2016

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This is it, guys!  My final post!

Thank goodness!  haha

In recent previous years, I’ve made a list of things I’d accomplished over the year, the number of which would match whatever year it was. This year, though, the general populace seems intent on bringing me down, so I’ve altered the plan a tiny bit.

Oh, I know it’s not intentional, necessarily, but regardless – y’all are ruining my zen thing, man.

So this year, I’ve instead made a list of the 16 best things to happen for me in 2016.  The original list was quite a lot larger, but I’ve managed to whittle it down to the following, in no particular order:

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  1. Mark Hamill

Luke Skywalker is my earliest and longest-running heroes, from about the age of 5 years, or so.  I mean, it all kicked into high gear when I was about 12, but my love for Luke and Star Wars had already been brewing for several years before that.  So it was a near-lifelong dream come true to finally be able to meet the man who brought the character to life.  I’d rehearsed everything in my head leading up to those few precious moments I’d get to spend interacting with him – and ended up doing none of it when the time came.  But everything that did happen was so much better than I could have hoped, and even the group photo op I had done with my awesome niece and nephews was perfect and priceless.  I wouldn’t change a thing.

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2. Hudson

It’s impossible to explain to another person my absolute love for this polar bear.  When he was a little guy, I found myself getting up in the morning after an injection night (they were terrible – not much could get me out of bed the next day) and trekking out to the zoo just so I could spend some time with him; watching him, and getting to know him.  There’s just something that happens to my heart every time I see him.  When he was moved to Winnipeg, I was devastated, and knew that, even if I ever saw him again, it wouldn’t be the same.  I wouldn’t be able to see him all the time anymore.  Until now.  2016 saw the return of Hudson and his brother Humphrey to the Toronto Zoo, and I have been out there almost every week since their quarantine ended.  I spent some quality time at the window with him one day, and since then, he’s back to greeting me upon arrival, just like he used to!  He’s now the biggest bear I’ve ever seen, but that thing still happens in my heart when I see him.  When we make eye contact, I pretty much explode.  The giant fool is truly my spirit animal, and even though our time together is temporary, I am making the most of it.  No regrets this time.

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3. Dark Matter Set Visit

Mind Reels on a spaceship, guys!  Every bit as amazing as you’d think…and more!  Of course, that’s really all I can say right now.  Keep an eye out for the S3 premiere, when we should finally be able to talk about our day on set!

4. Bowling For Kids Sake

An all-star team put together by actor Ennis Esmer challenged fans to help raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters Toronto by donating and/or building teams to compete against one another in the Superhero-themed bowling night event!  Two “civilian” teams took on two all-star teams and basically had such a ridiculously good time that we have been thinking ever since of trying more things like that in the future!  So much fun, and all for a great cause!

5. Good Credit

When I learned that my bankruptcy would be cleared from my record with one of Canada’s two largest credit agencies after just 6 years instead of 7, I went online one day to find out how I was doing.  I’d gotten myself a secured Visa so that I would have SOME credit, instead of no credit, once the 7 years after my discharge had passed.  I got my credit report done, and was surprised and excited to find out that I was already squarely in the GOOD section of the scale!  Before I knew it, I was pre-approved for far more credit than I wanted, so I talked the guy down to a $500 Scotiabank Scene Visa, and have been happily earning more Scene points AND improving my credit rating ever since!  That’s so huge, guys!

6. Hands On Exotics

I had tried to volunteer at the Toronto Wildlife Centre, because I really wanted to feed baby squirrels in the nursery, but the schedule didn’t work out for when I was available, so I went a different direction, and began volunteering at an exotic animal shelter, instead.  I was taking it week to week for a long time, as I wasn’t sure how I’d do over the winter and such.  Plus, it’s a lot of cleaning poo.  Then there was a boatload of upheaval, and I wasn’t sure what was going on or how things would work moving forward.  The past couple of months, things have settled down a bit, and I am doing better with the routine.  I’m getting to know some of the animals, and they are getting to know me, and to be honest, it’s starting to feel a bit like therapy now.  My usual team and I work well together, and we get things done quickly so there’s a bit of extra time at the end to visit with our favourites a little longer (an in the example photo below, with young miss Cricket, the baby kangaroo).  And oh, the stories I can tell!  I’m hoping to continue to make new ones as we move into 2017!

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7. Grandma

This is a story I don’t wish to go into, so I’ll just say that I’ve started writing letters to my grandmother.  By hand.  At least once a week, but usually more.  That’s all I have to say about that.

8. Reconnecting with old friends

2016 was a good year for me in terms of reaching out and reconnecting with people who used to be in my life with much more regularity.  I started going to some WLU Toronto Alumni events, which – I graduated in 1995, and have been in Toronto since late 1997 – why have I not been going to these?!  So much fun!  Especially with my gal, Izzy, and her guy, Phil (who went to Western – boooo!  haha), and my hope for further reunions with my fellow Laurier alum may actually come to pass!  As well, I got reacquainted in a big way with one of my Rogers boys from back in the day.  We fell into our same old rhythm with each other – and then changed things up a bit, as well.  Right from our first conversation, it was obvious to me how much I’d missed him, though, so now I’m doing my best to make sure he and I don’t drift apart like that again.

As well, I started seeing my therapist on a regular basis again.  We also fell into our same old rhythm, but this time it seems like everything is more heightened.  We are connecting on a much deeper level than ever before, and as difficult as it is, I couldn’t have asked for more.  It’s exactly what I need.

What’s more is that I’ve spent more quality time in 2016 with more recent friends, and made at least one amazing new one, to boot!  Maybe my obsession with stronger connections is starting to pay off.  Also GO HAWKS GO!

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9. CSA’s Red Carpet

The Mind Reels has covered the Canadian Screen Awards (aka The Candys) to some degree each year since they began.  We’ve been extremely fortunate to have been invited to do so, and to have as much access as we’ve been given each year.  This year, however, was our first time on the broadcast gala’s red carpet, chatting with the talent as they arrived for the big night.  We were squished into a spot at the very end, and while many of the big names walked right by after having done their required time with the big media outlets, just as many amazing peeps actually stopped to talk to us – and many of them weren’t people we already knew!  This was our most incredible year at the CSA’s by far, and I am eagerly awaiting the chance to apply for accreditation again for 2017, because it’s quickly become one of my favourite events in the city all year!  Besides, we were told by one wonderful woman that we’re a relief to see at the end of the red carpet – that people feel like they can just relax and enjoy themselves while they’re with us, and that’s got to be one of the biggest, most humbling compliments I think I’ve ever received.  More chances to make that happen, please!

10. Crown

This may seem like a weird thing to include on a Best Of list, but I was finally able to have my first dental crown put in, and I couldn’t be happier.  After a root canal, gum surgery and getting my mold taken just under the lab’s holiday deadline, I am now – for the first time in years – pain free.  Well, as far as my mouth is concerned, at least.  And for me, that’s a huge good thing!

11. Creativity

Figured I’d lump a couple of things into one spot, just to help whittle down my list!  From my Etsy store (where I sold my first felted item), to my meeting with the Toronto Library’s Writer in Residence (who made me excited about my book again), to my first attempt at shooting footage solo throughout my day for the Canada In A Day film that gets broadcast next year.  I was pretty disappointed with how mine turned out, but I still got a few emails saying that some clips may or may not make it into the final film, so I signed all the required releases and sent them off into the ether.  We’ll see what happens, but either way, I learned a lot just in that one day, so with any luck I can carry that forward to bigger and better things soon, too!

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12. The final 10-15 lbs

The majority of the weight I gained following The Betrayal was lost slowly over the course of the following decade.  I’d resigned myself to just staying at one particular point because I couldn’t seem to get the scale to budge any lower – until late January 2016.  Suddenly, the weight started coming off and the final 10-15 lbs – also the most dramatic pounds – dropped away by the end of March, or so.  Not only am I now back to my pre-gain weight, but so far I’ve kept it that way without too much trouble.  Okay, fine, maybe not the past couple of weeks, but it’s the holidays.  If all goes well after this weekend, things will get back to normal soon.  It’s nice to have a glimpse of my former swagger back, too!

13. Melissa O’Neil on stage

The weird thing about this is that I watched Mel on Canadian Idol back in the day, and may have had a little crush on her even back then.  Seeing her in Dark Matter has been an absolute joy, and getting to chat with her via The Mind Reels was a bit of a dream come true, as well.  The fact that I get to know her a little in real life is just…above and beyond.  So you’d THINK I would have taken the opportunity to see her perform on stage – to sing live – at any given point before now!  However, better late than never.  And so completely worth it that she gets her own spot on my personal Best Of list for the year.  Also, the wee crush lives.

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14. Ole Timey Radio Plays

These are pretty much the best thing ever!  For Mind Reels, Tim and I started bringing in random handfuls of actor friends and reading old radio play scripts from the 30’s and 40’s!  So much ridiculous and hilarious fun – to the point where we all but stopped doing regular interviews, even!  Don’t worry, though, I intend to get interviews going again, AND radio plays, AND maybe a few other ideas I have all put into play in the new year.  those radio plays, though.  We knew they’d be fun, but everyone continues to go above and beyond, every time, and that I am always in need of facial traction due to the amount of hard laughter each time is indication of exactly how special these things have become.  I can’t get enough!

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15.  Kate Tattoo

I’d seen an ad on Facebook for a new local tattoo parlour with a deal for small black and white tattoos available for $50 for a limited time.  A friend suggested we get one for “our girls”, meaning our doppelganger cats, both of whom have passed on and who are deeply missed.  I thought that was a great idea, and then, thanks to my very best friend in life, the whole experience ended up being more than I could have hoped for!  I love, love, love my homage to wee Kate the Kitten, and am naturally itching to get more ink done as soon as I have some kind of extra cash again!

16.  Lil Bub

Last but certainly not least, 2016 was the year I finally met Lil Bub in person.  I barely managed to hold back the tears, but I got to pet her wee head and we took terrible selfies on my phone and I love her so much I have a need to see her again someday!  What a remarkable little beast she is, that Lillian Bubbles.  She has no idea how much, really, which just makes her even more incredible.  I’m so grateful I got to spend those few wonderful moments in her presence!

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So there you have it!  My best moments of 2016!  Honourable mention goes to the ongoing shininess of my Firefly LootCrate subscription.  And the daily joy of living with my three wonderful cats – and this guy:

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I’m not going to say I’ll never post here again, but it definitely won’t be as often.  I’m sure I’ll get the urge to write once in awhile, though.  It’s who I am.

To that end, I am starting a new blog project, which I hope will work better for me moving forward.  It’s called My WildLife Awakened, and you’ll be able to follow along with it here.

I’ve been thinking, and will leave you with this one tidbit – almost advice-ish, really, though I hope I can take it, myself, as well.

As we cross into 2017, there may or may not be much to look forward to, so I’m going to try instead to make great memories to look back on this time next year.

Let’s see what happens!

Oh – and happy new year!

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Catch-Up Notes

Couple of things…

I had some really tough conversations last week. Tough for me, anyway. I struggled to be real and present in each one, and am fairly confident that I succeeded each time. It was difficult, but entirely worth it. I’m hoping to be able to keep that up, at least with each of the parties involved. One was with my therapist, so obviously I want to maintain that level of work between us as much as possible. One was with one of my best friends. And one was with someone new in my life.

All required different things from me, of course, but one were very easy for me, and I’m glad I didn’t let that stop me from having them. Definitely a good, positive step, all in all.

I volunteered yesterday, as usual. The gang was pretty much all there, and we worked well together, so tasks were completed quickly. That left a little extra time to spend with the animals, which basically made me feel like I’d really done little actual work at all. I hung with the skunks a bit longer as I spot cleaned their enclosure, etc. Pepe and Flower were out, so that left Sumo, Bambi and Thumper to deal with me being in their space talking to them and such. They did great, despite being somewhat afraid of me. Their curiosity is winning out more and more often now.

I played with Aspen the lynx, I held Cricket the baby kangaroo, I held Hamburglar the ferret briefly (way too much energy, that guy), and a couple of the rats, as well. I hung out in the kangaroo enclosure while they checked me out and Willow the capybara spent a few minutes licking my forearm. And I talked to the birds.

One started doing the Super Grover “near, far” thing, which was new to me, and cracked me up endlessly! Just all on his own, chatting away to himself.

Near….far!!!” hahaha

Maybe the best thing that happened, though, was that the hello birds finally started saying hello to me again. It’s been a couple of months since they spoke directly to me, and I’ve missed it like crazy. It was so good to interact with them again at last!

My heart-breaking but beautiful package arrived for me on Saturday, too. It’s perfect, even though I wish it was for a completely different use.

I’ve been doing some prep work on what I believe will be my next blog. I’m hopeful that it will serve much better than this one has, and be more…just…more.

As always, I guess, we’ll see how it goes.

On Yesterday

I had quite a day yesterday.

As previously mentioned, I had three appointments, and also had to put in some time at work. It ended up not being much work time, but at least I got things done.

Saw my neuro for my regular 6-month check-in. The appointment itself went quite quickly, as usual, but it started late, so I didn’t have much time in between that and my dental appointment. Still, it was enough to scarf down something to eat and give Brody a quick pee break before I headed back out for the rest of the day.

Got fitted for my crown, and despite some pain and discomfort and a foul taste in my mouth after, I actually had a fairly decent time at the dentist. I like her and everyone in her office, so the atmosphere is always friendly and pleasant, even when the actual procedure isn’t the most fun ever.

Plus, I showed them my Hudson pictures, and we talked about Brody and cats and such. That kind of thing is always nice.

I went straight to work after that, and arrived just in time for Tim’s last day pizza party, so I had a slice and then ate the lunch I bought. The temporary crown on my tooth feels weird – it’s changed my bite, for now – so eating is a bit more of a chore than usual, but with any luck, it’ll all be better next week. Just in time for the holidays.

After work I had about an hour to kill before my therapy session was set to begin, so I ended up hanging out with someone I might like, and though we didn’t do anything specific, I once again had a really nice time. Two for two with that one, so far!

My final appointment of the day was with my lovely therapist, and even though I warned her that I might be frazzled from a busy day, she said I could unwind with her. I like having that safe space to go to sometimes, and it actually does feel like a bit of a weight is lifted even just when I walk in the door. Last night was no different in that regard. I love the dynamic we created right out of the gate, and we’ve really only built on it over the years. I covered a few things that I wanted to deal with right away, and then we moved to the topic(s) that require the most attention and work right now. I wouldn’t have said that it was a difficult session – it didn’t feel difficult – but it took a definite toll, and once I realized that, I understood how much effort I’d actually put into it. I fought with myself and won, and it was both draining and invigorating all at once.

So, so good.

As we were leaving (I was the last appointment in her day, too, so we walked to the subway together after), I told her about an idea I had for after this blog is done, and she seemed to be quite excited about it, as well. We’d finished the session by talking about a little thing I’d done a few days ago, and how it had made me feel, and she gave me a few ideas with which to build upon it. The new idea I had is also kind of related to that same thing, so at the moment, at least, it feels like an exciting new path for me.

We’ll see how things go over the next few weeks, I guess!

Temporary

So now it’s November.

Nearly the end of the year. But – for me – so much closer to getting to see my polar bear love again!

You never really forget your first, right?

Things are just as crazy and overwhelming today as they have been lately. I’ve made a few tiny shifts in hopefully the right direction, but for the most part, I’m still struggling. I don’t even talk to my friends about most of it, let alone feel inclined to post anything on here. I’ll figure it out, though. Tiny shift by tiny shift. 🙂

I did write limericks for/about some of my coworkers today, too. That was fun!

I’ve been keeping more quotes from the book I’m currently reading, so I’ll continue to write a bit about them as I go along, too.

Like this one, which is kind of apropos for a day like this: “I stared at my phone, wondering whom to call to ground myself. The truth is, I’m not good at close friends. I’m great at casual, at meeting up after work and bringing lasagna to the potluck. I’m excellent at being friends with (her boyfriend’s) friends. But not at exchanging numbers and calling up just to talk.”

I haven’t brought lasagna to the potluck as of yet…though I could. Usually I just go for something quick and easy and pre-made, though. I mean, that’s how my everyday life is, at least when it comes to food. Why would a potluck be any different, really?

I remember when I was in school I felt like my friendships were temporary. They could be so intense and present and fulfilling for a time, but as soon as we weren’t in the same class anymore, and didn’t see one another every day, it became more difficult to sustain; to nurture. Nothing had happened to push us apart, yet the connection was weakened, and we’d each move on to the next thing.

I think I came to view all friendships – and thus relationships – as temporary things. I’d still try to hold onto them, but the further apart we’d drift, the more difficult it was to maintain any sort of grip. Physically, emotionally, mentally – the distance between us would grow no matter what I did to prevent it. The friendship wouldn’t be over, of course. Just different.

Outside of school, the majority of my friends have come through the workplace, which makes them just as temporary in their intensity as the others. People move on. It’s what we do.

And I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with that, or that I wish it was any different.

Most of the time I don’t even notice. Just those moments when I want to talk to someone who can help me ground myself, and I don’t know who that person is at that point in life. It’d be nice to have one who was constant.

On the other hand, though, maybe that’s the too easy solution – to just have the answer without having to keep growing and changing and adapting and meeting new people and forging new things.

Maybe constants make us lazy!

Mind Reels Activity

Holy crap guys! So much happening on the Mind Reels front this morning!

Did a little promoting of our Patreon page, as per usual (http://www.patreon.com/TheMindReels – please share – every little bit helps!) and then moved on to other more immediate things.

Am just a step away from confirming the date for our next radio play, which will be happening next week, barring any unforeseen circumstances. I heard back availability from one person, then three more in a row said they were also free on those evenings, so suddenly I have a cast, and now just need to confirm that the studio is available before I cement the details! So excited! We’ll have a couple of new people and some who have done one before, but I don’t think any of them will have really done any together before. Maybe two of the guys. Anyway, I’m super stoked – we’re doing an episode of Ellery Queen this month, and it’s ridiculous! I love these old radio plays. They are so bad they’re great! It’s got to be one of the most routinely fun things I’ve ever done, and I hope this project has the legs it needs to keep going for a long time!

And speaking of projects, we just put the wheels in motion to start yet another one! This one will hopefully expand our content, as well, but in another slightly different direction, which – if it works out – should be amazing! While the radio plays act as a branch of our podcast, this new project will hopefully become a long-term branch of our blog. I am so insanely excited about it, I can barely contain myself! I’d been distracted from it for the past couple of weeks, but as soon as I started working on it again, the initial excitement came rushing back, and I couldn’t wait to take the first steps! Now I’ve started taking them, and while it’s a matter of waiting to see if there is any response from the parties I’m reaching out to, it’s hard not to kind of hold my breath in anticipation. I’m aware that there could be no response at all, or negative responses – I’m aware this might not take off even a little bit, let alone the way I’m hoping – but at the end of the day, I’m a dreamer. I’ll keep dreaming this until it either becomes a reality or falls on its face. I’ll keep believing in the possibilities until I have no choice but to concede defeat.

As well, we have a tentative interview coming up next week, but the only time it can be done is after I have minor-but-painful dental surgery, so it’ll be interesting to see how THAT goes! I was kind of hoping to go home after, walk the dog and go to bed. Instead, I’ll likely be heading downtown to try and hold it together while chatting with one of my favourite people about one of my favourite shows!

How do I get myself into these things?

The first time I did an injection of Avonex (the first MS meds I was taking), I had no idea what the side effects would be for me. Or, I knew the likelihood, but not the severity. So naturally, the next morning was the only time we could do an interview with friends who were in town. I was a mess, so it’s good that we were just audio in those days, but holy hell is that ever NOT a way to discover how a medication will affect you!

This situation will be different because, unless my meds react poorly with one another, I’ll mostly just be dealing with pain. Which is not ideal, but it still should be fine, more or less.

I just…how do I get myself into these things? #becauseicantsayno

Learning

I was going to write better, but now I’m caught up in a movie, so I’m distracted, but whatever.  I’ll keep it short.

I did some new stuff while volunteering today.  Well, new to me, anyway.  I actually started my shift off with it, and then it took me forever, and then I stayed longer than I have thus far.  It was just a simple task – change the food and water dishes in a whack of different enclosures – but each one presented a new challenge, and there was a ton to remember.

Chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, opossums…everyone had a different set of things to remember; what they eat, how much they eat and drink, how to avoid getting pecked at by the silky chicken who dislikes women, paying attention to the iguana when you’re bent over to make sure he doesn’t climb on your back.  All kinds of things, but different for each of them.

It was a lot for a lesion-addled brain which hadn’t slept enough due to a certain televised concert celebrating a – some would say – national treasure, keeping me up too late, to take in.

But I did it.

I barely managed to avoid being clipped by that silky chicken, and had to focus very hard to not pick up and snuggle every baby rabbit at my feet, but I did it.  It was stressful, because I put a lot of pressure on myself to do things right, if I can, but it was also cool because it was new and – for me – challenging.  It made my sleepy brain do some actual work.

I did a few other things – spot cleaned the small animal room (and managed not to get bit by ferrets, so that’s an ongoing plus), and washed some dishes and such, and of course took care of changing the small parrot papers, which is kinda my thing.  I don’t know why it’s my thing, or why I want it to be and like it to be my thing, but it is.  I don’t even know everybody’s name yet, but changing the papers at the bottom of all the small bird cages is the one thing I’ve done every shift, and I find myself kinda looking forward to it.  I talked to the birds more today than I have other times, and while I’m sure I’m just tired, I felt like they kind of recognized me this time.  Regardless, I am definitely getting better at it.  Still just as messy but I am faster and more confident now, too, which is probably why I felt like the sense of familiarity was returned.  I even got the sense that the little red bird who dislikes everyone, disliked me a little less than usual today.

At one point it even got sort of quiet in there; just two of us working away on our own tasks, a little music playing and a variety of calm animal sounds here and there.  It was peaceful, on occasion.

I stayed nearly an hour longer than usual, and was so freaking hungry by the time I got  home that I was stumbling around a bit while I put groceries away.  Then I took Brody out for a loo break, made a bad life choice that resulted in SO MANY BURRS, got them mostly all out, then finally ate something.

I can’t even remember  what specifically I wanted to say, including how I felt about my volunteer experience today, so I’ll just cut this ramble off now.

Is it just me, or did Gord seem to get stronger as he went along last night?  He seemed to me to be more…Gordie…by the end of the show than he was at the beginning.  Either way – what a show to remember.

#inGordwetrust

Safety Lights Are For Dudes

I must admit, I’m thus far enjoying the act of setting up my new computer.

Well, my computer that’s new to me.  My nephew’s old computer…seems he upgraded huge, which then turned into a huge upgrade for me, as well.  Now I am in the process of getting everything set up, and every time another thing goes well, I giddy grin to myself.  With any luck, I’ll be more on top of my game – of all my games – than ever…and very, very soon.  My brain is filling up with possibilities.

Well, not FILLING,but you know – excited.

In other news, I had a great time watching Ghostbusters.  Like, really great.  It gave me many different feels, all good. I’m thinking the haters are perhaps just anti-fun.  Or anti-amazing-women, because DAMN…every single one of those wonderful ladies kicked ass, as far as I’m concerned.  I laughed out loud more times than I can count, forgot more amazing lines than I can remember, and my eyes misted up several times.  Laugh, cry, cheer…recipe for success, says I.

I even think it works better as a reboot than it would have as a continuation, particularly for the fact that I prefer the “ghost girls” struggling to be taken seriously while taking care of one another than something that would have started off in a world where people believe in ghosts because they’d already seen it all before.  Back when men did it.  It felt more genuine to have the women fighting to just not be brushed aside and treated as fraudulent, rather than fighting each other.  It seemed more real to me, and like a sweet starting point.

Plus, women battling to be taken seriously in a man’s world?  I know some people who can definitely relate to such a simple theme, which only serves to make the rest of it all the more successful, to my mind.

Besides, this is the first time in my life – as far as I can recall – that a movie ever made me desperately want to cosplay one of its characters.

I’d do up Kristen Wiig’s Erin Gilbert like a BOSS.