Thursday, December 24, 2009

Also, two beers and a glass of Bailey's...

On the twelfth day of Xmas, my true love gave to me:

Twelve kickers punching,

Eleven dragons sleeping,

Ten boozers boozing,

Nine earmuffs warming,

Eight dimes a-diming,

Seven powder donuts,

Six mules a-braying,

FIVE GRIZZLY BEARS!

Four apple pies,

Three French verbs,

Two turtle ninjas,

And an angry yellowjacket bee!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Too Long to Tweet (again)

Disclaimer: I've not gotten into the Twilight craze; have not read the books nor seen the films. A good chunk of the people within my circle of friends do not have good things to say of it, so this post is based on my estimation that their opinions would be comparable to mine if curiosity ever got the better of me.

That said, here's a hypothetical for the internets:

If Jason Friedberg and and Aaron Seltzer (the creators of Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, Disaster Movie, etc.) were able to salvage one more movie out of their career and made a Twilight-based Vampire Movie... would it be better or worse than the source material?

Deep down, I feel myself leaning towards worse. Crazed tween girls probably have better taste than concussed frat boys. Probably.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Crypticon!

This is going to be a long ass-post about my weekend at Crypticon. Here's the precis:

It was awesome. There were cool people. The Sheraton is neat. We spent money.

Here's the full-length version.

We left Winona by 3pm on Friday and made it to the Sheraton in Bloomington by, oh, about 6pm. There was wicked awful traffic once we got into the Twin Cities area, but we stayed cool and didn't experience too much craziness.

We checked into the hotel and Nick was astonished to discover that the Sheraton (not Sheridan, as he'd previously believed) is a rather posh establishment. The whole place was very shiny and prim, and it was damn amusing to see all the punks, metalheads, and downright scary scary people walking the shiny halls. Our room was on the 15th floor.

We were amused that there does not appear to be a 13th floor. As a matter of fact, when we were getting ready for bed at the end of that day, Nick dropped his shoes on the floor and exclaimed, "Take that, 13th floor!"

Now that I look at the picture, it looks like there's no button for the 3rd floor either, which is kind of weird. I do think there was a 3rd floor, and also a maintenance floor just above that one (3M) so things evened out. Really.

We went up to our room and marveled at the nighttime view. I tried to take a picture but totally failed at it, so you get nossing for now. But it was pretty cool. In getting settled in our room, we discovered that the very posh and shiny and expensive Sheraton Hotel did not include a mini-fridge in our room, which we'd pretty much expected, having stayed at other, less posh hotels and gotten fridges. This was problematic, as we'd brought not only sammiches for lunch on Saturday, but also a 12 pack of Killian's. So we did what anyone would do: we filled the garbage can with ice from the ice machine and tried to drink as much of it as possible as fast as possible.

The lack of a fridge was a point of contention with Nick for the whole weekend, though.

The beer situation settled, we headed down to the lobby to get our VIP wristbands to enjoy the con. As we walked, I casually asked Nick, "So, you got the tickets we printed out?"

Silence...

That's right, he left the damn tickets sitting on the printer at home, three hours away.

PANIC!

I'll skip over all the crazy panicking we did, and tell you now that the Sheraton provided computers with free internets in the lobby, and free printing services too, so we were able to access the email that had our tickets pdf and reprint them, and all was well.

We walked around the dealer room, chatted with a few of the guests and vendors, and basically oriented ourselves with the place while trying to not spend any money quite yet. We made an especial effort to chat with Ricou Browning, who played the Creature in The Creature from the Black Lagoon films (he did the underwater work in the creature suit, someone else did the above-water work). And for one of the big highlights of the evening, we chatted a bit with Don Calfa of Return of the Living Dead! He's a very awesome guy. Ernie Hudson was there, but Nick hadn't worked up the courage to talk to him quite yet. I'd have teased him about it a little, but I was a little starstruck myself.

We went up to the music room (a new event this year) and checked out a few metal bands. Our favorite was Mommy S3z No, simply because they played a song called Zombie Bukkake.

At 9:30 we went to watch an independent film called The Landlord, about a guy with quite literal tenants from hell. It is a hilarious movie (complete with its own drinking game, which we've not attempted yet) and we bought a copy later. We then watched part of another movie called Terror Overload, which had lots of boobs and gore, which is always fun. But we got a little restless and decided to check out the hospitality rooms (another new feature this year). There was one room playing Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and serving chili. The decor was pretty great.

And then we went to bed. Saturday had a whole lot of stuff planned for us, and we needed our rest!

We woke up Saturday morning to the sound of one of our neighbors having a loud phone conversation in his room. It was a little unnerving that such a posh shiny expensive place should have such thin walls ("And no fridge, dammit!" Nick muttered). The towels were also really coarse and cheap feeling, and Nick and I agreed that as posh and shiny and expensive the place looked, it was really just a money veneer.

We got dressed and I got fancied up (seriously - I wore makeup every day this weekend. Crazy!!) and I wanted to make another attempt at getting photos of our view. Success! It doesn't look as impressive in the morning, but oh well!

The Ernie Hudson Q&A was at noon, so we decided to hit the $10 breakfast buffet and see if the made up for the lack of an in-room fridge. And I'm not going to lie to you, Marge, the food was awesome and we completely stuffed ourselves. They even had fresh raspberries, which of course I went crazy over. Between the fresh fruit, the eggs, breakfast potatoes, the thick-as-whoa slices of bacon, and the muffins and pastries, and other foods that we didn't get a chance to cram into our faces, it was a damn fine $10 breakfast buffet. Because there were fresh raspberries, I forgave the Sheraton for its thin walls and coarse towels and stuff. Raspberries make up for everything!

Tummies stuffed, Nick and I headed to the dealer room to kill the last bit of time before the Ernie Hudson Q&A. Needless to say, we were thrilled to get a chance to hear him talk about his life and experiences and such, and I was personally glad that nobody ever asked him if he was a god, because I sort of expected it to happen but wasn't sure if I thought it would be funny or lame. Immediately afterward was the Q&A with Bill Moseley; it was pretty interesting in spite of the fact that neither Nick or I were especially well-versed on his films or parts.

Back on the Con floor, Nick started his shopping spree, getting autographs, pics, movies, and tshirts. We have yet to take full stock of all the hot swag we picked up this weekend, but it was good and plenty, let me tell you! We finally worked up the courage to visit Ernie Hudson's booth and professed our undying love for Ghostbusters. We got his autograph and a pic, and afterwards he hugged the both of us. That was a real highlight of the day.

We hit the Q&A with Ricou Browning, who talked a lot about his stunt work, and the animal training he did on Flipper. After that, none of the events happening really appealed to me, so I took some time to have a sammich (it was still good, in spite of just being in our little cooler and not a fridge) and a few beers, and reconnected with my much-missed internets. At six I joined Nick at the Return of the Living Dead Q&A with Don Calfa and Linnea Quigley, both of whom are cool as cool is cool.

We stuck around for the Sideshow Vaudville Burlesque show, expecting to see some boobies and dancing but instead got a pretty damn fun sideshow vaudville burlesque show - why we didn't expect exactly that I don't know. Probably we just saw "burlesque" and assumed there would be boobies galore.

Nick and I grabbed some food quickly at a nearby TGI Fridays (we'd never been to one before). I got myself a kitschy Cosmo poured over pink cotton candy and an appetizer. We went back up to our room, had a few more beers, and hit the music room for some more metal. This was where we were damn glad to have had the presence of mind to pick up earplugs before coming to the con, because even with them in the music was loud loud loud! Clearly, Nick and I are boring squares. The best part of the concert was watching a small group of teens, probably around 14 years old, headbanging right by the stage, and trying to form their own mosh pit. Nick and I were in hysterics watching them, and we both commented later how it was weird to feel ourselves lauging our asses off, but not be able to actually hear it.

After the concerts, we caught the last of the few short films playing that night, including an airing of an episode from the Twin Cities Ghostbusters. You may remember me taking a pic with them last year, and of course they were back in full force!

Then it was time for bed for us. Nick and I passed right out.

We woke up the next morning, cleaned ourselves up, packed all of our swag and gear and such and loaded everything into the car, quite thankful that checkout at the hotel wasn't until noon. So, of course we hit the breakfast buffet again and stuffed ourselves just as completely as the day before (mmm raspberries). We'd been seated next to where all the con staff was having their breakfast, and as we ate, Steve Dash of Friday the 13th 2 joined the con staff (he sat right next to me!). The con staff got up shortly after, and so we got to chat with him while we all finished eating. It was an awesome experience, and very cool to chat with him one-on-one in such a relaxed manner.

The Q&A with Margot Kidder was at 1pm, so we swept through the dealer room one more time, got the last of the things that we decided we really couldn't live without, and then headed up to watch her speak. It was incredible listening to her; she made a few allusions to her breakdown years and years ago, but she is really just a very charming and outspoken woman. Towards the end of the Q&A, she told "all the young women out there" not to be afraid of aging, because it was like a free pass to get to say and do and think whatever you want, and that it was terribly empowering and wonderful. It was an awesome thing to hear, and I think I got a little teary-eyed listening to her say that.

After that, we had still more time to kill until the Steve Dash Q&A (which we couldn't miss now that we'd had breakfast with him) and it was absolutely hilarious! He ripped on people coming in late, he ripped on other guys that had played Jason, he talked about his experiences as a stunt man, and was thoroughly entertaining.

And that's the end of the con. Nick and I got some sushi, and headed home, and crashed hard. I'm still not feeling totally recovered from it, and was a little worried this morning that I'd picked up one form of ConSARS or another (that post-con sickness that seems to plague con-goers), but I'm actually feeling pretty good right now. 100% pleased with myself that I'd had the presence of mind to take today off work.

I've posted all the pics at my Flickr page, so feel free to check them out there.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Too Long to Tweet

Why is it that one of my all-time favorite pieces of jewelry is not the garnet necklace that used to belong to my great-grandmother, or the gorgeous Italian necklace and earrings my boyfriend's parents (his mom, really) gave me, but a cheap necklace I got from Goodwill for a Halloween costume five years ago?

Upon reflection, the reason this necklace has preference at this time is because I'm packing for Crypticon, and expecting to be at at least one rowdy concert, and I'd feel less shitty if by chance this one got lost or broken.

Also, holy hell run-on sentences!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm Swamped!

I may have mentioned this here before, but I can't remember where or when offhand, so I'll say it now: I do not watch traditional tv, and haven't really since I started living with my boyfriend two years ago.

We do not subscribe to cable television, and have not even bothered to see if any basic channels come in on our television set. I do watch television programs, and herein lies the subject of this post. For the entirety of my televisual entertainment comes via my internet connection. For most of the programs I follow, I use Hulu. Otherwise I get the shows directly from the website of their origin, if that makes sense. For instance, CBS hasn't jumped onto the Hulu bandwagon yet, so when I want to watch CSI or HIMYM, I go to cbs.com.

It's a system that works out fairly well for me, except for Tuesdays. The difficulty here is that the majority of the shows I watch are added to my Hulu-queue(eueueueueu ("Nanny Ogg knew how to spell banana, but she didn't know how to stop.")) or become available to me on Tuesdays. Here's what I face every Tuesday.

6am - go to work until anywhere from noon to 2:30pm. The joys of part-time employment.
12 - 2:30 pm - turn on the computer, and check my webcomics. This is actually a daily occurrence, and there are so many it's easier to simply open all the links in my webcomics folder every day than try to keep track of which ones update when. I could do a whole series of posts on the different webcomics I read and why they're awesome.
Post-webcomics-reading - check Hulu. The day before gave me an episode of The Simpsons, which I may or may not have watched. New to my queue(eueue) are episodes of The Daily Show, Castle, House, and Lie to Me. For those of you keeping track, that's about 3.5 hours of tvtertainment right there. I don't really know when a new episode of HIMYM is actually added to cbs.com, but I know it airs on Mondays, so I assume it's up by Tuesday afternoon. Which, as I check the website, appears to be the truth.

Then there's Wil Wheaton's Memories of the Futurecast podcast, which is usually updated Monday or Tuesday afternoon. AND THEN there's The Guild, which I catch over at msn.com!

Throw into the mix three more episodes of The Daily Show for the week, CSI (which I'll usually catch somewhere around the end of the week) and finally the Dungeons and Dragons podcast featuring Scott Kurtz of PvP, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade, and Wil Wheaton of Wil Wheaton as the members of Acquisitions Inc.

Oh, and I've also started playing WoW again (I'm so ashamed) and am trying to level four characters.

And and I'm reading The Scar by China Mieville, which is a hefty damn book and pretty damn intense. With all this entertainment to glut myself on, it's a wonder I get anything done. I need to devise an entertainment schedule to keep it all straight.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Musketeers Saga

A while ago, I bitched about how the first volume of The Vicomte of Bragelonne didn't live up to its title very well. I didn't have a lot of complaints about the actual book at that point, but simply that the title did not accurately reflect the plot, or even any of the principle characters. Once again, because the information here is important for the content of this current post, I'll quote the Wiki summary:

It appeared first in serial form between 1847 and 1850. In the English translations the 268 chapters of this large volume are usually subdivided into three, but sometimes four or even five individual books. In three-volume English editions, the three volumes are titled "The Vicomte de Bragelonne", "Louise de la Vallière", and "The Man in the Iron Mask."
I've finally read all three volumes. I had such high hopes...

Where to begin? The expectations? The characters? The pacing? These three books were nearly tortuous to get through, and I can be an almost voracious reader. They are all hefty volumes, which makes it quite understandable that the novel itself was split into three parts. Trying to read the whole book in its entirety would be far too daunting. But to set some perspective on the whole thing, here's a run-down of my impression of each book in the Musketeers saga.

The Three Musketeers: The second-best Dumas book I've read, behind The Count of Monte Cristo. It's just plain fun. There's plenty of humor, romance, and bravado for anyone desiring a firmly buckled swash; the mystery of Milady and the intrigues of Anne of Austria provide the book with a thoroughly entertaining plot. I could not help but adore each of the main characters, and I will say now that I enjoyed watching their characters develop over all the books of the series.

Twenty Years After: I can't quite say why, but I enjoyed this one a little less than Musketeers. Perhaps it was because I saw the inevitable sobering of our heroes as they aged. It felt less like an adventure tale and more like a drama. I laughed less, and cried more, and was mystified that all of a sudden Porthos was being described as this giant of a man with the strength of a Hercules, when I did not recall any such description of him in Musketeers. This continues to be strange to me, as his size and strength play such pivotal roles in the following books. Perhaps when I re-read Musketeers I'll catch something that I missed, but it really did seem to come out of the blue.

Twenty Years After also introduced Raoul, the son of Athos and the Vicomte of Bragelonne. I was excited to see this, as it heralded a continuation of the youthful energy of the first novel.

The Vicomte of Bragelonne: This was... okay. It was a fair enough plot, and did a fair enough job of setting up the events that would cause a great deal of the action later on. It is far more about D'Artagnan and King Charles II than Raoul; the Vicomte himself makes only a few appearances in the book until the last few chapters, and is not even spoken of much either. At this point in the series, I noticed that I was most enjoying the passages where D'Artagnan was, for lack of a better phrase, pissed all the fuck off at the young King Louis. He brought a great deal of passion and nobility to the pages, and continues to do so throughout the books. I think it's one of the traits that makes him such a likeable character.

Louise de la Valliere: Uuuuugh! This book is almost all court drama, and complicated but passionate romances that go in every possible way as many times as possible. By the end of the book, it's very difficult to empathize with most of the main characters. Even Raoul, who finally plays a larger role, is so emotionally immature I started imagining him with eyeliner and jet-black hair combed in front of his eyes (this, by the way, is nothing compared to his behavior in The Man in the Iron Mask). What's even worse is that the more I saw of Aramis, the less I liked him. Where before he was a bit of a romancer, now he is a schemer, and while he takes the side of M. Fouquet, who needs all the help he can get, I couldn't help but feel that Aramis was not quite doing this out of the goodness of his heart.

The Man in the Iron Mask: I've not seen any film version of this, but at this point, I think I'd like to. Because I'd be rather interested to see how much time Louis' twin brother actually spends in an iron mask. Would you like to know how much of a role the iron mask plays in this novel? One, perhaps two chapters' worth. He is discovered, Louis says he'll be forced to wear an iron mask, he's transported to an island wearing it, is shut up in a prison, and is never heard from again.

Here be spoilers for the ending. I'd be considerate and tiptoe around it, but the ending was so dissatisfying for me, I have to rant about it.

And, as if that weren't bad enough, Raoul, for whom I had so much hope, considering he was the son of the wonderful and eloquent and noble and awesome Athos, a man beloved of kings... Raoul fucking wastes away, pining for poor little Louise de la Valliere who never even loved him in the first place. He utterly gives up on life and decides to go and get himself killed in a war in Africa. And, because Raoul has become Athos' only reason for living, Athos too wastes away. It's fucking pitiful.

Porthos dies helping Aramis, who has pretty much revealed himself to be a bit of a sleazeball, escape from the army of the King. Porthos is so simple and wonderful through all these books, it just broke my heart that he had to be taken in by Aramis, and couldn't have been at D'Artagnan's side the whole time instead. Aramis, by the way, gets to become the ambassador of Spain to France, and he's pretty smarmy about it.

Finally, what of D'Artagnan? This noble soul, as loyal a servant and soldier as any king could have ever dreamed for, was constantly beaten down by his masters; his triumphs and derring-do forgotten and ignored by the royalty saved by them; denied again and again the titles and ranks he so obviously deserved... Through all this, he served the king with grace and dignity. In the final chapter, he is given the thing he has worked for all his life, and the moment the object of his desire is placed in his hands, he's shot through the heart by a stray musket bullet, and dies.

Fucking Dumas.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fleeting

I remember standing on a chair, reaching waaaay over into an old one-gallon ice cream bucket about 1/2 to 3/4 (call it 2/3?) full with generic oreo cookies. I would plunge the cookie into a glass of milk beside me until it soaked up enough milk that it was nearly mush, and then nom it with delight. My grandfather was there, and probably my cousin, who is a year younger than I am.

I'm probably about 4.

I remember being held by someone; in my memory it feels as though I'm sort of being held on their hip, if that makes sense. We're at a factory, where my grandfather works, and he's using a paint key to open a small can of paint or varnish for me to see. I remember the smell of the place, the strong odor of the paint. A part of me isn't quite sure that this is a real memory. I'm not sure how old I would have been at this point.

This memory is even less concrete - I'm sure I've pieced a lot of it together from having seen photographs of the event; but we're celebrating my fifth birthday, and we're in the hospital, where my grandfather is being treated (lung cancer, I think - I only remember being told that it was because he smoked). I remember sitting on the hospital bed next to him. I know that I got a set of doctor toys (stethescope, syringe, that mallet they use to test reflexes, a black bag for it all) and green scrubs for that birthday.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ninja maids?

Ninja maids!

They clean the floors when you least expect it, leaving only a polished shine and the aroma of lotus blossoms.

Pirate maids are pretty much the opposite. They leave unusual stains and suspicious odors.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This n' That 2: Son of This n' That

I keep thinking of things that I'd like to blog about, then promptly forgetting what these things are before I can get to a computer. D'oh. Anyway, here's some this n' that...

I had a couple of dreams last night. In the first dream, I looked in the cupboards beneath our sink and found a tupperware dish full of old stew which had turned a sort of mother-of-pearl color. Shiny and sickeningly glossy... And then a roach crawled out of the cupboard, and I'm fairly certain I ought to have screamed myself awake at that point. I have no idea how I did not do this, but somehow I managed. The second dream had me driving behind another car on a country road, not going very fast. The car ahead of me got trapped on a set of train tracks, with an oncoming train. I got out of my car, screamed, and started running away, and warned the people driving behind me, yelled at them to drop to the ground. Then the train hit the car, which exploded, and I caught a bit of shrapnel in my right leg. I remember it hurting a lot, I could barely walk and was dream-concerned about losing a lot of blood in spite of the smallish piece of metal in my leg. But I limped towards other people who were hurt more than I was and helped them get to the ambulance that was miraculously there.

Then my alarm went off.

Nick and I saw this at our local Taco Bell a few weeks ago, and we've been talking about getting a picture of it ever since. I would have liked to get one of us (probably me) standing in front of the window holding our butt with an expression of agony on our face, but that just didn't work out. Either way: BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

I have a rash on/in my cleavage. I have very little else to add, but right now it's a pretty huge deal, because I haven't itched anyplace this badly since... Fuck, I'm so distracted by the itching right now I can't think of anything. I have some antihistamine ointment on it right now, but it's not doing a lot of good...

I've been reading Louise de la Valliere, the second volume of the Vicomte of Bragelonne; lots of court drama which is ok, but it's still sloooow reading. This is one book I'm probably going to have to check out again just to be able to finish it. D'Artagnan is barely in this at all, and I'm starting to see a little bit more of Raoul; the book still appears to be mostly about King Louis XIV, his jealous emo brother and the court, but a little character development is starting to happen, which I'm not going to complain about.

We're getting super excited for this year's Crypticon. Margot Kidder is listed as one of their big guests right now, which should be wicked cool. We've been talking about doing costumes this year; Nick is thinking about Leslie Vernon. With my new haircut, I may drag-king it up as one of my own horror heroes, Dr. Herbert West.






















A part of me is still holding out the hope of seeing Ken Foree at Crypticon, but according to his website, he's scheduled to do a con in Germany the week following, which probably does not make for awesome scheduling. Ken Foree would probably bring out the screaming fangirl in me, and I'd be absolutely giddy with puppy-like joy to get to meet him.

I'd have to practice my disapproving glower for the Herbert West costume. I'm not used to being menacingly stern.


Uhhh... my squishy brain has started to run dry. Not many this n' that's today. I'll probably have to make supper pretty soon anyway; it would probably not be the best thing to have apple crisp for lunch and supper today...
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I need help...

This is an actual train of thought I had just now.

"Oh, it's getting late. I'd better start supper. Huh... I haven't been too hungry lately. That's weird. Wait... Didn't I just polish off a bottle of Mountain Dew, and before that a bunch of Cheez-Its, and before that a big bowl of leftover goulash? Man, I'm an idiot; I should post it on the internet! ... Why is it that I know this is a bad idea, but will still do it anyway?"

*posts blog*

And I wonder why I'm not losing weight as fast as I'd like...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I don't normally bitch about books...

I love books like I love pie. A slice o' pie + a book = joy. When it comes right down to it, I like most of the books that I read - or at least, I don't dislike them so much that I feel the need to bitch about it. There's really only one book that even comes to mind right now that plucks my last nerve whenever I think of it: Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. But that's another post, which I may or may not write.

Today I'm going to bitch about a different book, which I just finished reading. It's a book that, again, I don't necessarily dislike, but it just bothers me to a point where I really need to unleash the irritation it caused me.

The Vicomte of Bragellone, by Alexandre Dumas, is not a terrible novel. It is, in point of fact, the first volume (of three) of the third book in the Three Musketeers series; the Wiki sums it up much better than I can:

It appeared first in serial form between 1847 and 1850. In the English translations the 268 chapters of this large volume are usually subdivided into three, but sometimes four or even five individual books. In three-volume English editions, the three volumes are titled "The Vicomte de Bragelonne", "Louise de la Vallière", and "The Man in the Iron Mask."

The Vicomte of Bragelonne, in the context of the novel, is Raoul, the son of Athos. He's present in a chapter or two at the beginning of the novel, is referred to a handful of times again in succeeding chapters, and finally begins to fully appear as a character in the last quarter or so of the book. The rest of the book is about the adventures of D'Artagnan, whom I'll admit I do love to read about.

I know it's silly, but it irritates me that it's called The Vicomte of Bragelonne, as though the novel is about this young man, and the reader will see interesting character development, when in reality D'Artagnan monopolizes the story. I felt a little betrayed. Why Bragelonne, after all? Why not something referring to the restoration of Charles II, which takes up a good half the narrative or more, and sets in motion the events which actually do bring Raoul into the spotlight?

Obviously, my ire is directed more towards those translators and/or editors who ages ago decided it would be a good idea to dupe the reader a bit. Or perhaps I need a bit more of a history lesson with respect to this particular issue... I don't know. I just know that when I start reading Louise de la Valliere, I'd better see plenty of that timid girl that Raoul seems to love so desperately, or I'll be cranky. And I'll probably make another ranty post about it.

On a slightly different, but greatly less crochety note, after having read The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, and Vicomte of Bragelonne, I have to say that I'm a little amazed at how much of a big deal was made of Porthos' size in the second two books as opposed to the first. I don't recall descriptions of Porthos in The Three Musketeers giving me the impression that he was superhumanly strong... Perhaps a bit of a bigger man, I suppose, but not the Hercules he was made out to be in the following books. Perhaps it was the translation, but it threw me for a loop. This is why I think I'll always prefer The Count of Monte Cristo.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Find a fucking way to afford it!!

So, I returned from the doctor's appointment today and checked the tweets I missed while I was making the D_O face (I may have mentioned my Twitter addiction...) And linked in two different tweets was this article from EW.com: Futurama getting new voices for Fry, Leela, Bender, and Others.

Did I say article? I meant obscenity.

To sum up:

Fox released a statement saying "We love the Futurama voice performers and absolutely wanted to use them, but unfortunately, we could not meet their salary demands. While replacing these talented actors will be difficult, the show must go on. We are confident that we will find terrific new performers to give voice to Matt and David's brilliantly subversive characters."
Seriously. Obscenity. That whole quote needs a black bar over it.

I know I probably come across as a pretty rabid fan right now, but I do think something like this is a big deal. As terrible as it is to inflate an actor's ego, the choices they make for the characters are as important as those made by the writers, directors, and everyone else involved in any type of performance. Everything matters, and I've been given to understand that quality voice acting is actually pretty hard to come by. Ever seen a bad anime dub? God-damn right you have!

Like Family Guy before it, there was enough fan/public interest in Futurama that it was granted a resurrection, first in the form of direct-to-DVD films, and now the promise of new seasons. Firefly was able to get its Serenity almost certainly for the same reasons. But would anyone have gone to see Serenity without Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau, and all the others? Would Family Guy have eight seasons if there were no Seth MacFarlaine or Alex Borstein behind their characters? Hell, I'm not even much of a Family Guy fan, but I'll admit that I like what Mila Kunis does with Meg a lot more than what Lacey Chabert did in the first season. There's a difference, and it matters.

The long and the short of it is simply that FOX can look at these talented people who voiced some of our favorite characters two ways: an expense, or an investment. And I won't lie, I don't think internet petitions ever really work, but I do think this is something the nerdlinger fans ought to get up in arms about. Because for something like this, the original voice actors are sure to prove worth every penny.

Here's another good article from Forces of Geek.com.
According to no less than cast members John DiMaggio, Phil LaMarr, and Maurice LaMarche on their Facebook pages, a casting notice has gone out to replace actors DiMaggio, LaMarche, Billy West and Katy Sagal.

...

Nevertheless, any attempt to recast these talented folks should be the first indicator that the new season is poorly executed and just a cheap attempt to push out product.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Little This 'n That

Another catch-all blog post, because I'm bored and easily distracted.

  • Is it just me, or does Alexandre Dumas get more boring with each book? The Three Musketeers was fun, The Count of Monte Christo was excellent, Twenty Years After was good enough but took me for-fucking-ever to read, and The Vicomte of Bragelonne is damnably hard to get into. If I make it all the way to (and through) The Man in the Iron Mask, I think I'll deserve a huge fucking pat on the back. All things considered, though, he's it's not as bad as Hugo and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I've never wanted to stab a book so badly in my entire life...
  • I tried the Bacon Cheesy Potato Burrito from Taco Bell today, because I saw a commercial for it last weekend and declared "I must have that!" Verdict: they put sour cream on it, which is what I blame on the... unpleasantness in the bathroom that ensued; normally, all my taco-related products are without sour cream and I never have such difficulties. Otherwise, it was bacony.
  • My boyfriend's mother asked me if I wanted to go clothes shopping with her last weekend, because my birthday is coming up. I felt bad saying no, but clothes shopping is fucking painful for me. Socks don't fit, because my feet are too small - the heels invariably end up above my ankles. Pants don't fit, because my legs are too short. Even petite sizes are too long. Bras and shirts definitely don't fit, because my tits are bigger than my head. The only thing I can safely buy is skirts (which I never wear) and underwear. Body fail!
  • Whenever Kevin Smith tweets about the amazing sex he has with his wife, and Wil Wheaton tweets about the amazing geeky things his wife says, itgives me hope for the American marriage, which Time.com seems to think is on the brink of fail. But what do I know about the American marriage? I was divorced at the age of 21. Actually, I probably know more about the American marriage than most.
  • I may be growing addicted to websites like Texts From Last Night and Not Always Right. Each site makes me both glad and regretful that my life isn't more interesting. But it's seriously addicting to just read through the archives.
  • I have a doctor's appointment next week; I finally get to talk to someone about the headaches I get every day! I'll be very disappointed if the doc suggests I see a chiropractor. It's hard to take the profession seriously when a chiro gave your ex-husband a stroke through a botched adjustment. Also, I wonder what expression the doc will have when he or she gives me my breast exam; I strongly suspect the dressing gown will surprisingly downplay how big they actually are, and am hoping for a look of shocked horror. Morbid? Me?
To wrap things up, here are some photos from last weekend, when we went home to SD to visit friends and fam.




World's Largest Pheasant, standing proud and tall in Huron, SD. Outstanding...

We bought fireworks here. Apparently that's a ride that hasn't worked in 30 years or more. If you look closely (or embiggen the photo by clicking on it) you can see a blue swastika painted on the side of one of the cars.

Fireworks and beer ALWAYS go together!
We dropped a smoke bomb in a puddle.

Kaboom!

Monday, June 22, 2009

I love him like I love Fresca.

So... my boyfriend is pretty much obsessed with fish. Not quite Troy McLure-obsessed, but almost. In spite of living in the Midwest, where there are decidedly few opportunities for actual delicious seafood, he craves it constantly. There is pretty much never a time when there isn't some fish sitting in our freezer, waiting to be cooked by me for his tummy. He could be content to have a fishy-centric supper every day of the week, and probably some lunches and breakfasts too.

Now, I like fish, but mostly because I've recently discovered that it doesn't taste like gross, which is the opinion my mother holds. Having grown up knowing that opinion, I shared it until my boyfriend shared with me the joyous experience of sushi (something a Japanophile like me cannot resist for love or money or even a nice juicy steak). So, I like fish, and go out of my way for a nice sushi meal, but there's still a part of me that is aware of when the fish isn't cooked to its full potential.

As I am most frequently the cook in question, this is problematic. On the one hand, I have this wonderful but crazy man interested in salmon, and perch, and hali-butt, and all sorts of other things he finds at the grocery store. And on the other, there's me, asking... "How the fuck am I going to cook that and not turn it into utter fail?" The only method I've had any real success with is baking it with a combination of spices that I discovered on one recipe website or another; and even then, it's touch-and-go (I too often overcook it, which makes it dry and awful). So often, Nick and I will be standing in front of the freezer doors, and he'll ask, "Do you think you can cook sole?"

Sure, I can cook sole. I don't have a recipe right off the top of my head, but I can find one. I've found that AllRecipes.com has a pretty good selection, and being able to read comments by folks who've tried these recipes is also helpful. But no amount of incredible, easy-to-make recipes for outstanding types of fish can overcome my ability to totally fuck shit up.

I'm lucky he'll eat anything no matter how crappy it tastes. And I need to figure out how to broil shit, just for a change of pace.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Woe, woe, woe!

I made my second excursion to the local library today, having finished the three books I'd joyously acquired on my first trip. Today I made a more serious exploration of the library and discovered that it was not as magical a place as I'd previously imagined. Woe, for the paperback section is startlingly small; many of the books I have long-hoped to track down and immerse myself in are not to be found!

It was with a great deal of dismay that I wandered through the shelves today, searching for authors that I am at least currently familiar with. The collections I found were either nonexistent, woefully incomplete (often to the point of being diminished by my own collection). Today I was in luck. I found three thick books to take home with me, but future trips will have to be more planned out. I cannot go back and simply hope to discover.

Still, it's better than running through my own stale collection again and again.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Whoops!

It appears that the video in this orignal post was in violation of some copyright infringement; my use of the song was considered inappropriate and I have removed it.

In the meantime, here's some cats on a treadmill!



Just as funny as watching me flail around, I promise.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I am reminded...

I just recently joined Goodreads, because I am a bibliophile at heart and cannot resist the lure of a place to catalog all the books I own, have read, and desire to read. It's just the way I am. But, browsing the never-ending lists of books in any of the genres I particularly enjoy, I found myself despairing of all the books out there that I have not yet read, and all the free time I find myself stuck with, and all the books that I'm not quite ready to re-read yet.

I'm broke as broke, and as much as I'd like to spend lots and lots of money on lots and lots of books, it's hard to justify. Partly because of the student loans looming over my head, but also because don't have enough bookshelves for the books I've got, let alone the ones I desire.

And that's when the duh moment hit me. That's when I was reminded of the glorious building I've eschewed since I went to college, for reasons entirely unknown to me. The shining beacon that called to me twice a week during the summers between my years in high school: the library!

I haven't had a library card in ages, and it's gotten to the point that I'd entirely forgotten such a wonderful place even existed. All this time, I've been dreading the finish of a book, because it would mean I'd have to decide which book out of the many I own to re-read next. And there are problems with my collection, too. Due to mishaps and irresponsible purchasing practices, whole series sit on my shelves incomplete. How can I begin a book in any one series, knowing I'll have to inevitably skip over the book I do not own?! It's madness, it can't be done.

How silly I've been. I have the day off, and Winona has a public library. The math, even for me, is simple. Is it weird that I'm actually salivating at the thought of browsing the stacks again?

Edit: Library card achieved! Now, to finish reading Catch 22, so I can put this bad boy to use!


Monday, May 18, 2009

Nerdery and such...

I am, at heart, a gamer. I really really less than three video and computer games. And board games. And all (1) pen and paper tabletop games I've played. And card games, and puzzles, and drinking games (especially drinking games!) and other game-type activities that don't involve much physical activity. As a result, I spend a great deal of time, energy, and sometimes even money devoted to the pursuit and enjoyment of such games.

I haven't played a lot of games, certainly not in comparison with other gamers I've known. For instance (and time and terminology are not currently conducive to clarity and brevity), before we were married the man who is currently my ex-husband and I rented a home that was frequented by his gamer friends. They eventually spent so much time there that one by one, they moved their computers into our living room, and we set up a LAN, and there was perhaps never a time in that house in which it was either empty or quiet because everyone was asleep. Extra televisions were moved in, and multiple game consoles to accommodate them. The width and breadth of games readily at my fingertips thanks to these guys even now boggles the mind. And they never stopped gaming. Everquest and Halo, Diablo 2 and Soul Caliber 2, Settlers of Catan and Neverwinter Nights, Lord of the Five Rings (the card game and the pen-and-paper rpg) and even, once or twice, some Dungeons and Dragons.

This house was Nerd Central, and I participated in only a small portion of all that went on; I occassionally had to force myself to focus on my college classes (and yes, my grades did suffer more than a bit at this time).

I forgot where I was going with all that, but the point is this: I like teh campooter gamez. I spend more time than I care to admit just browsing games on Yahoo Games, Whirled, AddictingGames.com, and other game-type websites. I've only recently broken my WoW addiction (strangely enough, through extended disinterest... O.o), but I still often turn to Neverwinter Nights, Age of Empires II and the good-old standby: Solitaire (especially Spider Solitaire).

But the game I'm loving the hell out of right now? Puzzle Pirates!

I've been playing PP on and off for about three years now (and I have the Third Order of the Jolly Roger to prove it!) and I think it just keeps getting better and better. And I just came to the conclusion that I think I like it more than World of Warcraft. Ultimately, the fact is that PP's simplicity makes it much easier to enjoy than WoW.

Bullet Points!

  • PP is cheaper than WoW. One doesn't necessarily need to pay to play, as most games are aviailable to non-subscribers at different times through the week (and some games are always available) but even the monthly subscription is cheaper.
  • PP is less demanding than WoW in the technical sense. I haven't uninstalled WoW from my hard drive, and it takes up a good chunk of space between the three expansions. Patches, too, are hefty. The pie graph below illustrates the four major games I have on my computer, and their comparative size in megabytes. (ignore the title, please, I've just realized it's not quite accurate to the data).

  • PP is challenging, but not frustrating. At least, it isn't so much for me. WoW can be, I think, universally frustrating due to its nature. For someone like me, a PvP server on WoW is utter hell, but there are other factors as well. Mob adds, for instance. Level or gold grinding, dungeon wipes, certain quests (fuck you in your fucking face Betrayal! /angryfayse) ; all these have made me utter words that only the child of two sailors should know in the first place. Puzzle Pirates is so much simpler! I play at a puzzle, and I get Pieces of Eight! If I struggle with the puzzle, I can move on to something else, which will also give me PoE! I could go on, but suffice to say that PP does not make me want to tear my hair out - EVER.
  • PP is a world of pirates. And, unless you're a ninja fan, that's pretty awesome (perhaps PP's parent company should create a Ninja Pirates parallel... that would take a lot of development, though... but it's a fun thought. I'd probably play that too.) WoW is a great fantasy world, full of rich and complex history; I've heard that Blizzard has on staff a person with a PhD in history whose sole job is to ensure that subsequent WoW updates maintain continuity with already established lore. That's just heavy.
  • I can wear many different "hats" in PP. I can be an alchemist, or a blacksmith, or a sailor; none of these are dependent on a choice one at character creation, but are freely available at any time (unless one is not a subscriber, of course). WoW is a little more restrictive. If you roll a priest, you're not going to be able to tank; if you want to try tanking, you've got to roll another character with a different class and level it. The hybrid classes give you a little more wiggle room, but you've still got to respec (I admit, I dropped the game before Dual-spec came out; I'm sure this feature has improved things A LOT!) and will probably even need to keep extra pieces of gear on hand to make the most of the new spec.
  • I love puzzles! I feel like I'm actually working my mind with every different puzzle I play, and whenever the puzzle gets monotonous, I can change gears pretty easily. On WoW, there are challenges, certainly, but it can be pretty much the same. Whichever toon I was on, I had a rotation of spells or actions that I used for nearly every mob I came across. How I was able to spend hours at a time doing this boggles my mind right now.
This is, by and large, about all I've got right now. This blog is long enough, and I fear it's reading like a commercial endorsement when it is closer to a love letter. To be fair, my main complaint with Puzzle Pirates is the use of labor hours; this is more of a whinge than anything - I tend to use up all my 24 of my advance labor hours whenever I forage, and it's no fun to just practice at puzzles! Luckily, the Terra Island Navy pays me well for the fine work I do rigging, sailing, and carpenting (and the poor work I do navigating... but I've just started!)

Yo ho ho!

Friday, May 15, 2009

So much stuff!

One of my biggest problems is that I very frequently think to myself (as opposed to thinking to someone else...) "Ooh, that's something I could write a blog post about!" and then I never get around to actually writing the post. Like my stalled "With Darkness as an Ally" series, a road block goes up somewhere between idea and "Publish Post". It can be anything from the sudden rumble of my stomach, reminding me that I haven't had breakfast yet, or the reminder that I still have 17 videos in my queue on Hulu that really ought to get watched eventually, or I could just get bored and decide that playing a computer game like Puzzle Pirates or Spider Solitaire would be much more interesting than just writing about... stuff.

What kind of stuff have I failed to write about? Golly, I'll tell you!

This article on CNN that I read today; it got me thinking even more about my own atheism (something that's been on my mind quite a lot lately, thanks to recent YouTube discoveries my boyfriend has made). I could write just so much here about so many different aspects of religion that I have a beef with, including one of my favorite stuffs to think about: "What if Satan Wrote the Bible?" That post will probably never come, though, because it would be difficult to ever really end it.

What was going on at Taco Bell at 5:45am the other day? I drive by there on the way to work in the mornings, and the lights are usually off, but that time they were on! There was no end to my speculations, and I briefly entertained the notion of sharing them all with you, the internet, but I was at work for the next many hours and promptly forgot them all.

I've felt the urge to write movie reviews that nobody really needs to read. Sometimes I just want to talk about movies, and why I think The Spirit would have been better with the application of vodka, or why I totally expect someone to re-make Just One of the Guys, and why I will be there on opening night for it.

Does anyone else feel betrayed when spam makes it through your e-mail's Junk Filter? Does anyone else get excited by a "new mail" notification, only to discover that "The best way to win her heart is to buy her a golden watch." Actually, going through my spam folder, I could do an entire blog post just listing the spam titles. I'd share a website that illustrates spam titles, but I haven't been able to get it to load today. /sad

And... I've not only forgotten all the other stuffs that I want to share with you, the internet, but I'm also being distracted by my stomach rumbling, reminding me that I haven't had breakfast yet. Time to hit the little orange button, so I can get at least this much up...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lily!

For our fourth anniversary, my boyfriend brought home this flower for me. It doesn't seem that romantic or awesome, but it is in fact made of win, because I happen to be absolutely mad for lilies of all kinds.





Thursday, April 30, 2009

Work Ramble

So, I don't think I screamed it out on my interweb rooftop, but I got a job about two months ago. Yay, and stuff. I'm working at the local Kmart, which isn't exactly what I pictured myself doing, but it's interesting work: the main thing I do is handle the price changes for the stuff, and junk. I also help out whenever the trucks arrive with the stuff, and junk.

Now, I started out getting properly trained by a really awesome woman who was doing nearly all the price changes for the store on her own. But... she started having terrible pain in her knees, and had to take some medical time off. As a result, I've been flying solo for the past two weeks or so. And while I had managed to get enough of a handle on things that I'm getting stuff done, I'm not getting all of it done; I try not to get too down on myself about it, but it's damn stressful, let me tell ya'.

But that's ok. Because working is nice. Not having to sit and stare at the walls and devise new ways of entertaining myself for every interminable hour is pretty nice. I also really appreciate having money regularly deposited into my bank account. I think the thing I like the most though is that I'm actually interacting with other human beings on a regular basis. I have great coworkers - they're all super nice, and a couple of them have made me feel extremely welcome, and there are a few who are just a damn hoot to be around. I'm going to pull a Wil Wheaton and give you an illustrative example:

Me: So, that rack of stuff, and junk, is full, so where should I shove this other junk?
Kathleen: (deadpan) How about up your ass?
Me: ... Yeah, I shouldn't have phrased it like that.

Except Wil Wheaton is a much better writer than that.

But here's the weirdest thing about working at Kmart and doing what I do: I go throughout the store on a daily basis and look at just about all the merchandise, and what it costs. I know when things go up in price, and when the prices decline, and I know when they go on clearance. I know when their clearance price drops.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to convince myself not to buy all the things I manage to convince myself I need on a daily basis? Contrary to my materially-minded brain-meats, I do not need a new set of cooking knives, or a badminton set, or an i-dog (even though it would be a great surrogate-puppy until I can get a real one!). I don't even need to get a new toothbrush that happens to be electric and fancy.

Really, it's a good thing I'm so painfully aware of how little I'm really making, or the temptation would be a lot stronger.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Will the subject remain on fire?

Going to take a break from the antihero series for a little while... Been trying to force it too much, which is causing a whole lot of nothing to happen. So instead I'm going to talk a little about one of those random things that creep into my mind and make me think way too much.

This is actually slightly related to the antihero series, in that it was an antihero that got me thinking about this subject. Gully Foyle, of Alfred Bester's novel The Stars My Destination, was supposed to be the subject of With Darkness as an Ally Part 5; he was the one who gave me troubles. The world created in the novel revolves around jaunting: the ability to teleport. There is a brief portion in the beginning of the novel that details the early stages of mankind's study of the ability.

So for some time now, I've been thinking about that process. Imagining the groups of sciencey-minded women and men running tests to discover the mechanics of teleportation. If I had better knowledge of the scientific process, or felt comfortable making up some impressive technojargon, I'd attempt to write a short story about these people and their efforts.

I can imagine them inspecting the subject of clothing and such. "Why do we teleport with our clothes?" they ask one another. "Is it because we just subconsciously and automatically include them in the lightning-quick laundry-list of things to teleport? Head: one. Arms: two. Legs: two. Shirt, jacket, pants, shoes, socks, underwear. Keys, wallet, package of gum, thirty-two cents in change."

It seems pretty exhaustive, they think. Does the brain really note all of these things, and if so - what happens if some unknown element is entered? If a piece of paper with a note scrawled on it has been surreptitiously slipped into the pants pocket of the teleporting subject? Will the note make the journey as well, even though the brain cannot possibly know to include it in the list?

Say the note comes along, in spite of its secrecy (I shouldn't even go into the various tests and control factors I thought up to ensure the secrecy of the note... this blog would never end.) So the note comes along, which means that for some reason the process happens to simply include everything under certain parameters: all the things that happen to be on the person of the teleporter. But can it be selective? Perhaps there is something that the teleporter does not wish to bring along. Maybe his pants are on fire. He teleports, and certainly does not want to remain on fire. Does the subject remain on fire when he arrives in his new destination? I'm picturing a professional stunt-man, casual as he is lit up, surrounded by sciencey-minded women and men with fire extinguishers all looking tense and a little baffled.

To hell with science if it can't produce fiction.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

With Darkness as an Ally (Part 5)

The original part five was proving damnably difficult to write (and still remains unfinished) so here is Part 5 v. 2.0.

The antihero of Part 5 v. 2.0 is not dark, brooding, and sinister. He's not even murderous. And the weird thing is that he seems to have this knack for saving the day. After a fashion.



If you embiggen the image, you get a pretty good idea of the nature of this character. It is, of course, none other than Rincewind the Wizard (Wizzard?) of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. I mentioned that Rincewind has a knack for saving the day. But his real talent lies in staying alive and knowing when to run like hell.

I first started reading the Discworld novels in high school, and I even started right at the beginning with The Colour of Magic (which is as near to the beginning as makes no nevermind). It was just some random book that I picked up at the library, unaware that there was a hilarious and wonderful series building up behind it, and I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't really like it the first time through. My forays into the world shaped like a disc were put off until, a few years later, I came across Interesting Times in another library, unaware that it was several books down the line in this same hilarious and wonderful series. And this is when I realized how hilarious and wonderful it all really was.

Limiting the exploration of Rincewind's character to those two books is shameful, but I have to admit that they are the ones I remember the best. And really when it comes right down to it, Rincewind is simply a coward, always more frantically concerned with his own life than anything else. It's much more fun to share a few of my favorite "Rincewind-isms":

Few problems can't be solved with a scream and a good ten yards' start.
The best defense against threatening danger is to be on another continent.
I want my life to be dull and uninteresting. I'm afraid it'll be short.


As protagonists go, it's not very inspiring stuff. It's not very dashing to imagine a bedraggled figure screaming in terror and making a mad dash for freedom, but dashing isn't always what we're in the mood for anyway. And the fact that Rincewind is often paired up with other unusual characters seems to really make the outstanding traits of everyone shine. The way they all play off one another does great credit to Terry Pratchett. But really I think the ultimate answer to why Rincewind is such a phenomenal character is the fact that he's just plain funny. Such an unheroic individual being constantly thrown into wild and outlandish scenarios is extremely entertaining, and so we're there with Rincewind every frantic step of the way.

I should also add I got the above image of Rincewind from the Liverpool Museums webpage.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

With Darkness as an Ally (Part 4)

Eight, sir; seven, sir;
Six, sir; five, sir;
Four, sir; three, sir;
Two, sir; one!
Tenser, said the Tensor.
Tenser, said the Tensor.
Tension, apprehension
And dissension have begun.

I doubt many people will have heard of Ben Reich, antihero of Alfred Bester's Hugo Award-winning novel (the first to receive the distinction, in fact) The Demolished Man. And I have to admit that it could be argued that Reich is not an antihero but more a villain, with Linc Powell in the role of the true hero of the novel. It's a matter of perspective. In my mind, Reich is the Demolished Man, and so is the protagonist, and so an antihero.

Reich is quite simply a murderer. Ruthless and charming, brilliant and terrified of only one thing in the whole universe. Every night he is haunted by a nightmare - the Man With No Face. If this were a movie, dear departed Don LaFontaine sets the stage in the classic opening: "In a world where..."

In this marvelous work of science-fiction, this is a world where telepaths exist, and there has not been a successful premeditated murder in nearly 80 years. The telepaths - Espers - have made it impossible, but Ben Reich's back is against the wall, and someone is going to die. For ten years he has been locked in a financial battle with Craye D'Courtney, and Reich and his company are coming out the losers.

Reich is brash and bold, enlisting the help of the prominent Esper Augustus Tate; offering him power within the ruling Guild of Espers which controls the interests of the telepathic populace. With Tate's help he can fool the "peepers" that could foil his murderous plan to kill D'Courtney in the hopes of saving his financial empire. With Tate's help he can circumvent the investigation of the crime, led by Lincoln Powell. But Tate can do nothing against D'Courtney's daughter, who witnessed the murder and escaped before Reich could kill her as well.

The novel becomes a race to track down the young woman, for Powell knows full well that Reich is guilty, but the evidence against him must be rock-solid in order to convict. This is one of my favorite novels, because there are so many marvelous moments that it is a pure delight to read. For instance, when Reich rockets off to Spaceland to kill his chief of codes, who could also hold the key to Reich's Demolition, they are hidden in five hundred square miles of wilderness. He fashions a bow and arrow and we are treated to a sublime look into Reich's mind. "You can't kill a man in a hunting accident unless you go hunting."

You could almost like Ben Reich, you could almost understand his desperation, if it weren't possible to flip pages backwards to check certain facts that he overlooks, facts which become vital to the plot of the story. Suffice to say that his motives are not what he suspects, and the Man With No Face is the real key to Reich's Demolition.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

With Darkness as an Ally (Part 3 of Why Am I Even Bothering To Count Anymore?)

Attend the tale of Sweeny Todd. His skin was pale, his eye was odd. He shaved the faces of gentle men who never thereafter were heard from again. He trod a path that few have trod, did Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.


Here we have another man who began life as a relatively blameless individual whose only crime was arousing the envy of men who held more power. Once again, he is cast away and returns with a change in identity and a sinister and jaded alteration in attitude. And, of course, clinging to a plot for revenge on those who snatched away his happiness.

I love Sweeny Todd (nee Benjamin Barker) as much as I love the Count (nee Edmond Dantès). Stephen Sondheim's award winning musical about this so-called Demon Barber was the first show I was involved in at college, so it's easy to see that it has a special place in my heart. Todd, like the Count, are both characters which are easy to feel sympathetic towards, but the manner in which the sympathy is aroused gives a nice contrast between the two. For the Count, we are permitted to view firsthand the young man's happiness, and his subsequent torment. Sweeny Todd, however, enters as a fairly mysterious character and we learn of the injustice done against him through exposition (in song) and his continued longing for his old life (through song). And instead of a complex plot gently nudged into fruition, Sweeny Todd's revenge is straightforward, bold, and bloody.

Any simple hero out to right wrongs would never dream of going about it the way that Sweeny Todd does, but our protagonist here is so anguished and cynical that he proclaims (through song) that "... the lives of the wicked should be made brief, but for the rest of us death would be a relief; we all deserve to die..." Thus does the bloodbath begin, but the horror does not stop with simple murder. No, Sweeny Todd's victims are then served to the populace of London baked in meat pies, resulting in the prompt financial success of his neighbor and accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, who owns the pie shop.

So what's the fascination? It's so twisted, really, that I can't help but be drawn to it. The music is lovely, of course (it is Sondheim, after all) and it's such a dark and brooding piece of work, which is always more interesting than lighthearted fluff. Sometimes I like to just think about the reactions of the young fangirls who went to see the recent Tim Burton adaptation just to see Johnny Depp sing at them, without having much of an idea of the plot. Even thinking about it now gives me a bit of a devilish smile, a kind of twisted glee.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

With Darkness as an Ally (Part 2 of... This Many! *holds up hands*)

So when last we met, I vanished to brood for a little while. Brooding commenced, I arbitrarily decided to begin with Antiheroes in Literature. First up:

Edmond Dantès, the Count of Monte Cristo.

I love this character. He starts out in this serial novel by Alexandre Dumas as a friendly, candid young sailor who is poised to see the culmination of his few hopes and dreams at the tender age of 19. At this point, his major weakness is pure naivetee, and is totally incapable of seeing the jealousies of the few others close to him. Send to an island prison for a crime he was certainly not guilty of, Dantès survives there for fourteen years only through the chance meeting with the abbé Faria. And though this surely saves his life, it sets him on the path of vengeance, for the abbé keenly sees that which Dantès did not, and the true injustice is revealed. The years they are together, Faria schools the young man in science, math, and language and on his deathbed reveals the secret of a treasure buried at the island of Monte Cristo which Dantès is poised to inherit if he can only recover it. Faria dies, and Dantès escapes the prison, finds the treasure, and assumes the mantle of the Count of Monte Cristo. From the anonymous translation and abridgment I have of The Count of Monte Cristo, published in 2004 by Barnes and Noble, Inc.:

"... daily would he [Faria] expatiate on the amout, holding forth to Dantès on the good a man could do to his friends in modern times with a fortune of thirteen or fourteen millions. Dantès' face would darken, for the oath of vengeance he had taken would come into his mind, and he was occupied with the thought of how much harm a man could do to his enemies in modern times with a fortune of thirteen or fourteen millions."

I think that passage gives one an appropriate insight into what is to come for those that wronged our protagonist. For in the coming pages the Count seeks to utterly shatter the lives of Messrs. Danglars, de Villefort, and Mondego. He is not bloodthirsty but is still cruel in every blow he deals to these men who have risen so high at the young sailor's expense. There are times it is even difficult to remain sympathetic to Dantès, especially considering his treatment of the woman he once loved more than anything. And yet I love the complexity of the plot that is woven, the deep thought and planning that crumbled mighty men, and the transformation of a man who began wanting nothing more than to marry, care for his father, and captain a trading ship.

In the end, once the chain of events has progressed too far to undo, the Count begins to glide back into a more heroic vein, saving the young lovers and hoping against hope that he may be granted at last some personal happiness.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

With Darkness as an Ally (Part 1 of... Like, a Couple)

There is, it seems, some talk beginning to form on the subject of the antihero, one of my secret favorite subjects. Since deciding to write here about some of my favorite antiheroes (and why I consider them so) I whipped up a quick Google search to try to find out what words of wisdom other members of the online community had to say.

First up (since two of my sources comment on it) is Joshua Alston of Newsweek with the article Too Much of a Bad Thing. It was published this month - for those of you interested in whether or not I've retained my college-grown need to cite my sources. It's easier on an online document, of course. But I'm getting sidetracked.

Alston writes about the apparent deluge of anti-heroic characters appearing in our television programs. Most of the shows he cites I have not actually seen - the only exception is House, which I catch online thanks to Hulu. I cannot disagree with his assertions one way or another regarding the actual characters; he's probably on to something. But one point of contention I have is that he writes as though the antihero in popular culture is somehow a new thing, brought on by:
"...the political climate of the past eight years primed audiences for antihero worship, that in the midst of a war started with faulty intelligence, suspected terrorists sent to black sites and a domestic eavesdropping program..."

Or maybe he's just talking about an apparent recent streak of popular antihero characters that have electrified television. But the Wikipedia page of fictional antiheroes has quite the list going, and I doubt it's even close to exhaustive. And while many of the worthy individuals that show up on this list are quite recent creations, there were some surprises from decades past that made me smile.

Two other bloggers weigh in on Alston's article - Dr J of readmorewritemorethinkmorebemore and anotherpanacea (apologies, I didn't espy an author line). In December of 2007, Dr J first wrote of her favorite antiheroes, much as I intend to do later here, and there was sufficient discussion to warrant a second entry in January of this year. What I appreciate here (and at anotherpanacea) the most is the emphasis and preference these writers place on the satisfying complexity of the antihero character, especially in comparison with the traditional, black-and-white vision of a protagonist. Alston would prefer simple and straitforward characters, asking "... aren't the times we're living in dramatic enough?" He asks for simply dramatic characters who are trying to get by, as many television viewers are. Dr J counters:
"What we love about antiheroes is that they are trying to subsist in the world in just the same way that the rest of us do, which means that they often plunder when they are trying to save, save when they are trying to plunder. They aren't heroes and they aren't villains, because there is no such thing as a hero or a villain in the world that we look rationally upon."
She continues, making the point that I very much agree with - that because these characters are not simple, we are able to identify with them all the more readily. anotherpanacea finds the antihero a thing to delight in, saying that they are "complicated and fun". The complication is what draws us in, and the element of fun, of vicariously partaking in all the badness and moral flexibility of these antiheroes, is what keeps us coming back.

And now, for the fun part. My favorites. Where to start? How to organize? I must brood.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I feel so betrayed

From Yahoo:

NEW YORK – Bart Simpson is known for prank calls, but Nancy Cartwright, who provides Bart's voice on "The Simpsons," has been heard this week in a phone message using the voice of the cartoon fourth-grader to promote Scientology.

Cartwright, long a member of the church, recorded her 60-second robocall to boost attendance at a Scientology event scheduled for Saturday.

Although she identifies herself, much of the spiel is delivered in Bart's voice, wrapping up with, "See you there, man!"

The Fox network would not comment, but "Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean said the message wasn't authorized by the show, which has never "endorsed any religion, philosophy or system of beliefs any more profound than Butterfinger bars."

Scientology is just getting its fingers into everything, isn't it? Still, I have to love Jean's comment. Except now I want some Butterfinger BBs. *tummy growl*


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Got the Beat, I Got the Beat, I Got the... Beat.

Remember last blog how I said I'm a chronic karaoke-er? Yeah... Now that I sit here and think about it, I'm pretty sure that music just makes me go crazy. I can get so enthused and pumped-up and emotive, even when I'm sitting at my desk with the headphones on. For instance, for the better part of an hour, I sat at my desk this evening playing Spider Solitaire and listening to two songs on repeat which I'd decided I couldn't live without in my iTunes any longer.



and



I now think that I should probably have turned on the webcam and just rocked out, just to let you see what it does to me. But, surprisingly enough, I do have some inhibitions, and there will probably not be a Dr. Horrible Double Spaz Dance Video feature... this time...

I'm sure it's the influence of musical theatre coming back to haunt my ass (especially now that I'm amazingly compelled to get the Sweeny Todd soundtrack so I can have Alan Rickman serenade at me). I'd like to think it wasn't always this way... but I'm probably wrong. I'm pretty sure that if I talked to my mom she could come up with several home videos of my toddler self gyrating wildly to the vocal stylings of Mickey Mouse and friends (it was a red cassette tape, and I'm pretty sure I loved the hell out of it, for me to remember it this clearly). Mom, are you reading this? Do you know what I'm talking about? If so, you should probably not share it with me, because I'll almost certainly feel compelled to share it here and embarrass the hell out of you further.

There are times when being a slave to the melody is a good thing, though. I always go to the gym with the iPod in tow, with my special selection of upbeat dancey-type music to keep me moving. But sometimes the shows on the tvs are compelling, and I find myself paying as much attention to the shows (closed captioning ftw!) as to the music. But tonight... I was watching the new Tim Roth show, and there was only about fifteen minutes left, when some damn teeny-bopper airhead girly girls got on the ellipticals next to me and changed the channel to basketball!!! This made me pretty damn cranky, let me tell you. So I cranked the volume, put my head down, skipped any song that didn't move fast enough and, immersed in my own little world, laid down the rock and roll!

The only problem is... now my legs hurt. But I have the solution.

Chair groovin'.