Trollin’

Yesterday was the historic day where I received my first hate comment. I’m so proud of the internet for being the pinnacle of originality.

I thought I’d take this as a sign to talk about actually being a female and putting something on public display.  It’s not easy to play games, be an artist, or write a blog and be female. Our mere existence seems to be a problem.  We’re called out and the message is always either “fuck you” or “fuck me.” The wonderful people at Fat, Ugly, or Slutty show this difficulty in the gaming world. Unfounded hostility happens more often than it should. Because traditionally male dominated fields are being used by everybody, they like to belittle anyone else on the gender spectrum. Not all men are like this, but men are the ones who bully most often.  Women do, too, and it’s mostly in an effort to put down other women so that the bully is seen as “one of the guys” and gets an Honorary Man badge. This needs to stop because it just hurts everyone.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about this lovely waste of memory space.  I know that it’s the internet and shit happens, so I’m not taking it too personally. I’m just going to chalk it up to that individual being jealous I completed the Pokedex and he/she didn’t. I’ve seen braver cuccos. I’m just sorry they didn’t have the guts to leave a real name or email address so I could ask for constructive criticism.  I could even help them with correcting their grammar and fleshing out ideas! Wins all around.

I’m just trying to nip this in the bud.  I’m glad this is only my first taste of this nonsense, and it’s given me an opportunity to speak out. It happens to everyone, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it.  I came across a video today that sums up my feelings on the subject.

Ill Doctrine: All These Sexist Gamer Dudes Are Some Shook Ones from ANIMALNewYork.com on Vimeo.

I know that bringing this up is probably going to bring a lot more nastiness. Bring it on, man. I know I’m not the best, but I’m ever improving. I’m not about to let some anonymous jerk stop me.

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Unpopular opinion

Let’s talk about The Avengers. I know this is late beyond reason to still be relevant, but I’ve never been known to be timely.  I enjoyed the movie.  That’s what I can say about it. My mind wasn’t blown, I only saw it once, and it was perfectly enjoyable.  I’m a little bothered by the kind of pedestal people are putting it on.  The plot was pretty standard and the way the characters developed wasn’t shocking or new.  Even the “shocking” death was expected. If Whedon’s name is on it, you take bets with your friends which player bites the dust.  And since Whedon likes impaling people, that wasn’t too much to guess either.

Maybe I’m bitter, but this movie shouldn’t have been considered super impressive.  I’m glad that it was entertaining and not a horrible let-down, but just because it wasn’t a horrible let down doesn’t mean it deserves all the noise.  It’s a superhero movie. One Spandexed man tried to take a MacGuffin/BDO/whatever from another Spandexed man and it will go back and forth between the parties until the one in the most primary colours has it for keeps or destroys it.  The colour bit isn’t as true with Batman, but otherwise is pretty faithful.  I was hoping for a bit more deviation from that story line since it received such high praise.  The team dynamic was nice, but then the arguments and cheap shots they all took at each other when shoved in the same room seemed silly. No, they wouldn’t all have agreed, but they could have acted like adults a bit more readily.  And though the building of camaraderie were thorough for a movie, the two tiny suggestions that after years and years of losing control The Hulk can now identify friends and enemies seems insulting.

Like I said, I found it entertaining and I might see it again, but for such high praise it should have been able to live up to it a bit better.  I know I should suspend beliefs for a few things, and I did, but it becomes silly after a while.  There were far more interesting things they could have done with it.  They would introduce things and then forget they existed. Like Thor supercharging Iron Man’s suit. Why did they never use that to their advantage? What a waste. To a lesser extent, Black Widow being Russian was almost completely abandoned except for her introduction and a few times where they say “Since she’s Russian…” Casting someone who could at least pretend they were Russian for more than 15 minutes would have been a vast improvement.  I know that I’m asking too much of Hollywood  to be clever and have a cast that does more than serve as a fantasy aid.  I’d love to start reading comics, but this movie didn’t contribute to that desire at all.

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Museum pieces

I like to buy shit I don’t need, or will even use. Some people will at least attempt to use the Death Star cake pan they bought, but a lot of the time it goes unused.  A lot of people collect junk for no particular reason.  But buying something with no intention of using it seems silly.  I just picked up a copy of the Two Virgins album John and Yoko put out in 1968.  It’s strange and experimental and I’ll never listen to it because of Yoko’s howling.  The record is in impeccable condition and I wonder if the original owner bought it and kept it the way I plan to.  It’s just something I needed to have because of the bizarre history of the record.

And obsession.  Obsession forces people to do crazy things and buy stuff that will never see the light of day. Everyone does it, but the realm of geeks almost seems to value things that were hidden underground in a waterproof and airtight container over things that people actually enjoyed.  Mint condition becomes more than just a description.  Some of it is about resale value, even though most people won’t sell their collections.  It’s a point of pride, I suppose, that everyone deals with.  We all want whatever others have to some degree.  Mint figurines and used props that must never be handled out of fear of devaluing it, also because what the hell would I use the little colored food cubes from Star Trek: TOS for (assuming they weren’t actually edible, I really don’t know)? They would sit there. I wouldn’t mime my favorite cafeteria scenes.  Do I need them? God no. Would I like them? It would be a cool little thing for a collection.

Buying stuff that you know you’ll never use really is pretty dumb.  If it’s not about preservation, it’s about the sheer fact of owning something.  You know what? I don’t care. What do you think museums are doing? They keep things that they will never use or sometimes even show for the sake of keeping it precious.  We all just keep our own little museums.  Imagine the fun, though, if we could go to the Art Institute and try out the weaponry they hold or sit in the chairs that aren’t meant to be sat on! Okay, sitting isn’t that much fun, but I’ll be damned if everyone who has seen some funky chair that they couldn’t sit on be compelled to try them out asap.  We may not be able to do that, but we can take things out of boxes.  Stuff that you want just because you want it, go for it. Don’t worry about how silly it is. Stuff that you like and is super cool but you think needs to be kept pristine, just rock out with it.  When I was a kid I had all the Sailor Moon dolls and stuff. I played with them a lot.  I’m sure if I kept them in their boxes they would be worth quite a bit, but then I wouldn’t have fun memories of playing with dolls that were meant to be played with.  I’m sure there is one thing that everyone wants to open but are afraid to because of the rarity.  I’m in the camp of “if you aren’t going to sell it, enjoy it.” As The Doctor said, “What’s the point of being an adult if you can’t be childish sometimes?”

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Non-traditional geekery: Seeing older movies in old theaters

The theater that is closest to me is actually an old theater that plays one movie a week a few weeks after being released on the cheap.  The best thing, though, is that they’ve been playing old movies so they can buy a digital projector.  This has been the best thing for someone who goes to the movies as infrequently as I do.  Since I’ve known that they did this, I’ve seen The Blues Brothers and Jurassic Park for the first time ever on the big screen. I’m going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark this weekend, though not for the first time ever.

As I mentioned, I hate going to movies.  I hate sitting with a room full of strangers that are all trying not to fidget, or being obnoxious as possible, and paying to do so.  The seating is rarely comfortable and I like to be curled up in a blanket cocoon when I watch movies.  It’s not that I’m a poor movie-goer.  I hardly even laugh and rather smile quietly to myself (which drives people nuts because they can’t tell if I like something), much less talk.  I just don’t enjoy the whole scene.

Except when I’m going to The Patio.  I love it there.  They are a lovely place to visit.  If you get bored, you can watch the stars on the ceiling twinkle and the “clouds” pass lazily.  The inside is so ornate and fun to look at.  The best thing is that most of the movies they show are the more geeky ones that have been coming out.  They try to vary it, but it’s a little geek-leaning.  I’m not fortunate enough to go out and see all the movies, but I’ve been making sure not to miss their special flicks.  Ever since I missed not one, but two, opportunities to see Back to the Future in theaters I’ve been paying close attention to what The Patio shows special once a month.

I know that this kind of reads like one, big ad, but I also know that maybe one person who sees this might actually live close enough to go there.  This is more of some encouragement to see if you have some small theater that runs old movies.  I never would have noticed The Patio if they hasn’t been out of business for so long. After ten to fifteen years of being under “renivatio”, as the sign read, you notice when the lights are on.  So, go see what potentially geeky movies are playing around you. I can’t wait for the day when they run a Star Wars flick from the original 35mm.

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The Pirates! Band of Misfits was as much fun as expected

So, after the wonderful talk that I attended described here, I went to go see The Pirates! Band of Misfits opening weekend.  This would have been up sooner, but graduation got in the way.  Anyway, I went to go see the movie and it absolutely lived up to my expectations.  I don’t want to go into a summary because I’d hate to spoil anything, but there were a few things that really stuck out for me. Here they are minus the big spoiler-y things that I liked.

The attention to details

the-pirates-band-of-misfits

found here

The sets were phenomenal.  Everything is so detailed and I bet if I went frame by frame there would still be little jokes that I wouldn’t see.  The talk with Lord should have clued me in, especially since he said something along the lines of “There are so many things that were included but no one will see because of the tiny details and actual filming.” I can’t remember it exactly, but that’s the core of it.  It didn’t hit me until I was watching the whole movie that I will need to see it countless times to get all the little references in the background.   Seriously. Look at all of that! There is no way to get into all of that in one go.

Tennant playing Darwin

Honestly, I knew David Tennant had a voice in the film, but I had no idea who he was playing.  All I ever heard was that he was a meek sort of character.  I was pleased as punch when he first appeared and was Charles Darwin of all people.  I absolutely saw some movements that were purely Tennant’s, and I’m glad that they actually used him for the animation of the character.  Honestly, the way they played it was so wonderful.  Plus, hearing The Doctor acting squeamish around pirates was pretty enjoyable.  The other voice acting was fabulous, too, but this got me because of the initial  surprise and Tennant’s career.

The inclusion of a Flight of the Conchords song

I’m not the biggest fan FotC, but I do adore them.  It did take a nudge from my constant companion for me to realize the song playing was in fact “I’m Not Crying”, but man was I filled with glee when it happened.  I was grinning like a mad fool at the saddest moment of the movie because of the brilliant song choice.  This song convinced me that the nerd gods were smiling on this movie. How else could you explain a movie that Aardman made about pirates and scientists featuring the voices of David Tennant (The Doctor, Hamlet, Barty Crouch Jr.), Martin Freeman (Bilbo, Dr. Watson, Arthur Dent), Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge), and Brendan Gleeson (“Mad Eye” Moody)?  Not to mention there are a few other ties to both Doctor Who and Harry Potter, but in the interest of length I won’t get into the one-off episode appearances.  These are just the main nerd roles for these actors, all of whom have talented careers outside of geekery.  Anyway, all of those people would be enough of a combination, but add on the musical talents of Flight of the Conchords and there is magic to be had.

There are so many wonderful things about this movie that are sweeping.  The animation is top notch, the humour is varied and all very good, and the story is fun to watch unfold.  See it if you like British humour, and maybe rent it if it isn’t quite your cup of tea.  There is something in it for everyone, but enjoying British humour even a little will carry a long way.

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Will Arnett being serious is unnerving

Way back in March I saw my first Studio Ghibli Film.  I’ve seen bits and pieces of some movies, but nothing with any sort of context or for longer than 20 minutes.  I seem to have a bad habit of this, but let us move on for now.  I want to make it perfectly clear that I really dislike going to theaters.  I like to yell at the screen and be comfy and warm without a group of strangers wishing they could be doing the same thing.  The Significant Otter loves going to the movies and is usually good about going without me, but this time was different.  We agreed together that we should go see The Secret World of  Arrietty as long as it was showing at the theaters.  The problem with going to see a kids movie is that the audience is usually full of, well, kids.  They weren’t as bad as I was expecting, but all the fiddly whispers in the beginning were really quite distracting.

The story was perfectly lovely and the animation was stunning, but what I really adored was Carol Burnett as the old woman antagonist.  Seriously, I’ve loved her for a long time and she performed in a truly spectacular way.  I could just imagine what the recording booth sessions were like with her. She’s either screaming or eerily whispering her lines most of the time.  Must have been intense.  Will Arnett and Amy Poehler are other notable voices.  They were very good, too.  The thing that struck me most was Arnett being dead serious.  It’s absolutely him, but there is no comedic lilt and it’s really bizarre.  I kept waiting for something zany and crazy to happen, if only for a brief scene, but it never came and it bugged the crap out of me.  Poehler’s voice lent to serious animation less obtrusively, but both were very good at what they did.  If I couldn’t place the voice to a previous role, it would have been smooth sailing.

While this was a pretty good movie, I’m sure the rest of the Ghibli portfolio is far more impressive.  I really should make time to see more than just 15 minutes of a movie and not search it out again.  Seriously, one clip of the Catbus seen over 12 years ago doesn’t count for anything.  As this is fixed, hopefully, it will be documented.

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Aardman awesomeness

While my college of choice has its issues and is going through a bunch of crap, there manages to be some awesome things going on. One of these was a talk with Peter Lord  from Aardman Animation. Not only was it awesome, but it was a field trip for class so class time was spent listening to Peter Lord.  Holy christ is that fantastic!  The only thing is I will be paraphrasing because I couldn’t take audio and this happened a few days ago. I promise all the paraphrasing matches the sentiment as closely as I can remember.

There were only about 50 people in attendance, and it was in one of the theater-style classrooms.  He started by saying that this hadn’t been rehearsed and it was new to him as well so it should be educational on both sides. Of course, 5 minutes later he was talking about being able to recite the entire movie. Seeing as he’s been working on it for 5 years, I can’t say I blame him.  It’s just funny that he said there was no rehearsal and proceeded to recite lines. He has a magnificent sense of humour and I was sad that I was the only one chuckling at some of his remarks.  He’s very witty and I think it was lost on the artists that were focused on procedure as opposed to the experience.  He brought clips of the new The Pirates: Band of Misfits movie and a number of making-of clips.  If I didn’t want to see it before, I’d definitely want to see it now.  I think the person Peter Lord was lost on the audience because everyone else was figuring out how it was done.   That’s a serious shame.  His stories are so wonderful that I could listen to him all day and not ask one question about puppetry.

Anyway, there were audio issues when he tried to play sound clips. The background played fine, but the voice wouldn’t play. It was weird and pretty embarrassing. While they fiddled on the computer trying to solve the audio riddle (Macs are better my arse), Lord  told anecdotes about what it was like working with a few of the actors.  Apparently, Hugh Grant is one of the most British men on the face of the Earth.  When asked to scream as if falling from a cliff he managed an “ahhhhhh” until they insisted he put some gut in it and eventually produced a satisfying “AAAHHHHHHRRHHHHHHH!!!!” He would never yell lines that were designed to be yelled the first time around and it was like pulling teeth because he was so polite about everything.  I am clearly in the wrong country, not that I’m super polite but I kind of adore that approach to things.  With all the brazen, obnoxious yelling that Americans do, I could use absurd politeness followed by  stinging wit.

He also talked briefly about David Tennant and how he was in the studio.  Apparently, Tennant is not only animated on screen, but also when just reading lines.  He moved as an actor would for a camera within the confines of the recording booth.  According to Lord, they used some of his expressions and movements for the basis of the character’s animation. I always knew David Tennant was more or less a living cartoon, but I wasn’t sure how far it went.  Apparently, it’s almost literal.

There were a number of clips that allowed us to see the whole process and marvel at the little details that go on. It’s no wonder the project took 5 years.  With all the awesomeness that was the talk, the best part was seeing the puppets.  They had brought in the Pirate Captain, the monkey (that is actually a chimp, but we’ll let that go), and the dodo bird.  There was also a box of mouths meant to show the little things changes that are created to make fluid speech.  And a skeleton of a puppet that was pretty freaky and I wouldn’t want to run into it in a dark alley lest it be a relative of The Terminator. Behold!

I know about the crap quality. What do you expect for a pay-as-you-go phone? Trust me, the puppets were far more impressive in person and I geeked out pretty hard.

Sorry this one was a little shaky because of all the people nudging their phones to grab a shot as well.  I just wanted to show all the stuff.  That pile of metal becomes an adorable claymation puppet. The box is where the mouths are housed and there is a storage room full of them. Rows and rows of boxes of mouths. Crazy. I was going to see if I could grab a quick chat with Peter Lord as I left, but some other girl had already snagged him and was wildly recounting some story or another.  I’m sure she was actually into puppetry or movie-making, but I really think a five minute chat with me would have been more of a relief because I’m sure he’s sick of questions about process and hearing people go on about their own “original” ideas.  I’d tell him that puppets are cool and that I wish more people had his sense of humour. I’m sure the girl trying to weedle her way into his contact list got more out of it than I would have. Frankly, I can’t blame her because Peter Lord is a hell of a guy and I really wish I had a proper chance to tell him that.

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