Luke's Diner Popup Portland Oregon

I Went to Luke’s Diner and It Was Magical

Luke's Diner Popup Portland Oregon

My very patient and wonderful family came with me to visit the real star of Gilmore Girls: Stars Hollow.

I need to start by saying that I have a wonderful husband and son. Because they let me drag them to a coffee shop on a weekday at 7 am and stand in line for two and a half hours. For a cup of coffee. My son is 11. He literally took one sip, refused to comment, and laughed with glee that he would be late for school because I couldn’t resist the lure of the Luke’s Diner popup event, a very clever marketing promotion for the upcoming Gilmore Girls revival.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is coming to Netflix November 25, which I’m sure at least 85% of people on social media must know right now, because Netflix’s PR game is tight, and thousands of people (and dozens of local TV news crews) were beguiled by the chance to visit Luke’s Diner right around the corner (almost literally for me: Oblique Coffee Roasters, the only participating location in Oregon, was about 15 blocks away).

I am not a morning person. And I’ve been working in fandom (comics and pop culture) for many years. I’ve worked countless conventions, including the big show, San Diego Comic Con. If anyone should be immune from standing in line for hours for a cheap freebie (for the record, the free cup of coffee was emblazoned with a quote from Lorelai Gilmore and a Snapchat filter code, and wrapped in a Luke’s-branded paper sleeve) and photo op, it should be me. Not only could I not resist, I was all in, because this promotion tapped into the essence of what made GG so popular: the idea of community.

Gilmore Girls is the story of mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Impetuous, irreverent Lorelai became pregnant at 16, severely disappointing her wealthy-yet-emotionally cold parents. Wanting her independence, Lorelai took baby Rory and ran away to the quaint town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, where she found a job as a maid at an inn, eventually working her way up to manager, and building her own family of friends. At the beginning of the series, serious, brainy Rory is 16 and has been accepted to the prestigious–and expensive–Chilton prep school. In exchange for loaning her the money for tuition, Lorelai agrees that she and Rory will join her parents for dinner every Friday. Wacky hijinks and emotional chaos ensues.

I didn’t watch Gilmore Girls when it debuted on the WB because it was on opposite Buffy. But also because I had just run away from home myself, in a way–I ran from a failed marriage and a boring copywriting career to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, a quaint island where I learned to wait tables and eventually build my own family of friends. After returning to Portland in 2005 (and taking a work-from-home editing gig), my homesick self discovered GG on ABC Family and was hooked.

But in retrospect, I realize the main attraction wasn’t cool mom Lorelai or bookworm Rory (who were actually pretty flawed characters, but I like that). The real star of the show was Stars Hollow, the quirky granddaughter of Mayberry, and the Warner Bros. backlot-town that was literally made up of sets that have appeared on countless other TV shows (The WaltonsThe Dukes of Hazzard, and Seinfeld, to name a few). Stars Hollow is the town where everyone knows your name–and what you had for breakfast (probably at Luke’s, since Al’s Pancake House serves international cuisine). Portland seemed uncomfortably large to me, after living in a place where I literally knew almost everyone at the grocery store. Stars Hollow, a place rich in offbeat characters and so many town events and festivals, felt like a warm hug.

The return of Gilmore Girls is the return of Stars Hollow, and Netflix knows this–that’s why bringing Luke’s Diner to the masses was so smart, and so successful. After all, Gilmore Girls fans are already conditioned to love ridiculous events. And standing in line (for hours) with the GG fan community was like one long town meeting in our very own Stars Hollow.

Kicking yourself for missing Luke’s Diner? You can still get your Stars Hollow fix by visiting the “newly recovered” town website (apparently Kirk lost the password in 2007). That’s where I’ll be, drinking my coffee and the GG Kool-Aid, until November 25!

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Six Christmas TV Episodes to Watch on Netflix

Hey folks! Merry Christmas, and sorry my blogging has been so sporadic (TM Clueless). I totally underestimated how difficult it would be to blog about Christmas while getting ready for Christmas. Live and learn. But I’ll be sharing some posts later this year that I’ll reshare early next year! Ha.

You know I love Christmas–and Christmas movies! But I tend to watch the same ones every year. So I decided to do a little digging and find some Christmas TV episodes that you can stream on Netflix right now. Get yourself some sparkling fresh Christmas cheer, in less time to boot!

ChristmasTV1

Andy, Opie, and Aunt Bea bring Christmas to the pokey. Photo from BasementRejects.com.

The Andy Griffith Show Season 1, Episode 11, “Christmas Story”: This is old-fashioned sweetness done right. Resident “Scrooge” Ben Weaver insists Andy arrest an amateur moonshiner on Christmas Eve–separating him from his family, and marooning Barney at the jail for the holiday. When Andy “arrests” the man’s family and brings Christmas to them, will ol’ Ben realize the true meaning of Christmas? Three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

The Office

Michael’s weird man-crush on Ryan . . . so icky. Photo from CrushtheBlog.com.

The Office Season 2, Episode 10, “Christmas Party”: This is the episode when I fully fell in love with Jim and Pam. Michael throws an office Christmas party that is both cringingly inappropriate and rage-inducing, and then tries to fix it with unsanctioned booze. Meanwhile, Jim tries to rescue the sweet, personal present he made for Pam (with a note confessing his feelings) when the gift exchange abruptly becomes a Yankee Swap (note: I hate Yankee Swaps, they stress me out). This is a classic episode that perfectly captures the best elements of this show.

ChristmasTV3

“Jessica. We need to talk about that sweater.” Photo from Cabot Cove Gazette.

Murder, She Wrote Season 9, Episode 9, “A Christmas Secret”: I looooove Murder, She Wrote so much–and this is a great Christmas episode in that it takes place in Cabot Cove, it includes plenty of Seth, and–wonder of wonders–it does not have a murder (just an attempted one). But still: it’s weird. Seth spends the episode whining about the time he didn’t get a toy train for Christmas, spoiling his enjoyment of the holiday for the next 60 years (wha??). And the secret? A new resident–who just got engaged and is working for his fiancee’s family business–is hiding the fact that he has a child from a previous relationship. Like, he moves, gets engaged, accepts a job, and foists his daughter on his sister because he’s afraid his fiancee (who is named Elizabeth Forsythe–practically my maiden name!!!!!!) will have issues with being a stepmother? Worst dad ever, AND worst fiance ever. Still a fun episode.

ChristmasTV4

This episode is probably extra affecting if you have a baby. Sob!

Ally McBeal Season 3, Episode 8, “Blue Christmas”: This is when Ally McBeal was starting to get insufferable, but still had a lot of charm. Elaine finds a baby in a nativity scene and wants to adopt, but has to contend with a lot of flack about her–gasp–promiscuous, unconventional lifestyle. Surprisingly sweet, mostly thanks to an amazing performance by Jane Krakowski. WARNING: I got major secondhand embarrassment when Ally sings a “sexy” version of “Santa Baby.” And Billy bleached his head. ACK.

ChristmasTV5

THIS PICTURE. Tears. Photo from PopOptiq.com.

The Twilight Zone Season 2, Episode 11, “The Night of the Meek”: Here’s your ugly cry for the holiday. I usually watch The Twilight Zone with a feeling of impending dread–okay, when will this poor schmuck realize he’s trapped in a hell of his own making? But this one is different. After a drunk is fired from his job as “Santa,” he finds a mysterious bag that gives everyone exactly what they want for Christmas. I won’t say anymore–just watch it.

ChristmasTV6

I ain’t gonna lie. I kind of want this dress. Photo from Disney.

Jessie Season 3, Episode 7: “Good Luck Jessie: New York City Christmas”: Listen, I have a 10-year-old son. I’ve watched a lot of bad tween TV, and Jessie is actually better than most–the dialogue is sharp, and Debby Ryan (nanny Jessie) and Kevin Chamberlin (butler Bertram) give it their all. This G-rated homage to The Hangover is energetic and fast-paced–and ends with a musical number. Of course.

I’m sure there are dozens and dozens of awesome Christmas TV episodes I’ve missed–what are your favorites?

Why Jessica Jones Is the Hero We Need

Alias Jessica Jones David Mack

Our heroine, by artist David Mack.

When I was 14, I fell in love with the Uncanny X-Men, and especially teenaged hero Kitty Pryde. Kitty was everything I wanted to be: cute, fantastically smart, super powered, and conveniently emancipated from her parents so she could go live with an adoring group of grownup superheroes who thought she was the best and always had her back. But years later, when I read Brian Michael Bendis’s gripping Alias series, it hit me like a punch to the gut: although I had grown up wanting to be Kitty, I was really more like Jessica Jones. And I wish I had met her earlier.

Jessica Jones’s origin story starts out much like any superhero’s: she survives the tragic death of her family and an accident that gifts her with superpowers. Soon she’s dyed her hair bright purple, clapped on some shiny tights, and is poised to become the very! Best! Superhero! She can be!

Unfortunately, that’s not very good. She’s soon captured by Zebediah Killgrave, aka the Purple Man, who completely violates her, keeping her in his thrall via mind control, for eight months. When she finally meets her would-be “adoring group of grownup superheroes” (while being forced to attack them), they beat her so badly they send her to the hospital in a coma. When she wakes up, she realizes that instead of “having her back,” no one really noticed that she was missing. For eight months.

Jessica Jones, despite her early promise, was not destined to be the darling superhero mascot adored by millions. Instead, she was a failure. A loser. A damaged woman who the world does not revolve around–instead, she must make her place, and her peace, herself.

Meeting Jessica Jones started a chain reaction deep in my soul. I, like so many girls, grew up hearing the same mantra: “You can be anything you want! You’re smart! You work hard! You can do anything!” But what if you can’t? What are we taught to do when we fail, when we don’t live up to our potential, when life slaps us so hard it knocks the wind out of us?

Now I am not knocking the loving people who told us this–in the ’70s and ’80s, we were coming off decades of asking women, “Do you really need to go to college?” and “Why would you want to be anything other than a wife and mother?” Our messages to girls are always evolving. But I think everyone would benefit if our next iteration includes the following information:

“You are going to fuck up. You are going to fail. You are going to hurt other people, and yourself. You are going to compromise yourself in ways you later regret to get the things you think you need. And you’re still a worthwhile person. And you’re still deserving of love. And you can use all your fuckups and failures to help someone else.”

Jessica Jones fucked up as a hero and retreated, becoming a disreputable private detective with a love for booze and the occasional man. When I fucked up my life 15 years ago (fizzled comics career, terrible-idea marriage to someone who isolated and emotionally abused me), I fled to the other side of the country. While I did not actually become a detective, I did tirelessly investigate the cases of Can I Get That Dude’s Attention and How Many Shots Can I Have Tonight and Still Function Tomorrow (really, I left no stone unturned).

But what I love the most about Jessica Jones and Alias is, her redemption didn’t come in the form of a training montage (let’s figure out those faulty powers!), a new shiny uniform, and a team of super-cool friends: you can be a special awesome girl superhero after all, Jessica! Instead, her journey is slower, more painful. More mistakes. And as she learns, she creates a new life for herself, on her own terms. Which is what we all really want anyway.

Anyway. Haven’t watched Jessica Jones on Netflix, but as you can see, I’ve got high hopes. Still love you Kitty Pryde!

Xena: Warrior Princess Is the Best and Why Didn’t I Know This

 

I’m pretty psyched you’re here too, Xena!

 I was battling the wilds of Netflix and Hulu, desperately seeking a show that my husband and I could watch with our 10-year-old son without wanting to tear our hair out. Murder, She Wrote was now only a treasured memory–after watching all 12 seasons, Sid requested a break. Seinfeld, while initially promising, was somehow declared both “too boring” and “weird” (aka too much adult content–you got me there).

“Back!” I said to horrible Disney and Nickelodeon “tween” shows. “I must defeat your simplistic characters, wafer-thin plotlines, and offensive gender portrayals!” 

But just as I was about to be engulfed by swarms of tweens who are inexplicably famous/rich/cyborgs, I heard a cry: “Ay yi yi yi yiiiii!” That’s right–Xena: Warrior Princess rode to our rescue.

I’d never really watched the show, other than idly catching an episode or two when I was too lazy to turn the channel. But we’ve watched three episodes now and it. Is. Great. And it’s all on Netflix!

If you’ve never watched the show, a brief thumbnail: produced by Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, the good Spider-Man movies) Xena: Warrior Princess was a syndicated television show spun off from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.

Filmed in New Zealand and set in “Ancient Greece,” it centers on the adventures of Xena, played by the athletic, expressive Lucy Lawless (she was actually the fifth choice to play the character, which seems inconceivable because she was born for the role). While Xena started out as an evil warlord in Hercules, she’s had a change of heart and is seeking redemption by defending the innocent.

 

Xena and Gabrielle: a very special friendship begins!

 
While she starts out burying her (amazing) leather outfit, armor, and weapons in the dirt, Xena quickly takes them up again to defend a small village, earning the admiration of Gabrielle, a young innocent girl who longs to leave her home (and an upcoming marriage) for a life of adventure!

While the hard-bitten Xena rebuffs her, Gabrielle perserves, following Xena and proving her worth: while she has no fighting skills, Gabrielle is clever and smart, talking her way in and out of danger.

So that’s the setup: two independent and very different women partnering up to complete their individual personal journeys, while learning from–and leaning on–each other. Did I mention Xena is a 20-year-old show?

In case you were worried that the show is all about feelings, rest assured: this is Sam Raimi. The action and fight scenes are gloriously ludicrous, and Lawless glows with savagery and humor as she battles thugs and warlords alike. In fact, everyone looks like they’re having a hell of a time!

 

This is going somewhere good, right?

 
And the costumes! As my husband noted, if cosplay had been as popular 20 years ago as it is now, we’d have seen hundreds of Xenas and Gabrielles. I caught myself thinking, hmm

So yes, three episodes in, I love it! But let’s get to the important part: yes, Sid’s loving it too. Whew. 

I hope all six seasons are good. Tell me they’re good. They don’t add some tween pop star, do they?!?

Maureen O'Hara

Happy Monday! Horror Movies and Maureen O’Hara

Maureen O'Hara

Don’t tell me what to do, Mitch!

Happy Monday! Hope your weekend was relaxing and/or productive. I spent mine finally slipcovering the post in our basement (I’ll post photos when it’s finished). My folks covered it in foam to baby proof it oh, about . . . six months ago? Yes, I suck. But I suck more because I put the batting on it a month ago, so baby Sarah has been trying to grab handfuls of it for months while I kept forgetting to go buy an upholstery needle. Today is the day, my friends!

Are you ready for Halloween? I have two costumes half finished, both of which are halfway inappropriate for a 40-year-old woman, but I’ve decided this might be my last hurrah: nursing has left me skinny with boobs, I’ll surely never look like this again.

On to our links!

Movies

Looking to watch some horror flicks to get into the Halloween spirit? Check out 20 Netflix Horror Movies Worth Watching.

Want to experience a different type of horror? Maureen O’Hara, an amazing, spirited actress, died this week, so I wanted to watch one of her movies. I found McLintock! on Hulu, and holy father of the patriarchy! That is an unpleasant film, especially the end, where O’Hara’s character–a women who left her husband because he cheated on her–is chased through town while her dress ripped off, while the whole town cheers (including her daughter), until her husband catches her and spanks her! In public! With a coal shovel! And then she has to chase him down and hop on the back of his buggy to get home. Yeahhhh. I should’ve broken my rule and watched A Miracle on 34th Street instead.

I wanted to watch the original Parent Trap, but it’s not available for streaming anywhere–yet, that is. Turns out Disney will launch their own subscription-based service (in Europe, but likely also in the US), and yes, I’ll probably pony up!

How Not to Behave

If you want to learn how not to behave in a restaurant, or want to commiserate with fellow restaurant employees, make sure to read Behind Closed Ovens on Kitchenette every Monday morning. This week’s entry, More of the World’s Worst Restaurant Customers, Part 2, made my blood boil in a satisfying way.

In honor of fall and delicious cold-weather food, I’ll be posting my Grandma Forsythe’s famous spaghetti sauce recipe later today–keep your eyes peeled!

Happy Monday: Links to Make Your Day Brighter

Happy Monday! Here are some fun/interesting/hilarious links to help you transition into your work week–or, if you’re me, finish up the weekend’s laundry and plan a trip to WinCo. Yes I am living the dream, thank you very much.

Coming later this week: more Circle of Chicken recipes (I’m testing a new one tonight!), a post about baby bedtime routines (I swear Sarah’s has made everything better), and probably more X-Men and Murder, She Wrote hijinks.

But first: let’s see how Jessica Fletcher feels about Mondays!

Via Murder, She Blogged, a fantastic and funny MSW recap site.

Via Murder, She Blogged, a fantastic and funny MSW recap site.

I heard about the passing of Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek‘s inscrutable Mr. Spock, with a heavy heart. Not only did Nimoy perfectly inhabit a beloved character for decades, but he was also an incredibly decent human being who believed strongly in loving and respecting others. NPR has a wonderful interview with him here. This weekend we watched Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan (weeping through Spock’s funeral) and  , which was directed by Nimoy. He was proud of the fact that there was no “villain” to kill in this movie–instead, the conflict sprung from human nature.

Another Rachel & Miles X-Plain the X-Men podcast is live! This week, they tackle the Shadow King, Charles Xavier’s inconsistent mobility, and New Mutants #29-34. If you missed my announcement last week, I was lucky enough to be tapped to guest host next week’s episode, in which Miles and I explore the 1985 and 1997 X-Men/Alpha Flight miniseries. Huge thanks to Rachel and Miles!

Want to cook something healthy, cheap, and incredibly delicious? Braised Coconut Spinach with Chickpeas and Lemon gets five stars in my book!

Need something to watch? Here’s The Best and Worst of What’s New on Netflix This Month, according to Pajiba. Best? Secret of NIMH. Worst? Grease 2. Or is that the best worst? I might want a Cool Rider!

I have a confession: I love, love, love Jennifer L. Scott’s Daily Connoisseur weblog and books. Her 10-Item Wardrobe made me so much better organized–and dressed! I also love that she emphasizes pursuing cultural activities and finding enjoyment in your everyday life. However, she’s a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, because she sometimes comes off like Diane Chambers. You know what I mean. I mean, I love my trash, too!

Got any awesome blogs to share–even your own? Post ’em below!