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Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Mass Effect 2”

Dear Frank,

You, like anyone else who checks in with the official Liz Tells Frank Twitter account, might have noticed that over the past few months, I’ve been spending some time playing a video game. This might not seem like a huge deal, except for the thing where I don’t really ever play video games — I mean, I enjoy the mind-fuck that is Portal, and I can still kick anyone’s ass at Street Fighter II (if you let me play Chung Li). But for the last fifteen or more years, video games have not been a part of my life — which is why it is SO WEIRD, how Mass Effect 2 COMPLETELY ATE MY BRAIN.

When I told you about the first Mass Effect last year, Frank, I did so with help from my friend Kate, because I hadn’t played it myself. I mean, the franchise sounded relevant to my interests, in a sexy Star Trek kind of way, but have I mentioned how I don’t really play video games? It wasn’t something I really considered an option for me.

Then my brother bought me ME2 as a Christmas present, and on a whim a few months ago I decided to crack it open and see how badly I’d do at it… Basically, your classic “meet-cute” love story. Read the rest of this entry

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Liz Tells Frank Stuff She Forgot About “Alien” and “Aliens”

Dear Frank,

As I’m sure you’re aware, this summer Ridley Scott returns to the first franchise to give him power over nerd boners — Prometheus, the kinda-sorta-prequel to the Alien series, is almost here! From everything I’ve seen and heard, it looks pretty good! And I certainly fancy (in the British way) a large chunk of its cast. (Accents, Frank!) And also, blah blah more groundbreaking science fiction horror blah blah.

But here’s the thing — we’ve officially hit the point, as connossieurs of pop culture, where we should 100 percent definitely start avoiding any and all promotional materials related to the film. Yes, maybe even some of the awesome viral video stuff.

Because we are entering SPOILER COUNTRY, that dangerous time period when even rewatching a teaser trailer could leave you with memories that, halfway through the first screening, will haunt your viewing experience: “This character can’t die, because I haven’t seen them do that thing they did in the trailer!” you’ll think to yourself. A dangerous path, especially given that according to reports from others, things like the international trailer give away the whole fucking farm.

Here’s how to avoid temptation, Frank — rewatch the first two Alien movies! I had the pleasure of doing so this weekend at a friend-of-a-friend’s house (thanks again, Jason and Tyler!) and I was pleasantly surprised by the things I’d forgotten about these movies.

First off — no matter what happens, the first thing I always think of with these movies is this — gurl: Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Harriet the Spy”

Dear Frank,

I was surprised when you told me that you’d never read Harriet the Spy, because it’s one of those children’s books that seems so ubiquitous. Maybe that’s a girl thing? I mean, I’ve never read a Hardy Boys novel. Maybe we’re both missing out. (Maybe you more than me, though.)

The titular Harriet M. Welsch, eleven years old, lives with her parents in New York City’s Upper East Side but is largely being raised by her nanny Ole Golly, who encourages her to write and read and think for herself. Harriet’s main passion is for “spying,” which amounts to wandering around her neighborhood and taking notes on the comings and goings of an assortment of relative strangers. She writes down all of her thoughts — harsh and honest and very much what you might expect from an insightful 11-year-old — in a notebook. And that, of course, gets her in trouble.

Well, eventually. First, book-quoting Ole Golly leaves Harriet to get married, shaking up Harriet’s life considerably. And Harriet gets cast as an onion in the school pageant. Harriet pals around with her best friends Scout (the numbers-minded son of an alcoholic writer) and Janey (an aspiring scientist determined to blow up the planet with chemistry). Harriet makes her rounds, scribbling down details from the lives she observes, there are some temper tantrums… This book? PLOT HEAVY.

The big plot twist is when one day, during a game of tag, the other kids in Harriet’s class manage to steal her notebook, reading the secrets within, including Harriet’s blunt thoughts about their personal appearance, behavior, parents and hygiene. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In Lena Dunham’s “Tiny Furniture”

Dear Frank,

Today, as I usually do while writing, I am listening to music: Specifically, I am taking advantage of my Spotify Premium free trial to listen to Kelly Clarkson songs about being strong and independent and whatnot. I listen to music like this on repeat as a sort of hypnosis technique — the bulk of my work has been accompanied by the collected works of Britney Spears, P!nk and Jennifer Lopez. My iTunes listening history is a deeply embarrassing thing.

But Kelly Clarkson is a conscious choice today, because Kelly (I feel like I can call her Kelly), represents a very specific sort of girl whose public image is deliberately honest and natural, almost to a fault. I remember listening to an interview Kelly did with NPR after she Tweeted out her support for Ron Paul — the way she explained it, she was watching Leno with her brother, decided she liked Ron Paul, and said so on the internet.

Politically, she and I couldn’t disagree more, but I liked the image of it, Kelly couch-surfing with her brother, jeans and thick socks, sending out a quick tweet before seeing if there was a Simpsons rerun on anywhere.

Frank, this comes up because these days, the idea of a lady living her life unapologetically is becoming less and less a radical act. Ashley Judd makes headlines by ranting about the media attention paid to her face, Jennifer Lawrence charms late night hosts and red carpets with her mesmerizing goofiness… and Lena Dunham makes movies and TV shows. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In The CW’s “Nikita” (Sorta.)

Dear Frank,

Like most of Los Angeles, I came down with a bit of a cold this weekend, which means that I failed to properly deal with my Liz Tells Frank responsibilities. I accept my shame! (I also blame Speed 2.) But I did do what I usually do whilst lying in bed willing my body to get better — watch a bunch of TV! Specifically, the CW series Nikita, which recently became available on Netflix. And Frank, Nikita? It’s faaaaaaaaaab.

I mean, it’s fab in a very specific way — basically, it’s Alias, but without a lot of Alias‘s mistakes, and a far superior lead in Maggie Q. (Sorry, Jennifer Garner, but Maggie Q is THE BEST). I know there have been many other incarnations of this tale before (and that the La Femme Nikita series has a certain fascination for some folks), but with having seen both the French and American films and without having seen the TV show, I feel comfortable saying that this is my favorite version of the story. Frank, let me break it down for you in a nice vague way, with only one major twist from the pilot revealed: Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened in “She-Ra: Princess of Power”

Dear Frank,

This is a true story — I didn’t learn how to swim until the age of 12 because of She-Ra: Princess of Power. Well, and my own stubbornness, I suppose. When I was four or five, my parents, wanting me to be safe both on land and at sea, signed me up for swimming lessons. But the lessons were at the same time that She-Ra aired after school and in that pre-DVR age, missing She-Ra after school meant missing it FOREVER. This was unacceptable to me. So I staged a multi-pronged offensive, including temper tantrums, passive aggressive comments, and (to the best of my memory) one or two bathroom lock-ins, and eventually they gave up on the swim lessons and I was able to watch as much She-Ra as I liked.

I tell this story not because I’m particularly proud of it, but to make the following point: Frank, I REALLY LIKED SHE-RA. It was MY FAVORITE SHOW. But because not only was I watching it in a pre-DVR era, but a pre-DVD era, it wasn’t a show I was able to religiously rewatch; instead, as I grew older, I moved onto other animated entertainments, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men and Gargoyles.

This means that now, as a lady of mature years, I had the opportunity to sit down and watch a She-Ra episode at random — as if I were watching the show for the first time. I mean that pretty much literally, because WOW, Frank. I do not remember She-Ra AT ALL.

The episode I watched, “The Stone in the Sword,” was selected largely because it was the first episode available on Netflix. As a sampling of this beloved show, though, it seemed fairly representative of the series. Which is to say, WHAT THE FUCK. Read the rest of this entry

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