Thursday, April 19, 2007


Than used to have a watch which he wore for a whole decade. He was really happy with his watch, it was his watch and he wouldn't change it for another, even though its face had cracked and he'd had to change the strap a few times along the years. But one day I got him another one, which was just like it, but new. Not just a new watch, but a new model of the same Casio one, with exactly the same functions but a new, 00s design. As he's said in his own words, it's like a special time-ray shone on his old watch and made it 'new'. Like magic. And that's exactly how I felt when I saw the new Command and Conquer game.

I remember playing the old ones 'back in the day', mainly because it made me happy, back then, that my father would get involved while I played, and thought of strategies and how to best get past the level we were on while he was with the 'other woman in his life' that I was so envious of, his work. In fact, I could never trade that phone call I got from him, while he was at the office, to tell me that he'd thought about how we would get Tanya, in Red Alert (yes, the first one), to do what we needed her to do, for anything in the world. Yes, it may sound crass, but a passion for strategy and micromanagement was always one of the things the two of us shared, even back then when we didn't share much else.

And imagine my awe when I saw the new Command and Conquer game, so many years later, when I hadn't played a strategy game on the PC for many a year. I actually became interested in it because of its damn FMVs (that's Full Motion Videos, for you gaming acronym illiterati), made fresh by casting actors like Michael Ironside, Lando Calrissian (yes, that's actually his official name by now), Josh Holloway (that's Sawyer from Lost) and some of the cool Battlestar Galactica cast. And going back to the whole FMV thing in the year 2007 was one thing, which they did in fact go about the time-ray way.

But what actually impressed me, enough to rant about it here, is the mere specifics of the gameplay, which have remained exactly the same, only with 'current' versions of the visuals. The same setup, only its 2007 version. Little 3D models of the troops etc where they should be, moving how they should move, with the 'way of thinking and playing' behind them remaining constant, and the only thing that's actually changed is what your computer's graphics card and general processing power can take now.

And all this made me feel like time is irrelevant. People are people, underneath it all, no matter how much time has passed, how many new things are invented or discovered to change it all. I'll still be a girl who grew up remembering a moment she shared with her daddy, whether it be a PC game or trout fishing that brought it across.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Po-Mo Emo

...or Meta-Emo if you will, but it sounds less pretentious without the alliteration. And it's only fitting to have a po-mo title for a meta-po-mo post.

So, this is how it goes: Than woke me up with this song today, called Emo Kid. It's by two guys (a band) called Adam and Andrew, and it's all about, well, an emo kid. At first, I thought it was a Liam Lynch 'fake song' kind of thing, but then, as I was listening to the lyrics, I realized that it wasn't - it was not his voice singing them, now, was it? So, no, it couldn't be the same guy, and thus it couldn't be the same kind of art 100%.

And I asked Than if he'd seen the guys, if he'd heard any more of their songs et cetera... What I was really asking was if, in fact, as I'd kind-of-guessed, they were what I have now, as you've discovered, decided to call 'po-mo emo'. If they were actually emo kids themselves, in a way, which had delved deep enough in the whole emo culture thing to look back, almost introspectively, and wrote a song (songs, in fact, as I later discovered through their myspace, where I found this song and others in the same general 'culture' theme, as well as photos that seemed quite emo to me) that was really indicative of the culture that they were describing there. And, as you can see for yourselves, they do describe their band genre as 'Comedy/Emo/Rap', so, yes, they do know this for themselves.

And they're not the only band that does this, obviously. Not just for emo, but every genre/subculture has its own band(s) that have gone off and embraced what they love and have been 'schooled' in enough to go about it in a 'meta' way and even make this their 'schtick'. And good on them for doing so, from where I stand.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Polarity of Narrative

(Warning: Contains Battlestar Galactica spoilers)

I've been thinking about narrative conflicts lately, what with the whole 'power shifting' thing - and especially with the latest ventures of one of my favorite TV shows, Battlestar Galactica, which is currently trying to give a 'Mein Kampf' feel to Gaius Baltar's position within the ship's politics and all.

And I was thinking about narrative conflict. Two sides, A and B, whether they be a single person each, or a whole party - army or otherwise - against another, both of which have conflicting views on a subject which concerns them both. And there really can't be a modern narrative of any kind without any sort of conflict, we all know that I suppose.

But what I actually realized, based, again, on the whole Hitleresque/misunderstood hero portrayal of Dr. Baltar, which gave some credible arguments to his side of the debate (the 'am I the worst man alive or not' debate, that is), is that - since, as I have advocated, there are always two sides to any given point - every villain can be a hero. 'Turning that frown upside down' is an easy thing to do on any given subject if need be, and narrative oppositions are always stronger, methinks, if each side has a valid point of view on the disputed matter but you, as a viewer, are forced to choose a side.

And in this debate, the Gaius debate, it seems like the only thing that's keeping us on the side-which-is-not-his is the fact that he used to be the straight-cut villain in the old series on which this one was 'loosely based'. A series which was as clear of narrative moral debates as, it seems, was typical of TV series coming out at a time like that, in the days when '
men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri', and for some reason that was considered a good thing. But it is such debates that make me 'enjoy' a story, struggles and conflicts that make me wonder about the nature of the world around me and about the human mind and society, that make me think and hence feel, well, a little bit smarter.

So, give me my plot-lines convoluted, please-thankyou. Apparently, it's what gives me the kind of adrenaline rush that only an overdose of shades of gray can.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Geek Out On Camera!

Yes, this is about the NPN Theory again...

Go watch it if you will, then send me a short video of you and/or a friend stating your views on ninjas, pirates and/or Nazis in films, and/or on the theory itself, at NPNtheory at-screw-you-bots-symbol until the end of June or so.

Yes, that's the same theory about how the appearance of ninjas, pirates and/or Nazis instantly makes a movie more entertaining. And yes, we're planning to make a 'real' version of it this summer, rather than the sad excuse for a documentary on a cool idea we made in the first place due to time restrictions and stuff. And yes, it certainly will have as many and/ors as this post.

So, be an angel - or at least a nice person - and send us your stuff for our inter(net)views section... We'll say thank you with a big smile.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Five-by-Five Pyramid, or whatnot

It seems to be an unofficial mark of success for anything that starts off in Greek nowadays, that it ends up being approached in English as well, right? So, as you can probably see in the comments of the post below - that's if you bother reading them - or if you follow the 'pyramid' at all, I was approached concerning a game, of sorts, which requires me to mention five facts about myself, then nominate five more bloggers that would do the same. And, obviously, I would have to fit this concept in with the pretentious, navel-gazing style of my own blog. So, here goes...

1. I believe in shades of gray. I may have mentioned this before, but it seems to me - and I must consider myself an expert of sorts on the subject of 'myself' - like a fact that would describe me and this 'ere blog like a charm.

2. The three men I am allowed to go to bed with, without asking Than first, are Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughan and Jon Stewart. Screenwriting, comics writing and just plain TV. The funny thing is, they're all married, as far as I know - isn't that delightfully ironic?

3. Three is one of my lucky numbers. Me believing in luck, of course, is just me following a social convention, which can be fun, and draws on the human tendency of finding patterns in random things. Just like participating in such pyramids.

4. That said, I also believe that the world somehow makes sense. I'd have to believe that, to avoid going mad and all... I believe that scientific thought is a very good way for humanity to chase this, but I still believe we must have faith in the Universe and the way-too-complex-and-unfathomable ways it works, which we are probably unfit to comprehend, barely able to stand in awe of, and still a part of.

5. I love Than. I really do. You might have already noticed, if you're one of the... three avid readers of my blog, but, almost five years along the line, I sometimes need to reassess the ways in which I do, the kind of judgmental, non-supportive and impatient bitch I can occasionally morph into.

And now to pass the ball on. I will now proceed to make my choice out of the very few bloggers I know of (*drumroll*)...

I choose Tyler of US TV, first and foremost, because he's my favorite blogger this side of Mars, and because I'd love to see how he'd manage to fit the premise of the game in with the excellently concise TV theme of his blog.

I choose FloppyKat of What'sTheMatterBaby, 'cause I love her too, although I haven't had the chance to make her life hell yet, and I hope I won't. Her blog idea is cool as well, and it would also be fun to see her take part in the game.

I choose Oneiros of Non-Linear Complexity, 'cause he's a pretty decent thinker in my book, and I was just recently reconnected with his existence.

I choose Konstantinos of, mainly because he's already been tagged and won't have to bother with the whole thing (is that cheating?).

Finally, I choose Nikos Dimou, officially the smartest man of his age in Greece, in my book, because, hey, I thought it would be worth a try, even if he ignores me, which he most probably - and rightfully - will.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Ess-Tee, with a Double Jay!

I have, throughout my life, hated Star Trek with a passion. Hated its passionate fans, hated its convoluted, technobabble-infested world view, hated the fact that, socially, being an officially acclaimed geek, trying to openly accept everything cultural that's loved by someone, I was supposed to like - or at least accept - the damn thing. And, most of all, I hated the fact that some people I admire had contributed to it creatively - like Harlan Ellison, for one, the man who always finds the way not to allow me to admire him.

But now, it's official: there might be hope for my relationship with the Star Trek universe. JJ Abrams, the one man who's able to show me why it's OK not to care about the 'real world' when watching something made up, allowing me to suspend disbelief and actually enjoy what I normally take as daft narrative conventions, is - officially, at last - going ahead with Star Trek XI.

I think it's going to be released just for me, just to make amends for all these years of wondering why I can't like Star Trek, even after acknowledging its 'good points'. Just for me, I tell you. And if there's anyone out there who's able to set things up so that I can be allowed to like things I've gone on hatred rants about in the past, it's JJ. Like he did in Alias or MI:III, not explaining things too much, not trying to justify his approach, just going along with it, in a way that told you 'I know what I'm doing, don't worry, it's the way these things are done. It's cool, it's fun, just sit down and enjoy it!'

Oh well, it's Star Trek's last chance, for me anyway. If this man proves unable to help me let go of the prissy look I have learned to instantly acquire towards the Universe every time it's even mentioned, there's nothing else, I gather, that will ever let me. But, for now, I'm giving him a chance over that part of my soul and offering him temporary free reign over it. Frankly, it feels like opening your mouth for the dentist, letting him do his thing and hoping it won't hurt.

And the Oscar goes to... the year 2007!

It's official. 2007 is the year when everyone officially gets what they're officially due. Martin Scorsese is now an Oscar-winning director, just like I was afraid would never happen.

I imagined him walking on the red carpet, 98 years old, there to receive his 'Lifetime Achievement' tosh, just because he'd have to. Too little, too late and all that. I sincerely imagined that was the way it would go, even after he made a film where all the classic Marty directorial trademarks were featured, even highlighted. I imagined it was named 'The Departed' for a reason.

For some reason, 2006 had me convinced that 'it's just not worth trying'. That the Powers That Be made no excuse for anyone - heck, I was sure that life made no excuse for anyone, that when you'd failed at something, that was it, you just had to learn to live with it.

But, up to now, this year, barely two months old, has shown me otherwise. Personally, socially and culturally, the moral of the story is that persistence pays off. And what's ironic about this is that the one who made me realize is the man who 'made my man want to be a director', as cheesy as that may sound. Marty winning a golden statue is a perfect symbol for the Duck winning my heart.

And, of course, him winning for The Departed, whilst not being departed himself yet, is the perfect middle-finger award to said Powers That Be.

(and here's where I'm supposed to whine about Children of Men almost being ignored by the Oscars, but what the heck, I must keep my hopes up, I must follow the teachings I was taught, I must still have hope...)

Polygamy is the new Gayness! (?)

Yes. I called it.

Once upon a time, like back in the 50s or so, it was just impossible to live your life being gay. You couldn't tell your parents (or friends) about your same-sex partner, you couldn't live your life with them, kiss them in public or whatnot, and most of all you were constantly in danger of 'racist reactions' (read: being beaten up or even killed because of your choice in life).

Now things have moved on in that respect - yes, there is still some prejudice going around, you can't really deny that, even in countries where same-sex marriage is allowed or at least considered. But you're automatically 'taught' to accept it, you're a close-minded sob if you don't. Literature, support lines, parades... So many things are on your side, and chances are that your friends and family will 'understand' if you come out to them.

So, now, the new sexual choice that would mean you're too embarrassed to share it with your own, even if you personally know there are higher emotions aplenty involved, even if you go to all the trouble a member of a 'regular' relationship would be supposed to go to, even if you face matters with admirable maturity, is having more than one partner. Whether or not a 'gay relationship' is part of this and whether you have a single, 'important' 'main relationship' and other minor ones around it or you simply have more than one 'serious partners', you're most probably the only one in your social group who's 'into that kind of thing'.

Arguably, monogamy is not the 'natural way to go' for human beings. And, arguably, human beings are supposed to be able to control or even overcome their raw instincts, drives and urges. But how is this supposed to work in this case? There are people out there able to live happy lives with, and respect and love, more than one people. But in all probability, they won't go out to a work party and go 'these are my two girlfriends'. Not unless they're going out to impress their pals, or they're prepared to accept weird looks for the rest of the night.

There's a long road ahead of anyone who's pledged their heart to more than one person, or anyone who sees love and sex as two different, unrelated things. I just believe, and hope, that in a few decades there'll be polygamy pride parades marching outside our window - hopefully with something less tacky than a rainbow as their sign.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Academic Boxing Match

I have just barely reached the end of my latest fight with Academia. It was bloody, I received many blows, but I apparently survived.

Round One involved a 3000 word essay I had to write on a course that went by the name of Representation and Identity, i.e. how minorities of all sorts are allowed, and expected, to use the fact that they belong to a specific minority, and not, in fact, to another one, to read films in the ways they choose to. It dealt with the ways in which they can be happy, sad, relieved or offended by ways in which people whom they consider to belong to a similar social group are seen - as understood by them - to be portrayed in specific films.

This course content itself was strike one. How do you study the self-evident? How can you avoid just writing stuff that would 'please the teacher' enough to get you a grade, without filling the essay with cliches that have been in people's minds since they had such?

So my counter-blow was to select a topic myself - we were allowed, nay, suggested to do so - and started by selecting films I had actually watched and enjoyed, ones which were recent and which actually could be found offensive to a social group, yet could easily be seen as important for the group, sociologically, in a good way. Specifically, I selected Heavenly Creatures (1994) and Chasing Amy (1997), directed by Peter Jackson and Kevin Smith respectively, dealing, of course, with the lesbian social group, just because the first sees the fantasy side behind an actual, real life murder and the other realistically deals with the fallacies and complex-driven beliefs of the allegedly open-minded.

So I managed to feel some nominal passion about the two-sidedness of the subject, which could be read in totally opposite ways, and to make it relevant to me because I actually liked the films I was writing about.

Round Two was a 6000 word essay, accompanied by a 2000 word study log, for a course called Special Study: Blockbusters. What scared me here was not the required length of it - I write about all sorts of Blockbusters in forums and such all the time - but the amount of research involved.

This was a course where we were required to select our own subject within the general topic, so it was, at least, an interesting fight. The lectures - which only 15 people that really proved they wanted to do the course were allowed to sign up fo and whose lecturer treated with extraordinary care and affection - were typical of the 'cool and fun' image I would have of film school before I actually started, talking about subjects that interest me in an interactive way. So during the second lecture I was handed a list of highest grossing films, out of which Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002) caught my attention and allowed me to finally write about how he would manage to still be Raimi within the production givens of the Blockbuster world. Fun.

But the blow was the amount of work that I realised would be necessary, in order to write something about what you 'thought you knew' in a way that proves that you actually know, and don't just think or assume so. Back-referencing and learning about other people's views on sub-subjects I would deal with, from the auteur theory itself to how it relates to Raimi, from the idea of the Blockbuster director being treated as a star to how this doesn't necessarily mean that he was 'used and abused' but actually allowed him to make it, partly, an actual Raimi film. Reading books that belonged to me and I could underline, and others that belonged to the library and I had to fill with post-it bookmarks. Finding websites that could actually be referenced and sorting through them in a way that could relate to what I was to write. And then sorting it all and fitting it into a general outline of the point I was to discuss, the order I would mention them in, and how much space within the 6000 words this would allow me for each.

So again, I did it, and lived with the constraints of time and space - not generally and philosophically, this time, but with regard to the hand-in date and the length that was allowed. I officially went on to state, in my research log, that, yeah, since you made me read all this and churn it in my mind for a couple of months, there was so much more I had to say and so many questions I hadn't been able to answer. I outlined all the aforementioned process and its details - with all the minor problems I faced along the way and how I dealt with them, and ended on the note - with all the 'non-offensiveness' I could gather - that the essay answers nothing, really.

Round Three was the screenplay, or, actually, a course in Pre-Production. One where we were supposed to hand in a script for a short film which we would write, as well as a log of how we did it, a Shooting Script and a Post-Production Outline for it.

The problem here was, well, mainly me and the fact that I didn't feel I really had a story to tell at that point. That, and the fact that I seemingly happened to only attend the annoying workshops that I felt taught me nothing and didn't help me at all. We sat there watching other people's short films, as if we hadn't done so before, probably to get us inspired, and writing details about the film we were supposed to write whether it had anything to do with the story at all. And being constantly reminded, by the head of the course, that most people wouldn't manage to do much by the end of it anyway.

So I didn't have a story to tell. Right. I had started working on a short script during the summer, which I thought was crap - mainly because Than highlighted the multitude of its faults for me to see, mini-draft upon partial draft, and I eventually gave up on the idea altogether, at least for the course's requirements. That took all of three weeks. Since I gave up on that one, I had to write something in order to get some idea of a passing grade. And I felt like I had nothing to write, not wanting to share my misery with an audience since I'd been through all that during my goth phase's writings and it really didn't get me anywhere. I really felt I was to treat this with some matter-of-factness.

So I sat down and wrote a story that had a plot just to have some plot, with the point of it, for me, being the last time I felt I could actually write, namely this summer, and the things that made me happy then, being the injokes we shared with my friends when we went out. There were references to Than's addiction to flashy lighters, to the image of Lost's Mr. Eko shouting out 'Charlie!' in a stupid voice, the cliche of the main character dying at the end of the film, and, of course, the common misconceptions among our friends that good writing is about good dialogue, which I treated by using as little dialogue as possible, not having one of the main characters talk at all because this way he would ruin the end's twist. In short, I just sat down and wrote what came to my mind.

The fault of this was that I had nothing to say, really, so I had a really short script, at first, with no moral or point to it. I tried, during numerous drafts, to deal with concepts like friendship, the pessimistic view of the world, or chasing ideals. But no. My point popped with every draft. Until I just made it about style, when Than read the script and decided he would actually consider filming it, because he found it to have interesting visuals, I think. So I just went on and produced a workable draft, the point of which was merely to deliver the story with a twist that friends found shallow, and so did I. I had a story to tell, albeit a pointless one that didn't really need to be told, so the only thing left to do in order for my script to be marked was to tell it well, while following all the teacher saw as the conventions of screenwriting.

So at some point, I was done with all three. Yay. Neither of them was as good as I would want it to be, ideally, but I felt I'd done what I could with the prerequisites and time-limits I was given. So, by the book, I had won for now. And what did I learn from this, you ask? To care less, really.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Shedding Light on M. Night

SPOILERS for Lady in the water follow. Very soon after this warning, too.

M. Night Shyamalan's Lady in the Water is truly his way to kill the film critic. Yep, you heard me, it's more than just a symbolic whine against them. He plays an important part in this story-about-his stories, raising his middle finger on auteur theory analyses that want him following in Hitchcock's footsteps, and goes along with his take on how to make a story work. 'Cause that's what he's been doing all along - not trying to deliver "the twist", as some moviegoers would have you believe up to now.

Although he did go into loads of trouble with his previous work, after Sixth Sense, to show people that's not what he's out to do, he failed enough in doing so that he went on to make this film, that explains it to everyone who cares to watch it. And heck, does it serve as an explanation to all. I'm sure people will respond to it in one of two ways: either by accepting the fact and learning, once again, why to admire him and his work, or by being tragically offended by it, seeing that they're the ones it's out to offend in the first place, and defensivelly dissing it.

He spelled it out for all. Had characters explaining the narrative roles they were there to play as they played them, had a film critic reading it all wrong and thus being the villain of the story more than CGI monsters could ever be, having the Story saved at the end, and self-righteously telling us, not that he learned illegal ninja moves from the government, but that the role he's here to play in changing the world of filmmaking will only bring on a renaissance, that will most probably dispell all academic conventions that analysts stand by until now, after people shed light to it, inspired by his work.

And yes, reading into M. Night Shyamalan's work has, up to now, been a better film course than any of the sort that can be found in Universities. One by one, his films all have something to teach. And this one is truly one hell of an exam. Into his work, what he's taught us so far, and, well, admittedly, into his own a$$hole.