Thursday, January 30, 2014

Not Interested

So this post is just going to be a bit of rant to burn off some frustration. Why am I feeling frustrated? Well, I realize that there's no way this is ever going to be resolved to my satisfaction but I really wish companies would stop trying to sell me things that I'm simply not interested in. Yeah, I know most people hate ads when they aren't being aired during the Superbowl. But I'm not necessarily opposed to ads. I get that advertising is an important factor in companies getting you to buy things. I'm fine with having an ad in front of the youtube videos I watch (unless the video is under 5 minutes long but that's another matter) or ads during the shows I watch (as long as they aren't excessive) or ads along the side of the websites I'm browsing reminding me of that necklace I was looking at on etsy a few days ago.

My issue is that the majority of the ads I see are for things that do not interest me and that I would never consider buying and I feel like they are polluting my brain. There is something the character of Sherlock on Elementary (for the few episodes I tried to convince myself that I could watch Elementary) said that has stuck with me. Whether or not it's actually true, I feel like my brain is a sponge and that sponge can only hold so much information. These ads which are often thrown at me repeatedly throughout the day are clutter, extra water soaking into that sponge that doesn't need to be there. Sure go ahead and try to sell me yogurt even if I haven't eaten yogurt in years. Give it your best shot and try and sell me on a kindle even though I'm one of those grumpy antiquities who loves the smell and feel of good, old-fashioned books. Track the sites I'm going to and remind me of the play I want to go see or the skirt I was thinking of buying. I can deal with those ads.

What annoys me to no end is the ads that are not at all relevant to my life. I don't even have a driver's license. Why would I need auto insurance? I have an alcohol intolerance and there's no way you can flavor, color, or otherwise dress up your brand to change that. Stop trying to sell me medication for erectile dysfunction when I clearly don't... you get the picture. Now I realize it's quite self-centered to want ads tailored to my life and my interests. Though I do partially blame companies like hulu that claim to be tailoring ads to your preferences. It isn't so much that I want them to be selling things to me. I'd be happier to not see any ads at all. But I wish the ads that had nothing to do with my life or interests were a little less pervasive and relentless. At the point where I've memorized every beat of your commercial and slogan even though I have no intention of ever, EVER buying your product, I feel like we both need to reevaluate how we're spending our time. Why are you spending money on advertisements that are reaching the wrong audience and why am I going places where I keep encountering these terrible ads? It makes me want to turn from tolerating these ads to living in an ad free bubble of Netflix and selective internet use which really isn't the kind of feeling you want to inspire in consumers especially since these companies are often part of larger corporations. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lizzie Borden Took An Ax

Today I watched Lizzie Borden Took An Ax which I recorded last night when it premiered on Lifetime. I'm sure they'll be re-airing it soon. By the way, welcome to this blog. I'm not sure how you found it but now that you're here, I might as well tell you what I thought about this movie. There will absolutely be spoilers about the movie. That's your warning. Stop reading if you do not want to read spoilers about Lizzie Borden Took An Axe.

Still here? Good.

So I've heard some complaints about the anachronistic music used in the film but I had no problem with it. If I had been watching a BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre or even something like Lost in Austen, then yes, the anachronistic music might have bothered me. But Lizzie Borden Took An Ax didn't feel like a period drama. It felt like a Lifetime movie. And I don't mean that in a disparaging way. Aside from a little of the craziness, I thought it was a movie that should have felt familiar to anyone who has seen a lot of Lifetime original movies, particularly the ones of the troubled teen or family drama variety... not the romance novel adaptations or romantic comedies. Though the romantic comedies are more of a Hallmark and ABC Family kind of thing. What were we talking about again? Oh, right, Lizzie Borden. I felt like the film was hitting all the same beats of those troubled teen movies in the way it depicted her relationship with her family, the stealing and shoplifting, and the party she attended so the anachronistic music did not bother me. And I'd much rather hear something that sounded a bit like the Black Keys instead of plinky plinky instrumental music or that awful screechy soundtrack they occasionally played during the film. Though I did find the music awfully loud in comparison to the dialogue in this film. The sound levels were off.

I thought Christina Ricci did a fantastic job carrying the film. Why isn't she in more movies? The last thing I saw her in was Penelope which was really a waste of her abilities. She had the perfect blend of subtlety and camp for this movie. The way they portrayed Lizzie Borden, which left no doubts about her guilt, was smart because it allowed her to play the movie as an actress. It's Christina Ricci. She's recognizable. Of course she's not going to completely disappear into the role. But because we as the audience know that Lizzie is guilty (it's even there in the choice of a title) we're watching her "act" to avoid suspicion and later conviction. I thought she played all those little moments beautifully from the moment when she discovers the body and screams for the benefit of the maid to the interrogation scenes.

Also, props to Marilyn Vance for the costumes. I wish there was some way Victorian fashions and tailoring could come back into style. I loved so many of the outfits she designed, particularly for Lizzie but also for the other characters. Someone put together a slideshow, please.

I liked the way they mashed the film up with a police procedural/legal drama. Of course, I may be biased because I watch a ton of police procedurals and legal dramas but I enjoyed that element of the movie. I do think both the investigation and the courtroom proceedings seemed a little advanced for the time but that isn't part of my background so it's possible that it was completely historically accurate.

Like Flowers in the Attic, I think the movie shied away from the "weirdness" a little too much but because it at least wasn't as big of a part of the story as it was in FITA it worked better in this film. There were a lot of implied plot elements in this film that were never fully explored. The film implied some kind of dysfunctional relationship with her father, kleptomania, insanity, narcissism and a fascination with celebrity (in a Roxie Hart/Chicago fashion), and lesbianism without ever really exploring those topics or fully embracing them.

Gender was also handled in any interesting way in the film. I don't know if I was hyper-aware of it because it's one of the lenses I use to analyze works of art or because it was a movie airing on Lifetime whose former motto/tagline "Television for Women" still sticks with me. Regardless, I was aware of it. I wish it had been a braver film that really explored the topics it only touched on. To some extent I'm grateful they didn't go too camp on the manipulative/insane woman thing. The restraint exercised there was one of the films strengths. It was a nice dynamic to have the prosecutor who was convinced she could have committed the crime in spite of just being a woman in contrast with almost everyone else in the film who was convinced that she was innocent because of her gender and perceived respectability. And of course Lizzie and the defense attorney played into that to help her case. The lies her sister told on the stand seemed to not only be the standard attempt by the defense to paint the defendant as a "good person" but lies that specifically played into a story about female identity at that time; moral, religious, uncomplicated, unemotional, obedient, etc. I was also very aware of the fact that Lizzie interacted with a lot of women (her sister, the maid, her friends) but all of the authority figures were men. Now, it isn't rare in today's media to have a skewed gender ratio but it was striking to have an all white male jury, male judges, a male prosecutor, a male defense attorney, male detectives and investigators, a male coroner, and even a male pharmacist who was questioned about the poison. I felt like the film had more to say about gender in the way it talked about her ambitions and her desire to reach her full potential but it never really went there, stopping at her simply being mercenary and wanting to enjoy life and throw parties.

Well, those are my thoughts on the film.

Friday, January 24, 2014

On Not Finishing Books

I have gotten into the habit of not finishing books. And being OK with it.

I don't know when it happens but you get to a point in your life when you just think "I'm not enjoying this book and it's not worth my time to finish it. I only have so many years on earth. I don't owe anything to this author. I'm putting this book down." Now, I'm more inclined to force myself to finish a book if it's a book I own or it's an easy read even if I'm not enjoying it. But whether it's library books or books that I've actually purchased, I've reached the point where I just stop reading when I'm not enjoying what I'm reading. It's a better use of my time to go find a book I do enjoy than to have another book in my list of books that I didn't enjoy. I thought I'd make a list of some of the books I've left unfinished which I may or may not return to in the future.

One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell
I think I bought this on sale somewhere because I had watched a few episodes of Sex and the City and wanted to see what her writing was like. I don't think I even read a full chapter. It was awful.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
I found myself getting very bored with this novel. I just couldn't connect to the characters. I do like some Austen. I've read Northanger Abbey and Persuasion and I didn't have a problem with those novels. Maybe it was the dispersed focus on so many characters that threw me off with Sense and Sensibility but I was reading this book in very small increments and it never hooked me. I do own it so I'll probably force myself to try again one of these days.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I think I got 100 pages into this one. I know it's the one everyone loves and the one that gets adapted all the time but I was just so bored. I hated all the characters and they were so poorly defined. I suppose I was expecting Lizzie Bennett to be this fierce, witty feminist the way she tends to be portrayed in the adaptations but the character I was reading about was so lifeless. She was critical of everyone and didn't have very many redeeming qualities. The one time she picked up a book (in those 100 pages) she was only pretending to read. Why was I supposed to like her? I expected Darcy to be the proud, condescending hero of the Laurence Olivier/Colin Firth variety but he was also bland and badly defined. I was starting to come around to him towards the end of those first 100 pages but the most I knew about was still that he was tall and handsome. Seriously? I will go back to this one if only so I can add it to my conversation topics.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway is just not my kind of writer. I think I got 1/3 of the way into the book before I just gave up. It was a book I was always reading on the subway or in transit. I will probably try and go back to it.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
I was actually kind of enjoying this novel but I stopped with 100 pages to go and I never got back to it.

So many romance novels...
I get a lot of my romance novels from the library and purchase the book after I've already read it and decided that I liked it. When I'm busy, or just not in the mood to read like a normal person, I will skip around. It's kind of like ruining a mystery by jumping around a figuring out who the killer is before you go back and read the novel from the beginning but it's my process. 

Flowers in the Attic and Lifetime Movies

I was going to write a post on how I'm incredibly wasteful when it comes to water but I didn't think I could drag that out beyond a paragraph and my stomach is in knots after ingesting a bit of raw egg this morning. Just in case you were wondering, I would like to state for the record that I did not cook this fried egg which turned out to be raw. It was served to me. Anyway, back to Flowers in the Attic.

I can't remember if they used to show the old movie on HBO (back when I had HBO) or if it was on a regular cable channel but I remember catching snippets of it when I was in high school or middle school. I don't think I ever saw the whole movie but I did read the wikipedia entries for all of the books in the series which was basically all of the background I had going into this new Lifetime movie. I checked Flowers in the Attic out of the library once but as I've said, I have learned to stop reading books I'm not interested in. I think that was during a period when I would put books on hold at the library and then get 10 at a time because I don't remember even reading a chapter of that book. I probably didn't read a full chapter. I probably looked at my pile of Salem witchtrials historical fiction, feminist young adult fairytale retellings, and romance novels (given my knowledge of the kind of things I was reading at that time) and chose to read another book instead of this salacious novel I was mildly curious about.

So, back to the Lifetime movie. I have a real gift for getting off topic. I found it quite boring. Like the version of The Sound of Music on NBC, no one cares what I think because it did great in the ratings so as far as I know, they're moving ahead with a sequel. On the one hand, I think they could have used more time to develop the story and the characters. On the other hand, they kind of wasted the time they had and I don't think I could have sat through a television series or a miniseries if that was going to be the level of acting and dialogue through the whole thing. The script was kind of painful. As I've said, I haven't read the book so I don't know if the dialogue was lifted straight from the book but it was heavy on the exposition and awkwardness. Yet instead of playing into the feeling that "there is clearly something wrong with people who talk like this" with camp and crazy eyes, the actors seemed determined to be as naturalistic and flat as humanly possible. There were very few moments with genuine emotion, or even some emotion in the entire film. I thought the grandmother did the best job. Cathy had a handful of moments because the amount of time she spent on screen demanded that she show emotion at least once or twice but she seemed determined to talk in this flat monotone without any inflection for most of the time and to not show any emotional reactions to accompany the words coming out of her mouth. While I dislike what I call "play" acting which feels very artificial outside of any other medium than a play, I found myself missing the style of acting of Joan Crawford or Katharine Hepburn and many of their contemporaries. There used to be a crop of actresses who were so captivating to watch because of all their little microexpressions. It was as if they were acting every single line of dialogue. And yes, occasionally there were crazy eyes.

It wasn't an awful movie. I've certainly seen movies that were worse, especially TV movies from Lifetime or ABCFamily or Fox Family or whatever it used to be called. But it just felt so flat. At least there was some nice singing in The Sound of Music even if the production had some issues. But with Flowers in the Attic, it was a struggle to find something interesting. The movie was not filmed in an interesting way. There were boring tracking shots and things that probably could have been filmed in a more compelling way. The acting was flat. It might have helped if Cathy had been just a touch more expressive in the beginning so at least there was some development for her becoming the shut off narrator. Instead, she was just an automaton who could not process human emotion except in these occasional moments when she mimicked what she'd seen real people do. And Heather Graham really should have committed to the crazy. She came the closest in the scene after the party but it would have been nice to see her really go for it. She always felt restrained. She was restrained in the weird moment at the kitchen table where they talked about mothers. She was restrained in the part of the flighty and vapid but seemingly loving mother. And she was restrained when she finally had to play crazy, greedy, and manipulative. With Cathy and Corinne falling so flat it left nothing for you to hang onto in a film that rushed through the plot at such a breakneck speed that there were no emotional stakes and it was like someone reading you the wikipedia entry for two hours.

So, anyway, Lifetime has made a Lizzie Borden movie with Christina Ricci. I've set the DVR to record it but I don't really have the nerves for horror so I may not make it through unless it's campy enough to not be frightening. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Where I've Been

Hello,

Yes, I know I've been absent for the last few days. I've haven't been feeling very well so I took a short break. I'm sure you were all missing the riveting omelette posts. I can't say for certain if I'll be able to keep up with posting every day but I'll do my best to not abandon this blog for months or years... which is something I may or may not have done with other projects.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Most Talkative: Corrections

I picked up Andy Cohen's book, Most Talkative, during a recent Barnes and Noble clearance sale. It was an enjoyable read that helped to remind me that I could just enjoy reading a book without worrying about analyzing it or tearing it apart. Yes, it's a worthwhile endeavor to think critically about what you read but there's a difference between a book that you enjoy talking about and a book that you just enjoy. And in the past few years I've lost touch with just reading for pleasure.

Perhaps I'll write a book review someday. There's not much to say. I enjoyed the book but there wasn't a lot to critique. It's a breezy read that you can finish in a day. There's some natural warmth and humor when he isn't trying too hard to make jokes and it's a good read, though it falls off towards the end.

But that is not what this post is. This post is me putting my editor hat on and pointing out the errors I saw. Now, I don't know if this book was reprinted and if my clearance edition is an older version, but if not, these corrections are something to keep in mind for the next edition. I didn't really start paying attention to the errors until my attention starting wandering towards the end of the book so there may be other spelling and grammatical errors elsewhere in Most Talkative.

1. page 196 
Original sentence: "Plus, we had at trick up our sleeves that we didn't even realize was there at first."
Correction: "Plus, we had a trick up our sleeves that we didn't even realize was there at first."

2. page 219 
Original sentence: "Danielle, your ex-husband says you were married to a big Colombian cocaine dealer, were a paid escort, were a raging nymphomaniac, had a bob job, had an eyebrow lift, and are a pathological liar. Comments?"
Correction: "Danielle, your ex-husband says you were married to a big Colombian cocaine dealer, were a paid escort, were a raging nymphomaniac, had a boob job, had an eyebrow lift, and are a pathological liar. Comments?"

Now, this second correction is part of a section taken from audience questions so it's possible that they copied the sentence as it was written.

3. page 249 
Original sentence: "The story really starts my senior in college, on Academy Awards night -the gay Super Bowl."
Correction: "The story really starts my senior year of college, on Academy Awards night -the gay Super Bowl."
Correction: "The story really starts in my senior year of college, on Academy Awards night -the gay Super Bowl."

Thursday, January 16, 2014

To Reply or Ignore

Today's post is a bit random. Yes, I know most of the posts are a bit random. This is what you get when I try and write something every day regardless of whether I'm inspired or not. I've been trying out online dating for a few months now and I've learned quite a bit from the experience. But I won't go into that now.

No, today I want to focus on one small part of the experience, deciding how to reject someone you aren't interested in. Sometimes you're in a bit of a drought and more willing to consider someone you might not ordinarily give the time of day and sometimes you're willing to be more choosy. I've come to the conclusion that it's not fair to either party to give someone a chance when you really don't see even the slightest glimmer of a future. If you can't imagine even going on more than one date with someone it's not worth your time and it's not fair to waste theirs. As for how to reject their advances, I would say that it depends on the person. If someone takes the time to write me a message, as I do with all the comments and reviews I get on my writing, I try and take the time to respond. If they've just used some feature of the site that requires a minimum effort, I might just ignore the message, unless they send more and I'm forced to put an end to it. Things are difficult enough as they are with all of the false starts and contrasting motivations. I think the least we can do is try and be courteous when we can.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Your Failure Is Not My Success

This is not a new idea but it's one that I confronted today. Someone else's failure is not my success. Now, yes, sometimes someone else's failure can be to your benefit. If you're taking a class graded on a curve, you want others to do poorly to boost your own grades. And even in classes that aren't graded on a curve, you are in competition with your fellow students. If you're applying for a job, someone's poor interview improves your chances of getting the job if your interview goes well. But someone else failing doesn't really make you any better. If you've failed a test and someone else fails a test then well, you've both failed. It could be that it was a badly designed test or the professor didn't do a good job of teaching the material but at the end of the day, you haven't succeeded because of someone else's failure. You still have to deal with your failure. And you still have everything in your life that you have to deal with. It might bring you a momentary bit of joy to know that someone has failed at something after criticizing your failure but at the end of the day, it doesn't erase your failure.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I Made Another Omelette Today

I made another omelette today. I think my omelette skills are improving. I'm sorry this post is terrible. I'll try and work on something better for tomorrow.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Golden Globes Recap?

This is not so much a recap as whatever thoughts I can remember after however many hours of watching the E! red carpet coverage followed by the ceremony. I could have written a real recap but that would have required taking notes and as you know, no one is paying me for this.

Best Dressed: I think I've been following the coverage of these red carpets and runways for too many years because so many of the dresses felt familiar. It was either the same dress with a new addition, the same dress in a different color, or a dress with similar elements to another dress. It's gotten to the point where canary yellow no longer feels special.

Zooey Deschanel: I fell in love with this outfit the moment I saw it. It was so refreshing to see an outfit that felt new and interesting. Yes, there's usually a light pink/gold gown with a bit of sparkle that feels youthful and feminine but I think this look still managed to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack. I don't love the crop top with her figure and the full skirt and I'm not sold on the length of the skirt but otherwise, I loved this outfit. I'm a sucker for embellishment and this dress was a dream up close.
Kaley Cuoco: It took me a few moments to decide whether I really liked this gown. The shape was gorgeous... the fabric debatable. But eventually I got into it. I loved that she took a chance on an unconventional dark floral. I think it might be polarizing like the blue floral dress Lucy Liu wore to an awards show last year but I loved it.
Mila Kunis: She chose her color palette and ran with it. It was a lesson in how to do monochromatic right. It doesn't even require a description. Perfection.
Elisabeth Moss: Although it was a "wow" dress it did feel a bit like dresses we've seen in the past. Usually an older actress will wear an embellished dress like this when she's just attending or going as one of the presenters. Still, it was a bold choice to go dark like this and I think it ended up being one of the better winner's outfits. For some reason, actresses will wear fantastic dresses when they lose or they're just attending the ceremony and end up in a terrible dress when they actually win.
Juliana Margulies: I usually hate whatever Juliana Margulies has chosen to wear but this year I thought she made a solid choice. I never got a great look at this dress but I think the gold print was meant to be coral or branches. The fit was perfect.
Tatiana Maslany: 1920's Grecian gunmetal gown.
Zosia Mamet: I loved the print on her dress. Not sure about the placement but it was visually interesting. She can be hit or miss but I appreciate that she takes chances.
Drew Barrymore: Her dress just made me so happy.

I thought Tina and Amy did alright as hosts this year. I'm never really scandalized by any of the jokes so I can't say if any of them were all that racy. The opening monologue felt like a Weekend Update segment. Some of the jokes were great and some were just alright. The George Clooney and Matt Damon jokes stand out.

Nothing all that interesting happened during the ceremony. I never try to predict the winners because the HFPA are crazy. The speeches were boring as always. It took forever for people to get up to the stage. They need to hire a better event coordinator next time. The presenters' banter was just as dull, though that bit with Melissa McCarthy and Jimmy Fallon was particularly bad.

Tina and Amy seemed to disappear for much of the ceremony only to return with what felt like a bad SNL skit with the Mr. Golden Globes thing.

The tribute to Woody Allen felt odd. I was sure he wouldn't show up. And he didn't. And Diane Keaton's praise of his female characters felt off for a lot of reasons. For me, what stood out was the lack of diversity in the female characters he's chosen to portray.

Frozen lost for Best Song to U2 which was just... awful. They obviously then won for Best Animated Film with The Wind Rises pushed to the Foreign Film category. It felt like an odd decision to move The Wind Rises to Foreign Film only to have it lose to the film from Italy. It was a bit of a Beauty and the Beast situation. Animation doesn't get a lot of respect in Hollywood, but allowing them to play in the big leagues but then not giving them an award seems like the wrong approach to making the animation industry feel like you respect their work.

There are a lot of films that have gotten buzz this year, 12 Years A Slave, Her, American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club, Fruitvale Station, The Butler, etc. but it was strange that 12 Years A Slave only took best picture while American Hustle and Dallas Buyers Club got most of the recognition during the night. The Golden Globes are unpredictable though so it'll be interesting to see what happens during the Oscars.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Today I Made an Omelette

Today I made an omelette. Today when I made this omelette, the smoke detector didn't go off. Progress! I used two eggs and probably more butter than I should have. My whisking still needs a bit more work as there were still some white splotches in the middle of my omelette. My flipping skills need a lot more work as my attempts to flip the omelette were quite clumsy. I did eventually get it done but I'll need more practice before I can graduate from omelettes to crepes. So far, I don't seem to have given myself food poisoning so that's something. So, yes, today I made an omelette.

Is this poetry or did you just read nine sentences of a diary entry on an omelette? It's a mystery. If you have any complaints, remember, no one is paying me for this.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Candles

So... candles. Yeah, clearly I couldn't think of a topic for today but I'm recommitting to the blogging every day thing so here we go. Candles. When did we all collectively decide that candles were cool again? Strike that. Were candles ever cool to begin with? When did we decide that candles were cool? As I'm typing this I'm surrounded by nine candles. These nine candles are not even my entire candle collection. I have a few more in my room. Now, I don't have all these candles because I'm some kind of candle fanatic but because I have problems with impulse purchases. Some are from Bath and Body Works, some are from Tocca, and some are from Nest.

I think they smell lovely but I've only ever burned two of them and that was because there was a blackout after Hurricane Sandy and we had no light in downtown New York City. Which is when I learned that these Bath and Bath Works candles really don't generate much light. Where in the hell I am going with this? I don't know.

I feel like I should start wrapping up this bit of nonsense because you're probably tired of reading me ramble on about candles. I can't really think of anything insightful to say to make it seem like I had a point when I started this post. So... bye!

Friday, January 10, 2014

I Know That I Am Not a Good Person

Yes, four days into starting this blog, I've already failed at meeting my goal of blogging at least once a day. But that isn't the reason for the title of this post. It's simply a fact of my life that I am not naturally a good person. I suppose if I'd chosen a different major in college I could refer to specific philosophers right now but it seems trite to fall back on high school history so I'll leave such Enlightenment luminaries as Hobbes and Locke in peace.

I've always considered myself self-aware and for a very long time I've known that I am not a good person. Now by that I do not mean to suggest that I am some kind of horrible monster. As to my day-to-day impact on the world, I probably exert more of a neutral force than anything overly positive or negative. But though I try and conceal it in my interactions with others, I don't consider myself to be a good person.

I'm not an expert, but I'm fairly sure that I'm not a sociopath. Sociopaths probably don't cry at Disney movies. Though I'm only guessing at that as, to my knowledge, I've never met a sociopath, unless of course I am one. However, I do find myself quite selfish and self-involved and while I can allow myself to care about others, it doesn't really come naturally to me. I have to actively try to be engaged in a lot of (but not all) conversations and there's no one in my life that I care very deeply for (this includes familial relationships, friendships, and romantic relationships). I do cry at the drop of a hat though, so perhaps in my inability to conceive of widespread human suffering I have simply developed very strong defense mechanisms and a strong sense of apathy.

There are of course other ways for me to rationalize or excuse or explain these tendencies. I am an only child and I have not spent that much time forming relationships with people. I have always lived in a two-parent household and I've gone to school and interacted with people on a regular basis but that doesn't mean I've formed particularly strong bonds. Most of my family does not live near us so I've never had that sense of a large, warm, and loving family though I do have plenty of extended family. And as I've rarely interacted with people my own age outside of school or school activities I've always seen my peers as more acquaintances than friends. It sounds cold and perhaps a little self-pitying to think of things this way but I prefer to think of it as an objective view on the subject. I do occasionally feel lonely but in general I don't lament my lack of close relationships with people. It is a bit of a concern though.

Now I'm not exactly complacent about my self-diagnosis. Just because I don't think I'm naturally a good person it doesn't mean that I do not try to be a better person. I am trying to cultivate more of a charitable, altruistic spirit. I police my thoughts constantly in an attempt to be less hateful, judgmental, and negative. And I am trying to build stronger relationships with the people in my life. But I am hyper aware of all of my flaws. I have a tendency to try and take advantage of people if I can and although I police my thoughts, the rate of negative thoughts probably hasn't decreased that much. Still, I am trying.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Immediate Thoughts on Frozen

So I'm just back from seeing Frozen and I want to get out my immediate thoughts before I forget them all which is happening rapidly so I'm typing as quickly as I can. I was in seeing-a-movie-with-my-best-friend-mode and not semi-professional-movie-critic-mode so I wasn't taking notes or trying to think about the movie very critically. I just wanted to get lost in it. Also, there is no way I'm editing this post though I may take the time to write a proper review in the future.

1) Opening 
I wasn't in love with the opening of the film as the choral music in the opening credits kind of threw me off and I started to wonder if they were playing a preview for that other animated film they have with a female protagonist coming down the line. Yes, I know I'm being vague. Also, I did not love the "men at work" vibe. I think it still positions the audience with the male characters. It reminded me a lot of the opening of The Little Mermaid and a little of the opening of Pocahontas though the opening of Pocahontas had female characters. Also, it creates some confusion about who the star of the movie is as like The Little Mermaid opening featured Eric first, the Frozen opening took the time to introduce us to Christoph first. Come to think of it, the Tangled opening also introduces us to Flynn first as he serves as the narrator. Why is it so important for us to connect with the male perspective first in one of the few films that feature female protagonists?

2) Anna
I actually really liked Anna. I thought they found a nice balance between making her a little spunky and modern without just turning her into a minority feisty who happened to be the protagonist. She built on the foundation of Rapunzel (as well as the other Disney heroines before her) in a way that felt more realistic and she didn't have the false spunk of a lot of Dreamworks characters. She was capable and eager to try things but she wasn't too capable. That is, she helped Christoph fend off the wolves (which felt like a nod to Beauty and the Beast) and tried to climb the mountain but she didn't suddenly display amazing martial arts skills for no good reason (Fiona in Shrek).

3) Voice Work
Speaking of Anna, I think a large part of why I liked her was the choice of Kristen Bell as her voice actress. I thought she did a fantastic job with the songs and I greatly preferred her to Mandy Moore. I never watched Veronica Mars, but I thought she brought a nice attitude to the part that made her a believable character without making her too modern. It's not like she started spouting Juno-style slang but she felt very real and her awkwardness and excitability felt genuine and understandable given the plot. I did have some problems with the voice work as I though Santino Fontano (Prince Hans) sounded too much like Jonathan Groff (Christoph) during both the speaking and singing parts though once I did hear Jonathan Groff sing I could tell the difference. Groff has more of a natural warmth to his voice. I was worried about Idina Menzel as Elsa and I kind of still have mixed feelings about her casting. On the one hand, she rocked the songs and it felt a lot like Wicked so I loved that. On the other hand, while I thought her voice work was fine, and I enjoyed the singing, during the singing portions it did not seem like her voice was coming out of Elsa's body. I think part of this is because I know what Idina Menzel looks like and she looks nothing like Elsa but I also think that maybe her singing voice was too mature for a character Elsa's age.

3) Contemporary Musical Theater Songs
I'm also a bit conflicted about the music. I enjoyed all the songs but they were definitely "contemporary musical theater songs." They were very wordy and sometimes the lyrics... weren't my favorite. They didn't have the natural elegance of those old fashioned 50's-60's musicals where the lyrics sound bland when you just read them out loud but I felt like they were restrained by the subject from really being that biting or dark or witty. I did enjoy the songs more than the songs in Tangled and The Princess and the Frog but it does feel like they're turning away from the Alan Menken/Howard Ashman style musical and the music was almost too modern for the visual style. "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" reminded me a lot of the musical version of Shrek, particularly with the way it aged the character of Anna as "I Know It's Today" did with Princess Fiona in Shrek. I don't listen to as much contemporary musical theater but I'm sure those who are more in the know could make more references.

4) Visual Style
As for the visual style, I was pleasantly surprised and very impressed. At first I thought it looked a bit too much like Tangled and like Pixar. It reminded me a little of Pixar's One Man Band short mixed with Shrek mixed with Tangled. But as the film went on I fell in love with it. I saw some early stills and concept art and I think I saw a trailer or two and I was worried the film would look very flat but I think they actually did a marvelous job with all the snow and ice. The snow monster and some other things could have been a little better but I thought they really pushed themselves in this film, as opposed to Tangled. The movie just sparkled and I was impressed with how creative they were in building the world of Frozen. And I'm glad they kept those visuals hidden because it was fantastic to experience them for the first time in the theaters.

5) Homage and Imitation
You can make the argument that a lot things in the movie feel like they're recycled from other movies and you can also make the argument that a lot of things in the movie are intentional homages. I've already made a note of some of them. For me, Disney films are always in conversation with other Disney films so I decided to take most of the similarities as homages instead of imitation. Feel free to disagree with me.

6) Gender
OK, this is way too complicated to cover in a quick post after only seeing the movie once but in general, I thought they did a good job. I was worried at first because of the opening and the way they handled the initial incident that set up Elsa's powers. I would have to rewatch it, but there was definitely a lot of the king taking charge and doing most of the talking and basically playing the hero. However, I thought young Elsa and young Anna were adorable. As I said, I thought Anna was a well-realized female character. Yes, she dreamed of finding true love but that was after being rejected by her sister and I think she would have been equally happy to just have someone to talk to. But female characters usually don't sing songs about how they wish they had female friends. More's the pity. I thought they did a really nice job with Hans. It felt like a Princess and the Frog approach to rewriting the Disney formula instead of a Tangled approach to rewriting the Disney formula. I don't want to ruin it for you but I thought it was a nice way of playing on the tropes and addressing the issues people have with Disney princess movies instead of just an attempt to make modern, quirky characters. I loved where they ended up. Though, I'm sure I've seen it in a movie before. First of all, fairy tale/romance is kind of my favorite genre and second of all, it's not a new idea. But I thought they handled it really well. I wasn't as in love with the development of the Christoph/Anna romance. While I get what they were going for, I think it could have used a bit more development and at the end, I didn't believe they were truly in love yet so I liked where they ended it. Again, it felt like they were aware of the problematic gender stuff in other movies and I was grateful for the consideration. Oh, and I also appreciated the way gender was never a factor in whether Anna or Elsa were considered capable. Each time it could have been, the writer neatly sidestepped the issue. Hans said he didn't want Anna to go off on her own because it was dangerous. Christoph didn't want Anna to help with the wolves because he questioned her judgment after getting engaged after knowing for someone for a day. No one ever questioned whether a woman was capable of running the kingdom and there was nothing in the plot about her needing to find a husband. Instead, the only issue was Elsa's powers. It's a subtle distinction but an important one.

7) Trolls
And this is part of the reason why I had issues with the Christoph/Anna romance. Freaking rock trolls. I haven't decided whether or not I think they're a step up from the Vikings in Tangled. I know Tangled calls them something else but they're pretty much Vikings so deal with it. It felt kind of cheap. I mean, the animated chia pets looked cute, don't get me wrong, but I think there's a right way and a wrong way to handle your comic relief/goofy characters and this was not the right way. We already had Sven and Olaf who were adorable. I did not need the rock trolls. They could have just been the magic characters. They didn't need their own dorky matchmaking song. It felt like the female dwarves in Happily Ever After (1990) mixed with the Upendi number in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride mixed with a lot of other devices in animated films that I've seen that could have been handled better. Freaking rock trolls. But it'll probably sell toys, so whatever.

OK, I think that's all for now. As I said I might eventually write a full, formal review if I get the chance after seeing the movie again but I'm not making any promises because as I've noted, I'm really bad at finishing projects. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dust

Dust is a horrifying and disturbing thing for many reasons. I think it's made up of dead skin cells and crushed insect legs but that could very well be a lie.

Anyway, it's not important as that isn't the main reason why I hate dust. The main reason why I hate dust is because I hate cleaning. I am not someone who cleans on a regular basis or who is good at just generally keeping things tidy.

One day I will simply realize that I can't find anything in my closet and in my frustration I will dump all of my clothes onto my bed and slowly reorganize my closet. Or maybe I'll see that the cardboard boxes I'm using to store my things have started to overflow with all the junk I've accumulated or simply begin to fall apart or collect weird oils and I will be forced to get new boxes and reorganize the things that used to be stored in the old boxes. Oddly enough, I am actually pretty good at these tasks. I just hate doing them. But enough about that. Back to the reason I hate dust.

Dust is this evil thing that gathers on objects without warning. I have no idea where it comes from and I can't be bothered to look it up even though I'm writing this on my blog and thus I obviously have access to the internet. Because it accumulates without warning, one day I will simply be looking up at my ceiling fan or looking over at my neatly organized nail polish collection and realize that the object I am looking at is covered in a layer of dust. And sometimes there is a quick fix. I can wipe down the ceiling fan with a wet cloth or dust my bookshelf. But sometimes dust accumulates on my nail polish collection or my makeup brushes and it is both horrifying and frustrating because it's quite disgusting and I have no idea how to get it off without cleaning each bottle of nail polish or makeup brush and then reorganizing everything which takes up time I could be spending doing a lot of other things that don't involve removing dust from objects that should really not be collecting dust while every second that passes I creep closer and closer to death. Which reminds me... seeing dust on the things in my room makes me feel like I've become this Miss Havisham-like creature of decay. And momentarily convinces me that I'm a hoarder. And then I get this horrible feeling that things are crawling over me and I end up cleaning or taking a shower.

If you're wondering why I just wrote this rambling, nonsensical piece on dust, you should remind yourself that you just read this rambling, nonsensical piece on dust and also that no one is paying me for this

Welcome

I have decided that I need my own little corner of the internet where I can be me and say all of the nonsensical things in my head without worrying about whether it's "good" or "entertaining" or fits the mission statement of my blog. I don't know exactly what this is going to be yet but it will be a thing and hopefully I'll manage to maintain it and update regularly, in spite of my unfortunate habit of leaving projects unfinished, as I am currently unemployed and have nothing better to do. Well, obviously there are better ways I could be spending my time but equally as obviously I am not doing any of those things because I am currently writing this.

Oh, yes. Welcome to this blog. And if you have any complaints, remember, no one is paying me for this.