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Tagline: I watched most of these shows because Maddy told me to. Who is Maddy you ask? One of the best humans. Check out her youtube channel here.

Summer is time when teachers like me catch up on curriculum for the next school year, relax, read, and also binge-watch the things we didn’t have time for when we got up at 5:30 and passed out by 9:30 for nine months.

  1. Wynonna Earp

This is the show for you if you like the following things: bad-ass ladies, sometimes cheesy effects, clever dialogue, strong black men, old-school cowboys with moustaches, curses, red-head lady cops, LGBT representation, and no killing off of minorities for the sake of it. Basically, if you enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you will like this show. Fun fact: it is loosely based on a comic book of the same name. It aired on SYFY but I just want you to somehow find a way to watch it so it gets renewed for a second season.

Eugh. That comic is well, something. She’s much more realistic and #relatable on the show.

 

2. Couple-ish

Canada is our lovely and kind neighbor to the north and has always produced quality programming in my opinion. (I grew up watching TVO kids, Pingu, Fred Penner, and the Red Green Show). I’m also 1/4 Canadian so I guess that’s what we would call biased. But that quality programming has continued today on the internet. This show was written and created by Kaitlyn Alexander, a non-binary youtuber also known for acting in the web-series Carmilla. With compelling characters and dynamic acting, this show is a must.

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Not even from this show, but these two are #FriendshipGoals 

3. Carmilla

I technically started watching this at the end of the school year. Sometimes you need a treat after getting all your school-related work done.

Based on a Gothic novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, this is a Canadian Web-series featuring the plucky nerd protagonist Laura and her ensemble cast of characters. It involves chases, escapes, vampires, magic, true love, miracles. All the good stuff.

 

4. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

My brother Cullen is also responsible for getting me to watch this and making it my new 10/10 would recommend. (Ps. he also has a youtube channel). This show has everything: a catchy theme song, a female protagonist, musical numbers out of nowhere, that guy who plays Hans from Frozen being snarky. (Santino Fontana is a national treasure and we should all cherish him).

The premise of this show is that Rebecca Bunch moves from New York to West Covina California to be near her ex-boyfriend from summer camp in high school. Hilarity ensues. For real though this is a fun show that doesn’t hate its characters. It handles everyone’s emotions and desires in a very valid and real way. Also it doesn’t shy away from letting its good characters make bad choices and suffer the consequences and letting its “bad” characters be shown to be humans too. It also just has really killer songs, like “Settle for Me.”

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It’s time for a new installment here: Pixar Chick Fridays! (Which became Saturday this week because my wifi is a fickle mistress). We’ve already been psychoanalyzing everyone based on male Disney characters, it’s time to trot out the ladies. Why Pixar you ask? The Disney princesses thing has been done to death on the internet. Do a lot of Pixar films fail the Bechdel test? Yes. Which is unfortunate because many of the ladies in these films are pretty compelling.

Jessie

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A bright young woman with a beautiful yarn full of hair. 

You’re into strong-willed redheads and lets be honest who isn’t? Also you love that cowgirl look and adventurous spirit. You like your women with sad emotionally nuanced backstories. Additionally you love a good wacky sense of humor.

Honestly, Jessie is the Pixar character I most identify with: gangly weirdo.

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When you see your favorite people

Bo Peep

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So porcelain and shiny

You go for woman who knows what she wants and reaches out and grabs it. Don’t let the femme pink floof fool you, this is the kind of woman full of confidence, kindness, and some adorable pets. Annie Potts is your favorite part of Ghostbusters and Pretty in Pink.

Princess Atta

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The men in this film baffle me.

Your favorite TV shows are Veep and Seinfeld. You like a woman with neuroses and sass. This chick put the dork in adorkable before New Girl was a thing. You go for giant blue eyes that judge your behavior when you mess up. And trust me, you will mess up. Most of all you love ladies in positions of power in a matriarchal society.

Celia

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Sushi anyone? 

You like purple and your favorite mythology character is Medusa. You like taking your dates to hard to get into sushi restaurants and love a lady who is impressed by this. You love a good New York accent and a girl who knows what she wants.

Rosie 

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I definitely have some stories about my past lives.

You aren’t afraid of a woman who could kill you if she wanted to. You enjoy vaguely goth ladies with legs for days. You enjoy the films of Bonnie Hunt. All of them, even Cheaper by the Dozen, because she’s a classy lady with a great voice. You appreciate a woman who does not suffer fools.

 

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ElastiGirl/Helen Parr

 

You like snarky redheads who age into gorgeous auburn haired women with a mom cut. You like women who can handle themselves in any situation that comes their way and do it with both attitude and class. You enjoy Mama Bear types, because do not cross this one when it comes to the people she cares about. Helen is #goals. Always marry Elastigirl.

Violet

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Are we having Tony-Loaf?

You go for the seemingly shy wallflower types who are actually full of depth and sarcasm. You own a lot of Sarah Vowell books. Your favorite actress is Aubrey Plaza. You also enjoy women who have a hidden weirdo side. You love Olivia Olson and Marceline the Vampire Queen.

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Generic Teen interests 2004 edition.

 

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And we are back Humans! By popular demand! I consulted my sources and have more animated dudes for you to analyze your life choices by. And for those of you that are more interested in those of the female persuasion, I may be cooking up something for you so stay tuned.

Kristoff

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Need some ice towed or a fun wedding date? I’m your guy. 

If you like Kristoff you fall into one of three categories: people who follow lumbersexual accounts on Instagram, people who follow the Jonathan Groff’s Bike Helmet account on Instagram, or people who follow both of these Instagram accounts. You like rosy cheeks. You’re into the boy next door mountain man type you can bring to dinner at your parents’ house. You enjoy sarcasm, loyalty, and musical theater. You like a man who’s just as loyal to his pets/buddies as he is to you. You may have watched the Groffsauce and Lin-Manuel Miranda friendship video on youtube more times than should be allowed.

 

Hans 

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My sideburns are very deceiving

You fall for false advertising all the time. You still have The Perfect Pancake, Hairdini, and Turbie Towel. You’re also just a sucker for a well coiffed man with deceivingly sincere eyebrows and ginger freckles. Come on Disney why is the ginger evil? You probably just really also like musical theater and watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend so you can see Santino Fontana being not-evil. (Seriously if you haven’t yet, watch that show. It’s on Netflix, you have no choice).

Gaston 

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Which way is the gym brah? Cross-fit? 

You date bro-dudes who like to get swole at the gym, do cross-fit, drink brotein shakes, and are super misogynist to you. Your house is covered in empty beer tankards and those stupid bro-tanks with the sides cut open. (Also probably some super deep v-neck tees). You actually enjoy the patriarchy for some reason. You probably look like one of the bimbettes who faint in his presence in the movie. Honey, you need help.

Lumiere

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Doing the eyebrow raise like I invented it. 

You like Don Juan types and bisexual candlesticks who turn back into a stereotypical Frenchman by the end of the movie I guess. You’re a foodie and enjoy dinner theater. You spent a summer abroad in Paris and Lumiere reminds you of the men there apparently. Your go-to Halloween costume is French maid. But in the most culturally sensitive way possible because you did study abroad there. You only serve Bordeaux wine at your parties and are an expert wino.

Hercules 

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Actual Precious Cinnamon Roll

You were a Classical Studies/Mythology major in college. You’re super into Greek and other types of mythology and you love this movie despite its inaccuracies. You appreciate a man who doesn’t skip leg day but also is utterly devoted to you. Herc is a redhead with nice Greek youth curls and that killer smile that gets you every time. Just throwing this out there but you probably also enjoy the acting style of Andrew Rannells.

Jake (From Rescuers Down Under)

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Heart = melted 

You are into the rugged, outdoorsy, hiking, and crocodile wrestling type. Growing up, you watched a lot of shows like Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures, Kratt’s Creatures and Steve Erwin: Crocodile Hunter. You’re a sucker for an accent and like the Hemsworths and Hugh Jackman. Your dream job is to work at a zoo. You and your ideal mate both rock those khaki shorts like nobody’s business.

Fix It Felix Jr.

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I knock Maxwell’s Silver Hammer out of the park. 

You love a good handyman and watch a lot of HGTV, Property Brothers in particular. You’re looking for someone good-natured, helpful, and willing to help you build your dream home in Napa Valley. You also just really enjoy 30 Rock, Martin Freeman, and fun-sized guys. You probably own a pair of Timberlands.

Today I bring to you, 11 fun facts of my week. Some of them might not be fun but they are all facts.

  1. Everyone should listen to Hamilton. Just do it. You’ll thank me later.

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2. It’s practically March so that means it’s time for what my dad refers to as Irish Ramadan. (Cultural appropriation can work sometimes). That’s the best way to describe the celebratory time leading up to St. Patrick’s day on the 17th. Growing up of Irish-American heritage this was like a second holiday season where I was often dancing at various events and parties. Albeit, it’s also during Lent, so it’s not like there was a ton of candy or anything. Just family, friends and fun times. Thus, I find myself taking a break from listening to Hamilton non-stop to listen to The Chieftains, Van Morrison, The Corrs, The Cranberries, Glen Hansard, The Dropkick Murphys, and many others. (We Irish are a prolific and musical folk). I’m particularly into this collab with the Chieftains and Ziggy Marley “Redemption Song.” 

The Corr’s version of Buachaill on Eirne is always a favorite as well. This video I linked translates the Gaelic into English and Spanish. It’s basically about this guy bragging about how awesome it is, yet in Irish it sounds so beautiful. Even the English translation of the last line is very poetic.

And your kiss is no more to me now than a shoe worn for a year

Burn.

3. Along with this time of year, Wack-Arnold’s (McDonald’s for the uninitiated), trots out their Shamrock shakes. Being lactose-intolerant, (which is odd for an Irish person), I cannot partake in the joy of a shake I once thought was made from actual Shamrocks. But Pinterest to the rescue! I found some really great dairy free and vegan Shamrock shake recipes I am definitely going to be trying out this month. Linkity link.

4. In the realm of more recommendations from me, the Liz Lemon-esque unrepentant fangirl, everyone should watch Agent Carter on ABC. The second season just ended and there are rumblings that it won’t get renewed which is awful. (Pro-tip, read this next part in Stefon from SNL’s voice). It has everything: late 1940’s fashion, Marvel, feminism, 2 British people, Chad Michael Murray, and a Joss Whedon-esque musical number.

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I am not joking. Look how much fun they are having.

5. Tomorrow is Leap Day. Can we remember that the last Leap Day, four years ago 30 Rock was still on the TV and they aired their Leap Day Williams episode, which was weird, wonderful and I loved it. 30 Rock you are missed but never forgotten.

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Happy Leap Day!

6. This week while eating Mild curry thai food I proclaimed that I had the highest spice tolerance in my family. Coming from an Irish family, this is not saying much and is not really a boast.

7. Lentil loaf is good I learned. Delicious even. Perfect for having gone vegetarian for Lent and being on a Student teacher’s budget.

8. Today my brother was trying to think of what Secret Santa is called. Instead he said “Blind Santa Claus.” I honestly think Blind Santa Claus is what I am going to call it from now on.

9. I have been so overstressed with work that I definitely needed the two snow days we had this week. When you get overstressed, you say weird things to the kids like: “Holden Caulfield is not really a woke bae,” “We all need to focus, like a Ford Focus,” and “Today I dressed like an Urban Outfitters ad.”

10. I am in love with this Ham4Ham video featuring all the Kings George from Hamilton lip-synching to the Schuyler Sisters song. Ham4Ham is when people wait to win tickets for the show in a lottery and sometimes the actors come out and do a little performance for them. You may recognize Andrew Rannels who is Elijah from Girls, and Jonathan Groff who plays Christoff in Frozen.

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11. This video of Nanci Griffith singing the Irish tune, “Red is the Rose,” with the Chieftains is gold. The “Thank you Chieftains” at the end has become a catch phrase among my siblings and I. Not sure why, just one of those weird phrases you pick up like “the scare-floor will be painted.”

I need lots of crazy challenges in my life so I have signed up for a third reading contest for 2015. This one is called the TBR Pile Challenge. Or the To-Be-Read Pile Challenge. TBH I have a lot of TBR in my life. Being a nerd, an English teacher, and someone who genuinely likes a lot of genres, I have a lot I want to read. And I am determined to read it all this year.

Yes. I can do it. Here is my massive TBR list in no particular order:

1. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

2, Ulysses, by James Joyce

3. Finish the rest of the Hunger Games. (I’m late to the party with this one, I know).

4. Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie

5. IQ84 by Haruki Murakami

6. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami

7. The Illuminaires, by Eleanor Catton

8. The Lowland, by  Jhumpa Lahiri

9. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

10. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac

11. Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

12. The Sorrows of Young Werther

13. Detroit City is the Place to Be, by Mark Binelli

14. Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami

15. Everything is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer

16. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

17. Brideshead Revisted, by Evelyn Waugh

19. Unfamiliar Fishes, by Sarah Vowell (and also finish the Wordy Shipmates).

20. The History of White People, Nell Irvin Painter

21. Where’d You Go Bernadette?, by Maria Semple

22. Paper Towns, by John Green

23. An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green

24. Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut

25. Welcome to the Monkey House, by Kurt Vonnegut

26. Look at the Birdie, by Kurt Vonnegut

27. White Noise, by Don DeLillo

28. The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides

29. On Beauty, by Zadie Smith

29. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer

30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

31. The Glimpse of the Moon, by Edith Wharton

32. The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton

33. Night, by Elie Wiesel

34. Watership Down, by Richard Adams (I started reading this back in college, not sure what distracted me. Probably writing my thesis).

35. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

36. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess

37. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

38. Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray

39. Shirley Jackson Anthology

40. The Portable Dorothy Parker

41. The SIlmarillion, by JRR Tolkien. (Attempting yet again).

42. Candide, by Voltaire

43. Across the River and into the Trees, by Ernest Hemingway

44. The Snows of Kilimanjaro, by Ernest Hemingway

45. To Have and Have Not, by Ernest Hemingway

46. The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner

47. The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

48. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

49. Atonement, by Ian McEwan

50. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

51. That Hideous Strength, by C.S. Lewis (the one book I omitted from my thesis because I ran out of time to read it).

52. Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (I have no idea how I haven’t read this one. Don’t ask).

53. Olive. (A Scottish version of Jane Eyre my professor gave me before graduation. It’s been 4 years. I should read it).

54. All the Virginia Woolf books I haven’t read

55. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman

56. The Satanic Verse, by Salman Rushdie

57. The Ground Beneath Her Feet, by Salman Rushdie (another failed collegiate attempt)

58. Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

There you have it. Happy reading in 2015!

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Last week while substitute teaching, I watched Finding Nemo in German  (Findet Nemo!). Boy, it had been an awfully long time since I had seen that movie. I had forgotten a lot of it and how it’s basically The Odyssey for kids. With Fish! In Australia! Yay! But really, it got me thinking of Pixar films as a whole and how I would rate them, especially now since there are a lot of them and more coming soon. The Good Dinosaur comes out next year, followed by Finding Dory, and the promise of a sequel to The Incredibles (yay!) and another Cars sequel (nay).

So without further ado here is my list.

1. Wall-E. I love the hell out of this little robot guy. While this film is very different from the usual Pixar fare, it is in my opinion the most artistic, the most risk-taking, and the most beautiful and heart-felt of all of them. Only Pixar could make us care about a love story between two robots. I also like the post-apocalyptic nature of the story. It’s kind of a futuristic re-imagining of the Noah story, Eve is the white dove who brings back the olive-branch. Humanity re-populates the earth, etc. It’s just such a beautiful film.

2. The Toy Story films, collectively. These three films are Pixar’s masterpiece. This is the heart of Pixar, the first Toy Story is the one that started it all and I have such fond memories of it growing up. The trilogy grew with that first audience and even kids who weren’t alive to see this first one in theaters still enjoy it. The heart of Pixar is friendship and family and the bonds we form with others. Toy Story taught us to value that.

3. The Incredibles. One of the funnest, most hilarious Pixar films of all. I also wanted to be Elasta-girl when I first saw this movie when it came out. Really she is the ideal strong fantastic female role model. She does it all! And has fabulous hair while she does it. (Forget about Merida, but more on that later).

4. Monsters Inc. Everyone loves this movie. Mike and Sully have probably the best Pixar bromance since Buzz and Woody. This movie is the most quoted by my sibs and I. Seriously it scares me how much I have memorized of this film. This one ranks high because of the nostalgia vote.

5. Ratatouille. This film ranks in the weird/artsy era of Pixar. It has a unique charm and is so darn French. I just love it. The concept is super weird but yet it follows its own bizarre logic so well it becomes endearing.

6. Up. Don’t squawk that I ranked this so low. Yes it is a charming story and beautifully animated. But at the same time I think it was over-hyped as super artsy quasi-hipster fare. It still ranks above and beyond most animated schlock that gets made these days, but it just doesn’t live up to the hype for me. And way too many hipstery photo-shoots are all over Pinterest because of it.

7. Finding Nemo. I’ve posted before my satirical thoughts about this movie. And I do still think it’s scary and super emotional. But it is also a great story and a well done sort of re-imagining of Homer’s Odyssey but more child friendly and with fish. Not to mention it is beautifully animated like all good Pixar films.

8. A Bug’s Life. Pixar’s sophomore effort has always been underrated in my opinion. While it’s not as grand as many of it’s other films it still holds up in my opinion. It’s very cute, has memorable characters and hilarious dialogue.

9. Brave. This was a film I was supposed to love more than I did. First female protagonist? From a Celtic country? Accurately represents what life with curly hair is like? All things I should love except only the latter is something she succeeded in doing for me. Merida was supposed to be so, so cool. But this film fell flat of it’s potential. I really think it was because the story was re-written after half the animation was done. it could have been such a great fantasy-epic. I would like to have known what this film was before the re-write. That said, the mother-daughter relationship here was very real and heart-warming. Otherwise this movie was basically Brother Bear meets How to Train Your Dragon.

10. Cars. This was cute. The soundtrack wasn’t too bad. It was just cute the first time and maybe it’s just because I enjoy Owen Wilson. The most annoying thing about this movie was Mater. And the fact that it became such a huge marketing ploy for the company it just was so over-commercialized in a confusing way. Much like NASCAR racing.

11. Monsters University. Again, cute. But not amazing in any sense or really living up to the spirit of the original. Some funny inside jokey references to the first film. But really nothing groundbreaking like previous films.

12. Cars 2. The worst piece of dreck to be animated and possible the worst animated film of all time besides late era Don Bluth and most of the other schleck that gets green-lighted these days. (I’m looking at you The Nut Job and Shrek 15: It’s only a matter of time). Let’s take the most annoying thing from the first movie, Mater, and make a film centered around him. Bad form Pixar. Bad form. I thought better of you. This was actually the first Pixar film that made me question their integrity and creative genius. They stooped so low to cash-in on merchandising. My dreams were shattered. But the future looks bright. (Looking forward to you, The Good Dinosaur).

 

 

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        So I saw The Lego Movie last weekend. And I won’t spoil it for anyone but I will say that everything about it is AWESOME. After seeing it I turned to my 19-year-old brother and said, “This is exactly what playing with Legos as kids was like.” And he agreed. Playing with Legos was always super fun and imaginative. And even though I wasn’t the best at building with the bricks or following the instructions. I was pretty good at creating different Mini-fig characters. Part of what I loved about this film was there was a motley crew of characters that the protagonist Emmet teams up with to save the day, much like in earlier films such as Toy Story or The Muppet Movie. The world-building involved in the film was really cool as well. I almost wanted to go home and dig out my old Legos. I’m sure most kids watching it were going to go home and play with their Legos too.

And here we come to my other point in writing. I’ve read a few complaints that The Lego Movie as well as the Lego franchise in general is marketed mainly to boys and short changes girls and the female characters created for them. The review (found here) on the AVClub website has this to say: “Wyldstyle, though confident and talented, often exists to play the foil of Batman (her jerk boyfriend) and Emmet (the object of her mild envy, then affection). And the only other major female character, voiced by Alison Brie, isn’t portrayed as a mini-figure, making Wyldstyle the catchall female protagonist.”

This. Makes. Me. Very. Angry. Maybe Lego failed in most of its toys marketed to girls because it just thought hey let’s make everything pink then girls will like it. Wrong. Girls like playing with normal Legos just as much as boys. I see it as more of a gender-neutral toy since there’s something there for every type of kid regardless of gender. I liked building people and creating stories. My youngest brother liked building castles and houses and backstories for all his characters that lived in them. My middle brother who later on went to a technological university to become an IT guy, enjoyed spending hours building huge sets like the directions said or even creating new things he thought up.

Kids don’t like characters because of their gender. Most children don’t like only characters that are the same gender as them nor do they look for characters to be “role models.” I’m sick of this lens in which we always must see female characters. Can’t they just be characters first why do their personality traits have to be: I am female. We don’t like it when lead character’s traits are: I am a protagonist. So why let the gender of a character get in the way of developing them as an interesting, quirky, FLAWED, person.

My two favorite characters in this film were a lot like the types of lego people I created as a child. Wyldstyle was a lot like the spunky, independent girl lego people I would create. I usually made cool interesting boyfriends for them too. They didn’t have Lego Batman mini-figs when I was a kid, so my main ponytail-sporting horseback-rider girl dated a cargo pants wearing lego named Joe who owned a restaurant. If I recall correctly he basically looked something like a mini-fig version of Ted Mosby. (Which is weird because that show wasn’t even a thing yet).

The other character from the movie I loved was Benny the 1980-something Space Man. I had this figure! And his helmet was broken too. His crazy spastic-ness was much how I played Legos which also caused me break a lot of my brother’s creations on accident.

So what can we take away from all this? Legos are a fun, creativity inducing toy filled with lots of fun made-up and licensed characters. And the movie reflects this. It would also be great if we learned to analyze characters as people first rather than worrying about whether they represent their gender well or not.