Sunday, January 12, 2014

Back To Who: Day of the Doctor Tiny Error I Can't Ignore

I just rewatched The Day of the Doctor for the first time in several weeks and for the first time after having a major nostalgia trip back to the Tennant era (which included finding copies of Doctor Who Confidential and some of the podcast commentaries- damn, that era was good to fans!).

While there are definitely big giant plot holes in the actual plot of the special, there was one little mistake that keeps bugging the hell out of me:

That picture of Rose is from Turn Left. It takes place in an alternate timeline and therefore didn't really happen in this U.N.I.T.'s reality.

I guess it can be reasoned away that Rose was working with U.N.I.T. in multiple realities, but I don't know if it makes sense for her to do so in timelines where the Doctor was alive. She was working with U.N.I.T. because there was no Doctor to find and she needed their help harnessing the Tardis's powers.

They should've used a picture from The Christmas Invasion, if they wanted to use a picture from a U.N.I.T. episode. Bah.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Post Polar Vortex

As is typical in the Chicagoland area, after our 12+ inch dump and -40F windchill lows, we're expecting to reach 40F as the high tomorrow. The upside is that everything possibly froze so much that we won't have massive flooding like we did when a similar large-snow-followed-by-sudden-warm-up back in November.

But there are still issues. Like these ridiculous icicles that are everywhere this week. I had the pleasure of having a leak in the ceiling above my cubicle this week, leading to panic about all the computers I'm constantly working on possibly being destroyed at any time by future other ceiling leaks.

And, while I'll be happy to see the snow and ice go, I realized last night that most of the snow everywhere is still pure white and undisturbed. As it was too cold for people to be out in it as much as usual- fewer children playing in the snow, fewer cars out (still) to turn the snow on the sides of the road a coal-like black. And just being so cold that the snow doesn't seem to be picking up as much dirt as it usually would. It's a shame to lose such pretty snow.

But not that big of a shame.

Mister Sandman? Bring me, Dream.

When I was growing up, trips to the bookstore with my mother were a regular treat. No sarcasm.

I would ask her how much I could spend, she would give me a limit, and then we'd part ways for at least an hour.

There were difficult decisions to be made. $25 could be split so many ways. It could be one to maybe even two hardcover books. It could be up to 5, if I played my cards right, paperback books. Maybe more, if I was feeling Dover-Thrift-y.

Or it could be one graphic novel.

As I didn't have a driver's license until I was almost 19 and didn't have money until I was in my twenties (and not much at that), I relied on my mother's bookstore trips to get the bulk of my graphic novels and comics.

When I was about 15 (maybe a little before I turned 15), I discovered Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, which, the time, had just recently finished its original run. I picked up the first volume collection, "Preludes and Nocturnes" and immediately fell in love. 

It was so perfectly paced. So delicately worded. Everything about it was so precisely... meant. The only issue I ever had with it was the quality of the art at times. Which is my major qualm about most comics most of the time.

But the story... the story is the thing.

I continued to read the series, but was only able to buy about one volume per year. Yeah. One per year. 

Once I did have a license and some money, I then relied solely on finding the next volume in person. No online purchasing. I'm not sure why I did this, as I love to buy stuff online, but there was something great about walking into a bookstore or comic store, finding the Vertigo books, and looking for the right volume. Often, the one I needed would be the only one missing (currently, this is my issue with Y: The Last Man). But the day I saw it and had the $20+ to buy it? That was a great day.

But then came my super-broke years, coinciding with the heart-breaking realization at the end of Worlds' End, which then I was just stuck with and unable to read the follow-up of. 

And I couldn't buy The Kindly Ones for ages yet, because it was so freakin' big and expensive.

The day I got my first big paycheck, I bought it. And read it.

And then I became overworked and at some point forgot that I had already bought and read it. For I bought it again last year. And read it again, saying, "Hmm, I've clearly read this before..." and then noticed there was already a copy (of a different edition version, at least, on my shelf).

But then, this year, I finally bought The Wake. And then proceeded to stare at the cover of my copy of The Wake. I knew what was coming- but would it measure up? Would I be heart-broken to see it end? I know there have been additional stories by Gaiman and others, in more recent years- but this was the original intended story. I knew it was going to have AN ENDING. But I wasn't ready for the ending, despite the thirteen years of build up.

In the end, I spent New Years Day, a terrible blizzard-y day anyway, reading The Wake. And it turns out, really, most of the story was actually already told. Which shouldn't be a surprise, as there had been 9 volumes worth of story the preceded it. But have you ever realized how many long arc multi-part stories often leave ALMOST EVERYTHING IMPORTANT to the last installment? I was expecting that. Instead, I got a well crafted story that had been wrapping things up all along. Something all stories should do but never actually do. Except for this one.

In some ways, it was a little too wrapped up. Half of the issue was indeed the ending and a respectable ending at that. But the rest was... added fluff. I know others will disagree, but I cared a lot more to see the actual wake and fall-out than to read about Shakespeare's life again or about a man and a kitten in a desert. And it made me appreciate those stories less because they came after the fact. I don't know why, exactly, I feel that way.

I thought I would have so many more thoughts on the subject once I finally finished the story. I thought I was going to have my mind blown and fucked with one last and very hard time. But, instead, I was given a lovely story with a lovely end. And I almost feel like I understand what it is to sit side-by-side with Death as you realized "Oh, this is it? Huh." but she continues to sit with you while you come to terms, quite and accepting of everything about you.

Okay, maybe that's not exactly what it feels like. Finishing Sandman was not like meeting Death.

But I don't really know where to go from here. When I finished the previous volumes, my mind would be reeling and I'd be both hopeful to soon pick up the next volume while also cautious of getting one step closer to the end, ending an experience that started when I was a very different person, and through various different versions of myself, I continued to love this series. What would happen when it ended? What would happen when I reached that book with the ominous title of "The Wake". 

I don't feel the need to pick up any of the spin-off or follow-ups. Not yet. It's too soon. But I feel like something needs to happen to signify that it was a major thing to finally finish the series. But I don't know what.

Because I don't know what I feel like, having finished it. What do I do now?

I mean, other than continue to think about how to put together an amazing Death costume for C2E2, that is.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Movie Palooza 2014

Thanks to the Polar Vortex, a scary snow-slip, and a well-timed lack of work, I spent several days in a row in bed just watching movies. And some TV shows. And reading a lot of fanfic, something I haven't done in years and feel like it's a dirty habit I've picked up after years of being clean.

But the point is the movies! In no order at all:

- Frozen. There are no words for how happy I am with Disney for finally, in recent years, thinking a bit more about the concept of "true love". Between Frozen and the first season finale of Once Upon a Time, I'm very impressed with how much the Mouse-produced stories are growing up. In addition to that: great singing (middling quality songs, to be fair- just catchy enough not to forget them all) and a great story (that, in a good way, has almost nothing in common with the Ice Queen fable, other than ice shards to the heart). The only story it could really draw a lot of comparison to is Wicked, also starring Idina Menzel, but Frozen is not nearly as depressing or disturbing. My score: A-

- The Heat. Another movie with two strong female main characters! Made in the same year! It's a miracle! It's a little over-indulgent in its own wackiness and runs long due to it, but ultimately a great buddy-cop movie with a great cast. My score: B

- Kings of Summer. There are some truly amazing lines in this movie, incredibly funny moments, and some great cinematography but it fell a little short emotionally for me. I just didn't like Joe or Patrick enough, to be honest, and felt that Kelly was little more than an object that could talk. This movie is all about the supporting cast and the dialogue, though, which are both fantastic. Especially Offerman. But when isn't Nick Offerman fantastic? My score: B

- The Way Way Back. This hit me in a spot where Kings of Summer just did not, for whatever reason. I loved seeing Duncan's change over the course of the movie. I loved that there was no easy fix to his relationship with his mother or her relationship with Trent. I love that the relationship between Duncan and Susanna actually has substance behind it, where they see common ground between each other. While not as packed with great lines as Kings of Summer, this feels more consistent and the supporting cast is given more to work with emotionally with their characters. My score: A

- Gravity. One of those movies where you keep checking the time because you can't watch someone be in misery for that long. Which is to say: IT'S AMAZING. But also: so, so stressful. The camera work is beyond impressive, making the long shots from Children of Men look like child's play. And, most importantly, I'm very distressed by how in the first set of credits, George Clooney has equal billing with Sandra Bullock. Which is ridiculous, as he's gone for most of the movie! It's her movie! Get the fuck out of here with that, George! My score: A

- The Dallas Buyer's Club. They went a little too far with making Ron as homophobic and shitty as possible in the beginning, but it is a good story. And while it may be a story that feels like it has been done before, there was an excellent topical angle to it: the corruption of the FDA, the high price for necessary medications, and healthcare rights in general. But without going "LOOK! This is just like NOW!" every five seconds. Amazing performances. A little too long. My score: B+

- World War Z. Made me want pancakes. And then made me bored and wish that Brad Pitt's family would die already so that the movie would start. Then I made pancakes and the movie still hadn't gotten interesting. How do you make zombies so uninteresting? When you have that many good script writers getting credit for their doctoring and you have one of the best books of the past twenty years as source material? How does it go so boring?! My score: N/A as I didn't finish it.

- Carrie. I gave up 9 minutes in when the locker room scene was a disaster. No one's reaction to the situation makes any sense. First off, from the amount of blood shown, Carrie clearly is actually hemorrhaging and not just having a period. Why didn't any blood show in the pool if she was bleeding that heavily? And the other girls seem to be in a completely different movie, as they are clearly not reacting to someone as worked up as ChloĆ« Grace Moretz was playing the character. If you can't make reverse shots seem to take place in the same universe, you're doing your job wrong. Especially when you're doing a scene as iconic as that one. My score: N/A as I didn't finish it.

- Behind the Candelabra. OMG, you guys, ROB LOWE'S FACE. Seriously. It is the greatest thing ever. You have to see it in motion, though, don't just look at pictures. As for the rest of the movie? It's a little bit better than your average HBO biopic. Michael Douglas is great. Matt Damon shows off his body a lot. My score: B

- Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story. Your average VH-1 biopic. Distressingly, most of the movie was recreating footage rather than filling in the gaps between footage, which results in very little character development other than on the surface. More than anything, it's a cautionary tale about signing contracts without looking at them and not having a clue about money. But I wonder if it's even relevant in this day and age, as the music industry is completely different now from how it was then. But also: I love TLC. My score: C

- The Great Gatsby. It's like a parody of a Baz Luhrman film. But way too freakin' long. Holy crap, is it long. After an hour and 40 minutes, I couldn't take it anymore. My score: N/A, as I didn't finish it.

- The Butler. It's good, but it could've been better. I'm so proud of Danny Strong for writing such a high-profile movie but... I feel like even the personal events in Cecil Gaines's life had all been seen before. The only interesting thing to me was all the stuff about how the wait staff functioned and interacted in the White House. And while I do think it's important to remind people of the horrors that happened during the civil rights movement, nothing shown was new nor was it very profound. Also, LBJ on the toilet will haunt me in my nightmares, but Yaya's black panther 'fro is the stuff of dreams. My score: B-

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Greetings From Inside The Polar Vortex

The picture shown here is actually from before the Polar Vortex. This is from last Thursday, also known as "We Were Idiots To Come To Work Today" Day. That was taken about an hour and a half after the sidewalks had been snowplowed. Yeah. To guess what it looks like today, add another foot and a lot of scary icicles.

I fucking hate winter weather.

This has been my sentiment for years, but the two hours I spent shoveling my car out of a snowdrift this morning certainly hit that point home for me again.

Thankfully, some "Shoveling Angels" came by and pushed my free in time to escape a parking ticket (although, odds are that the village is giving a grace period on our 8 AM to 10 AM mini-ban on Tuesday and Wednesdays and I didn't need to worry) and make it to work only an hour and a half late.

Are "Shoveling Angels" a thing for areas outside Chicagoland? Or is it up there with marking your parking spot with old furniture once you've dug it out?

Shoveling Angels are people that walk or drive around after (or during) extreme weather in the means of helping anyone they see that needs help. Often, it's a couple guys walking around with shovels thrown over their shoulders. The folks that helped me were a bit more prepared- they were in a big mother-effin' truck with several shovels. They may had also had a plow on the front of the truck, it was sturdy enough.

After they got me out of my stupid snowdrift, the man did politely ask for a couple dollars in return as I was already reaching for my wallet. I gave him most of the cash I had on hand, wishing I had a spare gift card of some sort to give him as well, but I did not. At the very least, I wanted to help cover the gas they were using to get around, not to mention something for the mere fact that I was terrified I was going to drive over the poor gentleman's feet at some point.

It's pretty typical to tip or gift the Shoveling Angels. It's basically an extended and more urban version of the boys that go around shoveling the driveways of everyone in the neighborhood. Yesterday, I saw a couple guys walking dow the middle of my street with shovels and then when they were walking back, they were shoveling the sidewalks in front of any buildings that hadn't had their walks already shoveled enough. Our walk was already shoveled, but I sort of wished I could quickly make some water or coffee to take out to them. They were out for hours and it really wasn't safe conditions- not to mention the lack of safety of walking down the middle of an icy road.

I'm so thankful for the existence of nice people like this, but at the same time, this past week has definitely soured whatever kind feelings I may had redeveloped about winter weather. If it wasn't for needing to be close to my family and being committed to my lease for another six months, I'd be dropping everything to find a way back to Arizona right now.

Hell, by the time I got to my office (a whopping hour and a half later than planned, as it took more than twice as long to make the drive for some reason), I had to really remind myself that I couldn't just drop everything and head for warmer climates.

Really, really remind myself.

I'd be heartbroken to not be able to see my sister's family as frequently as I have in recent months. My roommate would be shit out of luck if I left. My two retail jobs would be okay, but my office job would require at least several weeks of transition work and would struggle to cover for me at the upcoming conference at the end of this month.

But I want to leave. So much.

If I could get a really well paying job that allowed for me to live anywhere at any moment, allow for frequent trips to see my family (like, twice a month) while also letting me live where ever I wanted to be the rest of the time.. That would be lovely.