Friday, January 31, 2014

Princesses of Badassdom

There were no survivors.

Trend Alert! TREND ALERT! The Fad Herald hath visited the noble countryside and announced a brand new trend that we are all to adhere to! Hence when logging into the Facebook, you are to take one of these personality quizzes, and then use the results to announce to the world which personality type are you: be it Harry Potter, Disney Princess, Star Wars Character, but sadly not which Nicolas Cage Character you are. 

Of course, the answer to that is that we are all Nicolas Cage, and he is us. The Nicolas Cage is love.

Yes, once again the fad that is Facebook has managed to grab a sub fad, thus proving it’s relevancy once again before we are all making Facebook jokes as if it were a mere Myspace or a Friendster, because social media, LOLz, amirite? Seriously, when is the pendulum swinging back to Myspace? I have some good Facebook jokes I’ve been saving for when we’re all back on that. Like this status now for a promise of being in one of my top eight spaces. 

The problem with these personality quizzes (and I know they’re just for fun. It’s this, or another post about Leonardo DiCaprio not winning an Oscar. You’ll read this over analysis and love it) is that they tend to accentuate the good in a character for the sake of “personality” but they tend to ignore the bad about them, which is a little bit silly. It’s some of their badness that tends to give them flair. However, today I want to talk about what’s being ignored when it comes to these Disney Princesses. The fact that they are straight up out of a Quentin Tarantino movie, and no one seems to point this out.

Let’s see one of the most popular Disney Princesses around, Belle. She is probably one of the more popular ones I’ve seen floating about. The problem is that her description tends to ignore the fact that some of her very first scenes are all about how she’s pretty much better than the town. Then she spends the rest of the movie falling in love with the man that kidnapped her. No, seriously, “Be Our Guest” is one of the most disturbing moments in a Disney Film, mostly because she really isn’t their guest, it’s eat after this song and dance number or starve until we all accept our fate as living as the clearance rack at Ikea for the rest of eternity. (Chip was an adorable chipped cup for twenty years.) It’s really a quipping candlestick away from being a Lifetime movie of the week. 

This part is largely ignored, but it’s what gives her edge. Belle was the prisoner of the Beast, but within a week she was running the place. That’s the part that gets ignored in these frilly personality quizzes. Stuck up? Absolutely. The marriage is over once she’s able to leave freely? Yes. (Remember, the Beast was the Beast because he was a jerk.) But she was able to take that and channel it into perhaps the finest moment of Disney Princessdom outside of Rapunzel’s Ninja hair: turning the tables on her kidnapper to the point that he was enthralled with her.

Let’s take Cinderella now. There’s a lot we could talk about, the fact that years of scrubbing probably made her stronger and harder than the Prince she fell in love with. Keeping a place clean isn’t just good cardio, it builds muscles. She could probably bench press that entire magical cart by the time she was ready to go to the ball. Let’s not even discuss her army of talking, clothes wearing rodents that were ready to do her bidding. She had a magic fairy godmother helping her out. Straight up Bippity Boppity Booed her way into ganking some evil stepsisters if she really chose.

No, Cinderella’s real superpower is the ability to hypnotize men to fall in love with her as well as running in glass footwear. First of all, how many of you would be brave enough to wear glass? On your feet? That doesn’t give that doesn’t bend, and she should consider herself lucky she just lost a slipper. But no, after not even an entire night - before midnight - she was able to get this Prince to scour the countryside looking for her.  THE. ENTIRE. COUNTRYSIDE. Using a shoe. And these aren’t fingerprints people, and that wasn’t a small little gathering either, are you telling me that no one had the same shoe size. No, this was straight up witchcraft. 

And are we saying it’s a bad thing? Nope. She was in a bad situation. Another kind of abusive one. (I’m seeing a pattern.) But rather than accept it, she used her Cinderella Voodoo to get out of it. Why downplay it? I say give her a scar on her forehead and then have her go take down Voldemort. 

Next, let’s turn our gaze to everyone’s favorite redheaded hoarder, Ariel. Now there’s a lot to go one here, what with her Aquaman like ability to talk to fish, until she trades it for something as useless as “legs” which now just forces her to wear “pants” like the rest of us (although she manages to fashion a very nice skirt out of just some driftwood, sails, and seashells). But while personality quizzes point out things like how’ she’s “curious” and how she likes to “explore” people tend to forget the main great thing about Ariel.

She defied a king. When no one else would.

Look how organized the opening scene is. That’s a king that has control of his people. His reaction when Ariel doesn’t show up, or when he finds her secret stash? That’s a king that’s not used to people defying him. And yet this redhead felt a need to do so. Not even because she’s his daughter... she may say “daddy” once or twice but doesn’t let any of that get in the way. Then to top it off, she goes and falls in love with the one species her racist daddy doesn’t want her to. I really don’t like Prince Eric and Ariel’s chances once daddy accepts him, though.

Yet this is played down, big time in these quizzes. that sense of defiance, that sense that you get the sense in a few years that despite she’s the youngest, she’ll be sitting on that throne made out of a few more corpses, wielding that magic trident and eventually taking her place alongside Superman and Green Lantern on the Justice League. They’ll be looking over their shoulders for a little bit, that’s for sure.

I could go on. I’ve mentioned Rapunzel’s ninja hair, but she also wields a mean cast iron frying pan while controlling horses. Pochantas has a magical ability to change the past so her story is cute not horrifying. Snow White commands an army of woodland creature and dwarves, so I’m a little confused as to why Gandalf didn’t drop the ring off at her doorstep and let her march it into Mordor. 

But you get my point. A few lines of cutesy “personality” way downplays exactly what these Princesses are capable of.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Let's Get Inked!

My first time going to a tattoo convention was a little odd. I didn’t know what to expect (or who to expect) and I didn’t yet have any tattoos. I just admired them. I mean, tattoos are artwork. Artwork that you feel strong enough to keep on your body, and should hopefully make a statement about you, from: “I’m an enthusiastic supporter of naked ladies surrounded by snakes and flaming skulls” to “wow Kermit the Frog can be really funny.” But each one is a choice, no matter what you got put onto your skin. (or I guess technically right under it.)

Of course, I walked out of the convention with my first tattoo. A simple Shakespeare quote from Twelfth Night: “There is no darkness but ignorance,” said by the depressing fool Feste, who is the smartest man in the room. I got it because, hey, Shakespeare! And I figured the first one should be something that represented me.

That was three tattoos ago. I’ve been to several other conventions since then, and I’ve gotten a tattoo at each, including this past weekend at the annual tattoo convention right here in Washington, DC. Everyone who told me about it was right: They are incredibly addicting, so long as you get something that represents you, and not something random or just something “because you want to get a tattoo.” 

One of the great things about the Tattoo Convention is the fact that you see just about all types of people there: heavily tattooed, young kids, people getting their first ones, old people, young people, parents (with the young kids, duh)... it’s really a big group that covers a lot. And the cool thing is that they’re all there just having a good time. No one is really judging, no one is trying to one up anyone, other than one upping the tattoos in a friendly manner. It’s just sort of a good time.

I was lucky I was able to go with a friend of mine after having to cancel last year after getting the dreaded wintertime random sickness that wasn’t quite the flu and wasn’t quite a cold, but a weird mix in between. It’s the kind of thing where you don’t really feel like doing anything until you lie down, then once you do you get just enough energy to sit up, make plans, then go back to bed. So I was especially excited to get together this time with my friends to go.

We walked in, and were immediately presented with the loneliest booth at the convention: The tattoo removal stand. Sure, some people want to get an older one removed, or the name of someone that just didn’t quite work out, or maybe you were so angry at the season finale of Dexter that it’s time to get that removed... but generally it’s the lonely booth that people gaze upon on their way to view the artists.

And it was packed this year, with two full ballrooms and some spillover to some places I didn’t quite see in the back until I was almost done with the day. Did I mention that my friend had a wife? He has a wife who went in and got a six hour cover up on an older tattoo, while he got his which only took a few hours. I didn’t mind. The tattoo convention isn’t something I wanted to run in and out of... you need time to people watch.

This year there was no shortage of fun. There was a pinup contest, so there were a lot of people dressed as if they came straight from the 1950’s. And of course the heavily tattooed walking alongside the not really tattooed. There were people deciding what to get, a lot of people lying down getting an elaborate tattoo on their legs or sides (that seemed to be the new place to get it.) Then, of course, you saw a ton of people with saran wrap on their arms - the badge of honor given to those who’d just gotten their new tattoos. Those were the most interesting, because they had just made their choice. Of course they were proud of it (as I soon would be).

Of course, the extra time allowed me to get my new tattoo. This was a unique tattoo for me. For each of my three other tattoos, I had a vision. For this tattoo I had a vague idea, one that I knew I wanted to get, I just didn’t know how. I eventually decided on “Allons-y” the catch phrase of the 10th Doctor from Doctor Who.

I chose this because I have been a Doctor Who fan for most of mine life, watching the black and white reruns and not understanding why his spaceship didn’t look a little cooler. (I was young at the time.) So getting one was a no-brainer, it was going to happen, it was just a matter of when. I chose to get that catch phrase because I like the idea of yelling something when jumping into battle. And while “spoon!” (The catchphrase of the Tick) was briefly considered (very, extremely briefly) I knew I wanted something that represented my zanier side. And that’s the Doctor. I got it int the cool shape of the TARDIS, which was nice. 

But like all my tattoos, I got it for an extremely personal reason, part of which ties back to a post I was going to do back in November, but was busy with that whole “saving the world” thing. Back on November 23rd, 2013, there was a celebration for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. With a few exceptions and gaps, Doctor Who has been on the air for almost that entire time. And over time, the Doctor has come to represent something deeper than just a guy in a box who solves time crisises, looks good doing it, and does it usually with the help of an attractive companion. (I still love you, Karen Gillan.) That’s why I chose this tattoo. Something deeply entrenched in me that represents something bigger in my life. I think I need a little of the Doctor in me from time to time, to remind myself that the world is pretty fascinating. But I could go on. I wanted this brief paragraph to be an entire post. I will probably go back and write it at some point. But for now... tattoos!

Of course getting them stings a little... I mean, you’re getting a needle jabbed into your skin repeatedly. There’s always the wonder, “will I still like it?” which is why it’s important to pick something, put it down for a while, then pick it up again. Like I said, I didn’t do it as much with this tattoo. With the design, anyway. I was always going to get the phrase.... the catchphrase of the Doctor I consider my Doctor... somewhere it was just a matter of what. And of where.

Leaving the convention is the hardest part, mostly because you’ve spent a lot of time there, and you know it’s going to be another year before you get the chance to come again. Unless you can go back the next day, but I’m interning and working, who has that kind of time? So, with the three of us freshly inked up, or tatted up, depending on the slang you wanted to use, we headed out. 

And of course, once the pain wore off, we started thinking about what we wanted to get next...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Weather Warriors

My father was in the military, so I have had the pleasure of living almost all over the world. I was born in overseas (but eligible to run for President unlike that faker who won’t show his birth certificate, Chester Arthur. Pffft. Canadian.) I’ve lived in a ton of places, that had a ton of varied climates that continue to make up the rich tapestry of what we generously call an atmosphere. (Not like the atmosphere in Venus. Now that’s the money atmosphere, although we’d all die from lack of breathable gasses.)

I’ve chosen to live where I want to live because it’s a nice area. For starters, we have actual seasons... things get cold, then they get warm again, then people use the temperature one date or another to either prove or disprove global warming, then we all complain about the weather, then the cycle repeats. It’s a nice cycle. One I’ve gotten used to, and one that is thankfully devoid of a lot of extreme weather. There was one year we got a foot of snow. We’ll get hit with the random hurricane every couple of years. But nothing too extreme.

Which is why it’s kind of annoying when we get five inches of snow, everything shuts down and I hear, “Wow, back in Chicago we’d wouldn’t shut down for that kind of weather!” I then shake my head, and try to remind them that I don’t live in Chicago because I don’t want to deal with what amounts to a colder version of New York. 

That always seems to happen. Recently, the weather in California dipped down to the low 60’s (It was almost 50, people) and one of the Meteorologists was shown wearing a ski parka. The nation had a laugh, then went back to seeing if Miley Cyrus did anything that could be construed as controversial so we could complain.

What everyone tended to forget was that Meteorologist lived in California, where the weather is nice and the beaches are made of candy, so I’m told. She wanted to live in an area that was warm most of the year, so yes, the weather, which was normally in the 70’s took a dip down to the 50’s, yes. It was going to seem cold.

The problem seems to be the smug superiority of those that seem to think that every area is equipped to handle the extreme weather they get all the time. Yes, Michigan, we get that your winter starts in May and ends in April, but the thing is, not every area lives in Michigan where it snows so much you have evolved to be even whiter as to hide easy from your natural predators. I currently live in an area where a light rain can tie up traffic for several hours, if not days.

My personal favorite tale of comparing weather to weather came right after Hurricane Katrina, when everyone of course was being extra sensitive and I got the pleasure of reading how a large snow storm that mildly inconvenienced a few people that were used to dealing with large snow storms (one hit at least twice a winter) with a hurricane the likes of which hadn’t hit that particular area in a hundred years. The article, clearly written by someone who knew, laughed and revealed at the idea that a flood - just mere water, according to the writer who didn’t have their head shoved up somewhere I’m too polite to mention (their ass, for people I’m not polite to) could somehow not be as manageable as their yearly big snow storm. I’m half surprised why he didn’t mention all of New Orleans just getting in their cars and plowing up everything. 

Here’s the thing, the planet is big, and has a lot of different regions. That’s basic science 101. (Which some people are trying to get removed from schools, but that’s a completely different post.) If you think you’re tough and every region is pretty much the same, take a minute and Google “Spiders in Australia.” It’s ok. I’ll wait for you to Google the image, and then for you to finish screaming.

Done? Great.

Just because you live in an area that can “handle a ton of snow” or “would have to cancel school every day if we got as little snow as you” doesn’t mean the rest of us live in such a utopia. In fact, we don’t live in that area probably for that reason. In my case, I choose to live in an area that used to be a swamp and gets close to 99% humidity on the nice days in the summer. Weather you’d be complaining about in a few minutes, and I know you complain about it because I’ve seen you scurrying around the Metro, absorbing those last precious moments of what The Washington Area Metro Transit Authority generously calls “air conditioning”, usually by standing in front of an escalator or a turnstile so no one can get through, before stepping out into the sweltering heat so you can complain about it.

The fact is, when you whine and complain that things are shut down because of the weather, you’re making a false comparison. You’re trying to compare where you live to another area that’s different. Also, you’re looking stupid, because sure your area is fine and can deal with it. Some areas can’t. My area in particular can barely handle a sunny nice day. Don’t make us get out on the road when there is ice. There are still people that put on their four way flashers when it’s overcast. Asking them to do more might break them.

So this is a Bad Shakespeare PSA, reminding everyone that once again that speaking requires two separate acts. The first is thinking, followed by speaking.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Let's Not Britta This Up...

I like television. There aren’t a whole lot of shows that I’ll make time for, but when I do I like to lose myself in an episode of Arrow, Parks and Recreation, The Middle, Supernatural, American Dad, or Doctor Who, if I can ever figure out when exactly it’s on.  (Seriously, get on Season 8, and get Peter Capaldi out there now.) But there’s an odd trend I’ve noticed lately that has started to annoy me. If only I had a forum in which to discuss it...

Oh, wait! I do!

The availability of DVD, DVR’s, and Streaming Digital Media (which is a fancy way of saying “Netflix”) has changed the way we watch television. No longer are we shackled to only watching the Simpsons at 8 on Sundays... we can watch it any time, thanks to the magic of technology! (Technology that’s not a front for robots learning our entertainment habits then trying to take over the world.) Want to watch Toddlers and Tiaras at midnight on a Saturday? Simply record it, then watch those lovable scamps who are totally not being emotionally abused whenever you want.

The use of this technology has also allowed several shows that were cancelled to be brought back in new and exciting forms. Arrested Development became an experimental, almost 6 hour movie released on Netflix. Firefly became a movie that outgrossed Jessica Alba at the height of her fame at the box office but somehow didn’t get a sequel. (Two Firefly references in one week. Bring it back.) Futurama was brought back as four movies before becoming a TV Show then inexplicably cancelled yet again by network executives that achieve immortality through the tears of Futurama fans. And Family Guy... no Family Guy was brought back to television in the old, boring fashion. 

It was first with Family Guy that I noticed it, though. A terrible, terrible thing. Television Hipsterism. That’s right. Once Family Guy was resurrected and got what most fans that watched the two DVD’s and countless reruns on Adult Swim wanted - more episodes - suddenly, they were terrible! Who could watch this! Why wasn’t it cancelled sooner? Despite the fact that Family Guy was doing what Family Guy always did: pushing the envelope. And of course, the envelope kept being pushed, so they kept pushing back. Fans just wanted to backlash against it. (While we’re at it, people who keep complaining about the show’s treatment of Meg: It’s a shame they don’t treat her as well as Jerry/Larry from Parks and Rec, or Sue Heck from the Middle... you get my point.)

Of course, the Television Hipsters were on top of it during Arrested Development’s Season 4, gleefully clapping together their hands proclaiming that the revival had been a mistake, despite the fact that once again Arrested Development did what it did best: Make anything into a joke, have quick references and callbacks to previous episodes, and make you have to pause what you were watching in order to catch all the references. All complaints on the new season, which were the reason that the whole show became popular in the first place. 

I’ll have to admit, as an AD fan, that one got to me a little bit. I had the day off following it’s release on Netflix, and I gorged on the episodes more than once. It was a fun time. So to see so many other self professed “fans” complaining about it, it kind of made me mad. 

It’s really getting to me because my little corner of weirdness, my refuge from the week, Community, is really getting hit hard. For those of you who don’t know, Community is about a Community college in Greendale.... somewhere filled with wacky residents. It’s a weird show. Famously (for fans) last season the creator left the show, resulting in a strange looking show that was Community but not really Community. It tried it’s best, but it was missing it’s heart. Now, the creator is back, ready to make more episodes, and of course before the first episode was out the first critic came out and said, “it’s just not the same!” despite the fact that it was the same as the “gap year”  and was pretty amusing. It had the old feel, all over again.

Now, some of you may be asking two important questions. 1. Did you run out of things to talk about again and that’s why you’re posting something about TV shows? Well, the answer to that is partly yes, but I do have a point. 2. Don’t people have a point to complain about shows they don’t like or have “lost it”? I agree they do, my point is just that it doesn’t seem like the complaints are coming out against anything real, it’s that they either want to be the first one to complain about something popular so they can be the first one, or they have completely forgotten what anything they just watched was about.

For any of these examples, head on over the A.V. Club, a once great website that sort of revels in the idea that complaining about something will one day make them really popular. (Yes, yes. Breaking Bad was just an ok show. We all believe you. Man of Steel was one of the worst movies of the year, because you put it on your little list. You weren’t trying to cause controversy, that was a legit complaint.) They are constantly taking a contrarian view, or are making false comparisons as a way to try to justify opinions that quite frankly don’t make any sense.

And I’m not trying to say that shows never take a dip in quality. I’m taking a stance against a selective amnesia that happens where people seem to claim that a TV show was once good, but now for some reason because everyone likes it, it sucks. There was a little club that loved Arrested Development. It was a secret society. But now, EVERYONE loves it. So suddenly, that club that held onto that show can’t like it, and they must have lost something because now everyone has “discovered it.” Same with Family Guy. They were cancelled for a reason. Community might start doing well, so people have started their pre-emptive strike against it because it CAN’T be as good as it was before, it just can’t. Too many people like, it, we can’t.

So, I’m reminding people to not just shake their hands with glee that now they can call something Worst. Television Show. Ever. I’m asking you to watch it, remind yourself of why you liked it, and just enjoy it. Stop pretending you’re part of a little club that must eschew the rest of the world. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Reflection on my Reflections.

        When I started this blog roughly two years ago, it was going to be primarily a blog about my journey from mild mannered whatever I was doing, to becoming a teacher. As I doubted that I was going to become a teacher, and I was unsure about my future, the blog became a little bit more about me - science fiction (I still have a Doctor Who post waiting in the wings for me to unleash on you all), books, Nicolas Cage, writing, and whatever I really felt like posting. Then I had a really bad experience with a job - probably one of the worst experience I dealt with - and I realized that yes, I did want to be a teacher. I guess as much as I dislike this particular situation, I owe them all thanks. They’re not going to get it, but I owe it to them.

Yes, for a little bit during my education process, I doubted that I wanted to even be a teacher. Between the horror stories about the internship, the constant reminder that I’d be working with kids all day (and the way some people said it that made it sound like I’d be working with convicted murderers all day), and the constant stream of parents, politicians, and various pundits all reminding me about how lazy I was for picking my future career, it hasn’t been easy. But sometimes, doubt creeps in, and you just need to be reminded what the right path was. 

As noted, a mere week ago I started my internship at a High School near or around the county in which I live. If you’re wondering if I’m being vague, then yes, you’re absolutely correct! There are moments I want to be specific... in fact if you want to know where I’ll be on March 1st and 2nd, that’s contained in this blog. You can probably figure out my name, and this entire thing is linked to a Facebook page. But I’m going to be somewhat vague when discussing this out on the blogo-info-whatever-sphere. 

That brings me to my next dilemma. And I’m not talking about the underrated song by Nelly and Kelly Rowland. How much of my internship do I want to discuss here, on Bad Shakespeare. I mean, up until this point this has been an education blog with occasional moments of insanity. This blog has been about me and my pursuit to become the world’s greatest teacher, or in the very least, a teacher. So, how much of the original stuff should I avoid?

Turns out the answer is: Most of it. You see, as I’m getting more and more information about just what it is I’ll be doing, I’m finding out that I’m going to have to write roughly 4 papers about my experiences a week. That’s more than I write about Bad Shakespeare, if you can’t tell. And I was wondering how much I should put down, and whether I can work on it for the blog, or whatnot... the thing is, I can’t. I want the reflections to be an honest portrayal of what I’m doing and how I’m feeling, and I don’t know that I can put all of that up here for everyone (re: future employers) to see. I mean, while I’ve had some awesome experiences, I’ve had some ones that I need to discuss and work out in my head. Nothing so terrible that I’m rethinking my future career, just little things that I don’t want to get completely out, and I don’t want to get out of hand. 

Plus, at some point, I’m going to need a break from thinking about this teaching stuff. The Student Teacher thing is an odd duck if you think about it: on the one hand I get to pay over $5000 for the honor to get to work a job I won’t get paid for and I can’t have another job to pay the rent, on the other I have to constantly think about it to the point that I had a dream where I had to go back and teach people from a previous job - people I liked - and they all made fun of me. 

Stress Dreams! Hooray!

I’ll occasionally update this blog with stories about what happened, and at some point I may even throw in one of those reflection papers if I can find one witty enough, or one that lives up to the high standards set by the Nicolas Cage referencing department of Bad Shakespeare, Inc. But we’ll have to see.

So, continue to wish me luck on my teaching. I hope to update you all soon. In the meantime, continue to read this blog, and continue to enjoy what I have cooked up for everyone!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bad Shakespeare in LaLa Land!

Leonardo DiCaprio cries himself to sleep each night while gazing at this image.

It’s that magical time of year, faithful readers of this blog, and anyone who found it by Googling “Breaking Bad Spoilers” despite the fact that the show has been over for a good four months. (It ends by listing the names of everyone who worked on that episode.) It’s that magical time of year when parts of America are covered in cold, you long to be complaining about the heat of summer, and Hollywood dumps it’s most unlovable crap into movie theaters with the hopes of tricking you into seeing it. We’re going to be there for you, I, Frankenstein. I generally hoped you’d be better, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, despite the words “Kevin” and “Costner” appearing around you. And if you’re one of 20 found footage horror movies being released in January... oh, man. I feel bad for you. I’ll catch you on Netflix in a few weeks.

But while Hollywood is throwing the leftovers that were deemed “not as good as R.I.P.D” into the theaters with the hopes that you’ll be too cold to go, they also don’t care. Why? Because it’s awards season! That’s right, whether it’s a People’s Choice, a Golden Globe, or a Netflix Coca-Cola Award brought to you by Chipolte, it’s important to remember that some rich people are going to get up in fancy dresses that cost more than your car, some people who haven’t been famous in 20 years will critique those outfits, and the same 8 movies will get awarded something, and Leonardo DiCaprio will win everything except for what’s considered the highest award. Of which Nicolas Cage has two. 

Let that sink in for a few minutes.

The only one we care about here at Bad Shakespeare central are the Oscars. And the AMC 24 Hour Best Picture Showcase, this year coming to you in March! And once again, Bad Shakespeare will be there to cover the entire thing, in it’s entire 24 hour glory. 

If you remember back to the 2013 AMC BPS, it was quite the grab bag. From the sheer, “When will this be over” of Amour to the breathtaking “Dear God, make it stop!” of Beasts of the Southern Wild, we covered all the nominees with gusto, making jokes about Abe Lincoln, pigeons, and avoiding the easy ones about Leonardo DiCaprio despite the fact that he played against type and still couldn’t get one of those Golden wrapped Chocolate covered statues. (That’s what it’s made of, right?)

Well, let’s take a look at what we’ve got going on this year, and what we’ll be watching. Keep in mind, as of this writing the AMC Best Picture Showcase 2014 has been announced, but is not open for ticketing just yet, so I don’t know the order, just that it’s going to occur. the order I’m picking is the order that’s on it’s website so it could be random, alphabetical, or it could be the secret code to the Academy Voters that it’s time to mount the army and attack England. No one knows. It’s an enigma. 

-American Hustle. Now, I have to be honest, I’ve seen this one, and I have to say, it’s got some impressive actors with some impressive hair. I was going to make a joke about the whole thing being Batman and Lois lane squaring off against Mystique and the future voice of Rocket Raccoon for the soul of Hawkeye, but that’s all too confusing. let’s just focus on the well-coifed members of the team, and the fact that the one person not really forced to alter her hair too much was the ginger cast member, most likely because they were scared of her. I know I’d be. Between her and Christian Bale, that set was most likely a powder keg. Either way, I’m looking forward to watching this one again, this time with people who can appreciate me making fun of the four minutes that start this film that’s just Christian Bale combing his hair, and then us trying to take everything else seriously. 

-Captain Philips, a.k.a Johnny Depp lied to us. I’ve not seen this one, and I don’t know how much I’m looking forward to it, to be honest with you. I’ve seen based on harrowing life events in the past, and this one does look interesting. I mean, based on events as much as possible, as once it came out we got the obligatory twelve stories from Slate about how this bent the truth, then the article about how the other bent the truth, etc. It must have been nice, the writers from that site were able to take almost a full month off based on this. Regardless of what happens, the outcome is the same: Someone please, please, please just give Tom Hanks another Oscar. 

-Dallas Buyer’s Club. The first in our look at 2014 Academy Award movies featuring Matthew McConaughey is another semi-true picture that looks at the selling of AIDs drugs during the worst parts of the AIDs crisis. I don’t know I’m going to make too many jokes about this, other than the weight that McConaughey had to lose to get the part and the fact that it endangered his abs. Really, they’re a national treasure, people. 

-Gravity. I’m calling it now, this one is going to be our midnight, “ain’t we clever for putting this on at midnight?” movie. It’s 3-D and features mostly Sandra Bullock floating around after she’s abandoned by George Clooney. It’s a good look at an existential thought process that goes through people’s heads as they decide just what they’re going to have to do in order to survive. Also, fear. Worst fear. I’d rather face off against the alien from Alien than deal with drifting through space, slowly waiting for my oxygen to run out. Fortunately, most of the movie has been debunked by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who pointed out clearly that the giant robots in Pacific Rim couldn’t exist. 

-Her. Finally the movie that Stanley Kubrick was trying to make when he had HAL  get rid of those pesky astronauts for not returning his love. We know this one, some dude falls in love with Scarlett Johansson just by voice because he’s lonely and hey, Scarlett Johansson. The only cruelty, of course, is casting Scarlett Johansson in a movie that doesn’t feature any images of Scarlett Johansson, making it the cruelest use of Scarlett Johansson since Michael Bay convinced us that there could be believable clones of Scarlett Johansson. Jerk. But yeah, cautionary tale of technology or something. 

-Nebraska. The Oscar voter’s token black and white movie after the uproar last year that all of the other black and white movies had been overlooked. They were shot in black and white for a reason, everyone: To get nominations! Fortunately, this was corrected this year without having to resort to finding an old Leonardo DiCaprio movie, putting it in black and white, and assuring him that he isn’t going to win again.

-Philomena. A wacky road trip adventure with Steve Coogan and former Vin Diesel co-star Dame Judi Dench set in Ireland where they try to find the child she gave up when she was younger. I should also point out that this is ANOTHER fact based story, which makes me wonder why other fact based stories, like the Croods, weren’t nominated this year. It’s just another example of the Oscar’s biases. I do have to point out after hearing all of the stories behind this one, I do really want to see it. It looks interesting, and I generally like Steve Coogan when he’s playing Steve Coogan. And hey, Dame Judi Dench. If she were in Amour, I’d probably be sadder by the end, and not rooting for that pigeon to steal her soul. (That’s what happened in the movie, right?)

-12 Years a Slave. I’m not even going to ATTEMPT to spell the main character’s name, just refer to him as the bad guy from Serenity, and hope that his newfound fame will allow him to come back in the inevitable Serenity sequel that he will personally fund. Looks like another tough movie, but one that will be interesting at least, and thanks to that overseas poster I know features Brad Pitt. Which is good, because I was getting scared by the lack of Brad Pitt on this year’s list, and was kind of hoping they’d replace Bradley Cooper with Brad Pitt digitally in American Hustle. Oh, don’t feel bad for Cooper, he’s going to have Rocket Raccoon money soon.

-The Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese. DiCaprio. Hill. With powerhouse names like these, it’s no wonder that this film was nominated for an Oscar. However, Nicolas Cage has more Oscars than all these men. Combined. Just a reminder. In any event, I’m looking forward to this one, despite all the “controversies” surrounding it that allowed the writers of Slate to once again write about it, then take a month off. It looked hilarious, and I actually avoided this one because I believed it would be nominated. Good luck, this year, to all of you... wait... DiCaprio wasn’t even nominated? Ooof. That’s going to hit into my jokes this year. I’ll work around it. 

So there you have it... all 9 nominated films that I’ll be sitting through with my faithful group of co-writers, friends, and people who are bringing cookies. Seriously. I was promised cookies. And I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with all of you!

Also, to those who were just Googling Breaking Bad Spoilers: Walt dies after a fight with a Dragon voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bring It On. The Internship. Not the Movie

As of today, I have completed my first official week as an intern! Let’s hear it for 34 year old interns! Woooo! And where am I interning: At a school, to help achieve my ultimate goal of becoming a High School English Teacher. Which granted, isn’t everyone’s goals, but it’s mine and that’s what’s important right now: me. (This is my blog. Want to make it about you? Write your own blog!)

This wasn’t always my goal, even when I was in school. For a brief period, I debated switching my program and becoming a college professor. I even got accepted into the English Program, and all it required was for me to sign on the dotted line, but after some pesky life events, I decided to continue because what I want to do is teach, and I’m tired of delaying. (Remember what we talked about on Monday? Carpe YOLO, which would have been a better title.)

Being an intern is interesting, especially at this age when I’ve been working for a good portion of my life, and I’ve been a working professional for this portion of my life. I mean, at some point you don’t think you’re going to be interning ever again, especially for zero pay and college credit. The plus side: intern-teachers aren’t expected to bring coffee and hang out while the important stuff is going on. 

I have to admit, this is one of the more scarier things I’ve done. As I’ve mentioned: I was comfortable. I was able to relax; I had a decent job that paid well, a cool office, people that I worked with were pretty cool... I really could have survived for a long time as a Government Contractor, and not had to even once deal with not having a full time job for five months. But we return to that idea of comfort.

Once again, I’m sort of posting a “signpost” for myself for me to look back upon at the end of my internship in a few months. I always think it’s interesting to look at how you feel when something starts vs. how it ends. Hopefully I’ll have a whole new perspective on things when all of this is over (I feel that if I don’t, I may have failed a little bit..) So, what do I hope to get out my student teaching internship:

  1. The feeling that I made the right decision. Going back to school was a HUGE leap for me. It’s kind of blunt, particularly since I know that a few people have dropped their internships halfway, but I really hope that I making the right choice here. Look, this isn’t dipping your toe into a new career, deciding you don’t like it, then jumping out. This is a HUGE CHANGE that alters everything.
  2. An appreciation of what I’m doing. I think that’s important: To truly appreciate what you do. We all have jobs but do you appreciate it? Is it what you want to do? Or are you just there for a paycheck?
  3. Survival: The next few months are going to be tough. Long hours, classes, research papers. Imagine you’re in high school, and your after school job is more school. That’s what I’m going to be doing. 
  4. A license. This is seriously it, people. This is what I’m going to be doing.
  5. An end to the, “Is that what you want to do?” jokes. Seriously. They’re not funny anymore. I’m not in it for the money. I’m obviously in it for the mad respect I’ll get, especially from the politicians who are constantly commenting on teachers what with their vast education experience. 

I’m hoping for this to be an interesting experience. I don’t use the word “rewarding” because I kind of feel it’s overused. (Like “shaming”.) I mean, the ultimate reward is going to be finishing up. I want this to be interesting. I want this to be eye opening. I want this to go well, so I know that I can do it.

Here we go... 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Trixy Peter Jacksonses...

I recently went to go see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for the second time the other day. For those who don’t know, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, is the second part of Peter Jackson’s prequel trilogy to the Lord of the Rings Series, and a brief lesson on how to do a prequel trilogy that doesn’t involve having to then make changes to the original movies, but shows us plenty of Natalie Portman midriff. (Plus: Dragons with the smooth silky voice of Benedict Cumberbatch, which means you’re going to die, but your last few minutes will be enjoyable.)

Naturally, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are beloved books so any movie done on them are going to be analyzed, over analyzed, then deconstructed to remind everyone that Smaug probably didn’t have Benedict Cumberbatch’s  smooth, silky voice and therefor being burned or eaten by him wasn’t enjoyable. 

To start off this particular post, I’m going to point out that yes: I quite enjoyed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Yes, I’m well aware that they are based after one book, shorter than even the first book of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy that were made into three separate movies about 4 or so hours each. And yes, I’ve gotten into discussions with friends regarding these movies and why are we getting three movies based on one book when we just had three movies based on three books. Is it all a cash grab by Peter Jackson and his film company to sell us tickets? (Probably.) Is it a chance to hear Benedict Cumberbatch’s smooth, silky voice come out of a Dragon for more movies? (I hope so. I’m looking forward to The Hobbit: Smaug Reads the Phone Book.) Or is it the result of Peter Jackson researching J.R.R. Tolkien and realizing that The Hobbit was a cute tale involving a Hobbit finding a magical ring but then realizing that he wanted said ring to be evil, not cute?

Spoiler: The longest one is the answer.

Oh, also spoiler: I’m well aware that the people that made Lord of the Rings made like, a billion dollars, then thought: There were only three of them, how do we make a billion more dollars? Then went to work adapting the Hobbit, so none of them are sad that it was divided into three movies. I’m just trying to point out some stuff.

J.R.R Tolkien wrote the Hobbit and included a brief scene in which the main character, Bilbo, managed to win a magic ring off a creature he didn’t know was another Hobbit named Gollum. Originally the story was cute: Gollum and Bilbo had a riddle contest, then Gollum lost the ring fair and square. Then Gollum takes Bilbo out of the caves so he can go steal the magic stone from the Dragon who ad the time didn’t have Benedict Cumberbatch’s smooth, silky voice.

Yeah, no one really remembers that.

Here’s what they remember: they remember Bilbo being lost in a cave and stealing a magic ring that would turn out to be the evilest ring of all time, and he’d eventually leave to his nephew Frodo to destroy. Gollum didn’t take the loss lightly.

You see, J.R.R. Tolkien was asked to write a sequel to The Hobbit, and rather than another lighthearted romp through Middle Earth involving dwarves, he ended up writing an epic three novel allegory about war and a quest to destroy a magic ring that had the ability to take over all of Middle Earth.

There were two options here. He could leave everything alone and just say, “Whelp, the two stories have different tones.” Or he could go back and George Lucas the whole situation up with CGI Yoda, bigger explosions, and a deleted scene of Han Solo stepping on Jaba’s tail after facing off against the worst bounty hunter in the universe. For those of you saying, “artistic integrity kept the Hobbit pure!” You’re wrong. He totally started re-writing the Hobbit with the intent to make it more Lords of the Rings-ish. He was stopped by an editor who didn’t want the original changed, but Tolkien ensured that the new story of Bilbo getting the ring was added, and the original was just a result of “the ring’s corrupting influence.” 

So, why am I bringing up all of this? Annoyance. Pure, pure annoyance. Or course, once it was revealed that we’d be getting not one but two Hobbit movies with some additions from Tolkien’s original notes, everyone went insane complaining about artistic integrity and cash grab of putting in too much story or bloating what was an original story. Everyone really lost their minds when it was announced we’d be getting THREE Hobbit movies instead of the two. 

The thing is: Peter Jackson wasn’t making just an adaptation of The Hobbit. He was making a prequel to Lord of the Rings, which was Tolkien’s intent, and something very, very, different from the Hobbit

Like it or not, Lord of the Rings now exists in movie form. It did before, but it was a largely shortened animated story that cut out 90% of the plot. So, with LOTR now a giant sweeping epic that graced our movie screens, what was he going to do with the Hobbit, a shorter, smaller story? He could make it, the problem is that giant plot point smack dab in the middle of it: Bilbo finding the magic ring that changes literally everything. Everything.

Also, in all of this, what loyalty does Peter Jackson have to Tolkien? Should he just transcribe the little story of a little Hobbit that goes on to do great things? Or does he make an actual, breathing, physical adaptation prequel that Tolkien wanted?

These aren’t easy questions to answer. I think it comes back to the idea that we’re watching a prequel to the LOTR trilogy, not just a straight adaptation of a book. Keep in mind, the movies pull in facts, scenes, characters, and events leading up to LOTR from other writings of Tolkien’s. So, what we’re watching is more in line than just a bloated cash grab or a chance to make a Ragast the Brown Action figure. 

I enjoyed it. I enjoy these movies, and I think they’re important: They keep things in line with the original artist intent. Too often when trying to slap together the latest movie from the latest bestselling book, the writer’s intent gets a little mixed up in it. Sometimes they keep just the title. Sometimes, they remove something important. For instance: The recent movie adaptation of Catching Fire (Which was awesome) removed a key scene that not only told us a lot about a character, but served as a basis for much of the climax. Part of the cleverness of the author, removed. A major character: buried. 

Now imagine that Peter Jackson removed everything and did a straight adaption of the Hobbit, one that just told the story of a hobbit that finds a ring, robs a smooth talking dragon, and becomes rich. We don’t have what the author intended, which was a prequel to an epic story (even if he intended it in hindsight): now we just have a story which takes away some of the power from the original author.

Just something to think about as you mount up your protest against the “bloated” Hobbit movies by seeing them for the third time. That reminds me: I should go see it for a third time.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Damnit, Darby Conely….

It’s a brand new year. Goodbye, 2013, hello 2014. It’s hard to think that you were 2007 just 7 years ago. 

A lot happens with the changing of the new year. It forces us all to look back and reflect on the things that happened, everything we’ve done, our hopes, dreams and accomplishments, and everyone makes their “best of” lists that include the same seven movies, unless you’re the A.V. Club and you want to “stand out” by saying that crap was good. 

More on my hatred for the A.V. Club is coming up in a future post, kids. Man of Steel, worst movie of the year? Seriously? Worse than Movie 43...

Sorry. Another post. Moving on.

In reality, the changing of December 31st to January 1st is about the same as going from February 28th to March 1st (on non-leap years. I use this mostly because my birthday is in March, and I like presents.) But the calendar flips, just in this case the Calendar-Industrial Complex is forces you to drop another 10 dollars on a Get Fuzzy Calendar like I’m made of Hamiltons or something. It’s all a scam.

Normally, I treat the turning of the calendar from one year to the next with a lot of fanfare. Hats. Drinks. Noisemakers. Those funny glasses with the year in them that made total sense in the 2000’s because the eyes would be “zeroes” but now they just seem awkward by trying to make them fit your face with a number other than “zero” “eight” or “nine.” (I can’t WAIT for 2020.) This year, I sort of treated it a little bit differently. 

Some of it was forced. I had a nasty case of bronchitis and a sinus infection over the holidays, which meant that my head felt like it was going to split unless I coughed, then it was my lungs that felt like they’d split while my head gave up and wanted to explode. Fun imagery. But it made for little fun with the drinking or noise makers, so I spent the day on the couch, watching The World’s End and pondering the New Year.

The thing is, you can’t ignore a New Year, lurking around the corner. The start of the year is when you make all your promises, and the end is when you realize that despite the fact that you have 365 days, you don’t get around to all of them. Not all of it is procrastination, either, but eventually you fill those days with stuff you’re “supposed” to do, getting to the stuff that you “want” to do is difficult. You’re “supposed” to go to school, work, or other things that make life easier for you. 

So, I took a new approach to making my goals this year as I lay on the couch, laughing at the latest antics of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, hopeful that they realize that there are many other types of Ice Cream they an put into movies. I decide that this was the year that I was going to just go for it, and start doing what I want. 

That, on the surface, is a vague goal. But in reality, it isn’t. See, I know what I want to be doing: I want to be teaching, I want to get Mars and Kaplan Save the World Published, I want to lose weight, I want to enjoy finer things... these are all things I have every intention of doing, but they get lost in the: Well, the laundry needs to get done and when I’m done with that I need to finish this book while I’m...

I guess the better idea is that this is the year that I’m not going to let excuses stand in my way. For just about anything.

Too often, we take our goals and we put them in a little box that says, “Someday.”  And the box starts off small. Then it gets bigger, filled with our “Somedays” which is going to be a glorious day, because then that’s when everything is going to happen.

“Someday, I’m going to take that trip to Ireland.” 
“Someday, I’m going to lose weight.” 
“Someday, I’ll get that book published.”
“Someday, I’ll audition for that play.”
“Someday, I’ll be a teacher.” 
“Someday, I’ll work up the nerve to ask her out.” 
“Someday, I’ll finally perfect time travel, then go back in time and give it to myself so I can finish it earlier, but then if I do that then I won’t develop it and it will cause a rift that will destroy all time and space.” 

(Don’t do that last one.)

Look, I’m well aware this is the same stuff that goes around all the time. Carpe Diem! (Which was a classier way of saying YOLO.) But the thing is: It’s good advice. Rather than finding excuses, if we want to live the lives we want to live we need to start taking chances.

I’m well aware that it’s not easy. The easiest thing to do is to stick with that job where you have seniority, return to your house each night in a nice routine. Trust me as someone who has shaken up his routine over the past few months: Routines are nice. They’re safe. They get us from point A to point B, and they require little risk other than what the weather might end up doing which we can’t control. (Yet.) 

That’s what I’m planning for the new year. It’s not just risk taking, it’s going out, realizing what I want, and doing it. It seems so simple, but at the same time, I haven’t really done it for 34 years. I let fear and complacency let me sit on my couch, worried about a million different things. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is... see ya, 2013. Bring on 2014. And my new Get Fuzzy Calendar...