rich mom get more than two skirts, girl. (I went to a private school with uniforms until eight grade so I speak from experience.)

There's George Washington, centered on the wall behind the desk at the Inn.

When Lorelai calms down the guy with a scratch on his car, she says she'll send it to Musky's to have it looked at. We all know that eventually Gypsy is the town mechanic, but she doesn't make an appearance until season two. When Richard insists on having the car Dean built for Rory checked, they visit Gypsy, but the sign on her business says Hewes Bros Gas. All kinds of names flying around! 

So this is the first time we see Sean Gunn, but in this episode his name is Mick rather than Kirk. The first couple times he shows up, he's a lot more rude and unagreeable. I love what they turned Kirk into so I'm really glad Mick didn't stick around!

How cute was it that Luke stepped out of the diner to watch Lorelai walk by just as she finished asking Rory if she thinks he's cute? Also, is the diner always trimmed in this many twinkle lights??

Some of the books & movies I noticed in this episode: Hunchback of Notre Dame,War and Peace, Anna Karenina, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Tale of Two Cities, Little Dorrit, Dukes of Hazzard, The Shining.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Off to Stars Hollow: Gilmore Girls S1E1

Season 1, Episode 1

Restarting Gilmore Girls is both thrilling and frustrating. I'm always SO excited to get back to Stars Hollow, but also annoyed by all of the "off" details in the first handful of episodes and how ridiculously long it takes for Luke and Lorelai to get a clue about each other. It's as painful as it is exciting to watch sometimes.

I have a lot of continuity issues in this first episode, so let's get to it.

  I know that the pilot gets filmed before the rest of the series for nearly every TV show, but I think because Stars Hollow is basically its own character, it really bothers me how different it looks (Luke's especially) in episode one. Whenever they're actually at Luke's it's a totally different building, but when Rory and Lane are walking into school a few minutes in, you can see the building where Luke's is located for the rest of the series. There's a lot of random details that get re-written later, too. 

  For example, Rory is 16 in episode one (and can drive), but then turns 16 in episode six. I can get behind the idea that Lorelai was just rounding up her age because she was nearly 16 - but I Googled, and you have to be 16 in CT to get a learner's permit. The pilot aired on 10/5/2000, her birthday episode aired on 11/9/2000, and on the Thanksgiving episode in season three (which aired more than two years later on 11/26/2002) Lorelai says Rory is only 17. Rory's got some bizarre aging issues going on!

  There's a picture of George Washington behind the guest counter at the Independence Inn. I'm making note of this because I know that at times, there's a window there.

  I love Rory's giant sweater, why did Lorelai call it a moo-moo?? I want one! haha

  When Rory and Lane walk up to Lane's house, there's a big sign that says Kim's Antiques, which of course is the name we come to know as their house/store. However, when the camera switches to the two of them walking through the door, there's a different sign outside that says "The Glass Chimney", and the staircase leading up to the front door is off to the side instead of directly in front of it.

Already, the wall behind the desk at the Inn has changed. Instead of a centered picture of George Washington with some lamps and plants on the shelf in front of it, there's now three pictures. George is still there, but now there's another portrait, plus a framed gun.

Some things I noticed back at their house: the ugly kitchen wallpaper, the missing hutch/shelf that's in the kitchen later on, there's a door (left open) that leads to their front entryway and visible closet doors in the entry that I don't think we ever see again (at least not located there). There's definitely more windows in the living room than there usually are, and most noticeable is the missing archway from the front entry into the living room.

  Emily and Richard's house looks different inside and out. I think their house bothers me the most, because the entryway and living room look completely different for the entire first season. Later, when they flashback to young Lorelai and Christopher, the house looks like it does in season two and beyond which obviously doesn't make sense.

  When Rory and Dean have their meet cute, Rory's outfit is super cute. I feel like they dress her so meh later on so I always notice when she's got a super cute outfit.

  They're eating tiny salads for dinner?! Oh, nevermind, there's the burgers.

  Whoa, never saw this before. When Lorelai and Rory walk into their house arguing (after Lorelai finds out about Dean) there's a bar of some kind with stools behind Lorelai, where the staircase usually is. Rory even stops and picks up books from it on her way past it.

  The lamps and plants are back and George is centered again!

  Okay, the fight at dinner. I love Lorelai and all that she is, but when she fights with her Mom, I feel like we get a glimpse of her spoiled rich girl upbringing. Her family may have been suffocating and she may not have wanted the lifestyle they were grooming her for, but the way she resents her parents for wanting to be involved in their lives at this point is a little entitled. They gave her thousands of dollars (tens of thousands?) and only want a weekly dinner (that they also fund) in return. Deal with it, girl! 

We get our first glimpse at Lorelai/Luke chemistry at the end, and I'm not sure what to even say about it other than I think their attempt at "sexy Luke" fell a little flat. They'll get it eventually.

Okay, so...books and movies mentioned (that I noticed): Jack Kerouac, Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, Madame Bovary, The Little Match Girl, Rosemary's Baby.

Okay, so, overall - had I watched this episode in real time (I didn't) I would have loved the premise of this show instantly. It's not my favorite as a seasoned fan, though, because it just feels so different. There are so many characters yet to be introduced, too, that really make the town come to life. 

Episode 2 coming soon!

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Off to Stars Hollow

My birthday was a few weeks ago, and I marked the occasion by beginning my annual fall Gilmore Girls re-watch. It was actually a restraint to hold out for the last day of August. There's nothing I love more than hanging out in Stars Hollow on cozy Fall days, and I'm always anxious to get the party started.

I'm not sure how many times I've re-watched this show (and it's revival). Maybe Netflix knows. It's probably in the double digits at this point. Which, by no means makes me an expert, but it does mean I notice extraneous details and have a thing or two to say about the Gilmore experience.

And I had an idea.

Perhaps, exactly zero people would be interested in this, but I thought about commentating my re-watch this year. I'm already halfway into season three, and it would be kind of painful to start over knowing that I'm inching ever-closer to Luke and Lorelai FINALLY admitting their feelings to each other, but.....I kind of want to, anyway.

So that I can actually jot down my thoughts and the things I notice for once instead of just letting them float through my brain all by their lonesome.


I thought I'd just...ya know, jot down my reviews and the things I notice (including incontinuity errors and such) - maybe some of the books and movies these girls mention. (In fact, if you scroll down on this post, you can see that I've taken a peek at those things before and would like to experience them for myself, eventually.)

I'm totally okay with this being a solo project, so no harm done if no one lays eyes on it. If, however, you'd like to join me or have anything to add, I'd love to have you. xx

Monday, August 17, 2020

Hey, Leaders? Would You Mind Leading?

It's Monday again. I have a bit of a lingering, unexplained headache, yet another messy bun in my hair, and some shit on my mind. Let's do this.

Since quarantine started (or whatever else you want to call it as many people have started throwing that word around without meaning it even 10%), the days of the week have been largely meaningless to me. Except that Mondays are the days when communication with our school district re-opens and I brace myself for the anxiety-inducing shit show on its way.

Sometimes it was schoolwork sent from teachers. (And don't get me wrong there, the teachers have been the bright spot in the storm - the dread over the work was purely over the level of sanity it would cost me to drag my kids through it.) For a while it was news on how long our schools would remain closed. This Summer, it's been vague explanations for how they plan to conduct the 20-21 school year while pushing our questions into some unknown time in the future when they'll magically be ready to answer them - probably at the same time the doors to our schools are being forcefully unlocked. And I just gotta say.....I'm over it. 

I think I'm part of a shrinking cohort of people who are steadfast in honoring the dangers of an un-researched virus that's killing the citizens of our country by the thousands while also feeling exhausted by the lack of leadership among our, ya know, leaders. From the smallest boss man to the orange Hitler himself. Maybe it's selfish and privileged of me to say so, but being groomed to be a proud American for three and a half decades I'd become accustomed to being cared for and lead in the right direction. When did we decide that those were outdated sentiments?

Don't confuse my disappointment and frustration with wishing to remain ignorant because I think the recent awakening to the injustices and inequality within the systems of our country (particularly the vast, deep degree that they exist) was necessary and important. It's just that instead of using this information to DO BETTER, most of our leaders are just intent on dismantling civility and decorum. It feels like we're being represented by 12 year olds that just inherited a case of dynamite - giggling away as they see what they can get away with blowing up. 

I don't have have the bandwidth to delve into all the (many, many) issues at hand right now, but I'd like to poke at the school thing a bit more as I've got a measly three weeks left to figure out what the hell is going on.

Let's rewind and take a peek at the 2005-2006 school year. 

I was, I guess, technically a college sophomore. My degree program was in Humanities & Social Sciences, but it was with a Childhood Education focus that would eventually transfer into an actual Child Ed program. Follow me? Okay, so, part of my curriculum was to get out and do actual work and research within functioning elementary school classrooms - aka, field work. I was assigned to varying socioeconomic districts across the Western New York area so that I could really get a feel for the types of jobs and educational needs in my area. Additionally, I sat in on or helped out in every grade from K-5. 

It's taboo for teacher-types to say so, but I had my favorite classes. I for sure had my favorite schools. And my professor was a retired teacher and principal from said favorite schools and so hearing about his experience gave me an accidental bias.

Now fast forward to 2010. Matt and I were house hunting and our oldest son was just over a year old. I was relentless about the neighborhoods we looked in because I wanted my kids enrolled in my favorite school and at the very least, within that school's district. I wouldn't budge. I'd seen some shit!! I knew what I wanted my kids to have and where they'd be able to get it.

I obviously had some time to wait before I had any kids enrolled, but by the time my oldest started Kindergarten, we were up to three kids and I knew we'd be a part of this district for the long haul.

The vast majority of our experiences were good ones. We never had a bad teacher. I found compassion in every corner. There were a multitude of ways for me to be involved and invested in my kids' education and school community, and I was invited to get to know the staff and students as though they we were all part of a large, welcoming family. There were still cliques and the occasional mean girl or two - all of life is high school, afterall. But I was largely under the impression that I'd made the right call and the district was delivering on all of my previously learned expectations. There was growth, pride, inclusion, diversity, opportunity, and caregiving. It was all there, and my kids grew as students and as friends.

Enter a pandemic.

I don't think anyone faults our leaders and lawmakers for the existence of such a wild curveball. In fact I think many of us have compassion for the last minute nature of difficult decisions and hastily thrown together alternatives to normal life. It's just that as time has gone on, things haven't improved. If anything, we're seeing more and more that when things get truly, truly difficult - our leaders don't know how to lead. And they certainly don't know how to be humble and compassionate about it. 

As of right now (three weeks before the first day of school), we have a choice of two options - hybrid or full remote. Very few people in our district are happy with either option. The parents who are choosing hybrid are angry that their children won't be getting as many days of actual instruction as the fully virtual kids will. The fully remote parents are angry that they don't have the same access to all the available courses at their grade level, and that they'll be given random (possibly newly hired) teachers from any school and any grade level across the district. Either option creates a disadvantage in comparison to the other group of kids.

Me, personally? Well if you've followed my Quarantine Chronicles or know me in real life, then you know that our oldest son has some health concerns that we have to honor above all else. You also probably know that I don't trust humanity to be respectful and diligent where social distancing practices are concerned. So my family has (so far) opted into the fully remote option.

However, since we decided that our kids would be staying home this school year regardless, our choice was never between remote-hybrid-full time school. It's been remote vs homeschool. Homeschooling offers a lot of flexibility and freedom to our family that has been appealing to me since my kids were preschoolers. I've always been attracted to the idea. It's just that...since there is a remote option, I see an opportunity to remain current with district curriculum and grade level, as well as the natural opportunity to interact with their known classmates and school staff. Since this school-at-home situation is (hopefully) only a year or two long, I want to chose the option that will allow them to rejoin their classmates at grade level with as few speed bumps as possible. They'd remain on a level playing field with their peers if they played along with the same options offered to their fellow students.

But what happens when the available option doesn't offer your hoped-for advantages? If my kids are thrown into piecemeal classrooms with a teacher from another school and classmates from across the district, how does that offer them the opportunity to continue strengthening the social relationships they've been forming for the previous six school years? What's the point?

If you could be a fly on the wall at our district meetings, you'd be witness to anger-motivated uncivilized discussion fixated on pointing out all the ways our district is failing our community in their lack of preparedness with the guy in charge rolling his eyes and denying everything. If it weren't for our dedicated teachers, the whole district would be up in flames. The newest petition circling the community was created by High Schoolers demanding better. They are angry that they have to make the choice between AP classes (which are not being offered virtually) and keeping their ill parents healthy. Our KIDS know better! 

For our family, I'm upset that my rising 6th grader, who experienced school as a middle schooler last year is now going to be treated as an elementary student and in addition, will not be offered Spanish or Orchestra classes. He is personally upset about missing out on developing his orchestra skills. I know we have options privately, but how is it fair to set these kids on a path of education they've come to expect and then take it away from them while still bragging about being one of the top school districts in the area? In my opinion, the top districts would be jumping through burning hoops to offer their students the very best.  

So here we are. Three weeks to go. Not knowing what school will look like. Not knowing if I'm okay with the options presented to us. Not knowing if I'm going to have to rush our family into homeschooling suddenly because the subpar choices offered to us have proven to be too little too late. Not knowing why I've fought for over a decade to live right here, with so few options, because I insisted on remaining a part of this district. 

Rolling with life amidst the unknown is a skill, I know - one I haven't developed in all areas of life. I struggle the most in the areas that concern my kids. I'm struggling with letting this be and not pushing hard into the options at hand - my mama bear is growling and ready to pounce, and my trust has been shaken. We deserve better.

Friday, August 7, 2020

What I Read in June & July

After a major slump during quarantine, Summer swooped in and revived my reading life. Yay for Summer, for its multitude of reasons - but especially time for books!

Because I had such a slump, I didn't keep up with my monthly What I Read updates and decided to group June & July together here to help me get back on track. SO, here's what I read!

What I read in June + July 2020 |

This stack is considerably smaller than it normally would be because A LOT of the books I read over these two months were ebooks. I'd avoided reading ebooks in recent years, but had to resort to them during quarantine with the libraries closed. So, the first batch of books I've read have already been reviewed in a post about some of the Ebooks I read during quarantine. Those are:

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton
Rusty Nailed by Alice Clayton
If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

You can find my reviews for that entire list HERE.

Here are my thoughts on all the rest:

I had this little book on my TBR list for such a long time - slowing down and stopping to smell the roses is my jam and I wanted to see what this meditation guru had to say about it. I didn't realize the book was written in quick little thoughts to digest and mull over - like a yummy hard candy. But of course it was - it was the perfect way to present these ideas, and reading it ignited a special kind of inspiration in me. I really enjoyed it and definitely recommend - especially for a cozy morning study.

A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger Van Oech (4 stars)
I passed this book a few times at my library's book sale before I decided that I should probably just get it. It was so goofy looking, but I loved the idea of stretching my imagination for the sake of creativity. This book was so much more than that, though - it dove into the deep discussion of how traditional schooling, indoctrination into society, and attempting to be "be normal" and keep up with others dims our creative process. I consider myself to be a fairly creative person, but even I was hung up on some of the mental block exercises. I really appreciated the message that this book carried, as well as some of the practical exercises for stepping outside the norm to find something great.

Beach Read
Beach Read by Emily Henry (5 stars)
I obsessively loved this book. It was a bit less summery and beachy than I expected it to be, but spending time in the daily lives and struggles of two writers is my idea of a good time. January and Gus write very different books, but their rivalry has its roots back in college where they were unspoken enemies. Life brings both of them some speed bumps and the fallout makes them neighbors in the small beach town where January's Dad lead a double life before his death. The tension between them, the personal journeys they go on, and the stories they write through it all are so perfect and I never wanted it to end! 

The Bro Code by Elizabeth A Seibert (2 stars) (NetGalley Ebook)
So I got this book through NetGalley because I'm a sucker for a forbidden romance (in this case, a guy in love with his best friend's sister), but it was not the exciting, juicy YA romance I expected. Nick and Eliza were members of a friend group that I really could not stand. For kids that were so committed and driven to perform well both academically and athletically in college, it seemed like they should have had more mental presence and depth to their thoughts. And while I understand why it was done, the constant use of the word "bro" and the chauvinistic views of the boys in this book were difficult to digest. I had a hard time believing that their actual words were coming from boys that were more than 15 years old. I'm not sure that your average 18 year old willingly accepts groundings from parents nor do they directly pick on Freshman or speak so toxically considering they are so driven about their futures. I also lost a lot of respect for them and their story when I found out that they used their "bro code" to cover up that they sexually assaulted women - one of them still being forced to tolerate her attacker as part of her brother's friend group. Their likeability took a nosedive after that, and though there was redemption in the way they rewrote the rules of the bro code in the end, I didn't like that they got there through such unhealthy means. Overall, I was excited for Nick and Eliza, but because of the voices and underdevelopment of the characters, I had a hard time getting through it.

We Are Called to Be a Movement by William J Barber II (5 stars) (NetGalley Ebook)
This small but mighty little book was incredibly impactful. Passionate and smart, Reverend Barber bridges the gap between scripture and social movements - impressing upon the oppressed and rejected to stand and create momentum that urges our society towards equality and acceptance. This is an incredibly important read for our time!

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz (3.5 stars)
This is ridiculous, but I actually had no idea that this book was about Alexander Hamilton & Eliza Schuyler when I bought it years ago. I'd heard it recommended as a good YA story, but didn't pay very close attention. After being thoroughly intrigued after watching Hamilton, though, I was excited to spend time with them as young adult characters falling in love. Their story in this book was largely fictionalized, but still centered around actual historical events. It was really fun to read - if you like Hamilton, you'll like this one!

Judy Blume Classics
Can you believe I hadn't read this before? I had a copy in my stash of "future classroom library" books that never made it to a classroom and always wanted to read it. I'm so glad I did! Despite being a bit dated in some aspects, Margaret's struggles are still very relevant to every young girl growing up. Her hurdles and milestones felt very familiar, and it was interesting to see her navigate the larger life and social struggles going on around her with an oblivious eye. Her perspective as a child old enough to get the basics but not yet capable of seeing the roots in life's problems was unique. Such a great point of view - both for tweens and parents of tweens!

The Noticer by Andy Andrews (4 stars)
The major theme of this book is perspective, and it was beautiful to see that explored in multiple ways. A mysterious character named Jones pops in and out of a small Alabama town just to care for and encourage its residents. His suggestions and advice change people's lives and he expects nothing in return. At the root of everything he does is changing perspectives, and that carries through to how people see him. Depending on a person's background, they know him by other names and appearances. At lot of the themes in the book were things I've heard before, but seeing them tied up in this lovely, giving little story was really great and you can't help but feel good after reading it!

Oh Fredrick Backman, you incredible artist, you. As with all his books, this one cuts deep! Seven year old Elsa is best-best friends with her Grandmother, who passes away in the early chapters of the book. She is left feeling lonely, naturally, and has only the grand fairy tales that her Grandmother has taught her and a series of letters that send her on an adventure through her own apartment complex to navigate life without her Grandmother. Through this adventure, she gets to know her neighbors and the way their lives are all intertwined, and together they continue on her Grandmother's legacy of helping and caring for others. This is definitely a book to take your time with - there are a lot of characters, and the substory of Elsa and her Grandmother's fairy tale is woven into real life, and it's best to savor all of it. There are some actual laugh out loud moments, and of course, emotional ones. The one that got me at the very end is finding out what Elsa's new half-sibling is named, and I won't spoil it...but eep that was a beautiful moment. Pick it up and enjoy!!!

You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn (4 stars)
I really really enjoyed this book and devoured it in less than a day. Centered around two country music superstars touring together for the summer, this book deals with some of the harsh realities of living life in the spotlight. Country Music RomanceI love books centered around fame because it's such an indulgent contrast to my own life. Watching Annie and Jefferson juggle their careers, their histories, and their relationship with each other was so entertaining and rewarding, and if you're looking for something really angsty and indulgent, this is a great one!

The Switch by Beth O'Leary (4 stars) (NetGalley Audiobook)
I was so excited to read this book after loving The Flatshare (Beth O'Leary's first book), and it was even more fun to be able to listen to the audiobook. Hearing the character's accents and the emotion in their dialogue added a familiarity and attachment to the characters that was really enjoyable. The premise of swapping homes and communities was so much fun - I loved listening to Leena and Eileen (Granddaughter and Grandmother, respectively) experiencing life in each other's shoes in an attempt to get their lives back on track after their mutual loss of a family member. There was a great balance between the hard, real moments, and the literal laugh out loud moments. Even more satisfying, though, was seeing how each of them made a mark in their new lives as they stepped out of their comfort zones and into exciting experiences. My only wish is that the romantic relationships had been a more prominent part of the story because the chemistry between Leena and Jackson was so, so good - I would have liked to see more of it. I know the story was supposed to focus on multi-generational growth and healing so I don't fault the book for that, I'm just a sucker for the romances! :)

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner (4 stars)
In my early 20's, I was very into "chick lit" as it was formerly known. It was a growing genre in the early aughts, and Jennifer Weiner was one of the biggest names. I read through all of her early books and felt like I knew her voice and storytelling style, and this book was so very different from those older ones and I loved it! The story sets up with a Summer Sisters vibe - Instagram influencer Daphne is approached by her childhood frenemy with the request to be the maid of honor in her wedding. Hesitant and baffled, she agrees for the 'gram, and an unexpected murder mystery ensues. So many of the details in this book were indulgent and fun - the extravagance of the ultra rich on display, seeing the world through a successful plus sized influencer, navigating the complications of relationships and the consequences of reacting to negative life experiences. I loved it!

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren (5 stars) (NetGalley Ebook)
This book was incredible!! I went into it somewhat blind - only registering that it was a new one by Christina Lauren and obviously had something to do with the holiday season, but I knew nothing else. I was pleasantly surprised to find some magical realism and a heavy dose of friends-to-lovers, including a very long unrequited crush coming to light which, if you ask me, is the very best kind of angst and longing. The main character, Mae, is in love with the holiday tradition of coming together with her chosen family for a week at a beloved Utah cabin. The book opens at the end of one of these trips where some not-so-great things have happened, inspiring her to send a desperate plea to the Universe for clarity. Suddenly, she's back on the plane that brought her to the cabin earlier that week, and she has to relive her trip - tidying up her mistakes as she goes. In her attempts to save the cabin and her holiday traditions, she also owns up to her feelings in more ways than one, and finds some romance along the way. This was an "interrupt your meals and sleep" kind of read - un-put-downable! It's everything you wish a Hallmark movie would be, in all the steamiest ways!!! I can't stop thinking about this one!

Summer reading has been so much fun this year! I'm working through my August TBR now - 1.5 books done so far, finishing up that half plus Midnight Sun. I'm going to miss having all this reading time when my kids have to get back into school!

What have you read this summer that you've loved? What are you finishing up Summer with? 

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