Thursday, September 27, 2012

Things I Learned From Doctor Who, Part 1

So, I just started watching Doctor Who. After previously trying to watch from the beginning of the reboot (Ninth Doctor, series one, episode one)  and failing to become enraptured, I gave up. However, I have a lot of friends who watch it, so I decided to give it one last shot, only this time starting from the first episode of the Eleventh Doctor.

And I was sucked in. So, corresponding to the episodes (in series five, with a few deviations backwards to learn some extra background things) in which I learned these things, here is what I have learned from Doctor Who.

1. Sometimes Netflix cannot handle the awesomeness that is the Doctor. One of my Doctor Who- loving friends was over when I decided to watch this episode, and she decided to stay with me while I watched it. She warned me that it was an awesome episode, but slightly terrifying. I didn't watch large swaths of it (Well, I watched the TV, but over my glasses, which essentially amounts to not seeing it at all) and when the music stopped, I had my face hidden COMPLETELY in my hands. I refused to look when I was told to, but eventually acquiesced. The screen was showing an error message.

2. Space Whales ROCK That's pretty much my only contribution to this episode. I want a space whale plushie or something. Surely they exist.

3. Daleks are really cool-looking and not scary at all.

4. River Song is SO INCREDIBLY AWESOME. Both of my parents came in a different points in this episode, and both of them sat down to watch awhile with me once they realized that Alex Kingston was in it. (My parents were ER freaks, back in the day.)

5.  Weeping Angels are more psychologically scary than REALLY scary. I kept psyching myself out, but they really aren't scary.

6. Helen McCrory looks an awful lot like Madeleine Stowe. 

7. Rory is kind of awesome. He's the most boring of the three main characters, but he has some kind of weird awesomeness.

8. I hate violent people. I hate people who resort to violence. I completely agree with the Doctor's policy of nonviolence.

9. No spoilers, but I'm so sad. This is so depressing.Those cracks are so cool. I love how Doctor Who loops things into a cohesive overall plot while still making it stand alone.

10 (series 3) Carey Mulligan looks an awful lot like Larisa Oleynik (who played Bianca in 10 Things I Hate About You). Also, I love complicated time-travel-y things.

10. Suicide makes me so incredibly sad. This marks the first episode over which I've cried, though I doubt it will be the last.

11. I love the Doctor's head bump thing. It's like bumping two iPhones together to exchange contact information.

12. River's hallucinogenic lipstick is so convenient and awesome.

13. I freaking love Rory. Can I have one of him when I grow up?

Hopefully this is a series of lists that will return as I make my way up to the current season of Doctor Who, and back through all of the old seasons. (Well, as many as are available on NEtflix, through friends, and at the local library.)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Five Things I Should Already Know, But Don't

1.How to properly manage my time. Basically this boils down to prioritising. I know 
logically what I should be doing (my math homework) instead of what I am doing 
(reading or messing about online) but I can't seem to make myself do the right 
thing. All it does is cause me more pain in the long run. Have I learned this 
over the nearly thirteen years I've been in school? Logically, yes. 
Realistically, no. 

2. How to focus and tune out distractions. My school gave all the students their 
own laptop computers this year, and although it seems like a fantastic tool (according 
to administrators) it has been a pain in the ass for my teachers to navigate. It's an 
endless source of distraction for me, even when I just have my book website up. 
Yes, I am distracted that easily! I get distracted STARING at my screensaver. 
3.  How to be nice. Isn't this something everyone's supposed to learn in kindergarten?
Obviously I was absent that day or something, because I have a major meanness
problem. Most of the time, I'm mean whenI'm attempting to be funny. (Note to self: 
stop trying to be funny.)  I just don't know where to draw the line. This inability to judge
how polite my statements are is wreaking havoc in my friend group and in my relationships
with my family members.  
4. How to understand when someone is kidding. Closely related to my "being mean 
instead of funny" problem. I seriously cannot take a joke. If someone tries to kid with
me, I usually end up blankly and awkwardly staring at them until one of us looks away.
Also, I laugh at things that aren't meant to be funny, and don't laugh at anything my supposedly
"hilarious" friend says. 

5. How to do something I don't want to do. (Especially in a timely manner.) I waffled 
over whether or not this should be lumped in with numbers 1 and 2, but I ultimately decided
that this is a totally separate issue. If I don't want to do something, I don't do it. It doesn't matter
 if it's a homework assignment or practicing a cello piece for composition, if I don't want to do it,
 it doesn't get done. My mom constantly tells me that it is this fault that is my fatal one. She says 
that I'll never survive in the real world if I only do what I want to do. My argument back is that all 
I have to do is figure out my own intrinsic motivation in order to do unwanted things. But I know 
that that is pretty close to being a lost cause. The sooner I figure this one out, the better.
I'm almost eighteen, and I still have a lot of life ahead of me in which to
learn these things. But at the same time, it's very frustrating that I don't 
already know them. I'm hoping that by admitting to myself that I have
a problem, I'm on my way to solving it.  

ETA: This formatting is KILLING me. Does anyone have any advice on how to fix it?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An Essay on the Hunger Games Trilogy

I'll start out with my most inflammatory statement: I hate the Hunger Games Trilogy. Well, okay, not the trilogy, but the people who love it so much that they've read all three books a million times and already know the movie by heart.

Now, I truly truly enjoyed both The Hunger Games and Mocckingjay, (Catching Fire, not so much,) but I can't reread them now. They changed my life, for which I am grateful, but they also left deep scars.

I first picked up The Hunger Games in October 2008, at my local library. Earlier that year (like in March? I think) I had read and loved Suzanne Collins's Gregor the Overlander series. So when I saw the words "Suzanne Collins" on a book in the YA section, I literally ran across the entire library and grabbed it off its prominent location on the face-out display shelf. (I might have looked a little like Gollum. But I was thirteen!) I tore through the book in about a day, I don't remember exactly how long.

I loved it. I loved Katniss, even though I could never have done most of the things she did. I loved Prim and Rue and Peeta. I admired Suzanne's vivid writing. (But secretly, I longed for giant bats to appear.) I loved that book from the first line to the last. "Dreading the moment I would have to let go," I remember thinking. "What a terrific ending! That is the best standalone I've read in SO LONG!"

And then my eyes drifted further down the page. END OF BOOK ONE, it proclaimed.

I was heartbroken. Now I knew that Suzanne was going to break my heart over a totally new set of characters. I'd already cried over Rue, and I knew what kind of body count was coming based on the back flap ("effect of war on children") and Code of Claw. (Note to other fans of the Underland Chronicles: It took me two and a half years to get over the ending to CoC. It was ROUGH.)

However, I loved the book, and I was going to read all three books, no matter how heartwrenching they were.

Fast-forward almost two years. I've changed from a sheltered eighth-grader into a tenth-grader with a year of public high school under her belt. My reading tastes had changed drastically, but The Hunger Games still held a special spot in my heart. I was so angry that Mockingjay was going to be released after we returned to school, and that I would have to wait an entire school day to get home and read it after a trip to the store.

Mockingjay broke my heart and turned me into a conscientious objector. Through it, I realized the horrors of war, and the uncertainty of life after. I cried for almost two straight days after reading it. (Maybe it's Mockingjay that started my downward spiral that year? I never thought of that angle...)

I have still never reread any of the books since.

However, I still went to the midnight opening of the movie. I watched it, and was horrified by it. I think the filmmakers did a terrific job of making the movie a warning about, instead of a glorification of, violence. My classmates did not see it this way. They all still think the movie was amazing, that it wasn't disturbing at all. They do not understand why Mockingjay horrified me.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's okay to love the Hunger Games Trilogy. It is okay to watch the movie, as long as you understand its real message. It is not okay to treat it as a glorification of violence. It is not okay to treat it as a trivial piece of literature. It is not okay to be blind as to why some people would rather not read it. 

And finally, it is not okay to be Team anything in terms of this book. It was not made for that, and to proclaim yourself Team Peeta or Team Gale is to demean the impact of this brave, brave work.

I raise my glass to you, Suzanne Collins, and I WILL read whatever you write in the future. I'm just not guaranteeing that I'll reread it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Trying to Find My Blogging Style

Some people -- some wonderfully blessed people -- are full of good ideas.
 They're the first person you go to when spitballing for an event, when trying
 to come up with a good essay hook, when you have no idea what to buy for
 your new closet. My sister is one of these people (when she's in a good mood).

I, however, am not really one of these lucky few. I am so much better at
adapting existing ideas than I am creating new ones. (This, I think, is my main
failing when trying to finish a story.)

When it comes to blogging, this problem of mine is why I don't post as often as
I'd like. I would love to be the kind of blogger whose every post isn't about
why she sucks at blogging, but that appears to be what I'm doing. I try to come
up with clever little stories, but they usually end up falling flat. I've tried
imitating the other bloggers I follow, but that format obviously isn't working
for me. I have to figure out my own way of blogging, but it needs to be a way that doesn't just
consist of a post every three weeks labelled with the tag "why I sometimes suck
at blogging".

I had this weird learning curve when I joined twitter last year, too. For a
while, I tried overly hard to be witty and retweetable. That made being on
twitter not too much fun. (Also, it meant I didn't have a lot of followers or people who would talk to me.) When I stopped trying to be Maureen Johnson, and just
started being me, twitter became more fun for me. It also meant I started
posting a lot... Which, depending on who you ask, may not be a good thing. But
more posts here WOULD be a good thing, right?

Let's hope.

ETA: Sorry for the wonky formatting. Not sure why that happened...?