Psycho Sunday: Badass Women in Combat Gear #4

Again with the Joss Whedon ladies. Now there’s a surprise. Number Four is Melinda May and All the Other Women on Agents of SHIELD.


Agent Melinda May is an older Asian beauty with badass combat skills and a lack of extraneous affect. The character went through some serious shit back in Bahrain and hasn’t been the same since. And although we are always wary of badass chicks with psychological baggage getting in the way of their having a normal life, we can’t not appreciate the badassery of May.

The thing is, though, that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is chock full of bad ass women, from Utterly Badass to Seriously badass to Gradually Badass to Occasionally Badass to–what?–Administratively/Categorically Badass?

And the rest, in order from Utterly Badass down to Eventually Badass are:


Isabelle Hartley. When Bobbi Morse says to her, “You know I just love your whole thing, right?” you know Izzie’s Utterly Badass.



MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – “A Fractured House” – The world turns against S.H.I.E.L.D. when Hydra impersonates them to attack The United Nations, and an unexpected enemy leads the charge to bring about their downfall, on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal) ADRIANNE PALICKI

Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse. Her superpowers are sarcasm, escrima batons, and having sex with her ex-husband in the back of an SUV.


Skye. Sorry, Daisy Johnson. You will always be Skye to me.


Maria Hill. Hers is mostly an administrative badassery, but somebody has to do it. (Also, she looks so much sexier in the SHIELD uniform of Avengers than she does in the pencil skirt and four-inch heels of Avengers/Ultron. Bleh. Joss Whedon, you have disappointed me.)


Jemma Simmons. She has, as Coulson points out, “two PhDs in fields I can’t even pronounce” and a really cute wardrobe. Also, she loves Leo Fitz, who deserves to be loved by a super genius like himself.


Victoria Hand. Because how many administrators of huge national security operations can get away with red streaks in their hair?

Weighing In On the Issues, #2


Ah, autumn. When the trees turn red, yellow and brown. When the weather cools to a crisp Ishouldhavewornajacket-ness. When students keep turning in the papers I assign, and I keep being forced to grade them. And, apparently most importantly, when pumpkin spice is a thing.


Doughnuts. Coffee. Beer. Crackers. And although I haven’t been to Staples recently, I suspect pencils.

I get it. I do. We all appreciate pumpkins. We all anticipate dressing up as Agent Melinda May and waiting for the Great Pumpkin in our local organic-certified sincere pumpkin patch (okay, admittedly, I am speaking for myself here). And we all just loooove our allspice.

But enough already.

Thank you. That is all.

Sticking the (Stylized) Landing

the landing

So the other day I wrote about my poetry midwife, Pamela, and how she has helped me, particularly in learning to pay close attention to the endings of my poems. I remember being at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference way back in August 1988, back when I was just a Writer Niblet, the poet Nancy Willard said, “Poetry is like bread. You can smell when it is done.” That may very well be true. But that is also assuming that you mixed the dough correctly and that all you need to do is add heat for a specified amount of time. Sometimes the ending comes out messed up because you messed up the start, so you can’t simply do a closure-style ending like a circle. Or you messed up the middle, which I think of as the Airplane Mistake, because if an airplane pilot is only one degree south of where she should be on her trip from Boston to Oregon, she may well end up in Los Angeles or worse.

I think of this in particular because I have been watching Agents of SHIELD lately and awaiting Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. One thing I have noticed about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is how stylized a lot of the action is, in particular the dramatic landings. The person you see this most clearly with is Scarlet Johansen’s Black Widow, but you also sometimes see Agent May do this too.

may landing

The Urban Dictionary defines sticking the landing as meaning to “execute flawlessly from the beginning through the end. Follow through.” (“Stick”). The phrase originates from gymnastics. “When a gymnast lands a tumbling pass, vault, or dismount without moving his/her feet, it is called a stuck landing. The aim of every gymnast is to stick–if the gymnast moves his/her feet at all it is a deduction” (Van Deusen). More generally, it has come to mean “to finish an athletic, gymnastic, or other sports performance with an ideal pose or stance, especially after a jump or leap; (hence, also outside of sports) to do or finish well; to win” (Barrett).

I like the idea of an ending that is stuck solid to its foundation, unwavering. I also think that finishing well should not by necessity entail winning. Think about the 35,000 people running the Boston Marathon last month. Four won and 34,996 did not, but I imagine the goal for all but 100 was simply to finish well.

For a poem, this may mean you have an ending that quivers in the air in front of you shimmering with beauty. That is, often, the goal. But more often I think it is that you learned something from writing the poem and perhaps your readers have learned something from reading it.

Barrett, Grant. “Stick the Landing.” A Way With Words. 3 Feb. 2006. Web. 1 May 2015.

“Stick the Landing.” Urban 21 Dec. 2006. Web. 1 May 2015.

Van Deusen, Amy. “Stuck Landing.” 2015. Web. 1 May 2015.