So I was reading this.
I like Soraya Chemaly. I already knew this about myself. Sometimes I don’t really like following her on Twitter, because it can get depressing, but you know. I don’t dislike it enough to stop following her. As usual, in this HuffPost piece there’s plenty to chew on. There’s plenty to feel discouraged about. There’s plenty of references to real honest-to-god-this-is-happening institutionalized rape that I almost wish I hadn’t read about but then how the hell does that kind of thinking help anyone. I guess what I’m saying is, there’s a lot to discuss and unpack and research and think about, and if she stirs you up and makes you upset, I think that’s part of it.
In this particular case, on this particular day, I felt motivated to link to this article. I’m not sure why. I read these kinds of pieces pretty frequently, but as I’ve grown older (ha) I’ve become a person who does not so much with the Facebook statuses. Stati? I mean to say, I absorb the information. I engage with what I read on a personal level, I share it out a little (in person) with the people who are around me at the time. I chew through my feelings on articles, essays, infographs, rants, claims, or whatever else I find, usually with Moss, but occasionally with other people if they happen to be in my immediate area. Occasionally I think to share something on a social network. Sometimes, I even start to type an opinion into Facebook, but usually something stops me. I think it’s probably the same something that stops me from typing out most of the words I consider typing out in any given situation: a persistent monologue that regularly reminds me that no one really cares what I think and maybe I ought to avoid wasting the time and eyeball energy of everyone I know. Maybe I consider my own opinions this way because that’s the judgmental lens through which I look at the opinions of others. Actually, that’s definitely one of the reasons. It’s not the primary reason I didn’t share this link, though.
I didn’t share this link (even though yes, it’s true, I actually did share it at the top of this post– but I’m getting there), because doing so would make me one of “those women.” Who am I quoting there? Some imagined person, I guess– some potential person. What do I even mean by “those women?” Feminists, I guess.
That’s messed up.
It’s messed up because I am a feminist. I’m a self-assured feminist, who doesn’t mind saying I’m a feminist. That’s why I just said it. Twice. Three times, kind of.
So why does it bother me to imagine an imaginary person on the internet thinking I am one?
I don’t know. I’m attempted to assume it’s derived from my own skewed perceptions, but I’m not sure how fair that is. Should I really blame myself for presuming a condescending, dismissive reaction? Even if it’s (more than likely) one of the reactions I’d receive?
I guess these questions don’t come with great answers.
I attended a training seminar/workshop yesterday about having difficult conversations, and finding a way to interrupt bias, prejudice and stereotyping in the workplace. It wasn’t sensitivity training; no one was there because she or he had done something wrong. It wasn’t a punishment, just a completely voluntary four-hour discussion. I didn’t come prepared with specific issues to figure out. I came to see what kind of resources and skills I could learn in general. We were all pressed, however, to think of a specific issue we’d had, something that we’d found difficult to deal with, something we’d been unable to interrupt when we wished we could have. I struggled with this. I came up with example pretty easily, but it wasn’t one I really wanted to bring up.
My example was a joke, made by a coworker. The problem is, I like jokes. I think everyone should be able to make jokes, pretty much all the time. Not about absolutely everything, of course, but I like to think I have enough of a brain to know where the line-what-you-don’t-cross is, and that I have enough sensitivity not to trade in jokes that make other people feel hated, or unsafe, or unhappy. I like to think that I can read a situation and keep it light, without cheapening someone else’s values. At the same time, when other people tell jokes of their own, I really hate to think that I might be the kind of person who’s oversensitive, or easily offended.
I really hate to think I might be one of those women.
The thing is, it does matter. Words matter. Language matters. People say things for reasons (I know that’s probably the most vague phrase ever turned, but stay with me here), even if you aren’t meant to take them seriously. People who make jokes about me secretly dating my male coworkers are just doing it to make jokes. What bothers me isn’t the joke itself, it’s that they’d be telling different jokes if I weren’t a woman. Realistically, they probably wouldn’t even be telling that kind of joke at all.
So I brought this up, as an example. Only because I was pressed to. And, yeah, because it was true. I’d heard it more than once. It didn’t hurt my feelings when I heard it, but it did actually kind of piss me off. I didn’t want to admit that, though. I feel like a woman can only get so far into a claim that starts, “They wouldn’t have said it if I weren’t a woman,” before people stop listening.
After all, feminists are just inventing this, right? Isn’t that how it goes? We’re just looking for something to complain about, we’re grasping at straws to suggest that feminism is still a relevant argument in the current social climate, when really it’s time to do away with “feminism” and call it “egalitarianism” already? The time for talking about women’s issues is over, right? We’ve reached a level of enlightenment in which quite a few men are willing to support the rights of women, as long as they don’t have to apply a term like “feminist” to themselves, so you can tell that sexism has pretty much faded out of the social contract. If you’re going to argue that the doctrines of feminism are part of a cultural conversation and a historical narrative, you’re just being difficult. If you refuse to accept that egalitarianism is free from the tethers of context, you’re just making the problem worse. You’re really just being one of “those” women.
Well, yeah. Okay. I guess I am.
There’s just not that many things that can crush my good mood (hyperbole: I understand that there are worse things) more than sitting here noodling around on the internet, bored out of my skull, with ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” on in the background, and then stumbling onto a popular Buzzfeed article written by someone I went to summer camp with. I mean, it’s okay, because she’s just an occasional contributor except wait what no she was an intern and now she’s an Associate Editor.
I don’t mean to begrudge the lady. I never really knew her or anything, but I knew of her. She’s from near where I’m from. I guess it’s a peculiar mental refuge of the unproductive and ineffectual– I’ve found myself thinking that if I live in the same town as someone famous and clever and interesting, that increases my chances of becoming famous, clever and interesting. Unfortunately, I also feel like if I’m shlubbing it out on my couch watching the hours tick away until I get back on the bus to my food service job, how in the ever-loving-heck does someone from the same state as me have the nerve to have a cool writing gig.
I mean, really though. I understand that the logic falls down before it even gets close to standing up. It’s still hard for me not to be all, “girl, what you doing with your life?” and get all droopy about it. I mean, I say “girl” etc etc to myself, not to glamorous and successful former peers. I say former, because my current peers would also be living in a city-except-not-really making coffees and running cash registers, not writing jokes and taking Voguey pictures with cats (I mean, I’ve been known to be in pictures that also feature cats, but it is not for a career).
I shouldn’t complain. The truth of it is I barely run cash registers or make coffee anymore, because of climbing-the-corporate-ladder (joke: it’s not a corporation) reasons. But still. I want a fancy title. I want someone to pay me to write jokes. What do I have to do, like, apply for jobs and put myself out there?
Ugh. What a chore.
I’ve just had the pleasure of finally sitting down to watch some of Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” and can’t help feeling a particularly acute connection to Hannah Horvath in the episode in which she goes to the book release party. Pettiness and self-loathing, thy name is Totally Me Right Now.
Only problem is, I really want Lena Dunham’s job, too. I’m guessing she worked like crazy to get where she is, though. God. Why won’t success just fall in my lap already?
My name is Kari and I’m not one hundred percent on-board with what happened on the first episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Monday night.
Okay. So I should start with the fact that I really love Pandora Boxx. A lot. I really didn’t want to see her go home. And I’m really not thrilled with Mimi Imfurst and can’t really understand why she would be brought back for an All Star show in the first place. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t hate Mimi. I recall thinking back in season three that her Virgin Mary get-up was funny and charming. I can also remember thinking that her Hermaphrodite character in the “Drag Queens in Space” episode was seriously obnoxious. She did at least commit to the over-the-top reading of the character, and in my opinion (and let’s face it, probably pretty much everyone’s) it’s better to be an overwhelming drag queen than an underwhelming one. I also found her workroom meltdown somewhat tiresome. Honestly, if I was in a competition like this, jumping through hoops and making outfits under pressure and dealing with inter-contestant drama all while surrounded by a film crew, I’d burst into tears too. But I’m a snarky blogger who owns one really old stick of black eyeliner and could not, if asked, sew her way out of a paper bag, so probably I wouldn’t get myself into that situation. Mimi Imfurst is a drag queen. So there is a limit to my sympathy.
All this to say, I’m no great lover of Mimi. I don’t think she was as funny as the judges seemed to be giving her credit for in this episode, and I certainly don’t think she was as funny as Pandora. That said, I didn’t see a lot of humor in Pandora on this episode. She did seem kind of reserved to me– at least in what the producers and other powers that be decided to cut in. It really did seem (or, they really made it seem) like she wasn’t playing very hard, and like she gave up as soon as she was teamed up with Mimi.
Which leads me to my fundamental problem. I have mixed feelings about having the queens teamed up for the duration of the show. I like teams. I like high stakes– sending both members of a team home is exciting, and it makes sense. The losing team loses. I’m also excited about Team Latrilla, and Team-Either-of-You-Could-Have-Won-Season-Two-And-I-Would-Have-Been-Happier. That said, what the heck? If they play in teams for the whole season, won’t that make the season really short? Is that happening? Is it common knowledge that that’s happening? If this were a proper blog that people read I’d probably have to go look that up, but as it isn’t, I’m going to skip the research and just wonder plaintively. For some reason that I can’t really articulate, I also feel like permanent teams will limit the queens and the show. Half of the teams are comprised of queens that have already competed against one another in previous seasons (more than half, now that Pandora and Mimi are gone). Aren’t we missing out on more interesting combinations? I guess they’re all still sharing the competition. I guess I’m just dubious. Then again, maybe I’m just bummed out because it looks like a short season, and I need more Drag Race, not less.
Speaking of more Drag Race– I watched this episode on Logo’s website, and it seemed really short. I read that it was a 70 minute premier when it aired Monday night (obviously that includes the many commercials) but it didn’t seem longer than a regular episode to me. In fact, I found it similar to most first episodes of this show, which I always think of as a little rushed because there are so many queens, and I don’t know them yet, and I don’t have the knowledge to start picking favorites until a few episodes in, so I just pick the pretty one or the funny one or the one from Boston (or all three team Juju). Which is weird, because I know all of these queens, so I shouldn’t be feeling the getting-to-know-you buffer, but I kind of am. Alternatively, maybe I’ve become spoiled by Netflix. One episode would feel short compared to a self-orchestrated, commercial free, season long marathon.
In other stray observations, I would have been okay with Team Shad going home, even though I like Chad and in my dim and distant memory of watching season one, I think I liked Shannel, too. This is partly because their performance this week was boring, but mostly because Moss pointed out that, more than anyone else, Chad always says he’s “Serving insert-word-here realness” and now that the bell has been rung, it’s driving me bananas.
What do you think, internet?
So here’s the newest thing.
I’m not sure if we can consider all of these proper classics or not, but when we decided to start the “Moss and Kari Do the Classics” project, we expected that our definition of the word “classic” was going to have to be flexible. Maybe a better way of putting it would be “Movies We Haven’t Seen but Feel That for Whatever Reason, We Should” but as that’s much longer and much more unwieldy than simply calling the films classics, it’s probably best that you take our working definition on faith. At least, for now.
And some of the films are certainly and unequivocally classics-with-a-capital-C. For example, I’ve never seen The Godfather, so that’s on our list. Moss has never seen Rear Window, and neither of us has seen Apocalypse Now. Be advised, our list is not meant to comprise all of the classic films that have ever been made, just the ones that we’re very aware that we haven’t seen. If there seems to be a glaring omission, it’s probably because we’ve seen it, but feel free to suggest it to us anyway, because it’s possible that we haven’t.
So, here’s the list for now. Items may be added over the course of the project, and I’ll do my best to blog out some of our reactions to these supposedly quintessential film experiences. Here they are, in no particular order at all:
1. The Shawshank Redemption
2. The Godfather
3. Seven Samurai
6. Citizen Kane
8. Rear Window
9. Leon: The Professional
10. Dr. Strangelove
11. Apocalypse Now
12. North by Northwest
13. American Beauty
14. Taxi Driver
15. Lawrence of Arabia
16. The Prestige
17. Some Like it Hot
19. The Bridge on the River Kwai
20. The Seventh Seal
22. The Maltese Falcon
23. The Great Escape
27. Blade Runner
29. The Deer Hunter
30. Annie Hall
31. Gone With the Wind
32. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
33. There Will Be Blood
34. Slumdog Millionaire
36. The Graduate
37. Good Will Hunting
38. The Manchurian Candidate
39. Fanny and Alexander
40. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
41. A Streetcar Named Desire
42. The Truman Show
43. A Beautiful Mind
44. Manos The Hands of Fate
47. Bonnie and Clyde
48. The Untouchables
49. Easy Rider
50. Blue Velvet
51. Risky Business
We’re starting out with Risky Business. Because a fresh-faced, teenage Tom Cruise hanging out with a call girl seems like a good place to start. Also, Joey Pants.
A new show from ABC Family, called “Emphasis on Falsehoods and High Stakes.” Four pretty young girls go through life at Hamfist high school– but look out, Hamfist County! These are no ordinary girls. The devious Miranda manipulates her friends and enemies alike through continued perpetration of falsehoods, while the brunette and heavily eyelashed Lucy flirts with several unprecedentedly attractive high school boys. The other two, Katherine and Sara, have some sort of specific quirk or quality that theoretically makes them interesting, one of them is certainly inclined to never break the rules, but is often dragged into sticky situations by the troubled Miranda. One day it goes too far and the girls discover that the whole town is steeped in dirty little secrets. What’s in Miranda’s attic? What is their secretive chemistry teacher hiding? What’s buried at the flagpole? Where has Katherine been sneaking off to at night? What’s the deal with Sara’s parents? Will Lucy go to the dance with Mike or Jim?
Find out on the pilot episode of “Emphasis on Falsehoods and High Stakes: Maybe Someone is Pregnant or Something.”
Remember when Steam came out for Mac? Or even when Valve released teaser images suggesting that Steam would soon come out for Mac? Oh man. That was awesome. I got so excited.
I didn’t really have a good reason to be excited though. I mean, I had played a few rounds of Left 4 Dead on an Xbox, with a whole crew of people sitting in a dark room and taking turns playing the game, which was projected onto an entire wall of an apartment. And I was godawful but MAN was that fun. Also, a little terrifying. But despite the fact that I’m a mac user and was extremely stoked about Steam coming to my platform, there was still no way I was going to be able to play any of those games. I mean, okay, I’m not sure how monstrous and intense all of the Steam-powered games are, but the ones I was really interested in (which, yes, was mostly L4D, and maybe a little bit Half Life) required a lot more gusto than my computer had to offer. It’s a first generation Macbook. It’s at least six years old. It does not have a big harddrive. It is not running an OS past 10.4. It doesn’t even know what a lion is. I’m sure there are words like “CPU” (okay so that’s an acronym, but I at least think I know what it stands for) and “graphics card” and “RAM” (I definitely know what that one stands for, I just don’t know if it has anything to do with this issue) that would better explain what exactly it is my dear old machine lacks, but I was an English major and I’m just going to go ahead and express it with terminology like “gusto” and possibly later, “oomph.”
Now, right after Steam came out for Mac, my pals got themselves all stoked about Left 4 Dead 2, and started playing it with each other, and I was extremely distressed. My abject love for the first game, I thought, should count for something. I wanted in the group, even though I couldn’t afford, or for that matter, run the game. However, in light of recent developments, including my L4D2 birthday present and the decidedly oomphier hardware surrounding me, I finally got what I wanted: to play.
Okay. So I’m pretty bad. This is often a major deterrent for me upon starting a new game. I’m angry that I’m not better at it from the very beginning. In a single player game, like an RPG, I can usually push past this phase, but part of the appeal of L4D2, at least for me, is the social, team-aspect of it. That social, team-aspect can really bite you in the ass, though, if you suck at the game. That’s the reason I tried to play Halo exactly once before concluding that I had better things to do than be mercilessly mocked and relentlessly killed in-game by a bunch of douchebags. Who maybe were trying to prove something? I don’t know. All they proved to me was that they were douchebags.
In this scenario, I’ve been much more lucky. My team, comprised of myself, the two dudes I live with, and a fourth that rotates depending on who else is available, is not so good at the game that I’m entirely holding them back, but also so so so much better at the game than I am, so we don’t all immediately fall over dead the second a zombie wanders into frame. Also, none of these guys are douchebags. Which means they generally try to come back for me when I get Smoked, they hover before moving on to the next area when I’m stuck in a corner, and they patiently remind me which key it is that makes me crouch. They’re also willing to look at the gun I’m holding and tell me what it is, point out which way we’re going to run once someone alerts the horde, and they don’t even get that mad when I become frantic and spray them with bullets. Without these guys, I can imagine I’d actually have a lot of trouble sticking with this game. Which would be a shame, because there are all these reasons why it’s great:
- Style, style and more style: Really, this is what sets this game apart from any shooter I’ve ever played. Not that I’ve played a ton, or anything. On principle, I’m not a fan of shooters. Or guns. Or… violence. I know, I know– how could I possibly be so into Splattersville McMonstermash 2? Well. Both L4D and its sequel are essentially zombie movies that you play. And it actually feels that way. The characters talk to each other and crack jokes like characters in a cheesy zombie film would, the walls are covered in survivor graffiti, and the levels are designed to have rising and falling action, culminating always in a daring escape attempt that I don’t even mind watching from the ghostly heavens when my character is dead and gone. Playing through these levels makes you feel not only like you’re in a zombie movie, but like you are a legitimate badass in a zombie movie. Let me draw your attention to the level Dark Carnival, where you fend off zombie attacks while blasting the sound and pyrotechnics of a rock show. Awesome. Each campaign is short enough that you don’t get sick of the game during the level, but I also never feel like it goes too fast.
- Good for your heart: Okay. Maybe not. But I mean, getting your heart rate up counts as a sport, right? Nah, but seriously. I love how wound up this game gets me. Even if I’m dead at the end of a level because I couldn’t manage to climb a ladder before a Tank showed up, my heart’s still racing when the credits roll. And, what’s more, that’s not a feeling that seems to disappear as you get better. From what my hairy cohorts tell me, even if you don’t totally suck at this game, that feeling of frantic, desperate survival doesn’t go away. Which means it doesn’t allow itself to become mindless, boring grinding. Which is good, ’cause I hate that.
- Everyone gets boned sometimes: I think I’ve made it pretty clear now that I’m not great at this game, but in spite of that, I’m not only frantic and excited, I’m also pretty useful sometimes. I know! It isn’t actually an endless parade of death and falling off the edges of things for me, as I’ve implied. I’m also sometimes the only one who axes my way through a horde successfully, and as a result, I’m sometimes the person who gets everybody else back up. Sometimes the stars align and I shoot that nasty ass Spitter before she spits, and actually do my team a service. I mean, aside from my charming company. But there’s something nice about a game that lets me get things right from time to time, and lets my more talented cohorts fuck up. It’s not equal, but it’s not massively unfair either. Which is nice.
On some level, I do wish there was a little more variety in the L4D playable ladies, (you can be Rochelle, the young and sexy badass in L4D2, and sometimes you can play as Zoey, the young and sexy badass from the first game). Not to the point that it really bothers me, though– all of the characters in these games are very much zombie movie characters. Which means we’ve seen them all before, in loads and loads of zombie/action/thriller films. I sort of feel like Valve’s winking at us through the tropes. The hick, the office worker, the old veteran and the coach are no less “tropetastic” (to borrow an entirely ridiculous word from by special lady-friend) than the zombie-smashing hottie. And I mean, no one’s stopping me from playing as the Coach, so it’s all good.
I’m not entirely sure how to wrap this up. A grade? A recommendation? Both seem a little silly, since this game isn’t exactly new. But maybe for the sake of people like myself, who are so far from what’s current and cutting edge, it’s worth a try to make a recommendation with that in mind.
Recommended for: people who love zombie movies, people with a good group to play with, people who like jokes, people with short attention spans, people who like shouting.
Not recommended for: people who are afraid of zombies, people who are afraid of the dark, people who love newbie zones, people who like leveling, people who are afraid of coaches.
I’ve recently moved into this house, let’s call it “The Crow’s Nest,” which has triggered a lot of changes to my particular brand of lifestyle. Foremostly, I have roommates now. Big, burly, man-type roommates. With hair. And video games. Secondmostly, I have shrugged off my mortal employment coil and find myself now hunting, desperately, for some way to make money and stay busy (in that order) in a very, very small town. Now, I know that this is no way to behave in a recession (or post-recession depression. or whatever you want to call it.) and I know it’s pretty irresponsible to shuff off a good job as a Barista-and-Burrito-Maker Extrordinare just so I can live with my loved ones, but hey, life is short, okay? I am dutifully jorb-hunting here in Smalltown, USA, but this week I’m also technically using my accrued vacation time, so I am, sort of, getting paid as I sit here blogging and craigslisting.
Of course, one can only blog-and-craigslist so much before one loses one’s precious mind. And one can only live with one’s burly man-type roommates before one falls into their lifestyle, and starts eating a lot of kielbasa, steak, and canned chili mixed with hot dogs. And when one receives a free copy of Left 4 Dead 2 for her birthday and is invited to play along with one’s haired roommates, one might have a difficult time turning this down.
So I didn’t. Now, I’m not new to video games. Not by a long shot. I grew up with an older brother, in the golden age of consoles. Without him, I probably wouldn’t have played games on my own, but thanks to his interests I was inundated with everything Mario from a very young age. Sure, my motor skills weren’t as developed as his were (this was also the time in my life when I learned how to be a gracious loser) but I learned to jump over the piranha plants and stomp the goombas and avoid Torpedo Ted just like everyone else. And that’s not all: I was mediocre at best when controlling Diddie Kong, but by the time Dixie Kong came along I could helicopter that ponytail like the best of them (and when DK 64 came out, I was among the righteously indignant that Dixie was left behind). I played all the way through Super Mario RPG, I watched unreasonable hours of other RPGs while my brother played them, I get “spoony bard” jokes, and I know the tune of Aria di Mezzo Carattere. I even had the occasional shining moment where I really didn’t suck that bad at Perfect Dark. As I got older, I started trucking through Final Fantasies and Xenosagas more or less on my own, and that made enough of a segue into anime that I fell into that crowd in high school and moved away, more or less, from games. I’d always bonded with my brother through gaming, but since he was away at school, and my new social circle was less game-based, I found that I still enjoyed playing through old favorites, but rarely looked for new and interesting things.
I’m referring primarily to video games, obviously, but I could probably tell approximately the same story about my experiences with card and table top gaming. I got into Magic: The Gathering in elementary school, but my attention span was short and the hobby was expensive, so I didn’t stick with that. Again, I could blame that on my brother– when he played, he needed someone to practice with, so I played, too. Once he’d moved on, I could only maintain my interest for a year or so before I too moved on to something new. I played D&D with my friends in high school up to my senior year, but when I went away to school and our group spread out in general, my interest in the game waned. These nerdy pursuits, or “dorktivities” if you will, still so much define the friends I make now, but the truth is, I haven’t really played these kinds of games in years. Sure, I go revisit old favorites– what’s the point of owning Final Fantasy X if you can’t crack open a beer and revisit the old soap opera? Or play blitzball, if you’re so inclined (I was not. Ever.)? And I certainly still enjoy the occasional one shot round of D&D, assuming I can find a DM who’ll put up with my love of the ridiculous.
But now. Now I am in a whole new world. I world where I am surrounded by games again, and living with at least one affluent gentleman who makes regular forays into the jungle of GameStop to see what’s new, and purchase it. And, to tell you the truth, I’m actually quite excited. And, in some ways, frustrated. It’s been long enough since I’ve played games seriously (sure, I spent a few hours banging on trash cans with a crowbar in Half Life 2 last year. Sure, a couple of years ago I struggled with an Xbox controller to shoot zombies and not fall off of ledges in Left 4 Dead. Sure, I briefly had a copy of Diablo II installed on my computer so I could slay demons whenever I was feeling particularly violent towards my then-boyfriend) that I can’t avoid being appended with that dreaded title: n00b. It kind of makes me want to tear out my hair and shoot fire arrows at stuff, but I should probably come to terms with it. I haven’t ever REALLY been a hardcore gamer, and I haven’t been a softcore one in years.
But now, I can turn over a new leaf. Especially this week. I can job hunt, I can network, and I can get some writing done, and I can really relish whatever’s then left of my vacation time, and play some damn video games. And I can tell you guys all about it. Gaming, from a n00b’s perspective– or, in perhaps less distressing terminology– games from a recovering non-gamer.