Quit Fridging the Girlfriend: The Umbrella Academy

“Fridging”: a trope where a (usually female) character is injured, killed, or otherwise lose their agency as a plot device to further the arc of another (typically male) character.

Since that’s out of the way, let me get to what’s pissed me off this week: The Umbrella Academy. My S.O. was away for the weekend, leaving me ample time to binge-watch season one of Netflix’s superhero show. And the first few episodes showed promise. Not a lot but enough to keep me watching even as it turned into an utter trainwreck.

UA undoubtedly has a number of issues. I could honestly do three or four posts on how the storytelling went to shit. Depending on how well this post satisfies my rage, I very well may write another one.

Anyway, to the point of this post: fridging. (Usual disclaimer of spoilers).

There are at least three instances of fridging in the ten episodes of UA: Patch’s death, Allyson having her throat slit, and Agnes being held hostage. Want to know how many male characters die to further the arcs of female characters? Zero.

Patch’s death becomes Diego’s motivation for going after Cha Cha and Hazel. Never mind the fact that they’re assassins (as his brother, Five, can confirm). And never mind that he’s established early on as a character who goes after criminals and other bad guys. Because those two things aren’t good enough reasons for him to hunt down the pair, but his ex’s death (after she takes his advice to “break the rules”) is.

Allyson nearly dying after Vanya slits her throat not only makes Luther overly protective of his sister-slash-crush but also literally silences her. As in she can’t speak. She can’t  defend Vanya or to talk to her daughter on the phone as the apocalypse looms, and she’s forced to rely on (and defer) to Luther. And Luther manages to trigger the apocalypse.

Then there’s Agnes. Shes such a sweet, albeit cliche character who causes Hazel to turn his back on life as an assassin, and that honestly would’ve been one of the lesser sins (and forgivable) UA committed. But then ChaCha literally ties up Agnes and nearly drowns her in a hot tub. And if that’s not enough, the Handler then holds Agnes hostage until Hazel and ChaCha succeed in their mission of making sure the apocalypse happens on schedule. Would Hazel have become a quasi-good-guy without Agnes? No. But he’s such an interesting character that he should’ve been given another (non-fridging) reason to return to working with ChaCha for a final mission.

The superhero genre has a history of screwing over female characters in order to further the male heroes in their journey or mission or whatever. And in 2019, this shit needs to stop. Guys should be allowed to have motivations other than women and their suffering. Women should be allowed to have their own narratives not tied to a guy’s.

Have you seen The Umbrella Academy? What’s your pet peeve when it comes to storytelling tropes?

Project Adventure: Alpacas

Project Adventure: Visit somewhere new (ideally) once a month.
Adventures completed: 1

I found out about the Carolina Alpaca Celebration through Facebook; one of the local interest pages posted the event info. I’ve become fascinated with fiber-producing animals (alpacas and sheep) as I’ve been knitting more, so I jumped at the chance to see alpacas up close.

The Cabarrus Arena & Events Center is about thirty-minutes from my apartment. It took me about that to get there, and I walked inside and into a massive open room that smelled of hay and manure. The front half contained a handful of vendors dispersed among three rows, and in the back stood a dozen chest-high pens with fans attached to the bars.

The alpacas ranged in color from beige to gray to brown to black and looked like over-sized, super-fluffy stuffed animals. A few of them hummed.

A couple industrial, roll-up doors were partially open, making me regret my decision not to wear a winter coat. The show area, located inside the arena-portion of the building, was slightly warmer. It also housed a handful of adorable baby alpacas.

I took lots of pictures and browsed the vendor booths for the better part of an hour. Long enough to see everything (and to justify the trip up). I bought a ball of alpaca yarn; I haven’t figured out what I’ll make from it though I’m leaning in the direction of fingerless gloves.

What kinds of new places or experiences have you had so far this year? Do you have any planned?

Me with an alpaca

Spring Fever

North Carolina decided to take a break from winter and spend a couple days pretending that it’s spring instead of mid-February. And as a result, I’ve gone into gardening mode. Like buying seeds and fighting the urge to buy potting soil and recognizing that the cold will kill anything I plant but wanting to start gardening anyway.

I’d hoped that going through photos of flowers and the garden from last summer would help take the edge off. And they have, somewhat.

How do you handle these unseasonably warm winter days? Do they leave you with a touch of spring fever?

Permission to Write

This post is just as much for me as for anyone who needs it.

You have permission to write whatever your heart desires.

Write a teenage character that swears, an over-the-top gory death scene, an asshole character with no redeemable qualities. Write and finish a crap story instead of rewriting one sentence over and over with the goal of perfection.

Write the story that scares you most. Write the story that’s just above your skill set. Write the story that isn’t “in” right now. Write the story that you want to see on your bookshelf. Write the story that you want to read.

Writing is work, yes. And there are times when it will feel like work. Keep writing anyway because you’ll hit that breakthrough moment where all this work is worth it.

Keep writing. Write whatever you wan to write, even if it’s rough around the edges or all over. There’ll be time to sand those out in the next draft.

More COOL THINGs at Goodwill

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of shopping at my local Goodwill because I occasionally happen upon COOL THINGs. But luck was on my side this because I found COOL THINGs two Goodwill trips in a row. (I often go three or four trips before something catches my eye).

So who did I come across this time? Well, there was Tommy the Turtle Teapot with his friend, Fishy. Then I spotted the Kitty Triplets who toed the line between cute and creepy. And finally, I saw Mr. Miner chilling in his barrel of what looked like alcoholic Mountain Dew.

I’m curious. Have you found any COOL THINGs while out and about?

COOL THINGs at Goodwill

Goodwill has become my go-to-destination for crafty inspiration. Finding what I’m looking for is a gamble (compared to shopping at Michaels or JoAnn’s Fabric), but I occasionally hit the jackpot and find a COOL THING tucked behind vases or miscellaneous holiday stuff.

In the spirit of full disclosure, my definition of COOL THING is what other people consider CREEPY-A-F. There’s a certain endearing quality to COOL/CREEPY-A-F THINGs. And while space, budget, and a territorial COOL THING already on my shelf limit what comes home with me, I always keep my eye out.

Just this week, I saw a couple COOL THINGs in the holiday section. Mr. Frankie from Target almost came home with me. His ear-to-ear grin with baby vampire teeth just drew me in, and I pictured him on my desk. He’d watch my back while I write. But then I took a look at his eyes. Big, beady eyes that would give me nightmares for the rest of the night if I caught them staring at me in the middle of the night.

Then there was Santa Claus, whose eyes seemed to follow me whenever I walked past. Few things creep me out more than eyes following me. So his ass stayed on the shelf; I didn’t even look at his price-tag.

 

Project Salsa: the Beginning

Growing flowers requires pretty much no preparation. Got seeds? Got soil? Got a pot? Combine and then pop that sucker in sunlight (and remember to water it every couple days,) and it’s good to go.

Growing vegetables is a bit more complicated. At least it is when I’m looking to produce a usable amount of vegetables rather than having the occasional handful of cherry tomatoes to snack on. Vegetables require research and planning. What kinds of plants will do well on my patio? How much space do they need? And how many plants should I plant to get a usable yield (so I can actually make salsa)?

My research has given me an idea of what I should be doing, and I’ve come up with a list of what I want to plant. The next step is figuring out planter sizes and how to best utilize my patio space. Other than the garlic (which probably should’ve been planted in the fall), nothing needs to be planted until late March, which means I have time to figure those things out. And that’s good because I’ll be planting a lot of different seeds.

Here’s a rough list of what I’ll be planting this spring:

  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Jalapenos
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Pumpkins
  • Watermelon
  • Cantilope
  • Marigolds
  • Red Sunflowers
  • Wildflowers
  • Forget-Me-Nots

And all of that will hopefully fit on my itty, bitty patio. It’s … going to be an adventure.

Screw Resolutions. Here are My Goals for 2019

I’m changing things up for 2019: I’m not making resolutions; I’m making goals. This is part of my plan to get my shit together, writing and having-a-life-wise.

So what are my goals for the coming year? And why did I decide on them? I know you didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

Sew My First a Quilt
I inherited a sewing machine when my parents moved from Massachusetts to South Carolina. And up until about a couple weeks ago, it had sat in a box and on the shelf in my closet since August. The instructions make almost no sense and if not for YouTube, I would’ve never figured out how to thread the bobbin (or what the bobbin is even for). Searching for sewing projects on Pinterest led me to the magical world of quilting, and I decided that I had to make one. Even if it was just to say that I’d done it.

Write & Post Serial Fiction
The idea of posting a piece of serial fiction has been on my mind for years, but I’ve always talked myself out it for one reason or another. That’s going to change, though. I want to post more regularly on here, and this is a way to do that. At least for the duration of the serial. Plus I’m working on a short story that’ll lend itself to the format. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get into a groove and make serials a regular thing.

Make Salsa with Veggies from the Garden
Last year, I took a risk and planted vegetables on my patio. Certain ones–like tomatoes and carrots–did surprisingly well. That’s encouraged me to refine my container garden, improving on the plant spacing and growing more root vegetables. Plus I want to make a recipe using veggies that I’ve grown myself. I mean, there’re few things tastier than eating ripe tomatoes right off the vine. But there’s a level of self-sufficiency in cooking with vegetables that I’ve grown myself.

Finish the Voss 1st Draft
I didn’t write much during 2018: a couple short stories but no novels or novellas. That’s something I want to change. I want to get myself into a writing routine and to complete the first draft of a full-length novel. An idea–that I’ve dubbed Voss–has been floating around my head since I watched the first few seasons of The Curse of Oak Island over last summer. It’s basically a treasure-hunting story with a bit of Haunting of Hill House thrown in to amp up the creepiness.

Tackle an Ambitious Knitting Project
I got back into knitting last year, and the projects I’ve tackled have been confidence-boosters. My garter-stitch hats and the garter-stitch baby blanket for my SO’s new nephew have kept me busy. I want to step up my game, though, and knit a pattern that’s more difficult. Like something with purl stitches (I haven’t figured those out yet) or where I have to count rows.

Visit Somewhere New
This one is more of a tradition than a new goal. Every year since 2013, I’ve made it my mission to visit somewhere that I’d never been. It can be somewhere a plane ride away or as simple as checking out a new town. I already have a couple places in mind: Asheville, Carrowinds Amusement Park, and the beach at Myrtle Beach. It’ll ultimately come down to logistics. And to be honest, I might even go after this goal more than once.

Accountability is a big part of meeting goals, so I’ll be posting regularly about my progress on each of these. Do you have any goals for 2019? What are they?

The One with the Exploding Dog Bed

Grace has settled into life in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. How do I know? Dog beds have started exploding.

At least “it exploded” was the excuse Grace gave for the tufts of brown stuffing all over the floor and her dog bed in tatters. She said that I had to believe her because she was the only witness (Sam was hanging with my dad at the time). Besides, she would never, ever, ever chew her bed. Lady Grace of Louisiana is much too good of a dog for that.

The Pros & Cons of Reading on My Phone

There’s an old school Nook tucked between paperbacks my bookshelf; I can’t remember the last time I used it, and I’m pretty sure the battery is dead. I like it … though it’s not exactly the most convenient. Especially since the battery doesn’t hold a charge for long anymore. I’ve given thought to replacing it with a tablet of some kind, but that’s not in the budget right now.

So I decided to download the Kindle and Nook apps on my phone. After reading a handful of books on them, I’ve come to the conclusion that reading on my phone has both pros and cons.

Pro ~ It’s Convenient as Hell
My phone goes wherever I go. At the store? It’s in my pocket. Work? In my purse. At home? Probably within arm’s reach. That means instead of popping on Facebook or Twitter while I’m waiting for something or need to fill a bit of time, I can read. And there’s no need to make sure that I’ve packed a book or worry that said book hasn’t been bent and crushed by whatever else is in my bag. I just grab my phone, click on the app, and I can pick up right where I left off.

Con ~ I Can’t Hold the Book
Paperbacks and hardcovers have a certain feel to them. There’s the weight of all three hundred or four hundred pages; there’s the smooth feel of the cover and sometimes even the raised lettering; there are the lines of black text dimpled with the imperfections in the page; there’s even accidentally catching a glimpse of the last page and trying to figure out what those lines mean. That’s all missing with a reading app.

Pro & Con ~ So Many Books
I’ll admit that I haven’t read half of the books on my bookshelves. I happen across interesting-looking books for relatively cheap and bring them home. The difference with eBooks is that I don’t have to leave my couch to find a good deal. The positive side is that I can amass a plethora of books for a reasonable price. On the downside, I’m buying books faster than I can read them and now have a dozen books on my phone that I haven’t touched yet.

Ultimately, the convenience factor trumps all. I can read while lying in bed or while at my partner’s place or on my lunch break or while in a waiting room. All without needing to pack a book. I just need to remember my phone.