Thursday, December 1, 2011

Doctor Who Meets Sleep Deprivation

I haven't slept much lately. I've slept a bit. I've spent more time trying to sleep than actually sleeping. In other words, I've been awake a lot. And tired. Very, very tired.

So naturally, in my sleep deprived state, I turned to Doctor Who.

I used to do this all the time in high school. I've always had somewhat insomniac tendencies to me, and whenever it got particularly bad, I've noticed, is when I always seem to get back into Doctor Who. I don't know why, it doesn't make much sense, but it seems that the show has become my go to "thing to do when I can't sleep". Granted, even when I'm not experiencing a period of sleeplessness, I still love it. But, there's something about being totally sleep deprived that makes me think "Hey, I should re-watch some Doctor Who."

And so, I did.

On Tumblr recently people have been talking about "things they like that no one else likes." I'm not sure how the topic began, but it seems to have taken the place by storm. I don't usually respond to Tumblr things, because I don't usually write on Tumblr much. I have a blog, it seems somewhat redundant to post long winded things that don't matter in two different places on the internet, so I usually just use Tumblr to reblog pictures I find funny and to read feminist criticisms of DC Comics and Disney movies.

But, of course, because I haven't been sleeping, and because I've been watching so much Doctor Who, it got me thinking. Not really coherently, of course. It's a miracle I can currently string more than one word together as it is. But it got me thinking about things that I like that no one else seems to, or at least, that are fairly conflicted, specifically in Doctor Who. I remember back to when I was massively, unhealthily involved in the Doctor Who fan community, specifically the Outpost Gallifrey forums (which, I believe, have a different name now) where I was constantly reading other peoples' opinions on various episodes, and how I occasionally disagreed, but usually wasn't terribly fussed. I never really spoke much on the forums, I just read. But, with all the debate that went down, and all the controversy over which episode was the greatest piece of speculative fiction ever written, and which was clearly thrown together in the space of an hour, there was one episode that seemed to get it the hardest.

Now, this may have changed. I haven't been on the forums in years, not since before series four. I haven't read any forum posts on the current run of the show, and, to be honest, I don't even know if my account would still work. Maybe there's a new "love it or HATE it" episode that's enraging people, I don't know. But back in high school, when I was knee deep in discussion and fanfiction, the episode that sparked a thousand forum wars was series two's "Love and Monsters"

"Love and Monsters" was an interesting experiment. It was the first of what was to become traditional, one episode per series being "Doctor light" meaning, that it made limited use of the show's primary leads. With the limited screen time of the Doctor and his companion, their actors could be off filming a different episode while simultaneously filming this one, the allowing two episodes to be done at once without overworking the actors. This was done to save money and to get an extra episode out per series.

As with any new idea, the concept of an episode that made limited use of the Doctor was a bit of a gamble, and took some time to perfect. The series three "Doctor light" episode "Blink" is generally considered to be very, very good, and even ended up winning a Hugo award. Series four threw the formula for a bit of a loop and had one episode that was "Doctor light" but "Companion centric" and one that was "Companion light" and "Doctor centric", and both episodes are strong contenders for my favorite new series episode of all time.

But though everyone grew to like the formula, some even looking forward to what they would do with it this time, there was always that controversial first one, "Love and Monsters". Despite being significant, the episode is not commonly remembered fondly. I remember there being a discussion about Russel T. Davies' writing on the forums and someone commenting that they "liked the guy, liked his writing, but there was no excuse for Love and Monsters" People just didn't know what to do with it.

Here's a quick summary: A man named Elton (not the funny sunglasses one) keeps a video blog documenting his encounters with extraterrestrial activities, in particular, the time he came downstairs as a child and saw the Doctor standing in his living room. We follow him as he makes friends, falls in love, runs into monsters, and eventually gets his mystery solved. The entire episode is an examination of the lives of the people the Doctor leaves behind, those whose lives he touches but who never really get the full story.

I adore this episode. I think it's beautiful. While it may not be the epitome of "Sci-Fi" it is a gorgeous example of character writing. Every character is fleshed out and interesting. Every one is clearly separate, and defined. The friends that Elton makes are all people whose lives have been touched by the Doctor in someway, and though initially that is the only reason they meet up and band together, we get to watch as their relationship evolves into legitimate friendship, as their meetings to discuss the Doctor become less about the Doctor, and more about simply being with each other.

The group is a bit of an affectionate parody of Doctor Who fans, people who are quirky and excitable and drawn to this one subject, but who are also generally sweet, normal people with all sorts of talents and interests. The villain of the piece, an alien disguised as a ruthless man called Victor Kennedy, is representative of the small, terrible minority of fans who seem to only exist to suck the fun out of fandom. He shows up, tells them they're not serious enough, and forces them to use their meetings for nothing more than hard work. He takes their passion, which they had been using as an inspiration for art, for writing, and as an outlet for social interaction, and morphs it into serious, hard work.

One of the major complains was that the villain's true form, a cartoonish green creature called the "Absorbaloff" was too ridiculous and stupid, but really, when it comes down to it, the episode wasn't about him. The episode was about the relationships between people and the complete craziness of life, and the fact that he was ridiculous and cartoony only served to make the final outcome more absurd, and because of that, more tragic. A big theme is Elton's loss of control over his life, it's literally crashing down around him, and a lot of that is due to the completely absurd things he finds happening to him. The episode would lose something if the villain was more traditionally intimidating, because, as a viewer, this is what we find normal. There is nothing absurd about a traditionally intimidating villain victimizing someone, the character will find it odd, but the audience will be comfortable and accepting of it. Having a truly ridiculous villain, that not only the character but the audience itself finds absurd, forces the audience to really feel the complete ridiculousness of the character's situation, thus making the absurdity and tragedy of the story even more poignant.

It's kind of like Brecht. But with prosthetic, green monsters.

I particularly love the scene with Rose's mother Jackie. Rose was the Doctor's companion at the time, and was only about my age. Her mother was only ever seen when Rose went home, and though she did get a good deal of character development from those episodes, it is in "Love and Monsters" that we finally get to see her when she's left alone. We see her pain and her worry; the fact that she literally has no idea where her only daughter is, only that she could be anywhere in the most dangerous corners of time and space. We see how devastated she is, and how lonely she, but also how fiercely protective she is of both her daughter and the Doctor.

Her subplot revolves around Victor Kennedy sending Elton to infiltrate her life to get information on Rose. Eventually, Jackie and Elton become good friends, Elton genuinely enjoying spending time with her. She tries to seduce him, at one point, but then admits that she was being stupid and that she was only doing it because she was lonely. Elton realizes then that he is in love with someone else, his friend Ursula, but that he values Jackie as a friend, and offers her a pizza and movie night.

Things seem to be going great, until he returns with the pizza to find a very livid Jackie who has just found a picture of Rose in his jacket pocket. This scene in particular is exceptional. Jackie takes a moment to yell at Elton, pointing out that it's never her, that it hurts to be left behind, and that despite all of this, she will protect her daughter and the Doctor until the ends of the Earth. Her monologue is beautifully written, and very well acted, and it forces you to look at Jackie in a whole new light.

In the end, of course, the Doctor and Rose show up and the monster is defeated. Elton finally gets his mystery solved, and despite having lost everything, manages to find peace. His final line to the camera is, honestly, one of my favorite quotes off all time:

"When you're a kid, they tell you it's all 'grow up. Get a job. Get married. Get a house. Have a kid, and that's it.' But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It's so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better."

Like Jackie defending the Doctor and Rose until the ends of the Earth, I will defend this episode. Yes, it's atypical, yes, it's got some strange, cartoony elements to it, and yes, it's not exactly hard science fiction. But that doesn't stop it from being beautiful. While it's not a bitter deconstruction of everything Doctor Who is, like series four's "Midnight", it is a decidedly different look at the show, it's mythos, and it's fans. I realize a lot of people didn't quite get it, but to those who didn't, maybe you should take another look.

And that, to answer Tumblr, is what I love that everyone else seems to hate. If you haven't seen it, check it out. I'm going to try to get some sleep.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Great Adderall Shortage of 2011

Yep. It appears we have a crisis on our hands. There is no adderall. Anywhere.

Well, ok, there is. But it feels like it's nowhere.

I've been diagnosed with ADD since I was fourteen, and I haven't gone this long without it, during the school year, since my freshman year of high school. It's annoying. I should be writing a script and trying to organize my film shoot this weekend, but no, instead I'm typing up a blog entry. An entry which, at this point, I may not even finish.


It's not like I can't live without it or anything. I can live perfectly fine. It's just hard. Everything is infinitely harder to do simply because my brain can't focus on anything long enough to actually accomplish something. I'll start things like crazy. I'll start things and then get distracted by my room, some music, the damn ceiling...

Even just then, as I was looking around for distracting things to list, I got distracted by the fake flowers on my roommate's desk. I can't even stop myself from being distracted long enough to list things that I'm getting distracted by.

I suppose I should talk about something a bit more interesting than my struggles with my own attention span.

New York Comic Con! I went to New York Comic Con. It was awesome. So many things happened to me, and eventually, I'll probably tell you about them. Batman told me he was the night, Eliza Duskhu was three feet from me, I met the Nostalgia Chick, I grilled Bruce Timm about female characters in the DCAU, was rendered unable to speak for at least three seconds during all of these encounters, sometimes for longer. I got to preview two things, and hang out with my friends, and overall, it was awesome.

I'll write more about it, I promise, I know, got distracted by the light up pumpkin on my desk. It doesn't actually light up anymore. I should really put more batteries into that.

Anyway! Um, what else? Oh! I'm filming a movie this week for "Intermediate Film Production" my current film class. I think it's technically "RTVF 47" but "Intermediate Film Production" just sounds so much more impressive. It's called "The Short Halloween" and is about a little girl who fends off the Joker with a bucket of Halloween candy. I finally got the damn thing cast, I have a location, and I finally have costumes (with considerable help from my Joker who, thankfully, provided his own costume and make up) and despite my raging ADD, seem to be fairly on top of things.

Of course, in film, being "fairly on top of things" translates to "Oh my god, I'm filming this weekend and I'm going to DIE." But, you know, I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling that.

I'd mention that I've been reading a lot of Slender Man blogs lately, but apparently, every time you mention "Slender Man" on a blog, someone, somewhere puts it on a list of possible Slender Man stories. I promise this isn't a Slender Man blog. I've had this blog for years, and I have no intention of turning it into a Slender Man story. This is, and always will be, a place for me to rant and rave and kill a few spare moments.

Apologies to those who have no idea what I'm talking about. Slender Man's a...well, Google it. If you really want to. Just don't plan on sleeping.

Anyway! What else? Um, Halloween is coming up? I wanted to do something really epic, but it's the day after my shoot and I have to read fourteen pages of Fathers and Sons for Russian Literature. I wanted to be Goth Princess Peach, but I'm starting to lean more towards "Overtired College Student" I think I could pull that off pretty easily.

Oh, and speaking of Russian Literature, what the hell is up with Russian Literature? Every story, if it was written during the nineteenth century can be summed up as "This guy who is kind of a dick falls in love with this woman who is either evil and stupid and then tragedy strikes because life is cruel."

Yeah. Sounds pleasant, right?

We just read "First Love" by Ivan Turgenev, which is literally fifty pages detailing this one teenager's semi-abusive relationship with this 21-year-old who's having an affair with his father. In fifty pages...not much happens. There's a lot of dramatic sulking, elderly princesses snorting from snuff boxes, contemplation of the protagonist's navel, and people getting hit with horse whips. When you list things off like that, it actually sounds pretty exciting.

It's not. It's really, really not.

While it is, by no means, on par with Ethan Frome in terms of sheer excruciating literary agony, it's not something I would ever choose to read again. Here is a rough transcript of the conversation my roommate and I had after we finished it:

Roommate: I hate Russian Literature.

Me: All of it?

Roommate: All of it.

Me: Oh, come on, it's just one story.

Roommate: And all the others. I want to kill myself.

Me: Ok, well, that's fair. But, what about that one about the two Russian officers stuck on an island? We liked that one.

Roommate: That's because they were cray-cray!

To be honest, I don't actually know how to spell "cray cray" but that is an exact quote.

So yeah, despite the fact that my professor said at the beginning of the semester that he was going to try to break the misconception that all of Russian Literature was dark, depressing, angst-ridden tales of torment, he hasn't really given us much else to read. It's all been, literally, a dick-ish protagonist, an evil or stupid woman, some romantic mishaps, then tragedy.

Except of course for that one about the two Russian officers stuck on an island. That was hilarious.

So yeah, I don't think I have much else to say. I have to go to the bathroom, my hair is up, there's a large coffee cup and a coke next to me, I have more to do than I can possibly keep track of, and last weekend Batman told me he was the night.

I think that about sums it up.

I hope this adderall shortage ends soon. I don't know how much more of this I can take.


Monday, September 12, 2011

One Morning In New York

I would just like to state for the record that I am not dead.

While it's true, I've been up for over twenty four hours and I kind of feel like a zombie, and I haven't posted since mid July, I am in fact physically alive.

At the moment I am, in fact, listening to the dulcet tones of my roommate's second alarm. Despite repeated cries of "Hey, don't fall asleep again!" she appears to remain fairly comatose. This is a wondrous, mystical skill that I wish I possessed, but sadly, do not. This is evidenced by the fact that I have been up all night for no reason at all.

Hark! She has awoken! And what does she have to say?

"Ungh. Hello world."

When pressed further she added, "You're not getting much more out of me."

Joining in this epic stampede of wakefullness is our suitemate , Molly. She is currently sporting a somewhat anime-esque, electric blue, "sticky-up" hair style that, quite honestly, would look great on the head of a particularly creative mad scientist. When asked what she has to say this fine morning she responded with "Ignacius."

What does she mean? I have no idea. Probably her sled. Maybe.

It's a few minutes later and she's just walked into my room in a purple soccer jersey and a pair of black leggings. For some reason, she's come to me to find out whether she can pull off the leggings. I respond in my usual eloquent manner when faced with fashion related questions at eight in the morning.


This is apparently not an appropriate enough answer, as she quickly moves the question to my roommate, Sarah, who is currently occupying the shower. The suite goes quiet as Molly retreats to her room, as if lying in wait for something massive to explode. Personally, if I put my money on anything exploding, it would be on the futon. We have a warning sign on it and everything. Apparently it's been known to eat people.

The shower turns off. The silence is now deafening.

Realizing that clothing may be required if I wish to continue my education today, I take a moment to wander over to the dresser and ponder my options. Given the fact that I look like a zombie, it's probably better for me to avoid anything with rips or tears in it, or anything that might look like it belongs on a corpse. I opt for a red shirt I've worn eight million times that I would describe in greater detail if I really cared enough to do so.

Take that, fashion website that thought I'd make a welcome addition to their list of bloggers.

My roommate has returned, towel clad and smelling of soap, to inform me that she is going to turn off the air conditioning for a bit. This is met with no resistance as it is beyond freezing in here and I left my slippers in New Hampshire.

"What class do you have this morning?" I ask.

"Industrial Design."

"Sounds fun."

"Yeah," she responds as she sorts through her bag clad in nothing but underwear, "Not really."

It's interesting living with someone who is comfortable enough to wander around half naked as long as she's in the confines of her own room. Perhaps it's because she grew up in an environment of two, relatively close in age sisters, and I grew up as an only child for the first eight years of my life. But then, if my parents are to be believed, I apparently had no qualms about nudity as a child, being a frequent performer of nude one-person operas on the rock next to our house. It's only as an adult that I seem to have developed a bizarre sense of modesty.

Go figure.

Molly has returned and reports that she just had a nice conversation with our building's janitor. Apparently, he's a really interesting, really sweet guy. I make a mental note to stop and chat with him sometime.

Molly picks up a few things and announces that she's going to leave.

"Have fun!" I say.

"Yeah. Probably not," is the reply.

I wish I could say that I was different to my roommates and that I was actually looking forward to my class this morning, but to be honest, I really can't. It's my first actual film class of the semester, the next level of the production class I took last year. It's a different professor to the last one I had, which means I have less of a chance of getting told to sleep with my film, but it means that I'm going to spend the first couple of weeks feeling the need to prove myself. This is, I realize, inherently stupid, but it's something I can't seem to get past and probably never will. We haven't even met yet and I already have two pitches due, neither of which I'm at all confident about. At the moment it sort of feels like every letter I'm typing is simply bringing me closer to my doom.

I'm sure that's happening to everyone. Right?

I have fifty minutes.

There is a distinct art to leaving for class. It is a skill with many facits to it that requires many, many hours of practice and at least one semester of never managing to get there on time. One must decide first when to wake up, then when to shower, when to sit and internet, when to get dressed, when to do hair and makeup (though this step is decidedly optional) when to get your things together, and finally, when to actually leave. Each of these steps form a carefully choreographed dance that allows one to balance the supposedly peaceful process of waking up with the utter terror of getting marked down by your professor for being late.

As should be obvious, the most important aspect of all this, and by far the hardest to get right, is timing. In the morning, timing is everything.

There are several ways you can go with this depending on what sort of person you are.

Are you:

A.) Obsessively punctual? - Leave at least a half an hour before anyone else in their right mind ever would, and go straight to class. Also, wake up before everyone else and steal the shower.

B.) Consistently punctual? - Leave at least a half an hour before class, and stop for coffee along the way. You will most likely be second in the shower.

C.) Barely punctual? - Leave about fifteen minutes beforehand, stop for coffee, and make it just as your professor is reading your name off. Expect a lukewarm shower.

D.) Rarely punctual? - Leave whenever you can get yourself into some clothing and shove your stuff into your bag. No coffee, no shower, just panic. Also, try not to sleep through your alarm.

All these variations of the same basic morning routine will get you to class on time as long as they are timed absolutely perfectly to the way you tend to function. Times vary on how far away you are to any giving building, so if you've recently moved, expect some shaky ground as you test the kinks out.

Myself? I am of the consistently punctual variety. I'm not the first one in class, but I always beat the professor, and I very rarely have to skip the coffee.

Which brings me to the closing of this entry. My roommate has just left, and considering her class is only fifteen minutes before mine, I should probably stop blogging and get going.

Expect something more interesting the next time I post.


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Devil, Smoking, and Walt Disney

The Disney Animated Canon is hardcore.

Seriously, take a look at it sometime. It's got dragons with the powers of hell, wizards who will turn you into fish, rats that like to drown widows and orphans, Nazi lions, lustful, genocidal judges, and even the devil himself.

Or, you know, Chernobog, depending on who you ask. Because Disney loves shout outs to obscure Slavic mythology. Apparently.

At the beginning of the summer I decided to try and get my way through the entire Disney Animated Canon. Why? Because I can. I'm working as a carpooler this summer, so I have a lot of time on my hands, and since I recently got unreasonably interested in the behind the scenes politics at Disney, I thought it might be a fun project.

There are fifty films in the official Disney Animated Canon. This includes the studio's primary theatrical releases, like Fantasia and Beauty and the Beast, but doesn't include direct to video sequels, like Return of Jafar, or things released by Disney but not made in house, like The Nightmare Before Christmas or anything made by Pixar.

Most of the official "canon" films are easily recognizable because they're famous and you've seen them a million times, but there are a few that are more obscure. For example, when you think Disney, do you ever think Melody Time? Or Saludos Amigos? Or what about Home On The Range? If you haven't heard of that last one, consider yourself lucky. Supposedly, it's extremely prestigious to be a "canon" film versus just a standard Disney film. Disney is always going around treating the canon with a sort of reverence usually reserved for fine art or religious iconography. Not that Disney films can't be considered art. Certainly, some of the films are rich with detail and intricate artwork and boast some of the best music the world of animation has ever heard. But you can always tell which of the canon films Disney considers legitimately canon, and which ones are there purely by virtue of being animated, theatrical non-sequels.

For example, you know how Disney is always re-releasing their films whenever new technology comes out, or really just whenever they feel like it? Sleeping Beauty for instance, has "Masterpiece Collection" VHS release, a special edition DVD release, and a "Diamond Edition" DVD and BluRay release. All of these are crammed with special features, behind the scenes reels, production art, and a million other things that ensures that you'll get your fill of Sleeping Beauty. Now look at another film, 1985's The Black Cauldron. Not one of their better films, admittedly, but still technically in the canon. It got a a "25th Anniversary Edition" DVD release in 2010 containing one disk with a deleted scene, an interactive game, and a Donald Duck short. That's it. There was no marketing for it, nothing to at all signify that it was important, or really that it even existed. In discussions of Disney's films, it's almost never included, and I'll bet you anything you'll never see a ride based on it at Disney World.

So what we have here is fifty films considered to be the "true" Disney films, but half of which Disney pays little to no attention to. Go figure. It's not like they don't have a history of pretending things don't exist, though. Have you ever heard them discuss Song of the South? Despite being pretty damn racist, it does contain the first black actor the studio has ever hired. Granted, he was playing a stereotype in an idealized Old South, but he was a milestone.

And it's not like it's the only Disney film rife with unfortunate implications. Seriously, watching these all again has brought to light a lot of interesting things, the least of which being how ridiculously badass a lot of things are. I mean "pleasure island"? A place where bad boys turn into jackasses? Figuratively as well as literally.

Watching the 70th Anniversary Edition of Pinocchio is hysterical simply due to Disney's half-assed attempts at damage control. This is a film rife with drinking and smoking and all sorts of horrific debatchery. It's got drunk fox men in seedy bars, young boys smoking cigars, and...gasp! Billiards! It's all presented in a negative light, of course, but for some reason, it's assumed that modern kids have no way of knowing this from the film alone. Back when it was released, it was expected that kids would see it and know that all the irresponsible acts that the characters take part in were wrong, and that trying them out for yourself will result in terrible things. Nowadays, kids are apparently so unintelligent that merely putting hints of smoking and drinking into films, despite being presented as purely negative, will cause them to became crack whores. To remedy this, Disney put a small disclaimer before the movie telling us that not only is smoking bad, but that if you currently smoke, you shoul
d try to quit. It even provides a website where you can go to get help in quitting, all while showcasing the thousands of clips from the film showing various characters smoking cigars.

Hear that seven-year-olds? You need to stop smoking. Now. Because Pinocchio said so. Just because he does it in the movie and then it ruins his life by nearly turning him into a jackass (which, by the way, is literally said several times throughout the film) doesn't mean that you should try it yourself. While the horror of having your own body transformed and your own father eaten by a whale due to your poor choices does seem pretty attractive, it's still bad. So there.

Anyway, so far I've gotten through most of the more well known films, and have been working on trying to see some of the more obscure ones. The compilation films like Melody Time and Fun and Fancy Free are kind of hard to find since they've only been released on DVD once and most of them are out of print.

What do I think I'll take away from this? I honestly don't know. It's mostly so I can claim I've seen the entire Disney Animated Canon, and considering how often I write about animation, it's probably worth my while. The Disney Company is a fascinatingly warped corporation, and it's interesting to see how that comes out in it's films.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sailor Moon: Secret Identities VHS Review

Once, long ago, in the depths of space, on a planet called Earth, at a Toys R' Us in Northern New England, there existed a VHS tape.

This tape was called "Secret Identities" and contained two episodes of the English dub of Sailor Moon, the first called "A Crystal Clear Destiny" and the second called "A Reluctant Princess". The episodes formed a two parter in which everyone met up in a hellish, nightmare dimension and discovered their past lives. At the age of around six, I bought this and proceeded to watch it over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again until I, and everyone I knew, could recite the damn thing by heart and it was lost to the depths of time and my barn.

At the age of nineteen, I found it again. At the age of nineteen I watched it and said "Wow. This was really stupid." At the age of nineteen, I was about to enter the Hofstra University film department and decided it would probably be a good idea if I knew how to use editing software.

So I made this.

It's crude, primitive, and really not all that funny. There are a lot of audio problems, and I never could figure out how to convert the episode into a file type my computer could handle. I'm clearly nervous, and I forget my lines a lot. It's also in three parts, because it's a bit too long.

My friends are quite good in it, though.

However, for some reason, a few people seemed to like it. I did "A Crystal Clear Destiny" in this one, and at the end of it I promised, somewhat halfheartedly, to cover "A Reluctant Princess" in the next one. I wasn't expecting anyone to see it, so when I actually got a few comments and private messages asking me for the next one, I was shocked.

Cut to one year later. I'm slightly more competent at editing, but not much. I wrote and shot my scenes in January, Karen's scenes in February, and my roommate's scenes in May. It was insane. But eventually, despite my lack of skill, I managed to make a second one.

This is that second one.

It's...also, not very good. But it's done! I put a link to my YouTube Channel on the sidebar. Who knows? Maybe I'll do more.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Two Decades

And now it's time for everyone's favorite game; What Ever Happened To The Blogger? HOORAY!!!

So, yeah. It's been a while. Spring semester this year was...tumultuous, to say the least. Not like last year's, though. No one nearly died in front of me or sent me to Florida or anything. I just found myself with a lot to do and no time to do it.

Should I perhaps make a list? Those are always fun. And simple. Actually, they're mostly just simple, but you know, sometimes simplicity is a good thing. It's certainly better than rambling on and on and on about things you probably don't really care about. At least, I think so.

Anyway, onto the list! Here's what I've been up to:

1.) Film Stuff - I'm a film major. You know, with movies and stuff. So, naturally, the time finally came in which I had to make a film. Or three. In four months. My first one was about someone being stalked by the Virgin Mary, my second one was an obligatory "angsty student film" and my third was about crossing a parking lot. They were a bit more interesting than they sound, I promise, particularly that last one which not only featured Slender Man, but killing demons with an umbrella. I also wrote a screenplay about urban legends and psychotic roommates, as well as a shorter one about a demonic occillating fan. They all went over relatively well, despite the Slender Man film being one of the most hellish filming experiences of my life. Half my footage came back overexposed, too. It still came out alright, it just wasn't what I wanted. At all. But yeah, that was mostly the reason behind my dropping off the face of the Earth for a few months. When once it was plays, now it's films. They'll always be something, I suppose,

2.) Moving - With the end of the semester came another move back home for the summer. New Hampshire is still beautiful, and everything is still virtually unchanged. I did finally get a desk for my room, though, so at least I have a place to write.

3.) Soccer - I don't follow soccer. My interest in sports pretty much ends at a mild interest in the Red Sox and the Bruins (who won, by the way! Take that, Vancouver!) however, a few of my friends do. My roommate and my once and future suitemate follow Real Madrid like crazy people, and when it was discovered that the Spanish National Team was in a match with the US National Team down in Mass, they decided it was a good time to come up and see me. It was bizarre. Until this year, I had led two completely seperate, unconnected lives. My other friend, and soon to be suitemate, Karen, had come up to see me for a few days in April, but before that, there had been no crossover. Now several of my old, childhood and high school friends have met and mingled with my new college friends, and you know, no one exploded. The weekend was ridiculous, it was tiring and awesome and made me really wish that all my friends lived in the same place all the time. Also, Spain won, so, I guess that was good.

4.) My Birthday - I am officially two decades old, and no longer a teen statistic. My birthday was very simple, I wanted to record an episode of the radioshow I had written in high school - something I had been trying to do for about three years - and have a pirate party. Both of these goals were eventually accomplished during what was, mostly likely, the greatest party I've ever thrown. The backyard may never recover from the barrage of glow sticks and silly string, and I'm still finding pages of scripts between the cushions of chairs, but it was, without a doubt, the best possible twentieth birthday ever.

Which leads me to now. I've probably forgotten a few things, like the fact that I'm still unemployed, the fact that I worked my sister's dance recital again and somehow managed to fight the urge to return to theater (though it was, as it probably always will be, a struggle) and how my sister had the best dance and pirate face in the entire show.

I also, just a few minutes ago, was informed that the "Top Five Animated Films of 2010" article I did for just reached 6,000 views. I don't even know how to respond to that yet without excited, childish squeals. I'm literally at a loss for words.

And so, that's that. I'm twenty years old now. This is no longer the Blog of an angsty teenager. I suppose I should try to make more mature, shouldn't I? More professional?

...Or, I could not. I'm still a young adult, right? There's no need to be all serious and mature just yet.

If you happen to know anyone who's hiring, let me know. Other than that, I suppose I'll end this entry.

Farewell, everyone! Until next time.


Monday, March 21, 2011

From Hallmark To Hair Date

Hair salons are weird.

I'm from New Hampshire. You could say that I'm a small town girl living in a lonely world, except that New York really isn't the loneliest of places to hang around. I'm more like a someone who spent a good portion of their life growing up in a Hallmark card and has now been untimely thrust into the big, bad real world. Surprisingly, this hasn't actually caused as much culture shock as one would imagine. Apart from my complete shock at seeing a mall with three floors, my discovery that no one down here can properly pronounce "syrup" and the brief freak out I had when I hailed my first taxi, I've actually adapted pretty well to the "big, bad world."

That could, of course, simply be because I'm safe on a protected college campus. But who knows?

I consider myself, at this point, to be fairly New York literate. By "literate" I mean I know the difference between uptown and downtown and can properly pronounce "Houston" (it's not like Texas, apparently.) Despite this, I in no way consider myself a New Yorker, nor do I think of myself as someone who knows the city inside and out. I definitely do not.

Case in point; Hair Date, a hair salon on Bowery street in the East Village. I was there to drop off some film at the Pac Lab nearby, and stopped in after realizing I hadn't had a hair cut since summer. The price was reasonable, and the place looked relatively inviting, so in I went.

My god. This was an experience. I'm used to hair salons in New Hampshire. You walk in, grab a magazine, sit down, tell them what you want, pretend to be thrilled when they give you something that barely resembles what you asked for, and then rush to your car before anyone can see you. The process is fairly simple, and I only expected about as much from Hair Date. I was, apparently, wrong.

The first thing the stylist did was take my coat. And my scarf, my earrings, my glasses, my bag, and my gloves. She hung them up in a little room specifically for holding people's things and then proceeded to calmly lead me around the large, pristine styling room. It was a bit like a modern art museum. Everything was clean and white and the actual furnishings, though indeed attractive and stylish, looked like something you would have needed to be high to design.

There is somewhat of a script to getting your hair cut in a legitimate salon. You're expected to know where to go and when to bend your head backwards and when to brace yourself for the sudden splatter of cold water on your neck. For the most part, the stylist I had was pretty forgiving when I failed to recognize that I needed to go to a separate station to get my hair washed. There was this simple, amused grin of "Aw, look, it's her first real haircut" and after a while she just stopped pointing out to me that I had missed my cue and began leading me around like a blind person.

In New Hampshire, getting my hair washed at a salon is basically the same as washing my own hair, just with the awkwardness of someone else in the room. At Hair Date, it was like getting a head massage. It lasted for almost a half an hour, and unlike back home where the stylist tries to have a complete conversation with you about your life and your family, the stylist here was completely silent.

It was bizarre, to say the least. But it was, of course, only the beginning.

After finishing with the wash, I was lead back to the chair I had originally been told to sit in and was offered a cup of tea. I was so perplexed by this, that I said no, despite the fact that I hadn't had anything to eat or drink all day and probably could have used the sustenance. I was also offered a stack of completely up to date magazines, which were actually brought to me by a completely different person while my stylist was busy setting everything up. And then, just to add to bizarrely high class treatment I was getting, just as I assumed the stylist was going to begin actually cutting my hair, she started giving me a legitimate back and shoulder massage. Completely without warning.

I've never been ambushed by a massage before. I now know what it's like to be royalty.

The cut itself was nothing particularly shocking. Well, apart from the fact that it was exactly what I wanted. The only bizarre part was when the stylist inexplicably decided to straighten my hair without telling me. I don't know where the straightener came from, it just seemed to appear in her hands before I could stop her from using it, and within a few minutes, my hair was stick straight.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that my hair is naturally a bit...eccentric. It's curly and frizzy and has been described as both "feral" and "mad scientist hair". To see it stick straight and perfectly styled is, for me, an extremely surreal and slightly unsettling experience. Despite the fact that the actual cut was great, I was so unnerved by the straight hair that I ended up having to buy a hat just cover it up.

After a bit of chastisement for not taking proper care of my hair, and an assurance that the straightening wasn't permanent, I was free to go. My coat, scarf, gloves, and bag were brought to me by the same person who brought me the magazines, and I was actually escorted out the door by the stylist.

It was a strange experience. It's probably the best haircut I've ever gotten, and the price was actually really good for what I got. If I lived anywhere near the east village I would probably go back. At least then I would know what I was doing.

And so that was my trip to the hair salon. That random fashion website that invited me to join them because they thought I'd be a good a contributor? Well look at that, I'm actually writing about something beauty related! Hooray!

Sigh. Isn't my life just thrilling?

Well, I'm off to go edit some film now. I have no time to do it, so naturally it's due tomorrow. Good times. Ironically, the film itself is about being trapped by your own stress and responsibilities. It was originally supposed to be about passion or discovery, but then I got sick, and I started feeling trapped by all my responsibilities and stress, so...there you go.

Happy Spring,


Monday, March 14, 2011

Mad Science

Ok, here's something I've oddly never discussed on my blog. Mad scientists.

He he he.

Why haven't I talked about this yet? Seriously, I've had a blog since I was fourteen years old, and I have never once written an entire entry devoted to mad scientists? It's a travesty. It's unforgivable. It's incredibly uncharacteristic of myself. It needs to be remedied immediately.

And so, it shall.

I adore mad scientists, and I really can't tell you why. I've always loved them. Anything I ever wrote as a kid almost always included one, including the play I wrote for a drama camp in second grade wherein not only did I write it, I also played the mad scientist and loved it so much that I wrote the character into a play for a second drama camp I did two weeks later. There is something about the character type that is, to me, inherently fun and interesting. I've always been attracted to eccentric characters, everything from the Phantom to the Doctor, and when it comes down to it, what is more eccentric than a mad scientist? You're looking at a character so preoccupied with their own creativity that they just can't be bothered to put in the effort it takes to act like a normal person. Everything they do is passionate and intense, even if it's just something as simple as pouring water into a beaker. There's an air of theatrics to mad science that I've always loved, and to this day has kept me fascinated with the character type.

So who are some great mad scientists? In real life the most famous example is probably Nikola Tesla, who despite being one of the greatest electrical engineers of the late nineteenth century, had an unbelievably eccentric personality as well as a habit of making bizarre and outrageous claims about the possibilities of scientific advancement. By the end of his life, most of his colleagues had written him off as being insane, and thus he has become one of the main inspirations for the mad scientist archetype in fiction.

But of course, who cares about real life? Clearly most mad scientists don't. My interest in the world of mad science is almost entirely through it's portrayal in fiction. I am not a scientist. As a kid, I toyed with the idea of wanting to be one until I discovered just how different mad science and real science are and decided it would be more fun to send my Polly Pockets on an adventure into space than work on my math homework. Occasionally I wish I was a bit less purely right brained so that I could go make things explode in a chemistry lab or something, but unfortunately, I am and always will be more of a writer than a scientist.

That being said, let's discuss some fictional mad scientists. I'm going to stick mainly to characters from television and film, as a discussion of mad scientists in literature could take up an entry all it's own (though, for what it's worth, everyone should read Frankenstein)

To me, the perfect mad scientist is Gene Wilder. Despite having only technically played a mad scientist once - though I would argue he's done it twice, we'll get to that - I feel like he gets everything right. His ability to be completely calm and normal one second and then suddenly go absolutely psychotic the next is exactly the type of thing a mad scientist should do. A good mad scientist story is one that constantly builds in intensity. It begins somewhat simple, the character has an idea, and as the character becomes more obsessed with it, the story becomes more intense until the character reaches his most maddening point and the action of the story just explodes. Gene Wilder, I feel like, does this alarmingly well. Just look at this clip, specifically at his speech about a minute and a half in.

I consider this to be the greatest mad scientist moment ever. It begins quietly, with Wilder just looking up and musing. After a few seconds he gets louder, and then as the platform rises, he starts shouting until by the time he's up on the roof with the monster he's almost shrieking his "GIVE MY CREATION LIFE!!!" line. It's exactly the way a mad scientist's story operates, beginning quietly, in control, and then letting loose until the character is uncontrollably mad. Although I love Colin Clive as Dr. Frankenstein in the iconic Universal Frankenstein film, there's something about Gene Wilder's performance here that just cements him in my mind as the image of a mad scientist.

But of course, this isn't the only time Gene Wilder has played a mad scientist. Take a good look at Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. No, he's not really a scientist in that one, he's a candy maker, but the elements of mad science are still clearly there, and Gene Wilder, once again, does a fantastic job at building intensity in his performance. Remember the tunnel scene?

Just look at his expression at the beginning of this. It's calm, but diabolical as all hell. He's totally cool and collected, singing softly, and then verging into poetry. Just like in the previous clip, he starts picking up the volume about halfway in, then he starts yelling, and then finally just shrieks at everyone. The effect is terrifying and awesome, and despite Willy Wonka not technically being a scientist, I think deserves to be thought of as another great mad scientist moment.

Also, as a side note, apparently the poetry that he recited in the scene wasn't scripted, and most of the cast thought Gene Wilder was actually going insane when they shot it. He wasn't, but just look at their faces.

But what about some other mad scientists? The ones not played by Gene Wilder. Going for a more modern route, most people are aware of my love for Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, the story of one mad scientist and his quest to take over the world while simultaneously going after the girl of his dreams. The scientist in question is played by Neil Patrick Harris, and what's interesting about this one is that he never really seems too out of control. Yes, Dr. Horrible is an awkward nerd who can't speak to the cute girl at the laundry mat, and yes, he does fantasize about becoming enormous and squashing his archenemy with his foot. But until the end, he never really engages in anything particularly insane, and with the exception of the freeze ray he keeps in his living room and the lab he has hidden behind a wall, he comes across as a basically normal person.

Well, until this scene:

It's here we finally get to see him go full out mad scientist, evil laugh and all. The song starts out quiet, almost hypnotic, until it builds to a crescendo and he pulls out a death ray. Then it gets crazy. He doesn't totally loose it like Willy Wonka or Dr. Frankenstein (pronounced Frankenteen) but things do suddenly get really chaotic and intense. Neil Patrick Harris does a great job at presenting a far more realistic character while still being able to dip into the theatrics that define a mad scientist.

Anime also provides a great look at mad scientists, probably due to how exaggerated and ridiculous anime is naturally. This is, after all, a genre that tries to make card games the most epic thing the world has ever known. There are a lot to choose from here, but my favorite is probably Professor Tomoe from Sailor Moon.

Yes. Tell us again, Professor, about how you haven't kissed anyone in years. I'm sure the laughter of utter doom is intrinsically required in enlightening us to this little anecdote about your life. This guy was, understandably, one of my favorite villains from the show, though it turns out by the end that the only reason he's insane is because he's possessed by some sort of space demon or something. I feel like it would have been much more effective if he was just crazy. But then, that's Sailor Moon for you.

Animation in general can provide a lot for a mad scientist. Because there's no limit to what you can do in animation, an incredible level of ridiculous, insane drama is allowed to the scientist. Unlike in live action where no matter crazy something is you still expect the tiniest bit of realism, in animation no one is expecting anything to be realistic at all. Thus, the uncontrolled, theatrical side to the character type is more likely to come out. Take Professor Membrane from Invader Zim, for example.

I've made toast before. There was no lightning. Professor Membrane is the father of one of the show's protagonists, and is about as ridiculous and insane as you can get. Literally everything that comes out of this man's mouth is epic. Unlike Dr. Horrible who was, by default, a real person who would occasionally dive into craziness, Professor Membrane is naturally ridiculous. His son, Dib, as well as the title character of Zim have also been known to take up a bit of mad science, particularly Zim. But it's Membrane that, I think, exemplifies the character type in animation.

But of course, no discussion of mad scientists is complete without mention of Doctor Who. This show is full of mad scientists, and, to be honest, it can be argued that main character has a bit of this going on himself. I mean, he was UNIT's scientific advisor for a while, and he is a bit, you know, crazy every once in a while. As of late, the eleventh Doctor's been pretty good about this:

It should go without saying that this is a perfect example of an eccentric mad scientist. The Doctor is, for most part, a force for good, but doesn't exactly have the greatest people skills. In all honesty, it's hard to analyse the Doctor as I have with a few of the other characters I've mentioned, mainly because there's been so many of them. Each Doctor is wildly eccentric and obviously scientifically inclined, but none of them are the same about it. The fifth Doctor, for example, was a bit more like Dr. Horrible in that he basically acted like a normal person except for when something crazy was happening. The fourth and tenth Doctors though, were a lot more like Gene Wilder's Dr. Frankenstein in their ability to seem calm and collected one second, and completely psychopathic the next. The mad scientist angle is definitely one of the reasons I latched onto the show so easily back when I was sneaking downstairs to watch PBS reruns of it with my mom as a kid, and remains one of the many things that keeps me coming back to it.

But, beyond all of this, what should be kept in mind about mad scientists is that they are inherently fun. Weird, eccentric people are always fun to watch, and if that weird, eccentric person happens to harness the power of electricity to breath life into a monster, doesn't that just make it even more awesome? There are about a thousand other mad scientists I could talk about, and million more things I could say about how that type of character should be done, but I think, for the moment, I'll leave it at that. Mad scientists are awesome. They always have been, and they always will be. I don't think there will ever come a day when I'm not fascinated by these types of characters, and if indeed the day comes, you can expect the apocalypse to ensue soon.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a death ray to work on.

Happy Pi Day,


Friday, March 11, 2011

College Idiots

I've come to the conclusion, that at some point during college, everyone feels like an irresponsible idiot.

This has nothing to do with whether you actually are an irresponsible idiot, though in some way or another, at that particular moment, you probably are. College students do stupid things. We skip class, get drunk, smoke various illegal substances and apparently like to disrupt things by removing our clothes and doing random things in public. We're given our first real taste of freedom in college, and it's kind of like gaining superpowers. Some choose to use their freedom for good and become responsible overachievers, while others use it lay waste to their childhood.

It's a hard balance to find, and it seems like a lot of college students lead double lives as both the focused academic and the young adult trying to enjoy their youth. There are moments when you feel like you really have everything in your life together, when you're sitting in class participating in a discussion and you know what you're talking about and you're passionate about it. You feel smart, you feel like you deserve to be in college, and you're not just some unambitious idiot here to get laid.

But then you do something stupid. You wake up and discover you've slept through the class you've already missed three sessions of because you were sick. You go to the mall and realize you should have been working on a project that was due the day before. You have to drop a class because you're not doing well. You fail to get to your advisor on time. You spend the week hanging around your friend's place instead of writing a paper. You lose paperwork. You accept a mysterious, unlabeled brownie from somebody and there goes your productivity.

None of these seem like particularly terrible offenses, but when it happens, it can make you feel horrific. You desperately want to prove to the world that you are a responsible, intelligent human being, but you can't seem to stop yourself from being stupid.

We live in a very contradictory environment. We constantly point out that academics don't mean everything. How many times have you heard that Einstein did poorly in school? And yet, we put so much emphasis on them. It's like it doesn't matter how responsible and overachieving you are...except that it defines the rest of your life. You can't sit there after doing something stupid and try to comfort yourself with "Einstein did poorly in school" because, you know, you're not Einstein. The sheer amount of people who seem to balance being stupid and intelligent at the same time would seem to negate the idea that it can't be done, and it makes like you feel like you don't deserve to be considered intelligent because you can't.

Of course, none of these observations are particularly unique. We all know that college students are stupid, and that the ones that succeed are the ones that manage to rise above the typical stupid college kid cliche.

It's lent right now. I don't observe it, I'm not a Catholic. But I do live with one, and I know that, on a basic level, it's about resisting temptation.

College is like lent.

You're suppose to give up being stupid, being irresponsible, and being immature. You're supposed to devote the energies you would use to pursue these vices towards focusing on your schoolwork and being a responsible student. Some people, the faithful and the focused, pull this off beautifully and manage to avoid the things they're supposed to, and find ways to enjoy themselves in the process. Others fail miserably.

The question, like the question of accidentally eating meat on Friday, is whether or not giving into the temptation to be irresponsible makes you a bad person.

I don't think so, but that's just me. I'm in college, I'm an irresponsible idiot. Who knows if I'm right?

This bit of college angst brought to you by,


Wednesday, February 2, 2011



It's been two days.

I'm really sick of this pseudo-plot line. This isn't a narrative blog. It's never been written to tell a story. It's just suppose to be a place for me to ramble about whatever happens to pop into my head. The fact that my blog itself seems to think otherwise, is kind of a big issue.

Silence you fool!

Ok, who are you?

I have many names. I am the darkness within your heart, the evil residing in the back of your mind, the shadow of your thoughts and feelings, the thing that keeps you awake at night -

This is going to be really underwhelming, isn't it?

You may call me...Yvonne!

Of course.

Yes! You have been acquainted with me before!

Look, just because my mother accidentally bought me a bathroom cup and a spoon that said "Yvonne" on it, doesn't mean that "Yvonne" is some sort of evil alter ego. It was just because there's never any personalized stuff that says "Nelly" on it.

That is where you are wrong! We all have a dark side, your mother was simply subconciously aware that yours was called Yvonne.

No kidding. Well, in that case, I suppose we should do battle, or something. I'm supposed to have some sort of inner struggle with you.

Well, see, that's why I wanted to chat with you.

Um, ok.

I don't really feel like having a battle right now. I'm in the middle of reading the evil alter ego of David Sedaris' book "Anti-Squirrel Seeks Evil Chipmunk" and I don't really want to put it down. Is there any way I could take a raincheck on this?

Well, my blog sort of won't let me leave the blogsphere until I have some sort of existential crisis that drives me to utter insanity, and I'd kind of like to get out of here fairly soon since I have three personal narratives and a screenplay due next Tuesday. I'm not going to lie, I don't really want to fight you, but...I also sort of need to.

That is quite the predicament.

Yeah, it is.

We could always just pretend to have a battle.

What do you mean?

Well, you know. We could stage some sort of internal struggle for you. That way your blog will think you're suitably dramatically conflicted, and you can leave, and I can go back to reading about evil sheep.

You know, I like the way you think.

Do you? Maybe you're the evil one.

Save that for the existential crisis.

Good point.

Let's go get this over with.

Monday, January 31, 2011

From Blog to Blogger

Alright then. This is just to inform you all that the disembodied personification of my blog has decided that I need to have some sort of internal battle with my evil alter ego. I wasn't aware I had an evil alter ego, but then, I wasn't aware that my blog was sentient, either.


This isn't a narrative blog, it never has been. In fact, these last few entries have been a radical departure in genre. It's a good thing I don't have any readers outside of family and friends, or this would be really confusing for them.


Nothing's better than Creepy Pasta. And no, this isn't a narrative blog. I'm not trying to tell a story, I'm just rambling about whatever pops into my head. Like a diary, almost. But with less turning out to be a princess and more complaining about Doctor Who.


If you say so.


I'll get right on that.

This Is Getting Ridiculous


Apparently my blog has a taste for Florence + The Machine. I'm fine with that. I like her as well. But did the lyrics to "Dog Days Are Over" really merit inclusion in a supposedly intimidating backstory? Not really.

The nice thing about being trapped in the Blogsphere, is that I can update at any given moment. I'm not really sure why my Blog decided to choose right now to rebell against me. It's not like I'm the only person on the interwebs to fall behind on updating. Have you ever watched the Nostalgia Chick?

But I don't want to argue. It's sort of pointless getting angry at an incorporeal blog that I'm supposed to be able to control.


Shut up.

Seriously, this is really annoying. I need to find a way out of here. I think I have choir tonight.

The Dog Days Are Over













Some Explaining

Hello all.


...yes. Right.

It appears that the blog I've been keeping for around five years now has decided to turn against me. I guess it's sick of being ignored for months on end.


Oh, shut up, quoting the Bible doesn't make you any more intimidating.




Yes, nyeah.

Anyway, I'm currently being held captive somewhere inside the Blogsphere. I'm really hoping this will all be over relatively soon, since I have four chapters of Weisel's Messengers of God and a paper on incidental music due this week. I also have a legitimate short film due sometime soon for a professor that, while awesome in basically every single way possible, is apparently a very tough grader. Being trapped in a somewhat ill-defined digital world made up mostly of whining an Slender Man stories is not really going to help my GPA anytime soon. I guess I'll keep you posted.


That's Queen, you idiot. Night At the Opera.


Sure you did.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A New Year