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Friday, February 23

Begin as you mean to go | Advice from Leigh Bardugo

Friday, February 23
I know I'm not alone when I complain that 2018 has been a rough year.

Around my house, we rang in the new year with a nasty case of flu, followed by sinus/respiratory infections and a cough that will not quit. Add to that some home issues that involved taking a jackhammer to a bathroom floor, and—you know—the general crap state of affairs in our country at the moment, and I'm ready to write the first two months of 2018 off completely.

Mind you, things really aren't bad. A cough is annoying, but not life-threatening. We get to tackle an unexpected bathroom mini-renovation that was on our to-do list (albeit much lower than other more pressing items, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). We have exciting plans for vacations later this year. We get to watch movies like Black Panther.

But it can be hard to focus on the positives when situations compound and make you feel like curling up in the fetal position in a dark room.

Just before Christmas, I got an email newsletter from one of my favorite authors, Leigh Bardugo. I've had the privilege of hearing Leigh speak at book festivals, and have talked with her personally. Every time, I'm reminded of just how cool she is. In the newsletter, she offered some advice that really resonated, and I've revisited it frequently over the past 55-ish days.

1. This is the time of year when people start to think about transforming themselves. Goals, resolutions, and grand ambition are all lovely things and I want to encourage you to think big. But I also want to encourage you to embrace all of the great things about yourself and all of your victories of the past year—no matter how quiet or small. You do not have to go on a diet in the New Year, or write 100,000 words, or eat only kale and horseradish, or hit the gym every day, or post something new on Instagram every week, or follow a 22-step skincare regimen. Your job is to take care of yourself. Period. Advertisers prey on our insecurities and anxieties at holiday time, so be gentle and generous with your heart and remember that you are effing spectacular.

2. Begin as you mean to go on! Every January 1st, I like to make sure I spend a little bit of time working on something I care about or want to pursue in the New Year. Maybe you want to cook at home or learn a new language or make progress on a novel or reach out to your friends more regularly. On New Year's Day, commit to devoting a small amount of time to that thing. Begin as you mean to go on—make that promise to yourself. (And if you do it, tag it #BAYMTGO so I can see!) I'll be doing some writing sprints on my IG stories and you're very welcome to join me whether you're cleaning your apartment or revising a new story or baking me a pie. Bonus points if you're baking me a pie.

After the mess that was January, I wanted to start 2018 over in February. But then this month wasn't much better, so I started thinking about starting over in March. There's always a possibility that March will continue the trend, however ... Before I know it, I could have spent all of 2018 trying to hit reset and looking for the "right" time to begin.

That's no way to live. And even though Leigh sent this advice as a new year's suggestion, I think it can be applied to any sort of restart. (Besides, the Gregorian calendar is a kind of arbitrary thing.)

I'm not quite sure where to start, but you can be darn sure that I'm going to begin as I mean to go once I figure it out.

On March 1.

Wednesday, February 21

Nerd News | Legion: Season 2 teaser

Wednesday, February 21
Are you ready for another mind-bending, totally insane season of Legion?

April 3 can't come soon enough.

H/t to Colt for the link.

Also of note:

Have y'all seen Black Panther? Wasn't it awesome? Haiku Revieu to come soon!

Friday, February 16

Haiku Revieu | The Shape of Water

Friday, February 16
The Shape of Water

Of monsters and men
Surprisingly sexual
A sweet love story

At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.

I've been looking forward to seeing The Shape of Water since I first heard about it, and we finally got to the theater earlier this month to see it. I typically really enjoy Guillermo del Toro unique style of filmmaking, and something about the idea of this movie really struck me.

You'll notice that I mentioned the surprisingly sexual nature of the film in the haiku above. I mention this, not because it was done for shock factor, but because I think the trailers give off a "this is a sweet love story" more than "this is a sweet love story between two of-age individuals who have adult urges." One of my coworkers actually said that they thought it was a kid's movie—which, no—and the people sitting next to us in the theater had brought their pre-teen or early-teen son. (That kid is likely scarred for life; not because of the sexual scenes, but because he had to watch them with his parents.)

The Shape of Water definitely feels like a del Toro film. It's a period fantasy piece with strong, well-developed characters and a dreamy quality that, although I was left with questions at the end, made me hopeful in the power of the story's magic. It's a statement on how "monsters" are often more "human" than actual humans, and how love is love is love, regardless of what outsiders might think or judge.

Sally Hawkins is wonderful as Elisa, and does so well at emoting without being able to talk. The expressions on her face, and her body language, do all the talking for her. Her character is truly unique. Octavia Spencer's Zelda is adorably sassy, and a true friend, and Richard Jenkins's Giles is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Unsurprisingly, Doug Jones is perfect as the monster; if we ever met in real life, I think I'd be surprised if his mannerisms didn't trend toward the alien. And Michael Shannon was amazing as the villanous Richard Strickland. I hate that guy with all my being, but he's never flat and honestly fascinating in a "serial killers are facsinating" kind of way.

This film definitely lived up to the hype, both that in my own head and of the general public.

Check it out:

Friday, February 9

Haiku Revieu | Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Friday, February 9
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Transitional film
I wanted more backstory
But I do love Porgs

Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order.

It's been nearly a month since I first saw The Last Jedi in theaters, and honestly? I still don't quite know how I feel about the movie. I know people who love it, and I know people who compare it to the prequels (which I think might be going a little too far). There were parts that I loved, and parts that I didn't like. I'm struggling, friends.

My biggest issue is that it very much felt like a film that wasn't vital to the larger story. A lot of what was set down in The Force Awakens seemed to be tossed out the window without much care, and I worry that Episode 9 will try to get those things back, making The Last Jedi this weird transitional film that ultimately didn't do much. Other things I didn't enjoy:
  • The Canto Bight storyline. More Finn? Yes! Rose Tico? YES! But them going off and doing their own thing took me out of the larger plot, especially when it ultimately turned out to be sort of useless. (Thanks for nothing, Benicio del Toro.) Also, was there more to the woman (Lily Cole) standing next to the master codebreaker than we were privy to?
  • Luke's snotty attitude (and the weird milking moment). I get that he wanted to be left alone. I get that he was reeling from Kylo's turn to the dark side. I get that he's always been a bit of a brat. But the jokey way he tossed the lightsaber behind him when Rey handed it to him totally diverged from the feeling I got from the end of The Force Awakens. It was jarring, and felt cheap.
  • The cat and mouse chase between the First Order and the Rebel ships. Sure, it paid off awesomely in that kamikaze scene at the end, but what was stopping the First Order from jumping to the other side of the Rebel ships? Or calling in reinforcements? It's not like the Rebel ships were going to get away if they stopped looking for a second.
  • Snoke and Phasma's seemingly useless deaths. Them dying kind of unceremoniously made it seem like neither character was necessary to the larger plot, and it's a shame. (That said, they might not actually be dead, and show up again. We'll see ...)
  • And, related: The lack of character backstory. I try to remind myself that I didn't know much of anything about Emperor Palpatine when all I'd seen was the original trilogy; it wasn't until the prequels and the extended universe books that I learned more. I feel like movie-going audiences expect—and deserve—more these days, however, and inserting a new character (i.e. Holdo) without explaining really anything about who she is except a throw-away line about her being involved in some "famous" battle just feels cheap. (If you're interested, you can learn more about her in Claudia Gray's book, Leia: Princess of Alderaan.)

Like I said, though, there were things I really liked. A few examples:
  • Princess Leia showing her force powers. Just 'cause she's not a Jedi has never meant that she's not a badass Force wielder.
  • The character growth, Finn's and Poe's in particular. Finn's gone from being all about himself, to all about Rey, to a slogan-saying, full-fledged member of the Rebellion. (Total fist-pump moment, y'all.) And Poe was taken down a peg or two to show him humility and what it takes to be a true leader. (Just in time for Episode 9.)
  • Representation for more than just white dudes. Anytime I saw a woman in a position of power—or, really, doing anything—I got choked up. Even at 34, I'm still looking for women to be major parts of my favorite
  • The lightsaber battle between Kylo and Rey and Snoke's guards. Beautiful choreography! And, though I'm not a Reylo shipper, I love the enemistry between them. Their little mental chats were pretty delightful.
  • Yoda's gleeful trolling. I didn't realize how much I missed that little green dude's sass.
  • The Porgs. Yes, I'm one of those fans.

In the end, I'm giving the movie a three-star rating, mostly because I continue to waffle between one end of the spectrum and the other.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

Check it out:

Monday, February 5

Nerd News | Solo: A Star Wars Story trailer

Monday, February 5

If you were watching the Super Bowl last night, you probably saw the teaser for the Solo: A Star Wars Story ... teaser ... that released early this morning. If you missed either, here they both are:

I'm still not totally sold on Alden Ehrenreich as Han, but I'm going to reserve final judgment until I actually see the movie. I'm digging the look and feel of the teaser, and damn if Donald Glover isn't oozing that Lando charm, even in the short time we get to see him. (That coat, tho!)

Honestly, it's hard for me not to get excited about new Star Wars movies, regardless of my feeling about them when I actually see them in theaters. (Related: I'll try to get my Last Jedi Haiku Revieu up later this week.)

Also of note:
  • A new spot for Avengers: Infinity War dropped during the game as well. Not embedding it in case you're like me and only want to watch the first trailer, but linking it here in case you want to see. (Full disclosure: Because I was a party for the game, I ended up watching it. It doesn't spoil much, plot-wise. It's just a lot of attractive people preparing for a fight. And Cap's beard is in FULL effect.)
  • The Men in Black franchise is getting a total reboot.
  • David Harbour—who is a total delight, and who definitely won the Super Bowl commercials competition with his Tide ads—promises that his role as Hellboy won't ruin his Dad bod.

Thursday, February 1

Hey February | 2018 Man Calendar

Thursday, February 1

Desktop version:

Peep the rest of the 2018 Man Calendar here.