Monday, February 22, 2016

A Scale For Siblings Who Are Close

Coming up with new forms of measurement is something I do a lot so here's a way of measuring how inappropriate a sibling relationship is using examples from movies and television.

Level 5
Brandon and Sissy - "Shame"
This level represents a sibling relationship that is only inappropriate through certain filters. There's one scene in this movie in particular that makes people confused: Brandon pulls back the shower curtain on Sissy, not sure who's using his shower, and then precedes to have a conversation with her while she's naked in which he doesn't avert his eyes and she doesn't try to cover up. Through one lens, as siblings there's no reason for there to be any sexual undertones to one being naked in front of the other. Most people who have siblings might think they're more comfortable than most but that there's nothing wrong here. If you have a sibling, you have probably seen them naked or nearly naked at some point and there's no reason to think anything of it. If you don't have siblings, you might see a sexual element here that ultimately doesn't exist. If anything, being a movie about sex addition, this scene seems to serve as a contrast by showing completely desexualized nudity.
This level is about close siblings lacking boundaries that are common to lack in sibling relationships. No incest.
Level 4
Simon and River Tam - "Firefly"
This is the level in which eyebrows start to be raised. Simon and River lack boundaries in the same way as Brandon and Sissy while also going a step or two further. There are many times while watching scenes between them that you think, "Kiss! Oh, wait, don't!" because you forget you are watching siblings and not a potential romance. Aside from chemistry and tender hand holding, there are many scenes that set off alarms. On the lighter end of the scale, River is first introduced naked and scared and Simon holds her but you have to account for the situation. Less forgivable is the fact that River watches Simon have sex. Yes, River is kind of crazy and this is what is often blamed but for mostly everyone the idea of watching a sibling have sex is an immediate brain bleach moment. The questionable behavior is kicked up to eleven in the deleted scenes where River asks Simon if he will make a baby with her and then shoves a pillow under her shirt. She's crazy, you say, but she's also way too old to make comments like that in ignorance.
This level is defined by romantic tension and a crossing of individual boundaries regarding sex. No incest.
Level 3
Brenda and Billy Chenowith - "Six Feet Under"
This level is when the question of incest actually needs to be brought into play. Everything from level 4 is true here but it also gets worse. Aside from a lack of regular boundaries, as shown with Billy walking around naked in Brenda's house, and sexual boundaries, as shown by Billy photographing Brenda having sex, there's also a love confession and an attempted kiss. Billy has bipolar disorder with a bunch of side issues and a lot of the time his behavior is written off as a devotion to Brenda because she has always looked after him. However, in season three he tries to kiss her in a blatantly not-brotherly way which causes her to freak out and leave and later tells her he's in love with her. Brenda writes it off as confusion. Billy also spends her wedding in deep despair in spite of the fact that he's dating Claire. In the final season, Brenda imagines Nate telling her to just give in and get together with Billy and then has a dream where she gives him a hand job. In the case of Brenda, it's clear that this is all just a manifestation of her deepest fears regarding the way their relationship is and how Billy sees it (and as anyone who has taken Psych 101 can tell you, sex dreams about relatives don't mean anything). In the case of Billy, well, maybe he really is in love with her.
This level is mainly characterized as one-sided incest and romantic actions.
Level 2
Theo and Isabelle - "The Dreamers"
This level I've heard described as "everything but." Theo and Isabelle are college age siblings who sleep naked together, take baths together, play games where the consequences are masturbating or having sex in front of each other, and they have a three way with another guy. Literally, they do everything you are not supposed to do with your sibling except actually perform sexual acts with each other.
This level is solidly incest while managing to get around ever actually sexing each other up.
Level 1
Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia - "The Borgias"
They bang.
This level is hella incest.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Ode To The Strangers I've Met On My Travels

I've just done a thing. Pretty soon I will be quitting my job in banking after nearly five years in the industry to go back to school to get my masters in secondary English education. It's a step in my life that's mostly exciting and a smidge scary but something that I feel I absolutely have to do. Banking was always just a way to pay off my undergrad loans so that I could eventually go back to teach. 

Before starting school, however, I will be going to visit my signother in his homeland of England since it will be a while until we are both free again. Because he still has to study for exams and such during his Spring Break, he'll be kicking me out after a little over a week and because I have no real commitments at this time, it seemed like a waste to just go back to America right away. Sure, I won't have much money but plenty of wanderers don't have much! 

One problem: I have never really traveled alone before. I've taken most of my plane rides alone but I've always been meeting someone there. Only once have I ever stayed in a hotel alone and that was when I drove up to Montreal to meet Ana (and at the time I had kind of stupidly thought most people in Montreal speak English). With this in mind I decided to pick a place on these foundations:
1.) A place in Europe that I haven't been
2.) Where English is widely spoken (or at least Spanish)
3.) And that would be safe to travel alone while being female

Essentially this list lead me to the Nordic and northern countries. I've been to The Netherlands and while I love Amsterdam and would like to go back, it wouldn't be as fun alone. I've seen all the museums and the nightlife stuff is only fun with someone else. I can't go to Sweden because the signother is half-Swedish and has family there and would be sad if I went without him. Norway got ruled out partially because I know absolutely nothing about Oslo and partially because it's close to where the signother's family is in Sweden anyway and could be part of a trip there. He even has an uncle who knows it well and could show us around. Everyone I know who has been to Finland has said it's boring so I've never had a desire to go. Iceland is somewhere I really want to go but the signother poo-pooed it so hard I kind of backed away. Relatedly it's the only other country aside from Ireland (which I've been to a lot) that is in between our countries so perhaps it would be better to go together.

So that left me with Denmark and, more specifically, Copenhagen. The signother, in spite of his joking inbred Swedish hatred for the Danes, gave full approval when I mentioned that it's near water and looks like Amsterdam, knowing that I would probably be happy there. So I've booked it and gotten myself a bed in a hostel.

Now, I've stayed in hostels before but I've never had to share a room with anyone other than the signother. While there's obviously the fear of thieves (I literally have nothing worth stealing though), murderers (that'd be a hard murder to get away with), and loud people (ugh), I'm actually pretty excited for this. I've had good and bad roommates before, I'm pretty friendly and very quiet, and I'm pretty shameless and don't get uncomfortable easily. Maybe I'll even make a friend who will hang out with me. 

And this got me thinking about all the amusing strangers who have passed through my life in brief moments while traveling excluding family of friends, friends of friends, and tour guides. This is my ode to these people.

My First London Cab Driver

The first time I went to London was a big deal: I met my signother for the first time in person (we had met online a little more than a year prior) and it was my first time ever visiting another country. The signother and I met at the airport and then traveled by train and then tube to his hood in Wimbledon where we then needed to take a cab to get to his house. This craziness was all because he didn't have his license yet and I was insistent on the fact that we need to meet before I meet his parents. So we got into the cab and when the driver noticed my suitcase he said enthusiastically, "Ah, a suitcase! I'm jealous. Coming here or going somewhere else?" I told him I had come here. He said, "Oh, for the tennis or for the handsome guy sitting next to you?" Next ensued a long pause before he exclaimed jokingly, "I've made you uncomfortable! Great way to start my morning!" Eventually I answered with, "Both" even though I obviously didn't care about the tennis. When we told this story to my signother's mom, she said, "Oh, so you got a real London cabbie then!"

Katrina From Germany

This one isn't really a tale of my travels so much as a tale of hers. I was in New York City which is only a two and a half hour trip for me and I go there every few months but I was mostly going to be on my own. I had come down to see my friend Alex but I stayed around to go see "Once" by myself right before the Tonys. Courtney, another friend, kept me company waiting in line for tickets and, because Courtney's really friendly, we talked a bit to the girl behind us about my and her odds of getting tickets. Luckily, she ended up getting the last one and I was sitting next to her during the show. At intermission, we talked the whole time about how she had just graduated college and was going on a trip around the world. This was her one day in New York before heading to DC and seeing "Once" had been get biggest wish. We talked about places we love and the show and then settled in for the second half. When the show was over we parted ways on the street and I asked her name, realizing then that I never had before.

The One Employee At The Dublin Writers Museum

On our first trip to Ireland, the signother and I stayed with a friend of his family's and after going to his office and eating lunch with him, we headed out on our own. Our first stop on an unusually warm day was the Dublin Writers Museum where there was a guy standing outside in the sun. He told us the museum was closed and then admitted he was joking and motioned us inside. It turned out he was the only person working there and there was no one else in the museum so he had been trying to enjoy the rare rain-free day. He gave us our audio guides and I walked over to the door to look at a drawing of James Joyce, accidently setting off the alarm on the guide that is meant to keep people from stealing them. The guy motioned to me with a look of joking disgruntlement as he reset my guide and told my signother to keep an eye on me. Later, I dropped my camera on the ground and looked over to see the guy shaking his head at me. He kept the act up the whole time we were there.

The Two American Girls On The Tube

I lived in Boston for three and a half years. This is important for understanding my behavior. During my second trip to London the signother and I were trying to make our way to St. Paul's Cathedral and had just gotten onto the platform when the doors of the subway were closing. I did what seemed natural: I made a running dash for it. I ran and jumped and the doors tried to crush me to death. Now, in Boston, if there's an obstruction in the doors, they open again so I did this thinking 1.) they would only tap me and 2.) they would then open so he could get on. Instead I had to wiggle my way onto the car with horrified onlookers. Two girls asked if I was okay and I assured them I was fine and that my partner knew the way and we'd meet up when he got there. In the excitement, it took me a few seconds to say, "Oh, hey, you're American!" They said they went to school in DC and it was their first day there and they were on their way to St. Pancreas to see platform 9 3/4 (although they obviously said King's Cross). I told them I had never been and they asked if I was familiar with London and what would I recommend. I tossed out a few obvious suggestions because, heck, I don't know what they like, and got off before them, meeting up with the signother when the next train arrived. What a welcome to London.

Maple Candy Guy In Montreal

After quite an experience driving up to Montreal with instructions written on a paper bag, arriving late, having trouble parking and needing to call Quebec Tourism, and then finally meeting up with my friend Ana, we ended up having a good day exploring Chinatown and Old Montreal. Inside Bonsecours Market there was a gift shop we went in so Ana could get some maple syrup. The guy working there overheard us talking in English and then asked us in rapid, heavily accented English if we realized that Canada has its own white house and that they offered it to Obama when he visited but he refused and then pointed to a shirt that said "Canada's White House" with an igloo. We laughed and he asked us where we were from. On hearing that Ana was from Brazil and up visiting her cousin, he told us all about Canada's immigration laws. Then, on seeing that Ana was getting maple syrup he started explaining the different concentrations of maple syrup and gave us each a piece of maple candy. When we left Ana said he was nice but by the end she could barely understand him because he was talking so fast and admittedly I was having a hard time of it too.

Curious Border Patrol Guy

Obviously, being from two different countries makes people very curious about the relationship between me and my signother but I don't think either of us has encountered a more curious stranger than this one guy at the UK border patrol. After visiting Paris and Amsterdam, we were coming back into the UK to go to the opera for his dad's birthday and to road trip up to Scotland. While he breezed through the EU passport line, I had to talk to someone about my intentions which went something like this: "Why are you coming to the UK?" "Spending time with my boyfriend." "Is he American too?" "No, British." "Are you staying with him?" "Yes, in Wimbledon." "That's a very long distance relationship." "Yeah." "How did you two meet?" "Online a few years ago." (I have a ton of London stamps in my passport so he knew I had been there before). "That must be hard. How often do you see each other?" "Twice a year if we're lucky." "Wow. Is he traveling with you now?" "Yeah, he's right over there" (I point to him waiting behind the gates clearly wondering why I'm being interrogated when I've been to England so many times before). "Huh. Most people wouldn't be able to do that." "Well, we're not most people, I guess." (Finally stamps my book). "Well, enjoy your time together!" "Thanks."

Joe, The Australian

During a mildly conflicted trip through Ireland the signother and I stopped off in what ended up being one of our favorite Irish towns: Kilkenny. We went to Kilkenny Castle and Rothe House and then realizing we still had some time before stuff closed we looked at the free little map we got at the castle and realized there was a brewery across the street called Smithwick's. Neither of us had tried the beer before but we figured what the hell and went. We had a really fun tour guide named Shelia and the only other person on the tour was a guy named Joe from Australia. He had graduated college and was travelling through Europe and America, his journey eventually ending in Brooklyn where his sister lives. At the end of the tour we each got pints (the beer's really good by the way) and the three of us sat and chatted until they kicked us out. We gave him suggestions for what to do in New York and Brooklyn and he told us about the weirdness of shooting a gun in Texas (which neither of us have done) and then we parted ways as he went off to catch a bus to Dublin. Shelia took a bunch of pictures of us throughout the tour so Joe remains the only stranger I have pictures with.

The Two Nicest Guys In Milan

The signother and I lived a tourist's worst nightmare in Milan. After getting off the train from Verona, we headed over to where the hotel we were staying at was supposed to be only to find an office building. Multiple attempts to call the hotel wouldn't work from his phone and we realized we were stuck with no plan. He asked a janitor in Italian about the hotel, which he had never heard of, and then soon an accountant whose office was in the building joined in. It would take too long to explain the full story but ultimately, the accountant let us use his phone to call the hotel, let us store our bags in his office, and recommended a great, really cheap restaurant nearby. The janitor let us sleep in his office for two hours (we were both sick) and then went with us to check out the room we were given (which sucked) and to help us deal with the guy who "ran the hotel" and screwed over both us and many other travelers. Both the guys kept insisting that "true Italians" would never do something like this. We tried to give the accountant money but he refused. The janitor had left by the time we came back so we slipped money under his office door with a note of thanks. The kindness of strangers can be amazing. 

Siena Bus Station Guy

While all the stories on this list are of people who I encountered who were nice or funny and who I chatted with for some amount of time, this guy did not fall into any of these categories but was very memorable. After a seemingly neverending bus ride from San Gimingano to Siena, we finally got to the station and realized we had no time to explore Siena because we had dinner plans with friends of the signother's parents and we needed to find a bus to the nearest stop to their house in nowhere Tuscany. On asking the guy working at the station when the next bus was he told us it was departing from the other station in a few minutes. We asked if there was any way we could get there in time and he said with more laughter than I have ever heard in the voice of someone who wasn't actually laughing, "it's impossible!" At this point I was so broken and tired I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Things worked out all right. The friends picked us up from Siena and we had an hour to explore the signother's favorite Italian city but I will always remember the guy who made no attempts to hide his schadenfreude.

Here's to meeting more interesting people in Denmark!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016 Potentially Oscar Nominated Movies

Ah, yes. My yearly roundup of everything I've seen. I've been much more on the ball this year than in previous years and I only have six movies left from this year on my watch list with "Son of Saul" being the only one I want to see before the Oscars air. In spite of how diligent I've been, I definitely feel like my relationship with award-nominated movies has changed this year in a fun, new way: apathy. I am done with watching things just because they were nominated for an award and I can tell you exactly when I reached this breaking point.

This year my movie watch list hit an all time high of 450 and I realized that life is way too short, especially when I also have a book read list of 220 (many of which I thankfully own) and a television watch list of about 9 completed shows and 5 currently airing potential watches (that seems short but television is a real time commitment). So, I went through the whole list and removed a ton of things that no longer seemed important or appealing and then binge watched every movie on my list that I could find on Netflix. Yes, it was exhausting and I really should never movie binge again. 

In the middle of watching "The Aviator," a perfectly decent Scorsese film, it just occurred to me that I no longer want to bother with movies I don't care about. I don't care if the director is usually good; if they aren't one of my must-watch directors, I'm not bothering if it doesn't interest me. I don't care if it has a high Rotten Tomatoes rating; I'm not watching another sports movie. I don't care if I've seen the first two; if I wasn't too into it, I don't need to complete the trilogy. And I am going to need something more than "white guy struggles against adversary" if I'm going to watch the movie.

In this spirit, before talking about movies I saw, I'm going to list some movies I have not seen and don't really care to with explanations why. Maybe I'll watch them one day if they stand the test of time or someone I know recommends them but I'm not going to actively seek them out or put them on my list.

Movies I Don't Really Care About:

The Martian: My signother saw this movie and he has a much higher tolerance for not great space movies than I do and he said not to bother unless you really want to see lots of Matt Damon messing around in space. I've seen the clip with Sean Bean making a "Lord Of The Rings" reference and that's honestly all I need. I'd rather just watch "Moon" again.

The Big Short: I read the description of this once and was convinced I had already seen it. Maybe there hasn't been a movie like this before and I've just seen too many movies. Lots of white guys, I know that much.

Bridges Of Spies: Actually this one seems like the one I'm most likely to randomly watch one day because it's historical and about the Cold War. I'm just instinctually put off by the fact that Steven Spielberg directed it (I'm just done with his schmaltzy, emotional directing style) and the fact that it sounds like a James Patterson novel.

Steve Jobs: "white guy struggles against adversary". Also, Windows all the way.

Joy: David O. Russell is nothing special and every movie I have seen by him has been underwhelming ("Silver Linings Playbook" was the least underwhelming, "American Hustle" was two hours I'll never get back). I could not care less about this movie. Also why is Jennifer Lawrence always playing so much older than she is? And, as great as she is, she has done way better than this movie and probably doesn't deserve the Oscar nomination this time.

And now the proper list. You will notice that this year I saw a ridiculous amount of movies (and these are just from this year; I saw just as many if not more from previous years) so I will be very brief. As always, the order is partially nonsense and ones with plus signs are movies that weren't nominated for Oscars (usually films I saw earlier this year or movies nominated for other awards). I'm not starring movies for Best Picture this year because of my blatant disregard for the Academy and because my picks would obviously be the first four movies I listed below plus one of the first three + movies that I loved that the Academy ignored. 

Previous Years: 2015  2014  2013  2012  2011

Movies I Loved:

Room: My second 5 star movie of the year.

Spotlight: Amazing story and cast. Minimal camera work.

Brooklyn: I felt a lot of things about everything about this movie.

Mad Max: Fury Road: Like getting punched in the face by God.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: I am a nerd but I can acknowledge the flaws.

Ex Machina: I love low-key cerebral sci-fi.

Tangerine+: I really liked it. Then I watched it again and fully realized its awesomeness. 

What We Do In The Shadows+: My first 5 star movie and uncontested fav for a long time. Comedy does not get enough credit.

The Duke Of Burgandy+: An intelligent S&M movie with amazing sets and costumes? My life.

Girlhood+: Such good gender dissection. Love it more every time I think about it.

Mustang: Speaking of gender stuff.

Phoenix+: World War II noir with complicated relationship. Yes.

World Of Tomorrow: Liking the existential dread today?

Anomalisa: Didn't get the hype until about halfway through. Then I really got it.

Inside Out: The logic behind this movie is a thing of beauty.

Amy: Really honest documentary. Great sad double feature if you pair it with . . .

Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck+: Amazing journey into this man's mind.

Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison of Belief+: Needed to be done and done well.

The End Of The Tour+: Perhaps it's more a great story than a great story, well told but whatever, I love this.

Mistress America+: Hilarious and affected me on a level too personal for me to be unbiased.

Movies I Really Liked:

Carol: Only my second favorite lesbian love story of 2015 (see: "Duke Of Burgandy" above).

The Revenant: Beautiful direction, okay plot, a bit overly long.

The Hateful Eight: Not Tarantino's best but darn fun.

45 Years: I love character studies.

CInderella: Who would have thought this would be so well thought out?

Sicario: I wasn't as wowed as everyone else but this really is a good one.

Straight Outta Compton: Solid biopic brought down by very obvious rose tint.

When Marnie Was There: Studio Ghibli is here for your heartstrings.

Boy And The World: A really pleasent acid trip.

Crimson Peak+: My favorite not-amazing movie of the year. It has everything I like in it.

It Follows+: Every year produces one really solid horror film. Here you go.

Clouds Of Sils Maria+: Two characters in a room is everything I write in my own life.

Beasts Of No Nation+: Where's Idris Elba's nomination? Seriously.

Testament Of Youth+: I'm trash for anything World War I.

Dope+: More good teen movies, please. This was delightful.

Me And Earl And The Dying Girl+: Delightful teen movies, part 2.

99 Homes+: Good job making something kind of boring, interesting.

White God+: Puppies! And racism metaphors!

The Tribe+: Hardcore crime movie.

A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence+: What did I just watch? I liked it though.

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter+: Journey over destination. Reminded me of "The Big Sleep" in a weird, good way.

Goodnight Mommy+: Freaky thriller. Kind of predictable twist.

He Never Died+: Henry Rollins in the role he was meant to play.

The Last 5 Years+: Good adapation of a stage musical that I really like.

Trainwreak+: Funny and felt very real.

Diary Of A Teenage Girl+: Unrelatable to me. Smarter than you might notice. Sex is icky.

The Gift+: Somewhat unexpected psychological thriller.

Man From Reno+: Still not sure of the plot but it was captivating.

India's Daughter+: I'm not done crying yet.

Dior And I+: As a Dior fan, I was all about this.

The Wolfpack+: I'm a voyeur who likes seeing people liberated and discovering life.

Hot Girls Wanted+: While slanted, this one showed a new side to porn outside the pro.

Batkid Begins+: Warms the heart and then makes you a bit concerned.

Movies I Liked:

The Danish Girl: Beautiful visuals! So-so everything else.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2+: Still not sure the split was necessary.

Suffragette+: Pretty good historical film. I was engaged but not blown away.

Jimmy's Hall+: I think I expected this to be better but it was still fine.

'71+: Ditto, expected to be better but fine. 

He Named Me Malala+: Best part: Malala googling guys she thinks are cute and denying it.

The Final Girls+: I got a lot of laughs. Sometimes I just need movies to be fun and this was.

The Night Before+: Ditto plus Michael Shannon. 

The Overnight+: Not as many laughs. Mostly odd but engaging.

Unfriended+: Dead teen horror movie but I was really into how it was done.

Kingsman: The Secret Service+: Action movie with a cup of tea. Kind of silly but mostly fun.

Movies I Thought Were Okay:

To Write Love On Her Arms+: I actually thought this would suck. Not bad at all really.

Paper Towns+: Perfectly fine teen movie overshadowed by better teen movies.

Pitch Perfect 2+: I got some laughs but not very memorable aside from Flula Borg.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel+: They shouldn't have made a sequel.

Maps To The Stars+: Cronenberg, you gotta step it up. This was messy.

Movies I Thought Were Over-rated:

The Age Of Adaline+: Only overrated because this movie was really not good. I kept looking for a purpose and couldn't find one.

Movies I Didn't Like:

Jupiter Ascending+: Watched it on Bad Movie Night. Cool visuals though.

Hot Pursuit+: Saw at drive-in. Played 20 questions the whole time; it was so bad.

The Boy Next Door+: Watched knowing it was suck. It did. I was pleased.

Fifty Shades Of Grey+: Hey, still 100x better than the book. There was a screenwriter!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How To Be Cool

Allow me to immediately invalidate everything I am about to write with this admission: I'm not cool. I don't really know what cool is. Cool to me is an abstract and debatable concept like "what is art?" or "what is existence?" However, in spite of my own personal feelings on this and the fact that no one can fully agree on what exactly defines something as "cool", I think I do know the secret to becoming cool. In the same way no one can really agree on art or existence, humans as a collective all seem to agree on a basic, flawed idea of what it is and that's what I can teach: how to be cool in the generally accepted definition of the word to the population at large.

I came by this secret knowledge through years of effort and eventually a revelation. People who have been cool their entire lives probably have this revelation at a young age and then live up to it from then on. Some people will never realize it and even if I explain it, you still might not be able to actually do it. Hank Green has a great video on how to escape the friendzone that is 100% accurate but once you watch it you realize it may not be something you could ever do yourself and that's okay. Maybe you'll find a way to be cool some other way but honestly, I have never seen anyone accomplish it differently.

So now with all the necessary disclosures out of the way, here's a story. For the first ten years of my life, I tried really hard to fit in. Fitting in is not a bad thing, mind you, but I was bad at it. I was able to make friends with people who were pretty and popular and I consumed the media and culture that was popular at the time which made it easy to belong. The problem was that I couldn't keep it up convincingly for very long once you started to get to know me. I didn't think any boy band members were cute and my favorite pop songs were always the weird album tracks no one liked. I didn't dress stylishly because I mainly just let my mom buy my clothes because I didn't know how to have a personal style and generally didn't like whatever was trendy and age appropriate (I wanted to dress more classically adult and somber in a children's section full of bright colors and strange late 90s styles). I thought a lot about my own mortality. I was smart but not witty or clever, my jokes fell flat, I wasn't pretty, my only somewhat notable accomplishment was being the 4th best artist in my year, and I got way too into the worlds of books and television that I liked and made up stories about them in my head. I couldn't be honest with my friends because I knew if I was, they would think I was weird which meant I was the opposite of fitting in.

I went through a depression that started when I was 11 that I think may have been caused by being unable to uphold the facade anymore and ended when I was 13. That might seem short for a depression and something you could easily write off as preteen angst but it was a really hard time for me when I lost all my friends and cried almost every day. However, during one lucid day, I stood in front of a mirror and thought to myself, "You think you're ugly and dumb and not worth anything. What do you need to do to be satisfied with yourself?"

And that's the only step to being cool: Don't give a damn what anyone else thinks of you.

This sounds simplistic, I know, but for most people it's impossible to fully accomplish or at least takes many years. You need to throw out everything you know and start from the beginning. Stop paying attention to trends or at least stop caring about them. Don't buy any clothes you don't absolutely love just because you think you need more. Style your hair the way you think looks best. Decide "social acceptability" is just a hindrance on your happiness. Search deep for music you really enjoy that makes you feel something real and ignore the radio. Stop doing things because you think you have to and try to figure out what will really make you happy and then work towards that instead. Throw out idealism for goals that are reachable even if they take work to achieve. Make efforts towards improving yourself in the way you think is most important. Want to be smarter? Read more. Want to be funnier? Watch how others do it and learn how to think on your feet. Want to be kinder? Do more for others and it will come naturally. 

Eventually once you are far enough into this mindset, you will get better and better at expelling outside influence. You will probably lose friends but you will make new ones better suited to you as you really are now. You might realize that when you really stop and think hard about your own life, that you will need to change everything you thought you would do and that's okay. As long as you are living, you get as many chances as you need to pick a new path. 

And if you are someone who is able to really detach so fully from all the world is trying to tell you, you will start to realize that people look at you differently. Even if people don't like you (and this process will likely increase the amount of people who don't like you honestly) they will probably respect you deep down. People might start telling you that you are cool or that they love how you are so "you."

And if this has really worked, you won't care at all. Once you are truly cool, being thought of as cool is something you couldn't care less about. You will like who you have become, the people you surround yourself with, and the way you live your life and who cares if someone else likes it or not.

Cool people do not need approval. That's what makes them cool.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Discussing "Lord Of The Rings" Via Text

Not long after I read Lord Of The Rings for the first time and finally got what all the fuss was about (I had liked and seen the movies a couple times, of course, but I wasn't obsessed and I found The Hobbit novel to be only okay) my friend Caroline, a LOTR fan since she was a kid, decided to relisten to the audiobook. Here are texts exchanged between us on the topic, only lightly editted to make them easier to read.

The Fellowship Of The Ring

Caroline: I'm doing a LOTR re-listen.
Kay: I'm on a LOTR binge after reading the book. Adam and I are in an extended edition watch. This Friday is Two Towers. And Zeyd and I watched the Rifftrax in Italy.
Caroline: Nice! Had you read the books before?
Kay: No. First time. Zeyd helped with some details because his friends are obsessed so he knows by association. Adam too. It was his copy I borrowed.
Caroline: LOL. I also know many things. I just got to the hobbits meeting Stryder so I'm very excited.
Kay: That's when shit gets real.
Kay: Oh man, you should have seen the commentary I had going with Zeyd while I was reading. So many thoughts.
Caroline: It is! Plus every time I go through it, I am reminded that Aragorn is SKETCH AS FUCK and also my favorite.
Caroline: I am SO DEPRESSED that I missed out!
Kay: I could find some of it. I did it while watching the movies too. There were a lot of comments like, "Wow. There's a lot more romantic tension than I remember. It's like everyone is in love except Merry and Pippin who are just bros" and "it's distressing how Aragorn is hot but Viggo Mortensen isn't. How?"
Caroline: That is confusing. He was HELLA HOT in the movie and not otherwise.
Kay: Right? Also definitely hotter the grungier he was.
Caroline: I feel like everyone else thinks Merry and Pippin are in love.
Kay: Probably.
Caroline: Very true.
Kay: Also while reading I may have sent a few messages to Zeyd that said something like, "OMG FARAMIR AND EOWYN."
Caroline: RIGHT. Movie Faramir is such a fail compared to Book Faramir.
Kay: Right? After reading I was so ANGRY none of that made it into the movie and so much was changed.
Kay: YESSSS. When I rewatched the film I was like WHAT WHY
Caroline: I was SO MAD. I love Faramir.
Kay: Agreed. I really should have texted you more while reading. Haha
Caroline: You should!
Kay: I'll try to find some of the weird things I said. I remember bitching about how long it took Frodo to start his journey.
Caroline: He fucked around 5ever.
Kay: So many real estate issues. Also fuck Tom Bombadil.
Caroline: LOL. Right? I almost didn't start it because I'd have to get through that part.
Kay: Yeah, it's a little rough for the first 100 pages. Once they get to Bree the plot picks up quickly. I breezed through Two Towers and Return.
Caroline: Yes yes. Although I really like that the movie alternates between the ring story and Aragorn's story. Just reading the ring story for hundreds of pages is rough.
Kay: Especially at the end. Frodo starves for a long time before they destroy the damn ring.
Caroline: Yeep.

Caroline: Traveling with a broken sword seems bad for self defense.
Kay: Yes but it depends on the way, I think.
Caroline: Oh?
Kay: A broken sword could become a dagger.
Caroline: True, although I don't know that Aragorn was using shards of Narsil as a dagger.
Kay: Right, right just saying. I'm sure he has more than a broken sword but he does show it as proof of not having a sword. He's sketch as hell yo.
Caroline: So sketch. What does he do? Fist fight people. It's almost as concerning as Legolas' never ending arrows in the movie.
Kay: So weird. Why do archers never run out of arrows?
Caroline: At least Katniss spends a fuck ton of time thinking about it. And does run out once.
Kay: True. Not in the movie but in the book she's always on that shit.
Caroline: Mhm. I'm always amused by people who act like the fact that Katniss doesn't get her period in the arena is a logic fail. Like they stop everyone from growing BODY HAIR. I'm betting they have the power to stop that too.
Kay: Right? You can stop your period in the world as it is right now!
Caroline: Exactly. Remember that time Aragorn decided that they should go to Weathertop and DICK AROUND on the off chance that they'd accidentally show up at the exact moment as Gandalf?
Kay: Ranger skills!
Caroline: Didn't work.

Caroline: "Where is Sauruman? What is his council?" "It turns out Sauruman is suffering from a touch of . . . evil."
Kay: Haha. Adam and I watched Two Towers extended last night.
Caroline: I love Two Towers.
Kay: I love when Sam says in Osgiliath, "We aren't even supposed to be here" because no, no you aren't. This didn't happen in the book.
Caroline: RIGHT? I forgot, did you watch all of How I Met Your Mother?
Kay: I have.
Caroline: Listening to LOTR on audiobook is funny because every once in a while when they say "ringbearer" I think of Barney saying "ring bear."

Caroline: You'd think it would have occurred to Sam that bringing a pony along on a journey on which all of the people, hobbits, elbows, dwarves kind of think they might die might be bad for the pony.
Kay: Poor Bill. Also, elbows. Damn you autofill.
Caroline: Yeah, I was texting with Siri.

Caroline: It's always interesting how truely unfit for this kind of journeying the hobbits are. Sam is not at all built for this but here he is. Frodo is the only one who had any idea what he was walking into.
Kay: Yeah, true. Also amazing: the lack of maps.
Caroline: Right? I'm not sure that "we sort of know where we're going" was really the best idea in terms of directions.
Kay: Yeah, let's just take off without a guide. We'll be fine.
Caroline: "Let's not consider the possibility that we might have to go to Moria and not make any contigency plans."

Caroline: Poor Boromir. So grumpy.
Caroline: Legolas is bitchy and really into trees.
Kay: Well, he won't have much to grump about soon.
Kay: And yeah, that's Legolas. He loves those freaking trees.
Caroline: Ouch. He'll have to get through Lorien first.
Caroline: Legolas: "I love these trees. I am so into these tres. I'm going to climb this tree and marry it. Or sleep in it at least." Pippin: "Slow your role, dude. I can't really sleep in a tree." Legolas: "Bitch, dig a hole then if that's what you freaks do. But you better dig fast."
Kay: Legloas' true love is indeed a tree. But since the tree cannot consent to being with him forever he defaulted to Gimli.
Caroline: True. Although he and Gimli are still in the "enemies" part of enemies to lovers where I am. Gimli just got un-blindfolded.
Kay: Racist elves, man.
Caroline: So racist. "It's not ME who's racist! It's just our super racist laws."

Caroline: The Legolas and Gimli bromance is on. Flowery much, Gimli?
Kay: Flowery?
Caroline: In his speech. His creepy obsession with Galadriel has begun.
Kay: Oh yeah. An obsession that takes him to the Undying Lands. Or maybe it's Legolas' love that does. I like to think it's both.
Caroline: Probably both.

Caroline: Boromir is such a dick.
Kay: Very corruptable. Decent minion potential.

Caroline: I like that Sam is the voice of reason here. "He's not wondering which way to go. Literally why would he go to Minas Tirith?"

The Two Towers

Caroline: I forgot Boromir doesn't die in The Fellowship Of The Ring book.
Kay: Yeah it feels weirdly cliffhangery compared to the movie.
Caroline: It also makes somewhat more sense to finish Fellowship with the fellowship completely split.
Kay: Yeah, it really does. I count this one of the biggest improvements the movies made.
Caroline: Agreed.

Caroline: We've got Eomer up in here.
Kay: I love the ambiguity of this text. Are you reading Two Towers or have you seen someone who resembles him (or is he in your house!)?
Caroline: Lol. All you really know is that he's somewhere.
Caroline: I started Two Towers.
Kay: That would have been the guess but I was sleepy when I read the text.
Caroline: I very much enjoyed your alternate theories.

Caroline: I like that Gandalf isn't like, "Yo! Bros! I'm back!" He just sucks around and lets them think he's Sauruman.
Kay: Gandalf is such a troll.

Caroline: Theoden be like, "I've realized Wormtongue is a douche. Let's RIDE TO WAR IN THE NEXT COUPLE HOURS. Who needs a plan? WE'LL FIND WAR SOMEWHERE."
Kay: Theoden got out of his trance like, "Shit, my muscles haven't atrophied?! I need to punch something!" He should punch Wormtongue really.
Caroline: Pretty much. "We're going to war?" "Which war, sir?" "Just fuck me up."

[insert discussion of Kay trying to explain to Caroline what the "Bone of Gondor" is and that it's a sex joke. She seems to finally get it at this point]
Caroline: I'm glad Aragorn has come to finally take the Bone of Gondor.
Kay: All night long.
Caroline: I hope he takes it gently. It's been a long time for Gondor.

Caroline: Gandalf: "Oh, I didn't do anything." Everyone else: "Dude, there's a motherfucking TREE ARMY."
Kay: Gandalf is a lying liar.

Caroline: I can't even deal with how dumb Rainbow Sauruman is.
Kay: Um, Rainbow Sauruman?
Caroline: Sauruman of Many Colors.
Kay: I think I missed this somehow.
Caroline: Yeah, he gives up being Sauruman the White and and becomes Sauruman of Many Colors. White is lamesauce.
Kay: Wow, I missed that entirely. I'm imagining Sauruman dressed like a pride flag.
Caroline: Right? It's not supposed to be but that's what I always picture.
Kay: So, where are you in the story?
Caroline: Theoden has just told Sauruman to go fuck himself.
Kay: Ah, yes. Theoden is back and ready to pick fights because he can.
Caroline: Yeeeep. And Wormtongue is about to throw shit. Also Legolas and Gimli have their honeymoon planned.
Kay: And Theoden is about to throw him.
Caroline: Nah, Theoden already did that.
Kay: Ah, I'm all backwards.
Caroline: They're at Isenguard. Helm's Deep is over. Fangorn and Helm's Deep.
Kay: Oh, okay. THAT time he tells Sauruman to fuck off.
Caroline: Right. To his face.
Kay: Yes. As opposed to cursing his bloody name in private.
Caroline: Right.
Kay: I think it was at this point that I stopped imagining Sauruman as this super powerful dude and more like an "I'll get you next time!" villian with his bumbling assistant.

Caroline: Sauruman thinks Gandalf is exactly like him.
Kay: Sauruman is a dumbass. I mean, he thinks conquering the Shire is a decent alternative to being Sauron's right hand man.
Caroline: It's ABOUT the same.

Caroline: The Rohan half of the book has ended and now I'm stuck with trying to get to Mordor.
Kay: Oy. At least you have Gollum being a weirdo instead of slow starvation.
Caroline: Lol. True.

Caroline: I feel like they should have taken more than one person who could use a bow.

Caroline: Currently, Gollum showed up five minutes ago and I already want to shoot myself in the head because of his dialogue.
Kay: Hobbitses.

Caroline: Gollum is now legit conversing with himself.
Kay: Well, when everyone else is sleeping what are you going to do? I'm watching the cast commentary on Fellowship.
Caroline: Nice! It's been ages since I watched it. Let me know if anything funny comes up.
Kay: Well, Dominic Monaghan likes pointing out whenever he thinks he looks handsome.
Caroline: Well, thank God you have that information.

Caroline: Do we think that anyone had a plan for getting into Mordor other than knock at the front door?
Kay: No. That was the whole plan.
Caroline: That plan needed some work. What was their next cunning plan? "Everyone at the count of three?"
Kay: Trojan goblin?
Caroline: Best. Plan.

Caroline: "I would not take this thing if it lay beside the highway." YEAH
Kay: I forgot that line.
Caroline: Canon Faramir is the bestest.
Kay: Fact. No lie, Faramir is my favorite dude.

Caroline: Obnoxiously meta discussion of stories.
Kay: What?
Caroline; Frodo and Sam are on about what it would be like if they were in a story.
Kay: Shh, don't tell them.

Caroline: Hobbits: "It seems like daylight isn't a thing that happens anymore. What's with that?" Me: "You're standing on the doorstop of Mordor and knocking. TAKE A GUESS."
Kay: Aside from like, the smoke and orcs and general evil, Mordor seems like a good place for a vampire like me.
Caroline: Yes.

Caroline: Sam defending Frodo is getting kinda . . gay.
Kay: The whole Shelob scene is a romance as far as I'm concerned.

The Return Of The King

Caroline: Pippin: "Why would Aragorn coming be a problem for Denethor?" Me: "Pippin, a turnip has a greater understanding of its life situation than you."
Kay: Well, Pippin also decided to pledge himself to a mad man without establishing any boundries. He's got some issues.
Caroline: LOL. Turnip.

Caroline: Pippin is currently kicking it with a 10 year old.
Kay: Well, they're the same height. Bere-whatshisface who thinks his dad could beat up your dad.
Caroline: Yeeeeep. That's the one.

Caroline: "There will be no dawn. The darkness has come."  Did we . . . know this was going to happen? I feel like people should have been warned.
Kay: "People of Gondor . . . I hope you stocked up on oil for your lanterns."

Caroline: Be literal worst thing that has ever happened and Pippin's entire life is food rationing.
Caroline: Siri decided to send that even though it made no sense.
Kay: Are these two things connected? Is the worst thing ever Denethor being a turd?
Caroline: LOL. Let me try again.
Caroline: The literal worst thing that has ever happened in Pippin's entire life is food rations.
Kay: Ohhhh okay. And yes.
Caroline: He's fled the pursuit of Nazgul, walked through the mines of Moria, and been dragged across Rohan by an army of Orcs. But give him a too small pad of butter and his life is over.
Kay: Hobbit priorities. Maybe they starve to death quicker than men.

Caroline: Today on Worst Dad Ever, out contestant is: DENATHOR.
Kay: He's the only contestant.

Caroline: Alas. Theoden was mighty, but he hath kicked the bucket.
Kay: RIP.

Caroline: I'm back on Return Of The King. In true Tolkein fashion, I will list 45 dead people. You've heard of two and you already know one is dead.

Caroline: "How dare you deny me the right to burn my own son alive?" "Look crazypants this may come as a shock, but the rest of us LIKE Faramir."
Kay: Haha, also he's a little not dead so maybe you wanna hit up the Houses of Healing instead of the pyre just yet?

Kay: Arr.

Caroline: "Gee, we haven't had a king in hundreds of years, but it sure would be fantastic if we had one now! The hands of a king are the hands of a healer." "Thanks, conveniently placed bearer of seemingly erroneous prophesies! We happen to have a king!"

Caroline: Poor Pippin is not cunning enough to get that the Mouth of Sauron totes told them that he didn't actually have Frodo.
Kay: Poor Pippin. So slow.

Caroline: SOME OF US have become rather too attached to our evil jewelry.
Kay: Haha. It goes so well with his cape!
Caroline: Sam's in the process of rescuing Frodo.

Caroline: They're cosplaying as orcs!
Kay: They'll be a hit at Gondor Comic Con!
Caroline: Totally!

Caroline: "The King? What king?" Did none of you pay EVEN A LITTLE ATTENTION?
Kay: Memos are slow in Gondor.
Caroline: And hobbits are slow everywhere.

Caroline: In a modern AU, Legolas is a musical theatre student who bursts into song every 10 seconds.
Kay: Yes! Adam and I kept shouting "No one asked you, Legolas" every time he opens his mouth in the film.
Caroline: LOL.

Caroline: Warden of the Houses Of Healing: "OMG YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE UP!!!1" Eowyn: "Isn't there somewhere I can go to find an honorable death?" Warden: "Ummmm n-o-o-o?" Eowyn: "Who the fuck is in charge here?"
Kay: Haha. Oh Eowyn, there's no death over here but there's a man who really wants to make a garden with you.

Caroline: Eowyn and Faramir are engaged. You are now at the point where you're like, "Yay! Almost done!" And then you remember, "Oh fuck. Sacking of the Shire."
Kay: Here's where I peace out and go read Farawyn fanfiction because I'm trash.
Caroline: LOL. Probs less exhausting than the Sacking of the Shire.
Kay: It's at this point in the story that Sam realizes he left the oven on and comes home to find that it's not as big a deal ass he thought.
Kay: as* WOW.
Caroline: LOL. It worked.
Kay: And don't forget the appendixes. I literally was so excited about those when I read it. I wanted more even though the journey had been long and sometimes painful.
Caroline: Impressive!
Kay: What is?
Caroline: Still wanting more.
Kay: Maybe I'm that special person who would read The Silmarilion and not hate it.
Caroline: LOL. I don't hate it. It's just got . . . sections to skim.
Kay: When I have less on my plate I'm totally gonna read it.

Caroline: "We come now at last to the ending of the fellowship of the ring." My feels!
Kay: Well you still get to read about how everyone weirdly decides when they get to die except Sam, Legolas, and Gimli who ultimately peace for the Undying Lands.

Caroline: We've let Frodo sail across the sea and reached The End.
Kay: Looking back, that took you very little time. You must audiobook it up a lot.
Caroline: I do! I walk two miles a day to and from work, I put it on when I drive, when I do chores . . .

And some Bonus Movie Rifftrax Commentary:

Caroline: I'd forgotten in the movie that Gandalf told Frodo that he'd meet him in Bree. Tends to lessen the "Where in all fuck is Gandalf?" drama.
Kay: True, true. I mean he's never there when he says he will be but at least you have a chance he might be instead of having no clue.
Caroline: Right. And he's not missing as long.
Caroline: Movie Pippin is HELLA stupid.
Kay: Yes. Are you watching Fellowship?
Caroline: Rifftrax, yeah.
Kay: Ahh, delightful.
Caroline: Why is Legolas Aragorn's biggest fan at the council of Elrond?
Kay: They go way back.
Caroline: Is the audio sync robot crying?
Kay: it might be. I can't remember but I think you're getting to my favorite part.
Caroline: "Crabine from Dunland!"
Kay: They get so excited about it.
Caroline: These guys keep trying to drive.
Kay: Drive what?
Caroline: To Mordor! Rental cars, cabs . . .
Kay: Haha. "So you wanna rent a car? Avis has a great deal going."
Caroline: "The one belt buckle to rule them all wasn't avalable."
Kay: Haha. I think you're past it now. I love the bit of "You have my sword" "And I'd like it back please." And then Boromir: "And you have my Glock."
Caroline: LOL. Way past it. Yeah. That part was great.
Caroline: OMG the number of Tom Bombadil jokes.
Kay: Yeah, they really miss him. Or like making fun of him.

Caroline: I'm back to watching Two Towers Rifftrax.
Kay: Anything good?
Caroline: They just referred to Mordor as "Detriot."
Kay: Haha, wonderful.
Caroline: And more Tom Bombadil jokes.
Caroline: Omg. Now they're making fun of Eragon.
Caroline: Gollum: "Swear on the precious." The guys: "And a nerd's online handle is born."
Caroline: "They always made her be Anakin because of her feelings about sand."
Kay: I love that.
Caroline: Remember that time Aragorn fake died in the movie?
Kay: Haha, yeah and had sex dreams?
Caroline: And made out with his horse?
Kay: Oh my God. Zeyd just said that.
Caroline: LOL. I see we're inventing gunpowder.
Kay: Indeed. And suicide bombers.
Caroline: Fun!
Caroline: "In time, Aragorn will die." A really short time actually. Like 5 minutes.
Kay: "On a post apocalyptic college campus."
Caroline: On the upside Liv Tyler's fake dad is way less scary looking than her real dad.
Kay: Too true.
Caroline: Faramir showed up to be a dick without my noticing.
Caroline: I had one entire wine and I think that, combined with Rifftrax, is making me too giggly to shower.
Kay: He really needs to chill in the movie. Also wish I was there. I am amused by tipsy Caroline.

Here's hoping we will watch Return Of The King Rifftrax together.