April 29, 2011

Geek Weekly: Television review – Game of Thrones

Spoiler alert! For the first episode only.

I'll start with the confession that I haven't read the “Song of Fire and Ice” series by George R.R. Martin, largely because I find literary fantasy quite boring. It's just not my flavor of geek; the politics bore me, the strange and impossible to pronounce names make my head hurt, and the pace drags too much to hold my limited attention span.

However, “boring” is not a word that can be used to describe anything to do with this show.

The episode starts off with a group of gruesomely hacked-up bodies arranged in some sort of presumably symbolic pattern in the nearly colorless winter forest near The Wall. The whole scene is incredibly creepy and atmospheric, not to mention insanely gorgeous. Everything from the cinematography to the costumes to the pitch-perfect casting is breathtaking. There is also plenty of gratuitous gore, which certainly caught my interest. As the action ramps up we are also fleetingly introduced to some creatures who are presumably not human, but who do seem to be a combination of an Uruk-hai and a 28 Days Later rage zombie... an idea cemented by the apparent reanimation of the corpse of a small girl. I had no idea there were going to be monsters in this, let alone possible zombies, and all I have to say about that is AWESOME.

The rest of the episode is a lot of introductory political hum-drum, but the framework is laid out through a series of lovely, dark, and fascinating scenes that keep the dullness of the politics well hidden. We move to Winterfell, which is presided over by the blessedly simply-named Lord Stark (Sean Bean). After a disturbing lesson in the morality of the land and the introduction of several squee-inducing direwolf pups (WANT), we move briefly over to King's Landing, where (conveniently enough) King Robert (Mark Addy) resides with his wife (Lena Headey), her smarmy twin bro (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and their drunken lout of a dwarf brother (Peter Dinklage). There are about a thousand other awesome actors and characters, and if I take the time to list them all this review will be one giant IMDb entry.

There is one more group worth mentioning though, and that's the blondie siblings (Harry Lloyd and Emilia Clarke), and the warrior-clan leader (Jason Momoa), who we meet in Pentos as they plot some more political stuff. I'm sure it's all very important, but all I could think was how delightfully creepy some of the sibling relationships are on this show. Blond brother feels up blonde sister for a bit, then offers her for marriage to the scary and intimidating warrior-clan leader who, as far as I'm concerned, is best off remaining shirtless as much as possible. Woof!

Back in Winterfell, the queen makes inappropriate remarks during the feast and the King asks Lord Stark to come back to King's Landing with him to be his right-hand general or something. Then we return to Pentos in time for blonde sister's wedding to the pectoral warrior. The wedding dance includes lots of bare boobs and humping and fights ending in flailing intestines. Because they're savages, see? I give blonde sister two weeks before she's completely bonkers.

Lord Stark agrees to go off with King Robert and they celebrate by going boar hunting. Then Stark's youngest son accidentally catches the queen having sex with her twin brother. Just when I thought this show couldn't get more awesomely disturbing, they haul out the twincest. Oh, and then the brother casually tosses the kid out the window of a 50 foot parapet as his adorably anxious direwolf pup watches.

Holy hell. I am in love.

April 24, 2011

Life on the Couch: A bit of housekeeping.

In the interest of not being ridiculously off the mark with the “Geek Thursdays” and “Life Sundays” posts, I've decided to rename them “Geek Weekly” and “Life on the Couch.” I'm still going to attempt to do the geek posts on Thursdays and the life posts on Sundays, but at least this gives me some leeway. Just don't be surprised if there are double Sunday posts every week.

It might have been a bit much to expect myself to keep up with a rather rigorous twice-weekly posting schedule, since I'm not good with deadlines. I thought it would be useful practice for regular writing once I start school, and also to help me get some structure that I can apply towards keeping up with homework. I think it will help, too. I'm inclined to be disappointed with myself for not successfully posting on schedule... but I think it's more helpful to be impressed that I've kept up regular posting for this long, and still going strong.

April 20, 2011

Life on the Couch: Creative constipation.

I think there’s little in the world as frustrating to me as wanting to create and being unable.

I’m in one of those horrid blank spots right now, the place where I have all these half-formed ideas swirling around in the strange ether of my brain. Ideas that mock and tease and flit away the moment I try to reach out and grab hold.

I’ve always written, ever since I was old enough to string together sentences. Stories, tales of my life, essays, journals, even the odd poem or song. I’m lucky I’ve always enjoyed writing, because it was the only form of creative outlet I had for most of my life. About four years ago I also discovered that I have some talent for vidding (if you don’t know what that is, go here and click play on pretty much anything, you'll get the idea), which gave me a whole new and fabulous way to express myself. I've even dabbled in graphic art in the form of icons and banners for various online communities.

In the past year or so I've been writing a lot, most of it in the form of fan-fiction for "Alles Was Zählt," the German soap opera I blabbed about in a previous post. It's been exhilarating, getting to flex that muscle again after not writing much in the past three years. Maybe it was getting feedback from my beta writer and the others in the fandom who read my stories, or maybe it was just getting a chance to let my imagination out of my head, but it was the kind of writing that seemed to happen without any effort on my part. The best kind of writing.

I've done very little vidding in the last 18 months or so, and none at all lately. I don’t know if it was related to the increase in writing, or if I simply reached some sort of (hopefully temporary) plateau with the vidding. All I know is that line of expression seems to have been cut off. The graphic design thing never really took off, and I've done none at all in the past few months. The worst part is that whatever momentum I'd built up in terms of writing seems to have come to a crashing halt since the new year. Now all I can do is stare at all the half-finished fics and just shake my head.

I got nothin'.

This constipation of the brain has even overtaken my blogging, which is evidenced by the fact that I can't get a post up on time anymore. This one was originally meant to be about my trip to Europe in May, but all I could come up with was "I'm going to Europe in May. Woo."

I don't know the cause of this particular blockage, but I can only hope it's temporary. I'm in desperate need of some inspiration to get me through. Right now all I can do is shake and tremble at the idea of starting school in the Fall and being completely unable to write anything.

Hopefully plugging away at the blog will help by forcing me to keep flexing the muscle. I'll keep trying to post on time, but I imagine Life Sundays will soon permanently morph into Life Wednesdays while Geek Thursdays become Geek Saturdays. Eventually it'll probably come back around to where it's supposed to be though. I'm cool like that.

April 16, 2011

Geek Weekly: We. Are. Everywhere.

I'm starting to think it was a bad idea to put a specific day of the week in the titles of my theme posts. I'm not this good at committing.

I work in an office that is only slightly different from any basic corporate/government office in that we all know and use sign language on a daily basis. Otherwise it’s exactly as you’d expect… fluorescent lighting, cubicles, people who tetch and roll their eyes at each other’s music, a kitchenette with a sign on the microwave imploring people not to make popcorn. Just another of the many, many skyway-adjacent offices you’ll find in any Midwestern metropolitan area.

Being a geek is a bit like being gay.

Bear with me on this.

Both sets of people tend to hide this part of their lives in the everyday world. Or at least, not call attention to it. Both will steer clear of subjects that bring it out in the open when they are in certain environments (like work), for fear of alienating people with their unique nature. Both were probably traumatized by bullying and ostracism by the “normal” folks when they were young, and often when they find out that a person is gay- or geek-“friendly” (or gay/geek themselves) in a work or similar environment, the floodgates open and they can finally be themselves.

At least geeks can marry each other.

But I digress. My point was that it’s sometimes hard to know who I can talk about random geek things with and not get the blank stare (or worse, polite smile and shifty eyes that says I’ve set off some sort of DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! signal in their brain). So mostly I just keep it to myself… unless someone sets off my geekdar. Or even better, I set off theirs.

The two geeks I’ve met in my Office Space-like environment are H the delivery guy and K the security dude. Both of them are almost always in uniform when I see them, which is why I didn’t catch the geek signals from either of them… although I have seen K in his civvies on a few occasions, so I suspected. But H hides his geek well, under the guise of his good looks (and awareness of them). But in both cases, I ended up out myself to them.

With H it was excited babble about a pending trip to the UK, during which I’d be attending a “Doctor Who”-centric sci-fi convention. When he heard this, he promptly told me how he’d always dreamed of going to Comic-Con, and that he’s a total Star Wars nerd. It was an instant connection, the walls came tumbling down, and we were suddenly geeking at each other with the kind of enthusiasm rarely seen or heard in Cubicle World.

It was another con that outed me to K. I do sign language stuff for a local sci-fi/fantasy convention, so had brought some flyers to work in an attempt to maybe grab the attention of some of the deaf folk who never bothered to go because they didn’t realize there were interpreters. K spotted the flyer, with its eye-catching Metropolis-inspired artwork, and it was 45 minutes before we emerged from our horror-themed geek fugue.

Sometimes it's hard to imagine that all the normal people we interact at our jobs or in our daily lives with could be as geeky as us. But the truth is, geeks are everywhere.

April 11, 2011

Life on the Couch: I'm a whiny beeyotch when I'm sick.

Both of my roommates and a number of my coworkers have come down with some sort of plague, and now it's my turn. I've been hacking and sniffling and weak since Saturday. I'm taking a sick day from work today even though I don't have any sick time left. I'm burning a vacation day to sit at home on the couch and make noises like a dying giraffe.

I also don't have Kleenex or any sick supplies because I so rarely get sick that I don't tend to keep them around the house and I'm too tired to go out and get some. One of the many disadvantages of being single.

I was going to post something awesome and insightful yesterday (as usual), but my poor weak hands could barely reach the keyboard. Woe!

Ok, that was an exaggeration. Still, I was feeling tired and complainey and not very motivated, so this week all you get is a lot of whining and also if anyone would like to bring me some Doritos and Kleenex, I'd be ever-so grateful.

April 8, 2011

Geek Weekly: Movie review – Paul

Spoilers ahead!

So you may have noticed that I'm a fan of the Pegg-Frost-Wright oeuvre. It might have come up before, is all I'm saying. So naturally I'll be reviewing Paul with all the objectivity of a seasoned, professional writer.


Well, you know you're going to love it when it starts by following Simon Pegg and Nick Frost around ComiCon. I mean, dude. What makes this movie so great (much like “Spaced”) is that it's so clear that they're well and truly fanboys, just like the audience. It's brilliant. I even love their ridiculously kitschy rented camper, complete with shag carpeting and little lampshades on the interior lights.

I was really nervous about Seth Rogan as the title character... but he managed to add an endearing charm to the movie that I really wasn't expecting. Probably in part because he's a CGI alien who manages to be far more adorable than he has any right to be when tossing f-bombs around. Paul edges up to the line of schmaltz, but manages to avoid crossing it just in time to keep the audience.

Then there's Jason Bateman, who is completely amazing as always. And yes, his twist at the end totally surprised me, whether because I was distracted by the triple-play awesome of Pegg, Frost, and Rogan or I'm just not too bright sometimes. Or maybe because Bateman pulls off the cold asshole so well that you never for a moment think he could actually be a good guy.

Sigourney Weaver as a badass in a ballgown. 'Nuff said.

I was a bit worried that Paul wouldn't be a proper Pegg-Frost-Wright flick, since it's actually a Pegg-Frost flick directed by Greg Mottola (of Superbad and Adventureland fame... two movies I have to admit I haven't seen). And it does have a distinctly different feel that could probably be summed up by describing it as an Americanized bit of Pegg-Frost-Wright-ery. However, I wouldn't say that's a bad thing... although there were moments I missed the Britishness of the Wright element, I thought it was fun to see the uniquely Britsh sensibilities brought to the movie in the writing (penned by Pegg and Frost, naturally) placed against the quintessential American West backdrop, surrounded by American actors and helmed by an American director. The two cultures, rather than clashing, melded beautifully... and the movie's humor did not suffer a bit for it.

April 3, 2011

UPDATED - Life on the Couch: A walk.

This post deals with self-injury. If hearing about this is a trigger for you, please don't read it.

I took a walk today.

This is not something I do often (like, once-a-year not often). The local winters aren't very walk-friendly, but more than that I can find the simplest things very overwhelming (see my adventures in cooking for evidence of that). I also have an 8:00-4:30 job that is bloated by a 45-minute commute. Worst of all, I rarely feel like I have the energy to do more than slog through my day.

Some of that will be changing in the near future... the work day with the awful commute is coming to an end in just under five months, and I'm working on coping mechanisms to get me through the simple tasks and activities (like walks and grocery shopping) that seem so impossible to me. I'm trying to eat better and get a little exercise so that I'll have more energy. Best of all, I'm setting off on an exciting journey, going to college to explore where my talents truly lie and to wander the bright and shining path of my life.

I also have an incredible summer to look forward to, starting with an amazing trip overseas, followed by moving out of the basement and into a lovely duplex (a move that is long overdue), a visit from a dear friend, the start of the Renaissance Festival (something I look forward to every year), and finally the end of my job and the beginning of my new life.

There's a lot of darkness before the dawn, though.

I've been spending a lot of time the past few weeks smiling harder and harder as I become more and more desperate. Time seems to be slowing down and the light at the end of the tunnel never gets any closer. Each day at my job has become agony, every small annoyance blown to epic proportions. I come home and lay on the couch and try to block out the room around me. I've been smoking more and drinking more and eating more and doing less and less. I'm holding on by my fingernails, white-knuckling my way through the next two months until everything starts.

And I beat myself up for it everyday. What right do you have to be miserable when you have so much awesome in your future? How dare you whine about having to wait, when the time is going to be gone before you know it? Meanwhile, I'm being crushed under the weight of anticipation.

Friday night, everything went CRACK.

The night was going fine. I started drinking, and was having fun. Then, before I even knew what I was doing, I was cutting. It may have been more gradual than that, but in my memory it seemed to just... happen. When it was over, I was overwhelmed with shame and horror and no small amount of bewilderment. Soon enough, I was berating myself for doing it again when I was supposed to be getting better now.

I got some sleep, sobered up, and hid behind my hangover. I napped, I showered (ouch!), I spent a few hours at my second job. I thought about what I'd done to myself, and why.

Today, I decided to take a walk. To get out of the basement and let myself be in my own head for a while, away from the darkness, out in the light. It was one of those great spring days, about 55 degrees, a little breezy, cloudy. I walked on the wonderful trail through town, looking at the buds on trees, the kind that promise leaves at any moment. I saw a cardinal, and my first robin of the season. I let myself breathe for the first time in weeks.

I knew then that I need to stop ignoring the impatience and punishing myself for it. I have to let myself feel it, and give myself a damn break already. I think I've found a better way to deal with it; instead of pushing it down, I can find those moments that make now enjoyable. Small moments, little things. I can't make time speed up, no matter how hard I try, but I can let myself live in and enjoy the present instead of obsessing about the future.

I think I'll start by taking lots of walks.

UPDATE: I was terrified to post this because some people are going to read it and be all, "Uh. Ok. Back away slowly." Other people are going to think it's a pathetic cry for attention or sympathy. I just needed to be clear that it's not my intention to elicit either of these reactions. The reason I posted this in a public forum instead of on a personal locked journal is because I think it's important to talk about it. To show that people are dealing with these issues, and that doesn't make them a bad person. I don't want to hide this part of me, because it IS a part of me, a BIG part of me, and hiding it only makes it worse. In a way it's like the bullying thing... the way to fix it isn't to stay quiet or hide it away as some deep dark secret. It's to talk about it and bring it out in the open and make sure people know that it's ok to get help.

And believe me, I am getting help. I'm seeing a therapist and am a lot better in a lot of ways. Obviously I do backslide sometimes, and this post is here to show what it's like when that happens. It doesn't mean I'm suicidal or having a breakdown. It means that I'm a human being dealing with some difficult things. Things that do not need to be a shameful secret.