Friday, December 11, 2009

"What do you mean you don't like football??"

Fair warning: If you spend most of your Sundays right now unable to do anything other than sit in front of a TV for 3-7 hours, you're probably not going to like what I have to say. But I hope you'll read it anyway to help give you an understanding of "the other side."

I was pretty much destined to be a nerd from birth. I inherited lots of book smarts and my very small stature from both my parents. Athleticism just wasn't in the cards for me. Despite this, for whatever reason when I was young my grandmother absolutely insisted that my brother and I play some kind of sport, and it ended up being soccer. I spent most of the time running behind everyone else to at least have the illusion of participation, all the while scared to death that I was going to have to hit the ball with my head the way they do on TV. That ball was hard and it would hurt. As you can guess, I only did this for one season.

In elementary school, we seemed to play more kickball than anything else. I spent most of this time doing my best to kick the ball as far as I could, being yelled at by the boys on my team for not knowing when to run or stay, and being insulted when everyone from the opposing team came up really close whenever it was my turn to kick. We also occasionally played volleyball, and the first time I tried to hit the ball my wrists and palms stung so bad that I basically did my best to move out of the way and let my teammates hit the ball, and let's just not even talk about when it was my turn to serve. In high school I had repeats of both soccer and volleyball, until junior year when we got to pick what sports we wanted to participate in. I chose walking and aerobics, and did the same for senior year too.

In terms of spectator sports, I really tried. I was a daddy's girl, and my dad loved football. I remember asking him to explain the game to me and telling me what all the terms meant. I remember he, my brother and I all playing a mini game in our yard one year. My memory tells me I actually attempted to get into the game twice in two different years of my life, spread out from each other. But I just couldn't do it and I think after the one time my dad accidentally smacked me in the leg in his excitement after a successful play, my enthusiasm waned and the game was just so boring to me.

Here's my interpretation of football: A bunch of guys line up in a formation. One passes the ball to another, and he runs for a few yards before being tackled to the ground. Everything stops while the referees review everything. They continue this cycle for awhile, sometimes changing sides, until miraculously someone manages to get near the goal line, in which case they try to run one more time, or they send in the little guy to kick the ball instead. Also, there's like TEN MILLION time outs that slow everything down even more because apparently the game isn't moving slow enough already for the coaches and they have to stop and think about it for awhile.

I went to a hockey game once and I enjoyed the constant movement of the game.. until they had to stop everything for like 20 minutes because a guy fell and they were afraid he had broken his neck. I might enjoy basketball for similar reasons, but I'm just not motivated enough to sit down and watch a game to find out. Baseball moves even slower than football, and even if it didn't, OMG the announcers. My memories of going to a Zephyrs game are all about the announcer and the goofy ads they made him keep repeating, and nothing about the game itself.

Living here in the New Orleans area, football is the only sport that seems to matter to people. Oh, you'll find some who enjoy going to a Hornets game, for sure, but the masses are all about football. This year especially, because the Saints are actually winning. Can't help but wonder if this has to do with the deal Benson made and that he's been ordering them to suck all this time before hand. After that Patriots win in the superbowl post 9/11, I'm pretty much convinced all football is rigged. But that's a whole other topic.

Right about now, you can't go anywhere in the city without black and gold, a fleur de lis, "WHO DAT," or some other sign of "Saints pride" smacking you in the face. Jefferson Parish (the suburb outside N.O.) has canceled Family Gras, their family oriented Mardi Gras celebration with bands and food as well as parades, because they honestly are already convinced that the Saints are going to be in the Superbowl that weekend. Facebook on Sundays is nothing but people either saying "Geaux Saints!", "XX-0 Baby!", or people recycling lame Christmas song rewordings about how they're going to win. And then once the game starts, they seem to think its ok to use their status to make comments about the game. A hint folks: those of us who actually understand how to use the internet know that there are things called "chat rooms" and "forums" that you use to discuss a particular topic in real time with other like minded people. I check facebook to see what's going on in the lives of the people I care about; if I gave a rat's ass about what's happening in football, I'd watch the game.

But you know what? The fact that I don't like football and other people do is not the problem. Lots of people like American Idol and The Bachelor, and I have major objections to both shows and what they stand for, but you don't see me griping about either of them. Because no one gets in MY face about not liking them.

You see the subject of this post? Do you know how many times I've heard that phrased, either exact or slightly paraphrased? You wanna know what else I've heard throughout my life?

"You read comic books? Aren't those for little kids?"

"Harry Potter is for nerds, I don't read that stuff."

"OMG, I can't believe people are dressing up in costumes and going to a movie premiere, what a bunch of freaks."

"Coworker A & B were making fun of you because you watch anime."

"You have a bunch of toys in your room?"

"No one cares about that stuff. Why do you know that much about a cartoon?"

And so on. You get the idea.

I once got tears in my eyes while reading a comic book because Professor X was talking about giving up his dream. I made it a point to wear my Harry Potter shirt when I went to see the Half Blood Prince. I once watched all three extended versions of the Lord of the Rings in the span of one week in the evenings after coming home from work. I do not like being disturbed when I watch Lost, because I don't want to miss a single detail. I threw my hands up in the air at the end of X2 when the Phoenix bird appeared in the water and then got immensely pissed when they totally misrepresented her in X3. I was giddy as a schoolgirl watching the recent Wolverine and the X-men version of the same storyline. I love both Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid games for the stories, and don't really care about any weaknesses in the game play. I'm really excited to see the Princess and the Frog this weekend because it will be a chance to celebrate my home town and my love of 2D animation. I think muppet Yoda will always be better than CGI Yoda, even if the latter one gets to move and fight.

I am a geek. I'm proud of it. I've been treated as "weird" for it for most of my life, but I'm not gonna change myself just to please others. I like what I like, I like what I am. I have found others, thanks to the internet I've found many more than I ever would locally, who like similar things and we rejoice in these things together and debate and discuss and have so much fun, I don't really see any need to conform to please anyone.

The fact of the matter is, my devotion to all of my interests are absolutely no different than the masses' devotion to football. That excitement you feel when they run across the field and make the touchdown? I get that when the Batman lands a good solid punch in the Joker's face. That pride you feel when your team is winning? It's the same pride I feel when I walked out the new Star Trek movie knowing they had treated the franchise right. And I feel the same disappointment you do when they lose when R.A. Salvatore stopped caring about his characters and is obviously just putting out books to make more money or fulfill his contract.

So why am I the weirdo? Yes, I get ridiculously excited about works of fiction, but you get ridiculously excited about a bunch of meatheads throwing a ball around. You will let it ruin your whole Sunday when they lose, and you will fill up your entire Monday bragging when they win. You spend ridiculous amounts of time during draft season discussing things that don't make a difference to your life at all. You wear certain colors and perform certain rituals because you believe they will give good luck to your team. It's just as preposterous when brought down to brass tacks, and yours isn't any more acceptable and ok just because a bunch of other people agree with you.

At least I'm pretty much guaranteed that my heroes are always going to win in the end. ;)

So can we please just agree to like other things in peace????

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Watchmen: Film vs. Comic Adaptation

This past weekend I found myself with a lot of time to kill so I sat down to watch the "Ultimate Edition" of the Watchmen film. I had already seen the original version in the theaters, and rented Tales of the Black Freighter/Under the Hood, so I wasn't going into it 100% blind as much as I was looking to see how the combination of the two would work and whether I would feel differently about it afterward than I did after viewing the film the first time.

The short of it is: not very much.

I spent a lot of time on this run through trying to remember if the transitions into the Black Freighter were matching when they happened in the book, or perhaps certain scenes were missing that were making the transitions incomplete. With maybe one exception, I found it just didn't work as well. Apparently, there is a strong difference between moving through frames in a comic than moving through scenes in a movie. Or maybe this was simply done as an afterthought rather than planned from the get go, so it didn't work quite right. It didn't feel so jarring like you were suddenly and completely taken out of the movie, but I didn't feel the sharp comparisons between the two narratives to the same effect as I did while reading the book.

I went to see Watchmen with my father, my brother, and my stepmother. I have no earthly idea why my stepmom came to see it, as sci-fi action movies aren't normally her thing. She did enjoy the X-men movies, but I think that may have more to do with Hugh Jackman than anything else. My father does enjoy sci-fi action movies, the more special effects the better, and will even forsake plot for them if necessary. He used to read my X-men comics with me back when I was young but he had never read Watchmen. My brother and I tend to have very similar tastes when it comes these kind of things, though he had apparently only started reading Watchmen and never finished it. I myself had finally read the book the year before the release, determined to be "in the know" before going to see the movie. I fell in love with the book, and even convinced my non-comic fan boyfriend to read it. Of the four of us, I was the only one who walked out of that theater without being completely disappointed/turned off. I believe the main complaints they found with it were that it was too confusing and complicated, took too long to get the point, and, of course, way too much blue penis. Seeing the IMAX version probably didn't help that last one.

I remember that much of my giddiness while watching it was all about seeing various panels come to life and hearing the actors recite almost word for word many key scenes in the comic. I had gripes like any true comic book fan does, but I loved it. Being completely unable to separate myself from my fandom, it was hard to judge the movie in and of itself. This isn't X-men after all, where the history is so long that it makes perfect sense for them to pick and choose elements to create something that still stays true to the characters. This was a 12 issue limited series that built upon itself and made it really hard for you to take out anything. To judge the movie on its own requires pretty much forgetting that you already know the entire story. But, given who I went with and what their impressions were even given their different tastes, I was left with one conclusion:

Watchmen the film is a great comic book adaptation, but it is not a good stand alone film.

If you happened to have not read the book or seen the movie yet and do not wished to be spoiled, please stop reading here.

But here's the ultimate catch: It's a great comic book adaptation up until the ending of the film. Early on when the movie was being hyped, spoiler sites warned that the ending was changed. I went ahead and spoiled myself and saw that, really quite predictably, the alien monster was gone and would be replaced by nuclear energy. This is not the problem I have with the ending. It actually makes a pretty good amount of sense. The alien represented an attack from the outside world, and an attack from Dr. Manhattan also represents an attack from the outside since he is now so far removed from humanity. It is quite plausible that both would have the same effect on the world's nations. The problems I have with the ending have everything to do with the characters reactions to this event.

The single most chilling panel in all of Watchmen, in my opinion, is when Ozymandias raises his arms in the air, smiling, tears in his eyes, screaming "I did it!" When reading I literally laughed one of my uncomfortable laughs I normally experience when people are fighting around me or yelling at me and I'm so uncomfortable I don't know what to do with myself. A person reacting with such joy after killing millions of people.. it horrifies you, and it also shows you just how committed this man is to what he believes. In the movie, we instead get him calmly explaining more justifications. I suppose in some way this could be considered chilling, but whether it's the dialogue or the way it's said, it just comes off to me like every other cliche villain in a movie before it. When he says "I've made myself feel every death.." I just can't say I believe him.

It becomes worse as they completely change Dr. Manhattan's exit. So typical hollywood ending, giving the girl a kiss goodbye and then leaving to explore a brave new world. Not even a word to Veidt about what he's done, other than to convince the others to keep quiet about it. As someone's whose sense of justice falls more in line with Rorschach's than any of the other characters, one of the key panels at the end to me is when Veidt asks Dr. Manhattan if he did the right thing in the end, and Dr. Manhattan replies "Nothing ever ends" before disappearing. They attempt to touch on this by having Dan and Laurie discuss it in the following scene, but to me it's all about seeing Veidt's face fall when the "omnipotent" man tells him.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Everyone hail to the Pumpkin Song

It's Halloween! I think Halloween counts as my favorite holiday, though Christmas is a close second. That probably explains why I love The Nightmare Before Christmas so much. I saw it the day after Halloween when it first came out. I remember a time when you could mention that movie and some people wouldn't even know what you were talking about. Now of course half of Hot Topic & Spencer's stores are filled with merchandise, and if you were to walk into Disneyland right now and get in line to view the "Haunted Mansion Holiday" featuring Jack Skellington and all the rest, you'd be in for a long wait. From what I've seen, you can even take pictures with Jack and Sally out there!

This kind of thing always seems to stir a strange feeling in "true" or "original" fans. On one hand you want to rejoice, because finally people out there won't look at you like you're crazy when mentioning it, and there's suddenly all kinds of goodies available for you to get your hands on. I'll never forget the first time I was working in the mall and heard two guys walking through the store discussing who Wolverine could beat up. It wasn't long after the first X-men movie and it just filled me with so much glee that other people suddenly acknowledged this character I had been in love with for years now. And then somewhere along the way I realized everybody loved him and... it lost its "specialness."

I guess that's what it comes down to. When you love something that isn't popular, you have this wonderful little secret. I always knew that the songs in NbC were pure joy and beautifully sung, and not many other people did. At that level, it's easy to pretend like its just you, or maybe you and your close friends, who share this little secret with the movie/book/artist/etc. It's sort of like a relationship, isn't it? And then suddenly every goth kid on the block is wearing a Jack & Sally shirt, and you almost feel cheated on. Surely those kids are just following a trend and don't actually feel the same special feelings you do! Those are yours! They're private and special and no one else can have them!

I've never been able to have long conversations with other Beatles' fans. Sure, I'll tell you about my faves and such, but I'm not going to go into why I love them. Because if I found out you feel the same way... it's like no longer do I have this special connection with John Lennon, and doggone it, illogical or not, I'm keeping that.

The thing us fans all need to remember is that regardless of how many other people enjoy what you do, it's still yours. In a little while I'm going to put on NbC and I'm going to sing along and gape at the stunning animation and nothing can take that away from me.

Do you have a thing that you consider "all yours" and prefer not to discuss with others? Is there a particular fandom that you feel has been ruined by popularity?

Friday, October 30, 2009

A few words about my title and chosen name.

My Own Little Corner - In Roger & Hammerstein's Cinderella, C sings a song called "My Own Little Corner" and it's all about her playing pretend and being whatever she wants to be, safe from the persecution of her stepmother and stepsisters. I always loved the song as a kid because I spent most of my time playing pretend, and I find it has even more meaning now when I'm an adult who picked a career for the sake of making money and not for following my dreams. So until I can actually get out there and pursue my passion, this is my place to "be whatever I want to be."

Syrin - In high school I used to play MajorMUD. I started off as a thief named Rogue, but after reading the Drizzt Do'Urden novels I decided I wanted to be a ranger. For whatever reason I've never had the patience for learning proper stats, so I let my boyfriend do the actual rerolling for me. I told him I wanted my name to be Siryn, after the character from the X-force/X-men comics. In MajorMUD you only have that one chance to change your first name. You can change your last name as often as you'd like, but it takes a Sysop to edit your first name and depending on how nice your Sysop is, you may not have that choice at all. So he and I are talking online (in the 90s talking on the phone and being online were not an option, remember) and he says "Ok, so your name will be Syrin." "NO, Siryn." He goes in on my account, does the rerolling... and suddenly "Syrin has entered the realm." Sigh. So that was my name. It's supposed to be pronounced like the word siren, but lots of people started referring to me as see-rin after that, so I suppose you can choose whatever pronunciation you would like. No one pronounces my real first name properly either, so it's nothing new to me.

I think both of these explanations provide some insight into my personality and who I am. I hope to update this page on a weekly basis, but we all know in internet terms that is a death knell. So I'll see you when I see you.
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