Friday, December 30, 2011

Harriet Fucking Vanger

The inevitable prologue: holy hell it's been a very long time since I've written a blog post - and yeah, I do say that a lot, but lord, it's been a good two weeks since I've published, and it's become an honest void in my life.  It's not entirely been due to my busyness at all; in fact, I feel like I've done a whole ton of nothing in my weeks off from school, yet somehow in my lethargic vegetative state I've managed to waste away an entire month and I'm already facing the start of my second semester of school within days.  (not to mention the surely harrowing move-in - I move back to my residence on New Year's Day - and my mom has looked at me with a straight face and said "Matt, don't drink on New Year's Eve.  You can't be hungover whatsoever on January first."  To that, I looked at her and gave her a very Lisbeth Salander "please" which will become shockingly relevant once I get this directionless tangent out of my system) I've somewhat digressed substantially: point is, I've done nothing over my break, so you might think that I'd have all the time in the world to write limitlessly, but my with my laziness came an absolute draining of creativity.  I feel it noteworthy to even note I haven't touched my NaNoWriMo story, and I regret that my creative drive has disappeared completely.  However!  Here I sit on December 29th at 11:50pm on my gorgeous new Macbook Pro that my dear parents bought me for Christmas this year with a sudden urge to rejuvenate my authoritative flair that I cherish about myself.  I have a slew of potential post ideas swirling around in my mind, but only with a progression of time will you and I both witness that static translated in text.  Likewise, I have countless ideas about future creative writing prospects - in fact, two whole stories altogether - and I'm sure my need to procrastinate over the school year will give me enough of a kick in the ass to get to writing.  (Christmas, by the way, heralded the same sense of deflation that it always has for me, considering the idea that within minutes the entire construct of the holiday - that is, the build up and the holiday cheer and whatever else - collapsed within minutes once the final presents remained unwrapped on the floor and the last family member made their way out of the door.  I'm not ungrateful whatsoever, though, and it was a good holiday.  Also worth mentioning: Christmas 2011's movie with Amy was The Adventures of Tintin which I'm still in disbelief about being an animated movie it looks that real but otherwise the movie was simply good, nothing more, and I'm still upset that my good for nothing local theater didn't get Carnage with Kate Winslet or A Dangerous Method or Shame with my favourite actor Michael Fassbender)

Bless you, reader, for sticking with me throughout that insufferable rambling, but you must understand that for me not writing for weeks, things needed to be said.  We finally come to the topic of the post, which is, if you haven't guessed by the title reference, my pseudo-review of David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the American adaption of the (fantastic) novel of the same name by Swedish author Steig Larsson.

With ease, I read the book within a two week time period, but given that I read it during the height of my first semester, I'd say my feat was impressive.  It isn't so surprising, then, to hear my report that the book is bloody fantastic.  While I was initially leery because of the prolonged and somewhat slow start - which I realize is a definite necessity to establish the complexity of the upcoming plot - the book quickly switched into a high gear nearly doubling its intensity with every page turn.  Perhaps what made my reading experience more enjoyable was the mystery of the plot itself: I don't mean to sound egotistical, but usually conclusions to books or films are predictable if not logical and predictable to me, but I can honestly that the conclusion to the murder-mystery left me awestruck and I could hardly see it coming.  (I wish I could say the same about its sequel, The Girl who Played with Fire, but I actually correctly guessed a large part of the ending a couple hundred pages in; it was still a fantastic and gripping read, and in addition to my inevitable creative writing derived from procrastination, I'm sure I'll launch into The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - I've only read the first chapter to make satisfy my aching heart left wounded from the second book's cliffhanger - as an escape from my studies) Within minutes of finishing Dragon Tattoo I sped towards the nearest computer screen and took in the 2009 Swedish film adaption, eager to see the words onscreen.  I also think it's worth noting that I enjoy foreign films, even though the ones I have the opportunity to watch are probably the more "mainstream" ones, but I've never let the idea of subtitles deter me from watching a movie or discrediting its value because I have to actually engage myself at a higher level - goodness, the thought!  That being said, it was not because the film was in Swedish that I disliked it - unfortunately I was accused of that by someone when revealing I disliked the adaption.  I'm not usually a book purist (that is, I don't watch movies and complain about slight deviations from source material; the Harry Potter movies are nearly flawless and they changed the books heavily), but the unnecessary changes to the plot were somewhat jarring and, honestly, uncomfortable.  The logical mystery deduction was removed from the Swedish film - an aspect that largely fascinated me about the book, specifically the work with the photographs - and the film, therefore, somewhat felt more heavy handed in its leading the audience through its overly complex plot.  That being said, the performance of Noomi Rapace as the antihero Lisbeth Salander was still very incredible.

But, damnit, I prefer Rooney Mara.

Usually - and I've blogged on this subject once before - I'm against remakes.  They're truly unnecessary.  Truthfully, I like the logic behind it: yes, remakes work toward the broadening of a film's accessibility to a newer audience, whether it to a new generation (with, say, A Nightmare on Elm Street starring, oh, look, Rooney Mara!) or to a present society seemingly against the idea of reading subtitles while watching movies.  However, what is in theory is not always translated: I would be on board with the idea of remaking Hollywood classics or whatever else if the remakes were actually good, but remakes usually exist merely as slaps in the face to its predecessors.  Naturally, then, I was leery of the American Dragon Tattoo on principle, even though I wasn't necessarily a fan of the original to begin with.  The moment I knew it was David Fincher at the helm - the director of Se7en and Fight Club and Zodiac and The Social Network and need I say more? - my faith was restored.  (I'd consider Fincher to be one of my favourite directors, actually, up there with Tarantino and Nolan - his visual style is delicious) The trailer to the remake was, I would honestly say, the best trailer for a movie I've ever seen, trumping even Watchmen's trailer which was miles better than the movie itself.  My anticipation grew like a wild fire, and upon hearing that the release of the film was pushed forward by a day, I became satisfied in knowing I'd get to see the movie one day sooner.

What is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo about, you might say?  (I've been asked the question a few times, and when faced with offering a synopsis, I struggle) As simply put as possible, it's a graphic mystery.  On more elaborate terms, the movie (now I'm fully speaking of the film at hand) follows two protagonists: the first, a disgraced journalist named Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is hired by Henrik Vanger, an elderly Swedish businessman, to investigate the disappearance and murder of his niece, Harriet, forty years prior to the action of the narrative; the second, a hard-edged and simply badass researcher Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara, who will be nominated for the Best Actress Oscar - mark me - and she will hopefully win), who the film initially follows through her struggles with an abusive guardian before she is pulled into the Harriet Vanger investigation alongside Blomkvist. (Lisbeth had previously written a report on him, and its in-depth content - suggesting her hacking of his personal files - alerted Blomkvist to her researching [and hacking] abilities) As I quickly mentioned, the film deals with the investigation into the strange disappearance, and as a familiar viewer I was still as pleased with the intricate mode of investigation as ever.  Note, a few sentence ago, that I described the film as a "graphic mystery;" there's a ton of violence and nudity and profanity and, most unfortunately, rape.  The scenes of rape were far less horrific than the ones in the original, but that doesn't mean that they weren't any less horrible to watch - they were.  I wish I could be able to say the rape was necessary, but I wouldn't even convince myself if that were the case.  Instead, I'll state fact: the books were written as a response to violence against women, and by labeling the female protagonist as a rape victim grounds her in a very real-world problem, though it also functions as a device to inspire sympathy for Lisbeth as well as an excuse for her borderline psychotic tendencies.  Still, she's a damn badass.

I thought the film was incredible.  As mentioned, I love David Fincher's visual style, and the film was no exception: it was gorgeously shot, streamlike and glacial, layered with a fantastic score.  Worth mentioning are the opening credits: holy shit.  I can't begin to explain them - set to a cover of "The Immigrant Song" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O - but damn, I would see the movie for a third time on the basis of seeing the credits once again.  (okay, I wouldn't, because I loved the movie so much that I would see it again anyways, and I can't wait to add it to my personal collection) I guess I can attempt a vague description: strange.. strange imagery, people made of a black substance, splashing together and snaking and setting itself ablaze and sprouting wings and okay, see, that sounds absolutely ludicrous, but I'm not kidding when I say they are stunning.  And hell, that's five minutes into the movie: there's still the movie to get to.  Like I've said, the visuals are stunning, and it seems somewhat crude to notice set or composition or lighting while a character is getting beaten up or shot.  Again, as I've shed a glimpse of light onto, I believe that Rooney Mara's Lisbeth is deserving of an Oscar, and I truly wish her all the best not only with this upcoming award season but also with her future career which I'm sure will explode.  The commitment is astounding: gone is a beautiful girl with wide eyes and long brown hair; instead on screen is a hardened young girl with varying stages of mohawk with bleached eyebrows and piercings everywhere (Mara actually pierced her eyebrow and nose and lip and nipple for the role) and tattoos, among them the large spanning dragon on her left shoulder blade giving rise to the title itself.  She, like the rest of the cast, speak in Swedish accents, and Lisbeth's drawl and hint of sarcasm is, for the lack of a better term, pleasurable to hear.  (I do like her voice a lot) Rooney Mara makes the film her own, yet the entire spectrum of the cast offers a solid performance.  Something funny to note is the carelessness of every characters' smoking and drinking: in fact, every scene involves some sort of substance abuse, appearing as careless as the sex between certain characters whose names I will omit (but are probably guessable) for the sake of not spoiling those who have yet to see the film.  And, yes, see the film.  The conclusion of the remake diverges from the close of the book - a commercial just came on TV and I still get chills at the images as well as a sudden shudder of pain as I noticed said advertisement contained a flash of a certain kick from one of the rape scenes - but dare I say it improves upon the novel slightly in its offering of a more logical outcome.

I say to you: go see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I would list it among the top five films of the year, and I would honestly see it for the third time; I would wager that that speaks volumes - I'm so familiar with the outcome of the mystery and yet I'm still so eager to rewitness the film.  Go see it.  And take me with you.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's a Christmas miracle!

This Christmas season, to me, has been stuck on fast forward.  I can't believe we're already ten days away from Christmas Day, that we're already half way through December, that I've been done with school for about three weeks and I'll already be back in another three months - it's all very strange to me, but then again, I shouldn't be surprised considering the past few years of my life (save for the summer) have zipped by my eyes in a flash.  I can already flashback to Boxing Day of last year, disheartened by the thought of Christmas being a full year away, yet here I sit today, facing my family's Christmas tree and distanced from the day only by ten sleeps.  (I feel like a kid, counting time with 'sleeps')  If you're familiar at all with my post from last year about my thoughts on Christmas, you might recall my somewhat lukewarm feelings to the holiday.  I consistently feel like a Grinch or a Scrooge whenever I lament about my indifference to Christmas, especially when juxtaposed against friends or other people I encounter who are absolutely gaga over the holiday, listening to holiday music endlessly and existing as giddy as when they were children in anticipation for Christmas morning.  I need to make it clear: I don't hate Christmas, oh no; in fact, it's sometimes quite the opposite.  I do like Christmas, but I don't love it.

It's tough to explain.  I feel that Christmas, to me, is largely centralized on the build up to the holiday rather than the day itself.  Even as a kid, I've found Christmas Day to be anticlimactic, and the feeling has only become stronger and more aware now that I'm mature.  It's the (pessimistic) truth: I'm far more excited with the idea of Christmas than Christmas itself.  My excitement is based entirely in the commercials, the decorations in every corner of everywhere you visit, the thought of presents being exchanged between good friends and family and from Santa.  When I say Christmas Day is anticlimactic to me, I mean this: yes, gifts are exchanged and family is together (and, in my case, I'm with my best friend at the movie theaters upholding our tradition of picking a movie and seeing it late Christmas night), but Christmas is quite literally over around two or three in the afternoon for me.  Here's a quick rundown of my Christmas day traditions: my sister and I wake up early in the morning (you'd think we're still children) and force my parents awake and tear open the few gifts we have; then, around noon, my mom's side of the family comes over; after pestering once again from my sister and I, we open the rest of the gifts from grandparents and my aunts and uncle, and then.. well, Christmas is over.  You may say that my statement is based entirely on the consumerist outlook on Christmas considering my definition of the holiday concludes the moment the last gifts are had.  Allow me to continue: after the gifts are opened, all traces of what makes the day signified as "Christmas" is gone; instead, it becomes merely a family gathering which is to inevitably end in some sort of argument, and as I said, once they're all out the door at night I find myself at Famous Players watching an awful musical or a horrible Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy.  (for the sake of interest: two years ago we saw Nine and last year was the suicide-inducing How Do You Know; this year, fingers crossed the theaters gets the Kate Winslet Oscar-bait movie Carnage) Christmas, aside from the gifts, is really over.  Yeah, yeah, the real spirit of Christmas is togetherness and communal love and blah blah blah.  I've ever experienced that.  Again, you may say that I base my definition of Christmas entirely on the consumerism of gifts, and, honestly, there's no use in arguing otherwise: yes, I care quite a lot about the presents I receive (and give - I'm not a brat), and there's nothing much to the holiday aside from that.  Returning to the idea of the holiday being anticlimactic, I mean that in a matter of minutes, the entire "Christmas spirit" collapses to a sudden conclusion.  Weeks upon weeks of anticipation and holiday music and decorations lose meaning immediately, and I personally can't help but always feel deflated on Christmas Day once everything 'officially' winds down.  My parents usually take the tree down the day after Christmas, once again adding to the quick conclusion to a very, very drawn out anticipated holiday.  The anticipation never quite matches the day itself.

In all honesty, I'm not one for the Christmas music or movies or television specials - even though I've stated that they are what makes Christmas an exciting holiday for me.  I suppose, then, it's an overall combination of the "Christmas spirit" that proves to be intoxicating: I hate Christmas music, but when coupled with seeing decorations and lights strung up on houses illuminating the streets and Santa Claus perched in the mall it's difficult to avoid subjecting yourself to the excitement of the season.  It's as if Christmas is a force, and not a singular holiday: the day itself is largely mediocre, and it's in the force of the holiday, what with the music and decorations and excitement and gift purchasing and wrapping and gingerbread houses and cookies that the holiday becomes the staple of the year with respect to cheer and excitement.  I then return to the idea that sometimes I'm like Scrooge and Christmas isn't overly exciting to me some years (last year certainly; this year, not so much): it's because I really despise Christmas music, and I grow to hate the stupid Christmas commercials I see on endless loop on TV.  Then again, my hateful feelings are somewhat dashed when I look up to see the Christmas tree in my family room or the stockings hanging on the mantle or the idea of my Macbook sitting in a wrapped box beneath the tree awaiting for my eager hands Christmas morning.  Goddamnit, I want that Macbook.

It's undeniable that Christmas is almost entirely based on consumerism.  (don't worry, I'm not about to launch into some cynical rant about the injustice of this) As I previously said, I define my Christmas excitement by the commercials - consumerism - and the decorations - consumerism - and the gifts - consumerism - and.. you get the idea.  In fact, I've proven this point already by failing to mention until now that Christmas actually is a Catholic holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus.  I'm not overly religious so I've never treated the day as a religious holiday; it's always been about the gifts, as it has been for everyone when they were younger.  Even if I were interested in diverting my intense stock into the material side of the holiday, it would be impossible to do so, considering my parents are literally Grinches and go through the motions of the holiday - this holiday, to them, being only and entirely about the gifts.  My parents only buy me and my sister one 'big' gift; an iPod or a new phone or a new gaming system (when that happens it's a combined gift) or what have you.  When they struggle to find that one gift, Christmas becomes hell: I dislike this aspect of my family's Christmas, considering that when I tell my mom there isn't anything 'big' that I need she gets angry, and then I refuse to ask for something expensive and unnecessary for the sake of it.  It's sticky, and I wish Christmas wasn't like that for my family.  I feel like this might be one of the most scatterbrained posts I've yet written, because I feel like I'm arguing one aspect and then flipping to the other side - specifically, what makes me think this now, the fact that I've made it somewhat clear I value the material side of Christmas (the gifts) rather heavily yet my least favourite part about Christmas is the gift from my parents.  I feel as though, in some way, my investment in the holiday as a consumerist one might stem from the fact that my parents have always made it entirely about the gifts, both being barely religious and always out to please their children.

Apologies for the scatterbrained post.  There's nothing cohesive to my writing, and as I said already, I'm fully aware that I've probably played my own devil's advocate and proved the opposite to what I was saying.  In fact, I don't even know what I was meaning to say: I started off by saying that Christmas is meh to me, yet I've effectively both made it clear that I hate everything about Christmas while I love everything about Christmas at the same time.  Who knows, really.  Maybe you've just been blessed with my thought process, considering what goes on in my mind is always as confusing and jumbled as what I've just written.  Maybe I'm drunk.*

*I'm not

Friday, December 9, 2011

2011 in film

2011 was a pretty big year for movies, too.

(let's see if my shot at reviewing the films I saw over the year fares better than my music list.  A quick disclaimer [unfortunately, a necessity]: I need to reiterate that everything is my opinion, but I think I'm in safer waters with movies because film has a much smaller spectrum than music meaning there's a lot less room for disagreement.  That isn't to say that disagreement isn't possible, oh no.  That's the magic of opinion: as an individual you're able to like or dislike whatever the hell you want, and you'll always find someone who agrees with you just as easily as you might find someone who disagrees with you.  I realize some people did not find Bridesmaids funny; I did.  I realize some people don't like superhero movies and therefore didn't like or even see X-Men: First Class; I did, and I loved it.  With all that in mind, in the opposite sense, I likely will speak poorly of a movie you might've enjoyed.  I say for one final time: this is based entirely on my opinion, and I do not act as if what I have to say or how I view things or what I like to be absolute ruleIt is, after all, my blog, and if you're uninterested in what I have to say, spend your time elsewhere)

What was I saying?  Right.  2011 was a pretty big year for movies, too, and to strike up the spirit of annual tradition, I'll echo what I did at the end of last year and consider the movies released in the year.  Much like last year, I can't see how ranking a list would be productive: of the hundreds of new movies made in 2011, I probably only saw a handful of them - in fact, I don't even know if I've seen more than ten - so it wouldn't be logical to make a ranked list of what I've seen when something like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 would end up at number 10 because it happened to be one of the few I've actually seen and therefore, by default, it must appear on my list.  (if that were to happen, I would certainly not enjoy being pointed at and deemed "he who listed Breaking Dawn on his list of the best movies of 2011") So, instead, I think it'd be more effective to consider the movies I've seen as 'good' or 'bad' - think of it as a series of mini movie critiques.  Regretfully, I have yet to see a handful of films: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has yet to be released, and I'm ridiculously excited to see it and judging from the promotional material it looks absolutely fantastic; I've been meaning to see A Dangerous Method and Shame and Melancholia and a whole slew of other Oscar bait movies, and therefore once again it would be incorrect to treat this list as a "best of" if something like Bad Teacher appears just because I've seen it and haven't seen Shame.

(one final time: this is not my list of the best movies of 2011, because trust me, Sucker Punch or Bad Teacher would be nowhere near a list of that nature; instead I'm giving snapshot reviews on a handful of movies I actually saw.  Just to be clear)


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

20 of 2011

It's the end of the year again!  Much as I did last year in December, I've decided to make a year-end list detailing my picks for the twenty best songs of 2011.  A disclaimer before I begin: this list will be biased.  I tried my hardest to be as objective as possible when valuing the music of the year, but to assume that I would omit album tracks from Born This Way would be foolish: to me, it was one of the more defining albums of 2011 so in keeping with my outlook (that is, the fact that I personally have listened to it most this year) I do, in fact, list some of the album fillers as the best of the year because - to me, and I cannot drive that point enough - they are, and if anything to come out of this list, I'd love it for you to at least consider listening to some of the songs you aren't familiar with.  Take my word for it: I objectively made quite an extensive list of songs from 2011, good and bad (you'll find I hated hated hated the most popular songs of the year, but you'll read more about that in my extra special Worst Five Songs of 2011 list), and in knowing that I hope it's evident that the fact that Gaga songs still appear means that they are just that good.  Okay, I got that rant out of my system.  Anyways: yes, Lady Gaga appears most on this list, but she does not dominate it.

As I said, I tried as hard as I could to remain objective, considering not only my personal enjoyment of the songs, but it's no secret that my taste in music is somewhat rather mainstream; I certainly do not think that whether or not a song is played on the radio is indicative of its quality, and the fact of the matter is the ones I like are the ones I'm most exposed to.  For an example of my objectivity, (and this song does not appear on the list) I nearly included Katy Perry's Last Friday Night (TGIF) because even though I don't necessarily enjoy it, I realize that it's a finely made song and has experienced astronomical popularity and success this year.  I constructed my list giving credit where credit's due to particular artists, because even wearing my Gaga tinted glasses on the world (this is an expression.  I do not own Gaga tinted glasses, whatever they may look like) I realize that she is not the only musician on the planet with talent - and no, I'm not saying Katy Perry does, but that's immaterial.  Another point to touch base with is the idea that my list is not the be all end all of definitive lists: I know for a fact you will likely disagree with me at multiple points as you continue down my top twenty, and I'm certain my number one choice is not the best song of 2011 to everyone; once again, it's the best of the year to me, and I only hope you find joy from reading my list as opposed to offended anger at my choices.

My final disclaimer: choosing songs from 2011 was tricky because I encountered the permeability of what it actually means to be released in 2011.  What I mean by that is that you will likely find a song or two that was officially released in 2010: for example, a Katy Perry song (using her as an example once again) appearing on this list first came to be on her 2010 album, but it was officially released as a single in 2011 and therefore I've made it eligible.  By extension of that, I hope I don't screw myself over for next year: if one of the album Gaga songs that I've included becomes a single next year, I'll have to ignore it on my list next year.  (I encountered this with Katy Perry [again] this year: I listed E.T. as one of my top twenty last year, but it became a single this year, meaning I could've used it and would've, if not for already using it)

I've gone on far too much.  Here's hoping you enjoy reading my list, and that you find something new to listen to!  (hit 'read more' to carry on - it's a long one!)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

November round-up

Yet again I find myself astounded by the rapid passing of time.  It's hard to believe I've already completed my first semester of third year.  It seems like literally yesterday I moved away to residence and was buying textbooks and getting lost when finding the right classroom on time on the first day of class; now, I've handed in my last papers and thrown out particular notes that I have no care to ever read again and am gearing up for my only final exam (ha, only one) in a week's time.  True, I'll actually be completely free from first semester after I finish writing that last exam, but now living at home and seeing my best friends again has returned my life to normalcy, and to be honest the thoughts about my exam are and will continue to be on the back of my mind until the day before I have to write it - studying is for the weak.  Until then, I'm enjoying having cable on TV once again (let alone even having a TV) and home cooked meals every night and the knowledge that a friend is probably a phone call away.

Towards the end of the first semester - really, the entirely of the month of November - I couldn't help but feel like my room and the rest of my townhouse quickly became much less like a home to me.  Perhaps it was a delayed reaction to the homesickness I figured I would've experience when first moving away: instead, my first month away was perfectly fine and quickly adaptable, but the feeling faded as the finish line of the semester rapidly approached.  I found myself looking to hear from my mom more frequently throughout the weeks, and my every motion was governed by the idea that, hey, you're moving home in x days!  (funny, though, I've already been driven up the wall by some of the stupid things my parents have done or said, but I'll always prefer living at my home) Perhaps it was due to the increased time I spent alone in my room behind a closed door which quite honestly felt like a prison sentence.  Perhaps, by extension of that, it was because my house quickly lost its homelike qualities.  Either way, the final few weeks of the semester were hectic: at least one paper and/or test per week (including three papers and one test on the last day of class) my stress shot through the roof, but as usual looking back on it now, completed, it seemed like only a marginal obstacle.

Aside from my moving home, November has come to a cohesive conclusion for me.

"There's a small animal living on your face"

 I grew a bit of a beard throughout November.  It wasn't officially done for Movember though the idea of the month long event urged my decision to try it out.  (maybe that's also why I went beard and not mustache: mustaches are creepy and my dad has a mustache and I'd prefer not to resemble my dad or look creepy) Mostly I left it up to the fact that I wasn't going to see my family for the majority of the month because I know they're rather judgmental and I'd have to explain myself for wanting to try out how it looks on me.  I still have it.  I like it.  I think it suits me.  The reception has been rather nice and rather unexpected - that is, aside from my parents.  Literally the first words coming my mother's mouth when she came to pick me up was "I don't like that" before she offered me a hello and a hug.  My dad hasn't been any better; he cracks jokes about me, telling me I look like a homeless person and that I shouldn't go out in public looking like how I do.  I suppose my decision not to shave it off is now derived from the idea that I'm tormenting my parents every time they look at me.  That, and because I've decided I might be able to keep it as a protest until they buy me a Mac for Christmas.  (which, they've said, will not happen, but I think otherwise)


My quest to write a fifty thousand word piece of fiction throughout the month of November was essentially a failure: I wasn't able to reach the high goal within the parameters of the month given that my free time was quickly diminishing because of the stresses of school and other infuriating things, and that when I did have free time, I watched Dexter, and I watched a lot of Dexter considering I've now caught up to the current season on TV.  As of November 30th, my official word count settled at 38,153, which I'm still ecstatic about reaching despite its failure to the mission.  I've astounded myself in many ways: first, that I was able to come up with a concept and pursue it enough to actually want to write about it; let alone actually writing about it, finding a few hours late at night to excitedly sit down and type up a fury.  There were days that I hammered out a few thousand words in a few hours, and at times when I wasn't writing I would constantly be thinking about where I could take the story and if it was plausible and if more events were needed to be inserted at the beginning or end or what have you.  Of course, I'm not stopped just because November's over: to stop at 39k words and admit failure would be literal torture to me, and I would feel entirely unsatisfied and unaccomplished in the incompletion.  I'm looking forward to writing without the pressure of a time limit - I won't have to force myself to write until two in the morning because I had to get another two thousand words on paper ( screen?) to keep myself on the right track toward hitting fifty thousand.  Now, even, I look ahead to the possibility of drawing my story to a conclusion long after 50k, or even before - I have no way to tell how much longer it will take to tie itself up.  All I know is it's a long road ahead of me: I still have to draw the story to a close before I edit it, and I know the editing process will be extensive given that my precedent is absolute perfection and my philosophy is that a piece of writing is never perfect because of the infinite possible combinations of words together; the same thing can be said billions upon billions of different ways, and knowing such, I'm striving to hit as close to my standard of perfection as possible.  I literally cannot wait for my friends (those who've asked, that is) to read my work, because only then will I feel like an accomplished author.  The future reader will actually take time away from their life to read my book written by me, and that concept thrills me.

S'all I got for now, folks!  Now that I have a lot more free time I'm sure the frequency of my writing will amp itself up once again, so stay tuned.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Add as friend

By George, it's been a while since I've posted something substantial!  (I mean, being tweeted by a certain French maid is significant to me, but I only published my most recent post for the sake of coming full circle to the strange quest I had previously set out upon) I naturally blame my lack of devoting time to my blog on the obscene amount of time I have had to delegate elsewhere: the last day of class is in grasp, and I'm thankfully on the denouement of my hectic academic schedule.  Only one essay left to write - only five pages, I can write that in my sleep - and one final test to study for and I'm in the clear.  Hopefully my liberation from the suffocation of the semester will bring about a reinvigorated ignition to my creative blogging process; I realize even when I have had free time lately, I've directed the entirety of my writing efforts toward my NaNoWriMo novel - which I'm pleased to report is now sitting at a total of 25 000 words, but the daunting task of matching the very same amount before next Thursday remains.  Have faith in me!

Two posts ago, I offered some sort of implicit apology for writing so many posts in recent history without cohesive thought; if one was to look back at my previous writings over the year I've had my blog (excusing the lack of style - I've only come to really love the way I write as of late, and I can hardly bring myself to read what I've previously written), they would find posts existing under an overall general theme.  Whether I wrote about religion or about my thoughts on the Christmas season (another post on the topic will be inevitable this year, I can promise that), about love or about my quirks pertaining to my strange eating habits or neurotic tendencies, one would certainly find a shift from cohesive themed writing to the fragmented style I've adopted.  Not that I dislike my "subheading" work; I find it's a great way to review any given period of time with a subjective, broad and sometimes humourous eye, but I'm sure I've lost reader interest through my essentially schizophrenic scatterbrained posts.  And thus, my wordy preface winds down to its thesis: I will be writing about one solid abstraction today, and I am striving for a return to the format of my blog's past.  (I won't eliminate the "subheading" business: I feel that format greatly suits posts more about the personal recounting of my life, and I can fuse posts like that with more formal ones to preserve a blend of personal droning and opinionated outlook - that is, after all, the purpose of a blog, no?)

I feel as though I can't advance without another preface - and I'm sure, my beautiful reader, you are probably groaning at your monitor, but keep holding on.  I can't continue without speaking to my thoughts on the danger of becoming far too personal on a blog.  I've previously spoken to my thoughts on blogging: a blog should not and should never serve as a diary because of the fundamental aspect of what makes a blog a blog - it is a public facet.  At least, that's my view: you will never find me blogging about the emotional traumas and hardships of my past because, firstly, the accessibility to a blog is far too easy and personal matters become severely inappropriate for a public forum, and secondly, as a reader myself, I roll my eyes when I read some sort of melodramatic and poorly written account of how sad you are because of whatever happened and because so-and-so did x.  To that, I say broadly: keep it private.  And thus, you will never find Haus of Matt becoming a place for me to divulge into my deepest and darkest of secrets, because I'm mature and sensible enough to realize that private thoughts stay private - or, at the very least, between yourself and another person (not an anonymous reader: a friend) with whom trust is present.

That being said, I might just become a bit of a hypocrite today.  The topic in which I'm choosing to write about, friendship, is a highly personal one, but I am making it my conscious duty to remain absolutely subjective to the theme and I will do my best to treat it as much as an abstract concept as possible.  If I become too melodramatic or what have you, you have permission to punch me in the face.

I feel like the institution of friendship has been completely deconstructed in the modern era of technology.  What used to transpire over an hour-long phone call is reduced to a rapid-fire dialogue of text messages, completely removing the sense of tone or, truly, personality from either participant; the process of befriending someone has been marginalized to the click of the "add as friend" button, yanking away the traditional building of a relationship's foundation out of human interaction.  I've encountered people who've officially marked me as a "friend" on Facebook moments after meeting me in passing for the first time; admittedly, I've done the same, but I tend to think (nowadays, at least) my practice of Facebook-friending is based on the intention to legitimately maintain a friendship with someone, and in that respect I think Facebook is fantastic because it allows for prolonged connectivity with people whom you would not have had the regular chance to do so with.  On the flip side, the same connectivity carries a rather negative connotation, because highly I doubt people with large amounts of Facebook friends give a damn about every single individual appearing on their list eight hundred people long.

This topic has stuck with me since writing about it briefly in a paper for one of my courses.  I feel like, nowadays, friendship has become a commodity: one gauges their own popularity by the amount of "friends" they have on Facebook or on other social media outlets, and in doing so, the very institution of what it means to be in a relationship with another person is completely broken down to the material.  When one clicks "add a friend" on Facebook, they are not looking to build a friendship upon which they can spend time with the other person and divulge secrets and braid each other's hair and promise to be friends forever: instead, to "add a friend" is to inflate your repertoire of friends by one.  Really, to say you have a friend is just as meaningless as saying that you have five cars and a mansion: you don't put emotional stock in your material possession (friends have, in all actuality, become material possessions), but knowing they're there and that you have them builds your confidence up.  I'd hazard a guess that those with hundreds upon hundreds of Facebook friends pride themselves on being "popular" and "well-liked," but at the end of the day, for me, I'm content with knowing that I upkeep legitimately substantial relationships with the few whose company I enjoy.  I would never say that I have a plethora of friends, but I really don't care: I'm happy that with the friendships I do have, they're meaningful, and down the line I'm sure I'll maintain contact with many of these people extending beyond seeing their most recent photo album coming to the forefront of my Facebook newsfeed for ten seconds.

To say these things and to act as if I don't partake in the economy of superficial friendship would be a blatant lie.  In the height of the Facebook craze for my generation (I mark this as high school), I pursued a rapid-fire adding of everyone I knew - regardless of if I ever had a physical conversation with them, and even looking at my friends list now I fail to recall real life interaction with some - because my friends had Facebook and they had many Facebook friends.  As I've already touched upon, I value the relatively small array of friends I have.  (when I say "small" it sounds like I have something like five friends - not the case: I mean small in comparison to Sally Facebook with 750 "friends")

I like to think that I still hold the concept of friendship up to be "sacred," for the lack of a better word.  Friendship, to me, is a relationship, first and foremost, existing in the real physical world beyond a social website on a computer screen.  A friend is a person who you enjoy spending time with; they make you laugh, they make you think, they make you evaluate yourself.  A friend is someone where boundaries don't exist - and no, I don't mean "since we're friends I can sexually harass you, no boundaries!"  (although I can think of one of my best friends who knows no boundaries whatsoever) I mean instead that inhibitions are dropped; the mask that you might wear in public disappears and you are candid, actually becoming yourself.  For a friend, you'll find yourself go out of your way to make them happy; you'll listen, regardless of what you're doing, because you know they'll return the sentiments when you need them most.  A friend does not, then, trample over you; they do not disregard the things you do for them; they do not exist in a hurricane of fury and expect for you to crawl to them only when they've deemed their own mood as "good enough" to interact.  I hope I've avoided becoming to sentimental or cliche or personal, but these things are unavoidable.

Now being an adult I've come to value the friends I have.  I know those I give a damn about will be the same people who will still be speaking with me in five years.  Interestingly, the past few weeks have set up more definitive resolutions in my mind: I've grown closer with some friends by an exponential factor, and with some, I spend my time in caution - at times, even in frustration - signalling to me that they really aren't someone I care to be around.  That's the luxury of being an adult, though: one is fully able to govern the relationships they have, given the possibility of selection when it comes to friends.  Unfortunately, I feel that things like Facebook work in the opposite, prolonging superficiality by hiding behind the notion that more Facebook friends means more popularity and therefore more happiness.  So be it.  I'm happy with my knowledge that in ten years when I have my own family, I know exactly who I'll still be talking to, inviting them and their significant others and children over for dinner parties, or what have you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's because I'm Armenian

(title is a reference to the fact that her character.. uh, "seduced" an Armenian man on the most recent episode of American Horror Story.  I use seduced lightly because her second seduction of him involved.. well, biting, and ended in his murder)
Can we all just recall who this is?

I can die happy now.*

*this, much like my tweet, is what's called a hyperbole.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Obligatory title devoid of creative flourish

It's been a while since I've written a post - not from a lack of trying at all, oh no; I can't count the times that I told myself to sit down and write a blog post only to be disappointed by my lack of inspiration.  (looking back at my previous post, it seems to be listed as being posted on the fifth - I guess that was the day I wrote it, but I didn't post it until a week after, last Saturday; I guess it doesn't time stamp with the date of publishing?  Hum) Truth be told, I'm still rather uninspired, and this post will become one of my run of the mill (can I use anymore cliches in one sentence?) posts, disjointed and incorporating a whole slew of unrelated topics.  For some reason, writing isn't coming to me as freely as it once did; I attempted to write on more obscure topics such as love or accomplishments, but I found my words were spent after just a paragraph or two and it'd really be a shame to post something so short and unsubstantial.  Not to say that this is any more substantial by any means - I just need to post something.

Note: goddamnit.  This was originally entitled "A week in review" until I just realized I already have a post called that.  Goes to show how absolutely uninspired I am.

Another note: leave it to me to go with the wryest and most apathetic title known to man.

Last note: I promise my next post will have a legitimate theme.  I don't know any better, but I'm not sure how well-received my posts with multiple subheadings are; they annoy me sometimes, and I can't imagine what the general you must think.

Last last note: please read this.


I constantly talk about how "it's hard for me to believe it's already [insert day or month here]!" but, really, it's hard for me to believe it's already more than halfway done November.  I'm moving back home in just twelve days.  I really lucked out this year, only having one final exam during the exam period on the 8th of December; given that the last day of class is the 28th, it'd be truly senseless for me to stay on residence for another ten days, considering 1. I hardly ever study so it's not like I'd be cracking down on my books for a week and a half, 2. I'd run out of things to do after the first day of having free time and consequently would go crazy, and 3. I'd go crazy anyways.  I really am looking forward to returning home for a month; my visits home on the weekends got progressively more and more nostalgic, and having just been back this previous weekend (and seeing two of my best friends making life seem normal again) it got a bit tougher to leave, but the feeling was pacified in knowing I'd be back in two weeks, anyways.  That, and when I was home I bought Batman: Arkham Asylum for PS3 and I'm already missing it because it's so damn good.  Oh, and I guess I miss my family.

Although the distance in time is quickly winding down day by day, the hurdles of schoolwork ahead of me still tower over me as tall as ever.  I'm down to just two essays to submit in addition to three final tests I have leading up to and occurring on the final day of classes; not overly difficult to survive, but the fact that next week houses a test on both Tuesday and Wednesday as well as one of the essays being due on Friday is slightly stressful.  (if you're keen you might've deduced that the final essay and test are due/occur on the last day of class, so in two Mondays I'm sure I'll be the epitome of joyousness) I don't mean to head into the last two weeks with an ego, but given that this semester has been my most successful semester of university, I can't help but inflate myself with confidence when writing my essays or studying for my tests.  That being said, I'll go the extra mile, considering I want my (hopefully) good marks to be that much better.

Like a regular novelist

As a refresher, I'm participating in this years National Novel Writing Month, the aim of which is to attempt to write a full work of fiction with at least 50,000 words.  How rude of me to announce my participation and neglect to provide updates!  (not really that rude) The good news is, I'm finally happy with my concept.  For the first little while I found myself writing a few thousand words before trashing it in favour of a minor plot tweak or because I wasn't pleased with what I had written.  That's how I seem to function: I don't move forwards until I'm absolutely content with the introduction, and it only took killing one of the main characters immediately to get me such happiness.  I sound vile.  I do not condone killing.  I found my writing was constantly ramming itself into a brick wall - that is, until I decided that one of the characters was to die, and in my sadistic murder I found rejuvenation; the death has become the central plot point, naturally changing everything else I had planned.  Because of that, I'm really writing without a direction, making up the plot quite literally as I go - something that the officials of NaNoWriMo encourages.  (writing without thinking, that is.  The editing is to come later) I'm afraid I'm not enclosing any more of a synopsis.  I haven't told anyone else, and I don't actually know if I will.  I'm sure down the line when it's complete and you ask nicely - I take cash only, and I'd like material gifts, too - you can read it.

My progress?  Last night, I just cracked 10k words.  Given the structure of the activity, I've squandered away the first half of the month to only come away with one fifth of the minimum of what's required.  I've read tweets on Twitter (follow me.  @m_spad) to the NaNoWriMo account, reporting of astronomical numbers - I saw someone saying they're over 100,000 words, and that distresses me.  I have just about two weeks left to reach 50,000 (that is, if my story even comes to a definitive conclusion with 50k words), and as previously lamented my next two weeks is full of academic misfortune, so I'm already accepting that I will not complete the task by the end of November.  Fear not, however!  I'm not abandoning hope altogether.  I've never truly been as enthralled with my project as I am with my current one.  I know that past the end of the month, regardless of word count, I'll be intent on continuing my writing.  For the sake of a goal, I hope to complete an entire first draft of my story by the end of the year, and given that I have December in its entirety for free time, I should likely succeed.  That's my plan for December.  That and finish Dexter.  It's so good.


I love movies.  (no way) This week was a particularly good one in terms of fantastic trailers hitting the internet for upcoming movies, and they've sent my heart aflutter with serious excitement.  Aside from what I'll spend time talking about, I'm 100% excited for Snow White and the Huntsman after watching (and re-watching) the bloody fantastic trailer for it.  The visuals are delicious.  I'm able to buy that even Kristen Stewart can be the fairest of them all, because she looks pretty fine in this trailer.  Scuse me, I feel like I need to wash my hands for calling Kristen Stewart attractive..

Over the summer, I read the entire Hunger Games book trilogy in three days.  Imagine my excitement to hear that Jennifer Lawrence, or, freaking Mystique from X-Men: First Class which is only my favourite movie of the year, was to play Katniss.  Admittedly, I had my reservations about the film adaption; I worried (and actually still worry) that the love triangle will become too much of a centralized plot point to cater towards the idiot Twilight fans of our generation.  But, by god, my worries were quite literally erased after watching the trailer: goddamnit, it's amazing.  I've seldom been more pleased with a book-to-film adaption; this is the first time that I've been a legitimate fan of a book before it was translated onto film.  (I admit, I think that I read the first Harry Potter book right before the first movie came out.. regardless, I didn't have the time to establish in my mind my own interpretation of the world, so therefore as I read through the rest of the series feverishly, I couldn't really shake the images of Dan, Rupert and Emma from my mind when I read about Harry, Ron and Hermione) Perhaps the other time I was able to do so was with Watchmen, but I'd rather not think about that movie.  I digress: the trailer has, literally, captured exactly what I had in my mind.  Specifically, I'm not exaggerating when I say that the training room sequence is 100% exactly what I pictured as I read the book, and it's got me questioning if the creators of the movie entered my brain and thieved my ideas.  I get chills as the countdown sounds at the end of the trailer, ending in a far too short glimpse of the actual Games with the tribute's frenzy.  Can't wait for March.

For a post about incoherence, that's excessive.  I promise a cohesive theme next time - and maybe less words.  (looks like I got into the spirit of NaNoWriMo!  Damn, I could've used these words for my total..)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Things I Absolutely, Positively Hate

I'm not entirely sure if my blog has "staples" - and what I mean by "staples" are recurring features; nowadays my blog has become somewhat scatterbrained, but if anything, I like the new direction of my humourous cynicism towards my own life, because not everyone enjoys reading woes.  There's no point to living without a touch of humour, and there no point to writing if there's no point to living (considering I write what I live), and thus by default there's no point to writing without a touch of humour.  (aha, an enthymeme; Aristotle would be proud) I've digressed.  Back to my original point: I've read many blogs where recurring features such as weekly questions-and-answers or what have you are featured, and I don't think I've ever really done that, but if I had to pin down the closest I've come to creating this, I can come up with two: the first, My Drunk Blog, which in reality only exists to make my drunken ramblings "redeemable" (if that's possible), is a bit too unpredictable, a bit too problematic and a bit too despicable.

The second - and we finally get to the meat of my intended point (if you feel the need to punch me because of my verbal embellishment, do so; it's like an untamed monster that's been once again released due to the amount of academia language I've had to use for my schoolwork) - would be the Things I [adverb] Hate, which are always quite fun to write because it lets me get unabashedly heated towards the things that make my skin crawl.  In the past, I've had such posts as Things I Hate, More Things I Hate, and, most recently (and, curiously, most verbally polished; hooray for a visible progression of the quality of my writing!), Things I Really Hate.  Christ on a stick, I'm a hateful person!  Again, I'm not entirely sure I'd count this as a concrete staple to my blog (given that I don't have a scheduled time in which I post these - I think a biweekly hate would be a little bit too much), but on the flipside, I should hope that when you, my fine reader, think about my blog to yourself, one of the first things to stick out in your mind is "that Matt sure hates a lot of things - but it's so funny!  And, goodness, he's attractive."*


You might have concluded by now - well, you have had a fair bit of time to do so.. - that I'm about to launch into yet another Things I [Absolutely, Positively] Hate post, because 1. it's been a while and 2. there's only so long I can go with this internal hatred before I explode from not sharing it.  (oh, and I guess another big clue might've been the title..) You'll notice that I'm sometimes only half serious, because, recall, I base a significant amount of this on humour; even with that in mind, my troubles do come from a real place, but in some cases, just rest assured that I am not actually as worked up about it as it might seem - the magic of hyperbole!

Things I Absolutely, Positively Hate

Victims.  No, I don't mean victims to crime.  How the hell could I hate someone who's been robbed?  I'm not that bad of a person.  Many times in my life - for reasons unbeknownst to me, but I guess I'll always be trapped in this sort of cruel cycle - I've had to deal with people who, when thrust into sticky confrontations, immediately retreat from said confrontation, and through their stepping away from responsibility they assume the role of the victim and thereby push the role of the "villain" (or, in plainer, non-comic book superhero terms, the one who's "over-reacting") onto the other (or, me).  It's infuriating, because the second a person steps away from actually assuming responsibility in an issue, they assign themselves total innocence and therefore make the opposite person seem like they're a raving lunatic.  I'm hoping this makes sense.  This isn't just at a basic level of a discrepancy between to people, no; what I've spelled out can be translated to any significant hardship in life, and the moment something goes the slightest bit awry, victims curl up in defeat.  These people who constantly whine and insert themselves into victimized situations need to grow up and face the reality of the world - one can't expect for everything to get better if one traps oneself in a nest of "woe is me," and brooding in this nest won't pacify anything.  The world is tough.  Things don't work out.  Something I've learned to accept is no matter how mature you are or how positive you are in your outlook, there will always be someone around you who's still stuck in self-depreciation or who has a twisted outlook on what they do or say; that's the world.  For goodness sake, don't take solace in making yourself the victim: live up to your maturity and tackle your pitiful problems in stride.

Mature students.  I love the idea of an older person (I use the term "older" cautiously, but I mean not of the average age of a university student) returning to a post-secondary institution for a degree, but I hate it when these older people become the shining pupils in your classes and therefore make you (and the rest of your similarly aged peers) look bad.  Take for instance an older woman in one of my English classes; she answers every one of my professor's questions, and it's to the point where my professor has even made remarks like "why don't the rest of you care as much as [this person] does?"  I realize I'm coming across as a total douchebag with respect to this subheading, but recalling some people I've had this conversation with in the past, they agree with what I'm saying because they, too, have had this elusive older student upstage them.*

*I am seriously not an asshole.  It's refreshing to see someone like that still passionate about school, and I have nothing but respect; but shush already.

Participation marks in class.  What the hell is the point of allocating 10% of your final grade to participation?  I'm at the point (in my third year) where I've nearly become an entirely autonomous student; that is, I attend lectures and take notes on what my professors have said, but I make my own understandings of the material through my own learning at home both before and after receiving the framework of the critical thinking from my instructors.  That being said, I don't enjoy speaking in class - you'd think I'd advocate it, what with just explaining how I make my own ideas about things which would probably benefit others reading it, but they can suck it.  It irks me when professors, at the beginning of the semester, say "it's alright if you don't like speaking up in class, not everyone is comfortable with that" - only to implement "10% of your mark is based on your conversation in class."  What?  I even, a few weeks ago, had a professor compliment one of my papers (it set the rest of my week off to be fantastic), and whilst talking to me she said "you're really shy, and I can tell!  It's okay you don't speak in class" - only to call on me twice during the lecture.  "Matt, why don't you give us your thoughts?"  No. :(

Manufactured pop singers.  It's no secret that current popular music (and by "popular," I judge what's put on heavy rotation on the radio and what's topping the Billboard charts) is largely dominated by women - think about it: we're in the time of Gaga, Adele, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, dare I even say Ke$ha (she somehow keeps returning to that number one position..), Beyonce, and Justin Bieber.  Naturally, I'm all for Gaga (no, really?), and I love her because her sound is fresh, her image is intriguing and underneath it all she has the voice to back it up.  What bothers me is the kind of success that people like Katy Perry and Rihanna are receiving, when I would fully argue that neither is particularly a good live artist, but rather, they're heavily reliant on the manufacturing of their songs.  It bothers me that a song like "We Found Love" is able to top the Billboard 100 when a song like "The Edge of Glory" cannot (and I don't say that with a personal bias: Edge of Glory is simply a flawless pop song, and it's undeniable); it bothers me that WFL consists of perhaps ten unique lines of lyric repeated constantly; it bothers me that Rihanna touts her eleventh number one when she quite literally put in the minimal effort - as far as I'm concerned, the most shining aspect of the song is the beat, and she has nothing to do with that. And don't even get me started on Katy Perry: she is 100% a manufactured machine to spew out hit after carbon-copy hit destined to invade the public's iPod and car radio.  At the end of the day I'm not overly bothered by this; I'm able to retreat to the music I consider to be good, and as far as Lady Gaga is concerned (it's a crime she's only had three number ones..), her success is astronomical, and she'll be the one remembered in twenty years.  Katy who?

That's quite enough hate for one day.

Friday, November 4, 2011

No life November

It's November and the rate at which time has passed since beginning the semester is baffling.  It seems like only yesterday I moved onto residence, acquainting myself with my class schedule and my independent domestic capabilities (which, I say, still suck, considering my room needs a dusting and much of the food I eat is from a box); instead, I lay in my bed with thick socks staring at my calendar on the wall filled with an obscene amount of readings and work to be done between now and the last day of classes, November 28th.  The optimist in me idolizes the idea that we're 13.333% percent done the month of November already; the pessimist weeps and plans my own funeral.  I'm left with three final tests and four major essays to hand in - the last full week of class makes me shudder, as two of the tests and one of the essays land someplace during that week - and the procrastinator in me chooses to write a blog post instead of starting an essay (and by start I mean even looking at the essay question, because I haven't) due on Thursday.  As to not entirely ruin my weekend, I'm planning on visiting my assignment on Sunday evening, where my [projected] hangover from the [hopeful plans of the] night before will have finally faded.

My work motives have been put at a handicap by two rather large factors, one significantly more meaningful than the other.  The first, for some reason, is because I've rediscovered [NERD ALERT: do not read on if 1. you do not think highly of me, because you will think less of me, and 2. if you do think highly of me, because you will think less of me] Pokemon after discussing it feverishly with a friend.  By Pokemon I clearly mean the game (do they even still make the cards?), which I have downloaded an emulator for so I may play on my computer.  I don't think I'll ever fully move on from those games from my childhood, probably because, well, they were my childhood, but also because even still to a 20 year old they're pretty amazing and the nostalgia while playing is intoxicating.  (people never really understand unless they played them when they were a kid.  I know this because I get weird looks from these people) Excuse me while I go read Aristotle or watch an R-rated movie or buy scratch tickets or liquor as to remind myself that I am a 20 year old..

The second, and, as you might have guessed, the more meaningful of the two, is because I'm participating (like many failed times in the past) in NaNoWriMo, or, if you don't know what that stands for, National Novel Writing Month.  It's a "contest" (for the lack of a better term) where one may challenge themselves to write a 50 000+ worded work of fiction in the month of November; editing is discouraged, but given that I'm an extreme perfectionist, I rewrite passages twenty times until I deem myself fit to continue.  Another general stipulation (if I recall correctly; I didn't "officially" sign up this year online because my user account with two failures on it is depressing enough - point is I haven't acquainted myself with the official rules) is that the story to write must be 100% original to the month of November, and that previous planning is discouraged.  Well, screw that.  The novel I'm writing is one that's been in my head for at least three years - the concept and characters, that is, who never saw the light of day due to my many failed attempts at writing it as well as a general lack of incentive.  So I guess I'm breaking the rules in that it isn't completely original, but it's still my original work, and judging on my previous failures with NaNoWriMo, I think it's a safer bet to go into it with framework.  It's all very exciting to me; I've long forgotten about how passionate I get when I actually have the chance to write, and it's all I think about, given that I'm not already thinking about the essays I need to write or the Pokemon I need to catch to complete my team.  (goodness)

My progress?  Zero words.  I was up to about 2000 yesterday but after letting it sit in my mind I'm once again displeased.  As I said, it's all because I'm a perfectionist.  I've written far more in the past, but success only comes after I'm entirely pleased with my exposition; from there, I have enough strength to move past weaker segments of the body of the work and just keep writing, because I know my foundation is solid.  I have yet to strike gold, but that's why I've allocated my Sunday evening to my schoolwork as to allow for the rest of tonight and the majority of tomorrow (given I don't occupy myself otherwise..) to writing.  I guess it's sort of a punishment: don't work on meaningful things for school until you've written the opening to your story goddamnit!

As usual, I pull through.  I have the utmost faith in myself as an essay writer since I've never received horrifying marks on the ones I've written, so I know I'll get the work done; it's just a matter of so many to-do things hanging over me that I collapse by the mounting pressure of "get this shit done and get it done now."  I'm hoping my writing (fictional, that is) will provide for me the means to maintain my sanity by the month's end, but here's hoping that my novel doesn't drive me crazy like my schoolwork, too.  Send creative brainwaves my way!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Troll! In the dungeon!

Happy Halloween!

I'd say Halloween is my favourite holiday, unless I decide that Halloween and Christmas are tied or that Christmas was exceptionally successful in which case Halloween would fall second.  (you may or may not be familiar with my thoughts about Christmas, but I won't divulge into it [yet; it's not even November yet..] and seem like a Scrooge, it's too early) I've always been over-enthusiastic about choosing my costume for the year, usually beginning to think about it (and, if I'm particularly crazy, assemble it) during the summer.  I usually am stuck with the repeating problem of what to be, because here's my philosophy: because I love Halloween so much, it seems a waste to me to be something like "police man" or "cowboy" because costumes like that are so generic.  Given that I'm not overly good at thinking up clever costumes, I then stick to characters, because characters are memorable.  Even still, it's difficult.

This year, my costume was essentially chosen for me.  I was part of a big collective Grey's Anatomy costume spearheaded by the craziest Grey's fans I know, two of my friends, who also happened to be hosting their annual Halloween party along with their roommates at their house.  Given that I'm tall, dark (I guess..), and not just handsome but sexy (ha!), I was given the task of becoming Dr. Derek Shepherd, douchebag husband and neurosurgeon extraordinaire - McDreamy himself.  In preparation, recall, I watched the entire series of Grey's over the summer and experienced the roller coaster every Grey's fan I'm sure has experience only on super fast forward - that roller coaster being massive obsession to gradual disappointment (the Grey's obsessed I know have not yet reached that.  They will always be massively obsessed) to dear God, just cancel the show so that I no longer must be obligated to watch every week, and yes I do feel that way sometimes because I can't just give up on those characters now.  I digress.  I purchased my navy blue scrubs months ago - I am, after all, an attending surgeon, so I get the navy scrubs - and dusted off my lab coat from the days when I was a failure of a science student.  I must say, these scrubs are some of the most comfortable clothes I own.  I am wearing them now.  It saddens me that Halloween is on a Monday because the holiday isn't over but the festivities already are; regardless I remain in my scrubs and lab coat with my badge (the greatest addition to the costume by far courtesy of my friend) as I finish readings for the upcoming week - we obviously don't get kids living in a residence complex.

100% authentic and pure genius.  Gave me that extra umph to fully embody McDreamy, and that I did.
My Halloween consisted of attending the aforementioned Halloween party.  I traveled there on Friday and was delighted to know the bar ten minutes away from the house was having a Halloween costumed event in addition to its weekly country night.  I made it to the bar.  I enjoyed the bar.  I was kicked out of the bar not even an hour after arriving due to reasons you can conclude come with drinking I think it was nine beers in succession before leaving for the bar.  I then proceeded to die.

Saturday was the worst day of my life.  I woke up around 7am - I can never sleep in when I've been drinking - to the disgusting misfortunes of the night before.  (I won't say, but I was still wearing my scrubs and we proceeded to wash them in the afternoon) Sitting upright was absolutely impossible so I remained curled in a ball on the couch until about 2pm when we all decided to visit the greatest and cheapest breakfast place known to man.  I spent my deadly headache watching movie after movie, first Baby Mama then Bridesmaids, then once returning from brunch (I guess it was) moved onto Mulan and Aladdin.  By then only the headache remained, and it was bearable.  A Zola was purchased to make my costume more authentic (Derek and Meredith have attempted to adopt a baby from Africa named Zola) and in effort to gloss over the absolutely despicable actions that followed I will only provide that Zellers did not sell black baby dolls so alternative methods were employed.  To stay true to the characters my Halloween wife and I decided to stash Zola away somewhere in the house during the party, proclaiming "Where did Meredith stash Zola?" (Meredith in the show stole Zola on the day she discovered they weren't getting her and hid her away in the hospital), and Zola spent the night in a washing machine, an oven, and a cupboard.  My partying motivation was at a minimum due to the night before tainting the taste of beer, so I casually drank over the entire night (which lasted until freaking 4:30am due to a certain drunk person's entertainment) without actually getting drunk off of my ass like the Friday night bar excursion, but the party was still quite fun.  The group donning the scrubs was fantastic when completely assembled, and I'm anxiously awaiting the number of pictures we took as a group as well as as characters and "couples."

As with any holiday, I'm always a little bit upset when things wind down.  I'll conclude my Halloween night by finishing a book that needs to be read for class on Thursday, and to evoke the spirit one last time, I'll watch Rocky Horror Picture Show in my scrubs, of course.  I'll miss the Halloween decorations I see in stores or even around campus, but I know come morning, the obnoxious amount of Christmas will begin to suffocate me since I notice the Christmas season always starts immediately.  Here's hoping for a good Christmas this year! - I'm thinking it will be.  But for now: boo.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The one that got away

(Am I basing the concept to this blog post after Katy Perry's newest single?  Unfortunately.  However I do like the song despite my feelings about her, but that's beside the point)

A few weeks ago when listening The One That Got Away by Katy Perry a friend of mine brought up the potentially loaded question, "Aren't you ever scared about that?  Letting the one get away?"  (*paraphrase.  In fact I don't even know if that's remotely close to what she said, but point is, the theme of the song was called into question: the whole "what if?" concept) I have no direct answer to the question; with respect to the fear of letting "the one" get away from me, I've never experienced that since I've never legitimately dated someone yet - therefore I have yet to lose someone / a potential "the one" candidate.  Beyond a relationship standpoint, however, the general theme of the song can be considered (as previously mentioned) as "what would my life be like if x didn't happen?"  If I were in a particularly science fiction-y kind of mood I'd probably morph this into a post about alternate timelines - and, essentially, that could be where this is headed - but naturally I've been letting the idea resonate in my mind as I sit at my laptop in the comfort of my home while a rerun of Saturday Night Live is playing on the television.

Like I said - I've never been in a position to let someone get away.  But what if - what if, say, I didn't audition for the school musical in grade eleven?  What if I moved to Phoenix when I was eight?  What if I decided that Lady Gaga was too weird and decided to switch the radio station every time Just Dance came on?  (that one is a joke) The thought of how different my life would be is intriguing - therefore, let's consider it together, shall we?

(I think I might take a chronological approach to this.  I'm aiming to pick out a handful of what I consider to be the most pivotal moments in my life thus far - here's hoping they actually do hold up as significant)

When I was in grade two, my dad was offered a vice president position at his old company.  The catch, though: he was to relocate to Phoenix, Arizona.  So then: what if I moved to Phoenix?  My life would be vastly different; in fact, I would wager that I would be nowhere near the person I am today since I consider the people I've known in my life as having been influential in how I shaped myself.  Perhaps this blog would still exist if I was American (that thought makes me shudder), but I wouldn't know any of the friends I know and love now which is the most disturbing thought to me; I wouldn't have been privileged with a family close enough to see a few times a month; perhaps most importantly, I would've had to wait another two years to actually become legal to drink.  The horror.  In the end we didn't move because my dad was, at the time, considering another job offer (at the company he now works for now), as well as my parents deciding that it would be best for me and my sister to remain where we were accustomed to.  I recall putting up a massive fight to the prospect of moving to the States, and if memory serves correctly, I tried sabotaging meetings with realtors.

What if I was more concerned with how I presented myself in elementary school?  This seems extremely superficial and shallow at first value, and I know it; however - and I'm not meaning to be overdramatic or self-loathing - I wasn't exactly the most well liked person in elementary school, or even during high school.  (the bigger size of my high school lessened that concern because it wasn't a forced environment with the same fifty people day in and day out) I made a lot of unnecessary "enemies" because, as I look back now, I realize I exhibited some fairly negative traits.  I was so competitive for my marks that I know I came across as the teacher's pet; I was unnecessarily hateful towards some people because it's what others told me to do; I instigated things and I was honestly a bit obnoxious.  This doesn't bug me that much.  The past is the past, and all I care about is that I came out of those years with the best friends in the world, and I wouldn't trade it.

What if I didn't try out for Jesus Christ Superstar, my high school's musical, when I was in grade eleven?  This seems a bit insignificant, too, but the school musical was probably one of the greatest times in my life.  I used to be interested in acting in school plays in elementary school.  By the time I got to high school, my confidence was quickly diminished - it's humbling to become one of two thousand students, so your overall presence quickly shrinks.  Naturally, when auditions were announced for Jesus Christ Superstar, I wrote it off without thinking twice.  I would consider myself to be a pretty good actor, but by god, I can't sing worth my life, so even if I was still interested in acting in front of people, I would've passed it off knowing that the entire musical is, well, musical numbers, and there is absolutely no dialogue.  Regardless, I signed up for an audition time just to shut my friends up - my group of friends are fairly "artistic" as I know two dancers and a few are rather good singers - but it seemed that my commitment wasn't easily wiggled out of and I still had to audition.  I was so uninterested that I read parts of my monologue off of cue cards and when it came to singing I sang only a single verse from a[n unidentified song from an unidentified musical], despite being asked to prepare two songs.  And yet, I was cast as an evil priest - not to be egotistical, but one of the directors was my drama teacher and he liked me a lot.  As I know now, iff I hadn't auditioned, my life wouldn't be the same: it was literally the time of my life.  Rehearsals became an absolute joy due to meeting a whole lot of fantastic people whom I wouldn't have otherwise met.  My memories of the weekend rehearsals running around the halls or complaining about [what have you] with my fellow priests are endless.  I still look back at pictures from the play and rehearsals and said fond memories flood back to me, and I repeat, I wouldn't have turned out the same without the most amazing experience of my life.

When it came down to choosing my university, I was pretty much given the one and only option of science by my parents because at the time being an English major was out of the question.  I therefore based my choice completely on which schools offered the best forensic science programs (a science I deemed doable, but we know how that turned out) - and, as a result, I ended up applying to UTM because of their reputable program.  So then: what if I never went to UTM?  I firmly say that if I was applying to schools for their English programs, UTM would never have been an option: I would've applied for the downtown campus, for one, and I would've put heavy consideration on the reputation of English programs in the province.  Despite switching majors, my school still provided for me: I met some great people, and much like everything I've already talked about, I wouldn't be the same without knowing them; it's since been brought to my attention that UofT's English program is the seventh best in the world, so that turned out well, too.  I enjoy my program, the classes I'm taking, the people I get to see.  It's tough to think of, but (similar to everything already mentioned) if I didn't go to UTM, I wouldn't have known any different: I would've been taking equally interesting English courses elsewhere and I would've met some okay people.  Needless to say I'm far from disappointed by my selection; forensic science didn't quite work out, but UTM still did.

This serves as only a selection of the most influential moments of my life: I picked the ones that stuck out to me upon first consideration and I'd say they're all vastly significant.  Perhaps the most disturbing thing to consider is the concept of not knowing any better - what I mean by that is, if my life played out differently in each of these instances, I wouldn't have lived as "deprived" of the "goodness" that came out of them because I wouldn't have been alert to the goodness at all.  If I moved to Phoenix, I wouldn't have grown up with the four girls I call my four extra sisters; if I didn't try out for the musical, I would've missed the opportunity to meet so many new people and create so many more memories, but I wouldn't have been attentive to the possibility of said memories; if I didn't choose UTM as my university, I'd be taking just as interesting English courses elsewhere (preferably not York) spending time with other people for whom it would be impossible to gauge as better or worse than the people I know now - it's just impossible because I haven't lived all possibilities.  Honestly, though, I will never feel the need to know what things could have been: I'm entirely happy with where I am now.  Here's hoping I don't launch into such deep thought every time I hear Katy Perry's song though.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Operation Tweet Me Back

I have spoken ad nauseam about the show American Horror Story as of late, and I once again really implore you to watch it because I think it's a damn good show and I promise you'll be immediately hooked - I was.  I never intended to love it as much as I do, but I honestly find myself thinking about it at all times because it's so damn creepy and so messed up and open ended that to stop watching it would be a crime.  I've been developing theories about what I've been witnessing but with every episode additional curveballs are thrown so I'm really at a loss and am entirely good with the thrill of the ride; but I digress. (WATCH IT)

One of my favourite characters is Moira, the housekeeper, who [spoiler alert] is dead.  (it's not that big of a spoiler - it's revealed that she is in the very first episode, so I'm not giving much away; in fact it's rapidly becoming my theory that at least half of the characters are dead, but that's another story..) Moira is hired by the new owners of the house, the Harmons, after explaining that she's been the housekeeper of the house for years.  She isn't malevolent or mischievous - that is, except to Ben (the father of the family).  To everyone else, Moira is an elderly woman with one blind eye; to Ben, she's.. ahem, this.

She's aggressively forced herself on Ben (a past cheater) throughout the first three episodes, as he always finds her unbuttoning her blouse or bent over scrubbing the floors in the sluttiest way possible or - kids, cover your ears - touching herself while sprawled over a couch.  The disturbing thing of the matter is that she's actually an elderly woman, so when we see her touching herself through Ben's point of view, it's in reality that old lady touching herself.  I'm to the point where I've treated them as separate characters - in fact, another character in the show (who knows about Moira's past, and a lot more - I won't spoil that) has referred to her as "you two" - so whenever Young Moira's onscreen I've distanced the chilling thoughts of the older woman.

The (younger version of the) character is sultry.  Needless to say I'm in love with her, and if I were Ben, I'd have cheated on my wife twenty thousand times more.  She's played by an actress by the name of Alexandra Breckenridge who's popped up in various television shows including most recently (and to me, most recognizably) True Blood, where she played Bill's spy on the witches coven.  She then had a pretty raunchy sex scene so it's not bizarre to see her again in one of my favourite shows playing a siren.  Well, anyways, like I said, I've been completely seduced by her.

(I will reiterate that I fancy her version of the character.  I'm sure Old Moira is a lovely woman but she's not my type and I sure as hell would not want her hanging out cleaning in her knickers)

And so we finally arrive at the point: now that I'm on Twitter (@m_spad, do it up), I'm following Ms Breckenridge, and it's my mission to be tweeted back by her because that would literally make my day, and actually, the rest of my life.  It isn't unrealistic; she doesn't have millions of followers like, say, Lady Gaga, because I know it'd be fruitless attempting to be the one out of fourteen million that Gaga would ever choose to respond to.  I'm sure this entire post makes it seem like I'm a deranged stalker sort, but I'm merely keeping my fingers crossed that she'll tweet me, because like I said that would seriously send me over the moon.  To reinforce the fact that I am not deranged: even though I've made it a "mission," I'm not going out of my way to be obsessive.  I'll merely tweet her once and a while and by publicizing it I'm sharing what is bound to be a somewhat humourous journey with you, the reader.  It's my nature: humour for humour's sake, and naturally I make things dramatic.

Anyways. We'll see how it goes.  This'll give me some sort of hope, and I maintain that the moment it happens (if ever) I might die on the spot.  And then my ghost will return to this earth a la 90% of the characters on American Horror Story (I swear, 90% of the characters are ghosts.  At least) and blog about my bliss.

Note: this has been referred to me as "that creeper stalker post" (you know who you are).  I can defend myself all I want but yes.. yes it does seem that way.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another post in avoidance of the same essay

In a general disclaimer, yes, what I usually write about is generally more cohesive than this, and yes, I do write on more diverse subject matters rather than essentially writing two posts that will (probably) end up looking identical.

I am still shockingly unmotivated to do any work whatsoever.  Today was a bit of a write-off considering I was out drinking last night; I tend to allow myself to be a vegetable the day after regardless of hangover state.  (I'm finding I'm becoming impervious to hangovers.  So hangovers can suck it) That very same essay that I had hoped to finish over the weekend still hangs over my shoulders, but I did manage to write five (albeit unpolished) pages yesterday, so I guess that does account for progress.  I'm left with penning a conclusion which are always the worst as well as editing the entire draft as a whole, and while it isn't the greatest undertaking in the world, I've always been one to hate leaving things to the last minute when I have the agency and means to totally finish it at any time.  And so that's me today: instead of taking two or three or four focused hours to knock out a more finalized copy, I instead spent my day searching tirelessly for last night's Saturday Night Live episode before becoming furious that doesn't let Canadians view their videos, playing two (maybe three..) hours of the Sims 3, watching Scary Movie and laughing at 1. the incredible similarity to Scream (I know it's a direct spoof but I'm referring to even shot compositions) which I now pick up on since Scream is one of my favourite movies and 2. all of the jokes considering I first watched it as a stupider child version of myself, finally discovering Saturday Night Live and weeping in disappointment at how unfunny the show was (however Kristen Wiig can do no wrong), cooking, returning to another two (three..) hours of the Sims 3, and finally getting exponentially frustrated at a jigsaw puzzle because as far as I'm concerned jigsaw puzzles are Satan.  How's that for a sentence.  I also needed to study for a test I have in the morning at 11, but that studying consisted of me looking at my notes for maybe fifteen minutes as I deemed that sufficient.  It usually is, and I usually still get high marks, but I can't shake the guilt monster hanging over my head nagging me to study more.  Not that said monster has a chance to speak: in my one moment of actually doing nothing (the real nothing not the Sims Scary Movie lying in bed eating nothing) I've been beckoned to rewatch the second episode of American Horror Story which I really cannot say no to since I'm actually obsessed with it.  The writing shall resume in an hour.  (not that that will affect you.. a draft is a draft.  Never mind me)

Aaaand the show is still as messed up as ever.

Party hard

The past week had a good amount of birthday shenanigans as three of my friends had birthdays - two were celebrated last weekend as previously outlined.  So again another happy 21st to Kelsey and a happy 20th to Devan who has now defeated teen pregnancy.  Then on Friday came my roommate Steph's birthday, and I'm sure she appreciated her birthday gift, Jane Eyre on DVD starring some girl and Michael Fassbender who I will 100% admit to saying is my man-crush (the dude is Magneto), which was hidden in the toaster.  Last night her and I ventured out to hit up a few hotspots downtown, the first of which was a rather upscale restaurant-lounge where we haunted the bar and got progressively more intoxicated (and I spent so much money..) while the live band played Top 40 hits like Just Dance (awesome), and the second of which was an Irish pub where we went with Steph's brother, cousin and cousin's girlfriend, which also added to the speeding train of inebriation.  As I said before I've become immune to hangovers so my morning was peachy, although I can't say the same for my roommate.  The real party should come on Friday night where we're having the more "traditional" birthday party with our friends coming for the night, and that, too, should be a mess.  Aside from that my driving force to life is next weekend where I'll be traveling to a house filled with exceptional people for the infamous Grey's Anatomy Halloween party; I've been promised cuddles and hardcore drinking so I expect nothing less as I don my best Dempsey.

My Drunk Failure

In a similar sense, I decided to be an idiot in two ways last night upon returning from the bar.  One, I decided that I'm a daring cook, and I proceeded to burn my finger quite badly amidst my culinary mishap; the food was good, though, because I didn't exactly notice my finger hurting until I was finished eating, to which I was suddenly bombarded with throbbing pain and misfortune.  Two, I wrote another My Drunk Blog post, but until hell freezes over, I'm just gonna hang onto that one unpublished.  Why? you say.  Not that my spelling or structure was atrocious - quite the opposite, considering as I scan it now there aren't many spelling mistakes popping out at me - but rather because the subject that I chose to talk about (since, recall, I decided I would hone in on a particular topic) was love.  I guess the idea was at the forefront of my mind due to it being a recurring theme popping up in the conversations I've had with various friends lately at various levels of intoxication.  Perhaps I'll bestow you with some gems (including but not limited to excerpts involving my embarrassing subject):
  • "I can hear my wallet weeping from my dresser.  Hush hush, my dear wallet, we shall survive."
  • "I'm in pain and wish to melt into a puddle of slumber."
  • "I do not wake up every morning and pine for some Juliet on a balcony lamenting that I cannot breathe without her.  I can survive single."
  • I never succeeded in spelling "girlfriend" correctly.  We have girlfriedn, girlfirend, and my favourite, girlrilfriend.
  • "This is a tangent.  Deal with it."

I'm feeling a little dry on subject matter, only two subtitles tonight - I guess that only furthers the idea I'm doing this just so that I don't have to study or write or edit and that maybe when I publish this my eyes will be too heavy and I'll just call it a day.