I’ve loved Regina Spektor for as long as I can remember, and to date, Soviet Kitsch is one of my favorite works she’s ever written. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may also remember my analysis of Far, which is another album by Spektor. The reason I revisit her work so much is because she has resonated with me for years, both in her lyrics and her melodies. I absolutely love her music, and I feel like she hits a chord in me that nobody else understands.
Her lyrics in particular are often so dark and deeply interpretive, I love tearing them apart and trying to find the meaning. Most of my thoughts in this piece are my personal opinions, but I did do a bit of additional research on each of the songs as well. It’s interesting to see how other people interpret the same songs I’m listening to, as many listeners have varying thoughts and theories. This article is going to be pretty long, so I’m going to split it into two parts. The second half of the album will be out on Friday!
Track 1: “Ode to Divorce”
Like many of Regina Spektor’s songs, “Ode to Divorce” offers satire, bittersweetness, and poetic metaphors. I found it interesting that Regina chose to pair the words “ode” and “divorce” because the two are on polar opposite scales in regards to positive vs. negative experiences. The song offers an intimate look, almost voyeuristic, into the perspective of the woman who is inferred to be going through a divorce. She expresses jealousy, a desire for attention, and any rekindling of past love or belongings, in the following lyrics:
I need your money, it’ll help me
I need your car and I need your love
So won’t you help a brother out?
As someone who has divorced parents, I felt a personal connection to this song. It’s beautiful, simplistic, and captures an unexpected perspective of divorce: glorification.
Track 2: “Poor Little Rich Boy”
“Poor Little Rich Boy” is a tad bit more upbeat in melody and pace, and once again uses an oxymoron in the title. My interpretation of the song is that the “boy” is actually a grown man, struggling to find love despite his wealth. She talks about him reading Fitzgerald and Hemingway- common among pretentious young people, in my opinion. To me, “Poor Little Rich Boy” is a little story within a song, and I love the way Regina adds a sense of humor to the man’s plight.
Track 3: “Carbon Monoxide”
This is one of the darker songs on the album, as you may have already inferred from the title. My personal interpretation is that the song is about the suicide of Sylvia Plath, who killed herself using the carbon monoxide from her oven in 1963. Regina has a history of taking on the role of famous women in her songs, including Billie Holiday in her song “Lady.” Regina, a poetic lyricist, is well-loved by fans for her ability to turn tragic realities into dreamy, soft-spoken tales. There are also several references to Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy”, particularly in the following lyrics:
Come on, daddy, come on, daddy
This line appears intermittently throughout the song, and may also allude to the death of Plath’s father. Some people also believe the song is about the transition from youth to adulthood, and wanting to rebel against the societal standards of growing up.
Track 4: “The Flowers”
“The Flowers” is another dreamy ode, though this one glorifies a dead relationship. I particularly love the first verse, which reads:
The flowers you gave me are rotting
And still I refuse to throw them away
Some of the bulbs never opened quite fully
They might so I’m waiting and staying awake
The flowers Regina talks about are a metaphor for the relationship- lifeless and decaying. Still, she holds onto what lingers, even if she knows there’s little hope for the future. It’s hard to know if she’s talking about a relationship that ended on bad terms, or if her partner has literally died. Knowing Regina’s recurring themes of darkness, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the latter. From a personal standpoint, I relate to the pining pain one feels for a failed relationship, and that’s one of the reasons I love the song so much.
Track 5: “Us” 11/23
“Us” is one of the more well-known songs on Soviet Kitsch, and one of my personal favorites. I’ve done a lot of research on the meaning of “Us,” even before I started writing this analysis. Many people, including myself, believe this song to be a direct reference to Soviet Union (and its effect on the people involved). The “statue” that Regina mentions in the beginning of the song is probably a reference to Stalin’s statue, which was placed on the mountaintops to overlook cities. I generally believe the song is about Regina, and Russians in general, expressing the horrific experiences of the USSR. It’s something of a sarcastic chorus to the USSR’s history, shining light on the darkness and corruption blanketed on the nation.
Track 6: “Sailor Song” 11/24
“Sailor Song”, to me, is one of the more light-hearted feel-good songs on the album. I do believe that the song is literally about sailors on a ship, affectionately named Mary Anne. And why is she a bitch? Because she’s filled with seamen, of course.
Cause Mary Anne’s a Bitch
Mary Anne’s a bitch
Mary Anne’s a bitch…
In a way, I think the ship is supposed to take the role of a woman, because the Regina talks about the sailors yearning for the girls back home. They are anchor-less, in a sense, trying to fill the void in their hearts with the never-ending abundance of the ocean.
As someone who’s been playing The Sims since high school and locked in more than 2,000 hours of gameplay, it seemed like the perfect time for me to share a beginner’s guide to the game. I’m certainly not the most knowledgeable person on the planet, but I feel like I’ve picked up a few handy tips and tricks for people who are just getting into the game. There are so many little things to learn, so here are some things I wish I knew when I started playing myself!
In short, The Sims is a life simulation game that depicts what you may call a normal, suburban life. There is no endgame to The Sims or goal you have to reach; it’s just about building a life for your sims and letting them live their lives. In general, I’m a pretty boring simmer in that I want my characters to live an average, happy life. They go to school, they get jobs, they buy houses, and they start families. Occasionally I’ll throw in a messy divorce or something, but it’s usually pretty vanilla.
No matter what kind of simmer you are, you’ll probably want to utilize custom content (cc) and mods after you start to get a feel for the game. Custom content is exactly what it sounds like- content uniquely made by the players to improve the gameplay and aesthetic. For example, a lot of cc creators will make new hair, clothing items, and game objects like furniture for other players to download into their games. I would say about 80 percent of my sims’ wardrobes and furniture is cc, because I just prefer the style much more than regular EA features. Mods are a little bit different, they are alterations to the actual game that tend to add more aspects of interesting gameplay. For example, you can add new career mods to your game if you’re tired of the traditional options that come with your game. You can also add some more risque mods in, such as Wickedwhims and Basemental Drugs. Both of these features can make your game feel much more realistic, if that’s something you’re into.
For me personally, I like to get my cc from The Sims Resource, and my mods from Mod the Sims. You’ll need to learn how to install the custom content yourself, which is actually pretty easy, and there are lots of YouTube videos and tutorials to help you along the way.
Another way to spice up the gameplay of The Sims, or usually just make it easier is to use cheats within the game. One of the most popular cheats used by simmers is Motherlode, which automatically deposits $50,000 into your household funds. This can be really helpful if you want to immediately start out in an expensive home, without having to spend generations upon generations saving up your simoleons. I used to use motherlode all the time, but now that my sim’s lineage is so far along, I have enough money saved up that I don’t really need it anymore. I’ve been playing the same legacy for months now, so the simoleons tend to add up fast. You can also use a teleportation cheat to manually move your sims from one location to another, which is really helpful if your sim starts glitching or you have a toddler living in your house. I swear it takes my toddler sims 5 hours to walk across the house, so I usually save time by just teleporting them everywhere instead. You can turn on cheats by holding down Ctrl + shift + T, and from there, it’s smooth sailing.
Expansion packs and game packs are “extras” that you can add onto your game, and are essentially fun bonuses that cost absurd amounts of money. I don’t own every single expansion pack and game pack, because that would literally cost me hundreds of dollars, but I do own about 4-5 of them. If you are thinking about buying your first expansion pack, I HIGHLY recommend getting Seasons first. It is by far the most realistic, enjoyable pack, and it really adds to the realistic nature of the gameplay. Seasons allows you to celebrate holidays and traditions, and dress your sims according to the appropriate weather. You can also create your own holidays for your Sims calendar, which is a lot of fun to play around with. After Seasons, I would probably say City Living is my second favorite expansion pack, because the added world of San Myshuno is absolutely beautiful and full of exciting opportunities. However, to each their own, so buy whatever feels right to you! These are just my personal recommendations, in regards to getting your money’s worth.
Another tip I recommend to new simmers is to join some kind of a Sims 4 forum, such as Carl’s Sims 4 Guide or the official Sims 4 subreddit. They’re both a great way to have a general question answered, share your work with other simmers, or pick up some inspiration for a new game build. The Sims 4 subreddit is also a great place to swap some memes and have a good laugh, so that’s another reason I frequent these forums.
Lastly and certainly not least, I want to touch on the rewards store your sims can visit after they earn enough points for completing goals. There are tons of rewards to choose from, depending on how many points you have, but my personal favorites are the Moodlet Solver and the Money Tree. The Moodlet Solver costs 500 points and will clear your sim of any negative moodlets they may have, while also resetting all of their needs. This can be really helpful if your sim gets a pesky negative moodlet that takes a lot of time to go away, like the “mourning period” when another sim dies. This function gets annoying if an NPC sim you hardly knew dies and essentially creates a dark cloud over your sims that last for days, so I like to speed it up by using the Moodlet Solver. What I usually do is wait until my sim is dying of old age, when they have 8,000 points or so banked up, and then spend all the points on either Moodlet Solvers or Money Trees. Because of that, I now have about 17 Moodlet Solver potions just chilling in my sims’ fridge, ready when I need them.
That brings me onto my second favorite reward, the money tree, because it’s really the gift that keeps on giving. Basically, your sim can plant it and sell its “money fruit” for more than 8,000 simoleons a day. This is really helpful for raising up your household funds fast, and you can transport the trees from household to household so you never have to leave them behind. It’s overall just a great perk, and I love starting a field of money trees behind my sims’ home. You’ll be a millionaire in no time!
Anyway, those are my top tips for playing The Sims 4 and maximizing your resources. Like I said, there are tons of online resources that explain mods and cheats way better than I can, so check those out! Let me know if you’ve tried any of these tips, and leave your own thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.
Coming up next: Giving my Friend a Vintage Makeover
Any prior notions you may have had about the 1800s will be transcended by Sally Wainwright’s powerful new television series. This riveting 8-episode series has swept the world and captured the attention of many, leaving us hungrily eager for the next installation. Gentleman Jack, which stars Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle, is set in 1832 in rural Yorkshire, England. The show does a fantastic job painting the picture of Anne’s life, her loves, and her beauty. To me, it is a homage long overdue. I’ve read Anne Lister’s exquisite real diaries, and am thrilled she is finally getting the screen time she deserves.
Gentleman Jack does an impeccable job capturing Anne’s resilience, bravery, and wit- especially in an age when a woman’s strength was scorned. Not only was Anne Lister openly a lesbian, she also owned land, incorporated a mine, and ran the affairs of her home, Shibden Hall.
Gentleman Jack is based off of the true romance between Lister and Walker, at a time when homosexuality was opposed and punishable by death. As a gay woman myself, I was immediately inspired by this film and cheered on the two heroines from the beginning. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to hide one’s sexuality, and I admire Lister for being unapologetically herself. Jones does a fantastic job playing the role of Anne, especially in the emotionally-charged scenes between herself and Rundle. She demonstrates Lister’s fiery personality and stubbornness in such a perfect light, and allows viewers to empathize with her on a deeper level.
Although the nature of homosexuality and repression is a large key in the plot, audiences of all ages, genders, and orientations can fall in love with this series. Gentleman Jack is action-packed, courageous, and offers a unique look into 19th century Britain. To my history buffs, you will fall in love with the lush scenery, grand homes, and my personal favorite- the incredible costumes. They are extremely historical accurate, which is an impressive feat for any film studio. Many of the characters wear authentic corsets and intricate hairstyles accurate to the time period. It’s truly a treat for both the eyes and the heart.
Gentleman Jack is available for streaming on Hulu and HBO, and has officially been renewed for a second season. You can catch up with Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle on their social media, @suranne_jones and @sophiesophierundle respectively.
All the Light We Cannot See | Anthony Doerr | Historical Fiction/War Novel
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is my absolute favorite novel at the moment. I’m reading it for my book club, and can safely say it’s one of my favorite books to date. One of my favorite things about the book is how effortlessly Doerr sets the scenery for readers- it’s so easy to visualize this book, and that’s important for me when I’m trying to stay engaged with a book. I suppose this book could also be categorized as a love story, but the true romance of the book is the romance of humanity. In the midst of World War II, in Paris, love and tragedy go hand in hand in this impeccable story. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to read, and especially history buffs or friends with romantic personalities. Although the book is detailed and vibrant, it’s also easy to read and comprehend. I’m so excited that a multi-part television series is coming out in the future based on this book; a review will definitely have to ensue!
For the Anti-Book Friend
Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America | Linda Tirado | Nonfiction, Poverty
This is a book I was required to read for my multi-disciplinary poverty class last year, and it has still stuck with me in my mind. Similarly to All the Light We Cannot See, this book is easy to read and fast to get through. However, it’s certainly not a dreamy novel- it details a real woman’s story growing up in unbearable poverty in the United States. I recommend this book to everybody, especially my friends who don’t like to read so much. In a lot of ways, it’s more so a collection of essays instead of a book with a beginning, middle, and end. This is a book that requires you to think critically, and really sparks insight over the broken class system in the USA. You may agree or disagree with that, but nonetheless, I believe everyone will have a strong takeaway from Linda Tirado’s story. If anything, I believe reading this book will make anyone a more empathetic person.
For the Science Buff
Rocket Boys / October Sky | Homer H. Hickam, Jr | Memoir, Biography
Before I read the book, I watched the movie October Sky in my 7th-grade class. I remember this movie having such a strong, lasting impact on me, hence why I subsequently decided to read the book. To this day, the book (and the movie) is my favorite comfort story. Rocket Boys, sometimes printed as October Sky in later additions, details Homer Hickam Jr.’s unique upbringing in a small mining town in the 1950s. Although the odds were stacked against him, Homer relentlessly pursued amateur rocketry with the hopes of getting out of Coalwood and going to college. Not only did he get to go to college, he even went on to become a NASA engineer, training astronauts for space. While rocketry and science does play a large role in the book, Homer Hickam has the soul of a storyteller and winds a vibrant, poetic memoir. Even if you’re not into rocketry, I promise you’ll adore this book. And if you are, all the better!
For the Creative Friend
The Me Journal | Shane Windham | Self-questionnaire
I guess this could also be considered a great gift for the anti-book friend, because it’s not really a novel- it’s the story of you. The Me Journal is a self-questionnaire that asks extremely deep, thoughtful questions- many of which I never thought to ask before. It’s also a great conversation starter for meeting new people; I love to flip open to a random page and ask my friends the questions. Interestingly, I’ve never actually filled it out because I know my answers are subject to change over time. I’d rather leave it blank and answer it in my head, than permanently put down a temporary answer, you know? Nonetheless, this is a great book for friends who hate to read, or friends who have an interesting story to tell. Or, it can just be an awesome gift for yourself.
For the Friend Who Loves Politics
Sisters in Law | Linda Hirshman | Biography
In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve been really into historical nonfiction lately. I love to read about American history, because I feel like the best way to change the world is to understand it. I want to have a detailed, thorough, objective understanding of what my country is built on -the good and the bad- so that I may be better informed in how to pave a better future. Sisters in Law is a beautiful biography of two diverse women, Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Sandra was a republican Christian, Ruth a democratic Jew, but together, they stormed the Supreme Court and worked together as a team to demand equality. Even to this day, their impact is visible in society; these two women helped pave the way of justice for abortion, sexual harassment, and discrimination. It’s a fascinating read, and offers a powerful woman’s viewpoint of American politics. 10/10!
Coming up next: Reviewing the Fall 2019 Fab Fit Fun Box: My HONEST Thoughts
I’m the first to admit that my general taste in everything is all over the place. And as you’ll soon discover, none of these channels really have anything in common, but I love them all so much, I can’t just keep their glory to myself. I’m sure you yourself have a handful of channels you watch that not many other people have heard of, so this is me, sharing my collection. Also, I know 700,000 subscribers may seem like a lot (and it is!), but that’s certainly not considered “acclaimed” by YouTube’s standards. In fact, there are over 2,400 channels with 1,00,000 subscribers, and more than 24,000 channels with 100,00+ subscribers. You’d be surprised how many people haven’t heard of John Maclean, and he’s one of the biggest rising stars on my list.
It’s also noteworthy to add that the subscriber counts I included next to the channels are rounded up, and of course, they are subject to go up as time progresses. So just keep in mind that these are the estimates as of August 2019, and they may not be accurate anymore in a few month’s time!
I had to include Lou Lou & Friends first because it’s possibly the most wholesome, relaxing, adorable thing I have ever come across in my life. There isn’t a lot of talking in the videos- it’s just high-quality footage of Lou Lou the dachshund going on adventures and hanging out with her other animal friends. The woman who owns Lou Lou also has sugar gliders, geese, chickens, bunnies, ducks, and hedgehogs, and if I’m correct, she rescues a large majority of them. It’s obvious to the viewers that she takes fantastic care of her pets- feeding them gourmet, healthy dishes, taking Lou Lou for strolls in the countryside, and giving all of her little friends so much care and appreciation! If I’m having a hard time sleeping and I need to put on something soothing, Lou Lou & Friends is one of the first channels I turn to. Because seriously, what’s cuter than a dachshund meeting a baby duck?
Buddhist Society of Western Australia | Nonprofits & Activism | 127,000 Subscribers
I discovered this channel about seven years ago, when YouTube and the internet was actually still relatively new to me. I was going through a difficult time when I was thirteen wrestling with the guilt of being attracted to women (obviously I’ve gotten over that now, I’m a proud useless lesbian), but at that age, I was so distraught over my feelings that I decided to google “How to let go.” And thus, I found the Buddhist Society of Western Australia- but specifically a monk named Ajahn Brahm. Ajahn Brahm is well-known in Australia for giving casual, friendly, hour-long talks about life’s biggest lessons to those who visit his monastery, and many (if not all) of the talks are filmed and uploaded to YouTube. This might sound relatively boring to you, an old man talking about the meaning of life, but it actually holds a lot of ASMR properties for me. This is another one of those channels I like to listen to to help me fall asleep, because Ajahn Brahm’s voice is so soothing and nice (and I genuinely learn a LOT from his videos). He has accumulated an incredible amount of wisdom throughout his years as a monk, and after a rough day of feeling destroyed by anxiety and confusion, I always feel better after listening to one of his talks. It almost feels like going to a therapist, but for free.
English Heritage | Entertainment | 700,000 Subscribers
If you enjoy history, theatrics, and cooking, I guarantee you will love English Heritage. The organization itself is a charity that cares for over 400 historic buildings in England, and the videos are often period short films about what life would be like in the good old English days. My personal favorites are the videos featuring “Mrs. Crocombe”, who is the cook at Audley End House and prepares a number of dishes “the Victorian way.” Like, for real. Do you want to learn how to churn your own butter by hand? Whip up some authentic Marmalade Water Ice? Mrs. Crocombe has you covered. The channel also includes makeup tutorials about how makeup was applied in the 1800s (without the toxins, of course), along with instructions for making crafts and games popular in that time period as well. It’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole of watching these videos, and while you find yourself being entertained, you’re also learning quite a bit about English history!
Novympia | Entertainment | 155,000 Subscribers
You might recognize Novympia as the drag-queen duo who created that impeccable My Strange Addiction parody- “I’m Addicted to Being Furniture.” Well, I have good news for you. They also make incredibly funny and realistic parodies of other YouTubers (including John Maclean, who’s coming up). Nova and Olympia have wickedly funny senses of humor, and the amount of effort they put into their parodies is actually really impressive. Some of my personal favorites are the Jenna Marbles parody, and the Poppen Atelier one, who is also on my list, by the way. I truly feel like their channel is underrated, considering how talented this duo is and the amount of work they put into their videos. If you ever need a good laugh, pop over to their channel and immerse yourself in the fabulous world of drag.
John Maclean | Howto & Style | 640,000 Subscribers
John Maclean is a makeup consultant, makeup artist, makeup connoisseur, dark immortal lord, and apparently…also a furniture designer? He’s extremely complex and hard to describe unless you have actually watched his videos, which I highly recommend you do. Even if you don’t wear makeup and have no interest in it, John Maclean is a fascinating person who can entertain me for hours on end. His voice and manner of speaking is elegant beyond words; it’s like he speaks in cursive when going through a makeup routine. John Maclean is not only extremely talented at makeup, he also knows a great deal about the industry and loves to keep his audience informed about new products, makeup tricks he’s learned over the years, and advice for making your makeup look seamless. To me, he truly is a perfect example of a hidden gem, and I’m looking forward to watching his channel/following continue to grow.
If you like history, vintage fashion, memes, and appreciate a clever sense of humor, you will immediately fall in love with Karolina. Karolina is a period dresser with an immense amount of knowledge about both European and American fashion throughout the decades- even going back to the early 1800s. She clearly puts a lot of care and research into her garments, and I appreciate that she also takes the time to properly inform her audience about historical fashion. She’s also a renowned meme queen, appreciated for videos such as “Jenna Marbles but She’s an Edwardian Lady”, “Thug Edwardian Lady”, and one of my favorites, “Recreating Iconic Vines in Mid-Victorian Attire.” Truly, there is nobody else on this platform like Karolina, and I have so much love and appreciation for her amazing, innovative videos. Similarly to English Heritage, you can keep yourself entertained while still picking up so many interesting historical Easter eggs! Keep it up, Meme Mom!
Maryna, the woman behind this channel, is a doll-repaint artist who posts a new video every Friday. She doesn’t just take an old doll and make it “pretty” again, she literally transforms it into someone new. In the past, she has done repaints of Moana, Ariana Grande, Merida, Marilyn Monroe, Daenerys Targaryen, and even Olympia from our favorite drag queen duo, Novympia! (Seriously, it’s the crossover we never knew we needed before). There’s no way for me to adequately explain how talented she is, you’ll just have to check out her channel for yourself! I personally am the kind of person who loves watching doll makeovers and painting videos, so I was absolutely thrilled when I came across this channel. Once again, it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole and watch 4-5 of her videos in a row. She also has an instagram, @poppenatelier, if you’re interested in checking out more of her work.
*Disclaimer: this is, like, ten pages, so I hope you brought your popcorn. Also, as you will hear me say again and again in this article, this is NOT intended to bash Julia or be received as any type of hate. She is naive in this situation, but clearly also a very compassionate person and I truly wish the best for her.*
I actually have a lot of admiration for so many elements of her personality. She is kind, creative, and a hopeless romantic, and (with the right direction) I truly feel like she has a lot to bring to the table. With the right choices, Julia Zelg could easily build a career as a successful musician and YouTuber. The reason I’m making this article is not to criticize her or beat her down- rather, I want to express my concerns for some red flags I have noticed in her videos lately (and so have many others- go check out the Pretty Ugly Little Liars thread on Julia Zelg if you’re completely in the dark).
Like I said, this post is coming from a place of kindness and concern, so let’s not beat Julia down or leave rude comments on the situation. I have noted on the PULL thread that while some people bring up very valid concerns, others are simply just making fun of her, degrading her, and body-shaming her wife. Any hateful comments made about Julia are unacceptable and will be deleted. Like I said, I do not think Julia is a bad person, but her actions of late have been questionable and arguably tasteless. And definitely a bit narcissistic, depending how you view her intentions.
Despite her downfalls, I actually think she’s a very sweet person. I had the chance to meet her in New York City, which is more or less when the drama around her and Eileen’s channels came to a head. From first-person experience, I can say she looked exhausted, emotionally depleted, small, and genuinely sad. I had known that there were a few minor red flags in the past, but I more or less brushed them off and just accepted that the dynamic of their relationship was kind of weird. Not because they’re gay- I don’t have a problem with that (I’m a lesbian myself). I wasn’t even really bothered by the age gap; they’re two consenting adults, so who cares? What kind of seemed weird to me was just the way Julia and Eileen interacted in videos, especially in videos together. It’s one thing to be affectionate, but Julia and Eileen are highly attached to each other and their channel has a “reality television” vibe to it. It’s obvious to many that Julia wants to be famous, and while she is successful on YouTube, she certainly is not a celebrity. I’ll explain a bit more on that later, but first, let me give you some of the backstory.
I started watching Julia’s channel about a year and a half ago, when she was still dating her ex-girlfriend, Maria. My initial thoughts were that this was a very surprising coupling of two people, because Julia, 25, prefers to date women in their 50s and 60s. I didn’t feel inclined to leave a hate comment like some people, because I didn’t (and still don’t) think she’s doing anything wrong by dating older women. If you’re both consenting adults and you’re happy, then who am I to stop you?
Julia and Maria eventually broke up, and about a month or two (more or less) later, Julia started seeing Eileen De Freest, a 61 year-old political pundit for BBC III. had been watching Julia’s channel for a while now and wasn’t surprised by this, and truly, I was even happy for her. I feel the need to reinforce that I don’t have a problem with the age gap, because I don’t think that’s what is inherently causing the relationship problems. Sure, it could definitely be a factor, but I do think it is possible to have healthy, age-gap relationships. As time went by, however, I began to think differently about Julia and Eileen’s dynamic. The first time I actually openly voiced a concern to one of my friends was about four months ago, when Eileen posted a public apology video to Julia (they were engaged by this time). I couldn’t exactly put my finger on what bothered me about the video, but I knew something didn’t feel right immediately. For one thing, it feels very odd to apologize to your fianceé in the form of a public video, which was also monetized (meaning Eileen and Julia profited off of the video). To each their own, I suppose, but it felt very strange to me that Julia and Eileen didn’t do this in private. In retrospect, it almost feels like Eileen and Julia are trying to desperately justify their relationship in this video, and purposefully reinforce that everything is FINE, just fine, and why would you dare think otherwise? It’s fine everybody!!
Eileen’s apology was centered around a previously-released video about an affair she had twenty-five years ago with another woman. Apparently, Julia edited the video and became upset/jealous listening to Eileen talk freely about this past relationship. Eileen gave us all the details about this ordeal- Julia crying, asking Eileen if she still loved her, Eileen gushily professing her love for Julia on camera, etc. It all felt a little…contrived. For views, maybe. Or, like I said, for public reinforcement that this relationship is so, so healthy and good! See, everybody? We handled this so well!
Wellllll, maybe you didn’t. First of all, let me just say I understand how Julia would be a little uncomfortable editing the video. I get it. But to get that upset over an affair that happened before Julia was even born, it seemed a little sad to me. At the very least, Julia probably should have just said “No thanks, Eileen, I don’t want to edit this”, rather than letting the drama escalate that far. It all just felt, and continues to feel, a little melodramatic. And then, for Eileen to document the argument in a monetized video with a staged thumbnail, just kind of felt strange and insincere. Couples fight, that’s normal, but I personally think it’s better to keep these issues private and off the internet. And that’s not just because you’re opening yourself up to the public- it doesn’t matter what the subscribers think. It’s not about the fans. It’s a reflection of YOU, the content creator, for putting out such private, insecure material and essentially asking for positive reinforcement in return.
Another thing I’ve noticed, and I’ll put this bluntly- Eileen appears to be changing herself, physically and personality-wise, to better suite Julia. At the introduction of Eileen’s emergence into YouTube (she started her own channel shortly after moving in with Julia), we all came to love Eileen as the wise, articulate, dark-haired classic beauty we met in the beginning. It is actually fascinating to me how differently Eileen acts when she is making videos by herself, versus when she is filming with Julia. Eileen is a beautiful speaker and captivating storyteller- something you notice right away in her videos. Her character, authentic or not (we’ll get to that too), is well-established: a soft-spoken, wise women in touch with political science and psychology. And then, when she appears with Julia, it’s almost like she becomes another person. I do feel really bad saying this, but in a lot of ways, it feels like Eileen is dumbing herself down to be on Julia’s bubbly, gushy, sexualized persona. Not that there’s anything wrong with being bubbly and sexy, but it does feel very apparent that Eileen is just putting on an act. In the ten months or so Eileen has been dating Julia, her Kensington flat, style, career, and even hair has been completely painted (literally and figuratively) by Julia’s influence. I’m not saying it’s wrong to feel inspired by your partner, but for Eileen, it comes across as “I really need to keep Julia, and I would do anything for her, so I’m going to change myself to better suit her internet personality.”
We have to remember that while much of their life is online, we still only get a small smidgen of what their life together is really like. All of our theories about the overall weirdness of their relationship are exactly that- theories and speculation. Maybe I’m wrong and Eileen genuinely does want a baby pink flat, new clothes, and new hair.
But, you know, maybe not.
What I’m really trying to hammer home here is that I don’t think this is completely Julia’s wrongdoing, or completely Eileen’s. I don’t think they are bad people at all, but I do think they are feeding off of each other in a way that can be genuinely unhealthy and toxic, if not downright manipulative. And I say this because I want them to be happy and healthy, but I just don’t think they are. And it’s bothering me.
Like I said though, I don’t know them personally and I’m not their marriage counselor. These are just my two cents. Moving on.
Julia and Eileen have a very evident, on-screen tendency to coddle each other relentlessly when the other person says something unexpected or hard to hear, even if it’s, you know, TRUE (like the fact that Eileen will likely be deceased of old age in two decades- Julia literally cannot stand to hear that because she is so attached to Eileen).. It’s hard to describe what I’m talking about unless you’ve seen their videos, but the nature of appearing as gushy and babied essentially walking on eggshells around each other really does hammer home the fact that this entire aura could be a facade. Not to say they aren’t in love- I think they definitely are mad for each other- but this weird over-romanticized, over-sexualized, perfect, incredible love they are painting on each other does feel very artificial and somewhat childish. In a way, it almost feels like they’ve run out of things to say to each other, so they’re using this “Oh, baby, I love you so much” coddling as conversation filler. I’m a touchy person myself, but watching Julia and Eileen can make me cringe sometimes because it feels like…bad acting. I think Julia and Eileen genuinely see themselves as this incredible love story that’s on such a deeper level than everyone else, when really, I would argue that their love is perhaps less special than they think it is, and more or less just a giant, fluffy picture they are trying to paint for themselves and for the viewers. Like, “Hey, maybe if we really over-do how fantastic and special or love is, people will really see how much we care about each other!”
Why do you have to do that, though? Why can’t you just let your behaviour and apparent love for one another be organic? Normal, healthy couples, in my opinion, usually don’t need to constantly remind each other in a baby-voice how devoted and enthralled to the other person they are.
I’ve rambled on long enough about the prior red flags, so let’s get into the new drama Julia and Eileen have found themselves in.
Up until that point, I wasn’t really too concerned in analyzing the red flags. They seemed happy, obviously. I cried during their wedding video, because it was genuinely sweet. I’ve even written a couple articles about Julia here on my blog, praising her bravery, uniqueness, and entertainment qualities. I traveled to New York City to meet her, and I had a nice time. Julia is a good person.
I did not, however, have an opportunity to meet Eileen, and that has to do with the tEeEaaA.
(I’m sorry, *family emergency*.)
I’m not going to give you the complete rundown, because there are videos out there for that, but here’s the general gist: fourteen years ago, Eileen was two weeks late returning a rental car while she was addicted to prescription drugs, did not pay back her late fees, and immediately afterwards, got on a plane and moved to London. Then, a few weeks ago, Eileen was arrested at the airport where she and Julia landed in New York for the meet and greets (a warrant for her arrest had been out after she was late returning the car and didn’t pay for it). There have been rumors floating around that some other shady things happened in-between those fourteen years, such as Eileen having different aliases and possibly committing fraud, but nothing has been confirmed or proven yet. As of right now, all we know is that Eileen was arrested at the airport and taken to jail after her warrant popped up on her passport, and Julia (understandably) had a complete meltdown.
This is a horrible situation for Julia, but in her video explanation, it felt to me like she was playing it down and trying to protect Eileen from negative scrutiny. But it doesn’t matter who you are- if you are guilty of a crime, then it’s fair to assume that you will face ugly consequences.
Eileen’s videos have always been formed on the basis of her past- reflecting on her past, reflecting on loss, coming out in the 80s, etc. Recently, she spoke in her videos about her experiences being addicted to drugs while she lived in New York City and Los Angeles, and though she hasn’t explicitly mentioned her criminal record, it’s easy for viewers to piece together how they are intertwined. Eileen mentions that being on drugs stunted her ability to make good choices, and Julia insists as well that Eileen was “not in a good place” while her criminal record was stacking up fourteen years ago.
That part is not untrue. Of course mental illness and drug addiction can cause people to make huge mistakes, no matter how harmless and good-intentioned a person is. It’s pretty obvious from watching Eileen’s videos that she’s not violent or evil. Did she fuck up a little in the past? Yeah. Maybe actually a lot? That’s also possible. There’s way more to the story than we know.
My takeaway from the video, however, and what I expect to see from Eileen’s upcoming explanation, is that mental health will be used as a crutch as to why Eileen should be excused from these crimes. Obviously, returning a late rental car isn’t the worst thing you can do, but it’s still a form of theft by deception. Even worse, she chose not to address the warrant for FOURTEEN FREAKING YEARS, hence why she was arrested immediately upon landing in New York. It’s probably true that the police were a little aggressive in handling Eileen, and I do think it’s wrong that she was denied her medications, but I more or less understand everything else. You commit a crime, you get reprimanded. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t in a good mental place or not. It makes it even worse that you put off the charges for so long.
Also, isn’t Eileen’s whole shebang politics? How did she NOT see this coming? Those records just don’t get erased.
So, this is where things get a little chaotic. Julia mentions in her video that Eileen is now registered as a “flight risk”, which I believe is because she was arrested getting off an airplane. (By the way, if you’re wondering how Eileen got out of the country in the first place, she has dual citizenship and thus two passports. At least, I think that’s probably how it happened).
The problem is this: Julia and Eileen live in London. I’m sure Julia will be able to return home just fine, but what about Eileen? I can almost guarantee you that they won’t be letting her back on a plane until this mess gets sorted out. What happens next?
Today is Saturday, and Julia is posting part II of her “jail vlog” on Monday. Until we have information, there isn’t much more I can factually analyze, but I do have some opinions.
I have mentioned before that Julia and Eileen seemingly enjoy dramatizing their lives to earn more views and likes on their videos. This isn’t something completely unheard of- the only YouTuber I can think of who doesn’t essentially pimp out their videos is our lord and saviour, miss Jenna Marbles.
So what I’m trying to say is, I’m not really surprised they enjoy over-emotionalizing their content to get more traffic on YouTube. That’s how they earn an income, and if other people want to tune into the narrative, then that’s fine too. But the way they are handling the current legal situation is too weird and melodramatic for even me: dividing the “jail vlog” up into two parts like it’s a Lifetime special, a cringey, obviously staged thumbnail (featuring Eileen’s mugshot, how fun and trendy!), and then, Eileen’s response to the video. “Sensual whispers.”
AUGHH. I’m sorry, guys. It’s so FREAKING weird and contrived and obviously designed to generate an artificial emotional response. Normal! couples! don’t do this! to! each other!
NORMAL *clap* COUPLES *clap* DON’T *clap* DO *clap* THIS *clap*.
Like I said, I certainly don’t have a problem with two women in love. I don’t take issue to the age gap. This isn’t me jumping on my computer to write up a hate speech about two women who actually seem very lovely, respectively (moreso Julia, increasingly less so Eileen). This is about the strange, coddling, unhealthy dynamic they have developed for each other. This is about Julia, willingly or not, molding Eileen to be exactly the way she wants- peppy, perky, raunchy, and really pink. This is about Eileen bending over backwards to keep Julia, professing her passionate love in pre-scripted soliloquies, ways of speech that literally nobody speaks in, just to garner “ooohs” and “aaahs” from their audience. This is about Eileen hiding her criminal past from Julia until the very last minute, and then dumping the load onto her like she’s a pile of garbage.
Here’s what I genuinely HOPE will happen. I hope Julia and Eileen will come to the realization that the dynamic of their relationship has some seemingly unhealthy tendencies, and they will work together as a team to grow their love in a more authentic, behind the camera manner (preferably, they come to this realization on their own, because I really don’t like to see them get hate). Or, they realize they’re just not suited for each other the way they thought they were in the honeymoon phase. I don’t want them to go through a messy divorce, tangled in the realization that they don’t really know each other- just the happy image they have created for themselves on the internet. You have to keep in mind, they haven’t even been officially together for a full year. There’s a lot you don’t know about a person when you’re just meeting them, and sadly, it sounds like Julia is just now taking the time to learn these important aspects of Eileen’s personality- the ones she probably tried to ignore for a long time while she was lost in la-la-rainbow sparkles land with Eileen on their incredible, amazing, one-of-a-kind star-crossed lovers journey. It’s obviously much easier for them to ignore the red flags and go on pretending everything is fine, because they’re so focused on not having ANY confrontation in their marriage. A failed marriage to Julia means she’s let everyone down- including her fans who followed them so adoringly.
While browsing PULL, I came across this post that more or less sums up most of my feelings on the matter. To protect the privacy of the poster, because I’m not sure if she wants her username out there, I’ll leave the quote anonymous:
“I’m conflicted about this stuff with Eileen. On the one hand she genuinely could just have mental health issues, had an addiction and a hard life due to not having family support and being alone in the world. I can see how the car thing could have easily could have happened in the throes of an addiction and I certainly don’t think she should have been arrested for it…however, I feel like there’s just something “off” about her. Like, why the name changes? Why is she married to a 24 year old? I’m immediately suspicious of of any 60 year old that would go out with someone that young. If she was a man we’d all think she was a predator- and maybe she is. I also find her false way of speaking creepy af and kinda psychopathic (sensual whispers??). It’s just not real- this woman is clearly faking. The way she’s always on her phone, never seems to be fully present with Julia, how she’s always drunk and has that alcohol collection. Plus, I notice in videos it seems like she’s just putting on a fake persona whenever Julia can get her away from her phone. Like she’s all somber scrolling through the Internet and then Julia’s like “hi baby!!!!” And Eileen snaps into action. The whole thing is hella weird. I feel sorry for Julia, I think she’s very young and naive, she obviously has some issues and wants attention. Eileen on the other hand is an old woman who knows exactly what she’s doing.”
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up nicely.
Realistically though, I’m not sure if Julia and Eileen are willing to examine their relationship in all of its raw, damaged reality. I don’t want to sound like a debbie downer, but honestly, at the rate this is going, I’d be surprised if this holds out another 3-5 years, and even that’s generous. Especially now that Eileen may be stuck in the US, I can only imagine the amount of problems this is going to cause. If anything, I think Julia deserves better than this if Eileen can’t properly sort out her own legal matters. Like, come on. She did have fourteen years to take care of this. You can fire off all the excuses you want, but at the end of the day, it’s irresponsible and unfair to Julia. Because trust me, nothing about this has been cheap for Julia.
My first thought after this: Julia obviously doesn’t think she (or EILEEN) has done anything wrong. Oof.
I highly recommend you watch the video yourself if you want the full scoop. I will be going over part two in a general overview, but this will mostly be my own thoughts and opinions.
Part two leaves off with Julia hiring a lawyer (for which she takes out a loan of $7,000) and then borrowing an additional $2,500 from a friend in London to pay for Eileen’s bail. Otherwise, according to Julia, Eileen would have stayed in jail for another few weeks. In the midst of all this, we find out Eileen had ANOTHER warrant out for her arrest from 2001, resulting from a bounced check for a car payment.
So let’s break that down together. Julia, who has subjectively done nothing wrong, had to take out almost $10K in loans for her wife’s mistakes, who is 37 years her senior and should have known better in the first place. All because she couldn’t handle Eileen being in jail for another few weEkS, you know, paying fairly for her crimes. If Julia had just waited for Eileen to sort this out herself and let Eileen do her time, she could have saved a whole lot of money. But instead, Julia spent a ridiculous amount of time and money taking care of her sixty-one year-old wife’s botched criminal record.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m unhappy that Julia felt the need to do that. Now she’s taking a problem that wasn’t even hers to begin with and placing all this financial baggage on her shoulders, when Eileen should be the one literally paying for her deeds. It just really broke my heart that Julia’s immediate reaction was to dig herself into debt for Eileen, and then say she’s going to have to get “a lot of sponsorships” to make up the money. Because truthfully, Eileen is nothing short of an angel in Julia’s eyes who can do no wrong, and all of this is just a huge misunderstanding, and everything will be back to rainbows and hearts soon. The debt of $10,000 and being stuck in another country is just a small damper on things, nothing important, of course.
But Julia, you shouldn’t have to do that. Eileen should be the one repaying the 10 grand, not you. It’s as simple as that. Even if they have joint bank accounts (which I doubt), it should still be Eileen’s responsibility to make up the money.
Julia reveals at this point that she and Eileen are completely broke. They just got married, had a lavish honeymoon, traveled to the US, and now, Julia has completely drained her savings bailing Eileen out of jail. They couldn’t even afford their hotel for the last two days in New York, and had to stay with a friend.
Of course, Julia and Eileen will still continue to project this fabricated, celebrity image that they’re famous and living the easy life, going out to bars and restaurants every night, and vlogging it for their fans.
In the footage of Eileen and Julia reuniting outside the jail (yes, they got someone to film it), Eileen said some things to Julia that seemed totally inappropriate in the moment to me. One of the first things she said was that she missed Julia’s body, and that she was afraid she’d have to sleep with another prisoner in return for a cup of coffee. Just, you know, the usual things you say to your wife who just spent $9,500 bailing you out of the clink.
By the way, Eileen’s 2001 charged was dropped, but the nightmare is still not over, despite Julia’s overwhelming aura of “It’s fine, everything is fine!”
Julia says in her video that she and Eileen have to stay in America until at least the end of the month so Eileen can attend a court hearing in New Jersey. However, if you look at Eileen’s public legal records, you can clearly see that she has another court date scheduled in February of 2020- six months from now. Considering they can’t even afford a hotel at the moment, I can only imagine the havoc this will ensue for their relationship. Also, I probably don’t need to reinforce this, but this is pretty much entirely Eileen’s fault.
Conclusion: Julia wants to be rich, famous, and settled down in a nice city living a lavish life with her wife, who she knows will do anything for her. Eileen is a shady thrill-seeker with a criminal record and a *possible* history of fraud under an alias, hence how they are able to afford these very nice things. Together, they are far too attached to each other and struggling to communicate on the level to adults should be able to. I feel bad for both of them, but mostly Julia because she is sweet and naive and probably going out of her mind at the moment, even if she keeps telling herself that everything is fine. Eventually, I won’t be surprised if she cracks from the stress and deceit of discovering Eileen’s shady past. And of course, she’ll document it in a five-part monetized divorce blog series, because hey, she has to pay off that $10K somehow. There’s also speculation she sold the story to Barcroft for some extra money, so we’ll have to wait and see about that.
As of today, Tuesday, Eileen has not really publicly spoken about the situation or addressed it in a video (which is very weird, considering this is her mess). This article will be out on Wednesday the 28th, so if Eileen does post a response before then, I’ll edit something in my thoughts (if I have something new to say, that is. I have a feeling her video will be mostly excuses and I’ve already commented on that quite a bit). If not, this is where my giant monologue ends, unless a part two must ensue.
Please let me know your thoughts and feelings in the comments (unless you just want to shit all over Julia, then keep your hate to yourself), and if you liked this article, let me know by sharing it! I’m sorry it’s such a clusterfuck and probably took ten years to read, and in the 1% chance Julia is reading this- hey Julia, I’m sorry, I really like you a lot and wish the best for you. But your fans are concerned- not because we have anything against you, but because we genuinely do care about your happiness.
All of the pictures I’ve used in this article are screenshots I’ve taken of actual court documents and video thumbnails. Below, I’ve included the links to these documents if you want to read them in full yourself. Also, the first picture is from her Instagram.
Surprisingly, The Shining is one of my favorite movies. I may come across as someone who loves romance films and chick flicks, but the reality is, I am a scary movie lover at heart. I also tend to be really picky when it comes to scary movies- I don’t like anything gory or zombie-esque because it just doesn’t really scare me. The Shining, however, completely mystified me and terrified me at the same time. Admittedly, now that I’ve watched it about a dozen times, I’m more or less immune to the scariness of it. If anything, it’s something I like to put on as background music while I do other things.
Anywho, The Shining has garnered a number of fan theories over the years, and today I’m here to go over my favorites. Obviously, these are all theories I pulled from the internet, and none of them are my original discoveries. I’ll be sure to cite all of my sources at the bottom of the page, if you’re interested in doing some further reading.
1- It’s About the Genocide of Native Americans. This conspiracy theory is one of the most interesting to me, and it also provides some of the most concrete evidence. If you pay close attention to the movie, you’ll notice that the hotel is full of Native American imagery and decorations. Even minor details, such as the baking soda cans, allude to the Calumet (peace pipe) of the Native Americans. Some theorists have pointed out that the elevator of blood could symbolize the blood of the Native Americans that were killed by the European invaders. And anyway, the guy in charge of the hotel did mention that it was built on top of a Native American burial ground…interesting. I’m not exactly sure how this ties into the main plot of Jack being an absolute madman, but I see where people are coming from with this theory. Interesting fun fact: the design of the Overlook Hotel was actually inspired by a real hotel called the Ahwahnee, with similar Native American designs and symbols.
2- It’s About the Holocaust. This one feels a little strange and reaching to me, but you do have to take into consideration that we’re talking about Stanley Kubrick here. He was a very weird man. His films are famously noted for being dark, twisted, and unsettling, so it’s entirely possible that The Shining is a metaphorical Holocaust film. The basis for this theory is the significance of numbers. 1942 was the year the Nazis initiated their “Final Solution”, and the number “42” appears at various times throughout the film. It appears on Danny’s shirt in the beginning of the film, the number of cards in the parking lot, and even alludes to a movie Danny and Wendy are watching- The Summer of ‘42. And finally, perhaps the most chillingly, multiplying Room 237 (2x3x7) equals the number 42. There are a few other easter-eggs that point to this theory; Jack’s typewriter is German-made (his killing machine, if you will), and a Nazi emblem, a yellow eagle, is seen on one of his shirts. It’s also noteworthy to add that Kubrick was born into a Jewish Bronx household in the 1930s, and his father was named Jack. This could all be a huge coincidence, of course, but it does make for an interesting conspiracy.
3- It’s Supposed to be Watched Backwards. I was a little confused when I first read this conspiracy theory, but I think I finally get it. Basically, if you play the film backwards and forwards at the same time (and overlay them ), the two versions will eerily line up (people call this version the “Kubrick Code”). If you watch it this way, the beginning and end scenes will contextually line up in a way that makes perfect sense, and meet in the middle during the scene where Dick Halloran is lying in his bed “shining.” To be honest, this conspiracy theory isn’t entirely too out-there for me. After all, the reverse spelling of redrum to murder does play a large role in the film. Hopefully I can get around to testing this one out, preferably in broad daylight.
4- It’s About MKUltra. MKUltra was a series of highly controversial (and illegal) tests placed on participants from the early 1950s to 1973. Although the participants volunteered willingly, what they didn’t know was that they were actually being put under a sort of mind control with drugs such as LSD and sensory deprivation. If this sounds familiar to you, you’re right- MKUltra partly inspired the sci-fi horror series, Stranger Things. But anyway, back to The Shining. The theory goes that Jack Torrance is supposed to represent a test subject of such mind control, and the Overlook hotel represents the CIA slowly eating away at him and making him go crazy. There is also a Monarch ski poster visible at one point in the film, which some conspirists consider significant as well (“Monarch” was the code name used by the CIA for MKUltra). Spoooooky.
5- Danny is a Victim of Sexual Abuse. If you’re looking for a theory that feels more plausible than CIA mind control and the Illuminati, perhaps you’ll find this one believable. It’s no secret that Jack has physically abused Danny in the past (to the point of fracturing his arm), so I personally don’t think it’s entirely unbelievable that sexual abuse occured as well. I always felt a very strange, uncomfortable tension between Danny and Jack, especially in the scene where the two are alone in Jack’s room with Danny on his lap. Also, theorists have pointed out that the magazine Jack is reading while waiting in the Overlook lobby is an issue of Playboy, and one of the article headliners mentions incest. The widely discussed scene where Wendy witnesses the creepy-bear-costume-sex-act has also been brought up as an allusion to this. The bear motif appears throughout the film, especially with Danny (his bedroom contains a lot of references to bears). Another theory is that the room 237 traumatized him so much is because that is where the abuse took place- and that would partly explain Jack’s odd, impulsive, sexual experience there.
6- And Lastly, it Inspired Frozen. Obviously, this “conspiracy theory” is meant to be more of a joke than anything else (at least, it’s a joke to me), but let’s analyze it for fun anyhow. One blogger, Mary Katharine Ham, describes both Elsa and Jack as “a danger to family members, whose volatility increases after a long isolation inside a giant, ornate, high-ceilinged building in a cold desolate landscape. Screenshots from the two films do look similar, but I actually find it more humorous than creepy. Nonetheless, I get what Mary’s trying to say with this.
Before I close, I just want to point out that Stanley Kubrick has never officially confirmed or denounced any theories about this film. This is all speculation and not factually proven, but it’s still fun to go through all of the theories and make assumptions about the famous film. Like I said, it’s one of my personal favorites, and to be honest, I could see many of these theories (especially the genocide allusions) overlapping and being true; the symbols, the references to history, the overwhelming theme of denial. The movie, to me, is more or less a giant metaphor for the past, our past. What are your favorite theories about the film? Let me know in the comments!
I don’t think I have officially announced this on my blog yet, but since March, I have been hosting my own book club with some of my friends and family. Joining a book club is something I’ve always wanted to do, so being able to moderate one myself is a dream come true!
The first couple of books we chose to read in my book club were selected through a Facebook poll, and the last two were hand-picked by other members in my club. I have absolutely loved every book I’ve read so far, and am looking forward to telling you about the other books we cover in the future!
The first book we read in April was The Joy Luck Club, a timeless novel by Amy Tan. The Joy Luck Club is a fantastic, tear-jerking novel centered around themes of family, love, and loss. Four Chinese daughters reflect on their relationships with their individual mothers, and how the somehow strict upbringings they endured shaped them into the women they became. This book also has a movie adaption, which is even more of a tear-jerker than the book. This novel deals with difficult themes of death and loss, as I said, so keep that in mind if those topics are sensitive to you. All in all, this is an absolutely incredible novel, and I would recommend it to all book lovers.
Where the Crawdads Sing is the second book selected in our club, and to date, it’s actually one of my favorite novels of all time. This book was actually picked up by Reese Witherspoon for her book club, and currently, she is helping with the production of the movie adaption. This book is an exciting combination of romance, murder mystery, and adventure, and I also love it because the storyline has a heavy emphasis on nature and wildlife. I love stories that center around a strong female lead, and Kya is certainly no exception. In regards to awards, Where the Crawdads Sing topped The New York Times Fiction Bestsellers List of 2019 for 18 non-consecutive weeks, and has sold 1.5 million copies worldwide.
The Glass Castle was the most recent book we completed in my book club, and if you haven’t already heard of it, I highly recommend it. Based on a true story, The Glass Castle centers around a young woman named Jeannette Walls and her dysfunctional, singular upbringing in poverty. Jeannette’s parents made me furious at some points, especially her father, but the unique he has for his children is undeniable. This book was exciting, rich, and raw, and I was glued to it from beginning to end. There is also a movie adaption starring Brie Larson and Naomi Watts, and I’m highly looking forward to checking that out too!
The current book we are reading is A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron, and it was actually my mother who selected this book for us. You probably know by now that I absolutely adore animals, especially dogs, so this book is going to be perfect for me. The novel essentially follows a dog named Toby and his journeys through reincarnation, all while looking for his purpose as a dog. This kind of content makes me super mushy, so I can already guarantee I’m going to cry at least five times while reading it. This book also has amazing reviews, and was a New York Times bestseller for forty-nine weeks!
I feel silly even having to preface this, but for the people who don’t know: MBTI is NOT science. It’s a fun little personality test that I personally love, but by no means do I think you should base your entire life and opinions of others off of the MBTI.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I would definitely recommend looking into it. It’s one of the more famous personality tests, and while some will argue that the sixteen types are actually quite vague, I personally think mine was spot on.
I’m an INFJ, like everyone else coined on this list. Of course, some of these are just theories; we can’t actually go back in time and ask Plato if he was an INFJ, but researchers and psychologists have put a lot of energy into organizing these lists. These, to me, are the most interesting (and surprising) INFJs coined on the web. I mean, any time you can group Hitler and Eleanor Roosevelt together into anything is kind of wild.
Just a little background on the INFJ type- INFJ stands for “Introverted, Intuition, Feeling, Judging.” INFJs are sensitive people with extensive imaginations, but they are certainly not idle dreamers. INFJs are determined and passionate about what they love, and are willing to take all the necessary steps to turn their dreams into realities. Generally, INFJs are soft-spoken, but can become fiercely protective of what they believe in, especially when they think their morals are being tested. INFJs are also very often good at speaking in human terms, and tuning people into them emotionally. Even Adolf Hitler, a malicious, evil nutcase, knew how to sway the German public into falling for his politics, because of his passionate speaking abilities. In that sense, INFJs can be very manipulative.
It’s also noteworthy to add that many INFJs are extremely private, and can sometimes have difficulty letting others in. I don’t listen to a lot of Taylor Swift, but from what I’ve seen, she is relatively quiet about her personal beliefs and matters of that realm.
Although I admittedly don’t care much for her music, I wanted to touch on Taylor Swift because she’s such a great, widely-known example. Taylor Swift is clearly a creative, emotionally sensitive musician, and definitely has that people-pleasing quality that INFJs are known for. She’s also a perfectionist when it comes to her music, and, based off her lyrics, probably gets lost from time to time in the little details of life. I myself do this a lot- I lose sight of the big picture- so I admire Taylor Swift for speaking about her imperfections in her music.
Like I mentioned, Plato is believed to be an INFJ, and he’s actually one of the first results to come up on various sites when you google “famous INFJs”. Though I’m not familiar with a lot of Plato’s writing and philosophy, his personality reflects through his understanding and passion for “human” issues. Plato had an incredible understanding of human behavior, and his mission as a philosopher was to improve society in a gentle, sweet-voiced manner. Those who knew Plato described him as being gentle and soft-spoken, while still remaining passionate about his beliefs. Many INFJs (including Plato) are characterized as incredible writers, hence why I enjoy my personality type and identify with its traits.
It’s initially surprising to know that Adolf Hitler was believed to be an INFJ, and honestly, I had my doubts too when I first read that. How could somebody so different from Plato, Taylor Swift, and well, me, share my personality type? Despite the fact that Hitler was a hateful, cold-hearted dictator, there are elements of him that align with the INFJ type. Like Plato and Eleanor Roosevelt, Hitler knew how to address an audience and gather their attention with his passionate speaking, even if it was in the name of evil. He was passionate in his endeavors, even if they were heartless. He was sensitive to the societal norms and desires of Germany, hence why he was able to manipulate the public so well and (initially) convince the nation to rally on his side. It’s kind of terrifying, really, how even a madman can understand human behavior and emotions so well, but lack any sort of empathy or goodness.
Eleanor Roosevelt is another believed INFJ, and I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. The former first lady was warm and friendly, with an interest and dedication in improving society for the better. Although she could be considered an idealist, she was still determined and willing to take the concrete steps that would turn her visions into reality. I have so much admiration for her selfless actions, like visiting hospitals and genuinely asking the patients how they were doing. Her quotes are also extremely inspiring to me, and I have a few of them jotted down in my notebook for when I need a spark of motivation.
Moving onto fictional INFJs- there are dozens of them. As you may have expected, many of them are wise peacemakers, but INFJs also take the form of emotional, sensitive, hopeless romantics. Though I personally don’t watch Game of Thrones, I see Jon Snow’s name pop up a lot on MBTI forums. I think I know the basics about Snow from just hearing about the show- he is quietly forceful, original, sensitive, and likes to stick to tasks until they are completed. He also strikes me as being highly intuitive, and from what I’ve seen, is interested in helping the people around him with their emotional issues. He seems to be one of the most unproblematic, well-respected characters on the show, which would make sense, but correct me if I’m wrong.
I was so happy when I discovered that Eponine is an INFJ. “On My Own” has always had an extremely strong emotional hold on me, and now I know why I relate to the lyrics so much. If you’re familiar with Les Miserables, you’ll recognize Eponine as the sensitive, romantic young woman who falls for Marius. INFJs can be extremely affected by their emotions, especially when their hearts are broken, which I can personally attest to. As an INFJ, she quickly feels betrayed by lies or misleading information, and can swiftly become self-critical of herself. Despite being highly emotional, however, I think of Eponine as a strong female character in the book and musical. She exhibits strength and humility throughout the story, and I admire her for that.
Who else was a Star Wars fanatic as a child? I was! Obi-Wan Kenobi, of course, is one of those wise old man stereotypes I was telling you about in the INFJ realm. He serves as a counselor for several of the characters, and is well-known for his gentle, caring demeanor. Like all INFJs, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a complex character with strong, often private emotions, but his pursuit is always in the greater good. He lived his life with ambitions and great purpose, and was wholeheartedly devoted to the cause that he believed in. Honestly, I would have to say that he is one of my favorite fictional INFJs that I have discovered thus far.
Last but certainly not least, I had to touch upon Nitta Sayuri, the focus of Arthur Golden’s famous novel, Memoirs of a Geisha. I read the book in high school, and to this day, I still consider it to be one of my all-time favorite novels. Even though Sayuri is fictional, I related to her emotions and felt her love and pain throughout the entire book. The writing is beautiful, and Sayuri (Golden) often uses metaphors and quotes to hint at the deeper meaning of her life. She is working through her ultimate goal with passion and desire- the goal of reuniting with “The Chairman,” Ken Iwamura. Though her sense of self is strong, Sayuri can be easily affected by the views of others, which makes her eager to please (even if it means getting into trouble). Ultimately, and perhaps unknowingly, Sayuri’s greatest mission is to understand life itself, no matter how troubling the life of a geisha may be.
If you’re interested in learning more about MBTI, there are tons of websites and forums out there. I love Personality Cafe, and Personality Club is very informative as well. If you want to take the test yourself and explore the other fifteen types, I’ll leave that link below!
If you’ve stuck around for a while, you know that I love writing super thiccc, in-depth reviews about films I’ve grown up with. I’ve covered everything from Coraline to The Truman Show, and now, I’m super excited to talk about one of my favorite childhood movies: Ella Enchanted.
So, here’s the thing. Netflix RUDELY removed Ella Enchanted from the site without telling me, so now I can either rent it for $3.99, or try to hunt down my DVD copy at my dad’s house. Either way, you’re welcome in advance, and Netflix, please bring this movie back!
Before I even get into the plot of the movie, it’s important that you know how fantastic the cast/acting is. Anne Hathaway (once again) plays a perfect to-be princess, and Cary Elwes, for once, plays the villain in a fairytale. Who saw that coming?
Obviously, Ella Enchanted is a children’s fantasy movie, and the directors probably didn’t intend this film to be a satirical metaphor for systematic racism. I have always just been drawn to Ella as a character- a strong, educated female, who certainly doesn’t need no man, but can have one if she wants. And seriously, who wouldn’t want early 2000s Hugh Dancy? As a lesbian, even I can indeed agree that I want him.
I’m going to try to cover the plot as quickly as possible, which, by the way, is slightly different from the book. I’m pretty sure Ella is fourteen or fifteen in the book anyway, so…there’s that.
Anne Hathaway stars as Ella of Frell, which is a quaint little village in some sort of magical kingdom. There are humans, such as Ella and her family, but this universe also includes fairies, elves, giants, and ogres- many of whom are being enslaved and (racially?) oppressed.
We’ll get there.
Given this is a magical universe, it’s only natural that fairies can cast spells on humans. And for whatever reason, Ella is given a “gift” when she is born, from a fairy named Lucinda: the “gift” of obedience. No matter what the task is, Ella has to do whatever she is told, even if it means committing robbery. Or, say, murder.
Oh, by the way, this movie is a musical!
It’s not a gift to Ella, obviously. It’s a curse. And this movie covers Ella’s imperious journey to locate Lucinda and beg her to take back the curse, but of course, things don’t go quite to plan. Otherwise we wouldn’t have a movie, now would we?
The annoying thing is, Ella can’t tell anybody she has the curse. Ella promised her mother on her deathbed that she would never tell anybody about it, in fear that someone would use it against Ella. Which is valid and all, but how did she expect Ella to get through her entire life without telling anybody? That doesn’t seem too fair, either.
While on her journeys, Ella has a couple encounters with the 2000s-hot Prince Charmont, who is soon to become king after his coronation. The two quickly become friends, and eventually lovebirds after about… 24 hours. I mean, that is the recipe for a classic fairytale love story. Combine a prematurely dead mother, a romance that forms in less than a day, evil stepsisters, and boom, you have the perfect family film!
Even though Ella and Char do end up together, she kinda gives him a hard time throughout the movie. And honestly? I’m here for it. She hassles him relentlessly about his apparent uninterest in becoming king, and the newfound privilege he is going to be wielding. Like I said, the kingdom is plagued by unfair policies and prejudice against the creatures, and Char appears to be oblivious to all of it. I guess it’s not really his fault, because his uncle, Sir Edgar, is currently running the country.
At the beginning of the movie, we find out that Char’s dad, the original king, apparently died after he was attacked by ogres. The kingdom is now being run by Sir Edgar, who quickly gives off those creepy evil villain vibes. It’s Sir Edgar who has enforced unfair restrictions on the creatures; for example, he bans elves from all career paths, except for singing and dancing. This doesn’t sit well for Ella’s elf friend Slannen, who has dreams of becoming a lawyer. The restrictive laws put in place by Sir Edgar are not too far off from the laws we place on actual human beings in today’s day and age, especially when they are built on discrimination.
We also find out that the giants, who have always been peaceful, are being forced to work the fields as some sort of form of slave labor. You’d think that being giants and all, they’d be able to resist this, but I guess not. Hey, it’s just a movie.
Still, the themes of discrimination in this movie are in fact very real, especially when we learn about the giants. The kingdom is trying to essentially smother citizens with false rumors that the giants are vicious, rebellious beasts, while covering up the slave labor they are forcing the giants into. It just reminds me a lot of the scare tactics our own society uses against minorities- warning us that all people who are different than us must be lesser.
It is Ella who opens Char’s eyes up to these realities, who slowly falls in love with her and tells ol’ Uncle Edgar that he’s going to propose to Ella at his coronation ball. Unfortunately, Sir Edgar has caught wind from Ella’s evil stepsister about the curse, which, by the way, Ella has been unable to tell Char about. Sir Edgar tells Ella that she will stab Char in the heart with a dagger at the ball, and of course, she can’t get out of it due to her curse, no matter how much she loves Char. Also, Edgar throws in another wrench and commands Ella to tell no one about this plan.
So, great! That’s great. Not only does Ella have to murder the love of her life, but she also can’t tell anybody that Sir Edgar is the one who put her up to it. Edgar also tells Ella that the reason he’s doing this is because he wants to be king, and it was he, in fact, who killed Char’s father and blamed it on the ogres. Does this all make sense now?
Ella tries to get out of this by ordering Slannen to chain her up to a tree, which is actually pretty hilarious, considering she can’t tell Slannen why she has to do this. She then commands Slannen to go into the forest and rally as many fairytale creatures as he can find, in an effort to protect Char from Edgar. Unfortunately, things once again do not go to plan.
By some incredible and unbelievable coincidence, Lucinda the curse-giving fairy stumbles across Ella chained up to the tree. First of all, she refuses to take back the curse and free Ella from obedience, because she thinks that Ella is simply just ungrateful for the curse. Which, to be honest, I would be too if it meant I had to literally go stab Hugh Dancy in the back. Lucinda tells Ella that if she doesn’t like the gift, she has to get rid of it herself. Then, to make matters even worse, Lucinda unchains Ella from the tree, magically puts her in a fancy dress, and happily tells her to go attend the ball.
Oh, the situational irony!
Ella unwillingly (and literally) drags herself to the ball, where Char takes her to the hall of mirrors and proposes to Ella. I’m not kidding when I say this scene was the most dramatic moment of my childhood, so if you haven’t seen it, go watch it RIGHT NOW.
As she physically fights back the curse to kill Char, she reflects on Lucinda’s words, and commands herself in the reflection of the mirror that she will no longer be obedient. She drops the dagger, and boom, she’s free from the curse. Turns out it was that simple all along!
Of course, when Char sees the dagger on the ground, he immediately realizes what was about to happen, and Sir Edgar and the guards sweep in to take Ella away. She gets locked away in some sort of dungeon-y cell, and Sir Edgar forbids Char from going to see her.
Meanwhile, Slannen has returned with some woodland fairytale friends, and once they find out Ella is in trouble, they storm the castle and rescue her from the dungeon. Then, they all sneak to Char’s coronation, because it’s no secret by now that Char’s life is in grave danger. Sure enough, Sir Edgar has poisoned Char’s crown, but right before Edgar is about to place it on his head, Ella and the gang bust through the doors and stop the coronation.
Real quick: wouldn’t folks find it a little suspicious that Char’s dad died years ago, and now, coincidentally, Char just happens to be poisoned by his crown? I’m a little surprised Edgar thought that would work, but hey, you have to do what you have to do to get the throne.
In the midst of fighting off the guards like a total badass, Ella explains everything to Char, from the curse she received at birth to Edgar’s plans to kill him. In a fit of frustration, Edgar admits that he did indeed kill Char’s father because the crown belongs to him, and, forgetting that the crown is poisoned…he puts it on his own head, and collapses.
The movie ends with Ella and Char kissing, him proposing again, and in the last scene, a musical montage of their wedding. What better way to end a movie with some Elton John?
They ride off into the sunset in a horse-drawn carriage, with Char being the new king, and Ella free of her curse. It’s safe to assume that all the discriminatory bans were lifted, the giants were freed, and Slannen was able to become a lawyer. And that’s more or less the entire movie, summed up as well as I can in three pages!
There are a handful of themes I’d like to delve into here- power, wealth, society, and class. Those with the most power and influence- Sir Edgar, and even Char, are directly responsible for the image of the underprivileged. Unfortunately, when power gets into the wrong hands, it’s easy for those in power to slander those who are “less than”, and funnel damaging rumors into the media. I don’t want to make this article super political, but I’m sure many of you will agree with me that certain political powerhouses tend to negatively portray immigrants, Mexicans, feminists, and members of the LGBT+ community. People like Donald Trump love to smear minorities, especially when it comes to fake news and outright lies about these vulnerable communities. And of course, people will believe him, like how people automatically believe Trump when he makes prejudice remarks about those who are different than him. In my opinion, it’s all a disturbing self-mission for him to gain even more power and control.
On a somewhat related note, this movie also touches on the theme of power, and how much control we actually have over our own lives. Ella is serious and strong-willed in her plight to protect her independence, and reminds me, in the 21st century, that I need to do the same. Ella is educated, strong, and willing to sacrifice her own safety just to know the truth. Like I’ve said many times, I know this is just a fairytale comedy movie, but Ella’s emotions and frustrations are very real things that women go through- the desire to be independent and respected.