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  • I read a lot, and I have a lot of opinions, so I can't believe I haven't made a list like this before. If you are even a little bit like me or you want to get a peek into my psyche (you probs don't), these are the books to read.
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Posts Tagged ‘thoughtsicles’

The dead girl on the cover

Posted on May 13th, 2011 by annakjarzab

Recently, I was talking to an editor (not my editor), and she was telling me that she was using the cover of All Unquiet Things as a comp title for the art form for one of her upcoming books. She was saying that the cover of AUT is the perfect direction for this title also, and, not having read it yet but knowing a little bit about it, that makes sense to me. But she was also saying that now, a year post-AUT and post-Before I Fall, you can’t really do the “dead girl laying sideways on the grass” thing anymore. It’s just too common, probably because the “dead girl” trope in YA lit is also common. It’s something I hear people complaining about a lot on blogs, actually, sometimes in reviews of AUT. “Oh, another dead girl book, how original.” Setting aside the fact that nothing is really original anymore, and hasn’t been since the ancient Greeks, and we’re all telling the same five stories over and over again anyway, it’s true. You do see a lot of dead girl (and, I would argue, dead boy) books in YA lit. (You see them a lot in adult lit, too, but let’s focus.) And there’s a reason for that.

People die in high school.

All of the time.

Recently I was having dinner with three of my friends, and one of them (my roommate) mentioned that a friend of a friend had recently died. My roommate’s birthday was several months ago, and she’d bought a pretty, blank notebook and brought it with her to the party for her friends to write notes in, since it was her 30th and she wanted a tangible reminder of that night. This friend of a friend had come to the party and wrote in the notebook and a few days ago she’d been going through the notebook looking for a gift card she remembered leaving in there and came across the friend of a friend’s note. This reminded me of going through my junior high school yearbook in which there is a note from my friend Rebecca, who died about a week after she wrote it, right before finals week. I was moving to California, and she wrote, “Don’t forget me!” I haven’t looked at the yearbook in a long time.

The conversation segued on to the (slightly morbid) topic of people we knew who died in high school, and everyone had a story to tell. Some had several. I couldn’t help thinking of my aunt, whose best friend died from illness when she was fifteen, or my brother, whose baseball teammate had died in a car accident when he was fifteen. One of my friends knew several girls in high school who lost their lives to violence. As common a trope as it is in YA, it’s actually more common in life. If you’ve listened to the exclusive interview on the All Unquiet Things audio book, I think (I recorded that a loooong time ago) I mentioned that about a year before AUT was published (way after I’d written the thing) I was doing some Googling around and found out that a murder not unlike Carly’s had happened in one of the very towns I mention in the novel. It was, of course, entirely coincidental and completely heartbreaking. But this stuff happens, every day in fact, which is why we write about it. That was very clearly driven home to me at dinner with my friends.

And the thing about teenage death is that, while it is never, ever easy to lose someone who is close to you, or even to tangentially experience the death of someone in your peer group, everything is heightened in high school. It all seems more immediate and intense and of-the-moment, because you’re so young and you’re so promising and you’re so alive. Not to quote myself, but allow me to quote myself:

“Murdered.” It was a ludicrous word; it didn’t make any sense when used to describe Carly. How could Carly be dead? She was so alive.

Poetry, I know. But anyway. That stuff sticks with you long after you’ve graduated, when your life is nothing like what it was in high school, when your life is not anything like you even imagined it might be in high school. When other memories have faded, or you feel like all those events happened to someone else whose memories were implanted in your head (this is how I feel all the time about my high school years, for no particular reason), you still remember your deepest losses and brushes with death. And they still come up, years later, over glasses of chilled wine on the patio of a tiny bar in Hell’s Kitchen.

I guess I don’t have a very clear point to close out this post, which is probably pretty frustrating to everyone who managed to read through to the end (but! if you did! you can use the comment tool now! so you can comment! if you want! no pressure!!!), but I’m just saying…death is not a cliche. Or maybe it is, maybe it’s the biggest cliche there is, but that doesn’t make it less scary or less mysterious and it certainly doesn’t make people less inclined to talk about it.

I think people who follow the publishing industry find “dead girl/boy books” exhausting because they (the people, not the books) are jaded; there are so many books, and they all get lumped into categories because that’s the easiest way to process them. And I’m not saying I’m not jaded. I’m totally, 100% jaded! But I also know that All Unquiet Things and, say, Thirteen Reasons Why and Before I Fall and If I Stay (to use some random examples that I can speak to because I’ve read them) are completely different books. They all happen to have a dead girl in them (or, in the case of If I Stay and Before I Fall, girls who are neither dead or alive but in some sort of ‘tween state which eventually resolves itself), but other than that they’re not at all alike. The writing styles are totally different–my voice and Jay Asher’s voice and Gayle Forman’s voice and Lauren Oliver’s voice are all distinct–the characters are different, the plots are different, etc. I think saying, oh, just another dead girl book, is a disservice to all of those stories, because they’re so much bigger than that. And furthermore, I think teens like them (no joke: Thirteen Reasons Why, Before I Fall, If I Stay–all HUGE bestsellers) because their themes are so relevant to the lives they’re living.

I, for one, am looking forward to more “dead girl” books, because I actually haven’t figured out how I feel about my own approaching death, or that of my loved ones (because obvs we all die eventually). Reading books and engaging with the ideas they contain is how I process my own fears and dreams and feelings. The work is not yet done. By anyone! I’m not just talking about YA fiction here. I just finished A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Pulitzer prize winner, current ladyfic lightning rod) which was ALL ABOUT death! (At least, I think it was. I’m not sure I totally plugged into Goon Squad and therefore may have slid over some of its Very Important I’m Sure themes.) There was even a dead girl (actually, he was a boy, but same diff in this context). Now I’m reading One Day and I’m pretty sure that one’s going to be all about death, too. All books are about death (talk about a cliche). Now I’m just spiraling away from my central point. End of post.

Liveblogging the Make It or Break It season premiere

Posted on March 29th, 2011 by annakjarzab

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My love for Make It or Break It is well documented, so I probably don’t need to explain how much I’ve been anticipating this premiere. I know it’s a cheesy little show, and apparently the gymnastics is ludicrous, but quite honestly I don’t know anything about gymnastics so I don’t care about that. I find MIOBI soooo entertaining, and I can’t possibly watch it without liveblogging my ridiculous thoughts about the premiere after the jump.

Forget it, Jake, it’s Mockingjaytown (spoilery as hell!)

Posted on August 25th, 2010 by annakjarzab

Yesterday at lunch I went with my coworker Emilie to go buy Mockingjay at the B&N on 9th St and 6th Ave. I say this because, while not a far walk, that’s a good maybe ten/fifteen blocks from where we work, and it was spitting rain, and though I had brought both my rain boots and my umbrella, I decided to bring neither of those essential pieces of rainy day gear with me. Because I am good at planning! So of course it started to pour on my way back to the office and I got soaked. At least Mockingjay was safe! I treated myself to Chipotle in celebration.

It was REALLY HARD not to start reading at work, although the following picture might somehow give you the impression that I might have glanced at a few pages while on the job TOTALLY ON ACCIDENT OF COURSE and even though I wore a Mockingjay t-shirt to work last Friday I should TOTALLY NOT BE FIRED because it was a summer Friday and summer Fridays = sanctuary. Right? (Also: I have a Mockingjay t-shirt! It was a gift from my friend Eric, who besides building this beautiful website, is now officially the Coolest Dude I Know. He was only unofficially that before.)

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Also, I can’t read hardcovers with the dust jacket on them. It makes me squirmy. So that’s why Mockingjay is naked. But it looks good naked. This metaphor is getting weird.

So, I’m sure you’re all breathless with anticipation about what I think about the events of Mockingjay and how Suzanne Collins settled the Great Peeta v. Gale debate. The answer is…I kind of raced through it, so I’m not sure I remember a lot of the details. BUT this “review”, such as it is, will contain spoilers so don’t go getting any fancy ideas about reading it unspoiled. Okay, cool.

District 13: I think it’s bomb that it’s so awful down there. And really, it all makes sense. For instance, District 13 would not be able to exist without the cooperation from the Capitol, so that makes total sense. It also makes sense that they’d be completely heartless Chuck Basstards, because you don’t survive in secret for 75 years while the other residents of the country suffer the consequences for your uprising, including–but not limited to!–sacrificing two of their CHILDREN every year to be hunted most dangerous game-style on TELEVISION every year. I’m like, they had BETTER have been organizing a rebellion all these years, because if they hadn’t been, they’d have been the worst. As it is, they’re pretty much the worst already, which Collins completely acknowledges–by the end, most of the characters are like, President Snow, President Coin, who cares, it’s the same damn thing over and over again. But I guess if you’re choosing between two devils, you might as well choose the one that says they believe in freedom, rather than the one that’s basically guaranteed you a life of servitude, squalor, starvation, and sex slavery (I’ll get to that!) no matter what happens.

The Evils of Marketing: Is it just me, or is this book all about how marketing is only used to manipulate people? I mean, duh, marketing is only used to manipulate people. But that whole part where they’re discussing “targeted” videos in which they show the different districts their own slaughtered children in order to maximize the effect of the rebellion’s message? Hits a little too close to home, you know? I love how Katniss is like, “GENIUS!” Because really, it is genius. The best way to get people on your side is to remind them (as if they could forget) what they’ve lost to the other side, and how it will continue unabated unless they do something about it.

Peeta v. Gale: If possible, I liked Gale less in this book than I have in every other one, and that is certainly saying something. I mean, I get it. He’s strong and brave and capable and smart, but he’s no benevolent superhero. He’s got very fine-tuned loyalties, and anyone who isn’t, like, Katniss or her family or his family can basically go blow as far as he’s concerned. His sympathies don’t even extend to the people Katniss herself cares about–like her prep team, for instance. The image of them all chained up, starving and beaten and pissing themselves (literally), was horrifying and Gale’s like, “What?” when Katniss is upset about it. Now I personally think that Katniss has always been in love with Peeta, and Gale never really had a chance with her in the first place (well, not since the first Games, anyway) unless Peeta died and even then probably not (as he himself points out). But this is when Gale starts to really lose her. His lack of compassion isn’t something that Katniss can deal with, because it’s a struggle she’s already going through, trying to find it in her to forgive and to care about people even though she’s hard-wired for survival and almost nothing else (I love the word the LA Times uses in their review: “nihilistic”). Peeta not only off-sets Katniss’ nihilism with his hope and compassion, but he also encourages and nurtures it in her. That’s what makes them such a great pair, and Collins gets that, if the last page of the book is anything to go by. Also, I’m not a squee-er, but when Katniss tells Peeta: “Because that’s what you and I do. Protect each other.” I was like, “THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT! SHE GETS IT! SHE SAID IT!” And then texted Alex to squee.

Peeta’s hijacking: There’s some debate about this going on with people who’ve read the books, and some people are like, “Great, yet another YA heroine who is inexplicably drawn to the boy who’s trying to kill her–literally.” Which is whining that I am, under most circumstances, completely get behind. I hate stories like that. The Romantic Stalker Dude is really my least favorite trope in YA. HOWEVER. That’s not how Peeta’s hijacking functions. One of the most important things about it is what I failed to adequately articulate above, which is that Peeta’s break from reality brings things into focus for Katniss. She is forced to face the things she understands about her relationship with Peeta (their reliance on each other, the way they draw strength from each other, their very important connection) and to bring Peeta back to those things by expressing them openly, which she’s had a very hard time doing before now. It isn’t that she didn’t know she was in love with Peeta, or that he’s the person she needs most in this world–it’s that she never knew how to put those things into words, or what they meant (because she’s so used to being alone and fighting for herself and the people in her life who have so little agency it hardly matters). When it comes to Peeta, so much of their relationship has grown under a veil of obfuscation that she was never really sure what was real and what was just a play but Peeta was always sure. Now that Peeta’s uncertain, she has to be the one with the conviction. She has to figure out what reality is and mirror that back to him. It’s her great expression of love for Peeta, and I think it works beautifully. Also, angsty lit boys are just my style, so Peeta’s suffering gets my heartbroken stamp of approval.

Also, we know Peeta well enough to know that he’s not a Romantic Stalker Dude. He has explicitly been Derek Zoolander-ed into killing Katniss. She’s not attracted to him because of that–she’s always been in love with him, and actually his transformation causes her great pain, pain that for a long time bewilders her because she doesn’t know how to be the emotionally strong one. It’s an opportunity for growth for Katniss, and our girl rises to the occasion–she brings him back, to himself and to her.

How Katniss totally kills President Coin instead of President Snow: Awesome. I wasn’t expecting it, and I actually called out, “ROCK ON!” when she did it. My roommate was in the other room, with her hands over her ears and humming to herself, rocking back and forth, in order to avoid the spoilers I so badly wanted to dump on her, because she’s going to “read the books one day.” Kill joy.

The deaths: I have to say, I forgot Finnick and Annie even existed because I read Catching Fire so long ago, but I liked Finnick a lot in Mockingjay and I’m going to miss him. He was pretty cool. And Prim–she was annoying to me in the first two books, but I’m glad she grew up a little and got herself some agency. That’s really what makes her death so tragic; she was finally coming into her own, only to have her life snuffed out. And the irony of Katniss starting all this shizz because she wanted to protect Prim from dying in the Hunger Games only to have Prim die as a result of all of Katniss’ Hunger Games shenanigans is quite poignant. Who else died? I forget. Like I said, I rushed.

The conclusion: There were a couple of great lines in the book, but I especially liked when Peeta said on his broadcast, “Is this really what we want to do? Kill ourselves off completely? In the hopes that–what? Some decent species will inherit the smoking remains of the earth?” I love the phrase “decent species.” It reminds me a lot of something Adama said in Battlestar Galactica, when he was questioning whether or not the human race really deserved to survive. I guess that’s sort of a moot question because no species is going to be like, “Actually, we’re pretty awful–we’re just going to lay down and die here.” It’s evolutionarily whackadoo. But the statement is important. It brought up an idea that I’d never given much consideration to before, which is that the current situation in Panem is not the result of just one uprising that brought about the “destruction” of District 13 and the introduction of the Hunger Games–it’s the result of countless wars and genocides and acts of destruction over hundreds and hundreds of years. This is basically their last chance at thwarting imminent extinction! That is a really heavy burden for Katniss to carry around, one that I’ve never given its proper weight to before. And I think the ending is pretty ambiguous on that point–it’s more of a question than an answer. Plutarch and Katniss have that conversation about whether or not they’ve finally learned their lesson, and Katniss seems to think not a chance in hell they have, but Plutarch is more sanguine, saying:

“We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction. Although who knows? Maybe this will be it, Katniss.”
“What?”
“The time it sticks. Maybe we are witnessing the evolution of the human race. Think about that.”

Oh, I’m definitely thinking about it. And if the epilogue is anything to go by, probably things have gotten better since the end of the war. But like Plutarch says, we have short memories. And nuclear weapons. Still, I think the ending is hopeful, although not glowingly so, which is consistent with the tone of the series and also reality for those most part. I loved Mockingjay. I can’t wait till all my peeps have read it and we can run around screaming at each other about it like morons.

Edited to add: I just realized that I promised to talk about the sex slavery somewhere in here, so I will say that–SEX SLAVERY. Poor Finnick. 🙁 And now he’s dead.

Goodbye to all that: The LOST finale

Posted on May 25th, 2010 by annakjarzab

Okay, before last night I’d watched approximately one and a half hours of Lost in total in my life: half the pilot, and an episode maybe a month and a half ago I remember precisely none of. So, obviously, I was the target audience for last night’s finale. Just kidding! Nobody expects punks like me to watch this stuff. OR DO THEY? Because they did air that two hour long recap which I totally watched and made the finale a piece of cake to understand. Seriously. I know it’s the journey and not the destination, you guys, but I felt entirely unconfused by the Lost finale, and I know that some of this is because I don’t have any questions they didn’t answer because I DON’T HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PERIOD, still, you’d think that I’d be like, “Whuh?” a couple of times. But the story is actually very simple, so simple that I was kind of sad for everyone who spent six years obsessing over this show. The secret of the island is that there’s a secret plug that…something? And if you remove it, then…something? And Desmond has to remove it because…some reason? And Jack is the protector of the island because…some other reason? I mean, there just was not a lot of compelling stuff in the island-centric portion of this finale.

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And don’t tell me the plug keeps the Evil at bay–the world is full of evil, duh. That plug in the island isn’t really preventing any murders. And considering that the guy who plays Jacob (the good guy, I guess?) is the guy who plays Lucifer on Supernatural, I’m not really inclined to believe anything he says, anyway. Also, the Man in Black’s name is Esau. Duh, it has to be. They’re not really reinventing the wheel on this one, you guys. So I found all the island shenanigans (I mean, I know duct tape is strong, but can you really repair a commercial airplane with it?) kind of dumb. I know I have no place saying that considering I don’t watch the show, but it didn’t feel very grand or epic to me. Except the very end, with Jack stumbling through the bamboo and finally laying down to die with the dog at his side. I did tear up, I admit.

I did, however, love the revelation of what the flashes sideways were all about. My one question (merely a clarification request) to my friends while we were watching was did the nuclear explosion (now that I’ve had a few hours away from it, I don’t remember WHICH nuclear explosion, maybe the one that killed Juliet?) cause the separation of the dimensions, to which they replied, “Yes.” Which they were obviously wrong about because the sideways world in which the plane did not crash is in fact just a metaphysical ‘tween place where the souls of the dearly departed Losties are working through accepting what they’ve been through and their deaths in order to move on as a group because they’re the most important people in each other’s lives (spoiler, I guess). That was a nice bit of symmetry. It made perfect sense to me, and it allowed die-hard Lost fans to get to see their beloved characters happy after all that they’ve been through. That’s some deft narrative maneuvering that I really loved, and I kind of cried a little. Anyway, I was wholly satisfied by the finale, not that you care. You’re welcome for these very relevant thoughtsicles re: Lost. What would you have done without them?

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Also, this Lost cake is pretty FTW.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (I sawed it!)

Posted on July 20th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Two years ago, I was in graduate school at the University of Chicago. Near the end of my program, I was working on my thesis (you might have heard of it, it’s this little book called All Unquiet Things, which I almost never mention on this blog but, you know, sometimes I do) and not taking very many classes and my internship at a small nonfiction publisher was winding down. I didn’t have a lot to do during the day anymore, so I went to the movies. A LOT. Like, I would see two movies at a time. This is how I saw Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End THREE TIMES in the theater (I used to take a snoozer through the part with Johnny Depp running away from sand crabs and talking to himself), Knocked Up twice, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix four times. FOUR.

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OoP is my least favorite Harry Potter book. It’s the longest, which isn’t that big of a deal, I’m certainly not afraid of reading or anything, but Harry is such a little brat for almost 900 pages and, like, I had younger siblings growing up. I’m pretty much done with that. It was realistic, but irritating. BUT. OoP was my favorite HP movie to date. I like Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets (I’m one of the few people who doesn’t bag on the Chris Columbus-helmed HP films every chance that they get, because I like them, although I do see how the movies have changed and grown and I like that), I’m okay with Prisoner of Azkaban, but I hate–HATE–Goblet of Fire. Because Goblet of Fire is my favorite HP book by far. I actually think it’s the best one. The movie is a woeful adaptation; it starts out okay, but it gets pretty thin as time goes on. I particularly hate the hatchet job they did on Barty Crouch Jr., who is the most compelling one-off character in the series and his subplot is something that really affects me.

Loved RPATTZ as Cedric, though. Poor kid.

normal_hp4d-4317Never forget!!!!!

So my expectations for OoP weren’t that great, but I was pleasantly surprised–it was my favorite of the entire movie franchise! I think because I wasn’t at all attached to the book, and had only read it twice, that I was forgiving in all the right places and very entertained. (I also appreciate that they toned down Harry’s attitude.)

I’m not particularly attached to Half-Blood Prince, the book, either, to be honest. I like it, but nothing will eclipse Goblet of Fire in my heart. So I was hoping that I would LOVE the movie, and while I was absolutely entertained and I love it in the sense that I always love spending time in that world, regardless of how I’m doing it, I didn’t adore it, looking backwards.

I will say, though, that OMG it was so beautiful! Definitely the best direction and cinematography and whatever else goes into making a movie just gorgeous to watch. It was also funnier than any of the other films. I particularly enjoyed Dan Radcliffe’s Harry high on Felix Felicis act, but there were so many comedic moments that it was always strange to recall that this is one of the darkest HP books.

But I also had some issues with the movie. I read in reviews, before I saw it, that the romances got a lot of attention, but even so, there is really not a lot about Ginny and Harry! I get that Ron/Hermione is everyone’s favorite romance, but I think the Harry/Ginny romance is important, too, and I don’t know why they didn’t focus on it a little more. I was sad that they didn’t actually get together in this movie, like they do in the book, and they only had the one kiss. Sort of silly, really, considering how much “Won-Won” time we had with Lavender (who was, btw, brilliantly cast).

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Also, was it really necessary to cut the entire battle scene at the end? I heard that they were like, “Well, there’s an identical fight scene in Deathly Hallows,” but you know what? We won’t actually see that fight scene for two years! Plus, the Battle of Hogwarts is a completely different animal than the HBP fight scene. And considering the fact that the Half-Blood Prince plot is basically ignored, outside of the necessary, Snape’s revelation that he is the Half-Blood Prince isn’t even that big of a deal! I was at least expecting that scene where Snape, after finding out Harry used the sectumsempra curse on Malfoy, demands to see his potions textbook and Harry (having hid the HBP version in the Room of Requirement) gives him Ron’s, and there’s that whole tense standoff that sets up the fact that Snape is involved with the HBP in some way. But it never happens! So you end up totally forgetting that the HBP is even in the story until Snape is like, “Oh, btw, I’m the Half-Blood Prince.”

BUT. There was a lot of great stuff in the movie. My favorite scene was the one between Harry and Hermione, with the birds (I wish we could’ve seen her conjuring those up). The Harry/Hermione relationship has always been one of my favorites, because they are such good friends to each other. The way they talk about their unrequited love for Ron and Ginny and cuddle up together on the stairs in sad sympathy is really sweet.

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And Luna, who was, as always, amazing. I mean, look at this kid. She’s a star.

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I think those are enough HP thoughtsicles for today. What did everybody else think?

OMFGossip Girl Chuck + Blair 4 Eva!

Posted on May 19th, 2009 by annakjarzab

After yesterday’s post and today’s, everybody’s going to think I spend all my free time watching television, which wouldn’t be a 100% unreasonable assumption, except that I don’t have a cable hook-up in my apartment, or rabbit ears, so really I watch a lot of Internet-vision, which is totally different except it’s all the same shows, and anyway I watched Gossip Girl at Casa de CP* last night on a TV, so…this one-sided argument is really going nowhere, isn’t it?

Moving on! Obviously, I am beyond thrilled, pants-wettingly ecstatic about last night’s episode of GG. As always, the premise was great, the execution left something to be desired, narratively speaking.

The Premise: Gossip Girl, out of whose clutches everyone assumed they would be post-graduation, lobs one last solid punch at our principle players, branding:

  • Chuck a coward (true)
  • Blair a weakling (below the belt and unfair, because actually she’s pretty brave–a more accurate insult would be “delusional”, but it’s my suspicion that GG is just trying to push Chuck and Blair together by stirring up all their old emotional shit)
  • Dan “the ultimate insider” (?? later it’s explained and I guess it’s pretty true, in that Dan, a.k.a. Lonely Boy, is quite possibly the most insidery of all the Constance/St. Jude’s crew, as over the course of two school years he’s become BFFs with Nate and continues to have an on-again, off-again ill-fated bromance with Chuckles, dated Serena–thrice!–and dumped her twice, once for resident crazypants Georgina and once for a teacher, had the lead in the school play, and gotten into Yale, plus Rufus is going to marry Lily and they’re going to be the Bass der Humphreys, SO…)
  • Nate a whore (TRUE)
  • And possibly my favorite, told Serena she’s “now officially irrelevant”, which: AWESOME.

Naturally, nobody likes having their well-known and oft-discussed insecurities dragged out into the harsh light of a school they no longer go to, so Serena, who only hours previously had been so in love with the idea of escaping Gossip Girl’s all-seeing eye (and itchy trigger finger), decides to unmask her and end her reign of terror. But Gossip Girl, like everyone else on the show except Nate, is smarter than Serena, so instead what happens is that Gossip Girl outsmarts everyone and makes a pretty good point about the fact that they are Gossip Girl, Gossip Girl is them, that she couldn’t do what she does without their tips. She doesn’t bring them down, they bring each other down. Duh. Oh, and also GG is sticking around in college. Thank God–what would we do without her increasingly unintelligible puns?

Also, Jenny, in her goth finest, allows herself to be dragged into a competish for Queen Bee. Penelope, Iz, and Nelly Yuki–where’s Hazel?–decide to crown some bitchtastic “transfer” (as if) Queen Bee, unless Jenny can unearth the gossip to end all gossip. Nobody will talk to Jenny, so obviously nobody would tell her anything, but Jonathan (remember how Eric has a boyfriend, and is also a character on this show?) has hacked into GG’s server (if he’s smart enough to do that, he should be smart enough to figure out who she is, but whatever) and is having all her tips email forwarded to him, which, why? But anyway, Jenny gets her hands on a piece of hot goss–namely, that Blair hooked up with the jackbass (remember him?) at New Year’s. Okay, two things:

  1. No way did Blair hook up with the jackbass on New Year’s, I DO NOT CARE WHAT THE SHOW SAYS. She wouldn’t. She just WOULD NOT. So I reject this gossip on the basis of it being impossible, I don’t care what the show’s writers say.
  2. Who knew that to be true and sent it to Gossip Girl? I refuse to believe it was the jackbass because, um, adults do not care about Gossip Girl. If it was anyone else, either they would keep the gem for themselves until the time came to take Blair down a couple of pegs, or they wouldn’t do anything with it because they’re a good person. Maybe it was Vanessa?

It doesn’t matter, though, because Gossip Girl, irked by the hacking and the dramatic declaration of war from Serena, empties her clip on the recent grads at Nate Archibald’s party, whoopsing every single bit of gossip she has in her armory. Chuck finds out about Blair sleeping with the jackbass, Blair finds out about Chuck sleeping with Vanessa, and…some other stuff I don’t care about re: Dan, Jenny, Nate, Serena, etc. So Chuck, who was just about to say the magic words to Blair in the midst of seduction, instead clams up and uses what he just learned as an excuse to run away from her again. He’s Chuck Bass! Ah, sweet agony.

So, GG’s identity is the only secret on the Upper East Side at the moment. Everyone else has been exposed, but they also get to start college (at NYU, Columbia, or Rich Hobo Nothingness University like Chuck) with a clean slate. It’s her gift to them, and it is actually sort of awesome, like setting fire to the forest so the new shoots can grow up out of the ash or a phoenix or whatever. I’m a writer!

Also, Rufus and Lily get engaged. Gross.

The State of the Gossip Girl Nation:

  • Nate is joining Vanessa on her European backpacking trip, where they can be boring together at various churches and monuments.
  • Dan…something. I don’t know. Maybe he’ll spend the summer learning about New York City geography, because of how he seems to think he’ll be 3,000 miles away from his worthless father when in fact NYU and Dumbo (I mean “Williamsburg”) are about fifteen minutes away from each other via subway. Also, good thing he’s living in the dorms even though, as previously mentioned, the loft is close to school as is the Bass der Humphrey palace, because of how the Humphreys have so much money to throw around that he couldn’t afford to go to Yale.
  • Georgina is also going to NYU (under a false identity) and has requested to live with Blair. LIKE BLAIR WOULD EVER LIVE IN THE DORMS! Where would she store Dorota?
  • Serena…I was going to say “something”, but then I remembered that she’s actually going to Fiji with Carter Baizen (that couple actually makes a lot of sense to me, work on that for next season Gossip Girl), who has found her father per her request. Interesting! It took them two years to own up to the fact that Keith van der Woodsen is in fact a human who is alive that Serena is interested in finding. We know almost nothing about him, so this should be good. Also, Serena has Carter Baizen doing her familial espionage for her…LOL. We’ll see.
  • Rufus and Lily’s sekrit babeh has risen from the dead and is now lying to his parents about transfering to some school in Portland so he can stalk the Bass der Humphreys, particularly Dan, but when he finds out about Chuck he’s going to want to get on board with that.

And in the final scene of this wonderful, messy show that I will miss terribly until September, Chuck, who spent the week after graduation running around Europe, at first trying to escape Blair but finding her around every corner (not literally), leans against his limo holding an armful of gifts. Blair, who has just come from a minor victory, passing the bejeweled headband of Queen Bee-dom over to Jenny and leaving the mean girls behind for now, who is now just Blair Waldorft, amazing dresser and all-around lovable crazy person, no longer royalty, just Blair, sees him and stops tentatively. He tells her he had to come back for her, she says she wants to trust him but can’t because he’s hurt her too many times, and then he says it. HE SAYS IT, PEOPLE: “I love you, too.” I don’t ever think we’ve seen Blair or Chuck this genuinely happy, and I want to die from all the squeeing.

*That’s what I call the apartment my friends Cambria and Nikki share. Alternative: CP HQ.

Can we just talk about Big Love for a second?

Posted on February 28th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Because I just watched last Sunday’s episode (I know, I’m a bit behind, I was revising! Am revising…) and I cannot remember the last time I watched a better hour of television. Honestly, I’ve always loved this show, but this season has been gangbusters, y’all. It’s a bomb that just keeps blowing up: Barb’s cancer might be back! Roman’s in prison! Nikki’s undercover at the DA’s office! Kathy’s the mystery woman testifying against Roman! Lois tries to kill Frank! Bill takes a fourth wife! Sarah’s pregnant! Rhonda flies the coop! Nikki’s on birth control even though it’s apparently her celestial duty to have babies! The fourth wife divorces the family! Nikki’s boss at the DA’s office is totally in love with her! And, during last Sunday’s episode: BILL, BARB AND MARGIE FIND OUT ABOUT NIKKI’S BIRTH CONTROL! BILL’S TAKING VIAGRA! MARGIE AND BEN WALK IN ON EACH OTHER NAKED! BEN CONFESSES HIS LOVE FOR MARGIE! NIKKI’S PROBS AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT IN LOVE WITH HER BOSS! SARAH LOSES HER BABY! TEENY IS STILL SO WEIRD! OMFG THE DRAMZ!

Seriously, if you don’t watch this show you are completely missing out. It’s always been quietly, under-the-radar good, but now all the tensions and craziness that’s been building up over the last two seasons is leaking out–flooding out, really. I had always predicted that it would be Margie who would jump ship first, but now with what we know about Nikki I’m pretty sure she’s at least going to have an extramarital affair with her boss (this, by the way, is the only way I can in good conscience support cheating: WHEN YOUR MARRIAGE ISN’T REAL IN THE FIRST PLACE and YOU ARE ONE OF THREE “WIVES”). I’m also pretty sure that Margie and Ben are going to hook up, despite the impassioned speech she gave him last week about how he had to get over his feelings for her immediately because she loves him, but as a mother, and it’s SO not going to happen EVER. I even believed her. I still think a Marge/Ben hookup is totally going to happen.

Amanda Seyfried is killing me with her acting skillz right now. Sarah has been getting quite the shaft since forever, since before the show started when her mom almost died from cancer and suddenly the family couldn’t employ outside help without Bill up and marrying her (for those not familiar with the show, second wife Nikki was first wife Barb’s nursemaid when she was sick and third wife Margene was the babysitter). The burden of her family’s big honking secret coupled with her complete disgust with polygamy made her a semi-voluntary social outcast and ersatz mother to a bunch of rugrats birthed by Nikki and Margie, and then she finally bares her soul to someone, makes a best friend and finds a boyfriend, and then she gets pregnant! I’ve always liked Scott, even though I’m sure there are people out there that think he’s creepy, but he genuinely cares about Sarah so I’m a little concerned now that she’s dumped him. She needed a connection to the real world and he was it and now he’s gone and now the baby’s gone…oh, Sarah needs some therapy, like, IMMEDIATELY if not sooner. Before she hooks up with her uncle (he’s her age, and he’s only her half uncle, but still, EW, that is some VC Andrews shit right there) and starts doing something destructive. At least she told her parents about losing the baby and despite the fact that Barb had a complete whack attack when she thought Nikki’s birth control pills were Sarah’s they seemed pretty supportive about it. I mean, they’re not monsters, how else could they be but supportive? Still…I’m worried about her.

EL OH EL isn’t it hilarious that I’m talking about them like they’re real people? Watch this show, friends. It’s amazing.

Behold, the relationshipocalypse

Posted on February 9th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Ugh, you guys. I saw He’s Just Not That Into You last night and as you might imagine I HAVE SOME THOUGHTSICLES.

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First of all, where they get off calling this clown show a “romantic comedy” I’ll never know, because it was neither romantic nor particularly funny. Actually, it was totes depressing. Which, you know, is fine generally; none of our lives are sunshine and roses all the time, and the manufactured, solipsistic bullshit suffering most romantic comedies put their characters through for no reason is not preferable, but man. I’ve never wanted to die in a theater more than during this movie.

I won’t say, though, that the movie is “unrealistic” in its portrayal of women disecting a man’s texts and verbal cues and body language for signs that he’s “into” her, because of course people (all people, men and women) do that all the time. I’m a completely reasonable woman and I found myself doing that over and over for about nine months in recent memory, and while I don’t need a movie to remind me of how stupid that is, remind me it did. So, ugh, stab me in the eye. Some moments of this movie were physically painful to watch, and even though I’m loathe to admit it, some of those moments that made me want to vom had the imprint of recognition on them. As in, I’ve done that before. I did that yesterday. Kill me.

So, spoilers ahead, for those who care.

But most of what made me sick in this movie was just the godawfulness of the characters. When the lights came up, I turned to my friend Cambria and said, “I just wanted to set them all on fire.”

In retrospect, though, it wasn’t all of the characters. I really like Ginnifer Goodwin, and while her character, uh, Gigi was it?? was horrifically self-involved and so obsessed with getting a guy to like her that she never, ever asked herself, “Do I like this person?”, I sympathized with her unlikeability predicament and secretly hoped that she’d wise up and calm down. And she did, kind of. So that was an achievement. Although, even when she figured out that Justin Long was “into” her (I’m sorry, I just can’t write that without quotation marks to indicate my complete dissociation from the term), she was more like, “Yes! He likes me!” instead of “Yes! He likes me and I like him!” And anyway he didn’t like her, and then she made that impassioned speech, “At least I put myself out there even though I might make myself ridiculous most of the time and who cares if you think I’m a moron because at least I try!” and while I don’t think that would have made Justin Long either fall in love with her or realize he’d fallen in love with her without his own knowledge (something else I don’t buy, the whole “I loved you but I didn’t know it” thing, a common conceit in romantic narratives that annoys me), I fell in love with her a little bit because, yes, own it girlfriend. You get points for trying. So yeah, when he came to her door and professed his “into”-ness I was happy that she held back, referencing the fact that he is a totally emotionless tool who treats women as if they’re disposable and that he hardcore rejected her not such a long time ago and that people don’t change. But then I was like, “He’s cute and he’s there so just kiss him already,” and that’s what happened so I was glad-ish.

Drew Barrymore was hardly in this mess, but I’m glad she got a happy ending anyway, because, while her story was asinine, she was just generally confused more than anything else and, whatever, MySpace is a black hole from which many people never emerge. I could give a damn about Kevin Connolly generally, and his character in this movie was not that great, but it was nice to see how sincerely he wanted to be with someone for real, it just wasn’t Ginnifer Goodwin. So him getting together with Drew Barrymore was fun at the end, especially because they had known each other the whole movie but had never really interacted.

And, FINE, the Jennifer Aniston/Ben Affleck story was all right. I hate reading reviews that say she “demands” that he marry her because, uh, she doesn’t, unless finally admitting what you’ve been too afraid to say that you want is a demand. That’s what you’re supposed to do, be honest about what you need in a relationship, right? But it was pretty obvious the whole time how much they loved each other, and both of their characters were sympathetic and easy to like. I would’ve preferred that he would’ve capitulated about the marriage thing when she came to the boat to capitulate about the non-marriage thing, because that would’ve been very Gift of the Magi, instead of later in their house, because “now that she doesn’t need to get married I’m sort of okay with it” is kind of passive aggressive. But whatever. No complaints, that was a totally tolerable storyline.

BUT OH MY GOD YOU GUYS. The Scarlett Johansson/Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Connolly storyline made me SO. ANGRY. I hate the idea of cheating, I hate it when people do it, I always think it’s completely, totally morally indecent to do it, and I absolutely hate Hollywood’s ongoing attempt to normalize and glorify it. Bradley Cooper’s character was literally the scum of the earth. If you don’t want to get married to someone you don’t get married to them. If you get married to them even though you didn’t particularly want to you find a way to make it work or you end it in as dignified, respectful a way as possible. You do not, I repeat, DO NOT cheat on them repeatedly while feeding them lies about wanting to make it work and ambushing them with the fact of your infidelity in a Home Depot! UGH. I really don’t like Scarlett Johansson at all, and I like Bradley Cooper in Alias but now…I don’t know. Poor Jennifer Connelly. She should’ve been all, “YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME” and been done with it.

So there. Sitting through He’s Just Not That Into You was, on the whole, a terrifying experience for a young single gal like me. I comfort myself with the knowledge (delusion?) that romance and happiness are not easily quantifiable, nor is there a formula for human interaction or a “rule.” There’s just common sense and mutual respect and if you lose on both counts, well, there’s your answer. Happy Valentine’s Day, you guys! (It is not Valentine’s Day yet, calm down.)

At least she’s got that dead-eyed stare down

Posted on January 23rd, 2009 by annakjarzab

My blog stats are taking a nose dive, and you know what that means! Time to start talking about Twilight again. What? It’s not like I didn’t warn you that that’s my strategy. Haters to the left.

344802103_1edeec9687When I first heard rumblings that they were going to cast Dakota Fanning in New Moon, I was all, “What is this noise? Who would she even play? It’s not like there are any preternaturally intelligent creepmaster flash children in this series.” At least not until Breaking Dawn. ZING! I’ll be here forever. Try the stuffed chicken breasts. (Okay, you’re right, that was not a zing.)

First of all, fun fact: after being ten-going-on-eighty-seven for the past, oh, century, apparently Dakota Fanning is almost fifteen now. Speaking of vampires, I always kind of thought of her as a real-life Claudia from Interview With the Vampire. Now that theory is ruined, although we’d really have to test her DNA to be sure.

Second of all, funner fact: people are saying that they’re going to cast her as Jane in New Moon. Personally, I think this casting choice, if indeed it is true, which, shouldn’t this all be settled right now? Don’t they have to start shooting this movie two weeks ago if it’s supposed to come out before the end of the year? Or are we in for yet another faithful but soulless adaptation, complete with clumsy editing and a terrible soundtrack, because nobody seems even remotely capable of planning ahead and the whole thing gets rushed? At least they’ve got more money this time around, so maybe the Volturi temple of doom set will be kick ass.

What was I saying? Oh, this casting choice is dead on. I barely remember Jane, but what I do remember was that she was small and creepy and had truly terrifying mind powers–I think maybe she was able to make people feel excruciating pain they weren’t really experiencing? That’s bananas. Which leads me to a question: Aro is, like, totally power hungry and yet he and his posse of ancient bloodsucking lunatics have absolutely no desire to maybe take over the world? Why don’t vampires rule the universe, if indeed they’re so impossible to outwit or defeat? Why are they afraid of being revealed to the world by mad hoards of newborn vamps or Edward stepping into a crowded Italian piazza and *~*SPARKLING*~*?

I think about this way too much. Time to get a life.

Random Veronica Mars thoughtsicles

Posted on January 21st, 2009 by annakjarzab

FIRST THINGS FIRST: The Veronica Mars movie is offish happening, you guys! I’m not even playing some kind of evil prank on you, because, though I am known for being many things, an evil prankster is not one of them (it requires way too much effort, although I’ve recently been tempted by some of my Blair Waldorf tendencies, but…no, still too lazy to plot–anything but books, that is! Oh ZING).

Anyway, back to the Movie That Dreams Built. According to that article above, Kristen Bell is on board like a surfer (on board like a surfer?), which, like, SHE’D BETTER BE, because they really couldn’t make a Veronica Mars movie without her. And Rob Thomas is penning the script–another must. Also, they’re scrapping that whole “VM at the FBI” thing they cooked up in an attempt to save the show and picking up with V right after she graduates from college. Excellent choice, Robbie Tommy. (Robbie Tommy? What is wrong with me today?) Jason Dohring’s not on board (like a surfer?) yet, but seriously what else is that clown doing these days? (That’s a crime against humanity, IMHO, but at least it frees him up to be in the Movie That Dreams Built so you won’t hear me complain…anymore.) Enrico Colantoni might be more work, but since I’ve never heard of this so-called new show of his (Flashpoint), maybe we’re good on that front as well. Oh, wait, I just IMDb-ed Flashpoint and apparently it’s a real show? That’s on the air? And has had one (nine-episode, let’s not get too scared) season and is having another one? What channel is this thing on? I know I don’t have a TV, but I like to think of myself as at least semi-culturally relevant. CBS? What?

Anyway. Colantoni’s show not withstanding, it’s looking pretty good for the VM fans of the world. Personally I hope they bring back the whole gang, except Piz who is boring and Parker who is even more boring if you can believe it. It’d be nice to see Wallace again, and Mac for defs, and Weevil and Vinnie and Dick. Especially Dick! Ryan Hansen, what are you doing now? Hm, a bunch of movies and TV pilots I’ve never heard of including the unholy Friday the 13th remake? I’m guessing you’ll be down to recreate the magic, too.

I actually meant only, like, a paragraph of this post to be about the Veronica Mars movie (the rest of it was supposed to be LOLZ about the behind the scenes mini-documentary about Gossip Girl that I was watching because my season 1 DVDs came yesterday, but we’ll save that for later), but apparently it’s taken on a mind of its own and morphed into a VM Where Are They Now? extravaganza, so let’s go with that. What are our favorite Neptune peeps doing? Let’s take a look:

kristen_bellKristen Bell (Veronica Mars): By far the superstar of the VM alumni, although that’s to be expected. Recurring character on Heroes, two seasons as the disembodied voice on Gossip Girl, big supporting role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and like a billion more movies slated for 2009. How does girlfriend get all this done? Plus, I’m still waiting to see her in Fanboys, which is…coming out February 6? I can’t even tell if that’s in theaters or on DVD. Whatever. The point is, she’s done quite well for herself so far, but she has yet to carry a movie. We know she can do it, I mean, Veronica Mars sat squarely on her pixie shoulders, but she has yet to show us any magic on the silver screen. Am I the only one who feels this? The traditional romantic comedy roles are way too bland for Kristen Bell. I hope the newer stuff is more dynamic, but I sort of doubt it will be.

enrico_colantoni_veronica_marsEnrico Colantoni (Keith Mars): Erm, so like I said, Flashpoint or whatever. Also he’s guested on some other shows and he’s playing Rene Angelil, NO JOKE, in a TV movie about Celine Dion called, appropriately, Celine. UHHHHHHHH…Get on the horn to RT immediately, Colantoni, because you are way too cool for this weird stuff you’re doing right now.

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Amanda Seyfried (Lilly Kane): Remember when I said Kristen Bell was the most successful VM alumni? Just kidding! You know you like it when I kid. Amanda Seyfried’s star is pretty on the rise as well. She’s my favorite character in one of my favorite shows (Sarah Hendrickson in Big Love), and she was enjoyable as Sophie in Mamma Mia! this past summer. Also, she’s going to be in Jennifer’s Body, written by Diablo Cody, which a lot of people are looking forward to. Too bad Lilly Kane’s been dead since the start of season one, but Seyfried comes alive in flashbacks and I think they should work a couple of those into the movie, for nostalgia’s sake.

vm_percy_dPercy Daggs III (Wallace Fennel): Has done nothing since the end of the show but guest in a few ill-fated dramas and some movie called American Son? Don’t know, didn’t see it, but it also has Nick Cannon (a.k.a. Mr. Mariah Carey) in it, so it can’t be very good. However, it has Chi McBride in it, so it could also be awesome. Coin toss. Anyway, he could probably use the work, and I have a warm little niche in my cold, dark heart for Wallace, so I’d love to see him back in the game as V’s devoted sidekick/bestie.

jasondohringJason Dohring (Logan Echolls): I mean COME ON. What would this show BE without Logan, our obligatory psychotic jackass? Veronica and Logan were the first Blair and Chuck, the mutually insane couple who despite all their flaws and pathologies and machinations are absolutely perfect for each other. As I have already noted. Only this time around, they need to make sure that V and Logan together doesn’t result in Logan getting declawed because, like Chuck, he’s better when he’s angry. Which is why they shouldn’t have them get back together until the END of the movie, so they can antagonize each other and yearn for each other throughout. Oh, yeah, right, what’s Jason Dohring doing with himself these days? A whole lot of nothin’, it turns out, after Moonlight, which as most everybody knows had dismal ratings and was canceled. Anyway, his character Josef, as far as I saw, was just a pale ghost imitation of Logan, so good riddance. He’s in the Washingtonienne pilot, though. I wonder how that show will fare. Whatever, he’s available, let’s tap that.

francisFrancis Capra (Eli “Weevil” Navarro): NOT related to the legendary director Frank Capra, I’ll have you know. Since VM, our favorite PCHer has guested on such shows as “The Closer” (which I love), “Friday Night Lights” (which I love), “Criminal Minds”, “Heroes” (VM reunion!) , and “Sons of Anarchy”. He’s due for another recurring role, if you ask me, which nobody has. He’s probably up for another rematch with Logan, anyway, and they left Weevil’s story on a weird cliffhanger (?), if you can really call it that. In any case, we know he’s not quite finished with his criminal ways. I think it’s time to revisit that.

dickstandRyan Hansen (Dick Casablancas): Yay! My favorite! Like I said, not much going on here besides the Friday the 13th remake, which, why? Another VM alum for whom the current roles available don’t really live up to the potential of the actor (Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring being the other obvious victims of this problem). I love how Dick started off as a throwaway character and by the end of the series was fully integrated and had even started to display some depth of emotion we might never have seen if his brother hadn’t (SPOILER) whoopsed himself right off the edge of a building at the end of season two (END SPOILER). I liked where Dick was going and I want to see more of him.

28203656Teddy Dunn (Duncan Kane): Ah, Teddy Dunn. Very pretty to look at, not a very talented actor. I do not wish to see him return for the movie, but for fun let’s see what he’s up to. Oh yeah, Jumper. Maybe he could get some temporary work as Scott Porter’s body double.

f_44195561 Michael Muhney (Sheriff Don Lamb): Not that Muhney can come back, because (SPOILER) Lamb is clearly deceased (END SPOILER), but I loved Lamb. Muhney has done/is slated to do a lot of movies, but none of them look like anything special. Too bad. He’s a real gem.

VERONICA MARSTina Majorino (Cindy “Mac” MacKenzie): Aw, at least we know Tina Majorino is doing well. Just like Amanda Seyfried and (I’m getting to it!) Kyle Gallner, she’s on Big Love, as Heather Tuttle, Sarah’s Mormon bestie. At this point, she doesn’t seem to be doing much else, so I hope they ask her to come back for the movie and I hope she accepts. What would V be without her Q? (Too many initials.)

0000034960_20061021043236Kyle Gallner (Cassidy “Beaver” Casablancas): Another favorite that is ineligible for a return to the show because (SPOILER) he’s dead (END SPOILER), but despite how incredibly creepy he seems to be in EVERY. SINGLE. ROLE. HE. PLAYS. I still love him. He’s been doing some stuff: The Closer, that creepmeister kid on the Law and Order: SVU episode with Melissa Joan Hart, Smallville, Medium, CSI: NY, The Shield, and Big Love (as yet another creepy young dude). (How many times can I unoriginally use the word “creepy” to describe a Kyle Gallner character? Wait and see!) He’s also in Jennifer’s Body along with VM alum Amanda Seyfried, where he’ll probably play a creepy young dude! Four times! That’s gotta be a record. What?

Okay. That’s enough. This post is getting way too long. I could tell you what Max Greenfield (Deputy Leo) or Alona Tal (Meg Manning) or Tessa Thompson (Jackie Cook) or Daran Norris (Cliff McCormack) or Chris Lowell (Stosh “Piz” Piznarski) or Julie Gonzalo (Parker Lee…srsly? Lee? That was her last name?) or Ken Marino (Vinnie Van Lowe) or any number of actors are doing these days, but I don’t care. Except Daran Norris and Ken Marino–we need Cliff and Vinnie back. The rest of them can skedaddle. Although Max Greenfield is on Ugly Betty sometimes and Chris Lowell is on Private Practice. Not afraid to be servicey!