Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Note from Me to Me

More on the room-cleaning front. While clearing my desk, I found a small, folded note I wrote myself. I vaguely remember writing it-- before college, clearly, or maybe a month or two in. Anyway, it's at least two years old, probably more.

It says:
Less complaining-- less WORDS-- more action. Send letters. Give. And try. Hiding and bitching won't fix it, and TRYING CAN'T HURT ME.

Worst case scenario: I go out, I don't have a very good time, I run back to Scones having proved myself right all along.


But maybe it can be different. And asking and trying and talking and talking BACK cannot hurt me. And it may just help someone else.

Don't just find nerdfighters. CREATE THEM.

I am a good person.
I'm an attractive person.
I am a talented person.


All I have it what I give myself.
I don't even... these are all really good things to remember, of course. But I'm so far away from that now. I don't need to hear that from myself. I don't even recognize that person.

And I suppose that can only be a good thing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Relics of a Me I'm Not.

Hey, Sounds. Long time no post.

So I'm cleaning my room right now (a laborious, unending process that will occupy me all summer, I'm sure) and I have to say, it's a bizarrely nostalgic experience. Unproductively so.

One of the downsides of an obsessive personality is that you're convinced, in the midst of your obsession, that nothing will ever change. That whatever you love right now will be the thing you love forever, just as passionately. And unfortunately that's just not the case. Do I still love Harry Potter? Hell yes I do. I always will. But I wasted a fortune on decorative pins at conventions, and they stayed on my purse until the fasteners broke. And now I have a bunch of broken pins that say things like "You had me at drink this" and "FREE STAN SHUNPIKE." They're adorable, I guess, but, like... what do I do with them?

Or, another example. Several years ago, I bought "Martial Arts for Dummies." I was big into anime at the time, and writing fanfic, and I thought it would be a good research tool. (In my defense, this was in the days before wikipedia.) I can always donate it, of course, or sell it on amazon or to the half-price bookstore in town, but that goes against my nature. I'm a packrat at heart, first of all, so any plan that ever requires me to actually get rid of something is always going to make me balk, but it's more than that. As if by getting rid of this stupid book I don't need and will never read again, I'm betraying my past self. Calling take-backs or something.

It's highly irrational. But so are my spending habits. I mean, seriously. I have a DESK GONG. A little gong, about the circumference of a silver dollar, with a twig-sized metal rod as a mallet. Why? Well, I bought it in my senior year of high school-- picked it up at Borders, from those shelves of Hey Buy One Last Thing Before You Check Out! chain bookstores set up on line before the register. I was directing a short play for drama class at the time* and also competing in Duo Interpretation on the Speech and Debate team with my friend Will. Will's a fantastic actor, and we both loved "Sure Thing" by David Ives: another student had put it on for THEIR senior-directed play a few years previously, and so we decided to use it as our first Duo piece, in Junior year. We were never happy with our interpretation-- it was too static-- and while we loved our Senior piece, a cutting of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, we never quite got over our love of "Sure Thing."

Being the youtube enthusiast that I am (well, was) and aspiring director that I'm still not quite comfortable being, I had a brilliant idea: we'd revisit "Sure Thing" over the summer, with me behind the camera and him appearing again as Bill. Some other friend of ours would play Betty. I'm still proud of the idea; if you're unfamiliar with "Sure Thing," the basic premise is that a guy and a girl try and work their way through a stereotypical romcom meet-cute. The twist is that every time one of them does something wrong, a bell rings and the scene starts over-- they get a second chance to make a first impression. In my hypothetical film version, every time the bell rang we'd cut to a new location-- some other restaurant, with Bill and Betty in different clothes. A sequence of alternate realities.** And that's where the mini-gong comes in. I was going to use it instead of the typical concierge bell, with a white-gloved hand doing the ringing. A cut-away between each scene, instead of just the sound effect.

All of which is interesting and kind of cool, except for the part where the film never got made. It probably will never get made. And yet the desk gong remains, gathering dust on my shelf next to the anthropomorphic garlic clove plushie Amanda got me when she went to California.

I mean, honestly. I have a lava lamp, for fuck's sake. What does one do with a lava lamp? Why are they sold? What purpose do they serve? But I was on the cusp of teenagerhood and I thought they were the coolest thing, I put it on my Hanukkah list, and that was that. Another useless thing to add to my collection.

I have a corkboard covered with post-cards from friends I've long since lost touch with; a desk drawer filled to the brim of all of my AP US History notes from sophomore year, because I was convinced I'd grow up to be a high school history teacher, and I didn't want to forget how Mr. Hand had done it; a book of Celtic runes I bought in England, just because it was a book of runes from England; an action figure of myself.

I feel like my room would be a sociologist's dream-- or perhaps their worst nightmare. And it all boils down, I think, to the tension between what's important and what matters. These things all mattered to me once--does that make them important? Should things that were once important to you always matter, at least in some small way? They set me on the path, after all. I wouldn't-- couldn't-- be now-me if I hadn't been then-me first.

I'm sure I could dig up a more useful and fitting quotation if I tried, but all I can think about is a rather throwaway line from King Lear. Lear gets pissed off at Cordelia for snubbing him, he banishes her, and Kent speaks up-- saying what an injustice it is, etc etc. He gets chastised for failing to observe proper court decorum and speaking out of turn, to which he bursts out "Anger hath a privilege!"***

Does the past have a privilege?

* a hilarious little one-act called Jimmy the Antichrist, the script of which is also around here somewhere, cluttering up my life.
** In the interest of not repeating myself, I've relegated this to the footnotes: GOD I still love that concept. Maybe some day...
*** What a great line. Oh, Shakespeare, the things you do to me.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Regional Expressions Meme

Age: 20

Where you grew up (Ages 0-18): Central New Jersey

1. A body of water, smaller than a river, contained within relatively narrow banks: A creek or a stream.

2. What the thing you push around the grocery store is called: A shopping cart.

3. A metal container to carry a meal in: A lunchbox. (though actually, if it's metal I'd probably think "lunch pail" and imagine construction workers. Lunchboxes are made of plastic and have cartoons on them.)

4. The thing that you cook bacon and eggs in: A frying pan. The word 'skillet' doesn't seem weird to me, but it wouldn't be my first choice.

5. The piece of furniture that seats three people: Couch in general, sofa if I'm feeling fancy. 'Loveseat' if we're talking about that one specific couch in my living room, but that's because of Mom.

6. The device on the outside of the house that carries rain off the roof: Gutter.

7. The covered area outside a house where people sit in the evening: Porch.

8. Carbonated, sweetened, non-alcoholic beverages: Soda. NOT POP. NEVER POP.

9. A flat, round breakfast food served with syrup: A pancake.

10. A long sandwich designed to be a whole meal in itself: Hoagie if it's cold, sub if it's hot.

11. The piece of clothing worn by men at the beach: First instinct is to say "bathing suit," but I might also say trunks. Speedo if it's a speedo.

12. Shoes worn for sports: Sneakers. "Trainers" slips out sometimes if I've been reading too much British fiction.

13. Putting a room in order: Cleaning.

14. A flying insect that glows in the dark: Firefly or lightning bug. Depends on usage. "The fireflies are out" versus "I caught a lightning bug." I suspect this is only me.

15. The little insect that curls up into a ball: Rolly-polly.

16. The children's playground equipment where one kid sits on one side and goes up while the other sits on the other side and goes down: A see-saw.

17. How do you eat your pizza: Tip first, two hands. No folding.

18. What's it called when private citizens put up signs and sell their used stuff: Garage sale, maybe yard sale.

19. What's the evening meal?: Dinner.

20. The thing under a house where the furnace and perhaps a rec room are: A basement.

21. What do you call the thing that you can get water out of to drink in public places: Water fountain. NOT A BUBBLER. NEVER A BUBBLER.

Friday, April 2, 2010

12.1 "Robot" Reaction Post

Starting stats: 12.1, Robot
Doctor: Four
Companions: Sarah Jane, Brigadier-General Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, Harry Sullivan (barely)

The first thing I must say about Robot is that it's certainly the best-paced Classic episode I've yet seen (out of, y'know, two and a half, including itself.) Better plotted than Ark in Space, but not as quotable, I fear. Which leaves me a bit lost, as I'm not Jacob and I still don't know how I want to write these things. But ah well.

The regeneration sequence was a bit of a non-event--just a bleeding of one face into the other, no muss no fuss. I kind of like the modern Golden Light of Goooooold way of doing it better, I think. The Brig just mumbled "well, here we go again" and that was that. (I LOVE the Brig, by the way. His mustache is magnificent and his sense of humor is so wry and dry and... Iiiiiiii love it. [parentheses within parentheses to groan about how not-clever I am with the rhyming.] Anyway. He reminds me a lot of Martha, sometimes-- or, I suppose, Martha is an awful lot like the Brig. And not just for the UNITyness. They've just a way about them.)

Four sits up, babbling nonsense, and he's clutching Sarah Jane's arm so hard she's probably bruising under his grip. Sarah's plenty empowered and all, but every time I see her, I react the same way I did when I first saw Amy Acker as Fred on Angel-- which is to say, I repeatedly gasp, "but she's so small! look at how LITTLE she is!" every time she comes on screen. I don't mean it to be mean-- in fact, it's terribly endearing. But the point is, she really is just a slip of a thing, and the Doctor mustn't be so rough with her.

Oh my god the special effects are amazing. It's relatively easy, this time around, to get pulled into the story and kind of gloss over how awful the things you're actually seeing look, but if you pause it and come back to it? Oh my god, that robot. It's terribly impressive considering their budget and time period, but... oh, show. (They actually pull a Nosferatu with the cheapy-ass robot claw, too. I realize it's a classic suspense/horror technique, but... faaail.) (Oh, and THEN it steals a plain manila envelope stamped, in big letters, "TOP SECRET." Oh, show.)

Brig: "You realize, Miss Smith, that all of this is top secret?"
Sarah: [amused] "Then why are you telling me?"
Brig: "Well, be-bec--because there's no one else I can tell."

They're SO CUTE.

LOL FOUR. His face when he sees the TARDIS for the first time. A++++, I wish I had a screencap. And he snuck away from the Med Bay when he wasn't supposed to, of course, so he's in a dressing gown. Striped, obviously, as that's the way the Doctor prefers his jim-jams.

[Lis Sladen, in the commentary: "Very good lurking, there, Tom! Solid lurking."]

Harry Sullivan (a navy doctor, which they discuss more in Ark in Space) comes in to, y'know, apprehend the runaway and remind him he's supposed to be healing and all, and then the Doctor uses his still-canon extra regeneration energy to karate-chop through a (clearly balsa wood) brick and then SKIP ROPE, WITH HARRY. I cannot describe this scene with mere words. Just know that it is awesome. The two of them, face to face, maybe three inches apart, hopping to the time of the Doctor doing some creepy-as-fuck children's rhyme. Amazing. Oh, show.

And then, knowing Harry will only get in his way, the Doctor stuffs him in a closet. (Sarah finds him later. She walks into the empty lab, hears a vague muffled plea for help, says "Cupboard!" and finds him straight away. Doesn't even stop to think. Love that girl.)

[picking a new outfit: viking attire]
Doctor: "Do you think I might attract attention?"
Brig: "Just possibly."

(love. him.)

There's plot stuff and sneaking about stuff and blah, Sarah uses her reporter cred to get a visitor's pass to some sekrit military base... science... thing. "HEYA WHAT'S IN HERE?" she basically asks, barging right into a door that, I swear to god, is marked "Positively No Admittance." Oh, SHOW. While in the garage/lab where the phlebotinum was made, she notices a musty smell (and later, an oil spill) right off. She's such a good companion. (Also later off, she brushes the oil with her hand and gives it a sniff, and I have been watching too much Ten because I was terrified, for a moment, that she would lick it.)

Also also (I'm rubbish at linear thinking, apparently, so do try and keep up) later, she has to sneak back into the Lab. Her visitor's pass is about to expire, so she drives up to the gate guard all "I've forgotten my notebook-- I still have ten minutes left on my pass, can I pop in and get it?" and when he turns his back to phone a superior, she ABANDONS HER CAR, then HOPS A FENCE and RUNS ACROSS SEVERAL LARGE LAWNS to her destination. In a skirt suit and terribly absurd boots. LOVE THIS GIRL.

And then, just when I thought she couldn't get more awesome, she channels Rose. The crux of this story is a robot (big surprise) but it's a surprisingly adorable one, which doesn't want to hurt people can gets all conflicted and wobbles when confused. (Like a pokemon.) And Sarah's all "How can you be sure it doesn't have feelings?" and then asks the robot if it's alright, and pets it. And it's all very Dalek and god I love companions. They are the best.

[the Absent-Minded Professor is babbling about solar energy and pollution]
Doctor: "I know; humans. They can't see that what's under their noses is over their heads!"
[A-M P babbles on; Sarah Jane, in the background, laughs appreciatively at the Doctor's joke and then, realizing her faux-pas and seeing the Brig's poker face, half-heartedly tries to turn it into a cough, still smiling]

There's a wonderful moment, later in, when the Brig, the Doctor, and Sarah sit around in the Doctor's lab talking through the clues together. Not only do Sarah and the Doctor totally have an "Are you deducting?" moment, but I just... I love what an odd yet efficient little team they make. It's one thing to SAY Sarah's an investigative journalist; it's quite another to give her the mind of one. (In the commentary, the producer says "We very deliberately didn't make Sarah Jane an assistant--we made her an investigative journalist so she could, you know, start things on her own." To which Terrence Dicks replied "Yes-- assistants are for tying to train tracks!" and oh, that was so close to being inspired. But then Lis Sladen laughs and says "I never got that one-- it was the one I wanted!" which only further proves how awesome she is.)

But anyway. Sarah goes home to get some sleep (and change into an UTTERLY RIDICULOUS outfit, involving a scarf tied around her head for no reason) leaving the Doctor and the Brig to flail around and be useless in her absence:

Brig: "Doctor, what are we going to do? Or shall we just leave it all to Miss Smith?"

And later, when the Doctor types a note [a) on a typewriter and b) with super-speed] and tapes it to the TARDIS, explaining where he's run off to and what he's doing, he addresses it to Sarah Jane, and not the Brigadier. Even though he's parked in the UNIT lab and he has every reason to think the Brig would find it first.

"Please do not resist" says the polite, morally conflicted Robot. It's starting to become clear that he's adopted a King Kong style crush on Sarah Jane. Later, he will get hit with a ray gun and grow many stories high, and then he picks her up and carries her around. Well, a terrible doll of her. The SFX at that point at quite appalling.

[A-M P and Sarah want to sneak into a Sekrit Meeting of Bad Guys]
Soldier: "But the Brigadier would go spare-- so would the Doctor!"
Sarah: "Well, one's away and the other's asleep!"
Soldier: "Then I'll go wake the Doctor and see what he says--"
Sarah: "--DON'T YOU DARE. He had a nasty knock on the head and he needs to rest."
Soldier: "Well in that case miss, it's just not on. I'm sorry."
Sarah: "Oh, I--" [pause, then: epiphany] "MISter Benton,* are we members of UNIT?"
Soldier: "Well, no, of course not."
Sarah: "Are we under arrest?"
Soldier: [seeing where she's going with this; defeated] "No, miss."
Sarah: [beams the smile of Triumphant Feminine Wiles] "Well then, what we do and where we go is none of your business, is it? Come along, professor!"
Soldier: "Now, wai-"
Sarah: "No, you just go and [something british that I absolutely cannot interpret but is quite clearly a double entendre so I laughed] your rifle or something."

(... yeah, it kind of got away from me at the end, there. Moving on!)

WOOHOO Four drives Bessie! And it's awesome.

"James Bond" Sarah hisses derisively at a caught undercover Harry (having just been caught herself.)

Four uses the sonic screwdriver for the first time. Lots of things explode. It's fun.

[mutually trying to untie each other's handcuff bindings]
Harry: "How're we doing, Miss Smith?"
Sarah: "Ooookay?" [it's all in Lis's delivery, really.]

Robot kills A-M P and then laments, loudly, in his robot voice: "ohhhhh! I have killed the one who created me!" and then he drops to his knees before collapsing completely in a pathetic heap. [my hand-written notes for this section read: 'LOL LOL LOL LOL FOREVER']

[upon noticing Sarah Jane is missing]
Soldier: "Well we thou-- we thought she'd gone home."
Doctor: "Gone HOME?!" [I adore Baker's delivery on this. one part "are you fucking crazy?", one part "lol, have you met this girl?" and one part "because now, Detective Inspector Bishop, there's no power on this EARTH that can stop me."]

(It is at this point that the Lis Sladen stand-in dolly does its Fay Wray impression.)

After it all, Sarah feels pretty down about the death of the robot:

Doctor: "Sarah? Sarah...? ... Would you like a jelly baby?"

It's the first time he ever offers. (Of course it's to her.) Initially, she refuses.

[on the robot]
Sarah: "It was so human."
Doctor: "It was a *wonderful* creature. Capable of great good... and great evil. ... yes, I think you could say it was human."

Then he paces and babbles and offers her a trip in the TARDIS instead, and my god, nothing ever really changes, does it? He whines about staying, and the paperwork UNIT would make him do, and he says "I won't I won't I WON'T!" and goes to karate chop another brick... only to practically break his hand. (Sarah Jane does her best not to laugh at him, bless her.)

Sarah: "Doctor, you're being childish."
Doctor: "Well of course I am! There's no point in being grown up if you can't act childish sometimes." [pauses, lets his hat cast a bashful shadow over his eyes as he looks away, offers the white bag again] "Are you coming?" (he won't look at her.)
[She breaks into a wide grin and eagerly pops a jelly baby into her mouth, as if he'll rescind the offer if she doesn't eat it fast enough. He grins at her, and she laughs at him, and it is quite possibly the cutest thing you'll ever see. Rusty owes a hell of a lot to this relationship, I'm starting to learn.]

And then, of course, Harry wanders in. Bah! He offers Harry a jelly baby, and he takes two.

Doctor: "We're taking a trip!"
Harry: "Wot, in that old police box?"
Doctor: [snatches back the other jelly baby, offended] "YES in that old police box!"

He doesn't, unfortunately, say "it's bigger on the inside" but we do hear his incredulous "I say," and Sarah giggles.

God I love this show. Even when it's bad, it's good. And Sarah/Four is SOCUTE.

Ending stats:
Jelly baby offers: 3
Displays of unrestrained physical affection: 0 (closest facsimile: when Four comes back to his right mind, he shakes the Brig's hand and then Sarah's. Then he gets distracted, but keeps holding Sarah's hand in both of his own as he talks. Cute, but not a hug.)
Speeches by the Doctor about how awesome humans are: 1ish.

* totally reminded me of Roses's "MISter Jefferson, SIRRR" from Satan Pit, but I didn't have a handy way to link to that. So, you get a footnote!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Interlude: Sound FX

[11:53:16 PM] Marlena: in second grade, we did a play, and some people hid under desks and banged cans together and whispered and stuff. they were the "sound effects crew." I really wanted to do that, but I had to be the sloth.
[11:53:51 PM] Leah: ...
[11:53:59 PM] Leah: that is the best story you have ever told me.
[11:54:30 PM] Marlena: well, y'know, I've been saving it for a special occasion.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Spencer Addendum

So today we were in Boston recording for UTO some more. Over the course of the afternoon, we got on the subject of annoying encounters with Brandeis 2-- and so of course, I got to tell my Spencer The Prat story.

Only when I told the girls his real name, Julia burst out with "oh my god, that kid is EVIL! I hate him SO MUCH!" and told me about how he's a cheating douchebag (color me unsurprised) and, get this-- he claims to have slept with Lady Gaga.

Yeah. Yeah. Go ahead and try and process that. I'll wait.

Still laughing? It's okay. Took me a minute, too.

At any rate, it makes me happy to know that I'm not the only person to have been on the receiving end of his particular brand of terrible.

Fun fact: Today I learned, via Pandora, that I really don't like Simple Plan. This doesn't surprise me in the least, but it's nice that I can have a proper account of these things.

In other news, my laptop monitor has stopped functioning. As such, so have I.

So we'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Meet Spencer

I am not generally the kind of person who tells funny anecdotes at parties. My stories rarely end with an apologetic "I guess you had to be there," and when they do, it's probably because the punch line is a nerdy reference and my fellow conversationalist is not a geek like me.

Today, I have a crazy story. TODAY, I-- for the first time-- have encountered a person so absurdly fictional that I actually need to *come up with a codename for him for use on this blog.*

He is in my assigned Short Stories group; he grew up on Fifth Avenue, went to an exclusive all-male Academy for high school, and is (as I learned today) a male model. For the purposes of this blog, we will call him Spencer the Prat, as he is both EERILY REMINISCENT of his forebear, and is, inarguably, a complete prat.

As is true of all "been there" moments, this kind of loses something in the retelling, so I'll do the short version:

The story my group is doing comes from something called Godey's Lady's Book, which was a monthly journal in the 1830s which published short stories, articles and advertisements relevant to women of the day. Our particular story is about (among other things) lovers who die of plague. The project, in brief, is to "re-publish" this story. Our idea was to reformat our meta stuff around the story as if it were a modern women's magazine, like Elle.

One of my suggestions was that-- seeing as we're allowed to put in illustrations-- we could add thematically relevant ads... one of which could be an anti-plague skin cream, as satire.

Cut to Spencer the Prat. Spencer, who has not yet read the story we're doing this project on, completely failed to understand what I was getting at. So I tried explaining it several different times, in several different ways. "But why is it skin cream," he demanded.

Spencer, being a student who clearly goes to Brandeis 2-- oh. Wait.

SHORT INTERLUDE: Chef has a theory where there are two versions of 'deis: there's Brandeis, which is populated by smart awkward jewish kids who are generally sweet and well-meaning and want to change the world... and then there's Brandeis 2. Brandeis 2 has frats, and jocks, and people who spend their weekends throwing up and then tell stories about how epic it was after. The reason so few people realize there are, in fact, two Brandeises (Brandeisi?) is because the two so rarely overlap.

Sometimes, however, they're arbitrarily placed in the same group project, and the whole system falls apart.

So ANYWAY. From the way he was talking, I was starting to get the feeling that Spencer fancied himself a bit of a manly man-- that he'd never picked up an issue of Elle in his life, and would be offended at the mere suggestion that he had. Which would explain why he wasn't getting where I was coming from at all.

Me: "I-- look. Have you ever, y'know, looked at an issue of Seventeen, or Elle, or-- because they have these, these ads for--"
Spencer: [coldly] "What do you mean 'have I ever.'" [disconcertingly sarcastic now] "Noooo, I've NEVER picked up a magazine before."
Me: "No, sorry, I didn't mean-- I just thought that--"
Spencer: "Look, I've been in magazines, so you can just drop the attitude, okay."

The more polite and rational I tried to be, the more offended and defensive he got. He then informed me that he's not sure why I think I can get away with my "snotty attitude," but that I need to "wake up" because it's "not gonna help [me] at all in the real world."

Oh, right. That would be the real world where you grow up in a luxury penthouse on the Upper East Side, take family vacations to Morocco, and plan to be a model when you graduate. No, I suppose my attitude won't help me at all in the real world.

Because I don't go to this school because Daddy can pay for it and it has a good reputation. I go to this school entirely on scholarships because I'm fucking smart, bitch.

Now run along to your photo shoot. I have an essay on schizophrenia and family dynamics in Hamlet to write.