shadowkat: (Default)
You know it's interesting, 20 years later, at the ripe old age of 50, I can still say with absolute certainty and after seeing over 1000 excellent television series, that my favorite television series (ahem, obsession) of all time is ....

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER

And I've seen, as you well know, a lot of television shows. The Wire, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Six Feet Under, Sopranoes, BSG, Lost, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Fargo, Good Wife, the 100, Veronica Mars, The Good Place, MASH, Dowton Abbey, Sherlock, Daredevil, Gilmore Girls, Vamp Diaries, Supernatural, Originals, Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Smallville, NCIS, All in the Family, I Love Lucy, Big Bang Theory, Xenia, Farscape, Scandal, Grey's Anatomy, Cheers, Hill Street Blues, ER, St. Elsewhere, La Law, ...the list is seemingly endless.

But, the one that sticks in my craw, in my heart, in my teeth, in my head, that won't go away, and changed who I am, and my life as I know it...is and will always be a little cult television series aimed at tween girls...but that took on a life of its own and broke all the rules along the way:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I wouldn't know anyone here if it weren't for that little show. I don't know if I would have survived 2001-2004 if it weren't for that series.

It blew my mind, and it changed my mind. It opened me up and turned me upside down and sideways. It made me approach things in a different way. And for the first time in years, write television meta analysis. It changed how I wrote. If it weren't for Buffy, there would be no "Doing Time on Planet Earth", the characters of Fiske, Caddy, and Hope would not exist.

I didn't know before Buffy that a piece of art could change you in a profound way. I guess I did. Star Wars did in some respects. As did various books I read, Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Dune definitely changed how I viewed things. As did Star Trek. Also the X-men back when I was in college.

Art heals you. It can transform you. It can make you view things differently. Anyone who has fallen head over heels in love with a piece of art, knows this.

But it is hard to explain.

Buffy. The. Vampire. Slayer. It rocked my world. In more ways than one.

What was the piece of art that rocked yours?
shadowkat: (Default)
Eh...meme that I've developed from a useless entertainment mag that I picked up to determine what tv shows were popping up this Spring. (Mainly because it's impossible to figure out which shows are appealing and to keep track of anymore. The entertainment mag did not help. Although "The Son" miniseries on AMC looks promising. Assuming I remember when it is on.)

Called "My Obsessions" Meme or the Impossible Monday Meme...because I have tendency to create memes that I can't answer the questions to, without thinking, wait, do I really share this information with folks? Let's ponder this for a moment...or I have no clue how I'd answer that question, what was I thinking.

* My current favorite or must watch show?

This changes a lot. I'm moody. Here's the one's I tend to watch live and miss when they aren't on:

Lucifier, Grey's Anatomy, This is Us, the Expanse, Game of Thrones, Nashville...

(If I'm honest the only show I watch daily is General Hospital, usually while eating dinner. Embarrassingly true. Then discuss it with my 74 year old mother over the phone each night. Hey it beats discussing politics or the weather.)


* The first thing I watch when I wake up?

NY1 for the Rail and Road Report and the Weather (I need to know the temperature outside, there's no way of knowing until I leave the apt building, which takes ten-fifteen minutes.)


* The show that always makes me laugh?


Big Bang Theory, well for the most part. Sometimes Lucifier. No really.

* What I eat while watching?

Pistachios, apples dipped in nutbutter or chocolate, fruit, and dinner (often eat and make it while watching General Hospital). I eat meals in front of the tv.


* My current favorite book genre?

historical romance novels...sigh. What can I say, cotton candy and chocolate mousse for the mind.

* My dream tv series that has not been created and cast and is not based on any book, play, etc?

Hmmm...I really need to learn how to create memes that I can actually answer the questions to.

A series that contains the following cast - James Marsters, Anthony Stewart Head, Katee Sackoff, Jamie Bamber, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Tom Ellis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kate Beckinsale, Jennifer Lawrence, Kerry Washington, Sandra Oh, Chandra Wilson, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Alexandra Skarsgard, Lena Headly, Peter Dinklater....and Christian Bale.

Epic, gender bending sci-fantasy adventure anthology series that deals with the settlement of another planet. Each series of episodes would feature on a different aspect of that process - from exploration to settlement. Sort of like Kim Stanely Robinson's, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Bradbury, Anne McCaffrey, and Issac Asimov's series on this topic. Writers would be John Scalzi, Joss Whedon, Damon Lindenoff, Drew Goddard, Kate Atkinson, Vince Gilligan, Shondra Rhimes, Jane Espenson, Ron Moore, the Kings (Good Wife fame), with direction by Ridely Scott, Benjamin Bratt, (the woman who directed the Hurt Locker whose name I've forgotten or spaced).

OR...an alternate history epic about the founding of Europe by people living in North America and Asia, written by the guy who did Hamiliton the musical, along with bits written by Stephen King, Ken Burns, Doris Kearns Goodwin, etc. And White Europeans are the enslaved natives. Just subvert everything.

* My dream book adaptation into a television series or book I really want a television adaptation of, whichever makes the most sense.

Chronicles of Lymond (starring Tom Hiddleston, Christian Bale, Anthony Stewart Head, Hugh Dancy,Alexander Siddiq, Clair Foy, (the actress who played Victoria whose name I keep forgetting), Lena Hedley, Peter Dinklage, Kate Beckinsale, Michelle Dockery...and Hugh Laurie) or The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell with Peter Dinklater, Alexander Siddig, Jennifer Lawrence, Archie Panjab...and Christian Bale. No clue who should do the adaptation though. You'd need a really good writer for the Lymond Series...maybe the same team that did Game of Thrones. And Maria Doria Russell could pair up with Ron Moore for The Sparrow.

* My dream television into movie adaptation.

Again I really need to develop memes that I can answer the questions to...

Drawing a blank on this one. I think a live action version of Battle of the Planets could actually be sort of cool.


* The show I miss the most and wish they'd revive somehow...

Buffy, although not sure it's possible to revive it.

* The funniest person on television

Mayim Balik's Amy on Big Bang Theory

* My dream movie into book series adaptation?

They aren't good at this sort of thing or so I've discovered, having tried both the Star Wars and Star Trek novels.


* My dream book into movie adaptation?

The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell or Grass by Sherri Teppar...both would be incredibly scary though, so ahem, maybe not?

* My guilty pleasure :

a. Television show: General Hospital

b. Book Series: Historical/smutty Contemporary Romance novels (see above)

c. Movie Series: Marvel Comics Adaptations...
shadowkat: (Default)
Arrgh...Mondays. I survived without punching anyone, jumping out a window, or screaming. I think that in of itself is an accomplishment.

Also managed to get a major contract out to the legal department for review.

So two things accomplished.

And I finished..."Hitchhiker's Guide" over the weekend, so get to read the fluffy adventure romance about the female sea captain who is really a lady and the Egyptian/English former slave/pirate now English Naval Agent who brings her home. I don't remember the name of it, but not sure it matters.
shadowkat: (Default)
1. What's happening in the US national news right now is ...well, as I told a project manager the other day, if we were reading about it twenty years from now, we'd find it hilarious. Actually, I find it funny now, much funnier than the book I'm reading. I think the actual news has trumped (no pun intended) Douglas Addams in the absurdist comedy department.

But I won't bore you with details. You can read about it yourself.

2. Saw the flick Doctor Strange courtesy of On Demand. I was hunting for Rogue One or Hidden Figures, but neither appear to be available at the moment. Also Supergirl, but early S2 episodes are currently only available for purchase. I'm trying to figure out how she got involved with the Daxxon, Mon-El, who is being played by the same actor that played Kyle on Vamp Diaries. I rather liked him on Vamp Diaries, thought he was an interesting actor.

Anywho...Doctor Strange surprised me. I'd gone in with low expectations. Watched it for the cast - Tilda Swinton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwelth...(name I can't spell but was in the movie The Martian). It was good. Loved the metaphor about shattering the ego and discovering the spirit within. Basically the ego driven Doctor Strange, who has gotten to the point that he only chooses cases based on how interesting or impossible they seem and not on necessity, and how much acclaim he can get, drives himself off a winding road while texting. He's all ego in the beginning. And wealth. He has the fast car, unlimited number of watches, top position at a swanky hospital, professional success, critical acclaim, prestige. He's asked to go on a speaking engagement, where he can basically tout his expertise. His friend and ex-girl-friend, who invites to go with him, turns him down, stating she'd rather not be part of the Stephen Strange show. That it is all about him. Always is. So, driving to this gig...on dark twisty coastal roads, he is texting at the same time, trying to determine his next impossible case...when oops, he ends up careening of the cliff and every nerve shatters. (He's a neurologist, so that's rather apropos). His ego shatters. He loses his ability to do surgery. His hands shake and won't be steady. Nothing works, he tries physical therapy, countless surgeries...nothing works. Until he finds out about a man who shattered his spine, went to a mystical retreat and now walks with no issues. So he hunts it down...and goes through a dark night of the soul, he lets go of his ego, reality as his mind conceives it, and surrenders to the mysticism.
There's more of course. A nifty rift on time/space magic and natural law that I appreciated.

It was quite enjoyable and I learned something from it. Also, I'm realizing I'd probably watch Benedict Cumberbatch read the phone book.


3. Also saw the first episode of S2 The Expanse - which was also surprisingly good and stuck close to the books. Closer than expected. We're nearing the end of the first book, Leviathan Wakes. Haven't read the others, which I think they may have blended parts of into the series. I've Caliban's War -- book two on the Kindle, so may or may not read that after Hitchhiker's, assuming of course I finish Hitchhiker's. Hitchhiker's also talks about ego and how it rules out human life, just as Leviathan Wakes does...or how science is a reflection of ego. I think science can be like that. We get caught up in thought and think that's who we are, that this reality. It's not until you stop thinking and let go of thought, that you discover self and spirit. And reality sort of melts into something new.

In Hitchhiker, two lab mice are in reality an advanced species from the 5th Dimension who have been using Earth (and all the life on it) as a huge computer program to conduct scientific experiments -- to determine the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. The mice want the answer because they want to be important, it's about their ego. They care about how others perceive them. How smart they are. If they can come up with the ultimate answer. They don't care who they hurt to get it.

On The Expanse...the scientists want to be important. Their work is important. It doesn't matter who they hurt to accomplish their aim. They are advancing life. They are protecting the planet.

My mother tells me the real thing to be worried about according to one of the speakers she'd listened to..is "genetic engineering" or "the genom" research, because there's no rules, no ethics...and they could do horrible things. I'm like, yeah, I know, I've been reading science fiction. And I'm writing not one but two sci-fi novels about scientists who do that with horrific consequences.

Anyhow...I found the Expanse interesting and informative. Recommend starting from the beginning. It is a little slow to start though, and confusing. Takes patience to get into it.

4. Flash and Supergirl -- watched both this week, because I wanted to see what they did with the musical. The musical was better than expected. But still not quite up to Whedon's Once More With Feeling standard. No one has gotten close to that. Whedon wrote all his own songs for Once More With Feeling and managed to make fun of himself, musicals, and his series at the same time. It was basically a meta-narrative on musicals, horror series, and the television art form all at the same time. I've yet to see anyone come close to topping it. Although people have tried. Some have been more successful than others...it helps, of course, if your format lends itself to a musical and if you have stars who can sing and dance. The Flash and Supergirl sort of did. They even borrowed Victor Garber from DC Legends of Tomorrow. And they wisely did not make the folks who can't sing, sing, having learned from those series that attempted that.

It only had four to five songs. One was written by the writers. Everything else borrowed from elsewhere. And the plot while cheesy, lent itself to it. (But to be fair all the plots on these series are cheesy and campy. That's the fun of them.

I'm not really watching either...too cheesy for me. I like the darker Marvel stuff. DC never really was my comic series. I was more of a Marvel fan.
shadowkat: (work/reading)
1. I hate buying furniture. This is why my furniture is over ten years old and falling apart. Because I hate buying it. Everything about it -- making a decision, spending money on it, worrying about whether it is assembled and will arrive in one piece. I cannot assemble it. I am not handy. And I do not know people who are that are willing to help with that sort of thing.

Personally, I'd rather spend the money on a Broadway musical or a vacation. I don't like spending money on furniture. I realize this makes me a wee bit eccentric, but there it is.

Sorry for the rent, but I've been looking for pre-assembled arm chairs on the internet again. Crate and Barrell's are ridiculously expensive, but Pottery Barn may be doable, assuming of course they are preassembled like Crate and Barrell. Wayfair's weren't. You have to put on the legs, which may be doable.

2. Reading Meme

I'm reading two books at the moment. Neither are exactly "enthralling me" and I feel this weird craving for a gooey romance novel. What can I say, it's that time of month and I've an itch I need to scratch. (Too Much Info? Tough boogies. I'm also cranky. Again that time of month. And well, it's cold, March, everything looks dead -- although some things are making a valiant effort to sprout even if the frigging weather can't make up its mind. Today - 20 degrees, tomorrow - 50 degrees, Sat - 60 degrees...no wonder the plants are confused. I'm confused.)

Book 1: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Addams --- read at your own risk or you ever read a book that everyone else loves and you're thinking...okay, did I just get the wrong book? )

Book #2 -- good transition to the other book I'm reading for a Religious Ed class that I'm taking at Church, more as a means to get more involved with church than anything else, also to learn more about the Unitarian Universalist view of Christianity, which is a bit different than everyone else's and I'm discovering closest to my own. (And here I was thinking that no one else perceived it the way I did.)

The book is ...I can never remember the name of it..."Christ for Unitarian Universalists - A New Discussion" (UU's deal with Christianity from a more rational basis than most Christian faiths, yet also look at it from a religious or spiritual perspective. There are a lot of Christian UU's and theist UU's...I'm a theist/Christian UU in my own way. Also, I know more about religion than people realize...because I've studied in in school, in religious studies, and attended various churches, etc. I find religion interesting and theology interesting. But I would not describe myself as religious -- religion irritates me at times. I am NOT a fan of ritual. I try to do rituals, but they seem silly to me and I can never remember them. It's not deliberate, I just forget to do them. Sort of similar to the rules to various card games. In one ear, out the other.)

Anyhow the portion of the book that I've read to date, which the first two-three chapters, discusses the difference between the pre-Easter Jesus and Post-Easter Jesus or rather, historical Jesus who actually existed, and the Jesus of Faith that his Disciples wrote extensively about in the Gospels, and believed in and experienced post Easter. They wrote the Gospels 40-70 years after he died. Think about that for a minute. And many of the phrases they attributed to him, he never said or spoke while alive.

also read at your own risk...goes into the differences between historical Jesus and the one in the Gospels )
shadowkat: (Default)
If you are fan of musicals and DC comics...this is for you..

shadowkat: (Default)
1. VOTE for Anita Shepard for Tony Birch Foundation Fellowship -- she makes the BEST yogurt. It's coconut yogurt, no sweeteners, no additives, creamy, and tastes like ice cream without sugar. Better probiotic than other yogurts. And if you can't eat diary, like me, or are vegan...this stuff is amazing.

I kid you not. I've been raving about this yogurt for years. Everyone that I've introduced it to, loves it and shares it with others. It's really hard to find.

Only yogurt that I can eat without getting sick or gassy. And can be mixed with cereal, fruit, or you can mix with chocolate and make a great chocolate mousse.

Apparently she's a Unitarian and goes to my church.

Go vote for her now, so you too can buy her yogurt. I can only find it in Brooklyn at the moment. And it is ridiculously difficult to find. I go out of my way to hunt for it.


2. Work is giving me writer's block. Dang it. I need a dumb job ...to write, apparently. But that would drive me nuts.

Still writing in snatches. Wrote a couple of paragraphs on my sci-fi novel tonight. It's 236 pages now, not bad. Had intended to finish it in 2016, but got distracted by...well the turmoil and stress of the election and past three months.
shadowkat: (Default)
1. Okay, you know there's a problem when your news feed is beginning to compete with Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy regarding levels of absurdity.

On FB... People are Canceling their Iowa Vacations Because of Steve King's Words.

Okay, think about that for a minute. People are cancelling their "vacations" to "Iowa". IOWA. It's not exactly a tourist destination. Be a bit like cancelling your vacation to Kansas or Nebraska or Indiana. There's a reason these states have heavy meth addiction rates.

No offense to Iowa...but it isn't exactly known as a vacation destination.

[ETA: My cousin, who lives in Chicago, took exception to this statement on FB. And said a friend of his who lives in Iowa and used to live in NYC might call me snobby. Eh. And she'd be a nitwit. For two reasons -- One, I stated a fact -- Iowa isn't considered a tourist destination or a vacation destination even by Iowans. Any more than Kansas is. People in Iowa and Kansas go elsewhere for vacations. Two, I lived for 17 years in Kansas. Three, NYC is a major tourist destination -- whether we want it to be or not. Personally, I'd rather people visited Iowa and Kansas. But let's face it, there's nothing in Iowa and Kansas but farmland and suburbs. NY has mountains, ski resorts, lakes, beaches, and a huge city. It's not rocket science folks. ]

I scrolled through the FB news feed, and spent most of my time thinking, Seriously??? Did that really happen?? I check, and yep it did. And this seems to be daily. If I were a stand-up comedian, I wouldn't need to write any material...it's being written for me.

2. Busy, busy, busy at work. Have multiple projects going simultaneously, and no time to think, it seems. I like my job for the most part. Management tends to leave me alone, generally speaking. And I do a wide variety of things. Mostly negotiation, mediation, facilitation, coordination, problem solving and financial/legal analysis, which I'm good at, and writing, also good at.

And the work varies.

But by the time I get home, I'm exhausted.

Tonight the Super deigned to change the lightbulb in my kitchen finally. Which was a good thing, since I was getting tired of trying to cook by flashlight and oven light, or rather in the dark.
Also fixed the cabinet door above the stove -- did it very quickly, no clue how. I tried to do something similar and it did not work for me.

Ironically, I work with engineers and architects all day long. But suck at anything remotely dealing with fixing stuff around the house. I'm not a handy-man. I suck at measurement. Can't hammer a nail in straight. I'd kill myself trying to replace a lightbulb. And forget painting or drilling. This is why I rent an apartment and do not own one. It's also why I don't hang pictures on the walls -- requires hammering a nail in a wall to hang the bloody picture.

I take after my father in this respect. He's not all that handy either. My brother is but refuses to help. When my mother prodded, he suggested I call Task Rabbit.

3. Slowly re-adapting to NYC from Costa Rica. Felt better this week. Also it warmed up, which helped. Now in the 40s instead of the 20s. Except at night. Still in the 30s and 20s at night. But considering last week it was in the 20s during the day and the teens at night, this is an improvement.

4. Have decided that Buddhism really resonates for me...the idea of no thoughts, is appealing. I've managed to turn off my thoughts quite a bit lately, and when I do, I find I'm happier, nicer, and more creative. Okay, maybe not more creative...
shadowkat: (Default)
1. Watching Riverdale, I'm struck by the fact that the parents are all my age. Or a couple of years younger. Luke Perry turned 50 in October (Archie's Dad). Skeetch Ulrich turned 47 recently (Jughead's dad).

This is Us is a bit easier, the parents are Baby Boomers and in their 60s/70s, while the kids are in their late 25-43-- kids of the Baby Boomers. Gen X - those of us between 45-55 or thereabouts, have spend our lives competing for jobs with the Baby Boomers (who refuse to retire) and their kids. We were the kids of the Silent Generation - between the Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation. The Silent Generation were the kids born in the 1930s and early 40s during or just before the war, not after it. (74-85).

Personally, I hate these marketing categories. But, it is what it is.

As an aside, Veronica is annoying me. She's went from being likable to a self-absorbed brat. This may because I identify more with her Mom than Ronnie. And...it reminds me of why I'm glad I do not have children.

2. Beautiful day.

Making my way through "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" which has some good moments. Addams apparently has issues with poetry, because he goes on a ten page tangent ripping it apart. I find the writer interesting in his tangents. He also has issues with highways...and bureaucrats.

Sky blue. Snow...multi-colored - depending on where you are. In some places it was neon green. Others orange. And some pink. (Making one wonder what people are feeding their dogs these days? Because that's some interestingly colored urine.) Mostly gray and yellow.

Warmer than it has been. In the 40s instead of the 20s. Nice change. My body was happy.

3. Addicted to chocolate. I know this, because I felt better after I had chocolate. Which means not having it for a few days resulted in withdraw symptoms. Hmmm...

I suppose there are worse things to be addicted to.

Coffee in Costa Rica is amazing by the way -- no acid burn. And the caffeine effect is rather low.
I miss it.

4. The Guest Speaker/Sermon at church was on Buddhism. We did a meditation, and learned about Buddhism. One of my favorite sermons to date. Buddhism is resonating for me, particularly Zen or Mindfulness Buddhism, originating from India. Letting go of the ego or the thoughts, and being silent in the mind. It's to date the only thing that has helped reduce anxiety and alleviate depression.
Letting go of those thoughts...not letting them take root.

Does require practice and discipline, also guide meditation -- which you can get for free via an APP put out by Insight Timer.

Afterwards, I went to an event co-sponsored by the Youth Group and Women's Alliance, where we exchanged questions and information regarding what each group did, sexist experiences, and moments of empowerment. It seemed to reiterate in an odd way the Buddhist lecture...of how attaching to certain thoughts or letting ego rule makes us miserable, which I found interesting.
shadowkat: (Default)
I'm almost caught up on Riverdale, which while compelling in places, has plotting issues. There are moments in which I'm thinking...uhm, this makes no sense, but okay, I'll hand wave because it's a teen serial on the CW. Such as the whole bit with Paulie, Jason and Jason's murder. The show has a 50s sensibility transferred into the 21st Century that doesn't quite play...And there a few plot-holes in that murder mystery.


Also, Archie's makeup continues to distract me. It's almost as if they don't trust the actor to come across as earnest, so have gone out of their way to make sure his make-up gets it across. Short brows and a furrowed white forehead.

I like the actor, but I wish they'd cast someone that required less makeup.

That said, it is doing for the most part a nifty job of avoiding cliches and trite romantic tropes.
Veronica freaking out about her mother's love life...doesn't quite work for a whole host of reasons.
It seems a bit forced and contrived. She goes from being embarrassed about her father and wanting to disassociate herself, to suddenly being loyal...uhh what?

I prefer the Betty/Jughead storyline/romance. It feels a bit more real, even if the murder mystery has some plot holes here and there.

Archie/Valerie also works for me, and was a nice twist. I like the pussycats and would like to see more of them. That's one of the better changes they've made.

Luke Perry looks a bit worn out...as if the actor was drug over rough turf for the last few years.
And his character is a bit cliche, actually all the parents feel a bit cliche and underdeveloped -- a pitfall of teen soaps. I don't know what the problem is with television writers -- they either underdevelop the teens or the adults. The only series that didn't do that was "Stranger Things".

Yet, I'm still enjoying it. There's moments of brilliance here and there. I like the cinematography, and the characters are compelling in their way.

So...
shadowkat: (Default)
Whoa...Chuck Berry died at 90. (Of course, I already thought he was dead.)

He was the King of Rock n'Roll. We wouldn't have had the Beatles, Elvis, Jimi Hendrix and so many others...without him.
shadowkat: (Default)
Finally got around to watching last three episodes of The Vampire Diaries. It was a bit over the top and very sentimental. Although I liked the ending and found it comforting in its way. Have to admit at the end of the series, I was watching more for the friendships than the romantic relationships. My favorite ships in the series were purely platonic:

Stefan/Damon

Damon/Alaric

Bonnie/Damon

Caroline/Alaric

The only romantic relationships that worked for me were Caroline/Tyler and Damon/Elena....Bonnie/Enzo felt a bit too sappy in places. Preferred Bonnie/Jeremy to be honest.

It was a fun series, but lacked the depth and metaphorical chewiness of Buffy. It didn't quite have the same edge somehow. Also too much emphasis on the male vampires, and less on the women in the series. Nina Dobrev's Elena sort of drops out at certain point, and focus centers on the Bro-Romance between Stefan and Damon. Bonnie and Caroline do benefit from Elena's absence, their characters get a bit more development and take center stage. At the end of the series, I decided the heroine was Bonnie.

It's not a series I can see myself re-watching or writing about like Buffy. I don't think it attracted quite the variety and range of viewers that Buffy did. But...it had it's moments. I rather liked the third-fifth seasons.
shadowkat: (Default)
1. Oddities of Costa Rica

2. Wildlife in Costa Rica

3. Sunsets, The Beach and Salsa Dancing in Costa Rica

In other news, I've started reading "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" on my phone, because I forgot to bring my Kindle on my commute.

I'm not sure what it says about me that I found the bit about the aliens demolishing the Earth in order to build an hyperspace interstellar transport system rather amusing. Also reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughter-House Five, where the Trafalmordian's destroy the Universe when one of their test pilots tries out a new interspace travel system.

The one thing that Scalzi, Vonnegut and Addams have in common, is they all appear to suck at writing believable or any for that matter, female characters. A lot of male sci-fi writers have this difficulty, particularly those of certain generation. Scalzi is actually not that bad in comparison.
Not that female writers are much better with male characters in the romance and sci-fi genres, again of a certain age.

Not sure what that's about. I find writing both genders rather easy. You just write them as you would anyone. People are people. I think the difficulty lies in placing too much emphasis on gender differences...resulting your own (ie. the writer's) biases regarding gender coming to the surface. The same thing occurs with race -- if you place too much emphasis on it, your own bias and prejudices surface. I'm not saying you should ignore it, just not make it the main factor. Sort of like focusing on the fact that Barbara Striesand has a huge nose, as opposed to how great a singer, actress, strong woman she is. If that makes sense? Don't see the nose to spite the face. Or the gender to spite the character. Or the race to spite the character. People are people. Race, gender, big noses...aren't distinguishing factors to the degree we think they are. If corresponding on the internet has taught me anything -- it's that. I don't know what someone's gender, race, size of their nose is..unless they tell me. For long time, people online thought I was a guy, until I told them otherwise. (I know, I'd have thought, shadowkat would be a woman's alias, but no, men use it too...it's rather generic. Yet another example of why one shouldn't make generalizations about these things.)
shadowkat: (Default)
1. Making dinner, with any luck it will be ready before 8PM. Started late, due to laundry. Haven't been feeling up to snuff. Sinuses, and serious gas pains yesterday. So serious, had chills, nasaeuous and felt faint. Drink chicken broth, and bone broth, and ate less today, seemed to help. I'm convinced it was this new healthy snack I tried that I can't remember the name of.

2. Finished Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut -- it's an odd book, part sci-fi, part philosophy, part history, and part auto-biography. Vonnegut uses various means throughout it to discuss his feelings about the bombing of Dresden during WWII. By the way, apparently more lives were lost during the bombing than with the atomic bomb. 135,000 people were killed. Not a building was left standing. The entire city decimated. So, the book is sort of philosophical memoir on how Vonnegut and his friend dealt with that horror. Both apparently were there when it happened.

I'm glad I read it now and not when I was much much younger. I don't think I would have understood it if I'd read it in the 1980s or 1990s. Now, it resonates in various ways. No way of knowing for certain one way or the other.

When I was in the 6th grade, people were reading it for the "explicit" content or " dirty words" but didn't understand the content or metaphors or references. The sexual content is about how people are "dehumanized" in our culture and turned into "objects on display". The book is in a lot of ways a critique of our culture, and anti-war.

I like it better than Joseph Heller's Catch-22, which is also an anti-war book. I've read three, MASH, Slaughter-House Five, and Catch-22. All look at it from a different perspective, deal with different wars, and more or less say the same things -- war is absurd, meaningless, and unjustified.
There is no such thing as a good war.

It's weirdly comforting in a way...because it talks about how little control we have over the course of events. We just control how we choose to react to them.

If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it -- in some respects it is highly relevant to what is happening now. But it is written in a jagged, stream-of-consciousness style. The protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, jumps around in time. Actually, this is among the few novels that I think handles "time travel" well. And there are references throughout made to a science-fiction novelist that Billy loves, named Kilgore Trout. So not sure it is to everyone's taste, and you may well need to be in the mood.

I don't know what I'll read next. There's a book for a religious ed course that I'm taking through my church -- regarding how Unitarian Universalist's view Jesus Christ entitled : Christ for Unitarian Univeralists - a New Dialogue with Traditional Christianity by Scott McLennan . My own feelings regarding Christ and God and religion are rather complicated. I'm not an atheist. I never will be.
I understand people who are, and that's okay, but I'm not. I think it's a personal thing that we have to decide and know for ourselves. And what we know, believe in, or understand has a lot to do with how we think and ingest and evaluate information. It's important, I think, to understand that prior to engaging in discourse with others, particularly folks with opposing views. I'm learning not to judge views that are different or opposite of my own. Even though, at times, it is very very hard.

Also, may read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Or another romance novel. Mood is a factor here.
One for weekend reading -- book for class. And one for commute....it's hard to focus on the trains sometimes or in transit. Sometimes you need a light book. Slaughter-House Five was a bit too deep in some respects for that purpose.

3. On Television Front...I'm watching various television shows, too many to list. I deleted "Emerald City" -- had eight episodes saved and realized I'd never watch it, so I deleted it. Was cancelled anyhow.

The Catch -- is at least different and entertaining. Plus it has John Simm, Peter Krause, Mirrelle Enois, Gina Torres in the cast. Add to that, Kate Atckinson is the co-creator/show-runner.
It's twisty and fun.

This is Us is a nice family drama, a little sentimental in places, and at times feels a bit too neat or contrived, but I'm really enjoying it and love the characters. It's by Dan Fogleman.

Nashville is much much better. Completely different than last year. It reminds me a little of Thirty-Something, but then it does have the same writers now. There's some real moments in it, and the music is top-notch.
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Couldn't post these on DW, so did it on LJ. This is just half of the photos, rest will be posted later in the week.

1. San Jose, Costa Rica

2. La Fortuna, Coffee Plantation and the Arenal Volcano

3. Road to Montevarde and the Cloud Forest
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I suppose I should say something about Buffy's 20th Anniversary. I read some stuff yesterday, including an interview with Marsters and Boreanze. Weirdly, I liked the one with Boreanze better.
Boreanze mentioned that he had lunch once with George Lucas who was a serious fan of both series, Angel and Buffy, and had visited the set. Fandoms collide. Marsters has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth, sort of like Spike, and say more than he should. Although he did say one thing that resonated, which is that Buffy in some respects is even more relevant today than when it aired...with it's overall message - "Don't Give Up", no matter how impossible things seem.

Buffy....was in some respects my first and only internet fandom experience. I wonder sometimes if I would have been nearly as obsessed with it, if it weren't for the internet. Maybe. Maybe not. I haven't become obsessed with anything else to that degree. I met a lot of like-minded souls on the internet via Buffy. And because of Buffy, I'm on LJ and DW, although I suppose it's possible I'd have ended up on both another way.

I think the issues explored in that show, resonate over time, and even more so today...I was reviewing an old essay I wrote a while back and considered reposting it, but realized I'd have to heavily edit and revise it. (I can't read things that I wrote several years ago or even a year ago, without wincing a bit -- or rewriting the whole thing.) The essay was about "Dealing with Reality" -- it analyzed the events in Season 6 up to Entropy, before Seeing Red. And discussed how people skew facts or create a fantasy world, to escape reality. If you want to read it, I think you can still find it here. I won't make sense to anyone who has not watched the series. And I can't read it without flinching. So...


At any rate, if it weren't for Buffy, I wouldn't have met many of you. I started watching it earlier than many online folks did -- in 1997. I'd followed Anthony Stewart Head to the series from VR5 which had originally been in the time slot. At first I liked VR5 better. Head seemed to have a minor role in Buffy, with most of the focus on Gellar, who I initially found annoying, having watched her on All My Children. (She was annoying on All My Children, and off-screen, a diva in training.) But the writing and the character won me over...as did the other characters. I think my initial favorite characters on the series were the male characters...Xander, Angel, and Giles. I watched it intermittently that first year...skipping some episodes, enthralled by others. It wasn't really until the second season that I considered it "MUST WATCH" TV. And got a VCR to ensure I didn't miss episodes or could re-watch them. I loved Season 2. Season 3 -- less so, but it was intriguing and I kept going to ACIN News for spoilers. I was a Bangle shipper during that period, and a bit frustrated with the on-again, off-again romance. Loved S2 and S3 at the time.

Season 4 almost lost me. It was an uneven season. And I was, at the time, a Bangle shipper -- well, up until the fourth episode of the season or was it the sixth? The writers successfully killed the Bangle relationship for me, during the cross-over episodes, in which the two characters no longer fit and just made each other miserable. Angel needed to be the hero, and couldn't quite handle the fact that Buffy was the hero, and he was well her sidekick. He wanted it to be the other way around. Actually, it turned out that Riley had the same problem. Cordelia worked perfectly with Angel, because she could be his sidekick. (In retrospect, that's actually an interesting commentary by the writers on our sexist society and how our society and media view women. The writers really weren't that interested in "the romance" and more interested in larger social issues related to the romance. Which often put them at odds with the fandom, who obviously was more invested in the romance or ships than larger social issues. I think that was what Whedon meant when he said he didn't want to give fans what they wanted, but what they needed. In reality, what he was saying was -- I'm interested in exploring broader social issues and commenting on our culture. I'm not interested in writing a story about Romeo and Juliet riding off in the sunset. To be fair, neither was Shakespeare, hence the reason Romeo and Juliet die. Which is why both writer's work endures. They had something to say. It wasn't just a puff pastry.)

Season 5 threw me, and I suddenly got invested in the character of Spike, who'd I always enjoyed, but in S5 suddenly became interesting and developed as opposed to comic relief. Surprised me a little, actually. As did, what they decided to do with Dawn and Joyce.

Season 6 -- turned me into an obsessed fan. Mainly because they started doing things in the series that I hadn't seen anyone attempt before. It felt a bit like watching a high-wire act. With no net.
Also, it appeared that they were planning on sending the characters careening off a cliff -- or it was "Six Characters on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown". I think two of the actors actually came close to having one. It was a risky season, and alienated many fans who wanted puff pasty, happy ever-afters, and chocolate...not a five course meal, with an in-depth examination of pop culture, and various social issues. Scholars, academics, and analytical sorts were in love with S6, those who watched it casually or more on an emotional level -- were pissed off. Guess which side I fell into?
(Helpful hint -- I wrote over 500 pages of meta or essays during that season, examining every character and facet of the series. And read over 1000 pages worth of essays from various people. Not to mention lots and lots of fanfic. It actually introduced me to fanfic.) Season 6 also inspired me to rewatch all the previous seasons of both Buffy and Angel. Including the ones that I skipped over the first go-around. And it introduced me to most of the people I met online.

There were obviously other things happening at the time. S6 did not appear in a vacuum. We had 9/11, the War in Iraq and Afghanistan starting, I was in the middle of a major social and career upheaval,
and on the verge of a nervous breakdown myself. Actually, I think I did have a nervous breakdown in 2001-2002. So S6 resonated for me. It was the only television series, movie, book, etc that did, at that time. Looking back -- I think in some ways S6 and my interactions with people on ATPO and Buffy Cross and Stake regarding the show...may have saved my sanity, if not my life. I'd had the rug pulled out from under me, and was able to retreat to the internet and Buffy as a lifeline. F/X helped by rerunning Buffy episodes. It didn't really have any other programming at that time. So it rerun Buffy each night, with marathons over the holidays. Gave me something to focus on that was not insane.
I remember a co-worker/friend at the time stating -- so your ATPO or Buffy board is a form of "group therapy"? It actually was. We discussed everything through the guise of Buffy.

S7 was disappointing. I wonder if it would have been less so, if I weren't so obsessed at the time and watching it with the internet? If I'd watched it like I do most television series, would I have liked it more? There were isolated episodes and moments in it that I thought were amazing. Beneath You - the tail end of it, Conversations with Dead People (which won the Hugo - I think it did), Selfless, Lies My Parents Told Me...all had lasting value, and explored various social issues in a visceral manner.

To say that I loved the series is perhaps an understatement. I was obsessed with it. I wanted to devour it whole and then again, and again. It struck a deep chord in me. And then, I found others who felt much the same way...which was magical.

To date, people are still teaching courses, presenting papers, and writing essays on Buffy. Many professional writers were fans. Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and The Catch) has stated that it inspired her writing and helped her launch her career as a television writer. RT Davies said that it inspired his version of Doctor Who, and Rose Tyler. George Lucas and Holly Hunter were fans.

Why? Because at it's heart the show as about the universal themes of "Not giving up". "Caring about Others." "Doing what we can to help, no matter what it costs us." And "forgiveness." It was anti-vengence, not a revenge fantasy by any stretch, and anti-guns. It showed how violence had consequences. It was about family, and how we can accomplish more together than alone. And it was about sharing power, not hoarding it.

In some respects, it was the antithesis of the reality series that pollute our media with their endless competitions and meaningless contests. It was about surviving high school, and adolescence, but also about surviving life's challenges.

But, alas, as in all things, it did not appeal to everyone. Never had the ratings of a West Wing or a Grey's Anatomy or an NCIS. And..that's okay. Different strokes...for different folks. For those it did appeal to...it was magical.
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Well, the Universe, Mother Nature, MTA, and Mayor De Blasio decided that I should not go to work today. So. I stayed home. To get to work would require walking through freezing rain and snow, standing around waiting for a bus that may or may not come, switching to another bus that may or may not come, and hopefully getting on a train that may or may not get cancelled. And then doing it again on the way home. All above ground service has been suspended on the subway lines. I live in an area with above ground and below ground service, so of course all trains have been suspended in my area.
Thank ghod, my flights were scheduled for Sunday night, and not Monday, or I'd be stuck in Fort Lauderdale at the moment --- not an airport that I ever want to be stuck in. Much prefer being at home.

Feeling grateful at the moment. Came home with a head cold, and happy to have another people free/travel free day to chill and relax, before heading back into work. I need another day to just veg. None of my projects are pressing. And I'm a non-essential employee -- they can live without me. Plus, I haven't had any sick leave in ages. My co-workers stay home all the time during these types of storms. I usually don't -- living in the city, but if they make impossible for me to come in, I stay home. Going to work today would put my personnel safety at risk and no job is worth that.

Personally, I think they overreacted. So far there's just a few inches and pelting rain. But the rain did change to snow again. So..maybe not. It was snow, freezing rain, then snow...not a friendly mix.

Someone on FB posted that March came in like a lamb and out like a velociraptor. I don't know, we're still in the beginning of March -- isn't it the opposite? Seems I missed the big snow storm last week.

I feel like I've jumped from Summer to Winter in a flash. And weirdly Winter has daylight savings time, and Summer didn't. Which my mind is having troubles wrapping itself around.
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1. Just finished reading Red Shirts: with Three Coda by John Scalzi -- which was surprisingly good. It would not have been quite so good without the three coda, which lifted it from a mild satirical meta-narrative, to literary levels. For anyone out there who loves philosophy, Star Trek, and has a wry sense of humor -- this is a must read.

I went in more or less cold, and I think that was a good thing. So won't provide spoilers. Just that it had some interesting themes, specifically in regards to how we control our own fate, and how we can change the narrative and not let the narrative control us.

2. What I'm reading now?

Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegurt -- which is also a sort of existential satire, but also a deadly critique of War and the human propensity towards pointless violence.

Apparently, I'm in the mood for meta-narrative, satirical, science fiction novels about violence.

3. What I'm reading next?

Most likely Douglas Addams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- I've heard it's good. Only seen the movie, which, was okay. I'm told the book is a lot better.
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Almost done with John Scalzi's "Redshirts", which is really just a satire and meta-narrative, existenalist riff on writing, Luis Pirandella's Six Characters in Search of a Writer, fiction, god and Star Trek.

Decided to take Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with me to Costa Rica along with the Kindle. Why? It's sort of similar to Red Shirts, an existential riff, satire on sci-fi, but in this instance Doctor Who...and it's British, the British are better at Satire than Americans, in part because they've been at it longer.

I caved to watch the Ocsrs, for the musical numbers, not the awards, don't really care who wins. Only saw one or maybe two of the movies up for an award. La La Land and I think Zootopia. Yeah, I know I'm behind. And I can't say I enjoyed either that much...but were disturbing in different ways. (I know a lot about jazz so La La Land irritated me a bit in regards to how it handled jazz. It did not handle it well. Emma Stone's story arc was actually a lot better. So I found La La Land to be sort of uneven. I'm thinking if you don't know much about jazz, it probably didn't bug you. This was the sort of movie you either loved, hated, or were ambivalent about -- I was ambivalent.)

Okay let's see if the Oscars will avoid talking about the Doofus?

Well, they made it ten minutes...long enough for the musical number.
shadowkat: (work/reading)
Stayed away from the news for the most part today, and that helped reduce my anxiety levels considerably. Work feels a bit like pushing boulders up a hill with my mind. So been obsessing over my up-coming trip to Costa Rica and all the crap I apparently need. Because suffice it to say, I don't have water/active athletic adventure stuff. I hope the footwear is okay. I think my strap on sandals should be fine.

To distract myself on my commute, I'm reading books on the Kindle. The Kindle Paperwhite has advertisements for movies and books that Amazon thinks I'd be interested in. The current one that keeps popping up is entitled "We Have Lost The President", and every time I see it, my first thought is "if only that were true. But alas, it's not."

What I just finished reading

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden which apparently won a Christy and a RITA at some point. I don't know why. But I don't understand why most things get awards. Awards in the arts are purely subjective and based purely on the subjective tastes of whomever is voting for them.

That's not to say that I disliked it, it was okay. Just two-three star material. I guess I should have realized that if it won a Christy, it was in the Christian fiction genre, or rather a historical Christian romance. I did figure it out by about a hundred pages in. I think this book would appeal to anyone who is a devote Christian and a linguist, and also likes historicals that take place in the 1800s, and are a bit of a thriller, with a mystery or puzzle.

The Christian bit...it didn't bother me so much, as...well, I'm not a fan of religious fiction. Christy is one of the few religious fictional novels that I've read and liked. It's not "Christianity" that bugs me, it's religious that does. It can be a bit on the sanctimonious side.
And I felt that the writer was a bit repetitive. My mother who read the same book, didn't. So mileage varies.

I'm not a historian, but the history played well here, and the author clearly did her research. The main character is a linguist working in a Navy Yard in Boston during the late 1800s, and she's addicted to opium. But doesn't realize she's addicted because she's been taking it over the counter in a headache medicine that she'd been given as a child. In the 1800s, a British company, Mrs. Winslow's, developed a formula called "Mrs Winslow's Soothing Syrup" which calmed teething babies and small children, also helped with other ailments. Many orphanages used it. The heroine is an orphan and spent her childhood in an orphanage which spoon fed her Mrs. Winslow's. Little did people know that the soothing property in Mrs. Winslow's syrup was opium. The hero is working to stop the opium trade and uses the heroine to help him in his quest. He's your wounded hero trope. I normally like the wounded hero trope, but he irritated me. Actually all the men in this novel irritated me, they were portrayed as selfish, manipulative, and somewhat stupid.

There is no sex in the book - for two reasons, one - the writer is adhering to the period, two - it's a Christian romance.

The writing? It was okay. Found the dialogue to be a bit stilted. But you know I'm picky about dialogue, it's all that theater and play-reading background. And the villains seemed to be a tad one-dimensional and underdeveloped, which bugs me more than most people.

All of that said, I did get something out of it -- the main theme seems to be the pitfalls of self-importance and arrogance. spoilers )

What I'm reading now

Red Shirts by John Scalzi -- this is an interesting science fiction novel, that in some respects reminds me a little of Ready Player Now, but I think I like this one better. It's a meta-narrative satire of Star Trek and fictional television serials similar to Star Trek. And in the larger scheme of things, an adept critique of our ego-driven narcissistic society, where the stars matter and no one else does. If you are a star or the lead in the show, you live, and everyone else's life and purpose revolves around you. They validate your existence. Instead of the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few, the needs of the elite or top few outweigh the needs of the many. Like I said, a deft critique of our culture.

This book in some respects, oddly enough, echoes the themes of the prior one.

Also reading a lot of newspaper articles online. They discovered a solar system with seven planets, including one like earth, orbiting a dwarf star. So, maybe aliens will invade us after all?
OR after the Doofus destroys Earth, we can escape to this distant solar system?

And the New Yorker had a rather interesting article... Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds.

Read more... )
Well it appealed to the frustrated psychology major inside of me, at any rate.

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