All posts by Marisa


Team Zira

Dr. Zaius gets the coolest songs from The Simpsons.  Caesar gets all of the respect. But, if you ask me who my favorite ape is in the Planet of the Apes series, there’s only one possible answer: Zira.

Zira — actually, that’s Dr. Zira — is a chimpanzee, a scientist,  a pacifist, and half of the husband/wife team of Cornelius and Zira.  Still, even though she’s closely associated with a partner, she’s her own ape, and she’ll let you know about it. Here are reasons to be Team Zira.

She’s Basically Right About Everything


In Planet of the Apes, she figures out everything pretty quickly: That Taylor is intelligent, that he can talk, and that he must prove that apes evolved from not-mute humans. She does this through the awesome power SCIENCE! (And, uh, human lobotomies.) A lot of talk is thrown around in that first movie about what makes someone intelligent, and Zira shows by example, taking in the evidence around her and drawing a conclusion that makes sense, even if it changes her worldview.

She’s Braver Than Cornelius

Or at least more outspoken. In Planet of the Apes, Cornelius is afraid to unearth his discoveries in the Forbidden Zone, fearing they’d be charged with heresy. She pushes him into it. In Escape From the Planet of the Apes, she also urges them reveal the truth about where they come from while Cornelius is being wishy-washy. She doesn’t just understand the truth, she advocates for it.

She Becomes a Feminist Icon


And wears a pantsuit. And gets drunk. Pretty much everything she says and does in Escape From the Planet of the Apes is amazing.

She’s Played by Kim Hunter

Kim Hunter

Aka Stella Kowalski from A Streetcar Named Desire.  She’s an Oscar winner, y’all.

Where’s the Next Zira?


Like everyone else, I was extremely pleased with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, especially the way the climax of the movie seems to go on forever. If there’s one disappointment, it’s that there wasn’t a Zira equivalent. There were hardly any female apes at all, really — one, Cornelia, was pointed out, but didn’t get to do anything — let alone one as strong and confident as Zira. Cornelia is listed in the IMDb credits for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes — played by Judy Greer, no less — so let’s hope she’s cast in the Zira mold.

OK Go Ahead and Watch This Now

When I go see a concert, I hardly ever buy the album from the opening band. It’s not that I never wind up liking the opening band. It’s just shelling out for merch so quickly is a big commitment. I need to go home, consider, do some research, and make sure that band will still sound good to me in the harsh light of day, after the excitement of the gig has worn off.

Except there was that one time…

I hardly ever buy EPs. Maybe I did at some point, before the Hype Machine and SoundCloud and Spotify made it I could have access to the few EP songs that are worthwhile to me.

Except there was that one time…

Those “one time” were the same time. It was a cold November in 2000, and I was at the Bowery Ballroom to see They Might Be Giants–as you do. There was something different about the opening band. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I do remember being excited that they played “Panic”. They had two EPs, and I bought them both.

And then they became famous for doing crazy videos. That’s cool, too. Probably better than being known for a Smiths cover, in fact.

The latest of their crazy videos is out today. Watch it below.


See, I knew they had something. Is that all one take? I particularly like the part with the boxes.

Disney Animated Witches, Ranked

We’re talking Disney animated feature films only, here. No Pixar, no Marvel, no Magica De Spellno Hocus Pocus. We can argue about what constitutes a witch later. For now, in honor of the live-action Maleficent, here’s an up-to-date ranking of the ladies I’ve determined to be animated Disney witches.

10. The Enchantress
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
She sets the events of the movie in motion, but only appears in the stained-glass prologue. Stained glass will never haunt your nightmares. 

The Enchantress

9. Orddu, Orgoch, and Orwen
The Black Cauldron (1985)
Only my sister and I have fond memories of this movie, which our grandma snuck us into after a showing of Flight of the Navigator. Even then, I only remember Gurgi, and nothing of these witches.

Orddu, Orgoch, and Orwen

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What the X-Men Movies Get Wrong About Westchester

I grew up in Westchester County.  I still work there, and my family still lives there. I know Westchester.

So, while Queens has Spider-Man, Metropolis has Superman, and Gotham has Batman—though the nickname “Gotham” was given to New York City by Washington Irving, a writer who lived in Westchester—Westchester has the X-Men. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, the X-Men HQ, is said to be in “Salem Center,” a fictional hamlet in North Salem, a real town in northern Westchester County.

Out in the suburbs, we support our superhero team. I remember seeing X-Men with an excited crowd on opening night, in a theater that’s now a fancy Alamo Drafthouse. (Back then, it was a dinky UA/Regal.) When they mentioned that Xaviar’s school was in Westchester, the theater broke out into applause.

And yet, none of the X-Men movies have, to my expert opinion, really captured the spirit of living out in Westchester. Here’s why.

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May Monday Morning Music Mix

Hello. You’re looking lovely this early in the morning.

Mondays can be hard, so I made you a mix. These are all songs from 2014 or songs I first heard in 2014, so consider it a state-of-the-year-so-far mix, minus the obvious (the Hold Steady, St. Vincent, Beck, and so on). All of these songs make me happy.

I know music videos aren’t a really thing anymore, but the “Water Fountain” video is worth watching, even though it has more of a PeeWee’sPlayhouse-on-Saturday-morning vibe than a case of the Mondays.


Spider Jam: Which Spider-Man Movie Has the Best Radio Song?

So, our Spider-Man podcast covered a lot of ground. We talked about how there were a lot of plot threads it didn’t tie up (like this io9 post points out), or how it wasted time tying up plot threads from the previous movie that didn’t need to be resolved (like this Vulture article notes).

We didn’t have time to discuss everything, though, and one major issue fell through the cracks: The soundtracks to all the Spider-Man movies. This was a major topic of conversation at the Mountain Dew-fueled editorial summit that preceded the podcast, but we just didn’t get to it on air.

Basically, a lot of ink has been spilled about how all-over-place the Batman movie songs have been, but similar consideration hasn’t been afforded to the music “inspired by” Spider-Man.

That is, until we drank all of that Mountain Dew.

Continue reading Spider Jam: Which Spider-Man Movie Has the Best Radio Song?

How Come No One Is Talking About Transcendence’s Weird Clothes?

By now, everyone knows the deal with Transcendence: Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp), while making strides in the field of artificial intelligence, is killed by anti-AI loonies, forcing those who love him to upload his consciousness and connect it to the internet.

This premise invites obvious comparisons to last year’s Her. It deals with the repercussions of giving AI access to the culmination of human knowledge through the internet, and it explores how a person–in Transcendence‘s case, it’s wife Evelyn Caster (Rebecca Hall)–could be in love with a bodyless, all-knowing entity.

But there’s one way that these movies are similar that no one seems to be talking about: They both have super weird fashion choices. In Her‘s case, it’s intentional. The movie’s affininty for high-waisted pants show that we’re not exactly in the here-and-now. With Transcendence, I’m not exactly sure what’s going on.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Continue reading How Come No One Is Talking About Transcendence’s Weird Clothes?

Fans Should Never Get What They Want—Myself Included

So, I’ve said on this site a few times that creators should be brave enough to stand up to their fans. I’ve begged Sherlock‘s Stephan Moffatt, for example, to keep the focus of the show away from the Sherlock/Watson bromance—their love for each other is only moving if commented on sparingly—and I’ve stated that Veronica Mars works best when Veronica’s love life isn’t the centerpiece of the action (again, a little goes a long way). If I could add a third example to complete this triumvirate, I’d say that Marvel should be wary of giving in to fans’ luuuurve of Loki. Like everything else mentioned above, Loki is great, but most effective in a subplot or as a side-character. He’s charismatic, yes, but he’s not a hero—making him one would diminish what’s interesting about him.

Anyway, at, we’ve created a shorthand for the idea that fans shouldn’t get what they want: #TeamPiz. I’ve learned that this makes some people on the internet very, very angry.

I think part of the anger is the idea that I’m telling other people that they shouldn’t get what they want. As someone who is more interested in mysteries than romance, who am I to tell people who are into epic love stories that they shouldn’t have their romances?

In reality, though, I developed my “people should never get what they want” theory based on something I did to myself.

Let me Tell You My Tale of Woe (Though You Might Have Heard This One Already)

Continue reading Fans Should Never Get What They Want—Myself Included

I Was #TeamPiz Before There Were Hashtags*

There is no choice. There is only Piz.

Proof, using many examples from things that aren’t Veronica Mars:

Piz Is a Nice Guy

I have to admit there is some personal bias at work here. I never really had a bad-boy phase. (I invite all the girls I know to do the same. It’s great! You get to stay on good terms with all your exes.) This often rears its head in pop-culture conversations, like the time my friend from high school said I was “obviously a Jack girl” even though we hadn’t talked since Lost premiered, or the repeated conversations about Reality Bites that have ended with “screw it, let’s agree to be #TeamVicki.” (Really, though, there’s nothing appealing about Ethan Hawke.)

Sure, Piz is a little square. Sure, it’s lame that he wanted to go work for Pitchfork. But he’s a nice guy. He’s never murdered anyone. He’s never slipped a mickey in anyone’s drink. He never provoked a fistfight. He’s never even coerced bums into fistfighting each other. If that’s square, then maybe square is good for Veronica.

Continue reading I Was #TeamPiz Before There Were Hashtags*

The Fuzzy Math of Winter’s Tale

Warning: This post contains major spoilers about Winter’s Tale. Even more important warning: If the previous warning scared you, it means you might be considering watching Winter’s Tale. Having seen it, I say: maybe just don’t? 

So, I didn’t take my own advice. I saw Winter’s Tale on Valentine’s Day. To say it was full of nonsense about good and evil, angels and demons, and star-crossed lovers and terminal illnesses, would be to make it sound way more interesting than it is. The lesson: Always listen to

It is fair to say, however, that it is full of nonsense. Vulture‘s article, “6 Ridiculous Things That Happen in Winter’s Tale,” doesn’t even really begin to cover it. Yet even in a movie filled with spiritual mumbo-jumbo, flying horses, hokey miracles, and Will Smith doing a cameo as a devil in a Hendrix t-shirt, one thing—which I haven’t seen discussed too many other places—struck me as more preposterous than the rest: its willful misunderstanding of how time works (at least how it is perceived by humans, setting aside any flat circles for now).

With respect to Pushing Daisies (RIP, Pushing Daisies), the facts are these:

  • Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) is born in 1886.
  • Most of the movie takes place in the “past,” in 1916, when Peter is 30 years old. It’s during this time that he meets Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), his true love 4eva.
  • There is time skip, and Peter wakes up in? is transported to? miracles??? finds himself in the “present day.” I haven’t read the novel, but I assume the “present day” of the novel is 1983, when the book came out, meaning the skip is 67 years. The “present day” of the movie is this present day, meaning 2014, or a skip of 98 years.
  • The movie treats the ensuing years, between 1983 and 2014, like they just don’t exist.

It doesn’t seem like there should be any contradictions. Dude is in the past, then he’s in the present after an absurd amount of time, meaning everything and everyone he knows should be gone and not cause any problems. But there’s so much magic in Winter’s Tale that it ties itself into knots creating time-travel problems.

In the movie, Beverly has a younger sister, Willa (Makayla Twiggs). They don’t say how old she is, but she looks about 7 or 8 to me. She’s certainly not an infant. Of course, since life is beautiful, after the time-skip, Peter is somehow reunited with Willa, who in the interim became the editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper.

Let’s do the math here. It certainly seems possible if we’re using the book timeline (if, in fact, Willa is a character in the book). Willa would be 7 in 1916, making her 74 in 1983. It’s unusual, but not impossible, for a 74-year-old woman to be a spry editor-in-chief of a newspaper.

But that’s not the timeline in the film. According to the movie , Willa would be 105 years old. She’d be one of the oldest people on the planet. Yet with all of the dwelling on all of the awe-inspiring things in the film, not one person seems amazed that the world’s oldest woman is running a daily paper in New York City. No one addresses it at all, really. (The actress playing Old Willa is Eva Marie Saint, who’s actually 89 and doesn’t look like 105—though it’s hard to tell what 105 looks like since so few people make it that far, let alone people growing up in the 1900s with consumptive sisters.)

You can say it’s an aberration and explain Willa’s existence away with miracles!!! fuzzy math, but she’s not the only one who doesn’t realize what year it is.  Peter finds Willa through a newspaper reporter, Virginia (Jennifer Connelly). Viriginia looks up some old articles on microfiche to figure out who Peter Lake is and where he comes from. She quickly finds a photo of Peter and Beverly in front of the Penn’s lovely Hudson Valley estate. Her jaw drops in amazement and she asks: “Is that your father?”

Father?! If I were Peter, I’d be incredibly offended. It’s a good thing Virginia is a food reporter and doesn’t cover economics or anything that has to do with numbers. I don’t know how she thought that someone who looked like he was 30 in 1916 could sire someone who looks like he’s 30 in 2014. Perhaps she thought Peter Senior sired Peter Junior when he was 98?

I know it’s a little silly to look at the flying horse and look at the time-travel timeline and say that the horse is believable but the time-travel timeline is beyond the pale, but details are important. Especially if you want people to lose themselves in your love story, and not just snicker at it.