Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fandom Identification

I promised that I would do a post on fandom identification due to the nature of my survey and a lot of thoughts I've been having about it. After looking over this blog and seeing what I discuss and what I don't, it's sort of a complicated matter. Why do I consider myself part of some fandoms and not others? Why do I feel comfortable interacting in some but not others? Why is it some days I definitely consider myself a member but at other times the stars just aren't in alignment?

http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ly4ie7hlSP1r2qgn1.gif
This is complicated, of course. But I need to back it up to the idea of being a fangirl/boy/squee - just a fan in general - before answering my own questions. There's a sort of science and magic involved in becoming a fan. For instance, I really like watching soccer, hockey, and baseball, but I hardly consider myself a fan of them. I like the show Parks and Recreation but I'm don't not a fan. However, I am definitely a Sherlock fan, no questions asked. I love the characters, I love the plots, I love the dialogue, I love the actors. I love the show and feel compelled to engage with it - and so I label myself as a fan. There's a level of self-acceptance, of conscious recognition in becoming a fan/fangirl/et al. that I think allows for different levels of appreciation and interaction with texts. I had the opportunity last semester to tell someone what a fangirl was when discussing my senior project because she'd never heard the term before. Not everyone is familiar with this form of identification and it's interesting to consider those who label themselves fans vs. just casually liking something vs. not caring vs. those who are in some fandoms but not others. It gets even more complicated if you want to throw haters into the mix. But when one does accept being a fan, there's a multitude of different ways this plays out.

http://theraggedyconsultingdetective.tumblr.com
Culture (and often Tumblr, albeit in jest) likes to assume that fangirls cry all the time and scream at the very mention of their favorite celebrities (hyperbole but rooted in some bit of truth), that fanboys are nerdy awkward virgins (again, hyperbole), that fans are escapists who have no grasp on reality (because we apparently all live in the Matrix). Like most stereotypes, there are tiny bits of truth within these perceptions, but to say that all fans are like this, everywhere at all times, is an outright lie. Culture tends to get a bit carried away by these assumptions (see the gif above for a visual representation of such effects). Being a fan is a complicated matter and, in my experiences, not at all consistent over time or in all venues. I openly fangirl about Sherlock and The Avengers, am secretly a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, finally accepted my deep love for Lord of the Rings and Shakespeare, and am a fan of Misters Cumberbatch and Hiddleston but feel detached from the fandoms. With your indulgence, I'd like to talk through these aspects of my fanning personality and try to answer the series of questions I lambasted you with at the beginning.

Let's start with the Sherlock fandom, because that's one I've been seeing a lot of dislike for this fandom online this month. It more or less started with this post coming across my dash:


Having had mostly positive experiences with the Sherlock fandom, I was interested by this. Sure, the fandom can be kind of strange at times, with their perchance for photoshopping things, creating bizarre gifs, and just the general take-over of text posts, but I can't say I'd really felt ashamed of the fandom overall.

Then, coinciding the news that the U.K. was working to legalize gay marriage, a whole flood of posts about Johnlock shipping appeared. Some fans, perhaps jesting, perhaps being serious, started talking about how when gay marriage was legalized, Johnlock could be canon. This led to a huge rise out of people, stating that the Sherlock fandom was making light of a serious issue and just using it to their fandom's advantage. And that's when I started seeing a lot more posts like this:


http://geothebio.tumblr.com/post/42998802089/lyonsheart-artalias-jesus-fucking-christ#notes

Keep in mind that I am a Johnlock shipper (I like both the platonic and romantic way of shipping it) but... this does make me ashamed. How does just wanting Sherlock and John to be friends make you make you a cis straight homophobic jerk? Why does not agreeing with someone's ship suddenly make you a terrible person who deserves to have their character attacked? Besides, people who don't support GLBT rights at all have plenty of interest in getting turned on by homosexual activity (I'm thinking of people who like watching women make out but utterly cannot fathom the idea of lesbian relationships). And I went to high school with a girl who loved reading Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy fanfics but who, based on her political views, probably didn't support gay marriage. Just because you find a ship enticing or interesting doesn't mean you support that sort of relationship generally. And just because you don't support a ship doesn't mean you condemn that relationship generally.

For a fandom that can be so infinitely clever and ingenious, it confuses me the way Sherlockians sometimes respond. I'm fine just reading fics and having a separate area for those stories to take place away from the show. But I can also understand the deep need to have these ships exist in the storyline, especially with main characters like Sherlock and John. However, the idea that not supporting these ships makes you a bigot or an asshole really has me lost. And it's really alienating as a fan to have this occur. I admit, I'm less on the shipping side of things; I'm not a super active participant in fandom culture other than this strange sort of meta-blogging thing and the limited fanfiction writing I do. I like to talk about the shows but I guess I'm more interested in the cultural impact than in the creating aspects of it. I won't be fighting any ship wars; I'll be the one watching from the sidelines as people go down with their ships. (That sounds incredibly creepy when worded like that...)


http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mavmp0udQe1rtyne8.jpg
Doesn't help that I'm a pretty casual shipper and the ships I do like are, for the most part, not going to happen in canon. Poor Lestrade and Mycroft have never even been in a scene together in the show. Sigyn (Loki's wife in myth and the Marvel universe) is a character in the Thor comics but will never be in films unless we get really, really, really impossibly lucky. But the chances of giving the bad guy a girlfriend (and making her epic and not a total abused and used subject) are pretty much nonexistent. On the upside I pretty much ship Loki with everyone (he's a little like an evil Jack Harkness (a Doctor Who character known for his pansexuality, for those unfamiliar with him) in that respect), but still.. romantic subplot with the villain; does that ever actually happen in films? (It totally should... but whatever). Also, on the topic of Jack Harkness, I have utter fondness for Jack Harkness/Ianto Jones, a beautiful canon ship that was blown to smithereens by the third season of the TV show Torchwood. So maybe I've just decided against making shipping my primary focus partly out of these reasons. Which perhaps puts me at a distance in Tumblr fandoms considering this opinion on shipping, where your ships are as important as your name:


Despite all this shipping stuff and strangeness abounding in the fandom, I still consider myself a fan of Sherlock. Why? Because I enjoy it. It's that simple. Yes, there are going to be people who do things that I don't like; such is life. I learned to live and let live. It's all about personal identification. Some people will stick with it despite the parts they don't like; others will drop out and just appreciate the show without considering themselves a member of the fandom. It's all good.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com
However, then there are some fandoms I only partially identify with or don't identify with at all, but not because I don't want to identify with the fandom. For instance, I really love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I rarely add this to the list of things I'm a fangirl of. I've wondered about this and come to this conclusion: I feel like I haven't seen enough episodes of the show to feel comfortable with that label. Several times when I've brought the show up, people start discussing the later seasons, which I haven't yet seen. Also, I've been met with certain distaste for saying I like the show, which makes me less likely to admit to liking it at later times. The Lord of the Rings, though, I openly love. However, I stopped talking about it for a while and forced myself not to show my appreciation of it because someone I knew always went out of their way to show how much more they knew about the books and the movies than I did, as if they were trying to prove themselves the bigger fan. In this way, I felt less comfortable talking about and interacting with texts and acknowledge that I liked them. I've felt much the same way about Shakespeare until recently; I love his plays but I felt I didn't know enough about his work or wasn't smart enough to be able to talk about them and actually be accepted as fan. Some of this goes back to the elements shown in "fake geek girl" ideas, that you have to prove yourself to belong, that there are certain things you have to do in order to be a fan. I really don't care for this. Yeah, it makes it easier if you know a lot about the stuff you like in order to have a better understanding of it. But you can consider yourself a fan and not have seen every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You don't have to ship Johnlock or have read any of the Thor comics. Sometimes, fandoms get a little elitist, and it makes me sad. Generally speaking, fandoms are cast off as not being "respectable enough" for mainstream society to take us seriously. We like mass cultural texts and aren't afraid to geek out about them, instead of "respectably" showing our interest over "art" in a restrained matter. We're all about feels and emotions, and society hasn't quite figured out what to make of that yet. So, while cultural elites might mock us for our behavior, it really doesn't behoove fandoms to bring that same elitist attitude into who can and cannot identify as a fan. Fandoms don't get to decide who's in and who's out; the people who chose to join them do.

(Okay, hold on, tangent time: this was the first image to come up when I Google searched "fandom elitism" -
http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_meng3glvTb1ql4dwn.png

I... I... I got nothin'. If you can explain what photoshopping Tom Hiddleston's face on the Gene Wilder meme from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is expressing, I would be really grateful. The whole "You must be new" meme I'm familiar with but I'm unable to process this. Partly because I'm utterly at a loss to what it's trying to state and also because I recently realized that Gene Wilder and Tom Hiddleston look vaguely similar and I can't get past this (I was a major Gene Wilder fangirl as a kid, by the way... what the hell, I'm still a major Gene Wilder fangirl) and this photo just makes me kind of uncomfortable and I don't know why... Anyway, these are the fun happenings of Google image searching and getting strange results.)

http://2.bp.blogspot.com
It's the choosing part in fandoms that doesn't always come easy to me. I'm slowly acknowledging I'm a fan in other realms now, but it's a lengthy process. And every time someone doubts my authenticity, it sends me spiraling back into doubt. But what I struggle with are not so much fandoms associated around texts, but around people. Being a Cumberfan is far different than being a Sherlockian. I have no problem geeking about a text or characters, but when it comes to people, I find myself suddenly bashful and ashamed, not of others, but of myself. You could say it has something to do with sucking at fessing up about my feelings towards people for many years - seriously, when I admitted to thinking Ewan McGregor was attractive in my freshman year of college, it was a big damn deal for me. I never used to announce those sorts of thoughts to the world. No idea why. Clearly times have changed, but there's still a sense of derision on my part for feeling what I do. I sent Benedict Cumberbatch a fan letter last spring and the embarrassment I felt for months after (okay, I'm still embarrassed) was obscene and unnecessary. My mother can attest to the fact that when I decided to tweet Tom Hiddleston on his birthday this year, I argued with myself for at least five minutes about whether or not it was a terrible idea. And then after I sent the tweet felt like the biggest idiot in the world for much of the day. I'm pretty certain this is unusual in fangirl behavior and, while I'm probably not alone in these feelings, I'm also not in the majority. I have a hard time enjoyably fangirling over people and, while there's plenty of different reasons I've probably discussed before on here, there are two reasons that stand out the most in my mind for why I can't comfortably call myself a Hiddlestoner or a Cumberfan. One of these is that I am still stuck into a certain kind of stigma, one that fears being lumped in with "hoards of screaming fans" that people might assume dominate fandoms when coming across posts such as this:

http://geothebio.tumblr.com/post/35565639804/when-tom-hiddleston-announces-that-hes-looking-for-a#notes

(Okay, I get the song "I've Come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua" from the musical Kiss Me, Kate when I see this and I can't explain why.) Anyway, currently overlooking the strange mix of Jane Austen "single man in want of a wife" meets Panam dystopian politics, I hate the fact that I can't easily find humor in this but instead take the post seriously and get stuck in a judgmental, stereotyping position I'd like to think I've left behind me. But the stigma is hard to shake off. Perhaps because of the second reason I have trouble identifying with these sort of fandoms - in these groups, there's a chance of being seen acknowledged, recognized, and it terrifies me. In fandoms surrounding texts, for example, there is no risk of being found out by the characters because... well, they're fictional. Yes, the creators could know but meeting an author or creator of a text you fan over is different, I think, from meeting a creator or an actor that you fan over. But we've been here before, in my discussion of wanting to meet celebrities but totally being terrified to do so. Same basic territory, same rules seem to apply.

This issue with fandom and identity can get pretty complicated, especially for someone like me who likes lots of random things and is engaged in overcritical self-analysis a lot more than she probably should be. Again, these are only my experiences. But it's all about choice and labeling yourself, whether you choose to identify with a fandom or not, and it comes down to your own perception, though it can certainly be influenced by people. It can be messy or it can be neat and finite. It depends on the person and it can certainly change, all time. Just remember: I once shipped Bella and Edward.

I've realized that I really need to do a post about shipping as that rather took over this whole post and I just saw a whole connection with Jane Austen's Emma to it... yeah, more on that at a later date. For now, I shall leave you with a splendid rendering of the closest thing I have to an OTP.

http://wendydoodles.tumblr.com

Yeah, I just really like Sigyn and Loki... Pretty much my feels can be summed up in this image from Finding Nemo:

http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_llsk878UtR1qc6kk6o1_500.png
(I don't know what you're talking about; I run a very serious blog here....)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

VFX Solidarity

....Okay, I know I promised that I was done talking about the Oscars. And I promise, I am done talking about Seth Macfarlane and all of those related topics.

But.

But, but but... this issue with the visual affects artists and the protest that happened during the Oscars which I was totally unaware of until after the fact keeps lingering in my mind. And so, I want to discuss this a little but more. Never fear; you'll be getting two blog posts for the price of one today (well, tonight and tomorrow) as I promised to share the one about fandom identification. I'd apologize for spamming you with all these posts, but honestly I'm kind of enjoying it - and it makes up for the serious down-time I had over the past two months.

If you're unfamiliar with the visual effects situation, I recommend this blog as I did in a previous post. There are also two very good post on Tumblr about the issue: this one and this one (both links lead to the repostings on my blog, not the Tumblrs they came from). In brief, Rhythm and Hue, a prominent visual effects company that worked on Life of Pi recently went bankrupt, leaving their employees high and dry. You will notice in the second Tumblr post about this that someone mentions Samuel L. Jackson's rude behavior about this situation. This confused me at first and the realization of what it might imply hit me like a ton of bricks.

http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/avengers-oscars-2013.jpg
Members of The Avengers cast (Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, and Samuel L. Jackson) presented the awards for cinematography and visual effects. They were really entertaining as they appeared to be acting like their characters from the film (this is a running joke in the fandom, actually, that the entire Avengers cast has lost the ability to stop acting like their characters). This seemed to continue on throughout the presentation, including the award for visual effects. It was a bit awkward, with Samuel L. Jackson trying to present the award and keep Robert Downey Jr. from talking about how awesome the visual effects artists are, but it seemed like their characters from The Avengers. You know, Fury always trying to talk over Stark and Stark being a mouthy smartass... right?

Not this time, ladies and gentlemen. Not this time. Knowing what I know now about the visual effects issues and, with Life of Pi winning and having the two acceptors be unable to finish their speeches due to the orchestra prematurely cutting them off, I don't think this was supposed to happen. This was not Robert Downey Jr. acting like Tony Stark or Samuel L. Jackson acting like Nick Fury. Maybe they were in character the entire time, but what happened wasn't planned. I'm not Robert Downey Jr., and I wasn't there and I don't know exactly what was going on onstage. But knowing what little I know about Downey Jr., he seems like the sort of guy who would be pissed about these visual artists not getting paid and then getting utterly silenced and overlooked by the Academy. So if he had the opportunity to try and bring attention to the situation and do it through the voice of Tony Stark (sort of), do you think he'd do it? Abso-fucking-lutely. In other words, I think Downey Jr. was trying to bring up the issue with the visual artists and Jackson was trying to shut him down.

Did I ever mention that I love Robert Downey Jr.? Like a lot?

http://media2.firstshowing.net/
This is such an interesting year for all of this to happen, too, with one of the nominees in several categories (Les Miserables) being about uprising and protesting. And while that film was honored, this real-life protest was utterly overlooked. Visual effects are becoming more and more a part of filmmaking, yet when the artists involved get thrown under the bus, the Academy wants nothing to do with it. Why? Are they that afraid of facing the fact that Hollywood is not perfect? Finally recognizing that some people make a ton more money than others because being a "director" has a different constructed idea of authority and respect than "visual effects artist" or "gaffer" or any of the billion jobs on a movie set? (But now we're getting into a realm of media studies that could take up a whole other post on the issues involved with auteur theory. I'll just save that for another time...)

Honestly, I'm pretty angry about this. Sure, the hosting situation and the crass jokes in this year's Oscars made me upset, but it was nothing new. I sort of expected it from McFarlane anyway. I was not expecting this. I was not expecting a serious issue to get utterly ignored by... well, pretty much everything but the internet (God bless you, internet). I can't say I'm surprised (the Academy had overlooked many, many things - and people - before), but I still didn't expect this. We had the First Lady of the United States present the award for Best Picture (read: politics, whether good or bad, you decide) but we can't have a conversation onstage about these artists who aren't getting paid because, "Oh no, that might be political and ruin the mood?" Okay, yes, First Lady appearing versus conversation about the Hollywood system, two separate things, I get it. You don't want to be a buzzkill at an awards ceremony in which you hand out little golden men by mentioning a whole bunch of people are unemployed. Right...

https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net

I feel like there is a lot of snark in this post. No, let me rephrase that - there is a lot of snark in this post. I'm not going to apologize for this. I am really upset because it hits close to home. I know several filmmakers and I know people who are interested in video game design and I know people who could be visual effects artists some day. This simply isn't fair. It's just not. I have many issues with Hollywood, despite my love for it anyway, but this is the whole system at one of its biggest lows. It can show the glamor and the splendor all it wants, but we have to know better; it isn't all like that underneath. Visual effects take more than computers to do; it takes highly skilled, highly trained artists. And without them, our films would not be what they are. Filmmaking is more than actors, producers, directors, and screenwriters, and while I'm not always the best at expressing and recognizing this, I do know it. Now I can only hope that more people come to recognize and appreciate these amazing people who "create worlds" (Robert Downey Jr.'s words, not mine).

If you want to keep updated on this issue and show your support, check out VFX Solidarity International; they're on Facebook and on Twitter. In the posts to come, I'll be talking more fandoms getting involved in in social issues and activism. I'd like to be a bigger part of that myself, so I thought I'd start here. Here's for hoping this is a step in the right direction.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Some More Thoughts on the Oscars

http://www.vibe.com
"But, Gina, you already wrote a post on the Oscars. Do you really need another?"

No, probably not. But in the day that has past since the Oscars have aired, some really cool posts have been written about them. In a sort of parasitic manner, I'd like to reference them here because, I have to face it, I can't put my thoughts together as well as these writers.

I recently came across this post via Tumblr and thought it was really interesting and discussing an issue I knew nothing about. It also makes me feel really uneasy about the film Life of Pi which I haven't seen but want to desperately, and now feel very strange about. The fact that there were protests going on surrounding workers on this film who had not been paid and nothing was said about it at all in most media sources, then having the guys who one for visual effects cut off mid-speech when there were possibly going to mention the whole deal... look, I don't go out of my ways to find conspiracies. But this smells fishier than Gollum's breath after breakfast.

http://img2.etsystatic.com
(I've seriously been waiting to use this image forever. Finally an obscure chance to make it work!)

I'm incredibly grateful that the internet exists in moments like this; otherwise I never would have heard about this protest and thought it strange that there was only one presentation that they really cut someone off during. Interesting...

http://photos.lasvegassun.com
Next, let's talk about Seth MacFarlane. In my previous post, I opted for the fact that humor can be used in a multitude of ways and that perhaps it would be an inappropriate reaction to say that MacFarlane was being sexist. After some more thinking about it, I have decided that... nah, he was being pretty sexist. Cinema Blend has a nice piece about this and the wonderfully brilliant writer Libba Bray lays it out all very nicely in her blog post on the topic and states the situation with a poise and elegance that I simply am incapable of (many thanks to Jordyn for sharing this with me). Take away point: this isn't about learning how to take a joke; this is about learning how to make a joke. The reason I decided to go back on my first opinion of MacFarlane's hosting wasn't because I didn't find him offensive in the first place (I did) but rather that I decided to not give him - and his writers - the benefit of the doubt. After listening to the news reaction on a local Minneapolis channel, no one was talking about how his jokes might have come across - just that he had brought in a lot of viewers and had been a bit controversial. It struck me that maybe I, who am actively looking for sexism in culture (and often worry that I'm beginning to look too hard) easily saw this while others did not. And while I thought my extreme reaction was bordering on misandry, I realized later that maybe it wasn't. Perhaps I was just really, really pissed off that in a year where a lot of stunning work had been done by women in Hollywood, we had to put up with lame sexist jokes. What perhaps enrages me most is that MacFarlane didn't do this alone. Of course not. He didn't write all of his jokes - presenters never do. That means a bunch of writers wrote up stuff they thought was good and somebody approved it and allowed it to happen. It's just really frustrating to hear some gags about eating disorders and sex appeal when the women in the audience are seriously dealing with these problems or have portrayed characters dealing with these problems and the jokes are being told by a guy who doesn't have a good track record for writing female characters (I remember hearing somewhere that MacFarlane admitted to not knowing anything about teenage girls as a way of explaining why the character of Meg is the way she is). I recognize that this is humor and that interpretation is up to the interpreter but let's just say that if I had been in that audience, there would have been an uprising. I did like his point at the beginning during the Captain Kirk meta-segment about criticism and basically pointing out the fact that he can't please everyone... but after making that point, I feel like he should have been...well, more conscious of the fact that if you can't please everyone, you shouldn't opt for trying to offend everyone instead.

So, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, because I like to pretend that you're reading this, know that next year I will not accept such jiggery-pokery from you. I really appreciated how you incorporated students into the show (but then they were overshadowed by a terrible joke about them). So here's an idea - get somebody who actually respects film-making but is savvy enough to poke fun at Hollywood culture in a witty way. Robert Downey Jr, perhaps. Or get Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to do it, because seriously, the Golden Globes were actually enjoyable this year. Or here's an even more daring possibility - get a nobody to host the show. That's right; I said it. Hold auditions with up and coming comedians or TV personalities. And if you act on this, interpret this differently, and get someone like Snooki to host, know that I will crash the Oscars for real and take over your show and you will have a malignant tyrant fangirling in front of a billion people. You think that I'm kidding. I am not.

http://letsgotothemovies7.com
All threatening aside, I mean it. You guys represent the awards honoring the largest film industry IN THE WORLD. Don't make me feel like the fake Oscar hosting I do in my head when I'm having a bad day could be better than what you actually produce (seriously, I am probably the worst host of anything, ever, in the history of the universe. My absurdist daydream starts looking better than the show I'm actually watching and we have a legitimate problem).

Anyway, Oscar spamming done. Back to business as usual - starting with fandom identification. Look for that post coming soon :)

Uncontrollable Fangirling: Daniel Day-Lewis

http://38ccda.medialib.glogster.com
I'm having a Monday today so I thought I'd write another post (I know, right, all of these posts coming all at once? It's baffling - and also a result of me hiding from adult responsibilities). What do I mean by having a Monday (besides the fact that today actually is Monday)? Well... the week's not getting off to a very good start. We have issues in my apartment building (a clogged bath tub, graffiti on a garage that the city of Minneapolis is going to fine us for if we don't remove it, which just makes me want to scream about having no agency and epic wastes of time and other very, very cranky things), I'm trying to juggle four or five different things at once, I'm having my typical post-Oscar ennui. I've seen this photo twice today:

http://tinygrayson.tumblr.com/post/43986412039
And while I totally love this, it's not quite enough to get me out of my funk. So, I've decided to start yet another subset of posts on this site: posts in which I fangirl over certain actors and talk about why I love them.

http://filmmakeriq.com/
In honor of his third Oscar win for best actor, I thought I'd start with the supremely awesome Daniel Day-Lewis. Daniel Day-Lewis is a proud member of the club of British actors with great cheekbones doing awesome things (I was hoping that would end up making a really cool acronym, but no such luck). I first saw Daniel Day-Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans in my 9th grade history class and decided afterwards that he was pretty awesome. I have seen a pathetically low number of his films (so low, in fact, that I will not even name all of which I've seen because it will make you wonder why I'm even bothering to write this post). But after seeing My Beautiful Laundrette in a film class this summer, I realized that I really, really love this guy. If you have never seen My Beautiful Laundrette, WATCH IT. PLEASE. It's so good.

I also like this guy because he's a method actor. A hardcore method actor. I can say as a writer that if I ever decided to stay inside the mind of one of my characters, it probably wouldn't end well. So kudos to those actors who do this and do it really, really well. He takes pretty diverse, selective roles too, which is really great, because that means I can see him in varying roles (from being the president of the United States to a very, very interesting fellow who may or may not kill a man with a bowling pin).


http://l1.yimg.com/
Also, Day-Lewis took time off from acting in order to be a cobbler. A cobbler. I wish I could explain why I find this so cool (maybe I just really love shoes, or because it shows actors are multi-talented people). And, according to IMDB: "Late in the run of the 1989 production of Hamlet at the National Theatre in London, he reported that he had a strange sensation that he was talking to his father, who died of pancreatic cancer when Daniel was 15. Unnerved, he walked off the stage and never returned. He still doesn't like to talk about it."

Some quotes of his (again from IMDB):
  • "If I weren't allowed this outlet, there wouldn't be a place for me in society."
  • "Life comes first. What I see in the characters, I first try to see in life."
  • "I am more greatly moved by people who struggle to express themselves. Maybe it's a middle-class British hang-up, but I prefer the abstract concept of incoherence in the face of great feeling to beautiful, full sentences that convey little emotion."
  • "My love for American movies was like a secret that I carried around with me. I always knew I could straddle different worlds. I'd grown up in two different worlds and if you can grow up in two different worlds, you can occupy four. Or six. Why put a limit on it?"
Daniel Day-Lewis, you are one awesome human being. Congratulations on your Oscar and rock on, sir.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Peanut Gallery: Some thoughts on the Oscars

http://gossipextra.com/
Okay, I admit, I didn't crash the Oscars and steal an Academy Award for Leo DiCarpio (obviously). Besides, I thought that might have been a little too Kanye of me. But I watched them from home and had mixed feelings (as per usual). I've been seeing a lot of hate going around about them, both for reasons I kind of agree with and those I don't, and I thought seriously about writing a post about it all, especially about this year's host, Seth MacFarlane. Then I though, "nah." It would probably just turn into a grumpy word vomity post that would either make me sound like a misandrist or like I can't take a joke, when really I just didn't find Seth MacFarlane that funny. But I don't find a lot of things funny and just because I didn't like it doesn't mean I'm right. I did take an entire course on humor last spring and, let me tell you, it was the most unfunny class I've ever taken. It taught me one thing - humor is super complicated and ambiguous. So, instead of arguing about whether MacFarlane and/or his writers are replicating stereotypes and being sexist and so forth, or rather that he's bringing up these stereotypes only in order to make us uncomfortable and to recognize they exist (with humor, it's often hard tell), I thought I'd talk about some positive aspects (but, if you want to know some of my reservations about the Oscars, check out this article. They do a really nice job of presenting some overlooked aspects of this annual tradition in ten different parts). I just figured that, with all the negativity out there, maybe I'd talk about something positive for once. :P

1) The ode to movie music: As a lover of Broadway musicals, movie soundtracks, and just anything vaguely melodic sounding, I was really pleased with this. Apparently this was the first year for the Oscars to have a theme and I'd kind of like to see them keep this up. The shout-out to the orchestra that plays was really wonderful too. As a former pit musician for musicals, playing music live around a show is not easy. So this was really, really lovely.

2) Multi-talented, awesome people: I got to hear Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt sing, see Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum dance, and learned that Scarlett Johansson sings (which means Avengers: The Musical should really happen pronto. Seriously, the entire cast sings. Why the hell not?). Basically, I got to see awesome people be awesome. And that is always a plus.


3) Students working backstage: So this year, instead of having models help present the awards this year, six college students who are aspiring filmmakers assisted backstage. (Here's a short article on it, if you're curious about it.) This was the best moment of the Oscars for me, it really was. This was the closest the Academy has ever come, as far as I know, to acknowledging in the flesh the fans and those who yearn to be working in Hollywood. The Academy has disappointed me many times over but this nice little reflection on those who support them was a wonderful touch (and made me feel like my ranting about needing this was somehow abated a bit).

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4) Beasts of the Southern Wild: So this film didn't win but just seeing it acknowledged by the Academy is a wonder. I love this film. SOOOOO MUCH. And I just wanted to take a moment to point out that this film, for the most part, does not have professional actors in it. It is a beautiful little indie masterpiece and I'm so glad to see it represented amongst bigger films and blockbusters. Also, I really love the soundtrack. Okay, I pretty much love everything about it. Especially Quvenzhané Wallis. You are my hero, little one. I hope you keep being awesome and follow your dreams. I hear you want to be a dentist - with a smile and a personality like yours, you'd be an awesome one.

That's that; just some quick live-blogged thoughts. So while Seth Macfarlane and Kristen Chenoweth sing for the losers tonight (rock on, losers - you're in good company), I'm going to leave you here and bid you all adieu.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Allow myself to introduce...myself

Yes, yes, here we are, 120+ blog posts later and I'm just now introducing myself. I mean, you know who I am... sort of. But I thought I'd do one of those question-y type things you see online in various places so that you can learn utterly trivial things about me and I can have fun telling you about all the boring things I do when I'm not blogging.

So let's begin, shall we?

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1) Middle name: Renee. It's French. It's my mother's middle name. Neither of us have any French lineage. I'm not really sure why it's our middle name. Just sounds cool, apparently. 

2) Favourite subject in school: What level of school? Ok, going with high school - band and English.

3) Favourite drink: Non-alcoholic, it'd be water. Seriously, I drink water like a fish. And tea. I also love Irn Bru, a Scottish soda which you can only get in (you guessed it) Scotland. Although apparently some supermarket in Florida might sell it? Alcoholic drinks, it'd be a gin and tonic, whiskey and ginger ale, or just straight whiskey (I have been told this is not normal for someone my age to like whiskey straight. Good things I also don't drink that much or I'd be making questionable life choices every time I went to a pub). And Guinness. I love me some Guinness. That was a really long answer for just "favorite drink." This is going to be a semi-autobiography if I keep this crap up...

4) Favourite song at the moment: "Beta Love" by Ra Ra Riot, "The Moon and Stars" by John Mark Nelson, "Demons" by Imagine Dragon, "Stars" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnal, "Little Numbers" by BOY, "The Lion's Roar" by First Aid Kit, "The King and All of His Men" by Wolf Gang... look, I know it says song but I could go on for a really long time for the songs that I can't stop listening to for this week alone.

5. What would you name your children? This is one of those questions I've never really pondered. I like the name Theodore for some reason, but I'm not sure I can see me naming a child that. I liked the name Isabella... until Twilight happened. I also like the name Thomas because that would have been my name if I'd been a boy. Which is now really awkward; thanks, fangirl me.

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6. Do you participate in any sports? I've taken up running and I do yoga, but nothing professionally. I have a long history of being hit in the face by flying objects, so basketball and other stick and ball sports never really worked out for me. I also hated P.E. until I was no longer required to take it in school. However, I did do ballet and swimming for a year as a kid, gymnastics when I was really little, and I took a dance class in high school. So I'm a mediocre ballroom dancer.

7. Favorite book? This is an impossible question to answer. But I will attempt to give you my top three favorites: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.
 
8. Favorite color? Blue, green, purple, yellow... I'm sorry, I'm bad at having one favorite of anything.

9. Favorite animal? Rabbit. It is my spirit animal.

10. Favorite perfume? Uh... no idea, actually. I like this stuff I got for Christmas called Burberry Brit (my mother knows me too well) and it's rather lovely.

11. Favorite holiday? Okay, so I took this survey off of a British blogger's site and considering she replied in terms of holiday meaning vacation, I don't know how to respond to this. So we'll say holiday both in terms of vacation and of monthly celebrations. A study abroad trip I took to Scotland was amazing and now I have flashbacks of being there at least once a month. And my favorite holiday month-wise is Halloween and Christmas.

12. Have you graduated high school? Yes. Yes I have.

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13. Have you been out of the country? Yes. Been to England (London, Warwick, Stratford Upon Avon), Scotland (all over the place, but mainly Glasgow, Edinburgh, St. Andrews, and Fort William), Germany (Frankfurt - really just the airport, Rothenburg, Neuschwanstein, Munich, Wurzburg), Austria (Innsbruck, Salzburg), and I spent four or so hours in Venice. I also spent a long layover in the Amsterdam airport, but that really doesn't count as being in Amsterdam. Two of these trips were high school band trips, the other was a study abroad seminar.

14. Do you speak any other languages? Apparently I studied French in high school, but you wouldn't know it to hear me try and speak it. Also, I am "proficient" in Italian, according to the University of Minnesota. So I can talk about the weather and whether or not I like your hair and then accuse you of being a fascist. (The vocabulary taught in my classes was a strange mix between small talk and political turmoil.)

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15. Do you have any siblings? I in fact do not. I am that rare breed of human being known as the only child.

16. What’s your favorite store? Any bookstore ever. Particularly used bookstores because they're full of surprises (and free bookmarks accidentally left in between the pages).

17. Favorite Restaurant? Brit's Pub in downtown Minneapolis. They have a lovely rooftop dining area that includes a lawn bowling area. Also, they have really great food. I'm also a big fan of Ginger Hop, a wonderful Thai restaurant not far from campus, and I love three Irish pubs in the area.

18. Did you like school? This is a very complicated question. Yes, I liked school in that I learned stuff and met cool people. I did not like school in the way that I got a lot of bad habits in high school, the education system has issues, and had a lot of unpleasant memories gained from it. But overall, school was alright. Being in university is far better.

19. Favorite YouTubers? Eat Your Kimchi, John Green, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Daily Grace... but really it's a growing list.

20. Favorite Movie? *cries* STOP GIVING ME UNANSWERABLE QUESTIONS! Huge tie between Amelie, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Atonement, Third Star, and The Avengers.

21. Favorite TV show? Sherlock. And Wallander, even though it makes me want to tear my hair out from the tension every time I watch it. I also really love Gravity Falls, though I haven't seen a lot of it. And I secretly love Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

22. PC or Mac? Mac. Go ahead and hate me - I understand.

23. What phone do you have? An iPhone. See above on the hate.

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24. How tall are you? 5'2"... I am a hobbit.
 
Personal Questions: (wait, these weren't personal already?)

1. What do you order at Starbucks? I don't usually go to Starbucks; I go to coffee shops on campus and they're local joints. I either get an Earl Grey tea latte, a chai latte, coffee (black), or if I'm feeling really dangerous, a Spanish latte or mocha. I've found that sugar and coffee (especially chocolate and coffee) make me hyperactive. So if you ever want to see me get extraordinary excitable and talkative, buy me a large mocha and wait for it to take affects. And then bring up something I'm bound to get excited about. I assure you it will be entertaining.

2. One thing in your closet you cannot live without? Scarves. And hats. I know these are not super important wardrobe items, but I love them. Especially my bowler hat.

3. What’s one thing most people probably don’t know about you? Uh, lots of things. I grew up in Indiana? I'm a quarter Italian? I wear contacts? Originally I wanted to study music at university? I have two tattoos? That's five things, sorry...

4. Name one thing you want to do before you die: Just one? Ugh... okay, sing karaoke. Even if I really suck, I want to do this terribly. To this song, this song, or this song, for some reason.

5. What’s one food you cannot live without? Strawberries. Pizza. Pasta... scratch all of that; BREAD. I love bread. So much.

6. What quote/phrase do you live by? "I am because we are and we are because I am." - African Proverb.

7. What’s your most listened to song on iTunes? "Cosmic Love" by Florence + the Machine.

8. What kind of style would you define yourself as having? I have absolutely no idea. I have been called a hipster before, so I'm not going to deny that.

9. Favorite number? 19, that's the date of the month I was born on.

10. Two hobbies? Writing and reading (surprise, surprise). In lesser known things, I also play flute and like doing outdoorsy things like hiking and swimming.

11. Two pet peeves? People that spit randomly (especially when they're walking to class and spit in the middle of the sidewalk and I accidentally step in it) and people that refuse to hold doors open for others.

12. Guilty Pleasures? I would like to direct you towards a Tom Hiddleston quote for my answer:

http://the-superavengelock-games.tumblr.com/post/43639101405

Well said, sir. I'm just going to outright steal that as my response...

So there you go. That's more than you probably ever really needed to know about me. If you've got any other questions, feel free to throw them at me. Otherwise, I'll just start integrating some stuff about me into other posts and we'll go from there :D

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(And this just became my favorite photo. Win.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

And the results are in!

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(Drum roll please....) I've gathered up the results for the survey. Thank you so much all of you who filled it out; your answers were incredibly helpful! If you didn't fill it out, don't sweat it. I just wanted a general idea of who's reading this, what brought you here, and why you stuck around. Also, most importantly, I wanted your input. This all started on a whim and then became a source for me to sketch things out while working on my senior project. Now that the paper is finished, I'm utterly overwhelmed by all the things I could talk about, all the fandoms I could start discussing, all the ideas I have swimming around in my head that I can't yet fathom into constellations (and all the John Green references I will now be making for the rest of forever...). So I wanted to get a better idea of what route to take with things.

And thus, I made a survey. (Quick apology for the awkward age range; I fully expected you to not all be over the age of 18; apparently Survey Monkey does not make the same assumption - and thus the weird addition of the "other" box. Sorry for that. Ditto for gender.) Here's a quick rundown of the stats; I had twelve responders and here's what they told me:

10 females, 2 males
10 responders between the ages of 16-24; 2 between the ages of 45-64
7 of you are Martin Freeman; 5 of you are not (Lots of Martin Freemans out there ;D)
5 of you answered the Martin Freeman question honestly, 2 of you did not, and 5 of you Loki'd me :D

Most of you found this blog either through me, because of Tumblr, or because of the general mysteriousness of the internet (Google searches, randomly finding it, etc). And there's a wide variety of fandom interest here:



The most common responses in the "other" selection were Star Wars and Star Trek; also mentioned were (in no particular order): Starkid, anime, The Wire, Cabin Pressure, Chrestomanci, Being Human (UK), Sonic the Hedgehog (you know, I run a blog with lots of hedgehogs; you'd think I'd have thought to include him before now...), The Hour, the Once-ler fandom, Trailer Park Boys, and Queer as Folk. Good news for you all - the only one of these I know absolutely nothing about is Trailer Park Boys (and yes, I will be checking it out :D). A lot of these are things I've been meaning to watch/read/etc., have read or seen but not very much of, or enjoy but for one reason or another don't identify as a fan of.  Which brings me to another thing: fandom identification. I asked for these responses because I wanted to know what fandoms you identify with. And lo and behold if one of you didn't state the complexity of trying to choose what fandoms you might belong in for a response later in the survey. Which is wonderful, because I myself have been questioning my affiliation in certain fandoms. I, for instance, love Tom Hiddleston, but do I consider myself a Hiddlestoner? Great question... sounds like a blog post!

Because I want to branch out and talk about other fandoms - especially ones I know about but don't really participate in or don't know a lot about at all, this idea of fandom identification is perfect jumping off point and something I was planning on talking about anyway. But now the stars are all perfectly aligned and I feel all smart and saavy - even though it was all you folks being smart and saavy in your responses. You go, guys.

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Now for pros and cons of this blog, starting with cons. I think you guys are too kind to me. Really. Or I'm too hard on myself (that's probable). But when the worst complaints you have involve my infrequent updating (I am SO SORRY about this; I'm working on this, I swear - I will make no promises but I'm trying to make a consistent writing schedule so I can post at twice a week, Wednesdays and Saturdays), my lame typos, tangents and not-always clear cultural references and not-so neatly wrapped up posts, either I'm doing okay out here or you are incredibly wonderful, forgiving people. Or both (but my money is still on the latter). The good thing is that I'm aware I make these errors so it's easier for me to try and fix them (whereas my inner critic likes to blurt out things like, "You suck at writing and have no grasp of the English language," so this is a relief that you don't seem to think that).

Now for the pros: Essentially, you want more of the same. More fangirling, more gifs, more British men (including, specifically, Tom Hiddleston (oh, that will not be a problem ;D)), more on the Sherlock fandom (in particular, its integration of issues of body image and sexuality), more of what I'm interested in and what I think (bless you, people, really. I don't know what I did to deserve you all but, man, am I glad you're here. There. On the Internet. Oh, you know what I mean...).

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The two requests that struck me that I hadn't thought too much about focusing on were more about what I read and more about me. I admit, I read a lot. And yet I don't talk about the books I'm reading despite the fact that I'm always reading and have a slightly eclectic taste in the printed word. So, I thought (considering I have that Peanut Gallery line running) I'd add in more posts about that sort of thing. Also, I was struck by a request to know more about me. I feel like I'm always talking about myself, but I don't really say a lot about me. Like, I don't know, general things. So I'm going to fix that and maybe talk about myself some more. I also feel a lot more comfortable talking about politically nuanced topics here (especially since many of you enjoy the feminism posts) and I have a particular interest in several areas I'd like to discuss. Don't worry, I'm not going to go totally political and partisan on you (and if I do, tell me to knock it off) but I would like to show how current affairs and fandoms can overlap, and to talk about some issues that are near and dear to my heart while hopefully keeping an open mind about things.

So that's the gist of all this. I know that not everything I talk about will interest everyone, and that's cool - read what interests you. I just thank you for stopping by in the first place. I am going to forewarn you that I have become seriously addicted to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and come out of the "proverbial Shakespeare closet" as my friend Kevin stated and embraced the fact that I am (and have been for a very long time) a colossal Shakespeare nerd. So there's going to be a lot of that thrown into the mix now. Looking ahead, the next few posts will be about fandom identification, fandoms and current affairs, and other things interspersed (like posts about books, films, me, whatever). Thanks for reading this meta-post and look for a new post coming soon - one about yours truly, actually. And, if you have any questions - about something I've written, about fandoms, about me, about really anything, please don't hesitate to ask!

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(A little late for Valentine's Day, but better late than never!)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Just as Heavy, Just as Light

For reasons I'm uncertain of, everything I've been dealing with, thinking about, and writing about has hinged on a complicated human practice - belief. This is a general life principle, so of course it's going to end up being relevant to my life. But still - all of this at once is a bit strange. Let me run down the list:

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1) The Mormon missionaries that circulate our campus when the weather gets warm stopped me the other day. And because I have this impossibility to be rude to them and a dire curiosity to talk to people about religion, I agreed to meet with them (plus they tempted me with a free copy of The Book of Mormon. I'm sorry; I just can't turn down free books and I wanted to add it to my collection of religious texts. Right this moment it's chilling out with a copy of the Quran, the New American Bible, and the little tiny Torah my friend Sarah brought back for me from France). Of course, they're trying to convert me despite the fact that I told them I was Catholic (okay, so I technically think of myself as a reverent agnostic, but that's another story) and had no interest in converting. Somehow, with their supreme niceness, I cannot fight any rhetorical battles with them and, even though I know what I believe, I still find myself wondering about it all and doubting about my perception of belief. This is not the first time I've gotten myself into an awkward situation with missionaries on campus; in my junior year, someone who belonged to a church known as the World Mission Society Church of God (interesting sect, really - they believe that God is represented in both male and female forms, which is awesome in my opinion, but their beliefs got kind of uncomfortable for me after that). Point is, this is nothing new. And yet I'm still finding it hard to understand how my beliefs can exist so easily in this grey area while the Mormons told me verbatim that they believe in distinctions of black and white, truth and not truth. So there's that.

2) My blog post on the Cumberbatch-hate blog has really got me questioning how I think about people, what I believe about them, what I believe about anything. This has a very direct correlation to...

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3) Shakespeare. We've just finished reading Henry V in my Shakespeare class (awesome, awesome, AWESOME play, by the way) and the entire time I was debating about what to think of Henry. He's one hell of a public speaker, that's for sure. He's kind of manipulative, but also incredibly charming and noble and clever. I was totally convinced that I would become English and kill the French for good old Harry his speeches were so convincing... and then in Act 3, after a terrible battle, he threatens the governor of Harfleur that he will allow his soldiers to rape and kill should the governor refuse to cooperate. Henry is putting on a show to intimidate; he has no intention of doing any of this. But the fact that he threatens it really took me aback. I wasn't expecting the harsh, violent rhetoric (including the award winning line my professor loves to say, "your naked infants spitted upon pikes") coming from a man just two acts before had been doubting whether he had both the legal and moral cause to invade France. While I really, really liked Harry, I also deeply hated him for making threats like this. Again, I was doubting my belief about not only the character of someone but trust in a leader. Given the political climate these days, this is an issue never far from mind and one I consistently thought about again and again while reading Henry V. Can you trust someone when all you have to go on is their words and you know they can easily bend them to their will? Do our expectations for language make it harder or easier to get effective leaders? What is an effective leader? This series of thoughts could go on for a long time...

4) Teach for America: If you read this post, then you'll know I went through a whole spat of doubt working for this organization. The doubt was not unwarranted. I did some research after I got invited back for another interview (and I found myself not being excited about it) and discovered that they aren't exactly... well, entirely reputable. They've been criticized for badly training their corps members, throwing them into situations with no support, caring more about test scores than students, and, worst of all for me, firing teachers to place in corps members for the simple reason that, if there are no teacher shortages in the school district, TFA has an agreement with certain school systems via government support to place place corps members, even if that means firing teachers (probably good teachers) in a crappy economy. I could describe further the criticism I found, but if you're interest in learning more, read this blog post from Gary Rubinstein. He's a former corps member who had the exact same expectations I had and is now speaking out against the organization. After I read this, I knew I couldn't (as King Henry V would say) "with right and conscience" take this job. So, I withdrew from the application process and will be looking for different options for next year. I still want to do all the things I described in the post I wrote about TFA... just not with TFA. I'm looking into teaching abroad, working for a non-profit organization, opening a museum (no, seriously, there's no F. Scott Fitzgerald museum in St. Paul even though it's his birthplace. There's one in Montgomery, Alabama but that's it. I badly want to remedy this). Regardless, once again, my faith in the good of things has been shaken. I mean, I didn't expect TFA to be perfect. But I didn't expect to find out they had problems of this nature.

This ties into an debate I often have about charitable organizations. There's often complaints about certain organizations and how they conduct what they do (some rather serious complaints, like certain things I've heard about Peace Corps, and some more just complicated parts, like charities that pay their CEOs and so on heaps of money). Then there's places like Salvation Army, which I totally want to give money to during the Christmas season, but as also been boycotted by the Human Rights Campaign because they do not support equality for same-sex couples. I'd really, really, really love it if there was an organization out there I felt like I could really trust... but I just don't know. Thanks to Tom Hiddleston, I feel a little bit better about UNICEF, even though I think it's one of those organizations I've heard complaints about because they pay heaps of money to their management and it seems like allegations have circulated about this sort of aid being a form of continued imperialism because we're making these cultures reliant on foreign aid (though I think there could be a really good debate about whether this is is making them reliant or allowing for self-reliance by giving them aid they otherwise would never get) (I hope for the latter). Then there is the whole issue with throwing money at problems and hoping to fix them when things are far more complicated than that...

Hold on, this is getting really gloomy. I need some happiness before we continue on with this dirge.

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(Yes. Better.)

5) The US Postal Service: I have had my past issues with the USPS. Like their inability to forward mail when you move one unit down the hall in your building with out having to pay $10 to make it happen. But then the postal worker that delivers to our building left a very rude message to our building manager saying that she didn't keep the building properly maintained (because there is a lot of ice on the back steps) and then a bunch of unintelligible words (he was very angry and talking very fast), including a threat of not delivering our mail (yeah, you know that saying, "Not sleet nor snow nor pouring rain will stop the USPS" or however it goes? Not actually their official slogan AND it's a load of BS. Seriously, they refused to deliver mail to one of my former residences because of ice on the walkway) and ending with a nice old, "fuck you." I'm dead serious. We should probably file a complaint with the USPS, but for all we know, this guy slipped at twelve other apartment buildings or just lost his job (I mean, they are cutting Saturday delivery in August) and it's not worth all that. Yeah, the steps are bad and we probably haven't cleaned them as well as they could be. But we're students and busy, and it's February - ice is a given in Minnesota this time of year. Plus we've had a really weird season melting and refreezing and subarctic temperatures and then more snow and a repeat of all this again and again. I was just seriously bummed by this because I couldn't believe that someone would be so rude and childish to leave a voicemail like this. I believe that people are good and kind, but when people do things like this... well, I start to doubt.

6) And to round this all off, my Avengers fanfic (which is still the bane of my existence) is turning into a whole thing about belief - belief in leaders, belief in people, belief in love.

Like I said, all of this felt a bit much happening essentially in the span of a week or two. I'd call it a crisis of faith but it's not about faith (which reads a distinctly kind of religious association, I'd say). I'm not having a crisis. I'm just realizing that believing is really, really hard.

This isn't really knew either. I went through this realization last year when I read Nietzsche and Baudrillard. I'm a certain sort of Nihilist - an optimistic Nihilist, a concept I've lovingly stolen from my friend Paulina. I care about things, but they don't matter to the extent that if I fail, I'll have failed at life. Actually, this is terribly relevant as I decided today while doing dishes that it's impossible to fail at life. Seriously. How can you fail at something you're doing every day? And when you die, that's still not failing because death is a part of life. Okay, so maybe I should stop having existential conversations with myself while doing the dishes, but I like the idea of failure just being a rudimentary construct that can be pushed aside and decided that it doesn't matter. Likewise, I like to think that lots of things matter - because nothing matters.

Of course, that sounds nice and simple in words, but in practice, maybe it's not always so easy. Like now. I think it all goes back to that conflict of having "a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind." In some ways, I envy those Mormon missionaries that believe so wholeheartedly with ne'er a doubt in their religion or atheists who are absolutely certain there is no higher being. I admire those who believe (or don't believe) with such conviction. I lack conviction. Wait...

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Well, that's a bit not good. (Also, I'm having a lot of Coulson feels right now. Excuse my Avengers fangirling.)

The TL;DR is: I doubt. A lot. I like to think it makes my belief stronger in the end. Who knows. Does it matter? Not really. Those who seem to believe so easily may doubt elsewhere. And while I'd hate to use phrases like "believing blindly"... well, that's a possibility. But neither am I a fan of cynical skepticism. It's sort of an awkward balance between the two. That's where I am. My way of believing doesn't make me better or stronger or more confident for it. But it's how I think. And I like it, even when it's rough.

Now if only I could figure out how to tell the missionaries all of this...

PS: A fun fact - I like to try and come up with clever titles for my posts. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. This one I like but is less clear so I thought I'd share the source. It comes from this quote from artist David Hockney: "Belief is like a guillotine, just as heavy, just as light." Just in case you're curious.

PPS: Also, if you haven't had the opportunity to take my survey about this blog and would like to fill it out, please do! I'll leave it open until next Thursday or so and then will close it and go through the results. So the next post will be about that and what to expect next on this blog. Other than hedgehogs. :D

http://www.discoverwildlife.com

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

One Year Later

On this very day a year ago, a very bored me decided to create this strange thing. That's right - it's my blog's birthday. Which means...


http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mch2tnNBkT1r3ic0uo1_400.gif
(Okay, can you explain to me why when I searched "senor moriarty gif" to find this pic, I ended up with a couple dozen images of Tom Hiddleston? Seriously, Google Images - it's like you do this on purpose. What in the world does Tom Hiddleston have to do with Moriarty and fiestas and... you know what, I probably don't want to know.)

Anyway, this is weirdly perfect, with today being Mardi Gras and all. And one year later, I'm very, very glad I was bored and confused why everyone was calling Martin Freeman a hedgehog one wintery Sunday afternoon. I'd say this has turned out pretty well - I've met loads of cool people through the internet, I've become more understanding of fandoms and fans, including the fan within myself, I've written a lot of stuff on many various topics (and even ended up with a senior project based on some of this), and I feel like people generally enjoy what I write... which is still surprising to me. I guess because I don't really find my thoughts all that interesting most the time, mainly because I've been having them for twenty-some years.

However, I feel there is always more to be done and things I could be doing better. While I'd really like to take this opportunity to give something back to you all, it's a little hard to physically give stuff through the internet that doesn't come in the form of text or images or videos. Instead, I'm going to beg you to do one little thing for me: please take this survey. I made it on Survey Monkey and it's really short, only 10 questions (okay, really more like eight because the last two aren't serious). I'd just really like to try and learn more about my readers and, since I know a lot of people who drop by here don't have Google accounts (seriously, Google, I love your interface, but you have a serious bias towards yourself. It's kind of embarrassing sometimes) and many readers probably don't feel comfortable identifying themselves. So this survey is nice and anonymous, just a chance for you to tell me a bit about yourself (gender, age, what fandoms you're in - if any), give me some feedback, tell me what you'd like to see on this blog, and really whatever is on your mind. I'd just really like to hear from you and see what you are thinking. Whether you're a regular, just stopping by, or just really like surveys, feel free to fill it out. In return, I will feature ideas and feedback in a post and use it to make this blog more... just more. And to thank you for your efforts, I will now fill this page with attractive men.
http://theimpalahasthephonebox.tumblr.com/post/28565425980
Okay, so not what you had in mind, I'm sure. :P Sorry about that (no I'm not). Maybe I should stick with the old hedgehog, eh?

http://25.media.tumblr.com/472c282095ac04c0b299b91a63592dce