Media Review

The Shelf: Episode 20

Welcome back to The Shelf, a film review podcast about the physical media we carry with us. This week Nic and Hannah watched the beloved, meta, sci-fi-movie-adventure Galaxy Quest! Help them figure out, is Patrick Stewart the same as Spock? Can Sigourney Weaver rap? And how cute is Giles’ haircut?

If you’re having trouble loading in this browser, you can also access the episode externally here: The Shelf, Episode 20: Galaxy Quest

 

The Shelf: Episode 19

Welcome back to The Shelf, a film review podcast about the physical media we carry with us. This week, Nic and Hannah discuss the seminal 1980’s high school comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Does this movie hold up? Is it cool to be a method actor? Does everyone think this movie is that movie where Matthew McConaughey says that thing he says? What’s the deal with smoking in movie theaters? Find out the answers to these questions and more on this episode of The Shelf!

If you’re having trouble loading in this browser, you can also access the episode externally here: The Shelf, Episode 19: Fast Times At Ridgemont High

The Shelf: Episode 18

Welcome back to The Shelf, a film review podcast about the physical media we carry with us. Join Nic and Hannah as they explore the alien world of Ygaam on this weeks episode, Fantastic Planet. Together they discuss the strange nature of dressing pets like people, the strength of allegory, psychedelic French rock, and weird statues.

If you’re having trouble loading in this browser, you can also access the episode externally here: The Shelf, Episode 18: Fantastic Planet

The Shelf: Episode 17

Welcome back to The Shelf, a film review podcast about the physical media we carry with us. Remember high school? Oh, you blocked it out? Yeah, we did too.  Join Nic and Hannah as they discuss the light-hearted (?) adaptation of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter–  Easy A.

If you’re having trouble loading in this browser, you can also access the episode externally here: The Shelf, Episode 17: Easy A

The Shelf: Episode 16

Welcome back to The Shelf, a film review podcast about the physical media we carry with us. OMG ya’ll! Our very first musical! Hooray! Join Nic and Hannah as they discuss the-little-musical-that-could, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

If you’re having trouble loading in this browser, you can also access the episode externally here: The Shelf, Episode 16: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

 

The Shelf: Episode 15

Welcome back to The Shelf, a film review podcast about the physical media we carry with us. Does Hannah like waterparks? Has Nic been to a beach house? How good are Toni Collette and Allison Janney? Find the answers to these questions and more this week, as Nic and Hannah watch and review The Way, Way Back.

If you’re having trouble loading in this browser, you can also access the episode externally here: The Shelf, Episode 15: The Way, Way Back

The Shelf: Episode 14

Welcome back to The Shelf, a film review podcast about the physical media we carry with us. It’s the exciting world of Live Action Role-Play! Join us as we review our first (and only?) documentary.

If you’re having trouble loading in this browser, you can also access the episode externally here: The Shelf, Episode 14: Darkon

Pansexuality in Schitt’s Creek: A Win for Represenation

How is everyone’s beautiful day/night/evening/morning/afternoon/twilight going? Wonderful! Well, mine is just fantastic, thank you for asking. Why is it so fantastic you may ask? Oh haha ta hee ha. Let me tell you. Because of a very special TV show called “Schitt’s Creek.”

Four Great Queer Writers

TW: mention of sexual assault and hate crimes

Finding LGBTQ books and writers can be a bit of a challenge. Queer writers are rarely taught in English classes. If they are, it’s likely an elective specifically on queer writing and not a core class. In reality, most books we read in literature classes, from elementary school to university level, are written by straight people, usually white men. Even though there are some popular authors who are gay (such as Oscar Wilde or James Baldwin) it’s not often that you find popular books about the queer experience. It’s important for us to give our attention to queer writers who have important messages to share.

Here are four of my favorite writers, whose messages are worth sharing:

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is probably best known for her book Bad Feminist, but has magnificent work outside of that, such as Difficult Women, a collection of short stories, or her newest novel Hunger, which explores her binge eating disorder. Bad Feminist, a collection of essays, was the first of her novels I read. Her idea of being a Bad Feminist teaches us that nobody is perfect, therefore, feminism can’t be perfect. We are all learning and experiencing in a way that is unique to us. We need to listen, learn, and support each other in the best ways we can. On her book, Gay says, It just shows what it’s like to move through the world as a woman. It’s not even about feminism per se, it’s about humanity and empathy.”

Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson is a spoken word poet and activist. Their work is influenced by gender, love, social justice, and being queer. “Your Life” is a beautiful and touching poem about being non-binary/trans. “Orlando” is about Gibson’s reaction to the Pulse Shooting of June 2016. Gibson’s newest album Hey Galaxy is a masterpiece and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s an emotional journey. It will make you cry, laugh, and smile. They use music in their spoken poetry as well, which adds to the experience. I got to experience Andrea Gibson first hand, when I saw their show last January. Andrea Gibson, in my opinion, is a gift to the world of spoken word poetry.

Audre Lorde

I felt like this list wasn’t complete without Audre Lorde. The subjects of her work are usually personal to her, as she wrote about race, feminism, and the LGBTQ community. She is a writer of poetry, essays, and non-fiction. My favorite work of hers is Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, a biomythography where she writes about the details of her life, living as a black lesbian in the 50s and 60s. One of my favorite poems by her, “Power” is about race relations and white supremacy. The opening lines:

“The difference between poetry and rhetoric

is being ready to kill

yourself

instead of your children,” consider the power of our words in a system that tries to leave us voiceless. Lorde also has a book of essays and speeches, titled Sister Outsider.

Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong is a gay poet from Vietnam whose work has become extremely popular recently. His book Night Sky With Exit Wounds is his first full length collection, exploring subjects such as femininity, being gay, family, and war. My favorite poem in this book is titled “Seventh Circle of Earth.” It is about a gay couple murdered in their home in Dallas, Texas in 2011. This is a heartbreaking poem with a very untraditional structure as it considers what it means to queer in America.

Me & Mr. Jones

(Trigger Warnings: Addiction, Disordered Eating, Pedophilia)

Countless articles have been written about David Bowie’s influence, especially as it relates to queer culture. I never had the opportunity to see him perform while he was alive, yet fate had it that the day after he died I saw a brilliant performer named Raquel Cion cover his songs in a tribute show already scheduled to celebrate his 69th birthday.

It felt cosmic since I wholeheartedly believe that seeing Raquel Cion perform Bowie’s songs is truly the next best thing and the closest one can now come to experiencing Bowie’s musical artistry alive and in person.

Photo by Roque Nonini

Cion is one of the most diehard Bowie superfans this world has ever known and a brilliant singer and performer in her own right. Her show Me & Mr. Jones: My Intimate Relationship with David Bowie seems an inevitable conduit for her idol’s spirit while wholeheartedly imbuing every song she covers with her own radiance.

As Raquel entered through the audience singing Moonage Daydream bedecked in her glam rock glory, I found myself weeping. Her sultry jazz voice paired with rockstar bravado was as undeniably captivating as her storytelling.

Photo by Roque Nonini

She spoke of how she spent her teenage years skipping school to avoid her classmates who yelled slurs at David Bowie’s visage painted on the back of her leather jacket and instead found refuge in back-alleys and bars amongst the sort of queer people her classmates antagonized.

Raquel tells the story of seeing her principal cruising for sex, and in her full Nina Hagen-styled punk getup waved hello to him. Yet what stayed with her most from that exchange was the young hustler she witnessed climbing into her principal’s car. She describes the boy in a way that conjured the Peter Hujar photograph Christopher Street Pier #2 (Crossed Legs).

Photo by Peter Hujar

“I do wonder if that feathered blond boy survived. I doubt he did. I hope he did. I doubt he did.”

As she spoke mournfully of this stranger, representative of an entire lost generation, and sang Teenage Wildlife medleyed with Heroes, illustrating the danger and precariousness of growing up at that time.

Photo by Kevin W. Condon

Much of the show was devoted to the concept of Limbic Resonance, the scientifically proven chemical reaction in the brain which can be triggered by music, resulting in the feelings of love, euphoria and feeling understood. Raquel reflects on how the concept relates to her relationship with “her david” as she calls him, and how experiencing David Bowie’s music to her is love. His is the voice that scores her life and that she has heard more than any friend, lover or even her own.

She sang Rock ‘n’ Roll With Me, colored by that feeling of limbic resonance and connection to David Bowie, resulting in the most heartfelt and relatable sort of love song I’ve ever heard.

Throughout the show Raquel reflected on instances of being told she cared too much about her David, feeling genuine concern whenever he seemed frail or in danger. She focused on his physicality in the film Cracked Actor and his antics on Dick Cavett show, gnawing on his cane. Cion spoke of how drugs endangered her David just as they affected her then lover, and although her and her lover parted ways, she watched as Bowie recovered and got clean.

Raquel hypothesized that in spite of David’s constant shapeshifting, the fact that he never legally changed his name from David Robert Jones kept him grounded enough to pull himself out of holes such as addiction. “I think that’s what saved him.”, Cion said.

Photo by Roque Nonini

As she continued, telling both David’s story and her own, Raquel spoke of how, when photos from the rehearsal room of the New York Theatre Workshop production of Lazarus surfaced that same dread and sense of concern once again arose. Much like his days of living on milk, red peppers, and cocaine, David was far too thin.

Raquel spoke of how she knew. Between the pictures and the cryptic messages woven into Blackstar, she knew before it happened.

Photo by Michele Camardella

As she elegized her David, singing Dollar Days she exited through the audience. When she left the space the feeling of losing David was palpable, both David Bowie, the monumental figure, and David Robert Jones, the constant cosmic companion in Raquel’s life.

Raquel returned without her rockstar armor- small and vulnerable, and spoke of her own Cancer diagnosis not long after David’s death. Her level of openness and resilience as she bared the truth of her chemo treatment and grief, antithetical to the bombast she began the show with, felt just as compelling and breathtaking.

Raquel spoke of how, even after death, Bowie’s spirit sustained her and kept her going through the David Bowie Is exhibit. She synthesized her continuous “soul love” with David with the song Days, singing:

“In red-eyed pain I’m knocking on your door again, my crazy brain in tangles pleading for your gentle voice. Those storms keep pounding through my head and heart I pray you’ll soothe my sorry soul. All the days of my life, all the days of my life- all the days I owe you.”

Photo by Kevin W Condon

Since seeing this iteration of Me & Mr. Jones, I keep thinking back to what Raquel said of the rehearsal room of Lazarus during David’s final days. “If I was somebody I’d be in that room.” It breaks my heart that Raquel and her David never were able to collaborate since I truly believe that no other performer in this world is more worthy of being considered his progeny. She truly embodies the full scope of David Robert Jones’ legacy and then some!

I vehemently urge anyone with even a passing interest in David Bowie and his music to witness Raquel’s spellbinding love-letter when Me & Mr. Jones returns to Pangea this winter: December 15th and January 8th (David Bowie’s Birthday)