Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Monster of the Week

On Monday, I set the alarm for 8:00am.  I went to bed around 11pm the night before, so it wasn’t unreasonable to think I might be able to get up early.  I didn’t, of course.  At 8am, I picked up my phone and set the alarm back by an hour.  At 9am, I did the same thing.  I ended up finally accepting the inevitable around 10:30.  Considering my unemployment, I don’t see this as a total failure on my part.

But ignoring my insurmountable laziness for a moment, let me mention what happened between 8 and 9am on Monday: I had a dream.  A ridiculous, adventure-filled dream with a fully conceived and executed plot.  I have these a lot.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I write stories all the time, so my subconscious has figured out that the best way to get a message to me is through clear literary devices.

Whatever it is, I like it.  It definitely beats stress dreams about being forced to attend a public high school, which I continued to have throughout high school and college until they evolved into dreams where I had to go back to high school because I hadn’t finished it properly.  And sometimes they were just dreams about not being able to find my campus housing, and through the laws of dream logic, that meant I lost my placement in campus housing, and had to live in various basements or on rooftops.  (I think these were all money-stress dreams.  Originally they were about not being able to afford private school, then, indirectly, not being able to afford a place to live.  Influenced, I’m sure, by an article I read more than four years ago about an NYU student who couldn’t afford housing, so he lived in the college library basement and kept all his belongings in his backpack.  I think the article said he had a sleeping bag too, so I have no idea how he fit everything in there, but maybe he hid the sleeping bag somewhere else?  And maybe since he lived in a library, he didn’t own any books?  So it was just clothes in there?  Anyway, the article ended by saying that someone had figured out what he was doing, and since it was bound to attract attention [maybe that wasn't the article's given reason, but, yeah, alright, I’m cynical,] they gave him a full scholarship.  I think the article was supposed to make you feel Damn Good about how Damn Philanthropic Americans Are, but clearly it just terrified me.  All I could think about was whether or not I would have gotten away with it for as long as he did, which I think was about two months.  Either they clean their libraries during the day, or that kid was living in one filthy place.)

So, my point?  My point is this dream.  It was weird.  Full sound and Technicolor, though that’s not unusual for me.  I’ve heard of people dreaming in black and white, or at least remembering it that way, but I never have.  My dreams are colorful, usually more intensely colorful than I consider everyday life.  In this one, the ground was red.  Very, very red.  And there were yellow trees everywhere.

It starts in the center of some weird, twisting, labyrinthine, German-expressionist painting of a castle.  In the science laboratory at the center.  I’m just kind of hanging out, looking at all the experimental glass shapes, when there’s a kind of explosion, and the ground shakes.  I run to the door, and from there, I can see into this ballroom, where a huge party is going on.  I just sort of know, the way you do in dreams, that the whole town is there, celebrating this woman, the scientist who owns the castle.  (I know, right?  Even my dreams are feminist.  What up.)

Then this guy shows up.  I’m going to call him Jess, because he’s actually a real person from my life but I have no idea if he’d like me to write about him showing up in my dreams.  And I couldn’t be bothered to ask, so I’ll just give him a codename.  Jess.  Anyway, the Jess in my dream bares a far greater resemblance to a movie hero than the Jess in real life.  Partly because he has magical powers.  He can make stuff float.  It’s not really full-on telekinesis, because all they do is float and not really move anywhere, but it’s still cool.  I don’t remember what he floated in the dream, but I know he did it.

Anyway, he has shown up to tell me that there is evil afoot, of course.  And I have to stop it, because I have special powers too.  And mine are more useful and action-oriented than his.  Apparently I can fly and spit out acid-venom.  Like my fucking spittle causes shit to melt.  Yeah, that’s how awesome my action-dreams are.  Way better than the stress-school-homeless dreams, right?

So, we spend a lot of time flying around.  I keep out-flying him accidentally, because since he can just float stuff (including himself, clearly) but he can’t really direct it, I go a lot faster than him.  Which is awesome.  It’s been a while since I’ve had a flying dream, and my flying dreams before have mostly been stuff like flying over Olive and other streets that I actually know in real life, and have no desire to see from an aerial view.  But in this dream, I’m flying over a fucking acid-trip-esque fairyland with crazy gothic castles and yellow trees.  So slightly more interesting than suburbia.

So, yeah, I fly through the trees.  And there are fairies there, although they’re kind of ugly for fairies—just kind of weird-looking, vibrant colors, oddly shaped bodies, not super pleasant to look at.  Anyway, the fairies remind me that I have shit to do, so I can’t just float around.

So I go find Jess again.  And we have to go back into the castle, through some small red tunnels that, even in my subconscious, seriously challenge my claustrophobia.  But then we find this big, dark chamber, kind of circular, which, actually, now that I’m thinking about it, my subconscious definitely stole from Stargate.  Wow.  Even my subconscious is a slacker.

And somehow Jess figures out from the chamber what we have to do, and then the ground shakes again, and suddenly we’re in a tunnel leading outside, and Jess tells me that I’m the only one with the power to stop it, and that he’s going to go back inside to either cause a distraction or die heroically.  Seriously, those are is options.

So I go outside, and I discover this giant spaceship about to take off.  Not to make the situation seem any less serious, or anything, but it looks like something out of Dr. Seuss.  It’s got the traditional spaceship disk-shape at the top, but under that is this large, yellow-and-orange spiral thing that kind of looks like a spring, and kind of moves like one too.

And inside the spaceship, which is open at the top, is the mad scientist woman.  Only now I can see that she’s clearly also a witch and, to top it off, an alien.  Her face is oblong and green, with a sucker thing coming out of the mouth, and her hair is somewhere between Bride of Frankenstein and Queen Elizabeth I (in that one where she’s really bald, so it’s a wig—in fact, the worst wig ever made.)

And then I know, the way you do in dreams, of course, that she made me.  That I woke up in the lab because I was made there, and that somehow, because of that, I’ve helped cause this whole thing to happen.  And, because she made me, I can destroy her.  Because dream logic!  So I fly up overhead and spit acid into her face, and watch it melt away.  Kind of gruesome, but very cartoon-y, so not all that traumatic.

And then all the townspeople come out and applaud, because the ground has stopped shaking.  And I float over them for awhile, glorifying in my triumph.

And, before I can find out if Jess died heroically or not, I wake up.  And then go back to sleep for another hour and a half.  Because who gets up at 9am if they don’t have a job?  Crazy people, that’s who.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Charmed—A Review

So, as an unemployed person who has now sent out a grand total of TWO job applications, I’ve been spending a lot of time on Netflix.  Specifically, I’ve been watching Charmed.  I used to watch it on Sunday nights with Mom, in the very post-Shannen Doherty days, but I never bothered to put much effort into it before.  I was quite biased against it, you see.  I have long been a devotee of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I rather felt that shows like Charmed gave Buffy a bad name—shows that were frivolous and girly-girly, shows that used magic as a prop instead of a metaphor.  I was, and still am, convinced that Buffy was the greatest show of all time, and that Charmed was one of the reasons it was not universally recognized as such—people saw a show about vampires and magic and thought it would be, at best, campy, and at worst, stupid.

I still don’t think I was wrong, but I was probably wrong to blame Charmed.  People believe what they believe, and always have.  Charmed is no more to blame than Twilight—it may not have been quite as serious as Buffy, but it certainly had nothing to do with the vast majority of people dismissing it without a second glance.  Most likely, people who thought shows about magic were unworthy of consideration as serious fare avoided Charmed as well as Buffy.

That being said, Charmed was not perfect.  It was no Buffy.  Like every single show on air today, it had one fatal flaw: it was not written by Joss Whedon.  Alas, the shows that have fallen into such disgrace—untouched by his terrible genius, most have been found wanting, even disastrous (by a jury of mainly me, and probably everyone who still goes on that forum Whedonverse.)  A select few shows have managed to rise above this stunning handicap—Doctor Who, Veronica Mars, Star Trek.  Of course, the first two (Doctor Who in its current incarnation, that is) have openly admitted to Whedon influences.  Star Trek, of course, was robbed even of influence, owing to an unfortunate time-space-continuum issue (chronologically existing in the pre-Buffy era, that is.)

Still, despite not-being-Buffy, Charmed had a thing.  It was pretty damn entertaining and, really, what else can you ask for?  Plus, it did have one thing that Buffy often did not—the end of each episode tended to leave the viewer with a feeling of hope, instead of soul-crushing despair and torment.

So, in that same spirit of hope-not-crushing-despair, I offer up a review of two episodes: “Out of Sight” (season 1) and “She’s a Man, Baby, a Man” (season 2.)

Let’s begin with “Out of Sight.”

In this episode, the Halliwell sisters attend a party for a heretofore unseen friend’s young son, also known as this episode’s stock Kid in Distress.  The girls are sitting at a table, having one of their what-else-but-men chats.  Piper (the MAD cute one) is, once again, trying to date Someone Other than Leo, which of course means that they all end up discussing Leo.  Prue, as she is want to do, asserts that “men are different from women.”  Based on what I have seen of the show so far, this is one half of her two-part philosophy, the other half of which is “Being a witch is super hard.”  Phoebe indirectly suggests that not all men are evil, or at least that Leo might not be, and exchanges a look of barely contained sizzling passion with Piper, while Prue stares on in disbelief.

So much sexual tension for a family-friendly show.

Meanwhile, the Kid in Distress, David, is playing a ball game (called Squish the Squash, which I can only assume is the Cute Kid-ism of the episode.)  He chases the ball into some trees and, lured by the sound of a mewling kitten, tosses it back to his friends and runs deeper into the trees.  Because pre-testosterone, boys are allowed to love cute things.

Anyway, Prue runs after him in a vain attempt to make the audience believe the day will be saved long before the credits roll.  Unfortunately, the day is ruined by Prue’s overwhelming incompetence (remember, being a witch is SUPER hard.)

Although she gets there on time, and, in fact, appears to succeed momentarily, she gets flustered and loses it.

Prue exhibits ridiculous incompetence.

Apparently, she was so stunned by the awesomeness of her powers (the previous 18 episodes having not fully convinced her of their awesomeness yet) that she just…sort of…stopped using them.

Thereby allowing Voldemort to continue his pedophilic exploits for another day.

Anyway, then something way more important than the abduction of a child occurs: a reporter sees Prue using her powers!  And not just any reporter either: he happens to be the most cartoonishly evil reporter of all time.  Actually, he is a pretty accurate depiction of how I imagine Every Tabloid Reporter Ever.  Except, inexplicably, the episode seems to suggest he works for a legit news organization.  Rupert Murdoch in training, maybe?

Anyway, while Prue is dealing with the horrors of the print media (seeing as, in the ’90s, people still read things, including newspapers,) Phoebe meets with a guy who was abducted in the same way a few decades ago—an episode which left him blind.  Apparently, Voldemort the Child Abductor is actually a demon who is not only completely uninterested in molesting his abductees, but is also ACTUALLY interested in stealing their eyesight to see people’s auras.  This allows him to kill a well-dressed black man, which I must assume means that the Voldemort-looking demons are racist as well.  Not that I’m surprised.

So, to cut a 45-minute story short…the Halliwells work to save an abducted child whilst also avoiding the Reporter from Hell (whom, seriously, they could easily sue for harassment, but apparently witches just have no patience for working with law enforcement.)  They end up scouring the sewers for the demons, who, being far more helpful than your average demon, manage to kill the obnoxious reporter before succumbing to hissing-acid-death themselves.  Oh, but, downside—Andy the Cop/Prue’s former love interest now knows about magic and stuff.  And then Prue says “Do I have to use my power on you?” to get him to leave, and, honestly, if my opinion of her could have fallen any lower, this would have done it.

Then Voldemort pops in again, and Prue, determined to make me hate her, DROPS THE FREAKING POTION MEANT TO KILL IT.  Fortunately, she isn’t alone this time, so her being terrible at magic and HOLDING STUFF doesn’t get them all killed.  Phoebe hits Voldemort over the head with a pipe, thereby illustrating with her own awesomeness exactly how terrible Prue is, and allowing Prue to magic up the spilled potion into the not-really-a-pedophile-demon’s face.  BOOM, done.  Everybody continues to pretend that Prue’s extreme sucking didn’t just put this kid into a lifetime of therapy, and all the demons’ victims get their eyesight back.  Including the guy Phoebe met earlier, but he turns out to be kind of bald and gap-toothed, and so not nearly handsome enough to be a love interest for her.

And the ladies get on with their incredibly attractive lives.

Mainly these two.  My hatred of Prue prevents me from seeing her as attractive.

And this post has run on far too long, so look for my review of the other episode, “She’s a Man, Baby,” in the near future.

And in closing:

I think the best thing I have discovered about Charmed since I began wasting countless hours watching it has really been Piper.  That is to say the incredible, unstoppable cuteness of Piper.  I mean, just look at that face.

Cuteness incarnate, right there.  Even her name evokes cuteness, man.  Ridiculous.  Like, Willow levels of cute, but without the Willow levels of naiveté.  Ridiculous.

So, join me next time, for more pictures of Piper's cuteness, in "She's a Man, Baby, a Man."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Prologues—First Post

So, this is my first blog post.  That is to say, it is not my first blog post ever, but it is my first blog post here.  I had a blog once before.  I think I wrote it in twice; I was not terribly interested in blogging at the time.  Before that, I had a LiveJournal.  I did write in that one a number of times, but for some reason I only told maybe three people about it, ostensibly so that it could be more honest and journal-like, all about my considerable angst and interpersonal drama.  I was somewhere between 14 and 16 at the time, so it was all angst and drama.  And homework.  So, so much homework.
But, like the first blog after it, I eventually abandoned the LiveJournal.  I suppose I got tired of whining on it, or I got overwhelmed by how pointless the reading of it was.  It was basically a journal that (maybe) three other people read.  So yeah, I eventually forgot about it.

And yet here I am again.  Why, you ask?  And by you, I mean me, over and over and over again while I thought about what to write in the proverbial first post.  Why should I waste my time doing writing I won’t get paid for?  When I could be, you know, looking for a job, or a way to move out of my parents’ houses?  Honestly?  I think I need a place for a little self-reflection.  And I finally came up with a name for it that didn’t make me want to punch myself in the face.

It’s not the greatest name in the world, I’m sure.  But I am monumentally terrible at titles, so when this one popped into my head, cheesy as it is, I was ecstatic.  Of course, it happened to pop into my head while I was showering for the first time in three days, so it is entirely possible that the whole “ecstatic” thing was more about the oil draining from my scalp.  Who knows.  But point is, I’m really bad at titling things, and this one is sort of okay, so this one it is.

Also, to give credit where it’s due, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time reading other people’s blogs lately, and that credit is due here:  Kate as of Late and Beth’s Take.

So I think I’ve rounded up all the first-post topics and it’s about time to pack it in.  Let me end with this:

All day, it has been raining a miserable, gross, humid, porous, summer-rain, the kind that does not wash the world clean so much as it steams the world’s windows up.  It has been raining this rain and it plans to rain it some more later on, and yet the neighbors have turned their sprinkler on in the back yard.  It is not an automatic sprinkler.  I watched Mr. Neighbor walk out in his shorts and oddly hairless bulging belly and place it there.  Perhaps they are in fact campaigning to destroy their grass through drowning, as some revenge against their five absurdly aggressive dogs.  I do not know.  One of the mysteries of the universe, I guess.