Mel’s Top 5: Sometimes it Snows in April

I struggled to find something to write about this week. My personal and professional lives have been especially difficult these past two weeks. I found myself retreating into comfort shows instead of trying something new. I still haven’t seen the new Orphan Black. Rather than pass on the entire entry, I want to tell a couple of stories.

Liu Heung Shing/AP
Liu Heung Shing/AP

In college, I belonged to a LARP group. After the release of Pirates of the Caribbean, we all flirted with a pirate obsession that culminated in us attending a pirate festival in Key West in the middle of December. The festival itself was a great time, but one of my favorite memories was of visiting an old used bookstore. The kind with dusty boxes, little light, and questionable organization. I grew up in places like this. While my friends fought off their hangovers in the shade of palm trees, I combed through boxes. I found a couple of books, but it was the boxes of records in the back that drew me. The owner was an old hippie, amused by my pirate garb. I haggled over prices and he ended up giving me a deal- 2 books and 4 records for $25, $5 of which I had to borrow from a friend.

Not having much of a social life in high school, I spent a lot of Saturday nights lying on my bedroom floor listening to the 80s mix on a local radio station. CDs were expensive at the time and most of my small allowance went to books. Later, when I had a job, it went to my expensive Anime habit. Instead, I had boxes of mix tapes, carefully labeled, representing hours spent with my brother’s stereo waiting for specific songs to come on. I knew a lot of singles but not many deeper cuts from albums. Two of the records I bought that day were The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Purple Rain. The album covers were tattered or falling apart completely; Ziggy Stardust was held together by tape yellowed with age. Scratches were everywhere and I had to skip over entire sections because of them. I loved them both anyway and once I bought a cheap, barely functioning player from a Goodwill, I played them all the time.

'Purple Rain' album cover Warner Bros. Records
‘Purple Rain’ album cover Warner Bros. Records

Prince was beautiful and brilliant. There never was and will never be anyone quite like him. A quick Google search will provide you with multiple GIFs and pictures that show how he was a master of shade. More importantly, he was unapologetic for who he was and uncompromising with his art. You couldn’t tell him what he should sound like, look like, or sing like. Prince was who he wanted to be. I think we forget how incredibly hard and brave that is. We work so hard to show the best part of ourselves and hide the parts that might be weird or outside of societal norms.

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I wanted to be free like Prince. I wanted to be cool like him when I wore my white blouse with the fake pearl buttons and purple skirt in grade school, my hair perfectly curled by my mother. I wanted to be sure of myself and my worth like him when I listened to When Doves Cry on repeat in high school. I wanted to cosplay his Joker/Batman hybrid.

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No comic books or shows this week; these are my top 5 Prince songs, in no particular order.

  1. Purple Rain

    Picking one song from this album is incredibly difficult. It’s my desert island album. I listen to it at least once a week, especially when things are bad. Out of all of them, the titular song has a special place in my heart. Whenever I felt like life is getting too much, I sing Purple Rain in the car – my voice cracking as I cry. I yell out the lyrics, butchering the high notes until I can’t help but laugh. It’s instant catharsis.

  2. If I Was Your Girlfriend

    This is quintessential Prince. This is No Fucks Given Prince. This is the Prince who refuses to be put in box of what society thinks he should be. This is gender fluid, boundary-pushing Prince.

  3. I Wanna Be Lover

    I can’t sing. I never could. That doesn’t stop me from singing Prince with all of my heart. I’ve been butchering this song since before I knew what the lyrics really meant.

  4. 1999

    After living through that year, it’s a wonder how much I still love this song. If the world was going to end at the stroke of midnight of 1999, we were all going to go out blasting this song, in style.

  5. The Beautiful Ones and How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore

    I’m cheating and doing a tie for my last one. Both are gorgeous songs about love and yearning and heartbreak. Prince had a wonderful gift of infusing emotion into every word and chord. And who didn’t want to be Apollonia in that scene?

The first honorable mention goes to the rest of Purple Rain. Every song is wonderful. To me, it’s a perfect album. I’m going to leave you with my second honorable mention, which I think is apt for this moment in time: Sometimes it Snows in April.

Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad
Sometimes I wish that life was never ending,
But all good things, they say, never last
All good things that say, never last
And love, it isn’t love until it’s past

Mel

Mel’s Top 5: No one man should have that much power

This has been a great week to be a nerd. I have been relishing it like a pig in the mud or a collector in the dusty long box section of the dealer who’s offering a 50% off discount (by the way, this is me at every con).

    1. Black Panther #1“No one man should have that much power”

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      After what seems like years of anticipation and speculation, Black Panther #1 was released. I went in with an open mind and few expectations other than the hope that Ta-Nehisi Coates would breathe new life into a character that is desperately needed. There is a hunger for this character and his world. Just look at all the reactions to the Captain America: Civil War trailer. Judging by my timeline, you would think Black Panther is the lead in the movie. This book doesn’t disappoint. Wakanda is on the brink of war as the people, influenced by outside forces, rebel against their king. They call him the Orphan King, severing the strong tie generations of Panthers had with their kingdom. This is a political drama, a family drama, and a drama about an identity crisis – who is T’challa without his kingdom. Brian Stelfreeze’s strong art is the perfect accompaniment to Coastes’ words. If you haven’t picked it up yet, I recommend that you get it soon.

      Bonus, we got this beautiful interaction on Twitter. Let’s hope we see a collaboration between these two in the future.

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    2. Poe Dameron #1

      “Okay, okay…We can do this! Probably!”

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      Poe Dameron was one of the unintended breakout stars of The Force Awakens. This week we get to see what he was up to before the movie with the release of Poe Dameron #1, written by Charles Soule with amazing art by Phil Noto. Not only do we get to see more of Poe, you also get more BB-8, Black Squadron, and Leia. There’s a short story at the end of the issue that has BB-8 playing the Cupid of the Rebellion. It’s adorable.

      Side note: A few nights ago, I had a dream about Oscar Issac. Get your mind out of the gutter, it was definitely not that kind of dream. In the dream, we were in a coffee shop and I talked to him about costume design for 30 MINUTES, specifically about the importance of Kylo Ren’s costume in relation to the development of his character. Then I dashed off to take a calc final. This was it, the entire dream.

    3. Image Expo

      In the days leading up to Emerald City Comic Con, Image held their annual Expo. It’s like a mini-con for all things Image. It’s also the platform they use to announce their upcoming titles. A few of these titles have peaked my interest.

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      Afar. Story by Leila del Duca and Art by Kit Seaton. This is the story of a young girl who discovers the power to astral project herself into bodies across the universe.

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      Motor Crush by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, & Babs Tarr. You have the team behind Batgirl on a book about a woman who races bikes in a global racing league by day but once the sun sets, she competes in gladiatorial biker battles. It’s like they made this book for me.

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      Glitterbomb by Jim Zub, Djibril Morissette-Phan, K. Michael Russell & Marshall Dillon. An aging actress, who attacks the very industry that rejects her, takes center stage in this horror comic. The tagline perfectly sums it up: “The entertainment industry feeds on our insecurities, desires, and fears. You can’t toy with those kinds of primal emotions without them biting back.”

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      Prima by Jen Van Meter and Rick Burchett, is set in the 1950s. A ballet company, previously a front for a resistence cell during WWII, now uses their skills to become thieves.

    4. Star Wars: Rogue One trailer

      “This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.”

      The teaser trailer dropped on GMA and it was as if a million angry fanboy voices cried out and were silenced by the horror of yet another Star Wars property helmed by a woman. I’m usually the worst judge on all things Star Wars. This trailer could have been 2 minutes of soundtrack and the Lucasfilm logo and I still would have been excited. That being said, I think the trailer looks amazing. I can’t wait to see this and gush about it on the podcast. Look to my co-hosts for a more impartial point of view.

      The Force Awakens Blu-Rey also happened this week. I’m more of a content person than a packaging one so I’m going to recommend the Target exclusive version if you want extra bonus features.

    5. Black Girls Rock

      “My blackness does not inhibit me from being beautiful and intelligent, in fact it is the reason I am beautiful and intelligent”

      This show needs to be packaged in self-care boxes and sent to Black girls everywhere. It’s instant affirmation and inspiration. It’s a celebration of the beauty, strength, success of black girls and their ability to change the world for the better. It feels like a party and we’re all on the guest list.

Honorable mentions go to the season finale of the Walking Dead, there has been an emotional rollercoaster of anger, sadness, betrayel, and fear all over social media in the days since so no need to rehash, and to the 5 part mini-series on Princess Leia by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson. This series takes places immediately after A New Hope. Still reeling from the destruction of her planet, Leia is searching for a purpose. She finds one in gathering the remaining survivors of Alderaan before the Empire gets the chance to wipe them out. Mark Waid gives us a Leia who is the embodiment of her parents – brave with that devil may care attitude and a leader who would die for her people

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Check back in 2 weeks to see what else I’m reading and watching!

Mel