The USWNT, NSWL, and Abby Wambach

Ladies, germs, it’s time, once again, to talk about Abby Wambach.  I feel like I’m beating a long-dead horse here, but I also feel compelled to speak.  So here goes.

If you didn’t see the news yesterday, here it is: Abby Wambach announced that she is sitting out the entire NWSL season this year to focus on the World Cup.  As someone said on Twitter, if she made that announcement and coupled it with “I’m retiring after the World Cup,” then I’d probably feel somewhat differently.  But she didn’t.  She said that she’s thinking about playing in the Olympics in 2016 and that maybe she’d play European club soccer in the interim.  Oh.

Let’s start with the USWNT angle: it’s never been the case that the current USWNT regime, specifically head coach Jill Ellis, cared about club form when it came to making national team selections.  We can delude ourselves somewhat when we see names like Amy Rodriguez and (however briefly) Tori Huster, on a roster, but it’s just not true.  If club form mattered, Wambach wouldn’t have been on one roster last year.  Frankly, Sydney Leroux would have had a hard time getting called in.  So even though we all knew that this myth of club form mattering wasn’t true, the veil, the convincing ourselves that maybe form counted, is over.  Abby Wambach will not have played club soccer a little under a year when the World Cup begins, and it won’t matter.

Look, here’s the thing: I fully and deeply appreciate the service that Abby Wambach has given to U.S. Soccer.  She’s been a beacon in the women’s game for what seems like decades.  She’s a legend, no doubt.  But legends don’t just get things handed to them on a silver platter simply because of past accomplishments.  That’s not the way it’s supposed to work in sports and it’s not the way it should work.  I hate to keep bringing up the Landon Donovan comparison, but in some ways, it’s apt.  He took a (justified) break during World Cup Qualifiers.  Though he had every right to take that break, Jurgen Klinsmann had every right to make him work his way back onto the squad.  Ultimately, as we all know, Klinsmann decided to leave him off the World Cup roster (which was complete nonsense, in my opinion, but whatever).  The point: you don’t get to do whatever you want and still be secure in your place in sports.  Or at least, you shouldn’t get to do whatever you want and have your name be in pen on the roster.  It’s not good for a team, a locker room, a culture, or a player.

To expand on the culture point — let’s take the case of Lindsey Horan.  As the New York Times wrote last year, Horan basically can’t get a serious look with the full USWNT for one reason: she plays for Paris Saint-Germain in France.  Because Horan has declined to come back to the United States and play in the NWSL, she’s being denied a shot at the national team.  Meanwhile, Horan makes good money in Paris (which she wouldn’t make in the U.S.), she’s playing Champions League football, and she’s freaking good.  (Injured at the moment, but that’s irrelevant to my point.)  Now she looks at the USWNT, this team that she clearly wants to play for at some point, and sees that Abby Wambach not only doesn’t have to play in the NWSL, but doesn’t have to play at all and she will be going to the World Cup.  The same Abby Wambach who looked pretty darn bad in the last tournament she played, the Algarve Cup.  How would you feel if you were Lindsey Horan?  Or Sarah Hagen, who came back from Europe to the NWSL to get a look with the full team, but has barely gotten a sniff?  Or any other American toiling away, hoping to get called in?  I know, or at least, I have been told many, many times, that Abby Wambach is a leader on the USWNT. And sure, I bet she is.  But how can there not be resentment when she’s treated differently from everyone else?

Back to the NWSL: do I think that playing 3 NWSL games is really going to impact the way Abby plays at the World Cup?  Of course not.  And again, I recognize and appreciate that Abby Wambach has been a dedicated servant of U.S. Soccer for a long time.  She truly does not owe us anything.  That being said, a league with Abby Wambach is a way bigger draw than a league without her.  This is a young, fledgling league, and it needs the USWNT stars to survive, at least at this point.  And if it’s true, as reported today, that a number of USWNT players are considering not playing in the NWSL this year, then that is really bad news for the league.

Something about the way certain national team players have treated the league has always bothered me to be honest.  It shouldn’t be so painfully obvious to me, a fan, that some of them think they’re above the NWSL and, frankly, can barely be bothered to put in effort.  They all have teammates who are playing in the league for a pittance simply because they love playing soccer.  If I was one of those players, I would respect the hell out of Lori Chalupny for showing up to Red Stars camp immediately after coming back from the Algarve Cup.  Or Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo, who reported to Reign preseason the weekend after Algarve.  (It’s worth noting that Rapinoe did the same thing when she came back from Lyon — instead of taking a break, she went right in and started playing on a pretty bad Reign team.  Tobin Heath … not so much.)  Undoubtedly, these players all have arrangements with their clubs, and that’s fine, but how can it not foster resentment when it becomes clear that certain people simply do not have to show up?

My first sporting love was, and always has been, the New York Jets.  (This is related to women’s soccer, I swear.)  In 2008, the Jets traded for Brett Favre, the aging but still good Green Bay Packers legend, and I was ecstatic.  We hadn’t had a good quarterback in eons (which is still true, alas), and I thought that he would put our team over the top.  For 11 games, it was true.  We were 8-3 and cruising.  But the Jets cratered down the stretch and missed the playoffs by losing four of the last five.  Favre threw eight INTs (against two touchdowns), bringing his season INT total to 22.  Anyone watching the team knew that he’d hurt his shoulder and that’s why he was playing poorly.  We later found out that he had a torn biceps.  But Favre kept playing and his play kept sinking the Jets.  Why?  Because Favre had a consecutive starts streak record and we had to keep that going.  Of course, after he left the Jets, he claimed that he was receptive to sitting, but everyone in the world knows that that is a lie.  What is the point of this story?  A player should not be an automatic start, regardless of who they are.  A player should not get to dictate the terms by which he or she plays.  It’s not good for the player or the team.

Brett Favre is actually a fitting analogy for Abby Wambach more broadly.  It’s hard to remember now, but there was a time when Favre was universally beloved.  That started fading when he toyed with retirement year after year after year.  He kept the Packers hanging on and hanging on and, ultimately, he left them, first for the Jets, and then for their division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings.  By the end, almost everyone wanted Favre to just shut up and retire.  Brett Favre had no idea when to walk away, and it deeply tarnished his legacy.  (So did that whole inappropriate texting thing, but whatever.)  Abby Wambach is very much in danger of doing the same thing.

‘Til next time.


P.S. I really struggled with posting this because I hate being so negative about the USWNT all the time.  I love them, and I don’t want to feel so down about them.  But, as Friend of Christine, Katie, just said to me: “You have to be able to be hard on your heroes.”  Wise words.

A Note on PLL

Dearest fellow PLL fans,

Did you notice my lack of blog last week?  I have to be honest: Pretty Little Liars has not been very good this season.  To be clear, I still love this show.  I have faith in Marlene, I have faith in the actors, I have faith that this show is going somewhere.  I mostly blame this rut on the fact that the show is about to change radically.  It’s going to time jump and we’re going to get a big reveal (literally – Big A!) at the end of this season and it’s going to be a whole thing.  I think, until then, the show has been mostly treading water.

So, I’ve decided that I need to take a hiatus from my PLL Rankings.  I’m not planning to say goodbye forever; I hope to come back with more praise for my homegirl Spencer and more shade to throw at Ezria.  I just need a break during this lull in the program, ya know?  Blogging about the show when it’s not particularly great is kind of bumming/stressing me out, so I’m giving myself a timeout.

I hope you understand and I hope to catch you on the flip side.  ‘Til then, viva la Spencer Hastings!



P.S. I can’t believe I chose the week in which Horse Bitch, aka Hanna’s stepsister Kate, is finally mentioned at length, as the week to give up blogging!  I’ve been obsessed with Horse Bitch since the first moment we met her.  Welcome back, at least in name and flashback, HB!  And shoutout to Pretty Little Liars Annotations for coining the nickname Horse Bitch.

MonA VAnderwAAl and the Time Turner: PLL Rankings!

Liars, sorry for the delayed post!  On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of watching PLL with Sister of Christine, Jenny.  After we finished watching, we had lots of important things to do (read: we had to watch Taylor Swift music videos), so I didn’t have time to write.  But I have written now!  Let’s get to it!

(1) Hanna

Let’s start with the sartorial.  I wasn’t wild about Hanna’s outfit at first, but it totally grew on me as the episode went on.  She was rocking that belt (unlike another Liar who will be mentioned later).  But, more importantly, Hanna gets two crucial pieces of information in this episode.  First, by virtue of hanging out with Mona’s alleged friend Leslie, she finds an audio tape hidden in, what else, an Edgar Allan Poe volume.  The tape is of an interview Bethany Young gave complaining about an “evil, soulless bitch.”  Seems like Alison, right?  I may have another theory.  Stay tuned.  Second, Hanna totally bosses Holbrook!  She’s pulled over by a cop car but when she looks in her rearview, she sees no one in the vehicle.  So Hanna gets out to inspect the car, but not before first grabbing a blunt instrument.  Smart!  Anyway, Holbrook tells Hanna that she’s “got the wrong fall guy” with respect to the storage unit and all that.  Interesting.  Then, when he gets mad creepy (“Did Alison tell you to kiss me?” EW. To use PLL‘s hashtag, #BadCop), Hanna clocks him upside the head!  In response to all his whining about his Ali ruined his career and life, Hanna shoots back, “You don’t get to play the victim here.  You’re the grownup police officer, she was just a girl.”  BOOM.  ROASTED.  Welcome back to the top, Hanna!

(2) Fake Mariska Hargitay Mrs. Hastings

Speaking of bosses, let’s talk about Fake Mariska for a minute.  First off, naturally she offers to “consult” on Alison’s defense.  As Spencer points out, she’s only doing this to find out what information they have.  Why Ali’s idiot defense team allows her to do that is beyond me, but hey, good on Fake Mariska.  Second, though it seems like she might back off from it, she’s 100% right about Spencer and college!  Um, HELLO SPENCER, YOU’RE A GENIUS, YOU’RE GOING TO COLLEGE.  Like seriously, WTF was she thinking with that??  Finally, this was the best thing in the world because of how true it was:

Spencer: Do you remember what you wanted to do when you were my age?  And don’t say be a lawyer.

FM: I did not want to be a lawyer.

Preach, girl.

(3) Emily

I mean, I’m not super wild about Emily’s new lady at this point (we could not remember her name, so SoC Jenny dubbed her “Nadia,” which is what she will be called henceforth), but ya know, get it, Em.  Her conversation with Caleb about Nadia was a freaking snooze though.  (Questions re: that conversation include: what the hell season is it in Rosewood??  Emily was wearing a tank top!  Caleb was “studying” outside!  Also, why in the heck was Emily seeking advice from Caleb??  Have they ever even spoken before??)  Anyway, that’s basically all Emily did this week.  Overall, way to get back in the game, girl.

(4) “Nadia” (formerly known as New Chef at The Brew [NCaTB] and actually known as Talia)

Again, I mostly say “whatever” to this.  But again, good for her for hooking up with super hot and now sort of smart, Emily.  You know how I’ve been wondering about Nadia’s age?  I’m now not totally certain that she’s old because she acted like a big baby this week.  She was sketchy about why she was out of work, she totally flirted with Jonny (UGH), then she suggestively grabbed Em’s hips out of nowhere after kind of ignoring her … Nadia was all over the place.  But all’s well that end’s well (for this week anyway), I suppose.

(5) Caleb

Cool camouflage shirt, dude.  I’ll give credit to Caleb for being calm about the police questioning.  He’s right to tell Hanna that there’s nothing that really links them to the storage unit other than bad timing, which they can’t be arrested for.  (Of course, with respect to the video of the two of them talking about their plan to go to the storage unit, he says “We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.”  Touché, Caleb.)  Aside from that, Caleb stares down Holbrook (nice), gives boring advice to Emily (zzzz), and listens to the Bethany Young tape with Hanna (fine).  A fairly middle of the pack night for Caleb, but any night without Ravenswood references is a good one.

(6) Spencer

Ok, let’s start with the good — Spencer looked AMAZING this week.  Her hair was so on point, I can’t even.  Loved her top, loved her necklace … loved every single thing she had going on, looks-wise.  I’ll also give Spence points for (1) making up adorably with Hanna; (2) telling Hanna to befriend Leslie; and (3) snooping through Fake Mariska’s bag in order to find the file indicating that Mike Montgomery has visited Alison in jail.  All good moves and typical Spencer behavior.  Her behavior vis-a-vis Jonny the stupid artist and the possibility of not going to college?  Not so much.  Spencer — you’re a freaking genius and you got accepted into colleges.  Presumably ones that are not in the worst town in the universe, Rosewood.  You are going to college.  Also, Jonny is a loser.  That art concept was not genius in any way.  Get over it, girl.  I hate to scold my favorite Liar this way, but ya know, sometimes tough love is necessary.

(7) Mike Montgomery

Shady alert!!  Now we know that (a) Mike went to see Alison in the past; (b) he doesn’t seem inclined to tell Aria why he did that (not that I totally blame him); (c) he’s been going out to a dock in the woods and leaving little baggies of gummy candy (???); (d) he says things like “Be careful going home through the woods” in the creepiest manner possible; (e) he might have gotten into a semi-disturbing sounding fight with Mona right before she died; and (f) he went to see Alison again!  WTF, Mike????

(8) Leslie

When Leslie was like, “Oh, I’m Mona’s friend,” SoC Jenny and I both made reference to the line “My best friend Leslie says oh she’s just being Miley” from the classic jam “See You Again.”  That was fun.  Otherwise, Leslie was kinda weird.  She just showed up in Rosewood, looking for Hanna and the girls.  She tells Hanna that the Liars were “very precious” to Mona.  Does she mean in the Gollum, “My precious” sort of way?  Because that would kind of make sense.  Otherwise, Leslie, not sure you know what you’re talking about, girl.

(9) Aria

Ok, so let’s start with her outfit.  Leopard print dress, which is typical Aria.  Big, chunky striped belt that didn’t match the leopard print in any way, shape, or form.  Also typical Aria.  But this dress had a twist!  It was all leopard-y on the top and then, wait for it, sheer on the bottom!  I mean, really, what an outfit!  Brava, Aria, brava!  Anyway, she spends the episode being in denial about Mike’s creepiness, then having him act like a total freak to her in the woods, only to still be in denial at the end.  She insists that Mike won’t go back to see Alison because she, his authoritative older sister, told him not to.  Cut to scene of Mike on his way to see Ali.  Way to go, Aria.

(10) Jonny

What is it with characters named Johnny/Jonny on television?  One of the all-time worst = Johnny from The OC who basically just whined about Marissa all season until he died falling off a cliff at the beach.  He was terrible.  This Jonny is also a lame-o.  He claims to be an artist, yet he lives in the Hastings’ backyard, hangs out with Ezra, and creates derivative pieces for The Brew.  Seems like his career is going swimmingly.  Team Fake Mariska re: this guy.

(11) Holbrook

Not only does he get suspended from the police force for messing with a lie detector test, he’s got a terrible new “I’m having a mid-life crisis” haircut, and he gets completely owned by Hanna (see above).  I think it’s time for you to go back to hanging out with Internal Affairs, Holbrook, because, in the words of Kristin Cavallari, you’re dunzo.

Not Ranked: Bethany Young (still dead); Ezra (why in God’s name would you go to Harrisburg? I’ve been to Harrisburg. There isn’t anything there. But maybe stay there and never come back to Rosewood, dude.); Alison’s defense team (why are you dopes letting Fake Mariska “consult” aka just steal your information so it ends up in the hands of her daughter and her friends??); Ralph (calls Fake Mariska to tell her about a leak in Ali’s case. I’m guessing he’s an associate who works for her. Which means he probably bills 12-14 hours per day. Poor Ralph.).

Ok, guys, I have an A theory.  It’s sort of related to how Keegan Allen said that you could know who A was from the very beginning.  Right before the first A was revealed, I did a semi re-watch of PLL.  My guess after that re-watch?  Mona.  And I was right.  All signs pointed to Mona in the beginning and those signs were not inaccurate.  I know she’s “dead” now or whatever, but let’s talk about the flashback to her sleepover with Hanna.  When Hanna asks Mona what she’d wish for if she had a wish, she has an answer immediately: a stopwatch.  She explains that time would stop, but you could walk around and steal and basically do whatever you wanted with impunity.  Mona goes on: “You would have all the control and nobody would even know it was was you.  They wouldn’t even know it was you.  That would be the best part.”  Um, hello, does that sound like A to anyone else???

Ok, yes, I know Mona is supposedly dead, and maybe she really is dead, but couldn’t she have been acting as A when she was killed?  Isn’t it possible that she was setting Alison up?  And the Bethany Young tape — couldn’t that have just as easily been about Mona rather than about Alison?  Also, wouldn’t this take a big step toward explaining what the heck Mike Montgomery is up to at the moment?

I don’t guys.  It’s out there, but it’s a theory.  Let’s think on it.

‘Til next week!



“Yeah, because I’m a good writer.” PLL Rankings!

Team, here’s the most interesting thing I’ve heard about Pretty Little Liars in a while: in this interview, Keegan Allen (Toby) said that not only does he know who A is, but the whole audience should know as well.  He said that it’s apparent and has been apparent since season one.  And, in fact, if you go back and re-watch, you’ll be like, “Oh, duh, [insert name here] is totally A.”  The Teens discussed this and our minds all went to the same person: ARIA.  Look, we don’t have a lot of concrete evidence at this point, but we’ve all been suspicious of Aria from the beginning.  Of note: she has a red coat.  Her name even begins with an A.  And, most importantly, A almost never goes after Aria like he/she/it does with the other girls.  Aria’s always focused on Ezra stuff and not even really paying attention to the major drama.  It’s her, I’m telling you.  Just keep this in mind until the end of the season, people.  And remember: you heard it here first!

Ok, anyway, enough of that, on with tonight’s episode!

(1) Tanner

Ok, first, everybody sucked this week, right?  This was a particularly bad week for everyone involved.  Hence why that weird, condescending B, Tanner, is ranked tops.  But, listen, I have to admit that what she’s doing appears to be working.  She’s effectively turned Toby into more of a cop than a friend/boyfriend, which is sort of important — if Toby were working with them, the Liars would have a person on the inside of the Rosewood PD.  This would be a big deal for them.  But Tanner’s stupid mind games appear to be working and she’s convinced Toby that he needs to be loyal to her, not his friends.  (Related: Toby’s an idiot.) Tanner is also one sick human — even though she knows that the disgusting, smelly barrel likely contains human waste, she opens it anyway, just to take a peek.  Ew, girl.  Finally, Tanner asks a question rarely heard from Rosewood adults when they encounter a Liar or other Rosewood student (in this case Spencer) out and about in the middle of the weekday: “Shouldn’t you be in school?”  Touche, Tanner, touche.  (I did not like it, however, when she referred to Spencer as Toby’s “high school girlfriend.”  Um, girl, Toby’s, like, the same age as Spencer.  He should be in high school!  If you’re looking for a creep dating a high school girl, I just might know of one for you…..)

(2) Ashley M

Poor Ashley M.  She still hasn’t said yes (or no) to Pastor Ted as far as I can tell, and she quits her job working for Jason as a result of their little tryst.  Still, she looks fierce throughout and she handles everything with grace.  Ashley M is also completely right about not telling Pastor Ted about her thing with Jason.  Hanna tries to shame her into doing so, but Ashley rightly points out that (a) the only people that know about it are Ashley, Jason, and Hanna, so Pastor Ted is not likely to find out and (b) there’s really no reason to tell him.  It will only hurt him unnecessarily.  She’s right.  Do you, Ashley M.

(3) New Chef at The Brew (NCaTB)

This week, we find out what we all already knew about NCaTB: she’s into girls, specifically Emily.  I repeat my question from last week: how old is she, exactly?  She seems a little Maya-esque, no?  Still, though, she’s nice and she’s feeling Emily, so points for that.

(4) Ezra

This is the highest he’s ever been right??  Ezra Fitz is up to her for one reason and one reason only: because finally, FINALLY, Ezra suggests that maybe he and Aria should break up.  PRAISE THE LORD.  HALLELUJAH.  THANK YOU.  Finally, this grown adult man has realized that, hey, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to date my student, not just because it’s creepy and possibly illegal, but also because it’s totally selfish and terrible for the aforementioned student.  I don’t know why it took you a million years to realize this, Ezra Fitz, but at least you finally got there!  Now, did Ezria actually break up?  No, of course not, I’m not that lucky.  But it’s a step in the right direction.  Aria agrees to at least consider finally breaking up.  I’ll take it!

(5) Jason

Except for the attempted kiss (whoops), Jason handles the rejection from Ashley M pretty well.  And for a guy whose been in pretty bad shape recently, he seems rather ok.  All to do with the power of Ashely M, no doubt!

(6) Spencer

For the first time in PLL history (I think), someone (Spencer) doesn’t just waltz into a creepy empty room in a sketchy building and just casually shut the door behind herself: instead, she wedges something in the door to keep it open.  What a concept!  Now, of course, it doesn’t work, since A removes the wedge and locks Aria and Spencer in a room with some liquid nitrogen that nearly freezes them to death (#SaveSparia), but still.  Beyond that, not a great episode for Spencer overall.  She almost dies, her boyfriend is ignoring her/working with the cops, and she wore those high-waisted jeans for some reason.  But still, Spencer still ranks higher than the rest of her fellow Liars.  It was just that kind of week.

(7) Emily

Emily exhibited some disturbing idiot tendencies tonight, reminscent of the old Emily.  Hopefully it was just a momentary blip.  For example, when the girls realize that Hanna is breaking into the storage unit, Emily disagrees because Hanna wouldn’t do that.  Girl.  Then, when Spencer and Aria realize that Caleb is helping Hanna, Emily’s all, “Guys, no, we don’t know that.”  GIRL.  Come on now.  You’re better than this (now)!  Still, though, Em looked fierce and tomboy-chic throughout and she has a new admirer.  And yeah, it took her a while to bust Sparia out of that freezer room, but she did eventually get it done.  Way to #SaveSparia, Em.

(8) Aria

There was an amazing Aria line in tonight’s episode.  When Ezra suggests that Aria’s letter to Talmudge [Talmedge?] rang true for some reason, Aria immediately replies, “Yeah, because I’m a good writer.”  LOLOLOLOL YEAH, OK, GIRL.  Sure you are.  Remember when she wrote that poem about the cat?  FoC Katie almost died of laughter when that happened.  But yeah, sure, Aria, you’re a good writer.  Ok, anyway, Aria too almost died in the #SaveSparia incident and she ended the episode flipping through her yearbook and realizing that she was never involved in anything in high school (well, except for inappropriate affairs with teachers/A related capers).  But hey, if Aria agrees to break up with Ezra, she can move right on up these rankings.  You can do this, Aria!

(9) Caleb

Did anyone else think that Caleb’s facial hair changed depending on the scene?  Maybe it was the lighting?  I don’t know.  Anyway, he agrees to help Hanna move stuff from the storage, even though he knows it’s a bad idea, and he gets himself on Tanner’s radar as a result.  He also refuses to stay away from Hanna, even if it lands him in jail.  Sure, that’s romantic I guess, but it’s also really dumb.  Hasn’t Caleb already done some time?  He should know better.

(10) Toby

Hating on you so much right now, Toby.  He decided to help the cops (his colleagues in other words) instead of his friends and blows off his badass girlfriend.  Sure, those are good choices, Toby.  Allow me to just remind you that the Rosewood PD is the single most corrupt, eff-ed up organization this side of FIFA.  And your girlfriend is Spencer freaking Hastings!  She’s, like, 100 times hotter and smarter than you!  WAKE UP, TOBY.

(11) Hanna

Girl.  You are officially in some trouble.  She is definitely on Tanner’s radar since Tanner basically caught Hanna and Caleb breaking into the storage unit and, despite Caleb’s file corruption, someone is eventually going to find out that the unit was in Hanna’s name.  Plus, she gives her mom terrible advice about Pastor Ted (see above) and she’s in a fight with Spencer.  Not great for Ms. Marin tonight.

Not Ranked: Pastor Ted (poor guy. He’s so understanding); Alison (anyone know how she’s doing in jail?); Jackie Molina (she’d feel so good about herself if she knew that Aria and Ezra still talked about her all the time); Talmudge [Talmedge?] College (if you guys let Aria in because she’s a “good writer,” you should lose your accreditation).

Caleb mentions this week that the unit was registered in Hanna’s name on the day before Mona’s murder.  So, naturally, the girls assume that Alison was planning to set up Hanna.  But why?  Why Hanna?  It’s not really Alison, obviously, so who was it?  Who would want to set Hanna up like this?  The girls keep talking about Holbrook … could it have been him?  Didn’t he hit on Hanna one time or something?

Well, we’ll likely find out more next week, because Holbrook is finally back.  See you then, Liars!



Spencer Hastings: Not Paranoid, Meticulous – PLL Rankings!

Team, so sorry about my negligence last week.  I went on a little vacation IRL and I decided to take a mini-vacation from TV/blogging as well.  But never fear, I am back!  My favorite parts of last week’s episode were #AriasMeltdown (naturally), Ashley M and Jason (insert shocked face emoji here!),  the return of Jackie Molina (#sarcasm), and the fact that they played a Tegan and Sara song and my favorite song off Lykke Li’s 2014 record (“No Rest For the Wicked,” how PLL appropriate).  Is it me, or is this season more bonkers than ever?  Let’s get on to this week!

(1) Spencer

(Sidenote: when I first started writing the foregoing paragraph, Spencer was ranked #2.  But then I wrote it and realized that I had to change the order.  Homegirl is that good.)

Girl, why are you so much smarter than everyone on this program?  It’s really unfair.  But let’s start with the superficial stuff.  Though I didn’t really enjoy that short-sleeved poncho top, Spencer’s hair, necklace, and, let’s just say it, face, looked great this whole episode.  As an east coast gal who lives in the cold for almost half the year, I really appreciated Spencer’s disdain for Hawaii and professed love of brick, ivy, and, most importantly, wool pea coats.  (I mean, really, would it even feel like college if you weren’t at a place where you had to wear a pea coat and a scarf?  I say no.)  Anyway, per usual, Spencer drops knowledge all over everyone throughout the episode.  When Toby suggests that Alison won’t be able to follow Spencer if she goes to college far away because Ali is in jail, Spencer responds, “She was able to plant a murder weapon in Mona’s backyard, you don’t think she can book a plane ticket?”  She immediately knows that the Hastings’ new backyard squatter (Donnie?  Johnny?) went to Italy when he mentions making his own paint because, naturally, she did a project on Botticelli.  Spencer keeps bolt cutters in her car because she “likes to be prepared.”  When Caleb immediately goes to put his filthy paws all over Mona’s laptop in the storage unit, Spencer realizes that everything in there looks “too neat” and that they should touch nothing.  Then, Caleb thinks a clear decoy is an actual person in the storage unit.  He hides.  What does Spencer do?  She goes and checks it out and realizes that nothing is there.  Because she’s a badass.  Spencer knows that the ingredients near the barrel in the unit — alcohol, antacid tablets, and water — will either preserve a specimen or turn it into sludge, so that “Mona,” if she’s in the barrel, is in one form or another.  (For the record, allow me to say, EW.)  When Caleb tells her she’s being paranoid, Spencer explains, by quoting Webster’s dictionary, that she’s actually being meticulous, not paranoid.  I mean, fight with the boyfriend and idiotic small talk with the squatter notwithstanding, Spencer was unreal this episode.  She continues to be one of the most badass characters on television and I continue to love the crap out of her.

(2) Emily

Does anyone look better in tomboy casual than Emily Fields?  Ok, fine, my homegirl K.Stew is in the conversation for sure, but Emily looks totally amaze in her cutoff denim shorts and a cute graphic baseball t-shirt, which we come to find out, belongs to Paige.  Emily struggles with moving on from Paige — she plans to send Paige back some stuff, and acts totally cool about it, but she wears/wants to hang on to her shirt.  I think this is totally reasonable.  After all, Paige just left, like, one episode ago.  Give the girl a minute!  I also liked Emily’s sass to the new cook at The Brew/her future love interest when that girl (what’s her name?  Any thoughts?) suggested that they have uniforms, which, ew, Emily’s look is killing it as I mentioned.  Basically, as is par for the course these days, Emily looked amazing and was generally rational/killed it.  Team Emily.

(3) Hanna

Bad: that denim vest.  Why, girl?  Good: that low, pseudo Lauren Conrad side braid.  Also good, everything to do with Hanna’s eye makeup lately.  On point, 100%.  Hanna is also great this episode in other ways.  For one, she reacts not at all when Caleb casually tells her that he’s in an air duct.  Instead, she’s all, “Ok, babe, gotta go, Pastor Ted’s here.”  Classic Hanna, classic PLL.  She’s also the correct amounts of questioning, judge-y, and supportive about the newly formed Ashley M/Jason/Pastor Ted love triangle.  Hanna is totally right — Pastor Ted is a great guy and Jason is, among other things, Ashley M’s boss and Alison’s brother.  About lots of things, Hanna seems kind of dumb, but about the important stuff, she totally gets it.  (But, girl, sorry that your name is on that storage unit.  That’s going to be … complicated for you.)

(4) Jason

Night of passion with Ashley M?  Check.  Awkward/not that awkward lunch with former flame Aria Montgomery out of nowhere?  Check.  Psychopathic sister behind bars/no longer living with clueless and stupid father?  Check and check.  You guys, I think Jason’s kind of killing it now?  (He also tells Aria that the police have a theory that Alison had help after she killed Mona — putting the body in the trunk, burying it, etc.  In other words, the Rosewood PD think that someone, probably the one or all of the Liars, is the Jay to Ali’s Adnan!  SERIAL LIVES!)

(5) Caleb

Look, I’m still not a big fan, but when you choose to team up with my girl Spencer Hastings, you move up the rankings.  It’s as simple as that.

(6) New Cook at The Brew (NCaTB)

Does anyone know this woman’s name?  Anyone?  Well, no matter, she’s kind of annoying either way.  She’s clearly meant to be Emily’s new love interest, but I have a few questions.  Starting with, um, girl, HOW OLD ARE YOU??  I know this doesn’t matter in the land of epic creep, Ezra Fitz, but it matters to the rest of civilized society.  Though, to be fair, Emily did date the ancient Maya, but that was the old Emily!  This is new and improved Emily Fields!  (Also, as Friend of Christine Regina correctly pointed out, that “Isn’t Ezra’s butt cute?” comment to Emily at the end = totally an attempt to gauge Emily’s reaction/her sexuality.)

(7) Aria

Long.  Feathered.  Dangly.  Earrings.  That’s really all I have to say.  No, I’m lying.  Let’s also talk about the receipt from Aria’s coffee at The Brew, which, in addition to printing her total, also printed her entire letter to Jackie Molina about her regrets with respect to Ezra.  Excuse me while I die laughing.  Kudos, A.  That was a good one.  Also, shout out to Aria for somehow agreeing to meet up with “H,” who she assumes is Holbrook, but never actually meeting him; instead, she delivers flowers to Ashley M for no apparent reason (??) and has lunch with pseudo-ex Jason!  (LOL remember when Aria and Jason were a thing for a minute?  Also, I loved how Aria totally didn’t get the note that “Jason” wrote on Ashley M’s flowers.  She is just that dense.  Classic.)

(8) The Hastings’ Squatter

Anyone know this guys’ name?  Donnie?  Johnny?  At first I thought he might be semi-charming and rogue-ish and all that.  But then he did the dumbest thing in the universe.  He told Spencer that, essentially, college is stupid so he dropped out and traveled to just, like, learn about life, man.  THIS IS THE STUPIDEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE.  How very Jess Mariano of you, Squatter Guy.  College is the great experience in the history of life and anyone who has been to college and denies that fact is a fool.  This guy?  Fool.  GTF away from Spencer Hastings, demon!

(9) Ashley M

From my notes: “I love you, Ashley M, but GIRLLLLL.  Come on now.”  As Hanna astutely points out, Jason is both her boss and Alison’s brother.  (Not to mention that time he hooked up with Aria!)  My real question is, why did she do it?  I mean, Jason’s not that hot, right?  Is Ashley M just not happy with Pastor Ted?  (He’s a super nice guy … but I could see that.)  Clearly, this was not a good choice for her personal life.  But, on the other hand, as Friend of Christine Katie points out, this is totally a fun move for the show.  I believe the word she used was “salacious.”  Way to be salacious, PLL!

(10) Toby

Look, Toby, I get that you’re technically a cop now, but didn’t you just become a cop so you could help out Spencer and the gals?  Have you forgotten what side you’re on?  Spencer is being Spencer — doing some shady, but necessary stuff to keep her friends out of trouble.  This is what you signed up for.  Don’t pick fights with Spencer Hastings, Toby.  Especially after you guys are being all cute playing Scrabble (callback!) and talking about going away to college together.  Bad move by you.

(11) Pastor Ted

Poor guy.  He was so cute about his proposal — asking Hanna, telling her he wanted it to be “super casual,” even hiding the ring in a giant peanut butter cookie somehow (which, how???).  Only to be told that his would-be fiancee needs a minute to think.  And then she doesn’t even walk him out.  Ouch.  Sorry, dude.

Not Ranked: Ezra (literally useless this week. Can we write him off the show now?); Mrs. Horowitz (sorry about the smell from 1017, but hey, you’re lucky that Caleb wasn’t actually in your class because he’s kind of a dumb); flower shop lady (why would you just hand a bouquet of flowers to a random girl you don’t know and tell her to make a delivery??  WHAT KIND OF BUSINESS ARE YOU RUNNING??).

So, you guys, what is Ali up to now?  What’s the deal with that note she received last week saying that her friends would join her soon?  And who is actually trying to frame the Liars?  It can’t really be Holbrook … right?  Also, where the heck is he???

More to come next week!  ‘Til then.




The 2014 Christine-ies!

I know, I know, I’m a little late with this, my 2014 awards list, but better late than never, right?  Anyway, these are called The Christine-ies, in the style of Michael Scott’s yearly Dunder Mifflin awards ceremony, The Dundies.  If only I could gather all of these winners in a room, preferably at a Chili’s, so I could emcee and make lots of terrible jokes.  Maybe for the 2015 awards.  Anyway, on towiththe show — ladies and gentlemen, I gave you, the First Annual Christine-ies!

The Cordelia Chase Award for Character I’ll Miss Most on a Television Program: Cristina Yang, Grey’s Anatomy.

Ya know, I seriously considered giving this award to the late, great Mona Vanderwaal from Pretty Little Liars, but I know we’ll see Mona again (see: her ubiquitous and AMAZING presence in the PLL Christmas special and flashback Mona in this week’s winter premiere).  Cristina Yang, not so much.  During her final run of appearances on Grey’s Anatomy, I realized that I never appreciated Dr. Yang as much as I should have.  There is truly no other television character like her.  A true friend, a serious career woman, and one who doesn’t just pay lip service to the idea of not needing a relationship to be happy; she’s a woman who lived that.  (Contrast Yang with another character whom I love deeply: Miranda Hobbes.  I supported Miranda and Steve a lot, but would you really have imagined early Sex and the City Miranda ending up married, with a kid, and living in Brooklyn?)  Dr. Yang went out in the best way possible—after a dance party with her person, Meredith Grey, and after giving Meredith the greatest advice of all time: “He is very dreamy, but he is not the sun.  You are.” There is truly nothing better that she could have said.  I miss her so much already.  Thanks for being you, Cristina Yang.  You’re the best.

The “Teenage Dream” Award for Single of the Year: “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift.

Look, clearly, this was going to go to a Taylor song.  We all know how I feel about Taylor.  Apologies to Ariana Grande (“Problem,” “Break Free,” and “Love Me Harder” were all in the mix), Chromeo (“Jealous (I Ain’t With It)”), The War On Drugs (“Red Eyes”), Bleachers (“I Wanna Get Better”), and One Direction (“Steal My Girl”).  Important note: this award is for SINGLE of the year, not song of the year.  Hence why “Style” is not the winner.  So why “Shake It Off” over “Blank Space”?  Well, for one, according to my iTunes I’ve listened to “Shake It Off” 578 times since I downloaded it  That’s probably a low estimate.  It dominated my life for an entire month after it came out and I’m pretty sure I’ve still never turned it off or skipped it on shuffle.  It’s a powerhouse.  It’s the single of the year from the record of the year.  Done and done.  (At least until Taylor releases “Style” as a single.)

The 10 Things I Hate About You Award for Teen Movie of the Year: The Fault In Our Stars.

(Note: Friend of Christine Regina asked whether Divergent and Mockingjay were considered for this award.  They weren’t really, to be honest.  Though I loved Mockingjay and thought Divergent was okay, neither of those movies really fit this spirit of this award, named after my favorite of the great late-90s/early 2000s teen romances.)

I foolishly tried to deny The Fault In Our Stars.  It worked, right up until the movie trailer came out.  The truth is, I can’t resist Shailene Woodley.  Or a teen romance with an adorable romantic lead.  (And Ansel Elgort is nothing if not absolutely adorable.)  And hey, as it turns out, this movie was utterly charming.  It was incredibly well acted, it was schmaltzy, but not too much so, and it also had that rad Charli XCX song “Boom Clap.”  All around, a real tour de force of a teen romance.

The Lauren Conrad Award for Reality Star of the Year: Stassi Schroeder, Vanderpump Rules

To be honest, this has not been Stassi’s greatest season on Vanderpump.  True, 2014 did include the end of season two, in which Stassi schemes to out Kristen and Jax for all their lying and cheating (and it totally works), but in season three (still going on now!), Stassi just hasn’t been that much of a fixture.  This probably has a lot to do with the fact that she no longer works at SUR, the restaurant around which the entire program is centered.  So why, given her decreased presence, is Stassi still the Lauren Conrad Award winner?  Um, because she’s still the best!  She had far and away the exchange of this year in reality programming with Scheana at SUR, culminating in this zinger, “I’m not really sure what I’ve done to you, but I’ll take a pinot grigio.”  ZING!!  If you haven’t seen it, check it out here.  For that scene alone, Stassi Schroeder is the winner of the inaugural Lauren Conrad Award.

The Heidi Montag/Jill Zarin Award for Worst Reality Person of the Year: Aviva Drescher, The Real Housewives of New York City.

A related award to the Lauren Conrad Award, only exactly the opposite.  Do I really need to explain why Aviva is the Heidi/Jill Award winner?  Seven words: Leg. On. The. Table. At. Le. Cirque.  It was horrifying, hilarious, amazing, and un-freaking-believable.  If you haven’t seen it yet, please do yourself a favor and watch it here immediately if not sooner.  Bye, Aviva, I will most certainly not miss you next season on RHONY.

The Justin Timberlake/Nick Carter Award for Boy Band Member of the Year: Harry Styles, One Direction.

(A quick note on the name of this award—yes, Justin and Nick are sharing it.  Look, I got into BSB first, as did everyone, and I tend to really hang on to the first thing I latch on to.  Yeah, I’ll agree that N’SYNC has a better overall catalogue, but aren’t Millennium and No Strings Attached pretty close in terms of quality?  And isn’t “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” the best song of the entire bunch?  And wasn’t Nick just as cute as Justin for a while there?  No?  Whatever, these are my awards, just let me have this.)

Harry Styles is a freaking slam dunk here.  Not only is he far and away the cutest member of 1D (the best boy band since N’SYNC by miles by the way), he’s also the primary inspiration for the best record of the year and he’s utterly freaking charming.  I mean, really, just a few weeks ago, he danced with Kristen Wiig to “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” from Dirty Dancing at the Saturday Night Live after party!  What could be better??  (Yes, it doesn’t hurt that he’s had only nice things to say about Taylor and the fact that they’re still friendly and that I still kind of have hope for them to reunite one day … whatever, stop judging me.)

The Pacey Witter/Andie McPhee Award for Ship of the Year: Amy and Karma, Faking It.

(Pacey + Andie 4ever.)

I believe I’ve already gushed about my love of “Karmy,” as they’re called, in my 1989 post (check it out here).  Yeah, they’re not actually together, and they’ve yet to really be together on Faking It, but they’re best friends and they’re adorable and I have a lot of hope for them.  Stay tuned for the second part of season two!

The USWNT vs. Brazil in the 2011 Women’s World Cup Award for Sports Moment of the Year: TJ Oshie in the Olympics.

I don’t care for hockey, but this was the most amazing sports thing I’ve seen all year and it wasn’t even really close.  (And the World Cup was this summer for goodness sakes!)  I woke up at the crack of dawn and dragged my butt to a bar in midtown to watch USA v. Russia with two of my best buds.  We went up, they tied, they went up, we tied … my emotions were all over the place by overtime.  Finally, we got to the shootout.  Each team had one guy go, then another, then another.  Then, after the first three, all bets were off — you could send out whichever guy you wanted.  And USA coach Dan Bylsma just kept sending Oshie back out there.  It was unreal watching him take shot after shot after shot.  He missed a few, but he looked the same after each one.  Cool, calm, like he felt like cracking a joke (or even a beer).  After we won that shootout, I went absolutely nuts.  The craziest I’ve ever gone over hockey, for sure.  I considered buying an Oshie t-shirt.  (He plays for St. Louis, which is not New York, where I live, but for once, I considered making an exception.)  TJ Oshie became an American hero at a ridiculous hour of the morning in February and that was pretty freaking amazing.  Oshie for America!

The “…Baby One More Time” Award for Music Video of the Year: “Just One of the Guys” – Jenny Lewis

(Let’s talk about the classic-ness of the “…Baby One More Time” music video for a minute.  I’ll never forget the first time I heard that song [on a cassette tape single at my friend Brianne’s 13th birthday party] and the first time I saw the music video [on TRL, naturally].  That outfit, those dance moves, the fact that the guy in the video was her cousin … all classic late ’90s/early Britney stuff.  And I loved every second of it.)

Not only is this a Jenny Lewis jam, which is already right in my wheelhouse, but guess who is in the music video?  Oh, nbd, Brie Larson, Anne freaking Hathaway (aka Princess Mia), and … NBD KRISTEN FREAKING STEWART.  Aka my longtime homegirl and unabashed Jenny lover herself.  Basically, you tell me that Jenny Lewis wrote a dope song and put Princess Mia and K.Stew in the video and it’s getting an award from me, no questions asked.

The Tim Riggins Award for TV Hottie of the Year: Amy, Faking It.

I considered giving this award to the hottest guy on television currently, Matty McKibben from Awkward.  And I love Matty, I do.  But it just didn’t feel like the right answer.  The right answer, the right winner for this award, is Amy Raudenfeld.  She’s no Tim Riggins (no one is), but Amy is the TV hottie of 2014.  And hey, this is appropriate for both Amy and Riggins: Texas Forever.

The Hermione Granger Award for Person of the Year: Taylor Swift.

(A quick note about the name of this award: Yes, I realize that Hermione Granger is not a real person.  But she’s my favorite fictional character and a worthy person to emulate in real life.  For that reason, Hermione Granger is the perfect person to name the Person of the Year award after.)

I mean, could I choose anyone else?  Taylor could win this award every year for me, but this year, she truly deserved it.  This year, Taylor solidified her position as the biggest star in the world.  She did it by moving to New York, collecting a coterie of the coolest girlfriends around (shout out to Lena Dunham and Lorde!), creating a great record and releasing it into the world (without any gimmicks or tricks, I might add, ahem, Beyonce), and by being exactly the person all of her fans know she is — a kind, lovable, dork, who can’t really dance but does it anyway and goes out of her way to do nice things for people that love her.  Taylor Swift wins 2014 going away and I can’t wait to see what she does next year.  Long live the Swift.

Thanks for reading guys.  Here’s to an even more memorable 2015!



“I eat a lot of fiber.” PLL Rankings!

We’re baaaaaaaack!  Fellow Liar Lovers, how I’ve missed you (and the Liars)!  My apologies for not covering the Christmas episode.  I didn’t write for a few reasons, one being that I actually watched the episode almost a week late and another being that I actually found it incredibly confusing.  My main takeaway was the fact that Ezra, schoolteacher, was totally cool with drinking with his underage student girlfriend and her underage student friends.  SOMEONE ARREST THIS MAN AND THROW AWAY THE KEY.  (Also, mad props to A on the “Merry Christmas, Bitches” sign.  It was some of A’s finest work to date.)

Anyway, the Liars are back full-time now and thank goodness.  (And not just the Liars — all my main homegirls are about to be back!  Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, and Shosh come back Sunday night, followed by Abbi and Ilana next Wednesday!  I’m giddy!)  So let’s get right to it — the first Pretty Little Liars Power Rankings of the winter!

(1) Emily

Continuing her strong form from last season, Emily Fields continues to kill it.  First of all, let’s talk about that adorable, 90s-chic outfit she rocked for most of the episode.  The denim roll up shorts, the flannel, the Converse kicks … she totally nailed it.  (Though I will say, her funeral dress at the beginning of the episode was a bit plunging if you ask me.)  Emily gets in at least one sarcastic zinger directed at Aria, which is always good for points with me.  She also steals Ali’s brush, setting up the entire thrust of the episode.  Emily tells Spencer they should plant Ali’s hair in Mona’s house and then get the cops to search the house again.  When Spencer points out that fabricating evidence is an “actual crime,” Emily retorts, “Spencer, you’re being charged with actual murder.”  Touche, Em.  Ultimately, this is a bit of a sad one for Emily, though, as her girlfriend Paige leaves to be with her family in California.  Em races to the airport after, even going so far as to buy a $69 ticket to Atlantic City to get through security.  See, I tell you, that wouldn’t even have occurred to the old Emily.  Stealing the brush and planting evidence definitely wouldn’t have occurred to her.  So while Em is undoubtedly bummed that her girlfriend is gone, I know she’s going to be ok.  You just keep on keepin’ on, Emily Fields.

(2) Mrs. Vanderwaal

“Christine,” you ask, “Mrs. Vanderwaal just lost her daughter — how the heck could she be ranked second?”  Well, readers, for one reason and one reason alone: because she got to slap the ever living crap out of Alison DiLaurentis.  And in public no less!  The thing we’ve all wanted to do, Liars included.  For that, she gets forever points.  (And, of course, my condolences on the loss of her eternally fabulous daughter.)

(3) Spencer

True, Spencer isn’t originally down with Emily’s plan to plant Ali’s hair, but once she commits, Spencer is the one who has the idea to plant the hair near the vent and, as a result, finds Mona’s hidden camera.  Once the cops see the video, with it’s clear footage of a blonde girl dragging Mona across the floor, things are looking up for Spencer.  And obviously, her “I’m your sister, too” speech to Jason laid the groundwork for him to back off his alibi, thus leading to Alison’s arrest for Mona’s murder and subsequent dismissal of the charges against Spencer for Bethany Young’s murder.  (Because the cops think Ali killed her too.)  All in a day’s work for the young Ms. Hastings.  (But yeah, those pants definitely didn’t match that gray sweater, collared shirt combo she was wearing.  What was on them anyway?)

(4) Hanna

Classic, CLASSIC, Hanna-ism: Mrs. Grunwald asks, essentially, how Hanna can stand to live in a world that’s so, as she described it, “constipated.”  Hanna’s answer?  “I eat a lot of fiber.”  I love this girl.  (Though I have to subtract a few points for her invocation of Mrs. Grunwald, which for me, is always a Ravenswood reference that I neither need nor care about.)

(5) Paige

Who knew that the girl with the terrible haircut who once tried to drown Emily in the pool would turn into this attractive, nice, smart, well-spoken young woman?  She’s leaving for California because, sensibly, her parents want her to GTFO of crazy pants Rosewood.  If I were a parent, I’d bolt from that crazy town too.  In the end, she tells Emily that she doesn’t want to fight her parents decision, saying, “I’ve used so much energy fighting and being afraid.  I’m worried I’m not going to have any left to just live.”  Though that great font of wisdom Aria later declares that Paige is wrong, Emily knows that she’s right.  I’m very sad that Paige left, and Emily and I will both miss her.

(6) Toby

Is it weird that I forgot that Toby’s a police officer now?  Also, I have to be honest, the entire scene between him and Tanner about Jessica DiLaurentis’ statement about seeing Spencer in the backyard with a girl?  I 100% did not follow.  Wilden suppressed the statement for some reason?  But then he was paid by someone to convince Jessica not to tell anyone about what she saw?  Because Wilden knew Jessica was having an affair with Bethany Young’s father?  Because of Radley?  I don’t know, I’m lost.  Anyway, I thought Toby’s deep professional involvement in Spencer’s case was totally inappropriate.  How can a cop be working on a case in which his girlfriend is the indicted party?  But I guess that’s not on Toby, that’s on his superior.  (More on her in a minute.)  And, I guess, good on Toby for taking advantage of the situation?  Whatever.  That’s too much on Toby.  Let’s move on.

(7) Jason

Guys, do you think Jason is back on the sauce?  He seemed a little … off … during his scenes tonight, don’t you think?  Either way, Jason was clearly impacted by Spencer’s speech about how he shouldn’t be protecting Alison at her expense (he was also impacted by the fact that he’s totally jealous that his parents have a lot of baby pictures of Ali and, like, none of him), so by the time he saw the video, he was ready to give Ali up.  I’m sure this will make his dad love him even more.  But good on him for doing the right thing, right?  (Poor Jason.)

(8) Aria

Naturally, in the midst of chaos — Mona’s funeral, trying to keep Spencer from jail, etc. — Aria finds some time to think about herself.  You see, Aria was rejected from Oberlin, and it can’t be because she’s not that smart or they just didn’t like her.  No, no, it MUST be because of A.  Clearly.  So Aria does what anyone would do — she goes to her friend’s hacker boyfriend (Caleb) and convinces him to teach her how to hack into Oberlin’s system so she can confirm that, in fact, A is ruining her life.  Say it with me now: UGHHHHHHHHH.  Aria also convinces her terrible, creepy, underage-girl loving boyfriend to talk to her brother, which he just does an AWESOME job at (more on this later).  However, I will give Ms. Montgomery a few points.  First, by the end of the episode, she does manage some actual humanity and sympathy with respect to the aforementioned brother.  More importantly, Aria says this to Alison, in public, after Aria calls Ali “A” to her face, and right before Aria loudly blows her rape whistle (!): “You stole the game from Mona and then you killed her because she had proof.  And you killed Bethany because you were jealous of a mental patient, that’s how crazy you are!”  Whoa, go Aria!  Oh yeah and one other thing — ARIA GETS CRAZY ATTACKED BY A!  Let’s set the scene: Aria gets a text from Mike telling her to pick him up at, I believe, The Brew, which is under construction.  When she arrives, he’s not there.  She calls his phone, only to hear it ringing behind her.  When Aria turns around, oh NBD, there is A in a hoodie, holding Mike’s phone!  AH!!  Ultimately, A uses a staple gun to staple Aria under some plastic to a wall (!) before stealing Mona’s crazy encrypted laptop.  WHOA!  More on this below, but rough day at the office for Aria.

(9) Detective Tanner

Could this woman get more unprofessional?  I mean, really.  Every single thing that comes out of her mouth sounds sarcastic/condescending.  Is she doing that on purpose?  And, as mentioned above, why the HELL is she letting Toby, who became a cop, like, five minutes ago, work on/know the intimate details of the case against his girlfriend?????  (And why is her partner, Office Holbrook, out on what she called “special assignment”?  Hmmmm.)

(10) Mike Montgomery

A few comments.  First, Mike got MAD buff, right??  He’s been working out through his grief it seems!  Second, I feel bad for him.  Really.  His girlfriend was murdered and his family is MIA/Aria.  That’s rough.  Third, and this is where it gets less nice, but um, did he attack Aria?  Look, here’s my evidence: (1) He asked her to show up there, so he knew she was coming. (2) He was conveniently absent when she arrived. (3) I might attack someone for forcing me to spend time with Ezra Fitz and let him ask me those unbelievable, unsympathetic, rude, absurd, judgmental questions. (4) He’s lashed out before.  Remember when he stole the camping gear from Emily?  And when he broke into Spencer’s house (wearing a hoodie!) and then barreled into Aria like a maniac when she caught him? (5) Most importantly, when my sister asked why I thought that “A” could have been Mike in that scene, I had an easy answer: Um, obviously he was after Mona’s laptop!  It’s huge — all the better to throw at unsuspecting victims like his Mom!  (This is the part where you remember that angsty Mike Montgomery once threw a laptop at Ella Montgomery and we all died laughing/kind of applauded him for it.)  Let’s just keep an eye on Mike Montgomery this season, shall we?  (Also, another suspect in this scene: EZRA FREAKING FITZ.  Think about it — he was there with Mike beforehand.  And let’s not forget: he was A!  He spied on the girls for years!  I wouldn’t put it past him to still be at it!)

(11) Caleb

Guys, Caleb lives in his own place now and he listens to death metal by himself while decrypting computers.  He’s so rad.  Although, now that A stole the computer, Caleb’s pretty much lost his purpose hasn’t he?  I also blame him for Mrs. Grunwald (thanks, Ravenswood) and why would he teach Aria how to do anything, much less hack into a university?  Let’s just move on.

(12) Ezra

I SAY AGAIN: SOMEONE ARREST THIS MAN AND THROW AWAY THE KEY!  No takers?  Fine.  Here’s what Ezra does this week: he judges Mike Montgomery for the way he’s manifesting his feelings about his girlfriend’s death.  Let me repeat: he, Ezra Fitz, a grown adult teacher, meets up with a teenage boy who used to be his student (who also happens to be his girlfriend’s sister, EW), and acts like a total judgmental ass when that boy doesn’t show the amount of sorrow that he, Ezra Fitz, keeper of the feelings, deems appropriate over the murder of his girlfriend (another former student of Ezra’s by the way).  HOW CAN ANYONE SUPPORT THIS CHARACTER?????  People on TV named Fitz, I swear to God…. (Also, was he renovating The Brew?  If so, um, why?)

(13) Mrs. Grunwald

Ughhhhhhh go back to Ravenswood!  Everything this woman says is creepy.  Why does she know that Mona’s stuffed dog is named Bungie?  (And what kind of name is Bungie anyway?)  She sounds like Professor Trelawney that one time her powers of divination actually worked: “Each one hated the other … because each one feared the other … because each one knew something about the other.”  Blah blah “Neither can live while the other survives” blah blah.  At least Trelawney’s kind of a funny drunk most of the time.  No such luck with this one.  Move it along, Grunwald.

(14) Alison

Welp.  Starts the episode slapped in public, ends it in jail.  I hope she’s binged Orange Is The New Black!

Not Ranked: Peter Hastings (Oh yeah, I forgot he and Fake Mariska are getting divorced. Good for her.); Mona (Not to trash the dead, but honey, Hanna was not then, nor will she ever be, smarter than Spencer Hastings. Get a hold of yourself, flashback Mona.); Holbrook (Good luck with that “special assignment”); Atlantic City (I know you’re not that bad, AC, but Hanna Marin really hates you); Mrs. Fields (Really needs those muffin trays back from the DiLaurentis’); Mr. DiLaurentis (Um, where is he while his daughter is getting arrested for murder, exactly?).

Ok here’s the real question of the episode: WHAT IS THE CLIMATE OF ROSEWOOD PENNSYLVANIA?  This episode takes place three months after the last one.  Three months after Christmas.  So it’s freaking MARCH.  Why are they all wearing sleeveless dresses and shorts and no coats??????  I’m from the Northeast, ok?  I know what it’s like in March, and it is not shorts weather!  IS NO ONE ELSE FIRED UP ABOUT THIS??  Fine, fine, I’ll move on.  Shout out to A for getting her name in the fireworks (and in red no less!).  A is good.  (I’d also like to point for the record, and as part of my long running theory: Aria was wearing a red coat in the last scene.  I’M JUST SAYING.)

Finally: Guys, I don’t think Alison really killed Mona.  It’s too obvious.  If she did do it, it’s going to be a fake out — it’ll be like, oh, no she didn’t, and we’ll think that for a while, but then suddenly, months later, it will be like, bam, yes she did!  Know what I mean?

Either way, I’m super excited to be back with you all!  ‘Til next week!



Taylor Swift’s Besties: A List.

For those of you who are unaware (how is that possible????), today is the 25th birthday of my favorite person that I don’t actually know in real life — Ms. Taylor Swift.  In honor of Taylor’s birth and the fact that she’s the greatest person in the world, and one of the world’s greatest friends, I’ve decided to present you, dear readers, with a list!  Taylor’s Top Ten Besties, as ranked by me!  Obviously this is is no way reflective of the order in which Taylor likes these people; this is really how much I like each person (of course I like them all because anyone who is smart enough to be BFF with TS is good enough for me) and how obsessed I am with his/her friendship with Taylor.

Let’s start with the honorable mentions—these people were super close, but they just missed the cutoff for whatever reason.

The Sisters Haim: Dude.  I LOVE HAIM.  They’re rad and their record, Days Are Gone, was one of my favorites of 2013.  As far as I can tell, they only recently became besties of Taylor, which is the only reason they don’t make the list.  By next year, who knows — Baby Haim might be the tops!

Cara Delvigne: I like Cara.  She’s clearly kind of cray, but I like her.  I also like the idea that she, Kendall Jenner, and Taylor might be John Tucker Must Die-ing Harry Styles (see this).

Lily Aldridge: Hey, I really like you Lily Aldridge.  Sorry you’re not on the list.  You should be.

Sarah Ramos, Mae Whitman, Miles Heizer: For those of you who watch Parenthood, these people are Haddie, Amber, and Drew.  Sarah, Mae, and Miles are freaking OBSESSED with Taylor.  Follow them on Instagram or Twitter and you’ll see what I mean.  I relate to all three of them so much.  (Also, I would like them to be my friends as well please.)

Tavi: Yo, Tavi, I can’t pick you because you are the person toward whom I feel the most acute sense of jealousy.  For real, Tavi is 18, she runs a magazine, she’s on Broadway, and she’s friends with every cool gal in the universe, including Taylor Swift.  I can’t overcome my jealousy, I simply can’t.

Amar’e Stoudemire: The fact that Taylor moved to New York and decided she’s a Knicks fan is one of the top 5 best things that’s happened to me personally in 2014.  Then she took that picture with STAT and Carmelo and I died.  But I can’t put Amar’e on the list.  The Knicks are too terrible.  Sorry, STAT.

Jessica Szohr: Jessica Szohr played Vanessa on Gossip Girl.  Vanessa was the freaking WORST.  Therefore, even though she’s in the “22” video, she can’t make the list.  Sorry ’bout it, Vanessa.

Ok, with apologizes to the Haims, Cara, Lily, Sarah, Mae, Miles, Tavi, Amar’e, and Vanessa/Jessica, let’s get to the list!

(10) Abigail

You know Abigail — back when she was fifteen she lost everything she had to a boy who changed his mind and she and Taylor both cried.  Honestly, I love that Taylor and Abigail became friends when they were in high school and that they’re still friends today.  It’s especially cool of Abigail not to be upset that Taylor blew up her spot about that guy.  Plus, she seems mad cool on Instagram.  Kudos, Abigail.

Favorite Friendship Moment with TS: I don’t know, I guess probably, like, every single time they put up a picture together on Instagram?

(9) Selena Gomez

Oh Selena.  One of Taylor’s oldest friends.  There was almost certainly a bit of drama between Taylor, Selena, and one of Taylor’s newest friends (see #2 on this list) when that friend said some not super nice stuff about Selena.  Likewise, there was clearly some tension between Taylor and Selena regarding, who else, that little twerp, Justin Bieber.  (See one of my favorite ever Sassy Swift moments here.)  But that’s my favorite thing about the T&S friendship, really.  It’s long lasting.  They’ve stuck with one another through some ups and downs and some drama.  And besides, look at this adorable Instagram Selena put up for Taylor’s birthday yesterday.  Awww.

Favorite Friendship Moment with TS: I have to go with the first time I ever heard of One Direction — the 2012 Kids Choice Awards when Taylor and Selena were seated in the front row and just absolutely went nuts over 1D and “What Makes You Beautiful.”  Thanks to this person on YouTube for putting it all together so nicely.

(8) Ingrid Michaelson

I’ll be honest — I’m giving this to Ingrid because I feel like I discovered her back in the day.  As I said to Friend of Christine, Regina, the other day, “We, like, invented her.”  (Thanks, Regina George.)  Seriously though, FoC Regina and I really are OG Ingrid fans and so we were shocked and pleased to learn that (a) Ingrid’s kind of a big deal now and (b) she’s totally friends with Taylor!  Shout out to you, Ingrid!

Favorite Friendship Moment with TS: I mean, it has to be that time Taylor and another FoTS (see #4) danced on stage at Ingrid’s Central Park Summer Stage show, right?  (See this video.)  Also, FoC Reg and I went to Ingrid’s Holiday Hop this year (we were at the first one 8 years ago!), partially because we thought Taylor might show.  She didn’t, but Ingrid did sing Taylor’s “Clean” a day later at the Billboard Women in Music event. #cool #sojealousicoulddie

(7) Hailee Steinfeld

I love Hailee, and not just because of her Taylor association.  Also because she’s going to be in Pitch Perfect 2!  Hurrah!  Anyway, Hailee is adorable on her own and even more adorable with Taylor/when she’s in the Barden Bellas.

Favorite Friendship Moment with TS: This is weird, but I have to say probably that time she, Taylor, and Vanessa from Gossip Girl were photographed in Rhode Island and Hailee was wearing one of the cutest summer outfits I think I’ve ever seen.  (See this.)  I have never been so jealous of a photo.  (That’s a lie: I was more jealous when I saw Taylor’s 4th of July party this year with all my favorites in attendance.)

(6) Jack Antonoff

The first man on the list!  Jack is the lead singer of Bleachers, he’s in the band Fun, and he’s dating someone else on this list.  He’s also a good friend and collaborator of Taylor, obviously.  Jack and Taylor have worked together on some of my favorite TS jams, notably “Sweeter Than Fiction” and “Out of the Woods.”  I love Taylor and Jack’s friendship because they’re not just friends, ya know?  They really respect and admire each other as musicians and artists.  Cheers to even more collaborations between them!

Favorite Friendship Moment with TS: Probably the aforementioned collaborations.  And listening to Jack talk about Taylor and how much he loves working with her.  He did this great Grantland podcast with Andy Greenwald (you can find it here somewhere in the archives) where he talked about how normal and cool Taylor is.  And Taylor put a voice memo on 1989 where she talks about how Jack played a track for her one time when they were hanging out and she liked it so much that she asked him to have it to make what eventually became “I Wish You Would.”  Love these two so much.

(5) Ed Sheeran

I have such a soft spot for the Taylor/Ed friendship.  They collaborated on Taylor’s last record, Red, and then Ed opened for her on the Red World Tour.  They’ve been besties ever since.  The kids refer to them as Sweeran, and Buzzfeed even did a list of reasons why their friendship is the bomb digs.

Favorite Friendship Moment with TS: Probably either the time Taylor gave Ed a jar of jam (with a note that said something like, “Imma let you finish, but this is the best jam of all time!”) or the time Taylor gave Ed a cross stitch she made with a picture of them saying “Started From the Bottom Now We Here.”  So cute.

(4) Karlie Kloss

Probably the most ubiquitous of Taylor’s besties at the moment.  Kaylor, as they’re called, are everywhere together.  Sister of Christine, Jenny, recently found out everything there is to know about the Taylor/Karlie friendship.  Apparently, they bonded at last year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and they’ve never looked back.  They’re both tall, they’re beautiful, they kind of look alike, and they like to do things together, like go on road trips and bake, and adorably document what they’re up to on Instagram.  Also, as SoC, Jenny, also pointed out — Taylor + Karlie = the dancing cat twin girls emoji.  Shout out to Kaylor.  (And shout out to Buzzfeed for yet another useful list!)

Favorite Friendship Moment with TS: Hands down, the two of them walking out to “Style” during this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.  It was one of my favorite moments of 2014.  I’ve watched it 50 times already.  Obsessed.  (Also, that time they sat court side at the Knicks game and drank beer.  So cute and relatable.)

(3) Emma Stone

Emma Stone is on my short list of “People I’d Most Want to Hang Out With” and obviously Taylor’s at the top of that list, so put them together, and there you have it.  Emma and Taylor also go way back, meeting back in, like, 2008 at a party.  Emma wrote Taylor an e-mail saying she loved her music, Taylor wrote back, and the rest is history.  In another display of my love of longterm friendships, I love how these two have stayed tight over the years.

Favorite Friendship Moment with TS: I’ll give it to another recent one — Taylor went to see Emma in Cabaret on Broadway last week (ONLY THREE DAYS AFTER I WENT TO SEE EMMA IN CABARET, BUT WHATEVER, I’M NOT BITTER) and she posted the sweetest Instagram photos of the two of them together and she wrote about how much Emma inspires her and I died over the whole thing.  (Also, this MTV interview with Emma from back in the day is pretty dang adorable.)

(2) Lorde

These two also have a great friendship story.  When Lorde first became famous, she said some weird stuff about Taylor (and Selena Gomez, as mentioned above) in an interview.  She quickly clarified that she was not insulting Taylor (as I recall, no such public clarification re: Selena).  Eventually, Taylor sent Lorde, or Ella as Tay calls her, a bouquet of flowers and a note congratulating her on her success.  Lorde was of course into it, and the two met for the first time at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.  They’ve been BFFs ever since.  My favorite thing about these two is, again, they’re incredibly supportive of each other’s music. Taylor has been very vocal on the Internets about how much she loves “Yellow Flicker Beat,” Lorde’s song on the Mockingjay soundtrack, and she even went crazy dancing/singing to it at the AMAs.  Likewise, Lorde has been very vociferous in her praise for Taylor and 1989.  I love these two together.  Lorde is a little more edgy than Taylor, and Taylor seems a bit sweeter than Lorde, so they’re a really good balance.  Plus, one time they took a cooking class together and it was adorable.  (See this.)

Favorite Friendship Moment with TS: I think I have to go with another recent moment.  When Diplo, that turd, took to the internets to body shame Taylor, who was the first person to have her back?  Naturally, my homegirl, Ella.  Check this out if you don’t recall.  As always, #TeamTaylor.

(1) Lena Dunham

If you’ve ever met me (or, ya know, read this blog before), you can’t be surprised that my #1 homegirl, LD, is #1 on this list.  Lena is one of my favorite people in the universe (among those people whom I don’t actually know, of course), and the fact that she and Taylor are friends is a constant source of joy in my life.  I know that sounds hyperbolic, but it’s not, honestly.  Let’s just skip to the part where I pick my favorite moment, because honestly, there are so many.

Favorite Friendship Moment with TS: Where to begin?  The first time they were in public together at the Grammys?  Lena wore that adorable yellow dress and she and Taylor had the world’s cutest interaction captured by a camera.  One of those photos was my Facebook cover photo for months.  The time at the Golden Globes when Taylor talked about how she was nominated for a song she wrote with her “best friend Jack” (see above) who dates her other “best friend Lena,” and I screamed aloud at the television?  (This was right before Jennifer Lawrence photo bombed Taylor and I died even more.)  Lena’s obsession with Taylor’s music, like the time someone on Twitter asked her what her favorite Taylor song was and she said something like, “Oh, you mean besides all of them?”  Their adorable friendship story?  (Taylor tweeted about GIRLS and followed Lena.  Lena immediately sent her a Direct Message saying, essentially, I think you’re great and that we should be best friends.)  All of these moments have given me more happiness than I can explain.  But I think, for me, the best thing about the Lena/Taylor friendship is the public way they’ve supported one another and, in particular, how Taylor has so often cited Lena as a reason that she has finally come out as a feminist.  As a feminist myself, it makes me feel so good to see famous women support one another and be vocal, public feminists.  There is no more public feminist than Lena Dunham, and Taylor has openly admitted that being friends with Lena has opened her eyes to many things and made her want to be more outspoken about her feminism.  I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed that and how much it’s meant to me.  (Please read this article for full details.)  Swift/Dunham 2016.

In short, Taylor’s the best and she has the best friends and I love every second of everything with all of these people. Happy 25th, Taylor.  I hope you have the best year of your life.  You deserve it.  (And next year, #1 on this list = me!)

‘Til next time.



Pop Culture Thanksgiving 2.0

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!  This is one of my favorite holidays because it’s solely about eating and football.  (Though I don’t really watch the NFL much anymore.  But there’s still the eating!  And the wine!  And the Europa League!  Errr, strike that last one.)  I suppose today is also about listing things that we’re thankful for this year.  So let’s do what we did last year — let’s make a list of all of the pop culture items for which we give thinks in 2014.  On with the show!

Taylor Swift: Obviously this is number one with a bullet.  I’m so, so, SO incredibly thankful for Taylor, for 1989, for “Style,” for that Instagram she posted of Lena Dunham dancing yesterday … basically, for everything she does and everything she will do in the future, I am thankful.  God bless you, T. Swizzle.  Thanks for everything.

Orange Is The New Black Season 2: Even better than the first season!  Which is kind of unbelievable, when you think about it.  Thanks, Netflix, for giving us this world of strong, tough, crazy women.  (Thanks also to Netflix for finally having Gilmore Girls!)  And thanks to the cast of OITNB for all being wonderful gems who are best friends and constantly post Instagrams of hanging out with one another.  You guys rock.

Amy Poehler: Thanks for writing Yes Please, Amy.  It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me take notes.  It’s hard to get better advice than the advice Amy gave in her book.  If you haven’t read it yet, run, don’t walk.  (Special thanks also to Lena Dunham, who also wrote a wonderful book called Not That Kind Of Girl that everyone should read.  Thanks as well for GIRLS and for being BFF with T. Swift, LD.  Love you forever.)

Faking It: My favorite new show of the year.  Thanks, MTV, for giving us Shane, Lauren, Lavrene Cox as a drama teacher, and, most importantly, Amy Raudenfeld, fictional love of my life.  I eagerly await the second half of season 2.  (Karmy forever!)

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer: Thanks to Abbi and Ilana for providing most of my laughs in 2014.  Broad City made me LOL every single week.  I can’t wait to start laughing again in January.

Jenny Lewis: Thanks to the coolest girl in the world for releasing a rad new record (The Voyager, go get it if you haven’t already!), for putting my home girl K.Stew (and Princess Mia, Anne Hathaway) in the “Just One Of The Guys” video, and for singing “Acid Tongue” and “A Better Son/Daughter” both times I saw her this year (and “With Arms Outstretched” once!).

Tina Belcher: Tina thinks she’s no hero because she puts her bra on one boob at a time like everyone else, but she really is a hero.  Thanks to Tina for her dance moves, for being a smart, strong, sensual woman, for making it ok to lie on the floor and groan when you’re upset, for writing erotic friend fiction, and for her obsession with butts.

Mellie Grant: Mellie Grant is the only thing that keeps me going back to Scandal every week.  It certainly isn’t Olivia Pope and her asinine, inexplicable obsession with that demon monster, Fitz.  (Breathe, Christine.  It’s Thanksgiving.  Don’t go on a Scandal rant.)  Thanks to Mellie for being hilarious, for being Smelly Mellie, for being strong and tough, and for really hating her husband.  (Couldn’t help myself!)

Emma Watson: I always liked Emma Watson because she played my all-time favorite fictional character, Hermione Jean Granger.  Well, as it turns out, Emma really is Hermione in real life.  She’s used her celebrity to work with the UN on the He For She campaign to promote gender equality.  In other words, Emma Watson really is a wizard.  Thanks for being the best, EW.

I’m also thankful in advance for Allison Williams as Peter Pan in Peter Pan Live on NBC, for Emma Stone in Cabaret, who I shall see next week, for the Christmas episode of Pretty Little Liars (and for the next season of PLL starting in January!), and for Pitch Perfect 2, which I think about pretty much every day and will be the best day of the first half of 2014.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!  I hope your day is full of fun and food and laughs.  Cheers!



1989: The Christine Sessions.

I’m sure this will come as a complete shock to anyone who has ever met me/read this blog: I have spent the past two weeks obsessively listening to the new Taylor Swift record 1989.  Here comes another shock: I think it is absolutely phenomenal.  Is it her best record yet?  It sure seems like it at this point (but I also really, really love Red, so I think to think about it for at least another week).  So, so many things have been written about 1989 already, so it was hard to figure out how I was going to address it in an interesting way.  Here’s what I’ve come up with: I’m going to go through the record track by track and give you four things.  First, my general thoughts.  Second, my favorite lyric.  Third, the thing I most want to be doing whilst listening to the song in question.  And fourth, the fictional character the song most makes me think of.  This is my special, Christine twist.  Music has always made me think of works of fiction because, well, you know, I’m obsessed with fiction.  (Also, I’ve thought for years that Taylor wrote “You Belong With Me” from the perspective of Joey Potter after watching season 1 of Dawson’s Creek.)  Anyway, this should be fun, so let’s get into it!

(1) Welcome To New York

General Thoughts: I refer you to the recent, excellent post by Friend of Christine, Regina, on W2NY here.  Needless to say, I love New York, I love Taylor, so this song works just fine for me.

Favorite Lyric: “It’s a new soundtrack, I could dance to this beat forevermore.”  I just like how she draws out the “eee” in beat.

Thing I Want To Do During This Song: Being a resident of New York City, I get to do exactly what you’d want to do during this one: walk around the city with this jam blasting through my headphones.  If you don’t live in NYC, first of all, I’m sorry for you just generally, and now I’m more specifically sorry that you don’t get to do this on a regular basis.  But hey, come visit!  Taylor’s our ambassador and everything!

Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: Carrie Bradshaw.  Duh.

(2) Blank Space

General Thoughts: Jam.  This song is a complete jam.  One of my favorites on the record.  It’s phenomenal.  Get involved immediately, if not sooner.

Favorite Lyric: “‘Cause we’re young and we’re reckless, we’ll take this way too far.  It’ll leave you breathless or with a nasty scar.”  It was SO HARD to choose one lyric from this song.  I love all of the spoken word parts, I like the part about being that girl for a month, OMG who is she, all of it.  It was so hard not to pick “Nightmare dressed like a daydream.”  But in the end, I always love a good lyric about being young and reckless, so I’ll go with that part.

Thing I Want To Do During This Song: Can I be in the music video, Taylor?  I promise I’ll do something awesome/fun!  NOTE: I wrote this a week ago before the music video premiered (this Monday, November 10th).  And OMG IT IS PHENOMENAL!  This whole song is a winking joke at her image as a boy-crazy, man eater and the video just takes it to another level as Taylor goes full-on insane at a super hot guy whilst wearing gorgeous clothes and sauntering around a beautiful mansion.  It’s amazing.

Fictional Character This Song Makes Me Think Of: The craziest B on Pretty Little Liars, Alison DiLaurentis.  Bear with me on this one, Liars.  First of all, this song has a lyric about “pretty lies,” which is perfect right off the bat.  We also know that Alison absolutely has a long list of ex-lovers, all of whom would tell everyone in the world that she is insane (because she is).  Plus, she’s totally a “nightmare dressed like a daydream.”  All things considered, one of 1989‘s best tracks goes to one of television’s craziest characters.

(3) Style

General Thoughts: The first thing I texted my friends when I listened to this song for the first time: “‘Treacherous’ has officially been replaced as Taylor’s sexiest song.”  I’m not the type of person to ever refer to anything as sexy, but this song fits the bill.  Holy smokes.  :::fans self:::  Anyway, this is my favorite jam on 1989 at this point (aside from “Shake It Off,” of course).  I’m obsessed.  (Side note: Somehow, the whole Red era never convinced me that I should start wearing red lipstick.  This is mostly because I look like a clown with red lipstick on.  The line in this song about the “red lip, classic thing that you like” had me in Sephora in less than a week buying Taylor’s color.  Like I said, obsessed.)

Favorite Lyric: “I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt.”  In case you were wondering, that lyric, the part about the “tight little skirt,” is what I’m referring to when I call this song sexy.  I analogized that lyric to reading Judy Blume for the first time as a pre-teen.  It’s that good.  Kudos, Taylor.  (Ironically, given other songs on this record, I used to feel similarly about the “skintight jeans” lyric in “Teenage Dream.”  This one is way, WAY better.)

Thing I Want To Do During This Song: I am also not the type of person to ever go to a club, but this song makes me want to go somewhere, probably a club, and swing my hips around.  (With my red lips and in my tight little skirt, natch.)

Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: Logan Echolls and Veronica Mars.  The opening lyrics of this song (“Midnight.  You come and pick me up, no headlights.”) makes me think of the scene in the Veronica Mars Movie when Logan and Veronica are driving around in his car.  Also, this song is about a relationship that you know is doomed to be a complete mess and you really shouldn’t keep engaging in it, but yet, you can’t stop yourself.  Even though LoVe is clearly OTP, that narrative is very fitting for a lot of their relationship.

(4) Out Of The Woods

General Thoughts: I love the concept of this song.  I love that it’s about a relationship where you’re just never sure if you’re on steady footing/if you’re out of the woods yet.  It’s crazy to think that even someone as amazing and badass and wonderful as Taylor Swift feels that way sometimes, isn’t it?  I also love the way this song sounds — exactly like it could have been on the Bleachers record (which is fitting, of course, since Taylor co-wrote it with Jack Antonoff, of Bleachers).  I love Taylor, I love Jack, and I love this song.

Favorite Lyric: “We were built to fall apart and fall back together.”  There are so many good lyrics in this one (“The monsters turned out to be just trees” comes to mind), but I feel like that one perfectly encapsulates the theme of this track.  I also love the “good!” at the end of each chorus.

Thing I Want To Do During This Song: Sing that “in the clear yet good!” line emphatically at karaoke.

Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: Felicity Porter and Ben Covington, circa, like, season two.  Felicity had a crush on Ben from when they were both in high school and he was cool and she was a dork and so she felt very insecure about their relationship when they started seeing one another in college.  She just wasn’t sure if they were settled/out of the woods yet.  This song is perfect for Felicity and Ben.  (And just, like, life generally because it’s amazing.)

(5) All You Had To Do Was Stay

General Thoughts: The first time I heard this song, I wasn’t sure that I liked the background “Stay!” parts, but by the second time through I totally got it.  Those are my thoughts.

Favorite Lyric: “Let me remind you this was what you wanted, but you ended it.”  I love the fast paced tempo of the “Let me remind you,” like it’s just a conversational aside, followed by the more drawn out “this was what you wanted.”  It’s perfection.

Thing I Want To Do During This Song: The first of several shoutouts to FoC Katie comes here — I really couldn’t decide what I most wanted to do during this song.  When I was discussing it with Katie, she suggested that she wants to do the background “Stay!” parts with her hands raised in the air.  It was a funny image.  Kudos, Katie.

Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: I had trouble with this one, so shoutout #2 to FoC, Katie, for the assist: Jess and Rory, circa the early years.  Remember when Jess got into an accident driving Rory’s car and then he skipped town?  This song has the lyric about driving us off the road, followed by the chorus about someone who bailed when all he had to do was stay.  Bam.  Plus, I’m a Jess hater (sorry, but I’m just not impressed with people who are smart, but think they’re too cool to go to class and do well in school or whatever his stupid problem was) and I feel like he did bail and ruin his relationship with Rory when it could have worked if he had been more reliable.  So there.

(6) Shake It Off

General Thoughts: This is the best song of 2014.  It’s an unbelievable, virtually perfect pop song, and it cannot be denied.  I will hear no arguments.  Song of the year.  Done.

Favorite Lyric: “I’m dancing on my own, I make the moves up as I go.  And that’s what they don’t know.”  I like to imagine that the “dancing on my own” line is an homage to one of my favorite songs of all-time, “Dancing On My Own” by the great Robyn.  Hey, maybe Taylor and Lena reenacted the GIRLS scene with this song by having a Hannah/Marnie dance party!  (OMG IMAGINE?!)

Thing I Want To Do During This Song: Shake it off!  Obviously!

Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: FoC Katie, again, nails this one (should I have just had Katie write this whole thing?): Emma Stone’s character, Olive, in Easy A.  I mean, really, who was shaking it off more than Olive (and, as FoC Katie point out, her entire family, including the hilarious duo of Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci)?  She was basically living “Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.”  You go, Olive.  (Of course, the real Easy A song is “Pocketful of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield as seen in this sort of inexplicably hilarious scene from the film.)

(7) I Wish You Would

General Thoughts: The voice memo on the Target Deluxe edition of the CD made me love this song even more than I already did.  Taylor talks about how her buddy Jack Antonoff created this track and played it for her when they were hanging out.  Taylor loved it so much that she asked him give her the track and, voila, “I Wish You Would” was born.  This song has a classic 80s sound and I love it.  Naturally.

Favorite Lyric: “I wish you were right here, right now, it’s all good, I wish you would.”  It’s kind of lame to pick the chorus, I know, but I just love hearing Taylor say “it’s all good.”  At first, I thought it was kind of a weird throwaway lyric that didn’t really make sense, but now I totally think it works perfectly.  As per usual, I end up thinking that every choice Taylor makes is brilliant and unassailable.  (Because it always is.  Obv.)

Thing I Want To Do During This Song: This is a driving song, don’t you think?  This is one of those songs that you put on when you’re driving down the shore in the summer.  You roll the windows down and you sing the crap out of it.  Is it summer again yet?

Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: This is literally the last thing I am writing for this post.  I couldn’t come up with something here!  I felt like it was such a slam dunk, too.  I was really stuck on the line “I wish you knew that I miss you too much to be mad anymore.”  In my head, I was just like, “Oh, someone breaks up with their boyfriend/girlfriend for cheating.  And eventually, they become friends again and then they decide to get back together.  Or at least, the dumper wishes that the dumpee would (insert thing here).”  I think the right answer here is really Felicity and Ben circa season 4 after Felicity cheats on Ben with Noel.  Eventually, slowly, Ben forgives her and starts showing up at her apartment just randomly until, finally, she calls him out by saying, essentially, “Look, this is great, but I want to get back together with you.  And if you don’t want to get back together with me, then please stop doing this.”  Which leads to an amazing scene (scored, in true WB fashion, by Chantal Kreviazuk of “Feels Like Home” from season 2 Dawson’s Creek fame) where Ben chases Felicity to the airport in the snow to tell her not to leave.  But, alas, I already picked Felicity and Ben.  (Though, let’s be honest, me writing all of that was just backdoor picking them again.)  So let’s go with this — Carrie and Aidan when they get back together.  (I know, I know, I picked Carrie already too.  But not Aidan!  He’s new!)  It fits the bill kind of, right?  Just go with it, people!

(8) Bad Blood

General Thoughts: Sucks to be you, Katy Perry.  This song is amazing and Taylor wins at everything.  (Real talk: this is apparently related to Katy’s attempt to steal Taylor’s dancers from the Red tour, which is messed up, but it’s kind of hard to understand the significance of that act without being a touring performer, ya know?  That being said, given the lyrics of this song and the tenor of Taylor’s comments about it, I’m sure that’s not the whole story.  Something messed up went down between these two.  Team Taylor.  Obviously.)

Favorite Lyric: “You know it used to be mad love.”  Obsessed with Taylor singing the phrase “mad love.”  It’s fab.

Thing I Want To Do During This Song: There was this period during my sophomore year in college where I was obsessed with the idea of having a nemesis.  As it turned out, that was a really stupid thing to want since I ended up getting super drunk one night and openly calling this person my nemesis to her face for no real reason, because ya know, youth.  Anywho, this song makes me forget the lesson learned in that scenario and kind of makes me want to have a nemesis again.  Whoops.

Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: So this took me a while.  Because it’s not that often that there’s a real “bad blood” scenario between fictional characters.  Ultimately, I decided on Dawson Leery and Pacey Witter, who really never recovered their friendship after the Pacey/Joey business.  FoC Regina also had another great suggestion for this category: Brenda Walsh and Kelly Taylor.  Another classic pair of frenemies.  The Dawson/Pacey and Brenda/Kelly pairs split this one.  (Honorable mention: Brooke Davis and Peyton Sawyer, who, ultimately, worked it out.  Thank goodness.  B. Davis + P. Sawyer 4ever.)

(9) Wildest Dreams

General Thoughts: Insert obligatory Lana Del Rey reference here.  Sorry to say this, but Lana’s never written something this good/catchy.  All hail, Queen Taylor.

Favorite Lyric: “You see me in hindsight tangled up with you all night, burning it down.”  This part makes the whole song for me.  And sorry to do this again, but I have to use the word “sexy” here.  Damn, Taylor.

Thing I Want To Do During This Song: I kind of want to twirl around in my best dress, possibly in the rain.  You know, kind of like “Fearless,” only less happy and more adult.

Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: Sort of inexplicably, I keep going to Buffy and Angel with this song.  I think it’s because of that one crossover episode, “I Will Remember You,” when Buffy was on Angel and they were able to be together, like, for real because Angel became a human.  And it was amazing and glorious and everything it should have been … only, of course, the consequence of Buffy and Angel being able to be together for real was that a crazy demon was unleashed in the world and was going to wreak havoc everywhere.  So Buffy and Angel, being the heroes that they are, knew that they had to reverse the whole thing (meaning Angel had to go back to being a vampire) and that they couldn’t be together.  Another catch of reversing the whole thing: Buffy would never remember the time they spent together with Angel as a human — what could have been between them — but Angel always would.  (He’ll see her in hindsight, tangled up with him all night.)  It’s eff-ing heartbreaking, I swear.  Buffy + Angel 4ever.

(10) How You Get The Girl

General Thoughts: This song is adorable.  It’s a bit of an outlier on 1989 because it’s more of an old school, throwback Taylor song than any of the other ones.  It still has the Max Martin-y production and the drums and such, but that’s all in the background supporting a strummed acoustic guitar.  And, hey, it’s always nice to get a little glimpse of old school Taylor.

Favorite Lyric: “Remind her how it used to be.  Of pictures in frames of kisses on cheeks.”  In a song full of adorable lyrics, this is the cutest one for me.

Thing I Want To Do During This Song: Would it be weird if I said that I wanted someone to serenade me to this one?

Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: So guys, I’m obsessed with this MTV show called Faking It.  Who else is in on this program?  It’s fantastic.  It’s about a pair of best friends, Amy and Karma, who go to high school in a fictional, liberal utopia and decide to fake being lesbians to become popular.  Only, as it turns out, one of them (Amy) isn’t actually faking it — she likes girls and she’s in love with her best friend (Karma).  For now, Karma hasn’t reciprocated.  She’s dating this snoozefest of a guy, Liam, and Amy is finally moving on with a cute DJ girl named Reagan.  For now, I approve of this (at least on Amy’s end), but ultimately, I ship Karmy (Karma + Amy).  One other thing to mention: Karma is a singer.  This has been a plot point on the program and she has sung in public before (the actress who plays her, Katie Stevens, is an excellent singer who was on American Idol).   So here’s how I think it should go down: after months of being apart and fraught tension and what have you, Karma finally comes to her senses and decides she wants to be with Amy (because Amy is the best).  Her plan to win Amy back?  Naturally, she’ll serenade her with “How You Get The Girl.”  I think this is perfect.  Writers of Faking It, contact me, I can help!

(11) This Love 

General Thoughts: This song is lovely, but I would say that it’s probably my least favorite on 1989 for now.  Of course, my least favorite Taylor song is still, like, 1,000 times better than my favorite song by other artists, so that’s not saying much.

Favorite Lyric: “And I could go on and on and on and on and I will.”

Thing I Want To Do During This Song: This is a good background song.  It would be perfect for a chilly, rainy afternoon of reading and cuddling in a blanket fort.

Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: I admit it — I couldn’t come up with anyone here.  One of my friends suggested that I give this to Marissa Cooper and Ryan Atwood because they were kind of boring.  I always liked Marissa and Ryan, and this doesn’t totally fit, but whatever, that’s the best I’ve got at this point.  Marissa, Ryan, you guys don’t have to have “Forever Young,” a song about the nuclear holocaust, as your song anymore.  Congrats!

(12) I Know Places

General Thoughts: I wasn’t crazy about this song at first, but it’s really grown on me.  I love how it sounds so paranoid.  It’s great to see these dark edges of Taylor.  I love that this side of her is something she’s willing to share through her music now.  Get dark and get weird, Taylor.  I love it.

Favorite Lyric: “They take their shots, but we’re bulletproof.  And you know for me, it’s always you.  In the dead of night, your eyes so green.  And I know for you, it’s always me.”

Thing I Want To Do During This Song: I don’t want to be chased by the paparazzi.  Intellectually, I understand that.  But at the same time, I’ve always wanted to be famous and, ya know, being chased by the paparazzi would be part of that…

Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: Ok, I’m breaking the mold here and I’m going with a real person.  This song makes me think of one of my other number one homegirls (tied with Taylor and Lena Dunham for the top spot): Kristen Stewart.  This track is clearly about the paparazzi and I can’t think of someone who hates the paps more (with good reason, I might add) than K.Stew.  Obviously this also makes me think of her previous, tabloid catnip relationship, but I can’t really talk about that without getting sad.  Anywho, I hope Kristen likes this one.  I imagine she’d be down with Taylor (who’s not, really?).

(13) Clean

General Thoughts: I read some review of 1989 where the author posited that the whole record follows the trajectory of a relationship, starting with “Blank Space” and ending with “Clean.”  I’m not sure that’s accurate, but in a way, it works.  Because “Clean” is certainly about finally getting over someone.  It’s about making peace with the end of something.  It’s a really lovely way to end a mature, adult record from a mature, adult Taylor Swift.

Favorite Lyric: “You’re still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore.”  So relatable.  How many things do I have with wine stains on them that I’ve had to discard?  (Too many.)  I also like “When I was drowning that’s when I could finally breathe.”  To be honest, this song is full of really excellent lyrics.

Thing I Want To Do During This Song: Drink wine with Taylor Swift!  Obviously!

Fictional Character(s) This Song Makes Me Think Of: Once again, FoC Katie broke my brain freeze on this one — this song encapsulates the way that I want Olivia Pope to feel about Fitz.  As you may know (if you don’t, read this), Olivia and Fitz actually make my blood boil, I hate the idea of them together so much.  (It’s actually gotten worse since I wrote that post.  I hate them so much that it’s almost ruining Scandal for me at this point.  Stay tuned.)  But I love Olivia Pope.  Or, at least, I love the idea of Olivia Pope.  I love the Olivia Pope I was first presented with — the badass who just handled stuff and took no crap.  I want that woman back and, for me to get her back, she has to feel this way about Fitzgerald Grant III.  She has to be “finally clean.”  Come on, Olivia, you can do this!  Let Taylor be your inspiration!

I know that I didn’t write about the bonus tracks here (“Wonderland,” “You Are In Love,” and “New Romantics”), but I haven’t spent as much time with them as I have with the other tracks.  I’ll say that I really enjoy all of them, particularly “New Romantics,” which is chock-full of fantastic lyrics (“Heartbreak is the national anthem, we sing it proudly” pops immediately into my head).  And the voice memos are absolutely adorable.  I thought I wouldn’t care that much, but I have to say, it was kind of fun to get a glimpse into Taylor’s songwriting process.  I love her so much (in case you couldn’t tell), so it was really cool to hear how she creates these things that end up meaning so much to me.

Look, here’s the real takeaway, the bottom line if you will: 1989 is probably the best thing that has happened/is going to happen to me in 2014.  It’s all I hoped it would be and more.  My only regret is that I somehow, shockingly I didn’t get invited to a 1989 secret session.  No matter though — I feel certain that I’m going to win the Swiftstakes and/or run into Taylor in our shared city and she’ll instantly feel our soul connection and we’ll become best friends on the immediate.  It’s happening.  Until then, I’ll be shaking it off with my red lip in my tight little skirt.

‘Til next time, Swifties.