Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Remembrance of nerdy things past

Seven years ago, my husband and I moved into our house. The move from our apartment was anything but organized and it amounted, on the last day, to us basically throwing things into the trunks of our cars and then throwing those things into closets that we never opened again.

Now we're doing some deep cleaning, and I'm unearthing items long forgotten, including all of the things that offer irrefutable evidence of the fact that I have, actually, been a nerd my entire life. Among the geek-tastic items I've rediscovered:

+ A Star Trek: The Next Generation tricorder, given to me by equally nerdy friends as a gift on my 21st birthday. So yes, while other 21-year-olds were boozing it up on their big nights, I was scanning the sidewalk for dilithium.

+ A poem written by me, as a sixth grader, entitled "Ode on a Grecian Badger." I'll leave the content of that poem to your collective imaginations. Hint: it involves a badger.

+ A box the size of a Subaru filled with Star Trek novels. I pretended to be a literary snob in high school and college and used to force my then-boyfriend to buy the Star Trek novels for me as I stood in line next to him, holding my Times Literary Supplement beard, and shaking my head in mock disgust at his taste in fiction. Yes, I was a jerk.

+ An equally giant box filled with X-Files magazines, which was apparently my equivalent of porn because it was at the bottom of the closet and buried discretely under bank statements.

+ A slightly smaller box filled with Buffy shooting scripts. I'm not apologizing for that one. Instead, I will simply congratulate myself on not putting on my glasses and spending the rest of the night in a script-reading haze.

+ Pictures of Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn from the one and only Star Trek convention I ever attended. Now, I'm a fan of the conventions -- you know that about me -- but seriously, that was a scary crowd. Looking at the photo of Marina and Michael, I'm pretty sure they felt the same way. Of course, they could have just been scared of me, what with my filthy X-Files predilections.

+ Speaking of conventions, there's my "MST3K Conventio-Con Expo Fest-a-rama 1994" t-shirt! And my Satellite of Love pin. I wonder how many staff meetings I can wear that pin to before someone realizes what it is. Note to self: I now have the most awesome secret mission EVER.

+ A G-rated "Remington Steele"/"Black Stallion" crossover fan fiction, proudly signed by my nine-year-old self. Seriously. I signed it. What the hell?

And there you have it...The Closet Tour 2010: Full Disclosure. You may now point and mock, if so inclined. Or, you know, if you'd like to buy a case of Star Trek novels, I know someone who can hook you up.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nimoy and pie! Two delicious things that taste wait, that's creepy.

In honor of Leonard Nimoy, who yesterday announced his retirement from acting, I offer you this link to the Tumblr site "Nimoy Sunset Pie." You know how the title sounds kind of crazy and surreal? The site does not disappoint! For example, we have:

If I could fill my brain with awesome things every day, they would all look like this. I'm trying to think of a way I could get this tramp-stamped on my person.

Also, now I'm hungry...and want to watch "Fringe."

So long, Leonard. You were the most talented and least crazy member of the original "Star Trek" cast, and I always loved you for it. That and you always knew how to fill out a blue velour shirt. Le rowr and prosper, my friend.

Thank you to Ruth for the link!

Monday, April 19, 2010

My approval goes up to Eleven

Ooh, flashy light.

Say, how about this new "Doctor Who" fella? I like him! And, despite only having one episode to base this opinion on, I'm feeling pretty good about the new Moffat era of "Who"-dom.

Yes, I decided to be a good, honest, law-abiding American citizen and wait until this past Saturday to watch "The Eleventh Hour" on BBC America. It was totally worth the wait. Even my husband, who swore he would hate it just to show his allegiance to Tennant, was won over by the end of the episode.

I really loved the whole hour and will go out on a limb here and say I thought it was the best Doctor debut episode in all of new "Who" -- and I say this as a huge fan of Tennant's "Christmas Invasion." I thought "Eleventh Hour" was a rich, heartfelt, full story that went a long way toward establishing the differences between Ten and Eleven.

Right from the start, Matt Smith just owns the Eleventh Doctor. He's quirky and mad and funny in a dry, sophisticated gentleman way. He exudes a maturity that's in full keeping with a 900 plus year old time lord and goes way beyond what I would have expected from a 26 year old actor. His scenes with a young Amy were beautifully done. It wasn't cutesy or schmaltzy or any of the other horrible adjectives you could apply to a scene about a poor abandoned girl and a mysterious alien. Instead, it was sweet and touching...and hilarious. And I got honest-to-goodness teary-eyed when poor little Amy sat down on her suitcase to wait for the Doctor. It touched on every disappointing moment any child has ever suffered through.

Speaking of Amy, I like the grown-up version. I'm not quite 100 percent sold on Karen Gillan the way I am with Smith, but she's got a great energy and a terrific chemistry with Smith. And on my husband's behalf, I'm supposed to say she's hot, too.

I'm liking the new TARDIS too and sincerely hoping we'll actually get to see the swimming pool. And the library. And the library in the swimming pool.

Overall, I give this episode a solid A, and I can't wait for next week.

So what did you guys think?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Alice Forgets What the Dormouse Said

(I'm turning over the blog this afternoon to Brodie H. Brockie, Michigan-based international man of mystery and editor of the Cap'n Wacky's Boatload of Fun site. He's got an insightful review of the "Alice in Wonderland" movie, so enjoy! And be sure to share your thoughts on the flick, too.)

I hated Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" for a wide variety of reasons. I could go on at length (and have to some of my more patient friends) about how it bungles many of the characterizations and ideas in Carroll's two Alice novels, and about how the whole experiment feels like the worst kind of internet fan fiction writ large (creepy sexual tension between characters with no such relationship in the original much?), but I realize I'm in the minority for caring about those things. Instead, allow to me explain why I consider Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" a failure in and of itself, and it's cheap attempts at girl-power sentiment actually a bit counter-feminist.

At the start of the movie, we meet Alice, a teenage girl on the verge of womanhood who lives life in a sort of frustrated stupor. Her father used to support Alice's independent thinking and vivid imagination, but since his death, everyone has been telling her what to do, how to dress, how to behave, what to talk about, and what to think about. All of this is pushing her toward making one terrible mistake: accepting a marriage proposal from a big-nosed, weak-chinned, stuff-shirted twit. At the moment of truth, Alice at least has enough spirit left in her to ask for a moment to consider, runs away, spots the White Rabbit, and falls down a hole into a world she'd dreamed about as a child.

Once there, what happens? Naturally, in this weird, dreamlike funhouse mirror world Alice encounters a twisted version of what was happening above: everyone is telling her what they expect of her, what she should do, how she should behave, how she should dress, and what their society demands of her. Granted, some of the things they're telling her are more positive: she needs to be stronger, more vibrant, and she needs to slay the Jabberwock.

It's her destiny, they tell her.

The problem is, what NO ONE wants her to do, above or below, is the one thing little Alice had been so good at. No one wants Alice to actually think for herself.

So what happens? Incredibly, Alice goes along with the demands of the Wonderland (now - gag - Underland) crowd, suits up in armor far more constricting than the corsets she's complained about previously, and slays the Jabberwock, helping overthrow one monarch with another that she (and the audience) knows pretty much nothing about (if this Wonderland was really the more mature story it wants to be, wouldn't we need to know more about the "good" queen than she wears all white and talks in a lilting voice. Are people really buying white=good as a mature update?).

To reiterate: the story tells us everything that's going to happen as soon as Alice arrives in Wonderland, and then goes through with it just as it laid it out. Not only is that boring storytelling, it's nonsensical (and not in a fun way) as far as Alice's development. How does she gain the internal fortitude to tell the stuffy English to stop bossing her around by ACCEPTING the Underlanders bossing her around?

Worse, the script almost stumbles upon a much better idea: early on, Alice encounters the Bandersnatch - he's no Jabberwock, but he's a pretty fierce creature too. Alice is saved from his initial attack by the Dormouse who pokes out the beast's eye. Later, to get by the Bandersnatch, Alice returns the eye, and this act of kindness transforms the monster into an affectionate ally.

This plot point would've been a great micro-version of the encounter with the Jabberwock. A thinking Alice might've had a conversation with the monster, found out what it wanted, killed it with kindness, and turned it into an ally against the Red Queen. Instead, she does the most boring thing possible - the very thing everyone has told her to do - the very thing we were told she would do over an hour before - off with its head! Yawn.

Some hail this as girl-power progress. Sorry: a smart lady turning off her best weapon and picking up a sword instead is no kind of progress at all.

Contrariwise, it's nonsense.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Dr. Horrible as 8-bit RPG game

Found this on Topless Robot -- a site (or a person?) called Doctor Octoroc has redone "Dr. Horrible" as an 8-bit RPG game, complete with awesome Nintendo-style soundtrack. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

OUTRAGE! (58 points)

Well, it's official, the world's gone to hell in a handbasket: Mattel announced today that it's changing Scrabble rules for the first time since 1948 and now we can all use proper common people! You can use Jay-Z, presumably without the hyphen, and Zeppo and ZZ Top, if you can magically cough up a second "Z."

This annoys me. First, I'm aggravated because I'm old and don't like change. The addition of new Crayola colors squirrels me up for months. Second, throughout my lazy childhood, I tried probably half a million times to convince susceptible opponents that throwing down the "M-A-R-X" tiles was a totally legitimate move. But because I played with a bunch of ninny rule readers, they shot me down every time. So now, two decades later, Mattel gets around to changing its rules to fit my needs. Thanks for nothing, Barbie-pushers! Too little, too late.

I'm hoping protests break out soon, and we'll all figure out some passive-aggressive way to protest this, like holding little bags of noisy tiles and rattling around behind Mattel executives until they break. Of course, the downside to launching a successful protest is that no one will ever be able to legally immortalize your success by using your name to crush an opponent.


ETA: Or this might be some new urban legend. Oops. I'm still going to try and use it to my advantage wherever and whenever possible.

Monday, April 05, 2010

In which I become kind of bitchy and ask disparaging questions about stupid people

(Please note: the fact that I'm writing about stupidity guarantees I've made some sort of ass-hatted typo in this post, so I'm asking your forgiveness in advance. Thank you!)

Every time someone rockets into rush-hour traffic like a happy-go-lucky, dumb-ass Starsky and Hutch or uses the word "anonymous" when they mean "unanimous" or insists that Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt are the same interchangeable person, I ask myself the following question: are stupid people happier? And if so, how do I sign up?

Now, I'm no brainiac. Science makes no sense to me and I'm half convinced that physics is some kind of voodoo magic. The only foreign language I ever mastered was a dead one. And math, in my opinion, was something invented by a cruel man with an overfondness for parentheses. The elitist in me, though, does think I'm smarter than the average bear.

I used to think this was a good thing. Being smart meant I could do crossword puzzles and answer questions on "Jeopardy" with enough accuracy to make Alex Trebek choke on his own mustachioed smugness. It meant I could boast about my SAT verbal scores and secretly nursean esoteric crush on William Seward, way-dead secretary of state for Abraham Lincoln. My smartness made me feel special, different from the rest of the herd. (Moo.)

My brand of braininess, though, has yet to earn me a six-figure salary or the ability to figure out the difference between a stock and a bond. (One's a thing you make soup with and the other's played by Daniel Craig's abs, right?) And it hasn't really made me any happier. In fact, it's just given me more things to worry about. Will an asteroid hit the Earth and annihilate us like the dinosaurs? Stupid people don't worry about this -- mostly because they don't believe in dinosaurs. What if climate change kills our crops but someone forgot to close the door on the Doomsday Seed Vault? What if J.D. Salinger was just sitting on his ass all these years and never, ever wrote another story about the Glasses? Stupid people aren't stressing out about this stuff. They're putting quarters up their noses.

I've observed a lot of stupid people in my time, like the guy across the street who can amuse himself for hours by jumping up and down on his doorless car and then chasing the ice cream truck with a baseball bat. (That really happened, by the way. I'm pretty sure our local ice cream truck driver is some sort of pervert, though, so who knows who the bad guy was in that scenario.) There are people who don't even know the Holocaust happened or that Stalin starved millions during World War II -- their brains are untouched by these downers of reality, leaving more room for memorizing Daughtry lyrics. (Sorry, Daughtry fans. And when I say "sorry," I'm apologizing to your ears on your behalf.) And I have to wonder, are these ill-informed people happier than those of us who pay attention to the world around us?

I'm starting to think they are, and it hardly seems fair. Did I study hard in school and read book after book just so I could learn enough to bum me out by middle age? Would I be a more gleeful bunny if I just stopped paying attention and dumbed down? For example, today I found out that NASA is retiring the space shuttle at the end of this year and after that, anyone who wants to go to the International Space Station has to fly in one of those Russian Soyuz spacecrafts, which I'm pretty sure is like being rocketed into space in a Fiat with the windows open. Now, if I'd just remained ignorant about this fact, I'd still be under the impression that space shuttles were flying around in space like perky ten-ton ponies. But no, now I'm wondering if the Soyuz has seatbelts.

So what do you think? Are stupid people happier? Are we brainy types just making life harder for ourselves?