I’m unpacking and finishing up the last of the laundry from the trip, and I wish to chronicle a bit of my adventures from the past week.
Disneyland was as it always was, a bit of a homecoming. Lots of construction made navigation of the park more difficult than years past, but serviceable. I know which things I wanted to experience and I managed to do all the things. California Adventure had great people-watching, as they were in the middle of Lunar New Year celebrations and the park seemed filled with Chinese tour groups on vacation for the biggest holiday of the year. It felt bizarre, sitting on one of the benches in front of the pier, listening to Chinese music (both traditional and pop) and seeing how…global this whole thing was. Capitalism strikes again, but it was so interesting. Go figure.
Here’s hoping for a kickass new year to rinse the terrible taste of 2017 from our collective tongues. 2017 was a trash fire. We have a president who doesn’t care about the majority of the American people. We’re probably on the brink of some new crisis. Puerto Rico is still struggling with power issues from Hurricane Maria. Flint is still without clean water. There’s still going to be a wall that separates us from Mexico. But a few good things happened this past year for me personally that I want to focus on.
I continue to have an outlet for my peculiar brand of geekery, thanks to the wonderful Fangrrls. I hope to focus more on this site in the coming year.
The Wonder Woman movie came out and kicked so much ass
I got to see so many of my favorite things live: Hamilton, Green Day, and MST3K. (Oh! And MST3K came back with a new cast and new riffs on Netflix.) This was a year to remember for live stuff for me. And I barely go do live events, so this year was extra-special
I went on my very first camping adventure. Hopefully it won’t be my last.
The Last Jedi gave us the Asian female character I needed to see in Star Wars
A boba tea place opened 5 minutes away from my house and I’m happily addicted now
Some things I’m looking forward to in 2018:
The adventures of the first female Doctor!
A Wrinkle in Time!
I realize that these are mostly movies, but eh. We have to look forward to things that excite us. Otherwise, what else is there? In the end, I wish for peace and hope for 2018.
Green Day has released a new greatest hits CD compilation called God’s Favorite Band (a riff on when they appeared on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show and God introduced them as such) and, naturally, since I’m a huge fan of the band, I ended up pre-ordering the CD, along with a bunch of other merch because the only way to truly judge one’s level of fandom is with STUFF.
Along with the CD, this pre-order package came with a sweatshirt that called to mind uniform sweatshirts from parochial schools. I’m still in awe that they managed to capture the insignia style of Catholic schools so well, even while making reference to Warning, Dookie, and American Idiot.
For reference, here are the emblems for both my elementary school and high school:
There’s also a t-shirt with the iconic trio and patches that reference the albums in a stained glass style:
And prayer candles, which is perfect for my Roman Catholic upbringing as well as the holiday season. I am definitely going to set these up along with the rest of our annual Christmas display.
I’ve been dealing with a headache for most of the day, so it’s been kind of difficult trying to concentrate through the pain. I’ve also managed to get through a little bit more of Frozen Wilds, which is about as delightful as it can be. I loved Horizon Zero Dawn as much for its story as for its gameplay, and it looks like Frozen Wilds will be more of the same mixture of challenging battles with mechanical beasts as well as world-building in this post-apocalyptic landscape. One of the most affecting things in the game for me was the plethora of recorded messages from people who are long since gone from the current game world. And you’re building a story with those recorded messages, experiencing them just as Aloy is, and considering Aloy’s own personal connection with the past, it feels like those messages could also give her a bit more context to world her ancestor inhabited. And, not to spoil too much about the plot of Frozen Wilds, but it seems like building on the revelations of the main quest in the game, and what exactly happened to the Earth to cause the apocalypse. Good stuff.
I’m also anxiously awaiting the delivery of the new greatest hits album from Green Day, God’s Favorite Band, which includes many of the band’s most popular songs over their storied career, and also a couple of new recordings. I’m more excited because of the on-the-nose marketing, which relies heavily on Roman Catholic imagery. As a recovering Catholic myself, and as a product of the parochial school system, I’m quite excited for the prayer candles featuring the band. Idolatry at its finest, I say. I’m rather a cynic when it comes to religion itself, frankly. I realize that for many, religion is a crutch, a way to steady one’s morality. I’ve decided that if the only thing keeping you from doing morally reprehensible things is the threat of divine punishment in an afterlife, then that is a crappy way of living. It’s fine, I think, when one is young, to use religion as one’s moral compass. As one grows older, one should question the reasons for morality, and look deep inside one’s heart. Are they a good person because they are good, or are they a good person because they fear retribution? I’d say, just be a good person regardless of your belief.
And that was a really roundabout way to say that I really love the religious imagery of the Green Day marketing for this greatest hits album. Being in a fandom is just like being in a religion. You share beliefs with other people, and perhaps the band did even to change your life. Green Day certainly changed mine. And, again, the cynic in me can see the ridiculousness of religion and belief, and I don’t see the marketing as blasphemous at all. I’m rather surprised that there’s not a hint of a backlash for this marketing campaign. But I do wonder whether the time of the power of the religious right has long since passed. Back when Monty Python’s Life of Brian came out in the late ’70s, there was a huge backlash against the comedy from religious leaders who did not see the comedy for what it is, a satire on those who would use religion to take advantage of other people. I sort of expected Fox News to clutch pearls based on the title of the album alone, but there’s basically nothing. Perhaps Green Day isn’t relevant anymore? Or perhaps the religious right doesn’t have much power anymore? Or perhaps the right is trying to focus on more important things, like getting a pedophile elected to Congress.
But I suppose when your President is a sexual predator himself, it’s hard to find one’s moral compass. I guess some people do need to find Jesus.
I’ve got a few things to discuss, so let’s separate them with some useful separating lines:
There is something patently ridiculous about proclaiming Blake Shelton People’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2017. I imagine that country music is having a moment, in as much as country music is allowed to have moments. I’m not a big country music fan, and I didn’t even realize that Blake Shelton was still a thing other than his turn as one of The Voice judges. It’s hilarious to see that most of the Internet is outraged as the Internet gets with absolutely everything that has to do with an opinion and has resoundingly proclaimed this declaration a load of bullshit. In a world where Moonlight gets the Best Picture Oscar (after Lala Land nearly overtook the honor thanks to some weird backstage envelope shenanigans), where Mahershala Ali exists, heck, where Idris Elba exists, where Chadwick Boseman exists, where Taika Waititi exists, where Oscar Issac exists, and Ricky Whittle, and Diego Luna, and John Cho exists, where every manner of men of color exists, that they still ended up falling back on a country music star. White America, apparently, wants to have a comeback.
Which is…disconcerting. But with a white man back in the White House, I suppose they wish to take back some degree of power.
Ryan Reynolds is clearly living the best life. I love that he’s embraced the role of Deadpool as eagerly as RDJ has taken on Tony Stark. The Deadpool 2 teaser released today, in which the titular anti-hero gets to channel painting legend Bob Ross with great gusto and irreverence. There’s a lot of blink and you’ll miss it moments in the video, and at least the movie will have the same degree of ridiculousness, rahnchiess, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead:
Such a fucking delight.
I’ve started on The Frozen Wilds, the new DLC for Horizon Zero Dawn, and it is all that I’ve ever wanted it to be, but returning to playing Aloy after 8 months of not playing the damn game was more than a little disconcerting, especially since I’d completely forgotten how to do everything in the game within those past 8 months. I’d forgotten what weapons I had, how to craft new ammo, and what powers I’d already unlocked for my stalwart outsider. I was sort of hoping for a gentle easing back into the post-apocalyptic world of the game. But no. One of the first battle encounters you get in the DLC is with a new type of predator which has been corrupted, but corrupted in a completely different way than the other corrupted machines. It took me multiple tries and a quick read through of the relevant Reddit thread before I was able to defeat that first machine. So. Much. Death. But that first victory felt so damn sweet and I suppose it reminded me how fun and challenging the game was. Figuring out the right strategy for each machine is important, and after a few weeks of running around as Lara Croft, I’d forgotten that there was something bigger out there in the videogame world than misguided vigilantes to fight. But man…that scorcher. Let’s not do that ever again.
Oh wait, I still have an entirely new area of the map to explore. Gah.
I can’t even with this. It’s not enough that colonialism stripped The Philippines of agency and made the country basically reliant on the United States for dang near everything. It’s not just that the US military gathered nearly a million Filipino men during WWII to help fight their Pacific war, promised citizenship and money, and reneged on the promise after the war. Now white people have to steal our cultural identity too.
This is ridiculous. You can appreciate Filipino culture. You can like our food and our history. That doesn’t mean you identify as Filipino! You didn’t grow up in a Filipino household. You haven’t experienced what Filipino-Americans experience every single day in this country. You can’t just try out an ethnicity like a new hairstyle and then change it later. Race doesn’t work like that. I can’t with this transracial nonsense.
Let me introduce something to you, sweetheart. Multi-culturalism. It’s great! It’s when you are exposed to a bunch of different cultures all at once and then you can definitely appreciate them without having to proclaim yourself *of* that culture. An example. I grew up in Hawai’i. Now, Hawai’i is a very multi-cultural place. It’s a melding of Polynesian and Asian and American cultures. I’ve experienced going to a Japanese Obon festival. I loved lighting up firecrackers and celebrating Chinese New Year. But that does not mean that I have to be of those ethnicities in order to participate in them. Multi-culturalism allows for many different cultures to exist in the same place. And you can celebrate it all. And you don’t have to change your race in order to appreciate it.
It’s kind of apparent that this person didn’t grow up in a multi-cultural environment. Otherwise, they wouldn’t feel the need to identify with a certain ethnicity because they enjoy the culture of that ethnicity. I’m also kind of wary of what kind of stuff about the Philippines this person has learnt from The History Channel, of all things. Don’t they air Pawn Stars like…24 hours a day now?
A bit tired and oddly anxious today, despite the fact that nothing much happened today to make me anxious about. It’s, perhaps, the result of the general level of anxiety I’ve managed to create since the last presidential election, and then every single news story since that has come out of the White House, or has been connected to the White House in some capacity, has just proven my anxiety right and fueled it to even greater heights. I suppose I could sum up my day in a series of short bullet points.
It’s strange to see the San Francisco 49ers win a game, although it was against the Giants. It was basically a race to the bottom to see who is the less sucky of two suck-worthy teams. Anyway the team is still pretty terrible.
I’ve been slowly playing my way through Rise of the Tomb Raider, and have just finished up the Baba Yaga DLC. Now it’s time to do some clean-up (collecting the documents and relics to get to 100%) and then check out the other playing modes. I’ll have to look up which trophies are relatively easy to unlock so that I can do so. It’s not an easy game to platinum, but I’m curious to see how far I can go with my meager gaming skills. I pre-ordered the Horizon DLC as well, so that’s waiting for me once I finish up Tomb Raider. I still love this new take on Lara Croft and why she does what she does. It’s interesting how so many things in Rise of the Tomb Raider has to do with family, particularly fathers and daughters. It’s given my daddy issues a run for their money.
I’m slowly expanding my junk food repertoire and have recently gotten into trying out the different flavors of Takis. My favorite so far is Nitro, which is habanero and lime. Spicy, salty, and sour are probably my favorite combination of flavors. And I love the oily crunch of the rolled tortilla chips. It cuts through the heat just enough to make me not want to stop eating. I’m rather addicted to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (the black bag XXX variety), but now I think Takis might be pushing them off the number one spot of fave snacks.
Also I’ve purchased a large box of Lindt chocolate truffles from Amazon, and I’m trying to pace myself with those. I’m sort of in a love/hate relationship with the exact middles of Lindt chocolates. I love how they melt in my mouth, but I sort of dislike how they have the exact same mouthfeel as a solid stick of butter for just a second or so. I’m not sure how else to explain it. It’s like biting into a stick of butter flavored like milk chocolate, I guess?
Dirk Gently continues to entertain me like no other show. I love its characters. I love the randomness of it all. Though I’m still a little skeeved at Max Landis (showrunner & writer for the show) as a person and I fully expect some sort of shenanigans to be reported about him relatively soon. Hollywood’s in a telltale mood now, y’all. Let’s expose every single one of those fuckers.
There’s a tiredness that’s lurking at the corners of my brain that I can’t quite shake off, and it’s the result of the never-ending news cycle. Now, I’m going to talk about the reveals of sexual misconduct that have been permeating the news for the past few weeks, ever since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, and now there’s a torrent of details from both victims and perpetrators. And I’m just…tired of it all. I’m not sure how I feel about it otherwise? I’m grateful for the victims who now feel brave enough to speak out about their trauma, first of all. Real courage exists now, and I do hope that each new victim’s story encourages more and more people to shine the spotlight on these cycles of abuse. And it is a cycle, because what’s happening in Hollywood, where men abuse their power, it’s rampant and it’s systemic. I’m a little shocked that not more people are aware of it. The casting couch exists, the sexual favors for fame culture absolutely exists, and while the public at large has turned a blind eye to it, for the most part, this has been going on since the beginning of the entertainment industry in Hollywood. For fuck’s sake, Hollywood studio system back then made sure that actors were practically owned by their respective studios. Look what happened with Judy Garland, or Shirley Temple, or Marilyn Monroe, or so many other tragic Hollywood stories. Heck, look at the tragedies faced by child actors once they grow up. They don’t call it Hollywood Babylon for nothing, y’know. But for the most part, we the public ignore it, even as actors get taken advantage of every day.
Because that’s just how it is.
But no more.
I hope that with the reveals of all these high-profile men being focused on, that things do change. Believe the victims. Don’t dismiss their accusations. And maybe have a little empathy for your fellow human beings once in a while. I’m tired of hearing internal misogyny from women (mostly older women, in my social circle) who believe that the victims “deserved” what they got because that’s the way Hollywood is and they knew what they were getting into. But…sexual assault doesn’t just happen in Hollywood. It happens wherever someone has more power than someone else and then forces them to do something that they don’t wish to do. It’s in the tech industry. It’s in the gaming industry. It’s in the comics industry. It’s at conventions. It’s everywhere, and it’s rampant because there are no consequences, because perpetrators believe they are above the law, and what they’re doing is their right. No more. Thank goodness there’s a huge media circus for this all. There needs to be. We need to shine a flashlight on the cockroaches and chase them down into the dark corners. We need to find them and root them out and expose them and to send a message that this type of behavior won’t be tolerated anymore.
Bill Corbett, he of MST3K and Rifftrax and one of my favorite humans, made a tweet that referenced I, Claudius, which I thought was super-apt. Claudius was trying to fight corruption as well, but he did so by becoming just as awful as the things that he was trying to expose. One hopes that it doesn’t come to that, but “Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out” is still a brilliant line.
After a couple of years of wanting to watch this movie, and after the triumph of Thor: Ragnarok, I’d finally decided to sit down and watch one of Taika Waititi’s earlier movies. Luckily, the movie is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video. And yes, it is resoundingly delightful, and a little horrifying, (it is a story about modern-day vampires, after all) but Waititi’s winning portrayal of Viago carried the movie for me. It was just so hard not to root for him as he stumbled through his days, as he tried to seduce victims and as he tried (rather hilariously) to feed. The rest of the vampire brood was just as charming, however, and I loved Jemaine Clement. I just love him in whatever he’s doing, really, and Deacon was hilarious, particularly with his initial distrust and rivalry with the newly-turned vampire, Nick.
Aw, Nick. He really didn’t know what he was in for.
I do love that the disparate group basically encompassed every single type of vampire known in folklore, from the barely human, Nosferatu-like Petyr, to Nick’s walking, talking Twilight referencing modern vampire. It’s fascinating to see how they stalk around a modern-day city, dealing with everyday life, other members of the supernatural elite, and all that fun stuff. It’s definitely interesting to see that Taika so deftly handled the balance between the magical and the mundane, which served him very well in Ragnarok. The characters are relatable and are understandable, and even if they’re vampires or Norse gods, there’s still an underlying humanity that’s appealing.
I don’t really wish to spoil the movie too much, because it must be experienced fully and as a comedy, the best bits should come as a complete surprise, but Rhys Darby has a great supporting role as the alpha male of a pack of werewolves. And if you’ve ever wanted to see a workplace comedy starring a group of vampires, then this is definitely the movie for you.