Author: Jen Marchese

Beat JENeration #034: Six: The Musical is making it possible for me to survive this week

Beat JENeration #034: Six: The Musical is making it possible for me to survive this week

Remember all the feels the Hamilton soundtrack gave you in the first year — before it blew up into something so much bigger than itself that we all forgot how truly revolutionary it actually was? Those were good times for us history-loving musical theatre nerds and there was hope that our time had come.

Broadway, however, decided to focus on high school angst and misery. Dear Evan Hansen, Be More Chill, Jagged Little Pill, Mean Girls — the Apple Music play counts do not lie, I enthusiastically love them all, but it wasn’t the trend I’d wanted. Yes, I know a well-researched and written musical masterpiece takes time, but couldn’t they at least throw us a revival of Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson? 

Thankfully, there’s a British invasion setting things right. Six: The Musical has brought all the feels of Hamilton on first 100 listens AND is as equally woke. Actually, it makes Hamilton feel almost dated for they way the Schuyler sisters are pitted against one another over some arrogant, wordy, cheating dude with a ponytail.

Henry VIII did all his wives wrong, and so they formed a girl group to publicly compare notes. Six is powered by a diverse cast boldly declaring their very modern #MeToo sentiments for the whole show. 

In pre-Gilead times like these, I need some chick empowerment. (And that’s all I can say on the subject right now, lest I cry and turn this into a darker, very different column).  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #034: Six: The Musical is making it possible for me to survive this week”

Beat JENeration 33: Avengers: Endgame, Let’s Get Spoil-y

Beat JENeration 33: Avengers: Endgame, Let’s Get Spoil-y

As promised, I have a few thoughts.

Now, if this column’s title didn’t give you pause, let me reiterate that I’m not holding back. Onward ho to Spoiler City we go!

But also, c’mon, if you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame by now, I have to wonder if you even care about spoilers.
Continue reading “Beat JENeration 33: Avengers: Endgame, Let’s Get Spoil-y”

Beat JENeration #032: Avengers: Endgame (No Spoilers)

Beat JENeration #032: Avengers: Endgame (No Spoilers)

Well, shit.


It’s currently 11:42pm Thursday night, PDT and I know the internet is full of all kinds of spoilers (because I already looked up some pressing issues), but it doesn’t feel right to say anything yet.

Even though I haven’t seen a theatre that crowded ever. Well, maybe in the 1980’s, on a holiday weekend. It was crazy. And I loved every second of it.

I think it’s safe to also note that I got a bucket of popcorn and a large drink and didn’t finish either for the first time in I can’t even tell you. I just got too caught up in the movie. That probably has never happened before.

I liked it very much. I will see it again tomorrow. Probably also another time within the next week.

It just doesn’t feel right to say anything else. Except maybe that I wish for you all to see it spoiler free.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #032: Avengers: Endgame (No Spoilers)”

Beat JENeration #031: Is this Grease Prequel The One That I Want?

Beat JENeration #031: Is this Grease Prequel The One That I Want?

Obviously the big news of the week was the announcement of Summer Loving – the prequel to the 1978 musical Grease currently in development by Paramount Players.

So many feelings about this — some are actually hopeful. Many are weary. And others bitter —falling along the lines of “why now?” and “why this?” And then there’s also rage over how Grease 2 has been bitch-slapped around in all the coverage. 

Wholesome and pure, oh so scared and unsure

Grease is sacred it me. I cannot tell you how many times I saw it in the theater, but I feel like it played in theaters for years. I know I went to see it pretty much weekly for that first summer. It was the late-1970’s and my parents saw no reason why their six-year old daughter shouldn’t ride her bike almost a mile to the AMC Orange Mall 6 to spend the day memorizing every line in a movie about high school thugs, teen-age pregnancy, and succumbing to peer pressure. Of course, I only really saw John Travolta’s dimple, the 50’s fashions, and the choreography. It wasn’t until I was an adult (a full-fledged adult in her late-20’s all married and careered) that I would for the first time truly hear and understand the lyrics in “Greased Lighting” — so truly, no harm, no foul.

The soundtrack album to Grease is the one object that sums up my childhood. I still have it. I still treasure it. I would sit on the floor of my room studying the pictures in the middle fold out as I wore out the vinyl. Of course when I wasn’t dancing around my room and singing on the top of my lungs. This was the soundtrack to all of my hoping and dreaming for my future. It’s only real competition for turn-table time was the Annie Original Broadway Cast Album until 5th grade when The Go-Go’s and Duran Duran came into my life.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #031: Is this Grease Prequel The One That I Want?”

Beat JENeration #030: I thought they said Static Dancing.

Beat JENeration #030: I thought they said Static Dancing.

As I am not from Northern California, nor am I a joiner — especially if it involves exercise cults/classes. I didn’t know Ecstatic Dancing was thing.

I was under the impression I was being dragged to something called “Static Dancing” and since I was very tired, I thought it might be a nice place to take a nap. Not that I am especially excited about the concept of a group nap —but the alternative would have been falling asleep outside on an uncomfortable folding portable chair. Plus I thought some music would be nice.

Also I had a persistent friend I don’t see nearly often enough pleading with me to come with her. (I would later learn this friend teaches Zumba — so yes, I shall be more vigilant about a full interview process next time I open myself up to others).

I should also mention we were at a high school theatre festival and I’m not really my true self around the other field trip moms. I morph into the PTA version of me — not exactly a joiner, but a do-er. In this mode I lose all ability to say no, which is why I always end up as one of the “Same Ten People” who get stuck planning and executing shit. I blame this on being a Girl Scout. They get you so young and all leadership biz gets grafted into your bones and you can’t shake it — even when you’ve embraced a rebellious streak in your teens and a general apathy for life as an adult.

Before this devolves into a therapy session, let me get to the point. I left our cozy little home base under a tree to participate in what I thought was a “Static Dance” workshop, but I entered the class to find it was actually “Ecstatic Dance.” 

Obviously, I was not amused, but I also didn’t know how to tell the pushy, smily Bay Area babe in colorful spandex leggings telling me to take off my shoes that I wasn’t staying. My Pumas went onto the pile and I slid in my socks into the middle of the shiny polished cafeteria floor.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #030: I thought they said Static Dancing.”

Beat JENeration #029: College Cheating Scandal, no freaking duh. Parents suck.

Beat JENeration #029: College Cheating Scandal, no freaking duh. Parents suck.

Considering the world is ripping apart with hatred and violence, why is the college cheating scandal is still filling up my news feed?

Granted, I work at a university, I have two kids in high school, and most of my friends have children with lofty college ambitions enrolled in high-performing prep schools. So, maybe it’s just me.

But, c’mon. To call this is a “scandal” feels a tad excessive. No freaking duh this happened!

The only surprise is that these parents paid that much money up front. Since their kids weren’t getting scholarships or hardship tuition breaks, they are forking over full asking price for four years (probably more…because bitch, please….they don’t strike me as the type to graduate on time). Plus, we should also take into consideration future bribes required to keep academic probation at bay. Ghost written term papers don’t come cheap.

But I have so many other thoughts on this whole deal. So so many. So, let’s dig in.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #029: College Cheating Scandal, no freaking duh. Parents suck.”

Beat JENeration #028: Gen X is Having a Shitty Week

Beat JENeration #028: Gen X is Having a Shitty Week

Gen X’s having kind of a shit week. The death of our generation’s quintessential teen crush, Luke Perry, was just too much, too soon. And even though that alone was all it took to break my heart, on The Facebook and in conversations with my way-too-young-and-hip-to-be-in-their-forties friends, I realized the dawning of our mortality was closing in from other angles as well.

Somehow in an attempt to block out an Academy Awards I wasn’t invested in, I missed the whole Selma Blair chronic illness reveal in her gorgeous Ralph & Russo gown and custom monogrammed cane. Now that I’m caught up, I see she announced her MS diagnosis back in October and in doing so told a very familiar story of doctors explaining away her 2011 flair up as exhaustion and typical postpartum / mommy / women-y problems. I have been hearing tales such as these over the past couple-few years from friends and colleagues (all female, strangely enough, hmmmmm….) who have been lugging their undiagnosed and routinely belittled illnesses in and out of doctor’s offices. Treated as if their aches, pains, and debilitating fatigue was more emotional baggage than medical reality, they are slowly driven mad questioning their ability to effectively communicate what is happening to them. If they are lucky, the gaslighting stops once they get a diagnosis that makes their once vague symptoms finally seen for what they actually are.

But as members of Generation X, we’re a cynical lot, and so it’s not surprising that the actress who won an MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss in 2000 (with Sarah Michelle Gellar for Cruel Intentions — I’ll wait while you rewatch that) had to air her medical woes on GMA to highlight this disturbing issue of middle-aged properly-insured women having to go into battle over their health care.

So, now America knows, but still we can’t help being pissy — and skeptical that things are going to change — but at least we’re starting to be heard.  Maybe.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #028: Gen X is Having a Shitty Week”

Beat JENeration #027: Get Well Luke Perry

Beat JENeration #027: Get Well Luke Perry

As I write this (around 1:30 am Pacific Standard Time, Friday), I don’t know the status of Luke Perry. I’ve been thinking about him all day — even though I had plenty of pressing IRL stuff to deal with.

This isn’t to say that this isn’t serious real life business for Luke Perry or his actual friends and family. And while it feels a little silly when I write it — it actually feels bizarrely real life to me personally.

For those living under a rock without wifi, let me catch you up. Luke Perry, 52, who skyrocketed to fame Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210 and has had quite the resurgence in recent years as Fred Andrews on Riverdale, has been in the hospital “under observation” after reportedly suffering a massive stroke. He was responsive when the paramedics arrived, but then his condition quickly deteriorated.   

Entertainment media has been rather dickish about the whole thing using it as a vehicle to drop the news that Fox had just announced their 90210 limited summer series — of which the door was being left open for Perry and Shannen Doherty (the show’s real stars) to still join the line-up. And then there were also quite a few stories about what the other 90210 “stars” were tweeting, etc.

Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but did the fine folks in Fox PR will this happen — if not actually slip something in the man’s drink? Timing’s…odd. Riverdale was just renewed, as well. I hate that this is the way my mind works. I process emotional distress with diversion — usually humor, but sometimes with outlandish plots to explain the irony.

Tragedy befalling one of my TV boyfriends hits me hard. I am willing to not only admit this, but also refuse to apologize for it. For a lot of us, TV is intimate because it’s in our home, sometimes actually next to us in our beds. It’s what we turn to when we are alone, when we are sad, when we need to escape. It never judges us for eating the whole pint of Cherry Garcia between Hulu commercial breaks.

We know the people on TV are not real, but sometimes they can feel a little real in the moment. And I have found that one of the best methods of bonding with other humans has come from talking about the storylines on our shows and our TV crushes.

And it’s just not the same with movie characters or in books. In my experience only the nerdiest among us seem to translate the same emotions with literary boyfriends — and when I’ve found a kindred book geek that actually reads all the same things I do, we usually end up talking endlessly about the female characters.

Now, Luke Perry/Dylan McKay isn’t my top ranking pretend TV boyfriend, but he held that title through most of the 90’s (sometimes flip-flopping around the top 3 with Kyle MacLaughlin/Agent Dale Cooper and David Duchovny/Agent Fox Mulder — meaning he was the ranking non-FBI character for at least a decade). Currently, he’s still in the Top 10, thanks to being in slobbering distance from me in a Comic-Con press room during the Riverdale launch. He looked in my direction (PCS boss lady Adriane was there too, but I want to pretend he was really just looking at me alone) and said, “Hi Ladies” or something like that (it was kind of a blur) and then he gave the Dylan look — right there in person, into my eyes. He knew his target audience in that room. Just thinking about it now my stomach is infested with butterflies. I know I giggled and blushed in the moment, but it’s a miracle that I was able to stay standing and take pictures.

This is the power of Luke Perry.

Plus if you read the #LukePerry bits of Twitter you will find out that he’s a helluva a nice dude. (And you’ll also see lots of doctors pointing out that strokes happen to lots of people under 60, so you need to be aware of the signs).

And this just makes me more angry that the media has been focusing on the 90210 series announcement. And not been giving more updates.

Get well Luke Perry. Please get well.

Beat JENeration #026: Dating Around is Schadenfreude-tastic

Beat JENeration #026: Dating Around is Schadenfreude-tastic

Well, of course I spent Valentines Weekend watching Dating Around on Netflix.  Duh.

I have loved hate-watch competitive dating since the dark days when it was relegated strictly to game shows. Knowing reruns of The Dating Game or Love Connection were waiting for me after school, I didn’t dilly-dally on the walk home. And one day, maybe, I will tell you about my borderline obsession with MTV’s Singled Out. Curiously, however, this did not translate into much enthusiasm for The Bachelor. I like to think I only made it through one season because I evolved into a better person, but between you and me, there just wasn’t enough of a romance to cringe ratio.

Those wanna-be-bridezillas lining up to fight over some rando dude bro they just met is all cringe. Plus I could never suspend belief enough to buy into an attractive and normal-ish enough guy resorting to on-camera courtship in order to snag a spouse. Premise, is everything. Which is why something like Joe Millionaire actually worked for me. It’s completely plausible that 20 gold-diggers would scratch, claw, and scheme over a wealthy hottie and that a construction worker/underwear model would sign up for the paycheck and an IMDb credit. 

Which takes me to the premise of Netflix’s Dating Around.

Six singles in New York City are followed on a series of blind dates. There’s no prize at the end, just a final shot of that show’s star single and the person they have selected to go out with a second time. As a game show, it sucks, but in my opinion, it is the new pinnacle in competition dating reality.

Continue reading “Beat JENeration #026: Dating Around is Schadenfreude-tastic”

Beat JENeration #025: Rules, follow them or Why I will never leave the house without wearing a bra again and why you shouldn’t either.

Beat JENeration #025: Rules, follow them or Why I will never leave the house without wearing a bra again and why you shouldn’t either.

Leaving the house without a bra on is never a good idea.

Not that I do it often, but it’s happened. And it’s just really playing with fate.

Some of you are shocked (a few of you pervs maybe even titillated,) but the moms out there know this is just a thing that happens. Motherhood is a helluva lot of personal growth bringing many joys, blah, blah, blah, but let me tell you a secret — it also makes you stop giving a shit. It’s partly because you realize what’s really important in life, but mostly it’s because you spent a great many hours showing your junk off to many, many strangers, while in the worst shape of your life. And it’s not like ridiculous pain or fear or heavy-duty drugs were the gateway to flashing your nethers to every person in scrubs (and maybe your mother-in-law too), it’s because modesty isn’t as important as getting the pregnancy over with.

“Yes baby, I want to meet you, but mostly I want you off my fucking bladder….and I want to sleep on my stomach again”.

(BTW, sleeping on your stomach is something I was never able to get back AND it’s been 16 years).

This isn’t a mommy blog, so don’t worry, I’ll wrap it up.

Long story slightly shorter, moms may seem to regain effort in their outward appearance by the time the shorties reach school-age, but fatigue is clearly a long game and when given the choice between getting yourself or your spawn out the door in a timely and presentable manner, it sometimes makes the most sense to just throw on a sweats (more than likely the stained loungewear type rather than some sort of sporty athleisure pre-meditated errand-running selection) and throw everyone in the minivan. We all know sweatshirts make bras optional in situations where you won’t be jostling around too much in public.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #025: Rules, follow them or Why I will never leave the house without wearing a bra again and why you shouldn’t either.”