Of Musings and Wonderings

{April 27, 2013}   Glee: All Grown Up?

7391-glee-season-4-episode-20For those of you who weren’t around in September or who don’t go back and read the majority of my posts, (the majority of you, I’m guessing. It was early days) back when the first episode of Glee: season four came out, I talked about my thoughts on the first episode. Mainly, how bloody worried I was that these fresh new faces would simply be used to fill the shoes left by those who had graduated. At some point in those early episodes, it did feel like Marley was just new Rachel, even with the storyline of liking a guy who is wanted by the cute blonde cheerleader. Ryder was a fresh faced, young Finn, Puckerman’s brother joined New Directions and seemed like a carbon copy of him and yet, despite all this, these new characters have actually come, fully, into their own. (I also mentioned how Rachel’s new beau was, possibly, the hottest guy yet to be on the show, so here’s a picture of him for you to stare at for a few seconds before continuing.)



I’ve always felt that, in a way, Glee has tried to tackle issues that affect teenagers today. A lot of what they deal with is stuff I didn’t even have to think about growing up, and the New Directions is always full of kids who have to cope with different things and who have to try to find happiness despite whatever they’re going through. With this new series, I think the creators have taken it up a notch. Those people who would have watched it when it first came out have grown up a fair bit now – I was in my first year at University, and I guess the main audience would have been a few years younger. But it feels like, rather than doing what Skins does and trying to aim at the same age group every series, Glee has managed to find a nice balance between keeping old viewers interested and still dealing with issues relevant to the same age group that would have started watching in the first place.

Right. Hopefully that all makes sense.

Glancing around online, I picked up on something. Glee moved, this series, to 9pm in the USA. Now, I’m just going to go ahead and assume that, like in the UK, 9pm acts as a watershed. As in, it’s the time when kids should be in bed and if they’re not, you should be careful in picking what they’re watching on TV. It’s a time when slightly more adult themes can be explored by shows, when films dealing with 15+ subject matters can be shown. So, to me, Glee moving to this time means the creators, maybe, are now able to look at subjects that they are more interested in, subjects which can be more adult in tone. And it means Glee isn’t just for kids. Not anymore.

Nothing really emphasis that more than series four’s eighteenth episodes, Shooting Star.

Until then, Glee had already dealt with students coping with their sexuality, coping with issues over gender, and, over in New York, male prostitution. We’ve seen these kids grow and mature, and even the new, younger cast seem older than the original New Directions members when they were the same in-show age. Relationships, love, death…it feels like, as an audience, and I think especially if you’re older than these kids like I am, we’ve almost held their hands through it. We’ve rooted for them, and smiled when they break into song. I mentioned in my previous post that it’s one of the happiest shows on TV. And despite the issues brought to light in this series, it’s remained that way.

Until Shooting Star.


It starts off pretty normally. Britney thinks the world is going to end, Ryder finds out whoever he has been chatting too online is using a picture of another student. They sing, they dance, Coach Beast makes a random move on Mr Schu, and they gather together when Britney realises the asteroid she saw on her telescope is a dead ladybug, to celebrate the world not ending. Yay! Everyone’s happy and…

And at this point, I was a bit spun out. I mean, it was only about halfway through the episode, but it felt like the end, and then, bam.


Gun shots.

Everyone in the choir room – New Directions minus Britney and Tina, Mr Schu and Coach Beast – spring into action. The kids find hiding places, the teachers try to keep them calm as the lights go off and the tension rises. It’s an abrupt change, out of the blue, and instantly I knew who had fired that gun. Part of me was doubting it was a gun, that there must be some mistake, but as it goes on, I thought Becky. It made sense to me. But only because of her moment with Brit earlier in the episode, where she states how scared she is of the real world. She doesn’t want to leave the school, and I figured…not that she would shoot anyone, but that something had happened and she was part of it.

I didn’t know what to think. Like I said, at first I really did think it was going to be a misunderstanding, but the whole thing is done really well. I saw some things online saying it was too much, it was too soon, that it was too out of the blue. But…when is something like this ever not going to be too soon? And from what I’ve seen, even if the threat isn’t huge, it’s something that kids now may actually think about more, might just be scared of, and, again, Glee tackles issues teenagers face. So why not tackle something like reactions to this?

It’s powerful, and the actors involved really show their talents here. They manage to capture fear and horror, and show what it might be like to think you could be facing your last few moments. After I finished watching it, I looked it up online to try to find some reactions. Most articles I came across condemned it, but it was the comments I found most interesting. Quite a few said they thought it was a really good episode, and with that I have to agree. But…well, I guess I’m sort of more detached than US viewers from this. It’s hard for me to know what it might be like to think this could happen at your local school, whether you attend it or your kids do, but from that POV I thought Glee dealt with it well. Out of the blue, yes, but then again this sort of thing would be out of the blue.

Some people were slating it on the basis of Ryan Murphy pushing his own agenda. Right. To that I say, piss off. If you create a TV show and manage to get it aired, and it’s successful and people watch it then you sure as hell are allowed to put your own ‘agenda’, as they call it, into the show. Come on! What sort of person thinks that someone who has created something won’t have their own slant on certain issues, that may come out in it? I don’t see it as an issue. Really. Behind every TV show there is going to be someone who has their own political leanings, and they may not come out in said show or film or novel or music, but there’s no reason to criticise if something slips in there. Plus, it’s not exactly an issue Murphy has shied away from in the past. In fact, one of his most oddly endearing characters was one who was behind a school shooting. I say oddly endearing because Tate was a monster. But he was also a confused kid who at times didn’t really seem to know what he was doing. Don’t base any complaints on Glee’s Shooting Star on ‘OMG he has an AGENDA how DARE that lefty liberal tackle GUN ISSUES he wants to take away our GUNS’.

Evil: It's Pretty & Blond.

Evil: It’s Pretty & Blond.

Okay. Sorry. I can understand why some people would take issue with the episode. For starters, it’s called Shooting Stars. That’s just…stupid. Seriously. Any other title would have been better! And yes, the next episode the characters go back to their normal lives. But it doesn’t feel like it’s pushing an anti-gun message. In fact, it feels much like what I mentioned in my previous post; that guns might just be too accessible to people who shouldn’t have them.

Becky is a scared kid who wants to defend herself. She doesn’t shoot anyone. She doesn’t aim the gun at anyone. It goes off by accident and Coach Sue takes the rap. The kids come to terms with what’s happened and do what they always do; they lean on each other for support.

I liked the episode. I think it was done well. It was emotional, and engaging, and you could feel the fear of these kids. It’s a musical show, but there were no songs (obviously) during the shooting segment. Instead, the choir room is completely silent, except for the sounds of crying and the metronome ticking away. It’s a relief when Will grabs it, and the whole section was contrasted with the usual bubbly atmosphere of the show. It tackled a very real issue and I think it can only be a good thing if teenagers watch it and begin to discuss it. Because, although it’s not something they will hopefully come across, it is something that could be talked off, something they can, maybe, come to terms with, if Glee helps act as a sort of starting point. And that, at the end of the day, is a pretty damn good agenda to have.

Now, to cheer you up, just…enjoy Sam for a few seconds.

Innocence & Idiocy: It's Pretty & Blond.

Innocence & Idiocy: It’s Pretty & Blond.

If you say episode 18, what did you think? Actually, even if you didn’t, any thoughts on whether or not Glee should have tackled this issue? As always, I’d love to hear them.


{April 22, 2013}   America, We Need To Talk
Totally not an excuse to post a picture of these three...

Totally not an excuse to post a picture of these three…

America, there is something you need to know.

I love you.

I really do. I have ever since I could remember. You brought us Disney, and Spider-Man and Batman and Superman and all those other superheroes. McDonald’s and Star Wars. The best holiday I can ever remember was Florida; Disneyland! Universal! And those other places! Western films and the great movie musicals. And that’s just my childhood.

I studied American Studies at University, I’ve dreamed of visiting you for, like, ever. You’ve influenced our culture and many of the words I use are most likely American slang. Awesome, right, dude? I’ve admired you from afar, though I doubt you have ever turned your gaze towards me. I’m just a Welsh girl, after all, and I don’t think you really understand where Wales is, do you?

Wales; that tiny country right next to England.

Wales; that tiny country right next to England.

Some say you’re stupid. I don’t believe that. I stand by the idea that we simply hear the loudest among you, and the loudest tend to be the most obnoxious. You’re simply…misunderstood, right? You’re still young, after all. Still growing, still trying to find your feet. In terms of countries, you’re probably in your teens. Obsessed with films and games and violent and trying to assert yourself. Trying to show the world how good you are. No one can really blame you for that.

And in the past, I have overlooked many of your faults, your mistakes. Love is blind, after all. You are amazing, America. Just look at your icons! Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, James Dean. You have given us music and movies and fast food. Denim jeans! You’re a melting pot, pinching of bit of this or that culture, adding your own dash of Americana. Supernatural, Heroes, Smallville. The American Dream! Every kid can grow up to be President! Superman, the protector of justice. Batman, the Dark Knight. You have given us real and fictional heroes, you have the best stories to tell, always.

chris-consani-american-icons-triptychBut I feel like I can’t ignore it anymore. I can’t just sit back. You’re tearing yourself apart. A house divided against itself cannot stand! You seem to have forgotten. And I know this isn’t you. I know there is a large part of yourself that just stares at the other, amazed. I’m going to stay away from Religion, America, because that’s a whole other post in itself.

But…well…here’s the thing I don’t understand.


Don’t get me wrong. I love an action scene as much as the next person. I love a montage as the hero trains up, maybe shoots a few targets. I cheer when the bad guy gets shot. Gun scenes are awesome. But…well, they’re fictional. And they sure as hell don’t make me think shooting actual people is a good way out of any situation. This has gone on long enough, America. Take a good long look at yourself. Look at the victims that have been created because it’s just so damn easy to get hold of something that kills.

And I’ve seen the arguments. Here’s the thing. As far as I understand the situation, people are not trying to take away your guns. They’re not. They’re a huge part of your culture. Not here, so maybe that’s why I don’t understand. But how can you be against tighter gun control? What are you afraid of? That if those restrictions are brought in, you wouldn’t be able to cradle your beloved weapon to sleep at night? Because surely any sensible person, with an ounce of rationality, would see that if you are scared restrictions would stop you having a gun, maybe you shouldn’t have a gun.

How do your kids manage to get their hands on them? Do you just leave them lying around? Because yes, there are a lot of dangerous objects out there that could hurt and harm, but…well, do you leave matches in easy reach of your kids? Prescription pills? Household tools? They’re all dangerous in the wrong hands, true, but it seems like you would keep them away from anyone who might misuse them. You do that, right? You make sure your kids can’t reach a hammer, or anything that could start a fire. I hope so.

And yes, okay, cars kill. People get run over every day and that’s awful. It’s horrible. Accidents happen. And I don’t doubt that accidents will continue to happen if gun restriction is brought in.

But how many more crashes do you think there would be if you didn’t have to learn to drive, if you didn’t have to have a licence? If anyone could just pop to a shop (sorry, store) and pick up a car, drive it away? The roads would become a hell of a lot more dangerous, right? And I’ve seen that argument. That linking between car and gun. So why is a gun any different? Why can just anyone get a gun, if not just anyone can drive?

Like I said, accidents happen. But accidents would be reduced if the things causing those accidents came with just a bit more responsibility.

I’m just…I’m saying this for your own good, America. And I don’t think you’ll take any notice. I know you won’t. But it can’t go on unsaid. Not on my part anyway. I love you, and I always will, I just think…well, we’re all going to have to take a step back. Just breathe. Relax. Think for a while about what’s best.

Okay? Okay.

You know…maybe there’s a valid reason, more than just their experiences and powers, why many superheroes don’t use guns. They’re our idols. And we try to be like them in other ways…why not in this one?

Note: I know many, if not most, of the people who read this blog are Americans. And none of this is meant in disrespect. I am serious when I say I love the USA. I just wanted to put my thoughts out there and I thought, well, this seemed like as good a way as any. And I would love to hear your thoughts on the issue. I am always willing to have a discussion about things like this, especially as, like I said, I don’t totally understand. Enlighten me, maybe?

{April 20, 2013}   Movie Review: Pitch Pefect


Pitch Perfect follows reluctant student Beca, one of those cool, alternative girls who wants to strike out to LA and make it as a DJ. Her father, however, insists she does a degree first, in order to have something to fall back on, and enlists her at the University he teaches at. In order to make sure she embraces the college life, Beca’s dad tells her to join a club, to make an effort, and if she still hates it, he will help her move to LA.

Before I start, I want to say this. I really enjoyed this film. It feels like a movie length version of Glee. And in a way, that’s exactly what it is. But outside of that, there’s more to this film, with characters who fill up the screen and manage to keep you invested in each of them, even if one does speak so quietly none of the other characters can hear her.

It’s a fun film, and throughout, it manages to remain funny and engaging, especially when you have characters like Fat Amy on-screen. (Who calls herself that so “twig bitches like you don’t do it behind my back”.) There are moments where you just kind of sit back and wonder “what?”, but how can you not love a film that manages to put ‘acca’ in front of so many words?

Anna Kendrick does a brilliant job as Beca, and manages to stop the character from becoming annoying. She makes Beca believable, and likable, and you really root for her. And the relationship between Beca and Jesse just feels so normal and natural. Skylar Astin feels perfect for the part; again, both characters have the potential to be really annoying, but Kendrick and Astin have a nice chemistry and watching them, as a couple they make sense. Case in point; watching the ending of The Breakfast Club, Beca cannot take her eyes off him. He’s completely absorbed in the film, and it’s really sweet. And it’s something very relatable; because, seriously, there’s something oddly hot about seeing someone you like so passionate about something.



Ok, well, there was no doubt from his first scene that I was going to fall in love with Jesse. That guy’s first appearance shows him singing, full blast, to Kansas’ Carry On My Wayward Son. That song is my kryptonite.

Moving on before I start delving into all the reasons Jesse is awesome (cute, film fan, loves Kansas, good taste in music, can sing…*ahem*), the characters really carry the film. Fat Amy is clearly only there for comic relief, but it works, and she has some of the best lines in the film. Bumper is your typical dickhead, and I felt like there was more that could have been done with him. Brittany Snow and Anna Camp (Chloe and Aubrey) are wonderful to watch, and like many of the people involved they have this knack of just bouncing off each other. (Though no one in the film can quite compete with John Higgins and Elizabeth Banks)

I think Kendrick is one of my new favourite actresses (along with Jennifer Lawrence). For some reason, actresses just never really stood out to me before. I can’t remember many films which have women who just make me go “Yeah. They’re amazing.” Maybe it’s just me. But now…I think we’re entering an interesting age of interesting actresses. And it’s refreshing to see a film where the vast majority of faces are new or just not that well-known.

pitch perfect

Acca-air stewardess?

The film has problems. Quite a lot of them, actually. The supporting characters are reduced to clichés; nothing is really done, even when it could be. There’s a lot of unexplored territory here; Luke, for example. There’s a hint that he could maybe come between Beca and Jesse. A hint that there could be more than just him hanging around when they’re stacking CDs. But it’s not used. The film moves fast. Once the basic plot is established, the film leaps from one competition to another. And the music…the music could be so much better! Considering the premise of the film, they don’t utilize the music as much as they could.

There’s a reason love duets are part of films. Look up Richard Dyer’s ideas behind musicals as a utopia. One of the ideas is that characters are able to express their real feelings only through song. And song is where characters otherwise at odds can match each other. Love duets are a massive part of this; they usually represent the moment when characters realise they actually do love each other, and show them coming together. (Best recent example; Rock of Ages, I Can’t Fight This Feeling. Tried to get a video but looks like they’ve all been taken off YouTube.) So maybe this doesn’t have to happen with Jesse and Beca. But half of the time, when Beca sings, Jesse just stands there, grinning like an idiot or looking amazed. He barely gets the chance to show off his own singing!

Pitch Perfect is, in the end, a fun film with a great cast, even if they don’t get the chance to step into their own. It’s worth a watch, as long as you can forgive the pacing. The cast are great, and fingers crossed we get to see those involved in more films in the future.

{April 14, 2013}   Like Waving A Red Flag…

There’s something that has been playing on my mind for most of the last week. Something that has made me cringe when both sides have spoken. It’s…a very divisive issue, especially in the UK. Something that has had people sneering at others, had others acting kind of idiotically and just made you realise how passionately some people felt about this.

Let’s face it, whatever the right say, Thatcher was not popular. It doesn’t matter anymore how popular she was in the past, and it doesn’t matter what the reasons for her winning re-elections was. It doesn’t matter if milk had already been taken from over 12s before she took it from the under 12s. No matter what arguments you look at, a popular person would not have prompted parties upon their death.

I don’t agree with celebrating someone’s death. It’s…unBritish. And by that, I mean it’s not polite. It’s almost crude, in a way, but that’s not to say I can’t see why people were happy when she did die. There are people out there who, because of her, are unemployed, who struggle every day just to make ends meet. It’s a two-edged sword, really. And yes, it’s wrong to celebrate her death, but I don’t see any reason to criticise those people who may have been happy about it, or who maybe had a drink or two. The way I see it, people should have just been left to do what they wanted. They’re not actually hurting anyone, and those people who cried “Oh but her family!” aren’t seeing the point. Her family, if they have any sort of realism about them, should know what the reaction would be upon her death. And…okay, maybe people shouldn’t have had parties. But they sure as hell should be okay to ‘celebrate’ in private.

There was an interesting article on The Guardian (which I can’t find again because the search button hates me or something) regarding the whole ‘don’t speak ill of the dead’ phrase, and how it applies to Thatcher. Essentially, the point made was that it doesn’t apply. Not to someone who was in the public eye, and not when you have the right celebrating her and praising her at every corner. The point made was basically, there are two sides to the debate, and you can’t use that phrase to silence one side. Thatcher, even in death, has divided people right down the middle, and why shouldn’t the left get their say? Why shouldn’t the people who were affected by what she did, get their say?

One argument I’ve seen crop up about the criticism surrounding Thatcher is that it comes from people too young. As in, people who weren’t there. The right have been fond of saying “You can’t remember, so you can’t criticise.”
3ppydnIt’s bullshit for a variety of reasons. Saying someone cannot look at the past and form their own opinions, just because they weren’t there, is ridiculous. If it was true, why the hell do we study History? Secondly, just because someone my age, or slightly younger, wasn’t alive during Thatcher’s reign doesn’t mean they haven’t lived with the shadow of it.

The stupid thing is, the Conservative party are just dismissing the comments about Thatcher. Instead, they should be looking at why people feel this way. Especially now, with the current climate we’re in. People are unemployed. People who would have previous worked in mines or factories don’t have jobs in their local area. Whether or not that’s because of Thatcher is almost irrelevant; people feel that it’s because of her, and that’s why her death has produced the reactions she has. It’s all well and good to say “It’s disgraceful that people are happy over her death,” if you’ve been able to get a job, or have lived in a relatively well off area. And I count myself among them. I was able to go to University. I have been able to come out and get a job in an office. Yay for me.

But if you live in areas that largely relied on coal mining, in communities where mining sustained them, then you probably know someone who lost their job under Thatcher. Maybe they’ve never been able to get another long term. Maybe mining was something you would have gone into, if it was still a viable option.

And let’s face it, the strikes of that time have been prevalent in pop culture. I live in South Wales; mining is a part of my history, even if the town I live in was never a mining community. But there’s the valleys, not far away. And I studied in the North of England, where I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who really felt for the Swansea mining tragedy a few years ago. Mining communities feel for each other, even now. Even when they’re no longer mining communities. And the response to the Swansea tragedy in the North was…well, it was like an understanding. Even among those people who had never grown up with a mine nearby. Because our history shapes us. And part of that history was made more horrible under Thatcher, with the strikes and the effect it had not just on the people on strike, but on generations following.

The best way, I think, to sum up the point – not just about history, how it links us, but also about the strikes – is a music video, by a Welsh band.

The key lyric there? Your history is mine.

There is a very good reason people hated Thatcher. And I’ve tried to lay this out diplomatically up until now, simply because I know it’s a hard subject. Because I know I don’t have enough specialised knowledge to say this happened directly because of that. (Not because I’m too young, but because I haven’t looked into it, okay?) But…well, the images in that video are images I have grown up with. How many times have the strikes come up in popular culture? And what’s betting that when they have, it’s the people living in South Wales and the North of England who are hit hardest by it?

*deep breath*

Okay, so, now, getting to the reason for the title of this piece. And as a warning…there is going to be some swearing here.

There are cuts left right and centre, for everything you can think of. Education, health, benefits. Libraries closing, people unable to find a job. ‘Focus’ on getting youth employment up has been nothing more than getting people between the ages of 18 – 25 working for periods of time, unpaid.

And yet we’re spending TEN FUCKING MILLION on a funeral??

Seriously. That’s just…it’s messed up. Totally and unbelievably messed up. And they’re expecting people to just sit back and twiddle their thumbs, to remain quiet about this when there are people who don’t know if they’re going to have a job in a month?

Thatcher’s legacy is a broken, divided country, and not just because of her actions as PM. It’s her death that’s causing it now, and whatever blame you place or don’t place on her, the Conservatives deserve any protest thrown at them. I am not an advocate of violence. But if there are any disruptions during the funeral, who is really going to be surprised? We have a government determined to let the have’s keep having while the have not’s slowly lose everything. And this funeral is just going to make things worse.

Her death has caused a huge divide in this country. And it’s only going to get worse. We’re supposed to have free speech, but God forbid you say anything against her. And how can anyone act surprised that Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead has risen in the charts? The charts are the people’s new way of getting their voices heard, and they’re still trying to squash it.

Okay. Right. Rant over. And if you have read this far…thank you for indulging me. Thanks for letting me rant, and – to everyone who has liked, commented or followed in the past – thank you (massively) for making me feel that this little blog is the place where I can do this.

And if you do have anything to say about this whole thing, please feel free to comment. I am always open to discussions – and debates – about everything I post here.

I joined Goodreads years ago, when the main things I read were grabbed from the Young Adult section of the library. So, a few of the books on my ‘Read’ shelf are, well, a bit too young for me now. But recently, I decided to get back into the site, mainly to keep a track of what I’m reading and, also, in the hopes that it would give me some guidance on what to read next.

Today, I had a look over my ‘Recommended For You’ page. And I learnt something.

I am reading way too similar things.

Seriously, just check out what my recommended page looks like.

goodreads recA lot of very similar looking books, and none, really, that caught my eye.

I really need some more diversity in my book choices.

See, a lot of the ones up there are either horror (blame my love for Stephen King) or supernatural type romances. I can see why Goodreads has suggested these to me. Recently, I’ve been making my way through the Song of Ice & Fire series, the Anita Blake novels and the Sookie Stackhouse novels. And I’m thoroughly enjoying them all. But Bras and Broomsticks, Undead and Unwed and The Ghost and The Goth really do not look the type of books I would like. Hell, I could be wrong. I am, after all, judging these books based purely on their very girly, very chick lit covers. They could be amazing. They could open my eyes to a whole new world. But I’m still not going to read them. At least, not right now. I guess I can kind of see why two series about girls and the supernatural community – both of which contain love triangles with werewolves and vampires – could lead Goodreads to think I might like some more supernatural romance in my life. But in both series I’ve been reading, the romance isn’t the main focus. Okay, so it is as times in Sookie Stackhouse’s life but not always.

The Fantasy recommendations contain similar books to those mentioned above, along with some more ‘traditional’ looking fantasy types. I know, I know, I’m still judging based on their covers. But, I don’t know, when I’m presented with a lot of books in this way then the cover is all I have to go on, unless I want to trawl through them all. And the horror…well, okay, again they all look pretty typical.

Maybe I’m being too fussy. But when I read a book, I want something I can be drawn into. I read on my way to work, on my lunch break and my way home, and the books I’ve been reading recently (including Roddy Doyle’s The Woman Who Walked Into Doors and Allison Hewitt is Trapped, by Madeleine Roux) have made me really look forward to going to work, because it means I get to read them. I want books like that. Books where the characters stick in my head for days and where I wish, just wish, I had thought of that idea first. (And, damn it, Roux, I did have a similar idea before! She just did it first. And, most likely, better.)

Okay, so, what I’ve established is this. I need something different, between the adventures of Anita and Sookie. I need something that will make Goodreads throw a variety of things at me to read, rather than…well, what I’ve got there already. I want to explore different worlds. Not that I’m fed up of them or anything, but I want to step away from vampires, zombies, werewolves and the general undead for a bit.

So, please, suggest some books to me! Throw some titles my way and I will add them to my ‘to read’ list. Give me something new. Something different. Something you read and just went “Bloody hell. Why did it have to end?” Oh, and for anyone who’s interested, I can be found here on Goodreads, with my real name which I may, just may, go into in another blog post. (As in, why I’m using Grace on here etc.)

et cetera