On the Virtue of Letting Things Be Things

So a trailer came out for Guillermo del Toro’s new movie:

Needless to say, I am pretty excited. Del Toro always has such great monsters, and already this has the feel of a non-traditional fairy tale. December is a long time to wait, but I’ll make it.

But then I perused the comments of the video.

About every other one was seizing on two things:

  1. The fishman in the trailer is played by del Toro vet Doug Jones.
  2. Del Toro previously directed the two Hellboy films, which feature as part of the cast the character Abe Sapien, a fishman played by Doug Jones.

This, to many of them, clearly meant that the fishman is somehow connected to Abe Sapien, and that therefore The Shape of Water is a prequel or otherwise connected to del Toro’s Hellboy films.

You hear that sound? That was my eyes rolling out of my head and across the abyssal plain of the oceans.

I sort of understand this compulsion to connect things up. Humans are good at seeing patterns, and many times we will see patterns where there actually aren’t any. The past decade’s spate of cinematic universes and extended universes and so on hasn’t helped things. People can and do and are encouraged to pick up on the slightest detail and demonstrate how it connects to something that may in some ways be unrelated.

But I think we’re losing something when we do that. I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I think it’s fine and dandy for what it is. But not everything has to be connected.

It is okay to just let things be things.

Let things exist on their own. They don’t have to be connected to an overarching universe to be good or interesting or worthy of our time and attention. Original stories are not bad. They’re actually very good, and del Toro is one of the few directors today who’s interested in providing those kinds of stories.

Another example of this ridiculous “everything is connected” nonsense is the people who insist, loudly and at length, that all the Pixar movies take place in the same universe. This because, for example, Pixar has snuck the Pizza Planet truck into all their films in some form or fashion. A signature reference is somehow proof that there is an overarching universe.

If I’m being honest, I’m not totally up on the Pixar Universe theory (I’d love to see how they justify The Good Dinosaur’s existence in this universe, since that film is pretty clearly an alternate history of Earth). But I despise it to the core of my being. Pixar makes amazing films (more of them could stand to be about girls and women, but). Why can’t those films exist on their own and stand on their own merits? Why do they have to be connected? What’s the point, other than the fact that it allows people to feel smug about “putting it all together”?

I don’t think I fully understand the mentality that leads people to do things like that. I believe there are similar theories about the Disney princesses’ films and it’s just… it boggles my mind. If anything, the show Once Upon a Time is proof of how ridiculous and messy things can get when a million stories all exist in the same universe.

There’s nothing wrong with letting original stories stand on their own. Absolutely nothing. I just wish I could get other people to understand it, because it feels like people are missing the trees for the sake of insisting there’s a forest.

One of These Days I’ll Learn Consistency: A Depression Story

So. I’m still alive.

The only surprise here is how bad I am at keeping up with this thing. When I started the new blog, I had all kinds of lofty ideas about keeping up with it. I’d do my Doctor Who reviews. I’d talk about movies. I do all KINDS of things. But here we are, nearly halfway through the year, and I can about count the number of entries I’ve made this year on two hands. At least that’s how it feels.

There aren’t any really acceptable excuses. Especially since I’ve been out of work for three months. And I can’t make time to write a blog post every week? Really? It makes me feel kind of pathetic, but I’m trying to work on not beating myself up about things anymore. Specifically, about not doing All the Things. It’s okay to not do everything you set out to do.

And yet I continue to hold myself to impossible, lofty standards. I wish I knew where to stop.

I feel like I should just give up. No more blog, no more nothing. Just sit around like a lump, because you’re not good for anything else.

Which is a lie depression tells me. I have to remind myself of that. It’s hard, though.

I have all the time in the world, but I don’t use it wisely. I just sit around refreshing the internet so I can consume more content, instead of making something for a change. This is something I say to myself a lot, but don’t do anything about. I could make things, but I choose to just consume them. But at the same time, I’m not acknowledging that making stuff can be hard sometimes, and that it’s okay to take things in. That’s what books and movies are all about, and I can’t imagine my life without those.

I just wish I could make more than I take in. I wish I could post here more often without feeling like an awkward cad. But it’s all a matter of consistency, which is something I’ve proven to be very, very bad at.

Oh well.

Forget it, Jake. It’s the internet.

Well That Was an Adventure From Start to Finish: The Joys of Temporary Work

This week started out on a hopeful note: I got a call from the temp agency telling me I’d been selected for a new position at a distribution plant in town. I had to go in and update my paperwork and take a drug test, but I had a job again! That was great.

Less great: the actual job. I made it through orientation all right, but then we (there were three of us temps starting that day) were thrown into the work. We were put in order consolidation, where the orders are put together for the packers. We were given some very basic training that I don’t feel adequately covered everything? But I’m one to talk. It didn’t help that there were lulls between the pickers arriving with the product to consolidate, and if there is anyone worse at looking busy, I would love to meet them, because I am terrible at it.

So that, coupled with the fact that I still wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to be doing, meant that I spent the first half of my shift having a mini panic attack. I probably should have taken one of my anxiety meds, which I had brought for the express purpose of staving off a panic attack, but it’s surprisingly hard to think about such things when you’re panicking. I still didn’t do all that great with the second half of the shift, either.

It was no surprise, therefore, when I got home and checked my phone to see that I had a message from the temp agency. Telling me that the company did not want me back the next day. I had a feeling I hadn’t done well generally, and it stung a little, but it wasn’t surprising. I’m not very quick on the uptake. I’m shy and sometimes afraid to ask questions. And I’m prone to panicking when I don’t know what I’m doing. Those things do not combine well with a fast-paced work environment.

So yes, that was an adventure. Not a great one, but it happened. I’m back on the list of available people at the temp agency, and hopefully something that’s more my speed will come up. I’m beginning to doubt it, but I live in hope, I guess.

May 2017 Goals

A day late, but hopefully not a dollar short, here are my goals for the coming month:

  1. Keep up with 3 soda days/week.
  2. Exercise. Go walking at the park or SOMETHING.
  3. Writing: at least 2k on various projects.
  4. Reading: finish reading Protector of the Small. Maybe read more if there’s time left in the month.
  5. Movies: watch 5 movies, new or old.
  6. Get out of the house for an hour or two at least every other day.
  7. Baking: bake cookies at least once. Maybe bake bread?
  8. Fiber arts: get the baby blanket at least 2ft long. Spin the rest of the white fiber.
  9. Video games: maybe start playing Trio of Towns again. Maybe.
  10. Blogging: post of blog at least once per week.
  11. Dreamwidth: keep updating. Keep up with tron_comm and gauge interest in an event or events for TRON’s anniversary in July.
  12. Bullet journal: seriously keep up with it. Stop leaving blank days and catching up after the fact.

I seem to be aiming ever lower with each passing month, but I’m kind of resigned to it at this point? I am not a great accomplisher of Things. I should just aim high enough that I can make it and maybe feel good about myself in the process. I want to stop feeling like a failure every month.

April: Goals Round-Up

So, to refresh, these are my April goals:

  1. I fell off the wagon with 3 sodas/week. Get back on it.
  2. Exercise 2x/week. Just do it.
  3. Eat better food. Somehow.
  4. Writing: write 1000 words for Camp NaNoWriMo.
  5. Reading: read the Protector of the Small quartet. Plus at least 2 other books.
  6. Movies: watch at least 10, 5 new to me.
  7. TV: catch up and keep up with Doctor Who. Ditto Steven Universe.
  8. Video games: get married, get all towns to S in 3oT. Try to get off the plateau in BotW.
  9. Baking: make and decorate cupcakes for Liara’s birthday. Maybe bake cookies while visiting Lia.
  10. Knitting: work on the baby blanket for Evelyn.
  11. Blog: post once or twice per week.
  12. Set up payments on my student loans.
  13. Have fun on my trip to visit Lia!

And this is how I did on them:

  1. Miss
  2. Miss
  3. Miss
  4. WROTE 7K SUCKAS
  5. Well I read half the Protector of the Small quartet. Does that count?
  6. I watched three movies I’d seen before. Whoops.
  7. Well I did not catch up on Doctor Who, but I started watching the new series anyway. BILL POTTS = LOVE
  8. I suddenly stopped playing video games this month. What even.
  9. HIT!! I made delightful cupcakes for my niece’s birthday party AND baked cookies with my friend while I was visiting her.
  10. HIT!
  11. Miss
  12. HIT!
  13. HIT!!

So that’s how my April went. I’ll try and have my May goals up asap, and will hopefully update you on my general life situation soon.

April 2017 Goals

This is a little bit late (a little bit? a lotta bit), but nevertheless, here are my goals for the month, which is already a quarter done. Whoops.

  1. I fell off the wagon with 3 sodas/week. Get back on it.
  2. Exercise 2x/week. Just do it.
  3. Eat better food. Somehow.
  4. Writing: write 1000 words for Camp NaNoWriMo.
  5. Reading: read the Protector of the Small quartet. Plus at least 2 other books.
  6. Movies: watch at least 10, 5 new to me.
  7. TV: catch up and keep up with Doctor Who. Ditto Steven Universe.
  8. Video games: get married, get all towns to S in 3oT. Try to get off the plateau in BotW.
  9. Baking: make and decorate cupcakes for Liara’s birthday. Maybe bake cookies while visiting Lia.
  10. Knitting: work on the baby blanket for Evelyn.
  11. Blog: post once or twice per week.
  12. Set up payments on my student loans.
  13. Have fun on my trip to visit Lia!

They aren’t as extensive as the last few months’ goals have been, but I think that this a level of activity that I can keep up with. I have a big trip to Pennsylvania planned later this month that I’m really looking forward to, and I’m hoping to read more books now that I’m finally done with The Name of the Wind.

What are your plans for this month?

March: Goals Round-Up

Well, after a crazy kind of month, it’s time for another round up of my monthly goals and how I did on achieving them.

  • Keep up with 3 soda days/week. Try to cut back to just 3 sodas/week.
  • Seriously start exercising twice a week. Either walk (at the mall or the park) or do the recumbent bike.
  • Eat better. More fresh food, fewer microwave options.

I did all right here. I mostly stuck to the soda rule, but I can’t really say I ate any better, outside of making and drinking a lot of smoothies. I didn’t really exercise a whole lot, either. Maybe two weeks out of four. I feel like it’s something I need to work on, but my days have been so void of motivation that I’m not sure how well that would work out.

  • Bullet journal: keep up with it all month. Keep up with the handwriting practice. Do #RockYourHandwriting every day.
  • Writing: write 1k. Finish those flash fics. Prep for Camp NaNo.
  • Reading: finish a damn book.

I’m proud to say that I kept up with my bullet journal, though I’m not quite so fastidious with it as I was at the beginning of the month. Still, I’m still doing it, and that’s what matters. I feel off practicing my handwriting, though. Rock Your Handwriting happened in fits towards the end, but I got it done. I did not get any writing of fiction done. I finished a book, but only one. As of the second of April, I’m still stuck on The Name of the Wind.

  • Movies: watch 10, 5 new to me.
  • Television: keep up with Steven Universe. Seriously catch up on Doctor Who. Everything else is a bonus.
  • Baking: bake macarons, that’s all I ask of you.
  • Video games: new games this month. Play them. Figure out the whole LP thing.
  • Knitting: finish the blanket; work on the scarf.
  • Practice ukulele twice a week or more.
  • Keep up with one blog post/week. Two if possible.

Well, on the bright side: I saw a few new movies. Kind of. More like two. And a half. I baked macarons just last week. I played the crap out of at least one of the video games. I finished the baby blanket finally. But… I didn’t work on the scarf. I didn’t keep up with any of my TV shows. I didn’t touch my ukulele. I barely kept up with posting to this blog. So that’s kind of a net zero, I guess.

  • Figure out student loans and what’s going on with them.
  • Save $400 if still employed. $200 if not.
  • Visit brother and SIL. Figure out if we’re doing Night Vale again.

I think I have my student loans figured out. Thank god. I managed to save quite a bit of money thanks to my tax refunds coming in. And I visited my brother, at least; my sister-in-law was unfortunately out of town for work.

So once again it was kind of hit and miss. Maybe I need to aim lower.

(Sorry that this is a bit morose. The last few weeks have been tough.)

Why I walked out of Beauty and the Beast (2017)

So here’s the thing: Beauty and the Beast (1991) is my very favorite movie. And Beauty and the Beast (2017) is the first movie I ever walked out on.

I’m not that proud of it. I wish I could have sat through the rest of it, but everything up to the point I walked out (when Belle snuck into the West Wing and subsequent conflict from that) was just Too Much, if that makes any sense. It probably doesn’t. Probably I’m just too nostalgic, or too much of a purist, or Too Much myself. But this film is trying so hard to play on viewers’ nostalgia, and to remind viewers of the 1991 original, that I can’t help but think it fell into its own trap. Every attempt to remind us of the animated film reveals what it really is: a pale, cold imitation.

But almost from the very start, the movie was distracting. The prologue’s narrator put the emphasis on the wrong words so often it threw me out of the movie. Emma Watson’s voice, autotuned or not, lacks any of the warmth of Paige O’Hara.  (And she still does that weird stuff with her eyebrows.) That’s something I could say about the “whole” film: it has no warmth, no joy. It’s trying so hard to be like the original that it doesn’t bother trying to do its own thing.

Mind you, I did like the things that were different, the brief flashes of something original: that the castle was locked in eternal winter, and the enchanted objects becoming more inanimate as the rose wilted. I like that Maurice worked in delicate clockwork rather than being a kooky inventor, and that they kept part of the original fairy tale’s reason for the Beast demanding a price from him: he stole a single rose. I thought Gaston and LeFou were quite funny.

But there was so much else wrong that I couldn’t keep my eyes on the screen from sheer embarrassment. Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson’s accents didn’t do them any favors. The costumes were trying so hard to be Realistic that they fell into this weird uncanny valley of fakeness. As much as I liked the original stuff, the movie aped the animated version so often that it distracted me. Every time they repeated a line from the original, I got jerked out of the movie, and they did it often.

In the end, I just couldn’t stand it. Maybe the second half of the movie was better. Maybe it improved. Maybe the ballroom scene had that sheer awe and love of the animated version. (I doubt it, going by the promo pics of it.) But honestly, I think the whole thing was a calculated money-grab, playing on viewers’ nostalgia to get them into theater seats.

But that’s just me, I guess.

General Life Update No. 2

Hello. Been a while, hasn’t it? I assure you that I haven’t evaporated, but my life has been in a slight upheaval the last couple of weeks, hence the not-posting.

I quit my job last week, for one. It was changing to something I wasn’t comfortable with (something more high-stress and thus probably panic-attack-inducing), so. Yeah. Hopefully the temp agency will find me another placement soon.

I haven’t been writing. I haven’t been doing a lot of stuff, because my life has (once again) been taken over by a new video game. This time it’s the latest in the Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons series, Trio of Towns. I’ve already made it to year 2 in-game and I’m having a lot of fun. There are goals to meet and so on so it’s keeping me entertained. I think I’m probably playing it a little too much, but oh well. At least I’m having fun.

I haven’t been doing a lot of things, to be honest. I almost don’t want to do a mid-month report on my goals because I feel like I’ve done next to none of them. At first it was because I didn’t have time due to my job and its weird hours, and now it’s just because I’m lazy.

…I’m probably being too hard on myself.

Things: I have seen one and a half movies this month. Half because I got too disgusted with the new Beauty and the Beast to sit through it to the end. You might want to expect a rant on that subject in the near future. If I can convince myself that being angry for the hour or so needed to bang it out is worth the stress.

Nevertheless, I am still here. I will be posting again soon. I hope.