“Laverne & Shirley” Star Penny Marshall Dead at 75

Penny Marshall—actress, comedian and director—has died at the age of 75.

Marshall, best known for her starring role in the 1970s sitcom Laverne and Shirley was reportedly found dead at her home in Hollywood Hills Monday night (Dec. 17). According to TMZ, Marshall’s cause of death was complications from diabetes.

In addition to diabetes, Marshall dealt with a number of health issues during her final years. In 2010, it was reported that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain, but she revealed in 2012 that she was in remission.

“Well I had lung cancer and that mesta, whatever that word is (metastasized) on my brain,” she told FOX News in 2012. “I felt no pain or anything by the way. The rags said I had liver cancer, I don’t drink! They made up sh*t, I’m sorry about my language but I get pissed at these things. But I’m fine now.”

Marshall, the younger sister of Happy Days creator Garry Marshall, rose to fame in the 1970s when she starred in the spinoff series Laverne & Shirley.

She received three Golden Globe Awards nominations for “Best Actress in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy” for her role as Laverne DeFazio. The series ran from 1976 to 1983, making her and co-star Cindy Williams (who played Shirley Feeney) both household names.

When asked why thought the series was popular with viewers, Marshall told Fox it was because of how relatable the premise was.

“We were poor girls,” she explained. “We worked in a brewery. We had to make five bucks to make the rent. That’s what’s going on the country now. We were before our time. So I think it still appeals because we were working class.”

Marshall’s other acting credits include films like “Hocus Pocus” (1993), “Get Shorty” (1995) and “High Fidelity” (2000). She also did work behind the camera, making her directorial debut with the 1986 comedy “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” before going on helm a string of critically acclaimed and commercially successful films such as 1988’s “Big,” 1990’s “Awakenings,” 1992’s “A League of Their Own,” 1994’s “Renaissance Man” and 1996’s “The Preacher’s Wife.”

“Big” was the first film directed by a woman to gross more than $100 million at the U.S. box office and “A League of Their Own” was eventually chosen for preservation in the United States Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Marshall also produced the 2005 films “Cinderella Man” and “Bewitched,” as well as episodes of the ABC sitcom According to Jim (2001-2009).

Penny Marshall is survived by her 54-year-old daughter Tracy Reiner, whom she had with her first husband Michael Henry and was later adopted by Marshall’s second husband, director Rob Reiner. Tracy is an actress who has appeared in some of her parents’ best-known films, including “When Harry Met Sally…” (1989) and “A League of Their Own.”

Penny’s family released a statement on her death, saying: “Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall. Penny was a tomboy who loved sports, doing puzzles of any kind, drinking milk and Pepsi together and being with her family.”

Marshall’s family noted that she gave Mark Wahlberg his first acting job in “Renaissance Man.”

“As an actress, her work on ‘Laverne & Shirley’ broke ground featuring blue-collar women entertaining America in prime time,” Penny’s family added. “She was a comedic natural with a photographic memory and an instinct for slapstick. We hope her life continues to inspire others to spend time with family, work hard and make of their dreams come true.”

Penny’s ex-husband Rob Reiner, who spent 10 years of his life married to Marshall, wrote on Twitter: “I loved Penny. I grew up with her. She was born with a great gift. She was born with a funnybone and the instinct of how to use it. I was very lucky to have lived with her and her funnybone. I will miss her.”

Penny’s family says a celebration of her life will be held at a later date.

“Laverne & Shirley” Star Penny Marshall Dead at 75 is a post from: Gossip On This – Pop Culture, News, Videos & Humor

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Mugshot Madness: Disney Channel Actor Arrested for Allegedly Trying to Have Sex With 13-Year-Old

A Disney Channel actor was arrested in Salt Lake City, Utah for allegedly arranging online to have sex with someone he believed was 13 years old.

48-year-old Stoney Westmoreland—who played the grandfather, Henry “Ham” Mack, on the Disney Channel series “Andi Mack”—was taken into custody on Friday (Dec. 14) by the Salt Lake City Police Department and the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force for allegedly enticing a minor by internet or text, and dealing in materials harmful to a minor, which are both felony charges.

According to court docs obtained by local news station KSL, Westmoreland began communicating with an online user he believed was just 13 on an app used for dating and setting up sexual encounters.

Westmoreland reportedly asked the person to engage in sexual acts with him and to send him nude pictures. The actor also sent pornographic photos to the person he thought was a minor.

Westmoreland was reportedly arrested after he was caught taking an Uber to meet up with the person he believed was 13.

Disney later released a statement saying that Westmoreland had been fired. “Given the nature of the charges and our responsibility for the welfare of employed minors, we have released him from his recurring role and he will not be returning to work on the series which wraps production on its third season next week,” the statement read.

Stoney Westmoreland’s other acting credits include “Breaking Bad,” “Scandal” and “Justified.” He also starred in the 1998 movie version of “Godzilla.”

Mugshot Madness: Disney Channel Actor Arrested for Allegedly Trying to Have Sex With 13-Year-Old is a post from: Gossip On This – Pop Culture, News, Videos & Humor

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Kenneka Jenkins’ Family Sues Chicago Hotel for $50 Million Over Teen’s Death in Freezer

More than a year after Kenneka Jenkins was found dead in the walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near Chicago, the 19-year-old’s family has filed a negligence lawsuit for $50 million against the hotel.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Jenkins’ mother is suing the hotel, its security contractor and a restaurant that was allegedly renting the space where Jenkins’ body was found.

Jenkins disappeared in the early morning hours of September 9th, 2017 after attending a party held in a room of the Crowne Plaza. When her friends told her mother she was missing, her family immediately went to the hotel to look for her, but authorities weren’t able to find her body until nearly 24 hours later.

Surveillance footage later released by police showed the teen stumbling through the hallways of the hotel until she ended up in the kitchen. The moment she walked into the freezer wasn’t captured by security cameras.

The lawsuit states that the defendants—the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel, Capital Security and Investigations, and the Murray Bros. Caddyshack restaurant—were negligent for not securing the freezer, which was located in an unused kitchen, and for failing to conduct a proper search when Jenkins went missing from a party.

The court documents claim a sticker on the freezer door “was completely faded and failed to instruct how to release the lock system of the door.” An investigation from Rosemont police found the door’s opening mechanism was operating properly, but could only be activated by pressing the corresponding handle.

The lawsuit also claims that Jenkins walked past several hotel employees while she was wandering the hallways. “Had Crowne Plaza defendants and employees and/or agents of defendant Capital Security properly intervened when they observed (Jenkins) visibly disoriented, confused and lost within their premises, they would have prevented her from entering the abandoned kitchen and prevented her death,” it says.

An autopsy revealed that alcohol and a drug for treating epilepsy and migraines were found in Jenkins’ system. Her death was officially ruled an accident.

The lawsuit also blames the security company for failing to stop the party Jenkins attended. Dozens of people were hanging out in a room meant for just four people, a smoke detector had been disabled and the odor of “strong intoxicants” was evident, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit contends that if security guards had broken up the party, Jenkins would not have died. The suit also says that the Murray Bros. Caddyshack restaurant should have properly secured the kitchen and made sure the empty freezer was turned off.

A Crowne Plaza spokesman challenged the lawsuit’s allegations, calling Jenkins death “a tragedy” but denying any responsibility or wrongdoing.

The hotel said that the “proximate cause of her death were the unsavory individuals who used a stolen credit card to book a room and host an illegal party which Ms. Jenkins attended” on the night of her death. “Those criminals escaped the hotel before police arrived and have never truly been held accountable,” the hotel’s statement continued. “This lawsuit has no merit and we will vigorously contest it.”

Kenneka Jenkins’ Family Sues Chicago Hotel for $50 Million Over Teen’s Death in Freezer is a post from: Gossip On This – Pop Culture, News, Videos & Humor

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Diddy Celebrated Kim Porter’s Birthday With a Party Attended By Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Mary J. Blige & More

Saturday (Dec. 15) would have been Kim Porter’s 47th birthday, and even though she is no longer with us, her family celebrated her life on her special day along with a number of close friends.

According to Page Six, Diddy hosted a birthday party in honor of Kim over the weekend at Giorgio’s at the Standard in Los Angeles, and the star-studded guest list included big names like Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Mary J. Blige, French Montana and Usher. One source said legendary musician George Clinton attended the bash as well.

“George Clinton came in to pay his respects for Kim’s birthday, their children and to Diddy,” the tipster said. “[Diddy’s sons] Quincy, Justin and Christian were all out celebrating their mother’s birthday as well. It was a heartfelt gathering of love and dancing.”

Diddy took to social media Saturday morning to say happy birthday to a woman he remembers as “more than a soulmate.

Instagram Photo

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY KIM!!!” he wrote on Instagram. “We miss you sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooSoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo MUCH.”

A few hours later, he posted another tribute honoring the mother of three of his children.

Instagram Photo

“Words can’t explain. Happy birthday #kimporter @ladykp #kimporterday THIS PICTURE SAYS EVERYTHING,” he wrote in the caption of a third IG post.

Instagram Photo

Kim’s sons, Quincy Brown and Christian Combs, also shared tributes to her on Instagram.

“I’m celebrating you everyday & we’re honoring you for eternity. I miss you and love you more than anyone can imagine. Happy Birthday Mommy,” wrote Quincy.

Instagram Photo

Christian wrote: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMY… I LOVE you so much MISS you soo much!! And Wish you was here for me to give you a Big Hug And kiss!”

Instagram Photo

Kim Porter died on November 15th at her home in Los Angeles. Her cause of death has yet to be determined, however, sources close to her said she was sick with flu-like symptoms in the weeks prior to her death.

Diddy and Porter dated on and off for 13 years between 1994 and 2007 and have three children together: 20-year-old son Christian, who raps under the moniker “King Combs” and twin daughters D’Lila Star and Jessie James. Diddy also raised Porter’s oldest son Quincy, 27, from her relationship with singer Al B. Sure! as his own.

Diddy also threw a 1980s-themed roller skating party to celebrate D’Lila Star and Jessie James’ birthday at World on Wheels in Los Angeles on Friday. They will turn 12 years old on December 21st.

Diddy Celebrated Kim Porter’s Birthday With a Party Attended By Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Mary J. Blige & More is a post from: Gossip On This – Pop Culture, News, Videos & Humor

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Twenty Years Later, You’ve Got Mail Has Magic In the Form Of Kathleen Kelly

Meg Ryan stars as Kathleen Kelly in You've Got Mail

Tom Hanks. Meg Ryan. Nora Ephron. Nothing can go wrong with those three in a cinematic combination. Today marks the 20th anniversary of their second collaboration, You’ve Got Mail, which is one of the best rom-coms of the 20th century, and probably of all time.

Based on the classic The Shop Around The Corner, You’ve Got Mail centers on two New Yorkers who find each other online, unaware that one is mega-bookstore magnet Joe Fox and the other is the owner of tiny children’s bookstore Shop Around the Corner, Kathleen Kelly. When a Fox Books opens around the corner from Kathleen’s shop, it starts a rivalry offline for the pair, who don’t know that they’re falling in love online.

All is fair in love and publishing, of course. You can probably guess how the film ends, though what’s even better is the journey that it takes for them to get to the ending. There are the usual staples of rom-coms, including frustrating other boyfriends/girlfriends, a golden retriever, and moments that make you cry, all set to Ephron’s usual excellent taste in music. There’s a lot to love about the film, but best of all is Ryan’s heroine Kathleen Kelly.

Kathleen is a wonderful leading lady. There’s so much to say about her in all her simplicity. In an era when so many films center on career women who have to be taken down a peg and realize that romance and family is more important than their work, Kathleen’s career is never sacrificed for the sake of a man. True, and spoilers abound here, she does eventually lose her store. But there is never an instance in which someone suggests she give up her dreams to be Mrs. Joe Fox. She has the promise of being a children’s book writer on the horizon as she begins her next chapter of life.

Kathleen is also a heroine of refreshing simplicity. She is not a high-powered attorney or a famous actress. She owns a bookstore that her mother opened. As she says, she leads a simple life. And yet, her life carries far more meaning than the more high profile characters around her. We see through her actions, not the characters telling us, that she deeply cares about her customers and her work. She carries on her mother’s legacy beautifully. Her life is full of love, and therefore more success than Joe’s pre-Kathleen life.

She also gets to say the most important line I’ve ever heard as a reader when she talks about the importance of the books you read as a child. “When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does,” she says, and boy is that true. That simple line is not only a triumph of writing, but shows that Kathleen, as a children’s bookstore owner, gets it. It’s excellent character work and helps make her feel so much more real.

Kathleen is an inspiring character, even if I would have loved to see her find success following The Shop Around the Corner closing at the end alongside finding love with Joe. She is humorous and kind and courageous in her own gentle way. She fights for what she believes in with the same passion she applies to her “simple” life. Her emails to Joe, which Ryan delivers via voiceover, are gorgeous; not only is this a testament to Ephron’s character work but Ryan’s performance as Kathleen.

Kathleen represents the joys of a gentle life, from her reflections on a butterfly she spots on the subway to her tearful “I’d hoped it would be you” when she finally realizes Joe is her online paramour. True, there’s an element of creepiness to her love story: Joe helped destroy her livelihood and he realizes who she is, and proceeds to creep on her a bit, long before she figures out who he is. But there’s still a simple magic to Kathleen. I could happily read a book about her, her time at the bookstore, and her entire life in fact.

Ephron had a way with romance and character that few other rom-com writers had. Kathleen is a triumph of a heroine. She doesn’t need to be taught a lesson, or taken down a notch.

She is allowed to exist simply as a person. Her small life isn’t a weakness, but rather a strength and a key part of what sets her apart from the crowd. The film itself is a triumph of screenwriting and a prescient tale of online romance, but what makes it endure is Kathleen Kelly. Long may she reign as a queen among rom-com heroines.

(image: Warner Bros)

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The Doctor Still Spreads Christmas Cheer With an Animated Short!

Doctor Who season 11 episode 1 review

The Doctor Who Christmas special is something that has been cherished of fans of the show for years. So when news broke that we wouldn’t be getting a Christmas special this time around, many were worried about what it meant for the Doctor and the show at large.

Most of the time, we either see a lovely little Christmas-themed excursion for the Doctor or the Doctor would regenerate into their new form (or at least that’s what happened for both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s Doctors).

This year, Christmas will just have to be spent with friends and family without having the Doctor spreading any holiday cheer … or at least, that’s what we thought.

To help us get through the holidays with the Doctor, the official Twitter account for the show shared a wonderful animation of the Doctor having to help Santa make sure that everyone wakes up on Christmas morning to presents and joy!

The problem? Everyone saw a flying blue police box on Christmas Eve. At least no one sees Santa right?

One question though: Does this make the Doctor an honorary Santa or is she just one of Santa’s elves, helping him bring cheer to the children of the world?

In years past, the Doctor Who Christmas special has brought tears to our eyes as we’ve either said goodbye to that version of the Doctor or watched as he tried to make someone else’s holiday that just much better. In fact, Matt Smith’s episode titled “A Christmas Carol” is one of the best Christmas specials for the heart it brought to the holiday. When Kazran Sardick forgets the joy of the holiday, the Doctor goes back into his life and tries to bring him Christmas joy that will carry on with him into his future.

It is a little upsetting that we’re not going to see the new Doctor on Christmas this year. Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor has proven herself and fans already love everything she’s bringing to the character. And with the news that Doctor Who won’t be returning until 2020, we’re going to have a long wait to see the Doctor back in action. (No need to worry about the show, however: Whittaker’s Doctor has received the highest ratings since 2011.)

At least we have the New Year’s Day special before having to wait maybe more than a year to see the Doctor, Yaz, Graham, and Ryan once again. We don’t know about next year and if we’ll get a Christmas special then (or even another New Year’s Day special) but maybe we can get more of these wonderful animated shorts in the meantime.

For New Year’s, hopefully we’ll get to see Graham, Ryan, Yaz, and the Doctor all spending the holidays together as the best friend gang they’ve come to be over the last season.

(image: BBC)

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The Top-Grossing Movies of 2018 Say a Lot About Our Era

Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman in 'Black Panther'

Final domestic box office tallies are in and this was a big year for movies in America—superhero movies, to be precise.

MarketWatch cites IMDb’s domestic numbers round-up, drum roll please:

IMDbPro Top-Grossing Domestic Releases of 2018 (as of December 10, 2018)

1. Black Panther – $700,059,566

2. Avengers: Infinity War – $678,815,482

3. Incredibles 2 – $608,574,642

4. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – $416,769,345

5. Deadpool 2 – $318,491,426

6. Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018) – $223,324,225

7. Mission: Impossible – Fallout – $220,159,104

8. Ant-Man and the Wasp – $216,648,740

9. Solo: A Star Wars Story – $213,767,512

10. Venom (2018) – $212,718,480

Black Panther delivered in every arena—critics loved it, audiences loved it, it entered into an important place in pop culture—and Black Panther out-performing Avengers: Infinity War in the U.S. is a significant step into a new age of superheroes.

Had Black Panther fallen short, we might’ve seen studios that are finally beginning to dip their toes into more diversity in comic book movies pull back. Instead, Black Panther so out-performed expectations that reports say Marvel scrambled to beef up its characters’ presence in Avengers: Endgame. Ryan Coogler and his epic cast scored the biggest February opening of all time. Wakanda is the future of the MCU, and if 2018 is remembered as the year of Black Panther, that’s the best thing that can be said about the last twelve months America.

What this list shows us is that the country is hungry for heroes. As film critic Joe Neumaier told MoneyWatch:

“The superhero film today really is what the Western was in the 1950s. It satisfies the same place in our consciousness: They are moral fables about good and evil; and about transformation and new universes; and about exploration; and what defines humanity,” said Neumaier. “This has been a contentious two years … and people want to see good vanquish evil. And part of the magic of movies is that people who are on either side of the political spectrum can look at these movies and see heroes and villains, and respond to those storylines, through their own prisms.”

Amen to this—though I’d argue that most of the hero-centric films this year are hardly apolitical and an “either sides” prospect. Black Panther is openly political, with Erik Killmonger’s plan to liberate black people from centuries of oppression; Solo dabbles in unseating unscrupulous businessmen and ultimately sides with the rebels; even Venom’s Eddie Brock reports on corporate malfeasance, homelessness in the Bay Area, and tech titan treachery. While it may be possible to watch some of these films and not pick up on certain thematic undercurrents, it’s impossible to say that anything that came out in 2018 was produced in a political vacuum.

Of course, not all of the movies here demonstrate audience hunger for social justice writ large with explosions. Even after scoring 48% on Rotten Tomatoes, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s success shows that American audiences continue to crave loud, familiar things that do not require much critical thinking.

In terms of the narratives that have sprung up around these films’ reception, it fascinated me to see that Solo: A Star Wars Story, which seems to have been left by the wayside and has been cited as an example of “Star Wars fatigue,” was actually in the domestic top 10, while Venom, with similar numbers, is treated as a smash-hit from left field.

Of course, global box office numbers figure heavily into the wider story when studios are considering their next moves, and those rankings help explain the chatter this year. Globally, we see: 1. Avengers: Infinity War, 2. Black Panther, 3. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, 4. Incredibles 2, 5. Venom (2018), 6. Mission: Impossible – Fallout, 7. Deadpool 2, 8. Bohemian Rhapsody, 9. Ant-Man and the Wasp, 10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

So when we look at worldwide grosses, Solo vanishes off the map while Venom moves up to the fifth-highest-grossing film of the year overall, which is pretty mind-blowing. One thing’s for sure: 2018 was an incredible year for Marvel Studios and Marvel-adjacent movies; 2019 has its work cut out for Marvel to match the enthusiasm shown for their properties here.

Did any of these box office rankings surprise you? I had no idea we were so into The Grinch as a nation.

(via MarketWatch, image: Marvel Studios)

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Steven Universe Recap: “Legs From Here to Homeworld”

The Recap: Steven fills Blue and Yellow Diamond in (kind of) on Rose’s deception and the plight of the corrupted gems. While the three of them are able to come closer to healing the corruption than Steven on his own, full healing seems impossible without White Diamond—which means a trip back to Homeworld.

Well, here we are. This recap is likely covering ancient news for many of you. This episode was originally shown at SDCC in July, about two weeks after the last Steven Bomb—a time at which I’m sure there was a certain pulse-pounding element to its cliffhanger. There were certainly enough Tumblr memes about White Diamond and her eerie Pearl.

Ah, yes. Tumblr. The site that nurtured this show’s initial fanbase, bore witness to its most toxic elements, and housed a bunch of beautiful behind-the-scenes information from the crew. “How sadly fitting it is,” I couldn’t stop myself from thinking, “that the show is making its official return the same day as Tumblr merrily and mercilessly culls its user base.”

One can still visit Tumblr. One can still watch new episodes of Steven Universe—hell, you can probably still read my recaps of them, if this bit of melancholy doesn’t put you off—but there is a mounting sense of an era having passed, as if we are stepping on the bones of a corpse still moving.

Elsewhere, on Netflix, the new She-Ra cartoon bears blatant stamps of Steven Universe’s influence. Why shouldn’t it? Five years is time enough for new artists to be inspired and to create new content, but She-Ra is a show made for a post-2016 audience, able to speak to the emotional climate of the dystopian hellscape we’re currently living in.

And Steven Universe, it is increasingly clear, is burdened by the era in which it was made—“Gem Harvest” and its unfortunate airing date threw that issue into the spotlight, but the concern has never really gone away. When the show was planned in those first few years, the overall culture was more optimistic. There was a sense, whether true or not, that things were getting better.

It was the kind of atmosphere where a story about an oligarch who grows a conscience and tries to start over, making terrible mistakes in pursuit of making things right, might play—where all it takes to make things right is to reach out with your sincere emotions, because there’s good in everybody deep down.

There were not brazen white supremacists in power when Steven Universe was planned, to put rather too fine a point on it.

But one cannot change course on a show’s core narrative four years in, with so much investment of time and so many hard-working artists working on episodes months in advance—even before we get into the much-lamented indignities on the part of Cartoon Network’s marketing branch. So here it is, and here we are, and it is difficult to know what to do.

There was still a profound sense of pleasantness in watching “Legs From Here to Homeworld.” I realized that I had missed these characters, and that I enjoyed seeing them interact, even if the majority of the once-strong ensemble cast has currently been pushed to the sidelines.

And yes, White Diamond is magnificent—a triumph of imposing design even with the surprise stripped away (and if you avoided the multitude of spoilers, I do hope your rock is a comfortable one). The total lack of rage and simultaneous complete control she displays in her brief appearance suggest a great deal about what an imposing antagonist she’ll make. It will, doubtless, be quite the spectacle to see Steven face her down.

That’s another of those small, nagging problems that’s had time to foment over the long months. SU is famously a show in no particular hurry about its plot progression, frequently taking time to check in on Beach City and various emotional hurdles. It’s a decision I’ve defended in the past for giving the story a sense of scope and stakes regarding what the Crystal Gems were protecting.

But the pointed emphasizing of Steven’s Special Chosen One status at the end of this episode makes that slow build feel somewhat pointless, particularly as the show has finally turned its full attention to the Diamonds. The cosmic scale, both literal and figurative, of these characters has slowly begun to separate the viewer from those everyday concerns that were so vital to the early days of the show, turning us instead toward a chess game in which being born special is an intrinsically important component.

Chosen One narratives aren’t the worst thing, and Steven is plenty rounded as a character, but it feels like a somewhat tired narrowing of focus that further underlines how unintentionally disconnected the show feels from the current plights of its intended marginalized audience. Bismuth is the character for 2018, and she’s back on Earth.

The show is, for the moment, back to the long begged-for weekly premiere schedule that bolstered its early successes, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t pleased to have the show back in my life. There’s even some part of me that appreciates Steven’s firm and clear-cut demand that the Diamonds fix what they’ve done, rather than trying to empath why we should feel bad for them at length.

But a greater part of me is sad, thinking about the many branching points that might’ve kept the show from feeling like a work no longer of its time. I fully intend to see things through until the end, whenever that might be, and I would love nothing more than for these rather pessimistic assumptions to be proven wrong, but for now, all we can do is wait. At least we’ve gotten very good at it.

Vrai is a queer author and pop culture blogger; they’ve fully embraced their lifetime role as a lover of trash. You can read more essays and find out about their fiction at Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories, listen to them podcasting on Soundcloud, support their work via Patreon or PayPal, or remind them of the existence of Tweets.

(image: Cartoon Network)

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Home Alone’s Kevin McCallister Is a Mary Sue, Accept It

Macauley Culkin stars as Kevin McCallister in Home Alone

It is a truth not universally acknowledged that male characters are, on the whole, more likely to be Mary Sues than female characters. Think about it. How many nearly flawless male protagonists exist who excel at everything by merit of their existing, who prove themselves heroic and badass by sheer luck and foolishness?

James Kirk, for example, is a total Mary Sue. Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter also probably fall into that sweet Sue category, and our Christmas Sue is, of course, Kevin McCallister of the Home Alone films.

For those who have never seen Home Alone or the sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Kevin is a precocious elementary schooler who gets either left behind at home while his family takes a trip to France, or accidentally winds up on the wrong plane and heads to New York City on his own on a family trip to Florida. While on his own, he gets into all sorts of mischief as he tries to fend off the decidedly evil Wet Bandits from either robbing his home or robbing a toy store via elaborate traps that could probably kill someone.

Naturally, he succeeds. If you consider that a spoiler, I have some news for you about holiday films.

Kevin is, without a doubt, a Sue of the highest degree. His annoying behavior is presented as endearing as he deals with a family that just doesn’t understand him. In both films, his family is shown to be either outright nasty towards him via big brother Buzz or rude Uncle Frank, or vaguely neglectful via his put-upon mother, Kate, who is trying to manage a houseful of family.

Despite the fact that Kevin is shown to be fairly useless at times—he’s a second grader, yes, but he doesn’t know how to pack a suitcase?—and frustratingly precocious at others, his annoyingness is shown to be a cutesy trait based on the behavior of his family.

Once he’s on his own, Kevin never falls apart or really freaks out. Instead, he just powers on merrily, happy to be free of his family. He sneaks his way into the Plaza Hotel in Lost in New York and manages to score a limo ride around the city. I don’t know about you all, but while I was a pretty big smartass when I was in elementary school, I definitely couldn’t hack my way into a major hotel with my dad’s stolen credit card. That takes some serious Sue skill.

And then there’s his ability to outwit the Wet Bandits. Sure, Harry and Marv are not the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree, but Kevin outwits them with a series of traps that require way more time and attention than a child usually possesses. He literally blows Harry’s hat up in Lost In New York, and let’s not talk about the tar and nail trick, plus that tarantula, in the first film. Seriously, the boy couldn’t be more of a Mary Sue than if his favorite fictional characters showed up and told him how great he was.

Kevin also has a softer side, in which he endearingly brightens up the lives of two scary adults who frighten him at first, but reveal themselves to be as lonely as he is. In the first film, it’s Marley, who Buzz says is a murderer but who’s really just a lonely old man who wants to connect with his son. In the sequel, it’s the Pigeon Lady, who has no family and just wants someone to remember her.

Both are heartwarming scenes that show that everyone, except for the villains, really does love Kevin.

This is all not to say that Kevin is a trash character, or the films are worthless. I personally love them, and they’re essential holiday viewing, but as we enter the infinite cycles of referring to women as Mary Sues, it’s important to reflect on the male characters who are equally Sue-esque. We love a good male hero, but if a woman dares to have the same vague narrative ease that they have, suddenly she’s a Sue, and that’s just not fair.

Kevin is one of the OG Mary Sues, and we have to accept that as part of holiday tradition. It’s more fun to embrace his Sue-ness and celebrate that precocious little fellow that way than it is to just say he’s anything but. So, ring in the holidays with your favorite Mary Sue this year.

(image: 20th Century Fox)

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Here’s How Fox News & the White House Are Desperately Trying to Spin Flynn’s Hearing

michael flynn, sentencing, hearing, guilty, fox, huckabee sanders, trump

Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn appeared in court today for sentencing after pleading guilty last year to lying to the FBI regarding conversations he had with Russian officials. Yet despite his guilty plea, and his many subsequent reiterations that he is, in fact, guilty, Fox News, as well as the White House, insist on defending him against his own words.

As General Flynn was preparing to go into court this morning, Trump tweeted him a message of good luck.

Trump’s comment about seeing what Flynn has to say is being interpreted by many as an attempt to tamper with yet another witness in Robert Mueller’s investigation. Trump must be especially worried because Flynn was apparently so cooperative with Mueller’s team that the special counsel recommended a sentence so light it might not even require prison time.

In court today, Judge Emmet Sullivan gave Flynn chance after chance to revise his plea, or to offer some sort of context to why he would lie to the FBI–was he confused? Ambushed? Entrapped? He repeatedly said no. He’s just plain guilty.

And yet, over at Fox News, they seem to be working overtime to protect Flynn from, I suppose, himself.

He reportedly lied to the FBI on what was his fourth day on the job, after Trump was elected but before he took office. Some people might take that as a sign that corruption was built into the administration as a fundamental tenet of the campaign. Fox, on the other hand, is trying to say that Flynn–who worked for two years in the Obama White House–just hadn’t gotten the hang of the job yet.

Over at the White House, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was also trying to sell the press on the idea that Michael Flynn was tricked by those meanies at the FBI.

Quick question for Michael Flynn, were you tricked by those FBI meanies or are you just guilty?

Are you sure you don’t want to go with Rudy Giuliani’s nobody told me not to lie so how could I have known defense?

Cool, that’s what we thought.

Huckabee Sanders also defended Trump’s decision to call Michael Cohen a “rat,” by which he was implying that mob-like loyalty is more important than honesty or country.

Judge Sullivan lambasted Flynn for having “sold [his] country out,” telling him “I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense.” He even went so far as to imply Flynn might be guilty of treason, though he later (rightly) walked that suggestion back.

Still, in the end, he decided to postpone sentencing until March of 2019 so that both sides can file a report and to give Flynn a chance to work out “the last modicum of cooperation” in the case. Which I suppose means we have three more months of Trump’s Twitter meltdowns to look forward to.

(image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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