Some Things Never Change

I just found a game on Steam where the review tagline from Kotaku is “It’s like Game of thrones, but with animals.” I don’t…what…is that an endorsement?

One of the characters is a busty bunny – and even in a grim, but cute Disney-esque fantasy world, the girl-type people don’t get to wear pants.

It’s called Armello.

HOLY SHIT – you guys need to go watch the trailer videos! It’s the weirdest cute-but-terrible thing EVER since Watership Down! An obviously evil, yet still COOT AS A WIDDLE BUTTON weasel with an eyepatch just full-on murder-faces a toad in front of his rabbit friend!

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That’s Not Right…

So I made a discovery about myself.  All because of a movie.  Well, technically several
movies – but it all started with one.

A friend at work has been giving me movies to watch.  Most recently he gave me a “mix DVD” of like six – including Bad Moms, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, The Nice Guys, and Rock the Kasbah – which were all really entertaining. But not the subject of this post.

When I finished with those last week, I decided I wanted to keep watching movies, and I stumbled across Mr. Right, with Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell and Tim Roth.

That movie….THAT MOVIE!

The first part of that film is eerily similar to my life. To me.  In fact, Anna Kendrick is sort of a weird spiritual doppelganger of me throughout.

  • She has a moment where she drunkenly screams “I’m wearing my favorite socks!” followed by “ONE OF YOU HUSSIES IS GETTING FISTED!”20161204_205503
  • She asks her friend Sophie “Why does this keep happening to me? Do I just suck? Am I just suckball McGee over here?” And Sophie replies (like my friend Karen or Lynn or Erin) “No, you’re not Suckball McGee. You’re just a work in progress, babe.”
  • She confesses to having a fantasy to be the crazy old woman in the neighborhood who drives around and “dead-eyes teenagers.” I have OFTEN said I want to be the crazy old lady with a big fuck-off hat shouting at teenagers to get off my lawn.
  • I don’t want to spoil a kind of special moment for you, because you NEED to see it – everyone does.  But the picture I’ve included here will make sense when you do. That’s me -in the picture, by the way, age five – as a T-Rex. Mom and dad made that costume for me.

In the movie, the love of Martha’s life turns out to be a government assassin.  This is important.  It’s important because, well, I realize that I liked this movie slightly better than my NEXT favorite romantic comedy, Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

I was talking with a friend about that, and he asked me to rank them – my favorite rom-coms.  So I did. Here’s my list:

  1. Deadpool
  2. Mr. Right
  3. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
  4. RED
  5. Grosse Point Blank
  6. Sweet Home Alabama

Do you see it? Do you see the pattern?  I’m pretty sure SHA is the exception that proves the rule – the rule that I am MESSED UP.

Some women get accused of having these crazy, unrealistic standards as set by the likes of Mr. Darcy or Captain America or even Doctor Who (David Tennant, naturally).  But me? I apparently also have equally unrealistic standards – but I toss in near-psychotic trained killerhood. Because THAT’S normal.

Marth’s friend Sophie nails it when she says “At some point you’re going to have to start noticing these red flags…”

Yeah. Okay. I do… Red flag seen.  But I don’t want to DO anything about it. Except to find that crazy bastard.

Of Barren Hellscapes

Okay.

So I went to Midwest GameFest over the weekend. That’s a tabletop and RPG event in Independence.  It’s small – they only get like 500 people a year or something, but it’s nice. Sort of.

But here’s the thing – WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU INDEPENDENCE!?!

And to be fair, and I don’t admit this freely most of the time, I am FROM Independence, so I can rant about this all I want.

What fucking barren hellscape IS THAT, seriously, where they have something called a “PIZZA RANCH” but no motherfucking STARBUCKS??!!?!

Oh – yes, I know that people will say “Oh, there IS a Starbucks over at the other end of 40 highway by the –” WHAT THE SHIT?

I should not be closer to a Cheddar’s, a Cabela’s, and the aforementioned Pizza Ranch than I am to a Starbucks EVER – E.V.E.R.  That should not be a thing that can happen in a civilized society.

It. Should. Not.

I was forced to drink hotel tea out of a fake plastic souvenir mason jar.

Are you hearing me?

UNTENABLE.

Now.

The event itself was delightful.

I got to play in a really cool Shadowrun event GM’d by the guy who wrote the module. Super fun.

I tend to play “talkies” – more communication driven characters. Which will surprise exactly no one reading this.

The mage in the party was awesome.  He played a mage whose schtick was basically that he’d been Van Wilder attending the UC Santa Barbara of mage schools and had taken a bunch of electives and stayed on past graduation driving around in a golf cart because people liked him, and then become “The Dude.” Another guy was the hacker / combat guy – he was super serious and awesome too.  He had a mentee – the REAL hacker guy, who was played by the guy who usually GMs for us.  The character was a teenage kid who idolized the combat hacker. I ended up having to pretend to be the kid’s mom – so he started calling me “fake mom,” and the combat hacker “fake dad” – which led to the two of us having arguments about how to raise the kid.

My favorite scene of the night was when we decided to let “little Charlie” learn the ropes of interrogation in Shadowrunning by having him question this guy we’d taken prisoner. We had him tied up and rigged with an explosive collar and just stood back and kibbitzed and helped out while the not-good-at-talking kid questioned this poor terrified ganger. It was hilarious. When the kid messed up and the guy started not giving the answers we wanted or scared the kid, one of us would step in “Now, Charlie, sometimes when people are under duress, they say things that aren’t QUITE true to make it look like it’s someone else’s fault. And it’s NOT VERY NICE, and there can be some pretty serious consequences.”

Good times.

When You’re a Stranger

I just want to take a moment to say that Doctor Strange is AMAZING.

I LOVED this film.

LOVED it.

Benedict Cumberbatch was the CUMBERBATCHIEST!

Mads Mikkelson was the MIKKELSONIEST!

Tilda Swinton was the SWINTONIEST!

SO GOOD!

I laughed. I cried. I marveled at the CG and explosions!

Seriously.

If you have not seen it – WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING!!???!?!?!?!

MINOR SPOILERS:

I loved that Rachel McAdams had enough self respect to walk away AND to respect what he had to do as a superhero.  SHE was awesome. LOVED HER.

I loved the cape.  LOVED IT.

I loved Tilda Swinton OWNING her moment at the window with the snow. LOVED IT.

I loved that it was more Man vs. Himself than Man vs. anything else.

I loved the time loop.

I loved the cut scenes. Because of course I did.

Seriously.  Go see it. Totes worth it.

 

 

Sorcery

So as some of you may know, I had a birthday recently.

Last year was a bit bleak because of reasons.  This year was way better. In part it was way better because while last year I bought myself one present (an admittedly wicked cool Handbag of Holding computer bag from ThinkGeek.com – the deluxe black “vegan leather” version!), this year I…uhm…I went a little nuts.

This year I bought myself a ton of socks from Sock Dreams.  I am not a shoe girl, but I DO love me some socks.

I also DID buy a pair of shoes – boots, actually.  But understand that I have never in my life owned a pair of tall boots.  Never. Not once.  And now I do.  I cried when I bought them. I tried them on and I got all teary-eyed and the barely-more-than-a-teen helping me looked like I had just started hemorrhaging from all of my orifices and fluttered her hands around not sure what to do. I waved her off and said I was fine, and then asked if I should get those or another pair I’d tried on (partly because I kinda wasn’t sure and partly out of spite because I knew she’d try to help me but be befuddled – shadenfreude – it’s a thing), and sure enough she froze like a possum staring down a Volvo and then mumbled “…you seem to like those…….”

I also got myself a wireless gaming headset and new speakers – since I disconnected my computer from the TV and the surround sound system. AND I got myself not one, not two, but THREE 27″ monitors. It’s egregious. And I love it. My consoles – like Steam and Battle.net and Origin are on the left.  The internet is on the right. And my games and whatnot – right in the middle.  It is AMAZING.  I am really not sure how I survived before now.  I was basically a raccoon, rummaging through the garbage for tech before now.

I feel really powerful.

Also I got myself Civ VI.  And it is GORGEOUS.  Only………..WTF, Sid Meier?  Where is Alexander?  Really?

So anyway – know that as I type this, it is on the RIGHTMOST monitor. Unless I decide I need to move it to the middle for some reason.  Or the left. Because I feel like it. Because I can choose.

And if you only have one or two monitors, know that I feel like I am JUST a little better than you.

The Interview

I’ve spent most of my life working in the tech industry.  That didn’t happen on purpose. I mean, I set out to major in Global Studies and pursue a career in international law. Then there was my theater / communications phase. And music. And then I ended up with so many credit hours in so many things that I could have finished my degree in either history or English.  I literally flipped a coin.  It came up history.  I said “screw that” and finished in English. Because fate can suck it.

The college I attended didn’t have minors, but they DID have “emphases,” so my degree in English literature and composition is augmented by emphases in history, poli-sci, linguistics, theater, and communications. Truly, that simply demonstrates indecisiveness, not studiousness.

I took my newly minted English degree, moved to the SF Bay Area (I followed a boy – but that’s another story) and marched my hard-working Midwestern ass into several magazine offices in San Francisco and proudly showed them my credentials expecting to be hired forthwith. I mean, I knew the word “forthwith.”

When they’d stopped laughing they pointed at the exit.

So, I talked to temp agencies. It turns out that my dysfunctional parenting was of FAR greater value than any amount of book learning. See, dad was a super logical management consultant and technophile. We’d had gadgetry and computers as soon as they were available. Mom was a total art flake. They had NEVER understood how to talk to one-another. It remains a complete mystery to me that  there are just two of us – my sister and me. I mean, either they should have constantly been having sex as their only means of communication, or should have NEVER had sex or gotten together at all.  The fact that there are two of us?  Weird.

But I had forever been the bridge between them.  “Nonononono – Mom. MOM. What dad is SAYING is….”  And “Okay. Okayokayokay. But dad. DAD. DAAAAD. What Mom MEANS is…”  That was my life. And it turned out that in Silicon Valley, that ability to speak both Geek and normal human was INVALUABLE.  I became what they called a Technical Liaison. I went in and solved communication problems and helped train people to talk to one-another. It was amazing. Every stupid trick I learned just to survive in my home was worth MONEY in the real world. And all I had to do was exactly what I had done every day for my entire life.

It felt like cheating.

I worked for companies like Apple and Oracle and HP and Raychem and got really good at what I do. And I worked almost exclusively with supergeeks of various kinds.  I already knew and loved them – my cousin and uncle and dad were those people. My friends were those people.  All I did was expand my geeky horizons.  All of my time was spent with gamers and geeks and engineers and scientists and programmers. That became my whole world.

So here I was in an interview at a science company, and the people interviewing me? Two women. Two fabulous, geeky, nerdy WOMEN. It was as if the heavens had opened and light shone down on me.

Near the end of the interview, the manager who headed a group of programmers said “Oh. One more question.  Are you okay talking to developers?”

For a moment I honestly did not understand the question.  “You  mean….socially? In a game setting? Professionally?”

She laughed.  “Oh good. We’ll be fine then.  It’s just sometimes we have to shield the programmers from the…you know. Regular people. And vice versa.”

I was horrified. “Please. Please  DON’T. Those are my PEOPLE.”

And I meant that.

My first day there, I was getting tea at the tea and coffee kiosk. A guy saw my phone. “Is that….is that Agent Carter on y0ur phone background?!”

I looked at him. Smiled. “Yes. Yes it is.”

“Ohmygoshhowmuchdoyouloveher?”

“I love her ALL the much.”

He smiled, hopefully. “And…Jessica Jones?”

“JJ is my favorite. Daredevil?”

“YES!”

I made a new friend. Because of my Agent Carter phone background. My first day on the job. It was SO GOOD to be working with proper nerds again.

Day two? I met a gamergirl. Tabletop, PC, AND console.

Life was looking up. And again, I felt like I was cheating.

 

 

Deck the Halls with Droids and Jawas

I saw Star Wars in the theater when I was five years old. Say what you will about very little kids understanding movies, it blew my mind. I loved it. I wanted to BE some amazing combo of Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. Also I wanted to marry Han Solo. It was confusing and complicated. But it was beautiful.

I had loooooong hair perfect for cinnamon buns and a mom inclined to spend the time patiently winding and pinning my auburn tresses into the iconic Leia hairdo, so I got to be the perfect little space princess All. The. Time.

Depending on whether you know me, or on what impressions you’ve formed of me from reading my scribblings, it may surprise you to learn that I was pretty much a perfect kid (behavior-wise) in school. Yes, okay, I was also a model student. By which I mean total nerd. I can own that. I just never got in trouble.

Except this once.

I have ONE black mark on my permanent scholastic record.

I was in a playground fight in fourth grade.

And it was over Star Wars. Well, Empire, technically.

How freaking nerdtastic is THAT?!

I mostly look back at my young self and feel a tish sorry for that quiet little mousy girl who thought she might die if she said a curse word or made a teacher frown. But that one glorious moment in fourth grade? I LOVE HER FOR THAT.

We were living overseas at the time – in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Movies didn’t reach overseas markets as quickly then as they do now, and there was always a lag between a big release and when we got to see them – UNLESS you were lucky enough to be traveling to the US when one came out. I was not so lucky. Jennifer Zwick, however, was. She’d just come back from a visit stateside and had seen *angelic chorus* The Empire Strikes Back. The phrase “spoiler alert” had not yet been invented, and also we were nine – so it never occurred to us to worry about such things. She was telling me about the movie and she said – she actually SAID – that Darth Vader was the wonderful and pure Luke Skywalker’s father.
The world stopped spinning on its axis.

Now, as I said – I was (and am) a Han girl. Because broken rogues are irresistible.
BUT STILL. One does not say such things about the hero. One does not. Scandalous. SLANDEROUS.

So I called her a dirty liar.

And she pulled my hair.

And it was ON like Donkey Kong (or it would be in another year – Donkey Kong was not a thing yet either).

The reason I tell you this is ONE because – it’s kind of awesome, right?

But two, because Star Wars is important to me. It really is.

So when the new movie was coming out in December, I naturally wanted to go, and ideally I wanted to go with friends. Some good friends of had rented out a small theater at The Alamo downtown and had offered tickets. Because of reasons, I had not gotten one. It’s not worth going into why, but I had not. And I was angry about it. Super angry. White hot fury of a thousand suns angry. But also bitter and sad.

This angry bitter combo led me to do the only thing I reasonably could do: I reacted like a child and decided I would just wait for it to come out on Blu-Ray because screw everyone and everything – no one could make me go see it alone.

Of course that turned out to be completely not true.

Someone could.

My friend Micah.

Micah and I had known each other for almost nine years when we worked together at the seminar company. We had only worked semi-closely together for last five or so years, but we communicated a lot, and due to various circumstances, we’d become friends.

Micah texted to ask me if I’d seen the movie yet. Mostly it was self-serving. He wanted to talk about the film. I said no, and told him my grand plan endorsed by five year olds everywhere (sorry, five year olds). I don’t t have the text transcript any more, but this is pretty close to what happened.

Me: “No. I’m not going. It’ll be out in, what, six months?”

Him: “What? No. Go see it.”

Me: “Nah. I’ll just wait. I don’t like seeing movies alone. Besides. I want to wallow in my bitterness.”

Him. “What the….Fuck bitterness. Go see it.”

Me: “Sigh. Look. I’ve actually been looking at theaters and they appear to be all sold out anyway. At least online.”

Him: “Don’t you work downtown? Right across from The Alamo?”

Me: “So what. It says they’re sold out.”

Him: (you can almost hear the deep breath and pursed lips) “Walk across the street and buy a ticket. I’ll wait.”

This went on for just a bit – because I am difficult. Or can be. But he persisted. Because he is awesome. And has the patience of a saint.

Ultimately I walked across the street and bought a ticket. Turns out the online services for most of the theaters were completely overwhelmed, but you could just walk in and get a seat without much trouble. To be fair I marched in and demanded that the ticket seller guy tell me they were sold out so that I could tell me jerk friend *waved phone at him* they were sold out and get him off my fucking back. The dude said “Well, I can TELL you that, but…..” And I had to apologize and buy a ticket.  It was even a decent seat.

I can admit that I got teary-eyed when the fanfare started behind the giant STAR WARS logo. I wanted to text him “thank you” right then and there – but if you know anything about The Alamo, you know they frown on that sort of thing.