Monthly Archives: November 2011

Link Dump: #52

This week’s kitty is Dr. Paula Hutchison, wife of Filburt in the landmark Nickelodeon show Rocko’s Modern Life. Between marrying a turtle and having a hook for a hand, she’s certainly one of the more idiosyncratic kitties we’ve featured. We hope you had a nifty Thanksgiving if you celebrate it; now bear with us as we enter the snowy depths of winter. In the meantime, here’s a solid handful of links:

  • Greg “Sestosterone” Sestero, aka Johnny’s best friend, is writing a memoir about the making of The Room. We can only hope it’ll mention how his sex life is going.
  • Another John Waters interview: “I liked Santa but I would get confused as a child whether I was supposed to pray to him, or William Castle, or Jesus…”
  • The intrepid Craig of Dark Eye Socket revisits Catwoman and doesn’t like what he finds.
  • The slang of Depression-era America, via the movies.
  • Are the Teletubbies “Radical Utopian Fiction“?
  • Funny or Die presents the trailer for Drive-Thru.
  • You know how every few months there’s a new “scary thing that kids are doing!” nationwide phenomenon? Well, here’s a hilariously bad article on “drunken Gummi Bears and vodka-infused tampons“; it’s the most wishy-washy, over-the-tope, poorly written and sourced piece of garbage on a non-phenomenon I’ve ever read.

A couple mildly funny search terms this week. First, a Disney porno that never existed: “beautiful the beast vagina.” And second, the exotic and adventurous “journey into pussy.” What will that intrepid Internet user discover?

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Giving thanks 2011

Andreas:

Last Thanksgiving, Ashley wrote a little bit about what she was thankful for. This year, I’m carrying on that tradition with my own personal show of gratitude. Here’s what I’m thankful for:

  • The part-time jobs on which I subsist in post-graduate life. I know all too well what an economically tough time this is, especially for new college graduates. I don’t know what I’d do without the jobs I obtained out of luck and determination. (Or what I’ll do when I move away and no longer have them!)
  • My partner in blogging and life, Ashley. If you read Pussy Goes Grrr regularly, you understand why. She’s just a lightning bolt of creativity, original thought, and social justice passion. I couldn’t do the things I do without her. No way.
  • My apartment, food, Internet access, sex. The basics.
  • Movies! All the movies, new and old, art house and mainstream, from America and abroad, that I’m able to watch each and every day. I’m also thankful for the brave, persistent men and women who keep making great, unusual movies despite the never-ending obstacles blocking them.
  • All the cool, friendly, hyper-intelligent people I’ve met through blogging and social networking. People who give me new ways of looking at movies, art, society, the future, and quite often, my life as a whole. They may live far away from me, but they can still have a profound effect on the way I think. (You know who you are.)
  • For that matter, all the cool, friendly, hyper-intelligent people I know from college. The same goes for them. Collectively, they’ve changed my life in so many positive ways.
  • The fact that people actually read and enjoy what I write. As an aspiring word-making-person, nothing’s more gratifying than putting my work out into the open and receiving feedback. I know I’ve been slacking off for most of November, but I have many delectable treats planned for December, and I’m so grateful to know that they’ll have an audience. (I.e., you! Thank you!)

Ashley:

As Andreas, said I’ve made this somewhat of a tradition on the blog, so I figured I’d just add my piece on the end.

  • My relationship, as usual. It’s so important to be with someone so sweet and caring, someone who always supports everything I do and is there for me when I need him. I love you, Andreas.
  • I’m very thankful for the active social justice community I’ve found on Tumblr. Tumblr is one of the greatest places to get information fast–I find out things on Tumblr before I find them out on Twitter, Facebook, Jezebel, or anywhere else on the internet. And it’s so easy to surround yourself with like-minded passionate people. I’m very grateful for tumblr.
  • The friends I have on Twitter! I always have wonderful people to talk to–from old friends like Epiphora and Britni to new friends like J_Chlebus and Personal Genius–and that means a lot to me.
  • All my real life friends and family, of course! Especially my roommates, who are like sisters to me, my mom and my best friend Hannah, who I’ll finally get to see this winter after nearly three years.

So there’s a short list of things I’m thankful for! Happy thanksgiving to all our readers! If it weren’t for you, we’d be pretty much talking to ourselves and for that we are both truly thankful!

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The Pataki Files: Olga Comes Home

As promised, the first entry in my new series about dysfunction in the Pataki family from Hey Arnold!

While “The Little Pink Book” was the first Helga-centric episode (and showed us how deep her love/obsession with Arnold runs), “Olga Comes Home” is one of the first episodes that really sheds light on Helga’s home life. When her older, perfect sister Olga comes home from prestigious Wellington College for spring break, Helga’s jealousy and resentment get the better of her. So to exact “sweet, black revenge,” she changes one of Olga’s grades to a B+, effectively destroying her sister’s flawless academic performance and sending her into a downward spiral of depression, tears and Mozart’s Lacrimosa. For a while Helga reaps the benefits of her sister’s depression, but eventually her guilt gets the better of her (aided by a Salvador Dalí-inspired dream). She reveals the truth which leads to her and Olga having a rare, bittersweet sister-to-sister moment.

This episode marks an important moment for the Patakis: there had been many references to Olga, the mythical older sister whose shadow is constantly cast over Helga—her father constantly calls her “Olga” (hell, “Helga” is just another version of that name) and both parents are always rhapsodizing about how wonderful Olga is. This episode is devoted to unveiling (and deconstructing) the legend of Olga Pataki and revealing how she and the image she has had projected onto her is the nexus of the entire family’s behavior. Olga’s presence is the only thing that takes Miriam out of her slurred, drunken stupor and makes Bob express interest in his family.

When we first see Olga, as opposed to just hearing about her secondhand, all of Helga’s negative feelings seem validated: she is a peppy Stepford Smiler who is completely committed to the role of flawless overachiever and totally oblivious to Helga’s suffering. Helga’s method of revenge may seem over the top and unnecessary until we really stop to think about how Helga has endured this her entire life. For her, Olga is the root of all her family problems. If it weren’t for Olga being so perfect and sucking up all of Bob and Miriam’s attention/energy, Helga wouldn’t have unrealistic expectations to live up to and then her parents could just appreciate her for who she is; instead she is either ignored or encouraged to be more like Olga. And Helga’s revenge is ultimately futile—even though at first things seem better, her parents are still too absorbed in worrying about Olga to pay Helga any attention.

And it’s when Helga tells Olga the truth that we’re really given a glimpse into the abusive nature of the household: Olga admits that she thinks Helga is lucky because their parents pay no attention to her, that she feels like a wind-up doll who has to perform constantly. The facade is broken and we see Olga for who she is—someone who suffers just as much as Helga does because of the expectations of her parents. But where Helga throws up defensive walls and blatantly refuses to meet their standards, Olga bends over backwards to try and meet them, to the point where something as silly as getting a B+ instead of an A sends her into a deep depression.

In this moment of sisterly bonding, it becomes apparent that both Helga and Olga have suffered from their parents’ impossible, abusive expectations. It is not that Helga is inherently vindictive and jealous or that Olga is naturally an overly cheerful perfectionist. They have both been given a set of expectations to meet by parents who don’t know any other way to raise their children. Olga chose to meet them and found out early that it was a (or possibly the only) way to get positive attention from her emotionally incapable parents. Helga, born 10-11 years later, didn’t have a chance. As a result, both sisters crave what the other has: Olga wants them to just forget she exists and Helga, just once, would like for her parents to give her unconditional love and affection without the expectations.

Please leave any comments below and come back next week for more Pataki analysis!

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The Pataki Files: An Intro to Family Dysfunction in Hey Arnold

Hey Arnold was one of—if not the—coolest animated kids’ show on TV during the mid-’90s. With a diverse cast of street smart kids and quirky adults in a thriving city that was just as much a character as its citizens, it was like the smooth jazz of animated children’s shows. It was a calmer show; no bright, flashy colors, frenetic soundtracks, or hyperactive main characters. It isn’t necessarily realistic, but it does feel more grounded in reality and down to earth than a lot of other children’s shows.

The show overall really started to grow when it left behind Arnold’s Cloud Cuckoo Lander personality and concentrated on seriously fleshing out the various characters in the city of Hillwood. Even adult characters like Grandpa, Oskar Kokoshka, and Mr. Hyunh got their time in the limelight and, especially in the case of the Mr. Hyunh-centered Christmas special, it led to some of the most poignant moments in the entire series (or really in animated kids’ television period). One of the characters who often had entire episodes and story arcs devoted to her was the resident bully and passionate secret admirer of Arnold, Helga Pataki.

Most people with even a cursory familiarity with the show can see that the behavior of Helga’s parents are G-rated codes for abuse and alcoholism. I had a vague awareness of this when I was younger; it was easy for me (with two alcoholic parents) to recognize that her mother Miriam’s slurred speech, proclivity for sleeping in random places, and Tabasco “smoothies” indicated more than just her being a wacky eccentric. And since I had a deep and abiding passion for consuming books about domestic violence from the time I was 10, I recognized the abuse in her dad, successful beeper salesman Big Bob, and his habit of yelling; he and Miriam’s constant favoritism towards perfect, repressed older sister Olga; and their neglect of Helga.

But watching as an adult, I’m able to really see just how profound some of these moments in the show were. It’s really important that this children’s show handled the subject of abusive parents—not horribly, call-child-protective-services abusive because that would be too much for a kids’ network—so well, especially because it was placed right along side more normal, non-abusive families like Arnold’s and Gerald’s.

Helga is one of the most interesting characters on the show: bright, insecure, passionately artistic, clever, cunning, equal-parts self-serving and selfless, fearful, apathetic at times, and violent, her character arc is one of the most impressive and nuanced developments in any animated children’s show. As we get to know Helga more, and become more familiar with not just her specific tics and personality traits but also her family life, we see that she is more than just a schoolyard bully with a crush. We see, bit by bit, how Helga struggles with simultaneously craving the love and acceptance of her peers and family while putting up the defensive walls that push everyone away.

In an effort to really understand and share the ins and outs of Helga’s progression to a fully fleshed out and richly idiosyncratic character, I’ve decided to start up a series, à la TTAACMATHPS, focusing on Pataki-centric episodes of Hey Arnold! So stay tuned for the first entry this Wednesday where I’ll start things off with “Olga Comes Home”!

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Link Dump: #51

You know what’s an underrated animated/horror movie? Henry Selick’s Coraline. And you know who voiced a kitty in Coraline? Keith David, Childs from The Thing and Roddy Piper’s co-star in They Live and an all-around bad-ass. You are awesome, Keith David. In other news, you may have noticed a mighty hush lately across Pussy Goes Grrr. Long story short, we’re currently resting and preparing—sorting out writing projects and real-world obligations as our big end-of-year sprint across the finish line approaches.

December is going to be mind-blowing. In order for that to happen, though, November has to be kinda “meh.” You’ll see! It’ll be worth it! In the meantime, here’s a few cool links:

No good search terms this week, alas. We hope that next week brings a search term bounty, however, as befits Thanksgiving.

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Yes We Kane

[The following was written for the Great Citizen Kane Debate, hosted by True Classics.]

First off, full disclosure: My middle name is Orson, after our favorite cinematic wunderkind. Make of that what you will.

Now on to the meat of the issue: Citizen Kane is a fucking incredible movie. Wanna talk broadly about its influence and artistry? OK, then: it’s a Ulysses-like encapsulation of American history spanning 1895-1941, of political/economic ambition and its downfall, of the Faustian bargain that constitutes the “American dream,” all told with wit and tragedy and chiaroscuro poetry. It’s a mad gambit by a first-time filmmaker that’s since become a byword for great Hollywood cinema.

But less loftily: It’s fun. It’s puckish. It’s one of my “raw pleasure” movies—a joy to quote and rewatch ad nauseum. I never understand it when people complain about Kane as if it’s this hulking, glacial, inaccessible art film. Are they watching the same Kane I am, the one bubbling with jokes and cute banter? Yes, it’s haunted by Charlie’s broken childhood, his spoiled dreams of high office, and his ruinous relationship with poor Susan. But it’s the very opposite of a slog.

One of Kane‘s many miracles is that it’s so dense, so full, and somehow still so light. It has Joseph Cotten at his finest, dropping self-deprecating one-liners left and right; it has Gregg Toland’s impossibly inventive camera, like the bastard child of a kaleidoscope and an angel; it has that adorable scene where Charlie alleviates Susan’s toothache through laughter; and of course it has Welles himself, a boy genius both within and without the film, laughing at the world while haunted by his past and future.

It’s so poignant, but so charming. So cynical, but so alive. It’s a romance, a biopic, an epic, a film noir, a horror movie, a political thriller, a drama set in the world of turn-of-the-century journalism… it’s such a massive, magical feat that I can’t help but react with awe and delight. I love every frame, every line, every performance in Kane. Like I said: a fucking incredible movie.

As for this “greatest movie of all time” thing? It’s a silly diversion from the movie’s true power. I have nothing against Sight & Sound‘s once-a-decade polls, the same ones that canonized Kane; in fact, I think they can be a handy barometer of critical opinion. However, these polls have also given hordes of adolescent cinephiles the false impression that calling Kane “boring” is an act of courage. Come on, everybody. We’re better than that. Cinema isn’t a horse race; it’s a cornucopia, with no single “greatest movie” looking down on the rest. Appreciate movies for their own merits, not because they have (or have not) been voted “the best.”

And while you’re at it, watch Citizen Kane. Because it’s a really funny, tender, smart, incredible movie.

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We Are Penn State: Victim-blamers and Apologists

In light of the horrible allegations of child sexual abuse against Jerry Sandusky and the implications of Joe Paterno, Penn State University president Graham Spanier and the county police in covering up/ignoring reports of the abuse, there’s been a great deal of talk on my campus (Penn State Abington, about 3 hours away from main campus) about sexual abuse, victims, athlete privilege and so on.

Quite frankly (and unsurprisingly) I’m pretty disgusted with a lot of what I’m hearing coming from my fellow Penn State students.

Let me lay out the allegations for those who may be unaware: Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach was arrested on 40 counts of child sexual abuse. According to the allegations, Sandusky used his status as a Penn State coach to take advantage of young boys; he founded the Second Mile program to help underprivileged boys from troubled backgrounds–these are the boys it’s alleged that he abused. This abuse has supposedly gone on for the past 15 years and there are all kinds of implications that Joe Paterno (head coach of Penn State) and  Graham Spanier may have had a hand in keeping his crimes on the down-low–after being notified by an incident of sexual abuse they barred him from bringing children on the Penn State property but still allowed him to operate a summer camp. More and more details leak out every day–today a mother of one of the alleged survivors claimed that Sandusky admitted to her that he touched her son inappropriately in the shower.

So basically, there’s a lot of fucked up shit going on here. And there are a lot of high profile people involved. This has become big news, not just in Pennsylvania but nationwide. Penn State is a big name school in the U.S.; people know what you’re talking about when you say Penn State and it’s considered a Public Ivy university. There’s been tons of discussion on my campus (and other Penn State campuses too, I’m sure) about all of this and, while some of it has been interesting in-depth discussion, a lot of it has been nothing more than disgusting victim-blaming, apologist bullshit. I’ve talked about rape-culture, rape-apology, victim-blaming and even athlete privilege (which is at play here in a big way) an astounding number of times. So I think, to keep myself sane and my blood-pressure normal, I’ll just list some of the more horrible and/or ignorant things I’ve heard said on this campus in regards to these crimes.

  • There’s no reason why this should reflect badly on the school/affect the Penn State name.
  • I don’t see why this is such a big deal/why it’s national news
  • This is just like the Duke Lacrosse team case and I think it’s being blown out of proportion
  • The parents are just looking for attention/money
  • I don’t think Joe Paterno/Graham Spanier should be blamed for their actions

And possibly the worst of all….

  • Children lie.

I really don’t know what else to say other than I don’t have much Penn State pride right now. I refuse to blame these children, who may have gone through immense trauma and abuse–children who came from troubled or lower income backgrounds and were taken advantage of by someone in a position of power. I refuse to make excuses for people who may–in any fucking way–have aided in hiding these crimes. And I refuse to participate in shaming, the blaming, and the bullshit. Penn State: get your shit together.

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