Friday, October 29, 2010

An Ode to Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I should probably care more about Christmas or my birthday, something with special significance, not something as seemingly vapid as Halloween. But Halloween is right up there with the rest of them. No one I know has the patience to hear me rave about it, so - I blog.

I love many aspects of Halloween. The colors of Fall, the fallen leaves, driving over the fallen leaves and listening to them crackle, the colors of Halloween (orange, black, purple - somehow they work wonderfully on Halloween, but any other time, and I'd think they were tacky together.), the scary TV specials, the cute TV specials, the funny TV specials, the dark humor, the sweets, the costumes, the masquerade, the decorations, skeletons, ghosts, monsters, bats, werewolves, zombies, vampires, witches, pumpkins, the grossness, the eccentric fashions, the scariness, and the cute creepiness.

As ridiculous as they can be (and usually are), the Halloween TV specials/movies/whatever seem realest, most likely to happen in real life. It's because they're not pretty. They aren't filled with mermaids, ponies, fairies, sparkles, and bows. Or if they are, they're twisted mermaids, ponies, fairies, sparkles, and bows. They're darker, which is how such escapades probably would be in real life. In real life, such escapades would be ugly and weird and wart-ridden, pertaining more to the occult. And as such, Halloween specials FEEL like the mostly likely to seep into the real world and invade our lives. Okay, I'm exaggerating a tiny bit and of course I don't EXPECT such stuff to happen in real life, but it still feels more real.

In a way, I relate to Halloween. I'm not terribly nice or attractive. I'm eccentric and twisted and weird. Like Halloween. I'm sort of a dark person. Not CRAZY dark, but definitely not light. And something about Halloween speaks to my soul. *Sips coffee elegantly and adjusts beret and ascot and indoor sunglasses* Also, Halloween seems to be the only holiday that (sort of) celebrates cats. We really should have a national Cat Day. Halloween also celebrates saints. Saints are cool.

I should note that I usually don't DO much for Halloween. I don't dress up much, and we get few trick-or-treaters, but I love the FEEL of Halloween.

Also, I admit I don't like Halloween when people take it too far and extol violence as a permissible thrill or make Halloween all about suffering and evil or about pulling pranks and being obscene, etc. Be it Halloween or be it not, I still hate violence and shun the worse scary movies. I've never seen Silence of the Lambs and I plan to shun it till I die.

When people stick with the good sort of scary - the painless, fun, or cute sort of scary - Halloween serves to fill me with a feeling of strangeness, of possibility, and of creativity. AND I don't have to buy anyone presents.

See! Could any other holiday make Creepy this Cute?

Or this?

Or this?



No! Because no other holiday is at all about making creepy cute. And Halloween is. At least partly.

Now, I'm considering watching The Mummy. It's not technically a Halloween movie, but it's scary mostly in the good way (mostly, being a key word), and it's pro-cat. Viva la cat!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Review of Harry Potter

I mentioned a while ago that I was reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the first time. Here's my review. (I don't feel much need to warn "Here there be spoilers," because I seem to be the last person on Earth to read this book. Still, I suppose...Here there be spoilers!)
Be also warned. The whole world is going to hate me for this post, but...whatever.

In a word, I’d describe Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as “boring.” Just “boring.” It wasn’t TERRIBLE, and there were moments I enjoyed the boringness and zoned out over the book, but after books like Skulduggery Pleasant, I know exciting novels. This wasn’t one.

The characters were cliché and two-dimensional. Hermione was the brainy bookworm, Harry the chosen one, Ron the…other one. Little detail was given on their unique characteristics, internal contradictions, or reactions. Most often, they hardly reacted to anything, Harry least of all. When he did react strongly, he acted identically to Ron. (Ron and Harry both rose to their feet in anger at Malfoy, and so on.)

I disliked Dumbledore from the start because the author obviously expected me to think he was crazy wise, which he’s not, to have given Harry to the Dursleys instead of bringing him up in Wizard World. He did this because he thought the fame would go to Harry’s head and turn him evil. Well, plenty of people have turned evil, not from fame, but from abuse they endured (Hitler, for one), which is what Harry went through. If he could handle that, he could have handled fame. Fame was the better option, but Dumbledore either disagreed or didn't know how awful the Dursleys were. Either way, he didn't seem very wise.

While not unlikable himself, Neville Longbottom irritated me with a story of how his uncle dropped him out a window. This tale was told light-heartedly, but, um, dangling your kid out a window is child abuse. It's twisted, and you might drop them. Which is exactly what his uncle did. It’s not funny, and I hate when serious subjects are talked about light-heartedly.

The characters made it difficult to get attached to them or grasp who they were inside. I also felt distant from them because the majority of the book was narrative summary, right from the beginning, which was an unnecessary summary of the Dursleys’ life before they received Harry. Narrative summary is broad and detailess (Yes, I made up that word), making the book seem less like a story and more like a, well, summary. It always distances the readers from the story and makes it seem slower, which is good if you need a break from the action. But this book had little action.

The plot was boring, not only because I didn’t care about the characters and therefore didn’t care what happened to them plot-wise, but also because of the plot itself. Or lack thereof. The novel really had no plot until its last quarter. Mostly, the book detailed life at Hogwarts. School, bullies, mean teachers, cool teachers, sports, popularity or lack thereof, friends, illegal pets, and breaking the rules. Bor-ing. If I wanted to know of such stuff, I’d live my own life. I read so I don’t have to live. I don't have to live so I can read. Get up and go read, kids! When a plot did appear, it was very straightforward and consisted of Harry and friends racing to keep Voldemort from taking the Sorcerer’s Stone. They went through a series of obstacles, which broke my suspension of disbelief when they were tailor-made for Harry and Co. The obstacles just HAPPENED to be herbology, chess, logic, and broom-flying. Then Harry defeated Voldemort by touching him. No action, kung fu, sword fighting, wits matching, or anything. It was very simple. TOO simple. Then Dumbledore gave a speech about love, a good speech but the only inspiring part of the novel. Maybe I would have been more intrigued by the plot if I didn't already know it from the movie, but the movie came across drawn out and dull too, and I expected the book to be BETTER.

I don’t see what the general populace saw in this book. I couldn't relate to the characters, but I suppose different people relate to different characters. I couldn't get excited over the plot, but I suppose maybe...I dunno. I've almost never liked what the world at large liked. What kept other readers going for seven whole books? I barely finished the first one, which gave me no incentive to read the second. This book is to a great novel what a stick figure is to the Mona Lisa: sketchy.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Minnie: A Study in Sleepy Fireworks

Today I thought I'd talk about me. Me, in the context of being tired and bored. I've been so lazy for so long. I really don't FEEL like doing anything but sleeping. I'm feeling especially depressed right now because of an issue surrounding kittens.

Our cat had a litter of kittens, and I want to keep them all. I know people who could take them, but I don't trust them to take good care of the kittens. I realize the only way to make sure they're okay is to keep them with me. But my family makes a big deal out of every little inconvenience the kittens impose on us (urine, feces, litter, food, allergens, hair, blah, blah, blaahh). My mom switches between wanting to keep them and not. My dad yelled at me for suggesting we keep them all. While my family seems willing to give them up to any fate, I know I'm responsible for taking care of them if I can. I've grown so attached to them it would seem too weird and heartbreaking to split them up, knowing they're no longer a complete set. And, well...Grahh! It's just heart-sickening.

BESIDES that, however, I suppose a lot of causes contribute to my depressed tiredness. I'd like to explore those today. How do I feel about it and all that?

For one thing, I feel overwhelmed by all the activities I WANT to do. I hate it! I want to draw, write, write, write, (yes, I wrote "write" three times on purpose), animate, change the world, study, do well in school and such, clean house to keep my mom happy and healthy, read fiction, read non-fiction, prepare for college, prepare for the rest of my life, blah, blah, blah. Just thinking about it, I lose the will to do it. I just sit around doing nothing.

This is obviously a post about me being depressed. I never talk about this, and I'm not sure how to do it with grace, so please forgive me if I sound dramatic.

I used to think cynicism was a widespread phenomena, but these days, I seem to face hordes of starry-eyed dreamers who try for anything and seem to think they can achieve it. I, however, appear different from other people, other kids my age, because I don’t believe I can do great deeds, get published, get a job, get into college, or do anything competently. Someone like that is one in a million, leaving me with very slim chances. I don’t believe I deserve anything. I expect to be treated like I don’t exist. I expect rejection and failure. I feel I have no skills and my various works suck.

Actually, I felt this way at a very young age. Before which, I experienced an age where I put myself out there, was outgoing, and tried experiences without fear. I usually failed, embarrassed myself, and felt stupid, and I hate few things more than feeling stupid. I learned not to expect anything great of myself, because I was only deluding myself. I learned, in fact, to automatically assume I did everything badly and looked dumb all the time. I thought this would save me from deluding myself and feeling stupid when I had to face the truth. It did cause me look stupid anyway while passing up many experiences for fear of looking stupid. I think I started getting over this way of life, but a couple years ago, it may have rekindled when I took a composition course. I loved it, worked my tail off, and only got okay grades. The teacher never praised me much, and I felt no matter how hard I tried at anything, I’d be Mediocre at Most. It’s not the teacher's fault. Where I am in life is entirely up to me, but that's another post.

Last year in school, I was terrified of doing homework for one particular class. I just knew I couldn’t do it or could only do it badly. Even attempting it made me literally sick to my stomach. I didn't want to fail, disappoint my parents or the teacher (who was very nice and didn't deserve a procrastinator like me), or make myself look and feel stupid. I wanted to do well, but I was so scared I put it off and did shoddy work and put it off and did shoddy work, and I did end up failing that class. I had never failed a class before.

That’s sort of how it is now too. I know I can’t do anything right, so I don’t try. I look at all the ways I'm below average, unable to do stuff even most petty criminals can do (driving a car, socializing, blah, blah, blah). I don’t really know of anything I CAN do well. I might as well not try at anything.

I came across this definition of boredom from Therapy Ideas recently:

Boredom often occurs because you have stopped yourself from saying something or from doing something. Flattening out your own disagreeable energy out of a fear of displeasing others often will lead to becoming bland. Nice can be oh-so-not interesting and yet it is the choice we make more often than not. Stop interrupting yourself, authenticity can be refreshing.

Boredom is not all bad. Its greater purpose is to inspire people to be more creative about their lives. Our lives often lack imagination and creativity.

(I don't remember how I stumbled across that article, I wasn't Googling "therapy ideas," although I do have an interest in psychology. But I'd like to do a whole post on that article later, because it had insightful...insights, as well as...questionable insights.)

That was an enlightening definition. I AM bored because I don't do what I want to do, not because I don't have anything to do. But I don't know how to kick start myself doing what I want when I lack energy, drive, and courage.

I don't like most of Katy Perry's songs. Some are ok, but I don't really like them. I like this one though. It's upbeat and uplifting, and I'm a sucker for violins in pop music. I'd like to think I'm a firework, a dormant firework, in the sense that I can do great and noble deeds (not in the sense that I'm a bubbly person, like Katy Describes it). "'Cause there's a spark in you. You just gotta ignite the light." Wish I knew how.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Avatar Series: Legend of Airbender Sleuth Semi-Extraordinaire!

I haven't posted in forever. I know, and I'm sorry. I yearn to blog of a dozen topics, but I lack both time and energy. Mostly the energy bit.

Let me see. What can I blog about quickly? Hmm...

Ah! Here's something.

The creators of Avatar the Last Airbender are creating a new series set in the Avatar world. When the first series kicked the bucket, I found a glimmer of hope, like a barn fire, in an aspect of the final episode. It kindled annoyance as well as hope, but Zuko asked his father where his mother was and the question was left open-ended. This would have screamed "really bad wrapping-up-the-story skills on the part of the creators!", IF I believed they'd just let it go at that. But I didn't. No, not for a heartbeat. To me, that omission meant they'd have to continue the series. My suspicion was confirmed by the evidence, stark and unmistakable, spelled out clear as Spellchecker, the words of IMDb, "Nickelodeon has announced that there will be '(t)hree original 60-minute animated Avatar movies . . .'" This could be the break I needed in the case that haunted my brief daydream on July 20th '08. Where was Zuko's mom? There wasn't an Avatar-fanbrain I knew, out of all three of them, that wouldn't give their right calculus answer for a break like that.

But we waited. And waited. No more dirt on the case surfaced through the carpet of IMDb news. Until Friday, that is. Or some such weekday. When I stumbled across and broke a toenail on some news that spun the case in a new direction, like it came under new management, Paris Opera House-style.

This little nugget of a clue had been gathering dust of the dead-skin-cell variety since mid-July. When I hear this, first thought that hits my grey matter is "Thank my lucky stars it was a clue nugget and not a chicken nugget or it would have mutated into something else by now." Second thought is "I really need to put some elbow grease into this looking for clues gig. How did I not know of this for three months? Musta lost interest, guess."

Betcha you're scratching your cranium right about now, scraping your dead skin cells off to gather on clue nuggets, and you're wondering, "Just what is this case-spinning nugget you came across, Minnie?" It's like a shamrock, reader guy. Three in one. ONE, an interview with the creators. TWO, a not interview with the creators. THREE, a random article with random interviews and one near the bottom that pertains to this a little. Yeeah, 'sright. But the thing about this case-spinning nugget? It's case-spinning.

The spin is this new series they're plotting happens 70 YEARS after the finale of Airbender. My feelings on this are as consistent as a commenter who comments on a negative review like so, "I hate your review! Why do you comment on stuff you don't like?" Torn and twisted like nobody's business. My heart leaps at the thought of a new Avatar series, likely complete with character development and trademark Avatar humor. But my heart lands on a twisted ankle and a rattle snake at the thought of the original characters being DEAD.

Will I never solve the case of the Missing Zuko's Mom? Is it true the creators have really bad wrapping-up-the-story skills?

To find out, tune in next time to Airbender Sleuth Semi-Extraordinaire!