Thoughts from My Bathroom Floor

So here’s how my holiday week went:
I got Turtles All the Way Down by John Green for Christmas. It’s just as good as I expected it to be.

This week I also finished the rough draft of a novelette I’ve been working on, and I announced that to my family at a Christmas party on Saturday.
At that Christmas party, I must have eaten something that didn’t agree with me, because I spent Saturday night depositing everything I’d eaten in the toilet. The uncomfortable way.
Just when I thought I had gotten the whatever-it-was out of my system, I went to bed and promptly had a nightmare about the book I just finished writing. Then I was back in the bathroom.
While I was lying on the bathroom floor, I thought of Turtles All the Way Down. Aza, Green’s protagonist, contemplates the book Ulysses by James Joyce. There’s a scene in that book where someone says “Jamesy let me up out of this,” as if the character realizes they’re fictional and doesn’t like this plot. At a couple points, Aza begs with the unknown entity she’s convinced is running her life (she has some kind of OCD-anxiety mental illness) to stop putting her through this plot. That night, I was having similar thoughts related to the ever-tightening nightmare-toilet-unpleasant sleep-toilet spiral.
That made me think of a book called Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers. The book is inspired by John Green’s work; the main difference is Sommers’ characters look to Christianity for answers to the tough questions in their lives. At one point, a character in Truest who’s also struggling with the ultimate question of “what’s real” says, “What if we’re all characters in a book? That would make the author God.”
It makes me wonder why John Green, who reportedly believes in God, hardly ever writes his characters turning to God for answers. Aza repeatedly refers to her grandmother’s Christian beliefs. But even at her lowest point when she says “let me up out of this,” she apparently doesn’t even consider putting that question to God.
Anyway, on the bathroom floor, I asked God to calm my stomach and my nerves, and then a voice in my head said “in through the nose, out through the mouth, nice and slow.” I did that, and I got better.
Happy 2018, folks. Your now is not your forever.

Did any of you have deep thoughts over the holidays?
Let’s Connect!
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog

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And a Happy New Doctor

Merry Christmas! Let’s talk about Doctor Who.
Spoiler-Free Synopsis of Doctor Who’s 2017 Christmas Special, “Twice upon a Time”:
The Twelfth Doctor is trying not to regenerate. The First Doctor is also trying not to regenerate. When they bump into each other, they find a World War One soldier who’s been abducted at the moment of his death. While investigating, they find someone who looks remarkably like Bill Potts and the infamous Dalek with a Conscience from Season 9.
Also, it’s Christmas.

As I made clear in my reviews of Season Ten, I’m a big fan of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. Nine was My Doctor, but Capaldi (combined with Moffat’s writing, whether we admit it or not) provided the best portrayal of the character in the show’s history. And we got to see plenty of him, rather than losing him after only one season, so I was okay with letting him go.
This episode was also Moffat’s departure as head honcho. Amazingly, he didn’t have any dangling plot lines he needed to take care of. He was able to tell a simple little story about a man who’s been dealing with pretty much the same problems for over 50 years and 700 episodes. Rather than saving the whole universe, the Doctor was just trying to pull off one Christmas miracle for one guy. And he was also dealing with personal problems, as only a time-travelling, regenerating alien can.
The Doctor’s origin has been retold and re-imagined plenty of times before, and it will be re-done plenty more times. I liked the version they told here. “There is good and there is evil,” the First Doctor said. “Evil should prevail, because good requires loyalty and self-sacrifice and love.” He left Gallifrey to find out why the universe hadn’t collapsed on itself. And of course he never really found the answer.
The other thing I noticed was the First Doctor being a sexist prick. At first I thought it didn’t make sense, but then I remembered how he married an Aztec woman just to get what he wanted and then ran off. Yeah, that’s in character. And I’m pretty sure it was the Twelfth Doctor’s subconscious motivation for turning into a woman.
No Christian-compatible moral that I could see. I’m debating about whether I’ll want to write about next season, but let’s face it. I always want to talk about Doctor Who.

The Six Stages of Getting a New Video Game Console

[Cracks knuckles] Well, I should put those Technical Writing skills to use.

 

Stage One: The Excitement

Boy howdy! You just got a new video game console! You’ve carefully chosen it not only from the other competing consoles, but from the others on the shelf. Unless it was the last one, in which God was smiling on you.

You take it home and set it down in the living room, ready to set it up.

 

Stage Two: The Fear and Trembling

You carefully open the box, trying not to cut any wires or crack the console or snap the controller in half or jostle the hard drive loose or crunch the USB plugs or any of the countless other possible things that could go horribly wrong with unboxing your new console. What if you break it? What if all the money and work that went into getting it goes to waste?

You work past the anxiety, gracefully resting the console on the TV stand, towards the center where it won’t fall off. You’re reminded of how your friend casually tosses his identical console into a backpack when transporting it, and it still works amazingly. The thought sets your mind at ease.

 

Stage Three: The Plugging-In

This is where things get tricky. You’re comfortable holding and moving the console, which is good. You’ll have to be if you want to get everything set up.

With newer consoles, this is easy. It’s two, maybe three plugs. HDMI, console power, controller power, done. This isn’t too stressful, but it does feel tedious. You have no clue where the cables go to the console, but you figure it out quickly. Ideally, the console will never move again.

Look on the bright side. It isn’t an older console, with easily twice as many cables as the one you’re setting up.

You turn on the TV, console, and controller, and are greeted by the warm glow of…the wrong input. Whoops.

 

Stage Four: The Setting-Up

This one takes the longest. The console is up and running, you hold the controller in your hands. But the factory settings aren’t exactly plug-and-play. You go through step-by-step, setting up an account, hooking the console up to the Wi-Fi, running system updates so, mechanically, it matches everyone else’s console.

You’ll have a lot of time to wait. Maybe read a book. Clock in a few final hours on the old console you won’t use as often. Write a blog post about the experience.

 

Stage Five: Playing the ga…wait. More setting-up.

Once the console is ready, you pop in the game that came with the console. Most consoles do these days. If not, you were probably smart enough to buy a game to go with the console. I haven’t made that mistake, ever.

[TOTALLY  MADE  THAT  MISTAKE  WHEN  HE  BOUGHT  HIS  WII U]

So you pop in your new game into your new console and are ready to play it. But you’re greeted with another install screen. You take a deep breath and go back to what you were doing. At this point, the books have been read, the blog posts have been written, and you’re ready to let the old console gather dust. Maybe do the dishes? Laundry?

 

Stage Six: Playing the Games

Finally, once everything is set up, you sit down to play your new game on your new console.

 

In other news, my sister got me a PS4 for my birthday, my college graduation, and Christmas–all of which happened in the span of a week. This means that my video game reviews will change, focusing on gameplay as well as story. It also means that I can’t use the “I only have a Wii U” excuse anymore.

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

Disney Princesses: A Public Service Announcement

In case you missed the news, Disney bought Fox. With their other conquests such as Marvel, Star Wars, and Lego, Disney now owns over one fourth of the cinematic property in the USA. This means, among other things, Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to get pretty interesting. Also, people have been popping up in social media talking about characters who are now Disney Princesses.
I’m the pedantic kind of nerd, so I’m going to clear a couple things up.
Go watch the Super Carlin Brothers on YouTube for details, but basically there are a bunch of rules for determining who gets to be a Disney Princess.
1) She must be human. This disqualifies that blue alien princess from Avatar.
2) She must not have been introduced in a sequel. This disqualifies Alvin and the Chipmunks’ female counterparts and Amelia Earhart from Night at the Museum 2.
3) She must meet at least one of the following: born royal, married royal, or performed an act of heroism. Rose from Titanic wasn’t royalty, and she sure didn’t save any lives that I can think of.
4) Her movie must have the right amount of box office success. Buttercup from The Princess Bride probably wouldn’t count either because her movie was a cult classic on home video, not in theaters.
5) She must have an animal sidekick. This is the least official of the rules because it comes from Maui, Shapeshifter, Demigod of the Wind and Sea, Hero of Men and Women. But it does disqualify a whole lot of characters, unless you count droids as animal sidekicks.
6) None of this counts unless Disney officially recognizes a character as a Disney Princess, so random people on social media shouldn’t jump the gun.
7) I saved this one for last but it’s considered near the beginning: she must be in an animated movie. Giselle from Enchanted and Leia aren’t Disney Princesses because any actresses who portray them at Disney theme parks won’t be enough like Amy Adams or Carrie Fisher. This also disqualifies Storm, River Tam, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, no matter how great those characters would be as role models.

The moral of the story is: don’t get your role models exclusively from franchises. Use your own criteria.

Marvel and the Bible

How do I explain this?
I was watching Marvel’s Runaways – a really good show, by the way; I’ll do a full post about it at some point – and I got to the token Stan Lee cameo. It made me realize something. Whether Marvel is intentionally making Stan Lee a cosmic entity on par with the Watchers (as the fan theories say) or not, his cameo is the executive stamp of approval that reminds everyone what they’re watching. And that’s an important and special thing.

When I wrote about The Punisher, I said it doesn’t feel like a comic book adaptation. But then I realized that’s something Marvel has going for it. They can use their characters and stories in a wide variety of genres: war, spy thriller, epic fantasy, space opera, high school coming-of-age, African-American ‘hood, R-rated action comedy, R-rated action road trip, high school ensemble drama and more. The upcoming New Mutants movie is going to be a horror flick, remarkably similar to Stranger Things.
Of course, not all of those things are in the same continuity. A while back I read something that suggested X-Men and Avengers shouldn’t exist in the same cinematic universe because they work by two completely different narrative philosophies. There’s room for such variety in the comics, but not so much in the movies. Now that Marvel and Fox have merged, we might get some of those philosophies colliding with one another.
But as I was saying, the fact that Marvel can tell stories with all those different philosophies with pretty consistent quality is a big point in their favor. They change the feel of the show or movie to match the subject matter, and they hit the nail on the head almost every time. And through it all, whether it’s the psychedelic mind freak that is Legion, one of the comedies, or Chris Evans punching Nazis, it’s still Marvel.

We also have the Bible. It has lists of rules, adult romance, prophecies of the future, historical drama, and more. Like Marvel, it’s all united by the same main author who makes frequent cameos. Unlike Marvel, it maintains the same philosophy throughout, as well.

January 26 in Geek-dom: Please Stand By

*Isaac is taking the week off to graduate from college. That’s exciting. While he’s gone, here’s something else I’m really excited about.*
My post about Stranger Things has been cancelled until further notice. For one thing, I have nothing interesting to say about it. For another thing, I just saw a trailer for Please Stand By.

Guys, I am so glad that this movie exists.
Dakota Fanning (that’s one point in the movie’s favor right there) plays a girl with autism – okay, I’m convinced. She’s also a Star Trek super-fan.  And a writer. And it comes out a couple weeks before my birthday. Squee.
For the new readers: I have Asperger’s Syndrome. This means I was born to be a nerd. Whatever I’m interested in stays near the front of my mind pretty much all the time. It’s how my brain works. Some people on the autism spectrum get interested in mechanical devices, computers, or animals. I got nerdy fandoms (among other things). Dakota Fanning’s character got Star Trek.
So this movie is going to mix autism spectrum neurology with fandom. On top of that, the fandom is about people trying to navigate alien worlds. That’s what people on the spectrum need to do every single day. It’s perfect.
I cannot adequately convey how excited I am for this movie. I’m going to find the main character so relatable it’s almost ridiculous. The only thing that would make it better is if I was actually a Star Trek fan myself.
On that note, I should point out one potential pitfall with this movie. I really hope knowledge of Star Trek isn’t necessary for enjoyment of it. I doubt this will be much of a problem, but from what I understand non-nerds think Ready Player One is going to suck because it’s far too nerdy and movies are supposed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
But most likely, I will love this movie even though I’m not a Trekkie. One of my autistic/nerdy interests is nerds. I love watching people be unashamedly passionate about stuff, even if I’m not into it myself. And of course I love representation of neuro-diversity and watching someone like me navigate this crazy planet.
[Insert applicable Star Trek reference for sendoff.]

On Bond Girls

I recently watched my first James Bond movie, Skyfall.

I noticed two things. One: James Bond is another example of an action hero who wins through situational awareness. Two: Daniel Craig’s 007 interacted with four women before the halfway point. I’m pretty sure he sleeps with three of those women, and I think if his boss was closer to his age she’d be an option too.
I knew Bond had a reputation for being a ladies man and “Bond girls” are an archetypal trope. And I understand the random girl in the tropics – he’d just died (officially). But his fellow secret agent was patching up Bond’s wounds after a fight and he started unbuttoning her shirt. She didn’t even seem to mind.
Then he finds a girl who works for the bad guy. He finds out she’s scared of her boss, and he offers to help. What a gallant hero, right? Five minutes later (movie time) they’re in the shower together. I’m pretty sure you could call that taking advantage of a vulnerable girl.
I’m new to the James Bond fandom, but best I can tell Bond fans just accept that their hero is a promiscuous womanizer. It seems particularly ridiculous to me because of my Christian sensibilities. I have no evidence to say people who have a problem with the “Spy Who Loved Me (But Only For Part of One Movie)” are less likely to stumble than those who like him. And I know I’m usually pretty forgiving of fandoms as long as viewers are aware of the potential problems. But this one I’m going to come out and say it: there are heroic role models with better dating habits. Go watch something else.

I’m out of things to say. I’ll probably write about Stranger Things next week; stay tuned.